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!

 

 

 

 

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. 😉

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!

Chinese New Year Activities: Enjoy, Eat, Play

Chinese New Year in Singapore: Chinatown

Enjoy: Visit to Chinatown

This week, we visited Chinatown to enjoy the sights and sounds of this Spring festival.  During this time, you would find many set-up stalls selling Chinese New Year decorations and yummy-licious food.  As we walk along the streets, we hear the traditional Chinese New Year music, hanging red lanterns and the tantalising smell of bak kwa (savoury sweet BBQ meat). Yum!

Hannah came across a paper dragon toy and wanted to have it, but it cost more than I expect.  She went home feeling disappointed and even tried to convince her father to let her buy it.  Sadly, it was also a no-no from Daddy too.

Play: Paper Dragon Craft

To cheer Hannah up, I tried to google around for a similar craft.  Thanks to the Internet, we managed to find one! You can download a template of a dragon head and tail here.  It’s fairly easy to do.  Grab a pair of chopsticks or skewers and coloured paper to make your paper dragon craft. 🙂

Chinese New Year Activities: Paper Dragon Craft

Eat: Dried Persimmons and 年糕 “Nian Gao” (Sticky Rice Cakes)

We came across dried persimmons and “nian gao” in Chinatown, and decided to get them for New Year.  Hannah isn’t adventurous when trying new food; but was game enough to try both.  Final verdict: she’s not a fan of these festive snacks.

Chinese New Year Food: Dried Persimmons and Nian Gao

And for the remaining days of Lunar New Year (15 days), we’ll be busy visiting our relatives, counting our “hong pow” (red packets) and recycling the used packets to make firecrackers.

Happy Lunar New Year!

新年快乐!

DIY Reindeer Antlers Headband

DIY reindeer antlers headband

It’s that time of the year again! As we count down to Christmas, we made a reindeer antlers headband to add the festive cheer. Plus, it keeps the children busy on a rainy day. 🙂

This is a really simple activity and it’s easy to clean up afterwards.  Here’s how to make the reindeer antlers headband:

You’ll need:

  • A4 cardboard
  • 1 sturdy hairband
  • 2 pipe cleaners
  • Tape
  • Glitter glue and any other decorations

Method:

  1. Draw reindeer antlers on the cardboard.
  2. Cut out the reindeer antlers.
  3. Decorate your reindeer antlers in any way you wish.  We decorated ours with red glitter glue.
  4. Tape the reindeer antlers to the pipe cleaners. Add more tape to the back of the antlers so that it doesn’t droop.
  5. Secure the pipe cleaners to the hairband.
  6. Parade your reindeer antlers headband!

DIY Reindeer Antlers Headband

Apart from the reindeer craft, why not try some of our last-minute Christmas decorations?

Our family have been counting down the days to Christmas with our Jesse Tree calendar, making gift tags for friends and families, and reading the nativity story.

What have your family been doing this advent?

Amidst the craziness and to-dos, let’s not forget what Christmas is all about.

Jesus is the saviour God promised.

From our family to yours, have a blessed Christmas! 😀

DIY Foam Letter Builders

DIY foam letter builders

I finally got about creating these foam letter builders!  If you have a child that’s learning to write, this will help make pre-writing instruction easy.

I learned this idea from Erica of “Confessions of a Homeschooler”.  And upon further research, I found that “Handwriting Without Tears” (a handwriting curriculum) uses a similar material as well.

How to create letter builders?

The builders comprise of:

  • long and short lines;
  • big and little curves and;
  • dots for lowercase letters.

You can refer to Erica’s magnetic alphabet builders for a template.  Otherwise, you could, like me, trace the curves with a circular object and cut them out.

There’s a slight variation to my letter builders, I’ve added an even shorter line to make three different lengths. While playing around with the builders, I’ve noticed that I needed an even shorter line to make the lowercase letters e.g. “m” (as shown above).

How many pieces do I need?

You can cut as many pieces as you like.  The number of pieces really depends on how you are using the builders.  I’ve cut 4 pieces for each size so that Hannah can form at least one capital letter and one lowercase letter.

How to use letter builders?

I’m no expert in this.  But here are some of the things we’ve done:

Pre-writing: I demonstrate how a letter is formed using the builders.  As I form each stroke, I say the letter formation “chants” (taken from “ABC Jesus Loves Me”).  It does help Hannah remember the writing strokes.  Then, Hannah imitates what I’ve done.

Numbers and Math symbols: This one was thought by Hannah herself!  You can learn how to write numbers, math symbols like: greater than, less than, equal, plus, minus, divide etc.  Then form equations as your child progresses.

Patterns: Again, Hannah came up with this. You can create patterns or simply have fun creating smiley faces.  🙂

For us, these letter builders come in handy when Hannah doesn’t want to pick up her pencil.  We still can get around to practice writing without the frustration.