Two Ingredient Tuesday: Alphabet Cookies

Alphabet Cookies

My kids sweet-talked me into buying this tube of cookie dough. And then demanded cookies immediately.

I refused the request for raw cookie dough, and decided to use the promise of cookies to motivate some practice with learning letters.

Alphabet Cookies Ingredients

Tube of sugar cookie dough
Baking sheet (parchment paper is helpful but optional)

And that’s it! Flour can also be helpful to prevent the dough from getting too soft and sticky, but it’s entirely optional. In face the sticky texture can be a lot of fun for kids to play with!

Getting Started

To create your letters, you start with a snake (just like with play-dough). My 3-year-old had a good time focusing on rolling his cookie dough snake, although he needed a bit of help getting it into the cookie sheet.

Then you shape the letter onto the cookie sheet. Of course the kids decided they wanted to create their own names, which led to my 6-year-old giving his little brother a very entertaining lesson on the proper way to shape an “A”.

Then, time to bake! The dough spread even more than I was expecting – if we do this again, I’ll try to make the snakes even skinnier. When the cookies look all poofy and brown on the edges, they’re done.

And the final step – enjoy your cookies! My boys were so proud of their cookie names, they were only slightly disappointed they couldn’t eat the whole thing in one sitting.

6 Father’s Day Gifts That Kids Can Make

gifts for dad, father's day gifts

We combed our favorite blogs, scrutinized myriad Pinterest photos, and examined the nooks and crannies of the internet to compile our six favorite Father’s Day gifts that kids can make (and dads will love).

After all, what better way is there to say, I love you, daddy , than with a thoughtful homemade gift created expressly for him?

1. Custom Lego Frame

For the dad who geeks out over Star Wars, this awesome Lego frame is the perfect decoration to spruce up any office wall or desk. Just make sure you get your child’s permission before snagging his or her action figures. Get the tutorial from the ever-so crafty Sticky Fingers.

2. Tie Cookies

We can’t even count the number of ties we’ve given dear old dad over the years. How about starting a new yummier tradition by presenting him with these delicious tie cookies. You can even decorate these treats to look exactly like some of his “real” ties. Find the easy recipe from Somewhat Simple.

3. Cubicle Snacks

This is such a great gift for the dad who likes to snack and munch throughout the day (a.k.a all dads). Kids can make personalized mason jars then fill them up with his favorite treats. For an added surprise, stick a note or a special message in the jar before you put the cap on. Learn how to make these adorable snack jars from I Am Momma Hear Me Roar.

4. Word Frame

Just looking at this sign makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside. We wouldn’t be surprised if dad sheds a tear or two when the little one presents him with this custom-made namesake. Get the instructions and template from Lovely Design.

5. Chalkboard Mug

There are few things we love more than chalkboard paint, so when we spied this mug on Lil Kid Things, we knew that we had to make one for dad. The kiddos can help paint and write the first message on these clever mugs. Visit Lil Kid Things to learn how to make one yourself.

6. A Book for Dad

Here’s a book that’s bound to become an instant classic – a story about dad written and illustrated by the people who love him most. Print the free book download from Eighteen25.

What are your ideas for celebrating Dad? Please share!

Don’t have time to make anything? Give the gift of fun and quality time with the kiddos with a subscription to KiwiCo.

Traditions: Summer Bucket List

My oldest finished his last day of kindergarten today, so it’s officially summer in our house!  We are all soooo excited — the long days, beautiful summer evenings, and not-so-early-crazed-and-rushed mornings.  Plus, looking ahead at 3 months of summer feels so full of possibility and promise!

But I know it will be over before we know it… And while I’m so looking for plenty of slower, un-scheduled days, I also want to approach the way we spend our days with some intent.  So to ensure we create and cherish all the special moments we can, we decided to start a new tradition: our Summer Bucket List.  We did one for Fall, and it was such a treat for all of us. (It’s nothing fancy, but like the Fall one, I used some fun fonts and laminated it on my handy Costco laminator so we can post it on the fridge.)

We started our list a couple weeks ago on a long car ride, and finished it up over the last few days during dinnertime conversations.  It was very much a collaborative effort, with contributions from my two-year-old (“ride a train!”) to my four-year-old (“make a cherry pie!”) to my six-year-old (“ride a water slide!”)  Oh, and I added some too (“outdoor movie night!”)  I can’t wait to get started!

What’s on your summer bucket list?

 

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Paint Chip Scavenger Hunt

I must admit, I am a bit of a paint chip fanatic.  All the beautiful colors… all the possibilities (though I can’t really imagine having the guts to paint a room anything like these.)  I was in the paint store recently picking up some paint for a touch-up in our bathroom, and brought some extra paint chips home* for some fun with the kids.  I had seen this cute idea for a Paint Chip Scavenger Hunt, and thought that sounded like a great activity for indoor or outdoor fun.

(*Note: I don’t really think of this as unethical — they are FREE after all, and I’m sure the paint companies provide them with gazillions, but I made sure not to wipe them out of any of the colors.)

I chose the paint chips with 4-5 shades, and decided to cut them into individual colors.  I also went ahead and punched holes in them so we could gather them together easily… I threaded a rubber band through, so the kids could carry them around.  In the end, it seemed easier to not have them all connected — so if I do it again, I’ll skip the hole punch step.

 

After that, it’s just off to the races… It was a rainy day outside, so S just explored the kitchen, finding all the items she could that matched her set.  You could make all kinds of fun games out of it: set a timer to see how many different colors you can find, make a chart of how many items of each color you can find, play paint chip bingo!  We kept it pretty simple today, but I know we’ll come back to this again.

We were frankly a little amazed at the everyday items that matched our brilliant colors.  The exercise was a great way to open our eyes to the technicolor world we live in!

Again, if you’re looking for an activity to occupy your kiddos for 15 minutes or so while you move dinner along (as I always am!), this is a good one.  You could also have a great time with this outdoors, as well.

I think we can come up with some more ideas for how to use these paint swatches, so stay tuned…

How would you use a pile of paint chips?

 


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Birthday Traditions Round-up

Baby Photo Series

For a kid, a long-awaited birthday seems to take forever to arrive; for a parent, the years fly by in the blink of an eye! Maybe that’s why so many families create little birthday traditions. The familiar routine is special to kids, and lets parents hold onto our babies… for a little bit longer. Here are some of our favorites!

Our List of Birthday Traditions

Birthday Advent Calendar

For kids who can’t wait for the big day to arrive, a birthday advent calendar is a fun way to count the days. (We love this beautiful hand-sewn one featured on home and harmony.) You can keep it simple and just use the pockets to count the days. Or you can tuck a special little note or drawing in each pocket.

Birthday Countdown Chain

For a simple, no-sew solution, check out this countdown chain from Modern Parents Messy Kids. Just create a chain out of construction paper with one link for each day. Every morning, the child can cut one link off the chain, until finally there are no more links and the birthday has arrived!

DIY Birthday Crown

For a special birthday craft, what can be better than a crown? This cardboard crown tutorial from Made by Joel is fun, easy, and can be customized to suit any kid. It’s fun to make a new crown every year and watch how the designs change.

Sparkly DIY Birthday Crown

Or for a crown with a little more glitz, check out this clever Snow White sparkly crown from Make and Takes – all you need is silver piper cleaners and clear pony beads.

Clay Handprint Kits for Kids

Clay handprint kits are great for tiny babies, but what about big kids? These scrapbook handprints from Mod Podge Rocks! are a great birthday memory craft. It’ll be a treasure to keep even if you do just one, or you can keep adding new ones each year to create a lovely wall.

Birthday Interview Questions

Or for a no-supplies-needed memory activity, try a birthday interview. The answers will definitely make you laugh, and might even make you cry (in a good way).

Birthday Photo Series

Even parents of big kids can use some of the tips on this beautiful photo series from Making it Lovely. The keep it simple plan: pick one spot for birthday photos, and include a chair or something in the background for scale as your child grows.

And finally, in case you wanted a good cry about how quickly babies grow, don’t miss this amazing time-lapse video of a little girl growing from birth to 12 years.

What birthday traditions are you doing this year?

p.s. If you are in need of a creative gift or some super fun party activities / favors, check out the Kiwi Crate Celebration Shop!

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Cookie Cutter Tracing

cookie cutter tracing

Are you looking for a quick little project to occupy the kids while you make dinner, take a shower, or enjoy three uninterrupted minutes of that cup of coffee?

Go forage the kitchen for some cookie cutters, gather up a few pencils, and grab a few sheets of paper. I know, that makes three ingredients, but who’s counting?

Set this up as an invitation to create. No instructions are really necessary and your child will quickly figure out ways to trace the cookie cutters onto the paper.

My 3 year old traced inside and outside of the cutters and enjoyed adding faces to the various flowers and gingerbread men that were eventually drawn onto the paper.

This occupied her for almost 10 minutes. Not eons of time, but I was able to drink that cup of coffee…and wash some dishes.

Paper Crowns

Paper Crown

I love paper crowns for celebrations – so fun, so easy, and so festive!  We created this one with some leftover scrapbooking materials, but the beauty of this project is that you can make it as simple (or as fancy!) as you like.  And if you’re not a scrapbooker and don’t feel like making an extra trip to the craft store, I bet you can pull this together with stuff you have around the house.

What you’ll need

Cardstock or other heavy-weight paper (construction paper works too)
Scissors
Tape
Stickers (or other festive embellishments) (Is your kid also a sticker-hoarder? do you have a bag / box / pile of random stickers stashed away someplace like I do? Now’s a great time to pull them out and use them up!)

Getting Started

Since we used fancy paper for this crown, I decided on a simple zig-zag pattern that would be easy for my son to cut. He was delighted with the wavy scissors, and very carefully cut (mostly) along the lines.  (Of course, fancy scissors are a bonus; regular scissors work just fine!)

We cut zig-zags out of both sides of the paper, then taped them together to form a strip long enough for a crown.

Finishing Touches

Then, time to decorate! We’re very excited about numbers in our house right now, so I provided a set of number stickers and he went to town.

And there you go, a festive crown perfect for a birthday, or to celebrate a lost tooth, for your knight- or princess-in training, or just because!

DIY Shield & Coat of Arms

Did you know that during Medieval times, knights used special designs and pictures on their shields — called a coat of arms — to identify themselves?  The reason is because one man in armor looked a lot like another, so the coat of arms he carried was used to identify a knight in battle.  During that time, few people could read and write, so pictures were very important.  A coat of arms was like a label or a sign, so you could know instantly who was coming toward you, and, as my kids said, “know whose team he was on.”

This fun & easy DIY project will allow your kids to come up with a design for their own “team.”  All you need is:

  • Cardboard cut in the shape of a shield
  • Aluminum foil
  • Tape – to secure the aluminum foil
  • Colored tape (we used some special glittery tape we found) – for decorating
  • Markers (we used Sharpies, which are awesome on aluminum foil, but obviously use your own judgment about that.  My 4- and 6-year-olds are okay, but the 2-year old is quarantined from them.)
  • Packing tape or duct tape – to make the handle

Before you get started, cover the shield with aluminum foil and secure on the back with tape.

Then, it’s pretty much up to your knights-in-waiting to design their coats of arms.  Lady S was happy to create designs using the super-cool glitter tape (you can get similar at any craft store.)

And then colored in the “fields” of the shield with the Sharpies and added some special designs.

We also talked about how sometimes knights had images on their shields – to represent things like strength, or speed or courage.  Sir H decided a lion was appropriate for his coat of arms.  He drew it on a piece of paper, which we then taped to the shield.

He decided the colorful tape was a good addition, too, so created a border for his shield with that.  You could use duct tape (have you seen the crazy fun duct tape you can get at craft stores these days??) or colored masking tape, too.

As the finale, we added a handle to the back.  We took a length of packing tape (duct tape would have been better, but this was what we had) and folded it in half cross-wise (ie., the adhesive part onto itself), to form the handle.  Then I taped each end to the shield.

Now my knights are ready for any adventure!

 

 

 

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Post-it Note Walk

If your kids are anything like mine, they adore being outside. And being a creative soul, I’m always searching for ways to merge our creative journey with spending time outdoors. So on a recent trip to the park, we played a little post-it art game…with mixed results.

The Post-it Note Game

I tucked the kids in the stroller and handed my older daughter a stack of post-it notes and a marker. I then gave her a challenge (and given her independent nature, was moderately shocked that she complied) to draw whatever she imagined and we would attach it to public poles/benches/newspaper stands along the walk.

The idea would be to inspire our neighbors to look more closely at the parts of their world that are less than interesting.

She thought this was a lot of fun and got right to work.

Sticking the Post-it Notes

As she finished a drawing, she’d hop out of the stroller and find something to stick it to. The post-its weren’t tacky enough to adhere on their own, so I brought along some heavy-duty sticky glue dots to help us out. Sticky tape or a stapler could also work for certain surfaces.

Before we reached the park, we placed about seven post-its, and we promised to retrace our steps on the way home to see how our public art gallery was doing.

And this is where the project took a surprising turn…

One of the post-its was gone! My daughter was distraught, and it soon became clear that she imagined they’d hold their little piece of public real estate forever. She wanted to know who took the note and why. I explained that it could have flown away or maybe someone liked the piece so much that they wanted it for their own.

But none of this consoled her so we carefully counted and collected all of our yellow treasures and re-posted them in the security of our own home.

Learning Lessons

A project like this raises questions about littering versus beautifying. We talked about the “lost cat” posters that we came across and wondered if the owner would ever come back to collect the signs. So collecting our bits and pieces made us feel better about keeping our neighborhood clean.

I love coming across little pieces of inspiration like this, and I have a feeling that we’ll make art like this again as my kids get older (and maybe less attached to their work). Not only could this be a good way to explore ephemeral art, public art, and interactive art, but it also shows children that art can exist beyond the confines of a classroom, art table, or museum.

How do you think your kids would feel about making and posting public post-it art?

Q-tip Bow and Arrows

I was so inspired by this Tiny Bow & Arrow set that I saw on the Brooding Hen and thought it would be a perfect activity to try out for Medieval Month! Not to mention my 6-year-old is fascinated with bows and arrows — and a popsicle / q-tip combo seemed like the perfect starter set for him!

In all honesty, much of the actual assembly of the bow is largely a grown-up task (that is, if you have average fine-motor skilled 6-and-unders).  But the good news is that it goes quickly (once your popsicle sticks are pliable – plan ahead!), and then your little knights can be let loose for target practice.

All you need is:

  • A few popsicle sticks (might as well do several while you’re at it)
  • Dental floss
  • Cotton swabs
  • Sharp knife or scissors (for the grown-up – to notch the stick and cut one end off the cotton swab)

Start by cutting two notches into your popsicle sticks on each end.  You’ll want them close to the end of the stick, and fairly deep (I ended up going back and cutting them a little deeper than I have in this photo.)

Then, pop your sticks in a glass of water to soften (so you can bend them into the bows.)  You’ll need at least an hour for this step — and a little longer didn’t seem to hurt it.

When you’re ready to “bend your bow”, start by wrapping the dental floss around one end.  I just wrapped it around 3-4 times, securing it in the notch.  Then, holding the stick in one hand, stretch the dental floss to the notch on the other end — but take care to keep the floss on the same side.  Note: the popsicle stick is not especially “bendy”, so you will need to bend it to shape with one hand, as you stretch the floss tightly across.

Then just wrap the floss around the other end of the stick, again pulling it taut and tightly into the notch.  I just wrapped it a few times again, and then cut it off.

 

Your bow is ready to go!  Your knights can decorate it with markers if they’d like to personalize them (we didn’t have the patience.)

Remember to snip the ends off your cotton swabs (you could also put your kids to work on this, using a set of nail clippers.)

It takes a bit of practice to get the motion down for shooting this teeny bow and arrow, but once you do, it’s great fun!  We found we could shoot those little arrows 10 feet or more!  You could set up targets (using bowls or waste baskets to shoot into, or make bulls-eyes with cardboard & paper) for extra fun.