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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Olympic Torch Craft

– johanna | June 26th, 2012


This is a tutorial on how to make an olympic torch for backyard Olympic Games.

I got the original idea off Kaboose. It uses poster board and tissue paper. I did not have any tissue paper. I did however have rolls of yellow and hot pink cellophane from Easter. Instead of a poster board base we used a paper towel roll. The effect was just as magical.

Step 1: Cut large squares of cellophane.

Step 2: pick up each square of cellophane from the center of the square holding them in your hand like a bouquet of flowers.

Step 4: Twist the part in your hand and insert into the paper towel roll.

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July Website Review: Teach by Magic

– johanna | July 5th, 2011


Teach by magic is a fun innovative way to motivate kids to learn. Teach by Magic hires Magicians from all over the world to think of exciting magic tricks specifically designed to teach all age groups. What kid does not delight in a magic trick?

Simple tricks such as the Bottle Rock It – Challenge, we just did for the Fourth of July, teaches physics through learning how to draw a dollar bill from between two towering bottles of water. Teach by Magic covers everything from reading, history to math. Enter a topic on the search bar and a list of videos on that topic spring up. If the kids are in need of a fun bordem buster this summer try a few magic tricks.

The videos are set up in two sessions. The first session the magician gives a brief explanation about the trick. . Session two shows the solution to the trick. The tricks range from fairly simple to moderate practice needed. Although trying to figure out how the trick works is the best part.

Free membership is available but with limited access. To gain full access purchase a membership for $50 a year. This gives you all the videos, answers, and worksheets. Half price memberships are available for a limited time by using the Friends Code: LFG. The Teach by Magic book is also available for purchase through Amazon.

My kids require a lot of hands on manipulatives. Teaching tools such as this has been an invaluable resource as more and more studies show that kids learn and retain information faster through play. Just be prepared to answer many thought provoking questions.

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Creative Crafts to Celebrate Independence Day

– johanna | June 28th, 2011


The Fourth of July marks the birth of the United States of America and the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted. On July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was signed declaring independence from Great Britain. The Declaration outlined the colonists desire for “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Those loyal to the idea of a new free America celebrated their hope for freedom four days later on July 8, 1776. However, that freedom would not come for some time nor without a hefty price.

The American Revolution would in turn test the resolve of many colonists. Yet, every summer even during the war they continued to celebrate the prospect of liberty.  In 1783, America finally won it’s independence. In 1938 Independence Day was dubbed a legal holiday.

Since July 8, 1776 American’s have celebrated Independence Day with community parades, fireworks, and live music. Independence Day is a perfect excuse to gather with family and friends. Below are some favorite 4th of July craft ideas.

Happy Independence Day!

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March Website Review: The Thrifty Crafter

– johanna | March 1st, 2011


Photo: Property of The Thrifty Crafter

A Bargain Shopper’s Guide to Expressing Creativity

This months website review is on one of my three favorite go to craft sites: The Thrifty Crafter. The thrifty Crafter offers tantalizing recipes like Halibut and Chickpea Salad or a Sweetharts Sugar Cookies tutorial. You will also find fun zany projects and stylish elegant ideas. My favorite of all and the reason I came across The Thrifty Crafter was the huge paper pom poms.

Happy Entertaining!

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Ways to Say I Love You! on Valentine’s Day

– johanna | February 8th, 2011

Filed under: RECIPES - Treats, THE CRAFT CLOSET

Valentine’s Day is not far afoot. What do you have planned to surprise your little, and big, cuties on the day of LOVE?

We have a few ideas to tickle your loved ones pink come the 14th.

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Recycled Trash Into Treasures

– johanna | November 16th, 2010


If you are still not sure what to gift this upcoming holiday season take a look at all the things you can make from recycling items you may already have at home. and is home to some really great quick last minutes gift giving ideas.

Plastic Bottle Fairy Houses

Cardboard Doll House

Foam Board Dollhouse

Fabric Dollhouse

Tube Bracelets

Pillowcase Tote Bag

Baby Sock Advent Calendar

Towel Kittens

Fabric Garland

Recycled Can Ornaments

Necktie Purse

Cardboard Coasters

22 Uses for CDs: CD Lamp

Paper Bag Art Journal

Placemat Scrapbook

Plastic bottle Wire

Magnet Bottlecaps

Vertical Hanging Herb Garden

Bowl Lampshades

Cardboard Butterfly Observatory

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September Website Reviews: Love2Learn2Day, PreschoolExpress, NTFFC

– johanna | September 7th, 2010


Last school year a few friends of mine and I decided to host a preschool for our four year old’s. We designed the preschool curriculum and drafted a schedule. There were four kids who thankfully got along well together. We met three days a week (Monday through Wednesday) for three hours. Each mom took turns hosting preschool at their house one week each month. The kids had a blast learning their letters and forming lasting friendships. My daughter just barely missed the cut off for Kindergarten this year. Unfortunately all her friends, she has meet since we moved, are going to school. Meaning she will be home with me and little brother. In my search to come up with fresh ideas to make a new ABC book I found No Time For Flash Cards.

If you have little ones at home and are looking for fun fantastic learning ideas for preschoolers from activities to crafts and book recommendations NTFFC is an easy place to start. Allison McDonald is the founder of No Time For Flash Cards. Allison has a degree in Elementary Education and spent 10 years working with preschoolers and parents teaching crafts. In 2008, after the birth of her son she left the classroom to be home with her son. Her passion for teaching children inspired her to share her ideas online. Thus, No Time For Flash Cards was created. You will find tons of books, themes and alphabet crafts to teach your toddler and preschooler.

Favorite NTFFC Links:
Toothpick Sea Urchins
Paper Plate Animals
Fine Art Museum
Venus Fly Trap

Preschool Express is a free on-line educational resource for children ages 1-5. Jean Warren is the founder of Preschool Express and the previous owner of Totline Publications. She is best known for her songs, rhymes and stories which can be found in popular books such as; Piggyback © Song books, 1*2*3 Art , Theme-a-saurus and the Totline Teaching Tales children’s book series. Jean created the Preschool Express Website as a way to give back to the world. Her hope is to provide every parent and grandparent the resources they need to create a natural learning atmosphere.

There is so much to explore on the Preschool Express. The calendar station offers teachers or parents a calender with chosen themes for each week. There are calenders for preschoolers and toddlers with a daily activity to do together. Plan a party at the party station. Learn to make snacks, read stories and discover.

If you have a child who loves math Love2Learn2Day offers loads of fun games and manipulative ideas that are K-12 math orientated. The creator of Love2Learn2Day is an educational consultant working with both kids and teachers. The website is all about learning to have fun with math.

Favorite Love2Learn2Day Links:
Mapping a Farm
Play dough Maps
Incan Quipu Math (place value, history)
Math in the Movies

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Family Togetherness: Story Dice

– johanna | August 24th, 2010


One night when tucking my son into bed he asked me to tell him a story. The sad part was my mind was blank. I could not come up with anything. I relayed the incident to a friend of mine who comforted me with her own tale of bedtime woe. We agreed our husbands were excellent storytellers but somehow over the years we lost touch with that creative side. Stephen calls it work mode. Over time with practice my friend and I have become more comfortable telling bedtime stories. Jim Jinkins is best known for his bedtime stories, “Pinky Dinky Doo”. He originally made up the Pinky’s Adventures as bed-time tales for his children. Each night after he closed the door he would write the stories down.

To make story dice you will need:
– 6 to 12 (3/8-inch) square wooden blocks.
– For the images use permanent ultra fine tip markers to draw your own pictures, stickers, stamps, a wood carving tool and stain, temporary tattoo sheets, pictures from old story books, magazines, print them from the computer using sheet labels, sticker paper or regular white paper.
– Seal the blocks after the pictures have been applied using a sealant or Modge Podge.

Use pictures of animals, transportation, food, household objects, clothing, landscapes, fairy tales and people.

To Play:
Divide the dice among the participants. Take turns rolling a single die. The first person begins the story based on the picture they roll. The next person adds to the story based on the roll of their dice and so on around the group of participants. You can opt to time each segment. Say each person has 30 seconds or a minute then the next person rolls and adds on to the story line. Or each person must tell a short story in one minute using the pictures rolled from all of their die. When they are done the next person rolls and takes their turn.

– Paint pictures on small rocks.
– If you do not want to spend the money or time making story dice use print out and laminate small slips of paper or cardboard pieces. Throw the pieces into a bowl or basket and toss.
– Make dice from card stock.
– Print a selection of pictures at the top of a page with lines across and down the page. Use the pictures create a story and the lines to write the story.

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