Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fun Toddler Holiday Craft

**Spoiler Alert** Mom and Dad: This post contains Christmas gift spoilers! Please go stalk me elsewhere on the internet, or at least act surprised on Christmas day!

Connected mom Jenn wrote a fabulous 'how to' a few weeks ago for a holiday that doesn’t break the bank, and reconnects us with community and loved ones in a way that is truer to the original spirit of the season. One of her many awesome suggestions was to make ornaments and decorations with your children.

The Christmas trees of my childhood were far from the shimmering glamorous monoliths in stores and catalogs. Our fake tree stood barely 4ft tall. None of our ornaments matched any others on the tree, and no one cared whether they were evenly placed, or even if they were still intact. It just mattered that they all made it on the little tree, because almost every single one of them was made with love and enthusiasm by us kids. Among my favourites were the painted green bow-tie pasta wreath with my little sister’s dorky grin picture in the centre, my brother’s prized clay teddy bear that made me giggle because I thought it looked more like a Christmas turd than a Christmas bear (but I wouldn’t actually TELL him that to his face), and the genius Rudolph reindeer I fashioned from pantyhose, pom-poms and pipe cleaners.

I dream of one day hanging Oliver’s home made ornaments from the branches of my tree, whether they are beautifully crafted or look more like Christmas turds, I just can’t wait to retell their stories every year, and to see his skills and creativity grow and change from one ornament to the next. As well as filling my own tree with Oliver’s creations, this year I want to supply my parents with more home made goodness to add to the collection (my dad doesn’t set up the tree every year anymore, but I know those ornaments are still packed away somewhere). So about $20 at the craft store and a few hours* later I have made 6 (one for me & one for each set of Oliver’s grandparents, and one extra in case I break one) of these cute and simple hand print ornaments.

Please note that the use of these as holiday ornaments is totally optional, they also make great keepsakes to hang in your office or home all year round!

*I say a few hours, and in total it was maybe an hour or two worth of work, but it was completed over the course of an entire day. For younger children I highly recommend breaking the project into several manageable tasks to avoid them (and you!) loosing interest or becoming frustrated!

You will need:

• One package of oven-bake clay
• Rolling pin
• Round cookie cutter or cup just bigger than your child’s hand
• Small alphabet stamps (optional)
• Small metal eye hooks
• One glass or metal baking sheet
• Soft sponge or paint brush
• Acrylic craft paint in colour of your choice (optional)
• Glitter, gloss, or shimmer finishing paint (optional)
• One roll of fabric ribbon to match your paint choice

Your child can help with any one of these steps depending on their age, with the exception of step 4, I’ll leave you to decide which parts you will need their help for!

Oliver 'rolling' baking clay
1) Carefully read the package instructions of your oven-bake clay as preparation may vary from brand to brand.
2) Work your clay until it starts to soften up then roll it out to about a quarter to half an inch thickness and cut rounds with cup or cookie cutter.
3) Place eye hooks into the top of every round at about “10 and 2”
Oliver wasn't so sure about this part!
4) Wash your child’s hands thoroughly then gently press into the centre of each clay round. (Make sure to wash them thoroughly afterwards as well! I learned the hard way that baking clay leaves a greasy residue that can ruin clothing and furniture!)
5) (optional) Using stamps, or the end of a toothpick or pencil, write your child’s name and the year (example: Oliver 2010) either above/below the hand print or on the back of each round. I started out using a pencil to carve Oliver’s name into the ornament. I didn’t really like the result and ended up using a Gold craft marker to write on the rest of my ornaments after the fact. I think I would have preferred the effect that alphabet stamps would have.
Our first ornament ready for the oven
6) Place rounds on a glass or metal baking surface and bake as per package instructions to set the clay.
7) Once rounds have been removed from oven and cooled you can paint them, or leave them plain and skip to step 11.
8) Using acrylic craft paint and a small sponge or brush, paint the front of your ornament. I used a rag to lightly wipe away some of the paint after application to create more contrast in the hand print and make it more visible.
9) Let paint dry then flip ornaments over and paint the other side.
10) When all paint is dry repeat steps 8 and 9 with a glitter/gloss/shimmer finish if desired, and let dry. I used a “diamond effect” sheer acrylic glitter paint to finish mine and I love the way they catch the light.
11) String your ribbon through the eye hooks to create a nice hanger for your ornament.

Finished ornaments hanging in the afternoon sun

What are your favorite holiday crafts to do with your children? Do you have any holiday traditions designed to create memories and keepsakes?


cleemckenzie said... [Reply to comment]

Sharing time crafting with kids is wonderful. Thanks for the great idea.

Jenn @ Connected Mom said... [Reply to comment]

Love it! I made these for Father's Day two years ago without the paint and it was a nice keepsake for dad and the grandpas, so you really can use these anywhere, but I love the idea of making ornaments. May have to do that.

Debra said... [Reply to comment]

Julian, I can see why you'd be a proud mom:) Oliver is simply precious! So glad I stopped by for a visit and met you two.
Now following you on Google.
Hope you'll stop by my place as well.

April said... [Reply to comment]

That is so cute, and a great idea. I'm going to give it a try with the air-dry clay we have on hand rather than the oven-bake and hope it holds up. :)

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