Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Toilet Paper Tube Octopus

We are in the midst of preparing for Mia's fourth birthday party "Under the Sea," which means we are making lots of crafty sea creatures. There are several versions of this toilet paper tube octopus posted online. I used this as our starting point. Then I decided to try craft foam suction cups after I saw this and sequins when I found this one. Here is how I made ours.

  • toilet paper tube
  • scissors
  • acrylic paint
  • foam paintbrush
  • newspaper
  • wax paper
  • markers
  • glue
  • 2 googly eyes

Optional Materials:
  • sequins
  • craft foam
  • hole punch
  • circle stickers
  • construction paper

  1. Using scissors, cut 8 legs in a toilet paper tube. I cut just past the halfway point. It is tricky to get the legs all the same width, but they are approximately 1/2 inch in diameter.
  2. Cover work surface with newspaper. Paint the tube inside and out. Allow paint to dry. (I found that wax paper works nicely for a drying surface since the paint doesn't stick to it like it will to newspaper. This is helpful when you are painting both sides of the tube at the same time.)
  3. Using a marker (or pencil or your finger), curl up the ends of each of the 8 tentacles.
  4. Decorate the octopus as desired. Glue on 2 googly eyes and use a marker to draw a mouth. For the suction cups on the tentacles, you have a few options. We tried foam and sequins, but you could also use stickers or use a hole punch to make circles out of construction paper.
Note: I also tried reversing steps 1 and 2, but I preferred it this way. I thought it was easier to paint inside the tube after cutting rather than before.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Paper Plate Jellyfish Craft

    When Mia came home from preschool with an orange construction paper jellyfish with colorful tentacles (which I think are strips of nylon windbreaker-type material), I decided we could make some of our own and use them as "Under the Sea" party decorations. Here is my take on a jellyfish craft using paper plates.

    Jellyfish by Mia (almost 4!)
    • paper plate
    • scissors
    • curling ribbon
    • masking tape 
    • crayons (or markers or colored pencils)
    • 2 googly eyes
    1. Cut off about 1/3 of a paper plate.
    2. Color remaining 2/3 of the paper plate.
    3. Cut several lengths of curling ribbon. (We used around 8-12.)
    4. Holding scissors open, run one blade gently against the curling ribbon to curl it.
    5. Tape curled ribbons to the back of the paper plate to make the tentacles.
    6. Give your jellyfish a face. Glue on 2 googly eyes. Draw a mouth if desired.
    7. Once glue is dry, you can display your jellyfish.
    Optional Materials:
    • 2nd paper plate
    • newspaper
    • fishing line, embroidery floss, yarn, ribbon
    • stapler
    My Hanging Jellyfish
    Optional Directions for Making a Hanging Jellyfish:
      1. Cut a second paper plate to match the size of the first. (Or if you want, simply cut a plate in half and use the two halves if you want to have less waste.)
      2. Color the second plate to match the first.
      3. Crumple newspaper and insert to make jellyfish look fuller.
      4. I used rolls of masking tape to secure the two pieces together, but you could use a stapler if you want. (It would be faster, but I didn't want staples showing so I went with tape.)
      5. Attach a loop of embroidery floss, yarn, ribbon, fishing line, or similar for hanging your jellyfish.
      Other Suggestions:
      • I matched the color of the jellyfish's body to the ribbon, but you could make it different colors (or even use several colors of ribbon for a rainbow jellyfish).
      • If you don't have curling ribbon, you could substitute any ribbon, yarn, strips of fabric, construction paper, or crepe paper for the tentacles.

      Paper Plate Fish Craft

      We are getting ready to throw an "Under the Sea" themed 4th birthday party for our "little mermaid," which means Mia and I have been making some sea creature crafts lately. First up is a paper plate fish craft. I got the idea for this when I saw something similar at a library Up North over Christmas.
      Paper Plate Fish By Mia (Almost 4!)

      • 2 paper plates
      • 1 googly eye
      • scissors
      • glue or tape
      • markers (or crayons or colored pencils)
      Optional Materials:  
      • sequins
      • beads 
      • pom poms, etc.
      Tip: Use clothespins to hold pieces in place while glue dries.
      1. Take one paper plate and make two cuts meeting in a vee for the fish's mouth. Save the wedge-shaped cut-out for the fish's tail.
      2. Glue or tape the tail piece to the paper plate opposite the mouth.
      3. Fold a second paper plate in half and cut along the fold. Next, take one half of the plate and fold and cut it into two halves. These two pieces will be fins.
      4. Glue or tape one fin to the top of the fish and the other to the bottom of the fish. I found that the inside edge of the ridged part was the perfect place to glue the fins to the plate.
      5. Decorate your fish using markers, colored pencils, or crayons. (We used washable markers.)
      6. Glue on a googly eye.
      7. If desired, add texture and visual interest to your fish's design by gluing on sequins, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, beads, pom poms, or anything else you can think of.
      8. Make sure glue is dry before displaying your fish.  

      Monday, January 10, 2011

      Snow Painting

      It's hard to get a good picture of snow, but this is a flower I painted.
      Mia loved painting the rocks!
      Over the weekend, we did some snow painting. It is simple and lots of fun! If you've ever wondered what it's like to do graffiti, this is your opportunity. By the next morning, almost all traces were gone so it wasn't a big deal that we had sprayed neon "paint" all over our yard. I think I enjoyed this as much or even more than Mia did. It's definitely something we will do year after year.

      • plastic spray bottle/s
      • water
      • food coloring
      • snow
      1. Put food coloring into empty plastic spray bottle/s. 
      2. Fill bottles with water and shake to mix.
      3. Head outside and spray paint some snow! 
      Our bird bath has never been so colorful.
      • I used 20 drops of neon food coloring for each bottle of snow paint. You may use more or less depending on the size of your bottle/s. 
      • My bottles are from IKEA.
      • Mia liked using the "stream" setting on the spray bottles, which is good for writing letters, for example. I preferred the "spray" setting for a more even coverage, kind of like air brushing. 
      • Pretty much anything we saw that was snow-covered ended up being painted: rocks, bushes, brick pavers, the driveway, our footprints, rabbit tracks, the bird bath... 

      Wednesday, January 5, 2011

      Scribble Cookies Part II: Microwave Method

      {Palm Tree Microwave Scribble Cookies}
      • paper cups
      • microwave safe plate
      • broken crayon bits
      Optional Materials:
      • plastic or silicone molds
      • cooking spray
      {Fresh from the microwave}
      1. Remove paper from old broken crayons and break them into smaller pieces, if possible.
      2. Place crayon bits in paper cups (we used small kitchen/bathroom cups).
      3. Put cups on a microwave safe plate and heat on high power for 4-6* minutes, until wax is melted.
      4. If desired, pour hot wax into a mold. (We used plastic ice cube trays to make palm tree-shaped crayons.) Or, you can leave the wax in the paper cups.
      5. Allow wax to cool. This takes about 40 minutes to an hour, but you could also try putting it in the freezer to speed things up.
      6. Remove from molds or tear away paper cup. (You may need to do a bit of excavating around the bottom since the cup sticks to the wax a bit.)
      {After being removed from the paper cups}
      • *I found that time online, but it took 8 minutes for our crayons to melt. I just put the crayons in and checked them every 2 minutes until they were melted.
      • Be careful pouring wax into molds. This may be best left to an adult. It gets extremely hot! (I learned this firsthand.) Also, the plate gets hot, and even the paper cups seemed hot.
      • When using the molds, I sprayed one with cooking spray, and left the other alone. The shaped crayons came out of both without breaking, but they were much easier to get out of the ice cube tray that I had sprayed before hand.
      • The smell of microwaving wax is not exactly pleasant, and it seemed worse than when we made scribble cookies in the oven.
      • The palm tree crayons ended up broken quickly (trunks completely removed from leaves) so if you are making a shape, I would recommend a "sturdy" one without smaller parts. 
      • The round scribble cookies that came from the paper cups work fine. Some turned out about 1/4 inch thick and some were more like 1/2 inch thick. Like oven made scribble cookies, thicker is better, in my opinion.
      • {"Original Recipe" Vs. Microwave Recipe}
      • Here are some other things to do with old, broken crayons (and my source of info).

      Monday, January 3, 2011

      Scribble Cookies

      {Sorted crayon bits...ready to become new crayons}

      {Finished Scribble Cookies}
      Out with the old and in with the new... If you are anything like me, you have a large stash of old broken crayons that aren't really being used anymore, but you can't bring yourself to throw them away. In thinking about ways to re-purpose these bits and pieces, the obvious place to start was by making new crayons. 

      • broken crayons
      • muffin pan
      • foil cupcake liners
      • {Ready to go into the oven}
      • oven
      Optional Materials: 
      • cookie sheet
      • metal cookie cutters
      • aluminum foil
      • pencil sharpener
      Basic Directions:
      1. Heat oven to 200 degrees F. You don't want to use a higher temperature because wax is very flammable.
      2. Line a muffin pan with foil cupcake liners.
      3. Fill the liners with crayon bits. We filled them about 1/3 to 1/2 full.
      4. Bake until melted. (The directions I read online said 9-12 minutes. I found that it took closer to 40 minutes! Perhaps it would have gone faster if I had made crayon shavings using a pencil sharpener or if we hadn't filled the foil liners as much as we did?)
      5. Allow melted wax to cool completely (about 1 hour) before removing the foil liners.
      6. {Fresh from the oven}
      7. Enjoy your new scribble cookies!
      Optional Directions*:
      1. Heat oven to 200 degrees F. You don't want to use a higher temperature because wax is very flammable.
      2. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
      3. Lay metal cookie cutters on top of the foil and fill them with crayon bits. (We broke them up as small as possible first.)
      4. Bake until melted. (The directions I read online said 9-12 minutes. I found that it took closer to 35 minutes! Perhaps it would have gone faster if I had made crayon shavings using a pencil sharpener?)
      5. Allow melted wax to cool completely (about 1 hour) before removing from the cookie cutters.
      6. Enjoy your new shaped scribble cookies!
        {Scribble Cookies fresh from the oven}
        {Ready to go into the oven}
        {The few survivors-before use}

        *Note: We found that this method didn't work well for us. Most of the shaped scribble cookies broke when we tried to remove them. The ones that survived were very thin, and Mia broke them right away. (And the cookie sheet was ruined by being coated with wax. Luckily, I had used an old one that I wasn't concerned about.) We ended up taking all the bits and remelting them in the muffin tin with foil liners and making multi-color scribble cookies. There may be a way to make shaped crayons this more successfully, but I can't tell you what it is.

        Other Notes: 
        • Ovens should only be used by adults.
        • As noted in the directions, wax is highly flammable. Please do not heat your oven above 200 degrees F.
        • We broke our crayons bits small as possible before melting them. 
        • I had previously sorted the broken crayons by color so we could make red, green, blue, etc. (You don't need to do this; I'm just weird like that.) Naturally, Mia wanted to make a few that were multi-colored, too. Both are fun to use and work equally well.
        • You may want to keep your scribble cookies away from younger children. They look very much like colorful peanut butter cups (especially the multi-colored ones, which look brown, but when used on paper are colorful.)
        • Some of our scribble cookies were thicker than others. My opinion is that thicker is better.
        • Scribble cookies seem to work best if you color on an angle. The top layer on each one doesn't seem to have color, just wax.
        • Here are some other things to do with old, broken crayons (and my source of info).

        Saturday, January 1, 2011

        2010 Milestones and Memories

        • 8: Logan's first solid food- rice cereal (It wasn't a success; his reflux was still really bad.)
        • 30: Mia's 3rd Birthday Party 

        • 26: Logan rolled over (back to front)
        • 28: Family trip to the Kalahari indoor water park
        • 3: Tried rice cereal again
        • 4: Our first preschool visit (Parker's Place)
        • 8: Logan tried oatmeal
        • 13: Mia pooped in the potty
        • 19: Mia went all day with no potty accidents
        • 24: Logan tried barley cereal
        • 26: Logan switched to medium size Fuzzi Bunz
        • 27: Logan tried peas
        • 30: Logan tried butternut squash
        • 2: Logan tried sweet potatoes
        • 3: Easter Egg hunt/Logan met the Easter Bunny
        • 4: Logan's first Easter
        • 5: Logan tried apples
        • 8: Logan tried pears
        • 11: Logan tried banana
        • 14: Logan tried acorn squash
        • 17: Logan tried plums
        • 18: Logan started "Army" crawling
        • 20: Mia sang the ABC song
        • 20: Logan tried nectarines
        • 23: Logan tried avocado
        • 26: Logan tried zucchini/Logan started crawling
        • 29: Logan first used sippy cup/tried green beans
        • 2: Logan tried chicken
        • 5: Logan pulled up to standing/Logan tried carrots
        • 8: Logan tried beef
        • 9: Logan's baptism (Mother's Day)
        • 10: Logan climbed the landing
        • 11: Mia wrote her name/Logan tried mangos
        • 12: Logan stood on his own/Logan's first tooth (lower right center)
        • 14: Logan tried broccoli
        • 18: Logan tried black beans
        • 21: Logan tried papaya/Cheerios
        • 24: Logan crawled up the stairs/Logan's 2nd tooth/tried white potatoes
        • 27: Logan tried asparagus/cheese
        • 29: Logan tried wheat bread/turkey/apple cinnamon puffs
        • 30: Logan tried peaches
        • 31: Logan tried watermelon/corn
        • 4: Logan tried apricots/plain yogurt
        • 7: Took kids to Spicer's/picked strawberries
        • 12: My first Mom 2 Mom sale (as a seller)
        • 15: Toured Chelsea Bear Company
        • 21: Logan said "dada"
        • 24: Logan's 3rd tooth (upper left center)
        • 21-25: Galactic Blast Vacation Bible School
        • 28: first trip to Hawk Island Splash Pad
        • 1: Mia to ENT specialist (one tube removed; one remains)
        • 3: trip Up North to see Grandma and Grandpa
        • 6: Logan's 4th tooth (top right center)
        • 11: Mud Hens Game (Grandpa bought Logan his first cap)
        • 19: Fowlerville Fair
        • 23: Logan's first steps
        • 24: Logan waved bye-bye/clapped hands
        • 27: Logan said "mama"
        • 7: trip Up North
        • 14: found out Mia will be a flower girl/I will be a bridesmaid! (discovered fleas on Ritzy-boo!)
        • 26: Logan's 12 month/family portraits
        • 28: Logan's 1st Birthday Party
        • 30: Logan's 5th tooth

        • 5: went to Toledo Zoo
        • 9: Logan's 6th tooth
        • 13: took kids to Potter Park Zoo
        • 17: Mia's first ballet class
        • 25: trip Up North/Logan's first word = haha (I haven't heard him say it since, so I don't know if this counts.)

        • 2: My first day teaching Sunday School
        • 5: I thought Logan said "nana" (banana), but haven't heard him say it since.
        • 7: Mia's first day of preschool
        • 10: Logan climbed into a chair
        • 13: Logan pointed
        • 16: Halloween party w/ family Wizard of Oz themed costumes/Logan went down all the stairs
        • 17: trip to the pumpkin patch

          • 2: Logan sat at the table and ate with a fork
          • 11: Logan drank from a real cup (non-sippy)/7th tooth (first molar-top right)
          • 18: Logan gives up the pacifier (our choice-not his)
          • 23: family trip to the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum
          • 24: Logan's 8th tooth (top left molar)
          • 25: Our first time hosting Thanksgiving dinner
          • 26: Brett took Mia to the Festival of Lights Parade
          • 2: Our first neighborhood cookie exchange
          • 3: Mia's first birthday party at a friend's house
          • 5: Logan shook head "no"
          • 7: Logan's 9th tooth (lower right molar)
          • 9: took Mia to her first play (Seussical Jr.)
          • 10: Logan walked down the stairs holding onto my hand/shook his head "no" correctly
          • 12: Logan shook head "yes" (correctly)
          • 13: Logan turned light switch on and off (while I held him)
          • 14: Logan "blew" on his food to cool it
          • 21: trip Up North for Christmas
          • 27: family Christmas #2