I'm so excited to see the classes from the other instructors, which include:
I hope you'll take a look!
I'm so excited to see the classes from the other instructors, which include:
I hope you'll take a look!
The ideas include some breakfast-in-bed upgrades, easy photo gifts, mini cookie cakes for a mom-kid tea party (above) and more.
One more thing...I started contributing to The TODAY Parenting Team, where parents, including many TODAY Show anchors, share advice, ask questions and post cute pic's! Check it out!
And Happy Mother's Day!!
It's finally spring here in Brooklyn. Hooray! We're looking forward to the blooming of our beautiful rose bush. It is glorious...for one week...so this year we are determined to seize that moment and have a gathering to show it off.
I thought I'd use my stash of half-packs of different colored napkins to make some rose napkins tucked in glasses for a buffet. Both square dinner-sized and rectangular guest towel napkins work well to make roses.
Dinner-sized napkins: fold the napkins in half. With the folded side at the top roll the napkins into a cylinder. If your like a fuller rose you can fold two and overlap to make one long napkin before you roll it up (as in picture, above). When you are finished rolling, fold the open end down into a triangular flap for an outer petal and tuck them into a glass (or paper cup). I used half pint mason jars for drinking glasses. I also cut some almond-shaped rose leaves out of green paper scraps and tucked one or two into each glass.
Guest towel-sized napkins: Fold napkins in half the long way and roll into a cylinder. When you are finished rolling, you can fold the open end into a triangular flap for an outer petal.
A few years ago on Mother's Day, my husband and kids gave me what is perhaps my all-time favorite gift, a storybook they made in which I was "Superhero Mommy". This personalized story book would make an equally fantastic Father's Day gift or a gift for a grandparent or special friend!
With the help of my husband, the boys came up with a story called "Superhero Mommy". He asked them some leading questions to aid with the structure of the tale. You can use them to create one for the mom or dad (or grandparent or any special person) in your life!
My story takes place in a future where "a terrible thing started to happen. People were playing on the computer all the time." They stopped using their hands other than to type and "forgot about crafts". In fact "crafts almost became extinct....They used superglue to try to separate things, they used markers to cut paper, and they tried to use scissors to stick things together..." Oh my!
My husband printed out the text and the kids cut it up. He folded a stack of construction paper in half to make a book. The kids pasted each line to a page and added illustrations.
Other favorite Mother and Father's Day gifts kids can help to create:
By the way, Superhero Mommy was able to remind people that it was fun to talk to each other and use their hands for making things, therefore saving the world! "Then she ate her cheese crafts and it tasted good." (!)
Happy Mother and Father's Day to all the superheroes out there!
For his sixth birthday, my younger son had a science-themed party. We chose a few easy-to-put-together science projects to demonstrate in a silly science show as well as for hands-on activities. The kids had a blast! Some of the projects required only a few household objects, a few others utilized kits from the fantastic website Steve Spangler Science (not a sponsor of this post :). I didn’t get great pic’s...though it wasn’t very “styled” anyway...it was all I could do to get the science projects together! A lot of research went into planning the activities, sourcing the supplies, and the flow of the party so I hope you will find this guide helpful!
Read on for detailed description of all the science activities!
Balloons in my son's favorite color were our only decorations—quick and easy!
1. Decorating favor bags while waiting for everyone to arrive
I bought inexpensive canvas totes from Muji and set out cups of fabric markers. (Before the party I slipped scrap cardboard inside so the pens didn’t bleed through.) I like having a quiet activity set up so that kids can work individually as they warm up to eachother. After the party, I put their safety goggles, Insta-worms (their first “experiment”), deflated windbags (see below), a toy magnifying lens, and a little treat into their bags.
Prep before the party: We ordered this kit and extra squeeze bottles from Steve Spangler Science. We premixed the activator solution and divided it into separate cups for each kid and tinted "worm goo" which went into the squeeze bottles. Cups of Popsicle sticks for stirring were set put so the kids could easily pull the worms out of the solution, along with pre-labeled sandwich bags with the kids’ names so they could take their worms home.
During the party: They shared the bottles of “worm goo” which they squeezed into their cups of activator solution and had fun pulling out their worms with the Popsicle sticks.
The lesson: The Steve Spangler website explains Instant Worms: “ Explore the science of building polymers by cross-linking long chains of molecules. The process of making Instant Worms happens the very second the two liquids mix.” Um, ok...this one was a little more complex than the others (see below). But the kids didn't care!
3. Science Show
Everybody headed out to the backyard with their safety goggles where my husband Fred demoed three different experiments-all super easy to prep and with a good WOW factor!
Act !: Self-Inflating Balloon
Prep before the Party: Pour four tablespoons of vinegar into a clean bottle. Use a funnel to fill a balloon with one teaspoon of baking soda. Be sure that the balloon falls to one side as you carefully slip its opening over the neck of the bottle so no baking soda gets into the bottle.
At the Show: Lift the balloon to let the baking soda fall into the bottle. The balloon will inflate all by itself!
The lesson: When the baking soda and vinegar come into contact, they form a gas: carbon dioxide. This gas fills the bottle and can’t escape, so it rushes into the balloon, inflating it.
Act 2: Egg in a Bottle
Prep before the Party: Peel a hard-boiled egg and set it on the neck of glass bottle. The neck should be slightly smaller than the egg. A milk bottle is a good size.
At the Show: To add to the anticipation, Fred had an extra milk bottle with an uncooked egg on the neck. He pretended that he thought he could get it into the bottle, smashed it and made a mess—which the kids loved! He then took the other bottle with the hard-boiled egg, lifted the egg, and dropped two lit matches into the bottle. He quickly set the egg on top again. As the flames went out, the egg was sucked into the bottle with a loud “POP”! The kids were very surprised.
The lesson: Before you insert the matches, the air on the inside and outside of the bottle are exactly the same. As the fire burns, it uses up oxygen inside the bottle, creating a vacuum. (You can explain that the air inside is thinner than the air outside of it and the higher pressure on the outside of the bottle actually pushes the egg in.)
Act 3: The Grand Finale: Mentos Geyser
Prep before the Party: All you really need are a pack of mint Mentos and a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke (any soda will do but diet soda leaves a less sticky mess afterward). We purchased this loading tube from Steve Spangler which gives you more control and time to get away when dropping in the Mentos.
At the Show: Again, Fred built up the suspense (and lowered expectations—so the kids were really surprised in the end) by dropping different items into a few extra bottles of soda: grapes and salt, which each caused a bit of fizzing and gurgling. When he used the Mentos, the kids couldn’t believe it. Frothy soda shot up to the second story of our building (see picture). Fred was soaked!
The lesson: From Steve Spangler Science: “Each Mentos candy has thousands of tiny pits all over the surface. These tiny pits are called nucleation sites—perfect places for carbon dioxide bubbles to form. As soon as the Mentos hit the soda, bubbles form all over the surface of the candy. Couple this with the fact that the Mentos candies are heavy and sink to the bottom and you’ve got a double-whammy. When all this gas is released, it literally pushes all of the liquid up and out of the bottle in an incredible soda blast.” Awesome! More info here
Instead of applause…water balloons! Scientist Dad was very messy so we “helped” him clean up by throwing water balloons at him. What a great dad!
After some pizza (and freeze-dancing—even scientists need to let loose!) the kids headed out again to play with these windbags that I also bought from Steve Spangler.
5. Laboratory photo booth
During the party we snapped pictures of the guests in lab coats in front of a laboratory backdrop that my sons and I painted a few days before the party. We used this app to get the photobooth effect.
We loved the way the pictures came out and sent them to all the families in their thank you notes.
The birthday boy requested dirt and worms (a.k.a. ground chocolate wafers and gummy worms) on top of his cupcakes in honor of our slime worms. We used our favorite recipe for chocolate cake. For the cupcake topper, I printed a picture of my son in his lab coat onto card stock, cut it out, and glued it to a wooden skewer. I stuck it in along with a toy magnifying lens.
These messy science were a big hit with these guys. I hope you’ll try it for your kid’s birthday!
We're thinking spring! These cookie flowers are made from store-bought cookies and candy and are an easy and fun party or rainy day activity for younger kids. They're pretty on the side of a frosted cake for Easter, a shower, or any party! The M&M centers are “glued” to the cookie with a dot of vanilla icing that has been tinted pink.
Provide guests with clean safety scissors and green sour belt candy to make stems and leaves, or precut the pieces for younger kids. For an easy piping bag, spoon frosting into a few sealable sandwich bags. The flowers on the cake are vanilla wafers the flowers above are made from vanilla wafers and shortbread cookies.
Gumdrop Flowers! Click here for the how-to. These are great for showers, spring or summer parties, or even a playdate!
These little marshmallow bunnies are perfect cupcake toppers! Scroll down for the how-to...
To make the head, cut off a fat piece along the cylinder edge of the flat bottom of one of the marshmallows, as shown.
To make the ears, along the other edge of the marshmallow, cut two long skinny pieces and stick them to the sides of the head.
To make the face, use the toothpick to poke two holes for eyes and one for the nose. With the now-sticky toothpick, pick up the black nonpareils and push them into the holes for the eyes. Push the pink nonpareil into the hole for the nose.
To make the body, cut away a scoop on the edge of the remaining marshmallow. (Cut away more of the body marshmallow, if needed, to adhere the head.)
Nestle the bunnies in cupcake papers filed with colored sanding sugar (as shown) or on top of cupcakes.
Last year, my younger son requested a Muppet-themed birthday party and, as a lifelong Muppet fan, I was thrilled! Kermit is one of his favorite characters so the color green became an easy decoration theme. The first items that I bought were these honeycomb balls, for color, from Target. As I stared at the packaging, I realized with a little snipping, I could make it into a Kermit head! (more photos and how-to below). His balloon body was inspired by some of the crafts in the BALLOON chapter in our next book!!!
I wanted to keep it simple with the dessert and lucked upon this Kermit cupcake idea on the blog Queen of the Kitchen.
As you can sorta see, above, I iced the cupcakes with tinted-green vanilla frosting and applied less towards the bottom so the face would look tapered. I like the green in McCormick's neon pack of food coloring.
For favors, we gave a kid-level biography of Jim Henson. I love giving books rather than a bag of plastic junk and candy (though I always tape a lollipop to the bag....I'm not a total kiljoy)! I buy them online and they are cheaper than buying in-store. There is a book appropriate to any party theme! The lollipops and bags are from Oriental Trading.
The first activity was a quiet puppet-making craft. I gave each kid these blank fabric puppets, also from Oriental Trading, and set out fabric markers, googly eyes, tacky glue, and felt tongues that I pre-cut. A craft is a good way to warm everyone up at the start of the party when everyone is trickling in. I put a squeeze of tacky glue into the egg cartons next to the googly eyes. (See above photo, taken before I added the glue.) Popsicle sticks were used to apply the glue to the eyes and felt tongues.
Afterwards we went out to the backyard for some carnival games which we game Muppet-y names! One, thought up by my son, was a (Miss) Piggy-Pie-Eating-Contest. To keep it easy I bought some inexpensive small pie tins and we filled them with whipped cream (no actual pie). We topped each with a shake of Kermit-green sprinkles. The winner was the first to eat all the sprinkles off the whipped cream. No hands allowed! Cleanup involved a water balloon fight! (I wish I had gotten some good pic's!)
To make the hanging Kermit decoration....
A side view, before attaching the body....
Happy Birthday Muppet fans!! xo
Handmade Charlotte is one of my very favorite websites, so I am thrilled to have recently become a contributor. I'm sure many of you know the website already but if not, be sure to take a look. Tons of beautifully photographed and inspring crafts, kid's rooms, and recipes.
Below (and above) is a peek at some of my posts. Click on the links or photos for the full tutorials.
My friend Melissa sent me these great shots of her daughter and friend making lollipops, inspired by our book Candy Aisle Crafts. The lollipops are almost as cute as the girls! I love the rainbow and letter pops that they thought up. Lollipop-making is the perfect stuck-indoors winter activity!
The girls used Jolly Rancher candies, which I favor for melted candy projects. They are easy to find, melt smoothly, and the colors are pretty! They placed the candies on cool unbleached parchment-lined baking sheets and my (grownup) friend Melissa handled the oven.
I hope you'll try this cozy (and sweet) project!
This morning I shared some kid-friendly craft and treat ideas to prevent cabin fever this winter on the Today Show. The ideas utilize a lot of leftover holiday stuff that you may already have around the house, like candy, empty boxes, and holiday cards. As always it is a lot of fun and everyone over at Today is super nice! Click here for the video and a how-to for one of the crafts.
We are thrilled that our friends over at Martha Stewart Living featured our cookie snow globes in their December issue in the gorgeous "Partners in Craft" story.
Click here for the how-to!
Here they are, in progress...
The cookie buildings, with their "stained glass" candy windows, glow when lit from behind.
Pick up a copy of this beautiful issue!
For some fun do-together Christmas candy craft ideas, pick up the December issue of Parents Magazine. I crafted and wrote the story "A Candy Christmas". Above are starlight mint garlands, shot in my studio while I was developing the story. They're super easy to make. Click here for the how-to on the Parents website.
My gumball snowman with his sprinkle nose. Click here for the how-to on Parents.
Candy cane sleds, in progress. A great way to dress up a small present or a gift card. How-to over here.
Candy-bar critters! Find the how-to and templates here.
And some wrapped candy reindeer that didn't make it into the magazine!
The how-to's for these and a few more projects are in the December issue of Parents. Make sure and pick up a copy. And check out our book for lots more candy craft ideas. Happy holidays!
In case you've still got some Halloween candy lying around, specifically caramels and candy corn, you can make these chubby caramel apple turkeys for a Thanksgiving treat! I've been meaning to put up directions since I showed how to make them on the Today Show right before Halloween, in a segment about what to do with your leftover Halloween candy.
Here they are on set...sweating in the hot lights!!
They're really easy to make!
what you'll need:
I shared some ideas for crafting with leftover Halloween candy with host Hoda Kotb on The Today Show this morning. It's always fun to do that show...everyone is so nice! I will be doing a little tutorial on some of the crafts here so check back soon! And click here to see the segment. Happy (almost) Halloween!
We are so honored that our BOO cake was featured on Dinner: A Love Story! I'm guessing that, like me, you guys are already big fans of Jenny Rosenstrach's excellent blog about mastering the family meal. I bought her first book, Dinner: A Love Story and flagged almost every page! I have to admit that I didn't cook as many of the recipes that I had hoped. I don't quite have the weeknight dinner routine down. That said, I feel like her new book Dinner: The Playbook, was written just for me!
I had a sick day in bed recently and read it from cover to cover! Jenny's writing is funny, encouraging, and full of exactly the tips that I need. Next month's plan: I am trying her book's "30 day plan for mastering the art of the family meal". I will report back!
(Click here for the full BOO cake instructions on Jenny's blog)
The gorgeous blog Bloesem Kids is offering a giveaway of our book Candy Aisle Crafts!! Click over to enter and also to see a few tutorials from the book, including this gumdrop sailboat! If you aren't already familiar with Bloesem, make sure to check out Irene Hoof's other inspiring blog, Bloesem Living. Thank you Bloesem!!