Tag Archives: birthdays

How to Make a Stick Horse

howtohorse

Last month I made eight stick horses for my son’s birthday party.  A year ago I made the first one, and as I was making them last month I was kicking myself for not keeping a pattern the first time around.

So here it is, my version of How to Make a Stick Horse.

What you need:

To start, you can draw your own horse’s head on a sheet of 11×15 inch paper, or you can just download my pattern.  It’s not fancy, but you won’t have to draw your own.   Print it (no scaling) then take it to a printer to enlarge it 200%.

DOWNLOAD HORSE HEAD PATTERN HERE

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To begin, you need felt.  One half yard of felt will make two horses, but you must buy the felt in half yard increments because 1/4 yard will be too narrow.  You can get 4 horses per yard, so I bought two yards to make eight horses.  In addition, you may want smaller pieces of other colors for the horse’s mane.  The sheets of felt that stores commonly sell will work for this.

In addition, you need some cotton fabric (a fat quarter should do).  Not pictured but needed:  scissors, sewing machine & coordinating thread, pins, hot glue gun and glue, marker, fiber fill to stuff.  And dowels.

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I bought 36 inch long dowels that are 7/16 inch in diameter.

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To begin, cut out pattern and lay on top of a double thickness of felt.

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Trace with a marker.

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Cut along lines.  On the outer edge of the horse’s neck, continue the line on down and cut along that line.

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Cut out pattern.  You should have two ears and two head shapes.

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Fold ears in half along straight edge.

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Flip one head shape over so it’s facing the opposite direction.   Pin an ear on each shape, with the open side of the ear facing the horse’s nose and the fold line facing the neck.  Pin in place near the center of the top of the horse’s head.

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Sew each ear in place.

Note:  If you have big plans for adding ears at this point, do it now.  I opted to leave the eyes off my horses and here’s why:  I’ve learned it’s important to have a starter activity/assignment for children to do while you wait for party guests to arrive, so I chose to begin the party by having each boy choose a horse and draw his own eyes on it.  I wanted the horse to be their own, since we were also asking them to name their horses.  And they LOVED this activity, by the way.  Some of them wanted their horse to have just one eye, others got going and drew spots on ears or around the eyes.  I wasn’t going for a professional, perfect looking horse.  I was trying to provide the basics so their imaginations could run with the idea.  It worked.

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For the mane, take a piece of felt approximately 8 inches wide by 11 inches tall.

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Fold in half lengthwise.

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Fold down the ear on one of the horse head pieces.

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Lay the folded piece of felt (mane) along the outer edge of the horse’s neck with the fold along the edge of the neck.

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Fold down the ear on the other horse head piece and carefully lay down on top of the mane and first head shape.  You should have both ears and the mane tucked inside the sandwich.  Pin the pieces together carefully.

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Sew along the edges of the felt with a 1/4 inch seam.

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Remove pins.  The horse should look like this.

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Carefully turn horse inside out.  Fold the ears back up and fold the mane piece out.

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Cut the mane into fringe strips, being careful to stop before you snip into the seam and the horse head.

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Stuff the head until it’s filled out to your liking.

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Cut strips of cotton fabric that are 2 inches wide and approximately 18 inches long.

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Carefully insert one end of a wood dowel into the center of the neck, gently pushing it up into the top of the head while leaving some filling so there’s no hard spot on the head.  I used the end that had the barcode sticker on it so I didn’t have to bother removing it.

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Using a glue gun, place hot glue all around the dowel just above the point where the stuffing ends.

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Squeeze the felt around the hot glue and tie a length of fabric in a knot around that spot to secure the horse head on the stick.

And you’re done!  Keep going until you’ve made as many horses as you need for your group.

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For my hitching post I used the frame for a standing chalkboard that my son broke a few years ago.  We tied loops of ribbon to the frame that were just a tiny bit loose, then put a stick through each loop to “hitch” them to the rail.  I made a simple bunting that said “hitching post” and the setup was complete.

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Each cowboy picked a horse,

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added eyes,

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and then they were off!

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We had a happy group of cowboys which added up to a very happy momma as well.

If you’d like more ideas for simple but really fun games to use at a cowboy party, you can read more about ours here.  As for the horses, my younger girls all want one now, so there will definitely be more of them in our future.  I hope you enjoy making yours.

Jennifer

The Big #12

Someone at our house turned twelve today.   He wanted a birthday party with “a bunch of games with my friends.”

While I was happy to oblige him, I must also admit that I really stress about birthday parties and today was no different.  But even with the stress, I am earnestly trying to get better at parties, and especially at parties for older children and teenagers.

So, now that it’s over and the boys had a great time and my son is happy, I’m going to list the games we played for two reasons.  First, I’m sure I’ll lose my list of games and wish I’d written it down somewhere else next time I’m planning a party.  Second, I have a feeling that I’m not the first mom that’s felt intimidated by parties for the 12 and up crowd, and it might help someone.  Plus, I may need to encourage myself sometime by reading this!

Here goes…

I made these foam balls more than ten years ago and we’re still using them.  They were a ton of work but obviously worth every minute.  I have a big box of them and while we waited for guests to arrive I put them out on the lawn and let the boys play with them.  I had a game planned with them, but usually find that every group of kids can come up with their own game using these balls in less than two minutes.  Today was no exception.

When the arrival of friends began to slow down, I passed out handfuls of bubble gum.  While they softened up their gum for a bubble blowing contest I set up a game.  After one boy won the bubble blowing contest we played what became an instant favorite during the summer:  Snatch the Rat.

I bought this ugly plastic rat that squeaks when you squeeze it.  The idea for this game came from my friend who uses a rubber chicken when they play it.  To play, divide the group into two equal teams.  Then go through each team, giving each team member a number, starting at one.  If you have uneven players on each team, choose someone energetic to be two numbers so you have a player on each team that has been assigned each number.  I lined up each team on opposite sides of my lawn, placing cones to help them stay behind the line.  Here they are all ready to go:

The rat was placed on the ground midway between the two teams.  To play, you call out one of the numbers you just assigned to the players.  You should have a one on both teams, a two on both teams, and so forth.  When you call their number, the player from each team races to the middle.  The objective is to grab the rat and carry it safely back to your team without being tagged by the other player.

If you carry the rat back without being tagged your team gets a point.  If you get tagged, the rat goes back to the middle and the players return to their teams with no points awarded.  It’s so fun to catch them off guard, like when you call “four” twice in a row.  We call the numbers randomly to keep them on their toes.  This game is so much fun – it’s as much strategy as it is strength and speed.  We always laugh so hard when we play it as each pair of players begin to try tricking their opponents so they can get away with the rat.  I will also say that this game often becomes a contact sport as the kids really get into it.

After Snatch the Rat, we played a few relay races.  It’s always fun to see people with spoons sticking out of their mouths while they try to do things.

Another race we ran was the Three Musketeer Race.  Three players stand with their backs together in a triangle and they all link arms at the elbows.  Then they have to figure out how to run like this.  When you say “Go” they have to yell “All for one and one for all!” as they start the race.

I did try to pair the boys according to size on this one so we would avoid injury.  It was so funny to watch them run.  This picture is blurry but you can see the smiles.

We also had a tug of war.  A couple of them.  I’d like to say here that I think it’s ok to play games where everyone doesn’t “win.”  Boys like contests.  They know what they’re good at and what they’re not good at.  Someone wins and they move on.  My opinion is that if each contest lasts no more than ten minutes, and if you switch the teams up for each new game, the boys do just fine.  We just kept moving at a fast clip and they had a great time!

After the tug-of-war we went inside for some snacks:  caramel popcorn, chips and salsa and some drinks.  More games followed in the basement, where my camera battery died.

We hung donuts from a stick and had a donut eating contest.  I had three more games nearby but the boys wanted to play ping pong and air hockey.  They played doubles in both games and also used the double shot.  It was so much fun to see them all gathered around the air hockey table yelling and laughing together.

Some of these boys have gone to school together since kindergarten.  Here they are, in 6th grade, still friends and growing up so fast!

What mattered most to me was the happy grin on my boy’s face all day.  He loved every minute of it, throwing himself completely into every game and enjoying the feeling of being surrounded by friends.  I felt like the day was a success simply because he was happy.

A few things that went well:  It’s nice to have more games planned than you actually need.  Watching my six year old’s slack-jawed look of total admiration told me we’ll be using many of them again.  Also, one of my personal challenges with parties is the additional dimension of seven brothers and sisters hovering, wanting to watch or even hoping to be  part of the fun.  This can bring behavior challenges for me and a frustrated birthday boy/girl if they feel like they’re being smothered.  I feel like we found a nice balance today.  I gave lots of assignments to the other children so they were a part of it, had a reason to observe, but were busy enough with their job to let their brother feel like it really was his party.  I was also supremely grateful when my three year old, who wouldn’t sleep until 11:30 p.m. last night and was up at 6:30 a.m. fell asleep just before the party.  Her timely nap literally saved the day.

And so the day now draws to a close as our fine young man looks forward to his grandparents coming this weekend for exciting events in his life.  I’m so proud of him and am being reminded daily that he’s growing quickly.   He had a happy day and my heart is thrilled.

So now I’ll go sweep up the popcorn and get that wad of gum out of my carpet!  Small price to pay.  What a blessing it is to have children.

Hopeful Homemaker

 

Kathy’s Birthday Party

Three years ago we started getting a special knock on our door every time someone in our family celebrated a birthday.  That special knock always comes from the same person, and she’s always holding in her hand a handwritten birthday note.  She doesn’t miss anyone; all of my children as well as my husband and I have had visits from her.   The amazing thing about this is that she does it for everyone in our ward.  A little math tells me that she’s written close to 1,000 birthday notes in the past three years!

Meet my friend Kathy:

Sunday night we held a surprise birthday party for her in my backyard, and it was everything I hoped it would be.  She wore a birthday crown, blew out a special candle on the cupcake of her choice, and a very large group of voices joined in singing “Happy Birthday” to this wonderful woman who has shown such love to all of us.  Kathy is a perfect example of someone who finds a way they can contribute, commits herself, and then sticks to it.  Each birthday note in itself may be simple, but the cumulative effect of her efforts is grand indeed.

I’m estimating we had at least 150 people come.  (I wish I’d had the presence of  mind to count, but at least I had the thought to take pictures.)  It was a success precisely because so many people came.  I cannot express how heartening it was for me to watch them smile and jump in to help and to attend.  In our busy world, and especially on that first weekend after school begins, there is SO much going on that it would have been so easy for everyone to view this idea as just one more thing and skip it.  I understand that feeling.  But they didn’t.  The response was 100% positive and my heart was filled with love not just for Kathy, but for all the people I saw there who chose to come, who were willing to complicate their day to say thank you to someone who has done the same for all of us.  I felt so happy, so grateful to live among these good people, so honored that I got to watch it all unfold.

People volunteered to bake a batch of cupcakes for the party.  The tables were covered with them.  I also asked that families or individuals write a birthday note to Kathy.  A week ago while we were at church the children 11 and under in our ward all wrote/drew a birthday card for her.  Thumbing through that stack brought tears to my eyes.  We set a basket out and I got teary again as I watched it fill, then overflow with birthday wishes for Kathy to take home and read.

I am so grateful to everyone who contributed to this effort.  I’m particularly grateful to her good friend who got her to the party for me.  What a great lady she is as well!

It was a bit windy, but it was also nice and cool.  Gratefully the rain held off and when it came it only sprinkled a bit.  People visited and mingled, children ran and played, everyone ate cupcakes and talked to Kathy.  A smashing success.  I don’t think she’ll forget this birthday EVER, and that’s exactly what I wanted.  I wanted her to know that we love her, and I think we sent the message loud and clear.

Best of all, I kept having the feeling that the Lord was pleased with all of us.  Gathering to celebrate Kathy was more than just acknowledging a birthday.  We were celebrating the worth of a soul, celebrating on the same terms that God sees us on without regard to status, wealth, fame or fashion.

In 1 Samuel chapter 16 it says, “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; . . . for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (verse 7)

I feel like I got to see a lot of hearts on Sunday night, and it was a beautiful sight.

Jennifer

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