Saturday, December 31, 2011

Paper Plate Noise Makers!

Here is a quick and easy way to create a Noise Maker for your New Years Eve festivities tonight! It really just takes a couple minutes to put together this project, and I pretty much guarantee you have everything you need. So read the instructions now and go make it before it's midnight!!

Gather two clean paper plates per noise maker and have your kids decorate each one on the bottom with markers. Molly (4) and Ben (1) were both able to do this part so it's truly for all ages! Also, I enjoyed decorating one for myself... lol

Set several dry beans, or uncooked rice or pasta (we used pasta) on a plate and cover it with the other one. Staple around the edges so the pasta (or whatever) doesn't fall out. Now shake and make some noise!!

I got this idea from my totally creative friend, Colleen, who made these over the summer with her own kids and I thought they were great! She has her own blog so check it out: See you next year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Paper Plate Santa Project

This is a project I've done with Molly (4) for three years in a row now and it's so fun to see how different she does it each year! It makes a great decoration to hang up and she always like working with lots of glue! Here's what you'll need:

Paper Plate
Red Construction Paper
White Cotton Balls
Craft Pom Poms

In the past, I've cut out a Santa hat from red construction paper for Molly, but this year I simply drew one and had her cut it out and glue it on by herself. Then I let her go to town gluing on cotton balls. I always buy a big bag from Walmart or a dollar store because we go through a lot! Have your child glue on cotton balls for Santa's beard, plus a lining on his hat and one more on the tip of the hat. Use craft pom poms or markers or whatever else you can for Santa's face.

I tape a loop of curly ribbon to the back so I can hang it up easily and be sure to put the year on the back so you can compare them from one Christmas to the next! Here is a photo of Molly's Santa plate from last year, plus her new COLORFUL one from this year! (So sorry it keeps uploading sideways!) Next year I'll start Ben on making them, too! I can't wait to have a big collection of Santa plates!

Rice Crispy Treat Wreath

Here is a super fun, yummy, EASY treat to make for any holiday party! Molly (4) and I made this for a Christmas party we went to and it was a big hit. It would also be good for family get togethers or a class party too. Or just for fun, of course!

Here's the ingredients you need for this Rice Crispy Treat Wreath:

6 cups crispy rice cereal
4 cups mini marshmallows OR 1 package of large marshmallows
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
green food coloring
chocolate candies

First, melt your butter with your marshmallows in a glass bowl in the microwave. Molly loves watching the marshmallows get big as they're cooking in there! You'll need to "nuke" them for about three minutes, stirring partway through. Then carefully mix in the cereal. Enjoy tasting the melted marshmallow. Add the vanilla extract and about 4-5 drops of food coloring, or until it reaches the shade of green you want.

Once it's all stirred together, use buttered hands to place it on your serving dish and shape it into a wreath. I'm not gonna lie - this part was fun! ;O) Finally, use some red frosting (I tinted some plain white store-bought frosting with red food coloring) to make a bow. Put the frosting in a zip lock baggie, cut a corner off, and pipe it on to make it easy. Lastly, have your kids decorate the wreath with red and green candies, like M&M's. We actually used little Hershey's Pieces which are just as delicious.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dish Towel Angels

I wanted Molly (4) to make a special gift for her preschool teachers, but I also wanted it to be something they could use and not just another nick-nack for their classroom. Together, we made Dish Towel Angels and they turned out so sweet! I hope her teachers liked them! I found this idea while I was going through old magazines and came across a December 2005 issue of Crafts'n'Things Magazine (it's one of my favorites!). Here's what you need:

1 pot holder
1 dish rag (or hand towel)
1 dish towel
Rubber Bands
Pipe Cleaners

We got all our supplies from the Dollar Tree. I knew they would have holiday dish towels and they were a lot less busy than Walmart next door! Molly picked out the designs she wanted for each teacher. We used Christmas ones, but it actually might be cooler to use non-seasonal ones so the person you're giving it to can display it for Christmas, and then undo it and use the towels for regular every-day use!

Start with your pot holder and wrap a rubber band around the middle of it to create the wings. Then, fold your dish towel accordion style, long ways. Fold it in half and wrap a rubber band around the folded edge, about 2-3 inches down to create the head. Finally, roll up your dish rag (or hand towel, like we used) long ways. Wrap rubber bands around each end, about 1 inch in to create hands.

Now you're ready to put your angel together! Use pipe cleaners to attach the arms behind and slightly below the neck, then attach the wings just above the back of the arms. Loop a rubber band around the hands to hold them together. Finally, create a pipe cleaner loop in the back for hanging... or use the loop on your pot holder if it has one!

You can finalize it by tying ribbon around the neck and hands to cover the rubber bands so it looks nicer. You can also attach something to the angel's hands like she's holding it, such as a gift card, recipe card, a cookie cutter, or a package of soup mix. We attached a wooden spoon and a gift tag to ours. Molly was so proud to give her hand-made gift to her teachers the next morning at school. I hope we can enjoy making these for years to come - I think I'll make it a traditional teacher gift with something different attached each time!

Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Holiday Treats!

I had a craving for chocolate and bananas one afternoon, so I came up with these fun and tasty snacks for my kids: Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ornaments and a Chocolate Peanut Butter Snowman!

First, I melted about 1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and mixed it together with 1/4 cup of peanut butter. (yummmm!) Then I sliced a banana and dipped each slice into my chocolate mixture. I didn't want it to be too chocolatey or sweet so I only dipped the tops and scraped off any access. Of course I covered my treats in sprinkles because who doesn't love sprinkles!?

I stuck a toothpick in individual slices along one side, so those are the ornaments. The toothpicks also make them easy to eat without making a big mess! I used toothpicks to hold together three different-sized slices to shape my snowman and then decorated him with white chocolate chips. This was such an easy snack to make - Molly (4) could have done it if she'd wanted to, and Ben (1) loved waking up from his nap to this yummy treat!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Glitter Tree Decoration

Here's a quick and fun project for your kids - and the result is a professional looking decoration!

Start with a foam cone. I found mine at the Dollar Tree (score!). Lay out some newspapers or an old table cloth and have your child paint the whole thing green. I had Molly (4) use a foam brush and it worked out great - didn't take so long that she lost interest! I really liked just getting out one color of paint and cleaning just one brush!

While the paint is still wet, sprinkle it all over with glitter. Do this over a sheet of paper or a paper plate so you can save any extra glitter that spills! We made a single tree that's about 6 inches tall and I love it! If your child has the attention span for it, create a whole forest of these wonderful sparkly trees to display!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Recycled Christmas Card Ornaments

I hate to throw away any Christmas card I get, but only a few special ones really need to be saved. I love to find uses for rest of them! Here are two more ornament ideas to reuse your old Christmas cards:

Dig through your pile and find some cards with cute or pretty designs on the front and cut out that design. It's best to use a regular shape like a circle, oval, square, or rectangle around the design. This was a great exercise in shapes and cutting for my daughter, Molly (4). Now you have the option of gluing a second design on the back in the same shape, or a piece of colorful scrapbook paper or construction paper instead. If you use paper as opposed to another card, you can add your own message or your child's name and the year.

Draw a line of glue all the way around your shape, preferably along the very edge. Sprinkle on some glitter and shake off. Let this dry and then attach a string to the top! Try using old-fashioned looking Christmas cards and some course silver glitter for an antique look! We also started using glitter to decorate the designs themselves, like adding decorations on a Christmas tree.

While we were working on these, Molly came up with a wonderful idea: to use the old cards as frames!! She cut out a frame from a metallic card and used it to frame a picture of a kitten she cut out from another card! Right now her creation is taped up on my living room wall, but meanwhile I took her idea and applied it to real pictures! I found some old Christmas cards with frames on the front: the kind you can see through to the image on the inside of the card. I cut them out and taped my photos to the back. Then I added glitter like normal and included the year and my kids' names. I was so happy with them and couldn't believe it was all Molly's idea!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Wrapping Paper Game!

Wrapping presents with Molly (4) has been so much fun this year! The wrapping paper I bought has a grid printed on the back side which is so nice for Molly to practice cutting on. After I measure the size of sheet we need, I start cutting on one side and Molly starts cutting with her little scissors on the other side until we meet in the middle. She's also really good about putting on the tape just right. I love having my little helper; someone to take over my childhood job as "tape lady".

In the past, Molly happily crumpled and ripped the paper, hiding under it and stepping on it.... much like Ben (1) is doing as my other little helper this year! Ben's addition to the tasks however is pulling out lots and lots of tape!

After we finished wrapping, we talked about how you're supposed to say thank you and act gracious and happy when you receive a gift - no matter what it might be! Later, we played the "Wrapping Paper Game" to emphasize the lesson:

I wrapped a piece of candy for each of my kids... in about 15 layers of different wrapping paper! (This is a great way to use up those extra scraps!) As they unwrapped each layer, I had Molly AND Ben say "thank you!" and had Molly act excited about her pretend gift. At the end, they each got to enjoy some candy but the real gift is *hopefully* their smiles and thank you's as they open that classic sweater with one sleeve longer than the other from their great aunt that everyone can relate to!

Other variations of this game include wrapping up several different objects (in just one layer each). Objects should be plain things from around the house, or toys the child already has played with. It takes a real actor to be thankful for an old toothbrush or your own socks! Also, you could start with the one present in many layers - and toss it back and forth between two siblings or yourself and your child. Each player unwraps a layer on their turn and goes through the gracious thank you's and such.

A version you can play at parties with several kids is like musical chairs: wrap a prize in several layers of paper and pass it around the circle of friends while music plays. When the music stops, whoever is holding the present unwraps one layer. Play continues until all the layers have been revealed and the final person to unwrap the prize gets to keep it. If you have enough time, that person should be out and then you start another round with a new present until each player gets a prize! Just stock up on that tape!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Two Festive Winter Breakfast Ideas

Here are two fun and festive winter breakfast ideas for your kids! These are so quick and easy to make - it only takes a moment to make your morning special!

First, start the day with a little bit of whimsy and make snowmen pancakes! Pour three circles of pancake batter on your griddle each bigger than the one before it, close enough so they'll join together as they cook. I used chocolate chips to make eyes and buttons on mine, but you can also use raisins, cereal, or pieces of fruit for that. I added my chocolate chips while they were cooking. I reckon you could take it a step further and make a hat and scarf and arms for your pancake snowman with bacon, fruit or cereal. I made mine on the spur of the moment but this breakfast can be served all winter!

A second breakfast idea is snowflake cinnamon rolls! I used prepacked cinnamon rolls and baked 'em one morning just like normal. The frosting is the fun part: draw snowflakes on each roll! Remember that snowflakes have six sides and that no two are the same, so don't be afraid to get creative. Before the frosting hardens, you can even sprinkle them with white sugar sprinkles or add on red hots or those big teeth-breaking silver balls. I wish I had thought about the sugar sprinkles and red hots when I made them! Oh well, we always have cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning before we open presents so I'll be prepared this year to make them extra special!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Card Ball Ornaments

Here is one of my very favorite projects ever!! I originally read about these in a special issue Martha Stuart Holiday Handmade Gifts Magazine from 2006. These make great gifts, great decorations, and they're a great way to re-purpose your old Christmas cards!

Start by cutting circles out of old Christmas cards, about 1 1/4 inch in diameter. I actually have a large hole punch so it was pretty quick work, but in the past I've cut them out by hand and it's not so bad! You can also make really big ones by tracing around a glass to make your circles. Each ornament has 20 sides so you'll need 20 circles. That equals about two cards, unless you really mix it up and use lots of different designs.

Next, use your scissors to score an equilateral triangle into the back of each circle, with corners touching along the circumference. Fold the edges up on the front.

Now you're ready to build the ball! Start by gluing two circles together, points touching. Glue a total of five like this to create to the top - all tips touching in the center point like a star. Then glue five more together that will be the bottom. Just use regular glue but you'll need to hold each connection for a few seconds to be sure it stays put!

Next, glue 10 more circles together - side to side - with the tips alternating up and down. Connect them like a ring because this will be the middle.

Finally, glue your top and bottom to the middle. You can use a needle and thread to make a loop in it for hanging... or use a hole punch and add ribbon or yarn. I actually don't have a regular size hold punch. What's up with that??

Anyway, when when your Christmas Card Ornaments are dry, they will be so sturdy and last for years! You can hang them on your tree, tie them onto wrapped gifts, toss them around with your kids, or display several of them in a large vase or bowl. Try making themed ones by cutting out circles from only cards with trees or snowmen... or coordinate colors... or just use colored card stock if you want! I love these!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Paper and Felt Stocking Craft

Today our calendar said to make a stocking! Ben (1) got to decorate one I cut out of construction paper. He used washable markers and stickers. Then he colored on the stickers! I taped a piece of tinsel along the top for extra pizazz.

Molly (4) got to "sew" her own stocking. I bought a kit from Target for $2 but you can make your own with two sheets of felt and some yarn. I knotted one end for her so it wouldn't pull through and she stitched it all the way around! I wrapped the end of her yarn with some tape so it wouldn't unravel as she sewed. Then I let her decorate it with fabric markers and she glued on some cotton balls. She even drew Santa and his sleigh and glued on a piece of cotton ball for Santa's beard!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Collage Letter to Santa

Writing a letter to Santa is a big deal... but what if your kids can't write yet? I had Molly (4) look through several catalogs and cut out pictures of what she wanted. She also cut out pictures of toys she thought her little brother, Ben (1), would like too! Then she used a glue stick to create a collage of her list. I also had her draw a picture of some things she wanted for Santa and I was so delighted to see she drew an ornament with a picture of herself on it... so Santa will bring me one! Luckily I've already ordered one from so she won't be disappointed. Meanwhile, Ben (1) drew a wonderful picture with green and red washable markers!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cupcake Wrapper Holiday Wreath

I can't believe it's already into December already!! We have our Christmas Countdown Calendar up - my mom made it for me a long time ago and it's one of my favorite traditions from my childhood! Each day has a different activity to do - some days have something specific like the 19th when we'll go see the Nutcracker (!!!) and some days have open-ended ideas like make a special craft or open a small gift. Some of my favorites every year are to drive around looking at Christmas lights and of course to visit Santa.

Meanwhile... one project we've made so far is a Cupcake Wrapper Wreath!! This was a project I found in the November 2010 issue of Family Fun Magazine and I've been waiting to make one. Here's what you'll need:

Paper Plate
Cupcake Wrappers
Mini Cupcake Wrappers or Construction Paper

First, cut out a circle from your paper plate. I just folded it in half and cut out a half circle to make it easy. We flattened out some green cupcake wrappers and Molly (4) glued them around the paper plate ring, overlapping them so no white showed through. The magazine used those silver foil ones so that would look cool too! Next, glue on some red flowers. You can make some out of mini cupcake wrappers, by folding them into thirds and cutting a triangle into the outer edge - when you unfold it you have a pointy flower! I actually have a really cool electric cutter so I used that to cut some flowers and circles (and "Joy") for Molly to glue on. Even before it was dry I taped on a loop of ribbon to the back and we hung it up right away!

This was fun, EASY, and festive! You can make one in colors for any holiday too so
it's not just for Christmas.