Archive for the ‘Art Projects’ Category

Puppet Show

November 28, 2009
Our Thanksgiving craft evolved into the creation of a full-blown puppet show.  The kids stuck wooden skewers into the cones and balls and created a cast of  “pixies” and “aliens” named with names like Rainbow, Star and Tippie.  Soon, they were making up stories and doing puppet shows.  I loved the creative storylines they came up with. Check out my last post for more details, but all you need are styrofoam balls and cones, pipe cleaners, markers, ribbons, sequins, buttons, pins, or anything you can find in your craft bin and around the house.  Skewers work well as handles, but your kids could use chopsticks or sticks from outside if you don’t have any.   Watch their imaginations run wild!

Saved by the Craft Bin

November 27, 2009

I thought I had a perfect project for the kids to work on after we polished off our turkey and stuffing.  In my refrigerator were four bags of cranberries and my mom was nice enough to bring over a boxful of styrofoam balls and cones, along with some red ribbon.  My idea was to have the kids cover the foam with cranberries to make holiday decorations that could be hung with ribbon or placed around the house.  They were going to be so pretty. 

If only I hadn’t forgotten to buy pins.  I only had a tiny box of push pins that wouldn’t be enough for even one child’s project.

I had seven kids sitting around the table with their cones looking at me expectantly.  “I’ll be right back!” I blurted, and ran to the basement to retrieve the rainy day craft bin filled with buttons,ribbon, sequins and everything else left over from crafting days gone by.  They oohed and ahhed as I open the treasure chest of crafting and immediately started to glue, bend, and poke things onto their styrofoam.  It was a huge success. 

You will need: styrofoam forms, glue, your junk bin and kids looking for something to do.  Have fun!

Thanksgiving Pine Cone Turkeys

November 16, 2009

I’m reposting this fun Thanksgiving craft blog from last year.  Coming soon…we’ll do a project with a picture of mom or dad your child can carry to help ease separation anxiety. 


My mother-in-law suggested making pine cone turkeys, so I thought we’d give it a shot.  If you don’t have pine cones lying around the house, take your kids on a walk to find some, or just buy some.  I must admit that I had to buy some at Michael’s since it was wet outside and I wanted to do the project that day. They only had cinnamon scent-drenched cones, which are a little strong, but the kids didn’t mind. 

You will need pine cones, feathers, pipe cleaners and google eyes.  I bought some normal pipe cleaners and some sort of bumpy-looking ones that we cut up to use as turkey heads.  You could also just twist or bend the end of a normal pipe cleaner to form a head.  It doesn’t have to look perfect, you just need enough surface area to glue eyes on your turkey’s head. 





After we cut the pipe cleaner “head”, we twisted part of a normal pipe cleaner around it to affix it to the pine cone by wrapping it completely around it.   We made legs and feet from pipe cleaners too.  They don’t support the weight of the pine cone very well, but look cute.  Then, the kids just stuck feathers into the pine cones to make turkey tails.  You can have your children use glue, if you want the feathers to stay  put, by dabbing a little glue on the end of the feathers before you poke them into the pine cone.  It works pretty well just to stick them in too. 

Finally, glue some eyes on.  I bought google eyes that have adhesive already on them- what a great invention!


As usual, the project evolved into making crazy pipe cleaner/feather creatures once the turkeys were complete.  The kids were busy for an hour, needed very little help and the turkeys are very cute.  Good times.

Backpack Charms, Purses and Tooth Fairy Pockets

September 2, 2009


My kids have an amazing ability to shred the knees of blue jeans beyond repair.  I’ve saved a few old pairs of  jeans with the intention of using them to make patches some day.  HA.

Today I wanted the kids to make backpack charms using something we already had around the house and I stumbled on the old, trashed jeans in my laundry room.  We proceeded to dismantle them with scissors and came up with lots of great ideas.


First, we made backpack charms by cutting out shapes from the denim.  We mostly cut out circles and hearts.  The kids decorated some of them with fabric markers.  One pair of my daughter’s jeans had cute beading, which we cut around to make round charms.  Then,  we cut a little slit at the top of the charms with scissors and tied them with some ribbon to hang them from the backpacks.  For my son’s charm, I used twine instead of ribbon.  For my three-year old, I used a pipe cleaner, which she strung beads on above the charm.

Older kids could make little pillow charms by sewing two pieces of denim together and stuffing them.  It would be cute to embroider them or put bright stitching on the edges.


We also made little pom pom charms by cutting long, narrow strips of denim, putting them together lengthwise and tying them with another strip of denim.  I put the ribbon or twine under the denim strip I tied them with to make it easier to attach the tie.   They’re cute.  You can see one on the green backpack on the top of this post.


I cut the pockets out of the jeans and my daughter made a purse by cutting holes at the top and pulling a ribbon through.  My son decorated his big pocket for his rock collection.  He came up with the ingenious idea to cut out the tiny pocket on the front of the jeans to use as a “tooth fairy pocket” to put under his pillows instead of envelopes or plastic baggies. 


Who knew ratty, old  jeans could provide hours of entertainment?

Bodacious Abodes

July 23, 2009


When my daughter chose a “Littlest Pet Shop” theme for her birthday party, I was at a loss.  Would we play “pin the gigantic eyeballs on the pet?”  Luckily, she had something in mind.  She wanted to give every child at the party one of the small plastic pets to adopt and then she wanted to make houses for them. 

Ten-packs of the animals were available for around $2.50 each, but I puzzled over what to use to make the houses.  I didn’t have fifteen shoe boxes and I wasn’t about to go to a craft store and shell out big bucks. Instead,  I wandered the isles of Target, looking for inspiration.  The resulting project was inexpensive, creative, and the kids loved it.  Afterwards, the girls set up a town with the houses they made and played with their new pets.  (Decorate-your-own cupcakes and a nail-painting station also helped make the party a success!)


All you need to make the houses are:  sturdy paper or cardboard plates, large paper cups (or small, depending on who the houses are for),  and any decorating materials you can dig up or find in your junk bin inclulding: sequins, pipe cleaners, wrapping paper, egg crates, cocktail umbrellas, playdough, buttons, bottle caps, pasta, shells, aluminum foil………………..whatever you can find. 

Help them or let them cut a door in the cup.  (Lots of kids at the party left the doors attached on top and bent them up to make a “porch.”)  Then, have them cut a circle of colorful paper or wrapping paper and glue it on the bottom of their plate.  Now, they can decorate their house.  It works best if they glue the house onto the plate after it’s fully decorated.  Some kids used play dough to make the house stay in place, but craft glue worked pretty well too.  Finally, they can decorate the “yard” and furnish the house.  Your child might enjoy creating  a whole zoo of  “habitats” for plastic animals, or a Polly Pocket campsite using the cups as tents. 


Once again, you may be tempted to make one yourself.  Finding your inner child is one of the many great things about being a parents.

Spicy Layered Bottles

June 1, 2009


We go through a lot of olive oil at our house.  It kills me to throw the pretty glass bottles into the recycling, so I decided to save a few of them for this fun, pretty project inspired by a similar method I’ve seen used to make trays and bowls in Provence.  It would be a great craft for a birthday party or just for a rainy day.  All my kids loved it, from my three year old daughter to my eight year old son.

First, you’ll need an empty glass bottle or bottles with the labels scraped off.  I had to use rubbing alcohol to help me get the glue off mine.  (Please try not to curse me as you do this part of the project!)  Then, scour your kitchen cabinets for small pasta, peppercorns, herbs, beans, popcorn, lentils,couscous, rice, wild rice, poppy seeds, or anything else that would make a pretty layer in your child’s bottle.   I wished I had some lavender to throw in.  Maybe you do.

You could also do the project with very small bottles and layer only spices and sugar! Another option would be to dye some pasta for your bottle (see my art project archives.)


Have your child pour or scoop one thing at a time into the bottle, creating layers.  We found that it worked best to put the finer grains and spices on the bottom of the bottle and use courser, larger grains, beans and pastas toward the top, so things don’t sift down.  It also looks pretty if you alternate dark and light layers, but let your child be the artist! 


Since you already have everything out, make one yourself!  Why should kids have all the fun?

Nature Walk Bracelets

May 8, 2009


Since a friend gave me this idea, I’ve been waiting for a beautiful spring day.  Yesterday delivered.  My daughters and I went for a nature walk, looking for signs of spring and assembling our discoveries on our wrists to create wearable art.   It’s simple to do and perfect for all ages.  I even had fun making my own bracelet! 

All you need is duct tape and your walking shoes.  Cut the tape so it fits comfortably around your child’s wrist and tape it around like a bracelet, sticky side out.  Take a walk in a park or down your own street and have your child find small leaves, flowers and other natural artifacts to adorn their wristlet. 


Almost everything we tried stuck to the tape pretty well.  We wore our bracelets all afternoon and several people mistook them for real jewelry.  My older daughter thought they looked even prettier as the leaves and flowers wilted and flattened out on the tape.  If your child wants to keep their bracelet, cut it off and leave it to dry.  (Eventually, they’ll forget about it and you can throw it away.)



Spring Dioramas (or What to do with Stale Peeps)

April 11, 2009


Some kids love Peeps and some kids hate them.  We almost always end up with stale marshmallow animals and leftover jellybeans.  Today, we did this project while I boiled eggs to dye, but it would be a great way to use some of that Easter basket grass, uneaten candy and marshmallow chicks.  You could also hit the after-Easter sales and get Peeps really “cheep.” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)  If your kids devour all of their candy, they could make animals for their dioramas using play dough, sculpting clay or even cotton balls.

All you need are: paper plates, glue, Easter basket grass or shredded paper, crayons, Peeps or something similar, jelly beans, egg cartons, twigs, play dough, rocks, craft bin stuff, and anything else you can think of.


Have your child color the plate green, or whatever color they choose.  My kids also drew ponds and rabbit holes on their plates.  Then, let them start gluing stuff on.  We used old play dough to make the twigs stand up like trees.  Cut-up egg cartons made great nests and “caves” for their animals.  My six year old daughter did sort of a minimalist scene, while my three year old crammed her diorama  (and her mouth) with everything she could get her hands on. 



April 5, 2009


I asked my daughter what she would call this project, and she instantly replied “a shakermadoodle.”  My three and six year old daughters had a terrific time making their shakermadoodles, which were inspired by an article I saw in a magazine.  (I think it was Parent and Child magazine.)  They are still adding trinkets to it as I type (singleton Polly Pocket shoes, broken Star Wars toys, and other tiny useless junk that they refuse to throw away.)

You will need a plastic bottle,  enough rice or popcorn to fill it, and any tiny non-precious objects your child can find to put in the bottle.  I saw this as an opportunity to clean out the junk drawer, but we also raided our craft bin for old buttons, ribbon and beads.  Small plastic animals, cars or dinosaurs would be great too, if they fit through the mouth of the bottle and your child doesn’t mind.  Small birthday party favors and beads from broken bracelets can finally find a new home!  


We used a Gatorade bottle from our recycling bin since it had a nice, wide mouth, but you can use any plastic bottle.  Just make sure it’s dry, so the grain doesn’t mold!  Fill the bottle most of the way to the top with rice or popcorn.  Then have your child add the objects they have collected, close the bottle and shake it up.  When they are finished adding things, you can fill the bottle with more rice or popcorn, but don’t fill it to the top or the grain won’t be able to move around freely.  Seal it with duct tape. 


Kids will remember what they put in the bottle and have a great time trying to locate them.  It’s a great toy to throw in the car for a fussy child emergency!  You could even add a few things that remind them of you, if you want to make it a toy to help with separation anxiety.

Mosaics and Collages- A Hundred Little Pieces

March 26, 2009


I love projects that my three year old enjoys as much as my older children.  After all, how often are you doing a project with children who are all the same age and have the same abilities?  That being said, for my youngest, these projects were all about playing with glue.  My older daughter took it to a different level and made representational pictures.  They both had a great time.

We did two projects, both requiring only paper and glue, but open to artistic interpretation.  In other words, get out the craft bin.

For the mosaics, we cut colorful paper into squares about an inch long on each side.  Next, I had my six year old draw a picture on construction paper and use the  squares to “color in” the picture.  My three year old loaded the paper with glue and randomly covered it with squares.  The results were colorful and pretty.  Your child can also make wonderful and creative mosaics by tearing construction paper into small pieces and piecing them together into a picture.  Interesting shapes can inspire great art!  Older children might love cutting tiny squares to make more detailed, complicated mosaics!


 The word for collage is french, and means, literally, gluing.  A collage is an artistic composition made of various materials (as paper, cloth, or wood) glued on a surface.  We just used paper, but buttons and ribbons would be great additions!  

We recycled the colorful paper towel strips from last week’s blog (litmus test) for our collage, cutting them into petal and leaf shapes.  My daughter decided to cut some into grass. Then, we glued them onto construction paper to make flowers and drew stems with magic markers.  As you can see, a little less glue might have been a good idea.  A friend of mine suggested using cupcake papers for flowers and having children draw stems and leaves! 


You supply the ingredients and your kids will happily supply the imagination!  Have fun!