Love made gifts

I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but here are some great craft ideas that kids can use to make presents for the holidays or really for any occasion.  Trade in the commercial shopping frenzy for some quality time with your kids, making gifts for family members, teachers and friends.  P.S.  My kids are adults and I still have home made gifts they gave me when they were little.

Summer is coming and many kids will be at home for at least part of the summer.  Dive in to the activities on this page to keep from hearing a steady chorus of “I’m bored.”  Here is a treasure box of activities that are inexpensive and likely to appeal to kids of different ages and abilities.

Whether you are participating in the Standing on the Side of Love 30 Days of Love campaign, eagerly awaiting Valentine’s Day or just in a loving mood, these heart shaped suncatchers are a great project to share with the kids.

Thanks to my friend Kathie for posting this idea on her Facebook page.  With winter in full swing up here in the Northeast (temperatures were below 0 today) a simple thing like blowing bubbles can become a whole new experience.

Here is an interesting way to make “Time out” a bit more…interesting.  The Relax Bottle is a clever timer that might just help your child calm down which, after all, is the point of a time out.

“Nothings says spooky cool like a bunch of shrunken apple heads decorating your home. Best of all they are a great way to get the whole family involved in a project that won’t break the budget.”

Alice the Chalice.  Alice the Chalice is a project developed by Peter Bowden and the Rev. Amy Freedman.  It contains “uu coloring pages and other resources for unitarian universalist kids!”  You’ll find pages to color, crafts to make and videos to watch.  Peter and Amy are great people who work hard for our faith.

Fun with fire.  In the Summer, my family and I enjoy time spent near a camp fire – the whole ‘gathered by the fire’ thing, remember?  The orange and yellow flames dancing in the fire pit can be mesmerizing.  If you are looking for an easy and inexpensive way to make the experience even more colorful, slip a 6-8″ piece of garden hose into a similar sized section of copper tubing.  Once there is a good hot bed of embers under the fire, toss the tube deep inside the fire and enjoy the color show.

A couple of quick fun craft ideas.  Whether you are a follower of earth-centerred faith traditions who believes in the healing and magical properties of herbs or more inspired by a biblical God who has provided for his children in this earthly home of ours, there are many simple, inexpensive, natural crafts and projects in which you can involve your children.

This simple recipe for salt dough is easy, inexpensive and safe even for kids who still like to put things in their mouth.   Kids love to mold things with dough.  This recipe will stay soft if kept in an air tight container or can air dry for painting later.  You can also try coloring the dough with coffee, cocoa powder or other natural colorings.

Mix a cup of salt and 2 cups of flour.  Gradually add a cup of water and kneed the dough until it forms…well…dough.

At Sunday School, we talked about the many different ways we can think about God – in human form (male and female), informs of nature or more personal and creative.  The kids had a good time molding the dough to create an image of the sacred and talking about what they chose.

In keeping with our unit on earth-centerred faith practices, we talked about how people use herbs for medicine, ritual and cleansing.  If your child brought home a little bag with white powder in it, it’s because we made this simple and natural carpet freshener – which was a much bigger hit with the kids than I expected.

Grind up a mixture of dried lemon peel, rosemary and lavender.  While you could just throw them in a coffee grinder, the kids will really like grinding them up in a mortar and pestle or use a large flat rock and a smaller rock to grind them (now that’s old school!)  Add a half cup of the ground herbs to a cup of baking soda.  Sprinkle your mixture on a dry carpet, let sit for awhile then vacuum it up.  Because baking soda is an abrasive, you can even use this as a scouring powder for cleaning the sink and tub.  Rinse well.

Remember, the end product is not what matters.  Let the kids have fun!  Encourage them to use their hands and get messy.

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