Tag Archives: kid-friendly crafts

DIY Decorated Flip Flops + Gift Idea {create}

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I heard today was National Flip Flop Day, and it’s also the first day of summer, so I thought it was the perfect day to pull out this idea and post it (finally). Last summer, TG went to a birthday/pool party, and I was trying to think of a fun and inexpensive gift that wasn’t necessarily a toy. I saw a few make-your-own kits of various things in the stores, and so I decided on decorated flip flops after seeing many things like this on pinterest (picture below from The TomKat Studio here).

Adorable flip flops! Photo source: The TomKat Studio

Adorable flip flops! Photo source: The TomKat Studio

So, first up, TG and I hit up the stores to find the needed materials: flip flops and various embellishments like ribbon, stick-on jewels and flowers. I did a quick scan of Pinterest today and see other materials also being used, like pipe cleaners and pony beads and even paint, I think! Really, the possibilities seem endless. I precut the ribbon into strips (I didn’t measure, just sort of eyeballed it; ours might’ve been a touch too long in retrospect).

Precut ribbon and stick-on jewels to decorate the flip flops (excuse the poor picture)

Precut ribbon and stick-on jewels to decorate the flip flops (excuse the poor picture)

When the materials were ready, I let TG start tying the ribbons around the flip flop straps. She tied each one twice. Keep pushing the tied ribbons toward the front of the shoe as you tie so they don’t end up spread out too much. How many you put on depends on how full or bunched up you want. If you’ve got a younger child doing this step, you may want to go behind them and make sure they’re on there tight so they won’t unravel or fall off. Also, I would put some sort of fray check on the ends of the cut ribbon; I didn’t and ours started fraying after a little while.

Tying the ribbon around the flip flop straps

Tying the ribbon around the flip flop straps

This is a great way for your kids to practice tying knots as well 🙂 We made one pair for TG’s friend, and put extra embellishments in her gift to change that pair when she wanted, or create a second pair with different colored ribbon or jewels. The completed shoes really are adorable. We made another set for TG that she wore to the party, and she wore them almost the whole summer until the ribbons all fell off or frayed too much.

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DIY decorated flip flops

For TG’s friend’s gift, we got lucky in the party favor section of Wal-mart last summer. They had cute mini totes that were just perfect to hold the flip flops and embellishments we had ready. We also added some little extras like lip gloss, a nail file and polish set, hairbows and a book. It was a great gift for a 6 year old (who am I kidding; I’d like a gift like that, too!). I think you could even do this for boys as well as girls. Instead of the knotted ribbon, you could wrap the straps with a camo or other boy-friendly ribbon, or add one big embellishment in the middle (maybe a superhero or sports theme) instead of jewels.

Add a few extras to the flip flops and you've got the perfect summer gift.

Add a few extras to the flip flops and you’ve got the perfect summer gift.

As a final touch, I created a short little poem to attach to the tote to make it a little more clear what TG’s friend was supposed to do with the flip flops and random stuff inside the bag. Just in case :-). This was a fun craft thing to do with my daughter that really didn’t take a whole lot of time or money. I think the gift with all the extras ended up being about $10 or $12, so the flip flops are even less. If you’re looking for some kicked up flips this summer, head to your nearest craft store and get on it! Happy Summer!

Cute gift idea for the little (or big!) girl in your life

Cute gift idea for the little (or big!) girl in your life

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Pinecone Birdfeeder {create}

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My daughter saw this project in a children’s magazine one time and has been anxious to do it ever since. So, yesterday was the day. It was a beautiful afternoon after lunch, so what better way to spend a little bit of time outside? (Well, aside from the kiddie pool, which they went for not long after this craft time!) So, I gathered up the birdseed, peanut butter, a couple of pinecones we have had in the house (I told you she’s been anxious to do the project!) and some string.

Four simple items are all you need for this kid-friendly craft!

Four simple items are all you need for this kid-friendly craft!

This craft is really easy and quick, but can get messy depending on the dexterity of your kids, so I took the project outside. My daughter, who’s 6, didn’t have trouble using a small spatula to cover her pinecone with the peanut butter. My son (age 4) wasn’t that into it, so I let her coat his, too.

Step 1: Coat the pinecone with peanut butter.

Step 1: Coat the pinecone with peanut butter.

When it was time to put on the birdseed, I had the kids roll the pinecones in a dish of seed, instead of trying to sprinkle it on. I figured it would be easier on them and a little less prone to messiness. This turned out to be a good idea. 🙂

Step 2: Roll the pinecone in a pan of birdseed until the pinecone is completely covered.

Step 2: Roll the pinecone in a pan of birdseed until the pinecone is completely covered.

After the cones were completely seeded, I tied on some string and we went off to the backyard to find a place to hang the bird feeders. This proved more difficult than I had expected because most of the good branches in our backyard trees were up too high for even me to reach, let alone the kids. So I ended up having to hang them up (and stretched up on my toes to do it), which I think was disappointing to my daughter, since she couldn’t do it. Maybe we can make some more of these sometime and find a different place to hang them up. It sure didn’t cost anything but a little time! Anyway, I was going to put the pinecones in different locations, but my daughter insisted they had to be on the same branch beside each other, because one was hers and one was her brother’s and they had to be together. I only wish the sibling sweetness lasted all day! 🙂

Step 3: Tie a string on the pinecones and find a suitable branch from which to hang them.

Step 3: Tie a string on the pinecones and find a suitable branch from which to hang them.

Homeschool Mosaic Review: Spanish for You!

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I’ll never forget the day when, out of the blue, my 3 or 4 year old daughter counted to 10 in Spanish. Her pronunciation was a bit off in some cases, but the intent was very clear. I was so proud of her–and so astonished! I wasn’t teaching her another language. But, as it turns out, she was internalizing more of those Dora the Explorer shows on Netflix and Dora books that we were reading more than I realized. During that time, she also picked up a few more random words, which was fine by me, but other than clarifying pronunciation now and again, or refreshing her memory on what the words meant, I didn’t really push her to learn more. At her age, I just didn’t see the need.

So I admit that I was hesitant when asked to review the Spanish for You! language curriculum for Mosaic Reviews, because my daughter’s only in kindergarten. She’s still learning how to read and write in our own language; I didn’t want to pressure her at this point in trying to learn another. I looked over the curriculum I was sent, the Fiestas package, and was a bit overwhelmed with how I would present this material to her. Verb conjugations, vocabulary lists, tests, etc. There are lots of worksheets, but they are text-only and really aimed for a solid reader. All of this makes complete sense, because Spanish for You!’s curriculum is geared for third through eighth graders, not six-year-olds.

s4ulogoSpanish for You! is an affordable, flexible and effective curriculum designed to put your children or students on the path to foreign language fluency. Spanish teacher Debbie Annett created the program to help elementary and middle school students learn key language components through a themed approach.  Spanish for You:

  • Allows students at all grade levels to learn the same material at their own pace.
  • Provides lesson plans, worksheets, audio files, flash cards and other activities to present the material in a fun, interactive manner at a low price point.
  • Builds on material already covered in each book with new vocabulary and concepts, yet also reinforces that which has already been learned in other themes.
  • Has already been tested in a school environment prior to its sale, and many students who have been studying with the program are able to start high school Spanish early or at an advanced level.

I’ve got a pretty good–if a bit distant now–background in Spanish. I took four years in high school, plus a few semesters in college. Most of my classes were taught only in Spanish (unless something was so brand new, it required English explanations). After awhile, it wasn’t really intimidating; I loved my high school classes because the teachers made it fun. I decided, obvious as it is, that was the key in this situation as well. Take what I could from the curriculum and make it a fun mini-unit about Spanish for my kindergartener.

I chose several flash cards from a couple of different lessons in the Fiestas package, and focused on learning just the vocabulary and making the overall experience fun. The flash cards are simple black-and-white line drawings. If they look a little childish, that’s because they are drawn by children. This was intentional, in order to appeal more to the student demographic as well as help keep costs of the overall curriculum down.

For the Fiesta de Cumpleanos lesson (birthday party), my daughter and I created a little story out of the flash cards. The repetition of it helped her identify and learn the Spanish vocabulary. After she had memorized the words and their meanings, I wrote out the story, leaving blanks for her to fill in the vocabulary flash cards. I read the red parts of the sentence, let her pick out the right flash card and say the Spanish word, and then paste the card in the right spot. I added the Spanish words under the flash cards in blue, although at this age, I’m not expecting her to write or spell out the vocabulary.

A fill-in-the-flashcard story about the boy's fiesta

A fill-in-the-flashcard story about the boy’s fiesta

I also incorporated learning the names of some colors in Spanish with this theme, and we listened to the Happy Birthday songs in Spanish from the audio collection in the curriculum. I really, really wanted to make a pinata (also one of the vocabulary words), but haven’t been able to fit it in our schedule yet. I’m putting it on the list of possibilities for Cinco de Mayo. Even though pinatas are definitely more birthday party oriented than Cinco de Mayo.

Another lesson in the Fiestas package is Feria de Abril, or April Fair. This is an annual celebration in Seville, Spain, that lasts about a week and is a time filled with food, flamenco and fun. Aspects of it seem pretty similar to a state fair here in the United States, especially the amusement park rides and the inclusion of animals in the festivities. Two of the vocabulary words for the Feria lesson are paella and churros con chocolate, so we made both of those foods during our study. (Here’s how our paella turned out.) My daughter helped mix up the churros batter, and even though I didn’t have the correct pastry bag tip, the churros were still tasty even if they weren’t quite the right shape.

Churros awaiting their fate: dusted with powdered sugar, sprinkled with cinnamon or dunked in warm chocolate? Would all three be a bit much?

Churros awaiting their fate: dusted with powdered sugar, sprinkled with cinnamon or dunked in warm chocolate? Would all three be a bit much?

In addition to making the fair foods, I found a couple of videos of the most recent Feria de Abril on YouTube (like this one, for example), because this year’s fair was going on right during the review period. I pointed out the horses and the flamenco dresses and style of dance (both of which are vocabulary words in the lesson). When the video was over, my four-year-old son asked, “After Daddy gets home, can we go there?” I told him I really wished we could. 🙂 I think he was excited by the glimpses of the fair rides more than anything else.

For a musical aspect, we also made homemade castanets to go along with the April Fair theme. The vocabulary list included this word, and I liked the chance to include a musical craft in the unit. I followed this tutorial on Education.com. TG used markers and colored paper to decorate thin cardboard, and then I superglued bottle caps on. We also painted the tops of the bottle caps to cover up the root beer logo, but that proved a bad idea because it muffled the sound a little bit. And the paint chipped off anyway. But the kids have had fun clicking and clacking away with these guys.

Quick and easy castanets with cardboard and bottle caps make a fun and musical craft

Quick and easy castanets with cardboard and bottle caps make a fun and musical craft

What I love:

  • The native speaker audio. I think that’s a good resource for in-home foreign language curricula, because it helps emphasize correct pronunciation and allows students to hear the words as they would if they were in a region where the language is spoken.
  • The price: around $65 for a year’s worth of language learning for multiple children and multiple age groups–and maybe even less than that depending on your family’s needs.
  • The freebies offered on the Spanish for You web site are great additional material or can provide a starting point with colors, numbers and other basics.

Potential pitfalls:

  • It took me awhile to understand the file naming system of the lessons and worksheets. I received an all digital package, so I am unsure whether or not this is a difficulty in the physical book. If I were regularly using it with age-appropriate students, I would probably reorganize them into something that fit my personal system better.
  • While I do like the themes that the curriculum is divided into and the flexibility inherent in that, I wondered if it would be difficult to jump into for someone with little-to-no background in the language. Perhaps for the future, the company might consider a beginners package of some sort to help newbies. The freebies offered online do cover some of those initial basic need-to-knows.

Update: Debbie from Spanish for You! has reorganized the worksheet files for the Fiestas and Estaciones themes into folders by grade level, and put audio files into folders according to lessons. These changes should make navigating the information much easier for those who purchase the curriculum from this point on. Thank you, Spanish for You!, for your excellent customer service!

As you can see, I used the Spanish for You! curriculum as a starting point to introduce my daughter to some new Spanish vocabulary, culture and experiences. For a kindergartener, though, that’s pretty cool. And it’s something I probably would not have done had I not been reviewing this curriculum, so despite my initial hesitancy, I’m glad I got the chance to do both. For those of you with children in the recommended age group, third through eighth graders, I think Spanish for You! is worth checking out to see if it will fit your needs for a foreign language curriculum.

 

Edit 5/03: Learn how other reviewers used the Fiestas and Estaciones (Seasons) packages from Spanish for You! at the Mosaic Reviews blog.

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Resurrection Eggs {celebrate}

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I don’t remember where I first heard of this idea, but it was probably on Pinterest. Have you heard or seen about Resurrection Eggs? Apparently, you can buy the product already made, but it sounded like a super-easy idea to D-I-Y, and that’s what I did last year. I decided I wanted to do the Resurrection eggs again this year, so I pulled them out with the Easter baskets on Saturday. I still had all of my numbered eggs exept one, so I fixed that up and started filling them. I guess there are a couple of different lists of items to put in the plastic eggs, but the list below is what I used. I love that the items are pretty simple to find around the house, or easy to substitute with items you might have around (For example, no purple cloth? Try purple construction paper.)

  • bread
  • coin
  • purple cloth
  • thorn (I used a rose thorn)
  • thick string
  • cross (my husband pounded two nails together for this, but you could also use toothpicks,etc)
  • nail
  • King of the Jews sign
  • sponge
  • spear (I used a toothpick)
  • rock

In addition to those small items, you’ll need 12 plastic eggs and an egg carton–we recycled an empty one we had sitting around. The rest is easy peasy, as my daughter has taken to saying lately. Cut out the list of verses (I found them at this site), and place them and their corresponding objects in each appropriately numbered egg. Fill up your carton and you’re ready for a hands-on lesson about Christ’s resurrection! You could even make it more of a craft by having your kids paint and/or decorate the egg carton. I might add that step in next year. (I might also just write the numbers on the eggs instead of keeping the raggedy paper on there. :-))

A dozen eggs to tell the story of Christ's resurrection

A dozen eggs to tell the story of Christ’s resurrection

There’s some versatility in how you go about presenting the eggs. You can start 12 days prior to Easter and do one each day. Or, you can do like we’re doing this year, and start the week before Easter and do two each day. This works especially well for us because opening the eggs was our kids’ favorite part, and this way, they each get to open one every day. You could even do them all in one day, and repeat the lesson over several days leading up to Easter.

Each of the 12 eggs contain a small object and a Bible verse. Well, except Egg 12--it's just got the verse, because the tomb is empty!

Each of the 12 eggs contain a small object and a Bible verse. Well, except Egg 12–it’s just got the verse, because the tomb is empty!

Along with the Easter garden TG made, I think this will be an Easter tradition we’ll keep up, at least for the next several years while the kids are still in the little-and-learning stage. What are some of your favorite ways to celebrate Easter and Christ’s resurrection?

Easter Garden {cultivate}

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During last week’s homeschool art class at our church, the group did the cutest project for Easter. I had actually seen it surf by in Pinterest but had forgotten to pin it, so I was pretty excited when I arrived in class and discovered what the day’s craft would be! Most of the materials are things you’d find in your own back yard, so it’s even low cost!

You’ll need: a large terra cotta saucer (ours were 8 inch, I think), a small terra cotta pot, soil, grass seed, twigs, twine (and/or hot glue gun), small pebbles and one larger rock. I was baby-sitting a toddler for someone while the class was going on, so I didn’t actually get to see the process of putting it together (they did it outside), but it seems pretty simple enough. This site, A Homestead Heart, gives a great tutorial. I did help with the crosses on TG’s, and what we did was hot glue the two sticks together so they held and then we criss-cross-tied the twine over the twigs to help them stay put.

Easter Garden after 1 week.

Easter Garden after 1 week.

The site I linked to said it would take about 7-10 days for the grass seed to germinate and sprout, but ours took less than a week. The above picture was taken on Thursday, one week after they planted them, and look how high and filled in it is already! My kids have been thrilled to check it every day, water it and watch how high the grass is. It’s sitting on our kitchen table (to get some nice sunshine) and whenever I would check, I would see the big rock covering the “tomb” and would place it back to the side. I discovered the other day that my daughter TG kept putting the rock in front “because it’s not Easter yet!” And that, of course, is when the stone was rolled back and Jesus arose from the dead. Oh, how literal little ones can be! 🙂

I love the great reminder this craft gives that Jesus is risen! Every day we can look at our Easter garden and be reminded of that. And the science/gardening lessons they learned are pretty cool, too. 🙂 You’ve still got time to make one with your own family before this Easter holiday–sounds like a great weekend project to me!

In the shadow of the Cross

In the shadow of the Cross

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! {cultivate}

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This week, I’ve noticed a lot of parents posting pictures of their kids in wacky hats, dressed up as their favorite book characters and other lots of book-related fun. And then I find out there’s a celebration of Dr. Seuss this week! Sounds like a fun day of school to me! I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, but we managed to have a Seuss-tastic day of it anyway.

We started our day with some green eggs and ham (well, a version of ham). Thanks to the Daddy of the house, who works from home on Fridays and got to join in the fun. In person, our eggs were a nice, bright spring green. A little more palatable. Our daughter was hesitant, but our 4-year-old little man dove right in. But everyone ate them!

Green eggs and...bacon. It's all we had.

Green eggs and…bacon. It’s all we had.

We did some of our regular math worksheets and I added in a couple of Dr. Seuss-related ones. Seussville.com has a large selection of printables and activities that I snagged one from, and I look forward to using more of their resources for next year’s Suess Day or even if I want to focus on a particular book sometime. My daughter and I read The Cat in the Hat together for reading time, and then, since I had wanted to read Green Eggs and Ham, but every copy was checked out in our library system (including the audio books!), I let Tim Tebow read it to my kids instead. I also had a Dr. Seuss children’s biography book on reserve from the library, but it hasn’t become available yet. I was disappointed in that, but we’ll just have to read it next week when it comes in. The name of it is The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss.

We had a bit of musical appreciation while we did our craft. We stumbled upon some of the soundtrack to Seussical the Musical on YouTube, and the kids had fun dancing around, especially to the Green Eggs and Ham song. I admit that I do not know anything about Seussical, but the songs we listened to were pretty upbeat and fun. I might investigate it further, because I love musicals.

For our craft, we made Cat in the Hat pop-up puppets that I found here at Stuff by Ash. A bit more parent helping required than I usually like for a children’s craft (gluing on the top and brim of the hat, and cutting out of things), but I think our girl liked the project in the end. You can’t see it in the picture, but instead of a dowel rod, I reused a red-and-write striped straw from our Valentine’s Jar of Hearts project. How’s that for great repurposing!)

Cat in the Hat pops up!

Cat in the Hat pops up!

After all that learning and dancing and fun, everyone was hungry, so along with our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I made Cat in the Hat Hat Kabobs. I saw the idea on Pinterest to make them with strawberries and bananas, but I lacked the bananas and had to improvise. They were a hit!

Cat in the Hat Hat Kabobs, with strawberries and marshmallows

Cat in the Hat Hat Kabobs, with strawberries and marshmallows

Fridays are our usual pizza-and-family-movie night, so I think we’re going to conclude our Seuss Day with a Netflix viewing of The Lorax. It’ll be a new one for all of us; I’ve never even read the original story, or not that I remember anyway. I’ve seen so many adorable and creative ideas for Dr. Seuss-themed crafts, food and learning that I look forward to doing this day again next year–or maybe even sooner, when I have the chance to better prepare for it!

What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss story?

Love From Head to Toe: Heartprint Craft {celebrate}

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I stumbled across this project on Pinterest yesterday while trying to find a cute, easy Valentine’s craft for the kids to make for their grandparents. This fit my requirements of fast and easy, but I’ll warn you with younger kids, you have to include “messy” on that list of adjectives. My 6-year-old was no problem, but my little 4-year-old boy just wanted to paint his hands, the table, the floor, his clothes… I’m sure you get the idea. 🙂

I was in charge of painting the kids’ hands and feet, and I think that was their favorite part. They loved the tickle of the foam brush on their foot, and I think they were disappointed that their hands weren’t ticklish.

It's a big pink foot!

It’s a big pink foot!

After all the painting was done, we let them dry while we got all cleaned up. I had the kids glue the pictures to some construction paper and then I added the message. If they were a bit older with neater handwriting, I would’ve let them do it to make it more personal. They wrote their names under the “I love you!” at the bottom and I dated it on the back. I couldn’t decide if I wanted “Happy Valentine’s Day 2013” on the front or back, so I put it on the back. I think if I’d kicked it up a notch with pretty font and paper, I probably would’ve put in on the front. But the homegrown look is perfect for my little ones.

I look at these pictures and wonder where those big feet came from!

I look at these pictures and wonder where those big feet came from!

And there you go! A quick, easy from-the-heart valentine for some special family members in your life! What’s your favorite hand- or footprint craft that your kids or grandkids have done?

Jar of Hearts: Acts of Love Valentine Craft Project {celebrate}

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We’re still working on our chore charts, because my D-I-Y lately has been S-L-O-W. But hopefully I’ll have the update to that last post soon.

In the meantime, Valentine’s Day is coming up next week, and awhile ago I pinned this post from MakeandTakes.com. I don’t really go overboard with Valentine’s Day, don’t do a lot of decorations or stuff like that. But we do give a little treat to the kids, and I wanted something fun and different to do this year, especially since we’re homeschooling and my little kindergartener won’t have the fun of exchanging valentines with a class full of other little kids. When I saw the Acts of Love Countdown on Pinterest, I thought that it was a great idea. I liked that it was something that focused on doing kind things for one another to show love, rather than something frivolous or meaningless or sugar-filled.

Jar of Hearts: 14 Acts of Love Valentine's Countdown

Jar of Hearts: 14 Acts of Love Valentine’s Countdown

My apologies for the less-than-great pictures. I’m on a computer without any photo-editing programs and I wanted to get this post up. There are some better pictures and a step-by-step tutorial at the original post you can check out. Originally, I was going to tweak the messages on the back to be more personal to our own family, but I ran out of time and just used the great free printable already provided. I printed it out, cut out the hearts and messages, taped them around our paper straws and stuck them in the jar of rice. Then we decorated the outside of the jar. You’ll probably notice the original take on this project included dyeing the rice red. That is a fantastic idea, but again, I was in a hurry so I passed that up. Maybe next time.

I loved that this is an activity we can do as a whole family. We started it the first day of February, but this is so flexible, it can be started a week before Valentine’s, the week of Valentine’s or the whole month, whatever fits your family’s needs. So far, among other things, we’ve made each others’ beds, cleaned doorknobs, given thanks for one another and shared a great big family bear hug. That’s definitely the way to go in celebrating Valentine’s Day! Love all your loved ones in word *and* deed!

My girl added her own little touch: she shaped a pipe cleaner into a heart and we tied it onto the jar.

I think this project is definitely something we will revisit year after year. I think it would also be fun to do during the week of a loved one’s birthday as well. Do you have any special traditions you do for Valentine’s Day?