January 2008

For my son’s seventh birthday party I wanted to make party favors that didn’t cost very much, were mostly hand made, and that weren’t stupid cheap plastic games that would break immediately. I made pirate booty bags out of some pirate fabric I already had, put some chocolate coins in each one, some fake dollar bills, a few plastic play rings, and one surprise bath bomb which the kids could use in their next bath and after watching the ball fizz for a couple of minutes in the bath a prize would drop out of the center of it.

Because the trinkets you use will be immediately immersed in water you need to choose water proof ones. Plastic bugs or rings (shown in this tutorial) are all good choices. They also need to be small. For all the kids I put a pirate button in the bath bomb, but for the birthday boy I hid a tiny corked bottle with a message inside it for him. He loved it!

This project is not difficult, but it has one tricky aspect to it which is that baking soda and citric acid combined will foam and fizz when in contact with too much moisture, which is what you want it to do in your bath. To get it to form balls you have to get it just wet enough, without setting off the chemical reaction that makes it expand. There is no exact science to knowing when the mixture is ready to form balls. Humidity levels in homes differ. It might take me fifteen sprays of witch hazel to get mine right, but that might not be true in your house. I highly recommend having a second person do the witch hazel spraying while you whisk it in simultaneously so that the moisture has no chance to set off a reaction. [might be a good way for the kids to help out -ed]

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For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

To make this fun and easy marbleized paper you will need: 1/2 tsp alum (helps paint adhere to the paper), 2 cups liquid starch, liquid acrylic paints, a long wooden skewer, 9 X 13 pan and white copy paper cut to fit the inside your pan. You can change up the size of the pan; just keep the proportions of starch and alum the same. The starch should be 1 to 2 inches deep in your pan.

Pour 2 cups of liquid starch in the pan then add 1/2 tsp alum stirring until mixed.

Gently drop acrylic paint on the surface of the starch. Some paint will sink to the bottom – do not worry. Try not to use too much paint. For best results choose light and dark colors that go together. It will take some experimenting to know how much paint works best for you. Brands of acrylic paint differ in consistency. If after several tries you have trouble with the paint not staying on the surface, try adding a drop of water to your paint.

Take the wooden skewer and drag the paint through the starch. Continue dragging the skewer through the paint until you get a design you like. You might try other tools like a fork, feather or comb besides the skewer. Really the fun of this activity is watching the paint swirl around making different designs. There is no right and wrong. Enjoy the experimenting. We were mesmerized —- we hope you will be also!

Lay your piece of paper on top of the starch. Allow it to sit for a couple of seconds. Then lift the paper out of the pan and allow the starch to drip off the paper. Rinse the paper under running water removing any extra starch. This does not change the intensity of the colors. After the paper has been rinsed, lay it out to dry. It will take about two hours for the paper to dry. When the paper is completely dry iron on medium setting until the sheets of paper are flat.

You may find that you can print two sheets of paper before adding more paint to the starch. If you feel that you have made a lot of prints and your starch is too full of paint, just pour it out and start again. The possibilities of what to do with your paper are endless—- cover pencils, a book or a box, make note-cards or a picture frame etc.

About the author:
Cindy blogs at skip to my lou


For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

I have had such a ball this month with the children’s crafts, but am now gearing up to Alt crafts month which I also looking forward to – so send in your submissions.

I wanted to also let you know about my posts last week for design*sponge where I was a guest for a week. Some of these post will be perfect for alt craft month but there are also some posts on my home and crafting with kids – so check them out.

Some last kiddies crafts that readers have sent in…

Patricia sent this in – egg carton turned into a heart

Alix sent this in – just thought I’d tell you about the car my son and I made. it isn’t a tutorial, more a description of the process and how we made the choices.

Mimi sent in this link to a fishing game tutorial

Amy sent in this – Hi there! I just wanted to share this simple craft my son Finn and I made recently…It was great to start the year off this way. It is a “helping bank”. I know it is not super artsy or amazing, but I know that this is children’s month and I thought you might want to see it. It was fun to make and the lesson was great.

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For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

foamboard face/masks

At artstream, we use a lot of recycled objects as well as bonafide art materials to create with. Here is an easy reuse of the freebie foam core which most frame shops throw away. Go ask for some at your local shop. They will be happy to see you!

To make these mask/faces we sorted the bits into a few bins of small, medium and large shapes. For the actual “head” we had the children draw on a larger piece and we cut out that shape for them with adult size scissors. They glued on the features and used wooden skewers and toothpicks for hair. The foamcore board accepts the skewers easily on the edges as it comes with premade hole like formations. Paint, markers, or inks could be used to add color, as well as beads, ribbons and yarns added to the “hair”. Everything was glued on with a white glue although if you were in a hurry to finish, an adult could use hot glue. More photos of this process right here at flickr.


Neck warmer by lady harvatine The pattern is from Knitty. I used some sort of Merino, I’m sorry I don’t know what, but it was very soft and squishy.

hoppelpoppelsocks by craftoholic Hoppelpoppel – something useful made from leftovers – from craftaholics – Pattern: Basic top down 2×2 rib Needles: US 2 Yarn: mostly Lana Grossa Meilenweit leftovers

handspun pinwheel blanket by lulubeans pattern: free one from genia planck, via the good folks at knitlist.

camera mittens by impulsive arts (with pattern)