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!

XO

Jane

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.

photo 1(3) photo 2(2)

 

  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.)

He’s Crafty… How to Organize Kids’ Arts and Crafts

My son calls himself a crafter. The proud four-year-old exclamation of “I’m quite the cwafter, huh, Mom?” following each creation’s reveal melts my heart every time! I try to encourage his interest. At any given time I have on hand: googlie eyes, glitter, paper towel rolls, fabric scraps, foam shapes, pom-poms… you get the idea. It also means that at any given time I have an arts and crafts mess somewhere.  My house looks like a children’s craft shop. And while the former preschool teacher in me loves his passion for “cwafting”, the mom in me likes to think I have better ways of spending my time than on my hands and knees picking up pieces of the craft du jour. This brings me to my fifth week of 6-Week Clutter-Buster Challenge: How to organize your kid’s arts and craft supplies. (I want to add, “so they don’t just become Crap Supplies”, but I’m better than that, right? Wink, wink.)

 

My goals were for his art supplies to have their own place and looked tidy, yet were still easily accessible to M-man. (There goes that former preschool teacher again!) And of course, the organization solution needed to be easy enough that M-man could do it and make it a habit. I got to say, I think I succeeded. Here’s what I did:

 

  1. Observe.  It felt counter intuitive, but instead of jumping in right away, I took the time to really observe M-man. I watched how and where he naturally crafted, and put into words what specifically I wanted I wanted to improve. By watching, I learned that there were actually two crafting “hot spots” that need a bit of finessing: the kitchen and the family room. Once I identified where the messes were happening, I drilled down to the type of messes occurring and why they bothered me. The family room tended to attract paper cutting, coloring, and sticker work where the kitchen was where the bigger, messier arts and craft projects were happening. (Phew!) So, I made a plan for each place based on what naturally happening in those places. I’m about modifying habits, not creating new one!
  2. Give them a table. When M-man crafts he sppprrreeeaaadddss out. Unfortunately, he typically spreads out all over the family room rug. Enter one-year old baby H-Bear into the mix and suddenly the family room rug became an all you-can-choke-on buffet. Our refrain became H-Bear putting something in his mouth, me frantically fishing it out (I’m STILL waiting on that penny to surface), while M-man yelled about his artwork getting messed up. We needed a change. We needed a change in height. I rearranged the furniture so our resident artist could have a proper table to sit at and craft. Craft doodads are now kept out of the baby’s mouth, the four-year-old’s masterpieces are safe, and all it took was getting off the floor.
  3. Keep materials visible, but contained. As far as I am concerned, Bell jars are the greatest invention of all time. They allow me to store the kids’ arts and craft materials so M-Man can see what he has and use what he has, but everything has a place. I then took the ‘visible but contained’ rule one step further. In the kitchen I added a small, glass-front cabinet near the kitchen table, and in the family room I hung a cute cubby piece over the crafting table. Both these pieces keep art materials visible for the resident artist, but provide needed storage solutions in handsome pieces that compliment the décor.
  4. Establish a purging routine. We display and keep a lot of M-Man’s artwork. But if it were up to my son, we would keep every scrap of paper. As you can imagine, my house holds a mountain of crafting clutter. I needed a system to quietly and gently purge at a few of the lesser masterpieces. I developed system centered on a Tupperware container. The container lives by the crafting cubby in the kitchen and we call it the crafting tub.  In reality, it is more the crafting purgatory and is my key to having at least some control over the amount of construction paper in piles on my dining room table. Whenever a piece of artwork is created that I might not want to save forever (we all know those pieces), I put it in the box and hold on to it for a few weeks. It’s my litmus test. If M-Man really loves the project, he’ll ask about it within this time period. Otherwise, it’s out of sight, out of mind. It’s then easy to empty the old pieces from the box on trash night* and life continues onto the next masterpiece (*it is important to leave no trace or they will be found in the trash and then you’ll have to save it forever).

 

I can’t believe that next week is my last week of my 6-Week, Clutter-Buster Challenge. I’m so glad I made myself do this. The house is laughably far from being done, far from perfect, and seems to generate it’s own clutter, but it’s a start.  I believe that as long as I do one thing to improve life’s mess each week that I would not normally do (dishes and laundry don’t count – sorry!) then I’m doing something right.  In the meantime, I am going to go enjoy my two boys chasing each other around the toys and detritus in the living room.  Thanks for reading!

 

XO

Jane