Egg Carton Crafts: Crabs

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We have made a lot of fun sea creatures with coffee filters (jellyfish, sea horses, and sea turtles); so now it’s time to move on to a new medium.  Our family of six eats a lot of eggs, giving us an egg carton or two every week to be creative with.  A few months ago, we studied crabs, and I thought how perfect an egg carton section would be for the carapace of a crab.

These snappy little crustaceans were a blast to learn about.  We borrowed multiple books from the library (our favorites being Crabs by Mary Jo Rhodes, The Magic School Bus Gets Crabby by Kristin Earhart, and A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle).  We examined hermit crabs at the pet store and found discarded crab legs at the beach. We watched a video about the amazing sandbubbler crab at National Geographic and learned about tiny crabs that help keep coral reefs clean at National Geographic for Kids.  In our research, we discovered that it is cruel to keep a hermit crab as a pet.  We learned about horseshoe crabs (not really crabs), spider crabs, and king crabs, but we decided that our favorite was the robber crab (also known as the coconut crab). Check out this video about this crab that likes to steal silverware and sneakers!

Now, let’s get on to making some cute little egg carton crabs.

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Here’s what you need to complete this project: two wooden spring clothespins, an egg carton section, paint, paintbrush, two flexible drinking straws, two pipe cleaners, two googly eyes, scissors, and glue (you can use school glue but I opted to use a hot glue gun for speed and security for the clothespin pincers.)

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First, you will paint your carapace (the egg carton section) and pincers (clothespins).  Some of my kids used lots of colors and lots of paint, and others were much more sparing. Allow to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

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Cut each pipe cleaner into four equal sections so that you have eight legs total. Cut the tops off each flexible drinking straw underneath the bendy part.

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Start gluing your crab together.  I began with the pincers, asking the child how they wanted the pincers positioned on the body and then gluing them on.  I held them tight to the carapace for a few minutes while the glue set up.  Then I glued on the legs underneath the carapace, bending them out and then giving them a little bend in the middle for the “knee.” Finally, I glued the straws to the top of the carapace as eye stalks and added the googly eyes on top of those.

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These adorable crusty creatures make great decorations but can be useful as well.  Gabi’s crab sits on my kitchen windowsill and holds recipe cards with its pincers.  David gave his to his therapist, and she uses it at her desk to hold memos and photos.

And, if you are feeling pretty technical and want to be super accurate with your egg carton crab, go ahead and give him two more pipe cleaner legs.  Crabs are decapods, meaning they have ten limbs. We did eight because artistic license and all that. (and maybe I forgot that little fact when we were creating this craft?) Just maybe.

Art-Themed Dinner Party

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Our family rule of only having a party on the odd-numbered birthdays have served us well in that I only have to plan and execute two birthday parties in a calendar year.  However, Hosanna’s birthday happens to fall at the end of the year while her sister Gabi’s comes right in the first month of the next year.  This means that I had to plan two birthday parties in two consecutive months, not to mention Christmas parties and New Year’s festivities.  Also, take a good look at that gorgeous girl in the photo.  She’s not really turning nine tomorrow, is she?  It’s getting a little ridiculous, this whole getting older thing.  If I could freeze time for just a little while, I’d do it now while she’s at this dreamy age of becoming a young woman and still being a little girl all at once.

Anyway, Gabi has had her birthday party theme picked since last year.  Given her proclivity for crafting and drawing and sewing and doodling, it was no surprise that she wanted an art party.  She and I sat down a few months ago to make a Pinterest board and fill it with ideas for the party, as I do for every party.  We quickly found an overwhelming number of ideas on decorations for the party.  Of course, Gabi had her own ideas, too.  She wanted a dinner party so she could have her favorite food at the party – spaghetti.

So here’s how we threw our own art-themed dinner party, in case you ever want to do the same.  We began by sending out invitations via evite – this is the one we used.  Then we got started on making the decorations.  I definitely enlisted Gabi’s help on these, and she was happy to oblige.

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We made this welcome wreath for the door using a foam wreath form from the dollar store, coffee filters, paint, and a little construction paper.  The idea for this wreath came from Ramblings from the Sunshine State.

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I was at our local learning store a few weeks ago when I saw these colorful circle cut-outs in the clearance bin.  I immediately knew we could find a way to incorporate them into the party decorations.  I ended up writing “Happy Birthday, Gabi!” on some of them.  I overlapped the circles and glued them with hot glue and then hung them up as banners.  Since the “Gabi!” one was hanging in the doorway, I decorated the back of it with party images so it wouldn’t be a blank white blob. 🙂  I took the rest of the circles and glued them back-to-back, with a ribbon stuck in between.  I wrote art inspiration words such as create and design on each side of the circles and hung them in the other doorway leading to the living room.

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The paper chains in the dining room were all Gabi’s idea.  I bought two packs of construction paper and settled down on Friday night to cut out inch-wide strips and staple them all together.  This was a VERY time-consuming project – let’s just say that I was glad that I had started a couple of nights early and that I had a few seasons of Big Bang Theory to watch.  Also, they turned out well, and the impact on the room was amazing.

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We used the leftover paper strips to wrap around water bottles for our guests, which turned out to be fifteen girls in all.  The girls all arrived, giggling and quite excited, at four’o’clock.  After they ditched their coats and shoes in Gabi’s room, they came out to “sign the guestbook.”  I made a Friendship Tree on thick card stock, and the girls signed it with their thumbprints.

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It turned out so cute and will be a nice keepsake from the party.  The party guests next went to the dining room to do the art project we had planned.

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I had two tables set up for the project – they were covered in two plastic tablecloths and were geared with washable markers, watercolor paper, paint brushes, and plastic ice cube trays filled with water.  Then I showed the girls the sample project I had made earlier and explained how to make their own tie-dye watercolor painting.  I had a small table full of various die-cuts that the girls could choose from to use as stencils in their project.  They traced the die-cuts with washable markers and then colored around the objects in various patterns with the markers.  Then they painted over the marker with water to get the watercolor effect. (like the method I used in the watercolor snowflake art).

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When they finished, I hung up their art on my art display wall to dry while the girls ran giggling into the living room to play some board games.  I peeled off the top table cloth from each table and got them ready for dinner.  I was privileged to have my best friend come to help with the dinner prep at the party.  She and another mom (thanks girls!) prepared three kinds of pasta, marinara sauce, melted butter, cooked ground beef, and cheese so that each party guest could design her own pasta dish.  This was Gabi’s dream come true, and it worked particularly well since we had quite a few party guests that could not have gluten.  We simply had a gluten-free pasta option and made sure the sauce was gluten-free as well so everyone could have something.  DSC_0092

For dessert, Gabi picked something simple – vanilla cupcakes.  I found some tall sparkler candles at a local party store to stick in the cupcakes along with tiny paper flags.  The party guests were delighted that each one of them had a sparkling candle to blow out after we all sang “Happy Birthday” to the birthday girl.

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Of course, right after the cupcake eating, we had to have present time.  I have never seen such an excited group of girls eager to give their gifts and show off the cards they had made for Gabi.  She got all sorts of craft kits and books and fun things to do.  We are up to our ears in washi tape and pillow making and little craft pieces and I love it!  By the time we got through all the presents, it was almost time for kid pick-up.  I pulled out a bunch of art supplies and sent the girls back to the tables to be creative while they waited for their parents.

It was fantastically fun although I would say that having sixteen pre-teen girls in your house is not for the faint of heart!  Gabi was thrilled with it and really that is all that matters.

And hey, we have some colorful paper chains to cheer up the house for a while and get us through these dreary winter months!

 

 

 

Watercolor Snowflakes

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I always get immersed in my arts and crafts at this time of the year.  Whether finishing up a flurry of presents for Christmas or settling in to watch a movie while I crochet, the urge to create and actually finish projects is strong.

Recently, a dear friend turned forty, and I wanted to make something special for her to commemorate the occasion.  I remembered a little watercolor craft I had done with my Passport to Adventure home school co-op class in which we made colorful peacocks by coloring coffee filters with washable markers and then painting them with water.  I thought the technique could easily be replicated on canvas.  Since I was in the midst of planning an Olaf/Frozen themed birthday party for the youngest, I had been busy cutting out a myriad of paper snowflakes.  And thus the idea of making watercolor snowflakes on canvas was born.  It was simple and took very little time to do.  Here’s the how-to to make your very own watercolor snowflakes.

You will need:  an artist canvas (or a nice stiff sheet of watercolor paper), a blue washable marker, paper, scissors, a glue stick, a paintbrush, and water. Optional things that I used to finish off my paint were acrylic paints (gray and black) for the lettering, clear glitter glue, and sealer to protect it.

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First, you will want to cut out some snowflakes out of your paper.  Mine were about three inches in diameter, and I kept them simple since I wasn’t sure how this whole thing was going to work.  You can definitely use some more complicated ones if you like.  Arrange the snowflakes in a design that looks pleasing to the eye on your canvas.  On my rectangular canvas, I had three snowflakes arranged in the top right corner and three in the lower left corner.  Glue the snowflakes to the canvas with the glue stick.  Now comes the fun part. Using the blue washable marker (it must be washable – no sharpies!), carefully trace the snowflakes onto the canvas, including any small detail parts in the center of the snowflakes.  Then scribble all over the rest of the canvas with the blue marker.  Do not worry about covering the canvas thoroughly with marker.  Next, carefully remove the paper snowflakes from the canvas.  You can see in the photo above that I had already removed two of the snowflakes.

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Time to paint!  With your paint brush and a cup of water, start painting any area that has marker strokes on it.  I used a small paintbrush around the perimeter of the snowflakes and for the center details, and a larger one for the rest of the canvas.  Replenish your brush with water frequently but do not get it too wet.  Otherwise, you will have puddles on the canvas.

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When the whole canvas is various shades of blue, set it on a counter top or table to dry completely.  When it is dry, you are ready to finish your snowflake painting however you like.  I took some clear glitter glue and outlined the snowflakes to make them a little more sparkly.  Then I used some acrylic paints to add a favorite quote to the canvas.  When the whole canvas was dry to the touch, I sealed it with matte acrylic sealer to protect it.

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I think it turned out lovely, and it only took a couple of hours from start to finish. This technique could easily be used with other shapes, too.  My oldest will be having an art party in a few weeks, and I think I will try using this marker/watercolor method for the girls to make tie-dye paintings.

Happy crafting!