Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Snowy Day Book and Craft

We love to do crafts based on books. One of our recent picks was The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. If you and your kids haven't read this book yet, go find a copy. They will love hearing all about Peter and the things he did on that snowy day. 

We decided to make our own snowy day scenes with Peter. I provided blue construction paper for the background and large orange and green rectangles to use for the city buildings. I also traced the picture of Peter on the book cover and cut him out of red construction paper. The girls used their glue sticks and set up their city scene.

When it was time to add the snow, I gave the girls white paint and cotton swabs. They could dab the paint to look like snow falling or easily smear it. AJ did a lot of dabbing! At 2 1/2, she absolutely loves to paint like this. A lot of times she will choose a cotton swab over a paint brush!

Lizzie did a little bit more smearing and added snow to the tops of all the buildings and lots of snow falling from the sky. You can see her finished picture in the top photo. AJ's picture is below. Her snowy scene turned into a blizzard by the time she was done!

Have you read The Snowy Day? Are there any more snow books that you and your kids love?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I was busy yesterday! I've been thinking a lot about how I want my blog to look and operate. Yesterday, I took the plunge and started redesigning. I hope the new design will make my blog easier for you to navigate and find what you are looking for.

Another BIG change I'm sure you noticed was the name. I'll be transitioning from the name My Creative Family to Creative Family Fun. Why? This is actually something I've thought about since my blog was a few months old. I love the name My Creative Family, but it didn't quite fit with what I wanted my blog to ultimately be. When I decided to buy my own domain, the decision to change the name became much clearer. My Creative Family wasn't available! So, I purchased with the knowledge that I would be changing the name in the future.

So, now is the time! What does that mean for you? If you're following me through subscription, Twitter, Pinterest, or GFC, nothing will change. The only thing that will change is my Facebook page. Unfortunately, Facebook will not let me change the name, so I'll have to make a new Facebook page (scary!). 

I would really appreciate it if you would click though and "like" my new page: Creative Family Fun on Facebook. I will be operating both Facebook pages until people have had the opportunity to transition to the new one. I hope you'll join me there!

Thanks for coming along on this fun and exciting journey with me!

Monday, February 27, 2012

In Like a Lion

This cute lion was not the end result I had pictured when we started this craft. In fact, my original plan was to make suns by finger painting paper plates. Instead, they turned into lions.

I gave the girls paper plates and put a glob of yellow and orange paint on each. I told them to smear it around with their fingers. They balked at that suggestion. "Too messy," said AJ. Really?! They love to be messy, but apparently not today. "I want a paint brush," said Lizzie. Well, alright, paint brushes it is.

Now that they were happily equipped with paint brushes, they got to work. They smeared and painted and made pretty orange and yellow paper plates. I still assumed we were making suns.

After they dried, we got out the scissors and started cutting. We cut lines around the edge starting at the outer edge up to the flat part of the plate. We cut them about one inch apart all the way around. Then we bent up every other strip. 

"I need a black marker," said Lizzie.
"What for?" I asked.
"It needs a face."
"Oh, you're going to give your sun a face. That's cool"
"No Momma, it's not a sun. We're making lions."

So, we drew the faces and hung our really cool lions up in the window.

Moral of the story: Sometimes your kids have better ideas than you do.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekends: The Handwritten Note

This weekend, it's time to slow down a bit and re-discover a lost art, the handwritten note. I'll be the first to admit that I'm horrible at writing notes. I'd love to be better at it, so I thought I'd help myself along. For inspiration, I found the book The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication by Margaret Shepherd. The book talks about the many reasons why it's important to write a note and talks about the different types of notes you may find yourself writing. It touches on the thank you note, condolence note, congratulations note, the love note, and many others.   

To help get inspired to write, I made some pretty note cards. I don't have step-by-step photos to show you the process, but it was very easy. I trimmed the front edge with my fancy-edged scissors, then cut some thin grosgrain ribbon to run across the bottom. I applied it with regular white glue. So easy and so cute!

I feel a little bit more equipped to write a handwritten note now. But, I wanted to make this as easy on myself as possible. After I saw this post on The Sleepy Time Gal, I knew I needed a writing basket. I filled it with various note cards. I have thank you cards, blank cards, and even small pieces of card stock just in case the mood strikes to be artistic. I found a small notebook and turned it into an address book, so I wouldn't have the excuse of not having an address. I also keep pens and pretty stamps in here, so I'm all ready to go.

The writing basket sits on my bedside table as reminder to sit down and write a note. It's a nice reminder and something I hope I make more of an effort to do.

I'll leave you with a quote I found in the book:

"Behold me going to write you as handsome a letter as I can. Wish me luck."
Jane Austen to Francis Austen 1813

What are you doing this weekend?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kids Co-op

It's Friday and you know what that means? Yep, it's time for the Kids Co-op again! And this week, there are even more blogs joining up to host the fun.

As promised, I'm going to share a few of my favorite posts from last week. There were so many good ideas, it was so hard to choose!

Make, Do & Friend shared these wonderful bird food truffles. What a fun and very cute way to treat our little backyard friends.

I am in love with the idea of glass portraits from Our Feminist Playschool. I can't wait to try it out myself!

The Mommies Made Me Do It has some great ideas in the post 6 Ways to People Play.

Now it's your turn to share! So, please join up and share your favorite post. (And, we'd love you forever if you'd link back to us!) Your link will show up on all of the hosts blogs! It's time to link up, visit some new blogs, and have a lot of fun!

Don't forget to visit all of the wonderful co-hosts!
Imprints from Tricia
It's A Long Story
Life & Love Expressed
Train Up a Child
B.Inspired Mama
No Time For Flash Cards
My Creative Family
Toddler Approved
Rainy Day Mum
Dirt and Boogers
Mum of Twins a Toddler and a Teenager

The Mommies Made Me Do It
Reading Confetti
The Good Long Road
Smiling like Sunshine

Thursday, February 23, 2012

10 Ways to Bring a Book to Life

We love books in our house. We love to read them, look at the pictures, listen to them, and many times fall asleep with them. We also love to do crafts and activities based on some of our favorite books. Here are 10 fun ways to have fun with books!

1. Use props. You can use dolls or stuffed animals to help you tell a story. Story boards and flannel boards are also popular props for story telling. Check out this story board example from Rockabye Butterfly for the book Going On a Bear Hunt.

2. Do an art project in the style of the illustrator. There is such beautiful art work in picture books. Get lost in the art work and try to create your own illustrations. We tried to emulate the artwork in the book The Little House.

3. Dress up like a character and act out the book. Take a peek at how Inspiration Surrounds, Creativity Abound dressed up like Fancy Nancy.

4. Use dramatic voices when reading aloud. Don't be shy! Give that monster a deep, gruff voice or the mouse a squeaky voice. Your kids will love it!

5. Get crafty! Do a craft project based on one of your favorite books. We made paper princesses based on the book The Paper Princess and also collages based on the book Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. If you're looking for more ideas, this Children's Book Related Crafts and Activities board will help you out.

6. Have a theme day. Do crafts, activities and even have snacks that relate to a specific book. Mommy and Me Book Club is full of ideas that can be incorporated into a theme day. One of my favorites is their recent post about the book The Three Little Kittens.

7. Make up a new story with your favorite book characters. What kind of adventures did Little Red Riding Hood have when she went to town, instead of to her Grandmother's house? Or, tell about the adventures Mary and Laura may have had on a picnic out on the prairie. Let your imagination run wild.

8. Use puppets to tell the story. Make Do & Friend shows you how to make adorable Three Little Pigs Puppets. They'd be perfect for storytelling!

9. Play! Creative Connections for Kids read the book Little Blue Truck and made masking tape roads to play with. What a fun way to interact with a book!

10. Have a meal or a snack based on a book. Green Eggs and Ham is always a popular choice. Annie's Eats made green deviled eggs and ham sliders to celebrate the book.

*Bonus Activity: Go to a story time. Most local libraries offer a story time each week and some even offer an evening story time. Go, discover new books, and enjoy!

What do you like to do to bring a book to life?

Linking up to Fun Stuff Fridays  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

100 Dresses

Did you ever read the book The Hundred Dresses  by Eleanor Estes? It was a favorite of mine growing up and the idea of all of those drawings has always been appealing to me. Perhaps that's why, when Lizzie asked me for something to color, I started drawing dresses. 

It started out innocently enough. I drew her a few dresses and she went off to color them. When she was finished, she came back for more and then kept coming back. I think I'm drawing dresses every couple of days now.

I typically draw a couple of dresses in pencil, then go back and trace with a Sharpie. Then, Lizzie colors them with her markers. I'm not sure why she decided that these should only be colored with markers, but it does make them nice and vibrant. 

Now, we've got quite a large collection of beautiful dresses. Probably nearing 100 if this pile is any indication. Now, what should we do with them? Make a display, a scrapbook.... hmmmmm. What would you do with all of these dresses?

Linking up to It's Playtime.   

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Watercolor Resist Flowers

This isn't our first attempt at watercolor resist. We first tried our hand at it with our watercolor resist circles. We keep coming back to this method, because it's fun and the results always look so pretty. This time we decided our subjects were going to be flowers. Lizzie has been very interested in drawing lately and I knew she was pretty confident in her ability to draw a flower. I wanted her to enjoy the process and not get frustrated.

She drew her flowers in pencil, then traced over them with oil pastels. (You can use crayons for this part. The results will be the same.) When she was done with the tracing, we got out the paint. Her black lines helped her stay within the lines a lot better, because ultimately that was HER goal with this project. So in the end, this project wasn't a watercolor resist in its truest form because that's not what Lizzie had in mind. But, the results were fabulous!

So, what was AJ, my 2-1/2 year old, doing? Why, she was working on her own project. She drew as many lines and circles as she could with many different colors of oil pastels. When she was finally satisfied with her drawing, she started painting too. She was very deliberate with her painting until she noticed the colors started mixing! So, here's AJ's finished project... a very green watercolor resist abstract painting!

Just a little bloggy business for you! Don't forget that I'm moving my "10 Ways" series to Thursdays to make room for the Kid's Co-op link-up. And, also remember to check back on Saturday for the second installment of "Weekends." Thanks for all your support and for taking the time to read!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Weekends: Declutter & Create a Donation Bin

Happy weekend! Are you ready to do something for yourself? Let's do a bit of decluttering and create a donation bin to help keep that clutter from taking over your life. Now, I know this doesn't sound super-creative or even all that exciting, but hear me out. This is worth all the time and work. You will feel better, refreshed, and much more organized when you're done. Believe me, I felt pretty good about myself when I finished. 

I spent the weekend weeding through my closet and even recruited my husband to do the same. We ended up with about three boxes full of clothes to donate and another box of clothes that needed recycling. And yes, we did enjoy ourselves and had some good conversation while we were at it. Recruit your children to do the same! Freshen up your house or your closets and help others out at the same time.

How do you decide what can be donated and what should be recycled? Donate anything that is: clean, in good repair, and free of any stains. If it has holes, stains, or just looks worn out, it needs to be recycled. Fold it all neatly and pack it in either boxes or bags. Do you really want to donate a bad full of wadded up clothes? No, I didn't think so!

Now let's make that donation bin! What is the purpose of the donation bin? It's a place where you can put things that need to be donated as you find them. Instead of putting those clothes that your kids have outgrown into a drawer, add it to the donation bin. Once it fills up, it's time to take a trip to the donation center. 

I used the donation bin as an excuse to go shopping, that part's not necessary... but it is fun. After wandering the aisles of my favorite home improvement store pondering all the cute baskets and bins I could buy, I came to the realization that I was going to have to find something with a lid. You see, I have a pretty black cat who really likes to sleep in baskets. Her favorites baskets are ones that are big with something soft in them. So, big plastic bin with a lid... welcome to my house. 

Find something cute, but most of all practical, and set it aside for a donation bin. I labeled mine with a simple sign taped on the top. Make sure the family knows where you are keeping it and what the purpose is for. I decided to put mine in the laundry room. It's out of the way, yet easily accessible. 

Now that you've decluttered and made your donation bin, you've got two things left to do.

1. Take a trip to the donation center and drop everything off.

2. Relex, celebrate, go out for ice cream, enjoy your family!

Working together to take care of your home and to help each other is always rewarding. And, your kids are never to young to participate!

How are you planning on spending your weekend?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Kids Co-Op

I'm so excited to introduce the Kids Co-Op to you. I'm joining forces with some wonderful and fun kid's blogs to bring you a weekly link-up. You get to show off what you've been working on!

So, please join up and share your favorite post. (And, we'd love you forever if you'd link back to us!) Your link will show up on all of the hosts blogs! So, if you're excited as I am, join up, visit some new blogs, and have a lot of fun!

Be sure to check back here every Friday for the Kid's Co-op. Starting next week, I'll be sharing some of my favorite posts that were linked up the previous week! (My 10 Ways posts will now be moved to Thursday to make room for this fun and fabulous link-up.)

10 Ways to Have Fun With Math

When I was a kid, I rarely enjoyed math. All of those worksheets, memorization, and lists of problems to solve just did not interest me. There's just no fun in that! Luckily, math doesn't have to be boring. And for children just learning the concepts of counting and math, it can be loads of fun. Here is my list of 10 ways to have fun with math.

1. Play games. Get out a deck of cards and start playing. Number recognition, greater than and less than, and addition are all very fun concepts to learn with a deck of cards. Here's a post by Imagination Soup that lists several games you could play.

2. Get out your blocks. Recently my girls and I had great fun practicing our counting and basic addition with our building blocks. You can also learn about subtraction or even basic geometry with your blocks. Start building and you'll be surprised at what your kids learn. 

3. Learn about measurement and estimation with non-standard units. NurtureStore used Legos to measure with, while The Imagination Tree used hand prints. Come up with your own non-standard unit. Maybe you'll use blocks, foot prints, or even whole body lengths to measure. Try to guess how many blocks you'll need to measure the length of a book. Have fun and let your kids use their problem-solving skills.

4. Play with pattern blocks. Make patterns and have your kids replicate them. Create shapes using the pattern blocks. PreKinders has a lot of pattern block mats you can use to help your kids create pictures with the pattern blocks. (I found our pattern blocks at Discount School Supply.)

5. Learn about shapes by going on a Shape Hunt. Send the kids all over the house looking for examples of different shapes. 

6. Get out your play dough! Sculpt them into numbers or shapes. Or, you could roll out lengths of them and practice cutting and measuring with a ruler, just like this example at Shannon's Tot School.

7. Practice counting with a counting maze. Hands On: As We Grow shares this wonderful and fun idea!

8. Practice math with candy. You can practice counting, estimating, graphing, sorting, adding, subtracting, and more using candy. Creative Connections with Kids shows you some fun ideas with M&M's and Quirky Momma shows you all the math fun you can have with a bag of Skittles.

9. Have some counting fun with nursery rhymes. Your littlest ones will love counting along with some of their favorite nursery rhymes such as One, Two, Buckle My Shoe and Five Little Monkeys.

10. Get active. Play hopscotch or jump rope to practice counting. You could also mix it up a little bit and play shape hopscotch instead of traditional hopscotch. 

*Bonus Activity: There are many, many books full of math activities that you could find at your local library. Two of my favorites are Math Play by Diane McGowan and Mark Schrooten and MathArts by MaryAnne Kohl.

How do you like to have fun with math?

***Come back later today for a special post with a link-up!!***

Linking up to The Sunday Showcase  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Art & Writing Corner

There are so many wonderful and inspiring play and learning spaces all over the Web. Some are large taking up entire rooms and while wonderful, that's just not realistic for my family. So, when Lizzie started showing a lot of interest in both writing and drawing, I knew I wanted to set up an area that she could go to and have plenty of materials at her disposal. A lot of my inspiration for this area came from Mariah Bruehl and her blog Playful Learning. Her writing caddy was foremost on my mind while creating this space.

We had a small, unused cabinet that I moved to a sunny corner of our living room. The girls' table is set up next to the cabinets. Then, I gathered baskets, boxes, empty cans, and plenty of art and writing supplies. The purple basket is full of all kinds of paper. Plain paper, lined paper, old stationary, colored paper, and even a few coloring pages. In addition to the various types of paper, I also made sure there were different sizes as well. Then, I set out our box of crayons, markers, colored pencils, and recycled muffin tin crayons. We have an A,B,C stencil book I found at our library's book sale that I added to the area. I also included a cup with a few more stencils, a pencil sharpener, and glue sticks. 

This is an independent area that the girls can use anytime they want. It's also in an area of our house that we spend the most time in, which was very important to me. Now the girls are able to draw, color, or write anytime it strikes their fancy. And, I have piles and piles of drawings to attest to how much they use this area!

A learning space doesn't have to be large or expensive to set up. It could be a small corner of a room or it could even be portable in a basket or bin. But, it's a wonderful way to encourage a budding interest in your child!

Do you have any special learning or play spaces in your home?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Two Last Minute Valentine Crafts

Happy Valentine's Day! We've been doing Valentine's crafts for several weeks now, but I know that's not the case for everyone. If you're still looking for Valentine's crafts, I've got two quick and easy ideas for you. We made these heart necklaces and napkin rings using simple supplies that you probably have around the house.

Heart Necklace Supplies:
Construction paper
Markers or crayons

For the necklaces, I cut out two heart shapes from pink construction paper. We decorated with markers to make them pretty then taped them to a length of yarn. We knotted the ends of the yarn together and had necklaces. Easy-peasy!

Napkin Ring Supplies:
Construction paper
Markers or crayons
Cardboard tube

For this project, I cut an empty TP tube into four pieces and cut four heart shapes from the construction paper. We decorated the tubes and the hearts, then taped one heart to each tube. I wrote names on each heart, because tonight, we'll put pretty napkins through them and use them to decorate our table for Valentines Day.

So there you have it, two very easy Valentine's projects you can do today!

Are you still crafting for Valentines Day?