Archive for the ‘ Crafts ’ Category

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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DIY Fabric Wall Decals: FamilyFun Test Drive

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Ok craft lovers, fabric lovers, decor lovers…I just might blow your mind today. I consider myself well-versed in the world of crafts. After all, I did crafts for Parents for six years, I wrote a craft book (shameless plug: Project Kid), and I have the pleasure of writing this blog. But this FamilyFun Test Drive from the September issue officially blew my mind today! I literally had to try it to see if I really believed it.

Have you ever used Heat n Bond to make patches or decals for clothing? Did you know that you can use it to make decals for the wall? Yes, you heard correctly. You can iron Heat ‘n Bond onto the wall and create a removable wall decal. Just like that. My mind was racing with things to do (and now that I know it works, I’m ready to do more!), but I settled on the idea of putting some toys on the wall over my kids’ toy bin.

Here’s what you need:

1. Print or draw your desired shapes to the right size.

2. Iron the Heat ‘n Bond to the back of the fabric (follow package instructions) and then transfer the image to the back of the heat and bond. (I do this by outlining the picture with a pencil, then flipping it over and re-outlining it, thus transferring the pencil line to the Heat ‘n Bond paper.)

3. Cut out the shapes. The Heat ‘n Bond allows you to cut cottons and other fraying fabrics with a clean edge. No fraying or sewing! <3 <3 <3

4. Peel of the backing paper and literally iron the decal onto the wall. (I used the cotton setting of my iron.) Run your hand over the decal to make sure it bonds to the wall and to check to see if it’s cool before the kids touch it. (All ironing should be done with adult hands, obviously.)

Are you as amazed as I am? And I must tell you that when my sales person at City Quilter asked what I was doing with these materials, I explained the process and she was as stupefied by the technique as I was!

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Tags: | Categories: Crafts, Decor, DIY, FamilyFun Test Drive, kids

DIY Toddler Weather Station: FamilyFun Test Drive

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

I’m going to let you in on a never-admitted fact about my household. I am the Al Roker of my little domain. You’d think I had a permanent sign plastered to my forehead that reads, “Ask me about the weather.” My husband gets out of the shower and immediately asks, “is it hot? cold? raining? windy?”. And then, there are my two toddlers who don’t really know to ask about the weather yet, but request to wear the most inappropriate clothing for the occasion. So I’ve been craving a central station where the forecast can live in my house so everyone knows whether or not they need a jacket, an umbrella, or snow shoes! Here it is, right from the pages of the September issue of FamilyFun magazine!!

You will need:

  • Glue stick
  • 4 6×6″ squares of paper
  • Foam core cut to 6 x 24 inches
  • Card stock in solid colors
  • Scissors
  • Clothespin
  • Washi tape
  • Twine or ribbon
  1. Glue the paper squares to the foam core.
  2. Cut out a sun, cloud, raindrop, and snowflake, or other weather symbols. glue one in the center of each square.
  3. Cover clothespin in decorative washi tape. (The original instructions call for scrap paper, but I thought the washi added a little extra pep!)
  4. Tape a ribbon or twine loop to the back of the foam core for hanging.

Now I think I just need to add a white board to record the daily temperature and maybe little clips that teach my kids what to wear in certain weather conditions. Seriously, this meteorology center is going to need its own wall by the time I’m done. But we’re definitely off to a strong start!

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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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Washi-Tape School Supplies: FamilyFun Test Drive

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

I don’t think my love of new school supplies is a rare thing. Don’t you remember the thrill of picking out fresh pencils, highlighters, and notebooks? My mom would buy us letter stickers to label the sides of our 3-ring binders with the subject names—I would have gone crazy with the options available now! I haven’t had the pleasure of school-supply shopping with my kids yet, but luckily this job o’ mine give me the opportunity to start thinking about it!

Now, if you combine school supplies with washi tape, I’m literally grinning from ear to ear. Today I went through my tape bin (yes, I have a tape bin and it’s overflowing) and pulled out all of my washi tape. (I posted this pic on my Instagram account today.)

And then I grabbed some pencils, notebooks, and of course a yo-yo (obviously every kid needs a yo-yo on the first day of school), and it was like a mecca of blank slates, waiting to be striped with lovely color and happy patterns. You really can’t go wrong with this project. Stripe it, criss-cross it, tear it…and if you mess up, just pull it off and start anew.

Thanks FamilyFun for bringing together 2 of my best buds. This test drive gets 2 (or 3) pencils up!

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Tags: | Categories: Crafts, Decor, DIY, FamilyFun Test Drive, kids, School