When you were little, did your parents hang up all the projects you brought home? I remember our fridge, the old white variety, was full of magnets, my art projects, random things I'd brought home, and of course, the plastic alphabet letters. It was messy, and busy, and I loved it.
If you have littles, you know that for a good while, their art and other projects are not really about quality, but quantity. They make a LOT, often, and sometimes feel a picture is finished with a single stroke of pink on a page. Sometimes it can be very minimalist, and other times it's like they've channeled Basquiat.
My mom saved a bunch of my art and other such projects (report cards and more) from my youth. I've got a huge box to got through... at some point. I'd like to save my girls from that a bit, and I'll share in another post some tips I've gotten for doing just that. In the meantime, I wanted a space where we could display their work, rotate it as often as it needed, and then select a few things along the way that felt worthy of being saved. I also needed a space that wasn't the fridge.
We have stainless steel appliances, which do not like magnets. Also, for the quantity of creativity our girls have, which some days is seemingly endless, the fridge just doesn't cut it. We also have this long hallway upstairs that begged for something better. We had a few things that needed to be hung, and there happened to be some nails already in the wall, so we got lazy and just hung stuff up...
Kind of meh, no? I'm so curious what my little bird was gazing at when I took this picture! Anyway, the hallway was just not purposeful. I decided to change that. Thanks to the helpful suggestions of my new friend/decorator-idea-generator extraordinaire, Dawn, I had a way to use this space, make it kid-art friendly, and use supplies I already had at the house...for the most part. Seriously, Dawn is pretty amazing. If you are in the South Denver area and are in need of home decor or personalization help, she is a FONT of ideas and inspiration!
I've mentioned before that our house was a one-note of color from wall to ceiling, so we broke that up with a little stained wood. For some reason, we had some reddish Cedarwood pieces just laying outside in the backyard. Somehow, they were the perfect length for this project. Score! No cutting! The reddish color didn't suit the space, but with the help of a little stain we were in business.
I choose Minwax PolyShades in Tudor. This is a great product because it is SO easy to use! It's a stain and polyurethane in one step, super rich color, and leaves a nice, soft gloss. After sanding the pieces down and rounding the corners, I got to staining. It went on really evenly and I didn't need to wipe it at all. You kind of never know when exactly what you're going to get when you stain, but this stain on the red-ish Cedarwood came out gorgeous!
I let them dry over night and the next day got to work installing the hardware on the back to hang them. Ook makes this really easy with their picture hanging kit. I knew that nothing we were going to put up was going to be too heavy, so these seemed like a great option. It also made it helpful to hang without worrying too much about centering on a stud. The wire allowed me a little leeway in that respect.
First, I installed the loops at either end of the board. I measured down from the top to ensure they were level. Then, I strung the wire through the loops and pulled it as tight as possible. I tend to bring the ends together, twist them around each other, then wind them back along the wire to use up any extra. You'll want to test the flexibility of the wire here, especially if you are hanging something low enough that you could possibly see the wire peeking out above the board. If it comes up to high, you've got two options: 1. Retighten the wire, 2. Move the loops lower and then retighten.
Once the hardware was installed, it was time to put some hangers on there! I found these cute, decorative paperclips at Michaels. I picked up a pack in navy, another in teal, and a bottle of wood glue. After measuring out the spacing, I applied a bit of wood glue to the backs and pressed them down. It was easy to wipe up any excess glue and it never showed up on the stained board. Bonus!
After that it took a bit of knocking to find the studs, hammering in a few nails, hanging these lovelies up, and putting up the girls bingo dabber art. Have you tried bingo dabbers yet with your kids? Oh my gosh, there are so many things you can do with them! We practiced first just dabbing without pushing too hard to make a puddle, and then making sure we put the cap back on when we were done with a color. Then we had some fun with coffee filters and a spray bottle of water. There really is something to said for not assuming your kids know how to use something, especially something new. Especially something that STAINS! So, I try to take time to model for them how I want them to use a new tool, take care of it, and practice, practice, practice.
I'm pretty happy with how they turned out! Since we hung them, we've changed out art at least five times, so they've been used exactly as I expected. And, they look way better than the random art we had there before. Plus, it makes the upstairs feel so much more family and kid-centered. It allows us a bit of adult space downstairs, and a the girls a bit of kid space upstairs.
We happened to have a few more of these boards lying about outside, and I'll share another day have I used a few of those in the entry way. For now, I'd love to know where you hang your kids art. Comment or share a picture with us!
Another Halloween has come and gone. That means our girls are now closer to three than two, and our little bird will start Kindergarten next year. Next year! How did that happen? Each year as parents we've learned something new about Halloween. The first year with our first daughter we learned new ways to "carve" pumpkins. The next year we learned that the neighborhood you're in really determines if you even bother going trick or treating, or buying any candy to give out. We also learned that trick-or-treating itself wasn't missed if we didn't go. Last year we learned that little legs don't last very long trick-or-treating, and wearing good shoes is key. We also learned about the Great Pumpkin.
image courtesy of wikipedia.com
Now, I don't mean the Charlie Brown movie, although perhaps that's where this comes from in the first place. It is a classic after all. No, I mean the Great Pumpkin, he who helps you get rid of all the extra candy you don't want your kids eating.
I don't remember which clever mama I learned this from last year, but I wish I could take credit for it. Basically, we let our girls pick a certain number of pieces of candy from their buckets, then filled a bucket with the remaining candy....
sans the good ones we kept for ourselves...
and put it outside on the path for the Great Pumpkin. See, the Great Pumpkin is VITAL to Halloween. Without him, Halloween simply cannot happen. Each year, he needs to collect candy in order to be strong and ready to prepare the next year's Halloween. He makes all the decorations, all the candy, and all the scary noises, so he's got a BIG job. It requires lots of candy.
The girls thought it was a great idea!
Then this year I learned about Switch Witch.
Image courtesy of Pintrest
I have to say, I like this one even better than the Great Pumpkin. If you haven't heard of Switch Witch, she is pretty brilliant. She and her cat Zoom will switch out the candy your child didn't pick and swap it out for something else. The little poem I found says "I switch if for some toys!", but I want more little toys around the house like I want loads of Halloween candy, which means not at all.
So, we decided to switch the witch's switch. Instead of toys, she brought my girls favorite thing...
And this year she brought books that they can read by themselves. Enter Me Reader.
If you've got emergent readers or non readers in your home who LOVE to read, these are a great option! They come with eight books and allow kids to "read" or follow along by the themselves. Each image on the edges matches the cover of a book. Each page has a symbol that follows the order of the symbols on the reader and, when you're ready to turn the page, it sounds a little chime. It took my two year old a few tries, but she is super independent with it now and uses it all the time. It took my four year old two guided tries and she fell in love.
The last option to deal with the hell of too much Halloween candy is the Tooth Fairy. Now, I learned about this one from my mentor-mom neighbor. She is the bomb-diggity and my go-to for all things mommy-related. She has four kids, and spent years as a classroom teacher. She's more than earned her stripes!
In her family, the Tooth Fairy visits after Halloween. Her youngest kiddos get to pick 5 pieces of candy to keep, and the older two select 10. Then, they leave their Halloween buckets with the extra candy by their beds, just as they leave their teeth for the Tooth Fairy. In the night, the Tooth Fairy comes, replaces their candy with money, helping them take good care of their teeth. Cute, right?
So, how do you start a tradition like this? Here are some ideas for you:
Whatever method you choose, remember the point is to make the focus of Halloween less on the candy and more on the fun of the entire tradition. This is especially good for kids that are just old enough to start Trick or Treating, but aren’t really ready for most candy. They can still have the fun like the big kids and get a special “treat” that doesn’t also have to be a sugary choking hazard.
Got another great idea for avoiding the Halloween candy hangover? Please share!
Ever have those days when you just aren't sure what to do with your kiddos? I'm a teacher at heart and by training, but I don't feel obligated to have "teacherly things" planned every day for my kids. We are just as happy to get outside and get dirty, or use our imaginations. But sometimes, you kinda feel out of ideas and need something new. Today was one of those days.
I spend a lot of time in the kitchen with my girls. I love to cook and they love to help. They also love science experiments. So today we kinda mixed the two together. Enter crayon cakes. Now, initially my little bird was all excited over the idea of cake. I think she had chocolate on the brain! We headed to the dollar store to pick up big boxes of crayons for cheap, and she began to question the idea of crayon cake.
"Mummy, are we going to eat crayons?"
"No darling, not eat them, but we will bake them"
She looked perplexed. I love when I can see the wheels turning in my girls in my heads. They both pull a certain face that is all contemplation, with a little confusion thrown in for good measure.
We ended up bringing home four boxes of 48 count crayons for $4. Love the Dollar Store! I bought four because we've never made these before and I wasn't sure exactly how many I'd need. Four was more than enough and now we are stocked up to make them once this batch gets used up. I also picked up two $1 muffin tins, since I don't want to use my good tins for crafty purposes.
Both girls pitched in to help peel off the paper from EVERY crayon. Thankfully we decided that one box of 48 crayons was enough. My fingers were a bit sore by the end, but we made it through. Then we got out the muffin tin and had fun talking about shades of colors, naming colors outside the typical ROYGBIV scheme, and breaking crayons so they fit into the cups. This is also a great time to talk about warm and cool colors, neutral colors, and even take time to color the same picture shades of a certain color, or a warm/cool/neutral option.
FYI: I wasn't sure how easily the crayon cakes would come out, so I spray a titch of non-stick spray in the cups before we added the crayons.
We pre-heated the oven to 300 degrees and popped in our crayon cakes. Then of course, the oven light must go on and we simply sit and watch what happens! I thought this would be a great time to pull out little science journals, or even one for all of us, and write down our hypothesis of what we think will happen and why, then record results along the way, and note down our conclusions. This time around though I wasn't that well planned to have gotten all that ready in advance, so we just talked about. I love that my girls now make predictions and actually say, "I predict the rock at preschool will be painted green!" Makes my geeky, teacher heart all happy :)
Half way through I pulled them out to take a look at what was happening and revise our hypotheses.
After about 20 minutes or so (keep your eye on them as ovens can vary) we pulled them out completely melted and let them cool a bit on the stove. This would be a great time to add essential oils and create some aromatherapy crayons, or if you're brave, glitter.
Once they've cooled a bit you'll want to pop the tin into the freezer so the crayons set and also so they pop out easily. I left them in for a few hours and they pop out really nicely. These are great for rubbings and also for little hands. My little girls can palm them or tip them on the side to color. They loved seeing how the color changed depending on how they held it or how long they rubbed. Great for fall leaf rubbings!
Do you have other crafty crayon ideas to share? I've got three more boxes around here somewhere. Share a comment, a picture, a link, and your love!
I'm Tonia, a Midwesterner transplanted to Colorado. I'm a mom of two lovely littles, a yoga instructor, DIY-er, teacher, stay at home mom, and a doTERRA Wellness Advocate. I blog about a little bit of all of these and everything in between!
Are you looking for natural health options, but don't know where to start? Book a 1-on-1 appointment with me! We'll spend about 30 minutes getting to know your health goals and concerns, learn a bit about doTERRA, and go over the most commonly used oils that meet your needs. You don't have to buy anything, but if you see something you like, of course I can help you!