Archive for the ‘crafts’ Category

LP and I just came home from a whirlwind trip to Boston for a family event.  We had 5 fun and family-packed days.  One of the many delights for us was 2 nights in a hotel (oh the pool!) which meant more hangout time with cousins (and for me with my siblings).

The second night, my 7-year-old niece and LP were at loose ends, so we three girls went to our room to make some puppets.  Those of you who have read my blog for awhile know that I don’t leave home without blue painters tape and you can see how useful it was for this make-it-up craft.

We took turns drawing faces (mostly dogs, of course) and then carefully ripped them out and taped them onto construction paper tubes (another travel essential).  The tubes were various sizes and fit either over a few fingers or a whole hand depending on the size of the puppeteers hands.  LP also asked for a bone puppet for the dogs so I made that one for her.  It was fun to have time with my crafty niece and experience her creativity in action (I love that one of her dog puppets “Woof” has his name written on his forehead).

Much to LP’s disappointment, there wasn’t time to gather all the cousins together for a puppet show before bedtime.  However, the puppets packed up easily for the next leg of our journey and when we were finished playing, they were recycled.

Read Full Post »

Take one preschooler home sick for the day add a hot glue gun, craft sticks and a bunch of craft odds and ends and you have…


LP, who was feeling pretty sick, mostly wanted to art direct the crafting.  With a little coaxing she did play around with the hot glue gun and the materials for a bit but what grabbed her interest telling me what to do.  It was one of those good sick day activities that is fun, can eat up a lot of time and take everyone’s mind off feeling lousy.

After the crafting, it was time for puppet shows.  The new puppets became villagers and LP’s Mr. Snuffleupagus puppet took on the part of dragon with a cold (yes, he sneezes out fire leading to all kinds of trouble).  We haven’t done many puppet shows so it took me a bit to get into manipulating all the characters, telling the story, doing different voices and incorporating LP into the action.  It was lovely (and easy) to bring LP into the show, from having her hand the puppets imaginary objects they need and helping make the soup for the sick dragon.

A few days later, she wanted to make more puppets and this time she was all about doing it herself.

She made this puppet:

and then it was time for another puppet show.

Read Full Post »

Full credit to Teacher Tom for this… See his blog posts here and here for inspiration and ideas for how to give little people the opportunity to work with hot glue guns. Things went pretty much as he described, she was so intent on her project that when she did touch the too hot glue, she reacted only briefly and got back to work.  My main supervision ended up being around making sure it was put down safely and adding more glue sticks.

LP was excited for her chance to use the hot glue gun.  Here she is waiting to begin with a selection of materials to glue (randomly grabbed from our art boxes):

And she was off:

She was focused and seemed blissfully happy putting lots and lots of glue on the box as her main exploration although she did take time to experiment with spreading it out:

and weaving a spider web with the dried glue strands:

Here’s the “cake with anchovy frosting” final product:

One thing that is great for me about a project like this is that it challenges me to control myself and give her space to discover the possibilities.  I had visions of building sculptures…LP wanted to build glue piles and dots and squiggles.  The important thing in this moment was to say “yes” with my behavior to support her creative exploration and to allow her to use her spontaneity to explore rather than be directive and product oriented.

Read Full Post »

I have a confession.

I love blue painters tape.

This feeling started slowly…a roll of painter’s tape for an emergency diaper fix, to cover a few electrical outlets and quick hang up some family photos for baby LP to see.  It quickly grew… blue tape, LP and I, we can do anything together. Need a spoon? I can make you one.  Need in indoor swing for a stuffed animal? We can do that. Puppets to entertain on the plane? Check. Tape pictures on the floor or wall? No problem.

When LP and I went visiting family for 3 weeks in the fall, we went through a full roll of tape before the final weekend. It was the major source of entertainment on planes and trains and also got a major workout creating circle paddocks for her horses. ImprovDad was meeting up with us for a family celebration a few days before we returned home and my SOS to him when he asked if he could bring anything was “blue tape!”

The blue tape creations are getting more wild and wonderful as LP takes more and more control of them.  She’s just starting to get the hang of ripping off pieces on her own.

Recent blue tape creations at our home:

Bandages for Raz:

A costume for Violin Case:


Labels for the herb pots in the garden:

LP has been on a labeling kick with blue tape.  Below is the photo of Feather’s House (Feather being the space heater who lives in our old computer desk when she’s not in use), complete with its own name and a blue tape mailbox.

Got your roll of blue tape ready? Need some ideas to get you started? Check out:

“Spider Web” on Tuesdays with Daddie — this post also has the best description of painters tape ~ “Its like a roll of duct tape married a stack of post-its and they had a blue baby.” So true!

“Masking Tape Portraits” on Art Projects for Kids

“The magical, multifunctional properties of painter’s tape” on Parent Hacks

Read Full Post »


Today LP & I were working on a paint project with a purpose.  The goal was to create wrapping paper for the three baby gifts that are ready to be mailed.

I even tried to preplan how to handle the clean up blues.  First timing…after quiet time and before dinner when the dinner plan was leftovers.  Second, paint protection in the form of a layer of newspaper on the kitchen floor and then a long piece of white paper taped down the center. (Of course our kitchen is all white but I figured if I kept on top of the glips and glops and overflow, the end clean up would be simple.)

LP started off drawing with a marker while I finished setting up.

I found her creation pretty fantastic, especially as she narrated as she drew. It was so interesting to watch the interplay of the spontaneity of her drawing and of her words. Sometimes she drew something and then talked about it and other times, it was the reverse.

The creature is a Mymerona. It has quite detailed anatomy when it comes to pee and poop AND on its other end had separate mouths for each kind of food it likes…so an apple mouth, a date mouth, a banana mouth and so on. (I love how little people translate their current interests into activities!) This was the first time I’ve seen LP embrace drawing with so much energy and purpose and I thought she might stick with drawing and not ask for paint. I sat on the floor with her while she drew and talked.

And then she did indeed ask for paint…

I had suggested that it might be fun to have handprints and footprints on the wrapping paper so she started off by getting her “tools” nice and full of paint.

And then she settled into enjoying exploring paint and paper. She dumped and poured and swirled and skated (a little bit but was upset when she fell down…paint is pretty slippery).

She did a little bit of Jackson Pollock-type splattering but I had to put the kebosh on that because the paint was flying out of control.  I have to remember that for an outdoor project when the weather warms up. Or when I’m ready to cover every surface in preparation. (Read about a very cool Pollock inspired father-daughter paint project here.)

She painted my arms and hands and we did some handprints together and then she returned to her own explorations.

And then there were handstands…

And then there was cleaning up. Lots and lots of cleaning up.

In the end, about half of the paper is usable wrapping paper which is plenty.  Hopefully it will dry overnight and tomorrow morning we can wrap things up together and go to the post office to mail them.

This post is part of We Play over at Childhood 101. Click on over for lots of great play ideas!

Read Full Post »

…with salt dough

– making sure to bring ImprovaMama into the action-

and then with lots and lots of paint…

all to make ImprovDad a Happy New Year snake


We decided to make New Year’s Eve our present-centric holiday including homemade gifts. Somehow even though I knew LP wanted to make ImprovDad a snake for 2 weeks beforehand, I just couldn’t get it together to do the project until the day came.

It was a day of many messes. Actually about one mess too many for me to stay positive at the end.  Good to remember to start to find closure on projects before I am burned out on the cleaning up. This is one of my challenges for the New Year — finding better balance between the projects and the clean up. I love to let LP make messes to her heart’s content but the positive message I want to give her about exploring and creating sometimes gets undermined by my cranky-pantsness about the resulting clean up. I’ve been working on creating better outdoor space for explorations but in this rainy season, I need to problem solve the indoor play too. AND I want to give her more opportunities to help with the clean up and that means not being at the end of my rope when clean up time happens.

There were lots of spontaneous additions (to both the salt dough play and the paint play) after the goal-oriented part of crafting had been met (actually making a snake). During the paint session, LP transformed the paint jar into a snake home complete with many “snake snacks” (balls of painted newspaper).

On New Year’s Eve, the snake was still wet so ImprovDad just got a look.  This morning however, LP presented the present to ImprovDad with sweet seriousness…a pleasure to witness.

Read Full Post »

Photo Banner

This craft project has been in the works for a long time.  I was inspired by Future Craft Collective’s Prayer, Wish, Hope Flags. I even sewed up a bunch of muslin flags a few months ago. Where those flags have gone, I do not know.  So starting over, I decided to use the basic idea of the flags to create a photo banner that could brighten up LP’s room (with her favorite color as the base). At first I was going to make iron on photo transfers but then I remembered I had leftover photo sleeves which also have the added bonus of letting us swap the photos.

I sewed the flags while LP played with pins and thread.  Then discovered that while my old scrapbook photoholders were a good idea, they didn’t actually stick to the fabric.  So I sewed them to the flags. Voila!

LP chose the photos and I printed them out on our ink jet printer.

Here’s a close up of one flag (LP with her beloved chickens):

And here’s the whole thing:

I’m looking forward to seeing how the photo rotation goes. I think it will be a fun way to prepare for visiting family and friends and remembering special occasions.

Read Full Post »

This idea is borrowed from our friends down the block. Last week when LP & I went over to play, her friend E showed us his outdoor kitchen. I thought it was a brilliant idea AND we have a lot of old building supplies hanging around (cinder blocks, slate slabs, bricks).  Since we rent and the owner wants to hold on to this stuff, this is a great way to use it and not just keep moving it out of the way.

LP & I planted a “kitchen garden” of parsley, basil & poppies in the cinder blocks.  We’ll see what happens…for the meantime, it has added a new fun element to the yard.

This post is part of the Moms 30 minute blog challenge over at SteadyMom.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday was a rainy day and LP & I were feeling it here at the Improv-a-Mama house.

She was up early and had started bouncing from thing to thing.  Even before 9am I was feeling a little overwhelmed thinking of how to keep this little person engaged (and therefore not driving me up a wall) for more than 5 minutes.

She was into painting and what a great activity it turned out to be – 45 minutes!

I started her off (by request) with red & pink paint with paper and a sponge heart cutout to make valentines.  When she was losing interest, I brought out other colors of paint to add to the mix. Then pinto beans.  Then cornstarch. And finally, scraps of felt.

Clean up could rightly be called part of the activity. LP was pretty covered with paint (truly her own self remains her favorite canvas) and enjoyed watching the water in the basin turn colors as she swished her hands around in it.

Having her settle into something gave me the headspace (and time) I needed and I enjoyed watching her play with the materials expand and change. I offered the materials (or responded to her requests for more paint or cornstarch) and let her play with them.

Read Full Post »