Origami Valentine Hearts

With two kids in school / preschool, we have been busy preparing for Valentine’s Day celebrations.  We don’t normally do any too fancy for school parties — I have mostly done the standard drugstore version of superhero / Star Wars valentines for the past few years.

But I saw these origami hearts on Pinterest recently, and thought they might be a wonderful choice for H to give to his kindergarten classmates.  The hearts are so cute, and function perfectly as bookmarks (perfect for those books we’re reading at bedtime these days but don’t get through in a single night).  And I was happy to find something that might not get thrown into the trashcan the next day!

This is a project that a 5- or 6-year-old can certainly partake in.  H and I folded together, each of us doing our own heart – so he could watch me as we went along.  He was so excited to see, at the end, when he turned his over to see the perfect heart that he had created.

We used scrapbooking paper that I picked up at Michael’s.  I first tried using cardstock weight, but it was too heavy; you’ll definitely want to just use regular printer-type weight paper.  And I did end up using a glue dot on the back (you can see in the last picture below) to keep the back together (you could certainly use tape or a gluestick instead.)  And if you’re gifting them to friends, you could write or print a short message on an address label and place it on the back.

What are your favorite Valentine crafts?

Clay Heart Valentine Pendants

We were very excited to be featured on Red Tricycle‘s Sweet DIY Valentine’s Crafts for Kids!  We wrote about these Clay Heart Pendants, as well as some fun Valentine’s Felt Mice, which are totally adorable.

While we admit we usually focus more on process than end-product here at Kiwi Crate, an added bonus of both of these Valentine’s projects is that you do end up with a really cute product, which would be perfect for gifting to a school friend, sibling, grandparent or teacher.

Clay Heart Valentine’s Materials

  • Your favorite clay — air-dry or oven-dry.  We used Crayola Model Magic, which was fine and probably the easiest choice.  (One caveat: the hole through which we strung the ribbon was more fragile than I would have liked.  I might try salt dough or a polymer clay next time.)
  • Rolling pin (a small toy one will do, or even just an empty bottle)
  • Heart-shaped cookie cutter (or any shape)
  • Skewer or toothpick (to poke a hole)
  • Rubber stamps (large or small, in any shape you like – hearts, flowers, or any theme) or other items to press designs into the clay
  • A length of silk cord, ribbon or yarn

Getting Started

Start by rolling out your clay to your desired thickness — about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick should be good.

Then, cut out your pendant.  If you’re making for Valentine’s Day, obviously a heart is a great choice :), but you can certainly use any other shape you please.

Next, decorate your pendant by pressing your rubber stamps (or other items) into the clay.  Rubber stamps (clean or not – if they have ink residue on them, they just add some pretty color to the pendants) are great to use, but it’s also fun to use other small toys (LEGO figures, toy cars), coins, or objects from nature (tiny pine cones, pine needles, shells, flowers) to press designs into your clay.

Press a hole through the top of the pendant with the skewer or toothpick.  (I probably put our holes a little too close to the top of the heart (my daughter ended up pulling one of the cords straight through the top of the hole when she was “playing” with her necklace – aka, spinning it around the kitchen).  This was fixed by simply poking another hole about 1/4″ from the top.)

Let It Dry

Let the clay dry for 24 hours (if using air-dry clay), then thread the ribbon or cord through the hole.

My daughter got such a kick out of making these, and was thrilled to give them to her friends who came over for a playdate this weekend!

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Tissue Paper + Contact Paper = Valentine Heart

I can’t say I’ve ever been one to decorate for Valentine’s Day, but this year my son asked if we could. He’s such a love bug!

Kids can easily make colorful, textured window decorations by sticking tissue paper scraps onto contact paper. Ah, the simplicity of two ingredients…

Oh right, I forgot about the scissors.  OK, before I continue, can we all agree that scissors don’t count as an ingredient? Sure, we could rip paper with our bare hands. And in some instances that might work, but for this one, not so much.

Good. Now that we have the scissor thing settled…

If your kid is skilled with scissors, they can have at cutting up the tissue. I ended up jumping in too since my son was ready to move on after a few minutes. If you’re willing to do all the cutting, this is a great craft for toddlers.

We cut up a few sheets of tissue paper in reds, pinks and white. We kinda cut more than we actually needed. The large pile of paper scraps created a fun sensory play moment for my son, and he started throwing the pieces in the air like confetti, claiming we were having a Valentine party. Very cute, but to curb the mess I quickly got a piece of contact paper in front him!

While sticking the tissue paper to the contact paper, he was more into a complete coverage strategy rather than trying to make any particular pattern.

Last, we cut heart shapes and used a small piece of tape to attach them to the window (a tape circle pulls easily off the window). You could also call this a stained glass heart (An idea inspired by the colors Kiwi Crate).


The hearts appeared luminous and puffy. My son suggested we make some small hearts the same way as Valentine cards for his preschool. I’m thinking a construction paper border would be a nice touch.

What are you making for Valentine’s Day with your love bug?

Jami blogs at Nogginmama.com


Paper Bag Valentine Satchel

Our friend and blogging inspiration, Rachelle from TinkerLab, has organized a Creative Challenge on Paper Bags, and we were so excited to participate!  The rules of the game are simple: projects should be child-directed, but grown-ups are welcome to join in the fun if the mood strikes. And at least one paper bag (of whatever variety) has to be used. You can follow the Paper Bag Pinboard on Pinterest to see all the great ideas that have emerged! And if you have a paper bag project to share, you can join the fun! See details on how to do so at the bottom of this post…

We’ve no shortage of paper bags around here, but I must admit, I was stumped for awhile on what to do with them.  But with Valentine’s Day coming up, my daughter S and I thought it would be fun to make a purse (or “a satchel”, which is what I called it for my son H), to transport Valentine cards to school for her friends.

We started by cutting the bottom off the bag so it would lay flat.  I left it folded over, and drew a large heart on half of the bag, ending at the fold on the bottom.  I placed dots on the heart so S would know where to punch the holes.

S cut the heart out by following the lines I’d drawn.

Then we punched the holes.  To be honest, it was hard for a 4-year-old’s hands to manage.  She recruited her big brother to help out.

Then S chose a festive ribbon we had to lace up her purse.  She started at the top, leaving about 10″ of ribbon free at the end.

Lacing (or “sewing” as she calls it) is great fun for S, and such good practice for fine motor skills!

After she finished lacing up her purse, S wanted to decorate the brown paper.  I got out some Valentine stamps I’d picked up at Michael’s (hello, $1 sale bin!), and she went to town.

After she’d finished with the stamps, S turned the heart over to decorate with her markers.  You could do all kinds of things with that wonderful brown paper canvas….

S was so pleased with her creation, and is looking forward to putting her Valentine’s Satchel to good use!

Pinterest Contest

We’re excited to introduce a fun new way to interact with this challenge through a Pinterest Contest. Simply share a link to your project and we’ll upload it onto a Pinterest Board for everyone to see. The project with the most repins by February 29, 2012 at 9 pm PST will win a $100 VISA gift card and 3-month subscription to Kiwi Crate (Kiwi Crate subscription is only open to U.S. residents).


  1. Add your project to the Link Party. We’ll ‘Pin” the image that you upload into the Link Party and share the description that you add to your link.
  2. If you have another way that you’d like us to describe the pin, please leave the description in the comment section.
  3. If you don’t have a blog, you can still enter! Simply upload your project onto an online photo storage site like Flickr or Picasa, and share your photo’s URL in the link party.


  1. Contest ends February 29, 2012 at 9 pm PST
  2. The pin with the most repins will be selected as the winner
  3. Kiwi Crate subscription is open to U.S. residents only. $100 VISA gift card is open to all entrees.
  4. Participants are welcome to share their pin widely to encourage repinning
  5. Tinkerlab and Kiwi Crate reserve the right to edit descriptions or select post images at our discretion.
  6. You do not need to have a Pinterest account to join
  7. One entry per person, please

Here’s the list of the other great bloggers participating in the Challenge:

Paint Cut Paste, Imagination SoupHands On: As We Grow, Child Central Station, Putti Prapancha, Irresistible Ideas for Play-Based LearningTeach Preschool, The Chocolate Muffin Tree, Nurture Store, Small Types,Make Do & FriendThe Imagination Tree, Toddler Approved, Red Ted Art, Kids in the Studio, Rainy Day Mum, Glittering Muffins, Sense of Wonder, Mom To 2 Posh Lil Divas, Come Together Kids, My Creative Family, Kitchen Counter Chronicles, A Mom With A Lesson Plan, Angelique Felix, The Golden Gleam, Clarion Wren, Living at the Whitehead’s Zoo, Let Kids Create, De tout et de rien, PlayDrMomCreativity My PassionTinkerlab

Freestyle Cardboard Painting Turned Castle (Saves the Day)

OK, I’ve got a crying, hungry baby in one arm and an antsy preschooler pulling on the other. As a quick fix, I grab a cardboard box from the garage, a handful of paint jars and paint brushes. I put it all outside on the deck, setting my almost 5 year-old son loose, unsupervised. I mention as I’m walking back inside that he has enough paint brushes so he can keep his colors separate if he wants. Ha!
With a now full and happy baby in a carrier and a camera in my hand, I check in on H’s creative process. The paint jars are almost empty, and paint is on just about everything  – except the paintbrushes.
H smears paint all over his hands and the cardboard. It’s a full body experience. He’s having a blast, and so I leave him to it a bit longer.
When I come back again, the paint is spent and the cardboard is almost fully coated. H poses next to his artwork, looking like a renegade graffiti “arteest”. His paint-covered hands found their way onto the surrounding wall. Thank you washable paints!

We ponder what to make with his colorful cardboard. Originally, I was taking cues from a Pinterest pin on cardboard abstract art, thinking we’d do something similar as a way to play with shapes. But H says he wants a castle. Really? A castle?

Voilà! Obviously, I’ve never made a castle before, and I’m keeping it simple. But even so it’s a hit for imaginative play so far, and keeps my son busy for the rest of the afternoon. Thank you cardboard.

How has good ‘ol cardboard kept your tykes busy and productive lately?

Jami blogs at Nogginmama.com

Valentine Garland with Kids

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays because it celebrates love, which is something that all of us can get behind. And visually, it’s a burst of cheery color that pulls me from mid-winter gloom (not that there’s too much of that right now in sunny California, but we do have our days).

There are lots of ideas out there for Valentine garland’s but what’s especially nice about this one is that it’s kid-friendly. Not only can you make it with the help of little people, but they’ll work on fine motor skills and contribute toward beautifying your home along the way. Win-win!

Getting Started

To get started, we measured and cut a length of baker’s twine to fit the space above the kids’ art table, adding an extra 10″ on each side for tying it off. This part can be trimmed later if you’d like. I then cut a handful of red and white hearts (choose at least two different colors). The hearts eventually overlap, so cut a few of each color in two different sizes.

Gluing the Hearts

My 3.5 year old watched me glue the first heart to the twine, and then we worked together to attach the rest. She asked me to glue, I helped place the twine, and then she attached the top heart.

They were a little goopy at first, but dried well and add a festive holiday touch to our space.

For more Valentine ideas, check out our All-in-one-Valentine-Envelope and Deconstructed Valentines.

What do your kids like about Valentine’s Day? Are you decorating for the holiday?

Rachelle blogs at Tinkerlab.

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Balloons + Bouncy Balls

We recently hosted a birthday party for our six-year old son.  It was a lower key theme than some years past (which featured Pirates, Superheroes) – he just wanted the biggest bouncy castle we could find.  So we decided to just go with the theme of BOUNCE, and for the favors we collected a bunch of balls from the party store.
For something a little different than the standard bouncy balls and Nerf footballs, we decided to add in these fun balls made from a small bouncy ball & balloon.  They bounce around in a crazy, unexpected way, and were a big hit with the kids.
All you need are some balloons (I used 9” ones) and bouncy balls.

It was slightly tricky to figure out how to get the balls inside.  We got a good tip from a friend to stretch out the mouth and neck of the balloon and then basically turn the balloon inside out over the ball. You end up the with balloon inside out, but it doesn’t really matter.

Then just inflate!  They bounce a little better if you keep them smaller.  It didn’t take long to inflate a couple dozen, and it was great fun to have a basket of them to greet the kids as they arrived at the party.  They were intrigued by the basket of funny balloons and got a huge kick out of watching them bounce around!

What are your favorite crafty party favors?

Watercolor Resist Paintings: Under the Sea

Jami blogs at nogginmama.com
Inevitably, the afternoon lull arrives. It usually comes around the time my son would nap when he was younger. But since “big boys” clearly can’t take naps (even if they’re rubbing their eyes and getting grumpy), it’s a good time to do something peaceful together. I also like to have a few tricks up my sleeves to keep things interesting.

This time, I’ve prepared a watercolor surprise for H. The night before, I drew sea creatures directly onto contact paper, cut them out, and stuck them each onto a piece of thick watercolor paper.

As the lull approaches, I’m ready to head it off with our sea creature resist art project. My son sits down and studies the faint outline of a seahorse on paper. Immediately curious, he’s forgotten all about the TV he was asking to watch only moments ago.

We slip on his art shirt, and he quickly paints directly on the contact paper seahorse. I can see him puzzling over why the paint isn’t really sticking. He picks different colors, trying again to stain the seahorse. Eventually, he focuses on saturating the paper all around and out to the edges, though still comes back to the seahorse, just to check.

Now he’s done and ready to see what’s next. Once the paint has mostly dried, we slowly peel off the contact paper. We take care not to pull up the paper underneath.

Surprise! The seahorse pops out of the watery colored background exactly as I’d hoped!

H is wowed by my magic trick and wants to paint more. Luckily I got a little carried away the night before drawing sea creatures. We paint a fish, and H surprises me by correctly pegging it as an angelfish.

We create an octopus surrounded by the colors of the rainbow.

Fish swim and jellies float in a dark and scary ocean. H is drawn to black, saying the fish are entering a cave.

A hammerhead shark cuts through the sea water like a torpedo.

I can’t wait to frame and hang them in my son’s room. This was such a cool way to explore the shapes of sea creatures.

I’m thinking watercolor resist paintings could make great homemade birthday gifts too. Or, this could be a magical way to learn the alphabet or numbers by having your child reveal the letters of their name when they paint, or the numbers 1-10. Oh, the possibilities!

Two Ingredient Tuesday: Crayons & Watercolor

Who can resist wax resist? With just crayons and watercolors, you can explore color mixing, find hidden surprises, and learn about wax resisting water.

My son drew grudgingly with that frustrating white crayon that never produces results, but I promised him this time they would.

To his delight, as we started painting over it with watercolors, the white drawing he’d made began to show through. He declared this ocean scene “Hawaii!” You can also use this method to create and reveal secret messages.

We tried various colors to see how they looked with different watercolors. It was an armchair trip to MOMA!

Which materials do you enjoy mixing to produce unexpected results?

Creating Gnome Toys

Guest post from Jen at paintcutpaste.com

My almost-5-year-old daughter is very excited about the idea of making her own toys. Most recently she has enjoyed creating and playing with wooden and felt gnome characters.

This is a manageable and esteem-building project for a child who is learning to sew. While it requires adult involvement or supervision, depending on the age of the child, many kids 5 years or older will be able to execute most of this project on their own.

Gnome Toy Materials

  • Felt (wool or synthetic)
  • Embroidery thread
  • Embroidery needle or darning needle
  • Unfinished wooden peg dolls (You can find these at art supply stores and even on Amazon.com)
  • Non-toxic watercolor paint
  • Beeswax

Getting Started

My daughter began by painting the wooden peg bodies with watercolor paints.

Once the paint was dry, she sealed so that the paint would not easily rub off, and to give the colored wood a nice glow. We used a homemade wood crème created by melting beeswax, olive oil, and tea tree or lavender oil (for naturally antibacterial properties and yummy scent) in a double boiler. You could also seal the paint with plain beeswax (or beeswax-based lip balm in a pinch) by rubbing it over the painted wood surface and wiping it off with a soft cotton rag.

Coloring the Gnome

Next my daughter carefully selected colors of felt and embroidery thread she wanted to use for gnome hats.

I folded the felt in half and cut a right triangle with a slightly convex, arched, hypotenuse side. (Yes, I had to look that up! Trig refresh: the hypotenuse is the diagonal across from the right angle.) This curved part becomes the edge of the hat the child stitches up. It gives the gnome hat color and interest in the front, with a cute arched back hat shape. My daughter concentrated intensely while sewing up the hat with embroidery thread and a darning needle using a very basic running stitch.

Once she completed the sewing, I tied a knot in the end of the thread for her, using this as a teaching opportunity for knots. (It’ll be a little while before she masters this part.) Then I hot glued the hat onto the wooden gnome’s head exactly where she wanted it to be.

More and More Gnomes!

She created a few gnomes at once and was so very proud to have created the toys with which she spent the rest of the afternoon playing. She even went on to make more gnomes as gifts for friends. What a confidence-building experience it is for a child to be able to play with something where they can say “I made this!”