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There are endless ways to reuse and repurpose old clothes. And catching the upcycling bug can start at any age. This weekend, my friend’s daughter, Caitlin, transformed a simple tank top into a gorgeous, one-of-a kind tote bag. Want to see how she did it?
Liquid watercolors—so vibrant and fun, and a fantastic (washable) medium for kids and grownups alike…
Here are some Olympic flags designed by Walt’s neighbors (ages 3, 5, and 7)…
…a hungry, hungry caterpillar made by some of our favorite East Bayers (ages 6 and 8)….
…dip-dyed coffee filters for a summer picnic…
…a flower garland for a friend…
…and a quick experiment with liquid watercolors + paper cutting.
Looking for a way to keep the little ones busy for a bit? Take a look at these kid-friendly printables I helped develop for Kiwi Crate. 🙂
Dive into reading with a DIY bookmark. Dr. Seuss said it best: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Reading is an unparalleled way to open up wonderful worlds of wit and whimsy. Make a splash into your fall reading lineup with a bookmark that’s easy to make and fun to use.
Tell tall tales with printable story cards. These 30 story starters will stretch your kids’ imaginations and help them spin yarns worth weaving.
Counting down to a special day? Inspire creativity with a countdown chain. This DIY calendar is an easy way for kids to understand how many days they have left until the Big Day. Each day’s link features a word that will inspire your child to get creative. So go on, “play,” “ponder,” and “build” together during your summer of discovery!(pic below by a colleague)
You don’t need an arsenal of art supplies at the ready to get the creative juices flowing. Here are some easy projects from Kiwi Crate’s popular Two-Ingredient Tuesday feature:
- Create a craft stick puzzle. Ah, the craft stick—that most ubiquitous of art supplies. Craft sticks have fortified countless cabins, propped up innumerable paper puppets, and provided the framework for frames beyond measure. Their versatility makes them a favorite around these parts. And if you’re really lucky, you can obtain them the old-fashioned way. (By snacking on Popsicles.) Craft stick puzzles build up patterning and sequencing skills—plus they’re a hit with kids of all ages!
- Experiment with negative space drawings. Playing around with the space around and between objects bolsters spatial thinking skills…and is just plain fun! Cut out some simple shapes (e.g., circles, triangles) from a sheet of paper, and see what your kids come up with.
- Summer Splashdown: 5 Water Games for Kids.Searching for a surefire way to put a smile on your kid’s face? Just add water!Have you noticed how most kids love water play? One parenting paradox is how it can be a struggle to get kids to take baths—yet when you bust out a Slip-N-Slide (or water balloon), kids can’t wait to give it a go (or throw)! Make a splash in your summer routine with these fun water games and activities.
- Design a Discovery Zone. Creating space around the home for your kids to…well, be kids will help open up a world of imagination. Here are some
ways that you can make room for creativity in the home.
- 7 Super Summer Camp Crafts. Recently, I had an amazing time at a homegrown summer camp. Two of my favorite neighborhood kids invited me to Adventure Camp, a carnival wonderland that the kids constructed out of cardboard and anything else they could get their hands on. (One of the games involved seeing how quickly camp visitors could shove rocks and pebbles down a cardboard tube.)
The kids created their own tickets and prizes, and eagerly encouraged me to spend my “tokens.” (By the end of the afternoon, Violet even sweet-talked her way into making me an Official Employee.)Violet and Max had never heard of the Los Angeles boy who recently made headlines for bringing a community together with his elaborate cardboard arcade. However, Adventure Camp was certainly in the spirit of Caine’s Arcade.Whether your child’s at a sleepaway camp or you’re hosting a day camp of your own, these camp crafts are a great way for kids to get creative.
This large custom order was recently mailed out to a client. The client and I worked together to pick out the perfect pink, green, and yellow materials for her goodie bags:
To celebrate our first big order, we made up some business cards. A shrunken-down version of Ingo’s banner + home printer + beloved Dahle paper cutter = (voilà!) instant branding tool
Rainbow crayons are a kiddie crowd-pleaser. To make your own, all you’ll need are:
- a silicone mold
- a sheet of foil
- a cookie sheet
- an oven
- an oven mitt
- Preheat your oven to 250°.
- Let your kid peel off the crayon wrappers and break the crayons.
- Line the cookie sheet with some foil, then place the silicone mold onto the foil. (The foil will help catch any melted liquid that runs off the mold.)
- Let your kid place the broken crayons into the mold.
- Place the cookie sheet into the oven.
- Check on the crayons every five to ten minutes . Once the crayons have melted down, use your oven mitt to take out the cookie sheet. (The molds will now be about half-filled.)
- Drop more crayon pieces into the mold.
- Place the tray into the oven again for a second round of melting.
- Use your oven mitt to remove the tray from the oven, then let the crayons cool completely.
- Pop the crayons out of the mold.
Now let your kid color away!
- The labels on both Crayola and Roseart crayons are pretty easy to peel. (Every once in awhile, you might get a crayon that’s a bit “gummy.” You can set those crayons aside or else spend some time rubbing away the gumminess.) In terms of quality, Crayola crayons produce less waxy/higher quality rainbow crayons than Roseart, but both are acceptable for this project. (For Quizzical Creatures products, we only use Crayola.) I’d steer clear of super cheap crayons, like the Oriental Trading Company brand, which are hard to peel and incredibly waxy.
- Target sells inexpensive silicone molds, especially around certain holidays. (I found silicone heart molds in their $1 bin around Valentine’s Day.)
Beebe + BunBun = 2GETHA 4EVA! A good friend from work recently moved on to greener pastures. As a going away gift, our team gave her adoption papers for BunBun, a jack rabbit puppet that Beebe adored and kept propped up next to her desk. As part of Beebe’s gift, I made a felt carrot for BunBun. Here’s a quick craft project you can work on for the veggie-lover in your life:
- orange felt
- green felt
- pinking shears (or fabric scissors)
- polyester batting
- optional: sewing machine
- Sew squiggly lines on the orange felt. No need to be precise!
- Fold the felt in half then sew a carrot-shaped line down one side. Trim outside the line.
- Flip the fabric inside out, then stuff the carrot with batting.
- Cut leaves out of the green felt. Cut a slit through the middle of the leaves . I opted to create Sideshow Bob-like leaves with pinking shears.
- Stuff the top of the carrot through the slit in the green felt. Gather the felt then hand-stitch the leaves and carrot together.
- Ta-da! You, too, can create a carrot faster than it takes to say, “What’s up, Doc?”!
Everyone knows what’s at the end of a rainbow. (A pot of gold, tiny crunchy marshmallows, and the dissolution of the dispersion of light.) But what treasures lie in the space between the oft-hyped yet ever-elusive double rainbow?
We searched the world over to answer this mystery. What we found may shock and delight you…
It turns out that the land between double rainbows is home to colorful tribes of itty-bitty vegan dinosaurs that stomp around on stubby legs and let out shrill roars of feigned ferocity. Who’da thunk?
Now here’s your chance to experience the magic. As our very first Etsy product, we’re excited to offer you a HOMEMADE GOODIE BAG FILLED WITH 8 RAINBOW DINOSAUR CRAYONS.
The goodie bag is made out of a rainbow-patterned turquoise (or pink) cotton fabric and measures ~5″x8″. A cartoon dinosaur patch, backed by a felt zig-zag square, is sewn on the front. The bag is tied with a jaunty turquoise (or cream-colored) bow.
Your kid will get a kick out of these fantastical creatures!
Here’s what one mom had to say: “[Our family has] a hard and fast rule about ‘no toys at the dinner table.’ But let me tell you, that one went out the window today at lunch, when [my son] and I opened your package just as we were sitting down to eat! We immediately got some paper and started to put our new friends to use while hounding down our lunch!! Do you love that I’m saying ‘we’ and ‘our’…Yes, I was just as excited as my two-foot partner in crime….And let me tell you—he was excited!!!! He LOVES them and asked if he could color again when he’s done napping. It went a little like this: ‘Mama, color with tigers all done sleepy-time.’ He thinks one of the dinos looks like a tiger, so that’s what he’s named them…”
Know a little munchkin who’d appreciate these one-of-a-kind scribblers? Come get your own litter at our Etsy store!
As a part of Target’s Read Across America campaign, a few coworkers and I starred in some online craft tutorials. Visit Education.com’s literacy page to get tips on how you can raise a budding bookworm! (The video I’m in is called “Vowel Flip Flop.”)
Can you find my OCD Easter egg?
Duct tape came to the rescue not once, not three times, but TWICE this Halloween.
Hm, maybe that sentence was not the best way to start this entry. But onwards!
1) In what’s becoming an annual tradition, Walt and I waited until the day of to solidify what we’d be doing for Halloween and then improvised costumes last minute (well, last half hour). With the help of duct tape, coffee filters, and a bit of muslin, we hastily pulled together bee/beekeeper outfits for the Gaskell Costume Ball in Oakland. I’d teach you how to make the coffee filter wings, except that ThreadBanger has a good tutorial to make much better fancy fairy wings (if you’re ever in the market for some glittery aerial appendages). The one revision I’d make to their video is to use heavy-gauge floral wire instead of old coat hangers. Easier to twist and shape.
2) At work, lots of people pitched in to prepare for the Halloween party. This included a group pumpkin-carving session.
Michelangelo once said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” With Michelangelo’s inspiring words in mind, I picked a pumpkin and started chiseling away. I knew that if I approached the task with a pure heart and a steady hand, I might liberate an ochre masterpiece that might charm, frighten, or stupefy onlookers.
I’d just seen Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark, and I had high hopes for my gourd. Here’s what went through my head as I worked on my pumpkin: “I’ll make a silhouette of Indiana Jones snapping around a mighty whip in a dense jungle forest!..Hmmm, this might be too ambitious. I’ll make Totoro standing underneath a leaf umbrella!…Okay, this is harder that I thought it would be. I’ll just make Totoro’s face…This doesn’t look right. I guess I’ll make a cat’s face…Oh no! My pumpkin just collapsed in on itself!…Judges, my entry for this year’s contest is a big gaping hole.”
Actually, since the cat’s face had fallen into the pumpkin, I rounded out the outer ears and made a hapless Winnie the Pooh. My friend Jackie had given me a tiny pumpkin earlier that day, so I scrawled the word “HUNNY” on the small gourd and called it a day.
Needless to say, I didn’t place in the competition. Alas, if there was a contest for whose pumpkin was the best at: 1) filling up entirely with mold over the course of just one weekend because so much surface area was exposed to oxygen; and 2) softening up and decomposing in a translucent pool of liquid, ostensibly because even the pumpkin’s own juices wanted to flee from the horrors within, I would have won hands down, head lowered, shoulders stooped, back hunched, in defeat.
My other contribution to the party decorations fared better. A coworker and I were in charge of the voting booths so, using designs inspired by Dana Tanamachi’s chalk drawings, I used a Sharpie, construction paper, and duct tape to make signs for the booth. If you want to give your kid’s fridge art some pizzazz, just border the artwork with patterned duct tape and round out the corners with a corner punch. Cheap, simple, and eye-catching!