Tag Archives: paper crafts

Getting into the Olympic spirit.

I love the Olympics.

I love the athleticism, competition, the drama, & how for 2 weeks every 2 years (we’re thinking winter too) everyone becomes an expert. I love watching people from all over the world come together in the spirit of sportsmanship. And I love that this year I get to pass it on to The Munchkin.

Why are the Olympics so important? Why bother giving Olympic Fever to the rising generation? My friend Kalani wrote a fantastic essay answering that question. There are so many important lessons that athletic competition can teach kids: patriotism, the importance of working hard, how to be a good sport, & — perhaps most importantly in this age of rising childhood obesity — that moving is fun.

So I encourage you to let your Munchkins watch a competition or two with you this year to help them catch The Fever. Here’s how we’re starting with ours.

We’ve decided to let her stay up late to watch some of the Opening Ceremonies Friday, & have started getting her into the spirit by introducing her to the logo & the colors this week by decorating the apartment a little at Munchkin height. We made our own Olympic Rings into a paper chain, with The Munchkin telling me which color strip came next. After just one sheet of construction paper of each color, she had those colors down!

Next she drew her own Olympic Rings. Not a bad first attempt!

Finally, to help her learn a little more about the sports & the competition, I made up a quick medal count chart using clip art to illustrate each category. I had no idea there were so many! If you want one of your own, download it here. Get the medals here — you may need to add extra paper on the side for the swimming category, if it’s anything like 2008 was!

We have a couple other ideas too that I’ll be posting soon. How are you introducing your kids to the Olympics?


Filed under Activities, Crafts, Healthy living

How to make a licensed character party look homemade.

Have you ever noticed that the parties featured on all those professional party planner blogs all have generic themes, like bubbles, cars, or even just colors? But your kids aren’t going to request a “pink damask” party theme; they’re going to request Hello Kitty, Superman, Elmo, or, say, Mickey. So how can you give them what they want while still adding a personal, homemade touch like the professionals do? Do it yourself!

The Munchkin and SIX — yes, six — of her playgroup friends all have birthdays within a few weeks, if you can believe it. So the moms all got together & decided that, rather than spend the whole month of June going to each other’s birthday parties, why not do a joint party? We just had to figure out the one thing all seven could agree on: “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”!

I quickly volunteered to be in charge of the decorations, & I did everything with a personal, homemade touch with just over $30! You can too!

Here’s what I used:

  • a few feet of grosgrain ribbon (you can see it in the banner in the photo above)
  • 3 sheets of posterboard (34 cents each at Target)
  • 3 rolls of streamers: red, yellow, Caribbean blue
  • 3 cheap vinyl tablecloths in the same colors
  • The Munchkin’s coloring books
  • a few minutes at Kinko’s
  • The Munchkin’s crayons
  • my friend’s Cricut & her Mickey cartridge
  • free Disney fonts I downloaded from online

That’s it!

I started by going to my friend Maile’s house, where she very graciously helped me cut out dozens of Mickey shapes. That shape is forever seared in my brain. It reminded me of when we learned about children’s book author Bill Peet, who got his start as an inbetweener in Disney’s animation department, but quit when he had a nervous breakdown while animating a Donald Duck cartoon & ran out of the building screaming, “No more ducks! No more ducks!” As I was gluing (& gluing. & gluing.) I thought several times, “No more Mickeys! No more Mickeys!”

But seeing it all put together was totally worth it. The Mickeys ended up all over the place, like on these treat bags. It was a great way to reinforce the theme in a less cartoony way. (I attached a Sharpie on a ribbon to the sign to let the parents write their kids’ names on their bags.)

I used more Mickeys & some brightly-colored cardstock I already had to make placecards for the dessert table. Please forgive the really horrible rubbing out of names… I haven’t spent the $24.95 for the good version of Picnik to do name-blurring the right way. But under the horribleness is each name in free Mickey font. The other 6 kids got Wal-Mart cakes in the Disney character of his or her choice, but we’re cake snobs in this house, & besides, I’d been envisioning this Toodles cake for months. So that’s what The Munchkin got. I’ll post the tutorial Friday!

The signs were photocopies I enlarged from The Munchkin’s coloring books at Kinko’s (for a whole $2.06 total) & glued onto pieces of posterboard. Then My Husband The Artiste & I spent an evening coloring them in while watching Newsies. (Could our family get any more Disney? Maybe I should look into sponsorship or something for all this product placement…) Here are some of them; the “Birthday Clubhouse” logo was designed by the aunt of one of the birthday boys, who’s a professional photographer & graphic designer. She used it for the awesome invitation she made, which I for some reason can’t edit my ghetto way & still save. I’ll try to get it from her so you can see all its awesomeness.

We put each of the characters on a pillar of the Clubhouse, which was the gazebo outside our apartment complex. Perfect, right?

Even more perfect was the fact that Mickey Park was right next door! The kids entertained themselves by playing on the adjacent playground, drawing with sidewalk chalk like Daisy, & fishing for more treats for their treat bags with a “handy fishing rod” my friend Wendy made from a paint stirrer, some yarn, & 2 felt hands glued on either side of a clothespin. Total cost: $2.

Finally, here’s the food table. We had two kinds of chips & homemade salsa from my friend Halley (one was a fruit salsa I am definitely making & hopefully posting in the near future), Mickey-shaped cheese (find them at Wal-Mart) & crackers, chocolate covered raisins, Swedish fish (I mean, “Gooey Fish”), fresh fruit, & Hot Diggity Dogs (find them at Costco).

I made the banner & table tents from more of that scrapbook paper & free Mickey font.

So there you have it! All you need is some paper, coloring books, & creativity, & you can have a beautiful birthday party & a very happy birthday Munchkin…

…or seven!

Don’t forget to come back Friday to see the Toodles Cake tutorial! Here’s a sneak peek:

works for me wednesday at we are that family36th Avenue


Filed under Activities, Crafts

Looking forward to a visit from Grandma & Grandpa.

My Husband The Almost-Grad’s family has been planning their visit for his graduation for months. That can be hard on a Munchkin who doesn’t understand the concept of time just yet, especially since she hasn’t seen these grandparents in almost a year, aside from our weekly Skype conversations. For weeks she’s been talking about “Gamma” & “Gapa,” “white boat” (the Hudson ferry), & “pinky cuppies” (pink Magnolia cupcakes). So as the day of their arrival has drawn near, I made her a paper chain to count down the days.

Every morning she gets so excited to pull off a new link & watch the chain grow shorter.

But I decided to add a new twist, to help her get excited about more things we’ll be doing with the grandparents than just boats & cuppies. Every time we pull a link off, we write the number of days that are left (you can see that for some of them I wasn’t awake enough yet to count…) & something she’s excited about for their visit.

Yes, the boat & cuppies are on there, & for the first several days we had to help her quite a bit to think of things, but over the last several days she’s started to verbalize more, stringing more words together: “ha-cops, pwanes… wwwwwon [with finger making a #1] moosem” (there are helicopters & planes at one museum, the Intrepid) & “dice bones” (dinosaur bones) at the other, the American Museum of Natural History. Plus, this morning she thought of one all on her own: “hand hand… Gapa” (hold hands with Grandpa). Yes, we’re all very excited to see them & go to the museum, the park, & Commencement. But this exercise has produced the remarkable unintended consequence of enhancing her verbal skills!

How do you help your kids get excited about big events like visits from family?

works for me wednesday at we are that family


Filed under Activities, Crafts

Free in NYC: Strand Family Hour.

Stick around — there’s an easy Easter Bunny paper craft at the end!

What do you do in New York City when you have a kid & no money? Get creative.

Mommy Poppins & Parents Connect both have great events calendars that list seriously everything for kids that’s going on in the five boroughs (that second one works in large cities all over the country!). The best part: a lot of it is free!

So for our “day in the city” last week I consulted those handy-dandy events calendars & found out that the famous Strand Bookstore in Union Square has a family hour every Thursday at 3:30 on the Children’s floor. Now, prior to this the only things I knew about Strand were: a) that it was across the street from Max Brenner — very important; b) it has lots of books — 18 miles of them, according to their nifty bags that I see everywhere; & c) that they sell nifty bags.

(I am now the proud owner of one, thanks to my family’s last visit a couple weeks ago, & now that I’ve actually been there, I don’t feel like such a wannabe for proudly carrying it around when I pretend like I actually belong in the city. But enough of my hopes, dreams, & insecurities — back to The Munchkin.)

We were a little early, so we had a quick snack in front with the bargain book carts.

They read books all about bunnies for the first half hour. The Munchkin was pleased as punch… as long as she got to snuggle with the plush bunny she stole from the reading lady.

Afterwards the kids get to make a craft related to the books they just read. On this day they made bunnies out of paper plates.

Lucky for you, you don’t need to take a trip to NYC for this Easter craft. (Though if you do decide to visit, we are excellent tour guides — especially if you’re feeling cheap!)

Just draw a bunny face on a small white paper plate. (The Munchkin liked coloring the back of her plate.) Draw some ears onto white paper & cut them out, then staple them onto the plate. (The Munchkin colored her ears too.) Stretch out a few cotton balls, then glue them onto the top of (or all the way around) the plate. They even had little paper carrots there for the kids to color & “feed” to their bunny. I think that was her favorite part; that’s what she’s doing in that last picture.

The real trick: transporting your Munchkin, stroller, & paper-&-cotton-&-glue bunny home on 2 subways & a train in the rain. While the bunny survived (I’m still wondering how!), the carrot was lost in action. Sorry, Munchkin: Mommy can only do so much.


Filed under Activities, Crafts

The Munchkin’s colorful birthday.

For The Munchkin’s first birthday last June, I designed a color-wheel-inspired party around the rainbow cupcakes I posted yesterday.

A color theme is pretty much the easiest theme you can go with: there are no limitations on activities, & you don’t have to worry about logos or anything. I got everything at the Target Dollar Spot, Hobby Lobby, & Dollar Tree, so it was a really low-cost party too!

We started with a simple, graphic invitation to convey the paint theme. My mother-in-law had the great idea for a paint can card with a slit for a paintbrush to fit into. We’re not Photoshop masters, so it could look more professional, but it was creative & fun to make! We printed the images onto card stock, then cut out a double sheet in the paint can shape. I made a slit with an X-acto knife & glued the two paint can pieces together, just around the edges. The party details were hidden until you pulled the paintbrush out! (Click on the image to see the details better.)

Now to the most important part (to me, anyway): the food. The party was in the afternoon, so we didn’t need to serve a real meal; we had fresh fruit & other snacks arranged into a color wheel: red=watermelon, orange=carrots with ranch dip, yellow=pineapple, green=grapes, blue=blue corn tortilla chips with salsa, purple=grapes.

The drinks were brightly colored Kool-Aid in colorful pitchers. I made a “happy birthday” banner on a friend’s Cricut out of primary-colored cardstock & festive scrapbook paper, with colorful ribbon tied between each letter. To hold utensils, I took old empty soup cans & relabeled them “Birthday Girl Brand Paint.”

We covered each table in a different colored plastic tablecloth & put streamers & balloons wherever my help crew (aka: my husband & brother) felt like it. We also found coordinating paper plates, napkins, cupcake papers, & cupcake toppers with colorful polka dots at Hobby Lobby, but you could easily use solids in different colors.

Here’s the dessert table:

Also on the dessert table: the super easy, super cheap favors I made. Interested? I’ll continue. I baked my special chocolate chip cookies, but with M&Ms instead of chocolate chips. (I even picked out most of the brown ones, but you don’t have to be as weird as me.) Then I put them in small cellophane bags from Hobby Lobby & sealed them with regular old Inkjet labels that I printed with “Thanks for making my 1st birthday party more colorful! Love, [The Munchkin]”.

The kids kept busy with a number of different activities around the backyard. They enjoyed putting on “smocks” we made out of old t-shirts & fingerpainting pictures for a memory book for The Munchkin. We hung their works of art on a clothesline to dry, so they added to the decor.

The kids also colored pages out of a Sesame Street coloring book I got at Dollar Tree with crayons & markers. To hold the coloring stuff, I tied rainbow ribbon around old empty mason jars.

My mother-in-law found some great bath toys & butterfly nets in bright colors at the Target Dollar Spot, so we let the kids “fish” in a splash pool. Even though it wasn’t strictly related to painting, it was colorful & a big hit for that hot summer day! I also found small containers of bubbles in primary colors for the kids to play with & take home. Again, not painting-related, but fun!

The Munchkin loved her birthday cupcake, & it looked really pretty when it was smashed!

Finally, I just have to add this because it makes me laugh & hopefully will make you laugh too. From My Husband The Nerd:


Filed under Activities, Crafts

Service Paper Chain.

Like yesterday‘s Random Acts of Kindness Week craft, this easy paper craft was inspired by the LDS children’s magazine The Friend. The magazine suggested that families who live far apart (like if Dad is stationed abroad with the military or something) could use one to count down to when they’ll be reunited.

But I had a different idea.

Why not use this as a service paper chain? Every time a family member does an act of service, either within or outside the family, they can break a link. Better still, if your family does an evening prayer or devotional together like ours does, each family member can share their acts of service for that day & break the links together, so that everyone can learn from each other’s examples. When you’ve reached the end of the chain, you can plan a fun family outing to a restaurant or amusement park, or even a family vacation.

This helps incentivize service & gets the whole family excited about actively looking for opportunities to serve.

Of course, The Munchkin took the whole “breaking a link” thing to a bit of an extreme:

By the time I got to the scene of the crime, she’d already done a fair bit of damage, so I went with it.

Here’s a tip: keep your paper chain up a little higher than I did.

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Treat-holding door hanger.

Here’s a fun craft to do with your kids for Random Acts of Kindness Week, or just anytime for fun. I got the idea from the Friend, our church children’s magazine.

Just take a small box, like a single-serving cereal box or the 2/3 of a mac-n-cheese box I used, & cover it in pretty paper. Then string a ribbon through the sides & hang it over a family member’s doorknob.

The Friend suggested leaving it unpersonalized & selecting a different family member each week for the month of February (it’s a little late for that now) to give small gifts, treats, & simple, handwritten notes. The whole family can take part in anonymously “spoiling” that family member. You could even just choose a different family member each day! But I thought it looked too plain without a label on it, & since I’ll be helping The Munchkin anyway, we put her dad’s name on it. He’ll be getting some of The Munchkin’s leftover Valentine’s candy & some sticker-covered coloring pages, I’m sure.

Tomorrow we’ll have another easy paper craft to help your kids think about service. What have you been doing with your kids for Random Acts of Kindness Week?

P.S. Don’t you love the paint smudges on the doorknob? Hooray for apartment living.
Tidy Mom I'm Lovin It Fridays

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