Friday, May 20, 2011

Quiet Book Part 1

This is going to be a pretty long post. Remember I mentioned that I was working on a craft project that was a real time sucker? I finally finished it - it's a "quiet book" (also known as a "busy book").

The quiet book is made up of fabric pages which present learning activities to reinforce concepts (colours, shapes, numbers, etc) and to hone fine motor skills (zipping, buttoning, picking up small items). As recent as one or two generations ago, a quiet book was a standard take-along to church for children to have something quiet to busy themselves with (many quiet books were bible-themed), although I think it was more common outside Asia. Nowadays you can buy all sort of toys and learning material to bring along to church (or wherever you want) - you can even buy quiet books - so you don't really see the quiet book around anymore. Still, the quiet book has a homemade charm which appeals to me, and I love the thought that Ryan could have something that his mum made for him. So I decided that I would make one!

I wanted to finish it in time for our USA trip because I thought that it would keep Ryan engaged during the flight. I did finish it in time, if only by a nose! An hour before we left for the airport, I was still sitting on our living room floor putting the eyelets into the pages to bind them together. I didn't even have time to make the cover (that was done after we got back).

Everything was done by hand because I was doing it on-the-go, during lunchtime at the office, in my car at the stoplights. The last few days were especially crazy, I was lugging a huge bag of tools and materials everywhere I went. I didn't keep track of how much time I spent on it, but it definitely took up a good part of my life - searching the internet for inspiration, sourcing and buying materials and accessories, designing and engineering the pages and sewing and sewing and sewing. I roped in Richard's help here and there and I ditched ideas for additional pages but it still took more than a month to finish.

I should add that there is a wealth of creative ideas on the internet for quiet book pages and I definitely got a lot of inspiration from there. I've included some of the "standard" pages that you would find in a quiet book plus some pages which I thought up myself. It's not difficult, it's just really time-consuming.

Ok, without further ado, let me present Ryan's quiet book!

Basic cover – cut from suede, snap button closure. Six eyelets let the ring binders through. Photo on the left is the front, photo on the right is the back.

His name on the first page so you know who it belongs to. I added this when we got back from our trip.

Next set of pages – apple tree and apple baskets. You pick the apples off the tree and sort them into the baskets according to whether they are red or green. A lot of the quiet books I saw on the internet have an apple tree page, but there is usually just one basket for one type of apples. I thought that I’d make it a little more challenging! However, this is still too easy for Ryan, so it's not his favourite page.

Train. These two pages evolved through many versions. I initially wanted to have a house with windows that you could open and see photographs of family inside. After many sketches, I decided to go for a more boyish feel so I made a train instead. 

You can open the windows on the train cars to see who is riding inside. Ryan loves this part - there’s Richard in the left car and me in the right one! The photo on the right shows the different wheels that you can button on and off - although Ryan is not keen on the buttoning yet. The wheels are kept under the tracks where there is a green pocket.

The train engine is a texture/shape/pattern matching activity. I tried to incorporate as many shapes as possible and also to give each piece a different texture. The pieces are kept under the tracks in the green pocket. Ryan plays with this page a lot.

Fold down the mittens – Peek-a-boo! Photo on the right shows what you see when you fold the mittens down - the star is a mirror! Ryan is very entertained with this page.

At first, instead of the mirror, I made a clear pocket that could hold a photograph but I think the mirror is much better. Ryan also likes to wear the mittens on his hands (the mittens are attached with Velcro and can be removed). The mittens are shower mittens which are a little scratchy. Another wonderful way to play with texture.

The barn. Ryan loves this iPhone app called Peekaboo Barn, so I was inspired to make a barn full of animals for him. I found the perfect template at homemadebyjill, and she also provided templates for adorable finger puppets which are stored in the barn. I added a window at the top of the barn which you can open to see a hen sitting on her eggs. The rooster on top, the hens, the chicks and the eggs are stickers.

For the next page, I wanted to have as much texture as possible hence the rows of different material and tassels and all the little trinkets. Each trinket that you see above has a match hidden in the rows of material/tassels below so, while looking for the match, Ryan gets to feel the different material and the different trinkets. Ryan enjoys this page very much!

Incy Wincy Spider. The Spider goes up when the sun is out (left photo) and down when the rainclouds come (right photo). The sun and the rainclouds tuck into the house for safekeeping. I had lots of fancy and complicated ideas about how the spider could move up and down but I was wasting too much time thinking about it so I just decided to go with the simplest idea – which, in the end, turned out to be the best. Ryan likes this one!

Seasons. I made this from a free template from servingpinklemonade, but I changed the green leaves. Flowers snap on for spring, green leaves for summer, autumn leaves for autumn and they all come off in the winter and store in the grass pocket. It's not that interesting to Ryan actually, but he may come back to it when he's a little older.

Aliens and Flying Saucer. Another heavily-prototyped page. It started out as having the three aliens inside the flying saucer and you could open up the flying saucer to let the three aliens out to play. In the end, I decided that was too boring. With this version, the flying saucer is designed to be an I-Spy bag, except without the poly pellets. The bottom part of the flying saucer is stuffed with some crinkly paper that makes noise when you handle it. The flying saucer is Velcro-ed on and can be removed and re-attached. The three aliens are also attached with Velcro so they can also come off and play - we like to make them dance together with the finger puppets from the barn.

Ok, too much for one post, so let's continue in the next post!


terri said...

you are amazing! this is gonna be an heirloom.

Anonymous said...

i am a silent reader.. i am really impressed by your effort and dedication... well done!

Pinkie Pirate said...

Terri - thanks, I hope so!
Anonymous - thanks for your kind comments, and for dropping by!

Hathcock Family said...

Can I have your template for the Insy Winsy Spider page? I love it!

Pinkie Pirate said...

Hathcock Family - Hello, I did the page freehand, without a template. Nevertheless, I've drawn up a template for you and sent it to you at your email address. Hope your quiet book turns out great!

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