Coloring Page Stained Glass Valentine (easy with contact paper)

This is a great project for boys and girls. This can be done with any free coloring pages you find to your liking online. I found some cute teddy bears, Pooh characters, even a super cute Ninjago one (link here). Just Google for free Valentine coloring pages.

Hello Kitty Stained Glass Valentine
Hello Kitty Stained Glass Valentine

What you will need:

  • Printer and computer/tablet/or smart phone and a sheet of printer paper
  • Find a free coloring page online you like and print it out
  • Clear Shelf liner (Contact paper)
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper in at least 2 different colors
  • Heart paper punch (size about 1 inch)

TIP: You don’t need a heart paper punch. Other shapes will work as well and you can even forgo it completely and just tear pieces of tissue paper for a more rustic look.

Fold the tissue paper over several times so the punch makes multiples with each punch
Fold the tissue paper over several times so the punch makes multiples with each punch

TIP: You could have your little one color the picture too

Cut out the heart
Cut out the heart

Cut out the heart on your coloring page. Also cut two pieces of the contact paper large enough to cover that area.

Place one piece of contact paper over the front side of the picture over the heart cutout
Place one piece of contact paper over the front side of the picture over the heart cutout

Place one piece of contact paper over the front side of the picture over the heart cutout. Place face down on table.

Excited to craft
Excited to craft

Itโ€™s ok if the pieces arenโ€™t perfectly placed. Some of the ones she put on were crumpled and folded up and thatโ€™s ok.

Almost done
Almost done
Admiring hanAdmiring her handy-work dy-work
Admiring her handy-work

Note: the left edge has some overhang from the contact paper. Trim off any overhanging contact paper.

Place the other sheet of contact paper over the tissue paper
Place the other sheet of contact paper over the tissue paper

Place the other sheet of contact paper over the tissue paper. Start on one edge, line it up as close as you can. Then pull back the rest of the backing paper and set it down like in the picture above.

She loves her Hello Kitty Sun Catcher Valentine!
She loves her Hello Kitty Sun Catcher Valentine!
What it looks like against a window
What it looks like against a window

 

Love hand-print painting <3

This is my favorite art project from 2014 we did. (I only have this one picture of it.) We did this as a family project since Sophia was only about a year and a half old at the time. So having an extra person helping definitely keeps the mess contained better.

Love hand print painting!
Love hand print painting!

What you will need:

  • Acrylic paint
  • Water color paper
  • Paint brushes
  • Painters tape
  • Razor knife
  • A cup with water for setting dirty paint brushes in
  • Wet wipes (for easy clean up)

Tape the word you want on to the paper. Trim it with the razor knife to your liking. Paint your little one’s hand and have them place it over the paper. Repeat in as many colors as you like.

TIP: You want to make sure all the edges of the tape have some paint or it wont show up. (You can see the top corner of the L disappear).

Painting fabric!

Painted fabric!
Painted fabric!

This is so much fun! It’s all about the process and experimenting with paint and new textures.

What you will need:

  • White cotton fabric. (TIP: You could use pre-made napkins if you wanted to)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Cups (for watering down paints)
  • Regular paint brushes
  • Foam brushes
  • Packaging tape
  • Wax table cloth (the paint will go through the fabric and on to the surface below it) Or something else to protect your table
  • A cup with water for setting dirty paint brushes in
  • Wet wipes (for easy clean up)
Painting acrylics on fabric
Painting acrylics on fabric

Set up:

Cut a piece of fabric to a manageable size, this is about 12″x18″. Then tape down the 4 corners to the work surface.

Since I have 4 foam brushes, it made sense to me to dilute 4 different colors for Sophia to use. So in a cup squirt a dime size amount of paint and then add about 1/4 cup of water and stir together to mix the paint into the water. You can add more paint if you want the color to be more vivid.

Repeat until you have several cups of diluted paints.

Have all the supplies in easy reach and you are ready to let your little one experiment and paint.

Toddler abstract art in process
Toddler abstract art in process

The process:

Start with undiluted acrylics, and let your little one decide the colors and how much they want to paint on. We use regular paintbrushes for the undiluted acrylics. These will show up the best and be the most vivid in the end result.

Diluted paints spread easier and will soak through the fabric
Diluted paints spread easier and will soak through the fabric

Once your little one has decided they are done painting with the non-diluted paints, move on to the diluted ones. Use the foam brushes for easy painting.

Painting watered-down acrylics on fabric
Painting watered-down acrylics on fabric

Sophia was amazed to see the paint “grow”, as she called it. ๐Ÿ™‚

You will want to cover all of the fabric piece with the diluted paints, even in the corners you have covered with the tape. For the corners theย  paint will spread under the tape and it will release itself off the fabric once its wet. Remove the tape and allow to dry.

Allow to dry completely.

If you chose to make napkins this is where you need to follow an extra step of heat setting your paint.

 

Painted fabric!
Painted fabric!

Counting down to Christmas! Book a day and Elf on the Shelf (modified version)

The fun of counting down to Christmas, with a book advent mailbox and Snowflake the Elf
The fun of counting down to Christmas, with a book advent mailbox and Snowflake the Elf

Instead of doing the traditional advent calendars I really liked the idea of getting a book a day instead. I saw an idea posted about (not able to relocate it now :/ ) where you wrap 25 books and have them in a basket and have your child pick a new one every night before bed. Well that concept, I felt, was a bit complex for a 1.5 year old so instead I crafted this mail box (with the help of my dad) last year. Every morning she would wake up and go get her mailbox and bring it to our bed and she’d unwrap the book and we would read it as a family in bed. She would check the mailbox after her naps too but to her disappointment the books only manifested in there in the mornings ๐Ÿ™‚

25 Christmas themed books ready for Christmas count down!
25 Christmas themed books ready for Christmas count down!

I chose to do all Christmas and winter themed books. You could do any topics that interest your children.

Next year I think I will pick through all our most favorite Christmas books and re-wrap them and only get a few new ones to add to the bunch. I don’t need to end up with hundreds of random Christmas books after all. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Snowflake the Elf all ready for morning for Sophia to find her
Snowflake the Elf all ready for morning for Sophia to find her

We also started Elf on the Shelf last year with Sophia. She named her elf Snowflake. We are doing a modified version of Elf on the Shelf and sticking with only part of the story. For us she tells Santa about all the good things Sophia does but not the bad. We don’t focus on any negativity with her, shes just for fun. We move her to a new location every night for Sophia to find. We did keep her up high and out of reach last year as we didn’t think she’d remember not to touch her… she might be staying high up this year too.

Product Review: Leapfrog LeapReader for a toddler?

I get asked about the Leapreader a lot by parents of toddlers. I do want to make it clear that I don’t get any kind of endorsement from Leapfrog.
1.5 Year old playing with the LeapReader
1.5 Year old playing with the LeapReader

Sophia has the Leapreader. She received it for Christmas last year when she was 1.5 years old. It was from her grandparents so I knew nothing about it when she got it. The package said 4-8 years and I was a bit nervous that Sophia would break it. It came with a demo book and the pen and Sophia was having a blast with it right away, everything she poked at said something or played a short tune.

Trying out headphones with it for our up coming  plane ride
Trying out headphones with it for our up coming plane ride
I went to buy a few books for it and found I had a lot to learn. I was all excited when I found Minnie Mouse and Jake and the Neverland Pirates books until I realized they were for the Leapreader Jr and wouldn’t work. I considered purchasing the Jr but decided that Sophia would out grow it soon and got some Disney Princess books instead. I would still make the same decision a year later.
Princess Rapunzel doing a bit of Leap Reading :)
Princess Rapunzel doing a bit of Leap Reading ๐Ÿ™‚
How it works:
You will need to download and set up Leapfrog Connect to your computer. When you get a new book you will need to plug the Reader into your computer and download the audio file for that book. The downloads take maybe 30 seconds per book, depending on your internet speed of course. Unplug and it’s ready to go, pretty simple if you follow the instructions it comes with.
LeapReading first thing in the morning
LeapReading first thing in the morning
LeapReader VS LeapReader JR
  • LeapReader and Leapreader Jr books are not interchangeable.
  • The LeapReader holds a ton of books, music, and trivia. I’m told that the Leapreader JR only holds the audio for up to 4 books at a time.ย 
  • The JR reader pen is shaped like a puppy
United States Interactive map
United States Interactive map
LeapReader VS Tag
  • Tag and LeapReader are not the same thing.
  • Some of the Tag books will work with the LeapReader. If you see the audio file for it in the Leapfrog Connect then the Tag book will work with the LeapReader for that book.
Tag and Tag Jr are the older outdated versions. All the LeapReader books I’ve seen being sold say “works with Tag” and I’m not sure when they plan on not adding the audio of the new books to the older version. I’ve considered getting a Tag reader when it’s been bundled with other books I’ve been looking at getting on ebay or craigslist but so far I haven’t done so. Most books I’ve wanted to get for Sophia are available for the LeapReader.
Monster math
Monster math
LeapReader for a toddler?
It depends on the toddler since it is for older kids it’s more delicate and definitely needs supervision a lot in the beginning.
If your child is good at handling paper pages with out ripping them then I would say they are a good candidate for the regular LeapReader.
Most toddlers won’t be doing the games and understanding all the concepts in the books. Sophia loves them for the stories and the character interactions. We do have the Get Ready for Kindergarten book and she does like playing with the alphabet and counting things. Other than new vocabulary I feel that she hasn’t specifically learned anything from them so far. Mostly they just help reinforce previously learned things, like the alphabet and letter sounds. She really mostly uses it for entertainment.
If you want something that they can do by themselves with out supervision then the Leapreader JR would be the better choice.
Learning the letter sounds
Learning the letter sounds
We have not tested out any of the writing books (you use the pen on special tracing paper). I don’t think Sophia is ready for those yet.
TIP: ToysRUs has Black Friday 2014 sale for the regular LeapReader. They have the reading system with the pen for $29.99 and $7.49 for all the books.

UPDATE:
Incase anyone is looking Walmart has the LeapReader on their pre-black-friday sale for $29.00 now through next Thursday. Get the sales prices with out the crowds of Black Friday!

Salt Dough Handprint Ornaments

 

salt dough and handprint ornaments and a free style salt dough ornament
salt dough and handprint ornaments and a free salt style dough ornament

I’ve done salt dough handprint ornaments the last two years (Sophia was 6 months and 1.5 years old). There is a good recipe and instructions for the salt dough handprints here on The Imagination Tree. I did a few things a bit differently like adding water a little at a time so it doesn’t get sticky plus they dry faster the less water there is.

The first year I made these I didn’t trim off the excess dough. I found that those were really heavy. So this time I trimmed the dough around the edges with a kitchen knife. Below are a few more helpful tips.

What you will need:

Salt

Flour

Water

Parchment paper

Acrylic paint

Mod podge

Ribbon

Paint brushes

I set Sophia up to work on top of the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. This keeps the dough from sticking to the pan when cooked and you wont have to worry about moving their finished master piece.

exploring salt dough
exploring salt dough

TIP: If you want to smooth down cracks and rough edges, you can do so by dipping your finger in water and smoothing them out, adding water as needed.

exploring salt dough
exploring salt dough

TIP: If you are making the dough by yourself, as I did, have it all set up before inviting your toddler to join you. This is very helpful since little ones have short attention spans so it’s best to use it doing the project instead of them watching you set up for it.

making salt dough ornament
making salt dough ornament

TIP: Also we did the handprints first as quickly as I could crank them out, maybe took 4-5 minutes. After which I allowed Sophia to explore the dough with different tools as she wanted.

DON’T: Forget to poke holes in the ornaments (for the ribbon to go through when done) before baking

baked salt dough handprint ornaments
baked salt dough handprint ornaments

After the salt dough ornaments had cooled off and I was certain they had fully dried off (the next day) I set Sophia up for painting them. I had originally thought about painting them my self and making these cute Santa’s out of them. But then figured that family getting the ornaments would like them better if Sophia had her own hand in painting them.

TIP: You can do this in one day if you make the ornaments first thing in the morning and get them baking. If you make them really thick they take a lot longer than the 2 hours recommended bake time.

painting salt dough handprint ornament
painting salt dough handprint ornament

Look of hard concentration ๐Ÿ™‚

painting salt dough handprint ornament
painting salt dough handprint ornament

Paint a layer of mod podge on them after the paint has dried. This will help preserve them longer. The mod podge dries clear so donโ€™t worry about it looking cloudy when you put it on.

On the red “sun” ornament we sprinkled red glitter on top of the wet paint.

The instructions for the handprint bauble ornament pictured below will be posted soon. Check back soon ๐Ÿ™‚

salt dough and handprint ornaments and a free style salt dough ornament
salt dough and handprint ornaments and a free style salt dough ornament

 

 

Glitter Painted Pine Cone Ornaments

Glitter painted pine cone ornaments
Glitter painted pine cone ornaments

Only 48 days until Christmas! It’s the perfect time of year to start making ornaments. (Sophia was 1.5 years old, since this is from last year.)

Setting up for projects properly is the most important part when working with a toddler. You want to have everything you may need at arms reach. Tip: Tin foil is super easy for cleaning up afterwards, so I use it a lot.

Chris helped me with this project and it helps immensely to have an extra pair of hands and eyes. This year I would tackle this with just Sophia and I, since she follows instructions (most of the time).

What you will need:

-pine cones (you can buy them if you aren’t able to find any)

-white, glitter red, and glitter green acrylic paints

-paint brushes

-eyelet screws

-string

mod podge

Set up is half the battle
Set up is half the battle

I found really nice pine cones on one of our walks in our neighborhood and picked them up. I cleaned them off, screwed in the eyelet screws, put strings on and painted them white. I hung them up to dry (put something underneath to catch the paint drips).

Once they were dry I set it all up for Sophia to paint. Since this was her first time painting, we didn’t know what to expect, so we prepared for the worst. We took off her shirt, had a packet of wet wipes, paper towel roll, towels… well you get the idea.

Really all it took was to be in control the paint and give her more when she wanted it but keeping it out of reach other wise.

Painting on pine cone- red glitter paint
Painting on pine cone- red glitter paint
Painting on pine cone- red glitter paint
Painting on pine cone- red glitter paint
Painting on pine cone- green glitter paint
Painting on pine cone- green glitter paint

Once the glitter paint was all dry I painted a thin layer of mod podge over the pine cones to help preserve them longer. Ps it dries clear so don’t worry about it looking cloudy when you put it on.

Sophia really enjoyed the experience and they made super cute presents for family ๐Ÿ™‚

Glitter painted pine cones
Glitter painted pine cones