Easter Crafts!

Spring has sprung and Easter is almost here!  A lot of these crafts can be doubled as “Spring” crafts, for those of you who don’t celebrate Easter.  Enjoy!

Infant/ Toddler: 

Carrot Craft

Q-tip Easter Eggs

Fork Chick

Preschool:

Shaving Cream Easter Eggs

Plastic Egg Maracas

Paper Plate Sheep

School Age:

Crystal Egg Geodes

Watercolor Resist Egg Painting

Cherry Blossom Bottle Painting (Bonus: Use different size bottles!)

I have a few more on my holiday/seasonal pinterest board, including vibrant coffee filter flowers, egg sun catchers using contact paper, egg paper strip art, painting with plastic easter eggs, and LOTS of fun eyes for dying/coloring your easter eggs!

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My Hanukkah gift to my Nanny Family!

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, so it was time to give my big gift of the year!  I have been really anxious to give it to them, since I’ve worked so hard on it.  They were thrilled!

It’s a wall hanging with a hand-embroidered menorah.  I made little flaps that cover the flames and can be velcro-ed up for each night. The pockets also have velcro to keep them shut. I’m hoping it will be something they’ll treasure for years to come!

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Here’s a detail shot of the embroidered menorah. I used chain stitch for everything but the flame. I thought it felt more “heirloom” that way. 😛

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I loved picking out the little gifts. Some of the pockets have little treats- gourmet lollipops or some tasty cararmel-covered marshmallows. I put character socks in one and Hanukkah notepads in another. I had so much fun making custom Lego mini-figures to go in a pocket. Another pocket has little collectible character dog tags.  My favorite, though, is the last day, with something else I made- tiny little teddy bears!

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They’re about 3 inches tall with jointed arms and legs, hand stitched together with felt.  My first stuffed toys!  They were fun.  They’re not perfect, but I think they’re still cute. 🙂

Time to start planning their gift for next year!!!  I had so much fun with this one!

Christmas Crafts!

I currently work for a Jewish family, so I haven’t done Christmas crafts in years!  But that doesn’t mean I can’t pick out some good ones for you guys to do.  Here’s some fun ideas for you to try with your kiddos at any age!

For the Little Bitties (Baby or Toddler):

Handprint Christmas Tree –  Do this with one kid, or with all of them on the same tree for a “family tree”!  If you’re working with a kid who’s not great at putting his handprints where they need to go, have him do them wherever (as long as they’re not touching each other), then cut them out and paste them into a tree.  Paint on hands is always fun! Fingerprint lights are a bonus!

Dot Sticker Tree or Wreath – Ok, so babies can’t do this one, but it’s great fine motor practice for toddlers!  To make it a little easier, peel the background section of the sticker sheet off so that only the dots are left on the sheet to peel off.  If you have other kinds of stickers, use those, too!  Just make sure they’re not too hard for your kiddo’s little hands.

For the Less Littles (Preschool age):

Beaded Candy Cane Ornaments – Large beads are great for fine motor development at this age, and they’re fun, too!

Window Clings made with DIY Doodle Paint –  Squeezing bottles strengthens hands, and window clings are fun and decorative!  This link talks about how to make your “doodle paint” scented, too!

For the Not So Littles (school age):

Paper Stars – These look a lot more difficult than they are.  Kids may need some help, depending on their age, but it’s really just cutting straight lines, taping, and stapling.  When finished, they are an awesome decoration!

DIY Photo Snow Globes –  Most people know how to make a snow globe out of a jar, but I love the idea of printing out photos of your kiddo, then laminating it to put inside the snow globe!  So cool, right? Right?

Have fun!!!

Gifts the kids can make!

I’ve been meaning to update, but I’ve been so busy!  It’s the gift-giving time of the year, and I make a lot of my gifts, so I’ve been sewing, embroidering, beading, and all sorts of other things!

Each year, I help Miss 4 and Mr. 7 make little gifts for anyone and everyone they want to make things for. They typically have very long lists that include family, friends, neighbors, and classmates.  Choosing the right gift for them to make it tough. It needs to be something they can make a lot of without getting tired of making, and it can’t cost too much to make.

This year, Mr. 7 is making hot chocolate stir spoons.  He’s been enjoying the process!  We’ve made them with crushed candy cane and tiny marshmallow pieces so far, and want to also make some with silver sprinkles.

Miss 4 had her own idea this year!  She wanted to make coffee filter flowers for everyone, which sounded perfect to me!  We’ve made these in the past by coloring on the coffee filters with washable markers, then spraying them with water, but I thought we’d try a different method this time that would be less time consuming and would create much more vibrant colors.  So I used this blog post to get the general idea.  I changed it up a little bit.  I cut out the petal shape and place it on paper towels covered with wax paper.  Miss 4 sprays it with a water bottle to get the filter all wet, then drops food coloring onto the filter and watches the color spread around beautifully!  When there’s enough color all over, we let it dry completely before I attach the flower to a green piper cleaner.  The biggest trick I’ve learned is letting the filter dry on wax paper instead of just paper towels.  The paper towels soak up a lot of color, leaving the flower less vibrant.  The wax paper doesn’t!

Need more ideas for gifts that kids can make (and enjoy making)?

1.  More bookmark ideas!  Bookmarks are always a crowd pleaser!

2.  Felt fortune cookies (make them in whatever colors fit the holiday!)

3.  Artwork transferred onto inexpensive candles Super duper cool.

4.  Art Magnets (perfect for younger kids)

5.  Bird seed hearts (what a great way to give back to wildlife, too!)

The Thankful Tree

This year, I decided to start a Thankful Tree at my Nanny Family’s house.  It’s so easy to take what we have for granted, and for kids that have everything they need and most of what they want, it’s that much easier.  I think November is a great month to reflect on what we have and be grateful, since it’s the month of Thanksgiving and is right before the gift-giving season.

Putting together a Thankful Tree is pretty easy.  It can be 2D or 3D, but the idea is to have bare branches, then have each kid (or each person in the family) write down on fall-colored leaves something that they’re thankful for.  Help the kids understand what it means to be grateful, and express how fortunate they are to have so many things that other people don’t.  You can guide them with phrases like, “Who do you love?”, “What do you have that makes you happy?”, “What places do you enjoy going to?”, or “What do you have in your life that you wish everyone had?”.  Try not to give them answers, though, and don’t judge or discourage their answers.  Miss 4 told me she is thankful for Florida. She couldn’t tell me why exactly, but if she would like to be thankful for Florida, that’s just fine with me.  Have them put at least one leaf on the tree each day, but don’t stress too much about it. Being grateful shouldn’t be a chore!  And if they want to put more than one a day, that’s great!

I made my thankful tree out of construction paper, and put it on the wall with painter’s tape.  It looks something like this one:

I am thankful that my kiddos are excited about their Thankful Tree. 🙂

Go out and vote!

Yesterday I put together a great post about chapter books for elementary-aged kids.  Somehow, it disappeared completely.  😦  I have no idea what happened.  Life goes on, I suppose.

Today is a big day!  It’s mid-term elections!  Have you voted yet?  I voted early this year.  If you are not sure who you should vote for, there’s a great non-partisan website that will help you figure it all out!  Just go to ISideWith and answer some questions about the issues out there, and see who agrees with you!  It’ll only take 5-10 minutes.  Then you can print out your answers and take them with you to your local polling place!  Go!  Do it now!  And don’t forget your “I voted” sticker!

It’s a great day to talk to kids about democracy and the importance of voting. You might even want to take your kiddo with you to vote!  I’ve also put together a few resources and activities to help you get your kiddos excited about voting. Enjoy!

PBS Kids: The Democracy Project– Create your own campaign poster, learn about different parts of the government, and find out how much of a difference one vote can make.  This site is mainly themed around presidential elections, but there’s still enough good information to make it worth visiting.

Ben’s Guide to the US Government for Kids– I like that this site has different grade levels that help explain things for kids at different ages.  There are pages about our country, our government, our town resources, and some games and activities. It’s a simple, but quality site.

Start your own election– Read two books about voting, then create a ballot box and have everyone in the family vote for which book they like most.  Or vote for what to have for dinner or what movie to watch tonight.  Have fun with it!

Make a “Future Voter” Button!  Use Ribbons, Felt, or whatever else you have around the house to make a fun button for your future voter.  Maybe it can be worn to go to the polls with a grown-up?

Remember, voting is important, but it can be fun, too!