Scarecrow Craft Challenge

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This month’s craft challenge from Highlights was a chance for Travis to raid the recycle bin: what fun! Anything that normally might be off limits or taboo always seems to appeal to kids, it seems.

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Travis first pulled out an empty gallon water jug. This would be perfect for the face! He proudly drew on features with a marker.

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We found an empty brown bag that would be just the right size for the body. Crumpled newspaper worked perfectly as stuffing. I tied the handles of the bag tight to seal in the newspapers.

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He decided that empty soda cans would make good arms and legs for our stubby little fellow. I knew waiting for regular glue to dry would frustrate him, so swooped in with the hot glue gun.

We finished by decorating the brown bag torso with marker “clothing”. This was a great chance to watch Travis’s imagination at work! What might your recycled scarecrow look like? Please share in the comments!

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Morphing Monster Clay

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Yesterday Travis made monster slime. Today, we morphed it into monster…clay!

You’ll need to start with the slime recipe, whether or not you’ve made a monster jar to hold it in. As a reminder, that’s stirring together 1/2 cup glue, 1 tablespoon baking soda, and a few drops food coloring of choice. Add 1 teaspoon contact lens solution.

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Place the slime in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

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Travis loved that we were dissolving the monster – scary! Begin adding 1 and 1/4 cups cornstarch (that’s 20 tablespoons!) 1 tablespoon at a time. Eventually you’ll have a clay you can work and mold with your hands. This comes out exactly like the model magic you can buy at the store!

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Travis loved the non-goopy texture since he doesn’t always love sticky and slimy projects. Soon he was rolling up monster snakes.

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And he told me this was a mummy!

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Have fun making multiple colors and see what spooky Halloween monsters your kid will create.

Mosaic Art

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When I first spotted this craft idea online, the suggestion was to draw a picture and then cut into squares before gluing down to form a mosaic. It turns out Travis didn’t want to draw his own picture… but he did love making a mosaic from an existing Star Wars picture!

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I drew a grid on the page he selected and Travis loved cutting along the lines until we had 30 or so small squares.

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Note: It’s helpful to label these on the backside so that the mosaic comes together without frustration.

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We selected green construction paper as the background and then began gluing down the squares, leaving some green showing on all sides. This is also a great lesson in counting for kindergartners. Travis loved seeing the battle droids take shape again.

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At the end, we had a fun piece of mosaic artwork.

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Make Your Own Soccer Ball

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After reading about homemade soccer balls used by kids the world over, specifically in Zimbabwe thanks to a Highlights magazine article, Travis was inspired to make his own! We sort of winged it on this one, but our little ball turned out great.

We only needed three items: a plastic bag, old newspaper, and string.

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First I helped Travis wad up newspaper and stuff into one small (3 gallon) plastic bag.

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I knotted it when about half full and pulled the bag inside out around the knot for a double layer. This was our “core.” We then repeated with a second bag and more newspaper, securing with a second knot and fold over.

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Knead with your hands into a more round shape if your ball is looking a bit oval. Now tie string around the outside. Four strings held ours tight.

Time to go play!

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Travis loved playing pass and taking shots on a goal. We were both so pleased with how well it rolled and held up.

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Next time you find yourself without a ball, don’t be daunted: make one!

Craft Stick Puzzles

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This is a fast, easy way to make a puzzle at home, much more reliable than the cereal box version Travis and I tried earlier in the week!

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Cut a pretty greeting card into strips the width of a jumbo craft stick. I drew guiding lines for Travis, who so proudly cut straight along the lines. “This is fun!” he said, before we even got to the puzzling.

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Apply a layer of mod podge to each craft stick and glue on a piece of your puzzle. Let dry completely, then apply a second layer of mod podge over the strips.

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Once dry, I numbered the craft sticks 1 through 7.

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This numbering allowed him to puzzle in two ways; the harder way was simply to put it together relying on the picture. For a little assistance, Travis only had to refer to the numbers at the bottom!

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Happy puzzling!

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Shofar for Yom Kippur

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We don’t celebrate Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar (which begins tonight and lasts until tomorrow), but there was a nice craft to commemorate the holiday in Travis’s Highlights magazine. It was a good chance to teach a little about another culture and have some crafting fun.

As some background, Travis and I learned how a shofar (traditionally made from a ram’s horn) is blown at services to signal the end of a 25-hour fasting period. The day is about repentance and atonement, and this cardstock version of the shofar can hold your child’s apologies and hopes for the year ahead.

First, I traced a horn shape on brown cardstock twice and cut out.

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Because our cardstock was quite dark, Travis chose to decorate it with glitter pens.

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Once decorated, punch two holes near the top.

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Glue one piece of cardstock to the other, making sure not to glue along the top edge so you are left with a pocket.

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Into this pocket, we slipped promises and apologies. Travis had some sincere thoughts, like promising not to be naughty at home and promising to be better at wake up time (instead of getting up on the proverbial “wrong side of the bed”). It was a good chance to practice handwriting, too!

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Slip a blue ribbon through the holes you punched in the top and hang the shofar to celebrate the holiday!

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Chalk Drawings

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I took advantage of some late warm weather to get out on the patio today! Since Veronika has shown she can make art with a crayon instead of putting it straight to her mouth, I dared to give her chalk.

She loved it! As soon as she saw me making colors on the pavement, she scribbled along in imitation.

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Orange was a clear favorite.

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Meanwhile, I made big strokes with the chalk pieces and talked about their colors. It’s also fun to draw shapes or letters for your baby. Veronika was happy just scribbling away next to me!

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So pull out the chalk and enjoy a little art pause with your baby! I’d love to hear how it goes in the comments.

Upcycled Picture Frame

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This quick craft was a neat way to recycle one of Travis’s Kiwi Crates (the perfect way to showcase his Puzzle Pictures from the latest box), and is a great way to recycle any of the numerous cardboard boxes that come to your doorstep in this Amazon Prime era!

Cut out the bottom of the cardboard crate. Place any art your child wants to frame in the center and trace around it.

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Cut out the resulting cardboard square and tape on the artwork.

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Cut additional pieces of cardboard to be the sides, top, and bottom of the frame. Travis chose to decorate his with strips of colorful tape, but markers would work fine, too!

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It was great motor skills practice to teach him to stretch a piece of washi tape the length of the cardboard piece before tearing off and folding any excess around the back.

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Glue the 4 pieces of the frame together and glue the artwork in the center.

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You can glue a piece of string or yarn to the top of the frame and it’s now ready to display proudly.

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Finger-Paint Art

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I’m getting braver when it comes to Veronika and art, but as a safety measure, it’s still a good idea to keep art materials contained or edible at this age. This edible finger-paint is a cinch to whip up!

To make the paint, combine 4 tablespoons boiling water and 4 tablespoons cornstarch, mixing well with a whisk.

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Continue to add boiling water just until the paint looks like heavy cream. Divide among 4 cups and add food coloring. Let cool completely.

I stripped Veronika down to her diaper and taped a large piece of craft paper to the table (precautions are still necessary to avoid a huge mess) and sat down with Veronika on my lap.

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I showed her how to dip her fingers or whole hand into the cups of paint, and then press onto the paper. She seemed hesitant at first…

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…but soon was smearing away!

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My hope had been to get some nice finger- or handprints that could be transformed into little pictures. Alas, most of hers were too messy, so I made a mommy handprint and turned it into a little turkey with markers.

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Drawing flowers or bugs or any other creation would be cute, too! Another fun idea was dipping some fabric into the paint, and then smearing this all over our paper.

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Once we had lots of nice blobs, I folded the paper in half and then opened back up again to introduce the notion of symmetry.

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And then the art lesson was done and it was time for clean up and new clothes!

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Gallant Challenge: Endangered Animal Art

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Travis is inspired every time he reads the profile on Gallant Kids in his Highlights magazine. This month’s read was about a girl who paints pictures of endangered animals and sends the proceeds from her sales to charities that aid animals. We loved the idea, and immediately decided to make some pictures of our own.

Because Travis loves snakes, we looked up which species have populations that are decreasing or at risk.

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First, Travis drew a pit viper.

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He was so proud of the colors he blended together and immediately wanted to draw more snakes.

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Pretty soon, he had an “art gallery” wall filled with a snake pictures, featuring everything from a yellow-horned lancehead snake…

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…to mom and baby tropical forest snakes.

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Obviously Travis won’t be making money from these little drawings, but I loved how proud he was, how the activity got him thinking about conservation and protecting animals, and how it challenged his artistic skills as he thought hard about how a snake’s body and head should appear on the page.