Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Sun Catchers

I love making sun catchers with the kids because any time they want a project and I don't have a new idea, I can dust this one off and make it fit with the current season or upcoming holiday. While the approaching Michigan winter may not make me normally think of sunshine, these look pretty and remind me of stained glass windows, which is something I do think of at Christmastime. These can be made by toddlers on up, but they do require some parent prep work. If you aren't interested in drawing your shapes you can trace holiday cookie cutters like candy canes, Christmas trees, bells, stars, angels, gingerbread men, reindeer, or Santa Claus. I drew the ornament free-hand and traced candy cane and Christmas tree cookie cutters to make our sun catchers. Another option is to download a template, cut that out, and then trace it. For construction paper, we used traditional Christmas colors of red and green, but you could try black to make your sun catchers look more like stained glass windows. Or, use any color you wish.

  • pencil 
  • clear tape
  • scissors
  • clear contact paper
  • construction paper (We used traditional red and green.)
  • cookie cutters (optional) 
  • tissue paper (Again we used red, green, and some white.)
  • paper trimmer (optional)
  • hole punch (optional)
  • yarn, string, ribbon, etc. for hanging (optional)
  1. If you are making a shape that is symmetrical, fold your paper in half like a hot dog before drawing and cutting out your shape. This makes it go a bit faster, and hopefully it creates less frustration, too. If you are making a shape that isn't symmetrical, simply draw (or trace) your shape and cut it out on two pieces of paper. Tip: If you are using two pieces of paper, you will need to make sure they stay together so that you get identical Christmas shapes.
  2. Cut two pieces of clear contact paper (I used both a paper trimmer and scissors for this.) so that they are 1/4 inch larger than the construction paper all the way around. Tip: Do not remove backing from contact paper until you are ready to use it.
  3. Adhere one piece of paper to the clear contact paper so that there is a border of 1/4 inch all around the paper. Tip: Slowly peel the contact paper away from the backing as you smooth the construction paper down onto the contact paper. This way you don't end up with "bubbles."
  4. Have your child stick tissue paper squares onto the contact paper Christmas shape until it is filled. (Mia has created her own technique for filling in small spaces: crumpling up the tissue paper into balls. It makes the sun catcher a bit bulkier, but it does work, and I think it adds a bit of visual interest to the design. She helped Logan fill in the ornament hook using this method.)
  5. Layer the second piece of construction paper on top of the first, making sure that the Christmas shapes line up.
  6. Add the second piece of contact paper over the top, smoothing it down as you go. Trim away excess if desired, but don't trim too much or the sun catcher will not stay together. 
  7. You can display your sun catcher in a window using clear tape. Another option is to use a hole punch to make two holes near the top, thread some ribbon or yarn through the holes, tie it off, and then hang your sun catcher.
Don't forget to read my review of the book, Vinegar Fridays, and enter for a chance to win your own copy. You have until Wednesday, December 14, 2001 to enter the drawing.

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