Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentines Crafting: Melted Wax Butterflies

Here's a fun and creative Valentine's Day project that is really fun for the preschool crowd. It is also a great way to use up some old crayons that tend to accumulate whe you have littles around.
Make butterfly Valentines like we did, or just go crazy playing with melted wax!

You'll need:
*crayons
*regular paper (I used blue, standard printing weight paper)
*parchment paper
*old blanket or towel
*an iron
*scissors
*hole punch
*suckers
I did this project with my 3.5 year old daughter and she had a lot of fun with it.

For starters, de-label and chop up some crayons into small pieces. I tried using a chopping knife. It worked, but it was going to take forever so I ended up using my mini food processor to make dust out of them with a few pushes of a button. I made 3 batches: a red/pink one, a blue one, and a yellow/orange one.
I made small piles of each color on a tray for my daughter to easily access.

Then I setup the work station. I layed an old blanket in the table first. Then I grabbed a long piece of parchment paper, folded it in half, opened it back up flat, and set it on the blanket. 

For each Valentine, I cut an 8.5x11" sheet of blue paper in half, then folded the half in half. I placed it on top of the parchment paper for decorating.

I let my daughter sprinkle wax on one half of the folded paper:
Then I folded both the blue paper and the parchment paper with the blue paper sandwiched between the parchment paper:
I circled the iron over the parchment paper for about 3 seconds:
After setting the iron aside, the card could be pulled out, and the melted wax design revealed: 
For rapid cooling and hardening, I threw each card in the fridge for a couple of minutes:
Once hardened, the paper could be used to make the Valentines butterflies.
We folded up the cards and we cut out a simple butterfly shape:
Then punched some holes:
And inserted some suckers:

An important tip:
Show your child to be sparing with the wax. Too much wax leaves a thick and brittle layer on the paper that cracks off easily. A thinner layer stays more flexible. In the above picture, the butterflies on the left are much less messy and easier to handle than the two on the right.

Another tip:
Either leave blank spots  on the wings for any writing, or make a second butterfly layer out of a clean sheet of paper for writing on. Most markers and pens will not write well on the now-waxy paper. We went with the second layer option since my girl isn't very good at writing her name in a small space yet.

Here are her folded up butterfly valentines right before they got their suckers inserted. The blue waxy part is inside the white:
The finished product:

We even added a science piece to the whole activity by discussing solids and liquids with hot and cold.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Superhero Pop Art Party!

For my little dude's 4th birthday, the theme was obvious. He was OBSESSED with super heroes, so super heroes it was.

I really wanted to stay away from licensed character stuff for the most part, so I went with a pop art style look. Being Minnesota, I waited a whole month later than his actual birthday so we would be more likely to have a nice day for the party.

Here's the invite:
I used photoshop and made my son into a cartoon for his invitations. I love how they turned out! 

Onto the party itself:
This is the main table with all the treats. 

Along the far end is a buffet type area where the main meal was. We went with walking tacos. It was fairly inexpensive and easy to customize for a large crowd. Never heard of them? They are basically bags of chips that have taco fixins thrown in so they can be eaten on the go. Great party food!

But let's focus on the best part first: TREATS!
...yes the cookies took FOREVER. They were worth it though. So cute!

In lieu of the proper cookie cutters, those BAM, ZAP, POW cookies were hand cut. I don't recommend that! Next time I will quit being cheap and spring for some cookie cutters. There's a reason these babies cost so much to have custom made - They are labor intensive, even with the right cutters. They sure added a lot visually though, and they were delicious. I tried my hand at cake pops for the first time too. I would have added some coordinating sprinkles, but I ran out of time. They worked well just plain yellow.

You can also see the POP corn containers in many of the pics above. They were a really cute touch and fit in with the theme so perfectly. I designed and printed off a bunch of little pop arty pieces and scattered them all over the table. I'll offer free printables of these soon!

The other corner of the party room:
Some simple polka dot helium balloons added a great touch, as did a cheap roll of blue wrapping paper with polka dots. The dots worked great with the pop art theme and it is a common pattern to find.

My favorite and thriftiest touch:
Comic book bunting!

This thing looked cool and was easily made for a few bucks. First, I bought $1.50 worth of discount bin comics from a local comic book store. Add a $1 roll of solid ribbon and some tacky glue, and you have everything you need! I picked out colorful pages, cut them into triangles, then stuck them onto the ribbon.

For party activities, I had a decent range of abilities to cater to. Some kids weren't even 2 yet, and we had a few 5 and 6 year olds too. A coloring station worked great, plus it was cheap. Some Google image searches + cheap b&w printing + crayons/markers = a good time for all ages. It is easy to customize for all themes too!

The second activity was a little more unique. A friend that had done a super hero party the year before gave me this gem. I bought a large bag of small superhero figurines from a consignment sale earlier in the year. A dollar store may work well too for sourcing these things faster. The whole bag cost me $3. I froze each one individually in ice using small Solo cups. For the party we took the hero-cicles, and threw them into a big clear tub of water. We gave the kids various kitchen utensils - slotted spoons, ladles, pasta strainers, etc. - and they went to town on trying to rescue their super heroes from the ice and water. I swear EVERY kid loved the game. For an older crowd I would have made it a race, but it worked with no rules for us.
Wish I had gotten better pics, but the game was constantly swamped!

That wraps up the highlights of the party. It was very fun and done on a pretty reasonable budget. The really time consuming part were all the treats, but that is always a labor of love for me.

Stay tuned and I'll offer some free printables of the pop art labels, containers, and decor!



Friday, October 18, 2013

Halloween Pinterest Idea Faves

It's no secret, I heart pinterest! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays in terms of decore, so I have had fun trying to make some of my pins realities. Here are some of my favorite Halloween Pinterest ideas past, present, and (hopefully) future:

  • Last year I fell in love with a white pumpkin that was carved with a Jack Skellington face and made into a flower vase. I made it, and loved it so much that I made it again this year.
This year's Skellington vase

Last year's Skellington vase

The kids LOVE it!
Tip: Dollar Tree stores sell little fishbowl type vases that are perfect for medium sized pumpkins!

Original pic from Pinterest
  • Next up I wanted a little-kid-friendly Halloween activity. 
I saw this pin and decided this was the one! 
From TinkerLabs
Simply cut out pumpkin shapes from orange and black construction paper and cut out green stems. The kids draw faces on all of the pumpkins, and help assemble it all with glue and string/ribbon. My son's preschool has been focusing on emotions lately so I decided to incorporate those lessons into our Halloween activity. I encouraged them to draw different emotions on their pumpkins and we talked about each one as they drew them. It was a great time and we ended up with happy, sad, angry, surprised, scared, and disgusted pumpkins decorating our entryway:

  •  Next on the Halloween agenda I plan to make these fun cake pops:

From Treats 4 Ta-tas
  • Here's one from a couple of years ago that was a huge hit at our Halloween party as well as a very popular pin since then:
Guacamole Puking Pumpkin

  • A couple more I hope to be able to get around to this Halloween:
Skull string art from A Beautiful Mess blog

Skellington Nails - Source unknown


Thank You Pinterest!

What are your favorite Halloween Pinterest ideas?




Thursday, June 20, 2013

Boo's Fish Party

This party happened about 9 months months ago. . . but it is only fair that it be included in the lineup. I'll make it easy on myself and call it good since I'm getting it in before her third birthday. I'm OK with keeping expectations low.

For my baby girl's second birthday party, I wanted a theme that was not based on a licensed character since she was too young to be too opinionated on that yet anyway. I went with a blue and orange fish theme: like a fish in a bowl. I banged the whole thing out in the 2 days prior to the party. It was a hectic couple of days, but I'm used to my procrastinating ways at this point.

I did have the kids help with a few things so that they weren't bored during the party prep, and so they could have their own marks on the decor. We started with some finger painting: 
Yes my kids finger paint naked  -easiest cleanup ever! 

I had them do several pages worth of painting on blue paper. I gave them cool hued paints to use to keep with the color theme.

 The next day I cut them into big ol' letters and threw them up as a Happy Birthday banner:
Simple yet effective!

The kids also helped me decorate some cookies. I went with a simple fish cutter and they helped me cut them out. I piped the royal icing, but the kids helped me fill the middle with squirt bottles.

They were really excited about helping, until I told them it was bed time and that i would have to finish up:

After a lot of baking and prepping, it was party day and everything turned out beautifully:


I used cute mini bowls from the dollar store with some clean gravel on the bottom for plastic wear holders: 

The cookies came out great with some fun and simple marbling effects:

I even found a couple of fun fish guys on clearance at TJ Maxx the week prior to the party. I couldn't resist:
Swedish fish inside of course!

Boo had a blast on her second birthday with lots of family & friends:

Her cake was a huge hit. It had my favorite white chocolate buttercream frosting, as well as strawberries and fresh cream on the inside:
Delish!!!