Sunday, March 20, 2011

creating simple treasures for little children


Because my daughter Adelaide turned four last month, I spent a couple of weeks - here and there - thinking up many simple treasure for little children. Because of these projects, Addie and I were able to both fill many grey and dark winter afternoons together, and also use their finished results as simple gifts for her to give to her friends at her Birthday Party. A couple for each child, tucked in a little bag pinned with our little homemade personalised buttons.

My goal was to come up with ideas which are inexpensive, simple to put together, and, hopefully, that little children will adore and get some joy and use from. I heard great feedback from both children and their parents, and so I've been wanting to share these simple projects - some new and some old - which Addie and I were able to plan and assemble, together.

I have also found that it is nice to make lots of these treasures and keep extras around as well. (Because of my work it is my logic and habit to make things up in larger batches - for time and budget management.) They are great to keep around in a pinch, perhaps for Adelaide to have as a treat (she never seems to grow bored of them), or to give to visiting children, or to tuck in a package which is being mailed away. I've also found that our friends without children love them and often take a few home with them too, to have on hand when their nieces and nephews or other such little people come and visit them.


A Little Collage Kit(s)

I was inspired to put together some sweet collage kits for kids after Adelaide discovered mini bottles of Elmer's school glue at Michael's. She was just so delighted with these miniature bottles of glue, but I balked at the price tag - no way! Then several weeks later, I found that I could purchase these same little bottles of glue in bulk from a teacher's supply store - for around .45 cents each! I decided then and there to create the kids collage kits using them.


When planning our kits together, Addie and I first went through our house and gathered up supplies to use from the collage kits. We found assorted coloured and textured papers, tin foil, cotton balls, felt and fabric scraps, ribbon and rickrack bits, star and circle stickers, and buttons. We also punched and collected up shapes from paper with paper punches. We then set a budget of (maximum) $10 to supplement collage materials, which we took to our neighbourhood dollar store. There she helped me pick out simple items like glitter glue (6 for $1), feathers, googly eyes, sequins, and wooden cut outs.

I designed up a simple folded bag-top in Adobe Illustrator for the packaging. I made a goal from years back not to use any more plastic packaging for the products I create and sell, however, I have random plastic bags left over from the old days when I first began selling my goods, and so I've been wanting to use them up. I had a few dozen 7x10" cellophane bags, and I decided to use them for these collage kits. I realised that the bags would be good to store and protect the child's finished artwork in, and so included this idea with the "instructions" on the back of each bag-top.


On another afternoon, Addie and I sorted all of our materials into kitchen bowls, and made an assembly line, a few of each material in each bag along with 3 tag board paper background sheets, a mini glue and 1 glitter glue. I stapled the bag-tops to the top of each package. Adelaide loved this, and we put together 2 dozen kits quite quickly. And any extra materials went right into Adelaide's arts and crafts material box for other days.

Beads + Bits jewellery kits


One day I came across a large bag of wooden beads for $5 - at Walmart of all places - and I thought it would be a nice idea to put little bead kits together for children. I also picked up an inexpensive packet of beading twine in assorted colours (I believe for around $3. I combined these beads with a few other types of wooden beads I already had, and together one afternoon Adelaide and I put together many little bead kits.


We sorted all of our beads by colour into kitchen bowls, and made an assembly line, selecting out bead combinations into our own bowls, calculating the correct amount to either create a child's necklace or 3 child's bracelets. (Adelaide adored this activity). We included a length of twine with each of our kits, and carefully poured each kit into 4x6" glassine envelopes which I had on hand. We sealed each kit up tight with a glue stick, and tucked them aside for later.

Many days later when I had some time, I designed up another bag-top, and simply trimmed off the side of each of the filled glassine envelopes with an exacto blade. I then stapled on the bag-top, and, done!

Children's Notebooks


This is an old project of mine, and I wasn't planning on making more of these little books anytime soon. But then a little friend of Adelaide's came over to play one day. He spotted one of Adelaide's note-books, and said excitedly to his mom: "Mama, I have this book, but mine is a Dolphin book!" I was quite touched by this, but then I realised that we had given the book to him over two years ago when he was only 2 years old, and that he remembered and kept his little book all this time. I then knew that I should really make up more of these lovely little books. (More information on this project and a description how-to is here).


Making Cupcake Flags


Another old project which Addie and I recycled for her birthday (and probably always will) was our cupcake flags project. You are welcome to download our finished template and make cupcake flags, too - more information is located here.


Together on a particularly dark and grey afternoon, we printed out and made a little box full of dozens of these cupcake flags, ready to poke into cupcakes at her birthday party (I managed to convince her to have homemade cupcakes instead of a store-bought birthday cake - cheaper, easier, cleaner, and zero utensils or plates required).


Addie - well - she really just loved gluing up and folding her flags up over toothpicks, and so I let her go at it. (Secretly, I placed her glue-gucked fingerprinted flags aside when the time came to poke them into the fresh little cupcakes... shh!) No harm done, she was so pleased to help, and it was sweet for me to watch the little boys at her birthday party playing and waving their little cupcake flags. It's funny, sometimes, what little children find joy in.

40 comments:

Suzy said...

I love reading about the projects you and Addie make together, and it gives me such inspiration for activities to make with my own little one. Thank you for sharing.

And I hope the waiting is going well.

yazy said...

These are great ideas! Thanks for sharing :)

~april said...

i love your style of writing and love reading your posts. i esp. like this one because i think little kiddos love to help and love collages and beads. what fun!

Monika Wright said...

love these ideas and that you craft with your daughter...my girls love a good craft project and the collage kits sound like fun thing for us to make together and then put away for a "rainy day" when they say they are bored!

Rose said...

I remember some of these projects, but a few are new to me. Thanks for putting them all together in one place!

SeattleMommy said...

Love the collage kit idea! I love having simple projects for play dates.

mialove said...

So wonderful! What fonts did you use for the collage and bead kits?

Emily Kate said...

I'm planning my daughter's 1st birthday party and constantly find myself drawn here for ideas. You are so focused on what your daughter will enjoy doing, and manage to do it in beautiful design. You just speak right to my heart! Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas with us. I just pinned every one of these projects to my pinterest parties board!

p.s. my daughter is also named Adelaide!

Freshly Rooted said...

These are truly treasures! I love all of these ideas. The collage kits look so professional.

Norma said...

Luv all these fun projects!! And so wonderful to look at. Thanks for sharing.

Craftyfingerz said...

Thanks for sharing :-) love reading your posts and you are so creative with everything you get your hands on! thanks for the inspirations!

Rhonda said...

I would love to be as "creative" as you are! My daughter, Maria, would love these projects! Thank-you for your blog! I love it!
Blessings!
Rhonda
(Cozy Cottage & Simple Living Blog)

kickpleat said...

i love your projects and the care and thought you put into each one.

Jo @ a life in lists said...

I love those little kits! I'm in the process of making some similar crafty kits (although nowhere near as pretty as yours) for my toddler before baby number two appears in a couple of weeks, and you've given me loads more ideas, so thanks :)

Nathan and Aimee said...

such creative ideas! I love every single one. aimee

Cocotine said...

Thank you for the flags that I used on Saturday for my daughter's birthday party. If you want to see it, please come to my blog www.mondecocotine.canalblog.com/

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that. Great ideas!

Joan said...

Such a sweet post of lovely projects. Thank you so much for posting them.

Wishing you a pleasant waiting time and lots of joy for the little bundle about to arrive. When is she/he due?

Joan

ali said...

what wonderful ideas, so colourful and creative! i can't wait to make some of these with ella...i *love* the idea of repackaging! i hope you are feeling well and can't wait to see a glimpse of your new little one when he/she arrives, ali x

Marloes said...

Hey!
I just discovered your blog via other blogs I often visit and I'm so thrilled by what I found! I love the personal crafty stories you post and what an amazingly cute daughter you've got :) I hope one day, I'll be a happy mother and enjoying the creative life, just like your family does. Such an inspiration! Thank you.
Marloes

Mrs. Johannemann said...

Your posts are pure sunshine...what wonderful ideas! It's such a blessing to be able to craft and find joy in all the little things that kids like to do. I wish you all the best as you prepare for another sweet arrival. :) Jamie

shisomama said...

I also have party favors on the mind since it's my son's birthday this week. I love that you make these kits together, since it seems that you both enjoy the activity so much, and it makes me think that I should do the same. We have our afternoon together tomorrow, and I think we'll be wrapping up our invitations and cupcake toppers then! Thanks for the inspiration!

lifeinredshoes said...

First off- I sense a book deal here! You have great ideas and they are so kid friendly:)

2nd- I have worked in a kindergarten class for several years, and the activities that you do with Addie are wonderful! She is learning sorting, and counting and best of all,PROBLEM SOLVING.

You have no idea how lacking in these skills children are today.

I'll say it again, you are a wonderful mama :)

Amy said...

Such wonderful ideas...you are so inspiring!

In the Pacific NW said...

Love this last pic of Addie looking up at you. Adore that sweet face! What a lucky girl to have such a thoughtful mom who takes the time to do creative things with her!

And on a side note, when do we get to see a prego pic of you with older sis, Addie?

Sonja said...

thank you for sharing all these projects! :)

Elise said...

Thank you for sharing. I can't wait to start creating fun stuff for my sons second birthday in a couple of months.
Good luck with the waiting. I'm over 6 months pregnant and very anxious already (my boy came very early). I sent you my lots of strenght and luck.

Michelle said...

Love love love! Thanks for sharing!

Emi said...

I just want to say that I LOVE your blog, and think that you and your daughter are absolutely adorable! I was so inspired by your Children's notebook craft, that I utilized that craft as a gift for the children attending my wedding!

Carol & Eddy said...

Thanks so much for sharing! And your 38-weeks photo with Adelaide looks lovely, too!

Victoria said...

Hey, you're a great mom, and also a great graphic designer. You always consider the environment and you make your daughter participate and have fun.

I hope to be a great mom & graphic designer one day, like you.
(:

Mrs Bok - The Bok Flock said...

Gorgeous beautiful I love your blog!!

Holly said...

These are truly inspiring and wonderful projects and little gifts for kids. Personally, I love little creative kits and am always on the look out at stores for something interesting and right for my son...but I love the notion of making them up myself even more. Thank you for sharing your fantastic ideas.

Also, your baby bump is very sweet. Hope the new one comes soon.

Xenya said...

Lovely ideas! Thanks for sharing.
You're a great graphic designer

bethiejw said...

The monkey and dolphin books are darling.

Beth

bethsquilts.blogspot.com

Claire M. said...

The cupcakes look so delicious ;)

Momofthree said...

What great ideas! This is my first time here - I folowed from Crayon Wishes and Popsicle Dreams. I am thinking that the take home bags for my daughter's art party will have some collage or bead kits in them.

puertas metalicas cortafuegos said...

Quite worthwhile piece of writing, thanks for the article.

Lori said...

i cannot believe adelaide is four :O

xoxoxoxo

Kids Birthday Parties in Orlando said...

i am planning wonderful Kids Birthday Parties in Orlando. your blog is very interesting and it has given me some new ideas to make the party more rocking.