An Autumn Tree, 2 Ways

Autumn Trees 2 Ways @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I haven’t mentioned it here, but JDubbs and I decided to pull Em out of her preschool.  It just wasn’t a great fit for her personality, and since she has another year of pre-K next year, we thought that extra time home with Mommy and her baby sister (whom she adores) might help her gain the confidence to tackle pre-K next year with a bit more swagger.  She’s doing a couple different classes at The Purple Crayon in Woodstock and I am making an effort to do at least one significant arts and crafts project a week, since she loves getting her hands dirty with paint and cutting with scissors.  I was inspired by a couple different ideas I found here and here to create non-traditional autumn trees–one with the leaves made from stamping with a cork, and one dabbing with Q-tips.  Em is proud to hang her artwork up next to all the creative projects Jax brings home with him from school.  I think it helps her feel a little more like she is keeping up with what Jax is doing, which we all know is key around here.

So basically, we did these on two separate days, one in the afternoon when Jax was home and one just the two of us when H was napping.  I traced a circle for her to keep in mind for the shape of the Q-tips tree, and I wish I had done the same for the cork tree because it became kind of a stamping free-for-all.

Autumn Trees 2 Ways @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I made the trunk and branches first, under her direction. She also insisted we add some purple birds to her tree, and had some leaves falling to the ground.  This Vermont girl knows what autumn looks like, as you can tell from my post the other day.

Q-Tip Autumn Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It

For the cork tree, again I made the trunks and the kids stamped to their hearts content. I tried to have a different cork for each color so they didn’t get too messed up (and believe me, after days like the other day, plenty of wine has been consumed to make this possible).  Of course in the end they smeared the colors together, but the different corks definitely helped postpone the inevitable.

Cork Autumn Trees @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Cork Autumn Trees @ Rub Some Dirt On It 2 Autumn Trees @ Rub Some Dirt On It

What creative ways have you and your loved ones celebrated autumn trees in paint? We still have plenty of time to make more before winter officially arrives!

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Our Gratitude Tree

Gratitude Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It 2

Last year, the kids and I made Gratitude Turkey Treat jars, which were a nice, simple way to introduce the idea of thankfulness to them.  This year they understand the concept more clearly so I decide to take it up a notch and make a Gratitude Tree, where we can write down all the things we are grateful for, once a day for the month of November on leaves.

Remembering a fabulous Cocktails & Crafts held by my friend Heather, I wrote the words “Give” and “Thanks” on pieces of white paper in white crayon.  Then the kids painted over them in watercolors, at which point the words reappeared.  They were totally enthralled to see the word “appear” out of nowhere!  I used my trusty butcher paper to cover the floor and the big kids had a grand time together, painting away.


2 Then I cut a tree out of more butcher paper and hung the signs above it.  Using some foam leaves I bought at JoAnn Fabrics on clearance, the kids alternate telling me what they are grateful for every other day.  So far, Jax has been grateful for his birthday presents and Em for her princess puzzles.  What’s nice is that there’s 30 days worth of gratitude, so hopefully they kids will have an opportunity to realize there is more to life to be grateful for than toys!


There’s plenty of time left to make a Gratitude Tree of your own!  It’ll brighten up your home and keep the spirit of the Thanksgiving season in mind.  I’ll put an updated picture up at the end of month to show all our gratitude.

Gratitude Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It

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Fun Fall Button Art

This may sound strange, but I always love a good button craft.  Buttons make my heart happy.  So I bought a few packages of autumn-colored buttons at Walmart and asked the kids what they wanted to do with them. Fall Button Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

We had a lot of fun doing a similar craft last year, but this year Jax wanted to make an autumn tree with colorful button leaves.  We went outside to look at the colors and leaves to get an idea of what our art could look like, and Em found the perfect beech leaf.  She decided she just wanted to make a leaf, so their creativity parted ways but I liked that they both had a vision of what they wanted.  I set out a bowl of buttons each, drew the outline of a maple tree for Jax (he was very specific) and traced the beech leaf for Em.  Just add Elmer’s glue and they were busy, content, and artsy.  Love it.


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And in the end, we had some beautiful autumn artwork to spice up our kitchen!

Fall Button Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It (2)

Fall Button Art @ Rub Some Dirt On ItI love how Jax wanted a few button “leaves” on the ground, just like outside, although he did add  a rogue blue leaf.  These Vermont kids sure love autumn.  With fun like this, who can blame them?

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Coffee Filter Butterfly Mobile

 This summer I must admit, we kept the crafting to a minimum because a) I had a baby b) we spent so much time outside, who wants to be inside with gluesticks and construction paper? and c) there isn’t a major holiday that screams handmade decorations! to me in the summer months.  Fourth of July comes and goes and all I want to do is drink margaritas and eat hot dogs, not decoupage furniture or scrub glitter glue off my kitchen table.  Then fall arrived and the kids are in school, crafting like mad, so I don’t feel like inundating them with more when they get home.

For some reason, though, I was thinking about the coffee filter butterflies I made with Jax years ago and realized I never made them with Em.  Compound that with the fact that my kids have been coming home with caterpillar- and butterfly-themed work from preschool, and I figured now would be a great time to dust off an old favorite, with a new twist.

Coffee Filter Butterfly Mobile ~ Rub Some Dirt On It

A coffee filter butterfly mobile!

So while they kids were watching TV on Friday, I got everything situated for watercolors at the kitchen table, complete with laying down my ever-useful butcher paper to protect the table. Then when their show was over, everything was ready and no kids were left unattended with bowls of water or paint.  Finally, I gave them the green light to paint the coffee filters and watched their creativity unfold.



At first I couldn’t believe how well they were behaving! They were quiet and engaged.  They painted for so long–longer than Jax has ever painted in one sitting before.  I thought that maybe they would each paint one or two filters, but they kept asking for more and more until they had painted eight in all!  The first go round was splotchy, but for the last few they covered every inch of that coffee filter, making vibrant and beautiful butterflies!



As always, H was such a good sport about being left out of the crafty fun, but now that she can sit in the high chair and feel like part of the action, she’s a lot less cranky when I leave her alone for extended periods of time.  Baby girl loves watching her brother and sister at work!


Plus a cold spoon always helps!

After the coffee filters dried, I had the kids choose which pipe cleaners went with which butterflies and I folded them like a fan and then secured them with the pipe cleaner bodies and antennae.  Then I used yarn and hung them from a wire clothes hanger, which I hung in their closet doorway, and now we have a butterfly mobile as a fun, homemade decoration in the kids’ bedroom!


For a kid like Jax who is always reluctant to do fine motor work, this craft was a hit!  Plus it was fun to display their art in a different way.  Keeping a bit of bright summer beauty with us through the autumn season, and maybe even getting back on the crafty track.

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Not Your Typical Shape Dragons!

This summer I took advantage of the fact that the kids spend so much more time outside than in to put away two thirds of their library and rotate them out periodically.  Even then, sometimes we need a taste of something new, so I will sit down with them and my laptop and we will peruse the online library at We Give Books to find some new titles or authors.  That is how we discovered one of the kids’ favorite books this year, Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-El, and ever since, dragons have been a big hit for Jax and Em.  So when I saw the idea of shape dragons over at Reading Confetti, I knew this was a must for us on a quiet summer afternoon.

Shape Dragons @ Rub Some Dirt On It


It required a minimal amount of prep.  Basically, while the kids were watching a cartoon, I pulled out four pieces of construction paper (2 for the background, 2 for the dragons).  Then I cut the colored pieces into various geometric shapes of all sizes and varieties.  I brought out some glue and googly eyes, a white crayon, markers, and waited for their inevitable cries of outrage when I told them no more TV.  Instead I herded them outside where the craft was waiting for them, and they were instantly intrigued.

I thought I could just guide them but for their ages (3 and 4), I actually needed to sit with each of them and help them brainstorm which shape looked like a head, a body, legs, etc.  They talked about whether their dragon had wings, horns, how many eyes or legs it had.  It was really fun and a cool way to help them take something they use one way (shapes) and turn them into something totally different!  My little visual-spatial girl Em especially loved it.



Baby H loved being in her stationary entertainer (aka Baby Vegas) and watching her big brother and big sister work.


The end result was so cool and unique–totally different than what I would have created–and they were really proud of themselves.  They showed Daddy as soon as he came home.  I love when we can take something they are interested in and extend it just a tad further to make it even more fun.


Our not-so-typical dragons, Dragonnojo and Em.  He is in a pretty creative stage.  Her?  Not so much!

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Play-Doh Monsters

Even though my kids have not seen Monsters, Inc or University, we got into the spirit of all things monster-y and created some out of Play-Doh.  Just add googly eyes!

Play-Doh Monsters @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I am not a huge fan of Play-Doh and its seemingly never-ending aftermath (I would give anything if my dog would eat the zillion little scraps underfoot), but the kids loved having a purpose–create a monster in any shape or color, with as many or few legs and eyes as they wanted!  Em stuck to convention but Jax had a lot of fun being creative along with me.

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Then we had a monster parade with Em’s crew and Jax’s and my creations.  We let them harden and gave some out to family members as gifts.


The most fun I’ve had with Play-Doh since I was a kid, and the cutest little monsters you’ve ever seen.

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DIY Travel Tic Tac Toe


I was inspired to make these when I saw them on the Parents magazine website–a travel tic tac toe board made of sewn felt and buttons.  Perfect for my diaper bag for our summer travels!

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When I started pulling the materials together and asking the kids what colors they wanted, they were really excited about the prospect of this craft.  In fact, they had me bring extra felt and buttons down to Massachusetts so their big cousins Christian and Erika could make one, too!  They were into it and we made four tic tac toe boards with me–Erika helped me thread the needles with that thick friendship bracelet yarn and Christian…well, he watched.

Basically I just made marks with chalk and we threaded the yarn in and out to create dotted tic tac toe lines.  Then you use colored buttons instead of x’s and o’s.  It was so easy, even JDubbs took a turn to help, all in the name of making his woman happy.  Is he great or what?

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Real men do arts and crafts.

Finally, I used the leftover felt to create little pouches to put each board in and keep the buttons safe.  Use a little extra yarn to tie it all up and you have a great little DIY keepsake that can keep the kids busy in desperate times!  Plus, it gives a nice sense of accomplishment, too.

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Love it.

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