Posts Tagged ‘crafts’

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?

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.

Frugal Crafts: Baby Eye Openers 1

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Brighten up your baby’s world with easy do it yourself crafts.   I created colorful little flashcards for my baby to look at while she lies on the changing table.

I searched the internet for free downloadable prints for infant visual stimulation. actually has an entire directory of free stuff to download.

I printed two sets.  I left one black and white and colored the other set with markers.  This was great mommy and me time for Evelyn.  I got to doodle and she got to hear mommy’s entire repertoire of silly songs.  (Note: It is not recommended to use a bouncy seat on a table.  Use your own judgement.)

After coloring them and cutting them out, I used a glue stick and glued the images onto colorful little squares of construction paper.  One side had the colored image and the other side was black and white.  To make them last longer I adhered clear Contact paper to each side.  You can buy clear contact paper at Target or Walmart where they sell the regular Contact paper or shelf liners.

After you stick the Contact paper on, use the handle of your scissors to burnish the image.  This will smooth down the Contact paper, ensure a good seal, and de-hazes the image.

Trim your cards and you are ready to hang them up!  The following photo shows the black and white backside of the grasshopper card.

I used a little tape to stick them on the changing table.  You can also punch holes in them and tie them with string to a clothes hanger to make a mini-mobile.

Evelyn loves the pictures.  I change them out every few days for variety.  These took less than an hour to produce and cost pennies to make.  Win-win!

Frugal Tip of the Day:  Search the internet for free images to print.  If you don’t have a computer or a printer, go to a store and buy an inexpensive child’s coloring book for pictures you can cut out.  You can also sketch some images freehand for your baby.  The key for the first few months is to use high-contrast images of black and white or bright colors.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas at our house was low key this year.  We didn’t even cook a roast beast and opted for a Chinese buffet.  No mess, no fuss, and thankfully, no dishes!

We went shopping in our attic for Oliver’s presents.  I have Rubbermaid bins upstairs that have great items that we’ve purchased at consignment sales for mere pennies and have saved for Oliver.

We did splurge on a couple new toys for Evelyn that Oliver hasn’t chomped and drooled all over.

Oliver kept going to the tree to admire his handcrafted Christmas ornaments.  This was easily one of the most fun projects we have ever done.

We spent the day listening to Chrismas music, playing games, perusing our presents, and stuffed ourselves at a Chinese buffet.  I’d say this was one of our best Christmases ever!

Frugal Tip of the Day: (you know I’ve gotta have one!)  Save those bows and reuse them!  We’ve been using the same bag of bows since 2006.  We even have favorite bows that we look forward to using each year.  Also, save the wrapping paper if you have kids.  The backside makes great art paper.  On most wrapping paper, the inside is nice, smooth, and has a satiny finish.  This is great for finger painting!

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