Autumn Button Branch

It’s official!  The first fall craft of the year!

What is it with kids and buttons?  Maybe it’s because they look like candy, but luckily my kids know they can’t eat them.  There’s something about seeing that glossy rainbow spread across the table that is just so tantalizing–kids just have to sort and touch and admire.  I do, too, actually.  I won’t pretend I don’t love a good button sort.

So I gave the kids all our buttons and asked them to pull out the fall colors (plus green).  Then we headed outside, grabbed a small, relatively flat twigs, and glued each to a piece of cardstock with Tacky Glue.  I put a few very heavy books on top while they dried.

Then I added a ton of Elmer’s glue and the kids glued the button “leaves” to the branches of our fall tree.  They loved it.

I will admit that I had to help more than I usually care to–it took a lot of buttons and my presence helped keep them on task.  Also, I found that I had to keep adding more glue to give the branches more shape (so that they didn’t just trace an outline of buttons around each branch).  Oh, and don’t forget button color hoarding.  Have to be on the lookout for that.

In the end, they look beautiful and the kids went to see them first thing this morning!  That plus a touch of a chill in the air and apple picking this weekend makes it really feel like fall!  We’re happy to celebrate the occasion!

Happy Fall everyone!

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Footprint Butterflies

I love crafts that use hand, finger, or footprints because I adore anything that documents my kids’ size–how little their fingers were when they were one year old, how their feet grew between six months and three years.  I also love a craft that makes my daughter squeal with delight, and painting her toes was indeed delightful for both of us.

Footprint Butterflies @ Rub Some Dirt On It

 Be sure to take the time to enjoy the giggles!

Footprint Butterflies @ Rub Some Dirt On It

For the finishing touches, I painted antennae and a butterfly body, and Em used her thumb to create the nubs atop the antennae.  Then I added a touch of glitter while the paint was wet just for fun.

Footprint Butterflies @ Rub Some Dirt On It

This came out so beautifully, it is being framed and put up in her bedroom.  Put that in combination with photos of her in butterfly wings, and you’ve done more than made a craft and had some fun–you’ve created artwork that celebrates your little ones!

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Fingerprint Critters

I am loving how cheerful our kitchen is looking this spring!

 

I mounted it on another piece of card stock since I cut out a big accidental smear across the top. The kids are still talking about making them and love pointing out which bird they made to visitors! And I love that Jax’s red bird is just a tiny bit bigger than Em’s purple bird, just like in real life. I’m such a Mommy dork.

And here’s how to make the springtime scene. Basically, all the critters are made out of finger or thumb prints, with a touch of marker here and there (like for the bee’s stripes and the flowers’ stems) for details.

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Spring Cherry Blossom Art

Looking for a homemade Mother’s Day present that looks gorgeous and requires little mess and stress?  Look no further!  Create beautiful cherry blossom art from recycled materials–the perfect spring decoration!

Jax absolutely loved it.  He was very meticulous about where he placed his blossoms, and would oooh and ahhh every time he dipped the bottle.

His sister, on the other hand, was a dabbing machine!  She wanted absolutely no assistance, yelling “ME DO IT!” any time I tried to help.

Yup, she’s two.

In the end, I had two totally different, but equally beautiful cherry blossom trees!  I framed them and gave them to my mom for Mother’s Day last weekend, and they were a huge hit!  I love making my mom happy.

Later we added grass and a few leaves here and there to add a bit more color.  My kids are in a very literal stage–in their mind, trees have leaves and are connected to the the grass–so grass and leaves were a must!  They did those in their own style, too.  Art that tells a story about who my kids are is my favorite kind, and based on the smile on my mom’s face, hers too!

Happy Mother’s Day to you all, but especially to my beautiful mama!

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Alphabet Matching Eggs

I’m recycling this post from last year.  I have another fun idea of teaching reading with plastics eggs, but I don’t have any!  Until I find some, enjoy this very popular post from last spring.
Easter has come and gone and after a wonderful celebration with family and friends, I am left storing my baby chicks and tucking away my Easter books until next year.  But what about those stupid plastic eggs?

As far as I know, you can’t recycle them with your empty milk jugs and diaper boxes.  They’re so cheap that it seems like a pain to store them when I can just buy 50 more for two bucks next year.  I always feel so guilty about things like that, though!  What’s a mom to do when the party’s over and there are a hundred egg halves kicking around underfoot, cluttering and cracking and irritating me to no end?

Well, you turn to one of my favorite blogs with the brightest ideas for all things parenting and fun.  You may remember Modern Parents, Messy Kids from my Easter garland debacle, and the site is full of more beautiful and brilliant ideas like that.  When I went MPMK on Monday, to my delight, I found yet another way to entertain and educate my kids, but this time, with an upcycling twist: 20 Activities for Plastic Easter Eggs!  And considering the fact that I feel like I have three thousand eggs at my disposal, I bet I could get through all twenty, no problem.
Well, here is my favorite idea which led to one wildly successful morning activity with Jax.  Upcycling (reusing my eggs for something even cooler) my plastic eggs into an alphabet game!  If you know Jax, you know that this sounded like heaven to him.
Materials:
plastic eggs
alphabet stickers, upper and lower case
Directions:
Take 26 plastic eggs and break them apart.  Put an upper case letter on the top half, and its corresponding lower case letter on the bottom half.
Break them up, scatter them on the ground, and have your preschooler match them up!

Instant educational fun!

Alphabet Matching Game @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Things To Consider:
How old is your preschooler?  How confident are they in matching games?  How large is his or her attention span?  Jax loves letters, but doesn’t necessarily have the patience to dig through 52 egg halves for the upper case L.  I was glad I decided to keep my upper and lower case letters the same color, so that if he had a yellow “G,” he could scan the other yellows for the lower case “g.”  If he had to look through all the colors every time, he would have gotten frustrated too quickly.

Alphabet Matching Game @ Rub Some Dirt On It
Also, make sure your egg’s lower case letter is facing up when the egg is connected. That way it’s more clear to your kid that these two letters go together, big and small.

 

As you can see, I didn’t have all the letters of the alphabet (I bought a new package and they miraculously disappeared) so I used what I had and wrote the rest in with Sharpie.  The Sharpie actually wiped off surprisingly easily, so be sure the ink is dry before you let your kids’ grubby little hands get all over them.  Jax erased both the “z” and the “D.”  He would hold the “z” in his hands and bring it close to his face and say, “Z, you’re my favorite.”  He hasn’t let the little “z” out of his sight since this morning.  He even said it goodnight to it before nap.

Here’s to reusing something you would normally throw away in a new way!  Even if you only use these once, it will be worth the ten minutes it took you to create this activity.  I’m going to store them away and have them be a go-to game on a rainy or sick day, or when I’m just out of ideas.  I do love having a little something colorful and cool in my back pocket!

This craft was featured on BlogHer on the Green page!  Exceptionally exciting!
To see where the hops where this craft has been linked, check out my “Links & Hops” tab above!
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An Inspiring Gift

In the past week I’ve had two excuses to make homemade gifts for loved ones–my father’s birthday and a care package sent to JDubbs’s cousin serving in the Army overseas.  I don’t know what his cousin David’s living conditions are like right now, so I didn’t want to send him something that needs to be hung up or stored somewhere, but I wanted the kids to add something to the package to let him know we were thinking about him.  And my dad’s pretty easy to please–grandfathers seem to love anything handmade by the grandkids!  So I contacted my bloggy friend Cathy James at Nurture Store and asked her if she had any ideas for an appropriate suggestion, and she gave me a fabulous idea for an Incy Wincy book that combines art and literacy into a beautiful gift!  The explanation on how to fold the paper properly is given over there–I pretty much just folded a piece of paper the old-fashioned way.

So I didn’t take a photo of Jax’s book for his grampy, but I did get a few of his story for David.  Once I explained to him that David is a soldier off fighting the “bad guys”, he knew exactly what he wanted to say.  Anyone else’s little boys obsessed with good guys and bad guys??  It feels like all we do anymore!  But all that play gave my little guy a good idea for a story.  He entitled his David the Winner.

All I did was start him off with “Once upon a time…” and he took it from there.  All the words (and illustrations, obviously) were all Jax.

The story goes, Once upon a time, there was a beautiful good guy named David.  He went to battle the bad guys.  David was very cool.  David used sticks to fight the bad guys.  He climbed up a very squiggly mountain.  David was the champion.  We said, “Thank you.”  The good guys win.

What a sweet little guy, with the notion that good triumphs over evil so firmly implanted in his rationale.  He drew a picture of a finish line and had David running across it.  I love how things can be so concrete to a preschooler–obviously, they had a race to see who wins. I wish the real world were that cut and dry!

I loved to listen to Jax as he made up his story.  The one he made for my dad was about how a friend gave him a Yankees hat and how he would never wear it.  He loves the word “NEVER!”  Then he and Grampy threw it in the fireplace and Grampy bought him a Red Sox hat.  Good overcoming evil again, huh Red Sox fans?  He really is such a boy!

So if you’re looking for a little something personal to add to a store-bought present, or want to give someone a little something just because, this is a wonderful gift that can be tucked away and kept forever.  I’m so proud of my little guy, the published author!  Let the storytelling begin!

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Spring Fingerprint Critters

I am loving how cheerful our kitchen is looking this spring!

Thanks to a great idea I found here, and with some card stock, markers, finger paint, and twenty little fingers handy, we had all we needed to put a little spring in our step, and our home!

Here’s how to make the birdies on the branch:

I mounted it on another piece of card stock since I cut out a big accidental smear across the top.  The kids are still talking about making them and love pointing out which bird they made to visitors!  And I love that Jax’s red bird is just a tiny bit bigger than Em’s purple bird, just like in real life.  I’m such a Mommy dork.

And here’s how to make the springtime scene.  Basically, all the critters are made out of finger or thumb prints, with a touch of marker here and there (like for the bee’s stripes and the flowers’ stems) for details.

The biggest trick with this one–and in all crafts, really–is being completely prepared before the kids come to the table so you never have to turn your back on them and your creation for a moment.  As you can see, our caterpillars were victims of a bit of wayward abuse, but they survived.  Take a minute to pin this or save it somewhere you won’t forget–this spring celebration is a keeper for sure!

Check out all the fabulous links and hops where I shared this project under my Links & Hops tab above!

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