Saturday, November 22, 2014

Toilet Paper Roll Advent Calendar


Last year we used a small table top artificial tree as our countdown to Christmas. I made origami envelopes, stuck little notes with activities inside and hung them from the tree. Although our Advent tree worked out just fine me being me wanted to try something different this year. I am really not crafty and I know when I take on a project like this something is going to go not so right but I'm ok with that. Part of my problem is I get anxious and I tend to rush! Anyway, I like how our toilet paper roll advent calendar turned out, for the most part. I wish I had lined up the rolls better but I know the kids won't mind and it will still be just as much fun.   I convinced myself it's not about how pretty it looks but more about how much it's enjoyed. Sounds good to me so I'm going with it!!

 Here's what I used to make our toilet paper advent calendar:

  • Christmas tray from Dollar Tree 
  • Toilet paper rolls cut in half 
  • Red and Green tissue paper 
  • Hot glue gun 
  • Paper (to write our activities on)
  • Treats (used chocolates)
  • Black marker 
 Instructions:

  • Cut your toilet paper rolls in half 
  • Cut circles of tissue paper enough to fit over one end of the roll (I used a 1/2 cup measuring cup which was the right diameter.)
  • Use hot glue gun to make a light bead of glue around the tp roll - not on the rim but just a smidge down from the rim of the roll.  Just enough so the tissue paper will fold over the glue. (the tissue paper does not need alot of glue to adhere) 
  • Attach the tissue paper 
  • With black marker write the numbers 1-25 or 1-24 whichever you prefer
  • Once above is complete add whatever you would like inside the tp roll. We are doing activities some days and I'm giving treats on other days. For the activities I wrote on a piece of paper what we will be doing and added it inside the tp roll. For treats I just added candy inside. 
  •  After that, add another bead of glue around the rim of the tp roll and carefully turn it onto the tray. 

 If you would like to hang it, just add a bow with a glue gun!


 This is where ours will hang beginning December 1st! Let the countdown begin!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reindeer Fingerprint Labels


When I tell you that this is an easy craft I mean e-z!  And what's best is that it's a personalized signature that family members and friends will really like!

Here's what you'll need:
Brown ink pad or brown paint
Black marker
Red marker or pen
Brown marker

Take your fingerprint or your child's using either the first finger or thumb and press onto the ink pad then press finger onto label.  If using brown paint just paint finger and then stamp onto label. Once that's done simply decorate by using the black marker for the eyes and mouth (if giving your reindeer a smiley face), red marker for the nose and brown marker for the antlers.

Voila! DIY holiday labels!

Don't just limit yourself to making these adorable fingerprint reindeer on lables.  You could also stamp up the back of a Christmas card envelope like we did here:


Here are some other really cute fingerprint reindeer ideas:

Reindeer Thumbprint Art from Rub Some Dirt On It

Adorable Fingerprint Reindeer Craft for Kids from Crafty Morning

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Preserving Leaves and Leaf Activities


We are lucky to have some really beautiful trees in our neighborhood.  Like most kids my 2 love to rake the leaves into big piles and jump in!  We've also taken walks trying to find the prettiest and biggest leaves.   Most of the time though the leaves we bring home dry up and that's that, goodbye leaves.  I wanted to try and preserve some of these beauties and here's what we have tried.

  • Glycerin and water - learn how to preserve leaves this way by visiting Home Science Tools
  • Ironing the leaves between wax paper - learn how to preserve leaves this way by visiting Home Science Tools
  • Melting wax - learn how to preserve leaves this way by visiting How Wee Learn
So far my favorite and the easiest was melting an old candle and dipping the leaves into the wax.  So easy and quick to dry.  They turn out soft and smell pretty from the candle too!  

Glycerin and water is also easy but I'm impatient and preserving leaves this way takes about 3 days or more. But if you have the patience to do it this way they really turn out soft!

The ironing and wax paper method, for me, was my least favorite as the leaves still seemed to dry up rather quickly.

Once your leaves are preserved, have some fun!  Here are a few leaf activities we enjoyed.

Leaf Turkey - This craft is super simple and the turkey looks adorable!  Their's something about turning leaves into creatures that puts a smile on my face, they're just so darn adorable.  We also made leaf creatures a few months back and I smiled every time I looked at them!

Here's what you'll need to make a Leaf Turkey:
  • 2 Maple leaves
  • Construction paper
  • Googly eyes
  • Foam triangle for nose
  • Red foam piece for wattle
We have the foam that self sticks which I love so no glue other than for the googly eyes was needed.  We are just hanging our Leaf Turkey on our fridge but this could also make a cute Thanksgiving card for a friend or family member.  


Here's another way we played with our preserved leaves:

Leaf Tracing - We have a forsythia bush in our backyard and let me tell ya these leaves are so pretty. They go from green to brownish burgundy to bright yellow.  My 4 year old spent almost an hour picking and sorting through these pretties!  I thought up this next activity to keep my 4 year old busy as I was preparing dinner.  I took some of the leaves that we dipped in the candle wax (my favorite way of preserving) and I traced them onto a piece of paper.  I then gave my daughter a pile of leaves and asked her if she could match the correct leaf to the tracing.  She really took to this activity and after she matched the first few she asked for more.  Then she asked if she could trace like Mommy.  This turned out to be a really fun activity and  the bonus is that it worked on fine motor skills too!



We haven't done it yet but since we have so many different kinds of leaves, shapes, sizes and colors we are  also going to try sorting them.  

We've paired our leaf activities with these fun books:


I wasn't able to snap a picture because we had already returned this book to the library but here's another fun book about Leaves:



I would love to hear how you and your children enjoy the beautiful fall leaves!  Leave a comment below or visit us on Facebook!










Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tea Time Pretend Play and Bunnies for Tea Book


My daughter is only 4 but she has already enjoyed lots of 'pretend play' tea parties.  Playing tea party is one of the things she asks to play almost more than anything else. When she was about 2 years old we purchased a Fisher Price tea set which has been great and which she has had alot of fun playing with.


Tea anyone?  She LOVES her tea hat too!

One day my neighbor was purging some of her daughters things and offered us a cute tea basket that was barely played with and was A-dorable!  When I showed it to my daughter she was in love!  This is a 'big girl' tea set which we've used for lots of tea time and picnics.


This past Easter one of the books my daughter got in her Easter basket was Bunnies for Tea by Kate Stone.  We've read this book almost as much as we've had tea time!  It's a cute book about three bunnies all dressed up in their fanciest clothes and getting ready for a tea party.  It has a sweet rhyming text with pretty illustrations.  The book is also shaped like a teacup and has a little 'handle' to carry along!

Keep in mind playing tea time doesn't have to include either of these tea sets or any at all!  Using the imagination is truly the only thing your little one needs to have fun!



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Be Thankful Bucket


Throughout the year it's important to teach your children to be thankful.  Thanksgiving gives us even more of an opportunity to talk about and to show thanks.  Both of my children are now at an age where family traditions are beginning  to have more meaning.  My son at 9 has already been enjoying some of our traditions but now that my daughter is 4 they can both enjoy them together.

This year I wanted to document in some way the things we are thankful for.  I wasn't sure how we would do it until I was getting ready to toss an empty ice-cream container into the recycle bin.  Yup, that's when the light bulb went off!! This container is not like the average containers from the grocery store but more of a plastic bucket from a local ice cream parlor.  I thought the container would work perfectly as our thankful bucket!


Because this is a craft I wanted my children to take a part in from beginning to end I let them have full rein with it.  I gave them stickers and crayons and set them free!  The only things I did was stamp out the words THANKFUL FOR on each side of the container as one side is decorated by my son and the other by my daughter.  We also wanted to use some ribbon to cover up the rim of the lid so I used the hot glue gun for that and also to adhere some letters on the top of the lid that say BE THANKFUL.




my son's side of the bucket

my daughter's side of the bucket

Because we do alot of crafts I've seen the ones that are just not a hit and others that the kids really get into.  I'm happy to say that this is one they really got into!  The kids enjoyed using their favorite stickers and my 9 year old enjoyed drawing some pictures and writing his name.  Once the bucket was decorated (but before I added the letters on the lid) I asked my husband to make a slit on top of the lid so we could just slip our thankful notes inside. 

So here's what we'll do, we will be writing down one thing we are thankful for each day leading up to Thanksgiving.  Than on Thanksgiving day we will read all the notes aloud hearing what everyone is thankful for......I can't wait!!



I hope this tradition will be one that my children remember for years to come and one that they may even share with their own families one day.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Turkey Tin Hidden Messages


This Thanksgiving I wanted to make a turkey that shows what my children are thankful for.  I also wanted to show other members of our family what my children are thankful for about them.  Since my Dad and Step Mom live 12 hours away from us and we don't get to see them that often I wanted to do this activity for them first.  During our visits the kids have so much fun with their Grandparents and they leave taking alot of memories with them.  Here's what we did:

Somewhere along the line my husband got his hands on a bunch and I mean a bunch of these cute little tins.  I thought the tin would be perfect for this craft because I could hide our thankful messages inside.  First, I covered the tin with brown book cover craft paper.  I would have used regular brown construction paper but had none on hand so I opted for the next best thing.  School glue worked fine for this part.


Then I cut out feathers from construction paper and wrote on them what the kids told me they were thankful for, in their lives.  I really loved this part!  And I'm seriously not bragging when I say my son wanted to keep telling me what he was thankful for but we ran out of room.  That's ok as we have another activity that starts this week where he will have 25 days worth of writing things he's thankful for!  Anywho, back to this activity.... I used a hot glue gun to stick on the feathers, added some googly eyes, nose, wattle and feet.


Making our turkey was fun but this next part was the hilite!  I asked my kids what they were thankful for, about their Grandparents and each of them started sharing right away! It was really great hearing what they are thankful for about them!  It warmed my heart so much and I know it will for my parents too!  Ok, so I wrote what the kids were thankful for about their Grandparents on a piece of white paper.  Once finished I cut out pieces of the paper and asked each of my children to sign their names to it. This way when their Grandparents read the little notes they will know which child said what.  I had my 9 year old write his name underneath the message and had my 4 year old write her name on the back.  With just learning how to write her name her letters tend to be big so this gave her more space.  I folded up all the thankful messages and put them inside the turkey tin.



Now my parents will have a cute little turkey that they can display through Thanksgiving and then read their Thanksgiving messages on Thanksgiving day or whenever they choose. I thought this was a nice way to include my children's grandparents in on our Thanksgiving holiday even though we will not get to physically spend it with them.


One last thing I did before shipping off our turkey was adding the initial of my children's names on the backs of the feathers.  I wanted their Grandparents to know which child shared what they are thankful for and thought this would help.

Materials needed to make your own turkey tin:

  • Tin or cup/container with a lid
  • Brown construction paper or brown craft/book cover paper
  • Various color construction paper
  • Foam pieces for turkey's face (beak and wattle) or you can use construction paper
  • Googly eyes
  • White paper
  • Crayon and/or Marker
How do you include far away relatives into your holidays ? I would love to hear about it, please share in the comments below!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mincecraft Cupcakes


When it comes to birthday cakes or cupcakes I prefer to diy.  One minor problem I have is I'm not artistic so I don't seem to do well if I have to hand draw anything!  That being said, I look for the simplest way to make my kids their cake or cupcakes while still looking fun and festive.

My son just celebrated his 9th birthday and since he's a Minecraft fan I searched the world wide web for something that I could pull off.  Thanks to the Party Animal I was able to use a free printable to make my son's Minecraft cupcakes.

Making these cupcakes is super simple, here's what to do:

  • Bake cupcakes according to your boxed cake mix
  • Use vanilla frosting and add some green food coloring to it
  • After cupcakes are baked and cooled ice them up and add the Mincecraft toppers using either cake pop sticks or toothpicks.
Since I already had some cake pop sticks that were leftover all I needed to buy was the cake mix and icing!  I used my printer and voila, Minecraft cupcakes!  I opted not use the printable for the cupcake holder part only because I already had some green cupcake holders.

These cupcakes were super easy to do and put a smile on my son's face!