Tag Archives: DIY

Creating a Creative Habit – Middle School Monday

Creating a Creative Habit MSM

How do you encourage creativity in your students? If we don’t encourage creativity, it is so easy for students to not become creative.

“I just don’t know what to do.”

“I can’t do it.”

“I’m not good at that.”

These excuses and more are often closing doors. But if we encourage them and create opportunities, the creativity will blossom.

I want to share with you 5 ways in which we try to encourage our girls to be creative.

1 – Give them the needed materials. Whether it is needles and thread and fabric for sewing or glue and paper and tape, even glitter (I know some of you are cringing) – we give the girls the materials they need to create whatever it is that their brains are dreaming up. Cross-stitch, sewing, crafts, legos, paper, tape, glitter, sequins, beads, string, googly eyes, and more make up many, many spaces in our home.

2 – Step away. Once they have the materials, let them use them. Let them experiment. Let them read or dream and create. Without interference, who knows where their ideas will take them. At the same time . . .

3 – Provide instruction. After the experimentation, art classes or fiber arts classes or field trips to learn about the materials and how they are used can all help provide instruction and inspire further creativity. Whether it is taking a child to a specific class or teaching them at home, instruction will give direction to their ideas.

4 – Allow them time. Don’t structure their time so closely that they have no time to just create. I fail at this one quite often. I plan to work on a project with them – getting out the paints or coloring materials – and let it go right by without a second thought. Time is a critical factor in creating and seeing ideas to fruition.

5 – Remind them that no one is good at everything and sometimes, it takes a while to find out where their own strengths lie. So try things. Be willing to make and learn from failures. Because in those failures, learning occurs.
Creating a Creative Habit

These are just some thoughts that have been running through my head today as I watch my girls work with their hands on various things – Lego creations, crochet, creating projects from an American Girl book, finger printing with inks, drawing, and more. All of it is a joy to see, even when I end up with 33,000 bookmarks made by one who just learned to braid and another who loves creating with duct tape. Add to it all the drawings and finger printing – well, family just better be looking for some packages in the mail. 🙂

At Home.

Simple Guitars for Your American Girl Dolls


Miss J loves projects. She saw a picture a while back of some American Girl guitars so she wanted to make them. This afternoon, we did just that. Took us all of about 15 minutes to produce two simple guitars that she will endlessly enjoy using with her dolls.



  • Open Google and type in “acoustic guitar black line coloring page” or  “electric guitar black line coloring page”
  • Find an image you like and save it
  • Print it at as full a size on a page of white card stock as will fit
  • Color and cut out. You could add glitter or some other glitzy stuff here but Miss J wanted hers just colored.
  • Find a ribbon and tape it on the back at the places where it will hold correctly on the doll – somewhere at the back of the body of the guitar and somewhere close to the end of the neck.
  • Sling it onto the doll and put on some music so she can perform.


Simple. That is all there is to it. Enjoy!

At Home.

Happy Halloween


Happy Halloween to everyone. Yes, we enjoy dressing up and having fun. We spend time with friends and family. We play games. We enjoy just being who we are (or maybe who we are dressed up as).


We don’t worry about the implied connotations that others try to place on this day. We don’t stress about what others may think we are condoning or approving by dressing up as fun characters and sharing the day with others. We celebrate being alive another day and living the life God gave us.

We dress up for dance classes. We dress up for trunk-or-treat at church. We dress up because it is fun. We dress us because we like to see how well we can make our costumes. We just enjoy having fun. Be like a kid and just enjoy life.

And, since this is Monday, I’m tying it into my common Middle School Monday post. These costumes are almost completely made by the girls. Miss E did the sewing for her minion outfit using fabric we had in our stash. We did buy the yellow shirt but everything else came from the house. Miss L was given the butterfly wings for her costume. Everything else she put together from her closet. Well, except for the antennae headband. We didn’t have a dark headband or black pipe cleaners so we did buy those so she could make antennae. Miss J is Astrid from Race to the Edge. She cut out all the pieces for her costume and she sewed the skirt. I did the hot gluing for the studs on it, which we bought. She made the shoulder covers and the necklace. Her sister made her the ax. We did have to buy the shoes but she was due for some new ones anyway that would keep her feet warm so it fit right in. And there you have it – the costumes the giggly girls made for having fun.

At Home.

Needle Work is Finished – Middle School Monday

She did it! She finished her cross stitch and decided to gift it to her best friend for a birthday gift. She finished the stitching and then chose fabric to turn it into a pillow. She cut and sewed the pillow herself and it turned out really sweet.

The finished product:



At Home.

Turning Drums

turning drum craft for a party

The birthday party from a while back included another craft activity that allowed for a lot of creativity – turning drums.

As I mentioned, the party had a Chinese tea party theme. So, turning drums fit right in. Miss L got the idea from a book she was reading about Ancient China. So, she figured out how to make the turning drums.

She asked for paper plates, well saucers really – the smaller ones. She got out sucker sticks and yarn after searching through the stash of craft supplies and finding a variety of wooden beads. She put all of this together with markers and a hole punch and tape in a basket so it was ready for the guests.

turning drums beginning work

They decorated their plates however they desired and each one was quite different. Some of the girls chose to just decorate it simply and others chose to do a very detailed scene. Some chose words and some did not. A couple of the girls tried to replicate some of the Chinese characters that we got off of the internet. (She had looked up how to do Happy Birthday in Chinese so we are hoping that we got the correct translation!)

turning drums decorating two sides

They came out cute but we had to alter the plan after we had done a couple of them with tape. Instead of taping the sucker stick inside, we realized it needed to be hot glued. The tape just didn’t hold. So, we grabbed the hot glue gun and corrected the issues with the turning drums but gluing the sucker stick and then gluing around the edges.

A single hole punch was the tool of choice to create a place on either side to attach the yarn and wood balls to be the beaters of the turning drum. These are what make the sound when you carefully and steadily turn the drum back and forth.

turning drums finished

This cute craft was a fun one that puts the girls in touch with the history of a culture that is quite unusual when compared to our own. Some of the history of the drums was shared and the girls were proud to take their turning drums home at the end of the party.

At Home.

Cherry Blossom branches

cherry blossoms - how to makeAt a tea party recently, one of the crafts Miss L and her guests made was cherry blossom branches. They were simple, cheap, and loads of fun. They came out simply adorable and can be changed up so simply! Because of the simplicity of the craft and the fact that Miss E, our middle schooler, really enjoyed making this, I am sharing it for the Middle School Monday post today.


  1. Tissue paper – choice of color is yours; for cherry blossoms, you will want to learn towards the pink tones
  2. Scissors – option if you would prefer to tear your tissue paper, that is fine
  3. Tape – scotch tape works well to tape the center of the blossom
  4. Hot glue – optional but works really well for attaching the blossoms to a branch
  5. Branch – we just wandered into the back yard and picked up some branches that had floated down in the recent rains but you could get directly from a tree or purchase something if you desire; you could also use pipe cleaners (chenille sticks) to make a tree branch with

cherry blossom arrangement

The Process:

  1. Cut or tear tissue paper into circles of varying sizes. They do not need to be perfect circles; in fact, the less perfect the edges, the more ruffle the petals look and that is beautiful. Cherry blossoms - stacked circles
  2. Stack two or three circles of different sizes on top of each other, biggest on the bottom.
  3. Crumble the circles up and then sort of straighten them out again.cherry blossoms - crumple and gather
  4. Gather the center of the circles from the bottom and crunch them up to create a blossom. (That is really hard to describe so I’ll try again.) Fold the circles in half and grab the center. Hold that, open the circles up again, and gather the center into a sort of knot and arrange the edges of the circle like flower petals.
  5. Tape that center knot that you are holding.cherry blossoms - tape stem
  6. Tape or hot glue the blossom to a branch.cherry blossoms - Miss J's

That is truly how simple it was to create these. The hardest part is going to be the time required if you want to do a whole bundle of them. We opted for simple and the guests’ came out so interesting a unique. I love to give simple directions and allow freedom of expression. We ended up with quite a variety. The pink ones above were Miss J’s. The following are some of the others that were made.

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Everyone enjoyed this simple craft.

At Home.

PS – We’ll be sharing more about the tea party coming up. It was lots of fun!

Mozzarella – Middle School Monday

mozzarellaWe took about a week and went to visit grandparents last week. While there, my mom had a fun project for us to do – make mozzarella!

mozzarella ingredients

It was a DIY kit that she had gotten somewhere. We had to buy a gallon of whole milk but everything else was in the kit. After we got started with it, we realized that the kit had enough of the ingredients (like rennet) to make a bunch of batches. We only made one, though.

mozzarella measuring ingredients

mozzarella cooking and temperatures

mozzarella curds

It was a simple enough project and took us somewhere around an hour. Result, one ball of fresh mozzarella to go with our dinner. It was yummy! It was also a lot of fun to make and figure out the process. It is definitely something I think would be fun to try again with some goat’s milk so that all of us could eat it.

mozzarella ball

If you get a chance, definitely try your hand at making fresh mozzarella. Our middle schooler absolutely enjoyed the process AND the result. It is kind of fascinating to watch the process and see the cheese come from all that liquid, leaving the whey behind.

At Home.

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