Decorate By Letter Christmas Tree Craft

One last Christmas craft before the season is over!  Em asked to get crafty on her sick day last week, and here’s what we came up with, thanks as always to Pinterest.  Let’s decorate a Christmas Tree by Letter!

Decorate By Letter Christmas Tree Craft @ Rub Some Dirt On It

This was fairly simple; it just required a few steps before the girls sat down to the table.  I got a large sheet of white paper and glued two construction paper trees down.  Then I wrote the word Christmas on a separate piece of paper and gave each letter a corresponding button color.  I decided to do two different colors for the two letter “s” so the kids would be sure to understand there wasn’t just one.  You can also use small pom poms instead of buttons–I just think they’re harder to glue on (and I love button crafts!).

Decorate A Christmas Tree By Letter @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I wrote the letters that spell out Christmas (you could do your child’s name or any word of significance) and put a drop of glue on each letter as it came up.  The girls identified the letters and its corresponding color, found the matching buttons and applied them themselves.  Color and letter recognition with a touch of fine motor skills.  They loved it, and worked so nicely together!

Decorate By Letter Christmas Tree Craft @ Rub Some Dirt On It Decorate By Letter Christmas Tree Craft @ Rub Some Dirt On It Decorate By Letter Christmas Tree Craft @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The final products were so pretty, and were hung up with our other holiday crafts with care!  Holiday crafting is one of my favorite parts of the season!  This one will certainly help brighten your home–and teach the kids a thing or two–this Christmas!

Decorate By Letter Christmas Tree Craft @ Rub Some Dirt On It

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Beautiful Button Christmas Tree

Many thanks to my sister Amanda, who helped Em and I create this beautiful Christmas decoration that I have been wanting to make for years!  I found it here at Meet The Dubiens, and only needed a guiding hand to make sure this Christmas craft did not turn into one of my renowned crafting fails!

Button Christmas Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The list of materials is a small one: a small canvas, pencil and ruler, buttons and glue.  My sister, whose attention to details greatly supersedes my own, used a ruler to measure that the point of the tree was centered, and that the sides were straight.  Lightly trace a triangle on your canvas, leaving room for your stump of four brown buttons.

Button Christmas Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Button Christmas Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Button Christmas Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It

After a little thought, I simply smeared Elmer’s Glue all over the “tree” and let Em place the many varieties and sizes of green buttons all over the triangle, leaving as little spaces between the buttons as possible.

Button Christmas Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Button Christmas Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then we filled in the gaps with very teeny button ornaments (Em’s favorites) and layered other colored buttons on top for ornaments.  I love the three dimensional look!

Button Christmas Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It
Button Christmas Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Lastly, we used a star button for the top.  After erasing any leftover pencil lines, we have a beautiful Christmas decoration that will be displayed for years to come!  We love our button Christmas tree!

Button Christmas Tree @ Rub Some Dirt On It

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Autumn Button Branch

A perennial favorite!  We love Autumn Button Branches!

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Little H and I have had this craft in mind ever since the leaves fell off the trees and left our branches bare.  I went out and found one that has lots of small branches and nubs, and taped it to a piece of paper.  Card stock works really well, too.

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

You’ll need lots of autumn-colored buttons (reds, oranges, yellows, maybe a green here and there) of different sizes, and some good old Elmer’s glue.  No need to remind you to keep your eye on these little choking hazards; although if your child is as into sorting as Little H is right now, I’m sure he or she wouldn’t waste the opportunity for color play by eating them!

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I usually squirt the glue alongside the branches, but have had experience where the buttons fall off later when the glue dries.  This time I took the cap off the glue and applied it very liberally, letting the button sit completely in a gluey puddle.  Much more effective, and Little H had more leeway (and success).

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Outline the branch in beautiful autumn colors and hang it on your wall to keep autumn alive even as the world outside gets more brown and cold!  We hung ours above our November Gratitude Tree.  I love bringing the beauty of fall inside at this time of year!

Autumn Button Branch @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Oh, how we love playing with buttons!  See more button play ideas here.

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We Heart Buttons!

I can’t believe it was three years ago that we first made these awesome button Valentine hearts to decorate our home for Valentine’s Day.  They are so festive and fun–Little H loves looking up at them, yelling colors and who decorated them.  “Oooh! A purple one!  Jax!  Em!  Me!”  I always love decorating for Valentine’s Day–it helps the coldest days of the year feel a little brighter.  So if you need a pick-me-up this winter or have another snow day due to a snowpocalypse, here is a simple, heartfelt craft with your name on it.

Button Valentine Hearts @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Materials:  construction paper or cardstock, glue, buttons and scissors

First you cut out big heart shapes out of colorful paper, then let the kids make designs across the heart in glue.  Little H couldn’t decide if she want pink or purple paper, so I used the leftover paper from Em’s heart to make a kind of frame.  It looked so cute, and really helped her stay within the confines of the heart (and not make a complete and utter mess)!  I kind of wish I had done the same for the big kids.

Button Valentine Hearts @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then let the kids place buttons on the wet glue.  Instant Valentine’s decor!

Button Valentine Hearts @ Rub Some Dirt On It

If I had paid more attention to the fact that we were inevitably having a snow day this week, I might have stocked up on the more traditional-colored buttons.  Em loves putting things in a pattern and probably would have done pink-red-white to her heart’s content.  However, that forethought was not to be, so we settled for all the buttons left in our crafting box, so it was more of a rainbow smorgasbord.  It’s nice to think outside the box a little, and who says traditional is always best?

Button Valentine Hearts @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Jax wanted his heart to look like it had an arrow through it like Cupid’s (look what half a year of kindergarten will get you! Such a cute idea!).  I let him do his own gluing, which was a bit of a mistake because it became a sort of Elmer’s glue quagmire, but his heart (excuse the pun) was in the right place.

Button Valentine Hearts @ Rub Some Dirt On It Button Valentine Hearts @ Rub Some Dirt On It Button Valentine Hearts @ Rub Some Dirt On It

These beautiful hearts are cheering up our kitchen, and are helping to remind us to show each other love every day.  I’ve been telling the kids to show love, not just say it, and when I look at these awesome crafts, my heart smiles.

Button Valentine Hearts @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Spreading love!

If you heart Valentine’s Day, too, check out tons of great Valentine’s Day and button crafts on my Rub Some Dirt On It Pinterest board here!

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10 Quiet Activities To Help You Survive The Winter

A friend of mine recently asked me why my kids play so well without me.  How did I do it? she wanted to know, meaning, How did I train them to play independently?  What is the secret to getting my kids to leave me alone for five minutes?  Why don’t they go take one of their millions of toys that I’ve spent so much money on and GO PLAY?

Well, I’m no expert on this, but I do have two big kids who play really well alone and together, with just the slightest bit of prompting from me.  Without question, that little boost from mom is the key.  Every time I look up from my laptop to the sound of whiny little voices complaining they are so bored, I try to remember that it is not always their fault that they don’t know how to play independently.  It’s a skill that needs to be honed.  That’s why we still enforce quiet time where they play alone (not together) for at least 45 minutes every non-school day, why they must read independently every day, and why we really do have limits on screen time (I shoot for an hour on school days and no more than 2 hours on non-school days, trying to keep it at around 10 hours/week).  After all, how can they learn to use their imaginations if I never ask them to, and never show them how?

Of course, as I type this, Little H is next to me watching Super Why on JDubbs’s Kindle because she woke up early from her nap and I need to get this blog post finished.  So, of course I am a fan of screens and there is always an exception to every rule.  But paying attention to how often and how much your kid interacts with screens may help you in your quest to get your kids to play better on their own.

Well, enough of the lecture portion of this post.  What about practical help?  What do I do with my kids to get them to play nicely alone?  The thing is, although they end up on their own, they don’t start off that way.  In my experience, most kids need a little help getting started with prolonged independent play, and the longest activities tend to need a little parent guidance.  For example, instead of saying to your son, why don’t you play with your zillions of toy cars, help him create a race track on the floor of his bedroom to bring the fun to life.  With 5-10 minutes of prep time from you, you will receive huge returns on your investment while your kids play nicely that day and many days thereafter.  The key is helping them get started.

With that in mind, here are 10 great ideas that need just a little help from an adult on the front end, but can be put away for lots of independent play day after day thereafter. I promise they’ll be so excited to have you by their side at first, they will be all the more invested in the experience once you quietly sneak away.

10 QUIET ACTIVITIES TO HELP YOUR KIDS PLAY INDEPENDENTLY

10 Quiet Activities @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Starting in the left column and going down, then the second and third column, the blog posts are as follows:

1.  Rainbow Scavenger Hunt

2.  Puzzle Treasure Hunt

3.  Play with Popsicles & Play Dough

4.  Pom-Pom Race Through Duplo Maze

5.  Button & Pipe Cleaner Caterpillar

6.  Letters In Salt & Snipping Straws

7.  Pipe Cleaner & Pom Pom Fine Motor Fun

8.  Clothespin Literacy Fun

9.  Butcher Paper Town

10.  Pebble Art

 All of these activities need just a little help from an adult to gather materials or get the fun started, but once you do, the fun will continue on long after you excuse yourself to go get some work done, clean the house, or check your email!  And when your kids realize and are confident that they can have tons of imaginative play without you, they’ll stop coming to you with every problem or question–they’ll start solving them on their own.

 So by taking five minutes to begin the fun, you actually buy yourself much longer than that.  Just remember that imaginations need nurturing, too, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your kids grow.

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Easy Christmas Tree Ornament

Hanging out with the girls one morning before school, and things inevitably got a little whiny.  Little H had a cold and Em wanted more attention.  But with a few magic words (“Do you want to do a craft?”), she was back on track and even grumpy Little H couldn’t resist the allure of being allowed to play with a bowl full of colorful buttons.  So we made a very simple (and really pretty!) Christmas Tree ornament, with very little materials required!  I made a couple changes from where I originally found it here, but this is what worked best for us.

Easy Christmas Tree Ornament @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Materials:  Popsicle sticks, glue, buttons, ribbon, paper for a star.  So simple!

I happened to have rainbow-colored Popsicle sticks from when we made our leprechaun trap last St. Patrick’s Day, so no need to paint or color them green.  Just add a little glue and let them set; you may want to add your ribbon in one corner now (maybe in between the sticks?) to give it plenty of time to dry.  I thought of that after the fact and think it would have been a good change.

Easy Christmas Tree Ornament @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then just add buttons!

Easy Christmas Tree Ornament @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Em wanted to make hers in a rainbow pattern, and Little H was happy just to be allowed near the glue.

Easy Christmas Tree Ornament @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I snapped a plain stick in half, let the girls color them brown for a trunk, then added a paper star and ribbon on top.

Easy Christmas Tree Ornament @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then I did it all over again with Jax when he got home from school.  Now I have three beautiful  Christmas tree ornaments to decorate my home, year after year!

Easy Christmas Tree Ornament @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I’m going to keep them forever!

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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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