Archive for the ‘ Crafts ’ Category

Plastic Bottle Bug House: FamilyFun Test Drive

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Last Sunday night at 6:30pm, my cousin-in-law Jane took Oliver and Sommer on an “adventure” walk. Which, in Brooklyn and at that hour, meant a stroll down the block. Oliver walked slowly back into the apartment 20 minutes later with his hands cupped, saying “Mommy, look, look!” He pried open his clam-shelled fingers to reveal a furry, yellow caterpillar. “His name is Kinini,” Oliver beamed.

So we poked some holes in a jar lid to make him a little make-shift hotel room to hang out in for a few hours and then took him back after the kids went to bed. (We, of course, warned them of this in advance.) So what better FamilyFun summer craft to test out this month than the Bug Inn—an easy-to-make observation station that gives kids a closer look at their insect friends.

What you’ll need:

  • Clear drink bottle
  • Craft knife
  • Window screen repair material
  • Duct tape
  • Adhesive-backed Velcro

First, cut an opening with the craft knife in the side of the bottle. If your screen is a certain size, make this hole a bit smaller than that piece of screen. This is definitely a job for an adult!

Then, cover the edges of the opening by folding over a 1-inch wide piece of duct tape. It’s okay if it’s a bit messy, it will eventually be covered up.

Next, create a duct-tape border around the piece of screen, using the same size duct-tape strip.

Then, tape one side of the window to the bottle over the opening, and put the velcro on the other side so the door stays closed. (I cut my Velcro dots in half to fit on the width of my tape frame.)

Now, it’s time to take it outside and collect sticks and leaves to make a comfy stay for our bug friends.

They each took their turn filling the bottle bug house, and then it was time to find Kinini’s brother, Shippy. I told Oliver that it would be hard to find Kinini again, but that we might run into his brother; Oliver told me his name is Shippy.

After no caterpillars were found, we settled on Kinini’s cousin, a roly poly. (He’s a little shy and hasn’t told us his name yet.) I told Oliver that Kinini and his brothers were probably napping after their lunch, so we’d come back later for a visit.

This little Bottle Bug Hotel is going to be the most desired hot-spot in the neighborhood. I might have to start charging these bugs rent!

Footnote: We talked a lot about returning our bug tenants to their homes after a few hours. I think both Sommer and Oliver understand that everyone, even bugs, likes to go home eventually!

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Homemade Photo Memory Game: FamilyFun Test Drive

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Raise your hand if you have hundreds, possibly thousands, of digital photos buried in digital devices. Yes, that’s what I thought. All of you!

We take more pictures than ever, share them on social media, yet our kids have little experience of holding prints in their hands. This DIY photo memory game is a great way to relive the best moments of the summer while playing a classic, boredom-buster game with kids as young as two!

Here’s how I made it:

  1. Since I needed to use square images, I just went to my Instagram and printed out 8 of my faves twice as 3-inch squares (After all, if I shared it on Instagram, it has to be good, right?). 
  2. I cut out the photos, not to the edges, but roughly leaving white space and, using a glue stick, I mounted them to the back of a patterned scrapbook paper. 
  3. After smoothing the glue-backed images onto the paper, I cut out the photos to the edges, now fully adhered to the scrapbook paper.
  4. At first I wasn’t going to take the advice of the June/July issue of FamilyFun magazine and get them laminated, but then I saw how cute they were and I just couldn’t resist! (I highly recommend this step for the longevity of your homemade memory game. Since I made them, they have been tossed through the air multiple times and survived beautifully.)

When we play, Oliver and Sommer will hunt for Sommer with ice cream, Oliver on the beach, or Mommy and Sommer making kissy faces. You can take a sweet trip down memory lane, while playing a game with your kids. Talk about spending meaningful time together! Two thumbs up, right? 

Snow Cone Cupcakes
Snow Cone Cupcakes
Snow Cone Cupcakes

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Painter’s Tape Stenciled Tshirt: FamilyFun Test Drive

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

What do you do with your kids’ T-shirts that have impossible stains? Throw them out? Turn them into rags? I have a way better idea for you—paint them! I know it seems like a stenciled T-shirt is a pain-in-the-you-know-what, but today’s FamilyFun Test Drive proves otherwise. I swear. And you know what? This project is so much fun (and easy) to do, that you don’t even have to save it for a stained tee.

When I saw this cute shirt in the June/July issue of Family Fun, I was excited to try it. It uses 2 things that I have a ton of—paint and tape. Because I know my son and his fashion preferences (yes, a 4-year-old has fashion preferences), I knew that he wouldn’t necessarily get excited about an abstract pattern. So I taped-out this little character, what we are calling a Robot Bunny. Oliver’s color of choice these days is green, so we went with that (and the green tape was just an added bonus). It’s best to use fabric paint because it stays soft and washes well. You can buy the Tulip brand at Michaels.com.

First I put a piece of cardboard inside the T-shirt to avoid any bleed-through. I used a thin painter’s tape and taped off the body of the Robot Bunny. I really just eyeballed the design and pressed down really hard on the inside edges of the tape.

Then, with a sponge brush, I let Oliver dab on the paint. (Dab is the key technique here; you don’t want to brush or else you might find yourself with some blurred lines.) Of course the waiting to peel the tape was the hardest part! We waited about 2 hours (a bit shy of the bottle’s instructions but things dry faster in the summer!) and then pulled the tape!

Now Oliver just needs to practice is Robotic Bunny Hop moves.

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City-Streets Felt Craft: FamilyFun Test Drive

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but my 4-year-old son Oliver is of the wheel-loving variety. Cars, trucks, trains…he loves it all. When I was flipping through the June/July issue of FamilyFun and saw this felt road project, I knew this was a must-do. It’s basically 2 materials—felt and duct tape— and no drying time. Gotta love crafts that simple. The photo in the magazine had yellow roads with black lines, but I didn’t have black duct tape, so I reversed it. (They also recommend using thinner tape that you don’t have to cut, but I discovered a work-around for that! Read on…)

What you’ll need:

  • Cereal or cracker box
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Black felt
  • Yellow duct tape
  • Parchment paper

 

So the first thing to do is to measure and draw a 5″ by 5″ square onto the cardboard and cut it out.

Then, take this square and lay it on your felt to trace. You can make straight lines by just moving that cardboard piece or you can make an intersection like this one. Basically, I kept tracing and cutting until I ran out of black felt. Flip the felt over before the next step so any pencil lines are on the back.

The last step is to put the street lines on. Have you ever tried cutting duct tape? It’s a total pain in the rear—it sticks to the scissors, curls up, sticks to itself; basically, it’s a nightmare. So I came up with this quick technique. Ready? Rip off a piece of duct tape and stick it to parchment paper. Then, cut 1/4″ to 1/2″ wide strips. They peel right off and stick to the felt really well. Now it’s time to play!

Oliver and his friend Elias loved driving his cars around the streets! (Then Sommer came home from ballet, and joined in. Why not?) Bonus: It’s a great (read: lightweight), portable toy to take on trips.

Just as one extra added step, I made this little handy storage bag. I’m on a constant toy-organization rampage, and I figured it would be the easiest way to get Oliver and Sommer to put these pieces away. (It’s totally worth having a stash of these cotton bags to store small toy parts and pieces in!)

Home Organization: Organizing Toys
Home Organization: Organizing Toys
Home Organization: Organizing Toys

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Prince George’s First Birthday Party Hats: FamilyFun Test Drive

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Oh, I do love a good birthday party! And better yet, I love crafting for birthday parties. Probably one of the biggest first birthday celebrations of our time is coming up on July 22nd…that of Prince George Alexander Louis Mountbatten-Windsor, son of Prince William and Kate. Yes in about 10 days or so, #GeorgeTurns1. It’s hard to even fathom how the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will commemorate this momentous occasion. Will there be royal pony rides? A cake in the shape of Buckingham Palace? And what will the favors be? Chocolate Big Ben’s on a stick? Personalized teabags? Knighthood?

The one thing I know will be VERY important is the party hat. Perhaps little George will don a fancy birthday crown, as many first birthday honorees do, but what will the party goers wear? Party-Hat Fascinators, but of course! You must recall the creative fascinator showing that emerged when William and Kate got married—I feel like the world really learned the extent of what head-wear could be. Here are a few gems from Kate Middleton’s time in the spotlight:

Inspired by FamilyFun’s July 4th party hats, Oliver, Sommer, and I got to work on souped-up versions of our own. I decided to use white paper party cups—they have a dull surface (no shine) so they are perfect for crafting. We started with paint—and it got messy fast. But it was super-fun. Sommer lost focus, but Oliver was down with making another hat, this time using washi tape (a crafter after my own heart).

I had pre-cut the circle brims (you can download the template here), and I let them decide what materials to use to accessorize their fascinator party hats. Feathers were a natural choice, and Oliver chose yarn pom-poms (I love these from eeBoo), and Sommer couldn’t help herself; she needed to add some bling to bring her hat to the level of royalty. (At just past two-years-old, she is firmly convinced she’s a princess. Not sure how that happened.)

For my own, I used washi tape, feathers, and then I added a fringed cupcake liner carnation—a craft from my book, Project Kid.

My favorite part of making these paper-party-hat fascinators is that there are no rules when it comes to embellishments. The more supplies, the more the merrier! And once your kids put them on, their goofy sides will really come out!

Happy Birthday, Prince George!

 

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