Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pre-Schooler Christmas Activities

My son loves doing crafts. One of the biggest pieces of leverage we have these days is the threat of having his craft time taken away. Hey, whatever works...

The weather has been crappy and cold on our days off together recently, so naturally an indoor craft would be appropriate. Since Christmas is looming, why not a Christmas craft? It seemed pretty reasonable at first, until I started scouting around on the intar-weeb for some ideas.

Finding "crafts for preschoolers that hopefully won't be duplicated at day care that are cheap and easy for Christmas" is one hell of a search string. I found a few things, but for older kids. Quinn is three and although he thinks and acts like a 5+ year old most of the time, he still has the attention span of a three year old boy. Paper chains, although probably a necessity, are really hum drum and I'll leave the construction paper weirdness to daycare. I thought making little sled ornaments out of popsicle sticks would be cute, but as a word of caution do not attempt this craft! We got to learn about all sorts of fun things that day, like blood, where it comes from, new interesting words that Mommy shouted out at random... things like that. To add a little pressure to this, I had decided earlier in November that our family Christmas tree could go in the basement this year and Quinn and I could decorate a little tree in the living room... key point here... and make all the ornaments ourselves! What the hell was I thinking? Why do I do this to myself? And most importantly, where is Mommy's whiskey?

So, I scouted around some more, took an idea from here, stole an idea from there and these, so far, is what I've come up with. Setting up ahead of time really helped. I've also added a handy rating scale (out of 10) to help you out.

Pony Bead and Pipe Cleaner Snowflakes

You will need:
Pony beads (we used white with a few silver scattered in for fun)
pipecleaners (we used white)

Your turn: Wrap one pipe cleaner around another in the centre to make a + shape. Turn and repeat, wrapping each pipe cleaner tightly in the middle. You will end up with what looks like an 8 legged white spider.

Their turn: String the pony beads on the pipe cleaner stems, either in a pattern or at random.

Your turn: When you have reached the desired length for each stem, fold the end of the pipe cleaner around the last bead and tuck it in. To make the "hanger", make a loop on the last piece and wrap the end tightly under the loop to make a little noose. Hang on tree. Serve snack.

Preschooler Craft - Snowflake Ornament
Our snowflake ornaments...

Easy: 8 Awww: 7 Cheap: 10 Fast: 8 Clean: 8

Pony Bead and Pipe Cleaner Christmas Trees

You will need:
Green Pony beads (scatter in a few different coloured ones for the "ornaments")
Pipe cleaners (we used all green but you could use brown for the trunk, etc)

Your turn: Take one pipe cleaner and make a loop at the end, wrapping the end around the stem to make a little noose. Fold the length of the pipe cleaner back up to the noose, wrapping the end around the noose part again. You will now have a pipe cleaner, folded on itself, that is half the length and doubled so that it is twice as strong. Take another pipe cleaner, wrap it around the "trunk" and trim to the appropriate length. Repeat this step at least three times. Trim each level of pipe cleaner so that each "branch" level is slightly longer than the last.

Their turn: String the pony beads on the branches of the tree at random.

Your turn: When you reach the end of a row, take the end of the pipe cleaner and fold it over the last bead and tuck it in. When the tree is completed, shape it however you want and hang it on the tree. High fives all around.

Preschooler Craft - Christmas Tree Ornaments
Our Christmas Trees

Easy: 7 Awww: 7 Cheap: 10 Fast: 7 Clean: 8

Pipe Cleaner Candy Canes

You will need:
Red and white pipe cleaners
A couple of red or white beads for the ends.

Your turn: Wrap a red and white pipe cleaner together tightly at one end.

Their turn: Wrap the pipe cleaners around each other so it looks like a candy cane.

Your turn: Trim ends. Put a bead on the ends just to tart it up a bit and to hide the pokey bits. Hang on tree and admire your handiwork.

Preschooler Craft - Candy Cane Ornaments
Yay! Candy Canes!

Easy: 10 Awww: 9 Cheap: 10 Fast: 10 Clean: 10

More to come... other than a red and white paper chain and a pipe cleaner star that I threw together yesterday (based on the snowflake design), the tree is still mainly naked. Cute, but naked. Even with the (bastard!) popsicle stick sleds. We also have quite a few more Mommy and Quinn days until Christmas, so stay tuned.

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