Flower & Bees Sponge-Stamped Oven Mitt & Pot Holder

With Mother’s Day approaching, I thought it would be fun for T and I to make something to send to my mom and to my husband’s mom. We wanted to give them something useful, but also something that Tommy could personalize. After a trip to Dollar Tree and AC Moore, we came home with supplies to decorate oven mitts and pot holders! We had lots of fun making this together and the result was an inexpensive, cute, and practical gift for T’s Grandmas (or as he calls them “Gralla” and “Sweet Marie.”)

* To Gralla and Sweet Marie: Sorry if you see this blog post before your Mother’s Day package arrives and it spoils the surprise!

Flower & Bees Sponge-Stamped Oven Mitt & Pot Holder

For this project, you will need:

  • Plain oven mitt & pot holder- no pattern (We found these at Dollar Tree for $1 per oven mitt and $1 for 2 pot holders- score!)
  • Clean kitchen sponge (we learned that the scrubbing side makes a better stamp)
  • Scissors
  • Fabric paint – yellow, black, & white for the bees, green for the flower stems (we chose permanent fabric paint that is dimensional but not puffy, and comes in a small tube with a pointed tip for detail.
  • Palette or plate (for paint)

OPTIONAL:

  • Rubber alphabet stamps
  • Baby wipes

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To decorate the oven mitt and pot holder:

1. Grown-up: From the sponge, cut out a small circle (about the size of a quarter) and a longer petal shape to make your stamp for the flower. Cut out another quarter-sized circle and a small wing shape to make your stamps for the bee.

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2. Child:  Squirt some paint onto a palette- choose a color of paint that you want to use for the center of your flower. Dip the circle sponge stamp into the paint so that there is a pretty thick layer of paint spread evenly across it. (We found that stamping with the rough scrubbing side of the sponge works best because it absorbs less of the paint.)

3. Child: Press the sponge stamp onto the oven mitt to make the center of your flower. (Be sure to think about whether the person you are making it for is left- or right-handed so that you can decorate the side of the mitt that will be along the back of the hand rather than the part that will be gripping the hot dishes and greasy oven racks.)

4. Child: Repeat steps 2 & 3 with the petal-shaped sponge stamp and a different paint color. Stamp the petals all around the center circle to make a flower.

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5. Child: Repeat steps 2 & 3 with yellow paint and a circle sponge stamp to make as many bees as you would like.

6. Child: Repeat steps 2 & 3 with white paint and a the wing-shaped sponge stamp to add wings to the bees

7. Grown-up: Use the green fabric paint to add a stem and leaf to the flower. (If your child is older, they can probably do this part on their own, but with a younger toddler, steps 7 & 8 should be handled by a grown-up.)

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8. Grown-up: Use the black fabric paint to add stripes, a head, and a stinger to the bees.

9. Grown-up: Use white paint to add the name of the person you are giving the oven mitt to. You can simply write it with the fabric paint squeezed right out of the tube, or see below for the rubber stamp method we used.

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OPTIONAL: To use rubber stamps for the name, carefully apply the fabric paint directly to the rubber letter stamp. Trace the letter with the paint so that it has a nice even layer on it but there is no residue on the sides of the stamp that will transfer when you stamp it. Stamp the letter onto your mitt and then clean the remaining residue from the stamp with a baby wipe. Repeat with all of the letters in the name.

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10. Grown-up & Child: Repeat any of the steps above however you wish to decorate the pot holder. We decorated ours with bees and then painted on little red hearts scattered around. If you get want to do more than one pot holder, it would be fun to do another with a big flower in the center. Have fun and be creative!

FINISHED

Do you love to give (or receive) homemade gifts? I know that I sure do!

For some other fun gift ideas that you can make with your tot, try:

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To submit a photo on Instagram, tag @makelearngo or send us a direct message.

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Or e-mail us at makelearngo@gmail.com.

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Play Wallet for Kids

For the past 6 months or so, Tommy has had a very annoying habit of digging my wallet out of the diaper bag and pulling everything out of it. It was driving me crazy when I would get to the store and realize that my credit card or drivers license were missing… and then I would come home to find them strewn across the living room floor with his toys. I recently bought a new wallet that zips all the way around so that it’s harder for him to get into. I was going to throw my old wallet away, but my husband had the brilliant idea of handing the old wallet down to T instead. Since he’s so obsessed with it, why not give it to him?

An empty wallet would be no fun to play with, so I gathered some items and now T has his very own play wallet that he can mess with to his heart’s content without being scolded by Mommy! A win for both of us!

I found this play money at Dollar Tree with bills, coins, and a cash drawer to hold it all- and he loves taking it in and out of the different compartments in the wallet.

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I also gathered some cards for him to put in the wallet, including: an old school ID, preferred customer cards for stores I no longer live near, business cards, an old hotel key, promotional cards from the mail, and used gift cards.

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He loves having his own wallet and now he never bothers with mine anymore! Hooray!

He also likes to play a game with it where he grabs things from around the play room and “buys” them from me. He uses a little magnet doodle board as a signature pad and it’s adorable. He pretends to swipe the credit card, and then “signs his name” on the doodle board and says “Thank you! Bye bye!” Then we switch roles and he’s the cashier. I give him the fake money and he sorts it in the cash tray and puts my items in a bag for me. Cutest bag boy ever!

10986910_10101862142099279_641162979782441764_n  10488132_10101862139614259_571318793786448817_nAnother fun idea for kids who like to play cashier: take them to the grocery store when you only have a few items you need to pick up. Our local Kroger and Trader Joe’s have mini shopping carts for kids, and T gets so excited when he gets to be in charge of pushing the cart! Also, if your grocery store has a self check-out, it’s really fun for kids to help scan and bag the items if you’re only picking up a few things.

Foam Flowers for Spring

Our latest spring craft was a quick little project that was made up of a few materials from Dollar Tree.  We found some pipe cleaners, colorful foam sheets shaped like flowers, and re-used the pop poms from our Easter Egg Color Sorting activity to make some festive Spring flowers to decorate the playroom!

Foam Flowers for Spring

For this project, you will need:

  • Crafters foam flowers (you can either buy them already in the flower shape like I did, or cut flowers from regular rectangular or square colorful crafters foam sheets)
  • Pipe cleaners (green ones will look best- these will be your flower stems)
  • Pom poms
  • Liquid glue
  • Tape
  • Paint (or glitter glue, stickers, or whatever else you’re feeling) to decorate

To make your flowers:

1. Grown-up: If you need to cut the flowers out of your crafters foam, do that first. Then, prepare your pipe cleaner flower stems. Fold a pipe cleaner in half, then bend one side of the “v” shape to make a leaf (as pictured below). Pinch the pipe cleaner together at the stem and then wrap the end of the leaf around the stem to hold the leaf shape. Make one stem for each flower you plan to make.

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2. Grown-up & Child: Squeeze a dot of glue in the middle of each flower. Let your little artist choose a color of pom pom to go in the center of each flower and place it on the glue dot.

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3. Grown-up & Child: Turn the flowers over and help your little one secure the stems in place with tape.

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4. Child: Turn the flowers over and decorate! T used pastel colored tempera paint to add some swirly strokes and texture to his flowers.

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T was so excited when he finished and was carrying his little “bouquet” all around the house. Then we hung them up on the wall with the other Easter crafts that he has made. (He got this little picture of Jesus at church on Sunday and it’s his favorite part of the Easter wall. 🙂 )

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Go ahead and make your own flowers, and comment below to let us know how it goes!

Or better yet, upload a picture to Instagram and tag @makelearngo, send a message to Make Learn Go on Facebook, or e-mail your photo to makelearngo@gmail.com for a chance for your child’s artwork to be featured on our Instagram and Facebook pages!

And don’t forget to check out our other fun Easter crafts and learning activities that you can do with your little one:

And if you’re still trying to figure out what the Easter Bunny is going to bring this year, here’s our helpful list of Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers & Babies.

Tissue Box Leprechaun Trap

At 20 months old, T is still a little young to fully comprehend the magic and excitement of leprechauns, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus… but I LOVE celebrating holidays, so I am trying to introduce him to some fun little traditions. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, I thought it would be fun to make a little leprechaun trap together. We used only materials that we had around the house to make this cute little contraption, and T had a lot of fun making it with me!

Tissue Box Leprechaun TrapTo make this project, you will need:

  • An empty tissue box
  • Green acrylic or craft paint
  • A handful of cotton balls
  • Non-toxic liquid glue
  • Clear tape
  • Foam strips & 2 paper clips or pipe cleaners (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple)
  • Stickers to decorate
  • A few blocks (or get creative using other toys or items to make a ladder or stairs leading up to the top of the trap)

Make this with your own little artist in 5 easy steps:

1. Grown-up: Paint the tissue box green. This part will go much faster (and be a lot less messy) if do it for them. Plus, the paint I used wasn’t non-toxic so I didn’t want T getting it on his fingers.

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2. Grown-up & Child: Construct your rainbow. (I wanted to do this part with pipe cleaners, but we didn’t have any, so I cut strips from foam sheets I had in our art bin.) Let your child help lay out the colors of the rainbow in the right order. Stack the foam strips on top of each other and poke a paper clip through each end to hold it together. Then tape one of the paper clips to the underside of either side of the tissue box opening. Fan it out to get a nice curve to your rainbow. (If you’re using pipe cleaners, just put the colors in order, twist the ends to hold it together, bend the ends and tape to the underside of the box opening.)

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3. Grown-up & Child: Squiggle some glue onto the top of the tissue box and let  your little one help place cotton ball “clouds” all over to cover the top of the box.

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4. Child: Let your little artist decorate the sides of the box with stickers. (We found some fun St. Patrick’s Day themed stickers for $1 at Big Lots.)

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5. Child: Stack the blocks to make a staircase leading to the top of the leprechaun trap. Now it’s ready for your leprechaun to visit on St. Patrick’s Day!

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This was such a fun and easy project to make! Maybe if we are lucky a little leprechaun will visit our trap on March 17th and leave a few gold (chocolate) coins behind!

Now it’s your turn! Go make your own leprechaun trap, then come back here and tell us about it.

For another fun St. Paddy’s Day project to do with your little artist, check out our Dot Art Rainbow!

Nature Walk & Flashcards for Toddlers

Photo Scavenger Hunt Nature WalkAs I have mentioned before, my little man gets very irritable when we spend a lot of time inside the house. As spring is arriving here in NC, Tommy and I have enjoyed spending more time outdoors. We are lucky to live very close to a beautiful lake with walking trails all around. Nature walks are our very favorite activity to do together and are our guaranteed way to turn around a bad mood… his or mine! It is amazing how a little fresh air and wide open space can instantly relieve stress and calm restlessness.

Last week, I decided to try something new during our walk. I usually have a goal in mind- make it to the park by 10, or finish walking the 2 mile loop by lunchtime… but this time we slowed down and stopped a lot along the way. We started our walk early so that we would have lots of time to let T explore at his own pace. (We even had time to meet up with some friends to play along the way, and then continued our walk after they left.) I had made a quick note before we left of a few things I wanted to point out to him along the way so that we could work on expanding his vocabulary.

Some things we looked for: leaf, rock, stick, pinecone, lake, tree, path, roots, moss, bug, creek, log, squirrel.

Explore Textures in NatureI let him out of the stroller and let him stop to touch or pick up things along the way that seemed interesting to him. (I supervised closely to make sure he didn’t get his hands on anything dangerous or disgusting.) Then we paused for a moment and talked a little bit about what he had found– what it was called, how it felt, what color it was, etc., and I snapped a quick picture to document what he had found. When I saw one of the items that I had on my list, I pointed it out to him and we talked about it.

We continued to do this as we walked, and when he got tired and wanted to ride in the stroller, I made sure to point out things that we saw along the way and describe them to him. “Look at the tall green trees. There’s a big lake full of water. Do you feel the cool breeze? Do you see the bright yellow sun in the blue sky? There’s a dog running. Do you hear what the dog says? Woof!” I like to use a lot of descriptive words when I talk to him to familiarize him with the different ways to describe an object and to use his senses to learn about the world around him.

This was a great way to work on expanding his vocabulary with nouns, verbs, and adjectives describing the things that we see in nature in the area where we live. To have a way to practice these new words while we are indoors, I decided to make some simple flashcards.

Nature Flashcards

Here’s how you can make your own nature flashcards:

  • Go on a nature walk, talk about the items you see along the way, and take some pictures.
  • Print some of the pictures. Cut out the pictures and glue each one onto an index card.
  • Below each picture, write three words: a noun telling what it is a picture of and two words describing the object or what is happening in the picture.

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When Daddy got home in the evening, T was so excited to show him his new flashcards and pointed out the pictures of the things that he saw, and even used a few new words that he had learned! We can now refer back to the cards to practice our nature words any time. I plan to take more pictures as we go on more walks this spring and make new flashcards as we see and learn about new things.

Now it’s your turn! Take your little one out on a nature walk and tell us about what you learned. Ready? Make, learn, go!

Painted Initial Art

I have been continually working on some sort of art project for as long as I can remember. I spent most of my spare time as a child making crafts and drawing, I was an AP art kid in high school, I graduated with a BFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University, and I have worked professionally as an illustrator, graphic artist, and portrait artist. So, naturally, I was thrilled (and may have even shed a tear) when I gave Tommy his first set of crayons at 10 months old and watched him go to town scribbling his own little masterpiece. I have it hanging in my studio above my drafting table. 🙂

Tommy Art 4-29-14I have since introduced him to a variety of artistic tools, including markers, watercolors, stickers, tempera paints, Do-a-Dot markers, and colored pencils. There are few things that bring me more joy than watching my little boy create. The frenzied look in his eye as he brushes paint onto paper is my absolute favorite. So, I had these three little 6×8″ canvas panels sitting in my closet full of art supplies and thought that they would be the perfect starter canvases for my little Picasso. And, at 20 months old, he is currently obsessed with his ABCs, so that is where the idea for these painted initial canvases started.

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To make this project, you will need:

  • 3 blank canvases (or however many you want to make)
  • Washable, non toxic tempera paint (and any other art supplies your child wants to use)
  • Palette (or plate, or plastic lid, or whatever works)
  • Masking tape
  • Paint brushes (or little hands that can get messy)
  • White acrylic paint (for touch-ups)

Make this with your own little artist in 5 easy steps:

  1. Grown-up: Create one letter on each canvas with masking tape. I did Tommy’s initials, TJA, but this could also work well for a kid with a short first name if you want to spell out the whole name. Be sure that the tape is stuck firmly to the canvas and that edges are clean, as this will be the negative space that creates the initial on each canvas. For curved letters, use scissors to cut the tape into rounded edges.
  2. Grown-up: Squeeze a few different colors of paint onto your palette and line up the taped canvases side by side to prepare your artist’s work area.
  3. Child: Let the artist get to work spreading tempera paint over the canvas. My little artist started by using brushes of varying sizes and then decided that he would rather use his hands. He also chose to go for a mixed-media approach and added a few touches of Do-a-Dot markers and Crayola Ultra-Washable Markers. Encourage the artist to fill any spots of bare canvas bordering the areas masked with tape so that the letters will really pop when it is done.
  4. Grown-up:  When the artist’s job is done and all paint is dry to the touch, gently peel off the masking tape to reveal the letters. Touch up any sloppy edges with white acrylic paint.
  5. Grown-up: Let dry and hang the artwork for all to enjoy!

This project was simple, fun, and an adorable solution for the blank wall above Tommy’s crib. Now every time he wakes up, he smiles and points at his artwork, shouting “A!” (his favorite letter). I think it really makes him excited to see the art that he created on display. It was also a fun way for him to learn about self-expression, letters, and colors.

Now it’s your turn, go make it with your child, and share your results with us when you’re done!