DIY Activities in Minutes!

The weather has been so unpredictable these days. One minute, it pours. The next, it’s bright and cheery. So while you wait for the weather to clear, here are seven DIY activities you can dish out to your kids in minutes!

Create-Art-Homeschool-Crafts

Paint Scrape Art

This art project was inspired by persialou.com. The finishing piece will look good no matter what! You’ll need:

  • Paint (we’ve used Crayola)
  • Cardboard or canvas
  • Old credit cards or reward cards

Steps:

  1. Drip drops of paint along one side of your cardboard/canvas.
  2. Place your credit/reward card above your paint drops. Pull down firmly to the bottom of your cardboard/canvas.

Note: The children scraped various directions to create different patterns and texture. It looked just as good!

DIY-Harmonica-Homeschool-Crafts

DIY Popsicle Stick Harmonica

We love creating music. This DIY Popsicle Stick Harmonica by housingaforest.com was simply something we had to test out! You’ll need:

  • 2 wide popsicle sticks
  • 2 rubber bands
  • 1 strip of paper (same size as popsicle stick)
  • 1 toothpick

Steps:

  1. Place a strip of paper between the popsicle sticks.
  2. Wrap one rubber band around the end of the sticks tightly.
  3. Cut toothpick into two. Both sticks must be the same width as popsicle stick.
  4. Slide one stick to the inside of the popsicle stick. It should be below the paper.
  5. Sandwich the other stick to the other end of popsicle stick. It should be above the paper.
  6. Secure with rubber band.

When Hannah blew her harmonica, it sounded like a duck. What about yours?

DIY-Rocket-Homeschool-Crafts

DIY “Rocket”

This idea came to us spontaneously. We were all ready to head out. Then we were greeted by a sudden downpour. 😦

To create your “rocket”, you’ll need:

  • a strip of paper
  • a straw
  • cellophane tape or stapler

Steps: 

  1. Using a short thin strip of paper, fold the paper into a cone. Somewhat like a tip of an aeroplane.
  2. Secure with cellophane tape or stapler.

To play, place the cone to the end of the straw. Give a good blow and see your “rocket” fly!

Ang-Pow-Red-Packet-Butterfly-Homeschool-Crafts

“Ang Pow” Red Packet Butterfly

With the leftover “ang pows” or red packets, we made butterflies to go along with the Chinese New Year decorations. To create one butterfly, you’ll need:

  • 8 red packets (longer in size)
  • 1 pipe cleaner
  • Stapler
  • Cellophane tape
  • Scissors

Steps: 

  1. Fold short sides of the red packets in half (only at the ends). This will serve as a marking.
  2. Fold corners of the red packet as if you’re folding a paper plane (tip). Use marking as your center. Do this for both ends. One red packet should have 2 tips.
  3. Staple the corners of 4 red packets together to make one side of the butterfly. It should resemble as “X”. Make two sides.
  4. Staple both sides of the butterfly together.
  5. Bend your pipe cleaner and tape to the center of your butterfly.

DIY-Maze-Homeschool-Crafts

Create a Maze

Hannah tried creating her maze out of recycled items. As you can see, it’s still work in progress. 🙂 For younger children, they might require some help from you. You’ll need:

  • Straws (quantity depends on the complicity of your maze)
  • Markers
  • Coloured paper
  • Rectangular plastic lid
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Steps:

  1. Cut coloured paper the same width and length as your plastic lid.
  2. Glue coloured paper on the lid.
  3. Cut the straws and stick on the coloured paper to create maze.
  4. Decorate the maze with markers.

To play, scrunch up the scrap pieces of coloured paper into a ball. Roll it along the maze.

DIY-Kite-Homeschool-Crafts

DIY Kite

This is one of the easiest craft ever! Yet this DIY kite brought hours of fun for us. 🙂
You’ll need:

  • Plastic bag Raffia string, any thick string or ribbon

Steps:

  1. Tie Raffia string to the ends of the plastic bag. You’re done!

Run with your plastic bag kite and watch it dance in the sky. We love how easy it is to make and how compact it is to bring it around.

DIY-Catapult-Homeschool-Crafts

DIY Catapult

The children were amazed how everyday items could transform into “machines”. You’ll need:

  • Pompom
  • Teaspoon
  • 1 rubber band
  • 1 plastic cup

Steps:

  1. Wrap the rubber band around a plastic cup twice. Make sure it’s snug.
  2. Place teaspoon under one of the rubber band and place head of spoon on top of cup (as shown).
  3. Place pompom on teaspoon.

Watch your catapult spring into action by hitting the end of your teaspoon!

Do you have a favourite easy-to-do craft too? Share your ideas with me.

Chinese New Year Craft: Dot-A-Dot Cherry Blossoms

CNY-Dot-A-Dot-Cherry-Blossoms-Activity-Homeschool-Crafts.jpg

Goodbye Christmas, hello Chinese New Year!

Back in November, shops have already started selling Chinese New Year decorations and goodies. It was oh so, confusing with Christmas and Chinese New Year marked so close each other.

With the Lunar New Year fast approaching (another 10 days?!), it’s time to get into the festive mood and start our preparations.

Here’s a fuss-free way to DIY your house and show off your kids’ craft to your visitors (even if your kid isn’t crafty).

Materials:

  • Dot-A-Dot markers (in pink or red)
  • Black Sharpie marker
  • Drawing paper

Directions:

  1. On a piece of paper, draw branches with black Sharpie marker.
  2. Start dotting with your pink and red Dot-A-Dot markers.
  3. Optional: write Chinese New Year greetings.
  4. Hang it up!

This is one craft where you can never go wrong, and doesn’t require clean-up. I love the fact that no matter how your kids dot the flowers, it still turns out okay.

Which of the two paintings belong to Hannah? Make a guess!

More CNY crafts and activities: Paper Lantern, Enjoy, Eat, Play, 大头娃娃 (Big Head Doll) , CNY Related Books, DIY Mandarin Oranges, “Hong Bao” Fire Crackers, Origami Goldfish

 

 

The Night Before Christmas: When You Run Out of Wrapping Paper

diy-christmas-gift-wrap-2015-homeschool-crafts

Twas the night before Christmas, when the children were nestled all snug in their beds;

it’s only mamma frantically wrapping the presents while papa has settled his brains for a long winter’s nap…

What to do when you run out of wrapping papers then?

We, mothers do what we do best…improvise!

Here’s how to create your DIY Christmas Gift Wrap:

  1. Steal Get drawing paper, markers and Washi tape from your children’s art box.
  2. Wrap your gift with the drawing paper. I used Ikea’s MÅLA drawing paper.
  3. Draw a cute snowman face.
  4. Make the snowman’s hat and scarf with Washi tape.
  5. It’s a wrap!

Other DIY gift wraps/tags to try:

Bubble Wrap

Handprint Gift Tags

Doily Gift Wrap

Crepe Paper Colour Transfer

In the meantime, have fun wrapping!

May the blessings of Christmas be yours and may your new year be filled with Christ’s love.

Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year!

 

 

 

 

What We Do on a Rainy Day

It’s wet, wet, WET throughout this week (and more to come). Here are some things that keep us occupied while staying dry. 😉

Create a story box

Story boxes are a great tool to allow children be their own storyteller. They encourage creativity, imaginative play and literacy development. It can be a scene from your child’s favourite story book, a show, or anything they imagine!

Things needed: any empty boxes, paint, crepe paper, paint and any craft materials you find at home.

Story-box-play-scenes

Threading/Sewing

My first attempt to get Hannah to “sew”. She follows a pattern and learns hand sewing basics. Like, the idea of the needle going up and down through the board.

Things needed: (I’m using a purchased set) sewing/lacing cards and yarn or shoelaces.

Threading-sewing-for-kids

Back-and-Forth Drawing

It’s a collaboration between parent and the kids. One person starts the drawing and the other builds on it by adding elements.This is an interactive drawing activity for kids (and adults) of all ages.

Things needed: drawing paper and markers.

Back-forth-drawing-add-on

Kitchen Science Experiments

I’m all for science experiments under 10 minutes! This project was to create a tornado in a bottle.

Things needed: clear (preferably narrow) bottle with cap, water, dishwashing liquid, and good arm power.

Kitchen-science-experiment

Washi Tape Wall Art Project

Let your child be the artist of your wall decoration! Straightforward and mess-free: a winner for kids and parent.

Things needed: blank canvas or sturdy cardboard and Washi tapes.

Washy-Tape-Art-For-Kids

Geoboard Art

Geoboard is not only a Mathematical manipulative, it is also a wonderful tool for encouraging fine motor skills.  Look beyond teaching perimeters, shapes and areas, and you might find your child creating art with rubber bands. 🙂

Things needed: Geoboard and rubber bands.

Geo-board-activity-for-kids

Train a Plant

How do plants know which way is up and which way is down? You can actually “train” a plant to grow in any direction you want.  If you look closely, the roots of this plant is growing upwards. This phenomenon is known as geotropism.

Things needed: Ziploc storage bag, paper towels, fast-growing bean, stapler water, tape, marker. Instructions

Science-experiment-train-plant-upside-down

Other rainy day activities: Balloon FunDIY Reindeer Antlers,  Crayon Etchings,  Animals of the World Puzzle,  Angus Lost & Snowy Day Activities, What Makes Snow,  The Napping House Activities

What are your rainy day activities?

Teacher’s Day 2016: Paper Doily Lollipop Flowers

teachers-day-gift-idea-doily-lollipop-flowers-homeschool-crafts

Mark Van Doren, a poet and writer once said, “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery”.

Teachers play such an important role in our children’s lives.  Whether we homeschool our children or not, we inevitably have teachers some point in time.

For Hannah, these are the inspiring teachers in Sunday School, in swimming and dance classes.  They make classes enjoyable and learning fun.

As we celebrated Teacher’s Day on 2 September in Singapore, we kept our gift simple and doable by the child.  After all, it’s the child’s appreciation to her teacher right?

I know a lot of parents spend late nights baking and decorating wonderful presents for the teachers.  Gifts range from handmade cookies to movie tickets. That’s wonderful, and yes, I do think teachers deserve a good break at the movies.

But I would like Hannah to understand that they are her teachers, not mine.  I’ve already done my fair share of craft and thank you letters to my teachers.

And although her gift may be small, it really is her heart (spirit of thankfulness) that matters.  It’s not about showcasing how beautiful or expensive her Teacher’s Day gift is.

Making Paper Doily Lollipop Flowers

To make these doily lollipop flowers, we need:

  • Paper doilies;
  • Mini lollipops (comes in a bag of 25);
  • Washi tape/cellophane tape; and
  • scissors.

1. Cut a straight line to the centre of the paper doily.

2. Have the wrong side of the doily face up. Then slide your lollipop to the centre.

3. Roll the doily around your lollipop.

4. Twist the end of the doily. Secure with washi tape or cellophane tape.

 

We created a bouquet of these and gave them to each teacher. Hannah spent over two evenings making 39 paper doily flowers. She did them while I put Elijah to sleep.

When Hannah’s Sunday School teacher asked if her mother had made them, Hannah proudly told her teacher that it was she that made all the flowers.

It might not have been the prettiest bouquet received. It wasn’t the most expensive gift. Surely it is a gift from the heart and with much dedication.

More Teacher’s Day gift ideas: “Tea-riffic Teacher” Tea Lights  Chocolate Doily Gift Wrap 

Indoor Art Activity: Crayon Etchings

Crayon etchings: indoor art activity for children

The heat is on!  On Wednesday (13 Apr 2016), Singapore recorded its highest temperature in a decade this month: 36.7 deg C.

With the scorching weather refusing to let up,  we hide ourselves indoors from the blazing afternoon sun.  Keeping the children entertained isn’t an easy feat especially when I have to prepare dinner and do laundry.

Recently, I’ve found crayon etchings to be a useful activity to keep their little hands busy and burn those energy.

You will need:

  1. Bright coloured crayons
  2. Black crayon
  3. Toothpick or end of paintbrush
  4. Small sheet of paper
  5. Newspaper

Start by colouring the bright coloured crayons all over your paper.  You have to press firmly to create a thick layer of colouring. (That’s how you expand their energy!)

Place a pad of newspaper under the sheet of paper.  Cover the layer of crayon with black crayon.  The newspaper will allows the black crayon to coat evenly.  Again, you need to press firmly to coat a thick layer.

Now, lay newspapers all over the table before you etch.  This makes clean-up easier.  Remove the pad of newspaper before etching.

Design your picture by scraping the black layer with a toothpick or end of paintbrush.

I’m sure your children will feel hungry after all that colouring!  Just in time for dinner. 😉

Easy Easter Kids’ Crafts

Easy-To-Do-Easter-Kids-Crafts-Dyed-Eggs-Homeschool-Crafts

I’ve always been apprehensive about making our own Easter eggs, especially the mess I’ve to clean up if Hannah breaks an egg. That’s until I realised we could use hard-boiled eggs!

I know you must be thinking, “What have you been thinking all this time?!”

This egg crafting business is really new to me.  Here are several ideas for newbies like me:

Food Colour Dye Eggs

Mix 1/2 cup boiling water, 1 teaspoon vinegar and drops of food colour to achieve your desired colour.  Dip your hard-boiled eggs in the dye for 5 minutes. Remove and allow the eggs to dry.

Easy-Easter-Kids-Activities-Painted-Eggs-Homeschool-Crafts

Painting on Empty Egg Shells

Daddy contributed this idea!  He made a small opening on the eggs, removed and cooked scrambled eggs for breakfast, then washed the egg shells.

With chopsticks and a cup to prop the egg shells, we left them to dry before painting them.     The chopsticks and cup helped keep Hannah’s hands and clothes clean.  Minimal clean-up effort!

Crayon Decorated Eggs

Now, this method requires some practice.  We had used crayons to draw designs on hard-boiled eggs.

I meant to dye the eggs after that to create crayon-resist effect. However, the eggs were crushed after Hannah drew on them.  So we skipped the dye.

As you can tell, we had a lot of eggs to finish for the week!

Crayon-Decorated-Eggs-Easy-Easter-Crafts-Homeschool-Crafts

Yarn Eggs

A friend taught us this.  Blow up a ballon to the size of your fist.  Secure balloon with a knot. Dip yarns in PVA glue (diluted with some water). Wrap glue-covered yarn around balloon.  The balloon should be fairly well covered with yarn.

Allow balloon and yarn to dry completely.  Pop balloon and remove it.

Oh, you could also use this egg to share about Jesus’s resurrection.  The egg is hollow because Jesus has resurrected!. The tomb is empty!

Easy-Easter-Kids-Craft-Yarn-Egg-Homeschool-Crafts

Sticker Decorated Eggs

We did this on Thursday at MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers).  Simply stick stickers on a hard-boiled egg.  You could even tell the Easter story with the stickers.  Hannah chose to illustrate Jesus’s crucifixion by pasting 3 crosses.  Two for the criminals and Jesus in the middle.

Easy-Easter-Kids-Craft-Sticker-Egg-Homeschool-Crafts

Easter Kids’ Activities

In the run-up to Easter, we recount Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection with Easter Activity Workbook.  It’s a 7-day countdown that covers Palm Sunday through Christ’s resurrection. You could get your free copy by subscribing to ABC Jesus Loves Me Blog.

We also learned about the story of the resurrection eggs through the book, “Lily’s Easter Party“.  It’s an interesting concept to recount the Easter story using symbols.

Intrigued by the concept, I shared this at our Mandarin co-op. Retelling the Easter story in Mandarin proved to be a feat!  It surely was a relief to know that the children enjoyed the Easter egg hunt and discovering the symbols.

Life Your Way and Teaching Heart provide free materials to go along with story.

Even if you didn’t get to do any craft or activity, don’t be dismayed. Take this Sunday to quiet your heart and let God speak to you. He’s the reason for Easter.

14022783319_ee3e72485b_bPhoto by Andrea Howey on Flickr

Happy Easter!

Chinese New Year 2016: Crafts, Spring-Cleaning, Organizing

Chinese-New-Year-2016-Homeschool-Crafts

Another four days to the Lunar New Year ! *gasp*

How are your preparations for Spring?  This year, we kept things simple.

Have a look at our activities leading to Chinese New Year:

For art and craft, we’ve made a “大头娃娃” or “big head doll” – usually seen at a lion dance performance or Chinese New Year street celebration.

Materials:

  • Paper bag or plastic bag
  • Newspaper
  • Cellophane tape
  • Chopstick,straw or stirrer
  • Crepe paper or coloured tissue paper
  • Self-adhesive labels

Directions:

  1. Crush some newspaper into a ball. Secure with cellophane tape.
  2. Put newspaper ball into paper bag or a plastic bag. This will be the doll’s head.
  3. Insert a chopstick, straw or stirrer into the newspaper ball.
  4. Secure stick and bag with cellophane tape.
  5. Use crepe paper or coloured tissue paper to make the doll’s hair.
  6. You may also use crepe paper to decorate the doll’s hair (flowers or hair accessory).
  7. Draw the doll’s eyes, nose and mouth on the self-adhesive label.
  8. Cut out the label and stick them onto the doll’s face.

This craft can be made within minutes.  I find it almost impossible to craft while keeping an active toddler under radar at the same time! More Chinese New Year crafts can be found here and here.

Here’s what Elijah did while we made “大头娃娃” or “big head doll”.

Chinese-New-Year-2016-Cleaning-Homeschool-Crafts

Happily mopping the floor for 15 minutes max.  Otherwise, he’ll probably rip the doll’s hair or chew its eyes and nose.

Our Lunar New Year decoration kept fairly simple: hanging couplets around the house, and New Year stickers stuck on our door.

Chinese-New-Year-2016-Couplets-Homeschool-Crafts

This week, “贺新年” (a festive song) has been playing over the phone.  We desperately need to learn another Chinese New Year song, other than “恭喜恭喜”!

贺新年 “He Xin Nian” Lyrics

贺新年 祝新年
新年哪 年连年
爆竹声声催人想幼年
贺新年 祝新年
新年哪 年连年
岁月悠悠光阴如箭
回首往事如烟 痛苦辛酸
寄望从今万事如愿
贺新年 祝新年
新年哪 年连年
愿大家都过个太平年

The song translates:

Happy New Year, wishing you well in the new year;
The new year comes year after year;
The sound of firecrackers remind people of yesteryear;

Happy New Year, wishing you well in the new year;
The new year comes year after year;
Time flies like an arrow;
Looking back in sorrow;
Hoping things are looking up;

Happy New Year, wishing you well in the new year;
The new year comes year after year;
May everyone enjoy a peaceful year.

Chinese-New-Year-2016-Tie-Organize-Homeschool-Crafts

Organization, spring-cleaning, decluttering! I wasn’t able to do as much as I would like to. But I take comfort knowing that it’s always ongoing.

Here’s a nifty trick to organize the hub’s neck ties.  Inspired by the numerous organizing tips on Pinterest. 🙂

Finally, we made our yearly trip to Chinatown to see the Chinese New Year decorations and people-watch as they queue up as early as 5am to buy Bak Kwa (savoury sweet BBQ meat).

In my opinion, the best view of Chinatown’s decorations and surroundings can be seen at the Garden Bridge. Head to Exit C at Chinatown MRT Station.  Then take the lift to Garden Bridge.  You’ll get a good view of the decorations together with prominent buildings like The Majestic and Yue Hwa Building.

If you have older children or plan to do a tour around Chinatown, be sure to read up the historical facts about Chinatown compiled by “Singapore Lost & Filed”.  I surely found them useful!

Pixar’s “Lava” Inspired Unit Study: Volcanoes and Structure of the Earth

Source: Pixar Wiki

Lava” is Pixar’s latest short film; accompanying the release of “Inside Out”.  My Facebook page was flooded with positive comments about both films when “Inside Out” was released in Singapore on 27 August. It was certainly very different from the other mainstream animation. No villains, no good vs. evil fight scenes, no charming prince rescuing damsel in distress.

Hmmm…it piqued my curiosity and so I decided to check this movie out together with Hannah. Our inaugural movie date!

All in all, we definitely enjoyed both films.  The movie left us teary-eyed as we left the cinema. My 4-year old related more so to the two singing volcanoes than Riley and her adorable emotion characters.

More than just an emotional roller-coaster, we found a great topic to study on – Volcanoes!

Layers of the Earth

To start off, we needed to understand what lies beneath the Earth. These free printable were a great resource for us, particularly the one by Free Montessori.

Layers of the Earth – Montessori Mom
Layers of the Earth Nomenclature Cards – Helpful Garden
Layers of the Earth Cards – Free Montessori 

You could also explain the layers of the earth by slicing a cherry or peach in half.

  • Skin as Earth’s crust – outer-most layer that surround the Earth like a shell.  It is the thinest among the three main layers.
  • Meat as Earth’s mantle – second layer; Earth’s thickest layer.
  • Pit as Earth’s core – innermost layer; a ball of hot solid metal.
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/52298892@N00/2321321969 via PhotoPin

Marcia’s Science Teaching Ideas has great ideas on teaching plate tectonics.  We made a foldable with “Earth’s Layers Foldable”.

Volcanoes

Source: Pixar Wiki

The following websites came in handy for our unit study:
3 Main Types of Volcano – ZME Science 
The Real Geology Behind Pixar’s Short Film Lava
Kīlauea – Wikipedia
Volcano Facts – DK Find Out

 

We read Scholastic’s Discover More Readers: Volcanoes which provides succinct information and vivid pictures of volcanoes.

Scholastic Discover More: Volcanoes

A fellow homeschool mom shared with us a wonderful Science curriculum, “Mystery Science”.  I used their videos and activities (e.g. mark out the Ring of Fire on the map) to discuss questions such as, “Could a volcano pop up in your background?” and “Why do some volcanoes explode?”.

They are offering a FREE year subscription for a limited time. Subscribe and try out their lessons!

Pixar's Lava Inspired Unit Study: Volcanoes

We tried our hands creating a volcano based on Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood’s Easy to Make a Volcano Erupt Experiment.

I LOVE the fact that we can create a volcano within minutes.  No need to wait for the papier-mâché to dry. Phew!

I was kind of upset with myself for forgetting to buy red food colouring but our Little Miss Sunshine, surprised me by showing me the purple food colouring we had in our kitchen.

“Don’t worry, Mama. We will use this!” she said cheerfully.  I’m glad she’s good at improvising. 🙂

It was great fun conducting the experiment repeatedly and seeing how the “magma” oozes out.

Finally, more printable to round up our lesson on volcanoes:

Volcano Activities – Enchanted Learning
Volcano Unit Study and Lap Book – Homeschool Share
Parts of Volcano – Teacher Vision
Volcano Mini Book – Crayola

We “lava” this unit study!

Have you done any film-inspired activities or unit study recently?

Pebble and Stone Painting

Love You When...

The haze is back… 😦  As we stay home, we’ve found an enjoyable activity to occupy our afternoon.

Our recent read, “Love You When…” by Linda Kranz has inspired us to start pebble painting! Every page we flipped, we admired the beautifully painted rocks and its heartwarming message.

It’s hardly possible to collect pebbles in urban Singapore (those at hotel/mall fountains aren’t for picking!) so I’ve decided to buy a pack of pebbles from Far East Flora Garden Centre.

Then, Hannah painted the stones with Crayola Washable Kid’s Paint. Since it washes out easily, I can safely let her paint while doing housework.  If you want a glossy finish for your pebbles, try acrylic paint.

Pebble Stone Painting

Looking for more inspiration? Try browsing these pages:

Martha Stewart: Rock Crafts

Hodge Podge: 20 Reasons to Paint Rocks

British Museum: Painted Pebbles

HubPages: Painting on Stones is a Craft that Rocks!