Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Torn Paper Footprint Horse

After completing all the fun activities in the Kentucky Little Passports state journal, Trevor and I were inspired to make a horse craft. Look carefully at the face. Can you tell how we got the shape?

It's a footprint! I love doing footprint crafts with Trevor. It's so much fun looking back on his older projects and comparing how tiny his feet were to how big they're getting now. 

We made our horses using the same technique we used to make pandas 5 years ago. (Trevor looks SO little in those photos!) To make your own footprint horse, you need cheap construction paper (the cheaper the better), a q-tip, twine, and glue. 

Use a pen to trace your footprint on brown construction paper, then go over the line you drew with a wet q-tip. If you have really poor quality construction paper, one time will do. If you have better quality construction paper, trace the line a second time. 

Give a gentle tug and the construction paper will separate along the wet line. 

Mine came out easily, but if yours gets stuck somewhere, just re-wet the area. 

Now cut two triangle ears and two oval eyelids from the brown. No need to draw them first - just draw the shape you want with the q-tip, then tear. Make a large oval on the remaining brown construction paper and tear it out. This will be the horse's neck. 

Use the same q-tip technique to make two round eyes from white construction paper. Then use black construction paper to make two pupils and two nostrils. 

Cut lengths of twine about 4" long, then untwist them to make the horse's mane. 

Now assemble the pieces. Glue the neck of the horse to a background paper, then add twine for the mane. Glue the eyes, eyelids, nostrils, and ears to the horse's head, add a forelock of twine between the years, then glue the assembled head onto the neck. 

This is my horse. That's Trevor's at the top of the post. 

Have fun making your own torn paper footprint horse!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Exploring Kentucky Through Little Passports

Our family will be spending five days in Kentucky in August and we can't wait! We'll be splitting our time between Frankfort and Louisville. Each has so many fun things to do that I'm really struggling to narrow down where we'll go. I was happy to see that the Kentucky Little Passports was the next on our list to complete, as each State Journal we've done has given me lots of places to put on our must-visit list. 

The model was of Fort Knox and there was a crossword puzzle about it, too. We won't be going there during our trip. Unfortunately, the Patton Museum at Ft. Knox is currently closed for renovations and obviously they don't let the public tour the Ft. Knox Bullion Depository. I can't imagine what security would be like if they did!

Somewhere we will be going? Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, pictured on the front cover of the State Journal. Trevor solved a logic puzzle to learn the name of the fireworks show that kicks off the Kentucky Derby each year. The next activity, also inspired by racehorses, was making a thaumatrope device that tricks the eye into seeing two separate images as one. 

I had no idea that the red, yellow, and green traffic signals that we see at intersections have their origins in Kentucky. They were invented by Garrett Morgan and operated by a hand crank. After solving a map puzzle, we learned that Morgan also invented a breathing device that was used to save the lives of men trapped underground while building a tunnel!

Thomas Edison displayed nearly 5000 of his recently-invented incandescent light bulbs in Louisville during the Southern Exposition from 1883-1887. With Steve's help, Trevor followed the directions to put together a model of an incandescent light bulb. It's handy when Dad has all the equipment you need for an experiment and the knowledge to help extend the learning. 

It works! That's a mechanical pencil lead burning in there. 

Trevor's light bulb burned brightly for about 10 seconds. Fun fact: My hometown of Livermore, California is home of the world's longest burning light bulb. It's been glowing for 117 years. 

Trevor solved a maze about Daniel Boone's Wilderness Road, completed a story about Abraham Lincoln's childhood home, and read about the famous events in Kentucky history. We learned that Kentucky's state slogan is "United We Stand, Divided We Fall," that the happy birthday song was written by two sisters from Louisville, and that Joe Bowen set the world record for the longest distance traveled on stilts when he walked over 3000 miles from Los Angeles to his hometown of Bowen, Kentucky. 

Not surprisingly, the recipe in the Kentucky State Journal was for fried chicken. Here's Trevor creating the breading for our chicken by measuring the ingredients directly into a paper bag. He'd never seen anything breaded like this!

We had a great time exploring Kentucky through Little Passports. If anything, we're even more excited for our real-life adventures next month in the Bluegrass State! Thanks, Little Passports!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Between the Folds

Our family just watched an amazing documentary about origami called 'Between the Folds.' It came out in 2009, so it's possible some of you have already seen it, but in case any of you have not, I just had to tell you about it. 

"Origami: It's no longer just paper cranes. A determined group of theoretical scientists and fine artists have abandoned conventional careers to forge unlikely new lives as modern paper folders. These intrepid individuals are interpreting the world in paper, creating a wild mix of sensibilities that redefine art, science and creativity."
This fascinating documentary looks at ten people, scientists and artists, who are exploring origami in new ways. The ten are as different as could be and their origami reflects their unique perspectives, interests, and talents. Any one of them is interesting enough for a stand-alone documentary, but together they show the breadth of what paper folding has been, is, and might become. Some of the origami they create is stunningly beautiful. Others are shockingly time-consuming and more precise than you'd expect a human could do. Some are practical, like the scientist who explained the role origami has in figuring out the best way to pack an airbag so that it is compact and unfolds in the most efficient way. Every story was so interesting.

I honestly can't imagine anyone not enjoying this documentary. Even children, particularly those who have tried origami, will like it. The theoretical concepts will go over their heads, but heck, they went over mine too, and I still loved it.

Today is Amazon Prime Day, which makes it the perfect time to order Between the Folds. (These links, and the others in this paragraph are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small commission.) This riveting show is free with a Prime membership. If you're not a Prime member, you can rent or buy Between the Folds quite inexpensively. Or, try a 30-day free trial and see if Prime is right for you.

If you do watch Between the Folds, let me know what you think. And if you have any recommendations for must-see documentaries, I'll happily take them!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Nutter Butter People

In addition to being a delicious cookie, Nutter Butters are fabulous for crafting. Over at Fun Family Crafts, we have around 20 adorable (and delicious!) Nutter Butter craft ideas, ranging from an alligator to acorns, from Frankenstein to football players. My favorite are the Nutter Butter cleats. And, of course, the bunnies. So cute.

I'd never crafted with Nutter Butters, so it was time to buy a package and give it a try. I challenged myself to see what I could make from Nutter Butters, candy eyeballs, Tootsie Rolls, sprinkles, and any other candy we had on hand. And because I love to stretch creatively, I upped the ante and decided I needed to craft human characters, then give them names and a backstory. 



Nora is 26. She works as a veterinary assistant, which she finds very fulfilling. She's headed out on a quick jog through the park near her house before she heads to work. She enjoys this morning routine. It helps set the right tone for her day.

All the characters I made, including Nora, have a Nutter Butter face and candy eyeballs. Nora's hair is made from a Tootsie Roll. Use a sharp knife to cut the Tootsie Roll into planks, then into strips, just like you'd julienne a carrot. Stick them together and shape. Her ponytail holder and her nose are both sprinkles. Her mouth is half of an M&M. (They cut nicely if you use a sharp knife.)



Wade's passion is surfing, and yes, he's heard all the jokes about 'wading.' He doesn't mind though, and will chuckle whenever someone thinks they're the first to point it out. His personality is easygoing, but he works hard and he plays hard. He's headed to college soon, where he'll be studying journalism. 

Wade's hair is Nora's ponytail, repurposed. They share a nose as well. Wade's mouth is a piece of cherry Starburst that I cut, rolled, and curved.



Brent is a 6th grade history teacher. He wears a mustache because otherwise he looks like a middle schooler himself, even though he's 31. He really enjoys his job and hopes to stay at the same school until he retires. No two days are ever the same as a teacher, which keeps him on his toes.

Brent's hair and mustache are made from a lemon Tootsie Roll. His nose is a sprinkle and his mouth is from the same cherry Starburst.



Geoffrey is a worrier. Always has been, always will be. He's 54 and works repairing photocopiers. Photocopiers always break down, so work is steady, but Geoffrey still manages to worry that soon technology will make him obsolete. 

Geoffrey's eyebrows are made from Brent's mustache. His nose is a flat sprinkle (do the types of sprinkles have names?), and his mouth is a chocolate covered sunflower seed.


Arthur (aka Sparky the Clown)

His given name is Arthur, but only his mom has ever called him that. Everyone else called him Artie until a kid in middle school misheard and thought his name was Sparky. The nickname stuck. Sparky works as a clown at festivals, carnivals, and birthday parties. 

Sparky's eyebrows are the same as Geoffrey's, whose mouth became Sparky's nose. His hair is Brent's, cut down. His mouth is cut from a cherry Starburst and there are star-shaped sprinkles above his eyes.



Donovan is a quiet kid, content to stay in his room for hours practicing guitar or writing songs. Sometimes he feels invisible, like there's nothing about him that makes him stand out in a crowd. But that will change. He's a really talented musician and it's only a matter of time before the world notices him. 

Donovan's hair is cut down from Wade's hair. His nose is Sparky's, turned 90 degrees. His mouth is a small piece of Tootsie Roll. 



Lorraine did her hair and put on her favorite earrings before heading to the passport office. She's traveling for her new job soon, which will be her first time out of the country. She touched up her lipstick just before it was time to get her photo taken - why wouldn't they let her smile when they took her photo?

Lorraine's hair is Donovan's and Nora's rearranged, held in place by Sparky's smile. Her nose is a sprinkle and her earrings are chocolate covered sunflower seeds. Her mouth is Nora's, turned cut side down. 


I had a blast creating these characters and dreaming up their backstories. Grab the kids and give it a try!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Yarn Flower Cards

No matter what craft(s) you do, you probably generate a fair amount of scraps. The eternal debate is what to do with scraps. How small is too small to save? How do you store them? How long do you keep them? And, of course, how will you use them?

My favorite way to use scraps is to make a card.


Yarn Flower Card


  • cardstock, construction paper, or patterned paper (blue, brown)
  • card base
  • scissors
  • yarn (white, yellow, green)
  • craft glue


Cut the blue paper to fit on the card base. 

Spread glue on the paper where you would like the flowers. Starting from the center, coil the yarn into the glue, pressing firmly. You can switch colors like I did, or use a single color. I chose to overlap my flowers for extra dimension. To do this, do the flowers in the background first, then add glue over the portion of those flowers you want covered and make the final flower.

Make the flower stems one of two ways. Either tie a bow in the center of a single piece of green yarn (left) or tie a bow around a separate piece of green yarn (right). I like the right option because you can slide the 'leaves' to the height you want, plus I think the tails of the bows look cute. 

Put a line of glue below each flower and press the stem in place. Trim any extra length. 

Tear a piece of brown paper and glue it at the bottom of the card over the stems of the flowers. Trim the edges flush with the blue paper.

Glue the blue paper to a card base and it's ready to send.

It's easy to adapt this project for a completely different look. Change the colors, reduce or increase the number of flowers, make a horizontal card instead of a vertical one... the possibilities are endless!

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