Oodles of Nutcracker Kids’ Crafts!

nutcracker-kids-crafts

Miss Fiona and her daddy have a tradition this time of year of watching The Nutcracker and reading picture books about nutcrackers.  Daryl also has a collection of nutcrackers that the kids love to play with.

Last week, Fiona asked me if she could spend her money on a nutcracker for daddy.  The nutcracker in question was overpriced and badly made, so I offered to help her make him a nutcracker instead.  She loved the idea and I was on the hunt for some fun and easy nutcracker crafts.

Here are the best that I found, in case your kiddos would like to make some nutcrackers of their own.

Sophie World has this easy printable nutcracker that kids color and then glue to a toilet paper tube.  Add embellishments like buttons, feathers, pompoms and even a toothpick sword if you like.  It’s a bit tricky to find the PDF — click on “stats” to find it.

Nutcracker-toilet tube roll

Learn Create Love has a printable nutcracker that kids can color and then cut out and assemble.

nutcracker printable

Playground Park Bench has a rather elaborate Nutcracker and mouse battle tic tac toe game made of clothespins that you can make with the kids.  I’m not sure we need to buy all the parts and do it that fancy, but I’m thinking we could use some clothespins and craft supplies around the house to make our own kid versions.

Nutcracker-Game-Playing-Tic-Tac-Toe-with-Toy-Soldiers

Schooling a Monkey shows how to make cute little craft stick nutcracker characters.

Nutcracker-Craft-popsicle-stick

Crafty Morning uses popsicle sticks, paper and clothespins to make some very cute kid-made nutcrackers.

nutcracker-christmas-craft-for-kids

Glued to My Crafts has a sweet paper plate nutcracker for kids to craft.

nutcracker-paper-plate

Fireflies and Mudpies shows how to make a toy soldier ornament with craft sticks and paint.

nutcracker-Toy-Soldier-Ornament

And I am in love with these darling nutcracker portraits shared on smArt Class.

nutcracker-drawings

She also shared this video to show kids how to draw their own nutcrackers.

 

 

Deviant Art’s CyberDrone has a printable nutcracker cube kids can have fun assembling, too.

nutcracker_cube

Lastly, Mom Junction has an assortment of Nutcracker themed coloring pages to print out for the kids to color.

nutcracker-coloring-pages

And with that, I’m off to do a billion nutcracker crafts with a happy little girl.

 

 

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday! 

It’s been too long since I’ve popped in and I’m once again resolving to find a way to do so more regularly. 

So let’s start by getting back to some ways to make the day more magical.  🙂

Here are 10 ways to make a little magic this week…

1. Go on a nature scavenger hunt.  I have a free fall nature scavenger hunt printable page here that you can use, or you can make up your own.

October nature find

2.  Make a leaf crown!  All you need are some pretty leaves (nothing else!) and about five minutes to make a gorgeous leaf crown.  Here’s a short video showing how to do it.

3.  Teach your child how to make a favorite recipe.  Even little kids can learn to make simple things like sandwiches, and big kids love to learn how to cook fancier dishes. 

fiona pizza sauce

4.  Go see a free presentation.  Local libraries, museums, schools and other community centers tend to sponsor all kinds of free talks on everything from butterflies to meteor showers to prohibition.  See if you can find some upcoming talks that your kids would be interested in and go learn something new together.

alex still

5.  Make up some homemade instant hot cocoa mix.  I shared our basic recipe in the Instagram post below. You can adapt the formula to make it vegan, sugar free or otherwise meet your dietary needs and preferences (chime in if you have a favorite paleo version!).  Adjust the proportions until you find the proper ratio for your tastes and then you have your own personal hot cocoa mix that the kids can mix up when they want to warm up with something sweet.

6.  Help your child start a collection.  Kids love to collect things — any things!  Some of our kids’ favorite collections over the years have been rocks, artist trading cards, bugs and bottle caps (Jack’s favorite collection).  You can even collect non-physical things, like types of clouds you’ve spotted (check out The Cloud Collector’s Handbook for a great book for doing that!).

bottle caps

7.  Have some fun with photo apps.  We created this fun picture of Alex with the free Photo Labs app.  Or just open up Snapchat and take some fun selfies together.  Print out and frame your favorite, if you like.

alex comic

8.  Leaf a message.  Use pretty leaves to write sweet or silly messages outside and see who will wander onto them!

View this post on Instagram

#justbecause #leafamessage

A post shared by Sharizat (@sharizat_eats) on

9.  Make some marbleized fall leaves.  Even if you don’t have fall leaves where you live (or not right now), you can make some gorgeous ones with your kiddos.  Apartment Therapy tells you how to use shaving cream, acrylic paint and watercolor paper to make these pretty leaves.

marbelized leaves

10. Have an early morning picnic and watch the sunrise together.  Get up a little early and grab something simple like muffins and a thermos of hot tea and go sit and watch the sunrise together.  You can watch from the back yard, your balcony, the roof of your apartment, a local park, or even pulled over in the car in a pretty area on your way to work and school.  Take some time to just talk and soak in the beauty. 

photo of toddler standing near lake

Photo by Káťa Prouzová on Pexels.com

And with that, my pretties, I’m off to find some food for a hungry little girl and try to wrestle my house in order.

Have a magical week!

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Shrunken Apple Heads!

Here’s a fun little science and nature craft just in time for Halloween.  The kids and I made shrunken apple heads this month and it’s been great fun watching them change over time.

shrunken apple heads

All you need are some apples (we used imperfect ones off a generous neighbor’s tree), salt and lemon juice.

First peel your apples.  You can leave a little on the top and bottom like a little hat and scarf.

Then give your child some carving tools (a chopstick, grapefruit spoon or pen knife all work well, depending on your child’s age and skill level with tools).  You can trace your design first with a pen or pencil, if you like.

Carve out a face, making sure to make each feature large since they will shrink up and collapse somewhat.

shrunken apple head

Then mix up some salt and lemon juice and apply it all over, especially in the parts you’ve carved out.  This will prevent mold and also protect them from getting too brown.  If you like, you can talk to the kids about how salt has been used for thousands of years to preserve foods and other things, and how acids like lemon juice slow oxidation (browning caused by a chemical reaction when substances react with oxygen).

preserving shrunken apple head

Now just put your apple heads somewhere to dry.  Choose a location where you can watch them and keep up with how they change.

Have fun!

 

 

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Make a Daisy Chain or Flower Crown!

Do you know how to make a daisy chain or flower crown?  It’s incredibly easy and so fun!

There are several classic ways to make a flower crown:  the slit stem, braided, and woven.  Here are the simple instructions to do all three.

Method #1 — Split stem

dandelion-crown

  1. Trim flower stems to about 4 inches. Use a fingernail to make a small slit in the bottom half of each stem.
  2. Thread one stem through the slit in the next, creating a chain. Continue, adding flowers to reach desired length. To form a circle or crown, make a second slit in the stem of the first flower, and slip the last flower through it.

If you like visuals, here’s a quick video that shows the split stem method of making a daisy chain.

Method #2 — Braided

This method makes a more tightly knit flower crown or daisy chain, and is a bit more durable.  Simply braid three stems together for about an inch, and then add in more flowers to the braid.

how to make daisy chain crowns

Creative Green Living has a lovely step-by-step tutorial with lots of photos.

 

Method #3 — Woven

daisy chain

This is another easy way to make a flower crown.  Simply wrap one stem around the flower of the next, pull both stems to the side, and add another.  Wrap that stem around the first two, pull all three stems to the side, and continue.  As stems end, they will be woven into the line well enough to stay put.  To finish, wrap the last flower around the first flower and the end of the chain, forming a circle.

And here’s a short video that shows the woven method of making a flower crown.

Our Annalee (Rhiannon Lee, known these days as Rhia) also made a simple rose crown years ago and shared the instructions here on Magical Childhood.

rose crown

Have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  I can’t wait to get back to yapping with you all again (if anybody is still out there!).

I’m sorry to be gone so long this time.  Life has only gotten busier since I started Magical Childhood nearly 18 years ago in 2000 (and later this blog instead of the emailed newsletter, in 2009).  Back then, I had a baby girl and a toddler, who are now both officially grown ups  — Rhiannon (Annalee) is now 18 and Victoria is 20 years old!  Luckily, I still have little ones too.  Fiona is now 6, Alex just turned 11 and Jack just turned 15.  My hands are full but my heart is happy, and I love having all different ages of kiddos to play with now.  🙂

I’ll start updating you all with some of the happenings here in our family, but in the meantime how about an old fashioned list of ways to make the day magical?

Here are 10 ways to make some magic this week!

1.  Make mud art!  Find a good place to dig in the dirt and provide some water, spoons, platters and pretties to decorate with (dried flower petals, dried beans, dragon tears, beads, etc.).  Let the kids mix up mud and make whatever designs they like and leave them to dry.  Take pictures and then just rinse and reuse the special stuff later.

mud art

2.  Drape some blankets over a clothesline, tree, tent poles or other props in the back yard and make some impromptu forts.  Stock the insides with some fun books, games, snacks, a flashlight, whatever, and see what fun the kids dream up to have in their new fun space.

pirate

3.  Use clean sand castle molds to an make ice cream castle.  Decorate wildly and eat!

4.  Teach the kids how to play marbles.  This is such a simple way to have fun at any age.  Here are the instructions if you’ve forgotten (or never learned!).

marbles

5.  Put birthday candles in each child’s dinner tonight.  It doesn’t matter if dinner is sandwiches and it’s 9 months from their birthdays, kids just love blowing out candles and feeling special. Relight them and do it again and again!

6.  Make paper boats and sail them in puddles or the kiddie pool.

7. Make some fairy wands.  This is a simple craft we’ve been doing for years.  Simply attach some colorful ribbons to sticks and you’re good to go.

ribbonwands

8.  Have a bubble relay outside.  Players blow or carry their bubbles from person to person and start over if they pop.  Alternately, blow a bubble and see if you can work as a team to blow it across a finish line.

9.  Go for a walk in the rain with your child.  Umbrellas optional.

puddlesboots

10. Have a family “3” challenge. See if each of you can do three sweet things today for each other family member today.  They can be tiny little things, just something to show you love them, things that you know will make them happy.  Make your teenager’s favorite dish for supper.  Leave the dishes and go read a story to your toddler.  Give extra monkey hugs (in our family, we dip kids upside down and holler “monkey hug!” and swing them back up again and again), and so on.

Have a magical week!

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Kids Can Bowl FREE This Summer All Over the U.S. and Canada

 

Looking for a fun way to spend time with the kids this summer?

KidsBowlFree is offering free bowling throughout the United States and Canada for children under all at participating bowling lanes all summer long.  Even military bowling centers are taking part.

bowling

Through the program, kids at or under that bowling center’s cutoff age (typically 15, but sometimes 13 or other ages) are eligible to register for 2 free games each day of the KBF program, all summer long, courtesy of the participating bowling centers and sponsoring schools and organizations.

They say:

Registered Kids Receive 2 FREE GAMES Of Bowling Each Day Of The KBF Program All Summer Long, Valued At Over $500 Per Child!

This program is designed by bowling centers to give back to the community and provide a safe, secure, and fun way for kids to spend time this summer.

Each bowling center has its own rules for things like cutoff ages and whether shoe rental is included.  Head to KidsBowlFree to find a participating center near you.

Have fun!

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10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Monday!  Long time, no see, huh?  <sheepish look>

I’m sorry for being gone so long.  Life has been busy and has just gotten busier over the nearly eighteen (!!!) years I’ve been writing Magical Childhood in one way or another.

When I first started writing Magical Childhood, I had a two year old-daughter, Victoria, and a new baby daughter (Rhiannon Lee, whom we called Annalee back then).  I’d write in the middle of the night with Annalee in my arms.  Last week, that baby (who now goes by Rhia) turned eighteen!

rhiaguitar

Our baby boy Jack, who came along later, is now 14 and a foot taller than me.  Alex and Fiona (10 and 6) still count as little ones, though, and I’m not above being silly and sappy with any of them, no matter the size or age.  🙂

My goal for this year has been to get back to this blog and the Magical Childhood site (badly in need of a 21st century upgrade!).

So how about we get back to ways to make things magical, just like the old days?

Here are a few ways to work in a little magic this week….

1. Print out and assemble some paper crafts.  Yahama has the most amazingly intricate paper motorcycles, Japanese animals and more (even stag beetles!) for you to print out for free on their site. 

paperanimals

2. Teach the kids pig latin and try to have a conversation in it!  Here’s a Wiki page if you need some help!

3. Have a beach day inside!  Fiona came up with this idea last week when it was too cold to go out and play.  She got herself a towel, some sunglasses, books, a homemade fruit drink and even some rocks for atmosphere and had herself a blast on the living room floor.

fionabeach

4. Or a snow day!  Alternately, if you’re in a warm climate, switch things up and play at winter inside.  Make up crumpled paper “snowballs” for a snowball fight (balled up socks work too!), pull the kids around on towels on the kitchen floor and pretend they’re sleds, make ice cream scoop snowmen, you name it!

5. Do squirt painting!  This is a fun and easy craft we made up years ago.  All you need are squirt bottles (recycled ketchup and mustard bottles work great), flour, water, food coloring and a big box to contain the mess.  Here’s how we did it back in 2010.

squirt

6. Hide silly and sappy fortunes around the house.  Make up a load of fortune cookie-style fortunes and stash them in cereal boxes, snacks, the cookie jar, etc.  Make some especially silly (Beware of odd rabbits today.  You will have a monkey on your head….) and some sappy (Your mama loves you more than peanut butter cups.  I’m proud of you…).  Slip some in drawers and leave some for your sweetie, too.

7. Let the kids play with their food!  Alex loves to cut up apples and other fruits and veggies and build elaborate toothpick structures with them.  As long as he eats his work, I’m happy to supply the materials.  Baby carrots, black olives, cauliflower, grapes and cherry tomatoes also make great building supplies.

alexapples

8. Make watercolor snowballs.  We’ve been doing this one for years. Just bring in a pan of snow and give the kids some watercolor paints and paintbrushes.  They can pack the snow into snowballs and then paint them.  Store them in a bucket in the freezer until you’re ready to return them to the wild.  😉  You can decorate the yard with them or the kids can toss them, but let the kids know they should toss at targets like trees and not people since they freeze a little hard and could hurt!

snowballs

9. Make some giant ice suncatchers.  Even in warm climates, you can make these beauties (you can even have the kids make predictions on how long they will take to melt).  Here’s how we make ours, though I recommend making your hole farther towards the middle so it doesn’t melt through the drop and fall too quickly.

icecatchers

10. Start a pride jar.  Every time you’re proud of your child, write the reason on a slip of paper and put it in a pretty jar. Encourage the kids to peek in their jars!

And with that, I’m off to snuggle a little girl who’s woken up and wants some mama time.

I hope to be back very soon.  Have a magical week!

 

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