4 Easy St. Patrick Day Craft Ideas for Kids

Irish Checkers!

Irish Checkers!

Our Pot of Gold Rainbow and Shamrocks made from hearts.

Our Pot of Gold Rainbow and Shamrocks made from hearts.

St. Patrick’s Day could be the secret to life.  You take a grey, cold, lifeless world and add a tiny green plant than in all other places would be considered a weed.  But at the end of a long, hard winter that tiny weed promises that winter will end and more green will come.  We celebrate by dousing any splash of green with “water” (there is water in beer), collecting all the green we see, and displaying it along with gold because, let’s face it, any hint of spring is worth it’s weight in gold.

I wrote this when spring had not quite sprung, we had yet another snow/sleet/what-ever-you-call that cold wet grey stuff falling from the sky, and I was desperate for a bit of green and hint of life.  M-man and I probably went a bit crazy with the shamrock decorations.  My house now looks like either a construction paper rainbow of lucky charms or where leprechauns go to die. I always knew St. Patty’s day got messy (hello, green beer), but this really takes it to a different level. If you want to join in the mess, here are 4 easy St. Patrick Day crafts for kids:


A Pot of Gold Rainbow.

M-Man is a worrier. It is just hard wired in him. I thought this activity could help him practice seeing the bright side. First we talked a bit about luck and how you can’t control when you have good luck, but if you are always looking for the good in things then you’ll find a lot more. One luckiest things you can see is a rainbow, which is why lephrechauns hide their pot of gold at the end. (I am sure this is in no way an accurate account of St. Patrick Day lure, but come on. I’m working with an anxious four-and-a-half year old here!)


Next, we make our construction paper pot of gold. I traced a pot shape on two pieces of paper and cut them out. M-Man stapled them together to form a pocket, punched holes for the handle with a hole punch, and cut the yarn for the handle. (Yay fine motor skills!) Then, he cut out strips of paper that we taped together to make a rainbow that can slide in and out of the pot.


We hung our pot of gold on the back door*. Every day until St. Patrick’s Day M-Man looks to see if the rainbow is in the pot. Some days it’s there, others it’s not. But on the days that it is in the pot, then he’s lucky and gets a small little treat. So far he’s gotten a few fake tattoos, some seashells, and a homemade checkers game. Which brings us to….


Irish Checkers

This is a great activity because you really use it! First, fold a piece of construction paper in half. Cut some lines in it, being careful to not cut all the way to the end. (This is another wonderful fine motor activity for your little guy to do.) This will be the “base” of the board.


Then, cut some paper strips. These will make up the squares. We chose rainbow colored, but I would recommend making sure the base is a different color than the squares. We have a green base and a green square strip and it causes confusion all the time… don’t be like us.


Next, show your child how to weave the paper strips together. This could cause some frustration, so its probably best you are helping with this step.


Finally, you need to find something to be the checker pieces. We used gold doubloons because my little pirate has more play gold than my bank account.   To make one set a different color, I taped some green fabric pieces to some of the coins. A drop of nailpolish would have worked as well.


From there, enjoy yourself! We really enjoy playing our homemade game. Mick learned how to play checkers for this game, and we have had so much fun playing a game that he made.


Make some shamrocks. 

Notice our shamrocks?   To make them we reused our Valentine’s Day hearts! I love reusing materials whenever possible. Not only is it good for ol’mother earth but it teaches M-Man this importance of being resourceful and not wasteful. Additionally, this one was super simple, but showed how simple shapes are often the building blocks for other shapes.


Melt a rainbow.  

Cut out a two matching rainbow shapes from wax paper. Next, take some crayon shavings and have the child arrange them into a rainbow on the wax paper and iron them on a low setting. Hang it in a window, stand back and admire.  After all, you need a grey sky to see the colors of a rainbow.

That’s enough of a mess for now. Thanks for reading!



If you give a mom a work deadline….

If you give a mom a work deadline….

If you give a mom a work deadline,
She will clear her schedule to finish the project.

When she clears her day to finish the project,
She will probably get a call from the school that her son has had an accident and needs a change of clothes.

She will get in the car and bring him the change of clothes.
When she gets in the car she’ll notice that her husband’s medicine was left in the car.
So she’ll drive downtown to give it to him.

When she gets back from downtown it’s almost time for carpool so she’ll go straight to the school. She might even pass the time by doing some work in the car and listening to the radio. When she goes to turn the car back on, she’ll realize that her battery is dead. So she’ll call AAA.

By now the baby needs a change. Going to change the baby she’ll realize that in her rush to bring the change of clothes she left the diaper bag at home. So she’ll put some tissues in the diaper instead.

After she’s done stuffing the diaper, it will be time to nurse. She will nurse the baby. After nursing it will be time for pick up. Since the car is still dead she’ll walk inside. Since it is raining, she’ll look for her umbrella, only to realize it is in the hall by the diaper bag.

The mom and baby will pick up the boy. The boy is so excited to see them, he’ll want to go home right then and have lunch! Only the car is still dead. Looking around the car, the Mom might find one small pack of crackers. The boy, Mom and baby will share this pack of crackers while waiting in the car in the rain for the car guy to come.

The car guy will finally come. He will look at her funny. The mom might then realize that she has left her blouse open after nursing.

Once the car is working the mom, boy, and baby will go home. Entering the door, the mom might notice a funny smell and realize she forgot to turn the burner down on the soup she had been making for dinner. She will open the pot to find the soup burnt.

Smelling the burnt soup smell will make the boy refuse to eat lunch. By the time he finally eats something it is time to get back in the car to go to speech.

Only in her rush to deal with the soup the Mom forgot where she put her keys. So she’ll make up a game called “find Mommy’s keys”. They will all play and finally find the keys. But by this time they are late for speech.

Getting home from speech, the boy will want a snack. Giving him a snack will remind the mom that there is nothing for dinner. She’ll look through the take out menus.

Looking at the papers will remind the mom that she still has her work deadline. So she will clears her evening schedule to finish the project. Except when a mom clears her schedule, she will probably get a call to interrupt it…

And how was your Monday?

Cinderella Ate My Child… And I am perfectly OK with it

Cinderella ate my child… And I am perfectly OK with it. The difference, Ms. Orenstein, is that my child is a boy. That is I was OK, until he started wearing Cinderella panties.

I introduced M-man, then two years old, to Cinderella out of desperation. My cousin was getting married and we faced 16 hours of family togetherness, in a car, with a two year old. Desperate to entertain and constrain an active two year old, I turned to my old favorite – Disney movies. Only little M-Man was going through some tough nightmares at this time, so whatever he watched could not have a scary bad guy, any monsters, or really sad parts. That means: no Toy Story (I mean, really, Sid is one scary kid), Monsters’ Inc. (a funny monster is still a monster), and definitely no Lion King (Mufasa. Sniff.). I landed on Cinderella, thinking the mice and animals could be fun. He LOVED it! He loved the funny mice and birds, he loved the bibbity, bobbity, booing Fairy God-Mother, he even loved Lucifer the evil step-cat! But mostly he loved Cinderella and Prince Charming. He watched Cinderella countless times. His stuffed animals attended royal balls, drawings of castles filled the gallery wall, and dress up always included a prince element. Then we visited Disney World and he met “the real” Cinderella. It. Was. Love. Pure love. After meeting her, he was so aw-struck he literally could not talk for a solid 5 minutes, which, as anyone who’s ever had a two year old knows, is a significant amount of time.

I thought it was wonderful. We talked about optimism and the power of hope and the importance of dreams as Cinderella sang about her dreaming heart. We talked about kindness. Love, different types of families, how men should treat women… I covered all of them with my two-year-old boy within the story of Cinderella. Then came potty training. As a reward for doing such a good job with his potty training, I let him pick out a new pack of underwear. He studied each pack intently. This was a serious decision and not to be taken lightly. Then, eyes shining, he turned to me and proudly showed me his selection. Cinderella panties. White with powder blue and purple trim and a picture of Cinderella on the front. My hand froze. Watching the movie was one thing, but wearing Cinderella panties? In what I believe was a defining parenting moment, I swallowed the no in my throat and said, “Those look great, dear,” and carried on shopping.

M-Man is now four and still wears Cinderella underwear. One time recently he wanted to wear a Cinderella pair instead of a Spiderman paid I had grabbed. I asked him why. He very plainly said that he likes the Cinderella ones better because they do not have a “penis pocket”. This means the picture is on the front instead of the back (or butt) and he can see it better. Though this moment did crystallize why he insists on wearing his all of his other underwear backwards, I felt sick at the thought that someone would tease him as school. Still, I dropped him off at school with his Spiderman shirt and Cinderella panties.

Yesterday The Boston Globe Magazine ran an article about the problem with separate toys for boys and girls. Not surprisingly, it’s negative. Boys stop playing with girls earlier than developmentally appropriate, thereby strengthening gender stereotypes and deepening gender inequalities. It is natural for boys and girls to play together. Through this play, children gain a foundation of respect for the opposite gender because they realize that the other sex really isn’t all that different from them. Playing together teaches that everyone likes to play, and is therefore equal. From this equality comes respect.

As a mom of two boys, it is extremely important that my sons respect women. I want my sons to value strength, independence, and kindness in girls and later in women. But our children live in a blue and pink world. So it is up to us as parents to get our boys and girls to play together. It is up to us to teach them to see that blue and pink are simply colors. When Mother Nature creates a rainbow or paints a flower she doesn’t let the color dictate where it goes. Neither should the color of the toy aisle dictate what toys my child plays with. Neither should a cartoon picture on a pair of underwear lead me to discourage my son from wearing them.

So I am going to let my son wear Cinderella underwear as long as he wants. I am going to set up play dates with boys and girls. I am going to buy toys based on his interests, not aisles. I am going to model that certain colors do not belong to one gender or another (“Yes, Mommy wears blue shirts. And Daddy wears pink shirts.) I am going to ask him which girls in his class are strong, fast runners, and funny; helping him create concrete examples. And I vow to keep doing this, even when girls become gross and then not gross again. I will talk with, listen to, and observe my son. I will remember how I act around “boy things” and “girl things” matters. Because when he is in college and at a frat party, I want to know he will respect the girls there. I want him to date girls who are smart, interesting, and adventurous. I want one day for him to find his Cinderella, and for him to be one heck of a Prince Charming.

Until that day, I want him to wear Cinderella underwear.

5 Ways to Celebrate Reading All Week Long

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! In honor of Read Across America Week here are a few ways to celebrate reading with your family. And if you are wondering, yes, my boys will be doing all of these.

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  1. Bake a cake. Reading should be celebrated! And nothing says party to a preschooler more than a cake decorated by them in honor of their favorite book or author. M-Man and I Seussified ours, but how about a spooky Harry Potter cake or a James and the Giant Peach cake? Grab some sprinkles, a favorite book and go to town. Just look out for sticky pages.
  2. Make a puppet show. Create some puppets based on the book. Sock puppets, paper bag puppets, and wooden spoons are all classics. Have your child design them in the likeness of the books’ characters. Another way to inspire literary play is to photocopy the characters, laminate them, and tape them to craft sticks.
  3. Dine like a literary. This is my favorite. Bring their favorite characters to the dinner table. Let the child pick a favorite book and give everyone a character to dress up as at dinner. To date Pete and I have been the Harry Potter gang, almost every super hero, and Dr. Dolittle’s practice. Another way is to pick a theme for the dinner and everyone bring a book to talk about within the theme. For example, if the theme is “Farm” each family member could bring The Big Red Barn, Charlotte’s Web, and Animal Farm. Spend the dinner sharing what each book is about and what you like about it.
  4. Find a new author. Visit and support your local bookstore. I have nothing against Barnes and Nobel; I love their train tables, but if you are lucky enough to have a good local bookstore near you, take the time to visit it this week. The staff will be knowledgeable, most likely friendly, and will be able to introduce you to a whole world of new and wonderful children books. If you are not able to get there, here is list that impressed me recently and I have earmarked for future birthday gifts http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jordan-b-nielsen/20-new-classics-every-chi_b_6512072.html.
  5. Have a library party. Nothing beats the real deal. I am of course referring to the local library. Have you been to yours lately? Since the way we consume books is changing, libraries are changing too. From eBooks to free office space, libraries offer many more services than ever before. As for kids, there are obviously books, but also toys, music, movies… We will end our Read Across America Week by visiting our own library making an afternoon of it. We will make hats to wear because a party hat always means a good time. (I’m not sure yet if I am joking or not. I’ll let you know.)