Paper Plate Tambourine Craft

– johanna | July 27th, 2012


These paper tambourines are so much fun to make. They are a great rainy day activity too. Once the tambourines are done initiate a game of freeze dancing.

Step 1: Using 1 or 2 paper plates, fold the plate in half.

Step 2: Pour in about 1/2 cup of beans.

Step 3: Staple the edges to seal.

Step 4: Glue or staple ribbon or streamers around the edges.

Step 5: Attach bells by poking a hole through the plates. Attach with string or wire.

Step 6: Decorate with glitter, markers, tissue paper, ect.

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Summer Weaving Projects

– johanna | July 20th, 2012


Photo: Lombok Traditional Hand Weaving by Mohammad Fadli

As my children started school I was surprised to find some of my favorite childhood playground games still existed. I naturally assumed hand games like Miss. Mary Mack and Chinese jump rope had dissipated along with dodge ball, metal slides, and merry-go-rounds. Weaving is another childhood pass time that has withstood the pass of time. In the 70’s we called it Macrame. In the 80’s and 90’s we used the same technique to make friendship bracelets.

Weaving has existed since the beginning of time. Our ancient ancestors used their fingers to twist and manipulate strands of wool, plants, and wood into clothing, rugs, brooms, and baskets. The introduction of the loom and spindles created endless possibilities for weaving designs and textures.

Hand weaving is a fun way to develop fine the motor skills in children, youth and adults. You can make a myriad of beautiful projects to use at home or give away as gifts. Most of the ideas listed below are portable. Meaning you can do these projects in the car or at the beach.

Photo: property of Whip Stich

Toddler Weaving:

Toddlers can learn the basics of the up and down weaving motion through the use of lacing cards. Make your own by punching holes in old greeting cards, felt, or cardboard. You can also cut squares or shapes out of rug canvaspegboard or plastic canvas.

Photo: property of Patti's Nursery School Class

Preschooler Weaving:

Teach preschool aged children to weave with fabric, string, yarn, ribbon, foam, or paper. Mediums such as cardboard, fruit baskets, yarn, laundry baskets, paper bags, and wire racks can be use as a loom. Create works of art such as dream catchersplace mats, pot holders coasters, and mini blankets for their little stuffed animals.

Weaving Projects:

Finger Crochet

Friendship Knot Headphone Wire Cover

Sailors Knot Bracelet

Embroidery Hoop Dream Catcher

Friendship Bracelets

T-Shirt Bracelets and Necklaces

Hair Wraps

T-Shirt HulaHoop Weaving

Woven Rag Rug

Trivet Loom

Woven Rope Rug

Woven Placemat

Basket Weaving

Straw Weaving

Cardboard Loom

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DIY Ice Cream in a Bag

– johanna | July 13th, 2012


Making ice cream in a baggie is super easy and loads of fun. We had several failed attempts before we successfully got the mixture just right. For our first trial we used whipping cream. It reminded me of a show I once watched where the woman tried to convince a family to use butter as toothpaste. We immediately had to go brush our teeth.

The second trial we used only whole milk. The mixture never set. We even tried placing the bag in the freezer. The result was not good. Actually, it was pretty gross. Icy and without flavor. Our final batch we had the correct recipe but learned a bit about the ice to rock salt ratio. The more ice and salt the faster the ice cream will set.

Another problem we incurred was with the baggies we used. We started out with dollar store brand baggies. Don’t skimp on the baggies. Use the higher quality freezer bags only or a large can with a lid that will not leak.

This is a great activity at a backyard BBQ or party. Set the ingredients up into stations. Make up cards for each ingredient detailing how much to measure. The kids can walk down the row of ingredients filling up their own baggies (with supervision of course). Make it an ice cream relay race. Fill up the bag as the recipe states. Have the first person take the bag and run around the block or a specified distance. When they return they hand the bag off to the next runner. Keep going until the ice cream is firm.

The texture of this ice cream is smooth and loose. It will never harden like ice cream made in an ice cream maker and it melts fairly fast. Recipe can be doubled. It just takes longer to set.

Makes 1/2 cup ice cream
1/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
6-8 tablespoons rock salt
4-6 cups ice
quart sized baggie
gallon sized baggie

Place the half and half, whole milk, vanilla, and sugar in a quart sized plastic freezer bag. Seal shut.

Place the baggie in a gallon sized freezer baggie. Fill baggie with ice. Add rock salt. Seal the baggie shut.

Shake bag until mixture solidifies. about 5-10 minutes. Remove the ice cream bag from the ice bag. Rinse or wipe off the bag to remove the salt. Eat the ice cream straight out of the bag with a spoon. Or in some cases with a straw.

*note: this ice cream is extremely soft.

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Twilight Camp

– johanna | July 6th, 2012


My summer vacation started out in a room full of sixteen eager three to nine year olds. We spent our three days of TAGS twilight camp making crafts, playing ball, and competing in our very own Olympic games. We did everything over a three day period but the activities could be condensed into one day for a neighborhood, or play date, camp or stretched out if using as a bordem buster for the summer.

I loved having camp from 4:00pm to 8:00pm because the weather was just perfect. In fact it was so chilly the first two evenings I was in a panic hoping the third day would be warm enough for our water olympics. By then I was out of money and ideas so lucky it all worked out as planned otherwise we would have resorted to a movie night theme.

My agenda went as follows:
Each day when the kids arrived we made a craft. The first day we made all sorts of things using beads. Then we tie dyed t-shirts, made individual flags using paint and shaving cream, and decorated visors. After that we went and shot BB guns with the Cub Scouts in the field. The evening ended with a treasure hunt and two hours of kick ball, sharks and minnows, telephone, basketball and free play. Whoo!

The next day we made tambourines using paper plates, bells, and streamers. Rain sticks were also on the agenda but I have a really thorough cleaning lady (my 6 year old daughter) who disposed of my bag of paper towel rolls I had set aside by my desk.  Then the games began. We used the flags we made the day before during the opening ceremony. After the olympic field games we joined the Cub Scouts for a round of archery.

Then we made puppets and marionettes for the puppet theater the next day. Finished the night off making homemade ice cream in a baggie, freeze dancing and the Le Crem De La Crem– Neon glow in the dark tag. I had a few other games planned but the kids were enjoying the glow in the dark tag too much.

The final day I had planned on teaching weaving for our final art project but we needed to get started with our puppet show. I made a theater out of a huge piece of cardboard. I had thought to make fabric curtains to use with tension rods in the doorway but lacked the time. Luckily someone left a pile of large boxes in the gymnasium the day before.

Our puppet show was interrupted by the fire department. They arrived early to start the water day festivities. I did not realize how powerful fire hoses are. The kids had a blast running around like ants on a disturbed ant hill as the firemen sprayed them good and wet. We finished our day with more water day games, a brief game of cat and mouse and face painting.

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