Scrapbooking

Fun Toddler Craft Ideas

Getting a toddler to sit still can be a near-impossible feat. They’re constantly exploring the world around them. That’s a good thing, but sometimes they need some creative downtime. That’s where toddler crafts come in.

Crafting is great for toddlers for a number of reasons. It can help them develop longer attention spans. Most crafts help develop hand-eye coordination. And young children can benefit from learning how to follow simple instructions. Here are some craft ideas that your toddler can do (with supervision).

Craft Stick Puppets

Puppets are fascinating to toddlers. Creating their own puppets is easy, and it’s lots of fun. All you really need are some craft or popsicle sticks, construction paper, safety scissors, markers and glue.

Help your toddler cut animal shapes out of construction paper. He can draw faces and other details with washable markers. Glue the stick to the back of the shape, let dry, and he’s ready to put on a puppet show. If you want to make more elaborate puppets, try cutting shapes out of foam. Glue on a pom pom for the nose, and add some googly eyes.

Paint with Pudding

Kids love to fingerpaint, but it’s so messy. And there’s also the concern about them eating the paint. Even if the paints are nontoxic, it can make cautious parents uneasy. The solution? Let them paint with pudding!

You don’t need different flavors to make different colors. Just use one serving of plain vanilla pudding, divide it up into small portions, and add food coloring to create various shades. Give your child a paper plate to use as a canvas for his masterpiece. When he’s done, he can eat it with no worries.

Design a T-Shirt

If your toddler sees you sewing or painting clothes with fabric paint, she may want to try her hand at designing clothes. But needles are small and sharp, and fabric paint is messy. What to do? Break out the markers!

Kids can have a blast decorating a plain white t-shirt with colorful markers. If you use washable ones, they can create a design, wear it, and start over after you wash the shirt. If a permanent design is desired, however, you’ll have to let him use non-washable markers. You can avoid a mess by covering the work area with newspaper and putting a smock on your toddler.

Placemats

Making placemats out of contact paper is very easy. Have your toddler cut shapes out of construction paper and glue them onto a whole piece with a glue stick. He can add detail with markers or embellish with stickers. When he’s done, place the artwork on a piece of contact paper, sticky side up. Place another sheet of contact paper on top, sticky side down.

Most toddlers will only have the patience to make one placemat at a time. But he can make another one tomorrow, continuing until there are enough for the whole table. He’ll be so proud to know that everyone sees his artwork at every meal!

Crafting can help your toddler learn important skills while keeping him quietly occupied. Whether it’s a rainy day or he’s just feeling creative, seize the opportunity to let him channel his imagination into something you can both admire.

Scrapbooking for Beginners

Scrapbooking has been around for ages, but it has recently experienced a surge in popularity. People from all walks of life have discovered the joys of creating albums to showcase their treasured photos and keepsakes. But with all the elaborate scrapbooking techniques and myriad embellishments available, getting started can be intimidating.

The truth is, anyone that can use scissors and glue can scrapbook. And you don’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money to create attractive pages. With some basic supplies and a little imagination, you can create lovely scrapbooks that will be adored for years to come.

What You Need

You can get started scrapbooking on a small budget. Here are the things you’ll need.

* An album – Scrapbooking albums come in all shapes and sizes. The most popular are 8 1/2″ x 11″ and 12″ x 12″. They can be found at most craft supply stores if you don’t have a scrapbooking supply store nearby.

* Paper – Scrapbooking paper can be found in a variety of solid colors and patterns. This will be the basis for each page. You may also use scrapbooking paper for journaling and to create your own photo mats and embellishments.

* Cutting tools – You can easily get by with just a good pair of scissors. But an Exacto knife might make photo cropping easier. And if you’re no good at cutting straight lines, you might want to invest in a paper cutter.

* Adhesives – There are all sorts of adhesives one could use for scrapbooking. Glue sticks and double-sided tape are quite popular. Some scrapbookers also use rubber cement or glue dots for certain applications. But when you’re getting started, just use what you’re most comfortable with.

* Photos – Beginning scrapbookers often start out with old photos that they’ve accumulated over the years. This makes for a nice, nostalgic album. Of course you can also take new pictures for your scrapbook. A digital camera and photo printer are two modern conveniences that make scrapbooking easier, but they are not necessities. Photos taken by a film camera work just as well.

When purchasing scrapbooking supplies, it’s important to make sure they are acid-free. This will keep them from harming your priceless photos.

Basic Techniques

You don’t have to know a lot about scrapbooking techniques to create an attractive album. Just a few simple techniques will suffice.

One of the first things many scrapbookers learn is how to mat photos. This can be accomplished by simply cutting a square or rectangle that is about a half inch longer and wider than the photo you want to mat. Then glue the photo to the center. To make a photo really stand out, double mat it by cutting out a shape a half inch longer and wider than the first mat, and center the matted photo on it.

Journaling gives scrapbook pages a nice personal touch. Simply write a note about the photos on a page, telling what was happening or sharing your thoughts on the subject. Use paper that coordinates with the background, and be sure to write with an acid-free pen.

Adding borders to your pages gives them a finished look. You can make them out of strips of coordinating scrapbook paper. You don’t have to border all four sides. A strip along the top, side or bottom will do. For easy embellishing, use some stickers.

There’s no need to throw in the towel if you don’t have the time, money or know-how to create elaborate scrapbooks. Just start off simple, and learn new techniques as you go.

Mother’s Day Craft Ideas

When Mother’s Day rolls around, kids want to show their moms just how special they are. Store-bought gifts and cards are nice, but they lack that personal touch. Something made just for Mom has much more sentimental value, and kids don’t have to spend much money (if any) on it.

Even toddlers can make Mother’s Day crafts with a little help. Here’s a sampling of things kids can make for Mom.

Framed Photos

Every mother loves to look at pictures of her kids. So why not pick out a favorite picture or yourself with Mom and create a beautiful frame for it? There are many ways you can go about making photo frames.

One of the cheapest and simplest ways to make a picture frame is to cut one out of paper. Construction paper, card stock and thick scrapbooking paper are good choices. Or, if you want to make the frame even sturdier, use corrugated cardboard. Just make sure the opening in the middle is large enough to show the part of the photo you want to display, and make the frame any shape you like. Decorate with paint, glitter and stickers. Add a magnet to the back for easy display on the refrigerator.

You can also make frames out of craft sticks. Just glue the ends of four sticks together to make a square, and decorate with markers or paint. Or if you prefer, buy a plain photo frame and decorate it as you please.

Candle Holders

It’s easy to make a lovely candleholder out of a small jar. Larger baby food jars work well for tealights and votives. Pint jars can hold votives or small pillar candles.

To decorate, use tissue paper. Mix equal parts white glue and water, and stick the paper onto the outside of the jar, stopping below the rim. Use pieces of different colors to create a stained glass look. Cut some shapes out of the paper if you like, arrange them in a pretty pattern, and glue on top of the larger pieces. Coat with the glue mixture to seal, and let dry.

Bath Salts

Want to help Mom pamper herself on her special day? Make her some homemade bath salts. They will help her relax and leave her skin feeling great.

Just mix 3 cups of Epsom salts, 2 cups of baking soda, and 1 cup of table salt. Add about twenty drops of a fragrant essential oil. Lavender, sandalwood and chamomile are good choices. Mix thoroughly. Present the bath salts to Mom in a pretty jar tied with a ribbon.

Decorative Flowerpot

Moms adore flowers. Creating a unique flowerpot with a plant you’ve grown for her is sure to bring a smile to her face.

Small unglazed terra cotta flowerpots are easy to paint on. Use acrylic paint to make a pretty scene or design. If you don’t have a flowerpot, a styrofoam cup will do. You can decorate it with markers, glitter glue and stickers. When your creation is dry, fill it with potting soil and plant a few seeds. Try to do this a week or two before Mother’s Day so the plant will have time to start growing. Don’t forget to give it plenty of sun and water.

Mom is sure to appreciate these simple yet thoughtful crafts. They will give her fond Mother’s Day memories for years to come!

How to Make Homemade Soap

We all use soap. In the old days, most people made their own. Today, we are much more likely to buy it from the store. There are lots of brands to choose from, and each brand has various formulations and scents.

But making your own soap has some definite advantages. One of the most significant is the price. We can make soap much cheaper than we can buy it. Making it ourselves also gives us complete control over the ingredients, so we can create a soap that’s perfect for our skin type in a scent of our choosing.

Making soap is much easier than you might think. It is, however, important to take certain safety precautions. Here’s a basic recipe:

Ingredients

* 12 cups lye crystals
* 5 cups softened water
* 6 pounds lard

Instructions

1. Put water in a glass or plastic bowl. Carefully pour lye into water, stirring constantly with a plastic or wooden spoon. This should be done outdoors or in a well-ventilated area, because it produces caustic fumes.
2. Mixing lye and water produces heat. When the lye is completely dissolved, set the mixture aside to cool.
3. Place lard in a stainless steel or enamel pan. Melt over low heat.
4. Allow both the lye solution and the lard to cool to room temperature.
5. Slowly pour the lye solution into the lard, stirring slowly and constantly with the plastic or wooden spoon.
6. Continue stirring after all of the lye solution has been added. Drizzle a small amount of the mixture into the pot periodically. When the soap keeps its shape for a moment before sinking into the mixture, you can add scent, color and herbs.
7. Pour the soap into a mold greased with Crisco. Wrap in a towel, and let set for about 18 hours or until completely cooled. Uncover and let set for 12 more hours.
8. The soap may now be unmolded and cut into bars. Let the bars cure for 3 to 4 weeks before using.

Customizing Your Soap

There are lots of different ways you can customize your soap. To make the best soap for your skin type, you may want to use different oils. Some that are commonly used include olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter and shea butter. The correct amount varies depending on which oil you use, so look for recipes online or in books until you get the hang of it.

Essential oils have therapeutic properties and add fragrance. Oatmeal, cornmeal and other grains can be added as exfoliants. And skin-safe colorants may be used to produce the desired color. These ingredients should be mixed together and added to a cup of the soap mixture, then stirred into the rest of the soap mixture immediately before pouring into the mold.

Making your own soap is easy, and it can be lots of fun. Coming up with the perfect concoction for your skin is rewarding, and sweetly scented homemade soaps make wonderful gifts for any occasion.

Crafting = Quality Family Time

Some parents are skilled crafters. Others are doing well to cut paper in a reasonably straight line. No matter which group you fall into, crafting with your kids can be beneficial for all involved.

Few things bring families together like crafting. Here are some of the good things that come out of crafting with your kids.

* Crafting builds creativity. Developing minds need a creative outlet, and crafting provides the opportunity for kids to use their imaginations. It helps them learn to solve problems, and it could lay the groundwork for a lifetime of interest in art. For parents, getting creative can help reduce stress and promote using the brain in ways that we don’t have a reason to use it every day.

* Crafting teaches kids to follow directions. This seems like a very basic skill, but we all know adults who can’t seem to follow directions. When kids craft, they learn the consequences of not following directions when their projects do not turn out as expected. This instils in them the importance of doing things the right way the first time.

* For young children, crafting is fabulous for learning basic skills. Almost any type of craft promotes hand-eye coordination. Kids can also learn to use scissors, measure and do lots of other things they will eventually do in everyday life.

* Parents and children have a chance to talk. In our busy lives, it seems that we know less about our kids than previous generations of parents did. Passive activities such as watching TV do little to encourage conversation. But when you’re crafting together, talking comes naturally. You can seize the opportunity to discuss such things as your child’s interests, his concerns, and how he’s doing in school.

* Crafting is a great way to wind down. It’s wonderful for kids to be active, but there are times when they need to calm down. If you find your child getting agitated or exhibiting an overabundance of energy near bedtime, try bringing out the craft supplies. Crafting engages kids’ minds, giving them something to focus on and a good reason to sit still for a while.

* Creating things is a confidence booster. Parents who craft regularly know the feeling of accomplishment when a project is complete. Multiply this feeling by ten, and you have a pretty good idea of how your child feels when he makes something. For kids, crafting can help build positive self-esteem.

* Working on a project together is a great way to teach your kids teamwork. This will help them develop skills needed to resolve disputes peacefully and effectively. It will also help them discover their strengths and teach them that doing their best will make the entire project turn out better.

* Crafting creates treasured family memories. The finished product will serve as a reminder of the fun you had making it together.

Crafting as a family provides opportunities for us to interact with our children. It is also a valuable learning experience for them. Don’t worry if you aren’t the world’s greatest crafter. Simply being willing to try anyway is a lesson to your kids in itself.