Grass Pets

What’s more fun than playing with dirt, water, and a fast growing plant you can cut often?  The hot topic of my kids at the moment are their new grass pets. The idea started with Pinterest (of course!) and a Cub Scout activity. The original idea used at Cub Scouts included a pantyhose sock, adding grass, seeds, and fleeing on a face. After a few days it became exhausting watering them twice a day, do I knew a modification was necessary as both kids loved the Grass Man!

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Materials needed:

  1. 2 letter bottle (or other container)
  2. Scissors (to cut the bottle)
  3. Duct tape (for the cut edges)
  4. Paint and other things to decorate the container
  5. Grass seed (I found a 1 lb bag for $3 at Walmart, that’s more than enough!)
  6. Water and container easy for the kids to poor the water out of (like a measuring cup)
  7. Dirt

Suggested prep work before kids start to help (some kids could do some of the prep work, use your best judgment)

  1. Take an empty 2-leter or other container and rinse It out, then cut the bottom part off.
  2. Use duct tape to cover the edges, I did this to make sure the kids didn’t accidentally cut themselves when playing with it.
  3. I wanted to give my kids a fresh canvas to paint, so I painted each one a base color, one white, one green and one pink.

Kids of just about any age can help with this part

  1.  Paint any design on the container, or if you prefer decorate it in any way. My kids love things that glow in the dark, so we added some glow in the dark paint.
  2. Once the paint is dry (I made a 2-day event out of this), I had the kids fill the containers with dirt. We used a measuring cup to scoop out the dirt.
  3. After the container was full with dirt I used a liquid measuring cup to let them add water and mix the eater into the dirt.
  4. Make sure to have them flatten out the dirt, then add grass seed. I put some grass seed in a plastic container for them to sprinkle or dump on.
  5. At this point I added some wet dirt on top.  I should suggest not to, after a few days the grass was pushing the layer of dirt off and I ended up pealing it off. I wash I took a picture, but at the time I didn’t think about it.

Now all you have to do is watch and water!  The kids and I enjoyed looking at how much they grew each day and compare the two. We ended up watering them every two to three days. After about a week it was long enough to cut the grass if we wanted to (we may try that tomorrow, exactly one week after planting the grass).

Here are a few pitchers of the first day, third day (when we took the layer of dirt off) and fifth day.

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Bean bags

A friend of mine asked about making bean bags, so when my youngest was invited to her first non-family birthday party I thought some homemade bean bags was in order. 

What you need:

  1. About a fat Quarter of fabric
  2. Rice, beans, or something to fell the bags with
  3. Thread to match the fabric (some hand stitching was in order)
  4. Funnel or paper to make a funnel

I made three sizes because I wasn’t sure what was the best size. I cut 6 inch squares, 4 1/2 inch squares, and 3 inch squares. The 4 1/2 seamed to be the Perferct size. 

Start by cutting your squares. I found the smaller sizes cutting the 3 inch squares was best so I could get the pattern to fit the best. For the larger sizes I cut a rectangle 6×12 and 4 1/2×9. 

Put the pieces inside out and stitch around, leaving about an inch. Then turn the pieces inside out and if necessary use a chopstick to push the corners out. Normally this is where I would iron, but I didn’t think that was necessary for this project.  Then I used a funnel to fill with rice. I tried to sew it closed using the machine, although I liked my bags a bit full. For all the bags shown below I used a total of about 2.5 bags. Hand stitch and you are good to go!

 

I had fun warping this gift, no tape necessary!  My kids liked the bean bags so much that I made them their own set, and I’ll be making another Thomas batch for a friend.   

  

Confetti Bowls

  This Easter break we tried a few different projects with the kids. This was a fun and messy project, but I don’t plan on trying this again. I saw several different methods of these confetti bowls, I would suggest using a clear glue like Modge Podge. I started out making paper mâché with one part water, one part flower, and salt. Doing layers of confetti was going to take forever as you needed to let it dry in between layers. I wanted a quick project so I started out with some confetti spread on the first layer, then I added some of the holly paper.  I put a layer of paper mâché, and placed a few more layers of the holly paper. Once it looked like a good thickness I sprinkled the confetti on top and let dry.

I made the confetti with a hole punch, it took about two sheets of paper to make one. If I did this another time I would use larger confetti and different shapes. 

 

Paper Mâché Pumpkins

This post was inspired by both rotting pumpkins and this pin about paper mâché pumpkins.

This was a bit of a last minute craft so after work one day I did a quick search for how to make paper mâché. I found three ways to make it and decided to try with glue and water. After going through two glue bottles I tried the flower, water, and salt in a bag trick. I must say, the flour and water worked better. It was also really easy and fun for the kids to mix it in a bag.

We also used what little news paper that we could find, some worked. Enter than others. The glossy paper didn’t work well except for the bottom. The thiner paper also worked the best (we had some thicker news paper in the mix too). When working with the paper I found longer rectangles worked the best with the sides, thin long rectangles worked best for the stems and square or thick rectangles worked best for the bottom. Also, it was not easy tying the string around the balloons to get the pumpkin shape.

Overall the kids had a great time! I also really enjoyed the craft a lot as well. A word of warning, if you are doing this with younger kids they may not finish all aspects. With both of my kids they did almost a full first layer and I finished it up for them. Both kids had a great time and even named the pumpkins Rolly Polly.

Here is what we started with.

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The top two are from the first round, the middle was the last, and the bottom are after painting.

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Color dried pasta with Food Coloring

As I overhear my husband talk to his sister about letting the kids do a pasta art project I got excited and thought I would try using food coloring to give the kids more color to play with. When googling I read alcohol or vinegar can be used. I decided to follow this http://www.ehow.com/how_8788871_color-dry-pasta-food-coloring.html but used vinegar instead.

I’m going to start with a few things to keep in mind.
1) Pasta with groves did not take well.
2) I found that thiner flatter pastas like the shells turned to mush quickly.
3) I had a red and pink food coloring, both turned out pink.
4) the directions say 10 drops to a 1/4 cup, I wanted a lighter purple so I used less drops (6-8). For the red I used 15 drops and it still turned out pink.
5) When the pasta is soaking, turn the bags owner several times, I think I did that every 10 min or so. This is more critical with the darker colors, if the pasta isn’t flipped you will get parts of the pasta that don’t take the color.
6) You should also flip the pasta as it drys after a few hours.
7) Use gloves if you don’t want to get food coloring on them!

Now that I have that over, let’s get started! I used 6 different types of pasta, and was planning on doing eight different colors (after playing with a few colors, I ended up with five plus the extras as not colored). I first split the pasta in individual bags, one bag per color and type.

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Then I put the pasta from one bag at a time in a bowl. I put the 1/4 measuring cup in the bag and poured the vinegar in the cup and dumped the measuring cup in the bag as I took it out. Add the number of food coloring drops, close the bag and swish it around to mix the color. Dump the pasta in, shake after closing and lay flat in a bowl. You will need the bowl, the food coloring will leak, they are plastic bags after all!

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Then, flip the bags over every ten minutes or so. Leave them in one to two hours. As you flip the bags you can get a feel for how the color is taking and how mushy the pasta is getting. I had two bags of shells go mushy to the point I had yo toss them. Rinse the pasta and spread on one to two layers of paper towel.

Some pasta will take to the food coloring better than others. I found the groves in pasta didn’t work as well.

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So I decided to not rinse some of the rigatoni pasta, it seamed to help.

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I also noticed with some of the pasta, if I just flipped some spots would be un-colored that were touching the other pasta, so I shook some of the pasta as I flipped it.

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It seamed to take a while to dry, after checking on most of the pasta after sitting overnight I found the parts facing the paper towel were still wet. Some of the pasta I moved into open plastic containers to continue to to dry, others that flipped over to continue to dry longer. I also plan to leave the pasta open for several days to finish drying. One thing you will notice is some of the pasta will dry darker, or more even. See some examples of this below, the top images are the wet pasta, the bottom is after sitting over night.

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When all is said and done, two batches and three days later we have pasta! I’m really excited with how the different colors turned out, I’m just sad my pink is red or my red is pink.

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All you need is food coloring, vinegar, dried pasta, and time!

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