FALL CRAFT: Spooky Halloween Rings

spooky halloween ringsI like making and writing crafts for many reasons. As a former teacher, I find they’re a valuable and fun way to teach kids how to follow step-by step directions. The written directions can also be used as models to teach kids how to write their own instructions. As a writer, I find they’re a refreshing change of pace from my regular writing mode. As a mom, I find they’re a  good excuse to spend special time with my kids. They are also a great activity for playdates.

So, in celebration of Halloween, writing, creativity and playdates, here’s an easy craft you can make with your kids using plastic ring tabs.

Spooky Halloween Rings

by

Laura Sassi

What you Need:

  • plastic ring tabs (from juice or milk cartons)
  • felt scraps: orange, black, white, green
  • black embroidery thread
  • white tacky glue
  • scissors

How to Make It: 

  1. Trace and cut out simple Halloween shapes such as a cat, pumpkin, or ghost from black, orange, or white felt. Glue these on to the round part of the plastic ring tab.
  2. For the pumpkin, cut eyes and toothy grin from black felt and a stem from green felt. Glue on.
  3. For the ghost, glue on two eyes and an oval mouth cut from black felt scraps.
  4. For the cat, cut and glue two green felt eyes. Snip four two-inch strands of embroidery thread , tying them together with a central knot. Snip the ends till the are perfect whisker length and glue in place.
  5. Once dry, slip the rings on your fingers and enjoy!

 

Cookies, cookies, cookies! (Inspired by GOODNIGHT, ARK)

photoMy nine year old has really embraced this whole book launch thing and joyfully declared this week that she wants to be a baker when she grows up.

IMG_3149And judging by these GOODNIGHT, ARK inspired animal cookies, I think she might very well do just that.  Though I would like to take credit, this project really is 100% hers.  All I did was mix the cookie dough, because stirring that is very hard, and I was in charge of the oven.  She researched how to make the frosting. She looked through GOODNIGHT, ARK and selected the animals she wanted to create. She rolled out the dough and cut the cookies. And she embellished each and everyone with superb artistic pizzazz.

In all, I think she’s spent close to 10 hours (not all at once) working on these cookies. And she’s not finished yet! She announced this morning that elephant shaped cookies are next in the production line.

And who will eat all these cookies? She plans to wrap them two by two in cellophane bags tied with colorful ribbon and hand them out to friends and neighbors. For now, though, they are going straight to the freezer until after GOODNIGHT, ARK officially releases on the 26th!IMG_3148IMG_3147

SPRING CRAFT: Do the Bible Verse Sheep Shuffle

IMG_0462Aside from writing picture books and poems, I also teach Sunday School to kindergarten though second graders.  And as Sunday school teacher, I’m always looking for fun crafts and clever strategies to help the kids memorize their monthly Bible verse.  Here’s a Bible memory craft/game I came up with that I hope you, too, will find useful should you find yourself teaching Sunday School or Vacation Bible School.  It’s also makes a fun at-home activity.  Enjoy!

DO THE SHEEP SHUFFLE

by

Laura Sassi

Shuffling these sheep into the correct word order is a great way to memorize your favorite sheep-themed Bible verse!

Gather:

9” by 12” sheet of green construction paper

9” by 12” sheet white construction paper

black marker           scissors

A sheep-themed Bible verse of your choice.   (Suggested verses:  Psalm 23:1, Psalm 100:3,  John 10:11)

Construct:

For the meadow, fold green construction paper to make a 12-box grid.

Using black marker trace eleven sheep onto white construction paper.  Color the heads and feet black. Cut out.

Select your sheep verse.  Depending on the verse length, write one or two words on each sheep.  Be sure to use all eleven sheep.

Play:

Mix the sheep and place them in the meadow.

Try to arrange the sheep in correct verse order without picking them up.  Instead shuffle them up and down the meadow grid, using the empty space to help you.

WINTER CRAFT: Valentine Tea Bags

Tea Bag Valentine

HAPPY SNOW DAY! School’s canceled for the day in my neck of the woods due to an impending snow storm.  Perfect weather for a winter craft. Here’s a simple one your kids might enjoy making. It’s great for letter and reading skills too!

Valentine Tea Bags

By

Laura Sassi

Unscramble this “tea”rrific valentine!

Gather 16 tea bags with strings.  Use scrap paper to create a heart pattern that fits over the tea bag tabs.   Use this heart pattern, to trace and cut four hearts from red paper. Then trace and cut three hearts each from white, blue, purple, and pink paper.  You should have 16 hearts total.

Arrange the hearts by color.  Use one color for each word.  Use one heart for each letter to spell the following: YOU ARE “TEA” BEST MOM!

Glue one heart one to each tea bag tab.  Let dry.

Mix the letters and arrange in Mom’s favorite tea cup or mug.  Garnish with tissue paper and place at Mom’s favorite spot for morning tea.

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To unscramble, arrange the hearts by color.  Then arrange the letters.

RAINY DAY CRAFT: Chopstick Pick Up Sticks

On rainy days my kids and I enjoy making  crafts that are also games. Here’s a fun one to make with your kids using chopsticks and paint. Enjoy!

Chopstick Pick Up Sticks

By

Laura Sassi

Transform chopsticks into gamesticks with this fun craft!

1.Without breaking them apart, lightly sand ten pairs of disposable wooden chopsticks so that no splintery edges remain.

2. While they are connected, paint the chopsticks.  Decorate each pair so that it looks different from the rest.

3. When dry, gently snap each pair of chopsticks apart to make twenty pick up sticks.

4. To play the game, hold all twenty chopsticks upright in your fist.   Then let go so that they scatter slightly.   Take turns picking up the sticks one by one.  If you pick a stick without moving the others, keep it.  Otherwise put it back and let your friend have a turn.  The player with the most sticks win.  For added challenge, give yourself an extra point for each matching pair you have at the end of the game.  After playing, tie your sticks together for safekeeping with yarn or ribbon.

SUMMER CRAFT: Butterfly Barrettes

IMG_1218A few summers ago, my mom and I took the kids to the amazing Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, Colorado. The pavilion’s enormous greenhouse overflows with flowering foliage and gentle mists. We spent over an hour wandering its delightful, twisting pathways, counting butterflies and looking for matching pairs. We watched butterflies sip nectar and gasped in delight when they landed on our arms.  The morning even helped my daughter, then six, overcome her fear of bugs, since butterflies, after all, have a very fairy-like quality.

We also enjoy the butterflies in our own back yard. They’re attracted to the purple butterfly bush, as well as the daisies and echinacea that bloom along our fence. Mornings and early evening seem best for viewing.

Do you have butterflies in your neck of the woods? If so, perhaps your kids would enjoy a special morning sitting by the flowers and watching the butterflies flutter in for breakfast.  Afterwards, consider returning home and making Butterfly Barrettes. This craft of mine was published several years ago in HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHLDREN and can now be found on their website along with a variety of crafts, activities and stories.  Enjoy!

MOTHER’S DAY CRAFT: Tea for Two and Book Marks Too!

IMG_0302As class parent for my daughter’s second grade class, I wanted to put together a Mother’s Day craft that was purposeful, unique, and easy-to-make. That’s a tall order, but almost immediately my art-loving eight year old said, “What about watercolor book marks?” And I answered, “Great idea!”

For fun, we decided each kid will make not one, but two, bookmarks, matching in every way except for size. For gift-giving pizazz, we’re packaging them in clear cellophane bags tied with ribbon. The package will include two tea bags along with a pre-printed poem.

Mother’s Day is still a week away, but I have feeling these will be a colorful hit. So be our guest and make your own.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother/Child Book Marks (with Tea)

What you need:

thick watercolor paper cut into mother-sized and child-sized book marks

watercolors and brushes             jars or cups with water for rinsing brushes

assorted colored and textured yarn     pencil or pen (for note on back)

hole puncher        tea bags             clear gift bags and printed gift tag (see poem below)

How to make them:

First, have each child write a sweet note on the back of the “mother-sized” book mark.  Then have them sign their names and date each book mark.

Second, have the children place the book marks side by side and right side up.  Then using watercolors paint have them paint matching designs on both.  (Tip:  Encourage children to rinse brush in water between colors so book mark colors don’t get “muddy”.)

Once the paint has dried, punch a hole in the bottom of the book mark. Loop, then tie, several colorful yarn or ribbon strands for the tassel.

Finally, have the kids place their mother/child bookmarks, along with two bags of tea, in a clear cellophane gift bag.  Tie the bags shut with festive ribbon along with an optional pre-printed tag using the poem below.

It’s Mother’s Day

Hip-hip-hooray!

Let’s find a spot

To read today.

Side by side,

Just you and me

With book marks

And two cups of tea!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

Love,

Child’s name

WINTER CRAFT: Coin Rub Valentines

valen-dimeI like making and writing crafts for many reasons. As a writer, I find they are a nice change of pace from my other projects. As a former teacher, I feel they are a valuable and fun way to teach kids how to follow step-by step directions. Today’s craft can also be incorporated into a first or second grade math unit on money.

So, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, as well as reading, writing and math, here’s an easy Valentine made using paper, pencils, and coins.

COIN RUB VALENTINES

by

Laura Sassi

What you need:

pink or red construction paper

thin white stationary paper

assorted coins

pencil, scissors, glue stick

How to make them:

Cut a small heart from thin white paper and a slightly larger heart from pink or red paper.

Place a penny, nickel, dime, or quarter under the heart and rub with the side of a sharpened pencil.  Use both sides of the coins and create enough rubbings to fill the heart.  Hint:  If the coin slips, secure it to the table with a small loop of masking tape.

Glue your coin-rubbed heart to the larger colored heart.

Write one of the following messages or make up your own.                                                    For pennies:  Liking you makes “cents”!                                                                                   For dimes:  Be my Valen-”dime”!                                                                                             For a combination:  “Coin” I be your Valentine?

As an extra treat, tape an actual penny, nickel or dime to each valentine!

HOLIDAY CRAFT: Little Reindogs Based on Seibold and Walsh’s OLIVE, THE OTHER REINDEER

IMG_1857This year as class mom, I’m centering each class party around a picture book with an accompanying craft. For the second grade winter party, we picked the delightful holiday story OLIVE, THE OTHER REINDEER, by Vivian Walsh and  J.Otto Seibold.  If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading it, OLIVE, THE OTHER REINDEER is the hilarious tale of a little dog who thinks she’s a reindeer.

The party began with a reading of the story.  Most of the kids were very familar with it and LOVED listening as it was read. “It’s the DELUXE edition!”  they cheered as the story unfolded with page after page of interactive features including lift-the-flaps, pop-ups and even scratch-and-sniff.

For the craft, we made little reindogs. IMG_1864 Ahead of time, I created a reindog stencil and then pre-cut enough dogs for the class using stiff tan and white felt. My daughter took charge of cutting out an assortment of  black, white, and tan spots, so her class mates could easily pick and glue spots onto their dogs. She also cut out noses and ears and counted out enough googley eyes for the class. For the collar/leash the kids strung little jingle bells to red tinsel pipe cleaners.

While the craft dried, the class enjoyed a wonderful buffet-style feast with apple wedges, grapes, cheese, pretzels, chocolate drizzled popcorn, juice and homemade cookies.

Our winter celebration was a big hit and now everyone in the class, including the teacher, has a wonderful reindog ornament as a memento.

AUTUMN CRAFT: Spooky Halloween Rings

I like making and writing crafts for many reasons. As a former teacher, I find they’re a valuable and fun way to teach kids how to follow step-by step directions. The written directions can also be used as models to teach kids how to write their own instructions. As a writer, I find they’re a refreshing change of pace from my regular writing mode. They’ve also been a fun way to supplement my income.

So, in celebration of Halloween and writing and creativity, here’s an easy craft you can make with your kids using plastic ring tabs.

Spooky Halloween Rings

by

Laura Sassi

What you Need:

  • plastic ring tabs (from juice or milk cartons)
  • felt scraps: orange, black, white, green
  • black embroidery thread
  • white tacky glue
  • scissors

How to Make It:

  1. Trace and cut out simple Halloween shapes such as a cat, pumpkin, or ghost from black, orange, or white felt. Glue these on to the round part of the plastic ring tab.
  2. For the pumpkin, cut eyes and toothy grin from black felt and a stem from green felt. Glue on.
  3. For the ghost, glue on two eyes and an oval mouth cut from black felt scraps.
  4. For the cat, cut and glue two green felt eyes. Snip four two-inch strands of embroidery thread , tying them together with a central knot. Snip the ends till the are perfect whisker length and glue in place.
  5. Once dry, slip the rings on your fingers and enjoy!