Kids’ Magnetic Play Tray

We have a longish road trip coming up, so I’ve been busily preparing activities and snacks to entertain the 4 year old, 3 year old and 8 month old.

Last night I put together these magnetic play trays for the older ones to use in the car.

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The magnets will (in theory) help them to keep the pieces on the tray without dropping them into the pit of no return, aka, the floor of the car.

If you’d like to see how I made them, read on!

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Tutorial

You will need:

  • magnetic baking trays (check this before you stick down the paper – a few of mine weren’t magnetic!)
  • round craft magnets
  • animal figurines and cars (I got these in the party favour section of the $2 shop. Alternatively, you could use dinosaurs, army men, bugs, or anything else you can find!)
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • double sided tape
  • paper road map (You’re welcome to print off and use the one I designed here: magnetic-road-map. To make this rectangle tray and the circle one, I printed the page off 3 times.)

 

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  1. Measure sheets of paper and cut to size.

    The rectangle baking tray was just slightly narrower than A4, so I only had to cut a thin bit off the long side.
    For the circle tray, I matched up the roads on two sheets, turned them over and taped together. Then I traced the circle tray shape onto the back side and cut it out.

 

2. Apply double sided tape to baking trays and stick down paper map.

 

3. Glue magnets to the bottom of figurines.

I burnt myself and messed this part up a couple of times… In the words of my husband, go slow and be patient!
The cars were pretty straight-forward – apply a glob of glue to bottom of car, then press the magnet down onto it.
The animal figures were a bit more tricky. Some of them had a good base so it was easy to just glue and stick the magnet on (see chicken). But others only had legs (see pig), so I had to carefully put some glue on the magnet first, which was placed on my table. Then push them animal down onto it with just two legs, being careful to get glue on both legs. Then when it dried a bit, I went back and reinforced it with some more glue.

Then when that dried, I would repeat the process for the back two legs. You have to be really careful with this part, or the first magnet will pull the second magnet onto itself and then you will impulsively try to grab it and burn your fingers because hot glue it HOT.

*Cough cough* Don’t ask me how I know…

Keep going until all your figures have magnets.

 

 

And here is the finished product!

 

Kid Friendly Christmas Tree Collage

We’ve never had a real Christmas tree.

Our eldest child is nearly five and the youngest is only 7 months, so for the last few years we’ve decided that a real tree (in all it’s unsteady, breakable-ornament-laden glory) would just be more trouble than it’s worth. One day when the kids are all older, we’ll be able to handle a real tree.

But until then, we’re just going to keep making craft trees. (And having loads of fun in the process!)

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This year we made a Christmas tree collage, and I’m so happy with the result!

At 3 and 4 years old, the kids needed a fair bit of direction, but I’m really proud of their efforts.

To make this craft, I used:

  • a large piece of cardboard (brown was just what I had on hand, but I quite like the end result of having a darker colour for the background!)
  • a marker
  • coloured paper (I had some Christmas scrapbook paper on hand)
  • glue stick
  • tape or blutack (to stick your cardboard to the wall)

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First, I drew a Christmas tree outline on the cardboard, taking up as much of the space as I could.

Then, I stuck the cardboard to the wall.

To prepare the paper, I just ripped it up into odd shapes and sizes (but roughly around 1-2 inches).

I explained to the kids that we would need to work quickly to prevent the glue from drying, and then I applied glue to the tree shape in small sections at a time, and we worked our way down the tree.

My eldest daughter had fun trying to find shapes to match the spaces available.

Sometimes I had to go back and add glue to loose corners that were sticking up.

All in all, it probably took us 45 minutes (1 hour if you include the prep I did).

Ta da!

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Say “Christmas Trees”!

Baskets and Ribbons – Three Ways

I love making things for our house, and I’m a firm believer in the concept of making things instead of just buying them from a shop . (Of course, this is not always possible – sometimes for whole seasons of life.)

I realised that I have made lots of things for our house using baskets and ribbon. And the good thing about homemade items is that you often have memories attached to them.

 

1. Toilet Paper Holder

This is a toilet paper roll holder I made last year – it hangs on the back of the toilet door. I got the idea after I saw a similar one (but made out of cane, like a wicker basket) in a holiday house. I thought it looked practical and cute.

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Previously, we used to have a cow-themed toilet paper holder that sat on the floor, like this one:

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But then one day during a late pregnancy-induced nap, this happened:

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So I thought it would be good to store the toilet paper up off the ground!

All you need to make it are some ribbons and a plastic basket. Tie and weave the ribbon from side to side, leaving a gap in the middle through which you can add and remove rolls.

2. Handy Cleaning Caddy

I used to store our cleaning supplies individually down in the bottom of the laundry cupboard, but it was quite a hassle to access them. And as a consequence, I didn’t get them out often.

So I thought it would be a good idea to have some kind of cleaning caddy to store all the items in, for easier access.

I’d seen this kind of thing in lots of shops:

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When I looked around the house, I found that I could easily make one using a square basket, a wire coat hanger and some nice ribbon:

DIY Basket cleaning caddy

I opened out the coat hanger and then bent it into an arch shape for the handle. Then I used some pliers to wrap it tightly around the basket’s handles.

I then tied the ribbon onto one handle and carefully wrapped it around the length of the coat hanger. The bows were added on last from separate pieces of ribbon.

 

 3. The “Stuff” Basket

Most people have a “stuff” basket or drawer in their house – you know, that place where you chuck all the odd pens, safety pins, rubber bands, random picture your kid drew that isn’t that great but they would have a meltdown if you dare to throw it out…

I also keep recipe books and a couple of notepads in mine. It lives on my kitchen bench and I use it every day!

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This one is pretty simple – I just added some nice ribbon around the edge of a basket. But it also has a special memory for me…

My husband went on a bush walk with some colleagues shortly after we moved to this city, and he just found this basket on the ground out in the bush!

He knew I would love it, and so he brought it home for me. And I remember his thoughtfulness every time I look at it ❤ .

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The (New) Polkadot Apron

I have a thing for aprons. They are just so cute and they make any task more enjoyable. The frillier and girlier the better!

This was my first apron, which I made just after we got married 7 years ago:

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Hot pink and lime green – the minute I saw this fabric, I knew it had to be an apron!

But over the years, I’ve developed a bit of a red and white theme in our kitchen wares and crockery. So I decided to make a new apron keeping with the red and white theme.

I just finished it off the other day – so happy with how it turned out!

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And just because I love aprons, here are some others I’ve made over the years:

Embroidered Wire Journals

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Today we made Thankful Journals with embroidered jewellery wire covers. The concept of the Thankful Journal is simple – each night, you write one sentence about something you are thankful for that day.

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These pictures are actually from a journal I made tonight, because I got home and realised I hadn’t taken any pictures – haha!

But you should have seen the different designs all the ladies came up with. My demo model was a flower, similar to the one pictured here. And yet, we had Mums doing, crosses, triangles, circles, love hearts, etc!

I think that’s the best thing about being a MOPS Creative Activities Coordinator – I get to plant to the seed of creativity, and watch the different “blossoms” that spring forth from each Mum.

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Materials:

  • journals
  • card stock
  • jewellery wire
  • pens
  • sticky tape
  • foam dots, or foam mounting tape
  • scissors

 

Preparation: Approx. 45 minutes.

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“100 Things I Love”

100 things I love activity

Everyone is creative in their own way. God has created each of us with different gifts and talents to be used to reflect His goodness and His image. Creativity is not constrained within the arts, it is included in the processes of thinking, planning, and decision making. Sometimes, we need to remove distractions and shift our perspective so that we can find the creativity that God designed us to enjoy.

At our last MOPS meeting, my creative Co-Coordinator came up with this amazing activity to help us “notice goodness,” “embrace rest,” and to “celebrate lavishly.”  We started our meeting by watching an engaging speaker, Kay Morison, talk about the importance of finding our creativity and embrace it as a way to recharge so we can continue to pour into others. She made a point to say that creativity looks differently in all of our lives and it can be found…

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Fabric Covered Pin Boards

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This was a craft our MOPS group did last year, and it’s been one of my favourites.

Simple to make, not too creatively challenging and with a practical and beautiful finished product, it has all the hallmarks of a great craft for your MOPS morning!

Here is a link to a tutorial: http://sewmuchsunshine.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/ikea-hack-fabric-covered-cork-board.html

Note that we used a staple gun to fix the fabric to the back, instead of a hot glue gun.

You can get these cork trivets from Ikea:

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The craft activity itself was just to make plain pinboards, and the Mums could utilise these however they wanted to. I really loved these fabrics though, so I wanted to make them a real feature in the kitchen. Unfortunately, the plastic hooks I stuck onto the shelves (pictured above) kept falling off, so I’ve had to move them around the corner onto my notice board for now.

When I got home, I typed up these three Bible verses and played around with the text sizes to get the right emphasis on the words “taste”, “drink” and “season”. (It occured to me recently that Colossians 4:6 would be a more appropriate “seasoned” verse for the kitchen.)

Here is a PDF of the Bible verses that you are welcome to print off and use: Pin Board Bible Verses

 

Materials:

  • cork trivets
  • fabric, cut into squares
  • staple gun and staples OR hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • ribbon
  • fabric scissors

 

Preparation: Approx. 30 minutes

Fiercely Flourishing Name Tags

We kicked off our first MOPS meeting of the year with these theme-inspired name tags.

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The Mums had a great time getting creative with the watercolour paints.

I love the way we all had the same materials and inspiration (the theme image for this year), yet we came up with such different designs.

We made up lots of extras too, so any Mums who missed out can pick one they like next time.

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Materials:

  • water colour paper (any heavy stock paper will do)
  • plastic name tag holders (we recycle these year to year)
  • paintbrushes
  • paints
  • paper plates (everyone had their own, with their own paint selection on it)
  • scissors
  • printout with Mums’ names in your choice of font (I just did this on Word and used the Forte font)
  • double-sided tape

 

Preparation: Approx. 45 minutes

Funky Re-Upholstered Dining Chairs

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These chairs were the crafting highlight of my 2015!

It was a lot of work, done over the course of several nap-times and evenings. But it felt so good making (well, “making”) something that freshened up the house and met a genuine need.

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The original chair fabric was getting scuffed and ripped (thanks, cat!), and they were second hand when we bought them anyway. So our options were to re-upholster or buy new chairs in a couple of years.

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Here is the tutorial I used: http://jessconnell.com/oilcloth-covered-dining-chairs-tutorial/

 

The Nesting Bag

I have a nesting tradition of making a new bag each time I’m pregnant (three times makes a tradition, right?).

I made this bag in one night when I was babysitting for friends. I had already pre-cut the pieces.

The outer fabric was a scrap piece I found at the recycling centre (used pretty much the whole lot on the bag!), the lining fabric was purchased years ago with the intention of being made into aprons and the fabric covered button was one of a set given to me by my in-laws.

 

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Key features of this bag:

  • A flap and button to cover the opening (this my first time sewing a button hole!)
  • A ribbon with a clasp for my keys (makes them easy to find in a hurry)
  • Open pocket on the back of the bag
  • Phone and notebook pockets inside

 

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