Kid-Friendly Crafts

Kid-Friendly Crafts

Family Tree of Thanks

Some of you friends may remember this from last year, and the Family Tree of Thanks is out again!


November has already begun, so my mind is now on Thanksgiving! The kids and I were talking about what we are thankful for and I thought it would be fun to display those “thanks” for the month. I honestly thought of this idea on my own and then happened to see something similar on the Disney “Family Fun” website – that one is great too but we used different supplies and will be adding our “thanks” every day. Have fun and make whatever you’d like of it! We have decided to have ours displayed on our dining room table all month.

 
Supplies:
  • Autumn colored card stock paper (enough for 24 leaves)
  • 24 safety pins
  • Branches from the yard, with plenty of little spots for the leaves to hang
  • A large vase, strong enough to hold the branches
Instructions:
  • Draw and cut out several leaves (same kind or different, whatever you choose). I made a couple of template leaves so the kids could trace them. Cut the leaves out – depending on the ages, you might be doing all of the cutting. We made 24 leaves so that we could have one for every day before Thanksgiving. A note on paper: craft stores like Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics, have packets of “scrap”, multicolored, card stock that come in very handy for projects like these.
  • Poke a safety pin at the stem of each leaf (also an adult’s job)
  • Collect a branch or two from outside that would fit your table or shelf (make sure there are plenty of little branches to hang the leaves from)
  • Find a solid vase to set the branches in.
  • Each day, write down something that the kids are thankful for. OR you could ask each of your children what they are thankful for and make a list…each day, write one of those things down and take turns so each child is contributing (write their name on the back of that leaf).
Sidenote: to skip the cardstock paper, you could print leaf printables from this site: http://www.craftjr.com/leaf-template-printables/  Our kids enjoy choosing which leaf they want to color on and draw something they are thankful for each day. 

Easy Homemade Bubble Mix

There are many recipes out there for homemade bubble mix, but this one is my favorite.  You don’t need glycerine or corn syrup, and the bubbles are awesome!  I recommend using an old laundry soap container with a dispenser on it, and attaching a bag to the side with the bubble wands in it.

Ingredients:
12 cups water
1 cup dish soap (blue Dawn is the best)
1 cup cornstarch
2 TBSP baking powder

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, I put HALF of this recipe in my mixing bowl, stirred it a bit, poured it into the laundry soap dispenser, then made the second half.  An important note: the mix ends up looking really watery, not the syrupy-type of texture that store-bought bubbles are like…but we have always been amazed at the bubbles produced.

ENJOY!

Homemade Sugar Hand Scrub

There are many different recipes for making your own hand scrub.  Many people have come up with cute ways to package them, but my favorite “name” for it is Sugar Mama Hand Scrub.  Isn’t that cute?  I found it from Jessica and her blog, Craftinessisnotoptional.com.  I give her all the credit!  Check out her cute way of packaging it and her recipe.  This is my own recipe, in which I added and adjusted a few things…

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups sugar (I used half regular white sugar and half organic sugar because it is more course)
2 TBSP kosher salt (to add some more course grains to it)
1 cup oil (I used olive oil from the Dollar Tree!)
2-3 TBSP Vitamin E oil (I used Target brand, Up and Up)
30 drops peppermint essential oil (I used NOW brand from my local health foods store, or you can buy it on amazon here.)

Directions:
Dump everything except the essential oil into a mixing bowl and mix on low for about a minute (or stir with a spoon).  Then add the 30 drops of essential oil – use whatever fragrance you choose…peppermint is very refreshing!  Stir again.  I chose to divide this up into small jars from JoAnn Fabrics (they were each $1.00).  You can use any container you have…just clean it out and load it up.  This recipe made a large batch…enough to fill about six of the jars shown in the picture.

If you are doing some kind of decorating to the jars, do that before you fill them.  I  spray-painted the tops to make them silver…and I used mod podge to attach the pink paper and then stickers for the writing…and also printed off some “directions” and “ingredients” and laminated those.  Do whatever you’d like!  For more at-home-spa recipes, check out our Kitchen Facials post!

Moon Sand

Many people have probably heard of this and have made it…I hadn’t done it with my kids before and want to share it, along with some tips on making it, storing it and playing with it.  My 2 year old had a “moon” party for her birthday.  (Side note: We are quite random with our birthday themes around here and I am a firm believer in letting the kids pick the theme because anything can be turned into a party!)  I made moon sand to send home with the cousins we had here…I haven’t heard if the parents are loving or hating that yet!  But, we love this stuff and think it’s a great activity for sensory play AND mixes things up on these long winter days.

Supplies:

  • Flour – the amounts depend on how much you want to make (See notes below in the Directions).  I think you need at least 4 cups.
  • Oil – baby oil is the best because it smells nice.  But I am sure you can use any kind.  You need at least 1/2 cup.
  • Large tupperware with a lid (The Dollar Store has big ones that are great for this!)  We like to play with it, put the lid back on, then play with it later – EASY.
  • Cookie sheets for playing
  • Tools and toys that can be submerged and then washed off

Lesson in Vocabulary: Elementary School Activity

I am always amazed at how children can learn something new and then turn around and use it in the correct context…such as learning new vocabulary.  I explained what the word “fickle” meant not long ago and when I was changing my mind at the grocery store, my daughter asked me why I was being so fickle!  So, I thought it would be fun to have an activity for her (simple to make) that she could work on her reading and vocabulary.  This is what I did, but I am sure you can do the same thing in a number of ways.

Supplies:

Q-tips
Cardstock paper
Stapler
Marker
Toilet paper rolls
Bobby pin
Tape – strong packing tape works best

Instructions:

Make a list of the words you are working with first.  I started with “Happy,” “Sad,” “Busy,” “Tired,” and “Angry.”  Then I chose 3 or 4 words that mean the same thing.  For example:

Happy – overjoyed, blissful, merry, cheerful
Sad – melancholy, distressed, somber, gloomy
Busy – engrossed, active, diligent
Tired – weary, fatigued, exhausted
Angry – cross, furious, heated

Then, I cut pieces of cardstock paper that were roughly 3 X 3 inches in size, folded them in half, stapled on one side, slid the q-tip in the middle, then stapled the other side.  I wrote the synonymous words (fatigued, weary, exhausted, etc.) on the q-tip sticks.  Then, on separate pieces of cardstock paper, I wrote the beginning words (Tired, etc.)  With these pieces, I taped them onto a bobby pin, which could be easily placed onto the toilet paper rolls to serve as a “bucket” for the synonymous words.  That all sounds confusing, so just look at the photos and I think you will understand.  Whatever you want to do is going to be great – this was just my way of using only a few supplies I already had in the house.

After she finished placing them in their correct “buckets,” I talked through each word with her and then she practiced writing the new words she didn’t know before.  Using the Magnetic Letters would be a great way to practice the new words too!

Easy Duct Tape Hair Bows

My daughter chose a penguin-themed birthday party this year.  We were out shopping at a craft store and saw penguin duct tape!  I bought it but had no idea what we would use it for.  Well, in my classic-random form, I decided to make duct tape hair bows for the girls at the party literally 1 hour before the party started!  That is proof of how easy these are to make – and I think they are quite cute!

Supplies:
Duct tape
Hair binder
Ruler
Scissors

Instructions:
Step 1: Rip or cut a piece of duct tape that is about 6-7 inches long.  

Step 1

 

Step 2

Step 2: Fold it over on itself so it is now half that size (sticky sides together). 

Step 3

Step 3: The long way, make three folds, two on the sides folded up and one down the middle going down…confusing…so look at the photo.  

Step 4: Hold the middle together and tape together and crease it well.  

Step 4

 

Step 5

Step 5: Slip the hair binder in the middle, between one of the folds and wrap a piece of tape around it tightly.  

DIY: Magnetic Letters (and Numbers)

I may not have taken the easy-route for my kids to play with letters, but it was actually really fun to create!  (I am sure they sell these somewhere, already made.)  I was thinking about activities to do in the car on long road trips, or on the plane, or just during “Independent Time.”  And when I was at this great store, Lakeshore Learning one day, I found some supplies that I thought would be perfect.  My 7-year-old loved helping me make them too!

Supplies:

  • Foam letters, could have sticky backs, but not necessary
  • Small magnets, sticky backs ARE necessary for this
  • Scissors
  • Card-stock paper (thicker paper)
  • Magnetic board (we bought two that are dry-erase and magnetic but also have a tin lid from a random tin box in our house that works awesome too)

Instructions:

I bought a container of 300 small magnets and a container of 500 letters and numbers (it’s mostly letters though).  I peeled the back off the letter, stuck it to a piece of card-stock, cut around the letter to remove the excess card stock.  Then peeled the paper off the magnet and stuck it to the back of the letter.  Done!  Well…repeat several, several times 🙂  I just decided to make enough to have about 5 of each letter.  

Acorn Wreath

It’s that time of year again…when acorns keep falling on my head!  So, here’s a fun idea to put them to use.
We live in an area that rains acorns these days! The kids have been collecting them and playing with them for weeks so I thought it was about time to make a craft with them. This is no Martha Stewart wreath…but it’s fun, festive and almost free! The kids were involved in the first few steps, and I finished assembling it during nap time.

 
Supplies:
Lots and lots of acorns
10 – 12 empty cardboard toilet paper rolls
Duct tape
Red, orange and brown tempera paints
Hot glue gun
Raffia (I pulled dried up strands of some plant from our yard) or twine
Roughly an 18″ wire frame (JoAnn Fabrics had a green wire frame for about $3)

Random Acts of Kindness Day

The kids and I were reflecting over our fun summer recently, and I was realizing that my kids have gotten too used to just doing one fun activity after another for their own enjoyment.  Of course fun activities are a great way to spend our summer, but I wanted to encourage my kids to think of others.  To actually go out of their way to bring joy to someone else.  And this shouldn’t always include a big smile or thank you or hug from the recipient…that just imagining someone receiving something special from them is meaningful.  So, we spent a morning doing “random acts of kindness.”  I am positive that all of you can think of MANY more ideas…these are just a few.  Please, if you choose to partake in something like this, share with us what you did and how your kids felt about the experience.  My hope is that it’s not just a designated day for this, but that our children incorporate thinking of others every day. 




What we did this first time:
– We made little tags that said different things like, “Enjoy this random act of kindness” or “thank you for all you do” 
– Baked cookies and packaged them into small boxes to deliver to neighbors and friends
– Bought a ton of roses and delivered them to: the receptionists at our doctor’s office, grandma, a special friend, the parks and recreation office
– Left random (new!) diapers and wipes in public restrooms
– The kids each hid dollars in the toy section of the Dollar Store (in hopes another child finds it!)
– Picked up garbage wherever we went
– Left spare change in vending machines for a lucky recipient
– Bought food to donate to the food shelf

I am not sharing this idea to give myself a pat on the back for doing something nice.  I want to encourage others to take a few moments to think of some good ideas of how to care for others and take your kids on an adventure to brighten someone’s day. This was our first experience in designating a whole day with the kids for doing random acts of kindness.  I hope to continue these activities often, and encourage you to give it a try!

Wacky Sponge Ball

Here’s another water-play idea, similar to “The Fun Hose” – the kids have enjoyed playing with these fun things – and they only take you minutes to make!  

Supplies:
Several sponges
Rubber bands, thick and strong ones, or zip ties
Scissors (adult should do the cutting)

Instructions:
Purchase a bunch of cheap sponges, multi-colored are fun but not necessary.  Cut them apart (the long way) so you have strips that are about 1/2-3/4 inch thick.  Gather about 10 of them together and wind a rubber band around the middle.  Thick rubber bands are best (like the ones that the newspaper comes in).  Dunk them in water and have fun while staying cool!  They also are great for helping wash the car 😉

The Fun Hose

Confession: I mowed over one of our hoses.  But I like to add more information to that story…it was a blazing hot day, my husband was at work, I was trying my best to get the whole lawn done WHILE checking on dinner cooking inside, and changing over loads of laundry AND all of the kids were playing along-side me during the entire process.  We don’t have a gas-powered mower…we use an awesome Fiskers clipper – an updated version of the old-fashioned clipping mower, or whatever they are called 🙂  Anyway, I kept telling myself, “slow down and move the hose” but kept thinking, I can just move around it.  Well, low and behold, I cut it.  I was frustrated with myself but figured maybe we could patch it up with something some day.  

Today, my husband saw the nice gash when the kids turned the hose on to do slip n’ slide.  He laughed and then we said, it could just be called “the fun hose” and enjoy the water squirting out of the huge cuts.  Then, he had an even better idea: drill holes all over it and turn it into a really fun hose!  

I highly recommend this – we’ve enjoyed it on the ground, in a circle, hanging from trees, along the slip n’ slide…it’s all a blast!  We will even set it up sometime by our garden for some easy watering of our vegetables!  

ENJOY!  This along with the Wacky Sponges makes for great water fun! Also enjoy interesting games with kids outdoor houses!

Watercoloring to Music

 My kids love to use watercolors, and I love seeing what they create.  It’s not that messy either–it all wipes up so easily off walls, table tops, chairs, floors, clothes, hands, arms, and even faces too. 

Age: 2 and up


Supplies:
a set of watercolors for each child
small paint brushes
small heavy bowls for water–less likely to tip over…I use 8 oz. pyrex bowls
any type of paper
classical music


What to do:
Tell the kids you are going to let them listen to some beautiful music with lots of different instruments, and that you want them to paint whatever pictures the music helps them see in their minds or feel in their hearts. 
Start the music.  A few ideas are any “Water Music” by Handel, “The Swan” or “Aquarium” by Saint Saens, “Reflections on the Water” by Debussy, even “From the Diary of a Fly” by Bartok.  Really anything classical will work great.
Fill water bowls, pass out the paper and watercolors with brushes.
Have fun!  And keep passing out more paper until the kids are ready for a new activity!

Homemade Craft Smock

I decided to make my nephew a little craft smock for his birthday this year and it was so easy that I wanted to share it. I am NOT a sewer – I can only do basic things. So, do not be intimidated by this project – you can make it probably way better than I did – it’s just a starting point.

 
Supplies:
Apron: Fabric – roughly 20 inches long by 12 inches wide, extra for pocket if desired
Apron Ties around waist: Fabric OR ribbon – roughly 20 inches long
Apron Ties around neck: Fabric OR ribbon – roughly 20 inches long
Thread to match
Puffy Paint for writing, if desired
 
Directions:
Measure approximately 13 inches up from the bottom edge of the apron. This is where you can cut a curve to create the arm area on both sides. Mine curved in about 2 inches in from the edge, at most. Stitch all edges of the fabric to look nice (sorry for not using sewing lingo here!) Cut out a pocket if desired and stitch those edges to look finished. Stitch that onto the apron, wherever you want. Stitch the ties to the sides of the apron, right at the bottom of the arm area. Attach the neck ties to the top of the apron. Write their name or whatever with puffy paint…decorate as desired!

Easy Tissue Paper Flowers

My 2- and 3-year-olds’ Sunday School teacher, Miss Cary introduced us to this craft.  Of course, my older kids wanted to make them too.  So we’ve been having a blast…
What you need:
5-8 sheets of tissue paper (any color or combination of colors)
pipe cleaners (preferrably green for stems)
Ages: 2 and up
What to do:
1. Cut a 6-inch square from a stack of 5-8 pieces of tissue paper.
2.  Fold pieces back and forth together along one edge to make an accordion fan.
3. Wrap one end of pipecleaner securely around middle of the fan.  The pull individual pieces of tissue paper toward the center from each side until each piece has been pulled.
4. Help children to display their work anywhere proudly or give them to friends!  My 6-year-old shared his with friends on his bus!

 

And the most exciting part is they don’t look so far from the originals…
peonies!

Pinecone Bird Feeder

Another classic craft from long ago…this one is great for kids of all ages.  My daughter has fond memories of doing this with her Grandma Cathy years ago.  Enjoy and hopefully you can catch a glimpse of the birds enjoying the treat! (By the way, if you are rising a pet, you might also want o check my outdoor cat house and shelter reviews and cheap rabbit hutch for indoor & outdoor reviews!)


Supplies:
 
  • Pinecone
  • Peanut Butter
  • Kid knife or spoons
  • Plates
  • Bird Seed 
  • String

Instructions:
 
I recommend attaching the string to the pinecone before anything else.  Then give each child a plate, kid knife or spoon, and dollop of peanut butter.  Spread the sticky stuff all over the pinecone.  Once it looks covered well, pour some bird seed onto the plate and have them roll the pinecone in the seed.  Find a place to hang them – nearby a window so they can watch as birds fly up to enjoy it!  

Paper Mosaic American Flag

In celebration of Memorial Day…



What you need:
red, white and blue construction paper
crayons as needed
computer paper
glue stick
scotch tape
popsicle stick


Ages: 2 and up


What to do:

  1. Help kids (as needed) to draw a small rectangle in the upper left corner of the computer paper, and then make 13 stripes.
  2. Tear construction paper into small pieces.
  3. Glue red and white pieces over stripes and blue pieces over rectangle  The idea is to cover the entire paper with construction paper bits.  (We were out of blue construction paper, so we colored our rectangles.)
  4. Cut paper stars from white construction paper and glue over blue rectangles.
  5. Attach popsicle stick with glue stick or tape. 
  6. Wave flags proudly for Memorial Day!

The Classic Volcano Experiment

I don’t think seeing this experiment will ever get old for me! Why is it so fun to watch? “Lava” slowly bubbling up and over a volcano 🙂 The kids and I were feeling a little stir crazy on a chilly morning, so we made the day more exciting by claiming it “Volcano Day!” What is that? Well, we made the classic volcano experiment and even made a little lunch with the same theme. Nerdy…maybe. But fun!

 
Supplies:
  • Container of some kind (we used our empty syrup bottle one time, and then an empty honey bottle another time)
  • Tin foil (makes for a great mountain around the bottle)
  • Rubber band
  • Approximately 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon dish soap (not necessary but supposedly makes the bubbling go slower)
  • Red food coloring (for the dramatic effect of “LAVA”) but any color is fun
  • Approximately 1/3 cup vinegar
  • Dinosaur figurines! (to add to the scene, of course)
Instructions:

  • Poke a small hole in the middle of the tinfoil to fit over the opening of your container. Wrap a rubber band around that to just hold it in place (image at right).
  • Place the “volcano” on a baking sheet for easy clean-up
  • Set the scene with figurines (dinosaurs or trees or whatever!)
  • Drop the baking soda into the container first.
  • Add the dish soap (if using)
  • Add the food coloring
  • Pour in the vinegar…wait and watch.
After it bubbles for a few minutes, you can stir the bottle a little bit and it will most likely have a second wave of bubbling. We had a lunch that was dinosaur sandwiches (cookie cutters I had on-hand), grapes made the shape of a volcano and red peppers were the lava. The kids decided the apples were dinosaur bones (image below). Weird, random, but fun!
 

Mother’s Day Buttons

Looking for a nifty token to make for a mom (or grandmother) this Mother’s Day?  This one is sweet, kind of cheesy and will make her feel special on Sunday.  I must admit, it’s not the simplest craft I have made up, but the kids enjoyed it.  And I know they are pumped to give these out on Sunday.  Here’s what we did, and I am sure you can come up with even better ideas.


Supplies:

Image 2

 

  • Recycled buttons
  • Don’t have buttons? Use a metal juice top lid and safety pin (see instructions for details)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Fabric glue (optional but could use for gluing the felt)
  • Felt fabric, various colors
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Scissors
  • Puffy Paint (also optional)
Image 3
Image 4

Instructions:

 

  1. Take the old button (or make-shift button – instructions in Step 2) and have the adult use the hot glue gun to spread a line of glue on the outermost edge of the face of the button…quickly press a piece of felt on top.  I cut the felt after gluing it on…so there is at least 1/4 of an inch extra around the edge.  (See image 3.) 
  2. If you do not have buttons to reuse, simply take a clean metal juice top and safety pin.  Put a line of hot glue on the top, press the closed side of the pin into the glue.  Then take two pieces of strong, clear packing tape to press over the pin for extra stability (make sure the hot glue is no longer hot).  (See image 2.)  Then attach the felt piece as stated in Step 1.
  3. Cut the end of a toilet paper roll so you have about a half-inch thick ring.  
  4. Cut out 8-10 petals with the felt (we made ours about 1 inch long)…whatever colors you like. Glue them onto outside of the toilet paper ring. 
  5. Cut two strips of felt.  One that will fit on the inside of the toilet paper roll ring and one that will fit on the outside of the ring after the petals are glued on.  (See image 4.)  
  6. After the petals are glued on, the strips are glued into place, then put a line of glue on the bottom of the assembled ring, to then be placed onto the top of the felt-lined-button.
  7. Decorate with puffy paint as you wish! 

Easy Paper Airplanes That Really Fly

My 5- and 6-year-olds have become obsessed with making paper airplanes.  After my husband showed them this youtube video on the World Record Paper Airplane Distance: 226 feet, they were hooked.  They don’t make the same one as it is a bit more complicated, but here are their two favorites that they easily make themselves, carefully demonstrated by my 6-year-old.

The “Eagle”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(taught to my boys by their friend, Tim…thanks Tim!)

And the “World Record”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy flying!

Easy Homemade Curtains

Do not be intimidated by this project. I am not a “sewer” (Sarah on the other hand is amazing!) I have a very basic, “beginner” machine that shakes the whole table when I am stitching. Everything I make has lots of mistakes and markings of an amateur sewer. So, I will be the first to encourage you to go for it with this project because it is simple and can help you save bundles on curtains for your kid’s room or anywhere in your home. Once I had all of the supplies ready, the entire project took 20 minutes from start to finish.

 
Supplies:
  • Curtain Grommets
  • Fabric
  • Curtain Rod
  • Scissors
  • Pen
  • Tape measure or measuring tape
Instructions:
  • Decide on your desired curtain length and choose your fabric.

(I purchased one pair of the basic Merete curtains from IKEA…($24.99) which are very large pieces of fabric. I fit them for the boys

largest window (Image to the LEFT) and then cut off the bottom. I used the left over fabric for this project (Image to the RIGHT).)
  • Do a simple fold-over-and-sew on the edge(s) of the fabric where you cut. Haha, sorry – that is not correct “sewing language,” but I told you that I am a beginner!

  • Purchase Curtain Grommets

(I found mine at JoAnn Fabrics and they came in a package of 8…there were some metal ones for $12.99 but I bought the plastic color ones on clearance for $1.97 (!) and spray painted them with my silver-looking-metal spray paint!

  • Spray paint your grommets if needed – let dry for at least an hour.


  • Use the template (if the grommet kit came with one) or just make a circle thatmeasures exactly the size of the grommets…mine was 1 9/16″ – take the template and mark the position for each grommet on your fabric. I placed mine 3 inches from the edge, and every 8 inches. Yours might be different, depending on your fabric and window size. Cut along the circle to create the hole for the grommet.
 
  • Follow the directions on the grommet package – but all you should have to do is fit it around the fabric hole, and snap them together!


  • Purchase a curtain rod(s) to fit the window(s).

(I purchased two Vagen curtain rods from IKEA…$7.99 for the shorter one and $9.99 for the longer one.)

 
  • Hang them up and enjoy!