Thursday, December 19, 2013

Epsom Salt Painting -- adds a crystal sheen!

Have you ever painted using Epsom salt water?  We were doing this as a science experiment at first, using just food coloring  (equal parts Epsom salt and water, heated on med heat -- with stirring-- to dissolve).  Here is one of the pictures made with the food coloring solution:

You can see the gleaming of the crystals; this painting is DRY, but it looks shiny as if it were wet.

This was very interesting, and added a new dimension as an art medium, so I wanted to try using actual paint instead of food coloring, and see what that would look like.  It worked well, except that on my first try I let the water and Epsom salt get too hot-- they were boiling-- and the mixture turned crystally and thick instead of being clear and liquid (as it should look when dissolved completely).
Here's what the too-thick boiled mixture looked like after mixing in paint:

If you paint with this, it is very globby and doesn't stick well to the paper; so after trying it out I decided to start over, and make sure to watch the mixture while cooking.
To my new batch I added acrylic paint (about a teaspoon in each small cup) and stirred it well. 
Here it is before and after stirring:
The paint mixture was less watery than when we used food coloring, but it was easy to use-- it flowed along on the brush just fine. 

Here are some pictures made using the paint:

Would you like to make some crystally pictures like this?  It's very easy to make the mixture (equal parts Epsom salt and water, put on medium heat and stir just until dissolved); I think next we'll experiment with using Kool-Aid as a dye; I'm wondering if we can get bright colors but keep the watery feel.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fuzzle Family Felt -- Day 37 of I Homeschool Network 40 Days of Christmas

TODAY there is a giveaway -- for Fuzzle Family Felt pattern set, by Gentle Shepherd (continuing through Friday, Dec 13).
It is part of I Homeschool Network's "40 Days of Christmas" advent calendar . . . 6 winners will receive a pattern set (PDF ebook) with patterns for people, clothing, house, car, trees, bushes, dog, cat, and more . . .
Making up felt stories is a lot of fun for kids, and these felt toys are quiet, soft, and flexible-- easy for kids to handle, and convenient to store or to take traveling.
Today (Dec 10) is day#37 -- Here is a link to the calendar:
Here are some more pics from this felt toys pattern set--

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Homemade Button Drum -- from a CD canister

I wanted to make a handmade drum . . . and was looking around for possible materials.  We happened to have an empty CD canister, and it looked like a good size for a child's drum-- so I thought about what to do next.

I tried cutting up big circle out of a plastic bag, and then putting that over the top with a rubberband; that didn't work very well -- it seemed too flimsy, and it was easy to slip off, too, even with more than one rubberband.  The sound made was not very impressive, either.

So went back to searching for materials -- if only I had a large enough balloon to use, like one of those punch balls . . . that would be sturdier and make a nice sound.  But no, nothing like that  . . . I tried a normal sized balloon but it was way too small.

After taking out all the fabric scraps I had, I came across a brown piece of vinyl from an old purse-- yes, this would probably work, so I pulled it out.  Also there was a smallish scrap of fake fur in brownish tones, so I decided to use that on the other end of the drum.

I cut out a circle a couple inches bigger around than the canister top diameter, from the vinyl, and made the fake fur circle about an inch bigger than the canister bottom diameter.

But how to get the end pieces to stay on?   I knew they would also have to be as taut as possible, so thought buttons could be used as something to put lacing around, holding both pieces onto the drum; the ends would both be pulling towards each other.

The next step was to pencil a circle on the underside of each of the fabrics, the same size as the canister top.  I got out some buttons and found 20 that kind of matched the brownish theme, and sewed 10 around each circle (on the right side of the fabric) on both the vinyl and fake fur.

Then I needed to lace the whole thing together.  We had some cotton twine, and this was a good fit for the small buttons I was using.  Doing the lacing was really not so easy; I had to get out some duct tape and tape the fabric circles in place so it would be easier to lace while also pulling the ends towards each other.
But it worked!  After lacing all the way around, I tied a knot at the top, and since there was a lot of twine left, I was able to make a slip knot a few inches down so there could be a loop-- for holding onto the drum, or hanging it up.
Now the drum was ready to play-- and I found that both ends had different sounds-- they both sounded nice; the lacing had produced a tension that pulled the circles fairly tightly, giving a "drummish" drum sound.

Have you ever made a similar drum -- or one that is different?  What did you use? What kind of result did you get? 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Kayla Aimee's Early Christmas Shopping Giveaway!

Kayla Aimee is a young mom who blogs about "faith, family," and her "favorite things."  She has created a series of three "Gift Guide" posts that feature shops of her readers!  I think this is really great-- these are crafters like me who have online shops in various stages of development.  Some are very established and others are just starting out.  They are all offering various discounts through coupon codes, and there is also a giveaway on the blog, for $50 (paid through PayPal) to go to two different winners-- for some early Christmas shopping money! 

It's easy to enter the giveaway; you just make a comment on the blog post. 

My "Fuzzlemania" business is included in today's group of shops.  This post features baby and toddler items. 

Anyone who places an order for felt toys from Fuzzlemania using the coupon code (given in Kayla's blog post) will receive a discount and also a free rabbit finger puppet.

The giveaway, using Rafflecopter, is continuing through this month (November).

See the blog post and giveaway at Kayla Aimee here:
2013 Handmade Holiday Gift Guide | Baby & Toddler Edition

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wild Creatures

Here are some wild animals --  have been having fun making different kinds, with felt.

a giraffe . . .

lions . . .

                                                                            ... a zebra
Some of these  can be found in my felt toys Etsy shop -- 
come go on a safari there :) 
All these wild animals are handmade from felt; and they are tame to kids
(not always quiet, but tame).

Friday, October 25, 2013

Facebook Frenzy -- You can take your time for this mad dash

Have you taken part in a Facebook Frenzy?  This is something new for me-- I am  one of the participating pages, and have found it interesting and fun.  The frenzy is happening RIGHT NOW!
       It will continue through Saturday, October 26.  There is a loop of 19 educational "specialists."  Each offers a freebie which is easily obtained after you like their FB page; then you can continue on to the next stop.
      On my Gentle Shepherd Facebook page, I'm offering Picture and Writing: Younger Ages as a freebie through Saturday night.  Just click on the "Facebook Frenzy" tab-- it looks like this:
Then you can click to see who is next, and go on to as many others in the loop as you'd like.
Since the FB Frenzy lasts for awhile, you don't have to be in a rush to go to all the pages at once.  But some people like me, who are task-oriented, might like to do it this way.  Once I got in a rhythm of clicking to like, accessing and saving, clicking to the next stop, I wanted to just go through the entire loop.
But it isn't a race-- you can start and stop at any time . . .  That said, here's one place to start-- 
Gentle Shepherd FB page:

Friday, September 20, 2013


     "Read this book," my adult daughter told me.  She said, "it's about a 19-year-old who does what God says, and goes to a South American jungle by himself."

     I was curious; this sounded like an unusual thing for a 19-year-old to do; not sure if I'd be happy about my own kids going on such an adventure . . .  but I read the book as a read-aloud with my 13-yr-old son, and it is an amazing story.

     Bruchko, by Bruce Olson, tells about a man (Bruce himself-- it is an autobiography) who lives nearly all of his adult life with a certain Indian tribe in South America-- the Motilones.  There is danger and hardship-- but Bruce learns to know the Motilones, helps them with medical needs, and enters into their society.  This was a tribe no westerner had ever been able to visit without losing his life, and Bruce had come close to being another statistic . . . but God had other plans.

     This story describes the customs and beliefs of this native tribe in the Columbian jungle, and tells how "Bruchko" (their name for Bruce) learns to communicate.  It tells the incredible story of how the Motilones also come to meet Christ himself-- not because Bruce has made them western, taking away their native culture and forcing his beliefs on them; he did none of those things.  This is a story that instead demonstrates that the message of Christ is not a "western religion"-- it can be received and embraced by diverse people groups, even a remote and primitive tribe-- and expressed in unique cultural ways-- because it is for all people.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Interview with Homeschool Mosaics -- Drawing for ebooks of your choice!

Homeschool Mosaics Interview with me, about Gentle Shepherd-- with a giveaway!  Please come and enter for the opportunity to receive two free ebooks of your choice from our site (there will be three winners-- and entry is very simple . . .

Friday, August 30, 2013

Easy Batik!

Recently I tried out a modern technique for doing batik-- traditionally, batik (a method of decorative coloring for fabric) has been done using hot wax to form areas that will be resisted by dye.  With the modern technique, washable clear gel school glue is used instead of wax.

I used a brush to apply the glue to the two pieces of fabric I used; that was because my glue cap was broken, and I wasn't able to squeeze glue out through the cap-- but either way can work fine.

Here is a photo from the beginning of making an owl picture. You may not be able to see the owl design but it is there!  I painted it on with clear glue and let it dry thoroughly before starting to paint.  Acrylic paint is used, as it is permanent after it dries.  Here is one eye.

And here is the entire painted owl . . . as you can see from the print left on the cardboard that was underneath, quite a bit of paint will seep through-- so you need to have something under the cloth to absorb this, then move the cloth off so it doesn't stick to this blotting material as it dries.  The fabric used was thin white cotton.

I also made a heart, on muslin--

Gluing, letting glue dry, and painting are the first three steps.  Next, you need to let the paint completely dry, and then soak the cloth in water for about 20 minutes.

This dissolves the glue, and here is the result:

After the wet fabric dries, you can use it for sewing, wearing (if you use a piece of clothing), or as decorative art; I found that when I attached the batik pieces to the glass of a sunny window, the shining light made the details of the resist areas even more evident.

By the way, did you know that just one country is known as a hub for creating batik art?  It is Java, in Indonesia-- although batik had been known to be used in China and Japan as early as the 6th century A.D., it  didn't continue to be used very much in these countries.  On the island of Java, it has been continually used for many centuries up to the present-- and was further developed by the Dutch when it was a Dutch colony.   

Through Dutch and English traders, batik was introduced to Africa.  Batik is a popular form of design today in many countries, especially in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, Azerbaijan, India, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, and Singapore.

Would you like to try it?  Maybe I will experiment with the traditional wax method sometime-- the cracks that occur in wax can give a certain special effect; but this clear glue technique was very easy to do, and I think it gave good results.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Don't worry there's still time to CATCH THE OMNIBUS . . .

Get ready, get set . . . it's here!  The iHomeschool Network 2013 Omnibus, with 91 ebooks is at a website near you . . . August 20 - 25.

Gentle Shepherd's large ebook (141 different printable work pages) for preschool penmanship pages-- Easy Peasy Penmanship, is a part of this Omnibus.

All 91 books are available for download for only $25.

Come take a look at the ebook list HERE.

This special collection of encouragement, curriculum, and forms and tips comes through iHomeschool Network.  

The sale will run from 12:00 am ET Tuesday, August 20 to 11:50 pm ET, Sunday, August 25.

For more information, go to the Omnibus Info Page on Gentle Shepherd's website:

(Please note-- As of 9/26/13 this offer has expired.)

An Omnibus is on its way . . .

Coming Soon!  An omnibus near you!

No, it's not a bus . . . but it does carry a lot . . .

"Omnibus: a book containing reprints of a number of works --
French, from Latin, for all, dative plural of omnis, a combining form meaning “all'.” 

This omnibus is a collection of works by homeschooling authors-- all in PDF ebook format, so they can easily be used on e-readers OR on your home computer.

There are curriculum printables, inspirational articles, helpful forms and ideas; a total of 91 ebooks, altogether valued at over $590.

I Homeschool Network is providing this omnibus, to offer an inexpensive way to help with beginning-of-schoolyear needs.

The entire collection of ebooks is only $25, and it will be available starting at 12:00 am ET on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 and ending at 11:59 pm ET on Sunday, August 25, 2013.

Tomorrow morning I'll put up a link to the list of books, and more info about purchasing.

Gentle Shepherd is offering Easy Peasy Penmanship as a part of this omnibus.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Texture Hunt

Do you ever wonder what to use in doing crayon rubbings?  I have usually put this art project on hold just because I'm not sure what else to use, besides coins and leaves and tombstones . . .

But recently, I decided to brainstorm and then try out some different textured items, as an experiment.

Here are some of the items that I found work really well when put beneath a piece of paper, to do crayon rubbings:

1-  paper cut-outs

Normal paper thickness works fine.  You can cut out letters, numbers, shapes of objects or animals or people, etc.

2- stencils

From cardstock or thin plastic-- these can be ready-made, or you can cut your own.  Large lids made of soft plastic (yogurt container lids, raisin cannister lids, etc.) work well for making stencils.  This is the same as the paper cut-outs idea, except that these are sturdier.

3-  rick-rack, ribbon, and lace

Rick-rack comes in many sizes, and makes an interesting pattern when used in a rubbing. Ribbons will make a long rectangular shape (they can be cut to different rectangle lengths). When using lace, small details are likely to be lost when doing a rubbing, so it's best to use laces with large holes.

4-  pipe cleaners

These can be bent to make different shapes such as a spiral, ocean waves, geometric shapes.

5-  pieces of leather

Leather lacing can be used, or leather that is cut into certain shapes.

6-  yarn or string

Using small thicknesses will result in a more definite line in the rubbing, so it's better to use baby yarn than regular yarn, and kite string instead of thicker string.

7-  rubberbands

You can use these to add circle or oval shapes to your rubbing picture.

8-  metal washers, coins

Washers will give you a round "donut" shape, and coins will also give you some interesting pictures (whatever raised design is on the coin).  For washers, thinner is better.

9-  pieces of hard plastic that have definite textures

You will most likely need to cut apart a plastic item, so you can use certain textured parts.
Some examples: one side of a plastic berry basket, or of a plastic organizer tray that has a pattern of slots on the side.

10- toothpicks and popsicle sticks

These could be arranged to make a design, or used with other objects.  They make straight lines.

Something NOT to use: 
One item that I found did not work well was buttons; they tended to slip under the paper while doing the rubbing (whereas metal washers and coins would stay put).

Here's a completed crayon rubbing picture.  Tree stencils, circle stencil, lace, and rickrack were used-- the rabbit, and details on sun and trees were added by drawing after the rubbing was finished.

What have you used for rubbings?  Do you have some more ideas to add to the ones here?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Sampling of Hebrew Letters -- Hebrew Alphabet Flashcards

I have always been interested in foreign languages.  When I was a teen I wanted to learn at least some parts of every language in the world.  Now I know that's a starry-eyed dream that will never happen; there are just too many languages :)

But languages are still fascinating, and whenever I hear someone speaking in a foreign tongue my ears perk up.  I know some French and Spanish, and a smattering of bits and pieces in a few other languages.  The most recent foray into another language was when my son James and I took a look at the Hebrew alphabet.

Besides the word,"shalom" we don't know many words in Hebrew at all.  But we learned some things about the letters.  This ancient language was one of the earliest to have a written alphabet; the letters were developed from those used by a neighbor to the Jewish people, the Phoenicians. 

The Greeks had also borrowed the Phonecian letters, and the Romans adopted use of the Greek letters --- so in a roundabout way, Hebrew and our modern English alphabet have a common origin.  The word "alphabet" itself comes from "alpha" and "bet" -- the first two letters in the Greek alphabet.  In Hebrew, these are "aleph" and "bet."

Each letter name in Greek or Hebrew (or Phonecian) is actually a word that starts with the sound associated with that letter.  So if we said our ABC letter names like them, we might say "apple, butterfly, car . . ."  In Hebrew, the first 3 letters go with "ox, house, camel").

For our study, we practiced saying and writing some of the Hebrew letters-- focusing on just the first 10 letters-- these were also formerly used as numbers (modern Hebrew has changed to using the western digital numbering system).  So number one would be represented by the letter aleph, number two would be bet, etc. up to ten.  The next 9 letters were used for writing 20, 30 . . . to 100, and the final three alphabet letters were used for 3 more hundreds (to make hundreds larger than 400, they would put these together-- 200 and 300 together would be used to write 500 . . .)  

I think it would be interesting to memorize all the letters and how to write them, and then practice writing some different numbers.  It was fun to learn even just up to 10, though.

For this short intro to Hebrew letters, we used two resources-- one was a book we just happened to have on our shelf.  Don't know where it came from, but it was perfect for a study like this . . . called A Hebrew Readiness Book, by Joel Lurie Grishaver, this is a Hebrew alphabet workbook for kids.  There is info to read about each letter, along with a picture of what the word is that goes with the letter.  They also show some simplified versions of Hebrew letters, for writing.  Here is a page with my son's writing of the first 10 alphabet letters (which are also numbers 1 - 10).  

He wrote them left to right, which isn't how Hebrew is written-- but for a first try it's just a minor mistake.  By the way, this alphabet workbook is totally "backwards" for an English speaker-- It begins at what we would consider the back of the book, with pages progressing from right to left (although English sentences on these pages are typed left to right).  The publisher for this workbook is Torah Aura Productions.

Another resource was a colorful set of flashcards, designed by Dinah Ely of The Traveling Classroom.  

Dinah offers these through her Teachers Pay Teachers store.  The artwork on these cards is beautifully done in full color.  Aleph shows an ox, bet has a house, gimel a camel, etc. Letters are shown as block text and cursive, as well as the way the ancient Israelites would have written them (called "paleo letters'-- how Hebrew looked at its beginning).  Down in the lower right corner there is the numerical equivalent for each letter, along with the Hebrew word used to say the number (although alphabet letters can be used to write the numbers, they still have their own number names).  The flashcards come as a printable ebook, with four cards per page (6 pages).

The same images on the flashcards are available in full-page size, too-- you can use the larger cards if you'd like to have a bigger image to present when learning/practicing the letters.  

There are some other Hebrew language items in Dinah's TpT store, too (her Passover Bingo game uses pictures along with Hebrew words), and she has a wealth of interesting Hebrew pins on her "Ancient Hebrew" pinboard:

If you're interested in doing a larger study in Hebrew (expanding to more words, grammar, etc.) you might like this website with free downloads of study materials: 

Have you been curious to learn more about Hebrew?  What do you think about doing a short (or long) study of the Hebrew letters?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Making Matching Cards from Dollar Store Flashcards

Using dollar store flashcards is an easy way to make a set of matching cards.   You need to have two sets of flashcards.  At left in the picture below is the flashcard set I used, along with a set of blank jumbo playing cards, on the right.  Because these flashcards have occupations on both sides, I needed to glue them onto the blank cards (for matching cards, there needs to be nothing on one side or the same design on all the cards on one side).

Because I wanted to make Spanish practice cards (for occupations), I cut off the words at the bottom that named the job and told about it.

Then the pictures were glued onto the blank cards.

I always like to laminate matching cards, because we use them a lot, and when the backs get dirty, it's harder to use them to play matching card games (!); so I had these cards laminated, and then cut them apart, keeping the rounded corner appearance.

We have made several different sets of Spanish vocabulary card games, from different flashcard sets-- it usually involves gluing onto blank cards (because it is rare to find flashcards that only have pictures on one side); this takes time to do, but the finished result is very nice, and when laminated they will last a LONG time!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Da Vinci, in Words . . .

What would it be like to be a 15-year-old apprentice, living in Florence, Italy in the 1400's?  What kinds of art and learning would you encounter?  What would you hear about the Medici family, and the other families who were contesting for power in Italy?

Catherine Jaime's book, Leonardo the Florentine, paints a picture of all of this, with details that portray what this time period (Renaissance) was like.  This book is about Leonardo da Vinci, who spent much of his life as an artist and inventor in Florence.  Towards the end of his time there he began work on "Adoration of the Magi," his first large painting (about 8 feet square).

If you'd like to read about Renaissance times, or about Da Vinci in a historical fiction format, this book is a perfect fit.

There is also a sequel to this book, that tells about Da Vinci's further work in a different Italian city-- called Masterpieces in Milan (see earlier blog post about it here).

We used both books as read-alouds.  We read them out of order-- the Milan one first-- but it didn't seem to matter; both were books that held our interest, and we enjoyed learning more about Leonardo da Vinci and the culture of his time.

There is a third book available in the series-- we'll have to start on that one next . . . it is called To Mantua and Beyond, and picks up where the Milan book left off, through several more years of Da Vinci's life.

Catherine's books are available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Pinch of Salt . . .

Have you ever painted using salt?

I hadn't . . . and didn't really know what to expect, but this Friday when we did some watercolor paintings this one had salt sprinkles add in; you can see where the small "star-like" white spots are-- those are from salt that dissolved in wet paint.  It was a good fit for this picture, of ocean waves.

If you'd like to try painting with salt and watercolors, just remember that the effect doesn't happen instantly . . . it takes awhile to see . . . but after about 10 minutes the salt dots will be evident, and you can brush off any excess salt.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Preschool Big Bead Abacus

Here's a 10-bead abacus I made when my kids were younger.  We really enjoyed using this.  See the info below for instructions on how to make one.

Making a large-bead abacus is simple, but can be a little tricky.

First, find a wire hanger (this part is not always easy, as there are so many plastic hangers now). We did have quite a few wire hangers, so finding one was easy.  Also, you'll need some large wooden beads-- the kind that are used as lacing toys. They need to have a fairly wide hole.

Then, untwist the wire at the top, so both ends are open. Straighten out the end without the hook, so you can put the beads on.

Slip beads onto the wire, and past the curve so the rest on the bottom of the hanger. If you make 5 beads of one color and 5 of another color, this makes it easier to recognize larger numbers shown on the abacus.

Then retwist the wire at the top (the trickiest part; once taken apart sometimes it doesn't go back together exactly like it was before-- but if you work with it a little, jiggling and bending as needed, the two wires will twist together).

One more thing-- the hook needs to be bent inwards, so it won't be poking out, as a safety precaution.

Voila!  Now that the abacus is finished, you can try it out; your young preschooler will enjoy moving the beads one at a time, to count from one to ten. You can also work simple addition and subtraction problems by sliding the beads.

If you'd like some easy, extra-large-print math problems that are all ready to print out and use, take a look at   Preschool Math: Number Tiles.  In this one e-book, there are 4 sets of 20 pages each-- half the pages are for adding, and half for subtracting. Once printed out each set can be reused as needed, so this is a resource that just keeps going!

Friday, February 22, 2013

How to Make a Gigantic Hand-Dipped Candle

Once a month a homeschooled kids group meets at my house.  And in a recent month, we made candles!  They weren't all as gigantic as this one:
But still, they were an interesting craft to make, and also could be put to use, lighting our home tables!  My son James made this big one (23" tall).  Here is how to make a regular-sized dipped candle.  After the instructions, I can tell you how to modify them to make the really tall one.

How to Make Hand-Dipped Candles:

You will need: paraffin wax (available in the canning section of grocery stores), and a tall container to melt it in (we used an old ice cream maker's metal cannister-- you could use a metal coffee can or anything else you don't mind getting full of wax).  To melt the wax, start early-- It took about an hour for ours to melt-- We used two containers of wax, cut into smallish chunks.  Never heat wax under direct heat; use a double-boiler set-up, so the container holding the wax is inside a larger pan with water.  Wax is flammable, and in fact, if it gets too hot after melting and starts boiling it could burst into flames-- SCARY!  So be cautious and make sure you heat it until melted but then take it off the heat.

To get the color you can take the paper off crayons and add them in while the wax is melting (we used all the reddish tints I could find from our crayon collection-- you might want to try a candlemaking dye instead if you are short on crayons . . .)

The other thing you will need is wicking.  Alas! Our local craft store had no candle wicking available, but I did some research and found that you can make your own wicking string from ANY STRING that is 100% cotton, using a simple recipe.  It's really very easy to make, and probably a lot less expensive than getting pre-made wicking.  I found 100% cotton twine at a local kitchen store, sold for lacing up turkeys (synthetic blends could be a hazard or not work well when lit). You just cut the string in whatever lengths you'd like the wicks to be (ours were about 24" long-- keep in mind that one string will be used to make two candles), and let them soak overnight in a solution of  2 T borax, 1 T salt and 1 C water.  Then hang them up to dry.  We put ours on our clothes-drying rack and they became dry later in the day.

After the wax has melted, it's time for dipping the strings.  Because we did this as a group project, we took turns dipping, forming a long line that had a continuous change in "dippers."  With the middle of the string around a forefinger, the two ends were dipped quickly, and allowed to drip for a moment over a plate. then the person dipping would carry their string and go to the end of the line.  The next dipper would do the same, etc.  We put on some Christmas music (it was in December) and kept going for about 1/2 hour or so, until everyone was satisfied with the size of their candles.  Midway through, we even had an impromptu group song while dipping-- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Though music and singing are not actually necessary for making candles, they were a great addition, and added some extra festive feeling (!)

OK-- Now maybe you want to know how the giant candle was made . . . well, my son had two fairly large candles on each end of his string.  Then he got the idea to hold each candle by an end and dip into the middle (where there was no wax).  After dipping repeatedly to coat the middle section, he was able to create an especially long candle.  Here's another picture of it, with a flame: