Holiday crafts for kids and toddlers

Are you looking for something to make with your kids?  I always am.  Especially for gifts.  Once you have kids, gifts for grandparents and aunts and uncles and great-grandparents and godparents become a cinch.  Who wouldn’t want a cute ornament made by a kid?  Decorating for the holidays is fun and economical.  These were the crafts we tackled last year.

As always, crafts can be adjusted for the age and ability of the child.  The older the child, the more the kid can do.

Picture Ornaments

(I thought this was a cute craft.  I make a different ornament with the kids every year and give them out as gifts and keep them for my own tree.  I liked the idea of saving a picture of the boys on my tree.  The boys enjoyed making these.  Anything with glue is fun to them. Younger kids can decorate the ornament.  Older kids can trace and cut as well as decorate.  My children (6, 4, and 1) are not fantastic cutters, so I cut.  I got the idea from here.)

Things you need:

  • Card stock
  • Jar lid recommended 3″ lid
  • Another round lid slightly smaller (to cut the pictures)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Photos
  • Glue
  • Pens, markers, paint, stamps (anything to decorate the front)
  • String, elastic cord, something to hang up the ornament

What to do:

Fold the stock paper.  Make a simple ornament shape by tracing the jar lid and leaving the fold intact with the topper of the ornament.  Cut out ornament.  Decorate the front of the ornament with paints, stamps, whatever or do the activity below.  Using the smaller round shape, draw a circle on the photo, and cut it out.  Glue the picture on the inside of the ornament.  You can glue the string in place or just tie it.  (I’m a rebel.  I didn’t use glue for the string.)

 

Reindeer fingerprints

( I got the idea from Spoonfuls, the same site that brought you the craft above.  I wasn’t able to find the directions.  I thought these were so adorable on the cards.  But I thought they would be awesome on the photo ornament.  A fingerprint to match the picture to show how small they once were.  The boys LOVED this!  They got to get messy.  Evan and Sean (6 and 4) drew the antlers and glued the eyes and nose.  I helped the one year old.)

Things you need:

  • Card stock
  • Brown washable (I can’t stress WASHABLE enough) ink pad
  • Brown marker
  • 5mm googly eyes (for small fingers)
  • 1/4 in black or red pom poms (for small fingers)

Have the child make a fingerprint with the WASHABLE brown ink.  Finger or thumb.  After the ink dries, have the child draw antlers.  Then have the child glue eyes and a nose.  Our craft we did just one.  If you’re making a card or have a large ornament, do more than one.

Making reindeer

Holiday Wreaths

(I stole this from my BFF and her holiday program at her church.  I was suppose to run this craft and got bumped.  In my disappointment, I decided to do this with my boys.  I did the hot glue.  They decided where to put the decorations.  If you’re A personality, I don’t recommend this.  We made an ugly wreath, but it was done with love.  The boys LOVED this.)

Things you need:

  • Cheap fake Christmas wreath
  • Cheap decorations like mini christmas ornaments and bells (I bought ours at the dollar store and Walmart.)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue
  • Ribbon (optional)

What to do:

Lay the wreath down.  Heat the glue gun.  Have the kids place the decorations on the wreath.  Glue the decorations.

That is a kid approved wreath

For more craft ideas:

http://faemom.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/christmas-ornaments-for-kids-preschoolers-and-toddlers-to-make/

http://faemom.wordpress.com/2008/11/30/christmas-crafts-for-kids-toddlers-and-babies/

http://faemom.wordpress.com/2008/12/17/winter-and-christmas-crafts-for-toddlers-and-children/

http://faemom.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/more-christmas-crafts-for-children-toddlers-and-babies/

http://faemom.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/christmas-crafts-for-kids-preschoolers-and-toddlers-part-2/

Valentine’s Day Exchanges

It might surprise to know that I’m not big on Valentine’s Day.  Especially those damn card exchanges.  Who are these brilliant moms who have it all together to do homemade, themed valentines for a class of 22?  (or 25? or 35?)  You know the kind.  Their valentines always have candy, some cute, slightly funny saying, and perhaps a toy and sticker.  And it all goes together!  It’s all ridiculously cute.  While I know where they get there ideas, I don’t have the bloody time. 

This is a huge problem for the rest of us.  And by the rest of us, I mean me.  I buy my cards.  I let the boys pick out what they want.  And we just do cards.  I’m not cool with plopping down 10 bucks a class just so my kid has “The Coolest Card Ever.”  Besides I know it’s going to be topped by one of those moms any ways.  Besides I’m a mean old mom who is going to make my kids sit down and do every valentine.  I can’t imagine the chaos that would ensue if I made them do a craft for each kid.

Then on top of all this crafty loveliness, these moms are setting their daughters (because nine times out of ten it’s the girls) for Valentine Day disappointment in the future ahead.  Valentine’s Day already appeals to girls.  It’s pink with hearts and the only weapon is being held by a little baby that reminds boya eerily of their own baby brother who wouldn’t let them have the weapon either.  The Valentine’s cards they pick out have Sith Lords or weapons or cars or superheroes.  There is a darkness that appeals to them.  Apparently the word “love” makes boys break out into gagging.  Valentine girl cards aren’t dark.  (Except the Twilight ones; those kids look depressed, not in love, just horribly, terribly depressed.)  Valentine’s Day is not on the boy radar.  It takes years of coaching for that, and why would you set a girl up for that chore?

I think we need to cool it with the Valentine cards.  Save the cute, craftiness for the girl friends.  They’ll love it and appreciate it.  It’s time we taught our daughters it’s a girl holiday to celebrate friendships.  Channel their energy into giving fun, cute elaborate gifts to their girl friends who will love and appreciate it.  Unlike . . the . . . boys.

I have boys!  I have three boys!  And I have to turn them into the Good Guys.  Which means, they have to understand that even if their girlfriends say it’s not a big deal, it is.  Because girls are all spoon-fed this romantic stuff since the cradle.  Deep down, all girls are romantic.  (I swear I will deny it if you ask me.)  Ok, new plan for my house.  Valentine’s Day will become a big deal with cute, thoughtful homemade cards.  Starting next year.

Damnit.

I wish I had girls.

Christmas ornaments for kids, preschoolers, and toddlers to make

Christmas is coming.  The goose is getting fat.  I love prepping for Christmas.  Evan and I are brain storming for this year’s ornaments and crafts.  I’m not sure what to do for the families.  Here are some ornaments we made last year.  We had a blast making them.  Depending on the age and the ability of the child will depend on how much work you do.

Mini Christmas Trees

(I remember doing something similar when I was a Brownie in Girl Scouts. It’s an easy, fun, and messy project.  Evan (5) and Sean (3) really enjoyed making them.)

What you need:

Pine cones

Green spray paint

Glue

Glitter

Paper plates

Ribbon

Spray paint pine cones green.  Once the pine cones are dry, pour glue in one paper plate and glitter in another.  Have the child roll the pine cone in the glue and then in the glitter.  Let the pine cone dry.  Glue ribbon to the pine cone to make a loop.  Allow to dry.

Glitter Shells

(I saw this in a Martha Stewart magazine.  The hard part is putting a whole in the shell; you’ll need a drill, preferably a dremel drill.  It was easy to adopt for children.  I’m thinking I want to try other shells this year.  The boys loved making these.  I loved playing with my dad’s dremel drill.  If only I had a real reason to get one.)

Things you need:

Shells (We used clam shells)

Dremel Drill

Glue

Glitter

Paper plates

Tooth pick

Ribbon or string

Drill a hole in the top of the shell.  Have the child dip the shell into the glue.  Have the child cover the shell in glitter.  (We did most shells in one color as well as mixing two colors together to get a neat effect.)  Clear the hole of glue and glitter.  Allow to dry.  Thread the whole with ribbon or string.  Tie the ribbon to make a loop.

Clay Ornaments

(These are so easy, simple, and fun.  Toddlers can even do it.  Now that I think about it, I might have the boys make more this year and work on decorating them in different ways.  The boys had lots of fun.  Keep on eye on these.  They can burn quickly.  Evan prefered the burnt ones.  I was less than thrilled.)

What you need:

Polymer Clay

Something to cut clay in a circle (I used a plastic Easter egg.)

Rubber stamps

Straw

Cookie sheet

Tooth pick

Foil

Ribbon

Have the child knead the clay for at least two minutes.  (For younger children, you may have to work with it too.)  Roll the clay flat to about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick.  Cut out circles.  Use the straw to cut out a hole in the top.  Have the child press a rubber stamp in to the clay.  On the back of the clay, write the child’s name or initials with the year.  Cover a cookie sheet with foil, and place the ornaments on it.  Bake in an oven or toaster oven as it says on the directions. (275°F for 15 mins.  I think mine baked in 10 mins.)  Let the ornaments cool.  String ornaments with ribbon.

More craft and ornament ideas

Christmas crafts for kids, preschoolers and toddlers part 2

Winter and Christmas Crafts for Toddlers and Children

More Christmas Crafts for Children, Toddlers, and Babies

Christmas Crafts for Kids, Toddlers, and Babies

Value

I don’t carry Evan’s backpack and lunch box.  I don’t.  I have spent the last six years carrying a child in one way or another that I refuse to be a pack mule for those children.  I do not want to be one of those moms carrying several backpacks, bent under the strain of books, art projects, and homework as my children frolic along not listening to the instructions being shouted at them.

I am fine with leaving the backpack outside the school.  I have made my peace with the idea that we may never see that backpack again and that Evan will have to carry his lunch in a plastic grocery bag. 

Lately Evan has been pulling out passive resistance when it is time to leave the school.  He just throws himself down by his stuff, claiming he’s too tired to move.  It’s annoying. I’ve even thrown him over my shoulder and stomped back to the car where the younger two boys were already buckled in.  While the other moms laughed, I knew I was out of ideas.  So I asked at parenting class.

The teacher told me to give the 5 minute warning (check) and then take the younger boys by hand, tell Evan we’ll meet him at the car, and wait at the car.  She told me to be ready for a long wait but promised he would follow even if it took an hour.  I can wait.  I have stubbornness issues.  I can wait.  And lo and behold, the damn trick worked.

So last week, I told Evan it was time to go, go get his backpack and lunch box, and we’ll meet him at the car.  Two minutes later as I buckled in Sean, Evan dragged himself into the car, but he was without his stuff.

Me: Evan. Go get your backpack and lunch box.

Evan: I’m toooooo tiiiiiiirrrrrrrred.

Crap. 

Me: Fine.  We’ll leave it there and hope that it’s there in the morning.

I began to buckle in Evan.

Evan: But. Mooooommmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyy.  I neeeeeeeeed it!

Me: Then go get it.

Evan: I’m tooooooo tiiiiiiiirrrrrred!

Sigh.

Then around the corner came running Sweet Girl, carrying Evan’s things.

Sweet Girl: EVAN!   Your stuff!  You can’t forget it!

Me: Thank you, Sweet Girl.  That was very nice of you.  I’m sure Evan appreciates this.  (I took the stuff.)  Evan, what do you say?

Evan: THANK YOU, SWEET GIRL!

Sweet Girl: You’re welcome!

Sweet Girl’s mother came around the corner.  We exchanged sympathetic looks of understanding.

Evan: WAIT!  SWEET GIRL!  HERE!

I turn.  Evan was thrusting out a dollar bill out the car door.  His dollar bill that he was planning on using to buy something at the Dollar Store.

I walked over, took the bill, and handed it to Sweet Girl.

Sweet Girl: Gosh!  Evan!  Thank you!

Sweet Girl’s Mother: I don’t know.  That’s Evan’s dollar.  We should give it back.

Me: No.  If Evan wants to give it to Sweet Girl, that’s fine.  She’s the one who brought his things.  He wants to thank her.  If he wants to give away his money, fine.

Sweet Girl danced around waving her dollar.

Sweet Girl’s Mother: Are you sure?

Evan: Do you like the five dollar bill?!

Me: Yes.  This is perfect.

Sweet Girl’s Mother: It’s a dollar, Evan.

Evan: Oh.  Sweet Girl!  Do you like the dollar?!

Me: Look at it this way.  Sweet Girl has supplied a need.  She’s started her own business.

Sweet Girl’s Mother: Thanks a lot, Fae.  Now I have to get her tax forms.

Me: Happy to help.

A Perfect, Summer, Kid-friendly Dessert

I have a debt of gratitude I owe Anissa Degrasse.  She submitted a recipe to Taste of Home magazine that the boys and I love.  It’s a great recipe to make with the kids.  I let the boys pour and mix.  And it’s a wonderful treat to eat.   It’s my cheating ice cream.

Now I’ve made a few changes to the recipe, but I’ll publish Anissa’s original.  I have yet to use vanilla pudding because I buy mainly chocolate or pistachio (which I use only for a special cake).  Since I was using chocolate pudding any ways, I dropped the chocolate chips.  I know.  Me the chocoholic. 

Now I have an idea.  I think this would be a great recipe with other flavors, so if you try it with another flavor or a different type of pudding (because I’m thinking of a certain blogger who has pudding day and who is organic and vegetarian), please come back and share.  We could make our own book!

Pudding Grahamwiches*

1 ½ cups cold fat-free milk

1 package (1 oz) sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix

1 carton (8 oz) frozen reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed

1 cup of miniature marshmallows **

24 whole graham crackers, halved***

5 Tsp miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 mins.  Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set.  Place chocolate chips in a shallow bowl.  Fold whipped topping and marshmallows into the pudding.  (I folded in whip topping first, then marshmallows.)  Spread over half of the graham crackers.  Top with the remaining crackers.  Press edges of each sandwich into the chocolate chips.  Wrap individually in plastic wrap; place in an airtight container and freeze.  (I strongly recommend wrapping them in foil.  I haven’t yet placed them in an airtight container.)  Remove from freezer about five minutes before serving.  (Who can wait five minutes?)

Yields: 2 dozen ***

*Anissa, sweetheart, we need to come up with a better name.  Anyone have suggestions?

**Last time I made these I decided to wing it and put in half a bag miniature marshmallows before I thought something wasn’t right.  But they turned out good.

*** I have yet to make just two dozen.  So keep a few extra graham crackers on hand.

Making crystals

It’s summer, and we all need things we can do with our kids.  So how about something fun and educational?  Like crystals.  Salt crystals are quick and easy.  Sugar crystals are slow and tasty.  Both are fun.

Salt crystals

(I was amazed how fast these crystals grew.  In less than 24 hours, there were actual crystals you could see.  I tried adding food coloring to the solution to make a colored crystal, but we still ended up with white crystals.  After several days, I took out the crystals and let the boys touch, dissect, and destroy them.)

Things you need:

  • Table or Epson Salt (2 or 3 Tsp)
  • 1 cup of water
  • Pot
  • Spoon
  • Jar
  • Pencil
  • String
  • Paperclip, washer, or pull-tab of a soda can (I was desperate.)

Tie a piece of string around the middle of the pencil.  Tie the other end of the string around the weight (aka paperclip or washer).  Make sure the weight doesn’t touch the bottom of the jar.  Pour a cup of water into the pan and bring it to a boil.  Add salt a teaspoon at a time, stirring, until you cannot dissolve anymore salt.  Pour the salt water solution into the jar.  Place the pencil across the mouth of the jar, allowing the weight to dangle into the solution.  Do not touch.  Allow the crystals to grow for several days.

Sugar crystals

(These were much tastier.  But they took For-Ev-Er.  It took about a week to see any crystals, and it’ll take three weeks to have a crystal worthwhile to eat.  Last year I tried a recipe that doubled the amount of sugar so that the crystals would form faster.  It didn’t work.  Patience is a virtue.  A sugar crust formed on the top of the solution before the crystals started to form.)

Things you need:

  • Two cups of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • Pot
  • Spoon
  • Jar
  • Pencil
  • String
  • Weight like a paperclip, washer or pull-tab of a soda can

Tie one end of the string to the middle of the pencil.  Tie the other end of the string on the weight.  The weight should be able to dangle in the jar without touching the bottom.  Wet the string and roll it in sugar.  Boil two cups of water.  Stir in sugar a tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is dissolved.  Pour the sugar salt solution into the jar.  Place the pencil on the mouth of the jar allowing the weight to dangle in the solution.  Place the jar out of reach and wait for the crystals to form.

Chinese New Year’s Crafts for Kids, Preschoolers and Toddlers

Yup, Chinese New Year is upon us, and I thought “Hey, this year, we’ll make a big deal and teach the boys to appreciate the Chinese culture.”  Then I learned it was on Valentine’s Day, and my mom said, “We’ll still do Chinese New Year; we have some great recipes and the color is red.”  Then we looked on the calendar and learned it was on a Sunday, which is the day my grandma cooks.  Yup, there’s no way she’ll do a Chinese celebration.  Catholic holidays come first.  But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing crafts to get ready.

The rice painting and chopstick decorating are great for all ages.  They are simple and easy.  I even did rice painting with Sean back when he was a year and half.  Simple.  But the fortune cookie and dumpling crafts are harder.  They are not suitable for toddlers, and if you have old partially-dried glue (not that I would loose the cap and let the glue sit capless for months), your preschooler will hate these crafts.

Remember the ability of the child will determine how much the adult will or will not do.

Rice Painting

(I can’t remember what site suggested that I sprinkle rice on the paint for a “sparkle” look, but I tried it any ways.  It didn’t sparkle, but it gave a new texture that the boys LOVED.  Keep the excess rice; I have an idea!) 

Things you need:

  •       Smock
  •       Paper
  •       Paint
  •       Paint brushes
  •       Paper plate or pie tin
  •       Rice

Put the child in the smock.  Place the paint on the plate or in the tin.  Put down the paper.  Have the child paint.  When the child is done painting but the paint has not dried, let the child sprinkle rice on the wet paint.  When the paper is dry, tap off excess rice.

As for the excess partially or fully painted rice, it works well in a sand art.  Just have the child glue a pattern and then sprinkle the dried painted rice on the wet glue.

Decorated Chopsticks

(We did this when I worked with the Girl Scouts.  For the girls, they had a choice of decorating the chopsticks for hair accessories, which they could paint all the way down to the end, or chopsticks, which they could only paint half way down.  My boys are sword fighting with them.  Markers just wouldn’t do; so we HAD to use paint.  Because the boys are young, I didn’t break the sticks apart until after they were done decorating.  Older kids can decorate with them split.)

Things you need:

  •       Wooden chopsticks (you can get them at the grocery store or grab them at a Chinese restaurant)
  •       Markers or paint
  •       (if your using paint) smock, paint brush, dish for paint

Give the child the chopsticks.  Depending on the child’s ability, break them before or after the decorating.  Let the child decorate the sticks.  If you’re stuck for inspiration, go online and look at all the neat ones for sale.

Felt Dumplings

(Sean didn’t want to participate, but Evan did.  This craft would have worked out a lot better if I hadn’t used glue that was a little dried out.  After Evan was done, I tried doing the craft with a glue gun, which worked well as long as you didn’t burn your fingers in the process.  The boys are excited to add new food to their kitchen.  I got the craft here.)

Things you need:

  •      Tan felt
  •      Scissors
  •      Something to trace circles about 3” diameter (I used a can juice lid.)
  •      Marker
  •      Hot glue gun with glue or craft glue

Trace circles on to the felt.  Cut out the felt, keeping the trimmings.  (You may want to make the trimmings smaller for easier use.)  Have the child place a small pile of trimmings in the center of the circle.  Have the child glue all around the outer edge of the circle.  Fold the dumpling.  Hold in place.  If you want to leave it that way, fine.  Or you can make the indentations.  For those of you that used craft glue, wait until the glue dries to make the indentations.  Fold slightly the dumpling on the sealed part to make the indentations.  Use a drop of glue for every fold.

Felt Fortune Cookies

(These turned out super cute.  I think they are more suitable for children older than four, but then Evan was still frustrated over the glue.  The boys love playing with them.  I got this craft here.  And it has pictures {Even though I take step by step pictures, I can’t figure out how to upload them to the computer.  Sigh})

Things you need:

  •      Tan felt
  •      Scissors
  •      Something to trace circles about 3”  diameter (Again I used a can juice lid.)
  •      Marker
  •      Slips of paper
  •      Pen
  •      Hot glue gun with glue or craft glue

Have the child write or draw a fortune on the paper.  Trace a circle on the felt.  Cut out the circle.  Have the child fold the circle and place the fortune inside next to the fold with the ends of the paper sticking out.  Glue along the inside of the edge without gluing the paper.  Close and hold until glue adheres.  If using craft glue, wait until the glue is dried before following the next step.  Fold the felt so that the two ends meet and the middle pops out, resembling a fortune cookie.  Place a drop of glue in the middle of the crease and hold cookie until the glue sets.

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