I love an advent calendar that gives a small surprise each day. It really makes the season feel special, and sates, temporarily, the growing hunger for presents. If you don't want to give small toys or candy, try a joke written on a slip of paper, or a coupon for something ephemeral, such as, "you choose the next family movie," or "it's time to decorate cookies!" These ten DIY advent calendars are the best (IMHO) I've found online. They are in no particular order. As you will see, none require a tremendous amount of time, money, or skill.
(Want to make a traditional, all-paper advent calendar with windows to open? There's a template for that, thanks to the wonderful Small Object.)
Let's count 'em up!
Enjoy these numbered days!
Today I've rounded up some cool owl projects! Owls are a popular kids' craft motif, and here's my theory why: You can simplify an owl's form into a few basic shapes and still recognize it as an owl. There are no other birds that look quite like them. Plus, they are simply majestic, intriguing animals. I encountered a barred owl on a walk a couple of weeks ago, and though apparently it had been perched in a tree very close to the path, I didn't see it until it was flying away. It was incredible to watch this huge bird fly without making any sound, no rustling of feathers or whoosh of wings.
Celebrate the owl with these twelve crafts, hand-plucked from the internet! I choose these crafts carefully for ease of making, accessibility of materials, and overall design. I present them in order from easiest/youngest crafter to harder/older crafter, very roughly.
On with the owls!
Owl be looking forward to hearing about any wonderful crafts I missed!
I love pompoms. When I was a kid, I anthropomorphized them, as-is — no eyes or anything added, just the little fluffy ball was cute enough for me to treat it as a tiny, tribble-like pet. Although I enjoy having a big bowl of pompoms around so I can play with them as I please, it turns out you can also utilize them for crafts! It's true. Here are the 10 best ideas I found on the web.
Happy pompomery! xo
Like monsters, ghosts can come in many different shapes and in varying levels of scariness, making them a wise choice for a kids' craft. In fact, I found so many fun spectral projects that I couldn't narrow them down to just ten. Here's my not-so-dreadful dozen, arranged very roughly from easiest to most complex (though none are particularly difficult — don't be afraid of these ghosts).
Will any crafty ghosts be haunting your home this Halloween?
Up here in the northeast U.S., the leaves are just starting to turn. And if you or your kids are like me, you can't help but pick up the finest, most beautifully hued specimens. If you want to make projects with your leaves, and you want them to last more than a day, you need to preserve them somehow. I like to preserve leaves by placing them in between the pages of a heavy book, placing another heavy book on top, and semi-purposefully forgetting about them for months. (It only takes about a week until they're ready to be used.) If you are more careful than I, and have nicer books, sandwich the leaves between two pieces of copy paper before inserting them into the book. This link has 6 ways of preserving autumn leaves, and it seems accurate from my experience, although my book-pressed leaves are still pretty colorful. (The letters spelling "LEAF" in the graphic above were cut, via a craft knife, from a leaf I placed in a book two years ago.)
Don't wanna make crafts with your leaves? I love this simple display idea for your finished leaves, from Art Bar Blog. The post I link to is about the Thanksgiving Day craft on the table, but check out the leaves above — they're just affixed to the wall with bits of washi tape.
Anyway, on with the list! Easiest/youngest-age-suitable crafts first, harder/older kid or teen crafts last, all according to me; your mileage, as they say, may vary.
I like a project that forces you to finally print out a picture from your computer, dammit! (Just me?) Jennifer at Teach Them To Fly photographed her students as they pretended they were the wind blowing the leaves through the air. She printed out the portraits, and had them add real leaves to the scene. Cute!
Will you and your family collect leaves this year? Let me know what you end up doing with them! Me, I've got my eye on another book to fill...
I spent Monday afternoon at the local fair, at which I ate pierogis and ice cream, watched a steam-powered corn-sheller, and saw many farm animals, including a selection of adorable and unusual chickens. Unless it's near Easter time, chickens get short shrift in the crafting world. But there's no need to save up your chicken-making ideas for March. I hereby give you permission to create a beautiful or funny or even fierce chicken, any time of the year.
As always, I've listed these ten in order from roughly easiest/youngest kid level, to hardest/oldest kid (or teen, or adult) level. Your mileage may vary.
First off is a kindergarden-friendly craft from Kids Artists. I like that these hens get their own nesting boxes, and that their wings are made of the children's hand tracings. Super simple and cute.
Do you have a chicken craft you love? Share in the comments!
I love nature-based crafts because they give you a reason to take the kids outside, slow down, and focus on the world around them. Rocks are one of my favorite "materials." They come in near-infinite varieties, shapes, sizes, and colors, and of course, they're free. (Though, of course you can also buy them. If you want a collection of perfectly smooth, uniform rocks, larger craft stores sell them by the bag, usually in the floral section.) I searched the web for the best rock crafts, selecting them for do-ability, variety, and uniqueness of idea. No impossibly-detailed, tiny mandala paintings here, I promise, though those are gorgeous. As always, click on the link or the photo itself to get directions at the original sites.
I love the simplicity of childcareland's dominos. The brightly-painted rocks can be used in a matching game, but they also look beautiful grouped in a bowl.
Another easy idea that's great for younger kids, from Buggy and Buddy: letter stones. These are made using letter stickers from a craft store, so they're fairly difficult to mess up. Yay! Use them to play spelling games with young readers, or to leave love notes for your sweetie. Or both!
Coastalways brings us the next choice: Monster rocks! I love "monster" crafts because they can look however you like, so kids are free to design a creature as weird and wild as they like.
Yes, you can decoupage onto a rock! This photo of sweet stones is from Emily Neuburger. If you click though to her site, you'll see that the flip-side of each stone has a message of affection stamped onto it. Her hearts are made of both fabric or paper; either will work.
I love these spiders. They are, of course, excellent Halloween decorations, but I would keep them out year-round. I'm not afraid of being a little goth-y. The site that they're from is in Czech (!) and Google Translate tells me that these little guys are for sale, so there's no how-to. Treat this photo as inspiration! I will also post a how-to on a variation of this craft in the days/weeks to come.
I actually ran this very craft in the magazine I worked for, but I'm repeating it here because I love it so much: Everlasting house plants! Supposedly, cacti are difficult to kill, but I've managed to do it. These painted stone versions, however, will never rot from over-watering! Plus they are charming as heck. Click on over to Craftberry Bush for directions.
This little chorus of cutely-worried stones is simply called a "garden thing" on Instructables, and sure, good enough. I think the poster missed an opportunity by not calling it a rock group, though. I would change two things about this. One, make the eyes a little happier (by keeping them as round as possible). Two, use a more serious, permanent glue, such as E6000, especially if you'll be setting this in a plant pot where it might get wet.
Here's a craft that's perfect for the person who can't seem to go anywhere without pocketing a stone or two for a souvenir: Cover one with a map of the place where you found it. Simple and lovely.
I've seen variations of this pieced-together-people idea, but this one is my favorite, because it reflects the style of the illustrator, lili scratchy. And, it's in French, which is still a cool thing, in my book.
My tenth selection is by another illustrator, Ingela Arrhenius. I love how simple these faces are, and yet they are so specific! I feel I could pick the flesh-and-blood versions of these men out of a lineup. I like the idea of adding dimension with an extra stone for the nose.
Are you a rock fan? Do you have any favorite stone-based crafts that I missed? Let me know in the comments!
When I was a kid, my twin sister and I would hide ourselves behind the sofa, raise up our puppet-covered arms, and put on shows for our patient parents. We had several store-bought characters, but for our wilder screenplays, we'd build our own puppets from paper, tape, and popsicle sticks -- pretty crude stuff compared to these ten projects from ten great blogs. I've posted them in order of skill level, from easy to more advanced. Of course, this is my subjective ranking: you can always choose to spend a couple of hours perfecting your paper bag persona, or make a simpler sock puppet with just buttons and fabric glue. Click on each image for complete directions.
P. S. If a behind-the-sofa setup doesn't work for your production, make a simple theater from a cardboard box (see a charming example here.)
Little Monster Blog created these little guys, which are made with painted wine corks. I love their style and their soft pom-pom bodies!
If you don't already know about the amazing Mr. Printables, go there right now. I mean it -- that's an order. Mr. P has loads of gorgeous free printable projects, such as these cleverly-designed bird finger puppets.
Do you have a favorite puppet craft I missed? Share it in the comments below!
I'm Debbie Way, an artist and writer who enjoys making things.