Category Archives: get crafty

Simple Summer Fun: Seashell Painting

Simple Summer Fun Painted Seashells | Mama Papa BubbaWhile cleaning out our vehicle yesterday, I realized that we still had a big stash of beach shells we’d collected a couple months hiding in our hatch (you know you’re a parent when…)  We’d originally collected them with the intent of painting them, so that’s just what we did.  

IMG 0693First, we gave our shells a good scrubbing in some hot soapy water and laid them in the sun to dry for a few minutes.

IMG 0691Then Miss G chose a few colours of acrylic paint, and we got started.

IMG 0694Since acrylics will stain clothes, Gracen often wears a painting shirt or no shirt at all while using them.  And with the Okanagan weather being as hot as it has been lately, going without was a perfect option.  She quickly chose a shell, a paintbrush, and her colour, and got started.

IMG 0699While I often like setting out an activity, letting Grae discover it on her own, and standing back to see how she engages with the materials, I love sitting down and creating with her too.   I find that many times, some of our very best conversations take place when we’re sitting beside one another, hands busy.  Today we chatted about our upcoming move to Kuwait and some of the changes that will soon take place.  Just as it’s always been, she seems nothing but excited about it all.  We talked about her new bedroom, how she’d like purple things in it, how she’s anxious to have her very own bathroom, and how she’s looking forward to being closer to Uncle Daniel (our very dear friend who will live just 7 floors above us).  We also chatted about how, although we’ll be in the exact same apartment we had last time, the nursery she had as a baby will no longer look the same (she was excited to jump in her baby crib, but everything was sold when we left and we’ll be returning to an empty apartment).

IMG 0707Our conversation carried on shell after shell…  While we talked, Gracen experimented with different colours, colour mixing, paint layering, and painting both the insides and outsides of her shells.

IMG 0704Here are some of our colourful creations in progress.

IMG 0701After seeing my pink shell with aqua polka dots, Miss G wanted to do some polka dots of her own.  She painted her entire shell aqua, waited patiently for it to {mostly} dry, and then dabbed blobs of purple on top.

IMG 0710Like rock painting, collecting seashells and painting them seems like a summer staple to me… Something that just begs to be done year after yet because of its simplicity, beauty, and all of the possibilities. 

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Bubble Painting

Bubble Painting | Mama Papa BubbaYesterday Miss G and I finally got around to something that’s been on my mental activity list forever now… Bubble painting!  Now if you cruise Pinterest, you’ll see that bubble painting is all over the internet and everyone seems to do it a little bit differently.  Variations include all different sorts of bubble solutions, wands, and methods, so we just made up our own.  

IMG 0602Since we’re staying with Brad’s parents until our big move and Grandma Charlotte seems to be stockpiling bubble solution for an upcoming bubble solution drought (Hi Charlotte! ☺), we used store-bought bubbles to make our bubble paint.  We simply divided a small bottle between 4 mason jars, then added some food colouring.  We went for liquid food colouring this time around and added between 8 and 10 drops to each jar in hopes of some fairly vibrant colours.  Then we chopped the bendy part off of 4 straws, and popped one into each jar to use as bubble blowers.

IMG 0603To set the station up, I taped a large piece of paper onto a chunk of cardboard and set it out on the back deck.  Of course you could set this up on a table or easel, but I liked the fact that Gracen could get up above her canvas and blow the bubbles directly down towards the paper.  Same goes for our straw bubble blowers…  You could easily use traditional bubble wands, but I felt that the straws helped guide the bubbles in the right direction.  As for the outside part, since food colouring does stain and the Okanagan has been absolutely gorgeous, it was just the best option.

IMG 0606Gracen began blowing bubbles and we anxiously awaited for them to hit the paper.  As soon as they landed, the paper below the bubble immediately flooded with colour.  Some bubbles popped right away, and some stuck around for a while.

IMG 0676We worked on our painting for a little while yesterday, then tucked it away to come back to today.  As you can see, Miss G thought it was just as neat on day two.

IMG 0671It also seemed like our bubble paints had evaporated a bit in the Okanagan sun, leaving our colours even more vibrant than before.

IMG 0848Here’s a look at some of our finished artwork… Pretty, right?

IMG 0841And how cool is this bubble up close?!  You can just see the ‘POP’ right in the print.

I love activities like this one… It’s simple, requires materials we always have in the house, and is really fun. Bubble painting is definitely being added to our list of summer favourites. 

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Simple Straw Bead Necklaces

Simple Straw Bead Necklaces | Mama Papa BubbaAs the chaos continues, so do the super simple, created-on-a-whim activities for Miss G.  Because the days are passing by so quickly and we still have a ridiculous amount of stuff to be done before the big move, I’ve basically been throwing together activities with whatever is nearby at the moment, and hoping that they’ll keep Gracen happily engaged for a good long time so that Brad and I can throw some more stuff into boxes (sad, but true).

IMG 2567Today, as I was sorting through our big catchall closet, I came across the bubble tea straws we used for Grae’s beloved bubble tea shop we did recently.  I knew I had seen yarn on a shelf somewhere, so I created a really basic beading station for the little lady to enjoy.

IMG 2568Using some big scissors, I chopped up the straws to form beads.  They leapt up from my scissors as they were cut and Gracen thought it was quite funny.  Her job was to collect all of the beads and pop them into this bowl.

IMG 2569Because the straws are so large, Brad created a cardboard stopper at the end of a piece of yarn instead of a giant knot.  This can be done as he did it (by feeding the yarn through a small hole and knotting it on the other side), or it can be done by wrapping the yarn through a couple of slits made in the cardboard square.

IMG 2570Though we actually have several large, unsharp sewing needles from Grae’s ‘sewing kit‘, I had seen this creative alternative on Happy Hooligans, and decided to give it a shot.

IMG 2572Grae started beading right away.  The beauty of this activity is that not only is it simple and fun, but it also is great for fine motor skill development and hand-eye coordination.  Plus it lends itself very easily to patterning if your child decides to take it that way (Miss G did not).

IMG 2576Grae worked on this project for a good long time and finally finished off a giant, brightly-coloured  necklace that she was very proud of.  

I realize that not everyone keeps bubble tea straws on hand, but this same activity would work great with regular small straws (just use a dull knitting needle instead of the straw needle, or put a bit of masking tape on the needle end of the yarn), or better yet – if you’re a Slurpee-loving family, wash out those big Slurpee straws and repurpose them for this project.

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Gracen-Made Gifts: Ombre Beaded Necklaces

Kid Made Ombre Wooden Beaded Necklace | Mama Papa BubbaWith another ‘goodbye play date’ happening this morning, Miss G and I decided that it would be fun to make something special to take along for each of her little playmates.  Grae suggested necklaces, which I thought was a brilliant idea.  We made a quick stop at the store, picked up some unfinished wooden beads and some hemp cord (both available at craft stores and dollar stores) and our project was underway!

IMG 0152First up, was painting the wooden beads… While painting all of the sides of round beads can be quite a challenge for little ones, this is my favourite {and easy} way to help set them up for success.  All you need is a smallish box of some sort (a fruit crate or shoebox works well) and a few bamboo skewers.  Then just make a few slits down both sides of the box, slide the beads onto the skewers, and place the skewers into the slits.  With this handy little contraption, your little one won’t have to worry about holding the beads and they’ll easily be able to spin the beads while painting.

IMG 0164For this project, Grae chose one colour from my acrylic paint stash (the pink one) and in order to create an ombre effect I had in mind, I grabbed the white one.  Besides only needing one paint colour plus white {or black}, the beauty of an ombre project is that you only really need one mixing bowl and one paintbrush.

IMG 0153Starting with our original colour and our largest beads, Grae began painting.  The process was really quick and easy and she enjoyed it a lot.  I did follow behind her with a dry brush just to spread out a few globs of paint here and there, but she was able to get really good coverage all on her own.  We slowly made our way through the medium and small beads, adding a little bit of white to our paint with each batch.

IMG 0161As Grae finished painting each skewer of beads, I removed them from the box and placed them on a {very old and well-used} baking dish to dry.  This was our completed collection of beads, which was more than enough to make 5 necklaces.  

IMG 0170Acrylic paint dries really quickly, so we were able to string our necklaces not too long after painting the beads.  For each necklace, we used about 60 centimetres of white hemp cord, 1 large dark pink bead, 2 medium ones, and 6 smaller ones (2 per shade of pink).

IMG 0175Because we normally use a knotted string when beading, this project was a little different for Miss G.  This time we used the cord without a knot, started with the biggest, darkest bead in the middle, and added the outside beads in pairs, one on each side.  It was a great informal ‘lesson’ on symmetry and Grae picked up the concept right away.

IMG 0177Here’s the order we went with…  The largest, darkest bead in the middle fading to the lightest, smallest beads on the outer edges.

IMG 0180Once Grae was done the beading, I looped the cord in a circle, overlapping the ends about 12 centimetres or so and made a quick, single knot on each side to create an adjustable necklace. I trimmed the excess cord a little bit, and our necklace was complete!

IMG 0184Isn’t it pretty?  

IMG 0187I love this project for so many reasons – it’s quick, easy, inexpensive, and looks beautiful too!  Doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

I think it’s safe to say that Grae loves it too… ☺


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Cork Sail Boats {With Sparkly Sails}

Cork Sailboats With Sparkly Sails | Mama Papa BubbaOh my goodness.  Miss G and I had so much fun with this little project this afternoon.  The best part is that it was completely impromptu. She wanted ‘to craft’ as she always says, and when digging through our craft supply drawer, came across a little bag of corks we scored at our last trip to Urban Source.  I had boat building in mind ever since we picked them out, and when I suggested it to her, she was fully game.  Together, we did a little Pinterest search, and Grae selected the images from these three posts for inspiration.  

IMG 9388With an idea in mind, it was time to gather up some materials.  The corks were a given, the elastics would hold the actual boat together, the toothpicks or dowels would hold up our sails (we went with the mini dowels in the end), and the nail would help us poke our holes.  The last thing we needed was something to make our sails out of…  We thought of patterned scrapbook paper, but knew that would eventually just get wet.  We also thought of the plastic sheets we used to make our window clings, but Grae wasn’t overly excited about the colours we had left.  Then we thought of foam sheets – being waterproof and super lightweight, they’d be perfect.  And even more perfect? Finding sparkly ones!  Gracen was sold.

IMG 9391To get started, Gracen lined up 3 corks and held them together while I secured them with 2 thick elastic bands – one on each side.

IMG 9392Then, using our nail and “our big, big muscles” in the words of Grae, we created a little hole in the very centre of the cork wharf.

IMG 9394Together we pushed our mini wooden dowel down into the hole (a food pick or bamboo skewer could work too).

IMG 9397Using another mini dowel for reference, sketched a quick sail outline on the back of our sparkly foam.

IMG 9398Because our foam was of the adhesive variety, we made our sail double-sided, but this would be unnecessary if we had just regular foam sheets.

IMG 9399After making a couple of teeny little slits in our sail, one at the top and one at the bottom, we slid it onto our dowel post.

Cork Boat FlagThe finishing touch was adding a little flag above our sail.  To do this, Gracen selected a roll of washi tape and folded a piece in half around the top of our dowel.  Then I cut it to form a flag shape.

IMG 9404With our first boat complete, it was time for the big moment – to see whether or not it would float.  It did!

IMG 9406And this little lady was very pleased about that.

IMG 9414We made one more boat, and the play begun immediately.  Bobbing, blowing, and swooshing ensued throughout the afternoon and I’m sure it’ll continue for the next several days.  

And while the boats have been fun in a bowl of water, I have a couple of other ideas to make them even more fun to play with.  Now where to find more corks…


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Painted Name Rocks

Painted Name Rocks | Mama Papa BubbaBack in early spring while hanging out down by the river, we stumbled upon a new-to-us rock beach area begging to be explored.  While Miss G enjoyed throwing rocks into the water, I sort of randomly began filling my pockets with particularly smooth, nicely-shaped stones with some sort of craft project in mind (crazy mom alert!)  Though at the time I thought we’d use them to create rock bugs or monsters or something of that sort, with Miss G’s recent name fascination, a new project took shape.

IMG 2285It started the other day when Gracen wanted to make something and I really wanted the two of us to get outside and get some fresh air.  We pulled out our rocks, some acrylic paints, a couple of foam brushes, and set up a little workspace in the backyard.  Grae painted her rock collection all sorts of bright colours, while I painted mine with a couple of coats of plain white.

IMG 9299Once dry, I typed Grae’s name into a word-processing doc, selected a font that is similar to the way I’d like her to print her name (in this case Illuminate – see some of my favourite fonts here), and copy and pasted it using different font sizes just to be sure I had one that would work (in this case the top name, in font size 100 fit my rocks perfectly).

IMG 9303Next, I carefully cut the letters out.

IMG 9305Because my rocks were not collected with a specific project in mind, they were all a little bit differently shaped and sized, so I just took my letter cutouts and matched each one up with a stone as best as I could. 

IMG 9309Then, using a regular children’s glue stick, I stuck the paper letters directly onto the painted rocks.

IMG 9310Using acrylic paints again (we went for rainbow colours, because well, we love rainbow!), I painted the rocks.  I made sure to use a dabbing motion near / on top of the letters, just to be sure that I wouldn’t get paint underneath them and they wouldn’t move around.  Two coats of coloured paint gave really nice coverage and the white paint underneath really allowed the colours to pop.

IMG 9312My original plan was to actually soak the paper letters off in warm water once the paint was dry, but to my surprise, they peeled off very easily.  As you can see, the letters certainly weren’t perfect at this point.  I also had not yet painted the bottoms of the rocks yet {mostly because I wasn’t sure if this method would be a success}, so I made sure to do that carefully, but next time I’d do it before removing the paper letters.

IMG 9338Next up, I used a flat-tipped brush and some white acrylic to just touch up the letters here and there.  This certainly isn’t necessary (Grae thought the rocks were perfect as is), but it was really easy and did make the edges look a lot cleaner.

IMG 9341Lastly, once the white touch up paint was dry, I gave the rocks a once over with Mod Podge  to protect the paint from chips and scuffs.  I like Mod Podge a lot because it’s water-based and non-toxic, but you could use a spray-on finisher if that’s what you prefer.

IMG 9354Here’s the end result…  Bright and colourful and great for both playing with and learning with.

IMG 9353Gracen was so anxious to get her hands on them once they were done, she could barely contain her excitement.

IMG 9368Just for fun, I set them in a tray of sand (mixed up of course) and the little lady immediately began spelling her name.  

They’ve been such a hit that I’ve already agreed to make more for both of her middle names, and I have a feeling that I’ll get coaxed into making some for her last name too…  Times like these make me wonder why we gave our child a name with 26 letters – hah!


For all kinds of other fun ways to create with rocks, visit my friend Sam’s rock craft page here.  She’s the rock craft QUEEN and her projects are always gorgeous!


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Toddler-Sized Popsicle Stick Bangles

Toddler sized Popsicle Stick Bangles | Mama Papa BubbaThis is a little project Miss G and I have been working on ever since we went shopping for an event I was attending and Grae fell in love with some brightly-coloured bangles.  Though it was a bit of a process, these wooden  popsicle stick bracelets are really easy, fun, and inexpensive to make and my little accessory lover is very pleased with the results.

IMG 8900To start off, we soaked some wooden popsicle sticks in a covered mason jar of water for a full 24 hours.  

IMG 8936Then, I gently bent them into ‘C’ shapes in order to fit them in tea light holders.  One thing I noticed during this step is that there seemed to be a way that the sticks naturally wanted to be bent…  Working with that made the job a lot easier.  The one I tried to bend against the natural direction actually ended up snapping.

IMG 8938We could have left our popsicle sticks in the tea light holders to dry as is, but since they weren’t perfectly fitted to the edges of the containers, we filled them up with water and let them sit another 24 hours before draining them and letting them dry out.

IMG 9233After drying a full day, the bracelets held their shapes nicely.

IMG 9236When we popped them out of the tea light holders, they looked like this.  Certainly not perfect, but a cuff shape nonetheless.

IMG 9238At this point, the bracelets looked really tiny, but they fit G (who will be 3 in just a couple of months) perfectly.  The good thing is that you can always make the opening a little larger with a gentle bend.

IMG 9237These could be decorated a multitude of ways, but we opted for a tissue paper colour transfer for watercolour sort of look.  In order to do that, we got out a few things…  Water in a small spray bottle, some tissue squares, a toilet paper roll (which was quickly replaced with a chunk of a branch similar in size), and the bracelets themselves of course.

IMG 9239We started off by putting the bracelets around the paper roll just to make them easier to work on.

IMG 9241Then Miss G gave them a light misting of water to make them ‘sticky’…

IMG 9242And covered the entire stick in tissue paper squares, adding a spritz or two of water along the way if needed.

IMG 9245Then, when she was happy with her coverage, she sprayed the whole thing down once again, allowing the tissue paper to cling tightly to the wooden bangle.

IMG 9247My part of the job was carefully removing the bracelets covered in tissue from the paper roll / branch.  Once removed, I carefully wrapped the excess tissue around the backside of the bracelet.  One thing I did not anticipate is that the small amount of water sprayed onto the bracelets actually starting causing them to lose their shape.

IMG 9249So back into the tea light holders to dry it was.

IMG 9276After another day’s drying time, Gracen peeled away the dried tissue paper to reveal beautiful watercolour-eque designs.

IMG 9281I did contemplate using black Sharpies to add stripes, dots, and other designs, but I think these are perfect just as they are. ☺

For a slightly more involved but GORGEOUS popsicle bracelet project, check out these awesome DIY washi tape wooden bracelets by Mama Miss.  

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Sidewalk Chalk Paint on Paper

Sidewalk Chalk Paint on Paper | Mama Papa BubbaOne of our favourite things to do on sunny spring and summer days is to cover our sidewalks in bright colours and patterns using homemade sidewalk chalk paint.  The paint, which dries with a chalk-looking finish, is vibrant, easy to apply, and washes off with a couple of rains.  Perfect, right?  Almost!  The only {petty} problems are that it’s best used during the warmer, drier months of the year, and the beautiful sidewalk art created cannot be saved in Miss G’s scrapbooks (duh!) 

With both of those things in mind, today we did some experimenting with using the paint on paper!  I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, but I’m happy to report that it worked wonderfully!

Sidewalk Chalk Paint  Blender Method | Mama Papa BubbaFirst off, after making many batches of sidewalk chalk paint, here is our easy peasy, minimally-messy method of making it.  The key component?  A blender!  First off, it prevents the inevitable cornstarch poof that comes with whisking it, and secondly, I find that after a good long spin in the blender, the cornstarch doesn’t separate from the water nearly as quickly as when we hand mix it.  

IMG 8474With our paints ready, we headed outside with a stack of black construction paper.  I’m sure other papers would work wonderfully too, but I was kind of going for the old-school blackboard look.  Now…  I’m not going to lie.  When we first started using the paints on the paper, I thought our experiment was going to be a total flop.  So much so, in fact, that we ditched the paper and used our entire batch of paint on our front sidewalk instead.  Going on, the paint looked like slightly muddled water… Not quite the look I was hoping for!

It wasn’t until every last drop of our paint was gone and we were beginning to clean up that we noticed how beautiful the paintings we’d banished over to the side were now that they were dry.

IMG 8469Instead of looking wet and barely there like this…

IMG 8491Once dry, they were bright, chalky, and vibrant like this!  Cool, right?  

IMG 8467With that, it was back into the kitchen to whip up another batch of paint.  Together, we painted many more pieces, this time watching the transformation as they dried.

IMG 8493The other kind of cool thing we learned is that once your piece is dry…

IMG 8480You can use your fingernail or the edge of a popsicle stick to scratch off designs and patterns!  Fun, right?

IMG 8483How did our afternoon of painting end? Hah!  Like this!  Miss G was done, dinnertime was nearing, and we still had some paint leftover, so out it went onto the sidewalk.  Of course, which two year old can resist walking through regular puddles, let alone rainbow-coloured ones?! 

IMG 8486Well, and because feet were okay, hands must be okay too, no?


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Rainy Day Splatter Painting

Rainy Day Splatter Painting | Mama Papa BubbaWhile living in a city that gets as much rain as Vancouver does can be a little deflating some days, I know that we’ll miss it dearly once we’re back in the sandy desert.  So instead of letting the past week of rain keep us indoors today, we decided to get out and enjoy it.  After a morning walk and a long play at the park before lunch, we decided to head back outside this afternoon.  We brought along with us a baking sheet, some liquid food colouring (the neon kind), and some white construction paper to do an easy and fun art activity… Rain splatter painting!

IMG 8367To get started, Gracen laid a piece of construction paper down on the baking sheet and fully enjoyed dropping splots of food colouring all over it.

IMG 8370Once she had the food colouring exactly how she wanted it, we simply let the rain do its job.  At this point, it was raining quite hard, so the splatter effect happened quickly.  Grae loved watching the colours pop up off the page and land back down on the page in little dots.  At some point during the process, she’d say “This one is done!” and we’d pop it inside the house to dry and grab another sheet of paper to splatter.

IMG 8376The end result is beautiful, splotchy, watercolour-esque paintings, just like this one.  Fun, right?


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Paper Roll Shape Stamps

Paper Roll Shape Stamps | Mama Papa BubbaEvery once and a while, I seem to go through a paper roll collecting stage.  I have no idea why, because I truly never have anything planned for them, but it happens none the less.  When I noticed a little collection of them today during nap time, I decided we’d put them to use this afternoon.

IMG 8316Though we really haven’t done a whole lot of paper tube crafts, I remembered how much Miss G enjoyed the heart stamping activity we did last fall.  Not wanting to do the exact same thing again, I decided to create several different shapes to switch things up a little bit.  To start off, I gently cut the tubes in half.

IMG 8320Next, came shaping them.  The good news is that it wasn’t difficult.  For the triangle,  square, and rectangle, I basically made the required number of corners by folding the tubes, then played with the shapes a little bit until I was happy with them.  You can see exactly how to form the heart shape here, and the circle, well, you just leave it as is {obviously}.

IMG 8324At this point, Gracen was still asleep and I just couldn’t wait test them out.  So I didn’t. ☺

IMG 8328When my little lady woke up, she quickly discovered the stamping station I’d set out for her, and she was thrilled.

IMG 8330She stamped away testing out each shape thoroughly…   

IMG 8338Her personal favourite?  My impromptu bow tie stamp dipped in purple paint (of course).  

Depending on the paper used for this project, your little one(s) could create a new piece of art for the wall, a piece of wrap for a gift, or a greeting card for someone special.


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