Monday, August 6, 2012

Penguin Palooza

 Check out the latest penguin reads before heading out to the zoo and seeing what varieties of penguins your local zoo houses!

Cole, Carol.
The Penguin Lady.
February 2012.
Sylvan Dell Publishing.
Review copy provided courtesy of publisher.

Penelope Parker became known as the "Penguin Lady" after presenting herself in black and white clothes and waddling while she walked.  Her love of penguins quickly grows out of hand after it becomes known that she has received a gift of penguins from her brother and sister for her birthday.  As the penguin collection grows from 1 to 55, it becomes obvious that Penelope has taken on more than she can handle and decides to donate the penguins to the local zoo.  After the penguins take up home at the zoo, she quickly becomes sad and lonely and looks for a new love... her new love might just surprise readers and pose for an interesting writing topic for older children!

This book is a fun read and will keep children engaged as they wait eagerly to learn what other kinds of penguins exist for Penelope to take in.  10 different varieties are mentioned and will likely spark wonder in children to learn more about each kind, allowing a great opportunity for a little research project!  A great way to encourage learning throughout the summer months!

Lester, Helen.
Tacky Goes to Camp.
May 2012.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Review copy provided courtesy of publisher.

This book was previously released in a hardcover edition.  Check out my review on that product here.  Children are sure to love this latest paperback installment of the popular "Tacky" series and eagerly await the next one to read!

After checking out one or both of these great "Penguin Palooza" titles, head out to your local zoo and spend some time with the penguins!  What species are housed at your local zoo?  What do they look like?  Where do they come from?  What kind of habitat do they thrive in?  It's interesting to learn about all the different species and how they differ and are similar to each other!


If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to I am an Amazon Affiliate, so any purchases you make after clicking these images will result in my receiving a small percentage of the sale price!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Homemade "Melissa & Doug" Costumes

For a couple years I've had my eyes on these fancy Melissa and Doug dramatic play costumes for preschoolers that I've seen for sale at AC Moore (for about $29.99) but have resisted the urge to splurge.  I just couldn't fathom spending ~$29.99 on a single costume... so I decided to get thrifty this summer and create my own versions of several of them.  So far, I've gotten 3 done, but I have about 6 more planned!  I'll continue sharing as I get them done!

I started with the firefighter costume... but chose to make mind slightly different than the one pictured above.  I started at the Salvation Army store and purchased a long-sleeve men's black dress shirt.  When I shop the thrift store, I always look to see what color tags are 50% off on the day I'm there and purchase only items with that color tag!  I got the shirt for $2.00!  I made a stop at AC Moore and picked up a foam firefighter's hat for $2.50 (regular price $4.99 but I had a 50% off one item coupon).  Last stop... Walmart.  I picked up a yard each of yellow and gray fabric from their new $1.00 selection.  After trimming the bottom to square it up and shortening the sleeves, I sewed on the yellow strips first, using a technique similar to single-fold bias tape.  I repeated the process with the gray after all the yellow was done.  To make the shirt easier for the kids to handle, I sewed on some Velcro that I had left over from a different project. 

Time spent on costume: 1hr, 30 mins. 
Total cost?  $6.50!!! 
I have a feeling it's going to be a hit!

Next, I opted for something that I felt would be quicker... and it definitely was!  For the postal worker, I picked up a blue children's dress shirt (size 8, so it would be big enough for the children to wear comfortably over their own clothes during "work time" but not too big).  The shirt cost $1.00 at Salvation Army due to that color-tag sale I mentioned earlier!  I also purchased a small women's messenger bag to use as the mail bag... cost?  $1.99.  I had some leftover Iron-On transfer paper to print on the computer printer.  I found a US Mail patch, rotated it vertically so it was backwards and then printed it twice - one about half the size of the other.  I ironed these on to a scrap of white fabric, cut out the patch and then appliqued them on to the shirt and messenger bag and had myself a Postal Worker costume!

Time spent on costume: 30 mins.
Total cost?  $2.99
This could be one of my favorites so far!

My third costume is the "Salon Stylist."  I could kick myself for not doing this last year, as I had a little girl who was ALL about playing with hair... she would have loved this and when I discovered this costume, I couldn't pass up attempting to make one!  With the smock style, I bypassed finding something workable at Salvation Army and instead hit up the fabric racks at Walmart.  I purchased one yard of pink fabric off the $1.00 rack, chose a 1/2 yard of a coordinating fabric in a "styling" pattern ($2.49).  To go along with the outfit, I bought at the dollar store, two "beauty" kits for $1.00 each.  I started by free-handing a smock pattern on the pink fabric (leaving the fold at the top for the shoulders).  After cutting out the smock, I sewed double-fold bias tape along all of the edges to finish them off.  Using the coordinating fabric, I made a sash that will work as a tie on back in case the outfit is too big for some of the kids and then constructed pockets for holding the salon stylist tools and loop to hold/display the hair dryer. 

Time spent on costume: 1hr, 30 mins
Total Cost?  $5.49 (there's enough fabric left to make another, so technically the one cost ~$2.25)
Perhaps the most challenging, as it was all from scratch, but definitely pleased with the final result!

Up next?  Road Crew, Nurse and Waitress!


If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to I am an Amazon Affiliate, so any purchases you make after clicking these images will result in my receiving a small percentage of the sale price!