I needed a fast and inexpensive DIY project to help make a recent birthday celebration special. Searching online for ideas married with thorough shopping at one of my favorite local craft stores bore my own creation. Basically what you see above is a package of $2.00 mini cupcake liners that have been flattened, sandwiched back to back, and sewn together in a line to form different length streamers. This fun project took all of 15 minutes to construct and another 5 to hang. I accompanied it with some balloons and a quick table centerpiece and was finished in no time. Though it was cheap, it certainly didn’t look that way to me. I will be sure to keep this in my reservoir for the future. The best part about it, is that it was a guilt free throw away!
Every August through September our local grocery store puts back-to-school items on major discount. This past year I came across a pile of wooden rulers for twenty five cents each. I racked my brain for a crafty use for such a cheap item. I’m ALWAYS on the look out for opportunities such as this, because crafts can be quite pricey and stressful if one is not careful enough.
I eventually came to SNOWFLAKES! Even though the end of summer is a little early to be thinking about blustery weather, I knew that I would thank myself in the blink of an eye for having prepared something ahead of time. So I purchased 16 rulers to stack on top of one another and make 4 snowflakes with. If you include the paint, hot glue, and buttons, this craft came to barely $10.00, which calculates to about $2.50 a snowflake. In my opinion that’s not bad. Especially considering the paint can be (and will be) saved for other projects in the future.
Construction for this project was a cinch. We simply painted on color and glitter, hot glued the layers together at the center once the paint was all dry, and then covered the center hole with a cute coordinating button. It was fun for the girls and fairly stress free for me.
I don’t mind doing a craft for a crafts sake in our homeschooling, but I wanted to take advantage of our time together and teach . . . something. Since my girls already know about the basic wonders of snowflakes, I settled on haikus. We had read a few over this year, including the long one I wrote about cornucopias and I wanted to give them a chance to write their own. It proved to be a great exercise for language in practicing syllables. It was adorable to watch them test sentence after sentence on their little fingers to see if what they came up with would fit five and then seven beats. They did an excellent job in the end with very little help from me, which I’m happy for.
Both my five and seven year old wrote out their haikus (which is bonus practice for each of their writing skills) and we hung them from the bottom of their snowflakes with decorative yarn. To show off all of our creations, I attached them to the walls using poster putty. Since the rulers were so light, they stuck very well and to this moment haven’t budged. The snowflakes are right next to our Christmas tree and the glitter sparkles so beautifully in the evening glow of lights. It’s only too bad that these will eventually have to come down again and be stuffed into a baby box!
Well I said there was a craft coming to correlate with my cornucopia history lesson and here it is! I thought it would be an excellent idea to make our own place mats to use on Thanksgiving Day and incorporating the cornucopia or “Horn of Plenty” was a cinch.
The supplies needed for this project were mostly basic for those who have scrap booking supplies handy. The only things I had to buy were contact paper and colored poster board.
To make the construction of this project more smooth and to save time, I precut all the rectangles, circles, and coloring pictures (including a large cornucopia) my girls would need to layer. They had their hands full enough with gluing and coloring to make for a creative experience. Besides, I doubt my five or two year old would have had the patience all that scissor handling would have required!
The goal was for the place mats to be constructed similarly to the above photo. I put my two year old’s together for her and just let her color away. This kept her involved while at the same time, gave my five and seven year old a visual guide.
As a perfectionist I can tell you that it took ALL of my self control not to direct my older girl’s placements during gluing. The urge to take over and make sure everything was centered almost conquered the belief that my girls needed to be free to own the experience and practice those skills for themselves. But I kept my distance because I know the genuine work of my children’s hands are precious keepsakes and my involvement would have killed the innocence.
Once my girls were satisfied with their mats, I covered both the front and back with clear contact paper and trimmed it. I was forced to trim tightly to the edges because I had cut the poster board a little large. It’s ideal, however, to have a lip of contact paper all the way around so that liquid spills (which with my girls happens three times daily) do not seep through.
The last final touch, which I am so tickled to share, will explain why there are three blank rectangles to the right of the place mats. These are the spaces we created to write down things we are thankful for. Contact paper is compatible with dry erase markers which makes it possible for us to erase and rewrite a new set of “thanks” as often as we want! What child doesn’t like to write and erase? This feature far extended the life of and excitement for the project. Not only that, but many thanks were able to be encouraged and given to our Lord at the perfect time of year!
(See the category Kids Learn – Holiday – Cornucopia Haiku for a breif synopsis of the history of the cornucopia)
I love it when my girls and I “stumble” upon education. We were at our local library a while back checking out books. Lord love those librarians who display seasonal reads atop their shelves! Staring at me eye level was the book “Life Cycle of a Pumpkin” and I picked it up. To my surprise, when we got home, my girls wanted me to read it over and again. They were enthralled.
I decided to encourage their excitement towards this fall topic and develop a craft that would dedicate the life cycle of a pumpkin to their memories. Thus our Pumpkin Cycle Spinner Plates were born! It’s a very simple, very cheap, and very fun project.
The following supplies are needed for each student for this craft, two paper plates, a sponge brush, orange paint, a brown foam sheet, scissors, a stapler, glue, coloring utensils, a craft brad, glitter glue, green ribbon, and a hot glue gun. Of course some of these may be omitted for a simpler version.
To start our pumpkins, I dressed my girls in their worst clothes and let them go paint happy on their paper plates. To their delight, they were instructed to cover every inch in orange. Afterwards, as these were laid aside to dry, they each cut out a stem for their pumpkin from a brown foam sheet, which I later stapled to the back of the top plate.
Next I handed my girls a sheet of images depicting the steps in the life cycle of a pumpkin to color and cut out. Since I had a hard time finding the images I wanted online, I was forced to draw and copy my own. I will definitely be saving a master copy for the future!
After those were done and the plates were dry, I traced out a small triangle on the side of the top plate for my girls to cut out. This would act as a window. Then I laid the top plate over the bottom plate and lightly marked six x’s on the bottom plate with a pencil to direct them where to glue on their images. Once the order of those images were double checked and the glue was sufficiently dry, I placed the top plate back over the bottom plate and poked a hole through both dead center using a pencil. This was where I secured a small brad , which gave us the spin we wanted. The bottom plate could be turned round and round, windowing one step in the life cycle of a pumpkin at a time!
To add a little pizzaz, we also glittered lines on the face of the pumpkin and added a green bow over the staple holding the stem in place, using a hot glue gun.
The best part about this educational craft is that my girls get the opportunity not only to show off their art to anyone and everyone, but also explain the life cycle steps of a pumpkin that they learned.