Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Snowball Toss Paint for Kids

Messy art is my favorite! Whenever I get the chance to teach a mess-filled lesson at work or (when my son was younger) create it at home, I do. The other day I was watching Elf (I could watch that Christmas movie over and over again). When Buddy starts popping cotton balls into his mouth like candy, I can’t help but to giggle. What does this have to do with art? It got me thinking about ways to use cotton balls (other than for wiping make-up off of your face or dabbing cream on your child’s scraped knee).
Kids' art

Sure, they look like little snowballs. But, can the kids have a cotton ball fight in the same way that they would with the snowy stuff? With some imagination they can. They can also use those ‘snowballs’ to throw (yes, I said throw) some pretty cool art. Warning – this is a super-messy activity. It’s also a great boredom buster on those cold winter days when it’s too chilly to play outside for more than a few minutes. The cotton balls become the perfect vehicle to throw paint onto a paper canvas, creating an abstract work of art! Not only is it fun for little artists, but you can try it too. It’s a great stress reducer for grown-ups.

Before you get started, prep for the mess. Cover anything that you don’t want to get splattered with paint (or move it). You can use a painter’s tarp or unfolded garbage bag. I found that using thicker tempera paint also kept some of the mess under control.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Wax paper

·        Tempera paint

·        Cotton balls

·        Paper

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Pour cotton ball-sized pools of paint onto the wax paper. The paper works as a barrier. Really. This is the paint sitting on the paper on my dining room table. There was no mess underneath!
Paint art

2.     Dip the first ball into a paint pool.
Winter artCotton Balls

3.     Toss the paint-covered ball onto the paper—it’s just like throwing snowballs (only a bit messier).
Tempera Project

Kids' art

4.     Repeat with different colors.
Winter craft

Your child can keep it abstract or toss the paint to make a ‘picture’.

She can create Monet’s Water Lilies using cotton ball toss paint!
Monet Painting

Or make a Christmas tree. This one also adds in a math lesson. Your child needs to count how many tosses she makes. Start with one at the top and move down to larger lines of paint throws.

Tree Craft

Are you looking for more art activities? Follow my process art Pinterest board for ideas galore!
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Float

Last year my son begged me to buy the super-duper-extra-mega box of cocoa at the warehouse club. I did. I thought that there was absolutely no way we could go through the box in one teeny, tiny winter. Wrong! By the end of the season, the box was empty. I don’t drink coffee, so I turn to hot chocolate as a substitute. That said, I’m always trying to jazz it up a bit. So….

Cocoa float

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Take the root beer float for a twist and throw in a holiday feel. What better way to warm up a chilly winter day than with a cup of cocoa? Ok, so this one also has a cool down factor too. The hot chocolate ice cream float makes the most of both worlds. The ice cream adds a frothy vanilla flavor to the cocoa as well as a playful feel.  Add a touch of graham and make the dessert into a drinkable version of the campfire classic – s’mores!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Hot chocolate mix – You can use the instant kind or make the milk-based version.

·        Vanilla ice cream

·        Graham crackers

·        Red and green sugar crystals

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Crumble a graham cracker into a bowl. Use your hands or the back of a spoon to make the graham into what looks like a pile of coarse sand.
Graham crackers

2.      Make a cup of cocoa. You can do this on the stove or in the microwave. Don’t fill the cup all of the way up. Leave about one-fourth empty, for the ice cream.

3.      Spoon a scoop of ice cream into the cup.

4.     Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbles and sugar crystals on top.

Ice Cream

If you’re looking for more super-simple wintery recipes that the kids can help you to make, check out my ebook Bake Sale Fail: Easy Holiday Baking and Desserts

Bake sale

Are you ready to make more hot chocolate? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas galore (seriously, everything from flavored to crock pot cocoa recipes)!

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Hanukkah Dreidel Craft for Kids

You’ve got eight nights of Hanukkah. That means eight nights of lighting the menorah’s candles, eight nights of gifts and eight nights of gift wrapping. Before you carefully wrap the cute handmade present that your child got for a special friend or family member, have her make her own holiday-themed box.

Chanukkah Present

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A few weeks ago I posted a super-easy Hanukkah collage gift box. This one starts out the same (with a take-out style container), but ends up looking like an over-sized dreidel.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        A take-out container – You can reuse the one that you got with your sesame chicken or you can buy new craft ones.

·        Markers

·        A cardboard paper towel tube

·        Scissors

·        Blue tissue paper

·        Clear-drying school glue

·        Glitter or glitter glue

·        Clear tape

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Draw each Hebrew letter (nun, gimel, hei, shin) on each side of the container with a marker.

Chanukkah art
2.     Turn the container onto one side so that one of the letters is facing up. Draw a glue line over the letter.

3.     Sprinkle glitter on top. Shake the excess sparkles off. If you are using glitter glue your child can skip this step.

Hanukkah art
4.     Wait for the glue to dry. Turn the box to the next side and repeat the glitter step. Continue for each side.

5.     Cut a 2 to 3- inch section of cardboard tube to make the dreidel’s top. If it’s too wide for the top of your container make a vertical cut, pull the edges closer and glue it in place.

Holiday art
6.     Tear or cut pieces of tissue paper. Have your child glue the paper onto the cardboard tube.

Tissue Paper
7.     Fill the gift box and close it up. Attach the handle (it’s purely decorative. And not functional) with clear tape loops.

Hanukkah crafts

Are you looking for more winter activities for the kids? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas.
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mini Christmas Tree Kids' Craft

I had this idea – to make a teeny tiny Christmas tree and put it in a snow globe. You know those bubble dome things that your kids get from the quarter (or several quarters) machines at the grocery stores? The ones that contain cheap little ‘toys’ or ‘jewelry’ that your kids are super-excited about for maybe ten minutes until the bouncy ball, plastic puppy or fine faux diamond bauble breaks. I figured, why throw those out when I could turn them into mini snow globes?

Glitter Craft

In all honesty it didn’t work out very well. The clear dome was actually somewhat frosted. This meant that no one could see the tiny Christmas tree inside. Then there was an issue with sealing the plastic shut (at least enough so that the water didn’t slowly leak out). But, the bottom of the container did make a great base for a pint-sized tree.

It’s a little bit of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, but it’s a simple holiday craft that the kids can make and display!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        The bottom of a plastic bubble-dome container

·        Modeling clay

·        Glitter

·        Clear-drying school glue

·        2-3-inch piece of pine tree – You can use a piece of the Christmas tree that you’ve trimmed off (wear work gloves or be extra careful when handling it, as it can poke you or your child) or use a similarly-shaped faux plant from the craft store.

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Press the modeling clay into the plastic base.
Kids' art

2.     Poke the bottom of the plant through the clay. The clay will hold it tight.

Children's craft

3.     Drip the glue along the needles. Your child can add as much or little as she wants.
Pine Tree

4.   Sprinkle the glitter over the glue. The sparkles will also stick to the modeling clay. Shake off the excess glitter onto another pieces of paper. Place it in a baggie and save it for another art activity!

Holiday Art

Are you looking for more winter themed arts and crafts for the kids?

Try making a gingerbread kid ornament, paper poinsettias or a sensory snowman! Or follow my Pinterest board for ideas from around the web!

Follow Mini Monets and Mommies's board Winter Activities for Kids on Pinterest.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Magic Milk: Make Colorful Cubes

Magic milk? If you got to this post by googling “Magic Mike”, I sincerely apologize that you will see no pictures of Channing Tatum or Joe Manganiello. Although, as a side note, Joe Manganiello did grow up in my home town – and somehow I don’t remember ever seeing him (he must not have looked as hunky). But, he does periodically come back to visit. While I’ve never personally spotted him, my mother was getting her nails done at a salon on the main street of town and spied him walking by. All of the ladies who worked there immediately dropped their polish and ran out after him. Seriously.
Rainbow colors

Anyway, back to the magic milk. So, regular old ice in milk is kind of gross. When it melts it makes the milk way too watery. If your child: A. Doesn’t like milk, and B. Always wants everything arctic temperature (my son used to have a friend who refused to drink juice pouches unless I popped them into the freezer first), then this may just do the trick.

I’m talking about rainbow colored milk ice cubes. They make milk so much more fun to drink, but they don’t change the taste in the same way that chocolate or strawberry flavors do. When my son went on his milk hatred phase, I tried swapping in chocolate milk. Guess what? He always wanted chocolate milk. In his cereal, at daycare – all the time. This is an alternative if you don’t want every meal to start with a glass of liquid chocolate (and it’s kind of artistic too!).

This also works as a states of matter science activity and a color recognition lesson. Before you start, ask your child what he thinks will happen to the milk when you put it in the freezer. Ask him if he thinks the same thing will happen to the milk that happens to water when it turns into ice. When you take the milk cubes out, ask him to tell you what he thinks happened. Have him also name the colors that he creates.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        An ice cube tray

·        Milk

·        Food coloring

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Fill each compartment of the ice cube tray with milk.
Milk Recipe

2.     Add a teeny tiny drop of food coloring into each compartment of milk. Really, you don’t need very much. I would say that I used half a drop if that. You aren’t coloring a bowl of frosting here, just an ice cube sized chunk of milk. Less is more in this case.
Drops Colors

3.     Stir the food coloring and milk.
Milk Ice

4.     Pop the cubes into the freezer for a few hours.

5.     Take the frozen milk out of the freezer.
Bright Treat

6.     Drop the first cube into a fresh glass of plain milk. Watch what happens!
Magic milk
Milk treat

7.     Stir the cube around. Go back to the science aspect of the activity and ask your child what is happening now.
Pink Color

8.     Optional: Add another cube and see what happens when your child mixes the colors. This is a great way to add in a lesson on the primary colors.

Colorful drink

Does your child want to do more with ice? Try one of these ice activities:

Ice Science
Preschool Science

Frozen Science

Art Colors

Are you looking for more science-type fun? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hanukkah S'mores: Holiday Treats for Kids

Why does Christmas get all of the good treats? What about Hanukkah? I made holiday donut s’mores the other day. They were red and green, and something that my son (who celebrates both holidays – as we are an interfaith family) highly enjoyed. Especially with the scoop of ice cream on top. That got me thinking – I should probably come up with something for the Jewish side of my son.
Chanukah dessert

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So, I started with s’mores. They are really so simple to make, and the kids always enjoy them. And, you can get super-creative with them – without having to know how to bake! Before we get started, let me say that I don’t keep kosher. I used regular marshmallows. Regular marshmallows contain gelatin and aren’t kosher. Actually, I picked up a bag of berry blue host-shaped marshmallows for under a dollar after Halloween. Given that I didn’t open them, they were stull perfectly fresh (and the ghost shape disappeared when I heated them). But, if you do keep kosher, you can still make this recipe. Some products, such as Paskesz Marshmallows, are kosher.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Marshmallows – Use blue marshmallows or add a few drops of food coloring to change the hue. I recommend adding the food coloring when the marshmallows a warm and mushy.

·        Graham crackers

·        White frosting – I used Betty CrockerWhipped Frosting (and yes, it’s kosher)

·        Blue sprinkles or blue sugar crystals

·        White chocolate

*If you want to swap out the frosting and chocolate for non-dairy items, you may do so. Instead of the frosting, heat a kosher marshmallow or two and use it as a spread. Instead of regular white chocolate, swap it out for a vegan version such as King David Vegan Lactose Free White Chocolate Chips (you’ll need a handful to replace the one chocolate square).

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Stack the chocolate and marshmallow on top of a graham cracker.

White chocolate
2.     Heat the stack. I microwaved it for 10 seconds. Microwaves vary in strength, so you need to keep an eye on the marshmallow. When it starts to puff out, it’s ready. Never allow your child to touch or eat the hot marshmallow.

3.     Squish the marshmallow with another graham cracker.

Holiday treat
4.     Spread a dollop of frosting (or a melted marshmallow) on top of the s’more.

5.     Sprinkle the blue crystal sugar over the Hanukkah treat.
Hanukkah dessert

Are you looking for more s’mores? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!
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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sensory Snowman Art for Preschoolers

Snowmen art activities for the kids are in order today! Ok, so it’s not exactly winter everywhere yet. But, I’m getting ready for the season and breaking out the snowy crafts that will inspire the kiddos to create.

Sensory art
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A few weeks ago we made snow people paint prints. This time we’re taking a more 3-D approach to art. Adding different dimensions and textures to art can turn what seems like just a cute little craft into a sensory adventure! While I’m all for focusing on the process when it comes to art-making, I like to remember that the activity itself can cross boundaries. For example, start with a book about snow or winter. These are a few of my favorites:

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert

Dream Snow by Eric Carle

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

You can also add a science lesson in to the activity as well. Talk about states of matter and explore how a snowball (or mini snowman) melts when you bring it inside. Have your child observe the snow and then check back on it as it changes from solid to liquid. If you don’t have snow, try it with shaved ice. Ask your child a few open-ended questions such as:

·        What do you think is happening to the snow/ice?

·        Why do you think it’s turning from a solid to a liquid?

·        How do you think the snow would act differently if we left it outside?

·        What do you think would happen if we put the snow in the freezer?

As your child is working on the art-making aspect of the activity, ask her to use her sense of touch (and words) to tell you about how it feels. Use the word “texture”. Even toddlers can repeat the word and connect it to the sense of touch. This also helps to separate the word “feel” from emotional feelings. If you ask your 3-year-old how the snowman feels she may answer, “Happy!”  I learned this lesson the first time that I taught a sensory unit to preschoolers and got 10 adorably cute responses to, “How does the carpet feel?” These included responses such as, “Sad, because people walk on it.” So, you can ask, “How does the snowman feel on your fingers?” or, “What is the snowman’s texture?”

Now for the winter-themed art project!
Kids' crafts

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Cardboard – Reuse the front of an old cereal (or other) box

·        A snowman-shaped cookie cutter

·        Clear-drying school glue

·        Cotton balls

·        Googley eyes

·        Scissors

·        Modeling clay – Your child needs orange to make a carrot nose. You can use plain orange or mix red and yellow clay.

·        Thin ribbon

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Place the cookie cutter on the cardboard.
Cookie Cutter

2.     Squeeze glue onto the cardboard, inside of the cookie cutter. Your child can use one cotton ball to spread it out so that it reaches the edge of the cookie cutter pattern.

Kids' art
3.     Press cotton balls on the glue, filling the shape. Your child can pull the cotton apart to fit the snowman shape. Let the glue dry

Winter craft

4.     Remove the cookie cutter. Cut around the cotton balls.

Winter Theme
5.     Glue two googley eyes to the snowman’s face.

6.     Roll a tiny piece of clay into a carrot shape. Glue the carrot to the face.

7.     Cut a hat shape (a square with a thin rectangle underneath) out of the scrap cardboard.

8.     Attach the hat to the top of the snowman with glue.

9.     Add a scarf with a piece of thin ribbon and glue.

Winter craft
Your child can dress up her creation by gluing a feather to the snowman’s hat. You can leave the project as-is or have her add it to a winter weather or Christmas collage.

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

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