What We’re Making Today: Bugs, Worms and Birds!

“Bird crafts” were requested for this week, so I have FOUR crafts, two of which are birds and the other two related to birds.  First off, I’ve got a little wooden birdhouse that we can paint up.  I’m wondering if I’m tempting fate by using acrylics, but they look so good!  If this birdhouse is actually going on the market (outside, that is) we don’t want watercolors that will wash off.

A friend recommended this lightning bug craft from Apartment Therapy.  Lightning bug or firefly?  Either way, it was really hard to find a video of fireflies that wasn’t about Joss Whedon or Owl City.  I’d like to start incorporating my iPhone into my teaching so I can use videos as examples, or find pictures to use as models.  I haven’t been in California for an entire year, so I don’t know how common fireflies are.   Here’s a wonderful example:

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • plastic eggs (ones that open)
  • LED tea light
  • pipe cleaners
  • duct tape
  • markers
  • stuffing
  • thumbtack
  • scissors

The egg is the body, the pipe cleaners legs and antennae.  The hardest part of this craft is the poking of holes, so let the grown-up do that.  The holes should be big enough that the child can push the pipe cleaner through, but not so big that they won’t stick without glue.  Six holes need to be punched in the pointed half of the egg, in two rows of three.  Poke two more holes in the round piece for the antennae:

Next, make the face.  You can do this with paint, stickers, or markers.  I chose Sharpies, since they go on very dark.

Legs!  Cut a pipe cleaner into six equal segments.  Push these into each hole and bend as necessary.  You can adjust these later when all pieces are together.  Cut two more equal parts, a little longer than the legs, and insert into the head.

Now for the light:  you can simply insert the tea light in, or you could put a little big of stuffing on the switch-end of the light to keep in in place.  It keeps it from rattling.

Last step:  make wings from duct tape, which requires no glue!  I made another change to the original tutorial here.  Cut/tear a six inch piece of duct tape and fold in half longways almost equally.  Leave a small tab of sticky side showing that will attach to the egg.  Now that it is folded, you don’t have to cut through a sticky side.  Cut the tape to look like two leaves attached at the base.  Or, get creative!  Stick the wings onto the egg.

To turn it on and off, you will have to open the egg, so make sure you don’t cover the opening with too much of the tape.

The next craft is quilled birds, from Family Fun.  This consists as a series of nested paper rings.  The lengths listed in the tutorial are very helpful, but it’s not necessary to be exact.  I’m going to use this craft as a chance to learn to measure and use a ruler.   You’ll need:

  • colored cardstock
  • glue stick
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • toothpick
  • clothespins

I have nothing innovative to add, so go over to Family Fun and check out that tutorial.  Here’s my go at it:

If we have time, I bought some wonderful air-dry clay to make caterpillars.  I’m actually new to the idea of building up sculptures using aluminum foil and I love it!

Tear off small pieces of aluminum foil and roll into balls.  Make a good little pile of them, maybe 8 or more.  Take a little clay (start little, then add) and cover the foil balls.  Roll in your hands until it looks smooth and round enough.

Just put them all together and you’ve got a caterpillar!  I added some wires later for feelers.  After 2-3 days it will dry, so next week we can paint them!  I’m gonna buy a second tub of this stuff for myself.


How-to: Make an Arctic Hare (Rabbit) and Scenery

What We’re Making Today is a series of posts about the Arts and Crafts projects I do with my young clients.  Every week I’ll post pictures and tutorials of lovely stuff to do with kids that use the simplest supplies.  Yesterday, I showed you how to make an adorable penguin out of a toilet paper roll, and the entire scene with penguin, mountains, clouds and a rabbit.  Today, we focus on the rabbit and the mountains.

Technically what we’re making in an Arctic Hare, but explaining the difference between rabbits and hares* may be too much for a four year old.  I had to look it up myself! A good lesson would be to talk about what color most Arctic creatures are, and why they are that way.

Today’s hare can easily be converted to a rabbit by just calling it that, unless your child is an expert in the Lagomorpha order of mammals… moving on.  Easter is just around the corner if you want to go that direction with it.  This craft lends itself well to Easter since the rabbits are made from egg cartons.  You can make a dozen out of one carton, and then use the rabbits to cover eggs in a hunt.  Here’s what you need:

  • Egg carton
  • White cardstock
  • crayons (any color, though Arctic hares wouldn’t do so well with bright green noses)
  • Scissors
  • Black market

Cutting the cups from the egg carton may be a big person’s job.  You will not be able to get a perfect cup, but as long as you have room for a face it will work.  Cut the cups out and set the child to decoration the faces and coloring the fur.  If you want to go full-Arctic, try some white paint.  For smaller children, you can go ahead and use the black marker to outline some facial features they can color in.

Cut out two ear shapes from the cardstock, making sure the base of the ears is less than 1/2 in across.  Bend these in half longways and unbend to give the ear a more cupped appearance.  The inside of the ear can be colored in.

More big person work: use your scissors to stab two slits in the top of the cup, making sure the slits are thick enough for the child to insert the ears.  Voila!

*Hares are larger, have longer feet and ears and are faster than rabbits.  So, hares are super tough, speedy champions and rabbits are cuddlier, tastier snuggle bunnies.

The mountains are very easy– have the child draw a series of triangles or a line with lots of up and down points.  Just make sure the mountain is longer than it is tall, so it won’t fall over.  Cut a slit about an in from both ends.  Cut out two small rectangles (tabs) from the cardstock and cut a slit in each middle.  Not all the way through!  Insert the tab into the slits on the mountain piece until they fit snugly.  Mountain time!

These can also be glaciers!  Try a little glue and glitter, or a light wash of blue watercolor.  You can make a large mountain range out of one piece of cardstock, or a huge glacier!  Did you know that the North and South pole are classified as deserts?  There’s something to talk about!

What We’re Making Today: Arctic Scenes!

Four projects in one!  Today we set out to make an arctic scene with landscapes, weather and of course, inhabitants.  This was inspired by a toilet roll penguin craft in Make and Do Crafts, but you can find  how-tos all over the internet.  We made a penguin, arctic hare (rabbit), mountains (or glaciers) and a mobile of clouds, snow and sunlight.  Over the next few posts, I’ll go into detail about each one.  For now, feast your eyes.

Arctic hare and mountains.

Close up of penguin.

Weather mobile.

What We’re Making Today: Just a little neighborhood

Want to make a Tiny House?  All you need is one sheet of paper, scissors and glue!  You can make a neighborhood in an afternoon.

Cut out the pattern along the solid lines, and fold at the dotted ones.  Match the 4 tabs up with some glue, and you’re done!

Some slight changes can turn your house into a garage. In the future, look out for papercraft trees, shrubs and vehicles! (Cars, bikes, pedestrians, even horses!)

Download and print: Tiny House Pattern

DIY Holodeck from Star Trek: TNG

EFF YEAH DIORAMAS!  I am getting to the Star Trek: The Next Generation game a little late, but it’s never too late for more nerd cred.  I feel like since I’ve started watching the series, a new community has opened up, with more humor, dorkiness and inclusion.  A few weeks ago, I decided that in my tradition of making a photo corner at my birthday party, I would make a holodeck (black tarp, yellow duct tape, determination).  But before I attempted that, I made it tiny!

I’m really surprised I didn’t find any IRL holodecks online, no Google, no Etsy.  The ONLY “holodeck” entry on everyone favorite craft mega-site was this.

Other than the bright yellow tape, this papercraft holodeck from the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) can be made mostly with things you likely have around.   It could be small enough for miniatures, or big enough to take pictures of yourself in.

Supplies needed:
lightweight cardboard (cereal box)
matte paper
exacto knife
straight edge/ruler
yellow tape (artist/masking/duct)
Holodeck pattern

Print out one pattern for the cardboard structure, and another for the “wallpaper”.  The wallpaper pattern should be printed about 5% larger.  You’ll need a tiny bit of overlap so it wraps correctly.

STRUCTURE: Trace the smaller pattern onto the cardboard and cut out.  The tabs along each edge are not necessary for the cardboard piece, except for the “GLUE UNDER A” tab.  Bend along dotted lines and glue appropriate tab under the floor side marked “A”.   This should make a corner with two walls and a floor.

WALLPAPER: Take the larger pattern and trace/print onto a piece of matte black paper (I used construction paper) and cut out.

Using a straight edge, draw gridlines with pencil onto the black paper.  The spacing is up to you, but keep it consistent.

Apply yellow tape stripes to wallpaper BEFORE attaching wallpaper to model.  With the exacto knife (and a self-healing mat if you got it) cut tape strips long enough to run the length of both the wall and the floor.  The stripes should form what looks like a basket:

The width of the strips depends on the size of your model, and your interpretation of TNG holodecks.  For a 3” model, I cut the strips ⅛”.  Attach the strips to the wallpaper top to bottom on the left wall and floor, and across the model left to right.  Attach the top to bottom strips on the right wall AFTER the next step.

Fit wallpaper to model and fold tabs over the sides of the cardboard.  Glue in place.  Fold the “GLUE UNDER A” wallpaper tab under (do not glue).  Make sure all edges are adhered and straight.

Now, attach top to bottom tape strips to the right wall.  Use the end of a pencil (but not the lead) to tuck the tape into the angle between wall and floor, and continue along floor.  Fold all extra tape under model.

To finish, use large strips of yellow tape to cover back.  Just make it nice!


"Hey-- who's up for a game of Pyramid? Oh sorry, wrong show."