Tuesday, July 29, 2014

DIY Fairy Door...Gnome Door...

In our garden the fairies and gnomes live amongst each other. Their village spreads around the yard with lil houses, patios and ponds hidden beneath the flowers. Throughout the year, L and I like to collect and make things to add to our garden...this morning we made a lil fairy door.

Materials needed:
-florist wire
-a button

First, have your kids collect some sticks and twigs around the yard. Sort through the sticks, finding ones that are particularly straight. Lay these sticks side-by-side, getting an idea of what your door will look like. 

Next, cut two pieces of florist wire about 2-ft long each. Fold them in half. 

Take the first stick you have laid out for the door and place it in the middle of one of the wires. Wrap the wire around the stick, about an inch from the bottom, and twist the wire once to secure it. 

Do the same with the second wire about the an inch from the top of the stick. Continue adding sticks, one-by-one, wrapping and twisting the wires as you go. 

When all the sticks are connected, hold the door in two hands and very gently squeeze the sticks together. 

Cut the end of the wire, leaving about half an inch, and fold back the extra.

Next, have your child select a button for a door knob. L chose this cute lil heart button...probably not the one I would have chosen, but it was perfect for a fairy door! (Kids just know when it comes to these things.)

Thread the button onto a 4-inch piece of wire, twisting the wire a bit to secure it. Then, deciding where you'd like the door knob to be, wrap and twist the wire around one or two of the sticks. 

To ensure that the button won't slide down the door, you can thread the excess wire up and over the wire that holds the sticks in place as well. 

Now the fun part...find a little piece of wall, fence, or a tree trunk to prop the door up against! Add some buttons, pennies, or broken tile pieces for lil fairy stepping stones... Adorable! 

This project was so quick and easy, I think we'll make another to sneak into our neighbor's garden. He's got the perfect tree for a fairy or gnome door...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

10 New Ways to Paint

I have never met a person that didn't love to paint, young or old! So here are 10 new ways to paint...time to get messy and have some fun!

Some tips before we start

-Use an old shirt or apron for a smock shirt...or on a hot day, have your kids take off their shirts!

-When using finger paints, tempera paints or liquid watercolors squirt the paints onto food container lids (Gladware, Tupperware, etc.). Then you can just rinse and toss into the dishwasher to clean them...better for the environment than paper plates!

-After your child's done painting outside, find a big rock or brick for them to paint too...this will hold the paper down and keep it from blowing away while the paint dries. We just keep the rocks outside and the rain washes them clean so they'll be ready for next time.

New Ways to Paint:

1. "Clean" painting...Paint with water! This is a great activity for the beginner painter! Inside, have your kids paint with water on construction paper. As the water dries, the paper can be used over and over again. Outside, kids can paint with water on a cement driveway or sidewalk with the same effect. It's simple, clean, and kids love it!

Paint in a Bag...so quick, so easy and no mess! Put any kind of paint in a gallon-sized bag and tape it to a window! It's fun to mix and swirl the colors together, making different textures in the paint with your hands. *hint: To get the white label off your plastic bags, just use an alcohol wipe! Easy peasy! 

2. Paint with Flowers...this is definitely a Spring or Summer-time craft! Have your kids walk around outside, picking different sized flowers and grasses to paint with. The outcome is pretty cool!

3. Paint with Bubbles...I remember doing this one as a kid in school. In a small cup or bowl mix together a lot of paint, a tablespoon or two of dish soap, and a very little bit of water. Then, using a straw, have your kids blow bubbles in the cup until the bubbles rise up and over the edge. At this point you can quickly lay paper over the cup to leave a bubble print. You can also place the cup on a piece of paper before you start and let the bubbles pour over the cup and onto the paper. This one is fun to experiment with! 

4. Paint with Cotton Balls...clip clothespins onto the cotton balls and use in the place of brushes. L enjoyed making dots with this one. I've seen "cloud" pictures before where you make a cloud stencil with a piece of cardboard, lay the stencil over blue paper and use cotton balls and white paint to paint the clouds. 

5. Paint with PomPoms...this is similar to painting with cotton balls. Here are some of my friend Katie's kids using pompoms instead of brushes. So many colors and so much fun!

6. Finger Paint...this one is not new, but it is fun! You can always take it to the next level and paint with your feet instead! At Easter this year, we used finger paints and our knuckles to make knuckle carrots. 

7. Paint with Household Brushes...we made fireworks with kitchen brushes this 4th of July. Old toothbrushes would work great too!

8. Paint with Sponges...similar to household brushes, use sponges to paint. You can cut up sponges into shapes to stamp with or you can also find a variety of sponge-brushes at your craft store. 

9. Paint Each Other...you don't have to use face paint to paint your face. Watercolors work great too and wash off in seconds with warm water. I mean why not let your kid paint green dots on your face? 

10. Paint like the Masters...there's no reason not to teach even the youngest kids about the extraordinary masters of the paint world. You can let your kids paint like Michelangelo and set-up a mini-Sistine Chapel; using Q-tips have them paint dots like Georges Seurat; or lay paper under the swing-set out back, having your kids swing on their stomach, paint brush in hand, creating a Pollock-like masterpiece.

For some Monet inspired art, check out this post: 

I'm sure there are other fantastically fun ways to paint that L and I haven't tried yet. Which ones have you done??? Please share in the "comments" section below! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sunshine Experiment

We call this one the "sunshine experiment"...it's an oldie, but a goodie. It's a great experiment to help kids learn about the harmful effects of the sun and why it's important to always wear sunscreen. L is only 2 years old and was surprised at the outcome, but didn't understand it 100%. I imagine a 4-year-old would get it and even a 10-year-old would have fun with the experiment. It's good for most ages! 

Materials needed:
-construction paper
-old cardstock or thin cardboard (just look in the recycling bin!)
-a handful of rocks
-a sunny day

First, have your child dig through the recycling bin to find some pieces of thin cardboard or card stock. (We love any reuse-recycle activity!)

Next, cut out some big and basic shapes. We went with a night sky theme and an under-the-sea theme.

Take the cardboard cutouts and a couple pieces of construction paper outside. In a sunny spot, arrange the cutouts on the paper.

To ensure that they don't blow away, put a few small rocks on top. Coins would work too! And now you have to wait and wait and wait...go for a walk, a swim, eat some lunch...wait a few hours.

Next is the best part...take the cardboard pieces off the paper and discover the picture left behind, all thanks to the sunshine!

I'm sure older kids could get really creative with this and make up their own themes and scenes. Fun times ahead!

Monday, July 21, 2014

DIY Sock Bunny Rabbit

This project was inspired by a dear friend Libby, who left this world way too early in life. When I was 10 years old I was diagnosed with type I diabetes. As my doctor came to the hospital that evening to diagnose and take care of me, his wife, Libby, got out her sewing kit. She stayed up late that night making me a precious bunny rabbit that I still have to this day. 

So when one of my best friends' babies, my godchild, was in the hospital for surgery last week and ended up staying much longer than expected, my first thought was of Libby and the bunny. I knew I had to make one. 

Materials needed:
-one pair of socks (regular or knee high)
-needle and thread
-stuffing material
-embroidery floss and embroidery needle
-buttons (optional for children 3+)

First, take one sock and open it up so the heel is facing you. Lay it flat. The heel of the sock will be the bunny's face.

Then, make a cut in the middle of the toe of the sock, cutting towards the heel. This will be the bunny's ears. Don't cut all the way to the heel though, remember the heel becomes the face. Next, make a cut from the opposite end of the sock for the bunny's legs. Again, don't cut all the way up to the heel...this time you need to leave room for a body too.

Turn the sock inside-out. Starting at the tip of an ear, stitch down one ear and up the other. Next, sew the legs in a similar fashion, but this time leave about a 2-inch opening. 

Turn the sock right-side-out. Through the 2-inch opening, carefully stuff the bunny's ears, body and legs. Sew the opening closed.

Now take the other sock and cut off the toe, close to the heel. Lay this part flat, like you did the first sock, and cut it in half. These will be the arms.

Turn one sock piece inside-out and, starting from the tip, stitch the side closed. Turn it right-side-out again and fill it with stuffing. 

Next, fold the open edge inwards and pinch it together. Sew the arm closed, attaching it to the body at the same time. Repeat with the other arm.

Your bunny's adorable already, isn't it? But, it still needs a face! Using embroidery floss, stitch on little eyes or attach buttons (if the child receiving the bunny is 3 years old or older) and sew a lil nose. All done! 

As you can see from the picture below, using knee socks gives you a tall and skinny bunny and using slightly smaller socks results in an adorable, baby bunny rabbit. Now to deliver them to my godchild and her 3 yr old sister...I can't wait to see those happy faces!

"Making something is one way to say, 'I love you.'" -Daniel Tiger