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.

 

Marshmallow Launcher

The benefit to being an Aunt is you can show up with sugary treats and the supplies to make a “weapon,” without any questioning of your parenting technique.  Fortunately the ammunition for this launcher is edible and soft, ensuring serious harm was unlikely.  When I spotted this Marshmallow Launcher on the Real Simple website, I knew my niece and nephew would love to help test it out.

Image courtesy of Real Simple

 

The supplies you need are indeed simple: Balloons, scissors, cups (preferably paper), mini marshmallows and rubber bands (optional).

All I had to say was “marshmallow launcher”, and my nephew, niece and son were at the table. Would they come running as fast if I said “brussels sprout” launcher?

First they cut the bottom off the paper cup.


I tied the balloons for the younger kids, and the kids then cut the tops off of the balloons.


Stretch the balloon over the cup.


You can add a rubber band to for extra security.


Load the cup with a marshmallow and pull back to launch!


My nephew immediately decided if one marshmallow is fun to launch, a handful is even better.  He was disappointed in the explosion as the marshmallow just toppled over the rim of the cup.  He did clean up the mess, by consumption. The physics teacher of my previous career had to resist going into a lecture on Newton’s Second Law of Motion and Elastic potential energy.  The kids got the idea through experimentation.  More stretch, more boom.  More marshmallows, less boom.  More marshmallows?? Yes, please!


Two Ingredient Tuesday: Fabric + Scissors = Pouches for Treasures

My kids love to collect and keep “treasures.” We have a variety of little boxes and bins filled with pebbles, sequins, pinecones, and more.

Apparently, these hoarding skills are passed down from mom to kids. You might recall that I’d created a Gift Wrapping Kit from scraps of wrapping paper. Recently, I found a bunch of remnant fabric I’d saved from old Halloween costumes, curtains, and more. I thought, what better way to take advantage of these scraps than to enable more fun collecting and storing treasures! They’d be perfect for making small pouches.

Gathering the Pouch Ingredients

So, my daughter and I gathered the fabric, scissors, and some ribbon (optional) and headed to the park for some crafting fun with friends.

Getting Started

The first step is to cut out a large circle. I quickly realized that cutting a circle is really tough to do without some guidance. I had a hard time with it. So, you can only imagine how tough it was for a group of 5 year olds. While we made out okay (you don’t need a perfect circle to make a pouch), I’d recommend that you bring a marker to draw a decent sized circle before cutting.

Forming the Pouch

Then, we cut little slits every 1-1.5 inches or so around the circle. The tricky thing here is to cut close to the edge, but be careful not to cut all the way through to the edge. This might require some grownup assistance. The marker might come in handy here too! Also, we found that keeping the slits pretty close to each other is a good idea for keeping the pouch closed well.

Finishing Touches

To create your drawstring, you can either cut a long, thin piece of fabric or use ribbon. We had some ribbon on hand to thread through the slits. This is great weaving and fine-motor practice. At the end, we simply tied the two loose ends together.

With the cinching of the ribbon, the pouch is complete! The girls were then off to find nature treasures to tuck into their handmade pouches.

Rainbow Flowers for Mother’s Day

Rainbow Flowers

Rainbow Flowers

I hope I’m not the only one out there who winds up responsible for planning her own mother’s day gifts every year! I was pondering ideas for a project that would be both mom- and kid-friendly when I saw white carnations at the grocery store. They reminded me of how much I used to love dyeing flowers with food coloring when I was kid – there’s just something so magical about watching the color travel up through the stem all the way to the tips of the petals. Just for fun, I thought I’d add a little color-mixing exploration and create a rainbow!

Rainbow Flowers

All you need for this project is flowers and food coloring. Carnations are a good choice because they’re inexpensive, long-lasting, and they suck up the color quickly. To prep the flowers, I cut off the stems ends so they’d drink the water faster, then placed them in cups of water. I just happened to have the right number of flowers to do all the colors of the rainbow and have one left over to leave white, so we could compare the difference.

Rainbow Flowers

I used paste food coloring because it was what I had on hand, but the liquid kind works just as well. The only trick with the food coloring is that it helps to use a lot! I mean, really a lot – the water should be dyed a nice, deep color.

Rainbow Flowers

The mixing step turned out to be a lot of fun by itself. My son very seriously and carefully mixed each color until we had this lovely water rainbow in our window.

Rainbow Flowers

And then we came back just hours later to find that our flowers were already starting to turn colors! We kept checking on our flowers throughout the day and watched the color deepen and spread. Some flowers turned out more vibrant than others, and it was really interesting to watch the patterns the colors make as they travel through the flower petals.

Rainbow Flowers

We left them overnight, and in the morning we had a lovely pastel rainbow.

Rainbow Flowers

Add a little bit of ribbon and sweet little boy, and voila! Happy mother’s day!

Rainbow Flowers for Mama

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Jar + Yarn = Vase

DIY flower vases

DIY flower vases

Mother’s Day is coming up, and in our house, that means flowers! Since I had a big stash of empty jelly jars just waiting for a craft, I thought of these cute DIY vases — all you need are some jars and some yarn. Just wrap the yarn around, cross it to hold in place, and keep wrapping. When you get to the end of the yarn, just tuck the loose end under to hold it in place.

DIY flower vases

If you’re starting with clean jars, there’s no prep work at all. If you’re recycling and need to remove the label, learn from my mistake and get that done before you have three kids demanding to know when they could start making vases. (The smarter way to do it would be to soak the label with vegetable oil, let it sit for an hour or so, then scrub it off.)

DIY flower vases

Older kids might want to experiment with layering different colors of yarn, or try wrapping it in neat rows. But I think even the overlapping wrapping looks really fun, and it’s easy enough that even little kids can participate.

DIY flower vases

We had such a good time creating this set, we decided to create a second set to give as gifts!

What are your favorite kids’ crafts for Mother’s Day? Tell us in the comments!

Kiwi Crate Picks: 5 Delightful and Simple Mother’s Day Gifts (That Kids Can Make)

It’s time to celebrate Mother’s Day – the holiday which is devoted to the most important women we know: Our moms. There are a million ways to say thank you, but here are a few of our kid-friendly and DIY favorites.

A big thank you to all the bloggers and pinners who inspired these gift ideas!

Just a note: Some of these projects may require some parental help. (*hint: dads to the rescue!)

1. Fingerprint Necklace

This pretty necklace surely gets two thumbs up for ease and for cleverness. We love how beautiful the single fingerprint looks on the clay pendant – and what mom wouldn’t want to wear a piece of their child so close to her heart? (via Crafty Crow)

2. Fingerprint Heart Painting

OK. It looks like we have a thing for fingerprints. But this painting is too cute not to share. It’s also a great way to get all the family members (or at least their thumbs) involved in a collective gift for mom. Frame it for easy display at work or home. (via Busy Kids = Happy Mom)

3. Photo Coasters

Mod Podge is one of the most beloved materials in our craft closet – and an instrumental part of making these adorable DIY photo coasters. Use old pictures or any other scraps of paper to make fun personalized coasters for mom. Not only are they mini pieces of art, but they’ll help keep the household free from watermarks. (via Mine for the Making)

4. Balloon Bouquets

Love this idea! There’s just something so happy-making about balloons, right? Which is why this balloon bouquet will definitely give your mom a definite high. If you don’t want to use helium, balloon blowing can be a fun activity for older kids (just tape the balloons to a wall). Either cut out letters to attach to the balloons (as seen in the photo) or write a special message on the outside of them, using a permanent marker. You can also hide little treasures in the balloons too. (via Martha Stewart and Free Pretty Things for You)

5. Tissue Paper Flowers

It’s true: No Mother’s Day is complete without flowers. However, we prefer this twist on the traditional bouquet of flowers, which, let’s face it, wilt by weeks’ end. These tissue paper bouquets are so simple that your kids can make them. Put a bunch of these flowers in a mason jar and wrap with a ribbon — and Voilà! It’s a lovely floral arrangement that lasts forever. (via Kiwi Crate, Sew Sweet Stiches, and Dana Made It)

For more DIY kid-friendly gift ideas, please check out our Pinterest Board here.

Teacher Appreciation Round-up

Childrens Art Vase

Did you know teacher appreciation week is next week (the first full week of May)?  Also, incredibly enough, it’s not too early to start thinking about how to thank your teachers as the school year draws to a close.  For either occasion, we wanted to share some fun gifts kids can make to say thank you!

Childrens Art Vase
(via Aunt Peaches)

We thought this Children’s Art Vase from Aunt Peaches was just adorable, and I bet our kids’ teachers would too.  It’s multi-functional, too; most classrooms can always use more organizing cups for pencils (or crayons, or scissors, or glue dots…). For kids learning to write, this would be especially sweet with a hand-written “thank you” for the teacher! This would also be a nice way to present a group gift card from the class, tucked into the flowers. (The kids could even fill with Tissue Paper Flowers.)

Garden Stones
(via Givers Log)

For a gift from the whole class, it’s nice to have all the children contribute their own personal touch. Painted garden stoneswith children’s names are a great way to dress up the gift of a beautiful plant.

Gift Card Holder
(via Skip To My Lou)

For gift cards, fancy it up with a pretty cardboard holder. The instructions call for using Mod Podge on cardboard, but if you have some pretty cardstock on hand you can simplify. Just cut the envelope shape out of cardstock and fold – embellishment optional!

Celery Rose Stamp
(via Maureen Cracknell)

Any teacher will tell you that the best gift is a sincere “thank you” from a student. This rose stamp (made from the root end of celery!) is simple enough for a preschooler to manage, but so pretty you’ll want to make a whole stack of cards. It’s a sweet gift with just a note, or could also be a nice way to present a gift card.

Spring Egg Cartons
(via Toddler Approved)

These egg carton flowers make surprisingly pretty cards. You can stop with the stamping step if you want a card that fits in an envelope, or glue on your egg carton flowers for a dimensional effect.

How are your children thanking their teachers? Share your ideas in the comments!