Friday, August 14, 2009

Our Kids’ Books

I gave you a sneak peek here...and then I fell off the face of the blogging earth! So sorry. But I’m back, and ready to give you some guidance on those kids’ activity books.

If you remember, I found the inspiration for my activity books from Heather at We Met at a Bar – her blog is great by the way, a good read! Anyway, her books were so stinking cute that I just had to come up with something similar. And since I was brainstorming about this project while I was working my tail off on those quilt arcs, sewing progressed nicely into the final product.

So, the first thing that I knew was that I wanted a book. With pages that you turn, something similar to what Heather had done for hers. And I L-O-V-E-D the back of the book where she had a little design. Loved it, loved it, loved it. So that’s where I started from. And I kind of cheated here. We have two kids between us, of very different ranges, so I had some “insider knowledge” about what might keep kiddos occupied during the reception. I’m not kidding myself, I know it won’t last the whole night or anything, but I’m hoping it’ll last long enough to give their parents’ enough time to eat!

So I knew that I needed activities that ranged all ages, both for boys and girls, and some things that were easy and some activities that were hard. Hmmm...this could take more time that I thought. Never fear, there are a million and one sites offering downloadable games. When I saw how many activities could be found on the www I quickly decided that I “needed” to have different books. Some for girls and some for boys. And there needed to be different girl books and different boy books so that kids sitting side-by-side might have different puzzles to solve. Quite a challenge.

Sounds complicated, but the process was simple enough. I simply saved the image to my computer and then inserted the image into a Word document at a later time. The hard part? Working on the layout. But I finally got it all in there, and realized that my kids had nothing in there for them. You see, they have favorite games that we play while waiting for our food at restaurants, and those games were missing. Well, that just wouldn’t do. So, a few clicks of my mouse later, and I had added two more games to the mix.

Next, I looked at each book and laid it all out so that once assembled as a book you didn’t have two coloring pages open to each other, does that make sense? Anyway, once it was all in the separate files, I ended up with 3 boys activity books and 3 girls activity books. Perfect. Printed them out double-sided (to save on paper) and 10 copies of each got me 60 activity books. No, I don’t actually know that all 54 kids who are invited will be there, but since there are different games and puzzles in each book, it’s ok to have extra.

I designed a simple cover and while shopping for J’s school supplies came up with the brilliant idea to use plain manilla paper for the covers of the books. It would feed through my printer at home (Score) and was SUPER cheap (Double Score) and had enough texture to it to satisfy my need to use something other than plain paper. An added bonus? The manilla paper is thin enough to sew. Yep, you read that right. I decided to stitch all of these together with my trusty Singer. Worked like a charm, I might add. Here’s some pics.

Get the pages organized.
Line them up correctly – be REALLY careful and look at them as you would a book. I sewed a few in backwards, and it DOES make a difference.

Place the book under the foot, leaving enough extra thread out of your bobbins (I’ll show you why later).Sew with whatever stitch you prefer – I chose to “jazz” it up a little with a zig zag stitch.

Once again, pull enough extra thread at the bottom of the book and cut.

Using the extra thread that you left on the ends, I would double knot the ends off. I don’t know why other than I have a feeling that these could unravel fairly easily. Probably not, but it only takes a minute of time to be prepared and extra cautious. Snip off the extra ends, being careful not to cut off the knot!

Using a bone folder, make a nice crease down your seam. It makes a nicer edge, trust me.

Voila! Your activity book is finished.

Isn’t it cute? Did you see my little "Made with Love" on the back with the heart? I love it.

And I bought 10 boxes of crayons while on sale for back-to-school ($.22 each!) and spent one evening watching TV with J wrapping up little crayon packets. A $2 basket purchased from JoAnn’s fabrics on clearance and the crayons have a home. I have another basket that I also bought at JoAnn’s for 50% off to put the actual books in, but I have to paint it or line it with other fabric – what’s in there doesn’t work with my colors. But that was an easy enough fix for the $5 price!

So what do you think? Super cute?!?! I LOVE them, and my kids have already played around with a few extras that I had from printing mistakes...yep, imagine that – ME making printing errors? NO way...

Here’s a project cost breakdown – they came out SUPER cheap!
Crayons – $2.38
2 packs of manilla paper – $2.17
Activity sheets – FREE since I printed them off and copied them at work (I’m SO bad!)
Yarn (for wrapping) - $2.80
Baskets (both on sale) – 7.58

Grand total - $14.93. Broken into an individual price, each book and crayon set cost $.25 to make. NICE!

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