Tag Archives: Children’s Crafts

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Make A Beaded Corn Ear for Thanksgiving

I made these beaded corn ears with my daughter Anna’s Brownie Girl Scout troop for Thanksgiving when the girls were young. As with many bead projects, everyone enjoyed sitting around a table and creating them. They also enjoyed the finished products, each one a slightly different interpretation of corn.

You’ll need:
• Approximately 30 pony beads (9 mm or larger) in varied
corn colors, like yellow, brown, orange, ivory, and black
• 1 yard raffia or twine
• Scissors
• Pin back and glue, if desired.

Cut raffia or twine in two 18″ pieces.

Slide both pieces through one bead, so that the bead is right in the middle of each piece, and separate the four strands.

String seven beads onto each strand. The original bead will now be at the bottom of the “ear” of corn.

Slide one bead through the four strands at the top to pull them together.

Tie remaining raffia or twine into a bow.

Glue a pin back to the husk, if desired.

This activity and many others appear in Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World. 

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

BabbaBox Provides Fun, Easy Activities to Engage Kids

In the course of speaking to people about my book, Fed Up with Frenzy, I’ve met many parents who want to do more fun things with their kids, but don’t know how to get started. Some don’t know the rules to playground and other games and some are intimidated by gardening or crafts. While my book contains hundreds of simple activities that families can do right away and either require no materials or basic items that they probably have around the house, some people would still like a little more help, particularly when it comes to crafting.

That’s where BabbaBox comes in. BabbaBox makes it convenient to start spending quality time with your kids because all the materials and content for a variety of activities are included in each box. Boxes can be purchased individually or by a monthly subscription that provides a different themed box each month.

These are some of the upcoming monthly themes: Royal Kingdom,
Rainforest, Recycling, Awesome Artist, and Gratitude.

Each BabbaBox includes four major components centered around the ways kids engage and learn: Create, Explore, Story Tell and Connect. Children create through two or more projects they make themselves.  A thought-provoking activity helps them explore.  Also included in the box are a book that presents the monthly theme, and links to digital downloads.

 

This is included in the Gratitude Box:

CREATE: Materials to make three projects, including a serving tray, thank you cards and a hot pad to gift.

EXPLORE: A disposable camera and photo album to make a gratitude journal.

STORY TELL: Giving Thanks, an illustrated book about a father-son nature walk.

CONNECT: Gratitude app downloads that helps kids bake their own cookies to virtually gift.

Click to watch a video preview of another wonderful box, the Awesome Artist box.

With the holidays coming, BabbaBox, at $24.99 a month, makes a reasonably priced gift that provides more long-lasting, quality play than a lot of other toys.

Would you like to win a free annual BabbaBox membership, $1500 in cash, or gift cards from Starbucks, Target, Diapers.com, or others?  Enter the BabbaCo Holiday Sweepstakes.

Have fun engaging with your family.

Photos: BabbaCo

This post is sponsored by BabbaCo. The opinions expressed are my own.

Slow Down for Summer: Fun and Simple Outdoor and Seasonal Activities

I had such a great time on the Slow Down for Summer webinar that I did with KaBOOM! and with the many participants. We shared tons of Slow Summer ideas that emphasized fun and ease over equipment and preparation. These include old-school playground games that are ripe for a comeback and can be played most anywhere, crafts to get you outside on a nice summer day, activities to help kids observe and enjoy their surroundings (be they nature or city), and garden and harvest projects to help kids appreciate the cycles of nature and of life. There was so much information and so many wonderful ideas, that we just skimmed the surface in the time allotted. I think it got everyone thinking about the possibilities for wonder and fun and how to create more of each in their everyday lives. I know I came away with some great ideas!

You can visit the webinar anytime to get an idea of some of the things we discussed. And, of course, many of them can be found on my blog, on in future blog posts, as well as in my upcoming book, Fed up With Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World.

Enjoy your Slow Summer!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

You might also like:

Make this Easy Tie Dye Project
Loom and Finger Weaving
11 Ways to Make Gardening Extra Fun for Kids
How to Save Nasturtium and Other Seeds
Blueberry Tuesday: Summer Triple Berry Crisp

Make Stuff Together: A Book to Inspire Family Crafting and a Giveaway

I was drawn to Bernadette Noll, co-author with Kathie Sever of Make Stuff Together, 24 Simple Projects to Create as a Family, the first time I saw her online. Now, it could be that she co-produces Slow Family Living, and here I am at Slow Family Online. Or that she was so friendly when we initially chatted about supporting each other’s efforts. It could also just be — and I suspect this is true for people who know her in person, too — that she exudes creativity and deep connection in everything she does, whether it’s sharing a tutorial on her Future Craft Collective blog, which she created with her Make Stuff Together co-author, the equally compelling Kathie Sever, or candidly revealing lessons learned along her and her family’s journey on her more personal blog, Just a Minute.

That same spirit I initially saw is evident on every page of Make Stuff Together. Bernadette and Kathie put much of themselves into this book, which is as much about creating a joyous and expressive family life as it is about creating objects — though of course the objects are delightful, too. It was on Future Craft Collective that I first read about “upcycling”, and many of the projects in Make Stuff Together feature clever re-use of such items as bird-seed bags, inner tubes, billboards, neoprene and fabric samples, as well as ideas about where to find such things. Fittingly, the authors note that their sense of community deepened during their search for materials — they met and befriended people they wouldn’t have otherwise, and their kids benefited from that experience.

Make Stuff Together also has wonderful information about working with kids on sewing and other crafting projects. I find these deeply helpful and comradely. Among the suggestions, which the authors expand upon:

Let go of expectations
Honor process over project
Decide what your boundaries are, in terms of space, chaos, and materials
It’s okay to help when necessary
Not everything is sacred — sometimes re-doing, un-doing, or starting over is just the right act
Slow down, connect, and enjoy!

Of course, the meat of the book is its projects, and each is delightful, with colorful, inspiring photography and easy-to-follow instructions and patterns. My family and I are especially drawn to the Family Flags and Appreciation Banners the Game Board and Caddy, and the Napkins and Napkin Rings, which are shown in vintage fabrics and buttons.

Many of the projects are as useful as they are lovely, such as the Water-Bottle Holster, Tool Roll and Nature Pouch, Armchair Caddy, and Birthday Crown. There are games to make, items to grace a table, and fun, quick projects that would make wonderful gifts or keepsakes.

Make Stuff Together makes me want to grab my daughter, dust off the sewing machine, dig out our scrap fabric and start creating together.

To celebrate Make Stuff Together I am giving away a copy to a lucky reader. To enter to win, simply leave a comment below by Midnight, U.S. Eastern, Friday, July 1 and tell me your favorite thing to craft or something you’d like to make this summer.

Photos courtesy of Bernadette Noll.

Build Your Dream Gingerbread House Part One

It’s the rare person whose imagination isn’t captured by the delight in creating a gingerbread house. There’s the architecture aspect, as the house’s pieces are baked and fitted — and icing-caulked — together in a variety of ways. There’s the decorating, which can be done with all manner of bright candies and objects and patterns that can recall familiar items — or not! And there’s the very satisfying, whimsical, one-of-a-kind structure that results.

Here are some tips and ideas from around the web for creating gingerbread and other candied houses.

From Wilton, comes this extremely informative and creative guide to decorating with icing and candies that covers everything from creating icicles to fireplaces to shutters to stained-glass windows.

Celebrating Christmas offers recipes, ideas, and enough blueprints for homes and landscaping (from ponds to flower-lined paths) to satisfy your inner general contractor.

Gingerbread House Heaven is another site with lots of ideas and beautiful pictures for inspiration. Think you can’t light a gingerbread house with real lights, for instance? Think again. This site shares how, in addition to offering instructions for melted-candy windows that will make the light glow realistically through. Roofing textures and various recipes for edible clay are among the many other things covered.

If you’re still seeking good gingerbread recipes and building how-tos, Simply Recipes has plenty.

Rather skip the headaches of building and just move in? Here are lots of turn-key house ideas, like using milk cartons or other bases, as a way of getting right to the decorating fun.

With small children, especially, the easiest and most pleasing thing to do is cover a short milk carton with frosting and let them stick on candies and other foods to decorate. The milk carton (or a village of them) can sit atop a piece of foil-covered cardboard that can also be frosted. And, of course, you can buy a pre-assembled gingerbread house and get right to the decorating.

Some decorating ideas include:

Gumdrops, cut in half – edging or decorations
Jelly beans – edging or decorations
M&Ms – ornaments or decorations
Fruit loops – decorations
Nilla wafers, crushed or whole – walkways
Ritz crackers – walkways, shingles or siding
Gummi bears – decorations
Chocolate soldiers – decorations
Chocolate kisses – bells or decorations
Chocolate nonpareils – shingles or decorations
Candy canes – gates or decorations
Licorice, small pieces – edging or bricks
Necco wafers, whole or broken – shingles, walkways, decorations
Pretzel sticks – fences and logs
Shredded wheat cereal – thatched roofs
Graham crackers, halved, and candy canes – sleds
Graham crackers – shingles
Upside down ice-cream cones, frosted and dipped in green sprinkles – trees
Brown sugar – dirt
Confectioners sugar – snow

And, for the modern home, orange-half barbecues and ice-cream cone satellite dishes!

Here’s hoping you enjoy a fun and creative holiday!

Photos: Public Domain, Wilton, Susan Sachs Lipman

Stay tuned for Part Two: Gingerbread Workshops

12 Days of Green Holiday Gifts: Eco-Dough

When my family first heard about eco-dough, from the eco-kids company, we all immediately knew it was a winner. Everyone loves traditional Play-Doh, from Hasbro, or play dough made in ones own kitchen from simple ingredients.

But what if your child is allergic or sensitive to wheat? In that case, Play-Doh, with its starch-based binders, is no longer a good play option. (A full list of Play-Doh ingredients, and an explanation of its chemistry, is here.) Enter eco-kids, a Los Angeles-based family company that handmakes natural gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free eco-dough! The dough comes in six wonderful colors, which are dyed from plants, vegetables and fruits. The dough is soft and very pliable and doesn’t dry out quickly, the way regular Play-Doh does. (If it should dry out, a little veggie, olive or flax oil brings it back.)

Eco-kids also sells natural finger paints and puzzles. They provide  a terrific product for those seeking a natural, gluten-free dough, and a toy that offers open-ended creative play, as limitless as ones imagination.

Photos: Eco-kids

My criteria for a green holiday gift? Items meet all or most of the following: Promotes nature play or care of the earth, Uses all or mostly natural ingredients, Fosters hours of open-ended creative play,  Doesn’t use extraneous plastic or other wrapping, Doesn’t break the bank to buy it.

Calling all Plush Fans and Crafters: Plush Show at Schmancy in Seattle

A few years ago, my family and I found ourselves in Seattle and at a wonderful, whimsical store called Schmancy, in the Belltown district, that specializes in all things plush, most of which are hand-made. Shelves were lined with plush cupcakes, benign monsters, felt woodland mushrooms, large-eyed sandwiches, and storybook elves, many of which took their fun sensibility from Japanese art and design.

My daughter has always loved to sew and to make whimsical plush objects (in addition to her own eco-friendly totebags.) She struck up a conversation with Schmancy owner and artist, Kristen Rask, and she ended up having this abstract applique- designed piece in the store’s annual Plush Show.

schmancy

The Plush Show is happening again, with receptions and activities  this weekend and displays throughout the month. In addition, the Northwest Film Forum will be screening Faythe Levine’s film, Handmade Nation. This documentary about the D.I.Y. craft movement will be appearing in other cities; check the film’s website for details.

If you’re crafting at home, there’s plenty of inspiration and instruction available. Kristen Rask’s own book is called Plush You! Loveable Misfit Toys to Sew and Stuff. Another book my daughter Anna has really enjoyed is Softies: Simple Instructions for 25 Plush Pals by Therese Laskey. A bonus of plush-toy crafting is that it can often be done with felt. Felt is so tactile and pleasing to work with. Handmade felt is great but, for children and others wishing to experiment, bright squares and pieces of felt are relatively inexpensive, as well as easy to use.

Another cute fabric-crafting book I recently came across is Betz White’s Sewing Green: 25 Projects Made with Repurposed & Organic Materials. Not strictly oriented to plush, this book has lots of cute ideas for easy, green D.I.Y. sewing projects like sweet pillowcase dresses, mans-shirt aprons, screen printing, a fall-leaf felt scarf, and more.

Be warned: a visit to Schmancy or a poke into one of these books will make you want to start crafting every cute thing inside.

plush you

Top Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

Loom and Finger Weaving

MeestersSoft_Stool

Discovering and writing about Jo Meesters‘ wonderful loom-inspired furniture pieces made me want to post instructions to help you discover or rediscover loom weaving. As a kid, I made a ton of potholders on a simple loom. I was fascinated by the infinite possibilities of pattern and color. (And many a relative received a potholder gift.)

potholders2

You don’t have to stop at the potholder, of course. The woven squares can be sewn together to make quilts, rugs, placemats, purses, tissue box covers, book covers, or doll sleeping bags and blankets.

To make a potholder, simply begin fastening the loops across the loom by hooking them around a peg at each end. Once you have a solid surface of loops running in one direction on the loom (and running evenly between pegs), you can begin to weave the second set of loops across the first, by pulling them alternately over and under each existing loop, either with your fingers or with the tool that comes in loom kits. The second set of loops should alternate their over-under patterns, so that the weave is even. Play with color combinations. You can create anything, from a solid block of color to a neat checked pattern to a completely random design.

To finish the potholder, begin at the start of a row. Take the first loop off its peg, then do the same with the second loop. Now put the first loop around the second and pull the second loop through the circle. Now the second loop is sticking up. Take the third loop off its peg and put the second loop around it and pull the third loop through the circle. Now the third loop is sticking up. Proceed around the potholder. The edge should lay nicely around it like a braid. You’ll have one loop left, and that will be the hook for hanging the potholder.

I recommend cotton loops, for their nice texture and colors. Wool is also great.

HD-potholder

Here are some resources for loom and loop materials:

Harrisville Designs, in New Hampshire, has a great selection of cotton loops in all kinds of exciting colors that you can buy individually. The store specializes in yarn, weaving, and other fiber crafts.

The Woolery features individual loop colors from Harrisville, as well as lots of kids’ weaving and felting supplies.

Live and Learn offers a sturdy metal loom, bags of assorted colorful cotton and wool loops, and lots of bags of loops in individual colors.

Magic Cabin has a loom-and-cotton-loop set at a good price.

Fingerweave1

Every year, at our annual Girl Scout Camporee weekend, one craft activity proved exceptionally popular with a variety of girls: Finger Weaving. This simple, tactile craft occupied girls of all ages, who wove, chatted, and relaxed in nature. Some of the resulting strands were so long, they became unique fashion accessories. Even though I like to make potholders with traditional cotton loops, the newer, stretchier nylon loops are the best for finger weaving. (It will still work with cotton loops, but some may not be stretchy enough.)

Detailed instructions for finger weaving are here.

The Making Friends craft site is a good source for nylon loops.

fingerweaving2

Fingerweaveheart

Photo by Jo Meesters (Stool)

Photos by Harrisville Designs (Potholders)

Additional Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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