painting recyclables.

Since Earth Day is coming up I thought I’d share a fun way to let your kids paint to their hearts content without going through rolls of butcher paper.  Instead use your recycle bin to find flattened boxes, egg cartons, plastic containers, whatever you can find that’s clean and paint-able. It is a fun way to use what you have and lets them have fun painting something other than a piece of paper. We put it back in the recycle bin after the paint had dried — truthfully I’m not sure how much they appreciated it but hey, we were trying to be green!

 A few things I learned: 1. Old clothes are a necessity; paint doesn’t just stay on the item they are painting. 2. Have different brushes available – it’s fun for them to try foam brushes, thin brushes and thick brushes to see the differences.  3.  I’ve been saving old yogurt lids etc. for putting the paint on and they work great. Just another way to recycle and use what you have.     4. My child that pays attention to detail and is a little more deliberate spent most of the time painting the same cardboard box/castle while child number two went through about four different items in that time — be prepared with multiple options for children like my Stella.

This was the coolest cardboard packing that came when I bought a new portable stereo. It seriously looked like a little castle; perfect for little girls to imagine and paint on!

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And moving onto the egg carton . . .

And then the applesauce box. (Notice the paint has now somehow found her pink shirt).

Still plugging away on the castle . . .

Finally finished with the castle and moving onto a plastic fruit container. Thankfully there wasn't a wardrobe malfunction; maybe the pirate dress up dress wasn't the best choice for painting.

What else have you had success letting your kids paint?

e is for eagle

I’ve been a little slow on posts this week —  but we did manage to make our next letter in our alphabet series, letter E. Here’s the website where I’m searching for letter inspiration and then finding my own ways to make each letter.

What you’ll need:

  • Construction paper: white letter E, yellow beak, brown wings, white tail, and a piece to glue it all on
  • Glue Stick
  • Googly Eyes (I love these things!)

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Since the tape isn’t quite doing it’s job on the wall, and I am always walking  in to find the masking tape (I’ve even tried painter’s tape!) stuck on the wall and the paper buried underneath whatever toys they had out on the floor, I’ve decided to instead use them to make a book. I can’t decide whether it’ll just be a binder and page protectors or scan them in and make a book on Shutterfly but I am liking this idea more and it’ll be something they can look through and hold onto down they road if they want.

leprechaun trap and tricks

This is the first year I’ve tried making a leprechaun trap with the girls; they did them at daycare last year and I thought the idea was really cute. I’m pretty sure they don’t really know what a leprechaun is; I think they are picturing Buddy the Elf back from Christmastime. They had fun making their little traps and we’ve been setting them with a gold coin as bait at night. In the morning they find no coin but a small candy and this morning that silly leprechaun left green footprints on our toilet! (he had turned the toilet bowl water green but somehow this morning it was back to normal…not naming names but I’m wondering if someone flushed it when he got up this morning?!)

I’ve been trying to think of a few more tricks he can play and have come up with these:  green milk in the fridge, writing something on the bathroom mirror with a shamrock sticker, setting up some sort of toy in the center of the playroom and putting shamrock stickers on it, maybe decorating their bed with the same shamrock stickers. . . I need to find a use for all the shamrock foam stickers I bought at Michael’s clearly!

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Here’s a few links to some other fun St. Patrick’s Day fun I found on Pinterest!

How cute is that?

This site has links to tons of St. Patrick’s Day crafts that would work for toddlers and preschoolers. Click here to go to the site.

Rainbow Waffles

How fun are these for breakfast on Saturday? Click here to go to the site.

Leprechaun

I need to get brads so we can make this little guy but I think he’s so fun! Click the picture to find another list of ideas and the above download.

Do you do any crafts with your kiddos for St. Patrick’s Day?

d is for dog

Here’s our letter D craft we did this morning. I know I am repeating myself but a little prep ahead of time will make for a smoother project with these crazy little creatures (toddlers) with almost no attention span. My inspiration for letter D came from here.

What you’ll need:

  • Letter D — cut out of white paper (or be crazy and have a colored dog!)
  • Spots, Ear & Nose – cut out of black paper
  • Collar – any color you chose
  • Paper to glue the D on
  • Googly eyes
  • Glue Stick

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Super cute, easy & our alphabet border in the play room is slowly growing!

c is for caterpillar

We’ve gotten a little behind on our letters but a quiet morning at home made this a perfect activity. I did a little prep while they were playing alone and that made this a fast, easy project and they continued to play with the scraps and glue well after we finished. I’ve been using this site to come up with inspiration for our letters – there are tons of great ideas.

What you need:

  • Construction paper – cut out a letter C and about 9 smallish circles for each caterpillar
  • Googly eyes
  • Pipe cleaner – cut in half
  • Glue stick

Glue the letter C onto another sheet of construction paper.

Glue the circles along the shape of the C to make your caterpillar body.
Add googly eyes and a face and punch a hole at the top of your circle (maybe do it before it’s glued on and it might be easier) to thread your pipe cleaner antenna through; and there you have it… C is for Caterpillar.

Since we have started this I have noticed Norah being very aware of letters when we are out and about (the whole 2 she could possible recognize anyway). She is still not sure whether to call it an “A” or an “Alligator” but we are getting there and she is definitely recognizing them.  She even got herself all worked up this weekend when Luke was trying to put her in the car seat and she wanted to show me the letter “A” that was on a restaurant window. When we realized why she was so upset we let her show us what she was talking about and she proudly ran up to the window and pointed out the letter. I love seeing their little minds work and to see the excitement of learning in her eyes is so wonderful. I can only hope that excitement will stay alive her entire life and she’ll always want to learn.

valentine’s day cards

When I saw this cute idea to use a toilet paper roll to make heart stamps I was sold. I had everything I needed and knew I wanted the girls to make cards to send to their friends and family for Valentines. There are so many things you could do with the cute hearts this makes: cards, canvas, stamp on a shirt with puffy paint, or just let them go to town on paper. It was such another reminder of how different their personalities are (ok, maybe age played a small part too):  Stella’s stamping method was fast, furious and all over the place while Norah would stamp perfect hearts in a straight line before moving on to the next (hello, first child).

Supplies:

  • Toilet paper or paper towel roll
  • Tape
  • Paint – We used red and pink acrylic paint
  • Glitter
  • Paper – We used white scrap-booking paper
  • For the inside I cut out “Be Mine” with my Cricut
  • Envelopes

Take your TP roll and flatten it out so there’s a crease on both sides. Then start playing with it until you get a heart shape you like and use a piece of tape so it stays.

I did a few trial runs and found that the middle of the heart wasn’t even touching the paper so I had to play around with the heart shape a little more.

I only had one TP roll  so they took turns on stamping hearts and just painting.

The crazy stamper.

And the very deliberate, focused stamper.

After Norah had successful stamped the page full of hearts we added a dusting of silver glitter and then let them dry.  Then I used my paper cutter to get 2 cards out of each sheet of paper and got them down to a size that would fit in leftover Christmas card envelops.

I used my Cricut and cut out “Be Mine” (2 inch letters) and then Norah worked on gluing them all on (it was another good lesson for her on letters and which way they faced and a good lesson for me that it didn’t have to be perfect).

Then I let them go to  town with stickers and signed their name for them and our Valentine’s cards were done!

They might not be perfect but they were made with love and I love how they turned out.

coffee filter hearts & B is for bumblebee

This week we did another fun Valentine’s craft using coffee filters and watercolor paints and also continued on our ABC Crafts with B for Bumblebee.

Coffee Filter Hearts

Although I’ve been making an effort to use up the stack of coffee filters in my craft closet I swear it’s like they keep multiplying; there seems to be no difference in the size of the stack.  Oh well. They work well for kids crafts and I’m sure that I can continue to find things to do with them, especially after seeing how cool watercolors are on them.  For these tie-dyed looking hearts we just used watercolors on the coffee filters, then after they dried I cut hearts out. I love these. I think I had just as much fun painting them as the girls did and Norah was definitely entertained.  Stella had a tendency to just paint water on them so I had to add a little color in here and there.

After they were cut out as hearts Norah and I made a little banner for her bed by punching holes and stringing them onto some Valentine’s ribbon I had.  She loves it in her room decorating her bed and it looks really sweet.

We will be painting coffee filters again very soon.

B is for Bumblebee

These turned out way too cute and were so easy to do with a little bit of prep right before we sat down to make them.  The original idea for this came from here.

What you’ll need:

  • Construction paper:  yellow, black, and any other color to glue your B on
  • Wax Paper: two small circles for the wings
  • Pipe cleaner: Black would be the obvious choice but since we had none the girls choose pink – guess ours are girl bumblebees. Cut  a smaller piece for the stinger and then the remainder can be the antenna.
  • Googly eyes
  • Glue Stick
Trace a block letter B and cut it out of the yellow paper. (Little hands can always do this job too.) Cut strips of black paper for the stripes on the lower half of the bee. I did this while they girls were playing and happily entertaining themselves. It just made it really simple to sit down and have everything ready to go. If I learned anything as a teacher it was that prepping lessons always made them run smoother.

Glue the black stripes onto the B.

Glue the wings onto the B.

Stick the pipe cleaners through and twist for both the antenna and the stinger.

Glue the eyes on.

Glue the finished B onto another piece of construction paper.

B is for Bumblebee . . . B, B, B.

crayon hearts & A is for alligator

Today I have a really fun Valentine’s craft and the first in our ABC letter series.

I found these Crayon Hearts on Pinterest and was directed to Martha Stewart’s website.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit that mine look nothing like Martha’s – but am still very happy with how they look hanging in our window. I still remember making these in preschool and always loved the day we did this.  Let me warn you though – this is a craft that involved some prep work – so please don’t think you can just sit down and do this one. The girls were having a good morning at home playing by themselves in the playroom so I was able to get all the crayons peeled and then used one of those flat paddle dicer/scoopers (I’m sure that makes no sense) to chop up the crayons since our cheap sharpener quickly became too slow and bogged down with crayon shavings for me.

You need:

    • Wax Paper
    • Crayon Shavings – I used purple, pink, and red for Valentine’s colors.
    • Kraft Paper – that is off her website – I have no idea what that is and just used construction paper instead. I believe the only purpose it is serving is to be a buffer between the wax paper and your iron.
  • Iron – on a medium to low setting.

Fold the wax paper in half and sprinkle the crayon shavings you want on one half of the wax paper. Then fold the other 3 edges with a small fold to keep any fax from spilling out (speaking from experience – don’t forget this step!). Then cover the wax with your Kraft (??), or construction paper like I did, and use your iron to melt the crayons beneath.  We did this on top of a magazine and I’d recommend that because by the end the magazine was quite waxy and I doubt you’d want that on your table.  Norah and Stella’s job was sprinkling the crayon shavings on the wax paper and then Mom had to finish the rest. Not a super kid friendly craft but it was fun to see them get excited when they saw what the iron did to the crayon shavings. 

I let them sit for a few minutes to harden and cool off and  then just traced different sized hearts and cut them out. I punched a hole and used pink yarn to hang them from different levels on our window. They were pretty at night but even prettier in the morning when the light was shining through them.

And just in case any one is curious . . . Mr. Clean Magic Erasers do a pretty good job getting melted red crayon out of fabric on chairs.

A is for Alligator

I have been wanting to start doing letter crafts with the girls for awhile now.  I know Norah’s ready and poor Stella is just going to have to be since her sister is.  I came across this great compliation of all sorts of ideas for each letter and will be getting my inspiration here.

What you’ll need:

  • Construction Paper – We used green for our A and each girl picked their own color to glue it on to.
  • Scissors (Kid scissors if you want them to cut)
  • Glue Stick
  • White Paper
  • Googly Eyes
  • Paint – We used green and yellow tempera paint.

Draw a big outline of a block letter on the green paper (You can also draw two little triangles up near the top where the eyes will go.) Then let them paint the letter however they want. I had to go and redraw the letter A on the paper after it had dried since they both covered almost the entire paper.    

After the paint has dried cut out your letter A – this could be another opportunity to practice cutting but sadly in our house the kid scissors had gone MIA and it was almost lunch time which meant Mom was not in the mood to go on a scissor hunt.  Then they can glue their letter on to whatever paper they picked — purple for Norah and pink for Stella.  Then they glued on little eyes and white triangles I cut for their teeth.  I hung both of them up in their playroom and am going to make them a border on the top of their wall – should look very cute when we’ve gone through the entire alphabet.

   A is for Alligator . . . A, A, A.

        

cloud dough

Cloud Dough

This was so fun and definitely kept their attention for a good half an hour  — and in toddler time that felt like two hours! All you need is flour and baby oil; mixed together it feels like flour but is moldable and another perk is that it smells delicious!  I found the original idea here.

Here’s what you do:

Add 8 C flour and 1 C baby oil to the container of your choice – then’s the fun part, get in there with your hands and mix it up. It will take anywhere from 3-5 minutes to get it fully incorporated so it holds some shape. I ended up squeezing in a little extra oil during the process too. You’ll know when it’s done when you can make a snowball shape or make a sandcastle and it stays standing. That’s it.  I made each girl their own box of Cloud Dough and have it in a plastic carton with a lid (I have no idea how long it will keep but am hopefully this will make it last a little longer). I also know sharing is a major issue in our house right now with the youngest and everything I can do to make things as even keeps the screaming of “MINE” down and everybody happy. I also just liked the idea of two smaller boxes rather than one big one.

I laid a towel down on the kitchen floor, gave them their boxes with a few cookie cutters, spoon, and other things to play with and they were very content to play in their boxes. Stella (surprise, surprise) had a harder time keep it in her box and I was very grateful for the towel that made clean-up easy.

I hope you all are saying "CHEESE" whenever you see a picture of Stella like this because that's exactly what she's saying.

Next week we will be starting Valentine’s crafts and starting our ABC crafts! Stay tuned!

snowflakes & painting graham crackers

Here’s two fun crafts we did this week — one’s to eat and one’s a cute winter decoration you can hang up.

Painted Graham Crackers

These were very cute and perfect for an afternoon craft and snack. I found the original idea for this here.

Supplies:

  • Graham Crackers
  • Food Dye (find all natural if you are worried about that)
  • Apple or White Grape Juice
  • Paint Brushes

Use the food dye to color different bowls of juice the colors you choose – you can make them as bright or light as you’d like. (Don’t use much juice – we ended up pouring a lot out.)  I put graham crackers on paper plates and gave them each a paintbrush and let them go to town.  This was much more suited for Norah’s age but beauty of this is that when Stella was over painting she could just eat her graham crackers and still sit at the table with Norah. Fun, easy, and involved a snack at the end — three positives in my book!

Turn around for 1 second and this is what I walk back to .

Yummy graham crackers and blueberries for a snack!

Coffee Filter Snowflakes

Supplies:

  • Coffee Filters
  • Scissors
  • Markers

I found a huge stack of coffee filters that I wanted to try to use for a craft this week.  I don’t know where they came from and since our coffee pot doesn’t need filters they found their way into my craft closet.  I knew I wanted to go for a winter themed craft and immediately thought of snowflakes! Although we don’t get snow here (maybe once in a blue moon and then it’s usually gone in a few hours) I thought snowflakes would be fun to make and a fun decoration they could hang in their playroom. While we were doing it I was so impressed with Norah’s scissor skills and am going to keep giving her the opportunity to use her kid scissors so she’s ready for (can’t even imagine her in school yet) Kindergarten. The other great thing about this craft that she took quite seriously was the folding. She made quite a few all by herself from start to finish and was so proud of her finished snowflakes. I had to resist grabbing her snowflake and telling her, “No, this is how you do it,” and instead just let her make slices or cut huge holes in it and do it herself. No two snowflakes are alike, remember? There’s beauty in their differences and I wanted her to take satisfaction in doing it herself.  Stella sat on my lap while I cut some out and she unwrapped them (“It’s like unwrapping a present, Mom!” Norah said.) I pulled out the markers after we’d made a few plain ones to add some color to some of them and Stella was back in her element. They colored away and then we folded and cut them out as snowflakes.  I think it would be fun to make more and hang them from the ceiling with fishing line or ribbon.

This one was appropriately named, "jelly fish."