Friday, November 20, 2009

Make Your Own Dreidel Out of Recycled Milk Cartons

Dreidels are toys that are often seen on Hanukkah. They are similar to tops, but they are created for the purpose of playing a traditional Jewish game. Here's how to make your own dreidel out of a milk carton, and how to play the game.

What You Need
  • Small, empty paper milk or juice carton
  • Masking tape
  • Kitchen knife or sharp-tipped scissors
  • Light blue acrylic paint
  • Small paintbrush
  • Sharpened pencil
  • Styrofoam ball
  • White craft glue
  • Loose gold glitter
  • Newspaper (to cover work area)
  • Pie pan

1. Rinse out the milk or juice carton and dry thoroughly. Close the spout, and secure it with a small piece of masking tape.

2. Use the kitchen knife or scissors to poke one hole in the top of the container and one in the bottom, each as close to the center as possible. (If a child is doing this project, the adult should do this part.)

3. Paint all four sides of the milk carton with the blue paint. Let dry. While you're waiting, clean the paintbrush thoroughly.

4. Squeeze some glue out onto the newspaper. Using the paintbrush, spread a layer of it evenly onto the bottom of the milk carton. Then hold it over the pie plate and sprinkle with glitter. Tap to remove the excess. Repeat with the top of the carton, including the indentations on the side, and let dry.

5. Use the paintbrush to write the Yiddish letter Nun in glue on one side of the carton. Hold the carton over the pie plate, sprinkle with glitter, and tap to remove the excess. Repeat on the other sides, using the letters Hay, Gimel and Shin. Let dry.

6. Insert the eraser end of the pencil into the styrofoam ball. Use the paintbrush to cover it with a uniform layer of paint, sprinkle with glitter and shake off the excess. Let dry. Clean the paintbrush thoroughly so that no glue dries in it.

7. Insert the pencil into the bottom of the milk carton.

How to Play

The Dreidel game is played in groups of four. Each player should be given the same amount of pennies or candy, known as gelt. Some gelt should also be put in the “pot.” Then the players take turns spinning the dreidel. If it lands on Nun, nothing happens. If it lands on Hay, the player receives half of the amount in the pot. If it lands on Gimel, he gets everything in the pot. If it lands on Shin, the player must put one penny or piece of candy in the pot.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Potato Printing Fun

Potatoes are a favorite vegetable for many kids. Most love French fries and potato chips, but healthier preparations such as mashed and boiled potatoes are also popular. But potatoes aren’t just tasty. They can also be lots of fun.

Did you know that spuds make great artistic tools? It’s easy to make stamps out of raw potatoes. Kids large and small love to create their own unique stamps. Here’s how.

What You Need
  • Raw potatoes
  • Sharp knife
  • Pencil
  • Construction paper or card stock (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Paper towel
  • Newspaper
  • Saucers
  • Paint

1. Cut potatoes in half widthwise.

2. Have kids make shapes on the inner part of each piece of potato. Small children can draw shapes on construction paper or card stock, cut them out, and trace them onto a potato with a pencil. Older kids can carve directly onto the potato if they like, with a sharp pencil or knife and adult supervision.

3. Have an adult carve all around the shape so that it is about ¼ to ½ inch higher than the rest of the potato.

4. Place the stamp surface on a paper towel to absorb excess moisture before using.

5. Cover the work area with newspapers. Put paint in saucers, dip the potato stamps into it, and make prints. You could also use an ink pad, or color the design with a marker and stamp it.

Potato prints can be used in a wide variety of projects. Here are some ideas.

* Use potato stamps to paint designs on walls. Kids can create a whimsical border with their home-made potato stamps.

* Create unique clothing designs. Potato stamps and fabric paint can easily spruce up a plain t-shirt or pair of jeans. They also work very well on canvas sneakers.

* Make limited edition wood furniture. Potato stamp designs go great on unfinished pieces, as well as those that are painted a solid color.

* Make your own stationery. Use ink pads in different colors to make designs on a plain notepad or loose sheets of paper. This makes a thoughtful and inexpensive gift.

* Design your own gift wrap. Just stamp designs onto solid colored gift wrap, craft paper or plain white paper.

* Use potato stamps to decorate greeting cards. They’re great for making uniform borders and patterns.

* Make plaques. Stamp designs onto premade plaques found in craft stores, or use scrap wood from other projects.

Potato printing is an easy and inexpensive project for kids. It’s also a simple way for adults to create their own stamps. If you have some potatoes and a knife, you can create any kind of stamp that you can imagine.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Make Your Own Playdough, Paint and Other Craft Materials – Easy Recipes to Use With Young Children

Make Your Own Playdough, Paint and Other Craft Materials is a book full of recipes for art materials, including playdough, paint, glitter and other crafty materials. By using ingredients from your own kitchen, you’ll save money. The recipes use non-toxic ingredients so that children can be involved in the making of the materials, which is fun and educational.

The recipes include more than 20 different playdough recipes, including cooked and non-cooked playdough, scented dough, cinnamon dough, salt dough, nature’s playdough, bumpy textured dough, sawdust dough and many more. It also gives ideas on how to use playdough with children and what they learn from using it.

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Other recipes include homemade clay recipes, paint recipes, paste and glue recipes and goop and glob recipes. Ideas on how to make discovery bottles, i.e. glitter bottle, rain bottle, bubble bottle are also provided. You can read up on recipes for papier-mâché, bath salts, perfume, invisible ink, various bubble recipes, sidewalk chalk, art gems, flower transfers, suncatchers and tips on creatively using chalk and bubbles.

This book is a super way of spending less on art supplies and at the same time having tons of fun with your children. The kids will love to be involved in the process of making the material, they will learn to measure, learn about science and the effects of various materials and will be able to experiment with texture, scent and different colorings.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How to Create Beautiful Leaf Prints

The great outdoors holds many treasures that we can use in crafting. Flowers, pine cones and rocks can be used as the basis for many crafts, and they also make lovely accents. Even simple leaves can add a nice touch to our projects.

Leaf prints can bring a hint of nature to the most sophisticated of crafts. Yet they’re so easy to do, even children can create them expertly. Here are two simple ways to capture the beautiful intricacies of leaves.

Leaf Rubbings


* Paper
* Leaves
* Crayons


1. Lay a pretty leaf flat on the table, with the veins facing upward.
2. Lay a piece of paper on top of the leaf, positioning it so that the leaf is where you want its impression to be.
3. Peel the wrapper off of a crayon in the desired color. Holding the paper down around the leaf, gently rub the side of the crayon over the paper on top of the leaf.

4. Reposition the leaf, or place another type of leaf under the paper and repeat with a different color. Continue to create a pattern, or just make rubbings at random to complete your work of art.

Painted Leaf Prints


* Paper, poster board, card stock or fabric
* Leaves
* Paint (acrylic, tempera or fabric, depending on the material you’re working on)
* Paintbrush or sponge
* Newspaper
* Paper towels


1. Lay the leaf on top of the newspaper, with the veins facing upward.
2. Use the paintbrush or sponge to thoroughly apply paint to the leaf. Alternatively, you could simply put some paint on the newspaper and dip the leaf into it.
3. Carefully lift the leaf off of the newspaper, and place it paint side down onto the material you want to make a print on.
4. Place a paper towel over the leaf and press down gently but firmly.
5. Remove the paper towel, and peel the leaf off of the material, taking care not to tear it.
6. Repeat to create prints of the same leaf in the same color. Let dry.
7. Use a new leaf for each different color, and let each new color dry before adding another one.

There are also other ways to create leaf prints. Pressing leaves onto ink pads and then onto paper is a simple way to make them. It’s also possible to make imprints of leaves on clay by gently pressing the leaf into it. These techniques present all sorts of crafting possibilities.

Leaf prints are simple enough for toddlers to create with little assistance. They make wonderful rainy day projects on their own, or they can be used to enhance all kinds of crafts. So if you’re looking for some inspiration from nature, look no further than that tree in your back yard.