Posts Tagged With: diy

DIY Holidays: 2 Sweet Ornaments to Make With Kids!


The 1st ornament is a “make your own necklace” kit and the 2nd is a sweet keepsake of hand-written-well-wishes for a loved one (in our case, Grandma ūüôā )


Both of our holiday ornaments are made with clear, empty bulb ornaments that we purchased from a craft store for 50 cents each.


The well-wishes ornament was made simply by using an old scrap of Christmas paper.  Any paper will work!


We cut the wrapping paper into strips.


Write sweet, personal messages on the strips (use at least 2 per ornament) and gently feed them into the bulb. ¬†Pop the top on and add a little tag. Captain’s tag reads “Well-wishes for Grandma”. Her little messages on the strips of paper are very dear. One wish was to “come and visit me a whole bunch!” These are so incredibly easy to make, and each one can be quite personalized.


The 2nd ornament is a “make your own necklace” kit for a friend of Captain’s. She filled the bulb with an assortment of beads, then we added some lengths of cord, and little ends, so that her buddy can make a couple of necklaces. Add a festive little tag and you’ve got a sweet gift for a craft-lover. (We cut out a small paper round and added some edging with a red fine point Sharpie).


We were inspired by Heather at Green Eggs and Goats. She and her daughter filled a bulb with lovely feathers!

Today is a perfect day for doing some crafting here at The Cabin. The snow is falling again, and after playing outside, it feels so good to be indoors getting ready for the holidays.

Do you have any ideas for filling the clear bulbs? We would love to hear about them here on Kartwheels. Have a most wonderful day….

Cheers! Karen

Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Make A Ming-Inspired Bowl!


These sweet bowls would make lovely Christmas gifts for family & friends!

We’ve been studying the beginnings of Ancient China and highly recommend this straight-up fun project for all ages. If needed, parents can help younger kids in between making a Ming bowl for themselves!

You’ll Need:¬†A large ball of air-dry clay (I have some of the Crayola brand, and it works great, and is affordable at about $5 for a tub), plastic wrap, a small round bowl, a rolling pin, a sculpting tool or blunt knife, acrylic paints, a clear acrylic sealing spray, or a mixture of glue and water, to glaze the finished piece.

1. Wrap the outside of your bowl in plastic wrap. ¬†I recommend using a smaller “condiment” sized bowl for the first one.

2. Roll out your ball of clay to no less than 1/4″ thickness, making sure it is big enough to cover the outside of the bowl. Press it tightly around the bowl, then use your tools to trim away any excess. Be sure not to make the air-dry clay too thin or the bowl will crack when it dries (we did this and then used the pieces as “archaeology pottery” ūüôā )

3. Place the bowl on a piece of newspaper and allow to dry in an airy place. Don’t put it in the direct sun or it can dry out too fast and crack. It should be dry by the next morning.

4. Remove the dried bowl from the form and paint! Ancient Chinese pottery was usually decorated with pictures of birds, flowers, and outdoor scenes, painted in whites and blues. Captain painted hers with cobalt blue, let it dry, then painted flowers and bird shapes in moon yellow. She was a little bummed that her birds didn’t come out the way she wanted, but they are fabulous! She even added a little tiny “M” for “mom” in the center of one of her flowers… ahhh!


5. After the piece is completely dry, a fine sharpie can be used to write a name, or initials, and date on the bottom. What a sweet keepsake!

6. Spray with clear acrylic sealer (adults only), or you can glaze it with a mixture of 2 parts white glue to 1 part water. These both will give it a shiny glaze coating, which we love. Or, you can leave it as is.


Before and after I sprayed the acrylic seal on

Fun, simple and a little “M” to boot. I love it! ¬†I hope you and/or your kids will give this a try.¬†Check out Google images to share some traditional Ming bowls and pottery with your kids. Captain has been inspired to try making another one that looks like this:


A gorgeous flower bowl from the 1300’s

We got the idea for this project out of The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Ancient Times. We thank you kindly!

Cheers, Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Social Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

DIY: Mom & Me Journal!


In the photo, Captain and I are BOTH inside my shirt..

Here is our version of the “Mom & Me” journal! ¬†Basically, it is a composition notebook with a label on the front for you and your child to write notes, letters, share pictures, etc. I made this one morning, wrote a note inside inviting Captain to share notes with me, anytime we feel like it, and left it on her bed. She was thrilled and sat in bed for a long time with a pencil, drawing pictures and writing notes. We have had it for about 6 months already and both love it. Sometimes we forget about it and a lot of time passes before one of us adds something to it, and that is just perfect. There is no pressure to do anything but tell each other little things… ¬†She has written notes to ask me to make her favorite dinner, which I love! There are so many “I love you’s” and pictures of our dogs. It is also surprising how some honest, hard to talk about, things can come up. There is something safe for kids to be able to write down some feelings and ideas that they have a hard time saying in person. They KNOW their mom (or Dad) will see it, but don’t have to talk about it, just yet.

I think this notebook idea could be adapted to boys simply by changing the colors and making it suit their personality more. It would be really easy to make a “Dad & Me” notebook as well! Because it is a solid book, clearly marked, it doesn’t get lost in all of the other paper and notes that seem to fly around our cabin! ¬†I am especially looking forward to reading it again one day when Captain is all grown up. What a wonderful keepsake! I got the idea from Mama Jenn on her blog, and she got the idea from another, who got the idea from another…

I do hope you try this.  It is fun and pretty special.

Here’s to good memories (and notes that state that a certain someone would rather NOT clean up her room, complete with little, drawn, grumpy faces… love it!)

Cheers, Karen

Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Positive Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Kid’s Project: Make super cute felt pillows! Plus, a little lesson on the artist Piet Mondrian


Captain’s pillow is on the left, Mom’s on the right. ¬†We LOVE how these turned out and gave them to each other as a present

This is a really fun indoor project, perfect for a cold (or warm!) winter’s day. ¬†They turned out so charming that we decided to make them again in the fall, assembly-line-fashion, for some sweet Christmas presents for family.


You’ll need: a pack of colorful felt, pillow stuffing, scissors and a hot glue gun.

First, choose your colors for your front and back of the pillow. ¬†We simply took a 8.5×11 piece and cut it in half. ¬†We both chose to have our front and back pieces the same color, but you can mix and match anything you want. ¬†Plug in your glue gun to get it warmed up. Decide on a design, but encouraging younger kids to stick to simple shapes is helpful, as the felt can be difficult to cut with intricate designs. ¬†This is also a great time to talk about the artist Piet Mondrian (see below).

Cut out your design pieces and decide how to arrange them on one piece of the background. Mom’s (or another adult) job is to glue the pieces on with the glue gun. ¬†Admire them! ¬†Then the adult will make a line of glue, about 1/4 inch from the edge, on the back panel. ¬†Leave a gap on one side for stuffing the pillow. ¬†Press the designed front onto the back and let it dry (this happens pretty quickly).

Now it’s time to stuff the pillows- yay! ¬†Glue the gap closed and voila!

Just making wild pillows is fun all on it’s own, but a mini art lesson can easily be introduced at this time, if it’s appropriate for the kids. You can make one more pillow together in the style of Piet Mondrian, and learn a little bit about the artist as well. ¬†Here is our lesson:

Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian was born in the Netherlands in 1872. He was influenced by many artistic styles, and even helped found an artistic movement called “De Stijl”. He died in 1944, and created about 250 paintings in his lifetime.

The paintings that Piet Mondrian are most famous for are rectangles of white and primary colors, dissected by black lines. He did not always paint this way, however. Mondrian’s first paintings depicted scenes found in real life. They were done in a style similar to impressionism. As his style grew and changed, he stopped using any colors besides the three primaries: red, yellow, and blue.

Mondrian became friends with some other artists and together they began the movement called neoplasticism. ¬†They called it “Di Stijl” after the first name of a journal that Mondrian and his friends started. ¬†Both “neoplasticism” and “Di Stijl” are correct terms. ¬†They believed that the essence, the foundation of all things, could be found in the simplest form: straight lines and primary colors.

Try a Mondrian-inspired pillow!  Use white felt for the background and make simple squares and rectangles in red, yellow and blue. The colors really pop on the white background!

Visit for more on felt pillows and we’d love to hear your felt pillow ideas here on kartwheels!

Cheers and happy pillowing!  Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pine Needle Paintbrushes!


A wonderful craft for those cold days ahead!

This craft is so fun and turned out great!  We wandered through the forest and collected pine needles and sticks.  Captain bundled and arranged them and did her best to help bind and tie.  I did most of the binding as it took some strength to get them tight.  We left them on the dining room table as decorations for a long time and have used them several times. They make sweet gifts for friends and fellow artists!


Gather at least five handfuls of needles, all different lengths.  Place a stick or twig in the middle of the bundle.  Use twine or heavy string and tie a tight knot.  Wrap around and around for a festive look. I used thin, rainbow cord that I had on hand.

After painting, brushes can be washed out, dried and reused. ¬†We have had our original ones for over a year now and they are still good. Tomorrow we are making more ūüôā

Thanks so much for peeping in at pine needle paintbrushes….

Cheers and sumptuous wafts of pine to all!  Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Homeschooling Projects, Sequoia National Forest & Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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