A Pencil to Chew

If you're trying to get your kids, or yourself, excited about going back to school, check out this savory, academic treat from Family Fun.

Image from Family Fun.


Happy Bastille Day

July 14th is Bastille Day, the commemoration of the beginning of the French Revolution. Have some fun and learn about French culture. Kaboose has instructions to make this celebratory craft-stick Eiffel Tower. Read You Wouldn't Want to Be an Aristocrat in the French Revolution! by Jim Pipe.
Then practice Bastille Day French vocabulary at Foreign Language Fun.


You're a Doll!

Paper dolls, long lauded for their ability to combine inexpensive materials with intricate details, are fun, imagination-stimulating toys. During school, paper dolls can be part of a learning center to reinforce concepts such as weather, culture and fashion. In the summertime, paper dolls can be counted on for hours of cheap fun. Here I'm rounding up bunches of paper doll printables.

If you want your students to learn about fashion during different eras, paper dolls can be a gold-mine. The inexpensive toys have been commercially made since 1810, so a little research can dig up fashions going back through those 200 years and beyond. Get this Victorian doll and many others from Skyglass Studios. Students can color and play with this military uniform and other dolls from the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site. Click on "Paper Doll Activity" at the bottom of the page to get the pdf.
Betsy McCall debuted in 1951 to show how McCall's clothing patterns could be made and worn. The Bleu Door has collected a half-century of Betsy McCall paper dolls and made them ready to download. Check out her frilly '50s dresses, shown above, and then watch Betsy's fashion change until she and her immortal dachshund get a summer job in 2000.
Visit A Number of Things to get this 1930's inspired Lucy Ann doll.
Then, go to Balancing Everything to print this modern-day mom doll.
Paper dolls can also help students learn about specific events and people from history. The US Historical Society's Paper Doll Archive includes paper renditions of antique toy dolls and historic celebrity paper dolls such as Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. Gail's Famous American Paper Dolls page includes John and Jackie Kennedy, Sacagawea, and Condoleeza Rice. Print out Henry VIII and his six wives at Royal Paper Dolls. Get a colorful Carmen Miranda paper doll by David Zurlin.

Paper dolls can be a fun extension to reading great books.Kids can create new mysteries for Nancy Drew to solve with this download from Tangarang. Scholastic has four printable paper dolls from the My America book series.

Paper dolls are a simple way for students to learn about fashion from around the world. Check out this cool set of saris from Tricia-Rennea. Making Friends has ten different dolls from around the world.

Little learners can use paper dolls to practice matching clothes to the seasons in which they are worn. Check out this Summer paper doll at Tangarang. You can print a doll with Easter dresses from Tricia-Rennea.

Some paper dolls are just plain fun. These adorable animal dolls are both free from amazing artists Jan Brett and Marilyn Scott-Waters
These Otter dolls from The Toymaker website come with many more colorful outfits and Jan Brett offers Hedgie and Hedga dolls with an extensive wardrobe.

Images from Skyglass Studios, USHS, The Bleu Door, A Number of Things, Balancing Everything, Gail's Famous American Paper Dolls, Royal Paper Dolls, David Zurin, Tangarang, Scholastic, Tricia-Rennea, Making Friends, Marilyn Scott-Waters, and Jan Brett.


Independence Day Fun

The Fourth of July, foremost, represents over 200 years of the U.S.'s freedom and sovereignty. But since the holiday falls smack in the middle of summer vacation, Independence Day is also about personal freedom from schedules and dress codes and formal learning. Here are some ways to explore the holiday through informal learning and fun.
Visit the Library of Congress' Today in History archive to see photographs and artifacts, like the sheet music above, depicting bygone July 4th holidays. Then find out how America's presidents have celebrated past Independence Days with "What the Presidents Did on the Fourth of July" on the American University
Once everyone's brain is full of July 4th history and trivia,
make your space festive with the Happy Fourth Firecracker and other celebratory printables at the Toymaker's holiday page.
Then, let everyone enjoy some more safe "fireworks" fun with U create's Lifesaver Firecrackers tutorial.

Images from American Memory from the Library of Congress, The Toymaker, and U create.