Coffee Filter Crafts: Sea Turtles

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Last week, I woke up to a dreadful discovery: my Keurig machine was not working. After several desperate attempts to fix it, it became clear that a new machine must be purchased. Stat.   And so we carted away the old machine and said hello to a shiny, red, and most importantly, operable model to fuel my daily caffeine needs.  I briefly considered getting a regular coffee maker, but ultimately opted for the convenience and ease of a Keurig.  Therefore, my giant pack of coffee filters is still ready for crafting projects.

In keeping with our ocean animals unit study, we decided to make sea turtles next.  (You can find instructions to make coffee filter jellyfish here and coffee filter sea horses here.)  Sea turtles were a favorite to study around here – we probably spent over two weeks examining the lives and habits of these cute sea creatures.  We borrowed lots of sea turtle books from the library – my favorite was Turtle Summer: A Journal for My Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe.  It tells a real-life story of a mom and her daughter helping sea turtle babies get to the ocean safely with beautiful drawings and photographs of sea turtles and other ocean life.  There are fun and thought-provoking activities included at the end of the book.  Of course, we also love the drawings and easy-to-understand text of Gail Gibbons’ books, and her Sea Turtles is no exception.  For our online resources, I found this link to a free sea turtles unit study and used some of its printables, like the Sea Turtle Anatomy Matchbook.  The kids enjoyed tracking sea turtles on SEATURTLE.ORG.  Sea World’s website also had a lot of information on sea turtles for the kids to practice looking up.  Netflix and Hulu and YouTube are all great resources for sea turtle videos – this one was my kids’ favorite: 

All right, let’s make some super cute sea turtles!

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Here’s what you will need: lima beans, washable markers, styrofoam bowls, chalk pastels, craft glue, paper, and of course, coffee filters.

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First, flip the bowl upside down and glue lima beans all over the top and around the rim of the bowl.  Let dry completely before going to the next step.

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Next, get out those markers and color all over those lima beans!  (Painting them would work too, but we needed a break from painting around here.)

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Now, take two coffee filters and fold each of them in half. Color them with your chalk pastels however you like.  To keep the chalk dust from rubbing off your sea turtle project, spray the filters with a fine mist of aerosol hairspray.

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Then, cut each of your folded coffee filters in half and glue them to the underside of the turtle’s body (the bowl) as shown.  Cut out a triangle shape and a turtle head shape from your paper and glue on in the appropriate spots.

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Use the markers to decorate the turtle head and tail.  Your colorful sea turtle can sit (swim, I mean!) nicely on a shelf, or you can use thumb tacks to hang it on the wall.

Did you know that leatherback sea turtles can weigh up to 2,000 pounds?  That’s like half my minivan!  Thankfully these coffee filter sea turtles are a lot lighter (and a lot cuter than the leatherback, in my opinion!)

 

 

Coffee Filter Crafts: Jellyfish

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If your kids had fun making the coffee filter seahorse craft, they will certainly enjoy adding these jellyfish to their art aquarium.  They are made with the same technique of washable markers and water and have long tentacles that sway in the breeze.

The topic of jellyfish made an engaging subject in our ocean animals unit study.  As with the seahorses, we borrowed some books from the library to begin our quest for information on these magnificent creatures. (Jellyfish by Louis Spilsbury, Box Jellyfish: Killer Tentacles by Natalie Lunis, and Portuguese Man-of-War: Floating Misery by Natalie Lunis.)  We followed these books up with some videos on YouTube so that we could actually see jellyfish in action.

Here are ten things you may not have known about jellyfish before:

1.  A jellyfish does not have a brain.

2.  Jellyfish come in all sorts of colors: pink, blue, red, even multi-colored.

3.  A jellyfish’s body consists of a polyp, or float, on top and many tentacles dangling below.  The mouth is underneath the polyp.

4.  A jellyfish’s tentacles are filled with toxins used to hurt or paralyze their prey, which can be little fish, other jellyfish, crabs, and plankton.

5.  A group of jellyfish is called a bloom, a swarm, or a smack.

6.  Some jellyfish can glow in the dark.

7.  Jellyfish are a favorite snack of sea turtles.

8.  The Portuguese Man-of-War is not actually a jellyfish.  It is a group of organisms that live together and function together as a whole.

9.  Most jellyfish have a life-span of a few hours to a few months.

10.  Jellyfish range in size from very tiny (thumbnail size) to very large (whale size).

Now, let’s make some coffee filter jellyfish.

You will need: 2 coffee filters, washable markers, water, a paintbrush, a paper plate,  plastic grocery bags, a stapler, party streamers, and some tape

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First, lay your coffee filters one on top of another on the paper plate. Color dots and swirls and scribbles however you like (just like we did when we made the seahorse) on the top coffee filter with the washable markers.  Then, with the coffee filters still stacked up on top of each other, paint over the top filter with water until the colors are swirled to your satisfaction.

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When the coffee filters are dry, staple the outer edges together as shown, leaving a small opening on one side.  Insert the plastic grocery bags into the opening until the polyp is nice and full and then staple shut.

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Next, cut varying lengths of your party streamers and tape to the bottom of your coffee filter polyp.  (I found a couple of rolls of blue and yellow in the junk drawer, so blue and yellow it was for us!)  Use fishing line or thread to hang your jellyfish from the ceiling.

For a short while, we hung our jellyfish in the entrance of our dining room.  They added a beautiful pop of color and a touch of movement to the area, but they were too distracting when you had to walk underneath them.  We ended up moving our jellyfish to a safer location in a corner of the dining room instead.

Get creative!  Think another material besides party streamers would work for the tentacles?  Try it and see!  As with many other ocean animals, the different types of jellyfish vary widely in shape, size, colors, textures, and even the way they move.

And while you are creating your jellyfish masterpiece, you may want to try reading aloud Jeremiah Jellyfish Flies High by John Fardell.  It’s a funny picture book for the kindergarten set but will be sure to entertain the older kids as well.

 

Cupcake Crochet Gift Basket – Tutorial

My mom first taught me to crochet when I was nine or ten years old.  I remember making that first laborious “dog leash” for my Pound Puppy and then moving on to other projects, like dish cloths and dolly blankets and Barbie doll clothes.  I loved that I could take something as simple as a ball of yarn and turn it into something practical and beautiful.  Somehow along the way, in the busyness of life and the pull of other things, I lost this little hobby of mine.  Yes, I pulled out my hooks to make a sweet baby blanket for my first child and occasionally picked them up to create something as a gift.  Mostly, though, my few hooks and random skeins of yarn lay buried in the back of my closet.

Enter my beloved friend and all-time nemesis, Pinterest.  While casually browsing one night a couple months before Christmas, I saw a pin for a cute Christmas coaster pattern.  Oh, I should totally do some handmade gifts this year, I thought rather irrationally.  Forgetting that Gabi was dancing in seven performances of The Nutcracker Tea and that all the holiday family stuff was happening at my house, I fatally entered the search term “crochet” in Pinterest and began to pin away.  You can see the results of my madness here on my Pinterest board entitled nonchalantly “Crochet Time.”  Yes, that is a total of 114 pins. . .so far.  If I did nothing but crochet and somehow have an insane amount of money to spend on yarn, I still would not be able to complete all those projects in my lifetime.  Well, I did not actually complete anything in time for Christmas.  But, I did get a blanket almost done (I’m in the not-fun process of tucking in yarn ends right now) and have gone on to do a few more projects.  In taking up these new endeavors, I rediscovered the calm and joy that comes with making something for someone else.

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Pictured here is a basket-weave project I am still working on in my favorite colors.  I made Gabi the Legend of Zelda hat and Tri-force wrist warmers for her birthday. (bought the pattern from Level Up Nerd Apparel on Etsy and highly recommend it.  It was easy to follow, and I learned something new – changing colors in the middle of a row and back again.)

I have a friend who loves to crochet also.  Her teens ask for her to make Pokemon and Star Wars and all sorts of clever amigurumi creatures, and she delivers.  She happens to be the leader of our homeschool co-op as well.  Back in November when we were finishing up our fall term of co-op, we thought it would be nice to give her a special gift to honor her for all she does to make the co-op a success.  I wanted the gift to be meaningful and not just a hastily bought Starbucks card (although, not knocking Starbucks cards here – they do make great gifts.)  I decided to make her a gift basket of sorts with her favorite things – crochet and hot chocolate.  While wandering around the craft store trying to figure out how to put it all together, I came up with an idea.  I was going to make it look like cupcakes!  And this is what I made:

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It turned out pretty adorable, if I do say so myself.  I wanted to share here how I made it in case any of you need a creative gift for the crocheter or knitter in your life.

Okay, so you will need:  three skeins of yarn in the recipients’ favorite colors, three red pom poms, three wooden toothpicks, large paper cupcake liners, white tissue paper, curling ribbon, cupcake stickers, tape, scissors, and a metal or plastic bucket.  (Check to make sure your skeins fit into the bucket and don’t stick up too far from the rim)

Optional: a travel cup with gourmet chocolate packets tucked inside, a crochet pattern book  (Pick things that will work for the gift recipient.)

Now put it together:

First make your “cupcakes” with the yarn skeins.  For each cupcake, take two paper cupcake liners and cut out the bottom of each one so that you are left with just the crimped sides of the liners. Put one of the trimmed liners around the top of a yarn skein like a collar.  It will probably not be quite big enough; so cut off what you need from the second trimmed line and tape into place. (Sorry for the lack of photos of this process.  I hurried to get this done and only snapped a phone photo at the end.) Do this for all three skeins.  Top off your “cupcakes” with a sweet little “cherry” by pushing a toothpick through a red pom pom and then inserting it into the top of the yarn skein.

Carefully put all three “cupcakes” into the bucket and add any extra treats to fill up the bucket.  Fill in all remaining gaps with the white tissue paper.  Be sure to put plenty of the tissue paper around the yarn skeins so that you will not see any yarn at the bottom of the cupcake liners.

Decorate the bucket with cupcake stickers.  Cut long pieces of the curling ribbon (I found my cupcake ribbon at Walmart) and curl with a scissors blade.  Insert the ribbon curls evenly around the bucket and trim to fit.

It’s a perfect gift to satisfy the “sweet tooth” of any yarn artist. 😉