Turkey Paper Chain

Our family loves decorating for holidays, particularly at this time of year. I love that our house goes directly from Halloween decorations, to Thanksgiving, to Christmas. And no matter what the season, my favorite thing about decorating is pulling out our artwork through the years and reminiscing. Homemade decorations are the best.

Our latest homemade Thanksgiving decoration? A chain of turkeys.

Follow the easy steps below to make your own. The materials list includes affiliate links.


Paper Chain Turkeys



Fold a piece of brown construction paper in half lengthwise, then in half widthwise twice. If you open up the paper you'll see 8 rectangles.

Refold the paper lengthwise, then use the existing fold lines to create an accordion fold. You can think of this as a Z (or an M or a W). Draw a turkey body on the top square. The head and the body should not quite reach to the edges of the paper, but the wings must touch the edges. This is how the turkeys will hold hands. (Or wings, in this case.) This concept is tricky for some children, so I always demonstrate what happens when the wings don't touch the edge before they get out scissors. 

Cut through the layers, following your pencil line. 

You'll end up with two strings of turkeys. Set one string aside, share with a friend, or tape the two strings together to end up with a longer paper chain. 

Glue googly eyes, beaks, wattles, and tail feathers to the turkeys. Anything goes. I chose to layer orange, pink, and yellow feathers.

Did you notice that one turkey's feathers are different than the others'? I noticed while the glue was still wet, but liked it and decided to keep it that way. It adds personality, I think. 

The last step is to hang your paper chain and enjoy!


Fall Foliage Cruise

Here is the layout from the cruise portion of our Canada trip in the fall of 2014. It's a bunch of photos in a grid, a decorated title card, and a ton of journaling along the bottom.

Fall Foliage Cruise (affiliate link)

As always, narrowing down the photos was the toughest part. We did so much and saw so many things. These 22 photos don't show even a fraction of what we saw and did, but they represent the trip pretty well. Amongst the photos are examples of the places we went, the landmarks we saw, the activities we did onboard, and the food we ate. My family members each appear in at least one photo. I'm thrilled to have this trip documented and in the album.


O Canada!

I love Canada. I've visited many times (most recently when we were detained trying to get back into the US... sigh), but my favorite visit, hands down, was in 2014. We joined my parents, my sister's family, and my brother-in-law's godmother for an epic vacation. We flew to Toronto, spent three nights, took the train to Montreal, spent two nights, and then took the train to Quebec City, where we boarded a cruise ship for a 10-day cruise. 

Trevor created an amazing album documenting the trip as part of his Independent Study (he missed 10 days of school for this trip) and also made a slideshow. Both are treasures, as they capture all the details through Trevor's eyes. I'd been putting off creating a scrapbook layout summarizing the trip for several reasons: it seemed like too big of a trip to summarize, Trevor had already documented it, and I didn't know that I could do the trip justice in one page. I ended up making three double-page layouts. I've already shared one (Autumn Colors) back in May, with promises to make and share the next two "soon." Does six months later count as soon? 

O Canada! (affiliate link)

This page covers the highlights of the train portion of our trip: Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Montreal. It was very difficult to narrow down the photos, but I'd say that any layout that includes 21 photos AND lengthy journaling is a win. I'm happy with it. I'll share the layout of the cruise portion of the trip tomorrow. 


Cardboard Tube Cowardly Lion

I've learned some things as I've been making my cardboard tube Wizard of Oz characters. Gluing tiny bits of hay to a scarecrow is NOTHING compared to photographing a reflective Tin Man. Photographing a reflective Tin Man is NOTHING compared to working with faux fur. Henceforth, I will be referring to "faux fur" as Fuzzy Evil.

Ordinarily, this is where I'd encourage you to make your own, but I can't in good conscience tell anyone to work with Fuzzy Evil. If you insist, however, follow the directions below. There are affiliate links in the materials list.


Cardboard Tube Cowardly Lion



Paint the cardboard tube with tan paint and let it dry completely. Cut a strip of Fuzzy Evil long enough to just wrap around the tube. It should be high enough to leave the face area exposed. Glue it in place. Cut a second piece of Fuzzy Evil to cover the back of the head, sticking up slightly behind the back of the head. Glue it in place. Add a few random tufts to the inside front of the tube. 

Cut a pair of matching ears from cardstock. Ink the edges, fold a small tab backward, and add glue. Put the ears on either side of the face. 

Glue the googly eyes in place, then use the brown pen to draw a nose, mouth, and whiskers. Then start filling in around the face with small tufts of Fuzzy Evil. Keep going until it looks relatively even. Finally, cut two short tufts and roll them in your hands like you'd make a playdough snake. These will be the eyebrows. Glue them in place, pointing down toward the center, but make sure your lion doesn't look evil. 

Now, take a shower and vacuum the house twice to eliminate as much Fuzzy Evil from your craft space as possible. (Note: You cannot remove it all. It's worse than glitter.) 

 As much as I struggled making this (and cleaning up afterward), I'm happy to have completed the Cowardly Lion. I have a few more items to add to my cardboard tube Wizard of Oz collection. In the meantime, check out the tutorials for the characters I've shared already: Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man.

Who (or what) do you think is coming next??


8 of the Best *FREE* Museums for Families

“You get what you pay for.” Sometimes it is true, but not always. In our travels, we’ve discovered that the price of admission to a museum or other attraction does not always correlate with its value. We’ve visited expensive places that were short on content, poorly maintained, or otherwise disappointing. But more often, we’ve visited inexpensive or free attractions that were beautiful, interesting, educational, and very entertaining.

The 19 museums of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC are famously free to visit and you're probably already aware of them, so I haven't included them on the list. Instead, this list of 8 of our family’s favorite FREE museums includes lesser-known treasures that I think you'll love.

Joslyn Art Museum: Omaha, Nebraska

Picture a huge building made of pink marble with Art Deco details with a magnificent staircase leading to the entrance, an inviting wading pool out front, and sculpture gardens throughout the grounds. That’s the Joslyn Art Museum... and that’s just the outside! Inside you'll find gallery after gallery of works by some of the world’s most famous artists. Add in an amazing hands-on children’s creative space and you have a museum that will have you asking, “How is this free?!” again and again.

American Printing House for the Blind: Louisville, Kentucky

This museum is amazing. It is full of hands-on interactive exhibits that showcase the innovations and inventions that have aided the blind. We loved writing and typing our names in braille, navigating with canes, and solving puzzles only by touch. On certain days of the week, you can also tour the factory where braille books are created. We were there on a Saturday and the factory was closed, but the museum kept us entertained for hours. 

Arizona Capitol Museum: Phoenix, Arizona

The Arizona Capitol Museum is a two-fer: you can tour the Capitol and visit the museum housed in the Capitol and never pay a penny. Both are full of interesting artwork, artifacts, and more from Arizona history. Step outside and stroll through the Wesley Bolin Plaza and Park to see memorials honoring prominent figures and events from Arizona history.

Air Mobility Command Museum: Dover, Delaware

In 2017, we paid $30 for our family of three to visit the outstanding Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum in Ashland, Nebraska. A few months later, we visited the Air Mobility Command Museum in Dover, Delaware and paid nothing. The two museums were similar in content and we thoroughly enjoyed them both. We’d definitely recommend paying to visit the SAC Aerospace Museum, which makes it all the more impressive that the Air Mobility Command Museum is free.

US Mint: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Everyone likes money, right? Watching money being made and learning about its history is so interesting... and it doesn't cost any money to do so! Our family loved touring the mint in Philadelphia, but the one in Denver, Colorado is excellent as well. (P.S. Independence National Park, that includes Independence Hall and the Liberty Center and a dozen other buildings, is free to visit as well, but it doesn't fit my criteria of lesser-known museums. The Mint barely does. Definitely visit both.)

Toledo Museum of Art: Toledo, Ohio

The main portion of the Toledo Museum of art is awesome and well worth a visit on its own, but it's the glass that puts the museum on my Top 8 list. The collection of glass objects (housed in glass exhibit halls) is one of the most comprehensive in the world. It's beautiful, historically important, and  absolutely fascinating. 

Washed Ashore: Bandon, Oregon

This museum is small but awesome. From their website: "Washed Ashore builds and exhibits aesthetically powerful art to educate a global audience about plastic pollution in oceans and waterways and spark positive changes in consumer habits." The artwork is absolutely amazing. Artwork is displayed indoors and out, with plenty of activities indoors as well. Go to Washed Ashore. 

West Virginia State Museum: Charleston, West Virginia

The West Virginia State Museum is one of the best museums I’ve ever visited and the fact that it is free is remarkable. It is fully immersive; you actually feel like you are walking through history as you move from room to room. There are 26 different discovery rooms, each with lots to do, see, and experience. Allow plenty of time at the West Virginia State Museum!

What do you think? Any free museums you've visited that should be added to my list?