Mbira or Finger Piano

Did you see the Google doodle today? It’s a mbira.
Last year I had to instruct my 3rd grade Cub Scouts how to make one. I was worried because overly hyper boys with wire cutters and bobby pins seemed like a bad idea. So I pre-cut everything before the meeting. Once that was done, it turns out to be a pretty simple project.
Sort of. I still had a dozen boys and a few siblings, so I did enlist parent help.
You’ll need a piece of wood. This one is 5″×5″. 2 tongue depressers (large popsicle sticks). Bobby pins. Hot glue. Wire cutters. Optional: wood stapler and staples
1. Cut the bobby pins to different lengths. You can straighten them out to make longer keys. Obviously I kept it simple to 3 bobby pins. You may want to wear eye protection when you do this.
2. Hot glue a tongue depresser onto the board. We did ours about 1.5″ from the edge.
3. Hot glue or staple the bobby pins onto the tongue depresser. Longest to shortest.
4. Hot glue the second tongue depresser on top of the first.
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Tada. You can decorate them if you want. And they aren’t very loud. We did two other instruments that I will share soon.
More ideas to come. Stay safe. Stay sane!

Upcycle Broken Crayons

We’re all a little bored right now. Or were if you are lucky to move about now. Did you do a little cleaning? Are you cleaning out your drawers? Have you found a bunch of broken crayons?
First I used to put broken crayons in a plastic travel soap case with a small pad of paper, usually Post-It notes. I would keep this in my purse for times when we had to wait around for something like at the doctor’s or an adult’s house. Maybe your kids have lost all the crayons the restaurant gave them.
Here are some other ways to use crayons. Let the kids help you smash and break the crayons into smaller pieces to make it quicker for the crayons to melt.
1. Make crayons. Break the crayons into smaller pieces. Preheat the oven to 200. Put broken crayons into a muffin tin or silicon molds. Heat for 20 minutes or until melted. Let cool and pop them out.
2. Make crayons. Cheaper or without worrying about your tins and molds. Preheat the oven 200. Cover a cookie tray with foil. Place cupcake wrappers on the try. Put broken crayons in the wrappers. Heat for 20 minutes or until melted. Let cool and pull off wrapper.
3. Make crayons outside. This is for you, Arizona. Put broken crayons in cupcake wrappers. Put wrappers on a paper plate. Place outside. It takes about an hour. Bring inside. Let cool.
07182010 pics - up to 176
07182010 pics - up to 178 These left a grease stain, so hence the paper plate or something underneath the cupcake wrapper.
3.a. I’ve also done this in film canisters. Remember film canisters?
3.b. I wonder if this would work with molds. Hmmm….
3.c I hear it works with plastic medicine bottles. Hmmm…..
4. Make candles. Melt crayons. I prefer a double boiler technique, but you can melt in the microwave. Be mindful of what colors you mix together. Place a wick in a candle holder or baby food jar. Pour in melted wax. When making candles, often the wax will cool with a divet, so hold some wax back to pour in later. You can tie the wick around a pencil or place the wick between two pencils.
More to come. Stay safe! Stay sane!

Mail Time!

What is more exciting to open the mail box and have something other than junk mail and bills? Ok, a package. But also just mail from someone.
Kids rarely get mail. They love it.
Heck, stop at a mail box and mail your own kids mail.
Things to send in the mail:
1. Send origami that you just learned to make.
2. Send postcards you collected and never sent.
3. Send recycled post cards. You know that stack of cards you have and should toss? Rip off the front cover and send it as a postcard.
4. Send cards. Homemade or not. Random valentine cards left over from years ago. I have so much random stationary. I inherited it from my great aunts. Heck, I have a friend who seems to always be sick, so I send her Get Well cards even if I have no idea if she’s sick or not.
5. Make your own stationary. Remember when I talked about stamps? Use stamps to make stationary.
5.a. Draw your own stationary. I had an artist friend who would do this. It was so cool to see her art work.
6. Send stickers. Everyone loves stickers! I still send stickers to my friends.
7. Send homemade art. Same artist friend used to send me her art too. My dad has an old friend who is a cartoonist and would send my dad a cartoon every once in a while.
8. Send homemade bookmarks.

Send mail. It’s fun.

More to come! Stay safe. Stay sane.

Let’s Do Some Origami

Let me introduce you to some easy origami. Since I have a hard time trying to fold straight, so if I say this is easy, it’s easy. Origami is a fun activity to do inside, teaching kids (and adults) patience, persistence, and following the directions.

  1. A Whale

 

2. A Doll

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Step 1. Fold the left (or right, just pick a side) a third of the way into the paper.

 

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Step 2. Turn the paper so your folded piece is at the bottom of the paper. Fold your right (or left, just pick a side) a third of the way into the paper. Turn the paper so the white diamond shape is at the top.

 

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Step 3. Flip the paper over. Fold the bottom corner up.

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Step 4. Flip the paper over and draw a face. You can fold the top corner or leave your person with a point.

3. Another Doll. This is the one I used to make for my babysitting chargers.

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Step 1. Fold the paper corner to corner.

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Step 2. Open up the paper. Fold the left corner to the middle. Fold the right corner to the middle.

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Step 3. Fold the bottom corner up all the way until the fold is along where the corners met in the middle. It looks like a neat triangle.

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Step 4. Fold the bottom again, nearly in half. Looks like a cool boat. It sadly doesn’t float.

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Step 5. Flip the paper over. Those corners sticking out are the arms. Fold them in.

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Step 6. Draw a face. Fold the corner back for a flat head. The flat head is suppose to be a boy, and the point is suppose to be a girl. I’m sure it doesn’t matter.

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Fun with paper!

More ideas to come. As I finish grading essays and wrapping the school up. Stay safe! Stay sane!

Easy Crafts: Origami

First I suck at folding; so when I tell you it’s easy, believe me. Like I can’t do the crane that everyone does. “It’s so easy.” No, it’s not. “See, just fold here and here and here.” And they lift up this beautiful crane, and I lift up a colorful wad of paper, perfect for making baskets with the trash can.

It’s why I keep all the cranes kids make for me. Only in high school, the kids make them out of tiny candy wrappers. And I’m doubly-impressed. Also as high school teacher, you don’t get many gifts or pictures, so you really treasure the ones you do get.
When I was a cool teenage babysitter, this was always a fun craft. I would fold pieces for the kids, and we would make all sorts of stories and plays. As my chargers got older, I taught them how to fold the simple pieces…. until they learned to fold cranes and laugh when I would be at a loss as they tried to teach me.

My nemesis, folks, paper cranes.

Some easy one origami.
1. The dog. (a favorite among babysitting charges and Cub Scouts)
2. The cat. (Another favorite)
3. The whale.
4. The fox.
5. The elephant.
Here’s a site for them: https://www.origamiway.com/easy-origami.shtml
7. The house. I would fold this for a set piece, but I don’t remember if it was easy or not.
8. The prince.
9. The princess.


My original origami book that I had as a teenager is in deep storage. I cannot find a site for the prince and princess. For many days, I looked. I kept folding the paper in different ways until I figured it all out again.

So coming soon. Pictures and directions.

If you don’t have fancy paper, cut a square out of regular paper. I don’t recommend construction paper.


More to come. Good luck. Stay safe. Stay sane.

Let’s Play with Soap

I have so many random crafts and science projects. Seriously, so many. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I have ones for soap.

We use soap in Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts. And now that I’m writing this, I can think of a couple more that will have to wait until I find the directions. Hopefully they aren’t in deep storage….

While I know many states are letting people out into the world, I know many more are not. It’s frustrating and chaotic. But I still have plenty of crafts to share because before you know it, the kids will be out for summer.
1. Water and Oil and Soap. This is a fun little experiment to show kids what water does to oils. My Girl Scouts loved this. Take a zip lock back fill a 1/3 with water. Add enough oil (canola or whatever) to make a layer. Show the kids how the water and oil don’t get along. Then add dish soap. Dawn works the best. Make sure the bag is sealed. Like really make sure. Then shake it up. The water, oil, and soap combine because the soap binds with the oil. It’s more complicated than that, but yeah.

 


2. Make soap. You could buy soap and melt it and make it. OR you can save all those slivers of soap you’ve been using to really wash your hands. Melt them. I prefer the double broiler to slow microwaving. Pore into molds or into paper cups. Let cool. Pop them out of molds.


2.a I once made soap with toys in them. Lots of fun.


3. Carve soap. This is a Cub Scout activity. Whittle or carve shapes out of soap. I made templates from pictures online like a bear, a whale, a shell, and various simple shapes. We do this in 3rd grade in Cub Scouts. But using a plastic knife, soft soap, and adult supervision, you could probably do it younger.


4. Bubbles! My favorite memory is entertaining the boys when they were little and blowing enough bubbles to fill a mall court yard. It was magical.


5, Homemade bubbles. I lost my recipe. So try these: 4 cups warm water, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup blue Dawn dish soap. Mix. OR 2 cups warm water, 1/3 cup dish soap, and 1/4 cup corn syrup. Mix.


6. Bubble wands. Pipe cleaners bent into a closed shape attached to another pipe cleaner, dowel, or stick.


Stay safe! Stay sane! More to come!

Some Fun Kid Activities

I’ve been posting lots of crafts, but if you have kids like my boys, they need to move and run and jump and climb and punch. So much punching.

We are taking 3 walks a day. I feel like I’m preparing for being a dog owner.

And watching my kids, I can see how people come to the conclusion video games cause violence. Yes, I know the studies. But they do seem to be more violent when they play more. I feel like that’s really the result of frustration for a difficult game with the high energy combined with no moving.

Here’s some ways to go play with the kids.
1. Stick to the classics. Tag, which never goes out of style. You don’t have to move half the time.  Nerf guns and squirt guns. Jump in there and show the kids who can really shoot. Hide and go seek. Play this one right, and you can snag a 5 minute nap. (What? I couldn’t find you; you’re such a good hider!)

 

2. Put Away Toys by Number. Give the kids a number and they put away that number of toys. I taught my 2 oldest my phone number that way. Or you can race to see who puts away that many toys. Tornado A still loves that game. My mom hates this game.
3. Find the…. When I lived in my own place, I used to hide a dinosaur decorated with glitter and a few flower stickers (because I can). First kid to find it got a piece of candy. I hid an axolotl recently. Unfortunately the boys haven’t found it. Like it’s been over 2 weeks. I’m disappointed.


4. Flash light tag. Tag in the dark. It person has to turn the light on you to tag you. My brothers were pros at this.


5. The Smell Game. Blindfold the child and have them smell spices or various kitchen stuff and have them identify it. Born out of desperation to entertain two little girls. I made them close their eyes and then grabbed jars from their mother’s spice cabinet and had them guess the spice by the smell. I have babysitting chargers all grown up who remember this one.


Good luck! More to come. Stay safe! Stay sane!

More Bookmark Crafts

I told you that I had more.

I meant to post this on Monday, which means I had to get it together on Sunday, but I was buried in school work. This emergency remote teaching is so hard and time consuming. Then I spent most of my weekend with a body that was like screw-this-you-need-to-nap. I hate it when my body betrays me.

But crafts! And bookmarks!
1. Craft foam and foam stickers. I don’t like these much because they are too thick. Try regular stickers.
2. Duct tape and cardboard. I mean the cool, fun duct tape. But sure, you can use the silver kind. I bet with some stickers it would look cool.
3. Ribbon with a few beads. Knot both sides of the beads to keep the beads from sliding. I made some sophisticated ones with clamps and charms.
4. Popsicle sticks. Paint them. Use markers. Make them look like minions. Use duct tape.


5. Collage. Take a piece of card stock or cardboard and just glue on cool pictures and words.


6. Black out poetry. Cut out a page of a horrible book or an article. Circle a few words for poetry, black out the rest. Cover with clear packaging tape or contact paper.


7. Ribbon breads or friendship bracelets.


8. If you have random piles of fabric or scrapbook paper, let your kid roam through that to make cool bookmarks.

Happy Reading!
Good luck! Stay safe! Stay sane!

Canned Crescent Roll Ideas

How many of you are getting bored with eating the same old thing? How many of your kids are getting bored eating the same thing? How many of you are bored with making the same thing?

Some of us don’t have the time, energy, or know-how to make gourmet meals right now. Here are a few ideas on using canned crescent rolls. All kid approved. It’s also a great way to start with some light cooking. Let the kiddos help. I find they are more likely to eat something that they made themselves.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.

Open up your rolls, spread them out, and add the ingredients. Roll them up and bake them like the directions say.

1. Spread cream cheese and sprinkle your favorite seasoning. I prefer garlic. To add extra flavor, brush melted butter and add a sprinkle of seasoning.
2. Half a stick of string cheese. To add extra flavor, brush on melted butter and sprinkle dried garlic or Parmesan cheese.


3. Half a stick of string cheese and few pepperoni slices. To add extra flavor, brush butter and sprinkle garlic, Italian seasoning, or Parmesan cheese. Add tomato sauce as a dip.


4. A few chocolate chips. I went a little crazy and made and added chocolate shavings.


5. Nutella. Chocolate shavings on those too.


6. Butter cinnamon and brown sugar.

7. A friend recommended ham and cheddar. Her son loves them, so she makes them and freezes them two in a bag.


Somethings we haven’t tried, but I want to. Cheddar. A slice of turkey or ham and cheese. A slice of apple. Jelly.

Good luck. Stay safe. Stay sane.

Stamps! Create your own stamps!

Kids love working with paint and ink. It’s fun. Try it.

So why do I have so many ideas? Because I have been working with kids for a long time and busy kids are happier and less trouble than bored kids. Even as a teenage babysitter, I did crafts with the kids.

The more you do with your kids, the more memories you make. But really it’s about keeping them from destroying the house and your sanity as well as keeping the next battle to the death from happening. Art is good for the soul. For the kids and you.
1. Yesterday I mentioned using leaves and paint for stamps.
2. Potatoes and Paint. Cut a potato in half; it doesn’t matter which way. Toddlers don’t care if you leave like that. Just make sure they are stamping cut side down because toddlers don’t care. Older kids will figure it out. You can carve the potato into a shape. You can carve something into the potato bottom, like a smiley face. Or get really good and carve out something from the potato.
3. Apples and paint. I’ve always cut horizontally across the apple. But now I wonder what vertical apples do. You can carve a shape, but the seeds and the shape of the apple are cool. Apples are more slippery to hold than potatoes.


4. Sponges and paint. Sure, you could stick with rectangles. Or you could cut sponges in all sorts of shapes. I used hot glue to create handles on mine to help toddler hands.


5. Craft foam and paint. You can cut craft foam into shapes and then use them to stamp. I glued the individual shapes onto squares of craft foam to give a better grip to the stamps.


5.a. Craft foam stickers and pant. Stick the stickers on craft foam squares or blocks of wood. Or you could stick them onto lids from milk containers or soda bottles.


6. Hands and paint. The internet is filled with cute things you can make with hand prints. You can just leave it has hand prints or you can decorate them into objects and animals. Everyone remembers The Turkey. I have had my boys put hand prints on shirts, towels, tiles, and Christmas ornaments. It’s also fun to just play with paint and hands. Ink is cool, but there’s something about the feel of paint squishing between your fingers.


Bonus. A great time to go over those hand washing skills!
More to come! Stay safe! Stay sane!