It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Sticky Tree

Another fine idea from Pinterest! I saw a few variations. This is mine:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA large triangle of clear Con-tact paper, sticky side out, taped to the wall with green painter’s tape. (To get the width I wanted, I overlapped three panels of the plastic. Easy to do. If you only have one child, a tree cut from a single panel may well be enough.)

A container of likely ornaments to stick on the tree:

Daniel found some plastic candy canes to stick onto the tree. I thought they’d be too heavy, but let him try. It’s all in the interest of education, right? Turns out they did stick to the tree. For a while…
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the end of the first day, our tree looked like this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAModest, tasteful, a bit random, but the best Christmas trees are never too orderly and picture-perfect!

We had several days of play with it. Foamy shapes — stockings, ornaments, elves, and snowflakes — went on an off. Ribbons. Sequins.

And then, one glorious day, after a trip to the dollar store, tinsel! Green tinsel. Lots and lots of green tinsel!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt may not be tasteful. It’s certainly not tidy. But, oh, we had fun!!

The tree lasted about a week before all the sticky had been worn off by constant rearranging of ornaments by four pairs of sticky hands. It was a great week! We have a different tree planned for next week, but this one’s a quick and easy set-up, if you want to try.

December 12, 2013 Posted by | Christmas, crafts | , | 5 Comments

Toddler Christmas Craft

Super simple, and I’m sure you’ve come across it before. We do it every year, in one form or another. Today I have only Rory and Lily, and right now, Lily is sleeping. So Rory and I got out the supplies — paint, cookie cutters, paper. (The paper is from an enormous roll of tracing paper I got in the Great Design Firm Cast-off Haul. The goodness, it just keeps on coming!)

If you want a product that will actually be attractive enough to use, keep the colour choice simple, and give the child only one colour at a time. If you’re only in this for the fun of creating, let the kid go wild. We did a little of both. (That’s Rory’s pudgy hand. Can you tell how much FUN he’s having? Because he totally was.)

Fun, fun, fun…

soooooo much fun!

And when Lily, who celebrated Hanukkah last week, but will not celebrate Christmas, when she wakes up, she, too, will make wrapping paper, only we’ll use the butterfly and heart shapes (her favourites), in yellow and red (which she seems to particularly like) and it can be all-purpose wrap.


December 13, 2010 Posted by | Christmas, crafts | , , , | 1 Comment

Because Mary is a devious, devious woman

The older children have been making something for their parents for the last week and a half. We’ve spent a little time each day adding another layer, building up the tissue and glue. Yesterday we added the sparkles on the outside, and we’re done!


Beautiful tissue-paper bowls! (From my latest blog crush, Kids Craft Weekly.) Then we made a trip to the dollar store for things to put in the bowls, with the stipulation that they be light. Sturdy these things are not, though they’re not quite as delicate as you might think, given the materials.

And through all this the parents have not discovered what it is we are making. The children have not spilled the beans, they have not once uttered the word “bowl” in their parents’ presence.

I know this with utter conviction.

Know why?

It’s not because I’ve told them “Shh! Don’t tell! It’s a secret!” Ha! It is to laugh. Anyone with toddlers knows how utterly pointless that is. To anyone under the age of six, near as I can make out, a “secret” is something that, when you tell everyone about it? You WHISPER.

It can be a stage whisper, audible to THE ENDS OF THE EARTH, but if you whisper while you’re telling it, it’s still a SECRET.

So. I have not attempted to get them to keep a secret. Though the very thought of someone attempting to do so does bring tears of Christmas mirth to my eyes. Ho, ho, ho!

No. What I have done, see, is to mislead and divert.

We are not making bowls. Nope. Not at all. See that first pictures? Do those look like bowls? Of course not! Bowls are not bumps! Bowls are dents. We are not making bowls.

No, no, no! We are making igloos. Lovely igloos made from purple, pink, and yellow tissue paper, respectively. Igloos decorated with sparkles, then turned ‘upside-down’ and filled with (variously) Christmas crackers, shiny ornaments, star-studded garlands and/or popcorn. Mary has never, ever called these things anything other than “igloos”. And neither have the tots.


We have looked at pictures of igloos. We have tried to build some out of snow. We have talked about the Inuit, and how they mostly live in regular old houses now.

And the children, they have told their parents ALL ABOUT IT. Of course. Their parents know EVERYTHING about IGLOOS.

And nothing, nothing at all, about bowls.



December 22, 2008 Posted by | Christmas, crafts, parents | , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Christmas crafts, again

At Mary’s house, there is always the craft table (aka the dining table), set out with scrap paper, crayons, scissors, glue, and assorted other stuff — cotton balls, tin foil, popsicle sticks, stickers… They can play with these things however they see fit, as often and as long as they wish. I offer only such assistance as is directly requested, and even then I may opt to assist by asking questions rather than by doing anything to their creation. And I never, ever “improve” something they create in this way.

These days I have three three-year-olds in the house. Fun! Three-year-olds are usually fascinated by crafts. They will respond according to their personalities, of course: The social ones expect you to stay and chatter with them as they create; self-motivated tots are happy to work for long stretches on their own; really active munchkins will zip to and from the table, adding a sparkle here and a scribble there between bouts of wild cavorting in the living room.

But by and large, they love the colours and the stickyness and the poking and twisting and gooping.

At three, they are only just moving past the absorption in the process that consumed them at two. Two-year-olds have no interest in “making” something recognizable. They are interested in the scratch of pencil on paper, the crunch of tin foil, the slop of paint, the scent of glue, the unfolding of colour, sound, texture, smell. It’s all about the ‘doing’ for a two. And as they “do”, they learn how all these things work, and they develop confidence in their creative process.

At three, while still fascinated by the doing, they are developing an interest in the outcome. Which is why the best three-year-old crafts have a little of both. The best crafts for this age do not need a lot of adult intervention. (The best crafts for 2-year-olds need essentially none, beyond providing the materials and maybe some instruction in how to use them.)


This ball is a good craft for this age. They peel the stickers off (fine motor), they stick them to a ball (more fine motor), and they create something to hang on the tree — or simply grace their bedside table. This is Emily’s ball. She worked on this thing for a good hour, in several sittings. It required no adult assistance whatsoever.

And this is a not-so-developmentally-perfect craft:


They got to draw the faces on these angels, and they made the halos by twisting the metallic twist-ties, but all the assembly was done by me. They helped by putting tape in the appropriate spots, but this is clearly an adult-essential craft.

That’s okay. They learn different skills, skills they perhaps can’t yet manage, but will in time. They see something being created in a step-by-step manner, with an eye to a goal. They also learn to follow instructions. All of these are Useful Life Skills. You don’t want all crafts to be adult-essential, of course. Non-directed crafts allow for exploration and experimentation. In a week of daily crafts, one or two adult-essential, directed crafts still allows for three or four days of free exploration crafts. A reasonable balance, I think.

And the parents get recognizable angels for the Christmas tree! So everyone’s happy.

December 10, 2008 Posted by | crafts, Developmental stuff, holidays | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Seeking inspiration…

As you know, Mary is tired this week. Tired, tired, tired. I have all sorts of terrific post ideas in my head. Well, I’m sure they’re in there, because lord only knows they’re not appearing on this screen. And stuff has been happening. Lots of stuff. Stuff is always happening around here. I recall laughing at least six times this morning, but can I remember why?

No, I can not. Because I am tired, tired, tired.

Which has me wondering if I’m scaring the children by bursting into sudden, unexplained fits of laughter at irregular intervals. Maybe that’s why they’ve been so exceedingly well-behaved today…

Poor little buggers.

I cannot tell you what happened this morning, so I will tell you about my plans. Or my plans to make plans. Because really, I’m too tired to plan this week. But I am planning to!!

I have gotten so far as to gather some Christmas craft supplies. See?


I know just what I’m going to do with some of that stuff. The egg cartons? Cut them into cups, smoosh squares of tin foil around each one, poke a thread through the top, and Christmas bells! Easy. I have four egg cartons so far. That’s one dozen bells for each of the three-year-olds, and a cup or two for the one-year-olds to gnaw on and leave in sodden lumps on the dining table.

At the left, you can see two variation of the pipecleaner candycane, which they can do. The older kids can push beads onto pipecleaners. The younger two can moosh pipecleaners in their pudgy hands prior to stuffing them in their mouths.

On the blue plate are my faves, the foamy stickers. No idea what I’ll do with those. Nor the glitter (in the white box), or the metallic, 10-cm twist ties. The Christmas balls are entirely shatterproof. When you press them, they bend.

The silver doilies are going to be angels, of course.

What else?

Brainstorm with me, oh parents-of-teenies. What would you do with these things? More to the point, what would you like to see coming home from daycare with your kid?

Take as a given that I have all the accessories: scissors, hole punch, tape (masking, scotch, and duct), glue (sticks, white, and hot melt), string… I also have the standard craft supplies: construction paper in a rainbow of colours, white paper, crayons, markers, foam sheets, stickers, toilet paper tubes, envelopes, card stock… If it’s basic and I don’t have it, it’s likely only because we’ve run out, and I’m totally prepared to buy more.

Help my weary brain. What can I do with this stuff?

December 3, 2008 Posted by | crafts, holidays | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments