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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

Gifts from the Heart: Magnetic Bookmarks

Getting Real With Wanda Morrissey

I don’t know about anyone else but I sometimes find traditional bookmarks to be a bit of a pain. If you drop your book or you turn it the wrong way or you leave it where your toddler can get it, then chances are your bookmark will fall out and you’re left searching for the spot where you stopped reading. Recently, my husband brought home two bookmarks that he’d gotten at a conference. They were the kind made from laminated paper, folded in half and used a magnet on each side to keep it closed. I’d seen others with this type of bookmark but had never owned one myself.  As I put one of the bookmarks into my book thinking that I won’t be dealing with my current bookmark always falling out, another idea popped into my head. I bet I could make these at home, personalize them and use them as gifts. So, I gave it a shot and it worked. Here’s how I did it.

1.  Using the bookmark my husband bought home as a template, I cut out a rectangle of construction paper (2” by 7”) and folded it in half.

2.  I used some of my son’s stickers to decorate one side but you can use anything to decorate with as long as it doesn’t make the bookmark too thick. For Christmas I plan on using pictures of my son to make bookmarks for his grandparents.

3.  I put the bookmark inside a thermal laminating pouch (you don’t need a laminator to use the pouches). I put the pouch inside a folded towel and ironed over it – it takes a little longer than using a laminator but the end result is the same.

4.  I trimmed off the excess plastic and took two pieces of magnet and glued them to the inside ends of the bookmark so that when the bookmark was folded the magnets would touch.

And there I had it, a magnetic bookmark.  From start to finish, the project took about 30 minutes.

Note: laminating pouches should be available at your local store (I bought mine at WalMart) in the stationary department. I used magnet strips, that I also bought at WalMart but are available most places, they can be found in the stationary or craft departments.

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Crafts with Kids

Make Mother’s Day Special with a Coupon Book

Mother’s Day is coming, and this craft is a great solution for kids who want to give a gift that will keep giving throughout the year. There’s nothing easier and more personal than creating a coupon book. While this project isn’t as easy for the preschooler group to do on their own, with your help coupons like “one free hug” and “pick up my toys” will bring countless smiles to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Moms can even make coupon books for their kids offering to read a book, play a game, or share special time with the kids.

To begin, cut regular sheets of paper into thirds. Cut cardstock slightly larger than the coupons to use for the front and back covers. Use markers to decorate the cover and design your coupons. Be sure to include a statement like “This coupon entitles the bearer to…” at the top of each coupon and an expiration date like “never” or “100 years from now” in the bottom corner. When the coupons are finished, place them between the cardboard covers and staple the pages together. Older kids can give coupon books to grandparents with coupons offering to do yard work, run errands or spend time. Others will appreciate coupons for free babysitting or housecleaning.

When you’re thinking about what kinds of coupons to offer, have your children think about all the nice things the recipient does for them. A Father’s Day coupon book can be filled with coupons of things the kids can do that they typically see dad do, like take out the trash or shovel the snow. Not only will your kids think about the things that other people in their lives do that touch them, but your kids will gain a real sense of accomplishment when they realize how much they can do to make someone happy or give them a break.

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Crafts with Kids

Frugal Gifts: Picture Frames

There are not many relatives who don’t enjoy receiving updated photos of the youngest generation, but you can make it even more special by working with your child to create a personalized, homemade frame for the picture. You can keep the project simple by heating up the glue gun, using an old cardboard box for the base and using items from your craft supplies (or junk drawer or toy box) that you already have on hand.

You’ll want to choose the picture before beginning so that you know what size frame to make. Whatever size picture you choose, cut out a piece of cardboard that give you one to two inches of border around the picture. This cardboard will be the base to which you glue the picture. You may want to paint or color the cardboard.

Once your picture is glued in the center of the cardboard backing, you can turn your child loose with their creativity. Do you have an old puzzle with missing pieces? Use the remaining pieces to glue around the picture to frame it. The same can be done with scraps of fabric, buttons, beads or even coins. Just glue the decoration of your choice in overlapping layers around the picture until you achieve the look you want.

Don’t be afraid to be creative; if the gift is for someone with a special hobby or interest, capture that interest with the way you decorate the frame. Use fishing gear for the fisherman in your life or acrylic fingernails and mini bottles of polish for your beautician aunt. Tap into the creative side of your boys by letting them create a frame with dinosaurs, insects or toy cars glued around the picture. No matter how you decorate it, a personalized picture frame is guaranteed to bring a smile.