Tag Archives: crafts for toddlers

I Love Grandma Because… {A Mother’s Day Gift}

I Love You Because Flower | Mama Papa BubbaWhile we should have probably had these done last weekend and in the mail days ago, Miss G and I just put together these little gifts for the grandmas today. (Sorry Grandmas!  Here’s a sneak peek of what’s coming very soon.)

‘I love you because…’ flowers are an old favourite of mine.  I think I done a version of this project every year that I’ve taught and I absolutely adore hearing about why my munchkins love their moms (or fathers/caretakers/aunts/grandmas/etc.) – the answers are often heartwarming and hilarious all at once.  

IMG 9692To get started, Gracen and I filed through my scrapbook paper stash and selected some paper colours for both of her grandmas.  We talked about the parts of a flower, and as she described them, I cut them out.  6 petals, a ‘middle’, a stem, 2 leaves, and a background later, Miss G was ready to start assembling her first flower.

IMG 9696When I asked her if she knew what to do, she said she didn’t, but she got started independently anyways.  She wanted to start with the yellow circle, and the only thing I helped her with was positioning it in a spot that would allow for enough room for both the petals and the stem.

IMG 9698She squeezed a dollop of glue on the back of each petal, then carefully tucked them underneath the centre piece, making sure that none overlapped too much.

IMG 9703When she was done with the petals, she glued on the stem and leaves.

IMG 9706Here’s her finished flower.  Adorable, right?!

IMG 9711Once the flower had had a moment to dry, we sat down together and used the hand over hand technique to print ‘I love Grandma Sue because…’ in the middle of the flower.  Then we talked about the reasons why she loved her Grandmas and added one idea to each petal.  She was happy to help me print the first couple, but asked me to write down the ideas on my own after that, which I was totally fine with.  This project is all about the ideas!  I wrote down her phrases just as she’d said them, even when she told me that she loved Grandma Sue because of her nice feet and belly – hah! ☺

I think the grandmas are going to love these, and it will definitely be interesting to see how her reasons change over the years.  Now to get them in the mail, ASAP.


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Contact Paper, Tissue, Sequins, Confetti, & Glitter: A Creative Table

Contact Paper Tissue Sequins Confetti  Glitter Creative TableThis creative table set up had a good long run in our house…  It’s been worked on day in and out for over a week now, and I’m sure Gracen would still be adding to it if there was any sticky space left on the contact paper.  

IMG 5750When it began, it looked like this… A piece of clear contact paper, sticky side up, tacked down to one of our vintage apple crates (it could just as easily be taped down to a table top), and a few little jars of decorating goodies, as Miss G calls them.

IMG 5756Included were sequins, confetti, tissue squares, and a container of glitter.

IMG 5753Although I often set up Gracen’s creative tables while she’s sleeping, this time around she helped me set up, selecting the glitter (of course) and the sequins to be part of it.

IMG 5759When we’d finished gather our materials, she began creating without direction or instruction… Carefully adding each item, one at a time, and pressing them down onto the sticky paper.

IMG 5755The lovely thing about contact paper is that because everything sticks to it, projects (even when they include a full bottle of glitter) never get wildly messy.

IMG 5918Grae revisited it daily, adding a little bit each time, until today when we decided it was time to switch things up a little.

IMG 6005Now we could have easily called it quits at this point, because art like this is definitely about the process and not the finished product, but Grae had announced early on that she would be hanging her finished piece on her bedroom door.  In order to preserve it a little better, we took out our contact paper once again and cut a piece the same size as the original one.

IMG 6007I then peeled the backing off of just the top edge of the new sheet, carefully lined it up with the art piece, and pressed the two sheets, sticky sides together, down.  Afterwards, I pulled the remaining backing off in order to cover the entire piece.

IMG 6009Here’s what it looked like with everything sealed in. We could have left it as is, but Gracen chose to cut it into two hearts rather than keep it as one large rectangle.

IMG 6011Here’s the finished product.  She very proudly hung it on her door turned art gallery, but it would be super pretty hung in front of a window where light could shine through too.

To learn a little bit more about how we do creative tables around here, visit this creative table post and this one too.  Or, pop by Tinkerlab, where Rachelle, the creator of the Creative Table Project explains.


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Sparkly Heart-Shaped {Valentine’s Day} Wands

Sparkly Heart Shaped WandsIn addition to our annual Valentine’s Day tea, Gracen and I have a couple of other Valentine’s parties and classes to attend this year.  And since we don’t do the whole candy thing just yet, it means getting a little bit more creative with the ‘treats’ she hands out.  When I asked her what she’d like to give her friends, she responded with Valentine’s slime (thanks I’m sure to our Halloween version for her ballet class friends) and heart wands (thanks to a Kiwi Crate package we received from our most recent PBK story time).  And because both take a little bit of prep work, we started early…  More time left over to figure out what we’ll bring for the 30+ kiddos in her Strong Start class, right?

These little wands are beautiful and easy to make, and although some may think they’re a little ‘girly’, we believe that hearts and magic are for everyone. ☺

Heart Wand MaterialsHere are the materials we used for the project…  Wooden dowels, adhesive glitter foam sheets, acrylic paint, a paint brush, and some ribbon.  The best part is that we picked up all of these things at our local dollar store, so not only were they inexpensive, but we only had to make one stop – always nice with a toddler in tow.

IMG 4891First off, we started the project by painting our wooden dowels.  Miss G does not always enjoy having her hands covered in paint, so we attached clothespins to the ends of the dowels so she could rotate them as she painted without painting her fingers.  When she declared a dowel done, I went over the stick with a couple of quick strokes in order to smooth out the globs.

IMG 4896Then, because the tips were not painted where the clothespins were, I was able to stick the dowels into chunks of {gingerbread} play dough to dry upright.

IMG 4995A couple of days later, when our paint was good and dry (it actually only takes about an hour), we came back to our project.  We started by drawing a heart shape onto a piece of cardboard and cutting it out to use as a tracer.   

IMG 4996Next, using our newly-made tracer, we traced hearts onto the backs of our foam sheets.  Gracen was happy to do the first few, and let me do the others when it came to this job.

IMG 5000With some strategic placement, we were able to fit 4 hearts onto each of our foam sheets, but of course it depends on the size of your tracer and the size of your foam sheets.

IMG 5004Next, we cut out the hearts.

IMG 5005Now to actually assemble a wand, you need two foam hearts, a wooden dowel, and a cute little helper.

IMG 5007This right here was Grae’s favourite part of the whole project… Peeling the backings off of the hearts!

IMG 5009With one heart shaped peeled, we placed the sticky side up on our work surface and placed the unfinished end of our dowel in the centre of the heart, up maybe an inch or inch and a half from the bottom.

IMG 5012Then Grae peeled the backing off of another heart, and we carefully placed it on top of the dowel, making sure to line up the hearts as closely as we could.

IMG 5013With the heart in a good position, Grae pressed everything together firmly.

IMG 5017Next up – the ribbon!  We chose 3 colours, looped them in half, and cut them slightly shorter than the length of our exposed dowel .

IMG 5018Then we stacked them up and tied them onto the dowel at the base of the heart, giving them a little tug to coax them into falling downwards nicely.

IMG 5026Then, with a different, slightly narrower ribbon, we tied a bow right above the previous ribbon knot…

IMG 5024And finished off all of the ribbon ends with v snips.

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And there you have it.  Sparkly heart wands for Miss G’s little friends.  


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Valentine’s Creative Table

One of the things I’ve been doing to encourage independent play {and creativity} in recent months is keeping a fun, inviting, and well-stocked ‘creative table’ for Gracen.  All it is is her little table (or sometimes a tray or even the floor) with an assortment of materials available for her free use.  Sometimes it’s paper and glue and embellishments (like in our Christmas tree creative table), sometimes it’s play dough and cookie cutters and decorations, and sometimes it’s a tray of baking soda with droppers and dishes of different coloured vinegars.   Naturally, some creative table set-ups are more open-ended and some lend themselves more to a finished product, but either way, the purpose is for Gracen to explore materials, experiment, and create freely while enjoying the process.  

Valentine s Creative TableToday, Miss G and I did a little bit of shopping for this year’s Valentine’s Day projects (yes, we’re thinking about it already), and though I intended on holding off on a Valentine’s themed creative table for a while yet, my little lady popped up from her afternoon nap and her first words were, “I want to craft now.  Grae Grae gets her new craft things!”  And that was that.  A Valentine’s creative table it was.

IMG 4670IMG 4669IMG 4672Together we gathered up all sorts of pink and red craft supplies…  Smelly markers, sparkly foam shapes, bingo dabbers, stamps and a stamp pad, doilies, construction paper hearts, and some glue.

IMG 4683As she does with most creative projects, Grae dove right in.

IMG 4687The immediate favourite?  The foam stickers.  She plower through the initial stash and asked for more right away.

IMG 4681Throughout the afternoon and evening, she came and went as she pleased, adding to her pieces as she wished.

Here are a few of the pieces she declared ‘finished’…

IMG 4688IMG 4694IMG 4689While it won’t be around until the big day (I try to change up our creative table supplies every 4 to 7 days or so), there’s no doubt it will be enjoyed, added to, and revisited for several days to come.


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Christmas Tree Decorating Creative Table

As much as I’d love to have an entire room dedicated to play and discovery, our little two bedroom house simply doesn’t have the space.  So instead of an actual playroom, we’ve taken various playroom elements and created play spaces around the house so that Gracen always has plenty of opportunities to create, explore, and play.  If you were to visit our house, you’d most likely see some sort of sensory tray or bin happening in our kitchen, an easel and art supplies in our dining area, a felt board station, creative table, and toy area in the living room, and a nature shelf, dress-up corner, and book nook in Gracen’s room.  This set up works really well for us and the nice part is that if I’m making dinner or folding a load of laundry or doing some sort of other job, Gracen always has the choice of doing a project or activity of her own in the same room.  

One of the areas Gracen’s especially taken interest in lately is her creative table.  All it is a regular kid-sized table and chair set, but the fun part is that new creating materials find their way onto the table every few days.  Some days the materials are really simple (something like card stock, stickers, and crayons, or paper, stamps, and ink pads), and other days the materials are a little more exciting (sparkly pipe cleaners and shiny pony beads, or chocolate play dough, gingerbread man-shaped cookie cutters, and buttons).  I almost always put out new materials while Miss G’s asleep, and I leave them for her to discover on her own.  Though I don’t actively encourage her to engage in the activities at her creative table (they’re more of an ongoing invitation to create), she almost always squeals in delight upon finding something new and gets creating right away.

This invitation to decorate paper Christmas trees was a HUGE hit today.  So much so that she ended up creating seven different trees and took her time with each, creating seven unique masterpieces.

Paper Christmas Tree DecoratingHere’s what she found at her table after nap time…  Some tree shapes cut out of green construction paper, some crayons (Melissa & Doug’s jumbo triangular crayons are by far the best ones we’ve ever used), white glue, a glue pen, and a tray full of goodies.

IMG 3289The decorations are all things I had on hand… Shape stickers, buttons, yarn, sparkly pompoms, sequins, pony beads, and foam circles.  Of course, these items could be swapped out for just about anything – and if you don’t have a large stock of craft supplies on hand, look in your kitchen.  There are so many fun things that can be used as craft supplies in your pantry.  Fun-shaped pasta, rice, dried beans, lentils, cereal pieces – anything goes really.

IMG 3290The beautify of Miss G’s creative table is that she uses the materials the way she sees fit.  I don’t set out an example or show her ‘the right way’ to do the activity (although I try to avoid both of those things for most activities, not only those happening at her creative table)…  It’s open-ended and she’s free to interpret the project as she likes.  (While these materials quite easily lend themselves to a certain finished product, they can still be used in many different ways.  Some children may stick the paper trees together, some may use glue as a decoration on its own, and some may rip up the trees into new shapes…)

IMG 3292Gracen adored this set-up and particularly liked how I had moved her table next to our real tree this time around.  She oohed and ahhhed over the materials and then announced that she was going to decorate her trees.

IMG 3293One thing I had forgotten {and should really know by now} is a damp cloth.  My girl likes to be able to wash the glue off of her fingers as she goes.  My mistake!

IMG 3303I left her at her table, popping in every so often to snap a couple photos or ask her about her trees, but she was very content on her own.

IMG 3309Other than the stickers (she’s sticker obsessed), these sparkly pompoms were her favourite material.  She kept saying, “Dese sparkly pompoms sooo prickly, Mama”. 

IMG 3310IMG 3312Her creations took her well into dark until Papa returned home from work.

IMG 3316By the end of it, our coffee table was fully covered in drying Christmas trees and our little lady was very proud of her creations.

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Baking Soda Clay Ornaments

My personal rule?  All things Christmas wait until December 1st.  Well, besides crafting or purchasing the odd little gift here and thereI guess…

This year though, I’ve broken my own rule. I’m not sure how it happened, but we were looking for a fun afternoon activity and somehow I ended up whipping up a batch of baking soda clay without giving any thought to the fact that it’s still November. Oops…  It’s okay, though.  We started the tradition of making special handcrafted ornaments together as a family last year, and I already have {more than a} few new types in mind for this year, so we’ll just call this our practice round…

Baking Soda Clay Christmas OrnamentsI’ve always been a fan of salt dough ornaments.  The dough is easy and inexpensive to make, it’s really easy to work with, and you can shape and mould it almost any way you like.  The only downside to salt dough, however, is that it loses some of its appeal when it dries out.  Last year we made several different salt dough ornaments, and though they are special because they are handmade, they did crack / puff up / brown a little bit during the drying process.  So when I started seeing baking soda clay pop up all over Pinterest just after Christmas last year, I knew we’d have to give it a shot for our next round of ornament making.

IMG 2463The dough itself is very easy to make.  It involves just three ingredients (baking soda, cornstarch, and water) and a little heat, and before you know it, it’s done.  I followed this recipe almost exactly, but added about a tablespoon more cornstarch.  The result is this amazingly soft, smooth, bright white dough that feels silky in your hands.

IMG 2464Once the dough was made and was cooling, I collected a few things from around the house to use to create shapes.  Cookie cutters were the obvious first choice, but mason jar lids, the rims of glasses, and butter knives all work well for the job too.

IMG 2466Next, I gathered some materials to make impressions in the dough.  After a visit raiding Gracen’s stamp collection and nature shelf, this is what I had.

IMG 2467I also got out a rolling pin, some kitchen scissors (for freehand shapes), some straw pieces (for creating holes to tie twine through), and some extra corn starch to prevent the dough from sticking to everything.

IMG 2473IMG 2479We got started by giving Gracen a chunk of the dough to just play with and explore at first, but of course she requested a cookie cutter and stamp and was right down to business.  That’s just her style.

IMG 2480Now anywhere you read about baking soda dough, the instructions will clearly advise to leave the dough sit until completely cool, but we were too impatient for that.  As a result, our dough was still a tad bit warm and sticky, which made it a little bit tricky to work with.  My advice? Wait until it’s completely cool.  Lesson learned.  

IMG 2481What we found worked really well, even with our warm sticky dough, was using the bottom of a flat dish or glass to flatten the dough, rather than using the rolling pin.  The rolling pin was just too sticky for our dough, but the dish bottoms worked perfectly.

IMG 2483IMG 2489IMG 2492As far as making the impressions went, we found that lightly dusting the stamp or object with cornstarch first, then pressing it into the dough and removing it slowly turned out great results.

IMG 2494The same technique worked best with the cookie cutters too – dust cookie cutter with cornstarch, then push the dough out of the cookie cutter gently and slowly.

IMG 2503When we’d used up every last bit of dough, I popped the ornaments onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and put it into a just-warm oven to dry out.  We left them in there for several hours, flipping them every now and again, and before going to bed, I turned off the heat and left them sit in oven overnight.

IMG 2507IMG 2525The next day, we got out our paintbrushes and acrylic paints, and painted away.

IMG 2524These are some of my very favourite ornaments that Grae made.  She pressed the dough, cut the shapes, and decorated them all by herself.

IMG 2515This little reindeer family was made by making 3 small balls, flattening them down with the bottom of a cornstarched bowl, and then pressing our thumbs into the middles.  I cheated a little bit and used a Sharpie for the antlers and names, because well, we all know how they would have turned out had I used paint…

IMG 2522This heart ornament also started as a flattened ball, and then I used a cookie cutter to push just part of the way through to the dough to make the heart shape.

Once our paint was dry, we added some string to hang them from.  Ribbon or jute would be pretty, but I have a thing for baker’s twine currently, so we went with that.  Here are some of our finished ornaments…

IMG 2534IMG 2538IMG 2542IMG 2546Aren’t they pretty?

IMG 2562And because our yearly ornament making tradition is bound to leave us with heaps of special, handcrafted tree decorations one day, we added the year onto each.

Though we didn’t do it this time around, giving the ornaments a light coat of Mod Podge or spray-on sealant make protect them and help them last longer.

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Winter Mason Jar Lanterns

What do you do when it’s {long past the} time to pack away the Halloween things for the year, but your toddler has developed a particular affection for the battery operated votives that previous lit her jack-o-lantern?  

Winter Mason Jar LanternsCreate a new use for them of course! Er, at least that’s what we did… 

IMG 2129Here’s what we used… Mod Podge (regular white glue watered down with water works just as well), a jar, some tissue paper squares (we bought ours pre-cut, but you could just as easily cut or rip up large pieces), glitter, a pipe cleaner (perhaps 2), and a foam brush.

IMG 2131Grae started by painting part of her jar with Mod Podge.

IMG 2135Then she carefully placed tissue paper squares into the glue.

IMG 2136She continued adding Mod Podge and squares until the entire jar was covered. I actually couldn’t believe how into this process she was.  She took the job very seriously and did every last bit on her own.

IMG 2139Once she was done covering the jar, I gave it a gentle once over with Mod Podge to smooth everything down.  While the jar was still wet, Gracen sprinkled a light layer of glitter over the entire thing.

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Then we placed it right side down on some parchment paper and let it dry.

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Once it was dry, Grae used some clear glue and sequins to give the lantern a little bit more sparkle.

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Then we let it dry again.

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IMG 2165Afterwards, we used our pipe cleaners to create a handle for the lantern.
IMG 2168And that was it.  A new place for G’s beloved votives to call home. ☺
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Handprint Spiders & Golf Ball Painted Webs

Today Gracen and I did one of our favourite things… We had a little mama and babe crafternoon.  A Halloween crafternoon to be exact!

Handprint Spider  Golf Ball Painted WebThis is by no means a new idea, and it’s nothing fancy, but it is something I’ve always enjoyed doing with my kindergarten students.  It’s fun, messy, and personalized with wee little handprints.  Perfect for Halloween cards for grandparents, teachers, or a special friend. Here’s a quick run down of how Gracen created this little masterpiece.

IMG 0856First, start off by drawing a large asterisk on a piece of black construction paper or card stock (we use a hand over hand technique for jobs like this).

IMG 0857Next, connect the tips of the asterisk with concave lines in order to create a web shape.

IMG 0858Then, cut out the web. (This is tricky for little hands.  Gracen tried, but our poster board is was so thick that it was next to impossible for her… This may be more of an adult helper sort of job.)

IMG 0861Place a small roll of tape in the centre of your web.

IMG 0863Tape the web down in the centre of a box lid, baking pan, or plastic  paper tray.

IMG 0865Next, put some white paint in a small bowl or container and plop a {very scuffed} golf ball, bouncy ball, or large marble inside. (While I find golf balls work best because they’re big and heavy, marbles and bouncy balls make a more solid, web-like lines.)

IMG 0866Shake and swirl the container so that the golf ball is well coated with paint.

IMG 0868Next, gently tip your golf ball out of the container and onto the web.

IMG 0871Swirl and roll the paint-coated ball over the black paper web by tipping the tray back and forth.

IMG 0875When it’s sufficiently spider web-y, remove the paper from the tray and set it aside to dry.

IMG 0876Now for the spider…  Gather up some brightly coloured paper, black paint, and a foam brush.

IMG 0877Using a foam brush, paint a good, thick layer of black paint on your little one’s palm and fingers (not the thumb).

IMG 0880Help your little one press their hand on the paper a couple of times to create two spider bodies and half of the needed legs.  Allow the prints to dry for a couple of minutes while you wash hands.

IMG 0881Next, rotate the page so that the fingers are pointed downwards.

IMG 0882This time around, paint just the four fingers of your little one’s hand. (I like to use the opposite hand for this part so that the fingers are angled the same way, but that’s just the crazy in me. ☺)

IMG 0884Stamp them on the other side of the palm print in order to complete the spider’s body.

IMG 0886IMG 0890When the paint is dry, attach some googly eyes to the spider’s body using white craft glue.
IMG 0895Then, cut the spiders out, leaving a small border of coloured paper around the edges.
IMG 0901Attach the spider to the web with glue or tape, or if you want the spider to have a little wiggle to it, glue a small pompom in between the web and spider.  And voila… All done!
And if handprints are still too tricky for your little one, here’s what we did last year using a footprint instead:
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