Friday, January 9, 2015

Winter Trees -- Paper with Accordion Fold

I wanted to do a craft project with 6-year-olds that would be winter-themed, fun, and not very complicated . . .

So in thinking about this, I envisioned some paper evergreen trees, all joined together like they are part of a forest.  The idea of a paper doll chain type project started to form . . .  and this is the result . . .

To make it look snowy, I used spatter paint, with a toothbrush, brushing it over a plastic needlepoint canvas --

The tempera paint I used needed to be watered down to make it fairly thin, so it would spatter through the holes more easily.  However, I did find that the holes tended to clog up with paint, and when there were a lot of clogs it worked really well to just blow the paint out (bending down close to the plastic mesh and blowing fairly hard).

Using the plastic needlepoint canvas was much less messy than if I had just flicked the paint off the toothbrush, as it directed the spatters to go directly below the canvas.  So I was excited to see how well this method worked :)

Now back to making the trees . . .

The first step is to cut a long strip of paper; I tried out some different sizes, that's how I got some of the different trees in the photo above.  Those ones were cut using strips of regular size paper (colored typing paper, construction paper), in different widths.  I also experimented by cutting some really big ones, using strips from large size construction paper.

As you can see, after the folding, cutting, and painting was completed, these large trees stood up more successfully when the center one was folded out, as in the picture above . . .

When making a group of paper trees, the way to fold the paper is just like when cutting a paper doll chain, or making a paper fan -- it is an accordion fold. Look closely at the top photo of small trees, to see how this looks; you have to be sure to start cutting on an outside edge, not on a folded edge.  

When doing this project with kids, I made a pencil mark for where their first fold should be, and they took it from there . . . they did the folding, then I drew a pencil line in the shape of a zig-zaggy evergreen, along one end piece, and they did the cutting.  It was kind of hard to cut through many layers of construction paper, so sometimes help was needed.

This did turn out to be a really fun project-- there is an exciting "surprise" when you undo the folded and cut paper and see how there is now a whole set of trees!  And adding spatter paint was another hugely fun activity . . .

Maybe you'd like to make a winter trees paper forest of your own; if so, try using this accordion fold technique!

What other accordion fold crafts have you tried?  How did they turn out?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Make Big Paper Bugs -- FREE pattern!

Making BIG paper bugs was a recent project . . .  I did this with a class of first graders. They had been studying insects, so putting paper bugs together by using three insect parts (head, thorax, abdomen) plus legs and antennae fit right in, and helped to reinforce what they'd been learning.

It was great to see the variety in colors and insect types of the resulting big paper bugs . . .

Also, I was glad that the pattern pieces I'd come up with worked so well, and wanted to make the paper bug pattern available to others.  So here it is!  The pattern pieces are in a short PDF ebook called Paper Insects Project, and it is up as a freebie on the Gentle Shepherd educational materials website: 

Please feel free to share this link with others who may like to have a ready-to-go pattern for making HUGE paper insects :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Van Gogh - style art pictures!

Van Gogh used a lot of tiny dash lines in many of his paintings.  So using this technique, I made some Van Gogh-style pictures.

First, a sketch --

Then with markers, lots of little dash lines; some of them go in twirly patterns, and some are in straight lines.

Next, color crayon is added -- to put in some more color flecks and shading.

Here is another set using felt pen first, then crayon added in:

This is a pretty easy technique, and the pictures turned out so nice; kids could easily use this method to make some beautiful impressionist-style artwork!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Apple Mosaic with Paper Squares

Last Friday I was helping a group a kids make apple mosaics.  This was a project the kids really enjoyed; they were around age 6, and I heard several of them say, "This is fun!" as they were working on it.

My part was to bring all the supplies, and some finished examples.  I also used pencil to draw an apple shape on the papers beforehand, so all they would need to do was glue on the paper squares (our time was limited, but if you have the time, drawing the apple shape could be an extra step and some kids would probably like drawing their own or using a template to trace around).

The supplies:

colored paper for a background, cut to the small size we wanted (about 7' x 8 1/2").  I offered the kids a choice between four colors-- light blue, dark blue, yellow, and pink.  I was kind of surprised when every single girl wanted pink . . . so most of my pink supply was depleted.  The boys mostly chose blue, though one brave fellow decided on yellow.

glue and some small plates to put it on, and cottons swabs to use in applying the glue.

paper squares, in various shades of red, pink, and orange-- I did have a small amount of these precut, but mostly just had long narrow strips (cut with a paper cutter) and went around cutting these off into squares with a pair of scissors, to replenish the squares as needed.

some long strips of brown paper (even more narrow) for cutting the apple stems-- I saved this for near the end, when kids were almost finished with their mosaics.

Here is what a finished mosaic looks like:

One thing I did to make some different shades of colors for the squares was to use paint (tempera and also watercolor) and paint some cardstock with reddish paint.  This also gave an interesting texture to some of the pieces-- because there were brush stroke lines. It also gave more variation in the color among the squares.  Watercolor paint gave me pinkish-red shades; the tempera paint I used was reddish-orange.

In the sample above, some of the squares were cut into rectangles and triangles, to better fit in along the lines.

An apple is a great subject for a fall mosaic, because apples are harvested in fall, and it is a simple roundish shape.  I think this could be also be very easily done for pumpkins or jack-o-lanterns.

If you'd like to see some more mosaic ideas, using all kinds of materials, there is an assortment here on this Pinterest mosaics board:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dragon . . . Fly

What? Do dragons fly? Well, maybe some of them do . . . 

But this is actually a compound word, for beginning writers to copy (writing in the space below the letters) when they are beginning to learn to write -- all in capital letters. 

This page is from Easy Peasy Penmanship, an ebook with 141 different printable pages, all in capital letters. Children who are 4-5 years old are usually ready to start with these kind of penmanship pages.

You can see some samples of other pages from this ebook at

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Word Box Writing

Word Box Writing . . .
The way this works, there are six words in a box, that are kind of related -- for example, "cactus, desert, sand, water, lizard, prickly." Below the word box are some lines for writing, to write 4 sentences using all six words.

This takes some thinking! You can't just write one sentence with each word; some of the sentences will have to have more than one. . .

So what is the purpose of all this?

Well, number one is to have some fun doing writing.
Then also, there is the thinking part . . . and kids might like to use the words in the box as story starters, sometimes.

Would you like to see what these printable work pages look like? Take a look here:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

the Creation Story -- in felt!

This past couple of weeks I've been working on sewing some felt pieces for a "Creation Story" felt set, to use in kids' church.

Here are some pictures:

In this one, day four is represented (light, the sky, land and sea, plants, and sun and moon and stars have been created).

Here is day 5:  birds and sea creatures, fish

And day 6 part one: land animals

Adam and Eve have some skins on . . . this is getting a little bit ahead in the story, but oh, well . . .

Here is a close-up picture with people and animals together (this time they are on a brown rug, instead of a blue felt board):

For Adam and Eve, I used the "cookie people"- shaped patterns from Fuzzle Family Felt pattern set, available from either Gentle Shepherd or Fuzzlemania.  The tree shown in the earlier Adam and Eve picture is from that set, too.

This creation felt set is bright and colorful, and the pieces are easy to handle (most things are sewn with a double layer of felt so they are sturdy and can be played with off the felt board, too).  It was a joy to make this set-- and it came together pretty quickly because I already had a lot of sewn animals in my felt toys inventory-- the only ones I needed to sew were the fish and birds and dinosaur.  The piece that took the longest to make was the bright green tree with all the parts hanging down.  It is an interesting tree to look at, though-- I think it is worth the extra time.

Have you ever wanted to make a Bible story felt set?  I hope these pictures give you some ideas.  The story of Creation is a fun one for kids to help tell, too (putting up the pieces either with or for you).

Day 6 part 2: people