Archive for the ‘ Nature ’ Category

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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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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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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5 Creative Books Every Teacher Will Love

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Believe it or not, this is the last week of school for many kids around the country. I think I can hear my nieces’ and nephews’ cheers all the way from Georgia! Instead of a mug with an apple on it or a personalized note pad, give your kids’ teachers something that will enrich them this summer…a beautiful book that inspires creativity. Here are the five DIY books that make me want to drop everything and create right now.

THE PLANT RECIPE BOOK: Baylor Chapman walks you through gorgeous green arrangements that will live and grow in your home all summer long.

PROJECT KID: Ok, another SSP (shameless self-promotion), but it really is a good book for teachers! Maybe they have kids of their own or they can just flip through it to get ideas for the next school year.

WISE CRAFT: Blogger Blair Stocker gives new life to old and often tattered flea-market finds, fabric scraps, and bits of nature. We all have some vintage hankies or rocks laying around that are begging to be crafted into something.

PAPER TO PETAL: Rebecca Thuss and Patrick Farrell have put together one of the most beautiful craft books. Ever. You will be so amazed at how gorgeous these paper flowers are; and grateful that they will never die.

EAT & MAKE: Paul Lowe of Sweet Paul Magazine gives us a food and kitchen craft book that one day will be covered in olive oil stains and paint drips. There’s no more proof of a successful how-to book than that.

 

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A Happy Earth Day Craft!

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

When I think of Earth Day crafting, I think of 2 things. First, I think of upcycling…taking something out of the recycling bin and turning it into something else. Secondly, I think about crafting with elements of nature…shopping in your backyard or park for FREE craft supplies provided by Mother Nature herself.

This craft does both, plus, it’s cute as a button (mushroom)! It’s from my new book, Project Kid: 100 Ingenious Crafts for Family Fun which happens to be chock full of upcycling and nature crafts alike! Visit my website, Project Kid, for the full how-to!

Happy Earth Day everyone!

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