Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hotglue Snowmen

These little boogers are so cute, but definately not a project for the little kids (gets a little hot).

Take your hot glue gun and on wax paper, glue out the shape of a head.  Put a piece of yarn on top (to hang the ornament from later).  To make the face, add beads and a piece of orange pipe cleaner while the glue is still hot.  Once you finish the face, glue out the body.  I added a pipe cleaner for a scarf and some beads for buttons.
HINT:  I learned it works better if you glue back and forth instead of in a circle.  There seems to be less holes this way...  I also learned that your hand starts to cramp after the forth or fifth glue stick.

Once dry, cut the wax paper around the snowman.  Once they are completely dry they are freakin adorable!  The glue drys to look like ice!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fun Fall Pictures

This is a great decoration for fall and simple for all ages (after seeing the kids' pictures framed, I want to do one myself now).

I started with a piece of scrapbook paper.  I used paper that was textured so that it would look a little nicer than plain paper (but any paper will work).  Next, I took brown paint, mixed in some metallic brown for fun, and painted a tree on the paper.  Then once dry, I gave each kid a painted tree and some buttons and had them glue the buttons on using clear-drying glue and a paint brush.  They had glue all over the buttons and paper, so its important to use a clear-drying glue, like Elmer's.  Since we were doing fall pictures, I grabbed bags of buttons that were assorted fall colors.  But, you could also do a nice spring picture by using assorted green buttons and maybe even a red here and there for an apple or a pink for blooms.

Simple.  Beautiful.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spooookkkkyyyyyyy Luminaries

This is a great way to reuse your glass spaghetti and pickle and mayo jars and make them into something fun for Halloween.

So simple...  Have your little one paint the inside of the jar a solid color, depending on which creature they are making. 

There are a few different ways to do the face.  For my 2 year old, I took a permanent marker and drew the face on the front of the jar.  For another of hers, I cut out face pieces, and she put them on the jar.  For my 4 year old, I drew face pieces on black construction paper.  Then, I gave him scissors, let him cut out the pieces, and using a glue stick, he put the pieces on the jar.  And obviously, we had to grab the googly eyes for one.

Add a candle and there ya go.  Such a fun use for old jars!

Bringing the Beautiful Fall Colors Indoors

Our yard is sooooo covered with leaves already.  Its crazy! 

Coming in from school today, the kids decided to collect a bunch of their favorites.  They brought them in and put them on the table.  Sooo pretty... So we decided to decorate with them.

I took out some thread (my son made me get thread to match each different colored leave) and tied the leaves to the light over the kitchen table.  What an easy way to bring the fall indoors.

Friday, September 30, 2011

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Cupcakes

Found this recipe on the side of a box of ice cream cones.  The more I read the side of food boxes, the more fun recipes I find! 

These yummy little things are actually cupcake filled ice cream cones with icing! 

* Mix up your favorite cake mix following the cake recipe. 
* Take your ice cream cones and wrap them in aluminum foil so that only the opening is exposed (this prevents the cone from burning just like when you bake a pie and cover the crust). 
* The recipe says to put your cones carefully in a cupcake pan, but I put my cones in a meatloaf pan (you can fit about 7 in each pan) so that they couldn't fall over. 
* Pour your cake mix in the cones.  I filled each cone to about 1 inch below the top.
* Bake at the temperature and time called for in your cake recipe.

If you fill 1 inch below the top of the cone, this is the size cupcake you end up with.

We decorated with icing and sprinkles, but I think it would look cute if you used whip cream from a can!  See the great help I had decorating.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Halloween Worthy Lunch - Hot Dog Spiders

I am really excited that Halloween season is finally upon us.  To kick-off my favorite time of year, we had super spooky (ok, not really) hotdog spiders for lunch.  Umm, can you say, "Cool"??

Cut up some hotdogs, stick some spaghetti noodles thru, boil in a super-big pot for 10 minutes, lunch is served!!  (Thank you whoever originally pinned this.  Ive seen it a few places and always think its soo darn cute.)

I feel I should add:  yes, our hotdogs ARE pink.  They are Valley Dale... mmmmm  the best. 

My picky eaters loved it, although, one ate the noodles while the other ate the hotdogs. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Tie-Dye" Done Simple (Yes, We are tie dying AGAIN)

Of all the ways we have tie-dyed, this has to be the easiest for kids!  Its soo simple and much cheaper than buying actual tie-dye.
Basically, take some permanent markers, draw on a shirt, spray some rubbing alcohol all over it, and wait for it to "tie-dye".  Boom-taw your done (well, other than setting your dye - details at bottom of post)!  I took before and after pictures to show how different sized lines made different designs.
Before and After

Before and After

If you want the marker on both sides of the shirt, just lay the shirt flat on the table (on paper so it doesn't bleed on the table) and start drawing. Then turn the shirt over, and go over the lines to make them darker.  Spray both sides with alcohol either using a tiny spray bottle or a pipette.

If you want to keep the design in just one spot on the shirt, you can stretch the shirt over the open side of a bowl and put a rubber band around it to keep it in place.  Then spray with alcohol and let dry before removing from bowl.

I also thought it would be cool to tie-dye a shirt the traditional way first in a couple of light color,s and then after it has set, do the marker method over top of it.  Can't wait to try this next time!

To set your design:
After spraying your shirt, let it set for about 6 hours (even though it will dry fairly quickly).  Fill a bucket half with vinegar and half with cold water.  Let your shirt sit in the mixture for 30 minutes, then wash on cold.

A Breakfast Craft-to-Go

Wanna let your kids make a fun snack that they can eat on-the-go?? 
Welllll.......  get some of their favorite O shaped cereal (yes, we used the most sugar-filled cereal we could find, but you could always choose a much healthier O cereal).  Get a piece of elastic, yarn, or embroidery floss, and tie a button two one end (or anything that will prevent the cereal from falling off).  We use elastic because the thought of possibly chewing on a piece of yarn or embroidery floss makes me cringe. 

Now give your child a plate of the O cereal and let them string their own necklace.  Its another great project for hand-eye coordination and its fun to do during snack time:  one on the string, one in the mouth!  When they are finished, tie the string into a necklace and you have an instant snack-to-go!!

The kids love making necklaces and taking them when we go out.  I saw a few people have these around the way and have also seen these on various blogs.  So easy, so fun, so handy.  We've done this a bunch of times; glad I finally thought to take a picture!! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

No Paint, No Problem

Its safe to say my kids paint at least 3 times a week, so we go through some paint!  We run out quite often, and I will not buy it unless its on super clearance.  So what do we do when its time to paint and we can't find the colors we want??  I open the cabinets and start searching.  I've talked before about how we paint with pudding and spaghetti, but we also use other fun foods and supplies.

We paint with shaving cream with food coloring.  Sometimes we add a handful of sand from the sandbox to the shaving cream or finger paint to change the texture. 

You can use your leftover Jello out of the refridgerator and put it on paper, cover with plastic wrap and squish the Jello all around.  When finished, remove the plastic wrap, shake the extra off, and the paper is left with some nice designs.

Our new favorite way to paint:  take some glue and either squirt or paint it onto the paper (I learned to make glue and put it into an empty glue bottle for the little one since she likes to eat this project).  Take cake sprinkles and colored decorating sugar and sprinkle it onto the glue.  This time, we also used some purple Kool-Aid and some pink lemonade.  Once it sets for a day, the colors will spread and its BEAUTIFUL!  The colors come out soooo vibrant.

We did glue/sugar/sprinkle painting last week during our craft-a-day, and the kids entered their pictures in the fair.  They both won ribbons :)

Happy Painting!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sew Fun

Want to know whats great about teaching your kids needlework?
  1.  Its fun and entertaining.
  2.  Little ones can make artwork that any family member would love to have.
  3.  Needlework is good practice for hand-eye coordination which is great for little ones learning to write.

Materials (Other than the buttons, these materials will all be located in the needle art/cross stitching section of your local fabric store)

Stitchable fabric - These fabrics are pre-cut in small sizes for needle art.  Make sure you choose a fabric that is larger enough to fill your hoop.  I chose a bread cover material because the holes were a little larger which would make it a little easier to stitch through.
Embroidery Hoop - There are lots of sizes and colors.  I got cheap plastic ones (ranging from $2 to $5).
Embroidery Floss - Any color
Yarn Needle - These are metal (or plastic) needles that have NO point.  Just make sure you don't get one with a big head as it won't fit through your buttons.
Bunch of Buttons - Rather than use buttons from my stash, I bought a bag of assorted shapes so that my son would enjoy them a little more, plus the shape buttons had bigger holes than normal buttons.

Time to Sew

Take the fabric, and put it into the embroidery hoop.  Now, thread the needle with a piece of embroidery floss.  I kept the floss pieces to about 2 foot so that my son could easily work with it.  Instead of leaving a piece of thread hanging from the eye (as you would normally do when handsewing), I tied a knot so that it didn't slip out of the eye.  On the other end of the floss, tie a large knot.....  And thats it for set-up.

I showed my son once how to run the needle up through the bottom of the fabric and pull it all the way through.  We added a button, and pushed the needle back through the other hole, through the back of the fabric, and pulled it tight again.  After showing him one time, he went for it!  Each button was threaded through one time, then when the needle was to the back of the fabric, he just moved it to the next spot and started over.  The only time he needed my help was when he reached the end of the floss.  I just tied a knot, re-threaded, and set him loose again.

And of coarse, we couldn't do this project without a version for my two-year-old.  So for her, I put a piece of fabric in a hoop and gave her some glue (make sure it dries clear because it will probably go everywhere), buttons, and a paint brush.  She loved being able to "sew" on buttons just like her big brubby.

Now obviously you can take the fabric out of the hoops and frame it to hang on the wall, or you could sew a back on it, stuff it, and make it into a blanket.  But, my kids wanted theirs hung on the wall hoop and all!

Theres nothing like having new handcrafted artwork to hang on my walls.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lets Make Some Bracelets

What little kid wouldn't love to make some jewelry??  This project is easy and f-r-e-e!!

Start out by taking an empty toilet paper roll and cut it into 1 to 2 inch wide circles, and then slit each circle open.

Next, give it to your child and let them go crazy decorating.  They can use markers, paint, glue, whatever they want.  My son decided to take some shells he found while we were at the creek and glue them to his bracelet that he had painted blue.  The shells made his a little heavy, so I glued a little piece of velcro to it to help keep it closed.  My daughter finger painted hers.  My niece painted hers with glue, and then rolled it in glitter.  And of coarse, I had to make one :)  I painted mine white & blue and then dotted some glitter in the glue. 

So fun, so easy, so cheap, so entertaining!!

Hello, My Name Is....

My son has been spelling his name for what seems like forever now, but writing it and identifying the letters as individual letters (and not just one big word) is a little foreign to him.  So, we decided that this would be our focus for the last couple of weeks.  I wanted to make it fun as well as educational, and of coarse it had to hold the interest of a 4 year old.  We have been using a few different methods; some methods worked a little better than others, so I'll just highlight our two favorites.

1.  My children both have their own notebooks to draw and write in.  Each day I write my son's name with pencil 4 times on a page.  He takes his markers and traces over each of the letters so that he can get the hang of forming each letter.  For added reference, I wrote his name on an index card, laminated, and velcroed it to a wall in my kitchen (we use the same wall for keeping up with daily weather, date, day of the week, and a daily color).  This card can be pulled down and placed in front of my son while he is writing in his book.

After he has traced his name 4 times, I give him blank index cards, and he free-hands his name once on each card.  Now, his motivation for doing this:  we take each card that he has written his name on, put it in an envelope, and he mails it to a different family member each day.  He is soo proud of himself for being able to mail these to whomever he chooses. (And if you are a family member who is wondering where your "Russ Card" is, don't worry, its coming).

2.  I took 4 index cards, and on each card, I wrote one letter of my son's name (I also did this for his last name, but haven't started using them with him yet).  I did the same for the 4 letters in my daughters name. 

I take the 8 index cards and hide them all over the living room.  After a big "Ready, Set, Go!", the kids are set loose to find all of the index cards with their name's letters.  Once found, they arrange them in order on the coffee table so that they spell out each of their names.  Now, my 1 year old hasn't completely gotten the hang of putting hers in order (although I have to brag that she CAN spell her name now and does recognize which 4 letters are hers), so this is a team sport.  The team does not win until both names are spelled correctly and then each name must be spelled out-loud by both of them.  This game has become a surprise hit!!  I can't wait for next week when we add our last name into the mix.

I think I have managed to trick my children into learning something without them realizing it.  Thats always a good thing   hahaha  

I would love to hear the ways you have made spelling fun for your little ones.  We are always looking for new ideas!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sooo Flubbery

This is a great recipe for the kids to make and play with; its flubber!!  It feels just like the stuff you get in a little jar at the dollar store or wherever that makes fart noises...  hehehehe

Combine 1/3 cup Elmer's glue, 1/3 cup water, and some food coloring.  I decided to put mine in a jar so that I could just shake it all up for the final step, but you can also use a large bowl.  Mix it up with a fork until the glue is all dissolved (takes about 1 or 2 minutes of stirring).
Next, take 1/3 cup water and pour it into a SEPARATE cup or mug.  Add to tablespoons of Borax to this water and let it set for a minute or two without mixing.  You are just waiting for the Borax to settle to the bottom of the cup (the water on the top will be white and cloudy, thats fine).  ***Oh, if you don't know what Borax is, its a laundry additive that you get in the laundry detergent isle at the grocery store.  Its great stuff.  We use it in our washing machine, for removing smells from trashcans and liter boxes, and a bunch of other stuff.***  Once the Borax has settled, pour the water out of the cup, leaving just the wet Borax.  If you still have a little water left in the cup, its fine.
Now, take the cup of wet Borax and pour it into the glue mixture, scraping the remains out of the bottom of the cup.  Now either shake up the mixture or stir it up til it starts to flubberize.
It will be kinda wet still when mixed, so just take the mixture out into your hand over the sink, and squeeze it and work it from hand to hand.  Doing this will cause the extra moisture to fall out and get worked in.  Do this for about a minute and it will be finished!!  Just set it to the side, wash the leftovers off your hands, and DONE!!

This stuff is sooooo funnnnn and easy!!

Time to Play with Our Food

Time to combine two of my kids' favorite things:  finger painting and spaghetti.  It adds a fun twist to normal everyday finger painting.

Next time you break out the finger paint, just boil up some spaghetti noodles (or use leftovers from last nights dinner) and add it right into the paint.  Since its summer, we decided to take ours outside into the grass.  I put a couple of big pieces of paper on the ground with some bowls of different colored spaghetti paint.  The kids had so much fun painting with this mixture.  They experimented with making fun shapes on the paper by rolling it and throwing it (and my daughter even found it amusing to paint herself with the spaghetti).

When they were finished with the painting (which was a good hour after they started), we decided to make some spaghetti art.  I cut off little pieces of aluminum foil and placed them on the table. Then each kid took handfuls of spaghetti and arranged (or threw) it onto a piece of foil.  I had to join in on this part and make one too :)  When they were finished, I placed the foil with the art in a spot where it wouldn't be bothered and let it set for two days until it hardened.  Then, I gently pulled away the foil, added a piece of ribbon, and hung them from the kitchen window for us to enjoy!  I think we may make some more around Christmas for the Christmas tree.

This project was double the fun.  And the advantage of doing it outside during the summer, when they were finished they just jumped in the baby pool and washed themselves off.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Best Part of Summer: Butterflys

So why not raise your own??  I must say, we had so much fun checking on these little guys everyday. 

For my son's birthday this year, we decided to get him a butterfly kit.  They sell them at most major toy stores and online.  Here is the one we did:

Now don't get yourself all excited thinking there are live bugs in the kit.  The box acutally comes with just the butterfly house and a certificate that you take online to order the actual caterpillars (I suggest ordering the bugs before you give the kit to your child because even though it only took a few days to get them in the mail, boy was that a long few days for my kids to wait!)  Once you get your caterpillars, you get to watch them grow and grow and grow.  Its pretty amazing how quickly they get soo big! 

After that they go into their cocoons, and then after a little more waiting......  YAY BUTTERFLYS!!  We were glued to the butterfly house for weeks.  The kids loved that they got to feed the butterflys flowers and sugar water everyday.  They never missed a day...  And if they had it their way, we would have fed them every hour. 

The hardest part of the whole experience was convincing the kids that we needed to let the butterflys go.  We watched them a week, and they finally agreed it was time.  We found a nice flowery spot and said goodbye.

This little guy tried to hitch a ride back in the house on my husband's hand.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Free Home Depot Fun

So, as a lot of us already know, Home Depot has Kid's Workshops the first Saturday of each month.  I have wanted to take the kids for awhile now, but just never got around to it.  Ok, honestly, I was a little afraid it may be too much for my 4 and 1 year old, plus I wasn't sure how it all worked, so I kind of put it off.  But my husband and I finally decided it was time to try it out, and I'm so glad we did.  For those of you who have also thought about it but weren't sure what to expect, here ya go:

1.  Its completely free.  For the cost of $0, your child gets a Home Depot apron and a cute little kit to build something wooden (something different each month).  They have all the supplies set-up, ie hammer, glue, nails, whatever you need.  There are little tables set-up with little chairs (or in this case, 5 gallon buckets which, by the way, are the perfect height for little ones to sit on).  And when all finished with your project, your child is given a little pin-of-accomplishment to put on their apron.

2.  The projects are pretty easy; even my almost-2-year-old did a great job.  Both kids had a blast.

3.  I'm the kind of person who likes to just jump in without instruction, and thats what this is.  The employees hand you the project and only help if you need it.  It was nice being able to sit with my kids and go at our own pace with our set of instructions.  We didn't have to keep up with anyone else.

In conclusion, if you are looking for a fun, free, activity that you and your child can enjoy together, make sure you hit-up the Home Depot Kid's Workshops.  Just check their website to see dates, times, and upcoming projects.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Story of the Story Book

This project all started because I decided to actually sort through junk that has been accumlating in my house.  As I'm trying to throw away all my outdated magazines,  my son started flipping out.  He wanted to know why was getting rid of such cool pictures.  He had a good point.  So, to keep him from melting down we decided to do a fun little project.  He and I created a book from all his favorite magazine pictures, and he narrated the pages for me.  It turned out to be such a great experience for both of us!  Here is what we did:

We grabbed the scissors and started cutting out all the pictures he liked (good thing we bought new safety scissors this week).  We took the pictures, arranged them on the table, grabbed a glue stick, and he went to work sticking them to blank paper.  Then came my favorite part!  One-by-one we went through the pages and Russ told me what was going on each page while I wrote it down.  He created some cute little stories.

Then we decided to professionally bind the book.....  Ok, not really.  Instead, to make the front and back cover, I took two pieces of cardboard, covered them with white paper, and duct taped around the sides (yes I know, there I go with the duct tape again).  I put the pages we created into the covered cardboard, punched holes, and tied it together with ribbon.  He named the book, I wrote it on the cover, he did some final artwork, and we were finished. 

I can't tell you how excited my little one was when we got in bed last night, and he was able to read his own little book.  This is definately a project I recommend everyone try.  It is sooo good for the imagination!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Newspaper Beads

Let me tell you the reasons I love this project:
1.  It was something my son and I did together, and we both had fun.  2.  It was a great way to recycle some old newspapers.  3.  It makes a really cute gift for your little one to give to Grandma for Easter.  And my favorite reason, 4. My heart melted when my son told me he wanted me to have it because it would look so pretty on my wrist. xoxoxo

The only bad part about this project:  It takes a few days to complete it because you have lots of drying time.....

Mommy & Kid Part:  Start of by taking a newspaper and tearing it into small pieces.  You can also use the old sales ads that come in your paper.  My pieces ended up being anywhere from quarter sized to candy bar sized.  The smaller the better.  Ya know, I'm amazed at how much kids love to tear up newspaper :) 

Here is an adult part:  Take your cut-up newspaper, and put it in a large pot.  Boil some water and pour it over the newspaper.  You'll want enough to cover the paper.  Then, put the lid on the pot and leave it sitting for an hour or a little more.  You'll want to stir it every now and then.  The goal is to have the paper break up into a nice mush.

Once you get this beautiful mush, you want to drain out the water.  You can do this using a collander if you want, however, I found it was easier to take handfuls, squeeze the water out, and then put it in another bowl.  When the excess water is out, mix in some Elmer's glue to help hold the paper together.  Just guess on the amount.  I used about 8 pages of paper and maybe 1/4 bottle of Elmers.  There is really no exact science to this part.  Heres my warning:  Your hands are going to be black when you are done!!  Don't worry though, it washes off, but be careful not to get it on your clothes.  I also suggest washing your pot as soon as you are finished because the inside will be covered in black also (don't worry, it washes out).

Alrighty, next is another Mommy & kid part:  Its time to form the beads.  Take out small amounts of your mush and roll it into balls.  Try to squeeze out any extra water as you go.  My son didn't get the "squeeze the water out" concept, and his turned out fine, so don't worry about it too much.  I will say, shaping the balls is a little harder than I expected.  You can't really roll it out because it breaks apart a little.  It just takes lots of squeezing and hand-shaping.  Have fun with it!!  Make some squares, balls, flat round discs... whatever your little hearts desire.
Here is the rough part:  Once you get your beads all shaped, put them on a piece of aluminum foil or wax paper and wait for them to dry.  Its gonna take two to three days for them to dry out completely.  I hate waiting, but ya gotta do it.  When they have completely dried out, it will be pretty obvious cause they will be super light.

Now that the beads are dry, drill a hole thru each bead.  Then you can either paint them as they are, or you can sand them down a little with sandpaper or an emory board.  The will not be pefectly smooth; they actually have a natural rock kinda look.  They would probably look pretty cool painted to look like turquoise or something.  But my kids just went crazy painting all different colors :)  Hint:  You may want to put wire thru the beads before you paint them or you may paint the holes shut.  Not a big deal, just makes it a little harder to find the holes when you string them. 

After the paint has dried, spray them with a gloss finish, string them, add a hook, and wear them!!