“Gingerbread” Houses

Isaiah wanted to build a gingerbread house, but the kit was an absolute disaster (pieces were warped and it had the wrong type of icing, so nothing would stick). Instead of giving up, we decided to improvise. So, we pulled out some graham crackers and made some buttercream icing. We spent the next while carefully decorating houses made of crackers with an assortment of candies. Isaiah thought it was a wonderful idea because he had permission to eat it when it was finished.


Ready to start!


Trying to taste it before it was even decorated


Carefully decorating


Isaiah's finished house, with him begging to eat it, in the background


Time to eat it!


My mom with her house


Everyone's finished houses: Mine on top, Isaiah's on the bottom left, my mom's on the bottom right


Autumn Tree Craft

Isaiah made a tree with real leaves last year and has been asking to do something fun again this year. Unfortunately, it rained before we got leaves collected to do anything using real leaves. Oops.

Since the leaves were a soggy mess, we had to get creative. I pulled out some paint and a roll of paper and informed Isaiah that we’d be painting our leaves this year. At first, he was pretty sure that was a bad idea, especially when I told him we could use his handprint as leaves. Apparently, sticking his hands in a bunch of paint was not appealing.

Of course, we couldn’t paint the leaves without a tree to put them on, so I started by painting a trunk and some branches. I even included a hole in the tree with eyes peeking out. While I was doing that, Isaiah managed to locate the green paint and pour a bunch of it onto a paper plate. He wanted to help and decided adding grass under the tree was the perfect job for him. As he painted, he sang “The Green Grass Grows All Around” at the top of his lungs.


Trying out the paint...

When the trunk was finally finished, it was time to add leaves. With a little coaxing, Isaiah put some paint on his hands in bright colors. He made some handprints, making sure they hung neatly from the branches I’d painted. Then, he decided that it wouldn’t be a “fall” tree if there weren’t leaves, well, falling off of it. So, he set to work making handprint leaves in the space under the branches and even a couple on the grass.


The very first leaf


A falling leaf

Once he’d made a few handprint leaves, Isaiah decided that paint on his hands wasn’t such a horrible experience. He made lots more leaves and even got creative with the colors he was using. Instead of solid yellow or orange leaves, he started using combinations of colors to show the leaves in the process of changing color.


Paint covered hands


Carefully placing another leaf


More leaves

After a while, Isaiah declared the tree complete. He worked on rinsing out the brushes he used while I cleaned up the paint and hung his masterpiece. Then, of course, he had to pose for a picture with it to share with the world.

Handkerchief Doll

Isaiah loves making things, so when I came across some cloth napkins and styrofoam balls in a box of craft supplies, I decided to let him make a handkerchief doll with them. He thought that was a pretty cool idea and begged to make more when he finished his.

Isaiah's finished doll

Making the doll is pretty simple.

What you need:
1 large handkerchief or cloth napkin (handkerchiefs are softer)
1 ball–this can be a styrofoam ball, a wad of stuffing or a wooden bead
1 piece of ribbon or yarn, about 12 inches or so

Spread the handkerchief out flat and place the ball in the center. Pull the fabric up around it and make sure there’s a smooth area for the face. (For older kids, you can have them sew a face and hair on with embroidery floss before putting it on the ball, but with little ones, they’ll be drawing features after the doll is assembled.) Take the yarn and wrap it around the fabric, just below the ball, a couple of times, then tie a double knot and bow. Turn your child loose with markers to draw a face, hair and designs on the “dress”.

Coloring the doll's dress

Wave Bottles

Isaiah and I made a couple of wave bottles tonight. The goal was to make one that glowed under a black light. Our first one did not, so we made a second.

Wave Bottles

Well shaken wave bottle


Empty plastic bottle
Highlighter (make sure it’s fluorescent)
Oil (we used baby oil)

Wave Bottles

Supplies for Bottle #1

Take apart the highlighter and put the foamy ink cartridge out. Put it into the water to soak. You can squeeze it to make the ink come out faster, but beware–you may end up with dyed fingers. I used a fork to press the ink out, though I still ended up with some on my hands. Isaiah even, somehow, managed to get it on his face. Once the water has a good bit of ink in it, take the foam out and throw it away. Pour the water into the water bottle, filling it about two thirds of the way. Drop in a bit of confetti and top off the bottle with oil. Hot glue the lid on and you’re ready to play.

Wave Bottles

Soaking the ink

Wave Bottles

Finished bottle

As I said, our first bottle didn’t work. My pink highlighter (Isaiah’s color of choice this week) wasn’t fluorescent. Oops. We also didn’t put any confetti in that bottle. It still makes an awesome wave bottle. The color from the highlighter looks really nice and very different from what we would have gotten with food coloring.

Wave Bottles

Isaiah says it makes really good waves

Wave Bottles


For our second bottle, we used a yellow highlighter. We tested it with the black light before pulling it apart to be sure it would glow. I let Isaiah put some confetti into this bottle, which he was pretty excited about. Then I turned him loose to try it with the black light. My dad propped it up against the side of the tv so that Isaiah could do whatever he wanted with his bottle, without someone having to hold the light the entire time. Isaiah raced back and forth, putting the bottle in front of the light, then moving away for quite a while. He decided to test a few other things under the black light, too.

Wave Bottles

Looking through the glowing bottle

Wave Bottles

Floating confetti

Glowing Boy

My glowing boy

I Spy Bottles

I made an I Spy bottle years ago at a 4-H day camp. I kept it for years and really loved it, so I wanted to do one with Isaiah. There was only one small catch… Isaiah can’t read the list of items to find. I went ahead and got supplies to make the bottle, then, as we were making it, I realized that I could easily take a picture of the items to attach to the bottle. It worked great!

I Spy Bottles

I Spy bottle

In the end, we actually made a few bottles with different things inside. We’ll probably make more later. It’s easy to get things that go together and make bottles with different themes. We can try different fillers, too.

Here’s what you need:
Plastic bottle
Filler: We used rice for two bottles and birdseed in a third. You can also use sand, colored salt (or colored rice) or beans.
Trinkets: This can be just about anything that will fit into the mouth of your bottle. Ours had shaped erasers, buttons, a crayon, rubber bands, bobbie pins and beads.
Glue: White glue works fine, though hot glue dries much faster and tends to be a bit more secure.
Ribbon: I tied the list onto the bottle with ribbon. I only actually attached a list to one bottle, since Isaiah is more interested in shaking it to make cool sounds and seeing the treasure inside than he is in deliberately searching for an object.

I Spy Bottles

The list of treasures

I let Isaiah fill the bottles himself, which was pretty exciting for him. He filled them about halfway, added the trinkets, then put in the rest of the filler. Once everything was inside, I helped him put on the lid and shake the bottle to spread the toys throughout. It’s really important to make sure there’s some extra space left in the bottle when you fill it or nothing will move when you turn or shake it.

I Spy Bottles

Carefully filling the bottle

I Spy Bottles

He's pretty proud of his bottles

I Spy Bottles

Shaking his finished bottle

Sensory Bottle First Attempt

Isaiah and I made a sensory bottle last night. I only had one bottle, so we just made a very simple one this time. Here’s what we did.

Sensory Bottle

Our finished bottle

What you need:
Empty bottle (we used a Gatorade bottle)
Food coloring (must be water based)
We also used some stickers because we didn’t have confetti

Sensory Bottle

Isaiah with his bottle full of glitter and stickers

I let Isaiah put the stickers and glitter into the bottle before adding the water. Once he was done adding glitter and stickers, I carefully poured some of the water in. With very close supervision, I allowed Isaiah to add food coloring to the water. Giving him control resulted in a really dark color, but he liked the independence of doing it himself. I added the rest of the water and glued on the lid. He’s been playing with it ever since. Next time, we’re going to try using baby oil for some of the bottles.

Sensory Bottle

Excited that there's water inside

Sensory Bottle

Dye mixing

Christmas Countdown

*Originally posted on my personal blog, November 2011*

We needed a creative craft for kids club and my mom and I came up with this. Well, she came up with the idea and I made it work. We’re a good team that way. I think it’s really cute, so I wanted to share in case anyone else wanted to try it.


Paper chain Christmas countdown craft

First, you need a picture of a present and a nativity. You can download the images I made here and here or make your own. Print them off onto card stock. Make sure that the nativity is small enough to be completely covered by the gift box. Once they are printed, cut them out.


Paper strips--Isaiah thought they were pretty cool, even by themselves.

You will need a piece of construction paper that is slightly bigger than your gift box and twenty six strips of paper (to make into a paper chain). I used green for my background paper, since the gift is red, and red and green strips.


Helping me cut the background piece

Glue the nativity image to the background paper, slightly closer to the bottom than the top. Make a fold about 3/4 of an inch from the top of the present so that it can easily be lifted to see under it. Put glue on the top edge of the gift and glue it down so that the gift completely covers the nativity. Using an x-acto knife, cut a slit toward the bottom of the gift, through both the gift and the background paper. Be sure to put something under your paper so you don’t gouge your table with the knife.


This is how it should look when the gift is glued on. Sorry it's not totally clear, I was trying to hold it open and take the picture at the same time.

Now, make a paper chain with the paper strips. The top strip on your chain should be threaded through the slit that you cut in the gift and background to hold the gift shut. Make sure you only use twenty five of the strips. Use the last one to make a loop on the back to hang the countdown up. I forgot to take a picture of how I made the loop, but I managed to find one online.

This is how you shape the loop for hanging your Christmas countdown.

You now have a finished Christmas countdown. Each day, tear off one loop from the bottom of your chain. On Christmas, you will tear off the last loop, allowing the gift to be opened. The gift then reveals the true gift of Christmas–Jesus. Isaiah quite enjoyed helping with this craft and will be thrilled to discover the picture inside.


Ours is hanging up, waiting for Isaiah to tear pieces off each morning.