January 31, 2012

Apple Puzzle

Last summer, I shared the super cool Magic Message Bananas as a neat way to add a little fun to your child's snack time or lunch box.  Well, thanks to the ever-inspiring Pinterest, I found this clever idea for apples.  Not only is it a fun presentation, but it makes it much easier for a loose-toothed kid to enjoy a whole apple at lunchtime!

Check it out...

Such a simple solution, but it's been a big hit with my apple-loving girls.

All you need is an apple, a sharp knife 
and a thick rubber band.

Make a cut to the side of the stem.

Then make three more cuts on each side of the stem to cut your apple slices away from the core.

Put your rubber band around the middle of the apple and your fruit puzzle is ready to go!

Note:  While this technique doesn't completely prevent the slices from browning, it does seem to really reduce it  (Plus, with a cool "puzzle", the kids don't even seem to notice it)

Sharing our apple fun at:

January 30, 2012

Football Brainteaser

With the Superbowl coming up next weekend, here's a fun little brain teaser you can use to stump your older kids (or husbands, coworkers or other adults!)

NOTE:  I used crayons and eraser with my son because that's what a mom with kids has on hand.  However, you can use just about anything to make your goal posts and "football". (especially considering I might have learned this trick years ago in a bar with drink stirrers and a crumpled cocktail napkin! ;)  )

January 29, 2012

Melted Crayon Canvas

Ever since I first saw the melted crayon canvas idea popping up on Pinterest this summer, I've been wanting to try making one with the kids. This weekend, I finally pulled out a big box of crayons and a plain canvas and set out with my youngest to make one.

Pretty cool, isn't it?  
Since Valentine's Day is right around the corner, 
we decided to incorporate a heart 
into our melted crayon canvas 
and we love how it turned out.  

Here's how we did it:

1.  I pulled out a big box of crayons and a blank 11x14" canvas.  Then I had my daughter choose the colors she wanted.  We lined them up across the top to make sure we had enough and they were in the order she wanted.

2.  Next, we gathered the rest of our supplies ~ a hot glue gun, a heat embossing gun ( a hair dryer would work too, it just might splatter a little bit more ) and some contact paper.

3.  Once we had the crayons arranged to our liking, I hot glued them in place across the top of the canvas.  After some debate, we decided to leave the wrappers on, although it would look cool with unwrapped crayons too.

4.  Next, we cut out a heart shape with the contact paper and positioned it where we wanted it on the canvas.  (NOTE: The contact paper worked well to do the resist, but started to lift up a bit because of the heat.  I may play around with different tapes to see if something else worked better so there's no bleeding under of the melted wax.)

UPDATE:  When I made some more canvases HERE, I ran a line of hot glue along the edge of the contact paper shape.  It really helped to minimize bleeding under of the melted wax.   Just try to keep your glue line as flat and flush with the canvas as possible, so the melting wax can still go over it and drip down on your canvas.

5.  Now that everything was in place, I put the canvas in a box to catch any drips and splattering wax and got my heat gun ready.

6.  Woohoo, time to melt those crayons.  My daughter got the biggest kick out of watching this step.  Because I wasn't really sure how hot the gun would be and how much the hot wax would splatter, I did this step myself.  However, with supervision, I know she could do it next time.

The wax started melting within seconds of holding the heat gun to them.  I first went across the top, melting each of the crayons a little bit.  Then went back, holding the heat gun to them a little longer to melt them more.  Finally, I moved the heat along the trails of melted crayon to get the melted wax going down to the bottom of the canvas.

7.  Before the wax hardened all the way, we peeled off the contact paper to reveal our heart.

She added the heart to a Valentine's card she made for the family.

8.  As I mentioned, the contact paper did lift up in a few places as I was melting the crayons around it, so I did have a little bit of bleeding in some spots.

9.  So, I grabbed some white acrylic paint and just neatened up the edges and put a light coat of white on the whole heart.

Looks much better now.

My daughter had the idea to maybe write in the word "LOVE" or "FAMILY" inside the heart and we might end up doing that eventually.  For now, we're just really proud of our colorful Valentine's Day artwork and really excited to try this technique again.

Sharing our colorful canvas at:

January 24, 2012

Ivory Soap Explosion

For the past few months, I kept reading about the amazing results you get by sticking a bar of Ivory Soap in the microwave.  Then just a couple weeks ago, I saw it here and I knew I wanted to try it here with my kids.  

Let me tell you, if you don't have any Ivory soap in the house, pick it up on your next shopping trip, because this is what you'll get...

Pretty cool, isn't it?  And it's so super easy.  Just pop your soap in the microwave (it'll only work with Ivory), put it on high for about 2 minutes and watch it expand like crazy. (Note:  Different microwaves may be stronger than others.  Your soap may be finished expanding sooner, just watch it carefully )

Just heed my warning, though.  I didn't go back to reread the post where it directed you to cut your soap into pieces first.  I popped the whole thing in, then had to push my oohing and ahhing kids aside before the growing blob completely filled my small microwave!

She loved it!

Be careful at first, because it is fairly hot when it first comes out of the microwave.  However, it cools down quickly and can be easily handled.  I thought it would be sticky or slimy feeling, but it was actually dry and a bit crumbly.  The kids had fun touching it and breaking it apart.  (and it was really easy to get them in the shower with a promise that they could break off a clump of the exploded soap to use to wash up!)

NOTE:  For all of you who make your own laundry detergent, Jessica sent me this message on our Facebook page...

My daughter and I just tried the Ivory Soap Explosion..and LOVED it! We found another perk to this too: Once the soap has been expanded and the kiddos play with it..it turns to that fine powder. I make my own laundry soap....1 bar shaved soap, 1 cup washing soda and 1 cup borax. I will never shave my bar of soap again!! Expand, play, mix..that's my new laundry soap motto!!! 

I think I'm going to have to keep a few bars tucked away in the closet and pull it out whenever we need a little fun before bathtime.

Oh, and there's some scientific principles behind it too.  Basically, in the manufacturing process, tiny air pockets are formed in the soap (that's why Ivory floats).  When heated in the microwave, the moisture in those air pockets changes to a gas and expands.  (I told my kids it was similar to what happens with popcorn ~ but you can read more about the science part of it in more detail here at Steve Spangler Science

Sharing our cool soap experiment at: 

January 23, 2012

Five Fun Ideas with a Snowman Theme

Any kid will tell you, one of the best things 
about winter is building a snowman.
However, if Mother Nature is not cooperating 
and real snowman-making isn't possible,
these Five Fun Ideas shared at our Winter Fun Party would be a cool way (pun intended),
to help your kids get their snowman fix!

Snowman Fridge
 { hands on: as we grow }

What a fun way to "winterize" your kitchen!
Not only does it look cute,
but all the pieces are magnetic so the kids
can have fun "building" the snowman while mom or dad cooks.

Toilet Paper Roll Snowman
{ East Coast Mommy }

Boy are those cardboard toilet paper rolls versatile.
Look how cute this little guy is!
I love his hat made from an old baby sock.

Water Bottle Snowmen
 { Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas }

These water bottle snowman are adorable
(and a great way to repurpose your recyclables
while practicing hand/eye coordination 
and your snowman decorating skills) 

Footprint Snowman
{ Handprint and Footprint Art }

I love footprint crafts,
especially when those little toes 
can turn into this cute snowman.

Snowman Pops

{Phaedra's Adventures}

Chocolate dipped oreo snowmen?
Yes, please!
What a cute little treat for a winter party
or "just because".

Thanks, ladies, for linking up these adorable projects and recipes to our Winter Fun Party.
Feel free to grab a featured button from my sidebar.

And, readers, these are just a few of the many great ideas
that are being shared.  Check out the rest of them HERE!

Should I be Worried?

Earlier this afternoon,  when I was emptying pockets to put in a load of laundry, this is what I found in my son's jeans...

No joke, you're reading that right,  I found a whole handful of broken bone fragments in his pocket!!  Thankfully, he explained to me that he wasn't hacking up his opponents from his recess paper football tournaments.  Instead, he thought the bones that were left from the roasted chicken he bought for lunch that day were pretty cool and he wanted to save them. 

I'm going to trust him this time and not call in the CSI team, but I'm going to keep an eye on this guy and not let his cute looks fool me.

My bone collector and his sidekick!

January 22, 2012

Cool 9 Times Tables Trick

My oldest daughter is in 3rd grade and is working on mastering her times tables.  She has a great understanding of the concept of multiplication,  now we're just working on being able to give the answers quickly and accurately.  

As we started practicing the times tables, I remembered this cool trick I'd learned years ago.  I showed my daughter and she thought it was really helpful, so she agreed to be my hand model.  Many of you might know it already, but if not, it's a good little tip to have in your bag of homework helping tricks!

Pretty cool, isn't it?  It will work for all the 9x tables up to 10.

We hope this little tip helps some other Multiplication Fact learning kids!  

Oh, and for another helpful tool in your bag of tricks ... whenever we're in the car or when falling asleep at night, my daughter listens to this multiplication CD.   Some other CD's we've tried either sound too babyish or there's too much extra "stuff" in them and the math facts get lost.  This one has been a hit so far and even my 6 year old sings along and often gives the answers.

January 21, 2012

Come Together for Winter Fun

  Welcome to our 
Winter Fun Ideas Party!

We had our first snowstorm of the winter this weekend.
Granted it was barely two inches, but it just never really seems 
like winter if there hasn't been some snow.

Now that I feel that winter has officially arrived,
I'm ready to start our newest themed collection ~ ideas for Winter Fun.

This will be your place to share and be inspired by ideas for Winter.
It can be ideas for outdoor snow play, 
if you're lucky enough to live in a snowy climate.
It can be ideas for Winter-themed crafts or recipes.
It can be fun ideas to keep the kids busy if they're home for a snow day.
Really, it can be anything at all ~ 
as long as it's related to Winter Fun and kids!

As with all our link parties here at Come Together Kids,
this party will be on-going and continue all year!
Every so often, I will feature some of the great ideas shared 
in one of my Five Fun Ideas... posts!
A few guidelines:

1.  Please link to your specific blog post relating to WINTER FUN.
(You can link up as many posts as you'd like, as long as they relate to the theme!)

2.  Please do not link to an Etsy shop, business, or someone else's post.
3.  Stop by a few other links while you're here.  I'm not going to say it has to be the one right before you or after you, but take a couple minutes to be inspired by the creativity of others.  (and take few more seconds to leave a comment, it can really make a blogger's day!)
4.  Finally, the more people who link up to this party, the better it will be.  Please help me spread the word by linking back either with a text link or by grabbing a button. (button coming soon)

January 20, 2012

"You Made My Heart Happy" Message and Printable

I have to be honest, bedtime in our house is usually not the calm, loving end to our day that I'd like it to be.  By 7:30 -8:00, I'm exhausted, the kids are whiny, everyone's tired, but no one is falling asleep.  Quite often, I end up yelling, they get upset, and after they are finally asleep and the house is quiet, I feel awful.  I want them to drift off to sleep knowing how much they are loved and how much I really do appreciate the wonderful things they do each day, not thinking about the fact that Mommy is frustrated and just wants them in bed already.  (And even though I would never actually read it to them or say it out loud,  this book totally sums up my frame of mind many evenings)  

Then I came across the cute idea (on Pinterest) to put "I love you because..." in a frame and use a dry erase marker to write the reasons why.  I decided that a special message every evening might be a good addition to our bedtime routine. 

I simply used Picnik to make up a 5x7 print with the message, put it in a frame, and put it in their bedrooms.  I did change the saying a bit from the ones I saw on Pinterest.  Because they're my kids, I love them unconditionally.  I often tell them that I always LOVE them, but sometimes they do things that make my heart happy and sometimes their behavior makes my heart sad.  With these little frames and a dry erase marker, I can now write down something they did that day that made my heart happy.

I'm hoping that the focus on the good they did each day will encourage even better behavior, and they'll fall asleep each night knowing how much they're valued and loved.  However, if nothing else, I think it will help me take a minute to recognize just how blessed I am to have these three rambunctious, yet loveable, kids.

Now, I'm completely new to the idea of putting a printable on the blog here, but if anyone might want to make one for their own home, I *think* I have this set up where you can print or download your own copy.  They should be a 5x7" sized picture, but will print on a regular-sized sheet of paper.  Or, I believe you can just right click the image and save it to resize however you want it.

Click HERE for the message on the blue background.

Click HERE for the message on the pink background.

I'm not kidding myself that bedtime will suddenly become calm and relaxing for everyone, but at least the kids (and I) can take a minute to reflect on something good they did that day.

January 13, 2012

The 5-Minute, No-Sew Bottom Bunk Fort

I think most kids love making forts and clubhouses, but my youngest is obsessed with them.  At least a couple times a week, I go into her room and find a whole variety of sheets, towels and blankets draped over her bottom bunk to make her own private hide-out.  As part of her room re-do that I'm in the process of doing, I decided to give her something a little more "permanent" (although it's still easily switched out or removed completely)

Isn't this cool?

Look how it works.  The curtain can be all tucked away when not in use, but just slide it closed for your very own Bottom Bunk Fort (in our case, a very Pinkalicious Bottom Bunk Fort!)

Now I promised you that it would only take 5 minutes to make and you wouldn't have to sew or even cut anything.  I wasn't lying, check it out..

Here's what you need:  a twin flat sheet, curtain rings with clips, and a tension rod  (NOTE: You can usually find the curtain rings at Target, Walmart, etc. with the curtains and curtain hardware)

UPDATE:  I replaced the thin tension rod I originally used with a sturdier one (actually a shower curtain tension rod).  It still only took 5 minutes to make, but will withstand a little more kid wear and tear.  I just had to slide off one of the plastic end caps to put on the curtain rings.

Sturdier rod = no worry, kid play!

Here's what to do:

1.  Slide your curtain rings onto the tension rod ( I used two packages, so 14 clips).

2.  Mount your tension rod to the bunk bed.  

3.  Fold your twin, flat sheet in half lengthwise, then attach the clips on the fold.

4.  And that's it!  See, I told you it was fast and you wouldn't have to cut or sew anything!


My daughter LOVES it.  (I love that I will no longer be finding scotch-taped sheets and thumb-tacked towels forming ramshackle clubhouses).  We rarely use the flat sheets on the bed anyway, so this was the perfect use for them.  Plus, all I have to do is unclip the sheet to wash it or change it out for a different color.  

Sharing our super easy fort at:
Tip Junkie handmade projects

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