Thursday, December 30, 2010

Holiday "Leftovers"

I love Christmas. It's my favorite holiday, and I love that it lasts a whole season instead of just one day. But I am well and truly exhausted by it this year. After two family celebrations and approximately 832 gifts being exchanged, I'm spent. (And Santa hasn't even made it to our house yet!) Plus, it seems like several days away from home compounded by lack of sleep and consuming way too many sweets has everyone in the family acting out of sorts. I'm starting to feel like a grinch, but it seems like everything was over the top: too many presents, too much food, too many festivities...

Mia has been cranky, whiny, and demanding. Apparently she thinks if she says "I want" everything will just be given to her. Logan's tummy is a mess. I think this is largely due to his discovery that chocolate is yummy (although all of the molars he's cutting probably aren't helping any). There have been squabbles over new toys, interrupted sleep schedules, and many hours spent in the car (several of which were spent listening to Logan scream). And the icing on this cake of craziness is that Mia seems to have temporarily forgotten how to use the toilet. Ugh! I am getting very tired of it all, and of course, being tired makes this mama pretty grouchy. These are some holiday "leftovers" that I could do without.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why Santa Doesn't Outsource

Santa didn't come to our house this year. (Or at least, he hasn't made it here yet.) And, no, it wasn't that the kids were naughty, or at least not any naughtier than one would expect. It seemed pretty crazy considering how much time I'd spent talking him up. Here is what happened.

Both of my brothers were coming home to Michigan for Christmas. Nick lives in Minnesota and Ryan lives in Oregon and they were both bringing significant others. This was a pretty big deal, and we agreed to spend Christmas at my parents' (summer) house Up North. Brett and I quickly realized that aside from not having much room in our vehicle for transporting gifts, it would be really difficult to get them Up North without Mia noticing (and I wasn't ready to explain to a three year old why Mama and Daddy have all of the packages that Santa brings). 

So we came up with what seemed like a perfect solution: My parents were watching the kids on December 18 while Brett and I went to a musical. When we returned home, Brett loaded a box full of wrapped presents into Santa's sleigh (my mom's vehicle) to be delivered to Grandma and Grandpa's house Up North. Well, Grandma and Grandpa made it Up North, but the box of presents did not. And naturally, we didn't realize that they were missing until about 10:30 or 11:00 on Christmas Eve.

My dad felt awful for letting me down (okay it probably didn't help that I cried some) and he offered to take Nick and drive downstate to get the gifts. We decided that seemed a bit ridiculous. It would have taken them a good 8 hours or more to get there and back, and who knows how the roads may have been. Anyway, I was pretty sure the kids would be awake before they got back, so that idea was out.

Christmas morning wasn't exactly how I envisioned it, but thankfully it wasn't a total disaster, either. My mom and Nick piled all of the presents that they had for the kids in the middle of the floor (There wasn't a Christmas tree, but that's another story.), and we decided that we would say they were all from Santa. Of course, the kids didn't know the difference; they couldn't read the labels on that huge pile of packages. However, it made Santa's carefully selected gifts (remember the ones sitting in a box downstate?) seem kind of sad.

I'm still trying to decide what about those presents from Santa. Do I just give them to Mia and Logan whenever we happen to retrieve them my parents' house? ("Look, kids! Santa didn't realize we were Up North for Christmas, so he couldn't deliver your presents to Grandma and Grandpa's house, but now that we're back home, here they are under the Christmas tree!") Do I save them for birthdays or some other occasion? (That seems a bit anticlimactic, at least for me Santa.) Do I return them? (I don't really want to. We bought most of them online, plus they really were the most perfect gifts we Santa could choose for our children.)

I've tried to keep it all in perspective. If Santa I am the only one who is really upset by this, then it's not that big of a deal. And in a few years, when we can actually share this story with the kids (without devastating them by telling them that Santa isn't real), it will be funny. For now, it's just one more life lesson learned: Santa doesn't outsource.

What a 3 Year Knows About...

Said while helping me make pizzas for dinner:
Me: "Which one do you want to be the sausage pizza?"
Mia: "I'm not having sausage pizza. I like crouton pizza!" (October 22, 2010)

Terms of Endearment
Mia: "Some pumpkins we can eat and some peanuts we can eat. And we eat honey."
I agreed with her, but she sounded confused.
Mia: "But you call me all of those things!" (October 23, 2010)

Telling Time
Me: "We only have five minutes left." (for trick-or-treaters to arrive)
Mia: "But I want ten minutes." (thinking I was sending her to bed)
Me: "How do you know ten is more than five?"
Mia: "Because it is!" (October 31, 2010)

Singing: "Old McDonald had a chicken... with a chicken nugget here and a chicken nugget there."
(November 4, 2010)

At dinner: "Lookit! Both of your glasses are half full." (November 14, 2010)

Mia showing Logan how to run his hands along the banister: "Look, Mama, we are playing the harp!"
(December 21, 2010)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Paper Bag Rudolph Puppet

Paper Bag Reindeer Puppet by Mia, Age 3 1/2
This is another one we made last year, and I ended up doing most of the work. We tried it again this year, and Mia did much more of the project. The idea for this craft, which I have made revisions to, came from here.

  • paper lunch bag
  • tape
  • pencil
  • red craft foam
  • scissors
  • glue (I like Aleene's Tacky Glue)
  • 2 googly eyes
  • red pom pom
  1. Trace child's hand onto red (or another color if you prefer) craft foam (or construction paper) and cut out hand prints.
  2. Fold in corners of the bottom of a paper lunch bag to form a pointy nose.
  3. Glue on two googly eyes and a red pom pom nose.
  4. Tape cut out hand prints to the back of the bag to form Rudolph's antlers.
  5. Once the glue is dry, you can play with your puppet or display it.

Wearable Reindeer Antlers

Last year Mia and I made plain reindeer antlers. This year we added a reindeer face to them after I was inspired by this website. I have made a couple of changes that I think made this craft perfect for Mia.

Reindeer Antlers by Mia, Age 3 1/2
  • brown construction paper
  • clear tape
  • glue (I like Aleene's Tacky Glue)
  • 2 craft sticks
  • pencil
  • red crayon (colored pencil/marker)
  • 2 googly eyes
  • pom pom
  • paper trimmer (or scissors)

  1. Using a paper trimmer (or scissors) cut brown construction paper into two strips about 3 inches wide. Wrap paper around child's head to get an approximate measure and then tape the strips together.
  2. On brown construction paper (or another color if you wish), trace child's right hand twice and cut out hand prints. Do the same with child's left hand.
  3. Glue both right hand prints together on either side of a craft stick. Repeat with left hand prints. (This will give the antlers more support, and using double-sided hand prints helps conceal the craft stick.) Glue craft sticks inside of the paper head band on opposite sides. Use some extra tape to help secure the craft sticks.
  4. If desired, add a face to your reindeer antlers head band by using two googly eyes, a pom pom nose (Mia chose pink, but you might want to use red for Rudolph's nose), and a mouth (Mia used a red crayon.)
  5. Once all glue is dry, wear your reindeer antlers.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Advent Wreath Craft

I haven't come across too many religious Christmas crafts, but I thought an Advent wreath could be easily created using a paper plate and some tubes. This is our first attempt, so it isn't perfect, but it should make a nice centerpiece. Also, I love the symbolism behind the Advent wreath, which I will briefly explain. The wreath itself is a circle, symbolizing that God has no beginning and no end, while the "evergreens" show that God is always with us. Candles symbolize God's light entering the world. Purple represents royalty and it is also shows the darkness of sin. The first purple candle is the "Candle of Hope," the second purple candle is the "Candle of Preparation," the third candle (pink or rose) is the "Candle of Joy" (the pink color stands for joy), and the fourth purple candle is the "Candle of Love." Some Advent wreaths (like ours) include a fifth candle, the white "Christ Candle" to symbolize the reason for the Christmas season, God sending light into the world in the form of His Son. White represents the purity of Jesus, who came to wash away our sins!

Advent Wreath by Mia, Age 3 1/2

  • scissors
  • glue (I like Aleene's Tacky Glue)
  • paint brush (foam brushes work well)
  • purple paint
  • pink paint
  • white paint (optional)
  • green crayon
  • paper plate
  • 4 toilet paper tubes
  • paper towel tube (optional)
  • yellow tissue paper
  • newspaper
  • clear tape (optional)
  1. Cover work surface with newspaper. Paint 3 toilet paper tubes purple and paint 1 toilet paper tube pink. We used tempera paint. Stand tubes upright on newspaper to dry. If you want to have a fifth candle, the Christ Candle, make one by cutting a paper towel tube in half. Paint one half white and allow to dry.
  2. While tubes are drying, cut away the inside circle of a paper plate. Color the remaining ring green. We used crayon, but colored pencil, marker, or paint would work, too.
  3. Once purple and pink tubes are dry, apply a ring of glue to the bottom of each one and place them on top of the green paper plate ring. We ended up having about 1/3 of each tube hanging over the inside edge in order for them to stand fairly upright. (They do lean slightly inward. I also tried gluing these to the underside of the paper plate ring, which causes them to lean outward. If you come up with a way to do this without having the "candles" lean, please let me know.) If using a white Christ Candle, simply stand it up on the inside of the wreath.
  4. Crumple some yellow tissue paper and use clear tape to adhere a "flame" to the inside of each "candle." (If desired you could omit the tape, but you will need large enough amounts of tissue paper for it to fill the diameter of the tube. This is probably the way to go if you want your Advent wreath to be functional and "light" each of your "candles" during the appropriate Sundays of Advent. I chose not to do this because I didn't want to have to keep track of the "flames.")
  5. Display your Advent wreath on a flat surface such as a table or counter top. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I Must Be Doing Something Right

After starting the day off on the wrong foot and being a bit grouchy with Mia (read: yelling), I realized that I was modeling exactly the opposite of the behavior that I wanted from her. Luckily, little people are very forgiving. She quickly accepted my apology, and we moved on. And then, at lunch time, I was humbled by the simplest thing. The kids were seated with their food, and Brett and I were still getting ours ready (as I am sure most parents of young children can relate; we're always the last to eat) when Mia announced, "We forgot to pray!" She immediately put her fork down and launched into the prayer that Brett's family has said since he was little: "Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let thy gifts to us be blessed. Amen." Brett and I, of course, joined in. When we were done, Logan (who at 15 months has yet to speak), grinned and clapped his hands enthusiastically. And I realized that even though I mess up so many times as a mom, when it comes to what matters the most, I am sure that I'm getting it right.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Less-Mess Coffee Filter Snowflakes

The other day, Mia came home from preschool with a coffee filter snowflake that she had painted with watercolors. It's very pretty, but I was trying to think of a way to make a few more, and I wanted a less messy way so that Logan could participate. I decided that instead of watercolors, we would use markers and then spritz the coffee filters with water to let the colors run a bit. They aren't quite as vibrant as the original snowflake, but our window now has a flurry of pretty snowflakes adorning it.

My Snowflake
  • coffee filters
  • markers
  • spray bottle of water
  • scissors
  • clear tape
  • paper towel/newspaper
Snowflake by Logan, Age 15 Months (cut by Mama)
  1. Using markers, color a coffee filter. Don't worry if the entire surface isn't covered. 
  2. Spritz the coffee filter with water. 
  3. Lay the damp coffee filter on paper towel or newspaper and allow it to dry.  
  4. Once dry, fold the coffee filter in half and then in half again for a basic snowflake (see picture of Logan's). For a more intricate design, continue folding in half once (like Mia's and mine) or twice more. 
  5. While coffee filter is still folded, use scissors to cut out small designs on the folds. Make sure to trim triangular notches along the outside edge. Be careful not to cut all the way through.  
  6. Unfold the coffee filter and you will have a lovely snowflake. Display your snowflake on a window using clear tape.
    Snowflake by Mia, Age 3 1/2

Simple Button Snowflakes

Last year, Mia and I did a snowflake project using pasta we had painted white by putting it in a zippered baggie and shaking it up. This year, I thought we would try using buttons. I think it turned out cute.
Button Snowflake by Mia, Age 3 1/2
Pasta Snowflake by Mia, Age 2 1/2
  • construction paper
  • white (or clear) buttons
  • glue
  1. Using glue, draw a snowflake on a piece of construction paper. This can be as simple (3 or 4 intersecting lines) or as complex as you wish.
  2. Arrange buttons (or pasta) as desired
  3. Allow glue to dry completely before displaying your snowflake.  
  • Tip: We made our snowflakes fairly large, but you could make smaller ones on something sturdier like cardboard and use them as ornaments. 
  • Tip: You could also fold your paper in half and use this to decorate a card.  
  • Tip: If you don't want to draw your snowflake freehand, use a printout or a cookie cutter.) 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Easy Foam Christmas Ornaments

Here is a simple project I did with Mia last year when she was 2 1/2. You could make several of these easy ornaments to give as gifts or to hang on your own tree. This would make an easy group project if you had the shapes pre-cut (or just traced if doing this craft with older kids.) It would be perfect for keeping kids occupied at holiday gatherings and, as a bonus, it's not particularly messy so you don't have to worry about those nice Christmas dresses and sweater vests!

  • craft foam (we used red, white, and green)
  • ribbon
  • pencil, marker, or pen
  • glue
  • sequins (or beads, pom poms, glitter, etc.)
  • scissors
  • cookie cutters (bell, star, snowman, heart, Christmas tree, etc.) 
  • hole punch
  1. Trace various shapes onto craft foam using Christmas cookie cutters.
  2. Cut out shapes.
  3. Punch a hole at the top of each cut-out shape.
  4. Cut a length of ribbon for hanging each ornament. Thread ribbon through the hole and secure it.
  5. Decorate the ornament as desired. We used sequins, but you could get fancier!

Recycled Angel Craft

Recycled Angel by Mia, Age 3 1/2
  • paint brushes
  • 2 coffee filters 
  • Aleene's Tacky Glue
  • scissors 
  • acrylic paints (or tempera)
  • gold pipe cleaner (or yellow)
  • empty plastic canister with lid (from Gerber puffs)
  • watercolor paints (optional)
  • rick rack (optional)
  1. Paint a skin tone on the front section above the neck of the canister to be the angel's face. We mixed pink and white paint for ours. (If you don't have a plastic canister like this one you could use a Pringles tube or a paper towel tube.)
  2. Paint the remaining parts of the top section to be hair. Also, paint the lid to match. Mia chose brown for her angel's hair. (You might also use yarn for hair.)
  3. Paint the bottom section of the canister as desired to be the angel's clothes. Mia chose pink. Any color would work. Once the paint was dry, we glued lavender rick rack around the neck line and closer to the bottom of the angel's dress. You could decorate your angel with different colors of paint, permanent markers, puffy paint, or paint pens.
  4. Once the paint is dry, add facial features. Mia painted a red mouth, lavender eyes, and a turquoise nose. You could also use googly eyes and permanent markers, puffy paint or paint pens.
  5. Put some glue around the outside of the lid. Next, wrap a gold pipe cleaner tightly around the lid, twist it closed, and trim off the excess (about 2 inches).
  6. For the angel's wings we used 2 coffee filters. Mia wanted them to be red so I had her paint them with watercolors. After they were dry, we pinched them together and glued them to the back side of the angel.
Tip: For something a bit different, you could adapt this craft to make a fairy (glitter would be perfect!) or add extra (colorful!) wings and some pipe cleaner legs to make a butterfly.

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Make Your Own: Head Band Organizer

    Anyone with daughters will appreciate how difficult it is to keep all of their hair accessories organized. I have tried several things ranging from shoving them all in a bathroom drawer (not advisable) to tying different colored ribbons on a hanger and clipping barrettes to them (seemed like a good idea, but wasn't that practical since I couldn't hang it in the downstairs bathroom, where we usually do hair) to putting clips and hair elastics in a plastic craft container with many compartments (where they are currently residing). But the biggest problem with all of the aforementioned storage solutions is that they did not hold head bands, and obviously, head bands take up more space than most other hair accessories. After searching the web, I found a few that can be purchased, but didn't really want to spend $30 or so on something like that. Then, I stumbled upon this very simple idea: use an oatmeal container. I decided to use a Country Time Lemonade container instead, since it seemed sturdier than an oatmeal container (and I had one that was already empty). I was inspired to create this head band holder for Mia after I saw this. You can make one for your favorite girl, too. It's easy to personalize and inexpensive. And it's actually practical!

    (Holder minus head bands)
    Materials Needed:
    Optional Materials:
    • felt ribbon
    • chipboard letters, tag, and flower
    • pink marker
    • alphabet button embellishments
    • glue dots
    Bonus storage!
    1. Trim paper to fit your container. (You might also use pretty fabric in place of paper.)
    2. Adhere paper to container. I used a few scrapbook square adhesives to hold the paper to my lemonade container and a small amount of clear tape to hold the two pieces of paper together. I used some of my scraps to decorate the inside of the lid since I was planning to save and use it.
    3. If you want your container to be a bit fancier, add some extra embellishments (stickers, chipboard shapes, ribbon, etc.). Or you can just keep it simple with pretty paper, and follow up with a coat of Mod Podge to protect it. I covered my whole container with this, embellishments included.
    4. Allow the Mod Podge to dry completely and then arrange your head bands on the outside. You could also leave the cover off and drape head bands over the top, but I chose to use the inside for additional storage of hairbrushes, combs, detangling spray, and tiny hair elastics (in their own container).
      P.S. If you want to buy a cute fabric head band holder already made, I also came across this one.

      Friday, December 10, 2010

      Holly-Day Wreath

      Deck the halls with boughs of holly... Here is a clever way to decorate for Christmas and use up all those toilet paper tubes at the same time. (I'm not the only one who saves them, right?) This project idea comes from Look What You Can Make with Tubes.

      Toilet Paper Tube Holly-Day Wreath by Mia, Age 3 1/2

      • metal hanger
      • toilet paper tubes (we used 15)
      • scissors
      • glue
      • pencil
      • green paint
      • paint brush
      • green construction paper
      • red tissue/crepe paper
      • ribbon

      1. Bend a metal hanger to form a circle. (I did this part.)
      2. Holding each toilet paper tube upright, use scissors to cut a horizontal slit in the middle, going no more than half way through the tube. (I did this part.)
      3. Paint each tube green. We used acrylic paint and foam paint brushes. Allow paint to dry.
      4. Cut holly leaves from green construction paper. An easy way to do this is to fold your paper into rectangles (say eighths) and then cut out the rectangles. Fold each rectangle in half like a hot dog (the long way), and use a pencil to draw two scallops on one side of the fold. Keeping the paper folded, cut on the line. Unfold the holly leaf. (I did this part.)
      5. Tear or cut small pieces of red tissue paper (we used crepe paper) and crumple them up to make holly berries.
      6. Assemble your wreath by pushing each toilet paper tube onto the metal hanger. Each one should hold nicely but you could add some glue if the slit is too big. Glue the holly leaves between the tunes. (This makes the wreath fuller and hides some of the metal hanger.) Glue the crumpled paper holly berries to the wreath. Once all the glue is dry, tie a bow to the top of the hanger. Now your wreath is ready to be hung.

      Wednesday, December 8, 2010

      Toilet Paper Tube Reindeer

      I wish I could say I came up with this idea myself, but it is from another great garage sale find, Look What You Can Make with Tubes. And yes, this craft book was another quarter that was well spent.

      • toilet paper tube
      • twigs/brown pipe cleaner
      • scissors
      • glue
      • tape
      • marker(s)
      • googly eyes
      • pom pom
      • ribbon (optional)
      • jingle bell (optional)
      • construction paper (optional)
      1. Cut away four sections from a toilet paper tube to make the reindeer legs. I made our legs about half the length of the tube.
      2. The book suggests to add black construction paper hooves. I colored mine with a black marker. Mia left her reindeer legs plain.
      3. Decorate the reindeer face. We used googly eyes, red pom pom noses, and made mouths using markers. I also added a jingle bell tied around a ribbon (although this was a bit too heavy and made it hard for the reindeer to stand up.) There are lots of different ways you could decorate the face using ribbon, yarn, buttons, beads, construction paper, etc.
      4. Toilet Tube Reindeer by Mia, Age 3 1/2
      5. Add twigs for antlers or use a pipe cleaner. The book suggested punching a hole in either side of the tube to insert the twigs into. I just taped them to the inside of the tube. For Mia's pipe cleaner antlers, I cut a brown pipe cleaner in half, and then cut each half into two sections, one longer than the other. We twisted the shorter pieces around the longer pieces so that each antler has three points. Lastly, we taped the antlers inside the tube.

      Tuesday, December 7, 2010

      Reindeer Paper Dolls

      After making these gingerbread men paper dolls, I decided we could also make reindeer paper dolls from that same paper shopping bag (which came from my shopping fiasco at the Levi's Outlet, in case you are wondering). This is how they turned out.

      • paper bag (grocery size or larger)
      • scissors
      • pencil
      • markers (or colored pencils or paint pens)
      • sequins (optional)
      • pom poms (optional)
      • glue (if using sequins or pom poms)
      1. Cut a long strip from a brown paper bag and fold it accordion style. We used a brown paper shopping bag.
      2. Draw a reindeer on the top section, making sure that the tip of the nose, tail, and legs touch at the folds. (Tip: I drew our reindeer freehand, but you could trace around a cookie cutter.)
      3. Keeping the paper folded, cut out the reindeer, making sure not to cut through the folded paper at the nose, tail, and legs.
      4. Unfold your paper and decorate the reindeer. I used a brown marker to add details to the faces, black marker for the hooves, and red marker to make collars with gold sequins for jingle bells. Mia decorated hers with markers, sequins, and red pom poms for noses.

      Monday, December 6, 2010

      Gingerbread Men Paper Dolls

      Here is a cute craft that Mia and I did today. The idea came from a book I got at a garage sale called Look What You Can Make with Paper Bags. That is a quarter that was well-spent.

      • paper bag (grocery size or larger)
      • scissors
      • pencil
      • white crayon (or colored pencil or paint pen)
      • buttons (optional)
      • glue (if using buttons)
      Paper Doll Gingerbread Men Decorated by Mia, Age 3 1/2
      1. Cut a long strip from a brown paper bag and fold it accordion style. We used a brown paper shopping bag.
      2. Draw a gingerbread man on the top section, making sure that the hands and feet touch at the folds. (Tip: I drew our gingerbread man freehand, but you could trace around a cookie cutter.)
      3. Keeping the paper folded, cut out the gingerbread man, making sure not to cut through the folded paper at the hands and feet.
      4. Unfold your paper and decorate the gingerbread men. I used a white crayon. Mia chose to glue on buttons. The directions in the book said to use paint, but you could also use a white colored pencil. I would recommend using a paint pen if you choose to use paint.

      Sunday, December 5, 2010

      Hand Print Christmas Tree Craft

      Here is a project Mia and I did last year when she was 2 1/2. This craft is one that older kids can do independently, but younger children will need a lot of help if they aren't very good at tracing or cutting neatly. I do not remember the source where I found the idea originally, but here is one example that includes a template with printable ornaments for you to add to the tree, if you wish.

      • green construction paper
      • brown construction paper
      • yellow construction paper
      • pencil
      • scissors
      • glue
      • pom poms (or sequins, beads, buttons, etc.)

      1. Take a brown sheet of construction paper (We actually used black since we didn't have brown) and fold it like a "hot dog" (the long way). With the paper still folded, draw half a triangle with the top point meeting on the fold and leaving about an inch or two at the bottom of the paper. Draw a line for the base of the triangle and then down to make half a rectangle. Cut out your tree shape.
      2. Trace child's hand several times onto green construction paper and then cut out the hand prints. We used two different shades because that is what we had, and I think it gives the tree some added dimension. We used 14 hand prints for our tree, but you may need more or less depending upon the size of your child's hand and the size of paper you use for the tree. (Tip: Instead of tracing Mia's hand over and over, I traced it once, cut out the hand print, and then used it as a template. This time-saver is especially helpful if your child is young and has a short attention span!)
      3. Arrange hand print cut outs on top of the tree shape. When you are happy with the arrangement, glue them down. I like the fingers pointing outward to look like branches. (Tip: Make sure to put glue on the side with pencil marks so it looks neater.)
      4. Draw a star on yellow construction paper, cut it out, and then glue it on top of the tree.
      5. Decorate your tree as desired. We used pom poms for ornaments, but you could use sequins, buttons, beads, or similar items. Make sure that all glue is dry before displaying your hand print Christmas tree.

      Saturday, December 4, 2010

      Christmas Tree Magnet Craft

      I saw something similar to this project in the Oriental Trading catalog last year, and decided we could make our own and save some money. The kit you can purchase is for making ornaments, but I decided this would make a nice magnet craft instead.

      • 4 craft/popsicle sticks
      • scissors
      • glue
      • green paint
      • brown paint
      • sequins
      • magnet

      1. Cut the ends off of a craft stick (we used the bigger size that look like tongue depressors) so that it is about 4 inches long. You could also use popsicle sticks, but the dimensions will be smaller than listed.
      2. Take a second craft stick and cut the ends off so that it is about 3 inches long.
      3. Cut the ends off of a third craft stick and then cut it into two pieces, one that is about 2 inches long and one that is about 1 1/2 inches long.
      4. Paint the cut sections of craft stick green. We used acrylic paint.
      5. Take a fourth craft stick and paint about an inch of it brown and the rest green. Allow paint to dry completely.
      6. Arrange the four craft stick sections on top of the whole craft stick (smallest on top, largest on bottom) like a Christmas tree. When you have them arranged the way you want, glue the craft sticks down. 
      7. Decorate your tree by gluing on sequins for ornaments. You could also use beads, buttons, pom poms, or similar items. Allow the glue to dry completely before adding your magnet.
      8. Adhere a magnet to the back of your Christmas tree. We used a self-adhesive magnet. Display your Christmas tree magnet or give it as a gift. We use ours to hold artwork on the refrigerator.

        Friday, December 3, 2010

        Paper Plate Santa Claus

        Here is another Santa craft that Mia and I did last year when she was 2 1/2. She really enjoyed using all the cotton balls!

        • paper plate
        • peach colored crayon (or colored pencil or paint)
        • red construction paper
        • scissors
        • glue
        • cotton balls
        • 2 googly eyes
        • pink pom pom
        • red crayon (or marker or colored pencil)
        1. Using crayon, color a paper plate a peach color (or whatever "flesh" color you want Santa to be.) You could also use colored pencil or paint, however, if you use paint you will have to wait for it to dry.
        2. Cut a piece of red construction paper to form Santa's hat. Ours is curved, but you could make a simple triangle if you prefer. Glue the hat onto the top third of the paper plate.
        3. Glue on 2 googly eyes and a pink pom pom nose.
        4. For Santa's beard, we glued on two rows of cotton balls. (I spread the glue and Mia applied the cotton balls.) We pulled one cotton ball gently to make Santa's mustache and glued that below the nose.
        5. In the space between the mustache and beard, use a red crayon (or colored pencil or marker) to draw a mouth. (You may want to do that before gluing on cotton balls if you are concerned about placement.)
        6. Add a row of cotton balls to the brim of Santa's hat and glue one more onto the tip. Allow all of the glue to dry and display your paper plate Santa Claus.

        Wednesday, December 1, 2010

        Hand Print Santa Claus

        Here is a project Mia and I did last year, when she was 2 1/2. I don't remember where I found the idea originally but here is one example I found online. Another cute idea is found here.

        Materials Needed: 
        • green construction paper (or any color)
        • pink construction paper
        • white paint
        • paint brush
        • red pom pom
        • 2 googly eyes
        • red craft foam (or paper or felt)
        • red crayon (marker or colored pencil)
        • cotton ball (or white pom poms)
        • scissors
        • glue
        1. Cover child's palm with white paint. Foam brushes work well for this. We used washable paint, and it looks somewhat transparent. Acrylic paint may look better.
        2. On green construction paper (or any color) press child's hand down to make a hand print. We used 1/2 sheet of paper since Mia's hand was small. Allow paint to dry.
        3. Cut a circle out of pink construction paper. Ours was about 2 inches in diameter. Then, cut away about 1/3 of the circle, curving it slightly. Glue onto the paper above the white hand print to make Santa's face. (You could use another color of paper if you don't want a pink Santa.)
        4. Glue on 2 googly eyes.
        5. Glue on a red pom pom to make the nose.
        6. Using a red crayon, colored pencil, or marker, draw a small mouth in the white beard, leaving a small section of white above it to be the mustache part of Santa's beard.
        7. Cut a hat from red craft foam, felt, or paper and glue on top of Santa's head. Ours is curved, but you could make a simple triangle if you prefer.
        8. Take a cotton ball and gently pull it apart, making a small ball to glue at the tip of Santa's hat and some fluffy trim to glue down on the brim of the hat. You could also use white pom poms.
        9. Allow all glue to dry and then display your hand print Santa or give it as a gift. Grandparents love kid-created stuff!