Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Frog with a Fly Craft

{Paper Plate Frog with a Fly by Logan, Age 2 1/2}
Here is another Leap Day frog craft idea. This one was a joint effort between Logan and Mama.

  • paper plate
  • scissors
  • glue
  • tape
  • green paint
  • foam paint brush
  • Styrofoam tray
  • two white bottle caps
  • red pipe cleaner
  • black pipe cleaner
  • 2 green pipe cleaners
  • black construction paper
  • wax paper
  1. Protect work surface with newspaper. Pour green paint into Styrofoam tray. Have your child paint the back side (non-eating side) of paper plate with a thin coat of green paint. You can use more than one shade if you like. Logan used about 3 different shades, although it is hard to tell since they all started blending together. (Also, he got bored half way through and wanted me to finish the rest.) Let paint dry.
  2. Cut a red pipe cleaner in half. Bend as desired to form the frog's tongue. Make a small hole near the center of the plate using the tip of the scissors. Then insert into the hold in the middle of the paper plate so that about 1/2 " goes through to the back. Secure the end with tape. 
  3. Cut two green pipe cleaners in half. Bend each one so that you have 3 "toes." Make two of the feet a bit smaller so you can leave more of the pipe cleaner unbent. Use these for the front legs and tape them to the front of your frog. Tape the bigger two to the back side so that just the feet show on the front.
  4. For the eyes, cut two small circles of black construction paper. (I made ours by tracing around a quarter.) Have your child glue these to the insides of two white bottle caps. (Ours are from apple juice bottles.) Glue the outside (flat part) of the bottle caps onto the paper plate.
How to Make the Fly:
{Close-Up of Fly}
  1. Cut a length of black pipe cleaner about 1 1/2" long. Coil it tightly.
  2. Cut a small rectangle of wax paper. Fold in half. Cut towards the fold, but not into it, making an oval shape. Unfold the wax paper slightly.
  3. Put a small amount of glue on the underside of the wax paper, right near the fold. Insert into the coiled part of the black pipe cleaner.
  4. Glue fly onto the frog's tongue.
  • Tip: Have child wear old clothing or paint smock. (We use old t-shirts with a clothes pin to hold them tightly at the back of the neck.)
  • Tip: We use recycled Styrofoam from meat packaging (or a plastic compartmentalized tray from a TV dinner), but a bowl or plate will work just as well for holding paint.
  • Tip: If you are impatient like we are you can speed up dry time with a blow dryer.
  • Tip: You can use googly eyes in place of bottle caps.
  • Tip: You can also make the frog's legs out of green construction paper.
  • Tip: If you don't have a black pipe cleaner, you can make a funky colored fly, or make your fly out of black construction paper.

Recycled CD Frog Craft

In honor of Leap Day, I decided some frog crafts were in order. Here is one idea for reusing a CD that came in junk mail. I think Mia made a cute and "hoppy" little friend.

{CD Froggy by Mia, Age 5}

  • old CD
  • green paint
  • foam paint brush
  • scissors
  • glue
  • tape
  • Styrofoam tray
  • 2 green plastic bendy straws
  • red pipe cleaner
  • 2 white pom poms
  • black dimensional paint
  • 4 self adhesive green craft foam letters (W, M, or V)
  • newspaper (to protect work surface)
  1. Protect work surface with newspaper. Pour green paint into Styrofoam tray. Paint back side (shiny side) with a thin coat of green paint. You can use more than one shade if you like. Mia chose to paint the body with one hue and add spots in a second shade. Allow paint to dry completely. 
  2. Cut a red pipe cleaner in half. Bend as desired to form the frog's tongue. Then insert into the hold in the middle of the CD so that about 1/2 " goes through to the back. Secure the end with tape. 
  3. Cut two green bendy straws about in half. Use the bendy parts for the hind legs. Cut one of the straight pieces in half. Use each half for the front legs. Tape all four legs to the CD. Peel the backing from green self-adhesive foam letters (We used 2 W's and 2 V's.) and stick them onto the legs to form the toes/feet.
  4. Glue two white pom poms onto the CD for eyes. Add a dot of black dimensional paint to the center of each. Allow glue and dimensional paint to dry.
  • Tip: Have child wear old clothing or paint smock. (We use old t-shirts with a clothes pin to hold them tightly at the back of the neck.)
  • Tip: We use recycled Styrofoam from meat packaging (or a plastic compartmentalized tray from a TV dinner), but a bowl or plate will work just as well for holding paint.
  • Tip: If you are impatient like we are you can speed up dry time with a blow dryer.
  • Tip: You can use googly eyes in place of pom poms.
  • Tip: You could try green pipe cleaners for legs if you don't have any straws on hand.

To-may-to, To-mah-to

Logan has more and more to say lately, which means that he is nearly overtaking Mia is the cute quotes category. The kids have both been busy this month at coming up with different ways of saying things. I especially love how Logan describes the experience of going through the car wash.

While out running errands, I told the kids that I would stop for gas and then we would head home. Mia told Logan, "It looks like the car needs some food, Buddy." (Feb. 1)

Logan's favorite Super Bowl commercial was for a car, I don't know what kind, but it featured a cheetah chasing after a man, when it was supposed to be racing the car. Logan laughed hysterically and said, "Kitten chase guy!" (Feb. 5)

When Logan bumped his head on the table, I said, "Whoops. You bang your noggin?" He responded, without crying, "No. Smack my head." (Feb. 10)

Mia: "Mom, chocolate is sweet and you can't eat too much chocolate or you'll get a sweet stomach." (Feb. 10)

Brett took Logan into the living room and told him they were going to watch sports. Logan asked hopefully, "Skateboarding?" He meant snowboarding, but it wasn't on, so he started to cry. Brett attempted to explain by saying, "I can't control what's on TV." Mia tried to help by adding, "God chooses what's on TV." (Feb. 12)

Logan excitedly tried to tell me about going through the car wash with Daddy: "Me go in washing machine!" (Feb. 15)

Logan: "Me want purple apple juice." I think he was just combining the idea of apple juice with the idea of his purple vitamin. Mia convinced him to have apple juice and to pretend that it was purple. (Feb. 29)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kids at Work

{Mia has a developed a perfect blend of my creativity + her daddy's math aptitude and spatial reasoning. I see a future engineer in the family. Or maybe an architect?}

{Look at these creations! She balanced other blocks on top of the triangular ones; I wouldn't have thought of that. Plus, check out the truck with semi-circle wheels.}

{I'm not yet sure about this one... Here he is playing "Peek Boo" -- his word for it.}

{One thing is certain, though. You make me smile, Buddy!}

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Fancy Nancy 5th Birthday Soiree

Mia wanted a Fancy Nancy theme for her fifth birthday party. I spent a fair bit of time figuring out how to do this since I saw that there was a limited amount of official items to be purchased, and honestly, I didn't want to spend the money on them since it was mostly disposable things like plates and cups. I feel like I have more time to spend making things than I have money to spend buying them, so here is where creativity comes in handy.

The Invitations:
I made fuchsia purse invitations for all of the girls in her preschool class. (Fuchsia is Fancy Nancy's favorite color, although she describes it as a fancy way of saying purple, and I would call it more of a hot pink). I couldn't find a template, so I made my own using 8 1/2" x 11 cardstock and folding it into three sections. I attached ribbon handles and cut out some Fancy Nancy pictures that I found online to use on the front of the purses. I punched some small tags, wrote each girls name as fancily as I could, and attached them to the handles with embroidery floss. For the inside, I had typed: "You are cordially invited to a Soiree! Soiree is French for party (everything is fancier in French). Please don your fanciest ensemble to help celebrate Mia's Fancy 5th Birthday!" I placed another picture of Fancy Nancy on the inside as well. The scanner on our printer conked out, otherwise I would try to give you a template for making purse cards. Here is a basic outline for another purse card.

The Decorations:
One of the few throw-away things I will buy for birthday parties is plastic table covers. They come in tons of colors to fit with any theme, and when you're done, you just roll all the mess inside and chuck it in the trash. For this Fancy Nancy soiree, I bought a fuchsia table cover, naturally. It was cut to fit our dining table and then taped down. The extra square was used to cover a card table.

Mia helped me make enough place mats for all of the girls. I took purple construction paper and cut all around the outside edge with scalloped scissors. I had cut out crowns, shoes, jewels, dresses, and fans using my Cricut Happily Ever After cartridge. (This was a nice way to use up lots of purple and pink scraps of cardstock that I had in my stash.) Mia glued three or four shapes to each piece of construction paper. I thought about "laminating" them with clear Con-tact paper so that the girls could take them home, but decided it wasn't worth the time. They just went into the recycling bin at the end of the party.

I already had plain pink paper napkins leftover from a previous year's party. (This is the other disposable item that I will buy for parties because, face it, kids get messy, and they need to get cleaned up.) To make them fancy, I stamped ice cream cones onto half of them and butterflies onto the other half using a black ink pad. There are no actual Fancy Nancy stamps in existence, or at least none that I am aware of, but these went with the theme well enough and Mia was happy.

I really wanted the chairs to look fancy since I had seen this on another blog. I was pretty impressed with myself when I figured out that our pillow cases would fit perfectly over the dining room chairs. Except that they weren't fancy and I didn't have enough of them to go around. When I realized it would cost around $30 to cover all 6 chairs, I abandoned that idea and borrowed the other blogger's idea of using plastic table covers. (See, they're even multi-functional.) I bought three white table cover at Dollar Tree, cut them in half and used 1/2 for each of the dining chairs. Then I wrapped pale pink tulle that I picked up inexpensively at Jo-Ann (with coupon, I might add) around each one and tied it off. Lastly, I hot glued a hot pink fabric peony onto each "bow." I had purchased two bunches of these at Dollar Tree. Then, shortly before the guests were to arrive, I decided we should really set the table for all ten girls, and of course, I hadn't bought enough table covers for this. Since the four folding chairs were smaller, my mom's quick thinking to use trash bags worked out perfectly. We added the rest of the tulle and when that ran out, some fuchsia satin ribbon on the last one. Thankfully, there were enough flowers to go around.

For added oomph in the dining room, I twisted together pink and purple crepe paper streamers and hung four of them on the ceiling so that they converged at the chandelier. Then, I used fishing line to hang a generic princess themed paper lantern from the chandelier. (This was also left over from a previous birthday party.)

Mia loves banners, so I made her one using my Cricut for both the flags and the lettering, which spelled out "Happy 5th Birthday Mia." On either end, I made Fancy Nancy themed flags by adhering pictures of Nancy and her dog Frenchy. These were punch-outs from a Fancy Nancy scrapbooking paper kit that I was thrilled to find at Michaels. (It will definitely get some use when I am ready to scrapbook these party pages.) I "laminated" all of the flags using clear Con-tact paper so that I can re-use them (with the exception of the one that says 5th), hole punched them, and threaded them through some fuchsia ribbon. Then, I taped it up on the wall since I couldn't get them to hang right, otherwise.

The front door was decorated with an enlarged color copy of Nancy from the book cover of Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly, which the lady at Staples was kind enough to help me with (and thankfully did not tell me that this was some sort of copyright infringement). I added the words "Bonjour, everybody! I am ecstatic that you're here!" by printing them in a fancy script using word art and coloring them in with purple and magenta markers. I "laminated" all of this with clear Con-tact paper.

On one wall, I added another enlarged color copy from the cover of Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique. I used my Cricut to cut out the words "Ooh la la! Look who's FANCY now!" Again, I laminated everything with clear Con-paper (and now it is adorning Mia's bedroom walls). I did my best to place the wording so that it would be high enough to be over all of the guests' heads, but not so high that it made picture taking difficult. This served as as the backdrop for the pictures, which I had printed and included in the thank you cards.

The Activities:
Once the guests arrived, their first stop was at a card table filled with all sorts of accessories: wands (I found these in packs of 3 at Dollar Tree), tiaras (I found online templates for these and printed 2 of each - one on pink cardstock and the other on purple so there were enough for all the girls and none of them were identical. This is low cost, but it involves some prep work of cutting them out, plus they need to be assembled after being decorated.), feather boas, heart-shaped sunglasses (a 12 pack from Party City), and lots of self-adhesive jewels and self adhesive foam letters/shapes to decorate them with. As Fancy Nancy says, "A girl can never have too many accessories." (Once they were finished getting fancy, I took their pictures by the photo background.) I love activities that double as party favors.
crown template 1
crown template 2
crown template 3
crown template 4
crown template 5
crown template 6 

Another activity was reading a story to the girls. Of course, the reading selection was Fancy Nancy.

The last party activity was a candy guessing game. I had found two small, plastic, Valentine-themed jars (one said "LOVE" and the other said "KISS") at Dollar Tree and then filled one with M & M's and the other with Laffy Taffy. I had the girls write down their estimates while waiting for cake and ice cream to be served. I actually had no idea if this would work with preschoolers or not, but amazingly they did great. One girl guessed the exact amount of taffy (11) and another was only 10 off from the total of M & M's (190), and most of their estimates were reasonable. I took photos of the two winners and included the prints in their thank you cards.

The Food:
For food, we served "Posh Pinwheel Sandwiches" with frilly toothpicks which were inspired by this. I made signs for all of the food and tried to use language from Fancy Nancy books. Beneath the words "Posh Pinwheel Sandwiches" I had typed "Cream cheese and strawberry jam definitely taste better with frilly toothpicks." We also had "Fresh Fruit Kabobs" (strawberries, blueberries, and grapes served on frilly toothpicks) with a sign asking, "Don't you love the aroma?" Butterfly shaped crackers and cheese that had been cut with small heart-shaped cookie cutters were labeled "Chic Cheese and Crackers." Below that I typed, "There isn't a fancy -- or better-- way of saying that." The signs were laminated with clear Con-tact paper (which was probably unnecessary, but I figured I was doing it with everything else, plus it would keep them clean from food and drinks, so why not?).

To drink, each of the girls had a glass of pink lemonade in a fancy plastic cocktail glass (in 6 packs at Dollar Tree). I rimmed the glasses with pink sugar from Michaels. To do this, I found directions here. At first I tried unsuccessfully to spread the pink lemonade around the rims of the glasses with a basting brush. Then I decided to use a wedge of the only citrus fruit I had in the house: grapefruit. It worked very nicely. I rimmed all the glasses the night before the party. Then, shortly before the girls arrived, my dad filled all of the glasses using a ladle. The finishing touch was adding a fuchsia straw to each cup. The straws all had flags attached, which I had made by printing out the words, "Pinkies Up, Darling!" in fuchsia ink (in a fancy font, of course), trimming them down, cutting a v-shaped notch in the end of each, and adhering them to the straws with double-sided tape. These adorable and very fancy drinks were inspired by this blog.

The Cake:
The cake was a fancy hat inspired by this photo. To make the cake, I used a 10 inch round pan and a glass bowl, approximately 6 inches in diameter. Both were sprayed well with cooking spray, and the bottoms were also lined with wax paper, which is really helpful for getting cakes out of pans. The cake itself was a white cake mix that we tinted bright pink with food coloring. I have never taken a class so I am far from an expert on cake decorating, but I am always trying new things to get what I want because I just refuse to pay for a grocery store cake. The cake base was a piece of cardboard from the recycling bin, which I had covered with aluminum foil. On top of that was a piece of fuchsia cardstock (12" x 12" that I had made into a circle by tracing around a stock pot, and then scalloped the outside edge with decorative scissors). This cake was first frosted with lots of buttercream tinted purple (with regular food coloring, not the stuff that Wilton tells you to use, but I had no problem). I had not made my own frosting before this (well, just for the practice run on this cake, but never before that), but it is definitely worth it, and I will do this from now on. The final layer of frosting was pastel pink ready-made Wilton fondant from Jo-Ann, which was on sale. This was my first time working with fondant and I have to say that it is much easier to use than I anticipated. For decoration, I trimmed the hat with purple and pink butterfly wired ribbon. If you use ribbon on a cake, I definitely recommend wired; it was much easier the the satin ribbon that I initially tried. The finishing touch was a fuchsia ostrich plume that I got with a half off coupon at Michaels. (I was glad to have that coupon because paying $6 for a feather seemed a bit steep, and I sucked it up and paid $3 because I knew the cake needed that feather to look complete.) At the risk of sounding boastful, I am really quite proud of this cake. Mia was thrilled, too.

Besides cake, the girls had make-your-own parfaits, (Nancy's mother teaches her that this is the French word for ice cream sundae) which were inspired by this. I didn't make it quite so ornate, but isn't that impressive? I just put the toppings including chopped peanuts, sprinkles, mini marshmallows, and chocolate chips into pink paper baking cups and set them in the middle of the table. We scooped strawberry swirl ice cream for each girl and then let her put on her own toppings, except for the canned whip cream and cherries. Those were added by the adults since we didn't want them to make a gigantic mess of their fancy party ensembles. I decided to skip the chocolate sauce for the same reason. The girls loved making their own parfaits.

The Thank You Cards:
I made the thank you cards from fuchsia or purple cardstock. (I ended up using purple for her classmates' thank yous and fuchsia for the ones for the relatives.) On the outside of each is a "Fancy MIA" design that I made with a bit of help from tracing paper and a book cover. The "M" was based off of the "N" in Nancy. The "I" was made by tracing the first vertical line from the "N" in Nancy. The "A" was the easiest because I was able to trace it directly from the "A" in Nancy, tiara and all. Once I had my design made, I colored it with markers and tried to make the color gradation that is featured on the letters in Nancy on all of the book covers. Once again, I headed to Staples where a nice lady helped me out by scanning the design and getting 8 of it to fit on a page. This meant that I got two pages printed (enough for the thank yous) for a grand total of 52 cents. I am pretty sure that even if my printer were up to that job, I couldn't have done it for that amount at home. On the left side of the inside of each card, I used photo corners to attach the photo of each girl, or for relatives, a photo of Mia. On the right side, was the fill-in-the-blank format thank you note that I created and printed in fuchsia ink, with key words highlighted in a fancy font. It reads:

Dear ____________________,

Merci Beaucoup!
(That's French for thanks a bunch!")
Thank you for the _________________________________________ .
It is simply exquisite! (Exquisite is beyond beautiful.) Thanks for helping me to celebrate my 5th birthday with extraordinary style!

Your fancy friend,

{The Happy Birthday Girl}
I wrote in the recipients' names as well as the gifts on the blank lines and then Mia signed all of the cards. Lastly, I used a pen to write in the date below the photo for each of the guests. I think this makes a nice keepsake from the party.

At the end of the party, there was one very happy little girl and one mama who was pretty darn proud of what was accomplished (not without help, of course). I would definitely call this Fancy Nancy Soiree as smashing success!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Make Your Own: Crystal Snowflakes

This project has been on my mental to-do list for at least a year, and thankfully, yesterday's snow day prompted me to finally make a real crystal snowflake with the kids. I got the idea and basic directions from this website. This project involves boiling water so it's definitely not one for kids to do on their own. Borax isn't something that everyone has at home, but it is definitely handy if you are interested in making your own laundry detergent or all-purpose green cleaning solution. The only things we changed were using a popsicle stick in place of a pencil to hold the snowflake in the jar, and I constructed the whole thing from white pipe cleaners instead of pipe cleaner and string. (Oh, and one small tip I learned by trial and error: if you think that maybe you can pour boiling water into a plastic peanut butter jar because you have one one hand, think again. It will immediately melt. Just saying. Enchanted Learning does apparently know better than I do when they say to use a glass jar.) This was a fun and simple science experiment and the kids were excited to wake up to find that crystals had really grown overnight. I think next year we will make several of these crystal snowflakes and either use them for Christmas ornaments, give them away as gifts, or perhaps hang them from the chandelier using fishing line.

Friday, February 24, 2012

DIY Snow Globe

This snow day inspired a home-made snow globe project that turned out well enough for Mia's tastes. I suspected that the "correct" way of making your own snow globes involved glycerin (and a quick Google search confirmed this), however, I figured we could get away with using baby oil since I had that around the house. The "official" directions that you can find all over YouTube call for distilled water (or at least boiling your water and letting it cool down), but for our purposes I just used water straight from the tap. If you are looking for something professional looking, this is not it, but as a snow globe it gets the job done. Plus, it was the perfect way to re-use a small glass jar (which formerly held bouillon cubes, but baby food jars would work great if you happen to have those) and the ballerina that had broken off from her music box. (Surprisingly, we couldn't find any Happy Meal type toys that were small enough to work for this.) For classification purposes, I am labeling this a kid's craft, however, since it involved hot glue, I did most of the work. Upper elementary age kids and older could do this on their own, perhaps, but I did it mainly to amuse my 5-year-old and 2-year-old. For a video I consulted before making this project, see here.

  • clean glass jar with twist on lid
  • hot glue gun (adult use only)
  • water
  • baby oil
  • small trinket or toy
  • glitter
  1. Have an adult use a hot glue gun to attach a small toy or trinket (something that won't rust or dissolve in water) to the inside of the jar lid. 
  2. Fill jar most of the way with water. (Child can help with this.)
  3. Add a very small amount of baby oil. (Child can help with this.)
  4. Sprinkle in some glitter. (Child can help with this.)
  5. Have an adult rim the inside of the jar's lid with hot glue, being careful not to cover up the threading. (It won't screw on tightly if you do.) Screw lid onto jar.
  6. You now have a snow globe so give it a shake. (If leaking occurs, remove jar lid, pull out hot glue, and reapply. If desired, you can apply a small ring of hot glue on the outside of the lid to ensure that it is sealed, but I don't think this is necessary.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ode to My Diaper Sprayer

I love you so much!
No, really, I do.
You're for so much more
than just cleaning poo...

When I started with fluff,
I hadn't a clue.
Now CD'ing is a breeze
and it's all thanks to you!

I wish I'd known sooner.
You're worth every cent.
I definitely do NOT regret
the money we spent!

You make my life easier.
There isn't a doubt
that cloth diapering mamas
shouldn't go without.

Or any other moms, truly.
Your uses are many.
And downsides?
Well, I can't think of any!

'Cause the diapers are cleaner
and so are my hands!
You clean pee out of the potty,
a chore I can't stand.

When clothes get soiled,
potty training seems tricky.
But I give 'em a quick spray,
and then they're not icky.

You're even handy for keeping
the toilet bowl white.
I simply spray the whole
mess out of sight.

You're easy to install,
even easier to use,
and solidly made -- in the USA!
So, I must share the news.

As you can see, I am madly in love with our diaper sprayer. It's crazy, but true. I don't often write poetry about inanimate objects, or really at all, for that matter. I just think it's that great. Thanks for making a really useful product, Potty Pail, LLC. This CD'ing mama gives you two thumbs up.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rose Bouquet Print Project

{Bouquet by Logan, Age 2}
The inspiration for this project comes from the current (Feb. 2012) issue of Disney "FamilyFun" magazine ("Pretty Produce" on page 18). At first, we just made cards with the end of the celery stalk like the article suggested. Here's Logan's -------------------->
Then, after the kids started stamping all over the paper (which is fine, of course), I realized that we could take it a step farther and make bouquets. They're perfect for Valentine's Day, but would also make nice Mother's Day gifts.

  • construction paper
  • tempera paint
  • Styrofoam tray to hold paint (or plate or bowl)
  • foam paintbrush
  • end cut from bunch of celery (Ours was about 2 in. long.)
  • cardboard (Ours was a cereal box.)
  • scrapbooking paper
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • glue
  • newspaper to protect work surface
  • optional items for decorating: rhinestones, pom poms, ribbon, etc.
{Bouquet by Mia, Age 5}
  1. Pour a small amount of paint onto a Styrofoam tray (or similar). Dip paintbrush into paint and spread on the cut part of the celery. The child will stamp this repeatedly onto the paper to make a cluster, adding paint as desired. Tip: I think it looks nice if you make a few impressions before adding more paint because this gives variation in the color. Let paint dry completely.
  2. Draw a vase shape onto one side of an empty, flattened cereal box. Cut out. Trace this same shape onto a piece of decorative paper and cut out. Glue paper on top of cardboard. Let glue dry.
  3. Once painted flowers are dry, cut around the bunch leaving some colored paper border. Glue the flowers onto your cardboard vase. Another option would be to make stems from paper, pipe cleaners, or drinking straws. Affix to the back of the vase and then glue or tape the printed flowers on top of the stems.
  4. Decorate as desired. Mia added self-adhesive (a lot of) rhinestones and some pom poms.

Valentine's Heart Bouquet Craft

When we were at the pediatrician's office yesterday for Mia's 5 year well check (How did that come up so quickly? I swear she was born two weeks ago.), I saw some paper hearts in a clay pot at the receptionist's desk. What a cute idea, I thought. I'm not sure what the "stems" were made of. They looked a bit like those sticks for cake pops or candies, but I don't have any of those. I decided that pipe cleaners would work fine, although they don't keep their shape quite as well.

For the container, we used a can that we had already decoupaged after being inspired by this post by Button Bird Designs, using fabric remnants (which I actually bought eons ago when I thought that I was going to sew stuff -- ha!).I do have some empty pots at home, but I figured that tin cans were more durable and kid friendly, not to mention cheap, and readily available. Plus, if you're environmentally minded, it feels nice to re-purpose something that might otherwise be junked. Anyway, that's my thought process behind this craft. It was perfect for using up lots of paper scraps that I had been saving.

  • tin can
  • fabric (or decorative paper)
  • Mod Podge
  • foam paintbrush
  • plate or tray to hold Mod Podge 
  • scissors/decorative scissors
  • glue (We used regular white glue.)
  • green pipe cleaners
  • split peas (or other dried beans, small pebbles, marbles, etc.) 
  • cardstock, scrapbooking paper, or construction paper 
  • optional embellishments: rhinestones, buttons, pom poms, ribbons, etc. 
  1. Cover your tin can. Cut a piece of fabric or paper to approximately fit the can. Brush a thin layer of Mod Podge over the surface. Smooth the fabric or paper over the top. Trim excess. Apply another layer of Mod Podge over top. Allow to dry completely. (When ours was dry, Mia tied a ribbon around the can.)
  2. Cut out some paper hearts of various sizes. Make sure to make two of each, one for each side. Do this by making two squares (or rectangles), lay one on top of the other, fold both and then cut out your hearts. (If you are helping your child, trace 1/2 of the heart, and then let her do the cutting.) Tip: You may want to cut some with decorative scissors. We used scalloped scissors in two different sizes.
  3. Decide on designs, and then decorate the hearts. We used 2 or three layers per heart "stem." Mia decided on most of the papers and designs, but I helped with some of the cutting (especially with decorative scissors). She added the self-adhesive rhinestones for extra bling. Let decorated hearts dry.
  4. Cut some green pipe cleaners to two or three different lengths for stems. Tip: An odd number is more visually pleasing, which is why we made 5.
  5. Place a small amount of glue on the backsides of two matching hearts, set pipe cleaner stem down in center, and then press hearts together around it. Smooth down to ensure a tight seal. Set aside to dry completely. Repeat until all hearts are assembled.
  6. Pour enough dry split peas into your tin can until it is nearly full. Insert heart stems, and arrange as desired. Now you have a cute centerpiece to display or a nice gift to give away.
Other Ideas:
  • Of course, you could use a clay pot instead of a tin can. You could even use a Styrofoam cup to mimic to look of a clay pot without the price tag.
  • Make flower shapes in place of hearts and give to Mom or Grandma for Mother's Day.
  • Decorate heart centers with buttons or pom poms.
  • Embellish "stems" with ribbons for leaves. Or just twist your pipe cleaner into the shape of leaves.
  • No pipe cleaners? Use plastic drinking straws instead. Or consider using craft wire.