Fun and Simple Winter Crafts

Winter has nearly gone in many places, but I know that for those family members of mine in Wisconsin and Idaho, hot chocolate still sounds great any time of day.  Here in Pasadena, we have not had a single flake of snow, of course, but that has not stopped us from at least trying to be a bit festive.  Here are some of the Winter crafts that we enjoy.  (See descriptions below)

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1. Dixie Cup Igloo (Dixi cup, glue, scissors, and marshmallows)                                   2.Snow/Paper Snowflakes (either hung or taped to windows) Tip: run them through the sewing machine on a long and loose stitch, leaving a few stitches in between to string them up with a floating effect. (Paper, scissors) You can also string cotton balls on fishing line or thread to make “snow”.  Click here for PDF Instructions on cutting out Snow Stars  SnowStar                                                                                                                                3. Paper Plate Snowman with letters of child’s name (plates, construction paper, glue)      4. Picasso Style Snowman (Melted Snowman Picture construction paper, scissors, glue)    5. Melted Snowman Sugar Cookies and Snowman Ice cream Cones for those of us wearing t-shirts in 75 degree weather this winter.

Halloween Fun

Halloween is almost here. The following ideas are great for simple, last minute learning activities.

Get the party started by making your own pin the nose on the Jack o’ lantern game.

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OR..make a jack o’ lantern design game, where you can create a variety of different noses, eyes, mouths..etc  to experiment with.  Seize a teaching opportunity by describing the faces and making comments like, “This face looks surprised now that we have changed the eyes” or “This face looks worried now that we changed the mouth.”

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And a few crafts from the Lakeshore Learning teachers corner:  Milk Jug Monsters and Paper bag scarecrows.  (click on pdf directions below)

Paper Bag Scarecrows at Lakeshore Learning

Milk Jug Monsters at Lakeshore Learning

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Don’t forget to peek at my posts from October of last year to see how to make Flap-jack o ‘lanterns (pumpkin pancakes) and find more great craft ideas. Happy Halloween!

Kids and Photoshop

Remember when you first tried using Photoshop?  Maybe it was recently or in college.  If you are still a spring chicken, it might have been in a class in High School.  I am married to a Designer, so my daughter started scribbling with a wacom pen (see image below) when she was 18 months old. A wacom pad is super fun for kids, but quite expensive. 

 My sister Deborah, who is a veteran home-schooler, taught her kids to use a computer as pre-schoolers and they enjoyed using educational software, such as Reader Rabbit.  In order to join the ranks of computer savvy tots learning with software and using key-commands like pros, my 3-year-old girl will need to learn how to use a mouse. (I know, touch-pads and touch screen technology is quickly taking over the tech scene, but I will stick with a mouse for now..)  We experimented with this a couple of times, and she just wiggled the mouse back and forth on the pad, unable to see how it related to the little arrow on the screen.  I then thought of pulling up Photoshop and using the paintbrush tool to try to show her that when she moved the mouse, the paintbrush would also move, and paint on the screen.  She was really digging this and wanted to do it all morning. She was slowly learning how to draw circles, and learning how to “click and drag” in order to paint digitally. You can adjust the size of the brush, so that they can see a nice large circle on the screen to follow, instead of the tiny arrow you usually see with a mouse.  We also adjusted the brush texture, so it looked like a little grey cloud of dots swishing around on the screen, and she called this her “bumblebees”, and would say, “My bumblebees are coloring.”   I know that there is a lot more she can learn and gain from playing in Photoshop, and I will continue to post about her adventures in Digital Art.

If you are new to Photoshop, you can download a 30-day free trial from Adobe to check it out!  Then view the video below for a handy YouTube tutorial in trying out the different brushes in Photoshop.

Autumn Carnival

The whole family (my hubby and our two daugthers) headed over to the Pumpkin Festival in Pasadena today for some family time.  My 3 year old girl loved riding a pony.  She did not love the big blow-up bouncy house (kids of all ages mindlessly flopping and flailing around in an enclosed space), but when she found the crafts area she was in her element. I thought I would share these simple crafts as many of us will be having carnivals, October birthday parties, and other gatherings with family and friends at this time of year.  All of the activites on this blog are simple and inexpensive, as were these:

Ghost on a Stick (lollipop with paper over the top and eyes drawn on with a marker)


Pumpkin Critters (Small pumpkin decorated with mini-pompoms, googly-eyes and pipe-cleaners.)  I am sure there are many other fun things you could use to decorate them.

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