Category Archives: crafts/DIY

A Gift Idea for that Child who loves to bake and cook

My youngest just turned 12 and she has been baking and cooking for a good long while now. But I knew that something to encourage her baking and cooking was what I wanted to get her for her birthday. I looked and looked at subscription boxes for her, knowing she would love getting mail and getting to cook. But I just couldn’t justify it. The cost was high, HIGH! And, you had to buy the food to make it with. It might come with some of the spices but that was often all it had. Plus, she already knew how to cook the sorts of things that I saw in the examples. So, what to do?

I thought I would go buy her a bundle of good baking and cooking things. Then the winter storms hit and we have not left home since last Wednesday. (Her birthday was yesterday.) So, that left without a gift. Time for a brainstorm. . .

Birthday Baking Subscription to the rescue. I whipped out this simple tabbed card just for her.

And it was a hit. She spent some of her time that afternoon planning out her first bake. She scanned some of her cookbooks for a recipe and then decided what she wanted. Now, when it thaws out and it is safe for us to hit the grocery store and/or the craft/baking store, we are tackling hot cocoa bombs. Unless she changes her mind. 🙂

It spreads out the cost for something that she is excited about and it feeds her interests and curiosity. It is the gift of experience and time, both of which are invaluable for our children. She is so excited to have unlimited opportunity to explore recipes that may be technically out of her reach. But she can try!

Lori, At Home.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew Round Up for more great posts to read.

Crayon Cookies

I bet everyone is just like us – a big bag or container of some sort that has all those “old” crayons that aren’t used any more. Since crayons are one of those school supplies that the girls really like to have the pointy tip on as they get older and more detailed in their artwork, we tend to gain more old crayons each year. We decided to make new crayons from the old ones. We call them crayon cookies because they are small and round when made in an old muffin tin, looking like a cookie made of crayon.

We peeled the wrappers off and cut them into small chunks, about 1/2 inch long. We kept colors together so that the girls could have fun deciding what color combos to make. They then placed them into the molds that we decided to use – an old muffin tin, silicon heart shapes, silicon lego shapes, and silicon ice cream cones. Fill them up to just above the level you want them to come out at since they collapse as they melt and fill in the empty spaces between pieces.

We put them in a 250 degree F oven for 8 – 10 minutes, removing them when almost all of the crayon is melted. After allowing them to cool on the counter for a few minutes, we move them to the fridge to set for 10-15 minutes. Then we remove them from the molds.

The girls have been helping teach and monitor the Wednesday evening Bible classes this summer, once they restarted them. They plan to take these for the students as an end-of-summer goody. I also plan to place some of them in my Bible class treasure chest for my students to pick from when they earn enough stars and Bible stickers. (They have to get 10 stickers for a trip to the treasure chest. They get one for each time they attend Bible class and one for bringing their Bible.)

We used to make these a lot when the girls were younger. We would pair several of these crayons with a fun coloring book as a gift for a friend. We also would make them in different shapes to give as “thank you for coming” gifts at their birthday parties. When the older girls were in public school, we also sent them for the baggies that classes sent home at Halloween or Valentine’s day or some other holiday. There are lots of great ways to use these and it allows us to use up crayons that are just sitting around. What other uses can you think of for these?

Lori, At Home.

I Need Tissue Paper!

I Need Tissue Paper!

Have you ever needed tissue paper for an art project? I had tons of tissue paper but none the colors needed. We were making a southwest desert sunset for our Let’s Go Geography program and so we needed sunset colors. Guess what? I had tons of pink, purple, dark blue, and white. No sunset colors. So, we improvised and I LOVE how it turned out.

tissue paper collage or desert southwest US

tissue paper collage of desert southwest US

Our improvisation? I spread out a white piece of tissue paper and we used markers to color it the colors needed for the sunset. It worked beautifully.

color your own tissue paper

color your own tissue paper

So, the next time you are in a quandry and don’t want to make the run up to the store to buy a particular color of tissue paper, try coloring some.

Lori, At Home.

Part of the round up at the Homeschool Review Crew. Click on the image below.

March Homeschool Round UP {Homeschool Collection}

Sun Catchers

sun catchers twitter post

Today, my newly 11 year old was cleaning out her room and decided to take out a bundle of items that she no longer uses, plays with, or enjoys. A lot has come out of her room. One of the handfuls of things she brought out were these perler bead creations she had made once upon a time. These are simple to make and they are so pretty in the window. They will make me smile over and over.

Perler beads are not too expensive and they have provided a ton of creative time and enjoyment. The simplicity of them is part of the appeal to me. If you are looking for a simple craft activity, you might try these with older elementary.

You simple place the beads on a board in the shape or formation you desire. You place a piece of parchment paper over it and iron it for a few seconds until the beads have melted together a bit. You then turn it over and iron again on the other side. I stuck a short piece of thread through one of the beads and taped it to the window.

I will be enjoying the sun catchers for weeks and weeks.

Lori, At Home.

Quick Halloween Treat

Are you looking for a quick and healthy-ish treat for your trick-or-treaters? The youngest giggly girl decided this year that she wanted to give away popcorn. Because it is healthier and because everyone gives candy. So why not have something different?

Quick and easy trick-or-treat wrap for microwave popcorn

It was fairly inexpensive to purchase. We spent less on it that we would have on purchasing candy for the number of expected trick-or-treaters at our church trunk-or-treat last night. And it was easy to make cute and fun. We had tons of great exclamations and surprise statements. It was wonderful to see the kids get excited about a whole bag of popcorn going into their treat bags.

But, we did choose to do a quick spruce-up and make them cute. I found a jack-o-lantern face on the internet and just copied it. I also found a fun Boo! and copied that. I pasted each of those into a Google Doc. I put the first one about 1/3 down the page and the other on the last 1/3 of the page. I was able to fit two of each, side by side on the page. Print those things and then cut the page in half down the center. Wrap each of the popcorn bags with one of them, tape it down, and voila! You have cute bags of popcorn for the kids!

The most difficult part? The toner for the printer went out after printing just three sheets. So, we made a quick run to the grandparents to get them finished in time for the trunk-or-treat last night!

bags of microwave popcorn in a cute wrapper for Halloween

bags of microwave popcorn in a cute wrapper for Halloween

What are you planning to share with your trick-or-treaters this year? Have you already had your fun? Then save this for next year!

Lori, At Home.

an easy to make wrap for simple bags of microwave popcorn

an easy to make wrap for simple bags of microwave popcorn Master Kitz ~ a Crew review

Read the Review for

Art is something that can be implemented in a gazillion different ways and all of them are good. is a company that has presented us with the opportunity to review one of their Master Kitz. This is a kit that teaches the student a bit about a master artists and then helps them recreate one of that artist’s masterworks. In this case, we received Master Kitz The Starry Night to help us recreate a painting by Vincent van Gogh.

what comes in the Master Kitz

The kit arrived in a compact box that is study and contained everything we needed except for a plate or palette for the paint and clean up supplies. If the students want to add more color than yellow, orange, white, and blue oil pastels, then that will also be something that you will need to supply. The kit includes:

  • 2 pieces of deluxe art paper (16‘x20’)
  • 4 oil pastels (it says 5 on the box but ours came with 4)
  • custom “van Gogh” paint roller
  • three acrylic paints
  • star mask sheet
  • sponge roller
  • composition stencil
  • instructions
  • learning materials

A couple of days before you plan to work on the project, it is a good idea to get your paper and stencil out of the box, roll it gently backwards of the curl in it, and then place it under something heavy to flatten it out so it will be flat for the project. That will make it much easier to work with.

The process is pretty straightforward and the instructions (inspiration!) are step-by-step and clear. From the placing of the star masks to using the rollers, most of it was easy to do. The stencil required multiple hands, though. When Miss J was working with it, both Miss E and I had to help her keep the interior parts of the stencil flat so that paint would not get under it. When Miss E was using it, it was a little easier and I was able to help her on my own. It is such a large stencil (almost 16″x20″) and it has such a small amount of interior support, the roll that was put in it from the box was just problematic. However, do take a look at our finished products and you will see it didn’t really hinder us. Yea – we had to have additional hands but we were all around the table anyway so it wasn’t an issue. background work

Before we began, Miss E read to us from the instructional materials that were included in the kit. We talked a bit about what we remembered from previous studies of van Gogh and as additional artist names came up (he was influenced by a number of people and had a number of famous contemporaries), it was good to be able to talk about things the girls recalled and how they all intersected.

We learned a bit about using the different materials – acrylic paint, stencils, rollers, and oil pastels. We learned about how to “mask” (or protect an area) from paint so that it will remain the color you want. We learned how to combine textures and materials (oil pastels over acrylic, mixing color in oil pastels, etc.).

Master Kitz Starry Night from

We were able to use this for two projects at the same time, though it did take a bit of finesse with materials going from one paper to the next, having to make sure they were dry before the second paper, etc. There does appear to be enough of everything in the box except for the paper to create a third project. The star masks we had to be very careful with – they had a tendency to stick too hard to the paper and we did have a couple of places tear, in addition to making sure the paint didn’t smear when taking them off and the paint being dry when putting it on the second page. For the most part, the materials were of good quality and with everything being in one place, it was a very convenient activity for a rainy day.

It took a couple of hours to get these two paintings to the color stage – where they were using the oil pastels to create the stars and add any other additional color. From that point, it is up to the individual artist how much longer they want to spend adding details. Miss E took about two more hours to decide on her colors, practice and put that on the artwork. It is certainly not a quick project but will definitely be shorter if you are doing just a single project. Clean up took a while, as well, since we did try to preserve the materials for another go at the project for Miss L after we get some more large paper.

Miss E's finished productMiss J's finished product

One comment Miss J made I need to share – “I didn’t like that we didn’t get to use a paint brush and learn to paint.” That is a mistake on my part. I must have misled her accidentally by talking about doing a painting similar to one created by van Gogh. She thought she was going to get to learn how to paint like him. I am sharing this so that others might not make that same mistake with their kiddo. She did actually enjoy the project once she knew brushes were not involved.

I am looking into the additional kits that are offered by, including Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh, The Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt, and Water Lilies by Claude Monet. Check out their website for more options. They would make fun gifts and projects so with Christmas on the horizon, this may be a very good item to add to wish lists.

At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read additional reviews of the Master Kitz projects from other families.


Zirrly Super Beads ~ a Crew review

Zirrly Super Beads bird set

Creating and crafting are something that happens often, if not daily, in our home. We all enjoy different forms of crafting and so when Zirrly came up to review their Super Beads, we were more than happy to try out the Super Beads Bird Set. Since it arrived just as Miss J was finishing up her unit study about birds, this made a nice final project.

Zirrly is a company that creates various crafting items and kits. Whether you are looking for bead crafts like these, wood crafts, ceramics, fabric projects, or dough/clay, there are lots of options. They also have a selection of materials to purchase. This is a great crafting site to go to when you need something.

Zirrly Super Beads

We received the Super Beads Bird Set. This kit arrived in a box, with all the materials tucked inside in a plastic divided holder. Each color of beads was individually packaged and it included two pegboards for making the creations. We also received three patterns, a spray bottle for the water, a tool for removing errant beads or pulling the creations off the pegboard, and instructions. We were warned ahead of time that the included instructions were not quite right and how to adapt them to work better.

Miss J jumped right in, wanting to create her birds right away. We talked about what to do, but it wasn’t really needed since she has used a different brand of water-fusing beads before. She placed the pattern beneath the plastic tray and started adding her beads. After just a short while, she noticed that some of the beads had lines at one end and went into the tray best when those were all lined up at the top. Sure enough, that was in the instructions that I just thought I had read.

Zirrly Super 3D Beads owl

She got her beads into the pattern and then we took it to the sink to spray. She sprayed it lightly as the instructions implied, tilted it to drain any extra off (there was none), and set it to dry over a paper towel since there were drain holes in the boards. After a couple of hours (the instructions said 1 hour), we checked to see if it was dry. It was but when we pried it off the board, it came apart. So, we put them back in the right place and resprayed it. This time we REALLY sprayed it so that there was water that drained off. And we left it to dry overnight (partly for the time and partly because it was time for bed). When we took it off the board in the morning, the side that had been against the board was sticky and wet. So, we just took it off the pegboard, turned everything over and let it dry again. We did not re-secure it to the pegboard but should have because it warped a bit as it dried.

Once we knew the process, Miss J was happy to create her other two birds from the kit. She did them both at once. She put them together following the pattern, sprayed them well, drained them, let them dry several hours, turned them over, let them dry some more. Finally, she took them off the pegboard for the final time and put them together. Their little stands were cute and worked well.

Zirrly Super 3D Beads parrot duck

These were a fun activity and the kit came with several extra beads. Not enough to remake any of the bird patterns but enough that a child could create their own project or pattern with what was there. We did end up with a number of broken beads in our kit and if we had had any additional ones broken in one of the colors, we would have had to adapt the pattern because we did not end up with any extras after making all three birds.

The water-fusing beads do well and Zirrly’s are sturdy after they are dry. Other brands we have used are round and come apart much more easily than theses. The Zirrly creations are also a bit flexible when dry, part of what makes them less prone to breaking apart. This is certainly a company we would be happy to use a kit from again. It was fun.

Miss J’s take on them:

It was okay. I kind of like Zirrly beads but I kind of thought that for as long as it took to dry the first time, it was crazy for it to fall apart. I really liked the parrot; it was very colorful. I would recommend a bag full of mixed colors rather than the kit because the kit only makes a few things and we couldn’t be very creative. I would recommend these for about age 6 and up.

At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews on the water-fusing beads from Zirrly. Some members received other kits:

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Super Beads {Zirrly Reviews}

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Home School in the Woods Á La Carte projects ~ a Crew review

Home School in the Woods is a tried and true company in our home. We were thrilled to be able to take a look at two of their Á La Carte products for this review

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte productsHome School in the Woods  Á La Carte products

The  Á La Carte projects are small chunks of a study – a game, a timeline, a short lapbook, a project. These small chunks of learning are great for when you are looking for an extension of a study you are doing or wanting a hands-on project of some sort. They cover some really good information but are not long, extensive studies. The Á La Carte projects are often included in a larger, more in-depth study if you are looking for more.

Home School in the Woods is a company that creates digital, downloadable projects and studies dealing with history – from ancient history to present day. Each project is well researched and you can feel confident that the information given is accurate. The projects are all downloaded to your computer so you can print at home and get started right away. The instructions for each project are included in the files and are very understandable.

On to the projects!

HSITW completed WWII timeline

Miss J has been studying World War II and we were just finishing up the unit study we were on when this timeline from Home School In The Woods arrived. It is fantastic!

A Timeline of World War II is a downloadable product, purchased directly from HSITW. Once you download it, you can print it directly from your home. We chose to print it on colored printer paper, using blue for the timeline and neon green for the pieces we were glueing on.

HSITW timeline of WWII ready to go

To get started, I followed the printing directions and then the cutting and taping directions to get the long timeline put together. We taped all the pieces of the timeline together and the it folds compactly for storage. It goes neatly into the notebooking notebook that each girl keeps. So Miss J has a wonderful timeline to add to her notebook now.

Each day, we would pull out the timeline and look at the dates. We started back in WWI and looked at people and events that impacted the start of the war. It really did start back at the end of WWI, as the policies put in place then impacted various countries and caused hardship and discontent. Miss J would give the date and then read the placement on the timeline. She then got the pages of the pieces to cut out and glue on, searching for the right piece. She cut it out and glued it on. Then we would do an online search to find a short article or video on that event, place, or person. We would watch it or read about it. After that, we moved on to the next spot on the timeline. We would do six or eight items per day. It was a manageable amount for a 9 year old.

HSITW timeline of WWII working and watching

This was a wonderful resource to learn a lot about WWII. In doing the timeline this way, combined with the research, Miss J had a very thorough grounding of the causes, actions, events, and people that influenced the war around the globe. I learned a ton, as well. There were a number of people I knew of but didn’t know their exact contributions to the war. I highly recommend studying history this way. It was a manageable chunk of history, yet it was very in-depth.

What Miss J thought about the timeline:

It is lots of fun. I got through it kind of fast. It was kind of fun to learn about the people (like Hitler and Anne Frank). And it is fun to learn about people I didn’t know and didn’t know were there (like Joseph Stalin who was a very bad man).

Now that we have finished the timeline, I am considering purchasing one I just noticed: WWII: On the Home Front Lap Book/Notebook Project. It is right up Miss J’s alley and continues on with the time period we have focused on for the past little bit.

HSITW finished quilling projects

We also chose The Art of Quilling project to try out. Quilling is using paper strips, curling them, and then gluing them into a pattern. I have always wanted to try quilling because I remember a beautiful quilled piece that hung on the wall of my home growing up. We read a bit about quilling from the file and I talked about remembering the hanging growing up. We took the time right then to call my mom and ask her about it. She talked with Miss J about it, remembering creating it, and finishing it the way she did. She told Miss J about the process and what she remembered. It was a neat family connection that brought this project to life.quilling project start

After the phone call and getting a text with a picture of the piece, we printed the quilling pattern, and then got started. I had purchased a quilling tool at a local hobby store for just a few dollars along with pre-cut strips of paper. It took a few tries to figure out how to curl the strips and then to adjust them to various sizes for the pattern. We learned a lot as we went along such as

  • You have to have a liquid glue that comes out well.
  • Curling tighter is not necessarily better.
  • Curling, adjusting, and shaping is all something that has to be worked on and manipulated for each place on the pattern.
  • Age 9 was good for trying this out, with a simple pattern. If it were much more complicated or detailed, it might be a bit trying for Miss J. I would love it, though. We plan to try out more patterns if we can find some online.

We chose the quilling project because it fits with the time period and activities of some of our reading and history lessons. From the 1800s – 1970s, quilling was fairly popular in various places. Since we were working on WWII and had just finished a book about pioneer times, it fit well. And it was fun to try something that people would have done during those times, as well as something that grandma had tried.Home School in the Woods quilling project

What Miss J thought about quilling:

That was awesome! It was fun. It took a long time, forever! But it was fun. It took two days; my final project was pretty.

The Penny Rug Notebook/3D Project looks like another project that would be fun to tackle while sticking to the theme of WWII and thriftiness or using what you have.

Home School in the Woods has wonderful  Á La Carte products and these  Á La Carte projects are often part of a large study, if you are looking for more. We have used Project Passport: Ancient Greece, Project Passport: Ancient Egypt, a la carte Erie Canal, Make-A-State, and more. Other Homeschool Review Crew families were trying out various other Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte projects. Definitely go see them. These are an easy way to find a project that fits right in with a subject you may be studying without committing to a full year curriculum or a long-term study project.

At Home.

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À La Carte Projects - Individual projects designed to enhance your studies! {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

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Creative Fashion Design

For a gift, one of the giggly girls got her sister this fashion design set based on the recent live-action Beauty and the Beast. It has been a terrifically fantastic hit. It is getting used for hours on end and all the giggly girls are sitting around together, listening to music,and designing outfits.

encouraging creativity

I thought I would show you some of the outfits they have each designed, with more to come, I’m sure. Miss L is working on a series that are all related and since they aren’t all done, she wasn’t ready to share them with you. Maybe soon. Something to look forward to, right?


With hours invested, I am thrilled that a purchase I was hesitant about has provided hour after hour of quality time together as sisters. This has been a fantastic gift that all of them have benefited from.

At Home.

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Viking Ship creation

Viking Ship activity

Today, we were talking about Norway in our Let’s Go Geography lesson. (Read our review of Let’s Go Geography.) We are still really liking these easy but informative geography/history lessons. The embedded links to interesting videos coupled with map work, some history, national anthems, and some animals keep Miss J interested. The map work is just enough to challenge and it includes enough review to help retain the information.

A large part of Norway’s background is Viking and they are pretty proud of it. The activity today was to create a Viking ship on the ocean. Miss J had lots of fun with it and it was simple to do. These types of conclusion activities are right up her alley and seem to tie it all together for her.

Let’s Go Geography is one we are definitely keeping in our rotation of lessons.

At Home

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