make a game: bowling

written by tammy

oven bake clay bowling toy set

While the possibilities for oven bake clay are virtually endless, we always find ourselves going back to the same type of project with ours. We like to make toys for our toys! This oven bake clay bowling set is just one such example. Simply mold a set of bowling pins and a ball, bake, cool and then enjoy hours of entertainment watching the kids play with the “toys” they just made. Strike!

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paper doghouse

written by tammy

paper doghouse

When it’s time for some rainy-day after school fun, sit down at the table for another craft that doubles as an activity.

Using heavyweight paper, we outlined our designs in black ink then filled it in with watercolor.  Starting with a flat piece of paper we designed the yard, fully equipped with toys and a bowl.

paper yard

Draw a dog, paint, dry and then cut it out.  Use another small strip of paper to construct a stand to prop your puppy up, and glue it into place. When everything is dry have fun with the kids setting up house and playing pretend. We brought out the Playmobile toys for added fun and hours of entertainment.

paper dog

paper dog house2

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a house fit for a (tooth) fairy

written by tammy

A wonderfully warm weekend inspired a little backyard clean-up/mini-dance party.

One of my friends recently lost her tooth, and while washing away the winter debris we talking about the tooth fairy and how she would have really liked the awesome recycled fairy houses we made a couple years ago. So, instead of pining over past projects we got busy on a new one…

To begin, we spent some time scavenging the yard for sturdy sticks, dried leaves and debris we thought might make a nice home for our magical friends.

The structure of the house is a simple tee pee design. We collected sticks of almost-equal length and started tying them together with a piece of twine. Add a few more branches and continue to wrap until you form a nice framework.

Use dried leaves to create walls around the tee pee frame (areal view of the tee pee below).

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button bouquet

written by tammy

Visiting relatives, I spied this darling button bouquet and snapped a few shots. The project is simple and great for kids.

You will need:
- an assortment of buttons
- green floral tape
- green floral wire
- an empty jar or vase

Cut the wire to desired length, 8 to 10 inches. Fold the wire in half to find the middle and then open up again. String one or two buttons to the center of the wire, fold, twist the wire down to form a stem and lock the button flowers in place. Wrap the wire with green floral tape. Make bunches of them!!

Arrange your creations in an empty jar or small glass vase and share with someone you love.

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wonka party

written by tammy

Someone I know is having a birthday this week and it’s going to be a Wonka Party!!  In preparation for the big day her sister and I helped her make some decorations over the weekend. It was a cold winter day so we spent some time at the table creating hand drawn masterpieces.

We began with GIANT CANDY drawings. We outlined extra-large lollipops then filled them in with rainbow swirls, peace signs and hearts. We drew Wonka Bars and candy canes and candy hearts. Then, when we were all scribbled out, we got down to the serious business constructing the Wonka-Land sized candy you see below.

The project is simple: blow up a balloon, roll a piece of colored tissue paper around it, pinch the ends and tie with curling ribbon. And there you have it… huge party decorations!!

wonka sized candy

As it turns out, the super-cool aunt of another friend also threw a Wonka themed party recently, so here are a few collective ideas to make the magic happen:

1. The Wonka Hat: Create a giant sparkly green and purple hat like the one Willy Wonka wears in the movie. Starting with the birthday child, the idea is sort-of like Simon Says, whomever wears the hat gets to be the leader and the rest of the party goers have to follow along. If they are still up for it, the last kid standing gets to be the leader of the second round.

2. Candy-like Necklaces: Using colored loop cereal (aka. Fruit Loops or whatever natural/organic variety you prefer), let everyone make their own necklaces and bracelets.

3. Burping Contest: Now, if you (or the kids) have seen the original version of the movie, you know that Charlie and his Grandpa drink the fizzy floating drink and the only way to save themselves from being chopped up is to burp. Now I know it sounds disgusting… but it’s just the kind of thing KIDS LOVE!!  Give them some seltzer and let them rip their biggest (mostly fake) burps. Better yet, if you’re having a movie viewing at your party, do it during the scene!!

4. Cupcake Decorating: Instead of cake, get tons of different colored frosting and ewwwie gooey candies and have the kids go wild decorating their own oversized cupcakes.

There are loads of ridiculous ideas one can come up with once you’ve decided on a theme. Mostly… have fun!! And if you throw a candy-themed party like this one, maybe consider including a toothbrush in the goodie bag as a gesture of good will to the parents.

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silly people paper bag puppets

written by tammy

Take your standard paper bag puppet to the next level with a little collaging. These silly paper bag puppets are a combination of magazine clippings, feathers, googlie eyes, glitter, beads pipe cleaner and more…

silly paper bag puppet

We started by going through old magazines and looking for mix-and-match body parts. We cut out eyes, noses, feet, arms and outfits. Then, with a glue stick and the collage box, we got to work assembling funny faces and personalities for our puppets. As we worked, we gave the puppets names and hobbies and voices, and by the time we were done gluing everything together we were ready to put on a show.

The most difficult part of this project was waiting for the glue to dry before we could play!!!

silly paper bag puppets

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bottle fizzzz play fun

written by tammy

fizz ingredients

While fizzing up a bottle may seem elementary…  to a little kid, it’s a blast!!

Simple household ingredients can turn recyclable bottles into fizzing fun for young and old alike. The mixture is simple, baking soda plus vinegar equals a bubbly reaction. Anyone who made it through grade school science probably learned how to make a ‘volcano’ explode in a similar manner.

We realized we were out of baking soda but guess what… baking powder also did the trick.

pour the vinegar

Just fill an empty plastic of glass bottle with a few spoonfuls of powder, add vinegar and watch the kids faces light up with excitement. Yes, bringing joy to a child really is THAT EASY.

fizzy fun

PS.. let the kids scoop, let the kids pour, and let the kids help clean up! My four year old helper was just as capable as her big sister.

PPS..do I really have to say, DON’T DRINK.

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watercolor & crayons

written by tammy

watercolor crayonsSummer projects are the best because making a mess outdoors always seems like less of a mess!!

Make a splash this year with watercolors and crayons. This simple project is one of the few ways that kids can get a great picture with cheap watercolor paints. First, draw a picture on the back of a piece of paper (from the recycling bin) with bright bold crayons. Then paint all over it with washable watercolor paints. When the picture is dry, cut it out into fun shapes.

We had a group of kids in the yard for this project, so we went with an underwater theme. They really got into it!!

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table time (thebabysitter flies)

written by tammy

When I walk in to work, there is one question that I am frequently asked, “Can we do an art project… pleeeeease?”

On occasion, I’ll walk into a very specific request, like earlier in the week when I was asked to help make Palpatine’s house from Star Wars (still thinking that one through), sometimes I will have a project planned, but most of the time I just wing it.

pom pom family

It was already after dinner and bedtime was lingering in the air like sweet reprieve, when the begging began. “Pleeeeease can we do an art project… puh-leeeeeeeeeeeeease?”

Not wanting to disappoint my pint-sized admirers, I dug around in the art bin and brought out a few goods to play around with while we downed desert. What we came up with was simple, a pom-pom family, assembled quite quickly with colorful pom-poms, self adhesive stickers and magic marker faces.

pom pom family detail

We spent a few minutes fiddling around, giving them names and places in the the family lineup… mother, brother, sister, baby, neighbor… babysitter!! And then they went to bed.

Projects don’t always have to be complicated, messy or involved. Sometimes the point of a project is spending quality time together!

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pom-pom wall hanging

written by tammy

Finally, a beautiful and simple project for colorful pom-poms.

If you’ve crafted with kids, the one thing you know is that pom-poms never stay put. Glue them to paper, they pop off. Glue eyes on them, they pop off. Nine times out of ten pom-pom projects don’t last. And kids LOVE THEM!!

pom-pom full image

Scanning through the project bin, we realized there was a giant bag of brightly colored balls of fuzz, so we came up with a plan: needle, thread, pom-poms and pipe cleaners.

First, we twisted together 3 pipe cleaners to form one long line. Then, we found the perfect empty space, and twisted the ends of the pipe cleaner around a couple push pins to create the base (see image below).
pom-pom wall hanging detail

Next, we threaded pom-poms onto multi colored thread with a needle. We tied the bottom one on for security, but left the others loose, so they were easier to space out and rearrange later.

After each strand was complete, we tied it to the pipe cleaner at even intervals. Once we felt there were enough strands, we perfected the piece by sliding the pom-poms up and down the thread until they were well spaced… then we stood back to admire our new masterpiece!!

pom-pom wall hanging

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