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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Bad Day Buster

My kids and I were having a bad day last week–I was tired, they were whiny, Daddy wasn’t coming home to put them to bed so there was no respite in sight.  After dinner, which was exhausting, I was ready to throw in the towel, except I still had a couple hours of daylight left.    In a desperate attempt to ignore my children–my best parenting moment, to be sure–I started rifling through their goodie bags from my nephew’s birthday party and found a godsend in the form of four glo-sticks.

Lights out + bathtub + 4 glo-sticks = 2 happy kids.  And that equals 1 happy mama.

I’ve seen this on Pinterest  a bunch of places, and I don’t know why I didn’t give it a try sooner.  My kids are now obsessed with glo-sticks, and if I didn’t know this would be a stellar way to keep them simply busy, I do now.

The party moved into their bedroom where they played drums on their beds while I got them in their pj’s and then Em had a dance party.

I didn’t want to leave the sticks with them in their beds, so I hung them above their ceiling fan and they fell asleep happy.  Now I want to know where I can buy glo-sticks in bulk, because there is nothing that a mama needs more than happy babies!  Beat a bad day the easy way!

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A Crafty Delicacy

Feast your eyes on this simply busy activity!

Make your own cereal bracelet!  Need a mid-morning filler activity, say, right around snack time?  Look no further.  This took us nearly a half hour and the kids were totally excited AND were fed!  Two for the price of one!

So all you need is some kind of string/ribbon/hemp cord and cereal with a hole in it!  I used Fruity Cheerios so that we could talk about colors and patterns as well, but plain old o’s would be fine, too.  My initial hope was that the kids would be able to string them themselves, hence fine motor fun.  That proved to be a bit tricky, however.

The edges of the cord started to fray and the kids gave up and just ate the cereal.  At that point I intervened, stole the cords and asked them to lay out the color pattern they wanted for their bracelets.  Then I strung them on the bracelets and they had a tasty snack/new piece of jewelry!  Who loves that idea, raise your hand!

I suggest you make the bracelets a little big because once the cereal is on they tend to get snug.  Or maybe my kids are just little chunky monkeys!

Yummy!  Enjoy!

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Balloon Launchers!

I wanted to wait until JDubbs was around because I knew he’d excel in all things catapult-ish.  So one day when the kids were overtired and whiny but bedtime was just a little too far away, I pulled this out of my bag of tricks and we had an hour of family fun!

First, cut the bottoms off the plastic cups, leaving the side with the lip intact.  Then knot the open end of a balloon and then cut off the bottom (the round part if it was blown up).

Next wrap the balloon around the lip of the cup so that the knot is sticking up on top.  After trial and error, JDubbs found that stacking two cups on top of each other was the sturdiest and best plan for your launcher.

Then you flip it over, pop a pom pom inside, pull the knot back on the balloon, and let go!  Instant slingshot/catapult/balloon launcher!

Things to watch out for: sharp edges on the cut sides of the plastic cups and kids shooting harder objects (like acorns, buttons, etc) than pom poms.  Jax spent a lot of time looking AT his pom pom while he was trying to shoot it–which would have been bad news if his missile was more in the rock family and less of a cotton ball.

Em got in the game, too, although she had terrible luck launching anything and eventually became our human zamboni and happily ran around cleaning up flying pom poms.  She’s a good sport, our Em.

Please note both Em’s humidity hair and the fact that her pom pom was very much still inside the launcher.

Mommy and Daddy even got in the game, having target practice–no, not on our kids–trying to see who could hit the kids’ big watercolor initials hanging in the kitchen.  I was pretty terrible, but JDubbs, as I figured, was very entertained.  It was probably one of the best hours we’ve spent as a family in a while.  And it cost us approximately $3 at the dollar store and five minutes worth of time.  Don’t you think that’s an investment worth making?

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Head, Shoulders, Knees & Post-Its!

What the heck is Mom up to NOW?

This fabulous idea introduces the concept of labeling–an early step in the art of writing–to toddlers and preschoolers by helping them add words to images that they draw or see.  For your budding authors, this activity would be an unforgettable hit.

First, I drew a picture of a man, and labeled as many parts of the body my kids could brainstorm.  Then I wrote each part of the body on a post-it note twice, once for each of my kids.  I then stuck them on my toybox so the kids could see them clearly.

I made sure that each word was easy to read, and had an accompanying image that my kids could (hopefully!) identify as a body part.  I’m no artist, so please reserve judgment.

At this point, the super crafty mom would create some kind of awesome spinner or way to have the kids choose the various body parts post-it notes.  I, being uninclined to spend that much time on something that I would invariably screw up, chose to go a different route.  Inspired by good old-fashioned hop scotch, I let the kids pick a favorite something (in this case they chose animals) and let them toss them onto the picture of the man.  Wherever their animal fell, that’s the post-it note they had to find.  They had to identify the word on the man, find the corresponding word on the toybox, then stick it on the correct body part.

The goal is to have your kids covered head-to-toe in post-it notes that they have hilariously stuck on themselves or each other.

Unfortunately, our post-its were not up to the task.  Blame it on how inexpensive they were, the humidity, the kids’ clothes, whatever, those darn post-its did not want to stick, especially not in places that bend, like elbows and knees.  So when the post-it notes started dropping like flies (and so did my kids’ interest) I made an executive decision that we were going to need some assistance from some stuffed assistants.

Hand-Me-Down Bear and Baby Lovebug were more than willing to help.

Success!  The kids labeled until they literally could not label anymore.  They both impressed me with their enthusiasm and good work, but Em most of all because Jax can actually read all of these words–this was her first attempt at really “reading” words out of context.  And she did great!

When it was all said and done and the post-its had been crumpled into balls and our work with the man was complete, my kids surprised me by extending the fun a step further.  They stuck him on the refrigerator and colored him in with glee.

And there he stays, for God knows how long.  Until we come up with something even cooler to replace him, I guess!

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Simply Busy: Ribbons In A Bottle

This is a super-easy, simply busy activity.  All you need is a bottle with a desired width neck (I chose one with a pretty wide mouth for my kids since they’re pretty young), some ribbons of various lengths, widths, colors, patterns, and textures, and if you’re feeling like a challenge, a kid-friendly pair of tweezers.

Next watch as your kids explore the art of putting the ribbons in, pulling them out, dangling them like fishing line, or reaching in with their nimble little fingers!  Jax mastered it pretty quickly, so JDubbs and I encouraged him to increase the difficulty by dropping the ribbons in from a standing position, using only one hand, and finally, when he had all that down, using a pair of tweezers to pull the ribbons in and pluck them out.

Em woke up from her nap just as Jax was getting bored with this–about 20 minutes later–so of course she wanted a try!

And she even gave the tweezers a try!

She couldn’t really do it, but she had a lot of fun trying!

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