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We like to celebrate fall by making crafts that remind us of the season’s colors, shapes and textures or using natural materials found on our outdoor hikes. naturefaceMany of these projects are simple and need little advanced planning. Although I show samples of finished crafts, these activities are as much or more about the process, the outdoor adventure and collecting the materials. Plan a walk and bring a bag to hold natural items along the way. Making art with kids can lead to unexpected discoveries and detours. If you want perfection, craft your own piece alongside or after the kids are asleep.

Nature Faces (kidoinfo)
A creative way to explore nature. Grab a bag and head outside with your children. Collect natural materials from your yard, a local park or while hiking. Almost anything can be used to create faces - sticks, leaves, pine cones, rocks, acorns, seeds, flowers, etc. Kids can sort or count the items before they begin. Arrange your found objects into faces. Optional: Use chalk to outline the face first. Make your nature family then take a picture to document it.

I am inspired by other creative crafty folk. Here's a roundup of some of my favorite fall projects:

BotannicalPrints
Hammered Flower and Leaf Prints
(build make craft bake)
Make botanical prints using the natural dyes in plants by gently hammering plants onto paper.
. . . . .

leaf-mobileFall Leaf Mobile (Small Wonders)
Easy to assemble mobile from sticks, leaves and string.
. . . . .

leaf-elephantFall Leaf Pictures (atelier pour enfants)
Arrange dry flat leaves into animal shapes. Mount on board or heavy art paper.
. . . . .

Autumn Maple Leaf Crowns (twig and toadstool)
Weave together leaves into a ring shape to make a crown or necklace.
. . . . .

Leaf Candle Centerpiece (better homes and garden)
Decoupage leaves onto the side of pillar candles.
. . . . .

twig_trivetTwig Trivet (TLC)
Cut collected sticks into a uniform size and mount on board.
. . . . .

Gourd Birds (maya made)
Turn your gourds into 3-dimensional animal sculptures.
. . . . .

Leaf Suncatchers (the muddy princess)
Press found leaves between two pieces of clear sticky back contact paper.
. . . . .

pressed-leaves-Pressed Leaves (martha stewart)
Carry along your own leaf press on your walk made out cardboard and bungee cord.
. . . . .

leaf-rubbingsLeaf Rubbings (simple as that)
After you flatten and dry your leaves, place leaf vein side up under a piece of paper. Place crayon it’s side and rub gently back of over the leaf and watch the leaf appear like magic!
. . . . .

Leaf Prints (skip to my lou)
Paint the back of leaves, then press (using a brayer) paint side down onto paper to create leave prints. Depending on the type of paint used, print on paper or fabric.
. . . . .

 

 

We made it! The snow and colder days of Winter have finally bid us farewell and we welcome the warmer days of birds nesting and rain clouds with open arms. Is it wrong to say I miss those slower, cozy days of winter? Browsing the airwaves for some easy Spring craft ideas, I came across the following gems to create on a rainy afternoon or a sunny day outside.

Paper Plate Bird's Nest
Can be created with found feathers, yarn or sticks. Your feathered friend can be painted, made out of fabric or snazzy paper.

Paper Butterflies
Spring butterflies! Cut pretty paper, accordion fold them and add pipe cleaners (or ribbon). Hang individually, or make a garland of them!

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Flowers in a Pot
How does your garden grow? Using sturdy card as the backing, you can apply, fabric, felt or paint for the flowers on this beautiful Spring display.

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Stained Glass Flower
Using black paper for the outline and wax paper as the backing. Stick brightly colored tissue paper onto an endless possibility of shapes - flowers, animals, kites, faces. Makes a gray day in Spring feel lovely and bright.

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Originally posted April, 2015

Don't know about you but we recycle a fair amount of milk cartons these days. With a milk-guzzling toddler and two tea drinking parents, it would perhaps make more sense to invest in our own backyard Freisian. In lieu of this, here are some pretty cool and unique ideas to turn your disused milk cartons into things of beauty and function. A lot of these ideas are simple enough for younger children to decorate, paint and stick.

DIY Milk Carton Planters

Bunny Planters

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Milk Carton Pinatas

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Carton Town

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Recycled Carton Wallet

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Dump Truck

Fotografie tbv Hobbyblad 47Gaanderen, 10 mei 2006

Hanging Lanterns

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Birdhouse Feeder

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Milk Carton Craft Boats

Audubon Raptor Weekend photo credit Heidi Piccerelli

Check out the wonderful September programs and events for children and families at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.

Audubon Environmental Education Center Bristol, RI

Audubon Raptor Weekend
September 12th & 13th
10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Bring the brood and get up-close with owls, hawks and falcons at Raptor Weekend! There are flight presentations, raptor programs, games, and activities for kids of all ages. Eagles, owls, hawks and falcons – the hunters of the avian world – will be featured in live flight presentations, educational programs, and activities for the whole family. Join raptor experts from across the Northeast for the largest celebration of raptors in New England!

Animal Tales
September 3rd &4th
10:00am-11:00am
Schedule available Animal Tales.

Enjoy a nature story with your preschooler each month. Programs include a story with a nature lesson followed by a craft. Often a live animal comes to visit!

Citizens Bank Free Family Fun Day
September 5th
9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Families can explore environmental exhibits representing Rhode Island’s diverse habitats, from upland meadow and cornfields to wetlands, salt marshes and the Narragansett Bay shoreline. Situated on the beautiful 28-acre McIntosh Wildlife Refuge, visitors can enjoy nature trails.

Franklin’s Hatch Day Party!
Franklin is the resident eastern box turtle at the Audubon Environmental Education Center and we are celebrating his birthday—the day he hatched! Come learn all about this awesome species of turtle – and have fun celebrating his birthday!

9:00 am-5:00 pm: Spot the Box Turtle.
10:00 am -2:00 pm: Turtle Party Hat Craft Table
10:00 am and 2:30 pm: Turtle Tale Nature Story
11:00 am and 2:00 pm: Meet Franklin- Animal Interview
1:00 pm: Turtle Party Games

Labor Day Nature Activities
September 7th
10:00 am – 3:00 pm
End the summer with Audubon! Come to the Environmental Education Center and enjoy crafts, a nature hike, games, and more.  No registration is required.

Nature Craft Table: 10:00 am-2:00 pm
Nature Story: 10:00 am
Nature Hike: 11:00 am and 2:30 pm
Animal Interview: 1:00 pm
Habitats Bingo: 1:30 pm

Junior Naturalists for Home-schooled Families
September 17, 18, 2015:  Exploring Vertebrates
Thursday classes are held from 2:00-3:00 pm; Friday Classes are held from 1:00 – 2:00 pm.

Join other home-schooled kids to learn about nature and science! This hour-long program will introduce participants to a different topic each class, with hands-on experiments and nature-based activities that are sure to foster a love of the natural world.  Classes are limited to 15 children, so please register early. Adult must attend with child.

Eco-stories and Art
September 23rd
11:00am-12:00pm

Bring a snack and relax while an Audubon naturalist reads a nature story. Then create a unique work of art from different recyclable materials and found objects. Will it be a bouquet of flowers made from plastic bottles? A bird’s nest made from scrap paper and yarn? Join us and find out! No registration required.

Preschool Adventures
Sept 24th, Oct 1,8,15
10:00am-11:00am

Nature will come alive for children ages 3-5. Children will participate in games, hikes, crafts, songs, hands-on activities and more as they are introduced to the wonders of nature.  Space is limited to 12 children so please register early.  Adults must accompany children and there are no refunds for missed classes. Younger siblings are not permitted to attend.

Audubon Powder Mill Ledges Wildlife Refuge, 12 Sanderson Road, Smithfield, RI

Animal Tales
September 9th
11:00am-12:00pm
1:00pm-2:00pm
Schedule available here.

Enjoy a nature story with your preschooler each month. Programs include a story with a nature lesson followed by a craft. Often a live animal comes to visit!

Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Prudence Island, RI

Celebrate National Estuaries Day!
September 26th
9:45 am – 4:45 pm

Learn why estuaries are such important habitats and meet some of the critters that call the Bay home. We'll try our hand at seine netting, search for invasive crabs, and look for migratory birds in the salt marsh. The day will also include a tour of Prudence with stops at some historical and natural features. This is a great program for both kids and adults! Registration is required.

Geocaching on Prudence Island
September 30th
9:45 am – 3:00 pm

Come test your technology and homing skills while you treasure hunt on Prudence Island! Learn what geocaching is about and how to use your smart phone in new ways. We will also discuss how animals can use similar techniques to find food and/or mates, migrate, and echolocate. Bring your smart phone or GPS, if you have one and your sense of adventure!

Talons Hawk with row of kids by Hope Foley

The 7th annual Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire will be happening during Foo Fest on Saturday, August 8, 2015 from 1pm to 8pm! The Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire is an awesome event for kids of ALL ages celebrating New Englanders’ do-it-yourself ingenuity and innovation. Great place to explore and connect with a cool community of builders, inventors, and designers here in Providence and across the state!
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At the Maker Faire, you’ll find builders, designers, tinkerers, innovators, craftspeople, engineers, hackers, scientists, garden wizards, and robots from across the Northeast. You’ll also find hands-on making experiences.

Tickets are $7 in advance (before fees; $10 day of the show) and free for kids 10 and under (both in advance and day of the show)! Your Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire ticket will get you into the Foo Fest and vice versa!

11393364_674444626019077_2331415972807894052_o-300x200Most know Margaret Wise Brown as author of the preeminent book about going to sleep, Goodnight Moon.  There are, however, many other reasons to celebrate Margaret Wise Brown or ‘Brownie,’ as her friends and family referred to her...  Early on, she worked as a teacher in the Bank Street School where she learned to play like a child and truly understand the needs and desires specific to children. In 1937, after selling her first book, When the Wind Blew, she spent the entire pay on a cart full of flowers, set the flowers out in her apartment, and invited her friends over for a party.  She went on to write several books a year, form the children’s book division of Scott Publishing, and buoy the careers of many talented illustrators like Leonard Weisgard, Garth Williams, and Clement Hurd.  Her life was short, but she very much enjoyed the company of her friends, especially the small furry ones…

ricky_tinyglassesThis summer as part of the Kidoinfo Storytime and Art in the Park series, Kidoinfo in partnership with Jen Smith of the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy will highlight seven of Brownie’s best books in Burnside Park with crafts brought to you by a host of local artists. Curated by Ricky Katowicz, these seven art stars will each bring a unique sensibility to the seven storybooks selected:

7/9 - Runaway Bunny with Melissa Jones. Melissa is a toy designer and ceramic artist with a genuine love of all things adorable... especially bunnies. If her furry friends ever ran away, she would most certainly be right there to catch them. You can find Melissa's work in toy stores around the world.

7/16 - Seven Little Postmen with Jess Rosenkranz. Jess is a graphic designer and maker of all things tiny... especially mossy dioramas and flat terrariums. She finds magic in the details and loves to receive mail but especially when the mail is fun mail… Find out more here: rosenkranzandco.com

7/23 - The Noisy Book with Bevin Kelley (aka Blevin Blectum). Bevin is an electronic musician and multimedia composer who appreciates sounds and noises of all shapes and sizes - especially those of her fabulous tropical birds... Find out more about Bevin’s work here: www.blevinblectum.com

1978858_10152848605520776_7555678523820562774_n7/30 - The Color Kittens with Wendi Wing. Wendi is a graphic designer and illustrator who loves bright colors and kittens and puns, but especially puns about kittens... Trust me, I'm not kitten. Find more of her colors here: wendiwing.carbonmade.com

8/6 - Little Fur Family with Lindsay Metivier. Lindsay is a photographer and gallery owner and photography teacher who shows children of all ages how to look and how to see. She also has a little fur family of her own at home... Find out more about Lindsay here: www.lindsaymetivier.com

8/13 - The Important Book with Rachel Blumberg. Rachel is a musician and stop-motion maker and illustrator and teacher and she is excited about making, especially with the hands. But the important thing about Rachel is that she is a star of stage and of page. Find out more here: rachelblumberg.com

8/20 - Goodnight Moon with Lily DaMota. Lily is a toy designer and professional funny person. She knows how to laugh and she knows all about littlest pets and their littlest things - combs, brushes, bowls full of mushes… but probably not the mush so much... Find more of Lily's work here: www.coroflot.com/lilydamota

Click here for complete schedule summer family fun in Burnside Park.

Ooops! Mother's Day is this Sunday and you may well have forgotten or not got around to making a card or grabbing a gift for that special Mom in your life. Check out these easy ideas for all ages (including adults) to save your bacon just in time for Sunday morning!

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Paper Flower Pot (Food, Love and Life)

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Yarn hearts (hello, Wonderful)

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Personal Book about Mom (hello, Wonderful)

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Paint Swatch Coupon Book (Shannon Berrey)

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Newpaper Page about Mom (Martha Stewart)

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Flower Power Mommy (hello, Wonderful)

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Finger Print Plant Pot (Kids Stuff World)

Looking for some fun and interesting things to do during the upcoming vacation week? Check out the following ideas: From furry animals, seals and bluebells to mud, masks and tree canopy walks - there is plenty to do in our local area to keep even the busiest of littles happy.

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1. Explore the bluebell woods at Swan Point Cemetery.

2. Make Tin-Can Stilts using old tomato cans and clothes line.

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3. Visit the amazing and whimsical Fairy Gardens at Roger Williams Botanical Gardens.

4. Search for treasures at Third Beach, Middletown - one of the best sea glass beaches in RI.

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5. Head North and visit the Ecotarium in Worcester. Check out the treetop canopy walk and get half price admission on Earth Day (24th April).

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6. Check out some library passes from your local library for free or discounted entry to many local museums, art galleries and aquariums.

7. Meet Furry Farm Friends at Providence Children's Museum on 24th April. Animals include a soft sheep, llama, goat and rabbits.

8. Make mud pies. Use shells, sticks and stones to decorate your pies.

MudPie1

9. Visit beautiful Rome Point, North Kingstown to go seal watching. Lots of seals have been seen recently and it is an easy stroll for all ages.

10. Create cardboard masks out of old boxes. Perform a show for your friends and family.

Photo Credits: Bluebells: Suzanne Cadge, Stilts: Sabrina Helas, Seaglass: Pinterest, Tree Canopy: Ecotarium, Mud Pie: Handsonaswegrow, Masks: Ikatbag.

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Since our local elementary school has tightened food rules to restrict giving candy etc, we have been trying to think up some easy ideas for non-food Valentines gifts for my daughter's first grade class.  Here follows some multi-age, inexpensive ideas to fit the bill.

* Fabric Hearts (image shown above). Can be made out of scrap fabric and filled with dried lavender.

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* Heart-shaped bird treats.  Pop a mixture of gelatin and bird seed into heart shaped tins.  Check out this easy recipe for more details.

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* Friendship Bracelets for your classmates (also keeps children occupied on snow days)!

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* Yarn hearts - I love this easy, inexpensive idea which could be made into any shape.

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* Valentine bubbles - great for younger children to give to their preschool friends.

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* A useful pencil decorated with a handmade heart or wound up in a cute caterpillar paper.

Happy Crafting and Happy Valentines Day!

 

We have decided to celebrate the magic of snow (and lack of the white stuff in the northeast) by hosting a Snow Party - complete with stories, crafts, science experiments and snacks. Followed by a trip outdoors in real snow if the temperatures drop and the rain changes to snow.

BOOKS

CRAFTS

paper snowflakes  | bugs and fishes

Cut snowflakes from folded paper, paper plates or round doilies.

stars wars paper snowflakes | matters of grey

Think of snowy Hoth. Make Star Wars themed snowflakes. (how-to)

quilled paper snowflake

Quill a snowflake from paper strips. (how-to)

snowstorm  |  craft stylish

Make an indoor snowstorm using Avery labels and dental floss. (how-to)

snowglobe | martha stewart

Make a snow globe from old glass jars, greens, plastic toys, distilled water, glitter, and glycerin. (how-to)

window cling snowflake  |  family fun

Make window cling snowflakes with glue and glitter. (how-to)

collage snowman | kidoinfo

Collage a snowman using paper, old magazines, buttons, sequins, sticks and old ribbons.
Inspired by Snowballs by Lois Ehlert. (how-to)

SCIENCE

Learn about the seven basic snowflake shapes here.

borax crsytal snowflake | martha stewart

Make crystallized snowflakes with Borax, hot water and pipe cleaners. (how-to)
Learn the science behind the Borax crystals.

FOOD

snowflake cookies | pink martinis and pearls

Bake and decorate snowflake cookies. (recipe)

snowflake tortillas | family fun

Make tortilla snowflake snack. Fold and cut tortillas as you would paper snowflakes, coat with a little oil or butter. dust cinnamon or , bake first and dust after with confectioners sugar! (recipe)

OUTDOORS

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