Tag Archives: beads

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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Building Beaded Pattern Sticks

Building Beaded Pattern Sticks | Mama Papa BubbaIMG 8945The other day while picking up a few craft supplies, Miss G absolutely fell in love with these heart-shaped pony beads.  Next to them, we found tiny little wooden dowels that the beads fit onto perfectly.  At the time, I really had no idea what we’d do with the pair, but I knew we’d figure something out.  

IMG 8940Turns out, the answer was play with patterns!  I was quite surprised by how early on Miss G grasped the concept of patterns…  I remember being in the kitchen cooking dinner one night long ago and hearing Brad ask Grae about a pattern out in the living room.  I thought to myself, ‘she’s way too young to know what he’s talking about’, but sure enough she proved me wrong on the spot.  So since we really haven’t explored them all that much, I decided our beads and dowels would be perfect for it.  While Miss G napped today, I spent a little bit of time catching up on my RSS feed while colouring pattern stripes on the dowels with markers.  This time around, I chose to pattern the entire dowel, but next time around I’d probably just start the patterns in order to let her complete them on her own.

IMG 8943With my patterned sticks complete, I knew I wanted to stand them upright somehow.  Out came some homemade lemony play dough and the little pots we used for our flower garden yogurt parfaits, and voila.  Mission accomplished. 

IMG 8948When Gracen woke up, she immediately saw the little station I’d set out and was thrilled.  After a squeal and cheer, the first thing’Mama, I want you to tell me what to do’, but when I asked if she really wanted me to tell her what to do or if she wanted to just play, she decided she was happy to just play.

IMG 8949Of course she immediately realized that the colours on the dowels coordinated with the bead colours and began matching them up. (Just look at that little face… Makes me melt!)

IMG 8953Shortly after beginning the activity, I realized that the dough-filled pots allowed the dowels to sink down as she added beads, so I changed things up a little bit and just used a play dough pancake to hold the sticks up instead.  She realized that the stripes in fact made patterns, and ‘read’ each one out to me.

IMG 8955Not only has this activity been fun and great for discussing colours and patterns, but it’s also great fine motor practice too!  Fitting the tiny beads onto the tiny dowels requires some serious concentration.

IMG 8992This activity has been out for several days now, is still out currently (dried up play dough and all), and gets some decent attention each day…  A hit in my books. ☺


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‘Sewing’ Station {a creative table idea}

Sewing StationFor the last few days, Miss G has really been enjoying the new set-up she has happening at her creative table (for a little bit of background info on the whole idea behind her creative table, click here).  While it would probably be more appropriate to call this a beading and lacing station, Gracen saw it and immediately cheered, “A sewing station!”  To her, needles equal sewing, so a sewing station it is.

IMG 3489The sewing station consists of things we mainly already had on hand…  Two types of beads (pony beads and meltable beads like these), a couple of plastic yarn needles strung with wool, a few steel yarn needles strung with embroidery floss, some Wikki Sticks

IMG 3491And some homemade lacing cards (simply made by cutting shapes out of card stock and cardboard, and punching holes around the edges).

IMG 3514IMG 3509When Grae originally discovered her new sewing materials, she was by far most excited about the needles and thread, and got to beading right away…

IMG 3527IMG 3531IMG 3541After a couple of days, she had completed not only a bracelet for herself (I helped with the tying of course), but one for her Mama too!

IMG 3544After that, she begun working on the lacing cards.  Right now she’s working on a lacing circle that has beads woven throughout.  She works on it a little each day, moving onto something else when she feels like it and returning when the urge returns.

IMG 3701Something that often happens when it comes to her creative table {and sensory play} is that Grae adds to the materials as she goes.  These mini cupcake liners were all her idea. 
IMG 3703This is her most recently completed project…  A bracelet for Papa!  He couldn’t be left out, now could he?
To see some of Miss G’s other recent creative table set-ups, click here.
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A Yearly Tradition: Handcrafted Christmas Ornaments

I know I’ve said it before, but becoming a mama has given me an overwhelming urge to create special traditions with our little family of three.  Things that we look forward to each year…  Memories Gracen will hold onto for a lifetime.  The holidays are extra special when looked at through the eyes of your child, aren’t they?

Looking back on my own childhood, the holidays were filled with special traditions I still remember vividly now as an adult.  Trudging through the snow out at Imperial Oil (where my Dad worked) in the freezing cold and selecting the perfect tree to cut down and take home…  Having a special evening dedicated to decorating the tree together…  Visiting ALL of my grandparents’ houses over the course of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day… Staying up as late as we wanted on Christmas Eve with our cousins…  It all seemed so magical. The thing is, the times I remember most have nothing to do with wish lists, Santa visits, or presents received.  All of the memories that stick out in my mind are about doing things as a family…  Just us spending time together.

And that’s my hope for Gracen when it comes to the holidays…  That she’ll come to cherish the time we spent doing things together more that any of the material indulgence that inevitably comes with Christmas.

Handcrafted Christmas Ornaments

This past weekend, we carried on a tradition that we began last year… An afternoon filled with holiday music and handcrafted ornaments. The hope is that one day we’ll have a giant tree filled with beautifully mismatched homemade ornaments that mean more to us than store bought ones ever could.  

Here are this year’s additions…

IMG 2800First up are some very simple, but very beautiful beaded candy cane ornaments.  

IMG 2798To make these, we used sparkly pipe cleaners cut in half and colourful iridescent pony beads Miss G selected at the store herself.

IMG 2790To get started, I simply folded over one end of the pipe cleaner to create a little nub to hold the beads on, and Grae began adding beads.

IMG 2791The wonderful thing about making these ornaments is that little ones get to sneak in a ton of fine motor skill practice while making them.

IMG 2793Once the pipe cleaner is nearly full, just flip over the open end to create a nub on the opposite side.

IMG 2801Then gently bend your beaded pipe cleaner to form a candy cane shape. (This is the one that Gracen made – start to finish – by herself).

IMG 2813Next, we did a remake of an ornament we made last year… A glass bulb decorated with a family of thumbprint reindeer. To make this one, select a solid-coloured glass bulb (one with a matte finish will photograph much better – duh!), then cover your thumb with a thick layer of brown crafter’s acrylic.

IMG 2818Carefully press your thumb onto the glass ball.

IMG 2826Hang your ball somewhere or carefully set it on a small cup and allow it to dry completely.

IMG 2845Once dry, use red crafter’s acrylic to add noses and a black paint pen or Sharpie to add eyes and antlers. Easy peasy!

IMG 2828The last batch of ornaments we made were out of cinnamon dough (2 cups of applesauce, 3 cups of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of nutmeg, and 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla mixed like mad by hand ).  With these ones, we used extra cinnamon to prevent sticking, assorted cookie cutters, stamps, straws to create ribbon holes, a rolling pin, and parchment paper.

IMG 2835This dough was quite tough and much easier to work with than last weekend’s baking soda clay.  

IMG 2836It could easily be rolled, handled, and stamped without sticking at all, which was nice.

IMG 2834On the downside, handprints and thumbprints were out of the question.  The dough just simply didn’t have enough give to it.

IMG 2839Once we’d filled our baking sheet, we popped the ornaments into the oven on the lowest setting and let them stay in there for several hours, flipping them once and a while.

IMG 2870I wish I could somehow bottle the smell of our house while they baked and share it with you all here… It was divine.

IMG 2876Before going to bed, I turned off the oven and let the ornaments sit in there overnight, just like I did with the baking soda clay ones.

IMG 2873When we awoke, they were fully dry and hard as a rock, but still smelled delicious.  (These are a few of the ones G made all by herself).  We added small loops of baker’s twine, and voila – they’re ready for hanging.

IMG 2867And how sweet is this little initial bunting Bradley made for Gracen?  

Now we just have to get a tree so that we’ll have somewhere to hang all of these beautiful new ornaments.  

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I am so thrilled to be sharing this family tradition as a part of ‘12 Days of Christmas Traditions with Vancouver’s Top Mommy Bloggers‘.  If you haven’t already, please pop over to JulieNowell.com to read her post about carrying out traditions in a new home, and be sure to pop over to The Write Mama tomorrow to read all about Lori’s Christmas Village tradition.  Enjoy!
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