Découpage Vases (teacher gifts)

Happy New Year! I hope the first 20 days of 2014 have gone well for everyone 🙂 Like most people, we had a crazy-busy holiday season, and blogging was last on my priority list.  But I hope to post more frequently this year, because I have lots of projects to share and other topics I’d like to write about!

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I’m co-room-mom in both girls’ classes this year, and teacher gifts are one of my responsibilities. The norm at their school is to collect money from whoever would like to donate, and then get the teacher a gift card along with some kind of “handmade” project from the kids. Last year, the room mom in my (then) kindergartener’s class had each kid fill out a page titled “my favorite thing about Mrs. H.” and then compiled them into a book for the teacher. It turned out really cute, but I didn’t want to do the same thing again this year. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to come up with an idea, especially for someone like me who likes that crafty kind of stuff, but I literally spent hours searching Pinterest (and the Internet in general) for ideas. I was under certain limitations, mainly that I had to come up with something that the kids could do (for the most part) at home – it’s not like I could go in and command control of the class for an hour to do a project.

I came across a vase that was découpaged with magazine pictures, one chosen by each kid in the class. I liked that idea, but instead of using magazine pictures, I decided to have each kid decorate a small square of paper. I sent home a letter explaining this to parents, along with a pre-cut square of white paper, and an envelope to send it back in (along with any money they’d like to donate). I wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to return their square, in hopes that I would get the majority of the completed squares back by my deadline. (Believe me, I know how much of a pain it is to manage the mountain of paperwork, etc., that comes home from school!)

Most of the kids did return their squares within the next few days, and they were all so unique and cute. There were 5 or 6 kids in each class that didn’t return their square though, so I stopped into class one afternoon (with teacher permission) and pulled aside these kids for 5 minutes to have them decorate one.

Of course, procrastinator me waited until the night before the class parties to start découpaging. My original idea was to use a planter (and put a houseplant in it), but when I went out shopping, I couldn’t find a square or rectangle planter that was the right size (It’s much easier to découpage on flat sides, and I knew it would turn out better this way.)  I ended up buying tall ceramic vases instead.

The découpaging itself was a bit puzzle-like. I knew how many square-inches of artwork I had, and had measured the vases in the store before buying them, so I knew that they were roughly the correct size. But it took some trimming white space to get them all to fit, and that resulted in some small gaps at certain spots around the vase. I ended up using small pieces of colored paper to fill in these gaps – going for a random, kids-artwork kind of look. I also découpaged colored tissue paper around the top edge of the vase, and wrote the class year (in paint marker) on the bottom of the vase. I used several coats of Mod Podge applied with a sponge brush, and sanded lightly in between coats. I finished it off with a layer of waterproof glossy polyurethane sealant. The vases were left to dry overnight, and the next morning I picked up some brightly-colored flowers to put in them.

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One thing I wish I had done differently is asked the kids to use colored pencils or crayons, because the squares done in marker smeared slightly when I applied the découpage . (It may have also worked to use a layer of hairspray over these prior to applying the Mod Podge, but I didn’t have any on hand.) Other than that, I was pretty happy with how the découpage vases turned out, and got lots of compliments from the parents who attended the parties where we gave the vases to the teachers (along with a generous Target gift card). Although I came up with the idea, I really can’t take credit though- the kids’ awesome artwork is what really made them great!  The teachers seemed to really like them too – one asked me “how did you do this?” and the other one sent home a note saying how much she would always treasure this as a reminder of her 2013-2014 class.

Now I have a few months to come up with something for their end-of-year gifts 🙂

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For this project, I used:

Mod Podge CS11202 Original 16-Ounce Glue, Gloss Finish

(similar) 9in Matte Black Square Ceramic Vase

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Guest Post from Melissa @ MeloMomma :)

Today my friend Melissa is swinging by to share a cute and simple craft idea for the younger kiddos. She blogs about crafts, recipes, and all kinds of other fun mom stuff at MeloMomma. She’s posts really frequently and I always enjoy what she writes about. Go check her out!
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My son’s teacher assigned a family craft! We were to make an animal entirely out of leaves. It took a little thought from the four of us, but with a little guidance my son designed Rahh, the lion! Have fun and be creative!!!
What you will need:
Newspaper
Leaves
Cardboard
Heavy books
Scissors
Glue

Directions:
Gather several different shapes of leaves.
Open a heavy book in the center and line the pages with newspaper.
Place the leaves on top of the newspaper. Be careful that the leaves do not touch.
Place newspaper on top of the leaves and close the book.
Repeat until al the leaves have a safe spot in the books.
Allow approx. 5 days to dry.
Remove the leaves from the books and design your leaf animal or creature.
It may be helpful to draw an outline before placing the leaves on to the cardboard.
I also recommend designing the creature and laying the leaves in place prior to to actually gluing them on.

Wobbly People – Kids Plastic Easter Egg Craft

A sampling of our plastic Easter egg collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering what the heck to do with all of these empty plastic Easter eggs right about now. While they can be recycled (at least by our provider), here’s an easy craft that lets your kids get some more fun out of their plastic eggs once all of the candy is gone.

Easter Egg Wobbly People

Supplies

Plastic Easter eggs

Small rocks or pebbles

Hot glue gun

Paint, yarn, tissue paper, googly eyes, etc.

Step 1: Choose Eggs

Feel free to mix it up by switching around tops & bottoms!

Note: if you have some eggs that open vertically instead of horizontally, I would encourage your kids to NOT choose these. You’ll appreciate this when it comes to Step 3.

Step 2: Gather Stones

You can use either small-to-average sized stones – or pebbles. Pebbles are easier to balance but stones are easier to glue, so it’s a bit of a wash.

If using stones, try to choose those that are relatively symmetrical and that fit nice and snug in the bottom of the egg. We got stones from the river rocks that surround our fire pit (the kind you buy in a bag from Home Depot) so we had a huge selection to choose from. If you don’t, you can make nearly any rock that fits in the egg work.

make weebles

Step 3: A Balancing Act

This is where you’ll hot glue the stones or pebbles into the egg to create the “wobbly person.” It’s easier said than done.

Before adding the hot glue, experiment to get an idea of what position the stone should be in to keep the egg somewhat upright. Obviously, after you add the hot glue, you only have a small time-frame in which to slide the rock around until the glue dries.

If you’re using pebbles, you’ll probably have to add a second layer of glue and some more pebbles, unless you happen to have particularly heavy pebbles.

Now’s not the time to be a perfectionist. As long as the egg didn’t immediately fall over, it was good enough for me!

Important! If you haven’t noticed, the eggs have a slightly-larger-than-pin-sized hole in each end, so be sure to set the egg on a piece of scrap paper or something when you add the hot glue, as a little bit will leak out. Onto your fingers, if you’re holding it (learned from experience).

If you have eggs that don’t stay shut well, add a touch of tacky glue to the edge in a couple spots and wipe away the excess. Or just use scotch tape.

Step 4: Decorate

This is the fun part! You can use paint, paint markers, permanent markers (I let my girls use Sharpies under close supervision), yarn, tissue paper, googly eyes – whatever you want! Tacky glue works best to adhere things, but regular school glue works OK as long as you hold the item in place for a minute.

My girls opted to go relatively simple with theirs.

Step 5: Play!

Once everything’s dry, these are pretty sturdy little things. Ours ended up getting a tour of the house, riding a cat, joining some Little People for dinner, going for a boat ride in a shoe, and who knows what else that I didn’t notice. 🙂

If you make these, let me know! I’d love to see what some other kids come up with.

Brick Bookends

We have a wall of bookshelves in our den, but I keep a few writing and craft related books in my office. After searching the house for things to function as bookends, I decided to grab a couple stray bricks from the backyard and (after thoroughly washing them) have the kids paint them.

They had fun, and I love my new bookends 🙂

 

Tile Coaster Kids Craft

I definitely didn’t invent the idea of creating coasters out of ceramic tiles – there are all kinds of (awesome) tile coaster projects on Pinterest and craft blogs. For good reason – tile coasters are a cheap, easy project and there are endless ways to make them  – you can decoupage paper or fabric, paint, draw with markers, or even make photograph tile coasters. Tile coasters are a useful craft, and they make great housewarming or hostess gifts.

We’ve had a box of extra bathroom tiles sitting in our shed since, oh…when we bought our house 9 years ago, and I thought a set of these coasters would make a great gift for my mom, whose birthday was last week. Although I was dying to decoupage some of my favorite fabric scraps on a set of tile coasters (and will soon,) I wanted to incorporate my girls in making this set.

I could have simply handed them the craft paints and had them go to town, but we’ve already employed that technique on flower pots and canvases that were given to my parents as gifts, so I wanted something different.

Even though I’m not a scrapbooker, I love scrapbook paper, and I had recently picked up a pretty package from Target’s Dollar Spot. After brainstorming a bit, I decided to have the girls draw little pictures to decoupage over the scrapbook paper, essentially making it a border. That turned out to be a great idea since they both wanted to ditch their first few drawings – and it’s much easier to provide a new piece of paper than to wash craft paint off a frustrated preschooler’s sabotaged creation (been there).

So that’s what we did. I applied a few coats of Modge Podge over the scrapbook paper, let it dry, and then did the same thing over the drawings. I lightly sanded between coats to smooth the texture a bit, and used tacky glue to adhere felt hearts on the bottom of the coasters so they’ll slide easily and won’t scratch surfaces.

Even though they’ve already been gifted, as soon as I can find my red Sharpie I’m going to write the girls names and the year on the back 🙂

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On an unrelated note, I wanted to give a shout-out (and thanks) to MeloMomma, who chose Secondhand Fancy as her Monday Blog Spotlight this week!

Birthday Craft for Dad (I can’t take credit for this one)

When I asked the girls what they wanted to make for their Dad’s birthday earlier this month, my older daughter P (who’s almost 5) immediately said “A Reds caterpillar.”

My husband Steve is a huge Cincinnati Reds fan (I always offer up the fact that he has the Reds logo tattooed on his arm as proof of his die-hardedness.) P just likes caterpillars.

So while I did offer a few suggestions, Mr. Jay Bruce Caterpillar is all their creation. Needless to say, Daddy loved it. 🙂

Kid’s Crafts – Eggshell Insects

So I’ve decided to expand this blog a bit by sharing some of the crafts that I do with my 3 and 4-year-old daughters. I don’t think my ideas are particularly special or unique, but I try really hard to find/come up with ways to incorporate things that would otherwise be thrown away.

But first, I wanted to include an excerpt of a post that I wrote for The Mommy Playbook. You can click on the link if you want to read the whole thing, but here’s the most important part (as it pertains to this blog).

“I do buy some craft supplies – while it is possible to create crafts using only things found lying around the house – or headed for the garbage can – being able to incorporate the occasional pom-pom or wiggly eye makes things so much more fun.”

Anyway, I just wanted to point this out, since at first-glance it could seem hypocritical to have a blog tagline reading “creating kid’s crafts out of household trash” while posting pictures of things made out of pipe cleaners (etc.)

That said, I really do buy minimal craft supplies. They’re almost always from the dollar store (or Target’s irresistible Dollar Spot) and I generally only choose things that can be used in multiple crafts (like packets of stickers, or the aforementioned pipe cleaners) versus pre-made “craft kits.”

And – don’t tell my kids – but many crafts end up, well…recycled themselves. As much as I love everything they make, we do a craft nearly every day, and the fact is that I can’t keep it all on display (or stored away) indefinitely. So sometimes, once a few weeks have passed I’ll disassemble and return whatever can be reused to the craft supply bin.

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egg carton craft

P was less than enthused about my taking her picture.

Egg carton insects are a classic. The girls each made a spider*, butterfly, and caterpillar (1, 2, and 3 “bumps,” respectively, which meant the project used one egg carton exactly.)

*I know spiders aren’t insects

egg carton spider

Meet Scary the spider

egg carton catepillar

Sarah the caterpillar

and Butterflyie the butterfly

Kool-Aid Playdough

The girls and I made this Kool-Aid playdough one evening shortly after I came across the recipe on Infarrantly Creative.  It’s super easy (and cheap) to make and smells delicious – we loved the end result! The only drawback is that  it does have to be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, and lasts 3 months tops, but we had so much fun making it that I’m sure the kids won’t mind doing it again every so often. Thanks again to Beckie for the recipe!

it's brighter in person

Shrinky Dinks!

OK, so it’s not totally in keeping with the blog theme, but the girls and I had so much fun making Shrinky Dinks today! It was a total blast from the past.

This is my new keychain (those are the first letters of the girls’ names) 🙂 I would show you their necklace and bracelet, but they’re both (finally) asleep, and I don’t dare tempt fate by sneaking in to retrieve the jewelry. Maybe I’ll add a picture later.