Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas hand print tree


(This idea came home from school.)


  • large sheet of paper
  • red and green finger paint
  • brown marker
  • yellow construction paper cut into the shape of a star
  • glue
  • smocks to keep child and adults clean


  • have the child make a row of five green palm-prints, side by each, about 20cm (4 inches) from the bottom of the page
  • have the child make a row of four 4 palm prints above that
  • again with three, two and one final palm print at the top of the "tree"
  • use red paint on fingertips to paint tree decorations / ornaments
  • glue the yellow star at the top of the tree
  • draw in a brown tree trunk at the bottom of the tree (alternately, use brown paint to paint a trunk or make a construction paper trunk)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Reindeer treats


This was created with Santa's elves at our local mall.


  • doggie treat (milk-bone used in the photos)
  • pipe cleaner
  • 2 googly eyes
  • 1 small craft pop-pom (nose)
  • additional craft pom-poms for decorations
  • white glue


  • reindeer_treats_02 wrap the pipe-cleaner around to the back of the doggie-treat

  • twist the pipe-cleaner to secure it to the treat

  • reindeer_treats_03 bring the pipe-cleaner out to the sides and curl to make stylized antlers

  • reindeer_treats_04 glue the eyes just below the antlers

  • glue the nose and decoration pom-poms below the eyes

  • now you have a reindeer shaped treat, to leave for the reindeer, along with your cookies and milk for Santa!


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Notes to self: building better gingerbread houses

Things I learned about building gingerbread houses:

  1. gb_house_02If you're short on patience, buying a gingerbread house kit is a real sanity saver!

  2. Try and find the type of kit that has grooves / ruts / slots in the base which tell you where to put the walls and make assembly easier.

  3. gb_house_03Have a look inside the kit to see if the types of candy decorations included are the sort you feel comfortable having your helper children eat. (Some are choking hazards for pre-schoolers and toddlers.) Assemble some candy you don't mind your children eating to swap in when you remove the offending confections. (Leftover Hallowe'en Smarties and Rockets proved popular.)

  4. Feed your children a healthy meal or a healthy snack prior to starting this activity. Even the best behaved child cannot resist the sugary sweetness of gingerbread house decorations!

  5. While you're unpacking the kit and trying to figure out the instructions, have little hands free Smarties and Rockets from their packages and put them in a bowl or plate. To stall for time, have them sort the decorations by type, size or by colour.

  6. gb_house_04If the instructions tell you to kneed the icing in the bag prior to using it, do so before you cut a corner off.

  7. The big bag of icing provided is much too big for little hands to manage.

  8. gb_house_05Get yourself a sandwich bag and cut a tiny corner off to make a mini-piping bag. Put some icing sugar in the cut corner of the sandwich bag.

  9. gb_house_07Have the adult use the large icing bag to place pipe the thick beads of icing sugar acting as glue for the major house components.

  10. gb_house_06Little hands can practice piping with their baggies on the interior walls of the house.

  11. gb_house_08Pipe a thick bead of icing in the grooves in the base for the four walls of the house.

  12. Assemble the four walls in their grooves and apply pressure.

  13. Ensure that the four walls are stable prior to progressing. (Very important!)

  14. Pipe a thick bead of icing along the walls where they meet the base. (Inside and out.)

  15. gb_house_09 Little hands can put decorations in the icing along the base of the house, while larger hands are assembling the roof.

  16. gb_house_10It's VERY important that you wait the designated time (it was 15 minutes for us) holding the roof in position, prior to trying to decorate! It's not much fun trying to decorate a house where the walls keep caving in and the roof keeps sliding off!

  17. I'd recommend having little hands decorate accessories (gingerbread men, gingerbread snowmen and gingerbread trees) on a level surface prior to assembling perpidicular to the base. (In contrast to the photoevidence.)

  18. gb_house_12Little hands can be decorating one side of the house while big hands are working on the other side.

  19. While it's possible to pipe icing onto an already vertical wall (see photo below) it would have been much easier to put the decorative icing on the wall if it were flat. (Which, of course, would mean you'd have be be very careful while assembling the walls, not to smear icing all over the place.) Alternately, one could wait until the house was firmly cemented by the icing and then tip the house 80 degrees or so to do the decorative piping. (Not a likely option with anxious little hands!)

    gb_house_16 gb_house_13 gb_house_14 gb_house_17

  20. When everyone's finished decorating, put a tablespoon or so of icing sugar in a seive and shake over the project to give the appearance of a fresh snowfall.


  21. Now your challenge is guarding the house to make sure it doesn't get demolished overnight!

    gb_house_20 gb_house_21

Materials for above project:
  • table cloth for getting dirty (or easy to wipe table-top)
  • drop cloth (old table cloth or shower curtain) for floor if you plan on using sprinkles as a decoration (or easy to vacuum and mop floor)
  • gingerbread house kit (with slotted base)
  • alternate candy decorations (Smarties and Rockets)
  • plastic sandwich bags
  • scissors
  • plates, bowls and spoons for organizing decorations
  • seive
  • icing sugar (about a tablespoon)
  • spoon
  • patience
  • vacuum cleaner
  • wet cloths for cleaning little hands

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Colour palette generator

Awesome colour palette generator!

Palette Generator: Automagically create a harmonious color palette from a photograph

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Paper plate poppy


This was created at our local Ontario Early Years Centre.

  • small paper plate
  • four, red pieces of construction paper cut out like flower petals
  • one round piece of black construction paper cut like a circle
  • glue
  • optional: white glue and sparkles
  • glue the petlals around the edge of the plate (and not in the centre, even though that's what's in the photo)
  • glue the black circle in the centre of the flower
  • apply white glue and shake sprinkles over
  • let dry

Friday, November 02, 2007

Mabel's Labels: coupon code for free Holiday Gift Tags

gift tags
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Friday, October 26, 2007

Ghost feet


(This idea came home from school.)

  • large sheet of black construction paper
  • white, water soluble paint
  • glue
  • coat child's feet with white paint
  • have them make two white foot prints on the black paper
  • orient the paper so that the heel part of the print is the "top"
  • cut out 6 small black circles
  • glue the circles as two eyes and a mouth on the heel of each footprint
  • beware the scary ghosts!

NOTE: if the child is reluctant to make foot prints, hand prints can be substituted

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Paper flower

2007_10_24_flower paper_flower

These were created at our local Ontario Early Years Centre.

  • coloured construction paper cut in the shape of a flower
  • green construction paper cut like a leaf
  • craft (popsicle) stick (may wish to colour green)
  • glue
  • things to decorate flower: stickers, small tissue paper squares, feathers, markers, paint, bingo daubbers
  • glue popsicle stick to back of flower
  • glue leaf to popsicle stick
  • glue decorations to flower

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pumpkin book

2007_10_22_pumpkin_book 2007_10_22_pumpkin_book_2

(This idea came home from school.)

  • orange construction paper
  • black construction paper
  • scissors
  • white glue
  • stapler
  • pumpkin seeds
  • adult to cut out two identical pumkins from the orange paper
  • adult to places both pieces of pumpkin one on top of each other and staple together along the left hand side (like a book)
  • adult to cut out pumpkin eyes, nose and mouth from black construction paper
  • child to glue pumpkin face on top pumpkin
  • open pumpkin book and have child glue seeds on the inside "page" of the pumpkin book

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hallowe'en wreath


(This idea came home from school.)


  • paper plate with centre cut out
  • construction paper: red, green, brown, yellow, black, orange, white, purple
  • scissors
  • glue
  • adult to cut large leaves out of red, green, brown and yellow construction paper
  • adult to cut smaller pumpkins, cats, bats, ghosts, witches' hats, out of orange, black, white and purple construction paper
  • glue leaves to wreath as background design
  • glue Hallowe'en themed cut-outs on top of leaves

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sponge tree


(This idea came home from school.)

  • large sheet of paper
  • brown marker
  • optional: cut out of squirrel or chipmunk
  • glue
  • small sponges
  • brown, orange, red and yellow paint


  • have adult make tree and branches on paper with marker
  • glue squirrel to "ground" at base of tree
  • have child dip sponge in brown paint and colour squirrel

  • have child dip sponges in red, orange and yellow paint and sponge leaves on the tree branches

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Corn painted corn


(This idea came home from school.)

  • large sheet of paper
  • marker, pencil crayon or crayon
  • green crepe paper
  • glue
  • corn on cob (with husks removed)
  • yellow paint


  • have adult draw corn shape on paper with marker, crayon or pencil crayon
  • glue crepe paper to end of drawn corn cob as a husk
  • dip corn into paint and apply to paper

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Pumpkin wreath


This was created at our local Ontario Early Years Centre.


  • paper plate with centre cut out (by adult)
  • construction paper (orange, brown, green, red, yellow)
  • glue
  • cut pumpkin shape out of orange construction paper
  • cut pumpkin stem out of brown construction paper
  • cut leaf out of green construction paper
  • cut strips of construction paper out of the "fall" colours -- yellow, red and orange -- (the ones in the photo above are approx 2" by 11" -- I'd recommend making them a little thinner and shorter)
  • have children glue pumpkin to stem and leaf and then to paper plate
  • have children make rings out of the coloured strips of paper by gluing them
  • glue the rings to the paper plate

Monday, October 08, 2007

Fairy wings

via Neatorama

DIY Fairy Wings HOW-TO and BONUS Costume Essential via

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Creating your own computer fonts

via Geekdad: Helping GeekKids Create Their Own Fonts

Friday, October 05, 2007

Hand turkey


(This idea came home from school.)

  • paper
  • markers, pencil crayons or crayons
  • feathers
  • white glue


  • have adult trace child's hand on paper using marker, pencil crayon or crayons
  • make a "head" out of the thumb with an eye and a beak
  • add feet under the palm
  • have child glue feathers around the fingers for the body of the turkey

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Finger traps

via Geekdad

Instructions for how to make a finger trap over at

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Paper school


(This idea came home from school.)

  • large sheet of construction paper
  • markers
  • scissors / x-acto knife
  • photo of child
  • magazine pictures of children playing with toys, reading books, colouring etc
  • glue
  • fold sheet of paper in half length-wise
  • decorate front to look like this
  • have an adult outline and cut the doors and windows such that they fold open outwards
  • open up sheet of construction paper and have child glue images to be seen through the open window and doors
  • be sure to place photo of smiling child's face to occupy a window
  • fold the school "closed" and open the windows and doors to show children playing and your child's smiling face

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

recipe: Sidewalk paint

We were first introduced to commercial sidewalk paint when it was given to us as a gift. Toddlers and pre-schoolers love this stuff, so I was delighted to find this easy recipe for making sidewalk paint in Andrea's post "How to play hopscotch."


  • cornstartch
  • water
  • food colouring (for white paint, don't use any food colouring)


  • mix equal parts cornstartch and water
  • add a few drops of food colouring
  • paint!

Notes to self:


Sunday, September 23, 2007

House collage


This was created at our local Ontario Early Years Centre.

  • a sheet of paper cut like the shape of a house
  • pieces of coloured construction paper cut into squares, rectangles, circles
  • optional: cut out pictures from magazines (doors, windows etc) or stickers
  • glue stick or white glue

  • put house shaped paper down
  • apply glue and cut shapes / pictures to decorate the house

Monday, September 17, 2007

Paper crown


(This idea came home from school.)

  • construction paper approx 26" long by approx 6.5" high
  • scissors
  • stickers
  • invisible tape
  • optional: markers, crayons, sparkles, paint
  • have an adult cut the points in the crown (the ones in the pictures are about 3 inches high
  • have the child apply stickers or otherwise decorate the crown
  • wrap the paper around the child's head and tape on the outside
  • remove from child's head and add additional tape on the inside
  • NOTE: people often uses staples in lieu of tape to hold the crown together. There is a risk of hair getting caught in the staples. There is also a risk of children cutting themselves if a staple should open up part way.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Paper octopus

This was created at our local Ontario Early Years Centre.


  • part of a paper-towel roll (about 4cm length)
  • construction paper (the colour of your desired octopus) approx 15cm x 23cm (width needs to be approximately the circumference of the paper-towel roll)
  • stickers for decoration (eyes, suction cups)
  • transparent tape
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • scissors
  • thick pencil, marker or dowel for curling paper
  • optional: markers, crayons, glitter for additional decoration

  • place the paper-towel roll at one end of the construction paper. Use a pencil to mark the distance from the end and then rule a line to mark the margin along the width of the paper.
  • mark 7 equadistant lines (to make eight strips) along the length of the paper, from the right edge up to the margin previously drawn on the left hand side.
  • cut these lines right up until the margin previously drawn of the left hand side (the pencil in the photograph below is only there to show you that the paper has been cut up to, but not including, the left margin)
  • wrap the paper width-wise at the edge of the paper towel roll. Use tape in one or two places to secure the paper.
  • one by one, wrap each leg around a thick marker (or pencil) to curl the leg. Hold the leg in the tight curl for 3-4 seconds before releasing.
  • continue curling the legs until all eight are done


  • decorate


Enjoy your octopus!

And make sure your octopus stays away from boat propellers or it could end up looking like this .....