Saturday, December 22, 2012

Santa Handprint Craft

I found this adorable Santa hand print idea on Pinterest and had to try it. What a fun way to make a Christmas card or just to display on your fridge.  This would be a great little project to do every year and see how much your child's hand print has grown!

I used my favorite - washable Crayola paints - for this project.  Simply paint your child's hand with the appropriate colors - white on their four fingers, including the top of their palm and up both sides.  Also a circle of white on the tip of their thumb. Now paint the rest of their thumb red, along with the bottom of their palm, leaving a  rectangle of blank space in the middle. Fill that rectangle with Santa's face. If you don't have an appropriate skin tone, you can use a base of yellow paint, covered with a layer of orange paint. 

This hand print shows up really well on darker paper.  Once it's dry (which only takes a couple minutes if you used the Crayola paint and it didn't get too thick), use a permanent marker to draw on Santa's eyes and nose in black.  Add a little round mouth in red marker, as if he's saying "Ho! Ho! Ho!" 

I am in love with this hand print!!

Reindeer Pretzel Rods

My two- year old looooves "big daddy pretzel sticks" - aka - pretzel rods. You can find them by the bag at regular grocery stores, or in a neat plastic canister from Aldi.  It is so fun and easy to dress them up with melted chocolate or almond bark. Here is a fun reindeer pretzel stick I came up with for Christmas! I know Santa would like to get one of these on Christmas Eve, and they are great snacks for a holiday party as well!

Start by melting almond bark in the microwave. I like to melt mine in a ceramic coffee mug so it's deeper and has a handle.  You'll need about 6 squares of the almond bark for this recipe.  Microwave it for about 21 seconds at a time, stirring in between each time until it is all smooth. 

Dip each pretzel rod into your melted almond bark, tipping the mug at a 45 degree angle if you want more of the pretzel to get covered. I like just covering the tip so it doesn't get too overwhelmingly sweet. Lay your pretzel rods on a sheet of wax paper.

Before the almond bark hardens all the way, add mini M&M's or chocolate chips for the eyes and nose.  Use red ones to make little Rudolfs! My daughter (5) was in charge of this part.  She also helped with the dipping above, so this is a very kid-friendly snack! 

Finally, break off small twisted pretzels to look like antlers. You might use up quite a few that break all the way through but just eat up the extras! Place them at the top sides of your pretzel rods, resting in the melted almond bark. Since I made this up as I went along, I was so happy to discover they all stayed in once the almond bark was hardened. Woohoo!

Just let your pretzel rods sit out until they are hardened, which doesn't take very long. Maybe an hour or two. These are super cute and yummy snacks to make. Great to pass along to friends or teachers as well!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Handprint Reindeer and Wreath Craft

I love making gifts and decorations using my kids' hand prints! Here are two fun and easy ideas to make for Christmas.

Start by tracing your child's hand and cutting it out. You might want to make one really good hand print on a piece of card stock or cardboard so you can reuse it for other projects. Just be sure to make a new hand print every once in a while so you can still  capture your child's hand growing!!

Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer Puppet

Here's what you'll need:

brown construction paper
craft sticks
googly eyes
red craft pom pom
brown paper lunch sack

Use your hand print pattern to cut out two hands from brown construction paper. Attach them to the back of your paper lunch sack - I used glue dots (LOVE those!). Be sure the thumbs are facing together so your "antlers" are symmetrical.  If the hand print is larger and kind of flimsy, secure a craft stick to the back to keep it from flopping over. Again, I used glue dots. My son's hand prints (age 2) were small enough to stand up straight on their own.

Have your child make Rudolf's face using googly eyes and a red craft pom pom.  They could also use crayons or markers to draw it on, too.  My kids had so much fun playing with these little puppets and they were so fast to make! They ran around making their reindeer fly and then pretended to be elves taking care of Santa's reindeer. It was a very fun project!

While they were playing with their new puppets, I busied myself creating another holiday hand print keepsake:

Hand Print Paper Wreath

Cut out multiple hand prints using your "handy" hand print template. (hehe) You'll need about eight hand prints from each child, all cut out of green construction paper. You can use different shades of green, or some green-patterned scrapbook paper would be really cute too! When you have enough cut out, lay them out to create a circle, careful to overlap them all just the same. For my wreath, I used hand prints from both of my kids so it is double layered, but you can make just a single layer wreath too.

Carefully glue the hand prints together, using a glue stick or - you guessed it - glue dots. Finish it off with a simple gift bow.  I chose to display mine on the wall by my kitchen table so I just used rolled up scotch tape to hang it.  You can also use a hole punch to tie a ribbon to it and hang it that way!
Need your wreath to be a little more sturdy? Attach a paper plate to the back with it's middle cut out. For a similar wreath I made with my daughter last year, click HERE.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Frosty's Musical Snowflakes Party Game

Here is a fun game to play at holiday parties this year, or just as some fun indoor exercise during the cold winter months! I collected some ideas from different games I found online to come up with a new version of musical chairs: "Frosty's Musical Snowflakes!"

Start with several white paper plates. You'll need enough for each kid to have one. I decorated mine with the same snowflake design on each, drawn on with a permanent marker.

On the back of just ONE plate, draw a red circle to be the  "Hot Spot!" Be sure you can't see it through the plate from the front.

Now scatter all the plates around the floor, completely randomly without knowing where the "Hot Spot" is.  Have the kids pretend to be snowmen and dance around among the plates while you play some music; preferably "Frosty the Snowman!" I like the version by Gene Autry.

When you stop the music, have the kids jump to the nearest snowflake. Once everyone is standing still, tell them to look under their paper plate to see who is standing on the "Hot Spot." Whoever landed on it has to MELT and is out of the game.

Gather all the plates from the floor and take away one regular plate from the mix. Have the kids close their eyes as you once again scatter the snowflakes on the floor, not knowing where the "Hot Spot" ends up. Then everyone opens their eyes and the game continues for another round, minus one player. Play continues until only one person is left standing!

We played several fun rounds with just my daughter (5) and I, with several snowflakes out and it turned into a fun game of chance to see if one of us landed on the "Hot Spot."  Even my 2 year old can play this one!

I would recommend making a few extra plain snowflake plates as well as an extra "Hot Spot" plate just in case any of them get torn or bent. If the "Hot Spot" gets scuffed or bent, for example, kids will know which one it is and try to avoid it. ;O)

For another fun holiday party idea, check out the Wrapping Paper Game from a blog I wrote last year! I plan to use this game at Molly's class party as well, with a package of pencils so all the kids will get one.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

White Donut Snowman Snack

Our special activity for today was to have a special snack. This is one of the many easier activities in my Christmas Countdown Calendar. For a full list of ideas, click  HERE!

Usually on my "special snack" days I throw together something I come up with on my own or have seen on Pinterest.  Today it was the latter and is probably a variation of what I saw since I didn't go back to check on the directions... (I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not interested in perfection!!)

Slide three mini white powder donuts onto a chopstick. YES - I used the last remaining Hostess Donettes in my house for these!! This was a very precious snack and I'm glad my kids (ages 2 and 5) appreciated them!

Stick on M&M's for the eyes, nose, and buttons using white frosting.  Break some little pretzels into "sticks" and poke them in the sides to be arms. Try to use a skinny stick or else your donuts might break apart! Otherwise, you can actually eat your donuts right off the stick!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fun Snowman Quesadillas

I love making fun snacks and meals for my kids. Here is a quick way to liven up a simple quesadilla!

Use a cookie cutter to make snowman shaped flour tortillas. You'll need two identical pieces per quesadilla.

Sprinkle some cheese (I like to use cheddar or a cheddar/jack blend) in between the two tortillas.  Microwave until the cheese is melted, about 21 seconds. You can also cook this on a skillet for just a few minutes and it would be even more delicioso. (See what I did there? hehe)

Once your snowman is cooked and on the plate, start making his face! Use a single string of shredded cheddar cheese as his carrot nose. Then spoon some sour cream into a small plastic sandwich bag. Add in a couple drops of food coloring. I thought blue looked good since I didn't have black.  Snip a TINY TINY TINY piece of the corner off your bag and pipe the eyes, mouth, and buttons on your snowman.

Finally, sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese along the bottom of your snowman so it looks like he's on a mound of snow!! I made this for lunch one day for my kids (ages 2 and 5) plus my daughter's friend and they were a big hit! It took a plain lunch and turned it into something special, and that's what this blog is all about!

P.S. Check out another yummy snack you can make with flour tortillas from my blog HERE!

Monday, December 10, 2012

S'mores Snowman Snack

I recently procured a couple extra bags of large marshmallows so we have made several s'mores lately - in our oven! After a few plain ones, I decided to try something cute and came up with these easy and fun snowmen s'mores!

Start by lining a cookie sheet with foil, to keep it clean. Set out a few marshmallows on it and broil on high for about 4 minutes. If you want your marshmallows to have that yummy toasted coating, gently turn them over and broil for another 3 minutes or so on the other side.

Place two or three marshmallows on a plate and carefully flatten them down if desired. I made my snowman below with only two marshmallows just because my plate was so small. Three would look more like a real snowman actually... eh - I'm not worried about perfection! ;O) My kids still loved them!

Use chocolate chips for the eyes and smile... and buttons if you used three marshmallows!! I used an orange "Fruity Pebble" cereal for the carrot nose.  Other ideas might be an orange fruit snack, piece of orange tootsie roll, or a golden raisin.  For the stick arms, I melted 1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and placed them in a small plastic sandwich bag.  Trim a TINY corner of the bag and pipe it onto your plate.

As I type this, I realize that my "s'more" doesn't have any graham crackers... wouldn't it be cute to make a graham cracker hat?? NEXT TIME! lol

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Introductory Letter for your Elf on the Shelf

I have purchased a cute holiday edition Groovy Girls doll to be our secret Elf this Christmas! Click HERE for a link to purchase your own on  Check out my other blog post for a whole list of fun ideas to do with your elf all December long.

To go along with this fun new tradition, I have written a letter to my kids, from their new elf, explaining the story and rules for the Elf on the Shelf. You can use any part of this you'd like, just copy and paste it! Be sure to change it to your own elf's name!

"Holiday Greetings! Time to rock and roll! ~ I’m Chrissy Christmas, sent from the North Pole!
Santa Claus sent me through cold snow and ice to be sure you’re not being NAUGHTY, but NICE!
I’m one of his elves and I’m on a mission to be sure you’re sweet and find out what you’re wishin’.

I’ll be in your house and watch you all day, then travel at night so far, far away
To tell Santa about all the things that you’ve done. ~ I won’t miss a thing and we’ll have some fun!
He’ll find out about any fights or whining or messes you make,
but I’ll also tell him about all the nice questions, sweet games, and hugs and kisses you take!

Santa loves to bring presents to good girls and boys, so be sure to follow these simple joys:
Love each other; talk nicely; be sure to help out; be respectful; be happy and don’t cry or pout.
Listen to your mommy and daddy and teachers; be nice to friends, adults, and all of God’s creatures.

After I visit with Santa I’ll come back to your house ~ sneaking inside as quick as a mouse.
Then each morning when you are both awake, look around and find me – how long will it take?
Every day I’ll be somewhere silly and new, ready to spend my day watching you!

My job is important, Santa’s counting on me so please let me work and just leave me be.
I’ll have enough fun watching and making you search, so just give me hugs then return to my perch.
Your mommy can move me all by herself, and there I’ll sit still – your Elf on the Shelf!

When you leave cookies out on Christmas Eve night, leave me by them – I won’t take a bite!
After Santa leaves presents (like I’m sure he will), I’ll hop in his sleigh because it is real!
I’ll fly back to his workshop to spend the next year, but come Christmas time I’ll always be here."


Friday, November 30, 2012

Elf on the Shelf Ideas

I have succumbed to the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon... and I can't wait to get started!! :OD As the story goes, Santa sends a little elf to your house to watch over your kids. Then the elf reports back to the North Pole each night whether they've been naughty or nice! The next morning, the elf is found in a new funny place in the house! Then on Christmas Eve, the elf returns to the North Pole to spend the year with Santa until returning to your house again next time.

Our elf will "arrive" on December 1st. I guess some families' elves start on Thanksgiving but I'm a little behind because I had kind of an issue choosing an elf. After an epic search for the perfect elf that wasn't too big, wasn't too small, wasn't too creepy and wasn't too expensive, I found a super cute elf on Amazon and had her over-nighted. Chrissy Christmas was delivered just in time!

Here is a list of ideas I've compiled for your own Elf on the Shelf! Some ideas I came up with myself and some of them are from Pinterest. I'll depict those with a (P) after them. Check out my Pinterest board called "Believe" for more ideas I've collected by clicking HERE.

1. Hanging garland or a new ornament on your Christmas tree
2. Dangling from the stairs railing with a rope like he's climbing a mountain
3. Peeking at the next activity on your Christmas Countdown Calendar
4. Making a snow angel in flour or sugar on the counter (P)
5. Building a snowman out of marshmallows (P)
6. By the window with new window clings to hang
7. By the cat (pet) dishes with a new toy for your pet
8. On an easel/chalkboard/paper with a hand drawn picture or note for your kids
9. On the couch with tv remote and bowl of popcorn (P)
10. Popping out of a box of facial tissues with tissues scattered around
11. Playing a board game or card game with other toys (P)
12. Inside your child's dresser drawer trying on their clothes
13. Reading books to an audience of stuffed animals (P)
14. Hiding inside your child's backpack with a new pencil
15. In the bathroom with a marker and a special message or picture drawn on the mirror (P)
16. Lining up a row of toy cars (P)
17. On a picture frame having drawn mustaches or silly faces with washable markers on the glass (P)
18. Hiding in a toy box
19. Peeking out from under your child's pillow
20. In front of the mirror trying on hair bows
21. Hanging onto a ceiling fan ready for a ride
22. With candy or cereal scattered around them and your child's name or a message spelled out in the mess (P)
23. Riding inside a toy truck or a ride-on toy
24. Inside the refrigerator all wrapped up in a small blanket to keep warm

Christmas Countdown Calendar Activities

So apparently I took off the entire month of November from blogging... until today. It wasn't a planned break and I still made lots of crafts and fun snacks with my kids but I just didn't get around to documenting them! Oh well! I have so much planned for December, as always, so I really hope I can get it together and type this month!

I am so excited for December to finally be here! My favorite holiday tradition is our Christmas Countdown Calendar - started by my mom years ago. The fun twist is that for each day, there is a little note with a special activity to do that day. A friend of the family sewed the original calendar for us, which still hangs in my parent's house each year. When I moved out to college, my mom made a calendar for me, and a few years later she made a larger, more colorful one for my kids to enjoy.

The newest version is pictured below. She actually found the tree part with pockets at a store, then attached it a large back ground fabric and quilted it. She added sequins for some sparkle, our last name in felt letters up top, and a sleeve for hanging.

My mom always wrote each day's activity in little rhymes! I have taken to drawing pictures on my notes, since my kids aren't old enough to read yet (but Molly (5) is almost there!). I guarantee mine will also rhyme when Molly can read it!

Anyway, here is the complete list of activities I have planned for our December. They are already in the pockets and planned on my family calendar (though still a secret to the kids!) so I know what we'll be doing each day. Of course, depending on unexpected schedule changes and my overall mood (hehe) I will change up the days as needed. ;O)

1. Decorate the Christmas Tree
2. Open a special gift (these are usually something small like some silly lip glass or a new book)
3. Set up our Dept 56 North Pole Village
4. Write a letter to Santa (here's an idea for kids too young to write: Collage Letter)
5. Read special Christmas books (my kids will each receive a new book this day, too!)
6. Go play indoor mini golf
7. Decorate gingerbread men
8. Drive around to see lights - there's a neat display at the Great Mall in Olathe, KS!
9. Go see a movie at the theatre
10. Make a special craft. Here's one idea from last year: Paper Plate Santa
11. Visit Santa
12. Eat a special holiday snack. Here's a great party snack idea: Rice Crispy Treat Wreath
13. Go roller skating (or ice skating!)
14. Make a gingerbread house out of graham crackers (as seen on Pinterest...)
15. Open a special gift (I repeat this a few times... a new idea might be to make and send Christmas cards!)
16. Have a holiday party with your friends (or maybe just a play date with fun snacks and punch...)
17. Make a special craft (OR go on a special shopping trip)
18. Wrap presents and play the Wrapping Paper Game
19. Holiday party at school
20. Have a pajama party complete with popcorn and a Christmas movie
21. Bake cookies to leave out for Santa
22. Eat a special holiday meal
23. Play in the snow (weather permitting!) OR make a mini snowman with homemade play doh
24. Open a special present (surprise! It's pajamas from my mom and a blanket from me!)

Just in case you need a few extra ideas, here's some blasts from the past: eat dinner by candlelight; have an indoor picnic; watch Christmas specials on TV; go buy/cut down a Christmas tree; decorate your house - indoors and out; write a Holiday Top 10; write a funny parody of a Christmas carol; sing Christmas carols; choose a friend to send gifts and cards to from a Secret Santa; make a popcorn chain for your Christmas tree; attend a holiday ceremony at church; host a holiday cookie swap; volunteer at a soup kitchen; adopt a family to buy gifts for; go see The Nutcracker Ballet; find a holiday puppet show/play/book reading to attend!

I hope this is enough ideas to get you started on your own countdown calendar! I can't wait to share all the things we do this year with ours as we go along! HAPPY DECEMBER!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Paper Ghost Crafts, Great for Cutting Practice!

My daughter, Molly (5), is in kindergarten and cutting with scissors is important to practice, so I came up with several fun Halloween crafts for her to make! Now we have new ghost decorations for our house and Molly got to practice cutting without realizing it was like homework!

The easiest ghosts she made each started with a single sheet of white construction paper.  I drew a simple ghost on it, going all the way down to the bottom edge of the paper and added in several lines for her to cut.  One ghost had zig-zag lines and the other had curvy lines.  Molly had to cut out each ghost and cut on the different lines as her practice. Then she got to decorate her ghosts with  markers to make the faces. I loved her creepy grin with all the teeth!!

Another simple ghost project I had her make used strips of white construction paper and - my favorite - a paper plate! First I drew several lines along a sheet of white construction paper for Molly to cut out.  Then I had her decorate the paper plate with a ghostly face.  Finally we taped the strips to the back of the paper plate to complete her ghost!

For both ghost crafts in this blog post, use a single hole punch to create a hole at the top of each ghost's head.  Thread some yarn or ribbon through and use that to hang up your newest Halloween decoration!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Mini Pizzas

As part of our Halloween Countdown Calendar, I always like to include a spooky meal as one day's special event. This year I created yummy mini pizzas that went over well with the whole family!

First I started with pizza crust. I used a Jiffy Pizza Crust mix which is super fast and easy to work with. Follow the directions on the box, but if yours turns out sticky like mine always does, just add extra flour! Spray a pan with cooking spray so your pizza creations don't stick when you try to serve them and shape your dough into whatever you want. I made four separate mini pizzas: two shaped like pumpkins and two shaped like ghosts. Remember to exaggerate the shape a little because they'll puff out and lose their shape a bit as they cook!

Next, spread on the sauce of your choice. I used basi pesto sauce for my GREEN ghosts and a very yummy dried tomato pesto sauce for the ORANGE pumpkins. Thanks to Aldi's for offering these delicious jarred pesto sauces this time of year!!
Sprinkle on some cheese, but you don't need that much! I used white mozzarella on the ghost pizzas and orange cheddar cheese on the pumpkin ones.  Finally, decorate your pizzas with whatever topping you'd like (or whatever is on hand if you're making yours as a last minute idea like I did!!). I used pepperonis cut into smaller shapes to create jack-o-lantern faces and spooky faces on my ghosts.  Black olives would be great for the ghost faces if I'd had them!

Bake your pizzas per the directions on the crust. Mine took about 12 minutes at 400 degrees.

I was so pleased at how bright the orange pumpkin pizzas became! My kids loved these pizzas so much! It was such a big deal to pick and choose which one you got to eat. These would be cute to serve on Halloween night, too!  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Hand Print Crafts

I love making little crafts with my kids' hand prints, and Halloween is no exception! I love finding new ideas on Pinterest to add to the ideas I found over the years or came up with on my own. Here are a few fun things to do with those little cutie hands (and feet)!

Hand print ghosts! Use white paint on black construction paper for these little ghosts. Once it's dry, turn your paper so the fingers are pointing down and add a ghostly face using permanent markers or paint. You can also use stickers or googly eyes!

 You can also make a ghost using your child's footprint! Ben, 2, made this at the day care at Element Fitness while I was working out - what a wonderful child care program! He added extra glitter and glue to his.

Here's a new idea I found on Pinterest this year and it was so fun to make with my kids! (Yes, I made one, too!) Spread orange paint on just your knuckles. Hold your fist tight and place it on the paper to make a pumpkin!

Give it a finger print leaf with green paint. These are so cute! Make several pumpkins to create a whole patch and connect them with a twirly green vine and more finger print leaves.

Finally, we made another pumpkin craft combining two of my VERY FAVORITE things: paper plates and hand prints!! Start by painting a paper plate all orange. This was a great project for my messy two-year-old.

Next, make a hand print using green paint. When all your paint is dry, cut out a rectangle of brown construction paper or card stock for the stem and staple it on, along with your green hand print leaf! Look how big Ben's had has gotten!! Even though their hands are getting closer to the same size, I'm sure you can tell which pumpkin belongs to Ben, 2 and Molly, 5! hehe

TIP: When cutting something out like this hand print or a picture, always leave a small border around it so you can see the original shape! If you cut right up to the line, your cutting will dictate how it looks and distort the original. ;O)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Easy and FUN Halloween Meals

It doesn't take much to make a regular dinner or snack memorable. Most of the things I make for my kids are thrown together on the spur of the moment when I get a hankering for something special. Even though not everything I put together is perfect or planned out, my kids are happy to have something a little different and I feel accomplished as a "fun mom" among all the un-fun chores and tasks I have to do.  Here are a few EASY examples of fun ways to liven up the every-day meals around Halloween time!

First I'll start this post with a VERY EASY and VERY FUN Halloween breakfast! Cut a bagel in half and toast it. Smear with plain cream cheese (so it's white) and make a ghost face using raisins for the eyes and a dried cherry for the mouth! Molly (5) was so excited for this breakfast and it was so simple!!

Next in the day is a snack! Here's a fun one I've seen on Pinterest: Jack-o-Lantern fruit cups! Simply use a black permanent marker to draw a pumpkin face on an individually packaged container of mandarin oranges or peaches. I drew my faces on the side and attempted to have my kids hold them up for a picture, but as you can see, they were being a little silly! Special note, however: I have tried to serve these peaches before and they were ignored and pushed away. As soon as I added a cute pumpkin face, my kids ate them up!!

I know I've seen these before in those little holiday magazines you can buy at the grocery store check-out, but this batch of Mummy Dogs was made and "planned" right before I popped them in the oven! Start with plain hotdogs and make a slit in each with a sharp knife. Fill it with a slice of American cheese - I only use a fourth of a slice in each hotdog. Now cut a refrigerated crescent roll into several strips, about half an inch wide. Wrap each hotdog with two or three strips to make mummies!

Bake your mummy dogs at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes. When they're done, add little eyes with ketchup and mustard and serve! I serve these kind of hotdogs every once in a while, but just wrapped up normally so the taste wasn't anything new to my kids, but Molly and Ben got a big kick out of this special dinner! This would be so easy to serve on the 31st before you head out Trick-or-Treating.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Halloween and Fall Busy Bag Ideas

I decided to update a few items in my Busy Bag collection and wanted to add some seasonal activities for my kids! Now I have my bags separated in sets of five to be rotated out every couple weeks so there's always something new for them to play with. Here's what I've come up with so far for their Halloween and Fall Busy Bags!

Lately I've seen some really cute number games on Pinterest with a gingerbread man or a Santa theme. I decided to make a version for a Halloween/Fall Busy Bag! I used paper plates and drew a pumpkin on one and an apple on the other just to make it easy and sturdy. Then I filled the apple with smaller numbers, from 1 through 6: the numbers on one die. I filled the pumpkin with numbers you can get from rolling two dice: 2 through 12.

The object of the game is to cover all the numbers by rolling the dice and placing an object on the number as it is rolled. Use one die for the apple, and two for the pumpkin. You can cover the numbers with anything you want. I put a sandwich bag of craft pom poms in mine, but later thought some cut out shapes of pumpkin and apples SEEDS would be cute!  You can play by yourself for quiet time or as a game with two or more. Molly (5) and I played by taking turns. I love that she gets practice reading the numbers while we're having fun!

Another Halloween idea I came up with for our Busy Bag collection is a set of Felt Jack-O-Lanterns! I simply cut out a pumpkin shape and several face shapes (triangles, almonds, crescents, etc) that my kids can stick on and make different expressions with.  My personal favorite is the pirate eye patch! hehe I also cut out a few different shapes for stems and leaves. This is a great activity for my son, Ben (2), because he has been talking about emotions lately! "Ben is happy!" .. and at bedtime "Ben is sad."  Now we can practice making a happy face, mad face, scared face, and more.

Finally, I put together a counting activity with Halloween "candy!" I cut out several pieces of candy from colorful card stock in six different colors. As usual, I used my Cricut electronic cutting machine. You could totally use real pieces of candy though, like individually wrapped hard candies or candy corn for this project! I made several cards to go along with this project, including ones with a number on them to count out the shapes and many different pattern cards. I also included a few simple math equations (1+2=3) and a couple charts for counting out the totals. I allowed for charting by color and shape and also a separate sheet for charting both (not pictured... it's on the back of one of those bottom cards).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Decorate a Witch's Shelf for Halloween!

Another new decoration I've added this year is my "witch's shelf!" I put away my normal decorations from a shelf in my house and replaced them with some creepy Halloween decorations! Some of the display is store bought, but the rest is homemade. Below you can see the start of my own Witch's Shelf, including a couple wonderful pieces by Jim Shore which I just LOVE. For the rest, I gathered several empty bottles from around the house and some really cool looking old ones from antique stores to use as potions!

I used paper to create new labels for the bottles, such as a skull and cross bones and a cauldron of boiling potion! I used my Cricut electronic cutting machine to make some of the shapes, but you can use stickers or just cut out your own. The cartridge I used was Mini Monsters. A couple bottles in this collection were made last year, and you can read about those labels in a previous blog post here.

I also decorated one of the old bottles with fake spider webs and plastic spiders! I dropped several fake spiders inside and pushed some fake spider web inside with a pencil. Then I wrapped the outside of the bottle with more spider webs (can't get enough!!) and a few spiders on the outside.

A final idea for a witch's shelf is to fill fancy glasses or jars or bottles with colored water... and maybe some fake fingers or eye balls!! You know I'll be doing that too. ;O) Happy decorating!

Easy Indoor Halloween Decorations

It's not a secret that I LOVE Halloween and decorate my house as much as I can! We live in a quiet cul-de-sac so I do most of my decorating inside. The creepier the better! I'm so happy my kids really like it too and aren't afraid - especially my five year old daughter who really gets into it with me. Here are a few EASY ideas to decorate your own house that I've done this year.... back in the middle of September... haha!

Every year I decorate my stairs with mice!! I use black cutouts made by Martha Stewart that look so real! You can find them at Amazon or probably make your own with black construction paper or card stock. In the past I've stuck them on with sticky putty but this year I just used some rolled up tape. EASY!

My bathroom is usually decorated quite a bit, too. I have a full wall (top half only) of mirrors which I usually COVER in fake spider webs. I LOVE fake spider webs! They can be a hassle to hang up and then take down though, so here's an EASY option that I did on my smaller bathroom mirror. MARKERS!! I love drawing on my windows and mirrors with markers as a fun activity for my kids and an easy decoration. For this shimmery spider web, I used a white Crayola's Chrystal Effects Window Marker which you can buy at Target or here. After the web was finished, I literally balanced a fake spider on the top of the mirror. DONE!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Paper Bat Craft and Decoration

This year my daughter, Molly (5) is all about bats for Halloween! As part of our traditional Halloween Countdown Calendar, we made a special bat project one day! We cut out several paper bats and used them a few different ways.

Start with sheets of black construction paper and fold them in half; either direction is fine. Outline half a bat, including a little ear, pointy wing, and a foot.  I used a purple crayon so the lines wouldn't show up so much on the final project, and I made several per sheet.  Later, Molly told me they were all too skinny to we fattened them up a bit by cutting outside the lines!

Cut out the bats one at a time. This was great practice with the scissors for Molly because a bat shape has a good amount of straight edges and curves without being too difficult to cut out.  She loved unfolding each one to see how it turned out.

The ones that turned out the best became our little "kites." Decorate yours with little faces, fur, and lines on the wings using crayons that will show up easily on the black paper. Silver was our favorite!

When that's done, stick a piece of scotch tape on both sides of it's belly, fold the bat in half, and hole punch it so you end up with two holes side by side. The tape just makes it stronger. You could also use card stock for stronger bats! String some yarn through the two holes and tie a knot.  Be sure there's a pretty good length of yarn attached, maybe about three feet so you can run with your bat "flying" behind you! When Ben (2) woke up from his nap, he was excited to join in the chasing of the bats!

The rest of our bats became wall decorations like some I saw on Pinterest recently! Fold each wing down so it looks like your bat is flapping its wings. Use a piece of rolled up scotch tape to attach it to your wall.  When you put several bats together on your wall, it looks like they're flying around the room! I filled my stairwell with them and I love it!!  This is the first year I've done this but I wouldn't be surprised if the bats come out every year now!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Frankenstein and his Wife Apple Snacks!

I found this fun treat on one of my favorite blogs: Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons. She shares so many wonderfully fun and easy ideas for snacks and meals for your kids! Here's one I was able to recreate so easily for Molly (5). The original snack included both Frankenstein AND his wife, but I opted for just one half of the couple since it was just a little snack.

Start by cutting an apple almost in half, skipping the core, and lay it flat on your plate. Cut several dark grapes in half and lay them out to be the hair. The white streak in her hair is mini marshmallows! Cut another marshmallow in half with kitchen shears and stick them on as eyes. For the eye brows and luscious lips I used dried cherries cut with kitchen shears. The pupils are dried blueberries cut in half.

Molly thought her snack was so cute and fun... but she did have me cut the apple into slices anyway! Haha!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Glitter Spider Web Craft For Kids

Every once in a while, my kids wander into the kitchen and I find them hanging around the table BEGGING to do a craft! (I love those moments!) Unless I have something planned, I need to think on my toes and come up with something to appease them. They had their eyes on the glitter so we started making glitter spider webs!

I gave each of my kids a black sheet of construction paper and a bottle of glue. Ben (2) went to town with the glue. Squeezing it out on the paper is his favorite part of arts and crafts time so I just let him do his own thing. Molly (5) requested a pattern to go off of, so I drew a large spider web on her paper using a white crayon. She traced it with glue and then sprinkled it with ... GLITTER!

My two-year-old did a great job of NOT making a mess with the glitter - I couldn't be more proud. (Just had to put that out there!) When their spiderwebs were complete, we added on a paper spider. Molly made a glitter face on hers which was cute. I used my Cricut electric cutting machine to quickly cut out a couple spiders for us, but you can totally just make your own. Maybe with cotton balls? If you wanted to make the same shape we had, use the Mini Monsters cartridge!

(This is Ben's picture! So cute!)