Marshmallow Igloo


After a relatively mild winter, we had 15 inches of snow dumped on us!  My 5 year old had a snow day from preschool so I decided we should plan a snow related activity to coincide with the special day!  We had just finished reading Curious George Builds an Igloo and they list additional activities to try.  In this case–building an igloo.  I decided to modify their suggestions to fit a 2 and 5 year old’s ability level, plus using supplies we already had in the kitchen since a run to the store was not an option!

Prepping the Igloo Base

I prepped the igloo base for the boys using a paper plate, paper bowl, and small bathroom paper cup.  First, I cut the paper cup in half to form a semi-circle for the entrance to the igloo.  I traced the semi-circle onto the upside down bowl to cut out the opening in the bowl.  Then I assembled the pieces together.  I used hot glue to secure the igloo to the plate to avoid it slipping.  The exact igloo base will appear slightly different depending on the size and shapes of the bowl, cups you use.  Use the picture as a guideline and the frosting and marshmallows will soon cover it entirely!

Igloo Base
Igloo Base

Now it was time to involve the boys–although my 2 year old was hounding me the entire time for the marshmallows!  I gave each boy their igloo base and set a plate of mini marshmallows between them.  Then I gave them each a small bowl of white frosting.

I showed Nathan (2) how to spread a little frosting on the base and place a marshmallow onto the “glue”.  While I was doing that, I noticed Jake (5) had already begun his building.  He was starting from the top of the igloo so I reminded him how George started with a circle and worked his way to the top.



Once I got Jake started, he worked very methodically and quickly.  He was finished a lot sooner than I expected.  Nathan didn’t move quite as methodically or quickly, but he enjoyed himself!  He had a more random approach to building!



Once Nathan decided his igloo was finished, his favorite part was eating the frosting and marshmallows!  He was so excited to show the igloo to Daddy once he got home from work.




Cardboard Penny Hockey Game


I was first introduced to the game of Penny Hockey when I was in middle school. It was one of the projects the 2nd year shop students made.  I only took one year, but we were able to play the game when we finished our work early.  I wanted to give my nephew a Wooden Penny Hockey board for Christmas, but unfortunately there were some issues with the company I found to build the board.  I am still hoping to eventually get him an “official” wooden board, but decided to try a makeshift game in the meantime!


We do not own the tools to craft a board at home, but I have always been pretty handy with cardboard!  I decided to try making a cardboard version of Penny Hockey to see if my own little boys enjoyed the game.


I did a google image search for a penny hockey board and loosely based my design from the pictures.  There are a ton of tutorials to make a wooden board and you can follow the precise measurements.  My boys are only 2 and 5 and I was working on this project while they were fighting over Legos.  I didn’t have time for perfection!


  1.  Cardboard Box (roughly 9 x 12–my board is slightly larger)
  2. Wooden Dowel Rods
  3. Blue and Red Sharpie Markers
  4. X-Acto Knife or Scissors
  5. Tape
  6. Ruler
  7. Penny to Play!

 Cut a cardboard box down to size.

I had a cardboard envelope (from photos or a book that I ordered) that seemed like the perfect size.  A regular box would work as well, but the sides would need to be cut down further.  I don’t have any pictures, but I just cut the extra flaps off and cut down the sides and about a 1 inch lip.  Then I just taped the sides closed to secure.

 Draw the lines on the board.


  1.   I measured the center of the board and drew a solid red line with a Sharpie.
  2. Then I traced a paper bathroom Dixie cup to form the center circle.  Just use whatever objects you can find unless you want perfection.
  3.  Then I drew a solid blue line on each side at the end of the circle.
  4. Trace a quarter towards the end of each side of the box.  (Again I just eyeballed it.  I’m sure this isn’t to regulation standards).  Use an X-Acto knife to cut out the circle.
  5. Draw a solid red line at the edge of the hole.
  6. Trace half of the paper bathroom Dixie cup to form a semi-circle around the quarter hole.

Add dowel rod posts

  1.  I used the X-Acto knife to pierce a hole for the dowel rods to be inserted.
  2. My husband used a Dremel to cut a dowel rod into 7 pieces.  He made them 3/4 inch long.
  3. Use super glue to adhere the dowel rods into the holes.  (I originally just used Elmer’s glue and some of them weren’t very secure.  I had to go back and fix the weak ones).

Game Play:  

I don’t follow hockey so I am not aware of the real rules of the game.  Starting in the middle, you are supposed to flick the penny towards your goal.

Now my boys were simply pushing the penny and they were having fun!

You can see from the photo that this is before I reattached the pegs with superglue!


File Folder Color Garage


Years ago I made my now 5 year old a color parking garage.  I can’t remember where the idea originally came.  There are a lot of ideas for sight word garages so I may have just adapted it to use with a toddler at the time.  It got a lot of use and it still looks great.  Some of the colors–purple and white faded a little so I decided to update the garage for my younger son.

Original File Folder Color Garage–not in bad shape almost 4 years later

To make the garage, I simply laid out a file folder and traced a business card I had handy.  I found the business card to be the perfect “parking spot” size for Hot Wheel cars.  Then I took my markers and filled each spot with a different color.  To make “white” I cut a white label sticker to cover the space.

I reorganized the format this time so I had an empty space to fill.  I decided to make a gas  pump and add a piece of string so my son could fill his Hot Wheels with gas before parking.  I goggled an image of a gas pump and simply drew it on the folder.  I have found kids are not concerned with pictures being perfect.  Then I added the yarn–wrapped tape around the tip to form the nozzle and tape it to the back through a small hole I made in the folder.  I am so pleased with the final product!

The boys have already started playing with the newly updated garage and they are loving it!  I don’t have any pictures, but here is my 2.5 year old enjoying the old version.  We had fun trying to race our cars into the correct color parking spot first.  Somehow I always lost!

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My 5 year old saw the new  version and I could tell he liked the added gas pump.  I asked if he wanted me to make him a new garage too.  He does!  I may add sight words to his garage.  They love games so I’m thinking I may add a game element as well.  I will make color cards/sight word cards to draw and they will have to drive a car to the correct spot.

Super simple and super portable as well.  I think this may find its way into the backpack to entertain the 2 year old when he has to attend big brother’s activities.



DIY Personalized Pens


We made personalized pens to give to the other teachers and aides at my son’s school.  They are so simple, but turn out so cute and I love that they are homemade and personalized.

I found the idea a while back and pinned it to my Teacher Gift board.  When I went back to the pin, it said the website wasn’t available.

We used Pentel RSVP pens for this project.  I could only find them in “fine” but I personally prefer “medium” ink pens.  I did a quick search in the pen aisle at Staples, but didn’t find another option.  (Let me know if you find a different type of pen that works).


I unscrewed the end of the pen and cut a strip of white copy paper the length of the empty barrel.  It really doesn’t need to be exact since it will be wrapped around the ink inside the pen.

I had my son draw on the paper to decorate it.  He originally started drawing a picture of a Christmas tree, but I had to remind him we would be cutting the paper into smaller strips so just make a design.  He then just proceeded to take random crayons and draw lines all over–similar to a 2 year old but it looked good in the end.


Then I cut the long strip into smaller sections.  They were around 1.25-1.5 inches wide.  It really doesn’t need to be exact since it will be wrapped.  Then I used a fine point Sharpie to write each teacher’s name on the paper.  After a while, my Sharpie started to die.  Sharpie over crayons doesn’t work very well.  I eventually found a scrapbook pen that worked over the crayon.  I made these pens in the past and I think I wrote the name first and then had my son draw with crayons over it.

After the paper was cut, decorated, and name added, I wrapped the paper as tightly as possible around the ink barrel.  Then I slid the paper into the barrel and screwed the top back on.


We added a post it note pad to go with each pen and our simple appreciation gift was complete.  A personal and useful gift.  My 2 year old was even able to make one for his swimming teacher.


Paper Dump Truck that can actually dump


Before bed the past few nights, the boys have gotten out all of trucks and have been driving and parking them all over the house.  I thought it would be fun to create a dump truck that could actually be filled.  (My 5 year old loves his duct tape wallet we made a while back).

To Make the Dump Truck:


  • Envelope
  • Cardstock
  • Paint (or other decorative materials)
  • Small photograph of child’s face
  • Glue (I used a hot glue gun)
  • Brad


Cut all of the pieces:

  • To make the “dumper”, I cut the flap off a large envelope.  (I used the kind with a straight edge instead of the “V”.  I traced the envelope onto a piece of cardstock.  I wanted to glue the envelope to the cardstock later to make it thicker and more durable.
  • To make the cab, I laid the envelope next to the cardstock to help with the correct size.  (See picture above).  I know a lot of people probably prefer images that can be downloaded, but I actually find it easier to just free hand most projects.  Kids do not mind if pictures are not perfect!
  • Draw 3 circles for wheels.  I found a paper bathroom cup to be the right size.

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Decorate all of the pieces.  We decided to paint them so all of the pieces were completely covered.  Jake (5) wanted a camo look so dabbed green on top.  We just had to wait until the pieces dried.  It worked out perfectly to paint before naptime.  Jake’s pieces didn’t take too long, but Nathan (2.5) still “glops” the paint so the thicker areas required a longer dry time.  I told them they didn’t need to paint the extra rectangle because I was just going to glue it to the envelope. Nathan decided to paint it anyway!

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Once the pieces were dry, I hot glued the envelope onto the rectangular piece of cardstock.  Then I just used the edge of the scissors to poke a hole through the envelope and edge of the cab.  I didn’t take any pictures, but if you look at the finished truck, it should be easy to understand.  Then I hot glued the wheels to the bottom of the truck.  I could have had the kids just use regular Elmer’s glue, but they were already impatient from waiting for the paint to dry so I decided to just assemble it together to save time.  The highlight of the project was adding their photograph as if they were actually driving the truck.  Both of their eyes just lit up when they saw their picture.


Jake is planning on filling his truck with Legos.  Nathan filled his truck with Christmas bows (We did a scavenger hunt with them the other day).  He was driving his truck around the floor and dumping out the bows.  It was so cute!  When I tried to take a picture, he kept turning around (on purpose).  Little stinker!  If I am able to capture one, I will have to update the post.  I am thinking I should have laminated the pieces to make it a little more durable.  We will see how long the truck lasts.

Cardboard Gingerbread House


While browsing Facebook one evening, I came across this adorable post by Crafts by Amanda for adult created gingerbread houses.  I thought it was such a cute idea, but I wanted to adapt it for my kids.  I basically used the directions to make the “canvas” and then let the kids loose to add their own decorations.  This project does require some prep work, but the boys had so much fun decorating that is was totally worth it!

To Create the “Canvas” for the Gingerbread House:

  1.  Rinse and dry empty juice or milk cartons.
  2. Open the container and cut the bottom triangles off both sides.


3.  Hot glue the sides together to form the arch of the roof.  Secure with tape to ensure it bonds.  Also cut the plastic pour spout out if your carton contains one.  The hole will later be covered.


4.  Coat the carton with a thin layer of Mod Podge using a foam brush and cover with paper napkins or tissue paper.  After it has dried, repeat with another layer. (I was a little ansy and didn’t wait until it was completely dry before I added my second layer).  I am not very experienced with Mod Podge so I used the only kind I had on hand.  I would think Elmer’s Glue would also work.  It would  probably just not spread as easily.

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5.  Once it has dried completely, paint the paper covered juice cartons with brown paint.  We were out of our brown craft paint, so I actually used leftover brown paint from our living room walls.  It worked very well and may have even covered better than craft paint.  My napkins started to rip when I was painting so I dabbed in some spots instead of using a brush stroke.  It may have been my lack of patience in letting everything dry!


6.  Cut a roof for your house using a thin piece of cardboard.  I used cereal boxes, but any type of posterboard would work.  I cut the cardboard slightly larger than the width of the carton for the overhang.  I lightly sanded the glossy print to help paint adhere to it better.  Hot glue the roof to the house.  Paint the roofs white.  Again, I used white house paint because it was handy.  I put the paint on thick to really cover the print.  I didn’t mind if the paint was blotchy because it was going to mimic snow and most of it would be covered with decorations.


The gingerbread house is now formed.  All that’s left is to provide the kids with supplies to decorate their houses.  I didn’t buy anything special for this project.  We just used a variety of supplies we had on hand (buttons, jewels, pom poms, foam shapes, felt, etc).  I picked up this container at a thrift store a few years ago and love using it to sort supplies during craft projects.

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I thought about showing the boys images of gingerbread houses on my iPad before I set them loose, but decided to just left them work.  I thought all of the sparkly items would attract both of the boys, but Jake (5) went straight to the foam.  I think he really likes the feel of cutting through the foam.  I actually had to coax him to add the colorful jewels because he wanted to just keep adding foam.


I was originally going to use Tacky glue because I thought it would hold the thicker decorations better, but we ran out.  (I am hoping to find some in my Christmas stocking)!  The Elmer’s glue worked better than I expected.  The formula is now supposed to be thicker which also makes it harder to squeeze.  Nathan (2.5) did very well squeezing the glue without any assistance though.


Here are our finished gingerbread houses.  All of the sides are very unique and you can tell which sides were completed first!  We ended up working on these houses over 2 days to allow for dry time and stamina!  Overall, I think they did an awesome job!

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We decided to place them next to our Christmas village.  I am sure they will be a permanent display for years to come.  We may need to add extra houses throughout the years.  It would be fun to see how the houses developed as they matured.



Paper Shape Train


This train project happened on a whim one day.  It almost seems too simple to write a blog about!  Sometimes simple is best though.  My 2 year old saw a Sticky Mosaic Train on display his brother made when he was younger and wanted to make one.

I could have cut foam pieces for him to glue onto a train, but it was close to naptime and I wanted as quick and easy as possible!

So I dug out our bin of construction paper scraps to see what kind of project we could make.  Do you keep your paper scraps or toss everything when you are done with a project?  I fondly remember the “scrap collector” as one of the classroom jobs when I was in elementary school.  Someone would come around with a big cardboard box and we would toss our large scraps inside to use for other projects.  Sorry…a little off topic!

Anyway, I cut the following shapes using my scrap bin.  I simply looked at an image of a train as I was cutting the pieces.  I let my son help choose which colors to use.  It was a nice opportunity to talk about colors and shapes while we worked.

  • large rectangle (boiler)
  • rectangle (cabin)
  • small square (window in cabin)
  • small square (part of smoke stack)
  • triangle (part of smoke stack)
  • triangle (plow or ‘cattle catcher’ on front of train)
  • 3 circles (wheels)

Then we took all of the pieces and glued them to a sheet of construction paper.  Nathan (2) was able to use a glue stick to assemble the train.  I helped guide him with the placement.  Again, we emphasized the different shapes and colors as he was building.

We proudly displayed our train picture on our dining room wall (This is our art wall in our home).  When we needed some BIG fillers for our Christmas tree this year, I cut around  the train and tied a string to hang.  I figured trains fit with the Christmas theme.

I didn’t take any pictures of the process, but we have made all sorts of trucks with my boys only using shapes–fire truck, dump truck, garbage truck, etc. depending on their interest at the time.


“All About My Teacher” Homemade Book

As a former teacher myself, I know teachers have a tough job!  I always like to include a personal touch with the gift to my child’s teacher.  A few years ago, I came across an “All About My Teacher” questionnaire.  I loved the answers my son gave when we did one for his Dad for Father’s Day so I thought it would be perfect for his teacher.




I thought it would be cute to turn the questionnaire into a book so it could include his own handwriting and drawings.

I found this cute tutorial to make a Turkey Thanksgiving Book and modified it quite a bit to meet my needs.

To Make the Book:


  • 2 brown grocery bags
  • 1 Popsicle stick
  • 1 rubber band


  • Cut the sides from 2 brown grocery bags.   Cut the section off at the bottom where it folds and discard.
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  • Fold the paper in half to form the book.
  • Punch two holes near the edge to form the binding.  The paper was so thick so I had to punch each sheet separately.
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  • Insert a rubber band through the holes from the back and secure with a Popsicle stick
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Now you have your book and you are ready to create.

To Create the Book:

These are the questions I used for the book.

  • My teacher’s name is _____
  • I love my teacher because _____
  • My favorite thing my teacher does is _____
  • My teacher always tells me _____
  • My teacher is really good at _____
  • My teacher’s favorite book is _____
  • My teacher is _____ years old and lives _____

If you Google “All About My Teacher”, you will find tons of different options.

I wrote each question on a different page and had my son complete the sentence. It was interesting to see how his responses changed in only one year.  Last year he said his teacher lived at McDonald’s, but this year he said his teacher lives in the United States (thank goodness or she would have a really long commute)!

After my son wrote his answers to the questions, I had him draw a picture to correspond.  Of course, he treated this as “homework” so tried to finish as quickly as possible.  I was getting rather frustrated with him.  If the project is HIS idea and something he really wants to do, he spends so much time perfecting the project.  (I am sure if he was writing a Lego Book, he would spend hours on it).  This time he just wanted to be done.  The final product is not as colorful as I had hoped, but he’s a 5 year old boy and this is his work.  I’m hoping his teacher will treasure his responses.

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Christmas Angel Craft

Our Christmas Angel craft is so simple and the kids love it because it involves glitter!  After we finished, Nathan (2) looked at his project and said “I love my angel” and gave a great big smile.

Supplies:  white cardstock, cream/brown paper to match skin tone, yellow paper, coffee filter, goggly eyes, glitter

  1.  Cut out the triangular body from white cardstock.  It is probably a 8.5″ triangle.
  2. Cut out a circle for the head.  I tried to match paper to our skin tone from my stash of scrapbooking supplies.
  3. Cut a halo from the yellow paper.
  4. Fold a coffee filter in half to create the wings.
  5. Glue everything together.
  6. Add the face details.
  7. Add glitter!


I originally did this project when I was a teacher about 10 years ago.  I still had the templates made (all free-handed) so I traced them onto the paper and had Jake (5) cut the pieces.  I cut the middle portion of the halo for him.  Nathan (2) also wanted to cut, but he needed a little more assistance!  🙂

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We glued all of the pieces together to form our angel.  I had the boys add googly eyes.  Then they added a smile and pink rosy cheeks.


Now comes the fun part.  The boys were so excited to work with the glitter.  I don’t think we had gotten it out in a while so it was a definite treat.  I will need to plan more glitter crafts!  I always use a box when glitter is involved.  It keeps it somewhat contained, but it is glitter so it’s inevitable to find it in places you least expect!

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We put strips of glue on the body of the angel and the boys shook the glitter all over.  I poured the excess in an extra container to save for another project.


This was such a great project, especially when the boys weren’t being so angelic!  It was a good diversion and helped turned the day more positive!



Christmas Bulb Banner with Appreciation Notes


The beginning of our Christmas bulb strand
The beginning of our Christmas bulb strand

I am starting a new Christmas tradition with a Christmas Bulb Banner.  Each day, I will write something I appreciate about my boys on a bulb to hang on a string.  As we approach Christmas, our banner will grow.

Now we are already two days into December, but I was determined to accomplish this project this year.  I just doubled up and surprised the kids after school!  Tomorrow they will wake up to a new bulb and we will be back on track!  Each bulb will list something the child did that was helpful, kind, etc.  Some days may be harder to come up with what to write, but it is a good way to reflect on the positive aspects of each day.

Day 1 for my boys
Day 1 for my boys

I found this cute Christmas bulb banner that you could print.

Jumbo Christmas Light Bulb Garland at #thepartyhop

I simply traced the image of the bulb straight from my computer. Then I transferred into onto some cardboard to make a template I could trace using colored paper.  Cardboard cereal boxes work perfect!  I also added a few black lines onto the base of the bulb to represent the gray metal part of the bulb.

Tracing the bulbs
Tracing the bulbs

I am sure a teacher supply store might have a Christmas lightbulb shaped notepad to use or even a Cricut or other diecut machine to make the bulbs.  However,  cutting out the bulbs really didn’t take too long–good project for in front of the T.V. or even elicit help from your children.  My son even asked to help cut some out when he saw what I was doing.

I strung the piece of string along a low wall so the kids could see the bulbs.  Then I used a small piece of tape to attach each bulb to the string.  I am not sure if the tape will hold as we add more bulbs each day.  I may find we need to use stronger tape or even a push pin or tack on the end of each strand.

Our bulb strand isn’t very long yet, but I hope my kids are just as excited to read their new “bulb” each morning as they are to discover where Bingo, our elf, is hiding.  This is a tradition I want to continue each year.