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From The Editors: Recycled Napkins

08.30.2010
This week, as we get ready for the launch of the Autumn edition of Rhythm of The Home, our editors are getting together to bring you a collection of tutorials, recipes, etc, for a bit of fun.
Today our Associate Editor, Julia, brings her wonderful tutorial for making easy and inexpensive cloth napkins. A quick and reuseable project that is wonderful for children and adults alike to create, and a great use of any fabric you may have lying around.
Enjoy!

We all have pillowcases that we don’t use any more. Maybe they are a wrong size, maybe they are the wrong color, maybe you just don’t like them anymore.

This tutorial shows how to give new purpose and love to all of those old pillowcases. Forget making a dress! Make a bunch of reusable cloth napkins out of a them instead!

From each standard size pillowcase, cut 4 rectangles with dimensions 8″x11″ through both layers of the pillowcase.  You should be left with 8 rectangles….which translates to 4 napkins per pillowcase (all that was left as scrap was the cuff at the pillow entrance of the case)

Stitch the rectangles together wrong side out leaving a 2 inch opening for turning them right side out.
Once they are turned right side out, use a wide zig zag stitch around the whole perimeter, starting at the opening to close .
Each napkin should took just a few minutes start to finish.

Make a bunch of them in coordinating colors and you will have a lovely addition to any family table.

And Then There is Winter

08.27.2010
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So here we were yesteday talking about the new Autumn edition, and now we are going to hit you with Winter.

Yep we said it, Winter.

The submission deadline for the Winter edition is October 25th, and since we know that this can be a very busy of time of year for everyone, we thought that it was a good time to get the discussion rolling.

Winter is a season that for many of us is filled with much time for crafting, creating and dreaming. This edition offers an opportunity for its pages to be filled with many activities for both adults and children to fill up our creative spirits.

We welcome new submissions and queries, and we can be reached directly at rhythmofthehome@gmail.com. You can also read our submission guidelines here

Happy weekend everyone, and may your days be filled with the joy of these last few moments of summer.

The Joy of Autumn

08.26.2010
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In just 6 days, Rhythm of The Home will launch it’s Autumn edition, and Bernadette, Julia and I are so excited to see this special edition come together. Each edition of this past year has held such a spot in our hearts, but this edition in particular is unique because it is the final edition in our first year.

All of you know that the three of us are very passionate about seeing families gathering together to find special and unique ways to celebrate the transition and change of season, and we simply could not have done this with out you. Your support and contributions are what makes this magazine so much fun to create, and hopefully special to read.

Below is a small taste of the coming edition, and we hope that it gets you ready for all the fun, care and craftiness that you all created.

Guest Post…How To Make Bees Wax Lip Balm by Erin of Imagination Kids Toys

08.23.2010
Today we feature a post on the ways of making Bees Wax Lip Balm brought to us by Erin of Imagination Kids Toys
Erin is:
I’m Erin, mama to two little kids. I’m a woman of many hats- mother, teacher, toy maker, author, gardener, & crafter, among many other things. Our family lives in Indiana, where we try to make the most of life, which means things can be a bit chaotic at times. Our days are filled with homeschooling, weeding, naps in the striped hammock, and pie baking, of course!
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Beeswax Lipbalm

I’m always amazed at all the different uses for beeswax- crayons, wood polish, modeling wax and the list could go on and on.  I noticed that beeswax is an ingredient in many of the commercially available lip balms on the market.

So I decided to give making beeswax lip balm a try.  The ingredients I used are common, chances are you probably have all or a majority of them in your home already.  If you don’t have beeswax on hand try your local farmers market- I bet they have a great local beekeeper like ours!

What you will need:

1.5 t of beeswax

3 t of coconut oil

4-5 Vitamin E oil pills

a few drops of essential oil (optional)

container to put your lip balm in

Melt the beeswax. You can either do this with a double boiler method or in the microwave.  I suggest using a container you don’t mind throwing out or only using for these type of applications.  Beeswax can be difficult to remove completely.

Once the beeswax is melted add the coconut oil and vitamin E oil.  I just pierced the vitamin E pills and squeezed out the oil. Then add a few drops of essential oil.  Please note that once you add essential oils do not reheat the balm in the microwave.

One you have added all the ingredients while the balm is still in a liquid state gently pour the balm into your containers.  You might want to put a towel under the containers to protect your table or counter tops.

Allow the balm to cool and then place the caps on your all natural lip balm! These lip balms would make great spa party favors or a perfect addition to a handmade bath and body gift!

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Thanks to Erin for sharing this wonderful tutorial with us!

For more on Erin, please visit her here:

Imagination Kids Toys

Spontaneous by Arabella of An Open Window

08.21.2010

Today we are sharing a post by Arabella about how we all might need to be a bit more spontaneous!

Arabella is:

an ordinary person with a creative impulse

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Spontaneous

IMG_1793
See that grown man flying through the water jets? Yup. That’s my husband.

We went to the Maryland Science Museum yesterday afternoon. It’s the favorite place to hang out right now. Everyone was played-out and ready to head home, when we came across this. Right in the inner harbor. Dancing water and outdoor music. My boys were tentative. The water regularly changed height and pressure and…well..particularly my 3 year old isn’t a fan of getting wet. There were a few hands quickly shot into the water but mostly we just watched.

And then…Stephen just took off. Running and jumping through the water. Hoping that the jets wouldn’t suddenly change height and soak him.

His few seconds of spontaneity changed everything. We finally left an hour later with two soaked, mostly naked little ones, and fairly soaked parents having expended every ounce of our energy running and laughing.

I know that the prevailing wisdom is that we should all be watching our little ones for lessons in how to enjoy life. But I was lucky enough to marry someone who knows how to show his children a thing or two about being spontaneous and jumping in.

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Thanks to Arabella for sharing her words and thoughts.

For more on Arabella, please visit her here:

An Open Window

Back to School Organization by Cristin of Simplified Bee

08.18.2010

I stumbled upon this post by Cristin and thought that with School starting just around the corner for some, it was fitting.

Cristin is:

Cristin Bisbee Priest, owner and founder of Simplified Bee, put her organizational and design skills to work in the high tech industry for over eight years directing events, tradeshows and product marketing. In 2002, she hung up her corporate hat and switched gears as a stay-at-home mom. Shortly after, Cristin followed her passion for home decorating and studied interior design.

Cristin launched Simplified Bee to share her combined expertise of organizational and interior design with others. As a busy mother, she saw a need for “functional” interior design and knows homes can be orderly without sacrificing beauty. She also believes surrounding yourself in beautiful, organized spaces reduces stress, makes you happier and inspires healthier living. She prides herself on being style savvy, yet practical.

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Getting Organized for Back-to-School

It’s that time again. Millions of children are headed back-to-school. There is a direct relationship between how organized a child is and how well they do in school. As a parent or guardian, you can help children develop life-long organization skills. Here are a few back-to-school tips for getting organized:
Establish a Routine & Plan Ahead. Streamlining the morning routine is essential to get kids out the door and to school on time. It’s easy to get frazzled in the morning, so prepare lunches, book bags, outfits, even the breakfast table the night before. Create a storage area near your most used door and assign each person a bin and/or hook for their gear. Using color coded baskets or personalized tins {like the one above from the MacBeth Collection} helps for organization and quick identification when leaving the house.
Create a Homework Station. Few children enjoy doing homework, but making creating an efficient work environment may make the task more fun. First determine where it’s best to set up the homework station – Near the kitchen where an adult can help? In a quiet room alone? Is a computer needed? Once a location is selected, it is important to have an easy accessible storage bin or drawer with needed school supplies. Based on your child’s age and school needs store items such as writing implements, paper, tape/glue, scissors, ruler, erasers, crayons and markers. When purchasing school supplies, consider earth-friendly and non-toxic items. Visit EWG’s back-to-school guide for a list of greener options. Pottery Barn Kids has a great Mini Lazy Susan perfect for a storing supplies at the homework station {shown above}.
Paper Source also shows you how to make a customized desk cubbie here {also pictured above}. Get your child excited about their homework station by having them help designing their own supply storage cubbie.
Centralize School Communications. Besides your child’s school papers, there will be lots of communication parents will need to take action on or reference throughout the school year. Some of these items include classroom rosters, school handbook, supply list, permission slips and school calendar. Creating a centralized place for all this information is key to knowing where these important papers are when you need them. A binder or file folder are great options for keeping all the papers organized into subcategories. Smead offers an easy to use tiered folder – Smead Stadium File™ – that works great in my home {blogged about it here}.
Getting organized for back-to-school takes some effort, but it will make the transition smoother.
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Thanks again to Cristin for sharing this post with us.

For more  information on Cristin, please visit her space:
Simplified Bee

Teaching Reading to Children by Annie of Bird and Little Bird

08.17.2010

Today we are sharing a post by Annie of Bird and Little Bird. Annie was part of our Spring 2010 Rhythm fo the Home Edition, and we are pleased to share something else from her here!

Annie is:

I am a mom, special education teacher, crafter and arm-chair science head who lives and makes stuff in Burlington, Vermont

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Teaching Reading to Children

Bookshelf

I know that I often makes jokes here about all of the the things that I am and am not, but one thing that I can actually and truthfully claim to be is a teacher.  And, at the moment, I am primarily a teacher of new and struggling readers.  I thought, especially since there are a large number of homeschooling parents who read this blog, that I might share a bit of what I know about teaching reading to children.  So, a different kind of library Monday this week; strategies for helping your child to become a reader.

I should mention here that the strategies that I’m about to share are by no means the only way to teach reading to children.  There are about as many different methods of teaching reading as there are kids to teach and everyone has an opinion about what works.  I’m not trying to jump into the reading debate by any means, I’m just attempting to give some useful strategies that parents can use to help their children become readers.  I’m also trying to share ideas that require very little in terms of material or specialized equipment; strategies that are primarily book based.  Mariam is getting much of her reading instruction at school, but I am also supplementing by doing (very sneaky) mini-lessons with her here at home, using the ideas that I’m going to share here.

A Word About Reading Readiness

Generally speaking, your child should know the letters of the alphabet and the sounds that they represent before you dive into combining those sounds into words.  As kids move into words that are more difficult to decode (translating a written word into a spoken one by reading the sounds of each letter in the word and blending them together), knowing letter sounds well is what will allow them to have the flexibility to understand how those sounds can change when different letters are combined.

About Choosing Books

Your child’s desire to read may sometimes come in the form of picking up a long book full of huge words and plopping down next to you with a “Help me read this.”  The motivation here is awesome, because you will need it, but kids can become frustrated when they try to slog through a book that is beyond their skill level and in the long run, they may give up.  So, during the time when you are focused on learning reading skills, pick books that are the right level.  Save the tough stuff for read aloud time.

A good way to determine the level at which your child can independently read a book is to have them read you a 100 word long passage from a book or story and take note of any errors that they make while reading.  If the book is a good independent reading level for your child, they will read at least 95 of the 100 words correctly.  Also, if you ask them questions about the story (what was it about, what happened etc.), they will be able to answer these.

If your child reads the book or passage and reads 90 to 95 out of 100 words correctly, this is their instructional level.  In other words, this is a good level book to use to learn new reading skills together.  You’ll want to find other books that are the same level and use those for any reading lessons (formal or otherwise) that you do with your kids.

You can find the levels of common books by using this tool from Scholastic.  You can also subscribe to sites like Reading A-Z for a fee and download leveled readers from there.  I generally like getting kids into real literature as early as possible but I do find that until they read at an early second grade level or so, high quality picture books that are a good fit can be hard to find.  So, I will use early readers (short picture books with leveled text that supports a new reader through use of repeated phrases) available in my school’s library or download books from Reading A-Z.  If you are a homeschooler and may be teaching multiple kids to read, it might be worth investing in some early readers yourself.

Your Reading Routine

Once you’ve got a book that is a good instructional level (and that everybody wants to read!), get comfy and get ready to read it.  If the book is new, a good way to start is by you and your child doing a “picture walk” with the book.  Flip through the pages of the book and make some predictions about the story based on what you see there.  Point out any words that you think might give your child trouble as well as any sound spellings that you think they may struggle with or that might be new (“oa in this word makes a long “o” sound like in boat…”).

If your child is a new reader, try a shared or a guided reading of the book the first time through.  There are a couple of good options here; you can read the book and have your child follow the text as you read, or the two of you can read the book aloud together.  If you read together, you might expect that there are moments when your child’s voice drops off as he or she waits to see what word you will read when they are unsure.  The idea is to give the support that your child needs in reading the book for the first time so that when they read it back to you later, or the next day, they can feel confident in their ability to do it on their own.

Once you’ve read the book together, you can then have your child read it back to you on their own, or you can wait and have them do it later that day or the next.  The idea is to build up a stack of enough familiar instructional level books that your child can read two or three to you as a warm-up each time you sit down to read together.  You can then finish up reading time by reading a new book together.

For children that are reading above an early first grade level, try having them read the book independently after you have gone through it together to talk about what might happen and any tricky new words or concepts.

Mariam reading

Other Strategic Tidbits

Reading is understanding.  Could I decode One Hundred Years of Solitude in Spanish? Probably.  Could I understand what I had read afterward?  Um, no.  Being able to understand what you read is the entire point of doing it, so check in with your child frequently to make sure that they are able to tell you what their reading is about.

Building fluency matters too.  Part of being a good reader is building the speed at which you are able to read accurately.  Good readers can read aloud at a pace and in a voice that sounds natural and easy.  Fluency is absolutely essential to reading comprehension, so it is worth giving some energy to.  Remind your child to “make the reading sound like you are telling the story” or “make your reading sound like talking.”  Also, get that pointer finger out of the way as soon as you can!  Pointing to each word actually slows kids down and makes it hard for them to start reading with the automaticity that allows them to glance at a line of text and read it fluently.  They can get stuck reading word by word by word, and eventually this will be much slower than it should be.

Keep read aloud time separate.  You’d be surprised how many kids are secretly a little afraid of becoming readers because they worry that adults will stop reading aloud to them!  Read aloud time is precious for so very many reasons, both for us parents and for our children.

You can read an amazing story about the power of parents reading to their children here. It will inspire you to read to your kids until the day they leave for college- even when they are more than capable of doing the job for themselves!

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Thanks again to Annie for sharing her words.

For more on Annie find her here:

Bird and Little Bird