Paper Pumpkin Disguises: FamilyFun Test Drive


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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Happy Spider Craft: FamilyFun Test Drive

Halloween is full of so many creepy crawlers that I dislike—spiders, rats, bats—and until my kids are of the age when they insist upon a creeped-out Halloween, I’m bound and determined to keep October colorful and happy!

So, while I admire the very realistic nature of these awesome spiders from the October issue of FamilyFun, I opted for a more cartoony version. Oliver and Sommer were great helps with this craft, but I did the final wire twist and glue.

What you’ll need:

  • 18-gauge wrapped floral wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Sponge brush
  • 2 pom-poms, 1 small and 1 larger
  • Tacky glue
  • 2 small round objects like brads, buttons, or beads for eyes
  • Sharpie (optional)
1. Paint 4 pieces of equal-length floral wire black. (When you use cloth- or paper-wrapped wire, the texture once painted gives a creepy, insect-like leg appearance.) I stood my wires up in a Styrofoam cube to dry (something I always keep on hand for projects like this).
2. While the paint is drying, Glue the 2 pom-poms together with tacky glue.
3. Glue the eyes to the smaller pom-pom. (I drew little black pupils on my white brads for more cuteness.)
4. Twist the 4 wires together in the center to form an 8-pronged starburst, and then pend the wires to resemble spider legs. Glue the pom-pom body to the center.
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Creative Toddler Painting Tools: FamilyFun Test Drive

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

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

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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