Shamrock Color Viewer: a craft and a tool in one

In celebration of Saint Patrick's Day I bring to you the Shamrock Color Viewer! What better holiday to teach children about color mixing (and hence tying in the popular St. Paddy's theme of the rainbow)? And what better way to do it than with a fun craft that takes the shape of the symbol of St. Paddy's Day itself — the shamrock?!

The pictures below illustrate the different color combinations that my son had fun coming up with. The viewer proved to be a very engaging and educational tool. My son is still learning what colors make up each of the secondary colors (orange, green and purple). I'm glad this proved to be motivational in his learning.

 Yellow plus blue makes green

Yellow plus red makes orange

Red plus blue makes purple

Materials (written in order) needed:
  • 2 pieces of green construction paper
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • 3 plastic report covers; 1 each in yellow, blue and red. 
  • dry erase marker (or sharpie)
  • glue (Elmers, or Tacky) 
  • paintbrush (to spread glue) optional
  • hole punch
  • brass paper fasteners

Step One: Folding paper (see above for reference)
  1. Fold construction paper in half matching short sides.
  2. Fold again matching short sides so it is quarter-sized.
  3. Turn folded paper so the fold is at the top, and fold again matching short sides. Keep the paper positioned this way for the next step.

Step Two: Cut out heart
  1. Draw an outline of half of a heart as shown. The mid-line of the heart is represented by the vertical fold. Make sure when drawing the outline that part of top arc of the heart is represented by the fold at the top. You want to keep this fold intact!
  2. Cut out heart. Remember 2 folds should remain intact. The vertical fold on the left side of paper, and a small segment of the horizontal fold on the top.

Step Three: Cut out inner heart shape to make heart "window frame"
  1. Draw a smaller half heart inside the cut-out shape. 
  3. Unfold the heart "window frames", and see what you've got! You should have 2 hearts that each open up at the top (see the picture above on the right)
  4. For this project, 3 hearts are needed, so use half of the other piece of construction paper and fold as needed to cut out the last heart.
 Step Four: Adding colored windows
  1. Using the inner heart shape cut-out as a guide, draw a slightly bigger heart with a marker (dry erase or sharpie) around it onto a report cover (1st picture, above). Cut out. Repeat so that you end up with red, blue and yellow hearts.
  2. Open up heart "window frame" (2nd picture, above) and dab glue on. I used a brush to spread the glue.
  3. Press on heart shape made out of report cover, and close "window frame". Repeat for other colors. 

Step Five: Putting it all together
  1. Stack all 3 finished hearts on top of each other (picture not shown). Punch a hole in the base of the hearts making sure they all line up (you may only be able to punch a hole through 2 of the hearts at one time).
  2. Put a paper fastener through. Turn over and press down tabs.
  3. DONE! 
My son had SO MUCH FUN experimenting with his color viewer!
  • HE was able to manipulate it to find a butterfly shape!
  • We played a game where I would ask him questions such as, "What 2 colors make green?" AND "What do the colors blue and red make?" It was so cool to see him move the color viewer to figure out the answer.
  • I talked to him about the PRIMARY COLORS-red, yellow, and blue; and that combinations of these PRIMARY COLORS make SECONDARY COLORS-orange, green, and purple.
  • He had fun looking through them and seeing the world in different colors
  • We sung the song "The Colors of the Rainbow". It goes like this (to the tune of "3 Little Indians")
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple
These are the colors of the rainbow

The song is pretty simple, I know, and not technically correct, as technically the rainbow is made up of Indigo and violet, NOT Purple. Often when we sing this song, I state this correction.  I'm not too worried though. He is in preschool. I didn't know the colors of the rainbow until high school. Purple, or Indigo and Violet, the kid is way ahead of me, either way!

Have fun crafting! If you have any other activities or relevant links that tie in with this I would love to hear about them in the comment section below!

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Fat Tuesday! Mardi Gras Masks!

I LOVE MARDI GRAS! OK, well, to be more accurate about it I guess I should say that I am 99% sure that I would love it.  Truth is, I can't really say for sure, because I've never been, but it sure does seem like a blast!
So, in celebration from afar, we made MARDI GRAS masks yesterday! It was a real hit with my son. I found the inspiration for this at 4 Crazy King's Mardi Gras blog post.

Materials needed:
  • stiff paper (I used manila folder paper)
  • tissue paper, cut in 1-2 inch squares
  • pen (for tracing kids' hands)
  • scissors
  • liquid starch
  • paint brush
  • Elmer's glue
  • adornments (sequins, feathers, plastic "jewels' etc.)
  • string, elastic, a stick etc. — something to attach to the mask so it stays on child's face, or so they can hold it)

Step One: Trace child's left and right hand in placement shown on stiff paper.

Step Two: FLIP PAPER OVER so the tracing of the handprints is facedown! Have child apply a coat of liquid starch over surface of paper with a paint brush. Have them cover the surface with tissue paper squares encouraging them to overlap them. Have them put another coat of liquid starch on top of tissue paper to flatten surface.

Step three: Let dry. Cut out hand shape using tracing on backside as guide. Hold mask up to child's face to approximate where eye placement should be. Cut out holes.

Step four: Have child dab Elmer's glue all over mask and adorn with feathers, sequins, jewels, etc.

Attach elastic or string with a stapler so it will stay on child's head. Or if you prefer, use a stick so they can hold like a masquerade mask.

Happy FAT TUESDAY! Have fun!
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Making Bird Suet

Ever since a couple weeks ago when Bode and I visited the Cascades Raptor Center and I put up bird identification posters in his room, Bode has been noticing birds that he sees each day and commenting on them: "I just saw a robin", "That's a crow", and "the male ducks are the ones that look like UO football players" (he's talking about the mallard ducks with their iridescent green heads).
Before he was born, I used to have various bird feeders hanging outside my kitchen and bedroom windows — in the backyard — and I always took pleasure in seeing the birds come and feed. Since then, I moved elsewhere for a brief time, but eventually returned back here to the same house, sans the bird feeders. Such is the nature of moving, things somehow always get lost in the shuffle.
Bode's recent fascination provided me with the impetus to amp up the backyard again with feeders for our feathered friends. I never before had made suet and thought that now was the perfect time.

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup Crisco shortening
  • 2.5 cups cornmeal
  • .5 cup millet
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • .5 cup raisins 

Over a low flame, we melted down the peanut butter and Crisco in a saucepan until they were completely liquid. Bode and I then added the rest of the ingredients incrementally, stirring each time until they were mixed in well. Other kinds of edible grains, seeds or berries can be substituted also (although be smart about it and make sure they are nontoxic to birds! See a list of 10 foods to avoid giving birds here).

After all the ingredients are incorporated, pour mixture into a mold that when ready will fit into a suet cage. I found that a square rubbermade container worked perfectly.

I ended up with more mixture than I intended. Fortunately,  I remembered that I had a collection of pinecones in storage. I found a large-sized one and I tied twine to the top, placed it in a bowl and then coated it with the mixture, using a rubber spatula. I pushed the mix as far down into the cone as I could. I then put the pine cone in the refrigerator to set, along with the suet mixture in the mold.

An hour later, they were solid. I popped the suet out of the mold and placed it in the cage, and hung it up, alongside the pinecone.

That was 3 days ago. Each day Bode has been anxiously checking hoping the birds have discovered them, but apparently they haven't at this point. I'm giving it a week — I think I am equally as anxious as my son. I miss the birds outside my window! I already have my sights set on a few birdfeeders (including hummingbird feeders) from our local feed store to add to the mix!
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"Love makes the world go 'round" Hanging Mobile

As a salute to the highest state of being there is in life, may I present to you the Love Mobile...

This idea came to me a couple of weeks ago and it was too perfect and fitting for the Valentine Holiday not to follow through on. I made the Earth early last year out of paper mache' and it has been floating around the house ever since waiting for me to do something more with it.

Turns out I'm so glad that I never got around to it until now.

I 'm refraining from posting a tutorial on how to make this as my construction was haphazard at best (the slippery fishing line I used and my rudimentary knot-tying ability worries me, for one). But here is a list of the materials I used.

  • embroidery hoop
  • fishing line
  • beads
  • paper
  • electrical tape
  • tacky glue
  • Glitter hearts (I bought 2 packs of 12 at Michael's for 1.99 each)
  • paper mache' Earth
Proceed at your own risk if you must!

May you all open your hearts to giving and receiving love on this Valentine's Day Holiday. Have a good one!
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Easy Pop-up Valentine's Day card: Kid's Craft

This is a very easy card to make, and the pop-up feature makes the card that much more special. Children of all ages will enjoy constructing this precious Valentine.

Inside Card- Three-quarters view

 Materials needed: 
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • doilies (optional)
  • stickers, markers, glitter etc. 

  1. Fold one sheet of construction paper in half. 
  2. On another piece of paper cut a thin strip 4 inches in length. Fold this paper in half. Fold up little tabs on each end. 
  3. Attach strip of paper to card by gluing tabs to each half of card.
  4. Cut out and decorate a paper heart.
  5. Glue heart onto paper strip.
  6. Voila! Done! Have child decorate the rest of card with stickers, glitter, markers, stamps or whatever! Have fun!
Front cover of card

Inside card - front view

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"I love you this much" Keepsake Valentine Card Idea

I thought a personalized Valentine featuring my son would be the perfect gift for his grandparents this year. There is a popular Valentine craft circulating Pinterest that features 2 paper hands with an accordian paper strip between them that says "I love you this much" (check out the craft here). Feeling inspired, I thought I would put my own twist on it, using a picture of my son — and a real banner made up of string and hearts.

Materials needed:
  • camera, computer, printer
  • Tacky glue
  • string (for banner)
  • scissors
  • construction paper
  • doilies
  • pen or print-out of inscription
  • mod podge and brush (optional)
  • stickers & glitter (optional)

First I snapped a couple pictures of my little man posing for me stretching his arms out on each side of his body as far as he could. I then uploaded the pictures to my computer. I chose the best picture, opened it up in Photoshop, set the PPI to 300 (in Image Size) and traced and cut out the body with the lasso tool. I then created a new white fill layer and pasted on his cut-out body, turning off the visibility of the old layers. If you don't have PS you can print out the picture and cut around the body with scissors.
Print out the picture and cut it out, leaving a small white border around body. 

Next, I measured my child's "wingspan" on the paper (7 inches). I then typed up on my computer and printed out the phrase "I love you this much" making sure it measured the same. (I used mom's typewriter font) I typed the phrase multiple times just in case I messed up a letter.. (I'm not a big fan of having to go back and do things all over again!). I then very carefully cut each letter out in little heart shapes and lined them up in the order I wanted them.

I then flipped the entire phrase over horizontally (so that now the letters are lying face down, and the "I" letter is on the right side). I dabbed glue on the backside of each heart using scissors to press down the hearts so they "unstick" to the glue bottle tip (believe me you don't want to use your hand for this, it will get sticky and things will get messy real fast - take it from me I know!) Then I pressed the string down onto the glue, again using the scissors to push the string down into the glue. Leave enough tail on each side to tie into knot.

While the banner was left to dry, I then mounted and glued my son's body onto background paper that in some way represented "Valentine's Day" (I made 2 cards — one of the background papers was cut in a heart shape, the other one was a red piece of construction paper, see below). I then glued down the writing I wanted to include inside the card: "Happy Valentine's Day", and "Love, Carolyn and Bode". Of course you could handwrite whatever you want to say. Have your child decorate with stickers and glitter if you want. Put a layer of Mod Podge on if you like (if you don't know about Mod Podge you should! It is an incredible glue, sealer, and finish all in one. And it is water-based so pretty easy to clean up). I had my son help glue doilies to the back side to frame the cards. Doilies represent Valentine's Day to me (I seriously don't ever remember using them any other time other than this holiday) so I kind of feel they are an absolute must in Valentine crafting.

Card number one completed
After the card was decorated and mod podged, I attached the banner, tying knots at each end and putting a big glob of glue on each of the hands and pressing knots down. Don't worry the glue dries clear.

Banner up close

Card number two
We then sent off to grandparents! I think they will like this one!

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Homemade fingerpaint recipe and making repurposed hearts

I recently checked out this super cool book from the library called Recipes for Art and Craft Materials, by Helen Roney Sattler. It is jam packed with instructions on how to make an array of fun crafty concoctions to use with your children or students, such as pastes, modeling compounds, paper-mache, and paints, etc. Making these common craft materials at home from scratch cost way less than buying the finished items from the store...I like that!
On this day, I thought that it would be fun to try my hand in making fingerpaint using a recipe from the book as a reference.

Ingredients needed:
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • small air-tight jars
  • poster paints
Step one: Mix cornstarch with 3/4 cup cold water in a saucepan.
Step two: Soak gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Let sit.
Step three: Pour boiling water into cornstarch mixture pouring slowly and stirring constantly.
Step four: Cook cornstarch mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, letting mixture boil until it becomes pretty clear in color.
Step five: Remove from stove; stir in gelatin.
Step six: Let cool and then pour equal amounts into jars. Add paint and mix well.

Store in refrigerator. The paints will last for a few days. Be sure not to let them sit out for too long as the paints will thicken up and lose their "slippery" quality.

Stirring up gelatin and water mixture
Cornstarch on stove: boiling and clearing...
Fingerpainting? Bode decides it is more fun for Gumby to be ice skating on the rainbow pond than to actually fingerpaint. LOL. Soon Pokey the horse was to join in also...
The finished paintings after they dried
This proved to be such a successful, fun project, for my son, who enjoyed helping with making the fingerpaint as well as the actual fingerpainting itself! The paint took a long time to dry — a good 24 hours — but once it did, it was glossy, hard, able to bend (it only cracked a teeny bit).

In honor of Valentine's Day, I turned the paintings into repurposed puffy hearts.  I think this was such a sweet idea from Scrumdillydo. You can find the directions here
Happy Valentine's Day to you all! 
Thanks for visiting!

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