Back-to-School Creativity Tip #9: Create a Classroom or Naptime Keepsake!

Being away from home can be tough on kids. Our school recommends making a special keepsake that kids can keep in their cubbies and pull out at nap time or when they’re feeling sad. Every year since preschool, my son Dillon and I make something new together to bring to school for this very purpose. This year, he asked if we could make a “stuffy” that he could cuddle with during quiet time.

We ended up making two different stuffies. For the first stuffy, Dillon drew what he wanted the stuffy to look like (our kitty), and then traced the shape around cotton canvas. I helped him cut out the fabric and then he used fabric paint and markers to color kitty. With an embroidery needle and thread, he stitched up most of the kitty and stuffed her with batting. I then helped him sew up the final edge. (Note: Dillon is 6, and has had sewing practice in preschool. There were a few pokes to the finger, but no blood and he didn’t seem to mind.)

Here is the drawing and the finished stuffy:

make your own stuffed animal

For the second stuffy, Dillon asked if I could sew it with my sewing machine because he wanted a sturdy, pillow-like stuffy. Since I wanted Dillon to have a hand in creating both stuffies, I asked him to draw the design. We discussed some of the types of things that mommy can sew (simpler shapes, and a little rounded—nothing too fancy; I’m a basic sewer and this was the first time I’ve pulled out my sewing machine in over a year).

Here’s the design Dillon came up with:

make a lovey from a child's drawing

And here’s the pattern we created from his drawing:

make a lovey from a child's drawing

I added 1/4″ around for the seam and traced the pattern onto the fabric with a fabric pencil.

We went through some fabric scraps I had around and decided on soft grey cotton flannel for the body, bright orange and green felt for the eyes, and some bright purple orange and green thread.

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

To create this stuffy, I first pinned the pattern face-down to two pieces of fabric facing right side in. Dillon traced the shape onto the fabric with a fabric pencil, and I cut the fabric out. Dillon cut the circles of felt, and together we hand-sewed these on. We used the bright green thread to create an eye. Once these details were on, I pinned the two sides together right side in and stitched them on my machine, leaving an opening for stuffing. (Note: I left a slightly larger opening, so that it would be easier for Dillon to help.)

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

Once the stuffy was sewn, Dillon turned it right side out and began stuffing. For the inside, we used a mix of recycled stuffing (old t-shirts we cut into strips) and extra cotton batting I had on hand. Dillon and I took turns. We had a few silly laughs while he put the “guts”" in. After our stuffy felt nice and pillowy, I stitched up the back end. (My placement of the opening created boyish giggling as well.)

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

Here is Dillon loving his two new stuffies, Kitty Buns and Round Circle. Dillon decided that Round Circle will go to school and Kitty Buns will stay home for nighttime cuddling.

create a stuffed animal from a child's drawing

Here are some other ideas for keepsakes: a small book of family photos, a family collage, a special blanket from home, or a blanket with your child’s name embroidered on it.

Are you creating a keepsake for your kid’s classroom? If so, what are you making?


About Kiwi Crate
Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

DIY Binoculars

Safari Binoculars

You can’t have a safari without binoculars! These easy cardboard binoculars are easy to create with materials out of the recycling bin.

You’ll need:

  • cardboard tubes
  • colorful paper tape or duct tape
  • rubber bands
  • sticky felt or other decorations (optional)
  • ribbon or yarn
  • hole punch

Tape is a fun material for this project since even very young kids can use it to decorate the tubes. We found it much easier to decorate each tube separately, and then tape them together afterwards.

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    So we taped… and taped… and taped. My 6-year-old was very careful to select “good safari colors” for his decorations, and wanted to make sure every inch was covered!

    Taping up cardboard tubes

    My plan at this point was to just attach the tubes together, but my son insisted that he needed something between them so “my nose will fit”. So we improvised, and taped on a couple empty tape rolls. We had several to due to excessive tape usage in the first step.

    Binocular Attaching Separator

    Then, more tape around the whole thing to attach both tubes together.

    Binocular taped together

    At this point I was planning on punching a hole in each tube to tie on some ribbon, but again my son took over the project and decided to attach his new binoculars to a safety lanyard he brought home from camp. He then ran off to collect some toy animals for us to search for on our safari.

    Binoculars!

    While animals were being fetched, I created a second pair for my 3-year-old, using slightly less tape this time. Instead of taping the two sides together, I used two rubber bands. To add a little extra reinforcement, I also taped the ends together with a piece of sticky felt

    Binoculars rubber band

    Finally, I punched holes in the ends and threaded some ribbon through, and we were ready to head out on safari!

    Binoculars ribbon

    We walked to the park with our basket of animals and took turns hiding and finding. Happy safari searching!

    Safari search


    About Kiwi Crate
    Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.

    Two Ingredient Tuesday: Yarn + Pipe Cleaners = My Initials

    Yarn Initials

    When I saw these beautiful yarn letters from giddygiddy, I knew I had to try these with my kids. We had a lot of fun with it, and for kids working on learning reading skills it’s a great tactile way to work on letters.

    Shaping the letter m

    We started out following the suggestion giddygiddy to form the pipe cleaner letter first and then wrap with pretty yarn. My friend’s tween daughter immediately created this this lovely scripty ‘m’, which will make a lovely addition to her bulletin board.

    Pretty letter m

    However, we found the younger kids had a little trouble wrapping the yarn when they formed the letter first. So in consultation with my 6-year-old, we developed this simplified technique.

    Attach yarn to the end

    We started by wrapping the yarn around the pipe cleaner. To anchor the end of the yarn and keep it from slipping, just pinch over the tip of the pipe cleaner to make a little hook.

    Wrapping fuzzy yarn

    And then it’s easy to wrap the yarn around… and around… and around. I was surprised by how well this worked, even for a 4-year-old. I only had to help tie off the end so the yarn wouldn’t unravel.

    Then once the yarn is all wrapped, the pipe cleaner can be bent and formed however you like.

    Yarn numbers

    I had a selection of lovely tasteful colors as well, but of course my 6-year-old only wanted to use the rainbow and fuzzy yarns. And as always he had his own ideas of where he wanted to take the project, and decided he wanted to create this series of fuzzy numbers.

    All letters

    We were quite pleased with how these came out! The pipe cleaners are such a fun way to play with letter formation, and the finished products make a really nice decoration to hang on a bedroom door or to display on a bookshelf.

     


    About Kiwi Crate
    Kiwi Crate delivers monthly projects for kids ages 3 to 7, all materials and inspiration included. All activities are reviewed by experts and tested by kids to make sure they encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity! Learn more.


    6 Father’s Day Gifts That Kids Can Make

    We combed our favorite blogs, scrutinized myriad Pinterest photos, and examined the nooks and crannies of the internet to compile our six favorite Father’s Day gifts that kids can make (and dads will love).

    After all, what better way is there to say, I love you, daddy , than with a thoughtful homemade gift created expressly for him?

    gifts for dad, father's day gifts

    1. Custom Lego Frame: For the dad who geeks out over Star Wars, this awesome Lego frame is the perfect decoration to spruce up any office wall or desk. Just make sure you get your child’s permission before snagging his or her action figures. Get the tutorial from the ever-so crafty Sticky Fingers.

    2. Tie Cookies: We can’t even count the number of ties we’ve given dear old dad over the years. How about starting a new yummier tradition by presenting him with these delicious tie cookies. You can even decorate these treats to look exactly like some of his “real” ties. Find the easy recipe from Somewhat Simple.

    3. Cubicle Snacks: This is such a great gift for the dad who likes to snack and munch throughout the day (a.k.a all dads). Kids can make personalized mason jars then fill them up with his favorite treats. For an added surprise, stick a note or a special message in the jar before you put the cap on. Learn how to make these adorable snack jars from I Am Momma Hear Me Roar.

    4. Word Frame: Just looking at this sign makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside. We wouldn’t be surprised if dad sheds a tear or two when the little one presents him with this custom-made namesake. Get the instructions and template from Lovely Design.

    5. Chalkboard Mug: There are few things we love more than chalkboard paint, so when we spied this mug on Lil Kid Things, we knew that we had to make one for dad. The kiddos can help paint and write the first message on these clever mugs. Visit Lil Kid Things to learn how to make one yourself.

    6. A Book for Dad: Here’s a book that’s bound to become an instant classic – a story about dad written and illustrated by the people who love him most. Print the free book download from Eighteen25.

    What are your ideas for celebrating Dad? Please share!

    Don’t have time to make anything? Give the gift of fun and quality time with the kiddos with a subscription to Kiwi Crate.

     

    Teacher Appreciation Round-up

    Did you know teacher appreciation week is next week (the first full week of May)?  Also, incredibly enough, it’s not too early to start thinking about how to thank your teachers as the school year draws to a close.  For either occasion, we wanted to share some fun gifts kids can make to say thank you!

    Childrens Art Vase

    (via Aunt Peaches)

    We thought this Children’s Art Vase from Aunt Peaches was just adorable, and I bet our kids’ teachers would too.  It’s multi-functional, too; most classrooms can always use more organizing cups for pencils (or crayons, or scissors, or glue dots…). For kids learning to write, this would be especially sweet with a hand-written “thank you” for the teacher! This would also be a nice way to present a group gift card from the class, tucked into the flowers. (The kids could even fill with Tissue Paper Flowers.)

    Garden Stones

    (via Givers Log)

    For a gift from the whole class, it’s nice to have all the children contribute their own personal touch. Painted garden stoneswith children’s names are a great way to dress up the gift of a beautiful plant.

    Gift Card Holder

    (via Skip To My Lou)

    For gift cards, fancy it up with a pretty cardboard holder. The instructions call for using Mod Podge on cardboard, but if you have some pretty cardstock on hand you can simplify. Just cut the envelope shape out of cardstock and fold – embellishment optional!

    Celery Rose Stamp

    (via Maureen Cracknell)

    Any teacher will tell you that the best gift is a sincere “thank you” from a student. This rose stamp (made from the root end of celery!) is simple enough for a preschooler to manage, but so pretty you’ll want to make a whole stack of cards. It’s a sweet gift with just a note, or could also be a nice way to present a gift card.

    Spring Egg Cartons

    (via Toddler Approved)

    These egg carton flowers make surprisingly pretty cards. You can stop with the stamping step if you want a card that fits in an envelope, or glue on your egg carton flowers for a dimensional effect.

    How are your children thanking their teachers? Share your ideas in the comments!

     

    Popsicle Stick Pirate Ship

    We’re excited to have Sara, a guest blogger from Tea Collection’s Studio T blog blogging with us today.  Tea Collection designs distinctive children’s clothes collections inspired by the beauty they discover in their travels around the world.

    No pirate is complete without his or her boat. In the spirit of Kiwi Crate’s pirate month, we decided to have some fun building popsicle stick boats so your little adventurer can discover the high seas in your neighborhood.

    What you’ll need:

    Popsicle sticks (aka craft sticks), hot glue gun*, piece of cloth for a flag, a pirate figurine (optional)

    *We used a glue gun, but little explorers might want to use a safer adhesive gel glue or just craft / Elmer’s glue. We actually purchased multi-color craft sticks because what’s more fun than a rainbow boat?  You could also of course use plain brown craft sticks, if that’s what you have handy.

    Start by creating your boat base with 10 popsicle sticks and lay them out vertically, no glue required yet.

    Then you’ll need eight more popsicle sticks to form part of your boat floor. Put glue on the flat side of one of the sticks and lay it horizontally across the base. Do this with the seven remaining sticks, placing them all directly next to each other, but leaving room for two more sticks at one end.  Once you’ve glued your eight sticks to the base, you will have room for two more sticks.  You’ll want to cut one of the two sticks in half. This will allow you a space to put your mast.  You’ll then want to grab another popsicle stick and cut off the round part so it has a flat end bottom. This stick will be your mast. Glue your mast to the boat base and glue the two floor halves around the mast to keep it in place.

    After the mast is secured, glue the last full stick next to the mast and two stick halves.

    Once your boat is constructed, you’ll need a sail.  The sail can be made out of cloth, construction paper, or even a large leaf!  We used excess fabric from our Painted Vines Knot girls dress.

    If you use fabric, fold it in half so both sides will show the pattern.  Then cut out two triangle shaped pieces measuring 3 inches on all sides. You’ll need to fasten your two pieces of fabric together, pattern side out, at each triangle tip. We used our glue to do this, but you could also use a small safety pin.

    Lastly slip your sail over your mast and cut a small hole ¾ inch from the top of the mast triangle to slip over the top tip of the mast.  Now your boat is ready to set sail!

    Add a pirate figurine, lego man, or GI joe to the base of the boat.  After all, every boat needs a fearless captain! You can set your boat assail with a secret message attached for another explorer to find.  Or, you can tie fishing string to the boat mast so you can real your boat back in for another day of play.


    Happy Sailing!