Monday, May 23, 2011

Rainy Day Project: Paper S'mores

This idea totally came from Sammy.  He thought of the idea of making paper smores while we were making paper garland.  And since I had just finished telling him that we could make ANYTHING out of paper, we had no choice but to do it!

 Supplies needed:
- Glue (note the price tag: brand new bottle for $0.49 at Goodwill!)
- Scissors
- Corrogated cardboard (we used an old box on it's way to the recycle bin)
- Construction paper (white, brown, red, orange, yellow)
- Rocks

We started with the paper smores.  I got out some graham crackers for reference.
 We used the corrugated cardboard for the crackers because it has more rigidity and thickness than just paper.  Cut two squares and use a pen to add the perforated line and little holes for some realism!

 Then we just took a strip of white paper to make a marshmallow, and a piece of brown paper for the chocolate.  This, of course, is "Sammy's" brand chocolate.

 Sammy assembling the s'mores (while eating a graham cracker)

 Mmmmm...pretend yummy pretend s'mores!  A little tip...turn the marshmallow on it's side for a more realistic "smoosh" effect when you put the top cracker on!

Well, we couldn't just stop at the smores.  Contrary to what some rediculous microwave smores contraption manufacturers lead you to believe, you CANNOT make s'mores without a fire pit.  So, the paper fire pit is up next.

 Take some various fire colored shades of paper.  I used red, orange, yellow, and a darker yellow.  Cut them in strips.  The length doesn't matter too much (these are the short length of the paper, 8 1/2" long).  What matters is that the darker color (red) is the thickest strip, and they graduate to the lightest color (yellow) being the thinnest, as you can see above.

 Next, cut some spikey flames on the tops of each piece of paper.  Tip: to speed up this process, fold each strip in thirds or fourths and cut, unfold and the whole piece is done.

 I actually ended up making two of the brightest yellow pieces (the skinnier strips). Next you're going to glue them together, end to end, to form one long piece.  Make sure the flat bottom edges are lined up flush to each other.  Glue them together in order of height, from the tallest down to the shortest flames.

 It should look something like this above...a long strip with all of your colors ranging from red to orange to yellow and a common flat baseline.

Next you'll need to get your base ready to glue the fire pit to. 
 Cut a cardboard circle...ours is about 6 or 7" in diameter. Then make a circle of glue in the center where the fire will stick.  Our glue circle was about 3 1/2" in diameter.

Now to make this thing 3 dimensional!

 Starting with the red end, roll the entire strip of "fire paper" tightly around a pencil or pen.

Slide the pencil/pen out while holding the rolled paper together, taking care not to let the whole thing spring loose just yet.

 Set it on the table and let'll naturally want to spread out a bit.

 The flames may catch on each other a bit so play with it a little to get it to spread out to your desired width.  Then, pick it up carefully.  Squeeze it tight if you have to, to keep it from slipping apart.  If it does, no worries, just roll it up again.

 Carefully set it on top of your glue circle on the base.  Then you can fine tune the width and the positioning of the flames.

While the glue is drying you can go gather some rocks.

We picked some small ones out of the landscaping in the front yard.  You could use marbles too, or even make paper rocks too...cut circles, or crinkle up some scrap paper into little balls!

 Now squeeze some more glue around the fire where you want the rocks to go.

 Stick the rocks into the glue around the fire pit!

 Sammy picked up a little scrap strip of cardboard and put his marshmallow on it as a roasting stick! Now that's my creative little guy.

 Now enjoy your fat free, calorie free s'mores!  Here Sammy is trying the "smooshing position" of the marshmallow on it's side. ;-) Very authentic part of the s'mores experience.

After we were done he requested that I make a paper gazebo (since we have a fire pit in the center of our gazebo), but unfortunately Mommy was tired it was Sammy's nap time so we didn't get to that part.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rainy Day Project: Recycled Paper Garland

We have this sweet lady across the street who saves fliers and various pieces of scrap paper for my boys to color on.  The other day we were visiting in our cul-de-sac and she ran back in the house to bring me a stack of colorful fliers.  So, since it's raining and we're stuck inside, today I thought we'd utilize this colorful paper and make a project...paper garland!  This is a great project to recycle scrap paper including junk mail!

Supplies needed:
- Paper (colored and/or white)
- Scissors
- String or yarn
- Toothpick or skewer and some tape (or a blunt plastic tapestry needle that's safe for kids)
- Glue
- Crayons, Markers, etc
- Hole punch
- Optional extras: paper edger scissors, paper crimper, paper punch, glitter, stickers, etc...

Our stack of paper from our neighbor.  (It's all blank on one side)

So, basically we made various kinds of beads out of paper to string on our piece of yarn...

 This project is great for short little attention spans because there are many different things to do...color, cut, glue, punch, string, etc.  I started by having Sammy fill the white pages with colors. While he did that I got the string and "needle" ready...

I swear I use these bamboo skewers for craft projects more often than for cooking.  I cut one in half and used some masking tape to secure one end of yarn to it, and had a nice "needle" that was easy for kids to use.  On the other end I tied a bread bag tab just to keep the beads from sliding off.
Once I got that ready Sammy had a colorful piece of paper to turn into tube-shaped beads...
I cut it into a couple strips.
...then rolled them up the long way and glued it into a long tube.
 Hold the tube with the seam against the table for a few seconds for the glue to grab hold and dry a bit.

I did this with pieces of the colored paper too. Some of them I let the writing show to add a little graphical interest...others I rolled so the blank side showed.
Now have some fun looking through the tubes or pretending they are walrus tusks or giant straws...

 Next we get to play with SCISSORS!  Cut the tubes up into beads!

 ...meanwhile, Toby is having a blast tearing up my kitchen.  This is one of his favorite activities.  But, since he's still at the crayon eating stage, I let him trash the place explore while we do projects. 
 I'm not sure where you even get these things, because I found them at a garage sale, but Sammy had a blast rolling strips of paper through this paper crimping tool.  We then used the crimped paper in some of our other "beads."

Another type of bead we made was just a strip of paper folded back and fourth in a zig-zag...

 ...Then we used a hole punch to go through the whole thing. You can also easily make flat beads by cutting different shapes and punching holes in them.  We did circles, squares, triangles, and of course, fish.

Here are some of our beads. It might be helpful to you to put them in two piles...the 3-dimensional ones and the flat ones. (an opportunity for your child to learn how to sort things)  This will help with threading them, because it works best to alternate flat ones and 3-D ones.  (thus preventing smaller tubes from slipping inside the larger ones) Then you can tell your child to alternate between the two piles.
 A little tip, if you're making fish, you can easily make mouths with a hole punch only half way on the paper. ;-) Depending on your child's level of patience and attention span, they could even decorate/color each fish.  (Milk this sitting-down-being-busy thing for all you can!)

 Now you can really keep your kiddo's fingers busy with threading their beads on the string!  Sammy didn't last for all of that part so Mommy finished it up.  But I figure, hey, if I can get him to sit and work on something creative with me for even a few minutes every day, I'm doing my job!
 Don't be afraid to let your kid's creativity take over and side track from the project.  Their little heads are full of great ideas!! Sammy picked up one of his little "tube" beads and said "We can make it into a tiny little cup!" which I replied, "That's a GREAT idea!  I'll make a handle!"  And, we made a tiny little cup.  Well, proportionally it looks more like a pitcher, but he got a kick out of it.


 Sipping some pretend water from our teeny tiny little cup!  Sammy had another great idea too.  When we strung a white tube between two flat squares he said, "Momma! It's a paper s'mores! Let's make paper s'mores!"  (And of course, we DID, complete with a paper fire pit to roast over, but I'll save that one for another post!)

So you see, a little side-tracking is great for the imagination! Now, back to the project at hand...

 Concentrating on stringing the beads. I think the long length of the bamboo skewer as opposed to just the end of the string made it easier to feed the string through the beads.

 We got quite a string going!

 Sammy showing off his awesome paper garland!  If you don't have the patience to make a long string, you could also do these as little vertical dangling decorations too, much like the hearts we made on Valentine's day.
 So much fun!  I hung it on the underside of our fireplace mantle, where it currently waits for Daddy to come home to see!
 There are an infinite amount of things you can do with paper. This is one project that ANYONE can do.  Feel free to go nuts on your paper decorating too...glitter them up if you want!  Heck, you can even throw in some cheerio's or dry pasta in there.  Anything with a hole in it goes. Got little girls? Make it into a necklace!

This project can so easily be adapted to go along with any holiday theme!  With Memorial day coming up, try making this with red, white and blue paper and cut some star shapes.  You'll have some one-of-a-kind decorations for your Memorial day bbq and a great conversation piece!  Put some supplies out on a little table if you have kids coming over and they can make their own to take home!
Enjoy those rainy days....Happy paper recycling! :-)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rainy Day Project: Growing Paper Garden

Okay, it's another rainy spring day in MN, so I thought I'd post this project I did with Sammy on a rainy day a couple weeks ago.  I apologize that I have no kind of template for you to download on this one, because I totally made it up as I went along with stuff we had around the house.  But, if you're up for "wingin' it" a bit, give it a try!  I did take tons of photos so hopefully that helps!

Anyway, I was feeling extra super-mom-ish this day, which is NOT typical by any means, but I was determined not to let another rain day turn into a big Thomas and Friends cartoon marathon.  In my effort to do something creative, resourceful, and somewhat educational, this is what I came up with...a somewhat mechanical "paper garden" that grows when the rain falls.  (see the tie in to rainy days? Way to focus on the to come!)

So, I started by giving Sammy some paper and a flower shaped paper punch to keep his hands busy...
 He had fun punching flowers out and coloring some with his crayons.

 We just kindof experimented with random ways to make flowers.  This one I glued onto a bamboo skewer.

While Sammy made flowers, I grabbed this box out of our recycle bin that held a huge assortment of Jelly Belly jelly beans I had gotten for my hubby a while back...
 I cut off half of the'll see why later.  If you can find a shallow box like this that doesn't have an actual lid, you can just cut a square hole on the top half of one side.

 Next I grabbed a full sheet label out of my studio to cover the bottom half of the lid, in case we wanted to color on it or something, and to cover the Jelly Belly box art.  Since it's all sticky-backed, I didn't have to worry about glue...
 Trim the corners as needed so it wraps around nice...
I folded the extra flaps around the back, which also fixed the lid to the bottom of the box.

 Here's the box, ready to house our paper garden!

 Sammy still working on flowers and leaves!  I gave him some paper shapers scissors and he had fun just chopping up paper.

Toby wanted in on the action, so taped a piece of paper to the table for him to color on.  He lasted a few minutes until he started eating the crayons.

 While the boys were busy coloring and cutting, I cut a slit in the top and bottom of the box with an x-acto knife. I made this size to fit some green ribbon I had in my could probably use yarn or something too but I found the surface area of ribbon worked best.

 Then I fed some ribbon through the slot...

 ...and wrapped it through and around the box like so.

Then I just used a stapler to secure the two ends together.

So, our garden needed rain to grow (hence the rainy day project).  I was going to cut out blue rain drops from paper, but decided to personalize it a little more, and have Sammy trace his hand for the rain.
 Okay, so he may not be the most "precise" when it comes to hand tracing, but it was cute anyway.

 I cut out a couple clouds...two sheets at once so I'd have two identical ones to sandwich the ribbon between.

 I glued one cloud on the underside of the ribbon, under the stapled area.

 Then I glued Sammy's "rain" hand to the cloud,

 ...and glued the identical cloud over the top.  So, you have the ribbon and the rain in between two cloud layers.

 To make it easy for the cloud to pull up and down, I stapled loops to the ribbon just above and below the rain cloud. (I probably could have incorporated this with the one original ribbon but it was an afterthought!  Remember, I'm making this up as I go...)

 Sorry about the sideways pics...don't know what's up with Blogger! Anyway, you can see the cloud can be pulled up and down while the ribbon passes through the slots.  So, next, I apologize I blanked on my photo taking at this part...but, here's what we did to make the garden part...

I pulled the cloud down as far as it would go.

Next, I cut a square piece of white paper for the "sky" and glued it to the back side of the back ribbon layer...the ribbon inside the cut-out top half of the box.

 Then, I cut a shorter rectangle of green paper and put that on top of the back ribbon.  So you're sandwiching the BACK ribbon now, just like you did with the cloud, only this time it's between a piece of sky and a piece of green grass.
 Sammy and I then glued in our leaves and flowers to this green rectangular piece, to form our garden.  Sammy drew a yellow sun in the background on the piece of "sky" paper, and asked me to draw some birds. We also stuck in some flower stickers. (another sideways pic...sorry!)

 So here's the final goal...when you pull up on the top loop, the cloud comes up and hides the sun and the garden.

 As you pull DOWN on the loop under the cloud, making the rain fall down into the ground, the garden full of flowers raises up in the background. 

I really wanted to make the cloud disappear behind another layer, so it's not like some garden floating on top of a cloud.  But hey, I was totally winging it, so I gave myself a break. Plus, his giant hand rain drops were wider than the box so it wouldn't have fit so well.  You could just put a piece of paper over that though and make another spot for the cloud to hide!

 Here Sammy is studying the many flavors of Jelly Belly's that were once in the box, illustrated on the back:

 ...and, here he is making it rain so his flowers will grow!
Cheesy...maybe...but at least it kept us all quiet and entertained...if only for a few minutes!!  ;-)


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