Pom-Pom Bunny Wreath

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Sometimes I spot a holiday craft so cute I just have to make it, even without the kids involved. That was the case with this adorable bunny wreath, spotted in Country Living magazine. The project almost entirely involves hot glue, hence why it was a mommy project although older elementary children could pitch in.

To start, I hot glued pom poms in a double circle around a Styrofoam ring. If you find larger white pom poms, you’ll only need one circle.

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Next, I cut bunny ears from white felt, and smaller strips in the same shape from pink felt. Hot glue the two colors together, and then to the back of the craft ring.

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Hang up and wait for the Easter bunny to hop on by!

Water Activity with Newspaper

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When Travis was a toddler, I once set him loose with a tray of nothing more than newspaper and water and he kept busy for nearly an hour! So when I spotted this morning’s pile of newspaper about to be recycled, I quickly set up a variation for Veronika.

This time, I cut the newspaper into strips and then set out three jars, each filled with a little water dyed with food coloring.

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As soon as she saw the pots of colored water, Veronika asked for paintbrushes! She loved brushing lightly over the newspaper, which quickly soaked up water and color both.

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My assumption was that she’d want to drunk the newspaper into the water and see what happened when it got even wetter. It turned out she was much more into the pots of water, and transferring liquid back and forth. But we did pour some over the newspaper and observe how the paper changed from dry to wet.

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It was fun to squeeze out the wet newspaper like a sponge, too; it holds surprisingly more than you would think!

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The activity was also great practice for scooping water up, to refill her jars.

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In sum, she didn’t play quite as long as Travis had as a toddler, but still enjoyed the activity. Prefer your newspaper games dry? Test out our recent fun with indoor newspaper throwing instead!

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Spring Chick Card

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This cute card is the perfect seasonal greeting for family or friends. To start, Travis helped pick out four different patterns of scrapbook paper. Any patterns will work, though you may want to stick within one color family or theme.

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Fold one sheet in half and draw an egg shape along the crease. Cut out and then cut the top piece in half with a zigzag shape.

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Cut out additional patterns of paper in the same shape so they fit the inside of the card, and then glue down. Cut a small oval from a final paper pattern to be the body of a chick. Add bunny ears and a beak with scraps of paper, then draw on eyes, wings, and feet.

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It’s not the Easter bunny, it’s an Easter chick!

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This adorable card works perfectly as an Easter gift, of course, but also makes a great birthday card or note simply to say happy spring. Travis was in charge of writing in a sweet message before we mailed it off!

Indoor Newspaper Throwing

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Before you recycle this week’s newspaper, stop right there and turn that newspaper into the perfect balls for your toddler! The light weight and soft texture means this activity is not only great for honing little ones’ throwing skills, but also that it won’t result in injuries or broken items around the house.

To start, I simply crumpled up a few pieces of newspaper for Veronika and set out the laundry bin as her goal. She trotted over and tossed them in, easy as pie!

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Clearly we needed to up the ante. I made a line of masking tape a few steps from the basket and she had to make her shots from here. She was so good about lining her feet up on the blue!

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And wouldn’t you know, this toddler can throw! Every ball went into the goal.

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Big brother Travis had another idea to make the game even harder; he climbed right in the basket as a goalie!

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Needless to say this soon had brother and sister alike in fits of giggles, tossing the balls back and forth, and much hilarity and fun ensued.

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If you want the newspaper to stay in tighter balls, you can secure around each wad with a little bit of masking tape. That said, we liked the balls best when we simply smooshed the paper pieces as tight as we could in our hands, since the tape made them a little more dangerous for tossing at each other.

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In sum, this is a a great way to get in throwing practice even when you can’t make it outside to the park.

Upcycled Easter Eggs, Two Ways

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An empty cereal box is all you need as the base for the following two upcycled Easter egg projects. The first makes a beautiful table topper for your Easter holiday table (or other spring gathering), and the second looks lovely hung on a door or window!

For the table topper version, I traced a small egg shape onto one half of a cereal box, and cut out 4 eggs. Veronika helped paint in pastel colors. You’ll need to let this coat of paint dry before moving on to the next step, and if your kids are impatient, give the eggs a quick stint under a hairdryer.

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Next we used a q-tip (always a toddler favorite) to make dots on the eggs. Veronika loved dipping a cotton swab into yellow paint and making dots and blobs all over.

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Almost done! The final step was to give the eggs some sparkle by brushing on glitter glue. We should have waited for the yellow dots to dry first, because now everything sort of smeared together, but the eggs still looked pretty.

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To set them up as table toppers, cut an empty paper towel tube into a few rings, about 1/2-inch thick. Make notches in each so the eggs stand upright. Leave them just like this or add names so they double as place cards!

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For the second upcycled craft, I cut a large egg shape from the cereal box. We gave this one a coat of white paint.

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Next, I set out a tray with squares of tissue paper, all in pretty pastel shades. It’s easiest for a toddler if you cover the whole surface of the egg with white glue. This way, I could hand her a crumpled piece of the tissue paper and no matter where she placed it, it would stick!

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I briefly considered having her make patterns or rows in alternating colors, but quickly realized this was too advanced for Veronika. Instead, we ended up with an egg decorated in a pretty mish-mash of pastels.

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Earth Hour

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We learned last minute that Earth Hour is tonight, an hour to turn off the lights in honor of our planet. We started the hour on a serious note, watching this important video about the impact humans have on Earth, ways we can save resources, and how it all links to the pandemic that has had the entire globe reeling for a year now.

I didn’t want the activity to feel too heavy for my six-year-old, though, so knew we’d have to have some fun in that dark hour, too. Luckily, Travis’s Highlights magazine had us covered with 5 ideas once the lights went out!

One: Paint glow-in-the-dark self portraits. I pulled out a few tubes of glow-in-the dark paint and we each made silly cartoon depictions of ourselves. Travis loved activating the paint with a flashlight, then turning it off to see the glow!

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Two: Write in the dark. Along the same lines, next we tried writing then turned on a flashlight to see how we’d done. Older kids can write lines of poetry or stories. Travis was so proud just to spell out his little sister’s name!

Three: Put on a shadow play. You could do this with your hands or bodies, but Travis thought it was best with Lego figures. One person shines a light and the other holds the toys to reenact favorite scenes. It was fun to see how small or big he could make the shadow, depending on the distance he stood from the Lego.

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Four: Have a flashlight battle. Easily the favorite, everyone switches on a flashlight and lightsaber action ensues. Bonus points for the best “zzzzz-oooom” sound effect.

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Five: Dance party time! We couldn’t end things without same flashlight-lit dance moves. Whatever your family’s favorite tune, crank it up and dance for the Earth.

 

Eric Carle Art Activity

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We had the opportunity to visit the Eric Carle Museum today, so I set the stage before our trip with an activity that combined the author’s books and tangrams. This is a fantastic learning game that can be adapted for varying levels of difficulty, depending on your child’s age.

To start, we pulled out several of our Eric Carle favorites, like Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do You See.

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As Veronika uncovered each animal in the story, I laid out a design in corresponding tangrams. She marveled as she saw the animals come to life on the page!

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For older toddlers, draw the outline of the animal first and challenge your child to fill it in. Preschoolers can make the challenge even harder by designing their own tangram animal without a template.

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Next up was A Very Hungry Caterpillar, another favorite. For this one we “acted out” the story with tangrams on each page, starting with the little caterpillar under the sun.

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This was great for counting as we got to the pages about each fruit the caterpillar ate.

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Our tangram set also includes a template of a butterfly, so this was great practice for Veronika to do the filling in. It was easier for her to think of it by color than by shape, but with some guidance she was able to follow the pattern. This was exactly the intro to tangrams I had hoped for when we sat down together.

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Of course then we capped it off with a visit to the museum! If you end the day with your favorite Eric Carle book at bedtime, you’ll have made this activity frame a full day of stories, learning, and play.

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Easter Egg Creation Station

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This fun toddler-friendly craft results in a beautiful Easter bunting to hang for the holiday! To start, you’ll need to paint several sheets of thick white paper. I wanted to paint these in pretty pastels, so mixed a little white paint into pink, light blue, and light green for an even softer spring effect.

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Invite your toddler to come paint! Veronika wanted to use a sponge like a stamp, delighting in the oval she made with each press down onto the paper. Between her stamping and my help with a paintbrush, we soon had three pretty painted pages.

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Of course there needed to be some exploratory hand-dipping in the paint, too! I left the pages to dry overnight, then traced an egg shape onto them in the morning and cut 4 eggs from each color.

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I set the egg shapes out on a tray along with a few bits to decorate them (a.k.a. a “creation station”). Choices included cut up Easter-themed cupcake liners, squares of yellow tissue paper, and pieces of pink construction paper. Lace doilies would be pretty too, whether cut into strips or small pieces.

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It’s up to your toddler to decide how to decorate! I set out a plate of glue that Veronika could smear liberally over each egg so that any scrap pieces she pressed down would stick.

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She also liked trying to brush the glue directly onto the decorative bits, or otherwise exploring the materials in a sensory way. She tired out from decorating about halfway through the eggs.

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That meant our final bunting alternated a plain painted egg with a decorated one, which actually was a nice effect.

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Once the glue dried, I attached the eggs to a string and suspended the bunting above the kids’ table.

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Window Painting

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Spring weather has beckoned us outside all week, and that means we wanted to move our arts & crafts outdoors, too. There are two fun parts to this particularly toddler project. First, the painting, then the clean-up!

To start, I set out plates of fingerpaint. Mix a little squirt of dish soap into each color, which will make clean-up easier on the flip side.

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I told Veronika that we were heading outside to paint the patio door! At first she was surprised, but then she was remarkably good about it, understanding that she could paint the glass but not the wooden door frame or screen door.

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I demonstrated by painting a yellow sun and green grass, but truly Veronika needed no direction. She tested out painting up high…

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…and down low. She practiced making big swirly circular brush strokes, or sometimes jabbed the bristles against the glass which made what looked like orange footprints. When I asked her if she was finished, she said quite firmly, “No, I’m still painting”.

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She did finally tire of the project and we left the paint to dry. But the fun had only just begun! The second half of this activity is to wash off the paint. I filled a bucket with warm water and we headed back outside with our bucket and sponge.

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She loved helping dip the sponge in the water and washing all over the window. And yes thanks to that dish soap, it really does come off in a heartbeat.

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Well, Veronika hadn’t had enough fun yet; she decided the patio needed to be sponged off, too! Overall, this turned into a gorgeous afternoon-long project outside.

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Tin Foil Easter Egg

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Here’s a simple and lovely way for toddlers to make Easter egg art, with the extra thrill of getting to use permanent markers!

You’ll need a cardboard base as the backing for each “egg”, and I find that thin cereal box cardboard is much easier to work with than cutting through old boxes. Cover each egg shape with aluminum foil, making sure it is flat and smooth on the side you’ll be decorating.

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I set out sharpie markers, and Veronika and I each took an egg. She surprised me at first by making quite a few perfect circles! I hadn’t even known she could do that.

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Then she began scribbling and drawing quite earnestly, telling me all about the colors she was using.

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Meanwhile, I made designs on my foil egg with patterns in alternating colors, to show her how decorated Easter eggs can look. As with a recent “animal portrait” craft, I loved that one of these eggs was my grown-up example and one was purely her own toddler creation.

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