This post is the seventeenth in a series about the alphabet quiet book I'm making with the girls for preschool this year. To read the introduction, click here, and to read the rest of the posts (updated on a weekly basis) click the "Quiet Book" label on the right.
O is for Ocean
Oh my goodness, this was a page where once I got started, I had trouble knowing where to stop! Initially I was thinking of doing a very simple fishy page for the ocean, kind of like this one by Lorrie on The Quiet Book Blog. That was a bit too reminiscent of our abacus page, however, and the more I looked at ocean-relate quiet book pages the more I wanted to make them all!
Inspiration and Page Design
One thing I loved about the many ocean-themed pages I saw was how different they all were! I took ideas from many different examples, but one I especially loved was this hungry shark by Irina on Wonders of Felt. A line of strong blue crochet thread leads the fish to swim directly into his hungry stomach. I left too much slack on this string, and it's the one thing I would change if I were going to make the page over again. It allows the fish to move around more freely, but is more difficult for little fingers to manipulate. The fish all have little metal "eyes" from "hook and eye" clasps sewn to their backs, much like the flowers on our mailbox page. This allows them to move along the line without being loose parts that could fall out of the quiet book.
This submarine with all of our faces in it is probably my favorite part of the whole page. I got the idea when I found the submarine on Ekatarina's Transportation Quiet Book. She used clear plastic to make windows over beautiful printed fabric. I didn't have any pretty novelty fabric like that, so I started thinking about printing some onto my own fabric. Then it occurred to me that if I was going to be printing my own fabric, I could print photos of our own family! I found some pictures with our faces clearly displayed, sized them tiny enough to fit in the windows, and ran a piece off interface-backed white sheeting through my inkjet printer. Daddy is piloting the ship, Annie, Laurel, and Jenny are all peering out the portholes, and (although it's hard to tell) I'm navigating by keeping an eye out the periscope.
I've printed with my ink jet printer onto fabric twice now, the first time with my fabric lightly interfaced and backed with freezer paper for stability, and the second time the fabric fused with very stiff interfacing, no freezer paper. The stiffer interfacing was much easier and ran through the printer without any difficulty. The freezer paper backed one took a couple tries to feed into the printer, but took the ink just the same. So in the end, both methods work, but if you have stiff interfacing available, that's the best route.
Even the Oos got an oceanic theme on this page. When I cut out the small "o" it reminded me so much of a lifebuoy that I started thinking about what I could do with the big O to make them both part of the ocean page. I decided to make the big O like a ship's compass. I printed off the compass face on the same fabric page as the family photos. The compass needle is made from shrink plastic, colored with colored pencils and shrunk to make it stiff and thick. I sewed it on with a bead. I attached a hook and eye to keep the compass closed, and added a jewelry ring clasp at the top to make it look like an antique pocket compass.
This funny little jellyfish is made by attaching a piece of green fabric to the back of a flat glass marble with silicone glue. I had these marbles leftover from making chore magnets for our chore chart (I need to do a post about that, it was a fun and useful project!) in the style of these Marble Magnets from Not Martha. The tentacles are tightly finger crocheted embroidery floss, and the googly eyes are attached with superglue.
Several of the ocean pages I saw had pearl oysters, including this felt door hanger by Angel, and I loved that feature. I had a string of little pink freshwater pearls in my bead box, so I sewed a few of those into the oyster.
My other favorite inspiration picture was the shell I-spy pocket by Jenya on Handmade by Mom. I really wanted to make something like that, but since I haven't been to the beach in years, I didn't have enough little shells to include. Fortunately, my family has been to the beach more recently, so they mailed us a selection of small shells, along with an ocean picture drawn by my 10-year-old brother. Annie and Laurel LOVE getting mail, and it's even more exciting if it's related to what we're learning about in school!
I sewed the little sand dollar (which I coated lightly with polyurethane a long time ago to make it suitable for a necklace) onto the top of the I-spy pocket, since I didn't want to hide it under anything and so that the girls could feel its texture.
Of course, the overall activity of the page is to lace a little Nemo-like clownfish from his home in a sea anemone through the many dangers in the ocean, up to the curious observers in the submarine, and then safely back home again. I got the idea for the swimming fish from Montoya's Meaningful Memories and Musings, and specifically the swimming fish maze from Schaer Talents. Here's a fun collage where you can see the clownfish making his way to the submarine.
Preschool goals for using the Ocean page
During O is for Ocean week, we learned about oceans! As we read books and watched movies and cilps, we designed the different elements for the page and then laid out the whole thing together. We read one of Annie's all-time favorite books, The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor, we watched an episode of Planet Earth from the library (amazing, amazing videography!), and watched Finding Nemo for the first time. We don't watch movies very often, and Finding Nemo terrified Annie. I'd post the very funny picture I took of Annie crying in terror as Nemo got captured, but some things are best left off the public Internet. After it was all over, however, Annie LOVED to remember Nemo, loved to draw clownfish and the other characters any time she had a pencil or piece of chalk in her hands, and still does many weeks later. Oddly enough, the much more realistic portion of the Planet Earth episode of dozens of sea snakes hunting fish from Planet Earth didn't scare either girl at all.
All-in-all, our ocean week and quiet book pages were some of our favorites. Fortunately for my sanity, our next letter was P is for Piggy Bank, and was much simpler and quicker!