Archive for the ‘Frugal Crafts’ Category

Easy Crown Craft for Kids

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Happy Fat Tuesday everyone!  In honor of Mardi Gras, one of my favorite “holidays”, we made crowns for the kids.

You need one cereal box, some construction paper, glue, and decorating supplies (ie. crayons, markers, etc…).   Slip the box over your kid’s head to see how it will fit.  If it is too big or too small you can adjust it later on, but make a note of it now.


Remove the box from their head and flatten it out.  Cut the box in half, across the middle, so you end up with 2 headbands.

With the box flattened out, draw a crown design and cut out with a pair of scissors.  You will be cutting through 2 layers of cardboard at once.  Using a glue stick, paste construction paper over the crown and trim to the design. 

Note: If you need a smaller crown, cut your crown at a seam and remove excess cardboard.  Tape the new seam together and then proceed to cover with paper.  If you need a bigger crown, cut your crown at the seam and add cardboard for the size you need.  Tape the seams well and then cover with glue and paper.

I let the kids decorate their own crowns.  I helped Evelyn paste some jewels on, but she did all the artwork herself.

Oliver is mighty handy with a glue stick.  He makes his crafty mama so proud!  He pasted on a variety of green and purple “jewels”.  I then outlined the jewels with a black crayon so they would PoP.

And may I present King Oliver and Queen Evelyn of the Krewe of Norton to preside over the festivities in our house.  True to Mardi Gras colors, we have gold in the crowns and jems of purple and green.  Bring on the beads!

Easy Valentine’s Wreath for Kids to Make

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

While clipping coupons last Sunday, I noticed quite a bit of red in the ads and flyers. Inspired by all the Valentine’s Day images (flowers, candy, hearts, bears, jewelry, etc…) I came up with an idea to make collage wreaths with the kids.

I cut out images that reminded me of Valentine’s Day, as well as any red space – ads, flyers, paper – to use as the base layer on our wreath.  Macy’s had tons of red paper in their sales ad and JCP had great large photos of jewelry that we used for accent pieces.

The hubby cut out a heart frame from a cardboard box and I spread on some white glue for Oliver.  We started with the big pieces of red paper as a base.  We then layered on the photos from largest to smallest to fill in the gaps.

We had started with glue sticks, but those took too long and we didn’t get the adhesion that we wanted for a mass of little photos.  Instead, I poured some white glue into a bowl and used a spoon to drip, dab, and smear glue everywhere.  Things went much faster after that!

Oliver did such a good job (with a little help from mom).  The wreath turned out great and cost pennies.  We already had the advertisements, a cardboard box, and glue.

Evelyn even had a chance to be creative (with a lot of help from mom).  We spread some glue on the heart that we cut out of the center of the big wreath and let her have at it.  I think she got more glue in her hair than on the heart, but she enjoyed herself!

Potato Stamps for Valentine’s Day

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

I’ve read about using potatoes as simple stamps and decided to give it a try for Valentine’s day.  I chose a small potato that would fit in Oliver’s hand easily and cut it in half.  I drew a heart on the potato and used a knife to remove the potato on the outside of my heart shape.

It was hard to get a crisp line around the heart, so I used a spoon to scrape the edges clean.

I put some fingerpaint on a plate and let Oliver stamp away.


The hearts have a rustic homemade feel.  Perfect for wrapping little presents or for making a Valentine for Daddy.

The potato also turned into a great paint brush and hand painter once the novelty of stamping wore off.

Oliver rates this craft a five out of five fingers!

Toddler Play: Fun With Rice

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Want to keep your toddler busy for 30 minutes or more?  Give him a container of rice, some miscellaneous containers, scoops, and funnels and watch him go! 

This is a great sensory and fine motor activity for kids.  They get to squish their hands around in the rice and listen to it ping into the different containers.  He got a lot of practice pouring from little containers to big ones and vice versa using a funnel.

I highly recommend doing this activity on a baking sheet!

I have a Rubbermaid tote where I save random bottles, canisters, egg cartons, cardboard tubes, etc. for the kids to have fun with.

My little scientist had so much fun.  He was totally absorbed in his work for at least 1/2 an hour.  Dumping and filling.  Scooping and pouring.  Next time, I’m going to use food coloring to dye a cup or two of rice and let him experiment with mixing colors!

Handprint Picture Frame

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

After Oliver was born, I randomly came across this clay keepsake frame at AC Moore.  I imprinted Oliver’s hands when he was 7 months old and it is one of my favorite mementos from when he was a baby.  Luckily, they still sell these kits today and I purchased one for Evelyn too.  The regular price is about $21.  I used a 40% off coupon and got it for about $13.

The kit comes with the bi-fold frame, 4×6/5×7 mat, “acrylic glass”, clay, roller, and a clay tool.  You basically fill one side of the frame with the clay, make your impression, and bake it to set.  Super easy, fast, and inexpensive!

First, you knead the clay to soften it up.  This was the fun part!

I went ahead and made an oblong pancake out of the clay and then pressed it into the frame.  It reminded me of pressing pizza crust into a pan.

I used the roller to flatten the lumps and smooth out the clay.

The hardest part of this exercise was getting a squirmy 10 month old to press her hands in the clay.  At 7 months, Oliver was satisfied with whatever mommy wanted him to do.  At 10 months, Evelyn wanted to grab the clay, dig into the clay, squeeze the clay, eat the clay… 

By the way, if you make a mistake, all you have to do is reroll the clay and start over.  I had 2 full do-overs, 3 half do-overs for her left hand, and 1 partial do-over when I wrote her name in the wrong place.

The clay is soft and elastic.  Writing the name is trickier than you would think.  Once you are happy with everything, you pop the entire thing in the oven on a tray.  Detailed instructions are printed on the inside of the box that include oven temp and time.

When it’s done there was hardly any shrinkage or color change.  The product will harden even more as it cools.  Evelyn still wanted that sculpey clay!

I can’t wait until we move and I can put out our family photos again.  I matched a photo to the age of the handprints (10 months) and have such a nice momento that I’ll keep forever! 

When they get older I’ll probably put their latest pictures in the frame and it will be neat to have their baby handprints next to their too cool high school selves.

Homemade Gift Wrap Using Stamps

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

For us, summer means lots of birthday parties and presents.  One of my favorite things to do is to decorate my own wrapping paper.  For pennies, I can make a unique and homemade design.

I love using the new clear acrylic blocks and rubber stamps.  The rubber stamps usually come several to a sheet for cost savings over the traditional one per wood block of yesterday.  The clear acrylic blocks also make it so easy to see where you are placing your stamp – no more guess work!  Since I’m only a part-time stamper, a nice multicolor ink pad works for me. 

I wrap the presents in plain drawing paper that I bought in rolls from Ikea.  The rolls are $4.99 each and are 98 feet long. That’s about 5 cents a foot!  Depending on the package, I may wrap the package before I stamp or after.  It’s all up to you and your creativity.

The colorbox stamp pad has “petals” that you can take out to use individually.  All the ink cleans up easily with soap and water.

Add some ribbon and for pennies, you are done!  This was something fun for a kid’s birthday gift.  I have several stamp sheets and can do more intricate and elegant designs, as well as some theme stamps for the fun of it.

Your initial investment for years of stamping fun is probably about $25-$30.  I always buy my stamps on sale or use the 40 and 50% off coupons for Michael’s and AC Moore.  The large acrylic block is $10, but with a coupon is $5.  The stamps range from $2 – $20.  I usually get my sheets for $7 or less with a coupon (and there are always sales on this stuff).  The ink pad was about $5 with a 50% off coupon and has lasted me 4 years so far.

I cannot wait until the kids are old enough to help me decorate.  It will be so much fun to have them stamp their own paper and doodle designs!

Fingerpaint and Cookie Cutters

Friday, March 11th, 2011

One morning it was cold and icky outside.   With cabin fever looming I searched for an easy pick me up for the both of us.

What could be easier than finger paint and cookie cutters?  I have a box of 101 plastic cookie cutters and searched for something St. Pattyish.  Of all the holidays that they included they didn’t include St. Patrick’s Day.  Not a four leaf clover in the bunch! 

We settled for some green finger paint instead and a few random shapes.  I smeared the paint onto a plate so it would stay wet longer and then taught Oliver how to dip the cutters and press onto the paper.  It didn’t take much encouragement and he was off!

He only had a small dab of paint on his bottom lip this time.  He’s getting better at not eating his craft supplies!  The fingerpaint is very easy to clean and now I’m wondering what else we could use it for around here.

Tell me, how have you used finger paints with your little ones?

Easy Valentine Cards

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

For a quick, easy, and inexpensive project, turn your kid’s art into a Valentine card. 

I taped down some drawing paper to our table and let Oliver have at it with crayons and his paint set.

He took his work very seriously and only sucked on the paintbrushes once!

My little Picasso!

Next I took a cookie cutter and traced out some hearts over some particularly choice scribbles.

I cut out the hearts, glued them onto some red construction paper and outlined them with a black marker.

I used some nifty scissors to cut a cool border around the heart.  You can buy scissors like these in the craft section of Walmart, Michaels, and AC Moore normally for a buck a piece.

I then glued the heart onto some plain paper and personalized it for Oliver.  Think Daddy will like?

For Evelyn, I glued her wallet size 9 week old baby pictures onto a red frame that I cut out.  I glued that to some plain paper and stamped a flourish on with ink.  I had sized the Valentine to fit into a legal size envelope and then I mailed them out ala photocard style.

A friend of mine sent me a link for a cute peekaboo Valentine that she made with her daughter.  I might have to make this just because it’s adorable!

For another idea, check out these very easy fingerprint “Bee” Valentine cards at the Frugal Family Fun Blog.  When the kids are old enough to pass out Valentines to friends, these will be the first on my list to make.

Cheerio Necklace: No fuss, no muss snack.

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Cheerios on a string

Want an easy way to blow your toddler’s mind one day?  Pull out a Cheerio necklace and let him or her have at it! 

After Oliver dumped an entire sandwhich bag of Cheerios on the grocery store floor, I knew there had to be a better way to give him a snack while shopping.  Since Cheerios are such a low cost snack, I decided to stick with those.  How to deliver?  I remembered those candy necklaces from days of yore and voila!  I had a winner!

 Start with a 30inch length of kitchen twine or butcher’s string.

Tape one end to a wooden skewer, winding the tape down the skewer 1-2 inches.  Overlap slightly, but don’t bulk up on the tape in any one spot.

 Tie a Cheerio about 5 inches from the end to anchor the necklace with a single knot.  This will keep the Cheerios from sliding off the string.  You will want to untie this when you are done with the necklace.

Start threading Cheerios.  One for the skewer, two for the mommy, one for the skewer, two for the mommy… I use a mix of Cheerios and Apple Jacks.  You can use whatever O-shaped cereal you desire.

Using a wooden skewer makes the threading go by super fast.  You can also use a toothpick as a makeshift needle, but it will take longer. 

 When the skewer is full simply slide them off onto the string.  Our necklace uses 3 skewers worth of cereal.

 When you are satisfied with the amount of cereal on the string, untie the anchor, and double knot your necklace closed.  Leave at least 5 or 6 inches bare so you won’t have cereal rubbing on the back of the kiddie’s neck.

 While you are at it, make a couple more and seal them in ziploc baggies.  Throw a couple in your purse or diaper bag and you will be ready with an instant no-mess, no-fuss treat.

Oliver’s treat kept him busy for well over 6 grocery store aisles, including the produce, bakery, and meat sections!  He was so busy nibbling away he didn’t look up once.

Frugal Crafts: Baby Eye Openers 2

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011


Many people believe that babies are drawn to the circular shape and the symmetry of mandalas.  They say that mandalas capture a baby’s eyes causing them to focus and intently study the patterns within.  Their breathing and heart rates slow down and their bodies begin to relax.  Mandalas have been used for centuries for meditative purposes.  Why not introduce them to your baby?

There are many places to download free mandala images for this project.  I love Coloring Pages For Kids .  Go to their homepage and type in mandala in the search engine.  They have hundreds of free images you can download to your computer.

Break out the markers, crayons, colored pencils or whatever your favorite art medium is.  This is the best part.  Not only do mandalas relax you when you study them, but they relax you when you color them in.  Infants are attracted to black, white, and red.  As their vision matures, they like contrasting bright colors.

Cut out your colored mandalas and glue them onto some heavy construction paper.  Cut out your shapes and they are ready to hang or you can protect them with clear Contact paper.

You can buy clear Contact paper in a big roll at Walmart or Target wherever they sell regular Contact paper to line shelves and drawers.  Use the handle of your scissors to burnish the mandala.  This will smooth down the Contact paper, ensure a good seal, and de-hazes the image.

Here are the remaining mandalas from the set we made for Oliver when he was 2 months old.  We kept them posted on the wall next to his changing table and on the bottom of the shelf overhead.  Every couple weeks we would change them around and he would be entranced all over again.

Evelyn was immediately drawn to these when I put them up.  Oliver even started staring at them again from the floor where he was standing.

I don’t know… do you think she looks more relaxed?  :-)  For another fun eye opener project check out my animal flashcards.

Frugal Tip of the Day:  Search the internet for free mandalas to print.  Do you remember those old spiralgraphs?  I actually have one and can create my own mandalas from scratch!  You can also trace a perfect circle using a cup or small plate and then trace some symmetrical images inside the circle.  For example, trace a square shaped object several times and turn it slightly in between traces to create a star.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

 Subscribe in a reader