Cardboard Gingerbread House

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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 PagingSupermom.com #thepartyhop

http://pagingsupermom.com/2013/11/handmade-holiday-decor-printables/

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.