Friday, July 30, 2010

Fun Friday Finds

Just a few cool things to share with you today!  While I try to share things that you would be interested, I have to admit I use my blog just as much as my own list to record and keep track of all the projects I'd like to try, toys I'd like to get, products I'd like to review, and websites I'd like to explore more!  Today's post is no exception...

Check out this creative twist on block puzzles.  Designed by a Swiss toymaker, Naef, "Colorem" allows your kids to draw their own puzzle images with chalk.  Your kids can decorate all sides for 6 different puzzles, then simply wipe them clean with a wet cloth and start all over!  This seems like something that would be fun to make too, with some wood blocks and chalk board paint. They come with some chalk crayons, which I'm assuming stick better than your standard chalk...otherwise it would likely be a huge mess.  Looks like a blast!! (via Inhabitots)

Here's a fun way to use some of those little toys you have all over the house.  A whole lot better than stepping on them in the middle of the night...use them to light your path instead! Designed by Ryan McElhinney. (via LikeCool)

These shadow boxes by Peter Slight are so awesome.  When I was little I made one of these but it was a carnival scene with a merry-go-round and ferris wheel.  I still have it hanging on my wall.  I love the illustrations of these! Okay, more things for my creative to-do list... (via Drawn!)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

ID Mommy Project: DIY Recycled Cereal Box Puzzle

Here's another project I just came up with last weekend to turn your old cereal boxes into puzzles!

Supplies: Cereal box, glue, scissors, & my puzzle template

Step 1: Flatten your cereal box.  This one came apart at the seams, but if yours doesn't, just open both ends and cut down one edge.

Step 2: Cut your puzzle image off from the rest of the box, whether you decide to do the front or back of the box.  I decided to use the back on this one, because it had more interesting little images, and games on the back!  Set aside the rest of the box to use in step 6.

Step 3: Flip over the puzzle image cardboard, apply glue to the back of the puzzle template, and glue it down to the back of the cereal box.

Step 4: Trim around the edges of the puzzle template.

Step 5: Cut around the rectangular frame of the puzzle template.  Keep this'll be the frame for your puzzle!

Step 6: Glue your rectangular frame piece down to the back of the other cardboard scrap you set aside in step 2.

Step 7: Trim around the frame.  Now you have a cardboard backer to lay the pieces on, and a frame to keep them together.

Step 8: Here's where I cut out the puzzle pieces.  However, you can add a whole new element to this project and let your child draw their own puzzle image on the white template side BEFORE you cut them out...then they'll have two puzzles in one! Duh, I wish I had thought of that two seconds before taking this photo below. Well, next time....

I found it easiest to cut one whole horizontal or vertical strip of pieces, then cut each piece apart.  If your child is old enough, this is a good exercise in scissor control!

I remember when I was little, thinking that puzzles with pieces shaped like other stuff were really cool, so I put a star shaped piece in my template!

Step 9: Put your puzzle together!  Okay, so it's no Springbok, but it's a fun project to make and a fun way to teach your kids to recycle, be creative, cut along the lines, and take pride in making their own toy!  If your pieces get a little bent, try setting a stack of books on the whole thing for a while to help flatten everything out.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

You Don't Need to be an Artist to Creat Amazing Wall Art!

I'm in the middle of an extreme bedroom makeover right now...on an extreme budget as well.  I'll share it when I'm done, hopefully soon!  Anyway, that got me interested in these nice, simple ways that anyone can create modern wall art for their home, even if you're not an artist.

Somehow I got myself on the DIY Ideas magazine's e-newsletter, and after finding so many cool ideas, I just bought a subscription.  But, here are just a few of their fun wall art ideas that I found today...

With some canvas, paint, and a little masking tape, you too can create this simple piece:
This one is done by laying some clothespins on your canvas or paper and just spraying over it with spray paint.  This would be such a great piece of art to hang in your laundry room!  There are a lot of fun things you could use in place of clothespins too, such as kitchen utensils, keys, etc...
This would be great in a bedroom.  I love the idea of turning these hangers into frames!

This is such a neat, modern twist on shadow boxes.
Here's a really pretty way to recycle those little cardboard jewelry boxes into a piece of nature-inspired artwork:

Okay, now my creative project mental to-do list is overflowing even MORE!!  So many projects, so little time... sigh.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MoMa's Modern Play House & Modern Family

I've been reading about this for a while now online, but it's finally available for purchase, so I had to pass it on!  I love this cute "Modern Play House" from MoMa.  The six cardboard walls nest together, and your kids can assemble the reversible furniture pieces and lay out their own house with included vinyl cling accessories.
Don't forget the family! Sold separately for $12.99, it includes 5 people, a cat, a dog, a dog house, and over 150 vinyl cling clothes and hair styles!  I just might have to get a set for myself...the paper crafter in me loves these little cardboard cutout people and furniture!

Monday, July 26, 2010

ID Mommy Project: Make Your Own Crayons!

A while back I posted about this great etsy shop full of fun homemade crayons, and making crayons has been on my mental to-do list since.  I figured since it's supposed to be so hot and sunny today, at least here in Minneapolis, I'd post this one today.  Here's how we did it...

1) Gather supplies: Old crayons, candy mold, knife, cutting board, scrap of cardboard

I went to Michael's and used a 50% off coupon for a whopping $2 candy mold, shaped like stars.  I picked up a jar of beat up old crayons at a garage sale for $0.10 cents.  So, the whole project cost me $1.10...

2) Remove Labels: Here's a little tip I learned the hard way...tearing off old wrappers can take forever as they continuously rip into tiny pieces.  While you may want to let your kids help tear off the paper, while they have fun doing that, try taking a knife and slicing the length of the wrapper.  It'll be much easier to pop off all in one piece.  Just be very careful not to let the knife slip and cut yourself!! I also read online that someone else tried soaking them in water to soften them up for easier removal.
3) Chop chop: Chop up the crayons, or make shavings, with a knife.  Tip: Put a piece of scrap cardboard over your cutting board to cut on, unless you'd like a rainbow colored cutting board.

Another tip: If you fold the cardboard in half, it's easier to dump your shavings into little containers:

4) Fill the Mold: This is another step your kids can do.  I wasn't sure mine would have the steady hands to do this at age two, but he did a great job filling each star with a color.  We made one with mixed colors too.
Nice job, huh?!  (If you're a parent you probably recognize that brown stuff in the corners of his mouth as being the Oreo cookie goo that somehow continues to ooze out of a child's mouth for hours after lunch, no matter how many times you wipe their face.)
5) Melt: To make it easy to transport, I set our mold on a small cookie sheet.  I put a piece of black construction paper on the bottom.  Not sure if that helps at all, but I know black absorbs the heat in the sun, so I thought I'd give it a try.
Now set it in the sun!  As you can see, Sammy opted to take the extra cautious route and put on his safety goggles.  Such a responsible young man!
Wait....while you're waiting, since it's a sunny day, why not try playing in the sprinkler, painting with water, making dandelion curls, or making a nature collage! Who needs ovens and microwaves when you have plenty of other fun things to do while you wait?!  Tip: Don't get impatient chasing the sun across the yard and stick it in the microwave after your kid goes down for a'll warp your mold.

Eventually my shady yard won, and they didn't finish melting...I moved them from the back to front yard to get them back in the sun but by then it was too late in the day.  The next day I tried another idea...I took this clear plastic lid from a takeout meal and set it over the crayons.  This really helped speed things up!  The clear plastic still let the sunlight in, but helped to build up and trap more heat over the crayons.  I bet you could put some plastic wrap over it too, if you put them in a deeper pan, box, or food container.  Maybe even try lining it with some tin foil to help bounce more sun around.  Now you can learn from my trial and error and probably have a set of crayons done in a day!
 I'm not sure why ours ended up with this weird top layer of clear wax...somehow they separated I guess. Maybe because we took SO long to melt them on multiple attempts.  Or maybe these were cheap knockoffs of the "real" Crayolas.
6) Cool: Let them cool in the shade, in the house, or in the frig until fully set.

7) Remove: Pop 'em out of the mold!

8) Create: You just made your own new art supplies!  Now go make some art!  (Or, wrap them up...they'd make a fun gift or party favor too!)


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