Sunday, July 31, 2011

4th of July Tee

You will need:
  • A red, white or blue t-shirt
  • Red, white and blue fabric paint
  • Different size sponges, cut into star shapes
  • Cardboard, wrapped in plastic bag
How to:
  1. Insert plastic wrapped cardboard into shirt. (This will prevent the fabric paint from seeping through the shirt.)
  2. Dip sponges into fabric paint and "stamp" on to t-shirt.
  3. Let dry.
Easy, peasy! And really cute.

Elliott's Evaluation:
I liked everything! I liked dabbing the stars on. That's my comment.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Kitchen Fireworks

Turn everyday kitchen items into a dazzling display!

You will need:
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Milk
  • Food coloring
  • Small saucer
  • Q-tips
How to:
  1. Pour milk into saucer.
  2. Pour one drop of each food color into milk. Don't stir!
  3. Place one drop of dish soap on to the end of a Q-tip. Place Q-tip into milk and watch the show!

I'm back to being a full-time working mom and finding time for crafts has been hard. I found this science project online and thought it would be a great way to kill a few minutes between dinner and bedtime. What fun! Elliott was totally enraptured by this experiment and I have to admit I was too.

Telling a 4 year old NOT to stir up four shades of food color is like telling me to NOT check out a book at the library: it doesn't happen. Once stirred, the colors turn very dark and it's harder to see the results. Elliott didn't care! He loved every second of this. We did it a couple of times and you will too, so keep extra supplies handy.

Elliott's Evaluation:
It is very cool and funny. Wow! It's so funny! It was so pretty. Super pretty. What will happen when we put one more drop of color in? Oooh, that's super pretty. Let's stir it up. Ooh! That's pretty, too! Can we do this again tomorrow? Whoa!! Look at how dark it is when all the colors are mixed up. I love this so much!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Snow Globe

You will need:
  • Small jar with tight fitting lid
  • Small action figure
  • Star shaped confetti
  • Glitter
  • Distilled water
  • Clear, liquid dish soap
  • Bottle caps
  • Hot glue/gun
  • Plumber's tape (optional)
How to:
  1. Most likely, your action figure will need to be raised slightly in order to be seen in the jar. Hot glue one or two bottle caps (check to see which shows the action figure better) to the inside of the lid.
  2. Hot glue the action figure to the cap(s).
  3. Fill the jar almost full with distilled water. Add a squirt of dish soap.
  4. Add a handful of confetti and lots and lots of glitter!
  5. If you have plumber's tape, wrap it around the grooves of the jar. Carefully place lid on to jar and tighten. Flip over, get wet.
Oh, my, so craptastic. Where to begin with this one? Originally I saw this idea in the Star Wars Craft Book by the amazingly cool Bonnie Burton and it suggested using baby food jars. I, however could not find action figures small enough to fit inside baby food jars so I bought the next smallest size I could find at the Dollar Store. (You get what you pay for sometimes!)

I bought the smallest action figures I could find, the little short, squatty ones that are really popular right now and they fit great, except for the characters holding guns, which scraped against the sides of the jar as we were screwing the lids back on, which in turn would pop the figures right off the bottle caps. Oh, and let's mention that the slightest little jostle (or prying finger) would also pop a bottle cap off. I had the glue gun ready to go at the party!

I had the Younglings sit in a semi circle in front of me and we made the snow globes assembly line style. (I had glued the action figures to the jar lids beforehand to save some time and prevent curious hands from grabbing the glue gun!) I have to say, the kids loved putting these together. You could've heard a cricket chirp while they made them. Everyone got to choose the action figure they wanted and add as much glitter and confetti as they wished.

Now let's flip them over and watch!
Uhhh, is yours leaking?
Maybe that lid isn't on tight enough.
Oh, wait. Mine is leaking too.
Oh for Pete's sake.
Hey everyone, when you get home open up your snow globe and you have a new action figure! Yay!

I did later try the plumber's tape on Elliott's jar, but it still leaked. I thought about trying to hot glue the lid to the jar, but I figured El would eventually want the action figure out of it and knowing my luck, that would've been the one seal that actually worked and we'd never be able to get it back open. So, we gave up on it and have a new action figure.

Still, like I said, the kids really enjoyed this. Figure out what you can do to improve on it and go for it.

Youngling Padawans show me what they think of the leaky snow globes!

Elliott's Evaluation:
Mom, you weren't supposed to do any of it without me! (He's talking about the fact that I glued the bottle caps and action figures on to the lids before the party.) I really liked putting all that glitter in there. This was fun, very fun.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Jedi Light Sabers

Make homemade Jedi Light Sabers
You will need:
  • A long tube of some kind. I was planning on using the tube from wrapping paper, but scored baseball bat Wii controllers at the Dollar Store for 2 for $1!
  • Paint
  • Glitter
  • Black and silver duct tape
  • Paint brush
How to:
  1. Paint 3/4 of your tube in the color of your choice.
  2. While paint is still wet sprinkle with glitter, the more the better!
  3. Once paint is dry, wrap the bottom four inches or so in silver duct tape.
  4. Wrap remaining space between silver and painted area with black duct tape.
  5. Fight the Empire!
All hail the Dollar Store! I spotted these Wii Baseball bat remote holders at a steal for 2 for $1! And an even better deal: the remote holder actually snaps off from the "bat" portion, making assembly even easier for us. However, if you can't find these yourself, the inner tube from a roll of wrapping paper would work just fine. (And would be a little more gentle.)

These were so easy to make. During battle, uh, I mean, playtime the paint chipped off from the light sabers, but no one seemed to care. This became one of the favors for Elliott's birthday party, as well as the weapon of choice for destroying the Death Star pinata. (See previous post.)

Elliott's Evaluation:
Fun! Painting it was fun. I like that they have glitter all over them. I liked putting the glitter on.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Death Star Pinata

May the Force be with you!
You will need:
  • One round balloon
  • Newspaper, cut into small(ish) pieces
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • Gray tissue paper, cut into small(ish) pieces
  • String
  • Painter's tape
  • Glitter
  • Bag of candy
  • Glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Duct tape
How to:
  1. Inflate balloon, close off. Tie string to end and hang over work surface so that it hangs at a good working level. (We tied ours to the ceiling fan.)
  2. Mix together flour and water to form paste. (As a note, you will need more paste during the whole process, but I would make it in small batches. The 1/4c flour to 1/2c water ratio is what we used each time. We needed two batches total.)
  3. Dip newspaper pieces into paste and place on balloon, overlapping pieces, until entire balloon is covered.
  4. Applying the first layer.
  5. Repeat with tissue paper until newsprint can no longer be seen through tissue. (About two layers) Let dry. (For older kids you may want to add a few more layers to make it a little harder to break open. For a group of 5 four year olds, two layers was perfect.)
  6. The top half has the first layer of tissue paper.
    After two layers, you can still see a bit of the newspaper print, but once dried it disappeared.
  7. Use painter's tape to paint the Death Star's grid marks. (No one will care if it isn't perfect.)
  8. Mix small amount of glue and water together. Using paintbrush, "paint" mixture over balloon. Immediately sprinkle with glitter.
  9. When balloon is completely dry, pop balloon and carefully pull deflated balloon out. (Listen for the wicked cool noises it makes as the balloon rips away from the dried paper.)
  10. Carefully pull away painter's tape.
  11. Cut a hole (to make the Death Star's satellite grid) near the top of the Death Star. Save cut out.
  12. Fill with candy.
  13. Elliott's favorite part!
  14. Reinforce top of Death Star (where string will be placed) with duct tape to make pinata more sturdy. Knot one end of long string and thread it out of top of pinata. (Make string long enough to be able to hang it from a tree.)
  15. Glue a few pieces of tissue paper on to back side of cut out. Invert, and place back over hole. Secure with tape.
  16. Hang from tree branch and attack!
OK, confession. Originally I bought a Darth Vader pinata because I thought it would just be easier. But after getting it home and looking at the receipt ($25!!) I quickly returned it and convinced Elliott we were making a pinata instead. Most of the supplies were things we already had around the house, so the only expense, besides the candy which we would've had to purchase with the store bought pinata as well, was the gray tissue paper, which I found at Target for $2.99 for 10 sheets. (We only used two.) Making the total cost for this craft 58 cents. (Again, not counting cost of candy.)

If you have the time (Give yourself at least three days!) and the desire, make your own pinata!

This was a lot of fun to make, although we made several mistakes along the way. I wasn't crazy about the way the grids turned out, but Elliott thought it looked amazing. Our pinata was a little too weak at the top end, so when we filled it with candy it promptly crashed to the ground. (yet survived!) The hole cut out wouldn't stick and disappeared seconds before I hung the pinata. The string I put in to hold it up kept tearing right through the paper. The duct tape helped, but in the end, it was just too heavy to hang on it's own and I had to hold it up while the kids went at it.

Still, what a hit! (Ha! Ha!) The kids were Jedi's, attacking the Death Star with their light sabers (see future craft coming soon) and they loved it. I was afraid the pinata would break before everyone had a chance to go at it, so I had told the kids they would get one whack each. But they were all so excited they swarmed around eagerly and, in unison, like a planned attack from the Rebel Alliance began whacking away. An army of Storm Troopers couldn't have stopped them. I can't believe no one got hit in the face!

Alas, the Death Star didn't stand a chance. Within a minute the Rebels had it defeated and destroyed. By far, my favorite part from the party! And yes, I am well aware that I forgot to take a finished picture! Trust me: it was pure awesomeness!

Elliott's Evaluation:
It was good. I liked putting the candy in. I loved breaking it because everybody joined in. It was very fun. I liked making the whole Death Star pinata. I liked making a hole in the Death Star pinata. Now, this is the last thing I have to say: I liked putting the glitter on. I have more to say: I liked putting the glue on and I liked breaking it. I was trying to bat at it so it would break all the way. Gravity made all the candy fall out when it broke.

From Me:
And that my friends, is an awesome review.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fluffy Sheep

After taking a two week hiatus for Elliott's birthday party preparations, I'm baa-ck!

Make these fluffy sheep from recycled materials.

You will need:
  • Toilet paper roll, cut in half
  • Handful of cotton balls, cut into quarters
  • Glue
  • Black felt
  • Googly eyes
  • Black pom-pom (one per sheep)
  • 4 Black pipe cleaners, cut in half
How to:
  1. Cover toilet paper roll with glue.
    Don't come to my house unless you want to work! I make my friends pitch in!
  3. Cover roll with cotton balls.
  4. Cut sheep's head out of black felt. Attach googly eyes. Glue to roll.
  5. Glue black pom-pom to sheep's butt.
  6. Twist pipe cleaners into spirals. (I twisted ours around a pencil.) Attach to roll to form legs. (I punched holes into the roll and poked the legs through.)
You never know how craft time during a play date is going to go, so I tried to find an easy, short craft so the boys could get back to playing. This was pretty lame, but Elliott and Christian seemed to have fun making them. Of course Elliott decided it might be fun to glue cotton balls to his fingers, too...

Elliott's Evaluation:
I liked to glue the balls on. My sheep has a butt!

And because El thought his sheep needed a buddy, I let him do one on his own while I cleaned up...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Acorn Jewel Caps

Turn acorns into a work of art!

You will need:
  • Acorn caps (try to get the larger, flat ones)
  • Markers
  • Glue
  • Rice
How to:
My sister lives in a state where there is no abundance of acorns so I once sent her a small bag full of them to use for crafts. When she opened the bag it was crawling with what she thought were maggots. Ewwww, so gross. I have since found out that they weren't maggots, but weevils, nasty looking larvae that eat the nut inside. They live in the nut during the winter and can sense when the weather is warmer and will come out then. (Hence them coming out while being shipped cross country in a nice warm box.) I get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about them now. Point being, if you're going to do any crafts with acorns, I suggest you follow step one first!

  1. Clean  acorn caps of any dirt and debris. Place acorns on baking sheet and cook at low setting (I did 200 degrees.) for about 40 minutes. This will kill any weevils that are lurking in your acorns. Do weevils live in the caps as well? I have no idea, but I was certainly not interested in finding out.
  2. Sprinkle a shallow layer of rice on to a plate or pan. (Just enough to give the acorn caps a sturdy place to stand while drying.)
  3. Completely color the inside of acorn cap with marker. Place upright on plate of rice.
  4. Fill to the rim of cap with glue.
  5. Let dry. (Ours took about 3 full days to dry.)
Totally stole this idea from: a blog that makes me want to own my own chickens. So cute! (the acorns and her blog!) Elliott didn't really have the patience to color in each cap; I had to go behind him and make sure they were filled in. But he totally looooved filling the caps up with glue. Loved it. Couldn't get enough of it. Would probably still be filling acorn caps with glue. Would probably carry glue with him on walks so he could fill stray caps, given the choice.

Me? I thought this was crazy cute. Who would've thought glue would dry into a shiny, glossy color like that? Once you fill the caps up, you have no idea what the color underneath is, but after a few hours the colors start to leak into the edges a bit. We had fun trying to guess what the color was going to be. For three days (several times daily) we would go check on the acorns to see if they had hardened enough. Once it does, the color shines through.

As cute as they are though, we haven't done anything with them. The above blog mentioned using them as a matching game, which is a great idea, but we only used a few colors, so that wouldn't work for us. Still, lots of fun to make.

Elliott's Evaluation:
I liked putting the glue in. I balanced the acorns so I didn't get any glue out. I liked waiting for it to dry and trying to see the colors. I'm waiting to play Matching games with it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Napkin Rings

May the 4th is National Star Wars Day! Use your Jedi skills to make some galactic crafts worthy of any planet in the solar system. May the 4th be with you!

Make dinnertime more fun with these super nerdy napkin rings!

You will need:
  • Felt sheets in several different colors
  • Felt glue
  • Small googly eyes
  • Velcro, cut into small 1/2 inch pieces
  • Needle and thread
How to:
  1. Before you start make some simple sketches of the characters you want to make. Keep in mind that the patterns should be very simple and that the pieces will be very small.
  2. Cut long strips of different colors of felt to form the napkin ring. (Ours were about 2 inches wide by 8 inches long.) Set aside.
    The napkin rings with Velcro tabs aligned to each other.
  4. Cut small squares just slightly smaller than the width of the napkin rings. This is what your character will be placed on.
    Pieces of Yoda on his square. I would give this to Elliott and he would have to figure out how to turn it into the character.

    Pieces of Jabba

  6. Cut pieces out for each character that you are making. Remember to keep the pieces small and to check to make sure it will fit on your square. 
  7. Once all the parts for your character are cut, assemble them and secure onto square with felt glue. Use googly eyes for eyes. Glue square onto napkin ring. Let dry.

    6.    Using needle and thread, sew Velcro tabs onto napkin ring, checking to make sure they'll line up with each other. (FYI: I used  felt glue to secure the Velcro and it didn't last. I went back and sewed each piece on. A pain, but much more secure.)
    7.    Wrap napkin ring around your silverware setting and eat up!



Princess Leia


Admiral Ackbar

Talk about using your imagination! It was so much fun to talk about which Star Wars characters we would make. (R2D2 and C3PO were a given since they are Elliott's favorites.) We literally spent days trying to decide and figure out how we would make them. Check out for some inspiration or come up with some ideas of your own. (We did a little of both.)

This was my first time using felt glue and it is my new best friend. It dried much quicker than regular fabric glue and worked great! I highly recommend it if you do this craft (or any craft with felt).

The smaller pieces were a pretty big challenge for Elliott, but surprisingly he didn't seem to mind so much because he was having such a good time trying to assemble the parts to see how the character would go together. (I cut the pieces before we started and placed each character inside it's own bag. I let Elliott choose who we would work on and he had to figure out how to put them together.) He loved it! We use these napkin rings every single meal, alternating which character we use. (Although El hasn't ventured away from R2 or 3PO.) And of course we plan on a special Star Wars dinner on May 4th:
Jabba the Hutt dogs (crescent dogs)
Vader Taters (tater tots)
Jawa Juice
Wookie Cookies
Happy crafting and May the Force be with You!

Jedi Elliott's Evaluation: I liked putting the characters together. It was like a puzzle. I liked putting all the pieces on. I use my napkin rings every day! I liked putting all of them together. We made R2D2, C3PO, General Ackbar (FYI: that's Admiral Ackbar, but no amount of correcting will convince Elliott he isn't a General), Yoda, Princess Leia, and an Ewok. Is there anyone else? And Jabba. OK! He's an Admiral! Admiral Ackbar!!