Dec 13, 2008

Paper plate angels

This idea comes from something I remember very fondly from my childhood. When I was little my mum got some printed cardboard angels that were quite tiny, probably only 2 inches tall at the most and the amazing thing to me was that they required no glue and were made from a single circle of card. Mum still has them I think, but they are probably quite battered after 20 odd years.

I thought it would be a cool idea to try and recreate their awesomeness using paper plates for the kids. We used full sized paper plates and ended up with quite large angels, but the same design works perfectly well with smaller plates for smaller angels and to be honest, you don't even really need a plate, just a circle of thin card. The paper plate just gives the wings realistic feather type texture and the bottom of the robes a pretty scallop. The dirt cheap thin paper plates work best.
I drew out and made the few cuts needed for each angel and then slotted the two half diameter slits into each other at the back and stuck a piece of sticky tape on to keep them secure while the kids coloured them and put stickers and glitter glue on. If you have older kids then it would be a better idea to get them to decorate the plates before you construct them, as it's easier to draw on them that way, but with my kids being so young I needed to construct them first for the kids to understand what was wing and what was robe.

NB if you colour them flat then remember that the side of the wings that you see when it's put together is actually the back of the plate.
They look very cute on top of Christmas trees or lined up on the mantle piece, and you can make them tall or short with long or short wings by adjusting how close together you make the two half diameter slits. Close together makes a tall angel with a skinny robe and long wings.

If you want to do non religious then a variation on the theme will give you a fairy, although the cutting is a little more involved.

At some point I'd like to draw out five or six different angels/fairies on a page of paper and scan them in, so you can print out a page, colour and make finger puppet sized ones. Maybe in the new year.

Cardboard Christmas trees

I'm sure I've mentioned this numerous times, but we regularly pilfer cardboard from Costco for our art and craft projects. It's like giving the cardboard an extra day to bask in the sun before sending it back to the recycling.

This year we cut out some Christmas trees and let the kids paint them green with watered down food colouring.
Then they dragged them outside and stuck a load of Christmas stickers from Oriental Trading all over them. Pretty simple, but it kept them entertained for a long time, for the price of a bag of stickers and we got good decoration acreage out of it too.

I've put the left over stickers in a box next to the trees in the living room and every now and again the kids go back to it and add a few more stickers when they feel like it.

Dec 12, 2008

Salt dough ornaments

Salt dough has been done to death every holiday season by kids for years and years, and there's a good reason for that. It's because it's fab!

I'd never made anything with salt dough before this year. The teacher at our local preschool gave me the recipe, which is so simple that I was astounded. It's just one part salt, four parts all purpose flour and one and a half parts hot water. Knead for 10 minutes and you're good to go. make models or roll it out and cut ornaments like we did, then bake at about 200 degrees until it's all nice and dried out and hard. Easy peasy.

Yes, I need a cup of tea within two feet of me to accomplish anything.

Thank you to Sara for letting us borrow all her many Christmas cookie cutters! Nifty tip from preschool teacher: Use a drinking straw to cut out the holes for hanging the ornaments with! I poked patterns into them with both ends of a wooden BBQ skewer and we used a few rubber stamps on them too that worked quite nicely. Some have lovely Aztec like patterns from three woodcut blocks that our freinds the D'ambra's gave us when we visited them last.

We had loads of fun with this. Lots of kids made lots of different versions on different days and I even made some on my own late at night to give as presents. Here for your amusement are a lot of photos of the fun we had.

We tried painting them, adding glitter and then we tried colouring some others in with marker pens. The kids enjoed this activity so much that I think we'll be doing salt dough valentine hearts and easter eggs in the new year too!

We have a tiny little potted Christmas tree this year and I'm tempted to keep it in the house for the rest of the year and let the kids dress it up as a valentines/easter/4th july/halloween/thanksgiving tree as the year progresses.

Here are some pics of the teeny christmas tree decorations I made after the kids had gone to bed. I went slightly overboard with the amount of dough I made and still have some in the fridge.These teeny ones are only about an inch tall and were cut out using a set of I think it was 20 xmas themed plastic cookie cutters that came from Michael's and cost an astoundingly bargainerific $1.99 for the lot! I couldn't figure out a way to make the gingerbread men not either be dangling from their feet or look as though they have been shot through the head. Hey ho.

Christmas wreaths

We tried out a couple of ways to make wreath decorations. One was using up a few left over paper plates that happened to be a bit green and the other was a little bit more involved, using sheets of newspaper and tying it up with string then wrapping it in green party streamers from the dollar store.
The kids cut up and glued on more of the green streamers to look like leaves and then they scrunched up balls of red streamer to be the berries. I made some bows out of the red streamer for them to stick on the bottom and then we couldn't resist adding a little glitter too.
I think the little newspaper ones looked the cutest. They were made with just one sheet of newspaper.
I think we ended up with 8 wreaths, but, well, some got used as frisbees and some got taken home, so I've just got the pic of the one nice finished one. The others weren't so tidy but the kids had fun making them and then more fun playing with them. Ffion used the big one like a hula hoop.

Dec 8, 2008

Homemade advent calendar

A few weeks ago I saw an awesome post on Alphamom by Brenda Ponnay that made me say "we have to do that right now!", so that afternoon we got together all the bits and bobs from around the house and started to construct our own left over candy advent calendar.

The base boards were each a side of a cereal packet wrapped in aluminium foil and then the condiment cups were glue gunned on top.

The kids stuck snowflakes all over while I printed out thier names to stick on, and then we filled up the cups with sweeties.
Sticking on the circles of tissue paper was going to be a bit too fiddly for my two preschoolers, so that was done after they had gone to bed.
Smashing through the tissue paper to get to the treats is as much fun for them as smashing through the foil on a new jar of coffee is for me ;)

Hang them up high unless you have saintly children!

Dec 3, 2008

From old tights to snowmen.

A friend of ours recently gave us some of the clothes that her daughter had grown out of. Thank you Myla! Well, the clothes were great, but included in the bag were some pairs of tights. Now my girls flat out refuse to wear tights of any kind. They claim that they are "too tight". Clue's in the name kids. Anyway... These were white kid's winter tights. Ah haaaaa! I thought. I have four children here at my kitchen table and two pairs of white tights. What terrifying monstrosity of a Christmas themed thing can I get them to create?

...and here is the answer. Homemade snowmen decorations.

Steps to creating your own drunken, boss eyed Frosty:

By the way, you really need a glue gun, because with one, this project will be fun. Without one, this project will be a giant pain in the arse.
  • Cut feet off tights, cut legs off too, so you have tubes.
  • Push one end through a hole in the center of a cardboard circle and glue it down on the other side.

  • Pull the tube over the cardboard circle to create a base for your snowman.
  • glue this onto an upsidedown paper plate to help it stand up.
  • Stuff with a load of soft toy filling, or cotton wool, or toilet roll or whatever.
  • twist the top and fold it over on itself and glue down the edges.
  • Tie something around where the neck is supposed to be to separate the white blob into a head and body shape.
  • We used some baby socks that the kids had outgrown to make woolly hats for the snowmen, but if you had more time little top hats would look very cute.

  • magic markers and stick on eyes and some snowflake stickers and random glitter pompoms made up the rest of the decor.

The kids were really proud of these freaky little dudes. As usual with everything that I end up doing with the kids, if you had fewer children, older children or a bit more time then you could make something quite aesthetically pleasing rather than something that looks like it a)has the cold dead eyes of a killer. b)is screaming to be released from it's own body. c)has an opiate problem. Or d)has already started melting.