Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Apple Gift Card Holder

Gift cards are another easy teacher gift.  It's a simple way to show our appreciation, but allows them to pick out something they would really like.  I saw this idea over at Inking Idaho to create an apple gift card holder and wanted to recreate it for a gift card we were giving.

Here's what we came up...

My son gave this to his teacher last year with a gift card to our local bookstore along with THIS handmade bookmark.  Very simple, but turned out super cute, especially paired with the handmade bookmark.

I Love Reading Bookmark

With the end of the school year quickly approaching, you may be thinking of ways to show your appreciation to your child's teacher.  This bookmark is just a small token, but a really cute and thoughtful idea. 

Last year, my son made this bookmark for his teacher.  We had seen the idea in Family Fun Magazine and loved how simple the project was.  Using cardstock for the base, we simply added my son's picture (in the shape of a heart) and wrote some of his favorite books he could first read on his own.  We added some school themed ABC ribbon as a tassle.  We also included a gift card to a local bookstore in a cute gift card holder.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Free Activities for Summer Fun & Learning

Summer is right around the corner, and if you're like me, you are already looking for some fun things to do with your kids and family.  So, as I've been searching around the web, I kept note of everything to share with you.  I love that all of these activities are free (or really inexpensive), but I like even more that there is some learning snuck in there too.  Start marking your calendars now!

Borders Double Dog Dare You Summer Reading - Kids under 12 can read 10 books (their choice), record them on the printable entry form, and bring it to the store for one free book from the selection provided.

Barnes and Noble Imagination's Destination Summer Reading - Kids read 8 books (their choice), record them on the printable reading journal, and bring it to the store for one free book from the selection provided.

iVillage and PBS Kids Summer Reading Community Challenge - Signing up for this online reading challenge will get you a daily email with fun activities to build reading skills, tricks and advice from your challenge coach, book suggestions for kids of all ages, tips from other parents taking the challenge, and a chance to win daily prizes.

Public Library Summer Reading Club - Almost every public library system in the US hosts a free summer reading club for it's community.  You can check this listing here to find a library in your area and contact them to find out if they are participating.

Kids Bowl Free - Check here to see if a bowling alley near you is participating.  Bowling is not only fun, but a great form of exercise and a good way to sneak in math!  (shoe rental is not included)

Family Summer Camp at Bass Pro Shops - Free family crafts, workshops and other activities.  Check the website for all the details and schedule of events.  Runs May 30th - July 5th.

Great American Backyard Campout - Join the National Wildlife Federation's Great American Backyard Campout June 25th for a night of old-fashioned fun outdoors.  Also get free camping tips, campfire songs and stories, recipes, games and activities.

Lowe's Build and Grow Clinics - Bring the kids into any Lowe's store and build a FREE wooden project. Each participant also receives a free apron, goggles, a project themed patch, and a certification of merit upon completion of their project.

Kids Workshops at Home Depot - Kids workshops are free how to workshops designed for kids 5-12.  The hands on sessions are offered on the first Saturday of each month at all Home Depot stores.

Free Crafts for Kids at Lakeshore Learning - Free crafts for kids, every Saturday.

Regal Theater's Summer Movie Express - Moviegoers of all ages can climb aboard to enjoy a great selection of films. During this 9-week festival, select Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theatres will offer selected G or PG rated movies for only a dollar on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10:00 am.

I've heard that Michael's craft stores will also be hosting a summer crafts program, Passport to Fun, a summer of events for kids, June 21 - July 30.  Kids receive a passport to keep track of the crafts they've completed and get to make two crafts each week.  Details will be coming soon and I'll update when I hear anything can be found on their website; just click on a country to get all the details!,default,pg.html

If I come across any other free activities (nationwide), I'll be sure to share them here on the blog as well.  Hope everyone's plans, whether you plan to stay at home or go away for vacation, leads to lots of fun!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Making Friendship Bracelets with Craft Hope

I recently discovered Craft Hope and was excited to see all the awesome projects they initiate to gather crafters for a good cause.  I was really interested in helping with Project 12: Orphan Outreach

"For Project 12, we are partnering with Orphan Outreach and sending them with a little love to take to Russia. This time we will be making bracelets for them to pass out to kids. Bracelets are a huge hit with kids of all ages — hemp bracelets or beaded bracelets. They are going on a trip in August and have asked us to collect bracelets for them."
We have tons of supplies for making bracelets - embroidering floss, yarn, pony beads, etc.  And this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get the kids and their friends involved too.  So, we have started making bracelets, but wanted to ask for your help.

You can find out all the details, including what kind of bracelets to make, and where to send your bracelets at the Craft Hope website.  Or if you are in the Baltimore area and can get your bracelets to me, I will send all of our bracelets together, on behalf of The Muddy Princess and our readers.  How many bracelets can we get together to send for this great cause?  I think our goal should be at least 100 bracelets! 

So, get out your supplies and start making bracelets!  Working together we can easily help out.  Are you in?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Matching Easter Outfits

Sorry this post is so late!  I've been having so much trouble posting pics to my blog, but have finally found a pretty simple work around solution.

I made matching Easter outfits for the kids this year. They were both pretty easy to make and I'm really pleased with how they turned out. Don't mind the color changing in my pics - I just couldn't seem to get the lighting right.

For my son, comfort was key. So, I took a plain green tee and added a tie applique. He looked quite handsome!

And for my daughter, girly and twirly is her thing, so I made her a tiered twirl skirt with a matching appliqued tee. She looked just darling and spent most of the day twirling in the grass.

Overall, I'm very please with how their outfits turned out, and even happier that they aren't too fancy to wear again.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mosaic Flower Pots

I saw this idea to make mosaic flower pots on the Family Fun website.  We decided to make these for Mother's Day, but they would also be cute to make for your favorite teacher.  Instead of using ceramic tile grout, we opted for a less messy and easier alternative - Crayola Model Magic Clay!  We love this stuff!  Not only is it inexpensive, but it's easy to use, not messy and dries easily.

Each of the kids started by rolling their clay into a long snake that would wrap around the entire pot.  Then, using their fingers and palms of their hands, they flatted the clay so it covered the entire pot.  Once it was spread out, they stuck some fun crafty items into the clay, creating a mosaic effect.  We let them dry overnight, then planted some pretty flowers in each.  This was a very easy and quick gift project, and the kids really enjoyed making and giving them!

Fabric Organization

For a while now, I've had my fabric organized by color in piles.  Piles of folded fabric, that eventually started falling over once the pile got too big.  Piles of fabric falling over, off the shelf, onto the floor and making a mess that made it impossible to easily find what I needed for a project.

But, then it dawned on me to create my own fabric bolts, just like in the store.  This would allow me to more easily see all of my fabric at a glance and have easier access to my fabric as well.  I would no longer need to move an entire pile just to pull out the piece of fabric all the way at the bottom of the pile.

Since we had yet to take out our recycling I set to work cutting up every piece of cardboard we had.  Using a utility knife I cut the cardboard into approximately 6"x10" pieces.  Most of my fabric would easily wrap around this size when folded over and would fit in the new location.  I used straight pins to keep the fabric on the bolt and stacked similar colors in plastic baskets I picked up at the Dollar Store.

I do have a pile of fabric that I have a lot more of, that wouldn't fit on those smaller bolts.  It's just folded and piled right now, but I think I'm going to create larger bolts for those.  Here are a few pics of my newly organized stash.  So far, this system is working for me.  How do you organize your fabric?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother's Day Canvases

Need  a quick gift for Mom or Grandmom for Mother's Day?  I made these canvas art projects last year for Mother's Day in one night.  They were pretty easy to put together and only took a few supplies, some that you may already have on hand or can easily be picked up at your local craft store.
  • canvas
  • scrap paper
  • Mod Podge
  • sponge brush
  • punches or stencils (optional)
  • newspaper to cover your work surface
We went with a garden theme, using their handprints as the big flower in the garden.  Using punches we cut out some other garden shapes to add to our picture, as well as their names.  We arranged our pieces on the canvas, then used Mod Podge (in many layers) to adhere our paper to the canvas.  With these basic supplies, you could easily create any design you wish, and it makes a pretty personalized picture to hang.

Personalized Teacher Tote Bag

My son's teacher is amazing, so I knew I wanted to make her something extra special for Teacher Appreciation Week.  With the help of our parents, and every child, I helped to create this adorable tote bag for her.

Since she is on the "green team" for our school and enjoys getting the kids outside in nature, I thought I would use a nature theme for her bag.  On the front of the bag, I painted tree branches and sewed on 23 tiny green leaves.  Then, each of the kids put their thumbprint on a lighter piece of fabric that was attached to each of the green leaves (with Heat n Bond tape).

On the back, I embroidered the school year onto a piece of fabric and stitched that onto the bag.

Our school's PTA put together a "Favorite Things" binder, where each teacher filled out a sheet with a list of their favorite things.  So, we took some ideas from her list and added some of her favorites to her tote bag.  She loved everything!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Crayon Letter Shadowbox

I made these crayon letter shadowboxes last year for my daughter's preschool teachers after seeing the idea over at the Trendy Treehouse.  These were pretty easy to put together and didn't cost very much.  Here are the list of supplies you will need:
  • shadowbox type frame (I used an acrylic box frame)
  • cardstock
  • crayons
  • Xacto knife (plus a thick piece of cardboard for cutting)
  • hot glue gun
  • letter stickers (optional)
I started by taking apart the acrylic box frame.

Next, I printed the teacher's initial on a piece of cardstock.  I chose a very light line so it couldn't be seen if the crayons didn't cover it completely.  This piece of cardstock is the same size as the cardstock that came in the frame (minus the folded edges).

Then, using the Xacto knife, I started cutting my crayons as needed to form the shape of the letter.

Once the crayons were arranged how I liked, I used my hot glue gun to run a small strip of glue on the back and glued them into place on the cardstock.  I also used letter stickers to spell out the teacher's name on the side.

Finally, I placed the cardstock with the crayons onto the white cardstock that was inside my frame.  I pulled up the folded eges and slid the box frame on top of the creation.

I made two of these, and the second one with the letter 'M' was definitely a bit trickier but still turned out pretty well.

I paired the frames with a new notepad and pencils and tied them together with some pretty ribbon and these free teacher printables I found at Tip Junkie.

The teachers thought they were so cute, so I plan to make them again this year for my daughter's teachers as well.  These would work great for Teacher Appreciation Week or an end of the year gift.