Easy Keepsake Christmas Ornaments

I’m pretty sure I would feel like I’m depriving my son of a normal childhood if I never gave him the opportunity to make a Christmas ornament for the tree. He’s fascinated with the ornaments (though we don’t even have a real tree with lights–just a decorated potted plant!). He loves taking them off the tree and walking around the house with them. By the end of the day I’ve usually got a little pile of ornaments I’ve collected that need to be re-hung.

When I was choosing ornaments for the art play date to make, I wanted to choose things that were very easily done by a large group of kids at different ages and skill levels, and also I wanted them to be beautiful enough that mommies would want to save them for at least 30 years. Here’s what we did:

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This is your typical hand print ornament, however instead of using salt dough or baking soda dough which can weigh down branches and are breakable when dry, we used Crayola’s Model Magic. Model Magic is a bit expensive, but you don’t need much for an ornament. It’s lightweight and won’t break easily. It stays kind of spongy even after it has dried, it’s paint-able, etc, etc. I thought it was the perfect medium for our little hands. I painted ours with gold acrylic paint and gold glitter once it had dried out well enough (the package says 3 days, but I’m pretty sure mine took a week before I was satisfied that it was dry enough to paint).

Here’s little Penny posing with our second project, a simple popsicle stick star. (You can see two more on her tree, just above the crook of her elbow.)

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I hot-glued the sticks together before the kids got there, and they got to decorate them with markers, yarn, glittery pipe cleaners, and whatever else they could scrounge. This one was a hit with the kids.

The last project was my favorite, I loved how they looked and smelled: cinnamon ornaments!

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These were really easy to make, but they are fragile, so hang them high on the tree! Once again, I went with gold acrylic paint and gold glitter paint for the decoration. They turned out just lovely, and they smell great. I used this recipe.

Merry Christmas!

Texture Scavenger Hunt

I wasn’t very good at all about getting pictures for this activity, so bear with me, I’ll try to describe as best as I can. Our little art group got together and we learned about texture. First we talked about what the word “texture” meant. Then read a book about texture (it wasn’t really good, so I won’t give you the title), then we decided to find as many textures as we could around the yard. We found smooth things (skin), bumpy things (rocks), rough things (concrete wall), pokey things (pine needles), crunchy things (leaves), and so many more I can’t list them all. I think my favorite thing was hearing Little O say new words like “texture,” “pokey,” “bumpy,” and “crunchy.” He still yells “crunchy!” and runs to stomp on all the leaves every time we go outside.

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We gathered up some of the outside textures (leaves and pine needles), and came inside to add them to some inside textures that I  had already collected and were waiting on the art table. The kids had fun making texture collages, though I think the most exciting thing was getting to use safety scissors. Moms spread the glue around, and kids chose different things to stick on their paper.

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We also tried doing rubbings with the leaves, but in my case I ended up doing most of the rubbing. The older kids were better able to understand the concept of using the crayon on its side, rather than using the point.

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Two-minute No-sew Artist’s Smock

I’ve been planning a pretty messy art project for Little O (stay tuned for that one). Yesterday I decided that I needed to make an artist’s smock for him. I’m not sure why, since he will never use a bib…sigh…his clothes are always stained. Anyway, I was too lazy to break out the sewing machine and in two minutes I had the smock finished. Sometimes you just have to go with fast and easy.

Here is what you will need:

  • 1 adult-sized T-shirt
  • 1 of your child’s T-shirts
  • sharp scissors or roller cutter and mat
  • pins or fabric marker

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Lay the adult-sized t-shirt out flat. Lay the child’s shirt on top of the larger shirt, lining up the necks. Try to get the shirts centered on top of one another.

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With pins or a fabric marker, mark the outside edge of the child’s shirt. Make another mark one inch wider than the smaller shirt.

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Remove the child’s shirt. In a straight line, cut both sides of the shirt from the top to the bottom(both layers of fabric) following the outside (widest) mark. Once the sides are cut, open the shirt and lay flat. Now following the inside mark, cut up only half to three-quarters of the way up the shirt so you have an inch strip. This will be the tie for your smock. Do both sides.

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Viola! You are DONE! Give yourself a pat on the back for making a smock that took you about two minutes. Here is the finished product in action:

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Little O decided he’d rather run away from me than model the smock like a perfect little angel. Gotta love him! I think you get the idea. Hole goes over the head, and the two strips you cut become the ties that go around the back.

Cardboard City

My friend Amanda has four kids, ages 6, 4, 2, and 9 months.  She comes from an early childhood education background, and she has some parenting habits that I think are awesome.  For example, she has “art time” every day with her kids.  Talk about fostering creativity!

Anyway, I told Amanda that I had to get in on this “art time” with her, and the other day we had our first play date.  She was focusing on the theme “construction” with her kids this particular week.

We decided to help the kids create a cardboard city.  First we talked with them about what kinds of buildings they’d find in a city.  Peter (6) immediately said that we could find a skyscraper in a city.  Penny Lane (4) said a house, and Lucy (2) went with her sister’s suggestion.

Each of the kids picked out a box they wanted to work with, and immediately got to work putting on windows, doors, roofs, sidewalks, etc.

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Peter decided to make some roads and everyone chose a spot for their building.

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Penny Lane decided the city needed a horse.  Is that a stable she’s building?

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And of course we needed cars.  I think I just might be in love with that round tower. Marina Towers in Chicago, anyone?