I remember being sad and feeling left out when my sister would go off to school. Not only was I losing a playmate but she was, once again, getting to do something that seemed so special without me. Being the youngest had it's perks, but that left out feeling really hurt as a kid.
My kid is three and is switching from a home-based daycare to an outdoor preschool, and even though he isn't going to a standard type of school that requires the fun of new notebooks and school supplies, I thought it would be fun to make it seem special by crafting up some fun new things for him to associate with his new school experience.
The first thing I thought he needed was a new kid sized backpack. I'm always very sad to see little tiny kids hauling around overstuffed adult sized backpacks, so I wanted something that was just his size but could still fit all the supplies he needed for his day out of doors. I found this excellent free (although a donation is always appreciated) backpack tutorial from indietutes. The small size of this backpack makes it easy to up-cycle an old shirt or use some scrap fabric to make it. He can carry it easily, and it fits his extra outfit, water bottle, diapering supplies and it still has room for more if he needs it. I'm going to rate this project in the beginner sewer category.
Making lunch seem like a special occasion is always a great way to make sure your toddler is getting enough to eat. I made 13 placemats and 13 napkins for my sons new school. The placemats are pretty basic -- two fun fabrics sewn together with a little pouch for a spork and a ribbon to hold it all together when you roll it up to store it. Looking back I wish I had just made some placemats with oil cloth so that they would be easy to wipe clean. Here's a good tutorial for that from Pink of Perfection.
Here are a couple of great toddler placemats that are easy to make:
This wipe clean placemat tutorial was put together by Craft Blog in Australia. She picked out some cute fabrics and then covered them with clear contact paper! Smart! I say, if you're a beginning sewer don't bother with rounded corners and bias tape just sew four straight lines and be done with it.
This chalkboard placemat tutorial from little birdie secrets is a fun project. You can buy special chalkboard fabric and sew it to a fun quilting fabric to make a cute and double duty placemat. You can find the chalkboard fabric online at Vogue Fabrics.
If you are going to make the chalkboard placemat you might as well make your kid some chalk too! Chalk is totally cheap to just buy, but making it with your kid can be a really fun activity. Mad Maggie Designs has a good tutorial that will help you use up all those toilet paper tubes your husband has been hoarding (or is that just my husband?).
Okay, I could go on and on about not-back-to-school toddler crafts, but I will leave you with just two more.
This is an easy-to-make tool belt tutorial from The Creative Maven. You can make it out of your failed placemat attempts.
And, finally, Angry Chicken's cloth snack bag tutorial is very awesome. Not only are cloth snack bags cuter and you can have your kid pick fabrics from your scrap pile, but you can reuse them for a long time and you can feel all smug when you don't have to keep buying those plastic zip-locks.
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