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Dinosaur Fossil Fun for Kids

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If your children are interested in dinosaurs, then they will love this fun educational activity. Let them dig for dinosaur fossils in your own backyard. For this project you will need some small inexpensive plastic dinosaurs that you can find at the Dollar Store. You can find Plaster of Paris at any craft store.

Supplies needed:
Small plastic dinosaurs
Plaster of Paris
A plastic storage container
A bucket
Sand

Older children will be able to do this entire activity themselves. You will have to help younger children with the Plaster of Paris.

Preparing the Sand

First you need the plastic storage container. It doesn’t have to be a large container, even a shoe box sized container will work. Fill the container with a couple inches of clean sand. This sand is used to create the shape of the dinosaur fossil.

Note: Don’t leave this container of sand laying around or your cat might be tempted to use it as a litter box!

Creating the Molds

Have your children use the plastic dinosaurs to create imprints in the sand. If it doesn’t turn out the first time then just wipe them out and make them again. Make sure the imprints are deep enough to pour the Plaster of Paris into. You should be able to clearly make out the shape of each dinosaur.

If you have large toy dinosaurs, try making dinosaur footprints in the sand.

Preparing the Plaster

Pour a small amount of the Plaster of Paris into the bucket. Add water slowly and mix until the mixture is the consistency of brownie batter. The mixture should be damp but not wet. Help your children carefully spoon the Plaster of Paris into the imprints in the sand. Let the fossils dry for several hours before removing them from the sand.

Removing the Fossils

After the fossils are dry, carefully remove them from the sand. The thicker the fossils, the less fragile they will be. Your kids will love the “fossils” they have made. For extra fun, you could also bury the finished fossils in the sand and have your kids dig for the fossils. Give them popsicle sticks and small paint brushes to unearth and “clean” their fossils.

Note: When rinsing out the bucket, do not pour any Plaster of Paris down the sink. When it dries it can be very harmful to your plumbing. Rinse it out with a garden hose instead.

Alternate Dinosaur Activity

For another fun activity, fill a small plastic storage container with water and freeze some of the small plastic dinosaurs inside. You can also add food coloring to the water, if desired. When the water is completely frozen, gently remove the block of ice from the container. Place the ice on the back patio or in a small wading pool and let your children use little hammers or kitchen table knives to break the ice and “discover” the dinosaurs.

These dinosaur fossils are a really fun family project. Your kids can pretend they are Paleontologists searching for ancient dinosaur fossils. Check out a few library books about dinosaurs, and you can turn this into a great easy science lesson for kids of any age.

Timothy Olsen is a professional blogger that provides information on dinosaur collectibles, dinosaur crafts and dinosaur history. He writes for Dinosaur Corporation, where you can find the best Dinosaur party supplies.
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Crafts with Kids

Keepsake Eggs – Crafts with Older Kids

This project requires prep ahead of time from mom. What you’ll need: ribbons, beads, pearls, sequins, Elmer’s glue and a hot glue gun.  If you have a Dremel tool, it will be helpful in prepping the eggs.

Prep Eggs

To prepare the eggs, you’ll need to empty the contents without breaking the shell.  With the Dremel, you can just drill holes in the top and bottom of the egg, but without a dremel you can use anything sharp – a screw, an ice pick, etc. Gently poke a hole in both the top and the bottom of the egg, then carefully blow the contents out of the egg. You can use a toothpick, skewer, or thin dowel to stir up the yolk so that it will pass through the hole. Try to keep the hole from becoming to large as it will weaken the egg.

Use Elmer’s Glue to Strengthen Egg Wall

Once the egg is emptied, gently rinse out the inside and let it dry, preferably overnight.  Put the shells back in the container for safekeeping.  The next day, squirt a liberal amount of Elmer’s glue inside the egg.  Roll the egg around so that the inside is completely coated with the glue.  This will strengthen the shell.  Once the glue is dry, the kids can jump in and help.

Go Crazy with Creativity

The eggshells must be handled with care.  Even with the glue coating, the shell is still extremely fragile. (Don’t fret if there’s a mishap, though – a lot of times, your hot glue gun will repair the damage well enough that it can be disguised with the ribbons and beads. When decorating the eggs, allow your creativity – and your kids’ – to shine through. Paint the eggs, then take thin strips of ribbon and glue them using a hot glue gun lengthwise onto the egg.  Leave extra at the top to form into a bow if you desire. Add beads, pearls and sequins to decorate to your taste.

Allow the eggs to dry and show them off!

If you have very young helpers who want to be involved but you know the eggs will never survive their hands, get a bag of pastel-colored plastic eggs, glue the two halves together and turn them loose with a glue stick and ribbons (smaller beads and sequins would make choking hazards, so avoid them).

 

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Crafts with Kids

Five Adorable Valentine’s Decorations You Can Make at Home

MomsGetReal Guest Contributor Madyson Grant

Decorating is a blast, especially when you make the decorations at home. Homemade decorations are a fun, festive, and inexpensive way to make the most of special occasions. Here are five do-it-yourself Valentine’s Day decoration ideas that everyone will love.

Crayon Heart Garlands

Garlands made from melted crayons are an easy way to add Valentine’s Day cheer to a home or office. The hearts are made by ironing crayon shavings into wax paper. The wax can be cut into heart shapes of many different sizes once it dries. The hearts are then strung together into a garland with a piece of silk or ribbon. The translucent heart shapes are especially beautiful when sunlight shines through them, and they look best near windows or skylights.

Pink Pillows

Pink throw pillows are a simple sewing project that can add romantic flair to couches and chairs. A good way to find supplies for these pillows is to hunt down pink rags and scraps of fabric around the house. You can also get some plush pink animal fleece fabric for extra softness. The necessary stuffing for the throw pillows can be found in old or unused pillows.

Yarn Messages

Knitting is not the only way to turn yarn into something meaningful. Using wire and yarn, you can spell out words and phrases of love. The first step is to bend a long piece of wire into a word of your choice. Next, tie colored yarn to one end of the wire and wrap it around until it reaches the other end. Tie it again and you have a charming Valentine’s Day decoration.

Handmade Flowers

Instead of visiting a flower shop this Valentine’s Day, decorate your home with flowers made of tissue or felt. Tissue paper flowers are easy to make, and they are a terrific way to involve kids in the fun of decorating. Floral decorations made from felt look as good as real flowers, and they can be reused year after year.

Love Song Candles

The words to a good love song are even more romantic when illuminated by candlelight. To make these Valentine’s Day candle holders, take a page of your favorite hymn or love song and cut a heart shape out of the center. Glue or tape the page to a mason jar and place a candle inside. The glow of the candle will keep the words and notes shining brightly.

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Crafts with Kids

Make Your Own Gift Wrap

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Whether it’s Christmas, a birthday, Valentine’s Day or any other gift-giving moment, you probably spend an extraordinary amount of time searching for and buying (or making) the perfect gift. The perfect gift is then unceremoniously dropped into a nondescript bag and with some tissue paper stuffed around it.

Wouldn’t it be even better if the wrap was as much a part of the gift as what is inside the package? With the price of gift wrap and gift bags, this can be a practical choice, too.

Making your own gift wrap is quick and easy, not to mention a fun project for the kids.  Start with brown packing paper, white meat packing paper, or even paper scraps that would otherwise be tossed out (you can even use leftover wrap inside out so that the white side is showing).  Using stamps, crayons, paints, or markers, turn your kids loose decorating the paper.

For birthday gifts, add a list of all the pertinent things that happened during the year of their birth. For a mother’s day or father’s day gift, include the kids’ handprints. If it’s a Valentine’s gift, put lipstick on everyone and put kisses all over the package. If you would like to prevent lip prints from smudging, you can cover them with clear fingernail polish or lightly spray just the lip print with hairspray.

Did you child make a beautiful fridge-quality piece of art?  Use it for gift wrap! Do you have some beautiful scraps of leftover fabrics?  You guessed it, they can either be glued on as accents or used alone as gift wrap.

Oh—and if you still want to drop the gift into a bag, all of these decorating ideas can be used just as easily on plain brown paper gift bags (with or without handles).

 

 

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Crafts with Kids Family

Crafts with Kids – Planning a Handmade Year

Getting Real With Veronica Ibarra

OK, so our 12 Days of Christmas theme with all handmade ornaments of the 364 items mentioned in the song didn’t actually get finished. We only got 256 items done by Christmas, but the tree was full and the kids and I had a blast. To carry on with the fun, we’ve decided to hand make just about every decoration this year for every holiday, including cards.

We’ve begun our February project with a Valentine’s banner. We began with the cutting out of an ample supply of hearts. To fancy them up we’ve been using craft scissors to give them different kinds of lace-like edges. To add to the creativity we’ve been using construction paper and scrapbooking paper with different designs on them. These hearts work for decoration and as Valentines to give out to classmates.

Once upon a time, before the commercialization of holidays and card giving, handmade was the only option. When printers began to manufacture cards some people were even snubbed for not taking the time to hand write their own messages. This Valentine’s Day we are bringing back that tradition of making our Valentine’s personal to the ones we give them to.

How this idea will play out for the rest of the year is anyone’s guess. My daughter has already been telling me all the things we can do for St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Spring, birthdays and more. She loves the idea so much that I don’t see how we can do otherwise. Plus as I have been a collector of art supplies for years with requests from family members to give art supplies as gifts we are well stocked for the task. This is looking like a fun project and a way to be frugal at the same time while also making everything more personal. With a combination like that it seems like a win-win all around to me.

I would love more ideas, though to be honest even with planning sometimes the best things we do happen with us making it up as we go along. It’s the fun of the adventure.

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Crafts with Kids

Summer Activity for Kids (and the whole Family) – Lava Lamps

Getting Real With Wanda Morrissey

When I found this activity on the internet, I knew I had to try it. When I told my husband about it, he said I had to wait until he was home to do it. I wasn’t sure if my 3 year old would enjoy it. I thought that this was going to be an experiment mine and my husband’s inner 6 year old. But, as it turned out, the whole family had fun with this one.

What you need:

an empty clear plastic bottle
 
vegetable oil
 
water
 
food colour
 
Alka Seltzer tabs

What you do: Fill the bottle more than half way with vegetable oil. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with water, leaving 1 inch of space at the top. Add food colour. (I used a 600mL bottle and 8 drops of food colour made a nice dark colour. You may need more or less depending on the size of your bottle). Let the bottle sit for a couple of minutes so the liquid inside can settle. Break an Alka Seltzer tab in four pieces and drop in one piece. Watch what happens. When things settle you can drop in another piece. You can reuse the liquid over and over again until the oil becomes cloudy.

Since we were having so much fun and were curious as to what would happen, we tried dropping in two pieces of Alka Seltzer tab and even dropping in the whole tab. It was quite the show. I put the lid on the bottle and let my son shake it up and throw it around. We played around with the bottle for about 30 minutes and then the oil got to cloudy to continue. We will definitely be doing this again.

Note: This activity can be done inside or out but we did it outside in case something spilled. As we were playing around, it occurred to me that this could be used as a school science project.

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Crafts with Kids

Crafts with Kids Made Easy with Favorite Art Time Supplies

Getting Real With Veronica Ibarra

When I’m not taking the kids to the zoo, museum or random fun event around town because I’m tired and just want to stay home, I announce very loudly that it’s Art Time. Art Time can last a few minutes or through the entire day; it just depends on the project, the weather, and my energy level. Here is a list of some of the supplies that make Art Time possible:

Modeling Clay – There are all kinds of modeling clay. We like the Roseart modeling clay because it comes in bright and exotic colors. I prefer modeling clay to play-dough because it doesn’t get stuck in my carpet and the finished product can be dried for gifting to the grandparents.

Bendaroos – These are pliable wax covered strings that react to the heat from your hands to become sticky. We got a kit from grandma that included 15 different colors. No glue, and no real mess to speak of.

Pipe Cleaners – Maybe once upon a time they cleaned a pipe, but now with the variety of colors and textures these things are invaluable as an art supply staple. One afternoon we spent making an entire zoo out of pipe cleaners.

Washable Finger Paints – Perfect for my 3 year old and 7 year old. Just spread one of those plastic party table cloths over the table and let them have fun. Be sure to save those egg cartons to use as paint pallets. Cut one in half and the kids can each have their own.

Construction Paper – This is an absolute must in any art supply stash. Kids can cut out stuff, draw on it, or paint on it. We make all our cards for the family. It’s more personal, and the kids have fun.

Sidewalk Chalk – Perfect for Art Time outside, and it is one of the cheapest supplies out there. I even found a recipe online to make homemade sidewalk chalk using cornstarch. The kids paint with it and it dries like chalk, and washes away just as easily.

Crayons – It seems rather obvious, but without crayons life would be very difficult around my house. There are even washable crayons on the market. How cool is that? Easy to clean off the walls should the little artist make it their canvas. (A Mr. Clean Magic Eraser also does the trick for cleaning regular crayon off walls, painted or papered, I’ve found.)

Markers – Same thing as with the crayons. I prefer the Crayola Washable ones myself as my son seems obsessed with drawing on himself rather than anything else.

Craft Foam Sheets – They are like a step above construction paper, but better suited for making hats and masks. With the addition of the craft foam stickers anything is possible. With the help of my 7 year old daughter, we made a Happy Birthday sign for my son out of craft foam and craft foam stickers. I cut out big letters and she stuck on the stickers. Using a hole punch and some string we strung the letters together and hung it for the occasion.

Glue Sticks – These are for general kid use. It stays where you put it and doesn’t spill. For the same reason I also prefer tape.

Tissue Paper – Instead of buying tissue paper I save the tissue paper that comes with most presents since my friends and family are big into reusable gift bags than wrapping paper. New tissue paper is used to send out a gift, but the tissue paper given is used for Art Time. Use a glue stick or add tissue paper to the finger paint projects. The paint acts as the glue and the tissue will stay put.

Other good things to have are scissors, paint brushes, old magazines, and a hole puncher. With these supplies, and a whole lot of imagination Art Time can be an amazing time for the whole family.

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Crafts with Kids

Summer Activity for Kids – Dinosaur Dig

Getting Real With Wanda Morrissey

I originally got this idea from the Early Years Centre where I take my son for playgroup. They had a messy play day and this was one of the activities. My son liked it so much that I had to do it at home for him.

What you’ll need:

  • various sized plastic containers  (I cleaned and used empty fruit cups, plastic cups and small storage containers)
  • small plastic dinosaurs (I found a bag of small dinos in the party section of my local dollar store)
  • water
  • freezer
  • food colouring (optional)

I put a small amount of water in the bottom of each container I was going to use  and let it freeze. I added more water, a few drops of food colouring and then dropped in a dinosaur, I put two dinosaurs in the larger containers. I let them freeze overnight.

The next day I took the frozen containers out the freezer and let them sit on the counter for a few minutes before going outside. When we were ready to go out, I took the chunks of ice out of the containers and put them in a bucket, then I got a couple of old forks and spoons (the kids are going to be chipping the ice to get out the dinosaurs so use blunt utensils and ones that you won’t miss if they get banged up).

I took the ice, utensils and my son outside, we sat on the sidewalk and happily chipped away the ice. My son had a blast making a mess and finding dinosaurs was really exciting for him.

Note: You could turn this activity into a treasure hunt by using any small toy that is freezable.

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Crafts with Kids

Fridge Magnets Make Frugal but Meaningful Fathers Day Gift

by Shadra Bruce

There is something so meaningful about receiving a gift made with love by a child. With Father’s Day coming, it’s a great time to think about helping your child make a homemade gift dad can keep forever. These are the treasures that often outlast most store-bought trinkets. One of the easiest crafts you can make with your children is a refrigerator magnet –  a perfect gift with a ready-made display location.

Picture frame magnets are the most popular magnets, and your child’s ability to be creative is pretty unlimited. Gather some photos, magnets, and craft supplies – seashells, popsicle sticks, macaroni, felt scraps, or anything else you have around.

You’ll also need a glue gun and a piece of cardboard or cardstock; everything else on the magnet is up to your imagination! Glue the picture to the center of the cardboard that you’ve cut to about three inches (square or circle or your own shape). This is where the creativity happens! On your piece of cardboard around the picture, you can glue macaroni or dried flowers, nuts and bolts, fishing lures or buttons – anything you can think of – to decorate the “frame” of the picture. Glue the magnet to the back of the cardboard frame and you’re ready to wrap!

You can also make picture frame magnets using Popsicle sticks, foam cut-outs or clay. Another handy magnet craft you can make with your kids is to use a clothespin to make a clip to hold items on your fridge or on a metal office desk. Using wooden clothespins, glue the magnet on the back. The front can be decorated by gluing items to it or using a marker or calligraphy pen to write the person’s name on it. It’s an inexpensive and useful gift for anyone, and your kids will have so much fun making them.

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Crafts with Kids

Crafts for Kids: Hand-Decorated Tees

The great thing about this kid-friendly craft is that it can be as simple or as extravagant as you choose to make it, and all you really need are plain t-shirts in any color. T-shirts make great gifts and can also be a fun project. This is a fun and easy – and memorable project. Best of all, you can recycle shirts you already own, especially the ones with the small stains that would otherwise be tossed out. (Just make sure your decorating project will cover the stain).

Take a few minutes before you involve the kids to iron the shirts. The smooth surface will make decorating easier, and the kids will be able to model the shirts for you after they’re done.

Make sure the t-shirts are clean and dry. Spread the shirt out on a table where you have a sturdy, flat work surface. To keep the paint or marker from bleeding through, slip a piece of cardboard in between the front and back of the shirt. From this point forward, your t-shirt is a blank canvas awaiting your child’s imagination! Your son can draw a picture of himself with grandpa or dad out fishing to give for Father’s Day or Grandparents Day. Immortalize your kids’ hands or feet by dipping them in fabric paint and making hand or foot prints on the t-shirt. These are always a hit with grandma.

If your daughter is having a birthday party or sleepover, buy or find big shirts for the group and let the girls decorate sleep shirts. If you have a cheerleader or other athlete in the family, making team shirts is a great team building and bonding exercise. You can even keep the iron hot and add iron-on transfers to the shirts.

Turn your kids’ creativity loose with this fun and inexpensive project!