Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rainbow Art for Black Friday Sale Day!

Black Friday is on the horizon and there will be sales galore (many of them starting on or even before Thanksgiving itself)! Even though you may enjoy the deals that the shopping festivities have in store, will your child be equally as pleased? When she gets the gifts she will be, but she won’t feel that giddy sense of glee as you drag her from store to store.
Kids' crafts

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Instead of bringing your child on your shopping excursion, let her stay home with dad, a sitter or grandma. Turn Black Friday into a rainbow of activities with an imaginative array of art projects. These crafting adventures won’t just occupy your child while you’re away (and the rest of the family is still in a post-Thanksgiving turkey stupor). They will help to build color recognition skills, work out her fine motor abilities and let her get creative!
Click on the pictures to see the full activities--

Fall Leaf Finger Paint:
Finger Paint

Bring in a few fall leaves and let your child create a rainbow with them! This is super-messy, but also super-fun.

Frozen Color Mixing:

Frozen Paint
Combine science and art in this primary to secondary color mixing activity. Your child can explore how two colors make a new one as well as scientific concepts such as states of matter.

Pink and Purple Paint Print:

Print Project
Learning letters, sounds and colors together! What could be better? Sand, it’s a creatively messy art activity that allows your child to investigate how she can make paint prints using different objects.

Red Collage:

Dr. Seuss Art
This mixed-media collage is based on one of my favorites – My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss. You can also use this book for plenty of other colorful collage and paint projects.

Glitter Craft

Clay, glitter and smiles. This easy art project encourages your child to play with clay, “finger painting” with it. Add in a hint (or more than a hint) of glitter for a sparkling good time.

Are you looking for more colorful art activities? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Kids' Christmas Ornament Craft

Each year we dress the Christmas tree up in adorable little ornaments that my son has picked out. We have Rudolph, a fancy gold guitar, Frosty the Snowman and just about every character from every TV show that a preschooler would like (my son is 13 now, so I only put those ones out for the shear embarrassment factor). That said, my favorites are the handmade ones.

Christmas craft

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Kid-created holiday ornaments are the best (at least in my opinion). They don’t look like Martha Stewart crafted them and they aren’t picture-perfect, but they are precious mementos of a time that will too-soon be long gone. Take it from someone with a newly-turned teen, you’ll miss those 3-year-old moments when you have a 13-year-old. That’s not to say you won’t still be making memories when your child is a teen – they will just be different. What’s the point of this brief digression? Take the time to savor the moment, let your child express his artistic self and don’t worry too much about the ornament coming out like something that you bought at the store.

This is a fun project that sparkles and shines with gobs of glitter and glue. So, go ahead and get messy. Prep for the process and let your little artist make his ornaments his own way (with your supervision of course)!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        A cardboard paper towel roll

·        Tempera paint

·        Clear-drying school glue

·        A hole punch

·        Yarn

·        Scissors

·        Glitter

·        A plastic bag (reuse a shopping bag)

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Cut the roll into pieces. Vary the sizes, making big and small segments. Have your child compare the sizes, sort them into categories (i.e., big and little) or order them by length.
Recycle Craft

2.     Paint the cardboard pieces. Use Christmas themed colors such as red and green, go with a winter white or create a dandy cane red and white pattern. Your child could use a paintbrush, but it’s so much more fun to finger paint. It’s also easier to paint the inside of the tubes (which your child will need to do) with fingers than a brush. Let the paint dry.

Kids' art

3.     Cut the tubes into slivers and shapes. Make diagonal cuts to create a swirl or chop pieces from the sides to make a more abstract, artsy form.
Cardboard art

4.     Punch a hole near the top of the tube.

5.     Coat the outside of the painted tube with glue. Apply a layer of it over the entire surface or design a pattern.

6.     Pour a handful of glitter into a plastic bag.
Kids' project

7.     Put the glue-covered ornament in the bag and shake it around. You can even put on some Christmas tunes and encourage your child to shake the bag to the music.

8.     Take the tube out of the glitter, shake off any excess (back into the bag) and set it aside to dry.
Holiday crafts

9.     Cut a piece of yarn. Thread it through the hole at the top of the holiday ornament as a hanger.

Glitter artSparkle Crafts

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Christmas Collage Kids' Craft

Christmas is coming up. I can’t believe that I’m writing those words—but, it is. Every year we try to come up with cute and creative homemade gift ideas. This year, I wanted to go a step beyond that and make something to put those DIY holiday presents into. We made a Santa Claus gift carrier, and one for Hanukkah.

Children's crafts

This time we’re making a simple crafty collage version. It’s got the traditional red and green colors (so, why not use it as a color recognition activity as well?)

Here’s What You’ll Need:
Gift Box

·         A takeout carrier – you can also buy these new at craft stores

·         Red and green tissue paper

·         Clear-drying school glue

·         Cotton balls

·         A paintbrush

Here’s What to Do:

1.      Tear the tissue paper into pieces. Have your child vary the sizes and shapes.
Collage art

2.      Paint a layer of glue on the container (avoid the top tab where your child will close it).

3.      Press the tissue onto the container to create a collage. Your child can overlap the edges of the tissue.
Christmas art
Holiday art

4.      Pull two cotton balls apart to make fluffy strands.

5.      Glue one strand to the bottom and the second one to the top.
Gift box

6.      Fill the homemade gift box container with homemade tasty treats! Your child can add cookies, a cupcake, candy or (my personal favorite) Oreo truffle balls!
Holiday collage

Are you looking for more holiday themed activities? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas galore!
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Friday, November 21, 2014

DIY Hanukkah Gift Box Collage Activity

Whether you spell it Hanukkah, Chanukah, or any other way… it’s coming up soon. If your child is getting ready to gift a teacher, relative or friend a present on one of those eight nights, help her to create a cute DIY gift box. Reuse a takeout container (the paperboard Chinese takeout kind) and turn it into a collage art carrier.
Chanukkah Crafts

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After the crafting is over, your child can fill the collaged container with holiday goodies! Toss in a few cookies, candies or (one of my personal favorites) Oreo no-bake truffles. Keep the entire gift a DIY activity and help your child to make, bake or create whatever she puts into the homemade caddy!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        A takeout container—If you don’t have one on hand, you can buy a new craft container that looks exactly the same.

·        Blue tissue paper – Choose a few different shades of the color for the holiday present container collage.

·        Clear-drying school glue

·        A paintbrush

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Tear the tissue paper into pieces. Encourage your child to create different shapes and sizes.

Collages Materials

2.     Squeeze a dime-sized pool of glue onto each side of the container.

3.     Spread the glue out with a paintbrush.

4.     Collage the tissue on to the glue. Have your child press the paper on the glue, overlapping the edges. She will need to add more glue to hold the paper down as she goes along.

Collage Art

5.     Repeat this process for the top of the Hanukkah gift container. Avoid the tab that closes the container shut.

Holiday Gift

6.     Fill the gift box with a tasty treat!

Holiday collage

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

DIY Teacher's Gift: Santa Holiday Craft

Christmas is coming! Breakfast with Santa, walking a miles through the snowy mall parking lot to buy gifts that the kids really don’t need, stockings hung by the chimney with care and …. the annual “teacher’s gift.” Every year I’m torn – should I let my son pick out something, have him make a present or just go the gift card route? One year an overly-zealous homeroom mom coordinated a mega gift basket for the teacher (and all the rest of us had to do with chip in $5!).
Christmas crafts
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If you’re looking to go the way of the DIY gift, this crafty creation is simple, fun and will get your child in the Christmas spirit. Dress up a take-out container (you can reuse the one that you got with your sesame chicken or buy new ones at the craft store) and have your little artist turn it into a Santa Claus themed caddy. Fill it with whatever you want. Add a handmade holiday ornament, Christmas candy or make one of my personal favorites – Oreo no-bake chocolate and pretzel truffles (if you’re looking for even more super-easy holiday recipes check out my new eBook Bake Sale Fail).

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        A take-out style container

·        Red tempera paint

·        A paintbrush

·        Scissors

·        Black and yellow paper

·        Cotton balls

·        Clear-drying school glue
Kids' art

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Paint the outside of the container red. Set it aside and let it dry completely.

2.     Cut a 1-inch thick strip of black paper.

3.     Draw a glue line down the paper strip. Press it against the painted container in the middle to make Santa’s belt.

Takeout Craft
4.     But a rectangle from the yellow paper to make the belt buckle. Glue it to the front of the belt.

5.     Pull two cotton balls apart to make strips.

6.     Glue one strip to the bottom and the other to the top of the container.

DIY gift
7.     Fill the container up!

Gift Caddy
Are you looking for more winter kids’ activities? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bake Sale Fail: Easy Holiday Baking

Every December I’m tasked with bringing some sort of baked good to my son’s karate school’s holiday party. The first year my son and I spent the evening before baking would should have been scrumptious chocolate-chocolate chip cookies. They made it as far as my garbage can. Less like cookies, more like hockey pucks. The next morning I rushed out to the grocery store, bought a few dozen cookies from the bakery section and repackaged them in a tupperware container.
Christmas baking

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Surprisingly, I wasn’t the only one to do this. More than a few other mom’s toted in their fake baked cookies (and cupcakes). Fast forward to the springtime and I found myself again at the bakery (and again pretending to have baked something). It was the school’s fun fair and there was a cake walk. I, like the other moms who showed up with bakery boxes, didn’t have the skills or the time to start from scratch. Ok, so I’m not alone in my inability to bake amazing goodies for my son’s parties, school functions, extracurricular events and bake sales.

That’s where “Bake Sale Fail” came in to play. I felt like a total failure. I mean, shouldn’t I have some sort of mom gene that allows me to whip up chewy chocolate chip cookies in an instant or bake the perfect three-tiered cake? Not really. Some of us just aren’t from-scratch girls. And that’s ok. That said, I do like getting creative in the kitchen. With a few simple ingredients (and the help of good friends such as Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines) I am able to create some cute cupcakes, pudding pies, terrific truffles (my favorite) and other assorted baked goods. If you’re stressed enough about the holidays already, don’t add to your frustration with trying to over-do it when it comes to cooking. Check out my new holiday edition eBook for a few so-simple recipes that are still super-tasty! As a bonus, they are easy enough for the kids to help out with.

If you want a taste of what’s in the book, take a look at:

Pumpkin Pie No-Bake Truffles
Oreo Truffles

Pretzel and Chocolate Oreo Cookie Balls

Chocolate Truffles
Leftover recipe

Frozen Olaf Melting S’mores

Disney Olaf

Chocolate and Pretzel Cookie Truffles

I can’t even begin to express my emotions when it comes to Oreo truffles. They just make me happy. After the billionth ad for these cute little cookie bites that seemed to smack me in the face (they were splattered all over my local grocery store’s aisles), I finally decided to try them. Wow!!! I’m not adept at making anything remotely cakey. That said, these were a breeze.
Truffle Oreos

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Firstly, they don’t involve an oven. Perfect for me, and perfect if you have your little chef in the kitchen with you. Secondly, you can really get creative with how you dress them up. The other day I made pumpkin pie truffles (using the special edition pumpkin spice Oreos). This time I went with the standard double stuffs covered in – wait for it… chocolate and pretzels. Yum! I also add a thin layer of peanut butter to a few. It’s sweet, salty and super-duper scrumptious.

If you like this (and you will- it's soooo decadently delicious), check out some of my holiday themed recipes in my new eBook Bake Sale Fail: Easy Holiday Baking and Desserts!

To make the basic cookie balls you’ll need:

·        1 package of Oreos

·        6 oz. of cream cheese

·        1 large or family-sized chocolate bar

·        Wax paper

Here’s What You’ll Do:

1.     Crush the Oreos in a food processor. Keep them crumbling until they look like fine dirt (a fun description for the kids!).

Oreo cookies
2.     Empty the cookie bits into a large mixing bowl. Add the cream cheese. Blend it together. Use your freshly washed hands. A spoon may seem neater, but you really need to blend the two ingredients together. As an added bonus, it’s a great sensory exploration for your child. Tell her to keep mixing until the cookies and cream cheese feel like wet sand.

3.     Create balls. Make these the size of toy bouncy balls. Set them on a piece of wax paper.

4.     Pop the cookie balls into the freezer for one hour.

Before you take the cookie mix out of the freezer, get the coating ready. Toss a few handfuls of pretzel sticks into the food processor.

Melt the chocolate. Here’s the easy way to do this: Put the chocolate bar in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave it for roughly one minute. Continue checking on it to make sure that it doesn’t burn. Microwave ovens vary in terms of power. You may need to add or subtract time for this. When you take the bowl out of the microwave it will be hot. Use oven mitts and don’t touch the chocolate.

Take the Oreo balls out of the freezer. Roll them in the chocolate. Use a spoon to coat them (so you don’t have to touch the hot chocolate) or insert a toothpick in to dip them.

Sprinkle the pretzel bits over the chocolate. Roll the truffles in the rest of the pretzel pieces to fully coat them.

Salty Dessert
Cookie balls
If you want to add another layer, coat the chocolate-covered cookie balls with peanut butter. Sprinkle the pretzels on top of the peanut butter.
Cookie treat

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