DIY Fine Motor Skills Craft for Toddlers with Pipe Cleaners

DIY Fine Motor Skills Craft for Toddlers with Pipe Cleaners at RoamingRosie.com

I like to make homemade activities for my girls by recycling things we have around the house.

We use pipe cleaners {or chenille sticks} fairly often, so we’ve always got those on hand.  I usually get them at the dollar store.

For this project, I used 4 pipe cleaners and cut them into inch-long pieces with a pair of strong scissors.

Then, the goal was simply to put them into an old spice container.

This is the type of spice container that holds dried herbs, like parsley or oregano.  You’ll notice the top has only 6 large holes.

It’s a great way to work on fine motor skills and helps with prewriting skills.

The only drawback to this is that the metal inside the pipe cleaners can be a little sharp.  There are a couple of ways around this.  One:  ignore it.  And two:  use pliers to curve over the very ends of the metal pieces, making sure that the sticks still fit through the holes in the spice container.

We chose option one.

Really, it’s not terribly sharp and you can insert them without pushing the ends anyway if you manipulate the pieces by holding them on the fuzzy part.  Or pushing gently, which is what I showed my girls.

Or, if you’re really worried about it, you could just use pieces of yarn instead.

My favorite part is that all the little pieces fit inside the container, and, thus, it is self-contained and easy to store.

For more kid activities using items around the house, check out:

Practice Measuring with Rice

Painting With Chalk

Our Colorful Backyard: Color Matching Activity for Kids

Blustery Day Water Play

Free Kid Activity: Developing Fine Motor Skills with Crayons

Pretend Play: Makeup

Free Kid Activity: Chalk on Construction Paper

Free Kid Activity: Painting Newspaper

Make Your Own Color Shadows

Dirt Soup: In Contact With Creation

Have fun!

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How to Make Cinnamon Sugar

How to Make Cinnamon Sugar

I recently realized that I use a lot of cinnamon sugar.

It’s something I’ve used forever.  My mom often made me Cinnamon Toast (buttered toast sprinkled with cinnamon sugar) when I was a kid, and I still make it today, both for my daughters and for myself.

And I’ve been using it with various recipes quite a bit, so I decided to go ahead and dedicate a blog post to it.

How to Make Cinnamon Sugar

You can buy ready-made cinnamon sugar in the spice aisle at the supermarket, but I just can’t see the sense in that because it’s so overpriced and so easy to make.

In the above photo you see my tools:  cinnamon, sugar, and a container to hold it.  I also use the knife to mix it, but my mom just shakes the bottle.  Either way works.

But, to make things official, here’s a recipe:

Cinnamon Sugar

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs ground cinnamon

Pour ingredients into a jar.  Mix with a knife until well combined, or, if your jar has a lid that seals, you can shake to combine.

How to Make Cinnamon Sugar

As I’ve mentioned, I use this on toast.  I also add it to French Toast.  And apples to make cinnamon apples.  And buttered bagels.  And snickerdoodle cookies.  And baked sweet potatoes.

This list could go on for awhile…

And the stuff stays good pretty much forever.

It’s best to store it in a container that has holes on top, where you can shake it onto the food, but also one that has a cover to keep out dust.  Kinda like this.  Or a regular sugar dispenser, if that’s all you have, but those pour too quickly for my needs.

How to Make Cinnamon Sugar

Here’s a pin-worthy pic to help you remember the recipe:

Homemade Cinnamon Sugar Recipe

Enjoy!

And please let me know what kinds of foods you’ve tried with it!

Here are some dishes I’ve used it with:

Honey Cinnamon Apple Pie a la Mode

Homemade Bread (for Cinnamon Toast)

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Slices

Honey and Cinnamon Vanilla Ice Cream

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Crystal Snowmen

Crystal Snowmen | Borax Christmas Ornament Craft

I love how these crystal snowmen catch the light of the low winter sun.

These snowmen are our version of the traditional borax Christmas ornaments.  I used white pipe cleaners (chenille sticks) to represent the snowmen:  one per ornament/sun catcher.

Crystal Snowmen

The above photo shows how we made them.  They were pretty easy for my 3-year-old to help with.

We took one stick and made it into a circle, twisting the ends around each other to seal the shape.  Then we twisted it a little over a third of the way up to create the bottom circle of the snowman, and again to create the torso and head.

Crystal Snowmen

I tied some thread to the top of the snowmen and wrapped that thread around the handle of a spoon that fit over a wide, 1 liter measuring cup.  You can do just one ornament in a smaller glass, but I wanted to do two at a time.

Make sure you have a enough room to hang the snowmen, then take them out of the glass.  Fill the glass with water and boil it in the microwave, or add boiling water from another source.  Mix in the borax and stir gently, then put the snowmen back in.  Let it sit overnight.  Done!

You’ll need:

pipe cleaners (chenille sticks)
thread
4 cups boiling water
1/2 cup borax

After sitting overnight, dump out the water.  If the crystals that formed on the snowmen attached to crystals on the bottom of the glass, simply chip them gently away with a fork.  Then, unravel the thread from the spoon and tie a loop to attach to suction cups for a window or a hook for a tree ornament.

What kind of borax ornaments have you made?

And don’t forget to check out these other Christmas crafts:

DIY Lifesize Cardboard Gingerbread House

Felt Fashion Christmas Tree

Easy Christmas Craft: Paper Cone Christmas Trees

Easy Christmas Craft: Toilet Paper Roll Ornament Painting

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DIY Lifesize Cardboard Gingerbread House

DIY Lifesize Cardboard Gingerbread House

So, I was helping my aunt get organized for a yard sale, and she had some extra boxes from her recent move.  She asked if I needed them for anything.  I took one look at the big box and thought:  gee, that would make an awesome gingerbread house!

And maybe that wouldn’t be everyone’s first thought, but, hey, I mean the thing was already the right color…

So, I took it home, and I sculpted the box into a gingerbread house with some packing tape and a box cutter.

DIY Lifesize Cardboard Gingerbread House

I made the roof by cutting off two of the top flaps and taping those to the remaining two flaps that were still attached, as you can see in the photo above.  Taped them together to form the ridge of the roof.

I then cut out a door and three windows (1 big arch in the back to match the door and 2 small circles on the sides) with the box cutter.

I taped down the flaps on the bottom, too, to secure the floor, being careful not to remove too much for the windows and such, to not compromise the structure.  I mean, I only expect it to last the season, but it still has to hold up to the excitement of a 1-1/2 and 3-1/2 year old.

DIY Lifesize Cardboard Gingerbread House

I took the scraps from the door and carved two gingerbread men for their house.  I decorated them with glue and glitter.

Because there’s always room for glitter.

DIY Lifesize Cardboard Gingerbread House

Here you can see my girls decorating the gingerbread house.

I made some candy canes, peppermint candies, and gumdrops out of construction paper ahead of time.  I made the peppermints by adding a red star to a white circle (close enough), and cut arch shapes from a few colors to represent the gum drops (or spice drops).

And I cut a few waves to represent snow (icing) stuck to the end of the shingles, to give the roof some character.

My girls and I then glued everything on together, and they decorated the house with markers as well.

They drew on the outside walls, the inside walls, the roof, the edges of the windows, the floor, and even on the little gingerbread men.

They decorated it, played in it, dragged it around the house, then decorated it some more.

It was a big hit.

DIY Lifesize Cardboard Gingerbread House

Above you can see the two of them inside the house, decorating it with markers.

To make it yourself, you’ll need:

large cardboard box
packing tape
box cutter
construction paper
glue / glue sticks
markers

And before I go, one more photo, showing the little candy cane heart on the back of the house  :)

DIY Lifesize Cardboard Gingerbread House

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And don’t forget to check out these other Christmas crafts:

Felt Fashion Christmas Tree

Easy Christmas Craft: Paper Cone Christmas Trees

Easy Christmas Craft: Toilet Paper Roll Ornament Painting

Crystal Snowmen

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DIY Dry Erase Books for Kids

DIY dry erase books for kids

I’ve seen a few versions of this around the web, and I decided to make my own.

I picked up a couple of $1 flexible photo albums/brag books at Walmart and some dry erase markers.  My girls love markers, but, even though these things wipe right off the book pages, they do not wash easily from clothing and carpets.  So, the next time I’m at the store, I’m going to be looking for some dry erase crayons.

Anyway, the books themselves were a big hit with my girls.  My 18-month-old pretty much just scribbles over the pages, but, because even at these young ages they both have to have exactly the same things, I made the same pages for both her and my 3-year-old.

The only difference was the first page, on which I drew their names in dashed lines to make them easy to trace.  My 3-year-old LOVES this.

Then I created pages that had other activities, like mazes, lines to trace, and coloring pages that included learning opportunities, like shapes and counting.

I cut plain white computer paper into 4″ x 6″ and slipped them into the pages of the photo album.  The first 5 pages had activities, but then I filled the rest of the book with blank pages, so they could draw whatever they wanted on those pages.  In the future, I’ll probably add more pages of activities.

When the girls use them, I provide a paper towel for them to wipe clean the pages, but you could also use a small sponge or an eraser made for dry-erase markers.

DIY Halloween Felt Board

DIY Halloween Felt Board

During one of my recent random wanderings of Michaels, I was passing the racks of felt and thought:  ooh – Halloween felt board!

Why not?

So, I picked up a few sheets of regular felt in orange (for pumpkins), white (for ghosts), and purple (for bats), and also a sheet of “stiffened felt” in black for the background (a night sky).

DIY Halloween Felt Board

I had a few scraps of felt left over from previous projects, so I grabbed the brown and yellow remnants, and cut a spooky tree and full moon from them.

All of the shapes, including the ones listed above, were all cut out by hand.

I considered drawing faces on the ghosts and pumpkins, or cutting out small pieces of felt to let the kids make their own jack o’ lanterns, but I decided I just didn’t want to find tiny, tiny pieces of black felt faces all over the house for the next month.

So:  no faces.  But I like the clean lines, so I’m happy with the decision.

DIY Halloween Felt Board

Felt sticks to felt, so you don’t need any glue or velcro or anything like that, but I do have to warn you:  the felt doesn’t stick firmly to the stiffened felt, so we played with this on the floor, instead of hanging it on the wall or fridge.

Still a lot of fun.  :)

DIY Halloween Felt Board

What kinds of felt boards have you used?

Check out my Halloween crafts from last year, and our new Chalkboard Pumpkins!

Chalkboard Pumpkins: Halloween Crafts

This October, I decided to incorporate my daughters’ love of chalk into our Halloween activities.

The result?

Chalkboard pumpkins!

chalkboard pumpkins halloween and thanksgiving crafts for kids

These were so easy.  I started with a can of my trusty chalkboard spray paint, and picked up 3 foam “carve-able” pumpkins from the Dollar Tree.

Since the pumpkins were a bit porous, I did a few more coats than I normally would.  I placed them on some old cardboard, sprayed the bottoms first, then turned them over and sprayed the top.

Did 5 coats over the top half-ish.  Let the paint dry between coats, of course.  Then took them, and a box of chalk, outside.  Did some crafting in the fresh fall air.

chalkboard pumpkins halloween and thanksgiving crafts for kids

The girls spent a lot of time decorating their pumpkins.  Spent some time wiping off the designs with a damp paper towel, and then drawing all over them again.

The pumpkins are decorating our house now.  And they’ll be re-decorated themselves a few times before Halloween even gets here.  But, because they’re pumpkins, we’ll probably leave them out for Thanksgiving, too.

One thing important to mention, is that we did initially play with these outside, but they’re really indoor decorations because of the material the pumpkins are made from.  But you could always use something different if you want to display them outdoors.

chalkboard pumpkins halloween and thanksgiving crafts for kids

chalkboard pumpkins halloween and thanksgiving crafts for kids

And just for informational purposes, here is a photo of the half-finished pumpkins, to give you an idea of what they looked like while they were being painted:

chalkboard pumpkins halloween and thanksgiving crafts for kids

Have fun – and let me know if you try it!  :)

Oh, and here are our Halloween crafts from last year!

Plus, read about the Digital Wasabi Tape I used in this post.

This project was featured at:

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