Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mother's Day

The beginning of May is just around the corner. It's time to start thinking of Mother's Day gifts and cards, especially for those of us who have to mail packages. So that no one has an excuse not send their mothers a quick "hello," I have two different cards for you that are free to download and print. (Just click on the picture.)

Try this simple pop-up card if you want more of a challenge. When assembling, look at the photograph, score all your lines, cut where indicated, and when placing the inner part of the card inside the outer cover of the card, make sure to keep the edges of the card aligned. This will help you nestle the pieces properly.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Going Fishing

My daughter and I enjoy watching Discovery Channel's series, "Deadliest Catch." I started recording and watching the show shortly after my son was born. I thought it a fitting coincidence that crab fishermen, like new mothers, don't get sleep for weeks at a time. Combine that with an inherent love for all bodies of water and their respective inhabitants, and I was "hooked."

My daughter and I began playing our own game of "Deadliest Catch" where we pretended to crab fish using square wooden blocks for pots, and small kick boards for our crab boats. Our crab totals were arbitrary numbers we pulled from the air but as we played I realized this game had great potential for practicing basic math skills like sorting, counting, adding, subtracting, averaging, and others, depending on how you played it. What I needed were crab pots that could catch crab, some crab of various sizes, and a boat. This project is the result.

THE CRABS: The crabs in the photo are made from printable shrink-plastic sheets found at your local craft store. They are designed to be punched out with the oval EK Success Paper Shaper Punch to reduce cutting time. If you don't want to invest in the shrinkable plastic, printing the crab on cardstock will also work. Either way you should print off several sheets of crab. You may have to print more if you want your kids to work with larger numbers. Also worth noting is that there are two kinds of crab. King crab have the little crowns above them, and the Opilio crab are the brownish ones without the crown. To be a purist, you should fish for one or the other, not both because they are fished in separate seasons.

THE POTS: Print off as many pots as you see fit, according to the math level you wish to cater to. Notice that the pot is basically 1/2 of a paper box. Keep this in mind when folding and assembling the pot. As always, score all of your lines prior to folding them. For best results, try to place your score lines in the middle of the brown lines, or "metal" frame of the pot.

THE BOAT: The crab boat's design is based on my favorite crab boat and crew, "Time Bandit." To assemble the boat, begin with the Boat Bottom Front. Score and cut as shown, then glue or runner tape* tabs to create the curved hull. Score and cut out the boat bottom, fold up the sides and then align the Boat Bottom Front and glue to the Boat Bottom. When done correctly, the bottom of the boat will be one solid piece of paper. From that point, adhere the deck on one side. Align the Front Light Base and the Crane Base and adhere to the bottom of the boat. Then finish adhering the other side of the deck. Assembling the deck in that order just lets you get a good seal on the crane base and light base. Next glue the two pieces of the wheelhouse together and begin assembling it making sure the bottom of the wheelhouse stays open. You want to place the Back Lights Base up through the roof of the wheelhouse and then close up the bottom of the wheelhouse and then press down the Back Lights Base to adhere it to the inside. For the black outer shell, adhere the front part first, making sure the center of the hull and the center of the shell align. Next, glue the sides and then finally the back. For a more finished look, color all black pieces with black permanent marker on the thin sides and back of the paper. It looks as good as if you printed it on black cardstock to begin with.

How We Play:
We take our boat--it can be the paper one I've designed or whatever you want to use-- and drop our pots into the ocean (place them on the floor). Next we toss the crabs into the air, over the pots, to simulate a soak (note that the heavier plastic pieces work best for this reason. Paper pieces don't toss as well.). Then we haul in our catch, keeping track of the crab that are "keepers", or large male crab. Females, juveniles, cod fish, starfish, octopus, and squid, all get thrown back into the sea. After taking your keeper crab to port you can set out again to try and catch some more. The person who hauls the most wins. Or the person who meets their quota without going over wins. If none of this makes sense to you, I highly recommend watching Deadliest Catch so it does. I just don't feel qualified enough to explain crab fishing.

*I have tried many different glues and tapes. Here are my findings based on my experience.
I understand that nothing holds like white glue. I, however, don't like to use it because it's messy. Rubber cement doesn't hold too well over time, plus it yellows. As far as runner tape goes, I only like a few. Fiskars, Scrapbook Adhesives EZ Runner Tape (my FAVORITE), and Scotch by 3M are the only things I spend my money on. The cheaper brands just don't hold. Just be sure you get a 40% off coupon from your craft store before buying one (they ALL have them, either in the mail, through email, or newspaper ads). It's my understanding that products sold at craft stores are marked up double, so for heaven's sake, don't pay more than what it's worth.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009