Saturday, December 24, 2011

Salt Baking Dough

While I'm at it, here's a reliable recipe for salt dough. It's fun to play with and you can color it with food coloring. You can also bake what you make. We often use it to make Christmas ornaments and have used it for handprint ornaments for the Grandmas for Mother's day. To make ornaments just use a straw to punch out holes in your ornaments before baking and make sure to flip them half-way through baking. Or you can just air dry.


Salt Baking Dough
  • 3/4 c. salt
  • 3/4 c. warm water
  • 2 c. flour
  1. Mix salt into the warm water and cool. Add dye now if you wish. Add flour slowly, stirring. Knead.
  2. Roll dough to 1/4-1/2" thickness and cut out ornaments.
  3. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-60 minutes, until moisture is out. Cover with foil if necessary to avoid browning.
  4. When cool, paint and seal with water-based polyurethane.

Gingerbread Play Dough

This is a recipe Griffin came home from school with and is a variation on good old salt dough. It smells delicious but probably doesn't taste so good! (Though it is edible, just in case your Octopus does eat it.)

Gingerbread Play Dough

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • additional vegetable oil as needed to improve consistency.

Mix the ingredients together. Knead until the dough is smooth. Play.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Stained Glass" Votive Holder

These votive candle holders are really easy and fun to make and really cheap, too. I like cheap. Plus, they can be as simple or as intense as you want to design them. With a 4 year old and a 2 year old we went simple. Just torn up scraps of tissue paper mod podged on. We even made our own mod podge. That too is cheap and easy. Nice.

What You Need:
  • one Recipe Mod Podge (recipe at the end)
  • one small, cleanjar (We used artichoke heart jars that are 6.5 oz)
  • small (like 1-2"sq) torn pieces of tissue papers in various colors

Here's What You Do:
  • Brush a bit of the mod podge onto the outside of the jar then put a piece of tissue on it. Smooth out the tissue with more mod podge. Thin layers is best.
  • Do this all around.
  • Let dry.
  • Voila!
  • Now put a votive candle or tea light in it and put it on display or gift.


Mod Podge Recipe:

  • 1/4 cup Elmer's Glue
  • 1/4 water

Stir together in jar until well mixed. For what it's worth, we also used an artichoke heart jar to mix and keep our mod podge in.

Magazine Cut-Out Ornaments

This is a really simple ornament that's great for preschoolers (and something I made myself when I was in preschool- and my mom still has it!). It is simply two pieces of paper glued together with a string for hanging sandwiched between. We found a couple wintery images in some of our old children's magazines and traced around them with a tupperware container and pencil to make a nice circle. Then we cut out the circles. We brushed glue on the back side of one paper then positioned a length of looped yarn on it so that the ends would be sandwiched between the two discs or paper with a loop to hang hanging out. Then we slapped on the other paper so the winter image faced out. Just make sure your the string is coming out the top and your pictures aren't upside down. That's it. Easy peasy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gingerbread Man Paper Chain

Remember making paper doll chains? Well, for the holiday season I made some "Gingerbread Man" chains out of brown paper to decorate our front door. Here's how you do it.

What You Need:
  • brown paper, about a 5" wide strip cut off from a roll of brown packaging paper.
  • scissors
  • red and silver glitter glue
  • black marker

What You Do:
  • Accordion fold the strip of brown paper all the way from one end to the other making a fold every 2.75 inches or so.*
  • On the front of your "book" draw your ginerbread man, making sure the arms reach all the way to the left and right edges.

  • Cut him out, through all the layers. making sure NOT to cut out around the hands. Every other body part should be cut around.
  • Open up your book. You should have a continuous chain of a dozen (or so) of gingerbread men.
  • Decorate with glitter glue buttons and "icing" and black marker faces.
  • Hang 'em up!

*Hint: If you cut your paper from a roll, you might want to weight and flatten your folded paper strip in a heavy book overnight before you cut your men so that they lie flat. Otherwise you can always tape them to your wall.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

These are a celebrated Christmas craft and you'll find recipes for these everywhere on the web. They'll vary a little bit but they're all basically the same thing: Applesauce and Cinnamon. Some recipes have white glue added for strength. We nitpicked through them and came up with this recipe which served us well and we got a dozen good-sized ornaments out of one batch.

Cinnamon Applesauce Dough:
  • 1 1/4 cups ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup Elmer's glue

Mix it all up until it resembles a sticky cookie dough. It'll be too sticky to roll right now, so let it sit for a half hour to an hour until you can work with it. Then roll it out to a 1/2 inch thickness (or a little thinner) and use cookie cutters to cut shapes. Set the shapes on a cookie sheet.

To make the holes, take a straw and stick one end through the "cookie" where you want the hole. Lift it out and the little hole should come with it. Blow the hole out.

Now you can dry these in a corner. They take a couple days to dry. I'm impatient. You know that. I baked mine. Set the oven to 200 degrees and bake for 2-2.5 hours until dry, flipping the ornaments half-way through. Even so I let them dry out more overnight before the kids decorated them with glitter glue.

Decorate, hang with a ribbon. Fun and done!

Easy enough for little hands and they make great home-made gifts. They just make your whole house smell of Christmas cheer.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Print and Cut: Paper Trees

These are super easy and fun to make and decorate. If we had time and space, we would make a whole forest of paper trees. They're also nicely collapsible so stick some in some Christmas cards! Or glue one onto a card to make one into a Christmas card:

You can make all sorts of sizes for your forest, but here are some templates for a starting place. For a larger 10" tree print up these two pages onto card stock.

page 1:

page 2:

Cut out, decorate and put together. It's easier to stand them up if you fold each half of the tree down the middle length-wise before fitting the slits together. And taping them on the resulting seams is not a bad idea either.

For a smaller 7" tree, print this up on card stock: