Making a treasure box

My girls love their accessories and Maisy (age 5) has been begging to make a jewelry box.  To make these jewelry (or treasure) boxes we used:

  • an old kid-sized shoe box
  • several toilet paper tubes (we used 6)
  • paint
  • glue

Maisy and Mina (age 3) started by painting their boxes to their liking.

I love the portrait Maisy painted on the top of her box of me and the 3 girls.

While the paint dried, I took the paper tubes and cut them in half so they would fit into the box.  Before glue was added to the tubes, I figured how many would fit into each box and arranged them the way we wanted them.  We dipped one end of the tube into glue and attached it to the bottom of the box, then repeated for the rest of the paper tubes.

Once the glue dried, the boxes were ready to fill.  The girls spent the rest of the afternoon rounding up jewelry and other small treasures to put into their boxes.  The little compartments make the box extra fun to sort and organize their jewelry and other small treasures.

Making a worm farm

What better to do on a rainy day than go on a worm hunt?  My girls are loving these slimy little creatures lately so we found a way that we could keep a few as "pets" for a while.  To make your own worm farm you need just a few basic things:
  • an empty 2 liter bottle (or something similar in size)
  • small rocks 
  • sand
  • dirt
  • worms
  • black construction paper

Start by cutting off the top of your bottle (of course, this is a parent's job).  I added some tape around the rim of the bottle so there were no sharp edges.  I used a hole punch to make some air holes in the top piece, and I also left the cap off the top in the end.  It would also be a good idea to make some holes for drainage in the bottom of the bottle (a step I didn't do this time, but will do next time since all the water seems to rise to the top and make a puddle that just sits).

The girls took turns adding the rocks to the bottom for drainage, then about a 2 inch layer of sand, and finally 2 inch layer of soil (just from our garden).  We repeated with another layer of sand and dirt until we were pretty close to the top of the cut bottle.

Don't forget to put in some worms with those layers of dirt.  We just used the ones that were wiggling around under our soil.  We also added some small pieces of banana peel in the middle to decompose and give food to the worms.

This is how the final product looked after taping the top of the bottle back onto the base, although I decided to remove the bottle cap to allow for more air flow.  Then I took some black construction paper and wrapped it around the bottle.  Daylight is not a worm's friend, so the dark paper helps to simulate their natural habitat.

After a couple of days we were able to remove the black paper and see what the worms had been up to.  We could see several of them making their way through their new home.  The girls love their new little pets.  We just make sure that the soil stays nice and moist and give them extra fruit peels every few days.

What garden friends do your kids love?  

Coffee filter butterflies {play group}

Spring has arrived and it was my turn again to host the play group for some of the 3 year olds in the neighborhood.  What better theme than butterflies?  We started off with the butterfly craft first- which everyone really could have done for the entire two hours.  They loved it that much.  

I know this is a pretty common craft, but it's always new to someone.  I gave each child one coffee filter to begin and let them color them with regular markers or my favorite bingo dot markers.  I placed a paper towel beneath each child's workspace since it was going to get a little wet and messy.  Then I let them spray a little water onto their artwork and watch the magic happen.  It was fun for them to see the colors blend together, but even more fun to be spraying that water.  

This is how a few of them looked after letting the colors bleed and blend together.  I let them dry for about 20 minutes.

While the kids were having a snack, I was able to assemble the butterflies.  I pinched the coffee filter right down the center and clamped it inside of a clothes pin.  Then I took half a strand of a pipe cleaner and attached some antennas onto the head.  

In the end we had quite a few since most of the kids wanted to make several.  I just love the tie-dye effect.

We did a couple other activities as well between the art drying and free play.  I attempted to read a story or two to the group.  I have mentioned before what a calm group of kids this is, but...well let's just say we all have our days.  Sometimes it seems that less structure is better.  You definitely have to be flexible with such a young group.  We were able to make it through Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert, which tells about the life cycle of a butterfly in a fun and interactive way.   Then the kids were off and running again.

Eventually the kids were interested in playing this butterfly matching game.  Each child was able to have a few turns taking half a butterfly out of a bowl and matching it to the other side I had attached to the wall.  It was a nice calm moment, then they went back to their play.  

Starchy yarn Easter eggs

 It's spring break around here and on Maisy's first day off from school she badly wanted to make Easter decorations.  I happened to have the right things on hand to make these starchy yarn "eggs":
  • yarn or string
  • small balloons (I blew up a few water balloons)
  • flour and water mixture for the starch
 I started out by cutting the yarn into manageable pieces (about 18 inches long).  I mixed about 2 tablespoons of flour with roughly the same amount of water to make the paste.  I let the girls get their strings soaked in the paste and had them wrap it around the balloons.

Just when Maisy thought she was getting the hang of it...

Everything fell off in one big clump.  Yep, time for me to put down the camera.  This project does take some grown-up help.  The process went much more smoothly if I was able to hold the balloon and have the girls wrap the yarn around the balloon.

After each girl had done two balloons, they were done.  I set them on a tray and took them outside to dry.  They weren't fully dry until the next day.

After the string had dried, I carefully popped the balloons and pulled out the remains.  We were left with this:

Our first Easter decoration of 2012.


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