Archive for the ‘ Craft-tastic ’ Category

Gratitude Mobile: FamilyFun Test Drive

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

A deliciously cooked turkey. Check. A beautifully set table. Check. Pecan pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie. Check, check, and check. So everything is ready for the Thanksgiving meal. There’s one thing left on your list…oh right—the lesson of this holiday. Take some time with your kids to reflect on what you are grateful for. As I learned this year, kids as young as two can understand the concept of gratitude, and it’s so important to start on this lesson early.

I sat down with Oliver and Sommer this week and talked about all the wonderful things and people that we have in our lives…from Lego trains to each other (Lego trains were mentioned first, mind you). So as a seasonal reminder of our good fortune, we made this festive little mobile from the November issue of Family Fun to hang in the kitchen so we can look up and remember all that we are grateful for.

How it’s done:

1. Punch circles from a 2″ to 3″ paper punch. (Kids love doing this part!)

2. Invite everyone to jot down a few things that inspire gratitude in them. Write “We’re thankful for …” on a larger circle.

3. To assemble the mobile, knot string onto the inner ring of an embroidery hoop, then extend it across to the opposite side, knot it, and trim. Repeat with 3 more lengths of thread to create 8 spokes. Gather the threads together at the center and knot a loop of twine around them for hanging.

4. Punch holes in the circles, then hang them from the hoop with thread. (I tied a circle on either side of a string and looped it over the hoop instead of tying. This allowed me to balance and move the circles as needed.)

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Paper Pumpkin Disguises: FamilyFun Test Drive

Thursday, October 16th, 2014


Sometimes it takes me so long to figure out how to decorate my pumpkins that the season sneaks by and I just have a pile of naked pumpkins sitting on my mantle or dining table. I saw this cute “Lashes and ‘Staches” idea in the October issue of FamilyFun and thought to myself, Ok, this is so quick and noncommittal that I can whip these up until I decide what I want to do. But once I got started, I couldn’t stop, and if you think I’m undressing these cuties, well you’re mistaken! Craft paper, scissors, and glue dots—done! A fancy little family of pumpkins was born!

Do you want to get a closer look at that cute little girl? I thought so!

Just one note…if you are making these to live outdoors, use craft foam in lieu of paper.

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Creative Toddler Painting Tools: FamilyFun Test Drive

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

On the last day of my son Oliver’s first year in preschool, he brought home a dossier full of paintings. They were mostly either red, blue, or some mash-up of the two together, all done with what looked like the same brush. So I did what we all do—I saved the ones that appeared to have some intention, design, or composition and chucked the rest.

But here’s my question…why are we only giving kids a chunky paintbrush to make marks on paper? In the October issue of FamilyFun, I saw a little item about art beyond finger painting—ways for kids to paint that will produce new and exciting results. So I thought I’d put a few of their ideas (and some of my own) to the test with my little artists!

1. TOY CAR: Pick a car, any car, and roll it through some nontoxic, washable paint to make colorful tire marks on the paper. Try different kinds of wheels with different textures to see how the marks differ. Sommer gave this an enthusiastic 2 thumbs up.

2. PLASTIC FORKS: The forks didn’t make quite as big an impact on her, but she experimented nonetheless. She dragged some paint around, smearing it with both the tines of the fork and the back of the fork. A more delicate painting technique. I’d say she gave it just one thumb up.

3. POM-POM BRUSH: I thought for sure she’d love this idea…a pom-pom on a stick to smear the paint with. Well, my clothespin didn’t hold well and she wasn’t so into the results. To be honest, she just wanted her cars back! But I think there’s potential here even though she gave it 2 thumbs down.

Now I feel inspired to hand my kids anything and everything to use as painting tools! As I lay on my couch, staring at Sommer’s newest masterpieces, I can’t help but think they may one day be protected behind a velvet rope at the Metropolitan Museum.

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Stenciled Grab-n-Go Totes: FamilyFun Test Drive

Friday, September 12th, 2014

As my kids are growing older and going to more and more “extracurricular” activities, I find that managing all the stuff is an extracurricular activity in and of itself. The idea of keeping it all together is obviously the way to go, but with limited closet and drawer space in their shared room, I haven’t found a clear way to store it all and to always know where it is.

When I came across these stenciled activity bags in the September issue of FamilyFun, one word came to mind: genius. After karate, we can put Oliver’s gi back in the karate bag, and after ballet, Sommer’s shoes and tutu can go right in. (This also doubles as a prevention tool for her wanting to wear her ballet shoes everywhere, everyday.) Best part? They are really easy to do, and pretty darn cute. Here’s how…

What you’ll need:

  • Canvas tote or drawstring bag
  • Templates or your own drawings
  • Freezer paper
  • Pencil
  • Craft knife and cutting mat
  • Iron
  • Acrylic or fabric paint
  • Sponge brush

1. First, outline the design with you pencil by pressing down pretty hard.

2. Turn the drawing over onto the non-shiny side of the freezer paper, and pencil over the line, transferring the original pencil line. (You may want to tape the template to the freezer paper to hold it in place.) Discard the original template or drawing.

3. Carefully cut out the design with the craft knife.

4. Iron the stencil onto the canvas bag using the cotton setting of your iron. You are ironing the outside area of where you cut, not the object you cut out.

5. With a sponge brush, dab paint onto the bag, inside the stenciled shape. Let dry.

6. Pull off freezer paper and voila! You too have created a genius grab-n-go activity bag for your kids!

Surf's Up Shirt
Surf's Up Shirt
Surf's Up Shirt

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Cute Cork Rowboats: FamilyFun Test Drive

Friday, August 29th, 2014

When I saw this cork boat project in the August issue of FamilyFun, I knew it was one I wanted to test drive. I thought it was an amazing project, but I was also so in love with the photo—a peaceful lake, rocks, little ripples of water soft in the background. And I thought it would be impossible to beat or even match that photo (see below), especially in this urban jungle in which I live. So I decided to turn these into the ultimate, homemade bath toy! And it was a hit…I could hear Oliver and Sommer singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat across the house!

What you’ll need:

  • Template printed from FamilyFun
  • Scissors
  • Pen for tracing
  • Thin cork
  • Hot-glue gun (for adult use!)
  • Paint and paintbrushes
  • Twine
  • Craft foam
  • Wooden coffee stirrers
First cut out the template from FamilyFun online, trace it onto the cork, and cut it out. Follow the instructions on the template for gluing it together. (It’s really easy) Then, it’s time to paint!
You have to use acrylic paint (this is very important)—tempera will wash off the moment it hits the water. Sommer decided to go with a pink, green, and blue combo and Oliver went for solid silver glitter. He’s the minimalist in the family.
Once they are dry, punch a hole in the bow (the front of the boat) and thread the twine through. Then cut paddle shapes from the craft foam, glue them to the coffee stirrers, and insert through tiny slits in the sides of the boat.
After having just spent a week at the beach, the kids were insistent on naming their boats, so we went for Oliver, Sommer, and Mommy (original, right?). I used acrylic paint pens to keep it neat, but a Sharpie would probably work just fine.
And then, when bath time was over, we just hung them up to dry. And I’m loving how they look like old buoys when grouped together like this.
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