Halloween Milk Jug Lanterns

We’re thrilled to welcome guest blogger Jen H. She is the co-founder and art director of Family Sponge.

Autumn in Florida is like no place I have ever lived. The weather is warm, the leaves don’t change colors, and the pumpkins are shipped down from Tennessee. You have to try really hard to make it feel like fall, yet it is so worth it. One craft my kids and I did to get ready for fall is make milk jug jack-o-lanterns. Since the Tennessee pumpkins don’t make it down to Florida for a few more weeks, this project is an easy way to bring some fall cheer to the front porch.

Halloween Tools & Materials

  • milk jug
  • permanent marker
  • mini Christmas lights
  • scissors
I absolutely love making crafts that are made from things that might be considered “trash”— it’s a great way to show the kids that there is beauty in everything and how to be more environmentally conscious. These lanterns are made from plastic milk jugs that would have gone into the recycling bin otherwise.

Cutting the Halloween Milk Jug

After we rinsed out the jugs and let them dry, I cut a hole in the back with scissors. (This is definitely a grownup step.) The hole can be whatever shape you want—it really just depends what sort of light you are going to put inside. We used Christmas lights that we had in storage, but I just saw some mini battery operated tea lights that would work really well if you aren’t in the mood to bring out your Christmas boxes yet.
We rarely let our kids use permanent markers (which I am sure is the same for most parents!), so this craft was a special treat. We let the kids know before we handed them the marker that this was a special occasion and that they could use it since we were watching. And I definitely had my hawk-eye on my three-year-old, who tends to stamp her face when I am not looking. The kids had a blast drawing faces on the milk jugs. As much as I want to give them suggestions (it’s my personality), we let them go to town and be as creative as they wanted. My four-year-old added hair to his lantern, and my three-year-old did what she does best—scribbles and circles.

Decorating for Halloween

After we admired our creations, we went outside and strung the lights through the back of the jugs. I even brought out some pretend fall leaves to help set the mood. Once we plugged in the lights the kids were elated—their creations turned magical in an instant. They danced around and had so much fun welcoming fall to our tropical home in Florida!

 


About KiwiCo
KiwiCo delivers monthly projects for kids of all ages, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

Two-Ingredient Tuesday: Labels + Paper = Sticker Mosaic

With the back-to-school season in high gear, September’s the perfect time to stock up on office supplies. I recently came across a bunch of bright neon labels in the clearance bin…which seemed like the makings of a promising easy-as-pie project!

Here’s a mosaic that Violet (age 8 ) created using just two items and a heaping spoonful of imagination:

All you’ll need to create your own sticker mosaics are:

  • paper
  • labels

The kids were encouraged to design anything they liked.

Max (age 6) created two pictures that Violet said looked like an athlete and a clock—but Max confidently replied that neither of the images were “of” anything: “They’re just designs.”

Violet made a sweet nesting scene and drew in some wings to bring her little birdie to life.

And Lucy (age 7) grabbed her markers and created a colorful sunset.

What images (abstract or otherwise) did your kids come up with? Share in the comments!


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

 

 

Win a Deluxe Mommy & Me Prize Package!

Dear Moms,

It goes without saying that you are wonderful and deserve some pampering once in a while. Which is why we’ve teamed up with our stylish friends at Petunia Pickle Bottom and Wee Decor for this fabulous giveaway, featuring special gifts just for you and your little one.

Grand Prize (1):

♦ $114 Exclusive Mommy Gift Pack which includes: a fold-out tote, a powder room case, and a travel train case from Petunia Pickle Bottom
♦ $100 to spend at weeDecor
♦ $110 worth of arts, crafts & science projects from Kiwi Crate (6-month subscription)

(Open to U.S. Residents Only)

Contest ends September 30, 2012.

Enter here.

Top 10 Back-to-School Creativity Tips

This fall, we presented a special back-to-school series on 10 Ways to Inspire Creativity During the School Year. Read on to get ideas on ways to keep the creative juices flowing!

  1. Inspire Creativity With A Countdown Chain. Create a paper chain featuring everyone’s favorite kiwi bird. Then count down the number of days you have left until the start of school! Get the free printable here.
  2. Design a Discovery Zone! Make space around the home for your kid’s imagination to run wild. Here are some ideas to get you started.
    via Rambling Renovators

     

  3. Spend Quality Time Sharing Hands-on Experiences. Go on fun outings, explore new perspectives, and create family traditions. Learn some new ways to keep the creative spark live.
  4. Tell Tale Tales With Printable Story Cards. This darling printable is a surefire way to get your kids giggling. This free game will inspire plot twists and turns in a storytelling session that’s fun for the whole family!
  5. Be Prepared for Inspiration at All Times with a Travel Art Kit. Inspiration can strike anytime, anywhere. Learn how to outfit a portable art kit!
  6. Dive Into Reading With a DIY Bookmark! Make a splash into your fall reading lineup with a bookmark that’s easy to make and fun to use.
  7. Embrace the “Uh-Oh” Moments. Sometimes we can become fixated on doing something “just right.” But in many cases, it’s important for kids (and all of us, really) to be OK with imperfection. Here’s a great tip on how to help your kids handle “mistakes” while they’re creating something.
  8. Make Way for Masterpieces. Peruse this round-up on clever ways to display your kids’ artwork around the home.
  9. Create a Classroom or Nap Time Keepsake. Does your child get homesick when he’s at school? Maybe a stuffy to cuddle with during nap time will help! Learn how to make one here.
    create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing
  10. Record Your Hopes & Dreams for the Year. Here’s a tradition that both you and your child will love looking back on! See what creativity emerges as you think about your goals for the year.

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About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

 

Pins of the Week: Homemade Gifts for Grandparents’ Day

grandparents diy gifts homemade presents

Happy Grandparents’ Day (September 9) to nanas and pop-pops everywhere! Show them how much they mean to your family with these thoughtful and personalized presents that the grandkids can make.

 

Download a FREE Grandparents’ Day photo & art card printable from Kiwi Crate here.

Want more ideas for fun, learning, and play? Follow us on Pinterest.


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

Back-to-School Creativity Tip #10: Record Your Hopes & Dreams for the Year

This is the last post in our special Back to School series, where we’re sharing 10 Ways to Inspire Creativity During the School Year.

I know just about everyone must be back in school by now (surely my daughter, whose preschool starts tomorrow, must be the LAST person in the country to go back to school! Not that we’re counting down the days…) If your kids are like mine, they’re super excited about seeing old friends and making new ones, toting around that new backpack, and breaking in those shiny school supplies. One more tradition that I love (and borrowed from my son’s teacher last year) is to take a moment to record your child’s hopes and dreams for the year.

As counter-intuitive as it may sound, I’ve found making a plan is often a great way to jump start creative juices (that’s what brainstorming is, after all!).  It’s also fun to talk with your kids about what are the things they love and really want to make time to do or come up with a plan to accomplish.

I just made a really simple print-out with “I want to learn…” and “I am excited to…” as the prompts for my son.  It was easier for him to start with the “excited about” bit, so that was where he went…

 

The richest part of H’s plan, in my eyes, is the picture.  Of course he’s excited to “play on the blak [sic] top”, but I love to see the creativity that emerges in how that is represented on the page—the kid jumping, the ball being hit into the wall and soaring over the player’s head.

We didn’t get to the “I’m excited to learn” bit yet—that might be a little too abstract for now.  But I’m hoping spelling goes on the list.

Do you record your child’s hopes for the year? Any other great back-to-school traditions? Please share!

 


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

Two-Ingredient Tuesday: Masking Tape + Watercolor

Here’s a simple technique that’s sure to create a delightful result. Stick masking tape on paper in any pattern you like—we made the letter O. Then simply watercolor all over the paper.

As O started painting, he told me this was a Van Gogh: “It’s a pretty famous painting.”

Then he added lighting bolts and his beloved bears, brown Baba and purple Sam.

When you’re done and the paint is dry, carefully peel off the tape to reveal the shape. We gave our “O” painting to Grandma and Grandpa!


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

Back-to-School Creativity Tip #9: Create a Classroom or Naptime Keepsake!

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

Being away from home can be tough on kids. Our school recommends making a special keepsake that kids can keep in their cubbies and pull out at nap time or when they’re feeling sad. Every year since preschool, my son Dillon and I make something new together to bring to school for this very purpose. This year, he asked if we could make a “stuffy” that he could cuddle with during quiet time.

We ended up making two different stuffies. For the first stuffy, Dillon drew what he wanted the stuffy to look like (our kitty), and then traced the shape around cotton canvas. I helped him cut out the fabric and then he used fabric paint and markers to color kitty. With an embroidery needle and thread, he stitched up most of the kitty and stuffed her with batting. I then helped him sew up the final edge. (Note: Dillon is 6, and has had sewing practice in preschool. There were a few pokes to the finger, but no blood and he didn’t seem to mind.)

Here is the drawing and the finished stuffy:

make your own stuffed animal

For the second stuffy, Dillon asked if I could sew it with my sewing machine because he wanted a sturdy, pillow-like stuffy. Since I wanted Dillon to have a hand in creating both stuffies, I asked him to draw the design. We discussed some of the types of things that mommy can sew (simpler shapes, and a little rounded—nothing too fancy; I’m a basic sewer and this was the first time I’ve pulled out my sewing machine in over a year).

Here’s the design Dillon came up with:

make a lovey from a child's drawing

And here’s the pattern we created from his drawing:

make a lovey from a child's drawing

I added 1/4″ around for the seam and traced the pattern onto the fabric with a fabric pencil.

We went through some fabric scraps I had around and decided on soft grey cotton flannel for the body, bright orange and green felt for the eyes, and some bright purple orange and green thread.

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

To create this stuffy, I first pinned the pattern face-down to two pieces of fabric facing right side in. Dillon traced the shape onto the fabric with a fabric pencil, and I cut the fabric out. Dillon cut the circles of felt, and together we hand-sewed these on. We used the bright green thread to create an eye. Once these details were on, I pinned the two sides together right side in and stitched them on my machine, leaving an opening for stuffing. (Note: I left a slightly larger opening, so that it would be easier for Dillon to help.)

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

Once the stuffy was sewn, Dillon turned it right side out and began stuffing. For the inside, we used a mix of recycled stuffing (old t-shirts we cut into strips) and extra cotton batting I had on hand. Dillon and I took turns. We had a few silly laughs while he put the “guts”” in. After our stuffy felt nice and pillowy, I stitched up the back end. (My placement of the opening created boyish giggling as well.)

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

Here is Dillon loving his two new stuffies, Kitty Buns and Round Circle. Dillon decided that Round Circle will go to school and Kitty Buns will stay home for nighttime cuddling.

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

Here are some other ideas for keepsakes: a small book of family photos, a family collage, a special blanket from home, or a blanket with your child’s name embroidered on it.

Are you creating a keepsake for your kid’s classroom? If so, what are you making?


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

Back to School with an Under the Sea Lunch

Why hello, Al Roker! As featured on the Today Show, our creative lunch idea will be sure to make a splash in the cafeteria. (The Kiwi Crate segment begins at 1:55. Sorry, we weren’t able to delete the ad that plays before the clip starts!)

 

When it’s time for back to school, it’s time to start planning my kids’ lunches. I must admit that most of the time, I barely pull something together! But every once in a while, I get inspired to do a little something special.

I thought I’d share a lunch inspired by an “Under the Sea” theme. Here, I packed everything in one lunch…but you can definitely spread things out so that your child can look forward to an “Under the Sea” week with an item per day from the menu:

• Fish Pita
• Egg Boats
• Fishy Snack – Gone Fishin’
• Scuba Apple

First, I created a fish pita. You simply need pita, a knife, a raisin/olive/piece of fruit or vegetable for the fish’s eye, and filling. I used tuna salad, but you could use anything. (I’ve made these sandwiches before with leftover rotisserie chicken, turkey and cheese, etc.)

To make your fish, cut the pita so there’s a tail and a body. Also, cut a little divot out of the top of the pita so you can slot in the eye. Where you made your cuts, stuff the pita with your filling.

Unless your kiddo is super hungry, I suspect you won’t need to make both a small and a large fish pita. I wanted to make one for myself. So, here you see mommy fish with her little fish. They’re almost too fun to eat!

The egg boats are super simple. You need a hard-boiled egg, a couple of toothpicks, and small post-its (or paper and tape).

Make the sail with the toothpick and post-it. I just folded it over a couple of times. Or, you can use paper and tape to make the sail. Then, stick it into the egg. Happy sailing!

I added the Fishy Snack that we posted a while ago to this lunch. You need celery (or pretzel rods), peanut butter (or other nut butter or sunflower seed butter), and Goldfish crackers. It’s so fun for the kids to “go fishing” by dipping their celery in the peanut butter and then picking up the Goldfish with the sticky peanut butter. They get a bite every time they fish!

Finally, I thought that a band to decorate an apple could be pretty cute, and look what our designers at Kiwi Crate made for me! It’s a scuba mask for the apple. You can download it here:

Just print and cut out the mask. then tape it around an apple. If you’d like, you can even draw some eyes on the mask to give it a little personality.

My kids love their scuba apples. They’ve insisted on scuba peaches, scuba oranges, and scuba kiwis. We even tried to make scuba bananas!

I’m always looking for more ideas for my kids’ lunches! I’d love to hear your suggestions.


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

 

Make a Personalized Photo Card for Grandparents’ Day

As Grandparents’ Day (September 9) approaches, we wanted to share with you a simple but personalized gift idea that will be sure to delight grandma or grandpa: a photo card that contains a picture of your little one on one side and a custom portrait of your little one with his or her grandparent on the other.  After all, is there anything more “grand” than a handmade present from a beloved grandchild?

Grandparents printable card photo gift  Download your own printable card here or click on the image below.

How are you celebrating Grandparents’ Day?


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.