Apr 8

My son has gotten to dye three rounds of eggs this year. Today we had a seven year-old neighbor over to join in the fun. She got her own dozen, as did Lewis.

I got out Crystal Lite cups to do some fancy half-egg dyeing. I love those tiny little plastic cups! I use them for everything from doling out snacks in really small quantities (good for candy), to putting paint in.

Lewis enjoys mixing dye colors together as well as multiple color dips. There are four eggs in that dye bath!

Little brother even got his own little cup of orange dye. He dyed an egg, a piece of banana, his fingers, and eventually peeled an egg and dyed the contents.

Mar 25

ties16

Use thrifted silk ties wrapped around eggs to dye them with beautiful and stunning patterns! Project from Martha.

Project Materials:

  • Raw eggs
  • Silk ties, blouses, or boxers
  • Cheesecloth, old nylon stockings, or old cloth to cover silk-wrapped eggs
  • Yarn, string, or another method for closing the wrap around the eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons of vinegar

Lots of photos, so click for more:
Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 24

My son loves to cook (for real, and pretend), and I am so drawn to all those adorable mini kitchens that are way out of my price range (not to mention out of my storage capacity). We were playing with his toy pots and pans the other day when I saw an errant plastic storage bin (the ones that are about the size of a shoebox). I turned it over and pretended it was a range, and then thought, a-ha! here’s a good solution to our lack of play kitchen!

The best part? When you’re done play-cooking, you can turn the range over and store all your play dishes inside!

Project Materials:

  • Plastic storage bin
  • Construction paper
  • Glue
  • Double-sided tape

To make:

  1. Cut out one piece of construction paper the size of the bottom of your plastic bin. I used black.
  2. Cut out two spirals for the range-coils on the stove. I used red. (To cut spiral: Cut a circle, then cut a spiral into it. When you get to the center of the spiral, turn around and cut a bit off of one side of the spiral all the way back out to the edge of the circle.)
  3. Glue spirals onto base piece of paper.
  4. Attach paper to inside bottom of bin with double-sided tape.

Alternate ideas:

  • Draw the range-coil shapes onto the paper instead of gluing separate paper spirals.
  • Glue the paper to the bottom of the bin instead of double-stick taping.
Mar 12

My two year-old is very into the alphabet, and pointing the letters he knows out whenever he finds them out in the world. He can also make a couple of “important letters” – the first letter of his name, L, and the first letter of his brother’s name, E.

He had a lot of fun doing this activity: making letters with toothpicks. He naturally created a few letters and pointed them out. After he exhausted his repertoire of letters he could create himself, I made letters for him to see if he could identify them. He did a pretty good job!

To do:

Provide child with several sticks. I used 8. If you aren’t comfortable with toothpicks as the stick, there are lots of good alternatives! You can use pretzel sticks, crayons, or even green beans.

Allow child to play with sticks on a clean surface (we used the high chair).

You might want to start the play out by making some familiar letters (if you want the activity to revolve around letters — it certainly doesn’t have to! Playing with little sticks can be fun on its own!)

Mar 2

evander-berrypainting-209-small

Have you painted with your kid lately? Maybe he or she doesn’t enjoy painting with a brush (or even with fingers), but there are lots of other ways to apply strokes to paper! You don’t even have to use paint.

My 14 month-old made this awesome painting while eating blueberries! I just put some cardstock on his high chair tray while he was eating, and the juice of the berries combined with his little fingers made this beautiful painting. It reminds me of ink on parchment.

Edible “paint” is a great item for really small kids because then you don’t have to stress out about whether or not they get it into their mouths (in fact, it might just be better that way!). You can even combine craft time with snack time! Painting yogurt on grapes is a fun snack, for example.

Paint Alternatives:

I’m sure you can come up with a lot more good ideas for paint alternatives.

lewis-cottonballs-209-small

Instead of brushes, try other kinds of applicators. My 2 year old son rolled cotton balls in some paint and made this pretty painting. The width of the cotton balls made it possible to get a lot more color on the paper much quicker than a paint brush, which seemed to keep my son interested. Try to vary the tactile experience from using a brush. For example, get away from something that is attached to the end of a stick like a paint brush! Try something that you pinch with your fingers.

Paintbrush alternatives:

  • Cotton balls
  • Toothbrush
  • Sponge (kitchen, cosmetic, etc.)
  • Tissue
  • Flowers or leaves
  • Veggies (try lettuce, broccoli, or even carrots)
  • Popsicle sticks
paint-kernal

This painting was made with popcorn kernels. It reminds me of a Pollock!

Barrel Painting

potatopainting

This painting was made with a potato.

We also tried this fun activity found on A Bit of This and A Bit of That: Barrel Painting. You take a cylinder of some sort (oatmeal container, as in the instructions, or we used a big plastic ice cream bucket), add paper, paint, and some sort of tumbling material. We tried cotton balls, goldfish crackers, unpopped popcorn kernels, and a potato (all separately, of course). Each item made a different type of pattern on the paper. My son enjoyed adding the tumbling material and the paint to the cylinder.

paint-goldfishcrackers

This painting was made with goldfish crackers.

This is a fun activity for kids who are more interested in moving around than in sitting still and painting. You can shake, dance, and jiggle the barrel, or make it into a game. My son and I tossed it, rolled it, and kicked it to each other. He couldn’t get enough of it, and I lost interest in the activity before he did!

This painting was made with cotton balls.

This painting was made with cotton balls.

Jan 21

Kids love to play Memory, the matching card game. My toddler plays
the official version at Grandma’s house, but we don’t have that game at
home. No problem! We decided to make our own with readymade stickers
and cardstock. Nothing could be simpler!

The stickers that come with many stickers to a sheet, with repeating
images are ideal, like the ones sold in the education/teacher aisle at
your local dollar store. Or, buy two packages of identical stickers.
Any kind of unmarked cardstock will work. The heavier, the better!

Project Materials:

  • Stickers (you must have 2 of each image), $1
  • 1-2 sheets of cardstock or heavy paper, $.50 or less
  • Paper cutter or scissors, on hand

Total cost: $1.50


To Make:

You will need one card per sticker. Determine how many cards you will need.

Cut cards from cardstock. To cut 16 cards from one
sheet of paper, cut paper in half from both directions. Cut resulting
rectangles in half again in both directions. This is easiest if you
have a paper cutter, but you can also do it with scissors.

Stick stickers to cards. Your child can help with
this (my two year-old did a pretty good job! The images weren’t
perfectly lined up on the card, but he didn’t care, and he had a ball
sticking the stickers on the cards).

Note: it is best if stickers are different-looking
enough to not be confusing to little ones. In other words, two
different shots of the same doggie might be a little too similar! We
used these stickers that all have a different baby animal on them!

Play the game!

To Play (ages 3 and up):

  1. Mix cards up.
  2. Lay all cards face-down on table (in a grid pattern).
  3. Youngest player goes first and turns two cards of her choosing
    over. If cards match, she takes the cards and has another turn. If
    cards don’t match, move to the next player.
  4. When all cards are matched, the player with the most sets of matching cards wins.

To Play Simplified Version (ages 2 and under):

  1. Limit total number of cards to 8, or four sets (you adjust for your child’s skill and interest level).
  2. Youngest player goes first and turns two cards of his choosing
    over. If cards match, she takes them, but does not have another turn.
  3. Next player takes a turn.
  4. When a match is made, everyone cheers.
  5. When all cards are matched, start over again.

The Not-Ready-For-Organized-Games version (younger 2s and under):

  1. Turn 4 sets of cards face up.
  2. Take turns looking at each card and trying to find its partner.
  3. Cheer when child finds a match.

Other tips:

  • You can also use these cards to play other games like Go Fish!
  • If you don’t have stickers that match, how about making your own?
    Print photos of your family (faces are good) on labels and stick onto
    cards. Avery has free label-making software that makes it super easy to print straight to labels! This would also be a fun handmade gift for a birthday boy or girl.
Jan 15

Over at Little Nummies (a fun food blog I contribute to), we’ve been working our way through the animal kingdom alphabetically with an emphasis on unusual animals. I had a lot of fun creating a snack and craft for the Ibex!

bigibex-small

An ibex is a type of mountain goat with huge horns!

ibexhat-wince

Download the PDF Instructions to make this Ibex Hat.

I was pretty excited when I thought of the Ibex hat idea. I think it’s cute, and it’s really simple!

IBEX-idilla

ibexidilla


IBEX-IDILLA

Put cheese on tortilla and fold in half. Microwave 30 seconds. Fold tortilla over again (so it’s in quarters).

Cut horns using a bowl as a template. Place bowl over tortilla and cut around it.

Cut remaining tortilla as shown below. Arrange on plate.

Place olive pieces for eyes, nose, and mouth.

  • About the Ibex:
  • A male ibex’s horns may reach three feet long!
  • Ibex is an herbivore (only eats vegetation).
  • Older males grow beards.

Other Ibex Resources:

Check out Little Nummies for more fun food!

Jan 10

panda-bday

E’s first birthday party was fun! The theme was panda in honor of this stuffed panda E got for Christmas and instantly fell in love with. The dress code was black and white, and party goers received stripey black and white scarves and panda badges to wear.

vic-panda

I wanted to make most of the decorations and try to use what I had on hand, although there was a bit of dollar store component too (the stripey scarves were from the dollar store).

pandas

My sister and I made the panda badges out of felt. We hot glued the features on, and used fabric paint for the white panda eyes.

pandaflags2

I made some black and white birthday pennant-style flags to hang up as decorations. All the fabric for these was already on hand (the gingham was from a reycled shirt, the white fabric was from old curtains). I sewed the pennants onto a candy garland I crocheted for holiday decorations.

pandanose

Since my two boys were the only kids attending the party, we made a simple game appropriate for a 2-1/2 and 1 year old to play: Pin the nose on the panda. I used recycled diaper tabs on the back of the noses to make them stick to the felt. Both boys enjoyed the game, but E played it multiple times. We didn’t bother with blindfolds since the boys are so young!

panda-cakes

I made panda cupcakes (actually not cake – no bake Oreo dessert).

ecake4

And panda rice balls. We also made homemade panda-shaped pizza, but I didn’t get a photo of that.

panda-rice2

There are some more non-crafty photos in the gallery:

Jan 8

I love hoodies with ears. Adding ears to this baby hoodie took about two minutes, including cutting the ears out of felt. (Note: if you want these hoodies to really hold up, use wool felt instead.) Now that I know how easy it is, all the hoodies in the house might suddenly sprout ears!

To make:

Cut 2 ears out of felt. Make them wider than you want them to be when they are finished. Fold over in the center, as shown.

Pin to hood. I pinned them so that the seam on the hoodie would act as a guide for where I would sew on the hoodie.

Sew across the ears, as shown. Use the same color of thread as the ears if you have it. (I actually couldn’t find white thread, so I used the oh-so-cheery red).

Flip the ears up. Put the hoodie on your kiddie. Take pictures because they’re 10% cuter now. Bribe them with candy when they won’t pose for you.

Post about it on your blog even though the candy bribe didn’t work.

Dec 18

These are nothing near as exciting as the chenille stem wonderment that’s going on over at Craftypod, but here are some ten second pipecleaner ornaments for you to make. Or, more probably, for your kiddos to make! This would be a great scout or classroom project. Or, these could make cute package tie-ons.

What you need:

  • Cookie Cutters
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Ribbon (optional)

To make:

Bend a pipecleaner along the edges of a cookie cutter, paying special attention to each crease and corner of the cookie cutter. When you have bent around all edges of cookie cutter, fasten ends of pipecleaner together to finish shape. Tweak the shape of the ornament, if needed.

You have to hold the pipecleaner with both hands simultaneously while doing this, but I was taking a photo

You have to hold the pipecleaner with both hands simultaneously while doing this, but I was taking a photo

If your cookie cutter’s sides are longer than one pipecleaner, you will want to start by bending two pipecleaners together (leave a loop at the top, if desired, as in the star ornament shown in the photo at the top of the page).

I think it could be cool to do a couple pipecleaners twisted together to make a sturdier frame, and then wrap some fabric or ribbon around the pipecleaners (wrap-style) to make it a little less, uh, tacky-lookin’.

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