Handmade Christmas Gift #1: Peg People Chinese Checkers

My boys really enjoy Chinese Checkers, so the hubby and I had an idea to make a board, and instead of using traditional pegs or marbles, I would paint little peg people in different colors.  The rules for Chinese Checkers are pretty simple, and it’s easy for even a 4-5 year old to begin playing with minimal assistance.  We made our first one, and brought it out to Michigan as a gift for my brother-in-law’s family.  I hope they love it!  I have a feeling that the little people may end up being used for many more things than just a Chinese Checkers game.

Hubby made the board with plywood, and used a drill press for the holes.  He made a very nice, elaborate template to line up all the holes accurately.  I think he is going to do a full story on the board/box on his blog(UPDATE:  Here’s his post on the nitty-gritty box making!)

Used the template to pre-mark holes with a small nail, then used that hole to line up the drill press

I was in charge of painting little peg people and I did the painting on the board triangles.  We decided on the following color scheme:

Black – Ninjas
White – Snowmen
Red – Pirates
Blue – Princesses
Green – Elves/Archer-types
Brown – Indians

I did about two coats of paint, and two coats of mod podge to seal them.  They are the “little boy” people that you can get at Caseys and they have a 5/8″ bottom diameter.  I used little pots or clothespin doll stands to help stand them upside-down when the bottoms needed to dry. It worked well.  I put the year and family initial on the bottom.

Painting tip for the eyes — don’t use a paint pen.  The eyes bled a bit when I used a paint pen.  When I just used a small tip paintbrush, they turned out much better.

The board is on top of a box that the hubby made, and I sewed up a little felt bag to hold the people inside the box for storage.

This was so fun to make!  Now we need to make one for our boys.  I have asked hubby to use a bit thicker of a piece of plywood, so the holes can be deeper.  It was too easy to knock over the pieces when playing with the depth that he drilled the holes on this version.  Hubby sealed the entire game/box with shellac.

Here are some close-ups of the little people:

Ready for a game!

The Start of Christmas Crafting

Now, what do we have here!?

I received an order from Casey’s Wood Products yesterday.  Amazing how many little wooden things they can fit into a small priority mail box.  Lots of little wooden peg people.  Most of these little ones are the “little boy” size.  I also got some of the big people size, some blocks, and some mini and small clothespins.  I have Christmas present crafting plans!!

The boys got right to work however with my stash this morning before school crafting together a ninja army.

And a ninja flying army.

I don’t have any plans for the big people.  They are just good to have around and I was placing an order anyway.  Likewise on the clothespins, but I’d like to try painting them for some art wire displays.  Now the little boy people were my main motivation for the order.  That I have to keep a secret for the time being, but no worries, I’ll be sharing if it all works out!

Do you need any creative inspiration for your Christmas crafting projects?  Sometimes I think that I have too much inspiration!  Seriously though, I highly recommend Pinterest if you are a visual person (or even if you think you aren’t!).  I was just scrolling through it to find something that I had pinned on my Crafty Ideas board, and I was once again blown away by all the ideas swirling about my head when I saw all those lovely pictures!

And just for fun….the puppy wants to say Hi.  Is he still a puppy when he’s three?  He still acts like one.  Unlike our “old-man dog” who tore his ACL six weeks ago, poor guy.  Trying to keep up with the puppy!

Haba Number Dwarves

We spent the day at our not-so-local Children’s Museum. It’s an awesome children’s museum, with a nice Maine focus in terms of local animals, habitats and cultural items. There is a great 2 story climbing tower that is a “raven’s nest”, a nice river water system that the kids can run boats in, and a cool lobster boat that the kids can climb on/ring the bell/etc. Three stories of museum fun. They also have a great toy store in the lobby filled with awesome toys like Haba games and marble runs, Holztiger wooden animals and figures, Animalz, wooden cars/trucks from a local Maine woodmaker, Family Pastimes cooperative games, and just all sorts of cool toys that are really hard to find except on the Internet. Unfortunately, while we were there, I discovered that they were going out of business. Very sad. But, on the bright side, everything in the store was 60% off, including the Haba Number Dwarves game. Normally $32 and I got it for $12.xx. How awesome is that??!

We broke it out tonight after dinner and it’s a great game, as all the Haba games that we have are. (Well, maybe except for Dancing Eggs, which the boys love, but sends rubber eggs flying all about the room, and which they enjoy playing in the living room where I keep the crystal.) It’s just a basic counting exercise at heart, but it really goes about it in a creative way. It’s for 5+ and 2-4 players, but my 4.5 year old had no trouble playing it. You have to collect six pieces of treasure by landing on the treasure spaces on the board. You determine how far you move based on the card that you draw. If you draw a card with a picture on it, you have to count the number of items on the card and move that many spaces. However, there are various things you could count on the card, so by being creative, you can increase your chances of landing on the treasure spots. You get a card of a pillow. Do you count “1” pillow? Or do you count that the pillow has “8” spots? Or “4” corners? There are also “Imp” cards, which require you to do an action like jumping jacks, and you can choose one of two sets of imp hats to count and thus move. This corresponds to how many jumping jacks or other action that you have to do. Or, when you get the fairy card, you take a number shape card out of the cloth bag. The sides of each shape correspond with the number that you move, so the triangle is “3”, the square is “4”, up to ten. So, once the child realizes that, they can play a “hide and feel” sort of game to find the piece with the number of sides that they are looking for. (A circle is “1” and an oval is “2”.) The pieces also have the number written on them, as well as crowns corresponding to the number.

Top it off with totally adorable little dwarf game pieces complete with felt beards, and you’ve got yourself a great game! And all for $12.xx! Thankfully for my wallet, they had sold most of their stock, and there wasn’t too much to choose from. I did splurge on two Putomayo CDs – French Playground and Latin Playground – for $5.99 each! I just love a sale. I am really bummed that they are going out of business though as I really enjoyed browsing there whenever we visited the museum. Z Recommends also has a very good review of this game if you are interested.

Scroll saw birdies

I convinced (it wasn’t too hard) my husband to buy a scroll saw a few weeks ago. I want to make little wooden toys! And, he’s always game to buy new woodworking equipment. I promptly made the little birdies described at Make-Baby-Stuff using some pine scraps that we had laying around. Then, I hand sanded them with some 150 sand paper to round the edges and corners, and to give them a nice smooth surface. It was so easy! I will admit to popping the saw blade off a few times, but it just takes practice to learn to use a new tool.

I showed them to my younger son, and he loved them. But immediately asked for a penguin. That kid loves penguins. Little does he know that I had already made one and it is currently hiding in my closet upstairs pending a matching mama penguin. I need to figure out how to finish them. I’ve been tossing a few different options around, and we’ll see what I decide to go with. Any ideas?

The pine is a bit lightweight and soft. I’d like to make some toys with some higher quality hardwood, but for now, the price is right for practicing on the pine.

Wooden toys and scroll saws

I just found this website with instructions on how to make a wooden bird cut-out toy. Okay, I totally need a scroll saw now. I have never done any woodworking, but this looks like such a lot of fun. The hubby has promised to show me how to use it.