Mini Monets and Mommies: April 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Karate Board Chalkboard Paint Kids' Art Activity

A few months ago I got my first kids’ art activity question. It was all very exciting! A reader asked if I knew of a good way for her to paint her child’s broke boards (from karate) with chalkboard paint. Like the reader, I too have crazy amounts of broken boards at home (both my son and I are second degree black belts). While the boards have kind of made their home in my storage ottoman (with the excess spilling over into the garage, basement and anywhere else I can stash them), I have finally gotten around to trying out the chalkboard paint on them. So, if you have a karate kid of your own, reuse those broken boards with this super-simple craft!

Martial arts activity

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Last year we used this type of paint to make Eastereggs (obviously, you can’t eat those). This time I went with Martha Stewart Multi-Surface Chalkboard paint in black. It’s an acrylic craft paint, and it seemed fitting for this project. Honestly, in all of my years of art-making this is the first time that I’ve used a Martha Stewart product. I have to say -- I absolutely loved it. It went on evenly, completely covered the wood and washed off surprisingly well. I’m all for messy kid’s art, so I don’t mind getting paint all over the place. After finishing this project, I had just about as much chalkboard paint on my hands as I did on the boards. With a little soap and water it completely washed off. This is kind of amazing for a dark color of paint.

When you’re done with your karate board paint project you can simply use them as is. Keep them around to make chalk drawings, wipe them clean and reuse them every day. They make excellent take and travel art activities that you can bring to grandmas or take to the park on a playdate. You can also hang them on the wall to write messages on or the family’s schedule.
Kids' crafts

Don’t forget where these mini chalkboards came from. Along with drawing on them, use the chalk to write current karate goals. Maybe your child wants to pass his next test with flying colors or maybe he is trying to a master a new skill. Whatever his goals are, they may change. This makes a chalkboard ideal for writing them down on. When he reaches a goal, erase the chalk and write a new one!

And now on to the art…

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Broken boards

·        Sand paper

·        Chalkboard paint

·        A paintbrush

·        Chalk

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Sand the side of the board that you plan on using. I skipped this step the first time and got loads of little bumps and splinters in the paint.
Wood art

2.     Paint the board. Let it dry for at least one hours.
Karate board

3.     Recoat the board. Let it dry overnight.
Kids' crafts

4.     Draw on your new chalkboard!
Kids' art

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cotton Candy Cookie Ball Truffles

Cotton candy Oreos! Oh, I’ve been waiting for these special edition cookies. When I heard they were at Target, I rushed out to get a pack. Sadly, I couldn’t find them. Then I read a food blogger’s tale of searching high and low only to find the sweet treats hidden on a display at the end of the cookie aisle. And, there they were! Ok, so I may have torn open the pack and eaten a few in the parking lot. After all, I’ve been kind of fantasizing about them for a few weeks now.

Cotton Candy Oreos

So, what did I plan on doing with these cotton candy cookies (other than the obvious – eating them)? I had big plans to make cookie truffle balls. I admit it – I am completely addicted to sugar. The sweeter the better. If you are like me, then these special edition snacks will make your knees weak. On the other hand, if you’re just not in to sugar, you will reel in disgust over the flavor – and yes, they do taste just like cotton candy.

I made a few different kinds of Oreo balls with these cookies. The whole cotton candy thing reminded me of a circus or carnival. That made me think of clowns. As you’ll see, I made a few regular truffles and then I tried out cotton-coated clowns. While these might not exactly be everyday fare, they are perfect for a kids’ circus-themed birthday party or as treats for the school carnival bake sale!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Cotton Candy Special Edition Oreos – If you don’t have a Target near you (and can’t find them in another store), you can buy them online too.

·        White chocolate

·        Pink and/or blue sprinkles

·        Cotton candy

·        Candy eyes

·        6 oz. softened cream cheese

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Crush the cookies in a food processor, until they are the consistency of sand.
Oreo Recipe

2.     Mix the cookie crumbs and the cream cheese in a large bowl. Use your hands to get a thorough mix.
Sweet Treat

3.     Roll the mix into balls. I like a golf ball size, but you can make them bigger or smaller.
Truffle Dessert

4.     Put the cookie balls on a wax paper-covered plate and pop them into the freezer for an hour.

5.     Take the cookies out of the freezer.

6.     Heat up the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. I microwaved mine for 45 seconds, but yours may take more or less time depending on the strength of your microwave. Start slowly, and add on more time if it doesn’t melt. Be careful, the chocolate (and the bowl) will be very hot.

7.     Place a cookie ball in the chocolate. Using a spoon, roll it around. When it’s completely covered, spoon it out onto a piece of wax paper.

8.     Toss a few sprinkles on top.
Chocolate Desserts

9.     Another option: Press cotton candy all of the way around the chocolate, making a fuzzy coating.
Oreo Balls

10.    And yet another other: Press two candy eyes onto the cookie ball. Add cotton candy on top to make a floppy clown wig!
Chocolate Recipes

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cereal Cookie Truffle Balls: No-Bake Desserts

Cookie truffle balls are possibly my favorite thing to make. I’m not the world’s best baker (to say the least), and these tasty treats are so super-easy. Who doesn’t love a no-bake cookie? As a bonus, the kids can help out and ‘bake’ their own desserts. Usually I use actual cookies to make these. But, this time I went with cereal. I guess that makes these cereal truffle balls.

Cap'n Crunch Recipe

I’ve used Cinnamon Toast Crunch as a garnish for cookie ball treats before. This time I’m going with Cap’n Crunch. Why? Well, it was on sale. And, my son really likes it (I usually get corn flakes for him, so this was a treat).

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        1 box of Cap’n Crunch cereal

·        6 oz. softened cream cheese

·        Chocolate bars – We used both white and regular milk chocolate.

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Crush the Crunch in a food processor until it is a sand-like consistency.
Cereal Recipe

2.     Take a cup of the sandy cereal out and put it aside for later.

3.     Mix the rest of the cereal with the cream cheese. Use your hands (or have your child use his hands), to get a really consistent mixture.

4.     Roll the mix into balls (about the size of golf balls).
Kids' recipe

5.     Place the cereal balls onto a wax paper-covered plate. Pop them into the freezer for an hour.

6.     Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. If your child is working with you, don’t let him do this step or touch the bowl/chocolate when it comes out the microwave. It will be very hot so be careful. Never put your finger directly into the chocolate to test it (I made that mistake, and it wasn’t pretty). Microwaves differ in strength—start at 30 seconds (checking it through the little viewing window) and go from there. Stir it around with a spoon when it looks melted.

7.     Cover the balls in chocolate. Place the first ball into the melted chocolate and use a spoon to coat it completely. You can also stick a toothpick in the ball, so that you don’t touch the hot chocolate at all.

8.     Remove the truffle (with a spoon or toothpick) and place it on a piece of wax paper.

9.     Sprinkle some of Cap’n Crunch cereal powder (the leftover stuff from when you put it in the food processor) over the chocolate.
Cookie Truffles

That’s it! Let the cookie truffle balls cool and you’re ready to go.

Are you looking for more delicious desserts? Follow my Pinterest board for all kinds of ideas!
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Kids' Spring Flower Craft with Pipe Cleaners

Spring flower crafts for kids don’t have to be complicated. A few weeks ago I bought a jumbo pack of pipe cleaners. What to do with all of those colorful stems? Make bendy flowers!
Kids' projects

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This art activity is super-simple and totally mess free. And bonus – it’s a great way to boost your child’s fine motor skills. All that bending, molding, modeling and forming really gives her hands a workout. You can even toss a few pipe cleaners into a bag and take them to the park, to grandma’s or on vacation to do this less-mess crafts.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Pipe cleaners – pick a few different colors

·        Scissors

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Bend the top of the first pipe cleaner around to make a circle. Twist it together at the bottom of the shape to make a circle with a stem.
Kids' crafts

2.     Twist a second pipe cleaner around the first, where the circle and stem meet.
Kids' art

3.     Create a loop (this will be a flower petal), and fold the bottom around the circle. Have your child continue doing this until she runs out of pipe cleaner.
Spring crafts

4.     Add another pipe cleaner where the first one ended. Repeat the looping pattern.

5.     Repeat with another color, looping the new pipe cleaner slightly to the side of the first ones.
Children's art

6.     Continue on, adding as many petal layers as your child wants.
Kids' pipecleaner art

That’s it! Wasn’t that easy? If your child leaves behind any loose ends, twist them up or snip them with scissors. Your child can twist and model one flower or make a whole bouquet. Not only is this flower craft a great way to celebrate spring, but your child can also create more to give as gifts for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

Are you looking for more creative kids’ crafts? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!
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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Spring Butterfly Flower Print-Making for Kids

I may have had my share of spring crafts that look like, are shaped like or in some way resemble flowers. That said, it didn’t really stop me from using the magnolia blooms in my front yard as inspiration this time. But, why make yet another flower when I can use the flower to make something else? A butterfly perhaps?
Flower painting

There’s really no escaping these flowers. They are sort of in my face (literally), the moment I walk out the door. Last year there was a sudden drop in the temperature. It took the blooms out overnight. This year the weather has been constant enough to keep them in the trees for a bit longer. My son is dreading the final fall of the flowers – it’s his job to rake up the blanket of petals.
Kids' spring activities

Print-making is an easy art activity that kids as young as 3 or 4 can try (take a look at our Andy Warhol inspired pop art prints). With some of the flowers beginning to fall, we gathered a few to make these butterfly paint prints…

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        A flower—It doesn’t have to be the same kind that I used. Anything with petals will do. You can even use a fake flower if it’s not springtime where you are.

·        Styrofoam—You can buy sheets of the stuff at the craft store. I reused a tray that came with a frozen pizza. You can also find similar sources to reuse from veggie containers. Don’t use the foam meat trays (I include chicken, pork and fish as meat). These are covered in various bacteria and germs in general.

·        Tempera paint

·        A pencil

·        A paintbrush

·        Paper

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Place a flower petal onto the styrofoam. Trace it with the pencil, pressing down into the foam. Your child needs to experiment with how much pressure she uses. Too little and the printing process won’t work. Too much and she’ll punch through. Don’t worry if the pencil color shows through, it won’t be noticeable when she paints it.

Children's crafts
2.     Move the petal, and trace it four more times to make butterfly wings. If the lines aren’t deep enough, your child can retrace them now.

Kids' crafts
3.     Paint a layer of tempera over the design.

Kids' art
4.     Press the printing plate down onto a piece of paper. Rub the back and pat it down gently.

5.     Pull the foam plate from the paper to reveal the print.

Spring theme
6.     Use the flower (or the stem) to paint on a face and a design.

Kids' activity

Kids' crafts

7.     Wipe the paint clean and start over to make a new butterfly flower print. Your child can add a few colors to make a rainbow print. She can also use a stem the remove some of the paint, creating a design where the paper shows through.

Paint print

Butterfly print
Are you looking for more spring crafts for kids? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Easy Earth Day Art Ideas for Kids

Earth Day art activities anyone? Did you know that in 2012 Americans created 251 million tons of trash (according to the U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency)? Yikes! Of that, we recycled only about 34%, or 87 million tons, of the stuff we tossed. While there are some things that you just can’t reuse, I bet you’ll find plenty around the house that you can magically transform into artsy items.

Recycled art

I’m big on reusing everyday items as art materials. I’ll admit, much of it has to do with me being somewhat cheap. But, my husband is super into recycling. So, when the green can in our garage overflows with plastic and paper, I tend to find other ways of using those items.

With Earth Day coming up, here’s a list of some of my favorite everyday items that the kids can turn into art (I’m including a few activities below, but you can also let the kiddos get creative and make their own ‘junk’ sculptures with the addition of some school glue and tape):

·        Popsicle sticks: Why go out and buy brand new craft sticks when you can save onto these wooden beauties all summer long?

·        Egg cartons: Depending on where you get your eggs, there are two types of cartons – the cardboard and the styrofoam kinds. Your child can use both for art activities (she can also use them to store glitter, sequins or beads, or to sort crayons pieces. The top of the foam type works well for printing projects.

·        Yogurt containers: Not only can your child use these to make art, but she can also use them as water tubs for water coloring painting.

·        Cardboard boxes: So many possibilities. Make a pretend play car, boat or airplane. Or, cut the box up and use the cardboard pieces for painting and drawing on. or make a train table mat!

·        Soda bottles: Cut them or leave them as is to make sculptures with.

·        Glass jars: Cover them with glue, add a layer of tissue paper pieces (collage-style), go for a second coating of glue and get a handmade vase. I also like to use the little ones (baby food –size) to hold paint or my favorite DIY glitter glue!

·        Wash cloths and other assorted fabric: Fabric scrapes make fantastic sensory collage materials. Cut and glue them onto cardboard to make textures galore.

·        Old worksheets: Your child’s teacher sends home more worksheets and random fliers from school. Instead of tossing them in the trash, turn them over and draw on the backs.

·        Holiday cards and gift wrap: Your child can use these to make collages.

·        CDs and DVDs: Transform these into wind chimes!

That’s just a few of my favorites. There are so many more ways to reuse and recycle your would-be trash into art materials.

If you’re looking for a few more Earth Day art ideas…

Try these egg carton ideas!
Egg Carton


Make a cardboard tube mobile.
Earth Day


Create painted stamper letters with this foam print-making project.
Kids' crafts


Stamp with flip-flops!
Children's art

Are you still looking for more creative crafts? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring Flower Art Activity for Kids

Spring flower crafts for the kids? Yep. It’s that time of year again. I stepped outside this morning, and suddenly my magnolia tree was in full bloom. It’s one of my favorite times of the year – unfortunately my son’s reaction is not quite the same. At 13, he knows the magnolia blooming means there is soon to be a yard filled with flower petals. Why doesn’t he love the snow-like bloom covering? Because he’s in charge of raking it all up. That said, sometimes a faux flower is more fun for a child than a real one.
Spring art

I’m not saying that you should nix the science and nature lessons. Spring is ideal for exploring the growth cycle and plants. Before beginning this activity, take a trip outside for a nature walk. Look at the flowers, asking your child a few questions such as: What colors do you see? What shapes are the flower petals? Where do you think the flower came from?

Now you’re ready to make some flower-powered art…

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Tissue paper

·        Tempera paint

·        Paintbrushes

·        Cotton balls

·        Scissors

·        Clothespins – The flat kind that don’t have clips.

Kids' activities

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Paint the clothespins green. These will become the flower’s stems.

Paint art
2.     Add some texture! Dip a cotton ball in white or yellow paint. Dot the paint onto the clothespin, leaving behind a patterned design. Your child can also finger paint.

Kids' art

Finger paint

3.     Stack several different colors of tissue paper.

4.     Cut the tissue into a circle, oval or amoeba-like shape to make the petals.

Kids' art
5.     Fold the paper stack in half.

6.     Cut a small slit (the size of the top of the clothespin) in the center of the tissue paper, across the fold.

7.     Open the paper up (there should be a slit in the center).

8.     Press the paper through the top of the clothespin (make sure that the paint is dry first).

9.     Fluff the tissue to create craft flower petals!

Art Activity
Are you looking for more spring crafts? Check out this Renoir-inspired flower painting, make paper flowers or create a landscape based on some of Van Gogh's finest works.
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