If you live around Portland like we do, chances are you just got dumped on. I woke up this morning to about 7 inches of thick, packable snow—the kind that makes an awesome snowball and doubles over tree branches. So naturally, we pulled an Anna and asked, Do you want to build a snowman? I answered YES! and made both the regular kind out of snow and a marshmallow snowman topper.
When I was little, I walked with my dad across the University of Oregon campus just before school started. I held his hand as we meandered under the centuries-old trees and kicked the crackling fallen leaves. I often stooped to pick up acorns and chestnuts.
I’d find them in my pocket all fall and winter long—little treasures squirreled away.
Even now I can’t resist picking them up. I run my thumb over the smooth shell like a worry stone and remember those crisp autumn walks with my dad.
The other day, on one of those cold but bright fall mornings, my girls and I took a walk. It was just chilly enough for me to be grateful for the
furnace baby strapped to my chest, and Peeper stopped every few steps to investigate something or other while Finn waited impatiently.
We approached a chestnut tree and the mess of nuts, shells and leaves surrounding it. Squirrels scolded us overhead while Peeper picked up a handful of chestnuts and talked about how pokey the burst-open shells were.
We brought a bunch home and started a “special project,” as she has taken to calling her art endeavors. We incorporated the treasures into our fall art crafting—take a look and you and your little may love painting with chestnuts, too!
Glitter gets a bad rap: It sticks to everything, makes its way into every crevice in your house and can apparently scratch a kid’s cornea—yada yada yada. But I am a Glitter Cheerleader.
I love the way glitter catches the light. I wear a craft project’s collateral glitter with pride, even days later. (Doesn’t glitter in your hair or on your blazer just say, “I’m a mom of a preschooler and I’m not afraid to flaunt it!”) And I love the way Peeper gets so freaking excited whenever I suggest we do a glitter art project.
The other day, when I suggested we try something new—glitter marble painting—was no exception. Her face lit up like a glittered disco ball.
You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
Sail away, kill off the hours
You belong somewhere you feel free
Nothing quite says summer like strolling, picking wildflowers and weaving a crown. Don’t believe me? Make one and see for yourself.
Just about every parent, auntie, uncle and friend has bought a present, watched a child tear through the wrapping paper and waited as she uncovered the gift you so thoughtfully chose for her—then scratched your head as she ignored the toy to play with the cardboard box it came in. The preference can be baffling, but it’s also enchanting: Kids can make playing with a cardboard box the highlight of their day.
You can give a kid a box and let their imaginations run wild—and you can jumpstart the fun with these cardboard box activity prompts.
If you’re new ’round these parts, you might not know: Peeper loves art. She loves to paint. She loves to color. She loves to glue. She loves to squish her hands into finger paints and give herself a standing ovation, splattering red and blue all over the walls.
(Ok, that last one is more performance art, but still.)
All those days of keeping busy with kid crafts leads to a lot of saved projects. At one point, the kitchen counter, the wine rack, my work desk, the fridge and the dining room table were all buried under my preschooler’s crafts.
I knew something had to change. I had to unclutter my kid’s art.
Princesses are everywhere these days.
Disney has overrun the toy aisle, Pandora stations and the playground.
Now, I’m not a hater: I adore certain Disney movies, and Peeper’s first movie was Cinderella. But I can’t help but notice that a lot of princesses are, well, passive.
That is not the case with Princess Pinecone, the titular royalty in the picture book The Princess and the Pony.
A princess book with sass
Princess Pinecone lives in a society of warriors. But her parents haven’t quite caught on: They give her cutesy sweaters instead of cool warrior presents like shields, spiked belts or—what she truly covets—a fierce warrior horse.
When her birthday rolls around, she does get a horse—sort of. Princess Pinecone gets big-eyed, doughy pony who farts too much.
But she can’t give a birthday present back, she figures, so she keeps the pony. What happens at the next warrior brawl surprises everyone.
After reading The Princess and the Pony about a hundred times, I made a book-inspired craft for Peeper. And I’m not the only one: Check out the brute-inspired crafts at the Raising Fairies and Knights Monthly Crafting Book Club!
Princess Pinecone and the rest of the brutes in the book come to realize that cute can be strong, and you don’t have to be just fierce or just adorable—you can be both.
So Peeper and I created a fashionably fierce sweater craft.
This sweater craft is great for fine motor skills—though if your little is as young as Peeper is, she may need a little help winding the yarn around the paper.
It’s also very open-ended. There’s no “right” way for the sweater craft to look: The process of winding and stamping (and hand-slapping, if you’re Peeper) is much more important than the final product.
After all, process art helps young kids feel more confident, since they don’t “fail” to make their project look identical to the model one, writes the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
So hit up your library for a copy of The Princess and the Pony, then join us for some cozy—and fierce—fun.
Fashionably fierce sweater craft
- cardstock paper
- painter’s tape
- cotton balls
- Cut out a sweater shape from a sheet of cardstock.
- Tape one end of the yarn to the “back” of the sweater. Then have your child wind the yarn around the sweater. (You may have to help by guiding her hands or playing out the yarn.)
- When your child is done wrapping, tape the tail of the yarn to the back of the sweater. This will secure the yarn so it doesn’t move.
- Squirt out as many colors of paint as your child would like. Invite her to stamp the paper with a cotton ball (it’s so cozy, like a sweater!). The more she paints over the yarn and fills up the white space, the more contrast she’ll get.
- When she’s done, untape and unwrap the yarn. She’ll see the white lines left by the yarn—giving her a striped sweater!
Don’t forget to try out the other The Princess and the Pony crafts at the Monthly Crafting Book Club!