Button & Pipe Cleaner Caterpillars

button & pipe cleaner caterpillar @ Rub Some Dirt On It

This was one of those activities for when Em chooses the absolutely worst moment–when I’m changing a poopy diaper, in the midst of a mountain of laundry, trying to work some culinary magic out of leftovers–to ask me to do a craft.  I always feel badly when I tell her I’m too busy, especially since she’s four and with very little preparation can do the rest herself.  So I set her down a bowl of buttons and a pipe cleaner and asked her to string them.  I turned one end up at a right angle so she wouldn’t keep pushing them all the way off.

Button Caterpillar @ Rub Some Dirt On It

If I had been helping her with this, I would have discussed things like color, size, and pattern with her.  That wasn’t in the cards for this day, so the only adjustment I made was asking her to put a larger button on the end for a face.

So before you get to your very last button, cut a small piece of pipe cleaner off and twist it into a V shape for antennae.

Button Caterpillar @ Rub Some Dirt On It Button Caterpillar @ Rub Some Dirt On It

When you add the final button, loop the pipe cleaner back through for a nose, if you will.

Button Caterpillar @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then add some googly eyes and you have a pocket-sized pet!

Button Caterpillar @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Button Caterpillar @ Rub Some Dirt On It

And if you can, don’t forget to do one of my awesome butterfly crafts next!  Such a fun way for your little to keep busy and do some crafts on their own!

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Handprint Butterfly (For Two!)

So when big cousins are here visiting for a week, inevitably at times the clan gets divided by interest or by gender just because that’s the nature of having a group of five kids ages 1-14.  One afternoon Jax was determined to “teach” his big cousin Christian how to play the Wii, so the ladies and I headed outside on the deck for a little arts and crafts leisure time.  Erika picked out a craft she’d like to try on Pinterest, and we put our own twist on it by making one handprint butterfly with two sets of hands: Erika’s hands were the big wings, and Em’s hands made the little ones.

handprint butterfly @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Came out pretty cute, huh?

So first I painted Em’s hands the colors of her choice, and then she placed them thumb to thumb to form the lower wings of a butterfly.


Then I let Em paint Erika’s hands.  I think that was her favorite part!


handprint butterflies @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Little H didn’t know what was going on but I gave her a paintbrush and dry watercolors and she “painted” alongside us.  And yes, in case you’re wondering, I am the kind of mom who lets her kids paint in white dresses.  Doesn’t everyone?

Then we pressed Erika’s hands atop Em’s, turned the other way to be the upper portion of the wings, and then painted a butterfly body and antennae.


After much discussion, we decided against outlining the wings in marker as I was going to do and settled for a sweet smiley face when the paint was dry instead.


This was the perfect gift for Grandma (who snatched it right up the moment my niece showed it to her), or for Mom made by two siblings or for a child and her best friend!  Nothing better than a piece of art that shows how two people lift each other up in life and in love!  Art with a loving message.

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Q-Tip Art For Everyone

Having all three kids at home has put a bit of a cramp on my arts and crafts style; I assumed Little H was too young to do anything but eat the paint or stuff crayons up her nose, and the big kids are way more interested in playing outside than sitting quietly at the kitchen table.  But after a few rainy days I knew that the kids were tired of doing the same old thing, and I decided to risk getting Little H involved in the name of creativity.  So I pulled out an old standby–painting with Q-tips!

I shouldn’t have worried about Little H, although she did give the paint a taste or two.  She was psyched to be included in the fun!

Q-Tip Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It Q-Tip Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The big kids were happy to have some quiet play; they even asked me to trace a design in pencil so they could express the picture they had in mind.  Jax got frustrated quickly because the Q-tips were taking too long to fill in his Tranformers symbol, so he switched to a regular paintbrush, but Em thought a spotted elephant was just the way to go.

Q-Tip Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Q-Tip Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

My littlest Picasso made her first-ever painting (and you’ve got to love her little toes on the table!).  Sometimes a little work to prepare a craft is worth every contemplative and creative moment thereafter.

Q-Tip Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

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Pipe Cleaner Fireworks

Just in time for the 4th of July!  Get in the spirit with some messy fun!  Pipe Cleaner Fireworks!

Pipe Cleaner Fireworks @ Rub Some Dirt On It

For every participant, put four pipe cleaners together and then fold them in half.  Twist the bottom half together and then splay the top into a star shape (directions originally found here).

Pipe Cleaner Fireworks

Then let your kids dip the star side into the paint, dipping, stamping, and swirling.  We added a little bit of glittery confetti left over from Em’s Frozen birthday party for pizzazz.

Pipe Cleaner Fireworks


Jax was more into twisting his designs into swirls, and Em preferred to make a big mess and then stamp over it.  The creative process is half the fun!  Let the kids experiment to determine which technique is more successful.

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So pleased with the final products, and psyched for the 4th of July!

Pipe Cleaner Fireworks! @ Rub Some Dirt On It

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Simple Symmetry

Just when I take for granted that my kids already know how to do things or already understand how the wonders of the world work, I show them something simple–like how yellow and blue make green or we check to see if bubbles freeze–and they are besides themselves with youthful enthusiasm and awe.  The same thing happened the other day when I told Em we can paint symmetrical butterflies by folding a piece of paper in half.  She looked at me like I was speaking another language and I realized–somewhat gleefully–that she hasn’t done this yet.  She doesn’t know how to make symmetrical butterflies.  So we did.

painting with symmetry @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The trickiest part was making sure she only painted on half of the paper, and to be sure that the butterfly had a thick enough body.  Em is a precise and particular little soul, though, so she was delighted to create the perfect butterfly that would look the same on both sides of the paper.  Like magic.


After we made a few butterflies, I asked her what else we could paint that could be the same on both sides of the paper.  She immediately said, “A rainbow!” and asked for more colors.

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What a fun, simple, lovely way to spend time with my girl.

Painting With Symmetry @ Rub Some Dirt On It IMG_9521

Leaving the world more beautiful than we found it.

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Friends In Colorful Places

Sometimes I’ll admit, I’m a bit more crafty disaster than crafty connoisseur.  But these wooden peg dolls that I made three years ago are still holding up and are still a family favorite!  For a baby girl whose new favorite pastime is sorting, colorful people (even colorful people who have lost half of their hair due to baby slobber) with colorful cups for homes are fantastic friends to have when waiting for dinner.

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She’s getting so big and communicating so well; I can ask Little H a question and she will (usually) shake her head “no” vigorously, because of course she knows what she wants.  Most of the time it’s food, but a lot of the time it’s these guys.


 I’m proud of the effort it took to make them, proud of the fact that all three of my kids have had a great time playing with these wooden peg dolls, proud of the fact I created something she loves and will keep her quiet for the three and a half minutes it takes to microwave Easy-Mac.


With vegetables!  I swear!  Okay, I microwave the frozen vegetables, but it still counts.

Thank goodness we have friends in colorful places.

To make your own wooden peg dolls, the step-by-step instructions can be found here.

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Out Our Window Art

Okay I’m going to be honest, we have don’t have a trio of snowmen out our window, but my kids didn’t think painting mountains and mountains of boring old snow was any fun.  The weather is supposed to get up into the 40s this weekend–a heat wave!–and if so, we will try to turn these works of art into reality!

Out Our Window Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

All you have to do is ask your children to look out the window and paint what they see.  We chose blue paper to represent the sky, and the kids and I painted a scene worthy of a winter’s day in Vermont.



Each kid put their own touches on their scene, giving their snowman hats, earmuffs, scarves, and smiling faces.  Fat snowflakes fell to the ground and even landed on their carrot noses.

Jax’s Snowmen

Out Our Window Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Em’s Snowmen   Out Our Window Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Mommy’s Snowmen

Out Our Window Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

In the end I cut out black paper to make a window frame, and I intended to put black lines across the center of the image like this so it would really look like a window.  However, Em got her hands (and scissors) on my leftover black paper and so I ran out.  I like it better this way, though.  I love these snowmen and wouldn’t want to block them at all!

Let your children express and illustrate the world around them.  What is the view outside your window right now?  You may be surprised at the things they notice, and how the view changes over the course of the year.  I will definitely be doing this again in the spring, and all year long!

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