Friday, March 30, 2012

Plastic Easter Eggs Get a Second Life

When our kids were little we would buy plastic eggs and put the chocolate eggs inside for their Easter morning hunt. It made it easier when they weren’t such good hunters. But, what to do with them after Easter??? Our play food bin is overflowing so I went in search of some new ideas.

 

Plastic Easter Egg Tea Cups:

I love this idea for recycling them into tea cups from Creativity in Progress. It is simple and could even be done on Easter to have an Easter tea party in the afternoon.

 


Image & Idea: Creativity in Progress

 

Materials Needed:

  • Plastic Eggs
  • Permanent Markers, rhinestones, stickers, ribbons, etc. for embellishment
  • Buttons
  • Cardstock
  • Glue Gun

Directions:

  1. Break your eggs apart. The pointier tops of the eggs work best for tea cups.
  2. Embellish your tea-cup by drawing a design or using stickers, ribbons, etc.
  3. Using the Glue Gun, attach a button to the bottom of the egg to stabilize it.
  4. If you would like to add a handle, cut out your shape from cardstock and attach it with the glue gun.
Sunghee at Creativity in Progress also has a great tutorial for making cupcakes using the other half of the plastic eggs. Take a peek.

 

Easter Egg Lunch Hunt:

Another fun use for plastic eggs is to fill them with small portions of food that when put together make up an entire lunch for your kids. They get to hunt their lunch then eat it! Even if you don’t do this on Easter itself, it is a fun way for your kids to practice their hunting skills before the big day.
 


 


Images & Idea: Gluesticks Gluesticks



Directions:

  1. Fill each egg with a portion of your child’s lunch.
    • Strawberries
    • Grapes
    • Blueberries
    • Goldfish or other small cackers
    • A sandwich cut in quarters
    • Cucumber slices
    • Baby carrots
    • Cheese cubes or Babybell
    • Dried Fruit
  2. If you have more than one child you might want to label the eggs somehow (i.e. stickers, their initial with marker, etc.) so that when you get ready to open them and fill their plates you can be sure that they have a complete meal.
  3. Hide the eggs around the house or yard.
  4. Hand each child a basket and send them on the hunt!

Easter Chenille Bunnies and Chick:

This craft is so cute and uses those plastic Easter eggs once again. The kids will have a great time making them and they’ll dress up any Easter table or mantle.




Materials Needed:

  • Plastic Easter Eggs
  • Chenille Pipe cleaners – for chick: yellow, orange – for bunnies: white/tan, black, pink
  • Pom-Poms – for chick: mini black – for bunnies: mini black, mini pink, small white/tan
  • Craft Glue or Glue Gun
  • Scissors

Chick Instructions:

  1. Wrap yellow chenille pipe cleaners around a plastic egg. Use glue to secure it periodically while covering the plastic egg. Cover completely.
  2. Cut three ¾” pieces of yellow chenille pipe cleaners. Glue to the top of the egg to create hair.
  3. Form three loops with a yellow chenille pipe cleaner to form wings. Glue the wing into place on the left side of your chick. Repeat for the right side.
  4. Glue two black mini pom-poms to face for eyes.
  5. Form a beak with an orange chenille pipe cleaner and glue into place.
  6. Form legs and feet with orange chenille pipe cleaners and glue as shown.
 

Bunny Instructions:

  1. Wrap white or tan chenille pipe cleaners around a plastic egg. Use glue to secure it periodically while covering the plastic egg. Cover completely.
  2. Form white or tan chenille pipe cleaners into loops to create bunny ears (you need 2). Loop pink chenille pipe cleaners and glue to the inside of the ears (again, you need 2). Glue two ears onto bunny.
  3. Cut three 2″ pieces from a black chenille pipe cleaners. Glue them onto the face for whiskers. Glue a pink pom-pom in center for a nose.
  4. Form feet with white or tan chenille pipe cleaners and glue as shown.
  5. Glue a white or tan pom-pom to the back to form a tail.
 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Butterfly Party

This is the party that started the annual tradition of “a party for no reason at all”.
The Butterfly Party was born out of my daughter’s desire for an outdoor birthday party (her b-day is mid-Dec.) and my need to find fun things to do to fill the summer days. I agreed that we could invite a few friends over but made sure my daughter (and her guests) understood that this was NOT a birthday party and no gifts we to be exchanged. My daughter is very girly but not has never been into princesses or fairies. Being that I love butterflies a theme was hatched (no pun intended).

Before the party the kids and I cut out and coloured butterflies to hang around the yard. We also got busy baking for the party. The cake was inspired by a few I had seen on the internet.


Ingredients:

  • 2 - 8” round cakes
  • icing - your choice of colour
  • 1 - Twix bar (2 pieces)
  • Mini-Oreos
  • M&M-minis
  • 2 - full size Oreos
  • 1 - piece of licorice string 

 

Directions:

  1. Use two 8” round pans to form the wings. Trim them into a fat letter “C” to achieve the shape.
  2. Stack two Twix bars on top of each other for the body. 
  3. Decorate the wings with Mini-Oreo cookies, each topped with an M&M-mini to make it colourful (held on with a dollop of icing). 
  4. Stack 2 full size Oreo cookies on top of each other to form the head.
  5. Use the icing from the middle of two Mini-Oreos to make the eyes. Place another M&M-mini on each for the iris.
  6. Cut and stick 2 x 3” pieces of grape liquorice string to make the antenna. 

Because my daughter doesn’t actually like cake (I know, weird) I always have fruit and cookies on hand at parties. I made up a batch of simple sugar cookies, cut them into rounds and my kids had fun decorating them with gumdrops and pieces of liquorice string to make them look like butterflies.


When the guests arrived they were all given a pair of butterfly wings to wear at the party. They each made a set of butterfly antennae using hair bands, beads, and pipe cleaners that were all purchased at the dollar store. 


I always find it amazing how you can give kids the same supplies but end up with completely unique end-results. I also chuckle at how some kids take their time and meticulously work on their project while others just rush to get it done. As long as they have fun, I don’t care a bit.



My goal is to keep it simple and have a good time with the kids and any of the parents who choose to stay. It really was a spur of the moment decision to throw this party but the tradition and fun lives on every summer. I can’t wait to see what this summer brings. 


Friday, March 23, 2012

Earth Hour - Get together and Get Creative

Saturday March 31, 2012 at 8:30 p.m. is Earth Hour.


Hundreds of millions of people across the world will switch off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour. Join them and help make a difference while teaching your kids some valuable environmental lessons.

One great way to pass the hour is to host an Earth Hour Party with friends and neighbours. Because the point of the evening is to take us back to nature, the simpler the better! Round up some flashlights, put out some candles and get ready for some fun.

Host your own Recycled Art Party during Earth Hour.  Put out a long table with a variety of materials salvaged from the recycle bin. With candles in hurricanes, mason jars or lanterns lining the centre of the table, children young and old can get their creative juices flowing and take home an earth friendly keepsake. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Sapling Holder:


I love the idea below because it uses recycled materials but it would also be a great vessel for growing a sapling or a small houseplant that would further help our earth!

 
Image & Idea: Unknown

Materials Needed:

  • Tuna/Salmon/Canned Meat can (cleaned thoroughly)
  • Plain clothespins
  • small glass container (votive containers are perfect)
  • potting soil
  • small houseplant or sapling

Directions:

  1. Clip clothespins around the edge of the can.
  2. Fill the glass container with soil.
  3. Plant the plant/sapling in the soil.
  4. Place the glass container in the can.

If you can't find saplings, plant seeds. Kids love watching them grow and when they get bigger you can transplant them outside. 


Make Your Own Recycled Bird Feeder:

 


Image & Idea: FamilyFun.com

Materials Needed:

  • Empty 1 litre pop bottle with lid (thoroughly cleaned and dried)
  • marker
  • 2 wooden spoons
  • craft knife
  • small eye screw
  • twine for hanging
  • bird seed


Directions:

* Prepare the holes for the wooden spoons prior to the party so people do not need to work with knives by candlelight.
  1. Mark a spot about 4" above the bottom of the bottle with the marker. Mark another spot on the opposite side of the bottle in the same spot.
  2. Repeat step 2 again a few inches lower but going the opposite directions (you should end up with a mark on all 4 sides of the bottle)
  3. Use your craft knife to cut a hole big enough for the handle of your wooden spoon to pass through at each mark.
  4. Remove the cap and screw in the small eye screw.
  5. Fill the bottle with birdseed.
  6. Replace the cap and string a length of twine long enough to hang from a tree.
To make this project even more fun, have the kids decorate the spoons before inserting them to make them truly their own!

More Ideas:

How about an air guitar concert with cereal box guitars...


 
Image & Idea: The Fraker's Acres


...or create an amazing Recycled Garden...


 
Image & Idea: Laugh, Paint, Create

...or some funky bracelets made from old t-shirts?


 
Image & Idea: Lil Blue Boo

Still looking for more inspiration, take a peek back at "The Lowly Cereal Box gets Upcycled".

Don't forget to turn off the lights and help save our planet. Happy Earth Hour Everyone!
 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Children's Art Displays - Part 3: Creating an Art Book

In part 3 of our series we take a look at turning your child's artwork into a book. Imagine their pride seeing their own masterpieces displayed front and centre in a coffee table book.

Photo Book:

I remember a friend of mine telling me she took photos of each piece, printed them, and kept them in their own album. With photobooks going down in price so much over the last few years you could kick it up a notch and get your photos properly bound. Why not make a series, one for each year.

Image & Idea: Kaye Winiecki Designs


Image & Idea: Three Paper Peonies

I love how both Kaye Winiecki and Three Paper Peonies included photos of the artwork being created too. By taking digital photos of all their work, you get to keep them forever but they don't take up as much room. Also, this standardizes the size of each piece of art. We all remember how big that chart paper was from early painting years.

Yearbook:

Another variation on this would be to turn them into a yearbook of sorts. Don't limit your book to purely artwork, include a few photos and even pieces of schoolwork that span the entire year. What an amazing way to keep track of their progress and celebrate achievements.

Image & Idea: Becky Higgins

The sample above is a traditional scrapbook but you could do a digital version just as easily.

Artwork ABCs:

This last idea is just so sweet and I wish I could take credit for it but I can't. Turn your child's art into your very own hardcover ABC book. Over at Modern Parents Messy Kids they used photographs but the same idea could be applied to artwork. 


The project of creating a piece of artwork for each letter of the alphabet will be fun in itself but I can almost guarantee the final product will become a bedtime favorite and a great family heirloom.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Children's Art Displays - Part 2: Creating a Display Centre

In part 2 of my series on displaying your children's art we're going to focus on creating an art gallery that is dedicated to their work.

Fridge Art Gallery:

Okay, throwing art on the fridge isn't anything new but what is new is creating a proper gallery to give artwork the respect it deserves. (It doesn't hurt that it also looks a little tidier which I always love).

Before:

After:

Images & Idea: Positively Splendid

Materials Needed:

  • Lightweight document-sized frame
  • Spray Paint & Primer
  • 2 heavy-duty magnets
  • Heavy-duty adhesive

Full instructions can be found at Postively Splendid. Amy made a frame for each of her children so she could display one piece from each child at a time. I can't wait to make my own.

Art Wall:

I love that this art grouping is solely dedicated to works of art that the kids made. By adding the chalkboard at the bottom it can be an ever evolving art centre.

Image & Idea: Apartment Therapy

The frames don't need to be expensive or even bought at the same store. Thrift store frames would be perfect. Just choose a colour and paint them all the same for a sense of unity.

Masterpieces:

Just like in an Art Gallery, special pieces or masterpieces always have their own special spot. I think that this display would make kids feel very important. The display itself is simple, it is the meaning behind 'masterpiece' that makes it so special.
Image & Idea: Unknown
 

Materials Needed:

  • 2 - 2x4's stained or painted to match your decor
  • 6 clips per board
  • strong adhesive
  • 'masterpieces' vinyl lettering
 

Directions:

  1. Using the adhesive, attach the clips along the board at even intervals. Allow to dry.
  2. Adhere the vinyl lettering to the wall, centered in the space you have chosen.
  3. Hang the boards below the wording. Be sure to leave at least 12" between the top and bottom board to allow for letter size paper to be hung without overlapping.
  4. Add your child's artwork and interchange regularly.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Lowly Cereal Box Gets Upcycled

I don't know if your family is like mine but we go through a lot of cereal. I feel like I am constantly putting cereal boxes in our recycle bin. That led me to beleive that there must be some great projects I could do with them instead. Here are some great ideas I came across.

3D Cereal Box Cardboard Stars:

These stars are amazing. Can you imagine making a few in different sizes and displaying them on a mantle or hanging them with fishing line.

 
Image & Idea: Grey Lustre Girl

Materials Needed:

  • Cereal Box
  • Scoring Tool (a letter opener or knife will work)
  • Hot Glue
  • Spray Paint

They are simple to make. All you need to do is cut out two identical stars from your cereal boxes, score them each 5 times from the centre to the tip of each point of the star, push the cardboard out where you scored it and glue the front start to the back star. A spray of paint in your favourite shade and voila - you've got an amazing star. Grey Lustre Girl has a great tutorial with photos to explain the directions.

The inspiration for the project above actually came from another crafter, Brandy from Gluesticks Gluesticks, who made the beautiful wreath below using paper.

Image & Idea: Gluesticks Gluesticks

BUT now that we know how to make the stars out of cereal boxes, the same beautiful wreath could be made using cereal box stars.

Cereal Box Map:

I love this idea because not only is it spectacular to look at it is also a great learning tool.


Image & Idea: Inhabitots

Materials Needed:

  • Many cereal boxes
  • Glue
  • Posterboard

My daughter is currently learning the provinces and territories in Canada. I can't wait to try this engaging project with her. Geography, crafting, recycling and fun all rolled into one project.

Cereal Box Park & Play Garage:

This idea is so cute and would be fun to make with the kids. Create your own parking garage for all their toy cars using recycled materials you have at home.



Image & Idea: Family Fun

Materials Needed:

  • 2 large cereal boxes
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • 5 cardboard tubes
  • Yellow paper
  • Large book
  • Gray paper

The folks over at Family Fun have really simple instructions for this project. I see a rainy day project in your future!

Cereal Box Storage Bins:

Can you believe these are made from cereal boxes and fabric??? This isn't a simple project but if you are a sewer, it isn't too difficult. The ladies over at Urban Nest have provided a full PDF instruction sheet for you to follow. 


Image & Idea: Urban Nest

Materials Needed:

  • 3 Cereal boxes
  • 3/4 yard outside fabric
  • 3/4 yard lining fabric
  • Straight Pins
  • Thread
  • Sewing Machine

What a beautiful way to recyle and organize your home!

Cereal Box Guitars:

How much fun would your kids have rocking out with these guitars made from what else - cereal boxes! 


Image & Idea: The Fraker's Acres

Materials Needed:

  • Cereal Box
  • Yarn
  • Scotch Tape
  • Painter's Tape or Duct Tape
  • Cardboard Tubes (from wrapping paper - yipee, more recycling)
  • 3 popsicle sticks

If you want to jazz them up a little more you can paint the boxes before you add the strings and neck of the guitar.

Cereal Box Sunburst Mirror:

This project is a little more complex but completely doable. It will be worth the work for the amazing results. Who would ever believe that this amazing mirror was made from an old cereal box headed for the garbage.



Materials Needed:

  • Cereal box
  • Hot Glue
  • Cardboard
  • Spray paint
  • Circular mirror
  • Plate hanger

The detailed instructions can be found at Stephanie Lynn's blog "Under the Table & Dreaming".

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Merits of a Staycation

One of the best things we've done in a long while is a "staycation". We didn't have time to hop a plane to some exotic locale but our city provided adventure at every turn.


With March Break just around the corner, this is a perfect time to plan your family's own "staycation". Here are some ideas of how to have a vacation in your own city. 

1. Play tourist

Research a landmark in your city that tourists tend to visit and go explore. We often overlook attractions that are in our own backyard because we see them every day but it can be really fun to see it from your child's perspective. Check out my family's trip to the CN Tower this past Family Day weekend!

2. Get Moving

Hop on a city tour bus to learn the history and interesting facts about city buildings. You will likely find yourself in new parts of the city so go off and explore. If your city doesn't have a tour bus get a family pass for your local city bus and hop on and off at leisure. Kids seem to love trains (perhaps because they can walk around on them???) so that is another option. Bike riding is free and takes you onto trails and paths that we miss when we're driving from A to B. Pack a picnic and make a day of it. No matter what mode of transportation you take, you will always find interesting places that your kids will want to explore.

3. Visit a New Country

I know, I know, I said it was a 'staycation' but if you live in a big city like I do there are lots of little ethnic boroughs to explore. Spend the day in Little India, Chinatown, Greektown or another ethnic neighbourhood. Try new foods, learn a few words, look at the different architecture, see if there is a community play or event going on. Even if you live in a smaller town you can usually find an ethnic restaurant. Research some local customs before you go out to eat and share your information over your meal. You really can experience a great deal of culture without leaving your own backyard.

4. Help Others

There is always a need for volunteers in the community. Take time to help out at a food bank, a local pet shelter, or spend an hour or two cleaning up your local park. If you can, organize a few families for a neighborhood cleanup and finish up with a casual pot-luck meal. It may not sound like a 'vacation' but the lessons learned and the pride in helping others will be a long lasting memory for everyone.

5. Get Outside

It doesn't matter what the weather is like, there is always something fun to do outside and if your family is anything like mine, there is nothing like a little fresh air to improve everyone's moods and change up the energy. Dust off the skates, sleds, and skiis. Build a snow fort. Have a snowball fight. Put on some rainboots and splash in the puddles. Fly a kite. Go on a nature walk. Pitch the tent in the backyard and sleep under the stars. Create your own outdoor outdoor movie theatre with a sheet, a projector and a laptop. Initiate a street hockey or soccer game. Whatever you choose, just do it together.

While it may not seem as exciting from the outset, a 'staycation" can prove just as rewarding and a lot less stressful. A "staycation" means no bags to pack, airports to sit in, luggage to lose. The fun and adventure you can have locally is endless. I can't wait to hear about your "staycation" adventures!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Children's Art Displays - Part 1: Creating a DIY Collage

Art is something I always want to encourage in my kids. It is an amazing way for them to express their emotions, creativity and develop fine motor skills. That being said, I have to admit that I was once the mama who filed a lot of the kids art under "R" for "Recycle Bin" before ever leaving the pre-school premises.

Part of the reason for my 'recycling' effort was just the sheer amount of artwork they created. While some of them were true masterpieces, others were what I would call 'rough drafts'. Living in a small bungalow, we just don't have room to keep it all and I hadn't yet figured out a system for displaying/keeping the best pieces. That set me on the search for the ultimate art solutions.

The Art Collage:


Image: OhDeeDoh

This amazing collage above was made by Jan Eleni and has been featured on several design shows. She takes you children's artwork, scans it and creates these amazing collages. The price tag however is pretty steep. It wouldn't be hard to make one of your own though. 

Materials:

  • artwork
  • scanner/printer
  • photo editing software (Photoshop or other)
  • Frame

Directions:

I would suggest starting with a size that you can actually print at home such as an 8.5 x 11. Scan each piece of artwork onto the computer.

Use your photo editing software to create a multi-picture layout. In Photoshop I selected "create" then 'photo layout' from the navigation bar at the top. That gave me the screen below.




From there I was able to drag my pictures that I had scanned one by one into the spaces laid out in the program. Because I had chosen to use their grid layout I didn't even need to size or space out the artwork, the program did it all for me.  

Now it is time to print the collage. I found that it looked much better when printed on photo paper.

All that is left is to frame your masterpiece!

Here is what mine turned out like.




Another program I have used that is free and downloadable from the internet is Picasa. It has a collage feature that makes this process just as easy so don't worry if you don't have Photoshop. Once you are comfortable with the process you can choose a poster size layout and have it printed at a copy shop. 

Here is a sample of the collage using Picasa to do it. (I literally spent about 4 minutes on this)


The results of a little scanning will astound you and make those pint-sized artists proud! Imagine doing one a year and grouping them together in a family room or playroom. What a tribute to your little artist!


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