Monday, December 13, 2010

The Peppermint Bird - An edible Christmas craft

For a party table, a buffet or just to have handy to share with unexpected guests, the Peppermint Bird provides an easy and colorful delight. The project is easy, making it suitable for children to be involved. Unlike a floral display, the Peppermint Bird and her nest will stand up to holiday traffic. Replenish the supply of “eggs” as needed.

Click here for more on this fun Christmas project.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanksgiving Place Mats: A Craft for Kids to Save the Sanity of Parents

"Honor the spirit of Thanksgiving and keep the kids occupied until the meal is ready by making place mats that recount what the child is thankful for on the big day. Stickers, drawings, wording or a combination can turn a sheet of paper into a decorative addition to the dinner table."

Click here for more on this handy project.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Quiet Time Games for Halloween

If a Halloween party is in your plans, you may want some 'quiet' games for the attendees. Here are a couple of word games to consider.

Halloween Word Find

Here is a Halloween-themed word find game. The first file is the game. It will fit on a single sheet of paper. The second file contains the solutions, if you need them.

For the puzzle, click here.

Click here for the solution to the puzzle.

Halloween Anagrams

Give the kids a piece of lined paper. Have them make as many words as they can from "All Hallow's Eve." Set the minimum word length to accommodate the age level of the children. Decide whether to accept plural forms as separate words. Award prizes based on most words, most unique words, longest word, etc.

Paper Pumpkins

With a large pumpkin outline and a handful of crayons, children can create a personalized jack-o-lantern without the danger of carving tools.

Twenty Tips for a Safe and Happy Halloween

"From kids to family pets, Halloween provides an exciting time. Sadly, that time can also lead to injury or death. Here are tips to help you protect those you love while having a great time."

Click here for ways to have a great Halloween.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Video about, the free sharing website

"If you've wondered about how to use or why you should use it, you'll enjoy this video. Take a grand tour of the egiva site and learn ways to use it to share what you have but don't need or find what you need but don't have. Craft supplies are only one of the categories on the site. Check it out!"

To view the video, click here.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Experiments on the Three Laws of Motion - Science Can Be Fun!

"Sir Isaac Newton's Three Laws of Motion form a basic platform of science in everyday life. These three laws of motion can be explained in ways that students of different ages can understand them, and apply their understanding to real-world experiences. Many simple experiments can be performed to demonstrate how these laws work. Discuss the implications of the experiments and ask students for other examples of the law to extend their understanding."

Click here for a group of fun experiments to show kids how Newton's Three Laws of Motion work in their lives.

Emergency Substitutions-Chocolate

"Even the most careful cook may find herself missing an ingredient in a recipe occasionally. Emergency substitutions can save a situation from becoming a disaster, particularly when the missing ingredient is a form of chocolate. Most forms of chocolate keep well for up to a year in a cool, dry place, according to Hershey's."

Save an inconvenient grocery run. Click here for detailed substitutions.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Halloween Party Crafts-Easy-to-Adapt Halloween Crafts for a Bewitching Party

"Lots of children's games and crafts adapt nicely to Halloween with a few set changes. 'Pin the tail on the donkey' can become 'pin the tail on the black cat.' A simple bean bag toss game can become a ghostly game by drawing ghosts on the target board with their open mouths as the scoring goal. Look through craft catalogs and think about how you can adapt the projects to your own needs."

Click here for more on having a great Halloween party.

Green Alternatives To Halloween Candy: Ten Ways to Have a Green Halloween Without Giving Up the Fun

Halloween candy contributes plastic bags and individual wrappings to landfills after the children have eaten themselves into sugar overload. Choose alternatives that teach or entertain, recycle items you may already have or create items for fun projects. Help children build good habits for tomorrow.

For ways to ditch the sugar and still have fun, click here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Share Your Bounty, Seek Your Needs at

Part of a crafty ministry is getting the things you need and giving away the things you don't need. A new free website gives people the opportunity to do just that!

With, a person can offer things she doesn't need but is willing to give away, and ask for things she does need. For example, Cathy Crafter may have odds and ends of yarn left over from a variety of projects. She offers them on and hears from Annie Artistic, who needs yarn for an upcoming project. Annie picks up the yarn and Cathy has some free space!

Later, Cathy realizes she needs styrofoam meat trays for her Sunday School class project next month. She posts a request on and hears from several people who have trays and will give them to her.

The use of is free and anyone can register. The site allows people to connect with others in their area to give and receive-furniture, clothing, extra produce from the garden, you name it. Check out the site and share the information with everyone you know.Your church, school, fraternal organization or neighbors can form an egiva group and you can be a member of more than one group.

You'll find more information here.

The site is here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How to Donate Extra School Supplies and Make a Difference in a Child's Life

"Back-to-school means a frenzy of collecting supplies and getting ready. Thrifty shoppers try to get the best deal possible on the items their children need for school. Sometimes that means buying a bulk package of needed materials and perhaps ending up with more than you need."

Click here for more...

Elmer's and Walmart Team for Virtual Bag It Forward

Well, thrifty crafters,  here's a chance for you to help get supplies to schools. But you must act quickly! The promotion ends August 12.


  • Copy and paste these rules into your blog post or Facebook note.
  • Create a post giving a “virtual bag of school supplies” to other bloggers or write about your Back to School shopping trip at Walmart.
  • Link back to the person who gave you a bag of school supplies.
  • Let each person you are giving a virtual bag of school supplies know you have given them a bag.
  • Leave your link in the Elmer’s Virtual Bag It Forward comment section. You can also find the official rules of this virtual #bagitforward program there.
  • Elmer’s is donating $10 for each blog participating in the Virtual Bag It Forward Donation to Adopt-A-Classroom (up to total of $10,000 for blog posts written by August 12, 2010).
  • Please note that only one blog post per blog url will count towards the donation.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

How to Make a Football Cake - Touchdown!

"With or Without a Special Pan, Anyone Can Create a Football Cake


For a small gathering or a big crowd, a football cake scores big during the season. There are many options for baking and for decorating to help make the cake as important to the celebration as the game itself."

Click here for more on fun with football cakes...

Garden Weaving from a Guest Contributor

I wish I could claim credit for this lovely idea. Instead, I'll refer you over to a gifted lady who put together several small activities to create a lovely finished artwork. I think you'll enjoy the project and the lessons to be learned during the creation of the final hanging.

 Click here to view Ruth's delightful project

And of course, I have to add my two bits, right?

Depending on budget and time constraints, I could easily see this project in a variety of ways.

Laminate the finished work between two clear sheets to turn it into a place mat (for a full page project) or coasters (smaller projects).

Use other images for different study models: a forest scene woven with a close up of a single tree; a vegetable garden woven with a picture of a dinner plate; a pasture with cows woven with a picture of dairy products, a Bible scene woven with a picture of an open Bible. Ruth's project provides a great way to tie together source-and-product lessons.

Thanks, Ruth, for a great project!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What can I do with Plastic Buckets?

Have you acquired a collection of large plastic pails? Put them to use as toys, storage or decorations. Here are some ideas:

"Projects Using Recycled Plastic 5-Gallon Pails": Click here

Here are a few more ideas:

Cut holes in the lid to create a game. 

Beanbag toss: Mark off an appropriate "tossing" distance on the floor using masking tape or duct tape: little ones might need just a few inches, older children a few feet.

Clothespin drop: Use smaller holes and have children stand with their toes against the bucket to drop the pins into the bucket.

Make a mini-compost bin

Poke 1/4" holes around the bucket at several levels to provide aeration. Line up several buckets to create a progressive compost, turning from one bucket to the next on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

Create an automatic plant watering device

Run cotton cord from the bucket to one or more flower pots set lower than the bucket. Fill the bucket with water and plants will be watered slowly as water wicks from the bucket to the pots.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fleece Blanket Instructions, Tied and Otherwise

Although the weather is warm now, we know it won't stay that way. Fleece blankets or throws make nice gifts as well as being great for personal use.

I had assignments to write two articles on making fleece  blankets. You can read them here:

Fleece Tied Blanket Instructions: Click here

Directions to Make a Fleece Blanket: Click here

The first one requires no sewing, just cutting and tying. The second article offers several options for creating a fleece blanket.


Monday, May 24, 2010

A Faux Leather Gift for Father

An Empty Box, a Roll of Masking Tape and Enthusiasm Make a Great Gift for Dad

Here’s is a project that lets children be creative, indulge in the joy of tearing something and make a gift – all at the same time! Recycle an empty box into a valet box for Dad’s dresser. Imitation leather boxes take a little time, but offer a satisfying end product.

Click here for more on this project...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crafty Cakes - Part One

Love fancy cake shapes but not the cost of fancy-shaped cake pans? Lots of cakes can be formed with standard cake pans and a little “cut and paste” daring. You don’t need the training of those bakers on cable television shows to make a nice cake for your family or a get together. (In the interest of being able to fit into my clothes, I’m showing the shapes on paper, but I’ve done many cakes of this nature through the years.)

The key is in the relationship between the cake pan sizes. None of these directions are carved in stone. Feel free to play with the pans you have. If you’re working with a recipe that specifies one size of pan and you’re working with a different one, these tables may come in handy:

Cake Pan Size Conversions from

Pan Sizes and Volumes from

The cakes we’ll look at today begin with one square and one round pan. Do not level cakes until instructed. Some cakes may not require leveling at all. In most cases, you'll be working with a round pan with a diameter matching the side measurement of the square pan.


Let’s start with a heart shaped cake. With a square pan and a round one whose diameter matches the length of the square pan, you can create a heart quite easily. Bake a single layer of each or make it a layer cake, if you prefer.

Single layer cake:
Do not level the cakes. Cut the round layer in half across the diameter. Place the square layer on the serving surface with one point facing toward the bottom. Place the half-round layers against the two top edges of the square, cut side toward the square. Level the cake, if necessary, but a gently rounded top is okay. Frost and decorate.

Layer cake:

Assemble the first layer as above and level the cake. Spread with frosting or filling. Place the second layer atop the first. Level if necessary. Frost and decorate.

Egg or football cake:

Position the square layer on the surface with a flat side pointing to the bottom. Place the half-round layers at opposite ends of the square layer. Level the cake if necessary. Frost and decorate.

UPDATE: I wrote an article on making a football cake for a website assignment and they wanted actual photos, so..o..o..oClick here for the article and photos.

Butterfly cake:

Cut the square layer in half down the center. Place one half of the square layer (now a rectangle) on the serving surface. Place the half-rounds along the long sides of the rectangle, rounded side in. Cut a triangle from the remainder of the square layer for the head (or use a muffin). Frost and decorate. This is one time where a round pan with a larger diameter than the side measure of the square one will make a very nice show.

Ladybug cake:

This is a variation on the butterfly cake – put the points of the half-round at the upper corners of the rectangle and tilt slightly. Frost and decorate.

Muffin cakes:
Don’t overlook the possibility of assembling a fancy shape from cupcakes and then frosting them as a whole. This has the advantage of requiring no cutting to serve and the cupcakes can be eaten out-of-hand, without the need of a plate. Great for a crowd or where you want to have a variety of cake flavors.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Praise Him with songs and music

Use scriptures to bring an inspirational lesson to music fun. You’ll find suggestions at the end of the article.

Paper tube rhythm instruments

Seal one end of the tube by cutting a circle of cardboard to match the size of the end. Place it in the end and secure it with a square of paper and tape. Place a tablespoon of uncooked rice or beans into the tube. Seal the open end. Decorate as desired. One rhythm instrument is ready to go.

The timbre of the instrument will vary depending on what is put inside, how much there is, how long and wide the tube is and how tightly it is sealed. With enough different “voices” you can create a real band.

Pop bottle woodwinds

A washed soda pop bottle with a little water added becomes a woodwind instrument when you blow across the top of it. Add different amounts of water to create different sounds. Ask some questions of the children: Does more water sound deeper or higher in tone than less water? Does the force of the air across the top of the bottle make a difference?

Oatmeal box and coffee canister drums

An empty oatmeal box or coffee canister (can or plastic) with a lid makes a great drum. Tap or rap on the lid to create tempo for the band. Try using plastic spoons, wooden dowels and fingertips for a variety of effects.

Tissue box dulcimer

Place rubber bands of varying thickness around an empty tissue box to make a do-it-yourself dulcimer. Sounds will vary with the width and depth of the box and the size of the rubber bands. If you don’t have a variety of rubber band thicknesses, vary tension by knotting the rubber bands to different lengths.

Play the dulcimer by sitting with it across your lap and plucking the bands, rather than strumming like a guitar.

Warning: Snapping rubber bands can be quite hazardous. Exercise extreme caution when playing a tissue box dulcimer. Use discretion as to age group.

Rhythm sticks

Lengths of dowel (eight to twelve inches long) in pairs form a simple instrument – old-fashioned rhythm sticks. By tapping one stick against the other, children can learn rhythm skills and how different tempos can combine to make music. Vary the sounds by using different thicknesses of dowel. Just beware of impromptu swordfights among the musicians.

Doing this at home? Substitute a pair of wooden spoons for dowels.

Paper tube kazoos

Okay, so they aren’t really kazoos. But kids can hum or sing into paper towel or toilet paper tubes to get some interesting harmonics going.

Jingle bells

Tie a couple of sleigh bells along a length of ribbon or yarn. Tie the ends of the ribbon or yarn together to make a loop. Shake the loop to play the bells. Punch holes through a handful of bottle caps and string them loosely on a piece of yarn or ribbon to make another jingly instrument. Metal caps will sound more “tinny” while plastic ones will be “rattle-y.”

Pot lid cymbals

Light-weight metal pot lids of similar size make dandy cymbals. Warning: don’t use enameled lids – the enamel is likely to chip.

Put together a marching band to burn off some energy, or have quiet sit down music to encourage winding down. With homemade instruments, music is just moments away.

Scripture references

Add a scripture, such as: “The Lord is my strength and song.” (Exodus 15:2, KJV) or “…therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” (Psalm 28:7b, KJV). Other possibilities: Judges 5:3; I Chronicles 16:9; I Chronicles 16: 23; Psalm 7:17; Psalm 9:2; Psalm 13:6 and many more. Use a concordance or go to to search for things like “music,” “sing,” “song,” or instrument names like trumpet or flute. You’ll find lots of choices.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Faux King Cake -- a Mardi Gras treat for those who can't make it to New Orleans!

Yesterday was January 6, Epiphany or King's Day. It marks the beginning of the Mardi Gras season. Like me, many New Orleans expatriates are going through King Cake withdrawal.

Here's a quick and easy way to enjoy a similar sensation without the big bucks of shipping!

Purchase several tubes of bake and serve cinnamon rolls. The exact number will depend on how large you want your finished cake to be.

Open the cans and separate the individual rolls, then unroll them into rope-like shapes. Braid the ropes, taking care to stagger the ends of the ropes. Braids may be three ropes or more, depending on the size of the ropes.

Shape the braided dough into a circle on a greased baking sheet. Let rest in a warm, moist area for 30-45 minutes.

Bake the cake according to package instructions. Cool slightly, then insert a token (such as a pecan or plastic baby) in the underside of the cake.

Frost and decorate with colored sugar, jimmies or some other decorative product in the traditional purple, green and gold colors of Mardi Gras.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Stand-up pictures and figures

Nearly any figure or photo can be made into a free-standing figure with a few simple cuts.

Duplicates of the figure or photo, mounted on heavy paper or cardboard
Sharp scissors, craft knife or paper cutter

The key to the success of the project is interlocking slits in the figures. By cutting one from the top and the other from the bottom, the figures can be slid into the corresponding slits at right angles.  The figures will then be able to stand.

The finished figures can be mounted for display, hung for decoration or used in other projects such as dioramas. Make stand-up photos for gifts - just print two copies of each photo.

A few cautions:

Use extreme care with cutting tools when children are present. Consider doing the cutting ahead of time or outside of the meeting room or work area if the children are very young.

Correct placement of the slits is crucial, especially for asymmetric items such as photos. Make the placement easy by turning one copy of the photo upside down and placing it face down on top of the second photo. Cut both at the same time, to the midpoint.

Cardboard Tube Crafts

Use those paper or cardboard tubes from paper towels, toilet tissue, food wrap and gift wrap to create fun projects for your group. Whether for small tots or older children, there are many ways to use paper tubes for fun.

Avast, me hearty!
Cover a long tube in black construction paper to form a play telescope. You’ll spy lots of play through this easy toy.

Use two shorter tubes to form binoculars. Tape them together and add a yarn or ribbon strap and you’ve got one child ready for look-out duty.

An added bonus to using these toys is the ability for a child to focus on a single thing while peering through the tubes. It allows concentration on that thing. Great for starting discussions.

Personal presents
Put tiny gifts into a tube and cover in gift wrap for an interesting gift presentation.

Make little favors for a party. Little candies can be wrapped in food wrap or snack bags before insertion into the tube. Gather the gift wrap and tie the ends for a firecracker look.

Safe candles
Make safe candles for little ones by wrapping the tube in tissue paper of the appropriate color and use a pipe cleaner as the flame. Tuck the ends of the tissue into the top of the role, and stick the pipe cleaner into the center. For processionals and ceremonies, these flameless candles will allow little ones to participate without danger.

Add a scripture reference to provide an enlightening lesson: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119: 105, KJV, for example.

Little lighthouse
Use ribbon or construction paper stripes to wrap around a covered paper roll to make a lighthouse. A ball of yellow paper or a yellow yarn pompom on top serves as the beacon.

Add a scripture, such as “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” (Isaiah 60:1, KJV) for inspiration.

Let’s make music
Seal one end of the tube by cutting a circle of cardboard to match the size of the end. Place it in the end and secure it with a square of paper and tape. Place a tablespoon of uncooked rice or beans into the tube. Seal the open end. Decorate as desired. One rhythm instrument is ready to go.

The timbre of the instrument will vary depending on what is put inside, how much there is, how long and wide the tube is and how tightly it is sealed. With enough different “voices” you can create a real band.

Add a scripture, such as: “The Lord is my strength and song.” (Exodus 15:2, KJV) or “…therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” (Psalm 28:7b, KJV).

National Geographic Kids has a great page on making a kaleidoscope from a paper towel role. Check it out: This is one I haven’t done myself yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

Napkin Rings

Slice tube into rings approximately 1” wide. (You’ll probably have to do this for younger children to avoid squashed rings.) Decorate the rings to use as napkin rings. Here are some ideas, but feel free to use your imagination:

Glue ribbon around the ring.

Wrap the ring in yarn.

Measure strips of plain paper to cover the rings. Let the children draw on or put stickers on the paper before covering the ring with it.

Glue pieces of colored paper in a patchwork pattern (great for using up scraps of construction paper left over from other projects!).

Glue wrapping paper appropriate for the occasion on the ring.

Glue decorative braid or little ornaments to the ring.

Glue a strip of paper with a scripture verse on it around the ring. (“The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul…’ Proverbs 13:25a, KJV, for example.)