Crafty stuff with kids…

I’ve been asked by a dear friend to write about craft projects that can be done with kids…while I no doubt haven’t enough for a book (thanks for the vote of confidence, Krystal), I do have enough for a blog post!

Many of these ideas have been taken from other blogs, books and websites…where I can, I’ll reference those. But, several are from my own brain…and my own, very creative child who often initiates things I wouldn’t fathom.

One project we have on the “to do” list is a cardboard robot. We’re saving toilet paper rolls, tissue boxes, smaller boxes, etc…once we’ve got enough (whatever that looks like to your family), we’ll construct a robot. We’ll post pics when we have it all done. Need a few more rolls of toilet paper (luckily, we go through it FAST!).

I’ve also, inspired by one of my favorite blogs (www.soulemama.com), set up an art area in the common room of our home. Most of RE’s toys are in her room…I can’t stand the mess all over the place. But the art stuff has a special home in a bookshelf. It all even looks pretty, in recycled glass jars, tea tins, coffee tins, etc. It’s very accessible, and she often reaches for her crayons, markers and scissors when she’s bored, or I’m working (she’ll “work” too).


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We love homemade playdough…that’s another favorite, and the best part is that it’ll take the whole afternoon, between picking colors, making it, letting it cool, and then PLAYING with it!

<2 cup flour
2 cup warm water
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoon oil
1/2 cup salt
food coloring

Mix all ingredients, adding food coloring last. Stir over medium heat until smooth. Remove from pan and knead until blended smooth. (I use the dough hook on my kitchenaid mixer for this, because it’s so hot, I can’t knead it) Place in plastic bag or airtight container when cooled. Will last for months.

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We’ve also made homemade watercolors, which is fun not only because you get fun homemade water colors, but also because you get to mix vinegar and baking soda, which is good times in and of itself!

Watercolors

3 Tbs. baking soda
3 Tbs. corn starch
3 Tbs. white vinegar
1-1/2 tsp. light corn syrup
food coloring

Steps:

1. Mix vinegar, baking soda, corn starch and corn syrup together in a small bowl.

2. Divide the mixture into several small plastic tubs or jar lids.

3. Add six to eight drops of food coloring to each tub or lid then mix.

4. Use these as they are or let them dry into hard cakes of paint. If you use them while they’re dry, be sure to wet the paintbrush before painting.
(Original author unknown)

Tips:

Use paste food coloring if you want especially vivid colors and lots of color choices. Some oil based food coloring will not stir in well, but it will blend perfectly by the time it’s dry.

Take the opportunity to teach little ones about color mixing. We made purple, green and orange and then went a step further to make mixtures like red-violet and blue-green by adding one part of one primary color to two parts of another. Mix all three primary colors to make brown.

You can make a larger batch and make the paints in an old ice cube tray. Other possible containers are empty watercolor kits and pill boxes (the kind with a compartment for each day of the week).

The more food coloring you add, the more vivid the paints will be.

These take a long time to dry! Ours were in small lids and took about 24 hours.

If you make them in bottlecaps, you can store the dry paints in a plastic baggie or even tie a few of them in a small cloth with a ribbon as a sweet gift.
source: http://www.magicalchildhood.com/crafts/watercolors.htm

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As the kids get older, you can let them cut bits and pieces out of magazine or catalogs and glue them onto a bigger sheet of paper. Bonus that your kids get to practice fine motor skills.

My favorite place to buy art supplies for kids is http://www.stubbypencilstudio.com. Nope, it’s not super cheap, but they have really great quality stuff. Our favorites include the crayon rocks, the watercolor pencils and soy crayons. The notecards are darling, and though RE doesn’t “color in the lines” (who’d want her too?), they look darling.

Speaking of notecards, with RE’s birthday and the holidays just passing, we’ve had a lot of Thank Yous to write of late. I decided that, instead of making her color on card after card, I’d just recycle some of her older art that’s been on the “art wall” for a while. I cut them up into smallish squares and wrote out our thoughts on the back. That way, the gift giver got a little of RE back.

For now, that’s it…oh, but our “art wall”. I love our art wall. For the holidays, RE and I decorated basic clothespins with glitter (pour glitter on a paper plate, dip clothespin in glue, dip in glitter, let dry) and hung our holiday cards from friends and family across a ribbon with the sparkley clips. After the holidays, we decided that the clips were too awesome to pack up, and thought we’d use them to hang RE’s art…it’s right near her bedroom, and features a rotating gallery. Not only does it celebrate the artwork of the toddler, but it’s a fun way to encourage them to keep it up!

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