Craft/Project Ideas

The Winter Blues have bitten me– big time. (So bad, apparently, that I am finding alliteration a bit too fun…).  I dislike the cold, I dislike the grey skies, I dislike the sickness that tends to circle like a vulture.  Maybe I’m just grumpy today, but this season IS getting to me!

If you’re a stay-at-home parent like me, and you have little ones that need entertaining, I’m sure you may be going through many of the same feelings!

This is an activity that is a great way to blast away an afternoon.   I’m going to try to look at Winter, not as a time we’re stuck inside (when it’s too cold out), but a time when we can spend cozy afternoons of interactive fun with our little ones.  Yes, that’s my new outlook.  *cough*

Honestly, though – this activity is really great!

Homemade Carnival Toss

Needs: Cardboard Box, Scissors, Markers, Crayons, or Paint, Items for Tossing.

What to do:

1. Take your cardboard box (or use more than one – I had one for each child) and place it vertically on the floor. (The largest side of the box, standing up, should be towards you and your child).

2. Have your children draw colourful circles of different sizes in various locations on the face of the box.

Colouring circles.

3. If your kids are old enough/able, have them cut out the circles, either entirely or leave them as flaps/doors.

4. Now have your children number the circles (or if they are unable to write numbers, do it for them while engaging them in the process). These numbers will be their ‘points’. For an added challenge, ask older children (preschoolers+) to number them from biggest to smallest, giving the most points for the smallest holes and less points for the bigger ones. I don’t suggest any more than 10 holes – we used five.

5. Collect your tossing items, count them out, and distribute them fairly. We used large pom-poms and pipe cleaners bent into arrows. The pom-poms worked much better. Think of some creative objects to use for tossing and discuss how the different objects launch differently (depending on size, weight, etc.).

Vary the distance the kids are shooting from and challenge them to challenge THEMSELVES! We used a pipe cleaner to mark the starting point and moved back for successful rounds or closer if it was too difficult.



Number Recognition. As the kids toss and score points, they are constantly shouting,”I’m going for 5!” or “You got 3!”. What a fun way to encourage reading numbers, they don’t even realize they’re doing it… that’s when the real ‘clicking’ happens.

Hand-Eye Coordination. Throwing objects into a target is a good developmental skill-building tool. Concentration, accuracy, aim, hand-eye coordination… it all ties in.

Adding and Counting. Kids will naturally add up their points and the points of their siblings (or friends). Have older children record their points on a chart and give a small reward for accomplishing a goal of a set number of points if you wish.  This is great printing and penmanship practice too.

Beginning Dividing. I had Simon (5 yrs) divide up the pom-poms and evenly distribute them between himself and his siblings. He was able to quickly tell me that if there were only 2 of them playing, and 12 pom-poms, they’d each get 6. So, I asked him what would happen if his younger brother joined in, making 3 siblings in the mix? I’m asking him math questions, but he decodes them as simply a part of the game.

Fostering Healthy Competition. A little competition never hurt any one. With a loving parent involved and encouraging all the players, competition is a great leaning experience. How to be a good winner, how to cope with not winning, how to help others, how to take turns.

Hope you can have lots of fun on a cold afternoon!


Blessings to you all and STAY HEALTHY!


Oh, thank heavens for prepared Dads and black spray paint!  When I was wondering what to do to fill in just a bit of time at the new house yesterday, Dad suggested I touch up the outside lights, decorative corner thingies (I know, technical terms), and mail box. Unfortunately, I don’t have pics of the mail box… basically, it was shiny gold.  Now it’s black… you can use your imagination!  😉

Spray paint is surprisingly easy to use, effective, and cheap.  Love these results!  Try it for yourself – I think we made these things look new – and it only cost about 2 hours of time (from taking them down, to painting, to wiring them/screwing them back up again) and a $5 can of paint!

Corner decorative thingies "BEFORE"

AFTER! Love them!

And the lights – which were actually pretty nice lights – very ‘country’ looking when lit up at night.  They were in is pretty bad shape from lack of cleaning, weather, etc.  The pics:

Front door light BEFORE

Front door lights mid-makeover

The final product - just like new! 🙂

Simple Tips for Re-touching with Spray Paint:

  • Work outside – it’s too messy and the fumes are too strong to be inside.
  • Clean off as much dust, rust, and weathered matter as you can before starting.
  • Be sure to tape off areas you do not want the paint to touch.  I used painters tape and some newspaper to protect the glass and it worked just fine.
  • Lay down cardboard in a large area and work on top of the cardboard.  Spray paint will not wash off surfaces and will stain your driveway, grass, etc.
  • Spray about 7-10 inches away from the object using light, wispy strokes.  You will likely need several light coats.  Don’t paste it on too thick or it won’t look right… I did this with our mailbox and it’s not as good as the objects I really took my time with.
  • Have fun and enjoy great results on a dime!

We’ve been loving summer – and much of our ‘Structured Learning” has been taken over by trips to the beach, park, and splash pad.

We have been reading a TON and spending time delving into different ‘unit’ type studies, which we love.

Dinosaurs are so much fun for kids to learn about.  We checked out as many books as we could at the library, and also have a huge pile of Dinosaur-related books from our Usborne stash as well.

Some fun “dinosaur sized” activities to try (har har):

Making Dinosaur Fossils

We found some great books about fossils at the library and learned about them before doing this project.

What you’ll need –

– Plaster of Paris (or similar)

-Raw Noodles and various objects to make shapes/bone designs in the clay

– Some sand

– Water

-White liquid glue/paint brush

-Parchment paper

How to do it –

1. Mix the Plaster of Paris the way the instructions tell you to, but add in some sand, making the mixture more pliable and like a play dough texture rather than soupy.

2. Once it’s ready, separate the plaster into as many pieces as you want/need.  You’ll need to work relatively quickly, as it dries pretty fast.

3. Roll the plaster out onto a piece of parchment paper so it’s about 1/2 inches thick and have the kids press the dry noodles, etc. into the plaster then pull them back out (like stamps).  This will make great designs that look like Dinosaur bones/fossils.

4. Brush the top of the pieces with a light layer of liquid glue – this helps solidify and maintain the stamping.

5. Give them a couple hours to dry… and VOILA!  FOSSILS!

“Dino-Size Me!” Activity –

Kids love to learn things in a hands-on way, that’s no secret.  I love this activity, because it makes dinosaurs and their immense size come to life in a very understandable way for kids.

It’s simple – all you need is 2 pieces of string or rope (1 piece is 50 ft., the other about 5ft.), scissors, and a measuring tape.

1. Go outside with your child and have him/her help you stretch out the 50 ft. piece of string.

2. From the 5ft. piece of string, cut out a piece the size of your child (or cut various, if there is more than 1).

3. Lay your child’s string next to the “T-Rex” string and talk about the size difference, asking your children questions as they come to you and related to their interest.

4. How many of your child’s length would it take to make up the height of a full-grown T-Rex?

A NOTE – When we did this activity, I had the kids lay down next to the T-Rex string for them to get a better understanding and visual of the size differences.

(Picture shows Audrey, age 3, at the bottom of the T-Rex string with Simon, age 5, standing at the top end.  These guys were HUGE!)

These ideas were taken from one of my absolute favourite activity books for preschoolers – “Kitchen Table Play and Learn” by Tara Copley and Andrea Custer.

Some GREAT Dinosaur Reads from Usborne (Please, feel free to ask any questions!)

The BIG Book of BIG Dinosaurs (an interactive book for preschoolers and beyond!)  $15.95

Dinosaurs (Information for your readers books) $6.95

Dinosaur Fun (a FANTASTIC preschool craft book) $15.95

World Atlas of Dinosaurs (an engaging, educational look at Dinosaurs around the globe – age 8+) $19.95

As always, happy exploring and I hope you are all enjoying your Summer!

Today we had a lot of fun making our Crafty Houses.  They’re very easy to make but tons of fun!  I love the many layers of learning woven into the activity.  It’s also just a great way to encourage little ones to use their imagination and build a “world” of their own centered around their house.

Our daughter drinks Soy Milk like crazy, so I simply saved two empty containers and rinsed them out.  Then we covered Simon’s with paper (Audrey opted out of this step).  Then the kids painted and decorated them as they desired.  I helped them make the roof/chimney.

I then encouraged them to pick our a color of “land” to put their house on and we glued the houses to those pieces of paper.  Simon, the ever-over-achiever wanted to put and “extension” on his house (HAHA!).  So, we used a recycled tea box for the add-on.  Too funny.

We used 2 packets of tea for the grass by ripping them open and sprinkling the tea over glue.  We gladly ate some Easter Chocolate Eggs and used the wrappers for flowers in the gardens.

This is a virtually cost-free but very fun craft/activity to do with preschoolers/early years kids.

To add on, I talked to Simon and Audrey about where we live.  We practiced saying our address, town, province, country, and continent.  I then showed them what all those things looked like on a world map.  I was so excited to see Simon repeat everything we’d learned to his Daddy when he came come from work.  Fun!

Simon’s house

Audrey’s house – she had a few too many chocolates in the process… haha!

Simon’s close-up

Other ideas to pull more learning out of this craft:

  • Talk about what type of house you live in and the different kinds of homes that exist (townhome, semi, apartment, etc.)
  • Discuss how blessed we are to have a warm, comfortable home
  • Ask your children what kind of home they’d like to have when they ‘grow up’
  • Pull in a little chat about seasons, depending on what season your child gravitates to when creating (IE: spring flowers, grass growing, etc.)
  • Talk about conservation, electricity, recycling, etc. in relation to our homes and global responsibility (tie in the idea that you used so many recycled items to make such great houses!)
  • Use your imagination!