Because it pays off! Just watch:
Busy, busy hands.
Lots and lots and lots of toilet rolls. 72, to be exact. Which I just happened to have in a giant bag in the back porch.
Lots of paint.
Add a judicious amount of clear packing tape, spatter-painted paper, card stock, and ribbon…
and you get advent calendars!!
Simple. Assembling them, which I did after hours, was a little time-consuming, but was done while I visited with my children — specifically, my eldest, visiting from Missouri with her lovely boyfriend — so that was fun. Each tube is stuffed with a chocolate or two scrunched up in a poof of tissue (just to keep it in the tube).
Pretty, effective, simple — and cheap! My kind of craft.
This used perhaps half my stash. Perhaps. Whatever shall we do next?
Witness one chair. In fact, we own two, and they’re equally unappealing. Disreputable, even. Stained, boring beige. NOT FOR LONG!!
Taking the cushion off was simple. Then I used the cushion as a template on the ‘oilcloth’ — really a vinyl fabric — I’d purchased for a different project. There was just enough left over to cover these two chairs. I fiddled a bit with the placement to get the pattern arranged nicely, and made the outline a few inches larger to allow for wrapping the fabric around the sides to the underside of the chair.
Once it was cut, I just stapled the heck out of it and, ta-dah! A pretty, wipe-clean new chair!
So much better!
You might well wonder.
For starters, I’m fine. My life outside the computer has been occupying me, and not in a bad way. No crises, no worries. Just life. It may be because I’m in a bit of a creative surge at the moment, creativity which is being expressed outside the computer.
But it’s only fair to let you have a peek, I figure. So here’s the first project, which was completed a while ago, actually. My dining room table, location of much crafting, spillage and general mucky-ness, was a mess. So I stripped it down — first time in my life I’ve attempted such a thing, stencilled it, and varnished it.
The stencils are Martha Stewart. The paint is leftover from the front door.
It’s my first attempt. There are imperfections. The bevelling around the edge got sanded more profoundly than the rest of the surface, so it’s a bit paler. There are some bubbles in the Varathane which I didn’t spot at the time, proving the imperfection of my sanding technique.
I found this craft online — the Internet Knows All — and knew I had to try it with the kids. Witness the creation of one of Jazz’s going-away gifts! The children all helped make this (including Jazz, who had no idea it was to be hers). I’m so devious…
a clean, pale t-shirt, washed and dried
permanent markers (doesn’t have to be Sharpies; I used Tul and they worked just fine)
rubbing alcohol (mine was 99%)
cup or cookie cutters
small bowl or cup for the alcohol
The original blogger slipped a cup under the t-shirt and held it in place with an elastic as she made the dots. The tots didn’t really have the coordination to dot on something so flexible, so I used cookie cutters to delineate the space. The firmness of the table under the fabric made it much easier for them. If you wanted, you could put a piece of cardboard inside the shirt to prevent the ink from bleeding through to the back. We didn’t, and the effect was actually rather pretty!
To ensure pretty circles instead of Circle of Mud, I had the children choose one colour, and then I chose one or two more that would work with that colour.
Then I slipped the cookie cutter underneath the dots, aligning it as best I could with its original position, and secured it with the elastic.
Then the magic starts! Fill the eye-dropped with rubbing alcohol, and drop into the centre of the circle. Watch it spread!
(How much input did the kids have at this point? Mostly just watching and “ooo-ing”, but I did go hand-over-hand with the older children a couple of times.)
And then, because Mary is a curious and experimental sort, she began to wonder what would happen if you didn’t use the circle templates. What if you just went free-form?
I made vertical lines in several shades of green, yellow, and blue in a very haphazard way along the bottom of the shirt. Some long, some short, just to give the overall impression of grass, I guess. Then I dropped alcohol on it.
Isn’t it adorable?
And so eeeeeasy!
Apparently, you heat-set the colours by tossing it in a dryer for 30 minutes. Now, I’ve done that to this shirt, but then I gave it away and have yet to hear how effective that was. My own tendency would be to wash it with dark colours, on cold, at least once, to see how secure the colours are.
But CUTE! I love this craft!
Some yellow and red tempera paint, a couple of potatoes cut into odd shapes, circles of cream construction paper and a heap of triangles of orange, yellow, and red card stock. Et voila!
Brilliant and easy! Equal parts cornstarch and water, and enough food colouring to get the colour you want. It dries to a chalky finish, but we found the colour to be very bright, possibly because I was using Neon colours.
The kids loooved it!
Tip: Get the cheapest paint brushes you can find in the hardware store: the sidewalk is rough and chews them up.
The sidewalk outside my home was a brilliant mess of happy colours … until the next rain, when it washed right away! Perfect!
1. Paint a child’s palm with tempera paint.
2. Press palm into glass several times, until all paint is gone.
3. Wash hand.
4. I you feel particularly creative, you can add grass.
Voila! Instant spring flower garden!
We set out to make some of these. Is that not a fun, fun idea? For some reason, ours did not turn out so beautifully pastel. I don’t know why. But it was still a great craft! Simple and effective, and something they absolutely could do with minimal adult intervention. Perfect!
We made a whole raft of hearts, but do you know what? Printing paper with shaving cream was interesting … but short-lived. But! When we were done, there was an ENTIRE COOKIE SHEET OF SHAVING CREAM on my dining room table.
I wish I could show you all the pictures! Oh my, oh my. Terrific sensory play: the colour! the smell! (lordy, the smell, phew) the TEXTURE!!!
They tapped, they touched, they smeared, they oozed, they squeezed. They talked softly, when they talked at all, so mesmerized were they by the amazing feel.
Whee, fun! The had so much fun, completely absorbed. I was able to do an entire sink full of dishes while they were completely consumed by this activity. We are definitely going to do this again!
Yes, we will.
In the summer.
And in a pool.
With ready access to a hose.
The colour! The smell! The texture!
Valentine’s Day is coming, a scant three or so weeks away. I have gathered the supplies I need to make six of these, and that was that, or so I thought.
However, I was shopping on the weekend and found this! How adorable, and really, I think that makes a theme, don’t you? If I can get the local children’s bookstore to order in six copies for me, they’ll get those, too.
So it seems the tots are going to get not one, but TWO Valentine’s gifts this year. Lucky little so-and-so’s.
And ALSO, because for kids of daycare age Valentine’s Day is about family love, not romantic love, they also make cards to give to their parents.
Oh, and their grandparents, too. I am a big fan of grandparents, as they so routinely take in children who are too sick for daycare, but not sick enough for a parent to stay home with them. Or they keep a child home just to play. Or they pop around at a moment’s notice to collect a child whose parent is unavoidably delayed. I love grandparents.
I think all the cards for adults will be on a Monster Love theme. I’ll have to see what I can come up with. Oh, fun! I love holidays that give me a chance to come up with cute crafts that will be loved by all.
Our theme this month is Winter. What will we be doing?
A fun sensory bin, with cotton balls and plastic ice chunks, some snowflakes, a couple of polar bears and a snowman.
Coloured ice cubes for outdoor building. (We did this today. It would have been better had my ice cube tray been nice and square, like the one pictured in that link, instead of with rounded corners. Still, the kids had fun!)
Indoor skating using big wooly socks over their own socks.
Edible snowballs, made with meringue. (Easy, tasty, and fun!)
Squirt bottles of coloured water for painting the snow.
Matching games using real mis-matched mittens on an indoor clothes line
Matching games using paper mittens and stickers
Pattern-making on paper scarves
Make snowballs from white socks stuffed with rice. Toss these into baskets and through holes in a box lid.
Polar bears made from salt dough
Stick the carrot on the snowman (like pin the tail on the donkey, only with carrots and snowmen)
String snowballs (Yes, those instructions make tree ornaments, but if you use white string and add some opalescent glitter, why, you’ve made pretty snowballs to hang around your winter-themed home!)
Linked snowman garlands