Children’s craft

Make Santa and his sleigh!

Last Christmas, my daughter’s grade 1 class made some Santa sleighs and reindeer in their art classes. I think they are very cute, and a clever idea on the part of their teacher.

COllage of kids craft work - Santa in his sleigh with a cotton reel reindeer

I love the Santa face and beard some of the children created! The reindeer are very cute but don’t really stand up very well unfortunately – you need something stronger than pipe cleaners really.

Two child-made Santa sleighs and reindeer, with Santa smiling

As this could also be a great craft activity for Christmas in July (and craft in the upcoming winter school holidays may be a good choice!), here is my break down of how to make Santa and his sleigh.

Materials

  • 1 cardboard box with lid (about 7cm long and 4cm wide)
  • sheet of plain paper (could be coloured or Christmas themed but that reduces decorating!)
  • scissors
  • textas, pencils, glitter, glue, etc for decorating
  • double sided tape (or glue)
  • two cotton reels (wooden preferably)
  • 1 brown pipe cleaner
  • 3 glittery red pipe cleaners
  • two googly eyes (you could draw them on if you wanted to)
  • gold elasticized thread or string
  • a golden bell (or a bead will do)
  • a couple of cotton wool balls
  • thick red paper

Instructions to make the sleigh

Cut out two sides for the sleigh, making them about as long as an A4 page.

One end needs to be about 15cm high and the other only 3 cm or so high. The shape in between is up to you – it can slope down quickly like a husky sled or stay high and then slope down like a sleigh (better for keeping Santa warm and his sack safe!)

CLose up images of Santa's sleigh made from paper and a cardboard box

Decorate the cut outs as you wish with colour and glitter.

Sit the box inside the lid.

Doing one side at a time, attach the sleigh sides onto the box with double sided tape (or glue). Leave 2 or 3 cm of the paper past the box.

 

Instructions to make SantaRed paper Santa face made by a child

Take the red paper – cut it into a circle of about 10 cm in diameter (ie 10 cm across the circle).

Cut a triangle wedge – about 1/5 of the circle.

Roll the piece of paper so that the two sides of the wedge overlap and can be taped or glued together.

Stick a cotton ball on the top of the cone and another near the base to be Santa’s beard.

Draw on some eyes and Santa is done!

 

Instructions to make the reindeer

Stick the googly eyes onto a cotton reel.

Fold the brown pipe cleaner in half and push the folded end into the top of the cotton reel with eyes. Depending in the size of the hole, you may want to add some glue to keep the pipe cleaner in place. Adjust the pipe cleaner to look like the reindeer’s antlers.

Cotton reel and pipe cleaner reindeer made by a child for Christmas

Push all three red pipe cleaners through the other cotton reel. Then, adjust them so that there are four ends are equal on each side of the cotton reel – these are the four legs and can be pulled into position.

One of the remaining ends can be shorter and bent upwards to form the tail. Take the remaining end of the pipe cleaner and put into the other cotton reel to join the two reels together, forming the reindeer’s neck.

Note you could make one pipe cleaner a different colour for the tail and neck – I just kept it simple!

Putting Santa with his sleigh

Stick one end of the gold thread onto the smaller end of the sleigh side with some sticky tape.

Thread the bell onto the thread and knot it in place about half way along the thread.

Loop the golden thread and bell around the red pipe cleaner neck.

Stick the other end of the thread onto the other side of the sleigh.

Sit Santa in the cardboard box.

Santa and his sleigh can now be put on a display as a hand crafted Christmas decoration or given as a gift.

Foam Christmas decorations

My children have made Christmas decorations for the boys in their classes this year, having already made hair ties for the girls.

child-made decorations in Christmas card envelopes

Foam decorations made by my children for their classmates

We used a craft kit of foam decorations which they decorated and popped into an envelope with a Christmas card.

The kids loved colouring in the ornaments, to the point that my son even coloured along the edges of some!

children working on foam ornaments

My children enjoyed making these ornaments (excuse the marked table they were working on!)

Foam decoration kit

The kids were excited and got into the decorating before I got photos taken so I only have shots of the kit in part!

foam Christmas ornament craft kit

Foam ornament kit from Art Star

The kit made things very simple and the kids enjoyed making the decorations.

The kit contains 12 foam Christmas ornaments (three each of four designs), lengths of golden string, four small textas and some glitter glue. The packet states ’embellishments included’ and there were two tubes of glue so I thought there was something else to glue onto the ornaments – it took a little while to understand it was glitter glue and that was classed as an embellishment.

The biggest issue with the kit is the size of the textas – they were cute being so small but didn’t last well enough for my kids thoroughly colouring in the ornaments and writing messages on the back. In particular, my kids used a lot of red (on Santa’s suit and other decorations) so ended up using their own textas and pens.

But you could certainly use the kit for a quick Christmas activity or as gifts like my children have done.

Christmas hair ties

My children enjoy making a small gift to put with a Christmas card for their classmates.

In the last couple of years, they have each made something different. But this year they are both making one gift for the girls and one for the boys.

Christmas hair ties

The girls will be getting a Christmas hair tie made by my children.

Four Christmas hair ties

Four Christmas hair ties

We started with a packet of hair ties and some rolls of Christmas ribbon. Actually, what I used was like a hollow string rather than a ribbon, but any Christmas ribbon will look pretty 🙂

green hair ties and Christmas ribbon cut into strips

Hair ties and ribbon are all you need!

I cut the ribbon into lengths of approximately 20 cm.

Then we simply tied a piece of ribbon onto each hair tie, making the two lengths equal.

child tying string onto a hair tie

Attaching the ribbon to the hair tie

We then tied the ends into a bow.

child's hands with a finished Christmas ribbon bow

A finished bow…

I say simple, but it was more challenging for my six year old than her brother or me – good fine motor skill practice though!

child adding finished CHristmas hair tie to a pile of hair ties

The resultant pile of Christmas hair ties is very pretty and festive! And hopefully will make  a number of young girls happy when they open their envelopes.

array of CHristmas cards and envelopes with hair ties included

Cards and Christmas hair ties ready to hand out at school

Other children’s craft

If you are looking for other ideas of things children can make as token gifts to classmates and the like, have a look at previous things I’ve made with my kids:

Making Christmas masks – reindeer

A close up on the reindeer mask over a faceAs I posted last Friday, I recently made some foam Christmas masks with my daughter – one of Santa’s face and one of a reindeer face.

Neither took particularly long and did not require a lot of my input, but to keep the blog post a reasonable length I separated out the reindeer mask for today.

Whilst my daughter and I made these masks, it is my husband modelling the reindeer mask in the photo here, much to my daughter’s delight 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like the Santa mask, the kit was complete and consisted of a piece of elastic and foam shapes.

Foam pieces from teh reindeer Christmas mask set

It was easy to make – some fine motor skills are needed to align the pieces correctly but otherwise it is not too challenging. And my daughter loved putting on the pink ear pieces!

COllage of images of a child making a foam reindeer mask

My daughter was intrigued when she found that the antlers were a little different to the other pieces of foam – instead of peeling off the back of the foam, the antlers just had small bits of adhesive attached. Obviously, this is so that you don’t end up with a large sticky surface above the mask!

Image fo reindeer antlers with adhesive and then being atatched to the mask

Again, this was a simple, fun activity to do and my six year old did most of it herself. My input was mostly some attention and tying the knots (like for Santa, I poked the elastic through from the front and tied it at the back of the mask).Back cover of the package the foam Christmas mask set was in

Now we just have to keep the masks in a nice condition so they can be word at a Christmas event or two later in the year! Are masks part of your usual Christmas celebrations and traditions?

 

 

 

* I purchased this set and receive no rewards (money or otherwise) for reviewing this kit – I have no contractual or business arrangements with Kmart.

Making Christmas masks

I recently had a short time with my daughter when we had nothing planned so we pulled out a Christmas craft set and enjoyed making some masks.

A packet for making two Christmas masks

The Christmas mask set (from Kmart although the packaging doesn’t show it)

The kit was complete  – most of the decorations were foam stickers so no glue was required and allowed us to make both masks quite quickly.

COntents of the Christmas mask set

We decided to make the Santa mask first – and I’ll do a separate blog post for the reindeer mask.

They are very simple to make – start with the biggest pieces, peel off the backing paper, align it on the mask and stick it down. Depending on the child’s fine motor skills, the aligning part may be challenging and need some assistance – while things not being perfect is fine for kids’ craft, any sticky bits that are not attached will remain sticky and be a magnet for dust and fluff!

Child's hands peeling the bakcing of Santa's hat to make a mask

Child sticking a beard otno a foam santa mask

Adding Santa’s beard took precision to get it straight

The pom pom on Santa’s hat is the hardest part – there are many little bits of foam to remove and then aligning all the lines takes some skill. I would expect adult help is needed with this for most kids under 10.

images of the pompom on Santa's hat

The pompom on Santa’s hat requires fine motor skills to create

Then tie on the elastic and you have a mask to wear straight away – no need to wait for glue to dry! Note to add the elastic, poke it through the holes from the front and tie it behind the beard so when it is word, you can’t see the knots and there is less force on the edges of the holes.

Foam Santa mask over a girl's face

ta da! My daughter proudly wearing her Santa mask

Once the mask is finished, there is a reasonable bit of foam left over – certainly enough to keep my daughter happy with additional stickers to make something else with!

Completeed Santa mask with the left over foam pieces

Do you like our fun Santa mask?

It’s a quick and easy kit to have in the cupboard to pull out when you need some brief entertainment – or if you need a quick costume for a Christmas party!

If you can’t find the kit to buy, you could just buy a sheet of foam to cut out the face and then some adhesive foam to cut out the beard, hat, etc – but you may want to find a pattern for that if your drawing skills are anything like mine!

 

* I purchased this set and receive no rewards (money or otherwise) for reviewing this kit – I have no contractual or business arrangements with Kmart.

Poinsettia Christmas wreath

When I got the BHG Christmas magazine, one of the things I decided to try was the wreath made out of Poinsettias – the aim being to make it with my five year old as a fun Christmas activity.

So, I have made it and the five and seven year olds both helped a little, and I think it looks ok. Once I got it figured out, it wasn’t too hard to make but it did take some thinking as the instructions were lacking in some areas.

Making the wreath

Ok, to make this wreath, you need a few things. In the magazine, the instructions are actually divided into two as you can just make the poinsettia flowers to hang or you can use those flowers to make the wreath.

Putting the two lists together, you will need:Requireemtns to make a poinsettia Christmas wreath

  • red felt (about 12 cm by 90 cm in total – it can be in different dimensions)
  • a 23cm flat bottomed polystyrene wreath (it took me time to find a large one and mine is actually 29cm thus the extra felt and bells I used)
  • Christmas ribbon
  • string (I used Christmas coloured rope instead)
  • 21 small bells (I used 27)
  • a hot glue gun and glue

Making the flowers

This is the trickiest part of making the wreath and certainly is not child friendly because of the hot glue.

First step is to cut out eight tear-shaped petals and one circle for each of the seven (or nine in my case!) flowers. The pattern in the magazine needed to be made larger so I free handed it.

My hint is to cut out a few of the paper templates so you don’t have to pin the templates quite so often! I certainly folded the material in half so I could cut two at once – there are at least 56 petals to cut out!

The magazine told me to glue each petal like a cone. With some experimenting, I can tell you that you need to keep the pointed end of the petal outwards and fold the curved end over.

fingers folding red felt to make a petal

Then add some glue and fold over the other curved side.

fingers holding red felt petal

It is fiddly and I had my fingers in hot glue a number of times so please don’t give this to young children to do!

The next part if much easier – glue eight curled petals onto a circle of felt. You can lay them out perfectly around the circle by doing them in pairs on either side of the circle, but I found it much easier to add them side by side when the kids helped me as they had trouble getting the points centred otherwise.

Little hands gluing petals onto a felt circle

Add three dobs of hot glue in the entre of the flowers and stick a bell on each one. This my five and seven year olds did manage and enjoying.

small hand adding bells to a felt flower

By now, you can clearly see the flowers and my daughter called them amazing! The big advantage of the hot glue gun is how quickly the glue is set – no wasted time waiting for things to dry.

Putting the wreath together

The next part is easy – lay all the flowers on your wreath, adjusting the spacing until they all fit nicely and cover most of the wreath.

Foam wreath partially covered by red felt flowers

One by one, hot glue a flower onto the wreath until all are in place. Then, glue a bow of the ribbon into the gap between the last two flowers. You can tie a bow then just glue it on (or glue on the ribbon then tie a bow), but I glued it into place and to form a bow so I know it won’t come undone.

Ribbon glued onto wreath to form a bow

Turn the wreath over and hot glue a length of string onto the wreath to form a hanging loop.

View of the back of the wreath where handing loop is attached

Attaching the loop is simple

All that’s left to do now is hang it! Or wrap it to give as a gift I suppose.

Felt poinsettia wreath handing on a blue wall

The finished product is quite good I think

 

All I want for Christmas – festive food, fabulous craft and jolly good ideas

Better Homes and Gardens Christmas 2015 magazine Review

Pacific magazines Pty Ltd, Eveleigh, NSW
editor Julia Zaetta

Cover of 'All I want for Christmas' magazineAs I’m always interested in Christmas ideas, crafts and recipes, I decided to buy Better Home & Gardens‘ (BHG) Christmas special this year. And in case anyone else isn’t sure whether or not to get it, I am sharing my thoughts about it here. 🙂

Okay, so to cover the basics, it is basically the same as any lifestyle magazine (in that it has articles and recipes) but has Christmas as the sole theme. It is 145 pages long and has some beautiful images and layouts. Being Australian, it is both relevant and approachable (for instance, the recipes are in metric).

Crafts and cooking

For the crafts, there are pages of pictures of beautifully made items with the instructions for making them further on in the magazine. This arrangement is pretty but a little frustrating as you try to link images with instructions and materials to decide if it is something you could make with a five year old. The same approach is used for Christmas meals and treats – the recipes are not beside the main pictures.

I haven’t yet made any of the recipes in the magazine but some in particular look delicious. And they seem as easy to use as most magazine recipes.

However, I have read through a number of crafts in detail and worked on two of them with my five year old daughter. I was quite disappointed at the degree of difficulty in using the instructions as not every step is explained and some knowledge is assumed. The instructions, and the crafts themselves, are not aimed at children – I can see the value in aiming at adults to do a ‘nice’ Christmas items, but I am also aware that kids love making things and that it is a great time for adults to make things with kids. Perfection is not the ultimate outcome to my thinking – it is the doing, the thought and the resultant price that matter.bhg_xmas_magazine_2015_inner

The poinsettia wreath was particularly difficult to follow as it makes use of flowers made in another part of the magazine. Just assessing how much material was required took a while.

The little Santa bags were cute in the magazine and when we made them. Again, the instructions were not as clear as I’d have liked and I had trouble finding all the materials (so adjusted it to suit).

Christmas ideas

Throughout the magazine are various themes for decorating a house for Christmas. This includes ideas of how to add some Christmas touches, things to make, wrapping ideas and tips for setting a beautiful Christmas table.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are not many ads in the magazine – mostly just on the covers, plus a list of stockists that is somewhat generic at points.

So if you are after inspiration, just like looking at beautiful Christmas photos, are an experienced crafter after new patterns, or you want some new Christmas recipes, you may just enjoy this magazine. But it certainly isn’t aimed at young families or novice crafters.

 

Christmas stars – a fun craft activity

My daughter and I made some Christmas stars for her to give as gifts to her kinder friends last year – like for my son, I wanted something other than candy canes and it is so much nicer to make something.

Making Christmas stars

I was inspired for these stars by Crafty morning’s snowflake ornaments. I prefer to make stars rather than snowflakes don’t mean Christmas to Aussie kids – and I think mine look more like stars anyway!Materials for making bud stars

Materials

cotton buds
coloured cardboard
glue
glitter
ribbon or similar for hanging
scissors and hole punch

How to make the Christmas stars

cut cotton buds into two pieces – uneven sizes is the aim so don’t worry about making them equal or matching sizes!

Cotton buds cut into pieces

Add glue to a piece of cotton bud – I found the easiest way for my daughter was to have a blob of glue on a plate and put the pieces in the glue.

Child putting pieces of cotton buds into glue

Stick 5 or 6 pieces onto cardboard with the cut ends together and the other ends spreading out to for a star shape.

child sticking buds onto cardboard

Spread some glue roughly between the cotton bud pieces – close to the centre, reaching out to different lengths.

Glue between cotton bud peices stuck on cardboard in star shape

Sprinkle some glitter over the star.

Glittery cotton bud stars

This stage needs adult supervision or assistance for younger children. Cut out the cardboard around the stars – it is easier to cut roughly around each star and then neatening it up. Rounded edges look nicer, I think, but sharp corners could be effective, too.

pile of cut out cotton bud stars

Then simply put a hole in the cardboard of each star, thread through some ribbon or twine and you’re done! I made a little loop of the ribbon so it would be easy for the kid to hang the stars on a tree, and it also made it easy to hang a number of stars on a length of ribbon at home, too.

cotton bu stars hanging in a row

The stars are small and light enough that my daughter could pop them into an envelope with a Christmas card to hand out to her friends.

Child putting a cotton bud star and Crhsitmas card into an envelope

Making cute Santas

a craft kit of Santas

The Jolly & Joy Christmas Santa craft kit

A paper Santa made by a 6 year old
I made some Santas with my kids recently from a kit I had grabbed, so I thought I’d share the results as a review for anyone else thinking of getting this kit.

Jolly & Joy Santa kit

I actually got this kit a while ago so I can’t remember the price but I don’t think it was particularly expensive as I got it as a back up activity to do with the kids.

The kit

Laid out contents of the paper Santa kit

Kit contents plus scissors

The materials to make six Santas were in a simple plastic bag. Most things were counted exactly (eg there were 36 ‘diamonds’ for Santa’s belt) or are cut from larger pieces of paper (we used less than half a sheet of each colour). Note we just got little jewels whereas the packet mentions holographs.

Making the Santas

I helped a four year old and two six year olds make these Santas, so adjust my comments as need be to suit the children you have.

Craft glue

Young fingers squeezing a tube of glueMy biggest complaint is the glue. One little tube was included in the kit.

One tube of glue for three kids meant a lot of waiting and stretched patience – in the end, the older two went and played until the four year old had finished with the glue. Which was admirable of them and made helping easier!

In addition, there was not enough glue in the tube to finish three Santas, let alone the six the kit promises. I had more craft glue but if you were relying on the kit to be complete, it would be a problem.

Figure it out for yourself

The kit did not come with instructions or even an image of the individual pieces. Overall, it’s not something you need instructions for – but kids doing it alone would need help.

I realised that the belt, boots, mittens, nose, mouth and face all had to be cut out of the provided paper. I had to use the Santa cut out as a sort of template to cut out the shapes which was a bit too tricky for the kids.

The actual creation

Child's fingers gluing a pompom onto SantaGluing the pieces onto Santa was fun and easy enough. It kept the kids happy for quite a while and they were very proud of their results – I think they did a good job, too.

Yes, a bit of glue was all over their fingers and they had trouble gluing on the pom poms (because they stuck to their glue fingers better than the cardboard!) but that’s all part of children’s craft work.

The verdict?

Despite a couple of disappointments, these were fun to make and we ended up with some very cute Santas. We attached them to the wall above each child’s bed where they looked really nice.

Certainly a nicer result than making these from scratch and the kit would suit a fairly wide range of age groups. So I’d say they’re worth a look if you want a Christmas craft idea or some Santas to decorate with.

If you’ve used one of these kits, or go on to use one, what do you think of them? Would you consider getting another one?
three Santas made by children

Scented sachets

kids filling fabric bags with scented leaves

It took concentration but the kids loved filling the bags for their Grandparents’ Christmas gifts.

As I’ve mentioned before, I usually get my kids to make presents for their grandparents each Christmas. It can be difficult finding things to make as I want it to be something the grandparents can keep and enjoy rather than just a scrap of paper with a scribble on it, and ideally it will be something at least a little bit useful!

So one year they made scented sachets as gifts.

Steps to scented sachets…

  1. I pulled out various bits of material I already had and let each child choose fabric to use.
  2. For the chosen fabrics, I cut a rectangle of about 18cm x 5cm# and used a sewing machine to create them into bags* – some with a lace trim
  3. we then walked around the garden together, collecting stuffing for the bags – we used home grown lavender, gum leaves, native mint leaves and miscellaneous leaves. Yes, you’d probably get better long term results from dried plant matter but I wanted the kids to be involved in the whole process and didn’t mind if these sachets didn’t last more than a few months.
  4. the children then had a lovely time filling their bags with the scented plant material
  5. I hand stitched the opening of the bags
  6. The kids lovingly wrapped their gifts and put them under the Christmas tree.

For older children, you could get them more involved in making the bags, too.

 

# Some I cut in 10cm x 9 cm pieces if that fitted my material better

* To make the bags, simply fold the fabric in half with the right sides touching and sew along most of the open edges, leaving a small opening to add the filling. To trim with lace, simply pin the lace between the two pieces of fabric (so the pretty part is hidden from view as you pin and sew) and sew as per the plain bags.

Simple Christmas gift

small black magents with varius Christmas themed stickers

Plain magnets and stickers – an easy and cheap material list!

To solve the issue of what my son could give to his classmates for Christmas, we decided on a card and small gift for everyone rather than trying to choose who to give a personal present to.

 

Christmas magnets

I found some magnets and Christmas stickers so our gift idea was found!

Foam Christmas stickers and plain black magnets

Foam stickers give a better result than flat stickers, I think. They are bigger and will look better on the fridge!

If you manage to get stickers and magnets exactly the same size, then all you have to do is stick on the stickers! However, the odds are you won’t be quite so lucky.

Creating Christmas magnets

If the sticker is bigger tan the magnet, you can just take off the backing paper and attach the magnet. It will look great from the front and back but (and this is a big but!) the exposed glue surface will attract dirt and dust and soon will become messy.

CHristmas stickers with magnets attached, one with backing paper and one without backing paper

The red surface of the left Christmas magnet is sticky and will soon be messy – the Christmas tree will stay nicer.

The sticky surface will also make it difficult to put the Christmas magnet into an envelope or gift wrapping.

I traced around the magnet on the back of the sticker and then scored the outline. I actually prepared a pile of them before my son got involved, but older children could possibly score the paper themselves.

stickers with the backing paper scored around a magnet's outline

Trace around a magnet with the blade of a craft knife or pair of scissors

It was then easy for my son to peel off just that bit of backing paper and attach the magnet, leaving the rest of the backing paper in place.

Child's fingers peeling off backing paper then atatching a magnet to a sticker

Peeling off the relevant bit of backing paper and attaching the magnet was managed by four and six year olds.

That’s it – no drying time or finishing touches needed! And because they are small and light, it’s easy to just pop them into an envelope with a Christmas card and you’re done. In half a day, my son had a gift and card done for all his classmates (and writing the cards was definitely the most time consuming task!)

 

an array of Christmas magnets and a child's hand

My son proudly laid out his completed Christmas magnets

Egg Shell Ornaments

When I was a child we use to make egg shell Christmas ornaments for the tree. Does anyone remember these?

decorated eggs in a basket

Children’s drawings on egg shells can be quite beautiful

They were super easy to make, the worst part was blowing the inside of the egg out YUCK!!!!!

The process

An adult usually mama would give us all an egg raw of course, we would have to be outside for the first part of this project.

We would take a small nail, and very carefully punch a hole in the top and bottom of the egg.

Then we would gently press our pucker lips against the top of egg with the hole in it. We would then blow really hard into the hole.

Usually it would take us at least three good blows to push the yolk and white out of the other hole at the bottom of egg.

Once we had that done we could go back inside, and decorate the outside of egg with paint or glitter.

Just whatever we wanted to do with it was fine. We would use thread inserted in the hole to hang our ornaments.

 

* Image courtesy of 123rf
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