Winter means many wonderful things to us, with the snow and the holidays and the decorations. When it comes to everyday life around the house, though, winter means lots and lots of winter clothes! Why is it that hats and scarves and coats and mittens get tossed everywhere when removed at the door, and never seem to stay organized? Jo and I thought the kids might do better if putting their stuff away was more fun, so we came up with the idea of having an adorable little penguin to help them do the job.
To start off, we drew a penguin shape (aim for a bowling pin with arms!) on our favorite go-to source for giant paper — the back of some ugly wrapping paper. Once we got the shape the way we liked it, we traced it onto a 2′ x 4′ sheet of MDF board that we got from our local home improvement store. Then we cut it out with a jig saw.
Let me tell you something funny about us working with the jig saw. I’m a huge fan of power tools and comfortable with many of them, but Jo is not. She had never used a jig saw before and I don’t think she even knew what one was. She wanted to try, though. We were both a little hesitant at first to let her cut the actual penguin out, so she practiced on some scrap first. A very surprising thing happened. My dear friend Jo, the one who is afraid of pushing a silly pedal on a sewing machine too hard, the one who didn’t even know what a jig saw was, took to that tool like a duck to water! She was great at it and did almost all of the cutting herself, while I stood by in amazement. I was so proud of her, and I hope you all take her example as inspiration to not be afraid to try something new!
Once we got the shape cut out, we drew in the design with a pencil. I wish I could give you some sort of pattern for this, but this project is just too big for a template, and you’ll need to wing it. Fortunately, a penguin is made of pretty easy shapes.
The next step was to paint the penguin in the traditional colors of black and white. We gave him a big top hat and bright yellow feet.
To jazz up the top hat and make it stand out a little more, we cut a piece of sticky-backed black felt to the same shape and stuck it in place. The top hat is going to be where the child will put her hat.
Then I drew on some cute little eyes. I used a black marker instead of paint, because it gave me a lot more control.
For the penguin’s mouth, we cut two half-circles of scrap wood and drilled pilot holes into the back. We also drilled matching pilot holes into the penguin.
We attached the mouth pieces from behind with some screws, and they create a perfect place for putting the child’s gloves.
We cut another piece of sticky-back felt into a bow tie shape and stuck it on the penguin’s neck. Then we drilled a pilot hole right through it. Gosh, that looks so mean, doesn’t it?
Next we took three wooden pegs that we had painted black and drilled holes in them. The first one went on the middle of the bow tie, creating a place to hang a scarf. Again, we attached this with a screw coming in from the back.
The other two were attached in the same way on the penguin’s hands, creating hooks for hanging a coat and backpack.
I think the penguin looks just as cute empty as he does filled with winter clothes!
You can lean the penguin on the wall or attach him with a hook. So far this guy has really helped Little Jo keep her things in order, and she has fun doing it!