Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Girl Scout Sit Upon Gets a Face Lift!

I'm home sick today with a little tummy bug that has been raging around our school. I am feeling a little better but being a teacher, I feel guilty not doing anything so I decided to blog. Looking around my blog posts, I found this one I started but never posted. Can we say SQUIRREL?! That's my husband, Kevin's term for my habit of getting distracted and moving onto another project before I finish the first. Guilty. This is a great project and one that was not too hard-I made twenty of them for my class!

When I was eleven, my best friend, Donna Kay was a Girl Scout. Wanting to be just like her, I decided to join. My fondest memory of Girl Scouts was the first meeting when we made Sit Upons. 
For those of you who were never a girl scout and have no clue what I am talking about, a "Sit Upon" is a 2 X 2 foot piece of vinyl table cloth that you fold in two, hole punch on three sides, "sew" with yarn and stuff with folded newspaper. It keeps your behind dry and cushioned when you are sitting around the campfire or your troop leader's backyard during meetings. Here is a link that has a little history on the sit upon and a tutorial on how to make an old fashioned one:  If you want an easier, more modern take on the Sit Upon, keep reading.
 In May, when I chose "Camping" as my kindergarten theme for the 2014-2015 year I remembered that long ago Sit Upon and decided I would make one for each of my students to sit on during circle time and lessons on the floor.  I was really excited but then a few days later it occurred to me that kindergartner's fine motor skills might not be up to making a Sit Upon and that I would have to make 20 by myself! Well, I may have better dexterity than a young kindergartner but I also have arthritis. The thought of all those hours punching holes and sewing made my hands hurt. 
An easier version of the Sit Upon occurred to me when I was in the check out at our local grocery store and saw plastic tote bags. I thought "genius!" Turns out I didn't invent that one. Of course on Pinterest there was a tutorial that looked like someone had plucked it right out of my head. Although I was a little deflated at not having invented the modern Sit Upon, it was nice to see how someone else did it. 

 Now all I had to do was find the perfect sized bag. The last day of school I walked into Michael's and found these large lovely tote bags and bought every one they had. They were a $1.99 each but with my Michael's teacher discount and school tax exemption, they cost about $1.50 each. Here's what you need to make these cute sit upons:

Sit Upon Supplies: 
  • Vinyl Tote Bag-these are about 18"X18" (perfect size for kinder behinds)
  • Color duct tape
  • Newspapers
  • Washi tape
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • Poly-fil quilt batting

My niece, Devon is a writer for Oklahoma City's best little newspaper, The Oklahoma Gazette. I asked her to save me any old issues she had. She hooked me up. You can use any newspaper you have, but free are always best. Because the Gazette is a small sized paper, I used masking tape to put them in the shape I wanted. The newspaper gives the sit upon support. After they were taped in the shape I wanted, I opened the bag slightly (you want it to stay in a folded position) and slid the taped newspapers in.

The original sit upon I made as a Girl Scout only had newspaper but Seth tried out my modern sit upon and said it was too hard. Hmmm. To hard or have today's kiddos become too soft? Oh well. I knew if he thought that, probably the kinders would too. So I looked through my class storage room and found the perfect solution: Poly-fil quilt batting. It comes in a huge roll. You roll it out and cut out the size you need. I put an 18"X18" square layer in each totebag on top of the newspaper for a little cushioning and Seth gave it a thumbs up.

Once I had all the sit upons "stuffed" it was time for the real work. Sealing them closed with the blue duct tape I had chosen.

I'm a bit of a perfectionist so I probably duct taped too much. I laid an 18 inch strip of duct tape along one edge of the bag. I centered it so that the edge of the duct tape length was hanging off the bag by 1 inch. Once I pressed the tape onto the front of the bag, I flipped it over, folded the duct tape and pressed it along the edge on the back side. This sealed the edges. For cosmetic reasons, I did this on all four sides. Next, I put another layer of duct tape on each edge so that the tape was flush with the edge of tote bag. This gave it a neat and tidy look and hid any imperfections such as wrinkles in the tape I had folded over. For the handles, I just duct taped the tote bag on either side of each handle and then put a  strip flush with the edge all the way across.
Cool Tip: When your scissors start to get gunky from cutting the duct tape, wipe the blades down with baby wipes and it comes right off!
 When all the bags were stuffed and sealed it was time to decorate. You could get really over the top and use patterned duct tape or washi tape. For my first one I accented it with some owl Washi tape. It is the new craze and there are so many cool things you can do with it. Pinterest it and you will see. I picked this up at Hobby Lobby for $2:

And here is the finished project:

Though I liked the Washi tape I decided to get rid of it. I didn't think my kinders would sit still until they had picked every shred of it off. As for the sit upons, the kinders love them.

I have discovered an added benefit to the sit upons: the handles. This epiphany came to me after I attended a teacher's conference in Oklahoma City in August. One of the merchant booths there was selling "Fidgets." It was a little tube of material with balls sewn inside that children can fidget with to keep them calm and able to focus. Although they are intended for children with Autism or ADHD, they help other kiddos too. Similar in texture, I figured why couldn't the tote bag handles serve the same purpose? It worked. Observe my class during lessons and you'll see some of my little ones fiddling with those handles and listening to my lesson!

On my classroom floor, I put down lines of duct tape in three rows in my whole group area. Each morning, the kinders lay their mat on the line where their name is. At the end of the day they pick them up and put them away in their cubbies on a hook. Simple.

I will make new sit upons each year.  However, I will make one change: buy white or solid tote bags and let the kinders decorate them with colored permanent markers. Kinders will love it.  Expect a future post next August when I do exactly that. As for the durability of the sit upons, we have been using them for almost five months and they have held up great. Well, until my next post, be safe and healthy!

My Seth giving the new and improved modern Sit Upon a try in his favorite reading spot in our library.