Thursday, November 29, 2012

Contact Paper Gift Tags

If you're looking for a cute, simple idea for homemade gift tags, this option may be for you. The materials are mostly items you likely have on hand already, and there are only 4 steps. Materials: clear contact paper, holiday cookie cutters or stencils, pencil or ballpoint pen, tape, colorful tissue paper, scissors. Steps:

1. Trace the cookie cutters or stencils onto the clear side of the contact paper (not the paper side). It will be hard to see when the paper comes off, so make sure your lines are clear.

2. Tape the contact paper to a wall or window, sticky side out.

3. Add tissue paper to cover all the traced shapes.

4. Cut out the shapes. You'll probably have to do a little tissue paper trimming where your little one added more paper than necessary. A tip for this part: I took advantage of Baby Bear adding too much tissue paper by adding another layer of contact paper before I pulled it off the wall (picture a tissue paper sandwich). That way, when I cut the pictures out, I got two tags for every one shape I cut out. I had to do a tiny bit of patchwork this way, but it was still faster than cutting out more images.
The resulting tags are lightweight but sturdier than the paper, sticker, or thin cardboard tags you can buy at the store. I'm going to add the names using a Sharpie pen and then attach them to family presents for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Handprint Christmas Tree

I came across this adorable handprint Christmas tree on The Other White House blog the other day and found it irresistible. I didn't have canvas and wasn't sure Baby Bear would cooperate enough for it to turn out well anyway, so we gave it a try on a large piece of white paper. We made it to the last handprint when this happened:

Baby Bear didn't like what was supposed to be the final product, and decided to add his own personal touch. I was glad I hadn't bought a canvas.
Still, the idea of a handprint tree was appealing, so I adapted. Instead of using painted hands, I used traced hands. Baby Bear let me trace each hand once onto green construction paper, and then I traced those hands onto more construction paper until there were six total. Once they were cut out, I glued them to a piece of red paper in a tree shape and gave it to Baby Bear to decorate. He added foam lights, ornaments, stars, and presents stickers to the tree. He also grabbed a misplaced nearby pen and added his signature to the top of the red paper. The painted handprint tree would have been cute, and I still hope to try again some day, but I love how the traced hands tree turned out! It was a much better fit for my Baby Bear.

Adding stickers

His tree

Monday, November 26, 2012

Glittery Popsicle Sticks Snowflake

Last holiday season, I saw several posts about making snowflakes out of craft sticks. I remember thinking, "Hey, that's neat. Maybe we'll try that some day." Well, that day finally came! Although the idea isn't new, Baby Bear and I made our snowflakes just a little differently than the others I've seen elsewhere. I think ours turned out just as cute, but with a lot less mess. We didn't spread glue on the craft sticks and then spread them with glitter. We didn't use glitter glue. Instead, Baby Bear and I placed double-sided tape on one side of each of three craft sticks, filled the bottom of a ziplock bag with glitter, placed the sticks in the bag, and shook. Once the tape was covered in glitter I used my hot glue gun to put the sticks together in a snowflake shape. To turn the snowflake into a tree ornament, I twisted red and green chenille stems together, bent them into a loop, and used an obscene amount of hot glue to make them stick to the back of one of the craft sticks. With the craft sticks being so wide, the edges are still without glitter, but then again, so is the floor. ;)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Candy Cane Reindeer

Candy cane reindeer are far from new as far as Christmas crafts go, but never underestimate the classics when you have a toddler. Even though crafts like these may seem old and worn out to us, they're new and exciting to a 2-year-old child who is still learning about the many symbols of Christmas like reindeer and candy canes.

At our house, we have fun with Christmas icons like Santa and his reindeer and elves, but we also incorporate stories, crafts, and lessons that teach about the very first Christmas. With all the excitement about presents, it's easy to forget why we give those presents or have symbols like stars all around us this time of year. That is why Baby Bear and I added this candy cane mini-book to our classic reindeer craft. Truthfully, I don't know if the candy cane really started as a symbol of a shepherd's staff or has red and white stripes to represent forgiveness, but I love that these mini-books helps redirect our thoughts toward the more selfless aspects of Christmas. Plus, we still had fun making our cute candy cane reindeer.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Be Back Tomorrow from a Blogging Break

Hi, readers! As if you haven't already noticed, I've been on a blogging break to spend some extra time with my family for the holiday. I will be back tomorrow, though, to kick off the Christmas season!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hand and Foot Print Turkey

This craft is an oldie, but a goody. It's been around for forever, so who knows where it originated, but it makes a great keepsake. The materials include construction paper (we used red, orange, yellow, and brown), wiggle eyes, a pen, and some glue. In our case, materials also included a willing toddler. Fortunately, Baby Bear loves having his hands traced, so this craft was just right for us. As a young 2-year-old, Baby Bear wasn't able to help much with this craft aside from having his hand traced over and over again, but he still loved the result. I hung our turkey on our front door as a Thanksgiving decoration. Unfortunately, our front door receives direct sunlight for more than half the day, so it faded quickly, and I was unable to get a good picture. The picture below was copied from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas who did the same craft for a previous Thanksgiving. Our turkey was almost the same, but we used eight hands as follows: two red, two orange, two yellow, and two brown hands. I'm glad we included brown feathers, because when we did a similar craft last year, it ended up looking like the turkey was on fire. We also included two orange turkey legs cut from construction paper on our turkey this year (a long, skinny rectangle on top of a small trapezoid). Like I said, this is nothing new, but it's still very cute and makes for a great keepsake.

Tip: to get a good foot print, trace your child's foot while he or she is wearing socks. This will help prevent swelling from shoes or bumps from toes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Colorful Cornucopia

While looking through Thanksgiving craft ideas online, I came across a tear paper cornucopia in a toddler craft list on My Delicious Ambiguity. Although Baby Bear already knows his colors, he still likes pointing them out on everything he sees and doing color-specific activities. So, I thought he might like this craft. It turned out that he did like it, but for a different reason than I thought he would.

This was the set-up. I found a cornucopia coloring page that included several colorful foods that were big enough to put distinguish and little papers over.

At first, Baby Bear liked adding the correct color of paper to the food after I smeared some glue.

Then he decided that he should be the one smearing the glue and directing mommy on how to place the papers. Since he was still helping name the colors of the foods correctly, I played along.

This is the finished product. You can probably tell that I ended up placing most of the papers, but Baby Bear was definitely directing me on their placement. He even decided that one apple should be green and the other red. He also helped fill in some "holes" between the little papers when he thought I had missed a spot. My kid was born to be a CEO. ;)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pattern Feathers Turkey

Baby Bear loves all the turkey decorations that are out in stores for Thanksgiving. This may have something to do with the fact that last year for Thanksgiving I taught him how to say, "Gobba gobba," (an easier version of gobble gobble) to sound like a turkey. He was so cute running around the house on his little 1-year-old chubby legs calling out like a turkey! It was one of the first animal sounds he learned, and it has stuck with him ever since. I guess that's why it doesn't annoy me so much that the majority of the Thanksgiving craft ideas out there are turkey-themed and why Baby Bear and I have embraced a few of our own turkey crafts these past couple of weeks.

One such craft was a turkey with its feathers in a pattern because Baby Bear and I have been talking about simple 2-color patterns lately. We talk about how the colors take turns in a pattern (something else we've been working on during play dates and such). So, for this craft, we made the turkey's red and orange feathers take turns. Baby Bear began by coloring a turkey body coloring page (found through a Google image search), which I then cut out. I already had eight feathers set out for us to use, four of each color, so Baby Bear helped me line them up in a pattern. Then, I turned the turkey over, and he handed me the feathers from the line so I could tape them to the back of the turkey. He loved using real feathers for his turkey, and I loved the math practice. It was a win-win craft.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Apple Pie Playdough

Last fall, when my family tried pumpkin pie playdough, I thought for sure that no other playdough could smell as good as that. Well, this year I followed an impulse and came up with something that smells even better! Apple pie playdough!!! While looking through some old family recipes my aunt recently passed on to me, I began reminiscing over the various dishes that made up our family's Thanksgiving table, especially the desserts... especially the apple pie. Since I'm the only person in my house who eats pie, I figured that making something that just smells like apple pie would be more practical. I decided to dig through my cupboards and try to find something to make apple pie playdough. Adding the apple scent was going to be the hardest part because I had to make sure it wouldn't get too sticky or spoil quickly. I thought about boiling some water with apple slices and adding that to the dough like when we made cranberry playdough, but I didn't think the scent would be strong enough. That's when I came across the box of hot spiced cider mix. It was perfect! I played around with the dough, adding ingredients here and there until it was just right, and it turned out beautifully! Now all I have to do is make the apple pie, pumpkin pie, and cranberry doughs together for a playtime that smells like Thanksgiving!

This is the recipe I came up with:
3/4 cups boiling water
Approximately 1 1/2 cups plain flour, divided
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 packet hot spiced cider mix
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Mix 1 cup of flour, salt, cream of tartar, spiced cider, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add vegetable oil and boiling water and stir until well-mixed and a sticky dough forms. About a tablespoon at a time, add the remaining flour and knead until the dough is no longer sticky.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pumpkin Seed Counting

Yesterday, I shared how Baby Bear and I used candy corn to decorate ears of corn and practice counting to five. In continuation of our counting crafts, Baby Bear and I decorated pumpkins with pumpkin seeds to practice numbers six through ten. When we did our ears of corn, Baby Bear did not want to color them beforehand. He was too excited about the candy, counting, and gluing. So, we did the pumpkins a little differently by decorating them in two steps. The first step was painting them using dish soap paints. I chose this type of paint because the color doesn't lighten too much when it dries, but you can still see the black lines of the coloring sheet through the paint. The next day, when the pumpkins were dry and I had them cut out, I wrote out numbers on the stem of each pumpkin, and Baby Bear helped me count out that many glue dots onto the pumpkin. Then, he added pumpkin seeds to each of the glue dots, which provided some hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills practice. When the glue was dry, we hung the pumpkins up with the ears of corn to create a sort of food-themed numbers chart. Baby Bear was so proud of his food with numbers that he bounced excitedly as he showed daddy his work when he got home.

Painting the pumpkins

Our food-themed number chart

Baby Bear didn't like that I was taking a picture of his work without him, so he jumped in and shouted, "Cheese!"

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Candy Corn Counting

Recently, Baby Bear has become very interested in counting. He wants to count everything: the stairs he's climbing, the blocks he's stacking, the stones he's playing with, and anything else that lends itself to counting. So, while looking through Thanksgiving activities on other mommy and teacher blogs, I kept an eye out for anything number-related. When I stumbled upon this idea from Memetales, I knew I had struck gold! Using candy corn to decorate a corn stalk was a great way to use up some Halloween candy, practice with numbers, and transition from Halloween to Thanksgiving!

I tried to get Baby Bear to color the corn before we added the candy, but he was way too excited about using candy for math to sit for that. So, I went back and colored the husks after they were dry.

Baby Bear helped me count out spots of glue on the corn, and then he added the candy. He stole a piece for each corn he decorated, hence the look on his face in this picture. :)

These are the finished ears of corn. We did numbers one through five for this activity, but Baby Bear and I are working on numbers up to ten. Come back tomorrow to see what we did for numbers six through ten!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Herbal Playdough

When our last batch of playdough started drying out, Baby Bear asked to help make some green dough (I'd like some too, actually... just of a different kind!). I started with my fallback recipe of no-cook playdough with green food coloring. When that was done, Baby Bear helped shake in some basil and a little rosemary. I don't recommend using more than just a little rosemary because it does tend to fall out as you play. I think it's still worth adding for the scent, though. This dried the dough a tad, so I kneaded it a couple of times with wet hands to help make it softer and smoother.

As we played, Baby Bear noticed that the dough had a different smell and texture than normal. Personally, I loved the smell! He seemed to like it, too. He also noticed that it had a different taste. What can I say? He knows better but is too curious to not try. Fortunately, he didn't like the taste and was good about not putting it near his mouth after that. I like this recipe, especially for November, because it goes along well with the feast aspect of Thanksgiving.