Archive for November, 2011

Crafts of Christmas Past

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In need of a little Christmas craft inspiration?  Here are some of our projects from years past.  New stuff to come soon!!

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Birdseed Ornaments

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I’ve been saving this project up since I saw it on Dandee in July!  I love it!  Super easy, super cute, and with a purpose.  We made birdseed ornaments to hang outside last week.  Some of them we gave away at Thanksgiving and some of them we’re giving as presents for Christmas.  They are easy, and cute.  They would also be awesome to make if you were going to do some tree decorating outside a la The Night Tree by Eve Bunting (a FABULOUS Christmas book if anyone is interested).

The afternoon that we made these was dark as night despite the 3:00 pm time, so I apologize for the dark pictures.  I actually waited until we went to Central Oregon to take the above picture because I knew that we would have better weather than anything I was going to get at home.

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The recipe for these is super easy.  The kids pretty much did all of it except for a few stirs by me to get the very bottom mixed in.

We mixed together:
3/4 C. flour
1/2 C. water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 TBS corn syrup
(This makes a really, quite incredible glue. I’ve been considering how to use it for other applications ever since.)

Then we added 4 C. of bird seed. I just got mine in bulk at Winco (really, it was the leftover birdseed from this project this summer).

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Once that was mixed into the “glue,” we used our hands and spoons to place the birdseed into cookie cutters, filling them to the top, then pressing them down to get rid of any air holes. Then we carefully push the birdseed down and pulled the cookie cutter up. The birdseed at this point was super-duper sticky. Drew (my nephew) refused to continue because it was too “dirty.” I had to bring out a bowl of water to rinse hands off when they got caked. We also found that if we rinsed the cutters between uses the birdseed cane out a lot easier. We placed them on silpat sheets as we worked and then added cut straws to each to make a hole in them for the twine.
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We let them dry overnight and they ended up being impressively hard. One batch of birdseed mix made about fifteen ornaments for us.  We tied twine on each one (because that’s what we had on hand), but raffia would also be pretty, I think. Then we hung them up for our birdie friends during our Thanksgiving feast at Grandma’s.

Pumpkin Pie Play Dough

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This week Nancy discovered the joys of play dough.  I’m very grateful for this discovery as it bought me at least 45 minutes at a stretch of baby bliss in an otherwise trying week.  Unlike her sister, Nancy doesn’t seem to want to eat it non-stop, so I can leave her “alone” with it and do some chores.  Perfect!  When she discovered the play dough, all we had available was the left over play dough from our summer art play dates, which was of course full of grass and mud.  So, needless to say, we needed new play dough.
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I ended up making my usual recipe and then after adding some beautiful orange food coloring to it, I decided that it looked just like pumpkin pie filling.  Then I had the brilliant idea to add some of the bulk pumpkin pie spice I had just bought (two or three teaspoons) and it looked and smelled just like pie!  And while playing with it, your hands smell like pie and the air smells like pie.  Its just delicious.  And since nobody at my house eats the play dough now, I can get away with it.
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Leafy Butterflies

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Yesterday I saw these fantastic leaf butterflies on Crafty Crow.  I knew I wanted to make some with Clara, but gluing seemed a bit messy.  Enter the contact paper!  We love contact paper.   We already had a bunch of leaves in the house (mostly from the Costco parking lot, of all places) and we already had the contact paper.  All I needed was a little girl who loves to cut things.  Check!
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First we cut the leaves up the center spine to make wings.  Then we cut apart some more leaves to make the body and we decided that the stems would make perfect antennae.  And legs for the caterpillar.   We stuck the butterflies and caterpillar to the contact paper and then added another layer of contact paper over top and cut them out.

Finally, we used a dab of glue from a glue stick to stick them onto our glass storm door so that the sun could shine through them. They are a beautiful flock of butterflies!! And caterpillar.
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Density Experiment

I was asked by our favorite children’s librarian this week to review a book for her and let her know what I thought.  The book is I’m a Scientist: Kitchen by Lisa Burke.  I looked through it and found that it had a few good activities that I wanted to try, but overall I found it to be a good book, but not a resource that I would want to buy.  It really only has about fifteen different experiments in it, but they are all well photographed and made really interesting for kids to want to delve in to and try out themselves.

Yesterday we had a bit of free time (probably due to the extra hour in our day!) and Clara and I decided to try one of the experiments out.  We did one on density, and I have to say, it was a huge hit!  We may have to try out more of these experiments.  Here’s what we did.
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I gathered some supplies:

  • A plastic bottle
  • vegetable oil
  • corn syrup
  • food coloring
  • a funnel
  • some water
  • various small objects (not pictured)

First we poured the corn syrup into the bottle through the funnel.  We noted that it went really slowly and was very thick.  Next we added the water with a bit of blue food coloring in it.  Then we added the oil to to top.  We discussed why they were in layers rather than all mixed together.

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Then we added various objects and noticed if they floated or sank and if they floated, in which layer they floated. Some of the objects we added included a key, a penny, a little rubber snake, a little skeleton eraser, and a pretend spider.
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Then at the very end, we just had to shake the bottle. We noted that while the oil would not mix with the water, after a while, the syrup and the water were able to combine.

The girls were both thrilled with this experiment and we had everything on had to do it. So, overall, I would say that makes this one a hit!
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