Saturday, January 28, 2012

Paper Snowflakes and Hearts

We decorated our front windows the other day - for winter AND for Valentine's Day! Molly (4) and I have made lots of "snowflakes" over the past few days. She just really loves to cut them out and I admit I really had a fun time making them too! Another plus: we get to see "snow" now since there isn't any real snow

You can make them six-sided like a real snowflake by starting with a circle and folding your paper like I did the flour tortilla when we made our snowflake snack last week. (Fold your circle in half, then fold a third of it - like a pie wedge - towards the middle and finally fold the other third on top of that one to create a triangle with one rounded edge.) We made ours with squares just so we could started cutting quicker! When we had enough, we picked our favorites and taped them with clear tape to our front windows.

Since Valentine's Day is around the corner (and we don't have many Valentine's decorations aside from my year-round holiday tree), we also cut out hearts! I folded red and purple paper in half length-wise, and drew half hearts on it so Molly could cut them out. Just like the snowflakes, she loved to unfold them slowly to see how her shapes turned out!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chinese New Year Dragon Craft

Happy Chinese New Year! 2012 is The Year of the Dragon so it was fun to choose an activity for today. A quick search online for project ideas came up with several options. We made a dragon puppet from Here's what you'll need:

Construction paper
Staples, glue and/or tape
Crayons or markers
Two craft sticks

First I drew a dragon head and tail on a single sheet of construction paper for Molly (4) to color. Meanwhile, I took a second sheet of construction paper and folded it in half, then cut it so I had a long skinny rectangle of paper. I folded it fan-style. The website's instructions say to connect two rectangles together to make one very long body, but we kept ours shorter and it still works great!

When Molly was done decorating her dragon, I helped her cut it out and stapled the head and tail to the body. Then we taped two craft sticks to the back of the head and tail to make our puppet! Molly immediately put on a puppet show behind her chair and then we walked in a parade with our dragons around our house! Also, while Ben (1) was sleeping, I made one for him so he could have it to play with when he woke up!

Also to celebrate Chinese New Year, I printed out a Year of the Dragon envelope I found online. It only took a minute to cut it out and glue it together. I put a few chocolate coins inside and my kids will get them for dessert tonight after dinner! We're also watching Mulan and I printed out some coloring pages with the dragon on it with our totally awesome HP printer. I think you can find those pages at!

(Sorry for the sideways picture - it was straight and then uploaded that way!)

Here's a link to the Dragon envelope:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

No-Sew Fleece Scarf and Blanket

Molly (4) and I were just hanging out on my bed one day, pulling tiny feathers out of my down comforter and blowing them up into the air, then watching them float back down into our waiting palms. It was pretty enchanting but a little boring, so an idea sprang to mind - let's make a scarf! I told Molly we were going to do a project, to which she insisted we were already doing a project. So.. we continued with the feathers for a few more minutes before I dug out some left over fleece I had in a craft bin.

I cut the fleece into strips - about eight inches by two yards. I used rolling scissors and a cutting mat for quilting to make quick work but really, just cut some strips. Molly used her own little scissors to cut fringe into each end and voila! A scarf. She also chose to make one for her grandma as a gift and took quite the time wrapping it (with plenty of tape).

Meanwhile, I wanted to make something for Ben (1) who was taking his nap at the time, but knew he was really too little for a scarf. Luckily I had a larger piece of fleece with cars and trucks on it that I knew he would like! I trimmed the edges and ended up with a piece that was about 2 yards by 1.5 yards. Then I folded it over twice and cut fringe along all the edges. Using my cutting mat, I was able to make each cut 1"x 3", though as an afterthought you might want to make them a bit longer, like 1"x5" or 6".

While Molly was busy wrapping her gift, I sat down and tied knots all around Ben's blanket. Just double-knot two strips that are side-by-side all the way around your blanket. It'll get kind of scrunched so just pull and stretch it as you go along. One piece of fleece is thick enough for a small blanket, but if you want to make it even warmer, you can use two piece the same size and tie them together front to back. I might try that one down the road, but I was just using up what I had leftover from a previous project.

Side note: when Ben woke up from his nap, I excitedly showed him his new blanket. He was very pleased to point out a "car" on it, but backed away shouting "Noooo!" when I tried to wrap him up in it. Then he reached for one of Molly's old blankets - one with pink flowers on it that he inexplicably has loved since he was a baby - and promptly wrapped himself in that one instead!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Water Bottle Snowman

We still haven't gotten a chance to play in the snow and build a real snowman this winter, but we did make one at our kitchen table today! I found this great project in the December/January 2012 issue of Family Fun magazine and as always their ideas are perfect! Here's what you'll need:

water bottle
white tissue paper
glue or decoupage
black construction paper
whatever you want to make your snowman's face!

I grabbed an empty water bottle and washed it and dried it out - yea for recycling! Using my handy old steak knife (previously mentioned in another blog for cutting cardboard), I cut out the very bottom of the water bottle. Now it is ready for your child to work with!

Molly (4) covered the whole bottle, minus the lid, with decoupage glue using a paint brush. If you are using regular glue, you might want to mix it with some water for a thinner consistency. Tear up some white tissue paper into small pieces and cover the entire bottle with them... again minus the lid. This was another recycled part of the project because we used tissue paper that had been used to wrap a gift at Christmas!

When the bottle is covered, paint another layer of glue or decoupage on top and allow it all to dry for a bit. Use black construction paper to cover the lid by gluing a circle on top and a strip of paper around the sides. This will be your snowman's hat! Then add a face and buttons using whatever you have on hand. You could use sequins, buttons or craft pom poms to name a few. We used foam stickers that we cut into smaller shapes and glued on. Finally, add a scarf by tying on a small strip of fabric or ribbon!

Now that your snowman is complete, put a battery-operated tea light inside and watch him glow! I found 3-packs of the tea lights for a dollar at the Dollar Tree - score!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Glittery Snowflake Project

Finally we had some snowy weather and got to make a snowflake project I've been excited to try! I found this idea in the December/January 2012 issue of Family Fun Magazine. Here's what you'll need:

Cotton Swabs
Plastic Wrap

To prepare your work station, cover a large piece of cardboard with some plastic wrap. I used just one face of a cardboard box I cut off. Just a note: I always use an old steak knife to cut cardboard boxes (I often use cardboard boxes to create large shapes for parties and games), and it works great!

Molly (4) and I counted out 18 cotton swabs per snowflake - always time for math practice! I laid out my snowflake and she followed my lead. First lay out 6 cotton swabs in a star, like an astrisk. Then create six diamonds all around with the remaining twelve cotton swabs. Pour plenty of glue on each of the intersections, letting it dribble around each tip and onto your plastic wrap. While the glue is still wet, sprinkle it with glitter (yea!) and let it dry overnight.

The next day when it's completely dry, carefully remove your snowflake from the plastic wrap. It should stay in one piece and you can hang it for a beautiful winter decoration!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Crispy Snow Flake Snacks

Here is a delicious snack that is also a fun project to do! Naturally it's very easy, too!

Start with a flour tortilla and fold it in half. Fold in one side like a triangle, and then the other side under so it's all folded into a triangle now.

Here's the fun part: bite around the edges! When you open it up again you'll have a snowflake! Molly (4) really liked this part - she was super hungry when we started so getting a few nibbles of our snack before it was ready was a real plus for her.

When you're finished making your snowflakes, lay them out on a foil-lined baking sheet and spray them lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon, (or in Molly's case, POUR on the sugar... which I then had to scrape off...) Bake them at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, until slightly browned and crispy.

You can also sprinkle yours with powdered sugar after they're baked so they're white like real snowflakes! Ben (1) approved of this yummy snack when he woke up from his nap. They're easy to break apart and share... which Molly of course did!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Gingerbread Extravaganza!

Molly and I love gingerbread! We made a big "to-do" of making gingerbread cookies this year and we only had to focus on the fun part because I'd bought some pre-made dough by Pilsbury at the grocery store for about $4. It was well worth it because all we had to do was open the package and start rolling it out! Molly (4) and Ben (1) both got to be hands-on for this kitchen adventure, using the rolling pin and many MANY cookie cutters.

We made a few traditional gingerbread men, then some girls, teddy bears, and Santas.... also Christmas trees, trains, and a random circle. And snowmen. The kids had lots of fun decorating them with regular and white chocolate chips, candies, and sprinkles. After they had been baked, Molly got to add white and pink (her choice) frosting to some, too Each cookie was unique and delicious!

Later, Molly and I made some glittery gingerbread men to decorate our kitchen cabinets! We used some foam gingerbread men shapes I'd gotten from the Target dollar section (love the Target dollar section) and regular glue and all kinds of glitter. First we applied the glue in whatever design we wanted - just one section at a time so we could dictate which color/kind of glitter we put on it. It was really fun to create different personalities for them and I ended up taping them to all my kitchen cabinets like a sweet, sparkly baking wonderland.

(sorry, for some reason this photo keeps uploading sideways... but you get the idea!)

Finally, I'd like to share two gingerbread books we read several times over the past few weeks: The Gingerbread Man, retold by Jim Aylesworth and The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. I LOVE that second one. The story is cute and the pictures are great - you can really talk about what is happening behind the scenes while the Gingerbread Baby runs away from everyone else. Both good books - and not actually "Christmasy" so you can still read them and make gingerbread cookies even in January!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Winter Scene Art Project

Here's a really cute project to do with your kids, and it would be neat to make a BIG one with a whole preschool class! We made a winter scene... even though so far we've had such warm weather - including almost 60 degrees two days in a row at the playground!!

Start with a sheet of dark construction paper, like black or blue. Draw a wavy line with white chalk that will be your horizon. Cut out several shapes: squares, rectangles, and triangles from different colors of construction paper and glue them along your line to create houses and buildings. You can also use a black marker or crayon to draw windows and doors if you wanted, but we just left ours blank which is cute too. Fill in the ground with your white chalk, and add lots of small circles to be falling snow. Molly (4) was able to do this whole project by herself... with some help with the cutting when she got "tired!"

This project was a great review of shapes, cutting, gluing, and we talked about winter weather! I found it in a Christmas Craft Book by Usbourne Books.