Coffee Filter Crafts: Sea Turtles


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!


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



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.


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.)


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.


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.




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!)



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:


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. 😉

Origami Heart Pendant Garland – Tutorial

I typically don’t get too carried away with decorating for a holiday, except for Christmas.  Then you’ll find lights and greenery and clever little snowmen and paper chains tucked into every nook and cranny in the house.  But for most holidays, I am satisfied with a few scattered decorations, and occasionally, I forget to decorate entirely.

I almost did that with Valentines’ Day this year.  When I realized that January had mostly been all crossed out on the calendar, I knew I should get up a few cutesy hearts or something around the house.  The kids helped arrange some sweet Valentines’ clings in the front window, and I draped a sparkly heart garland over our lawn flamingos.  (Yes, we have six shiny plastic pink flamingos that help us celebrate every holiday.  They have names and everything, but that’s a story for another post.)  Then, while hurrying the kids through Target the other day (impossible!), I saw a package of the cutest Valentines’ scrapbook paper in the dollar section.  I brought it home with the intention of making some sort of decoration for the dining room.  Since the paper is square, I came up with the idea of making an origami heart garland.  The hearts are gigantic and pretty much all kinds of adorable.  I feel like this adorableness should be shared with the world; hence I have written a tutorial just for you.

To make this heart garland, you will need several 12×12 squares of scrapbook paper and some ribbon.  Beware of using cardstock – it just doesn’t do the whole origami thing very well.  Stick to cute, lightweight paper like mine.

DSC_01051. So first, take your square of paper and lay it owl-side down on your work surface.(If your paper is not awesome enough to have owls on it, just know that the design of the paper should not be showing.)  Fold it in half length-wise, and then open it up again.DSC_01072.  Next, fold it in half width-wise and then open the paper up again.  (What?  Doesn’t your paper have a heavenly, blurry glow emanating from it too?)DSC_01083.  Your paper should now look like this.  Well, hopefully yours won’t look quite so wrinkly.  It takes special talent to make it look like this.DSC_01094.  Now, take the bottom of your paper and fold it up to the center crease, as shown.  Hooray for upside-down owls!DSC_01105.  Then,turn your paper over, take the bottom left corner, and fold it to the center line, as shown. (Sideways owls!)DSC_01116.  Fold the right bottom corner to the center line, as shown. (Head-to-head owls!)DSC_01127.  Turn your paper over again so that it looks like this.  Don’t worry  – it may look boring now, but it’s about to get all creative and magical in here.DSC_01138.  Fold the left side in to the center crease, as shown. (Finally, some owls getting their act together and standing upright.)DSC_01149.  Fold the right side in to the center crease as well. DSC_011510.  Fold down the top left corner to the center crease. Woohoo!  It’s starting to get a little more exciting-looking, am I right?DSC_011611.  Fold down the top right corner to the center crease.  Nope, it’s not a kite.  Or a dreidel.  It’s an almost-heart.DSC_011712.  Now, turn your paper upside down.(This is important because otherwise the pictures won’t make any sense to you and it will not look like a heart.  Trust me on this.)  Take the bottom “triangle” of your paper and fold it up about halfway to the other “triangle,” tucking the point into the pocket.  DSC_011813.  Your paper should now look like this. Wasn’t that a cool trick? Smooth the white rectangles flat.DSC_011914.  Finally, fold in the bottom corners as shown.  (Oooooh, here comes the magic!)DSC_012015.  Turn over to see your finished origami heart pendant.  Make lots and lots of hearts for your garland.  It gets a little addicting to do all these folds and see these hearts emerge; so don’t get carried away.DSC_013416.  Once you have made the number of hearts you want, turn them over and arrange them in a row on your work surface.  Thread your ribbon through the folded-over triangle on the back of each heart.  Pink or teal?  Who could possibly choose?  So I used two ribbons for mine.DSC_0143Then hang your garland however you like.  Ours hangs cheerfully over our home school work area.  So simple.  So frugal.  And maybe, after you’re all finished, you’ll come away feeling like Martha Stewart.

Oh, and guess what?  These origami heart pendants make great valentines to hand out.  You can tuck a sweet note, a lollipop, a sheet of stickers, or even cold hard cash into the pocket in the back of the heart.  This will instantly win you popularity among your friends; so I suggest doing this immediately.  (My friends, don’t get your hopes up.  I’m too lazy to make any more.)