DIY Shadow Puppets

A couple weeks ago our family went camping, which is a really big deal, because we are NOT campers!  Two of our kids attend a school where they have a Fall Campout each year so we committed to staying one night…and although my husband and I both agree that we are more “glampers,” than campers, we ended up having a ton of fun and our kids loved the whole experience.  I have a feeling we will be camping again!

My daughter was super excited because her daddy bought her a pink flashlight and she was really looking forward to making shadow puppets in the tent with her big brothers.  Of course, when we got home, she wanted to create some animal shadow puppets to play with.  One evening, last week, we went to work creating these cute little popsicle stick puppets that have provided a ton of content for imaginary play and story telling for little miss.

I used my Cricut Expression 2 to cut out the animals and other shapes, but if you do not have a Cricut, simply create a document with templates that you can cut out of card stock.  Here is one I put together that you can print off and use to make your own animal shadow puppets without using a Cricut.  animal template pdf

The possibilities are endless with these little puppets.  You can create seasonal themes, print off silhouettes of your child’s favorite story book or movie characters, weather puppets, dinosaurs, garden, farm, cars, princesses, fairies, and so much more.

One thing that I realized, after creating so many characters, was that they were hard to hold onto.  So with an old shoebox and a pair of scissors, I created a diy holder for all of the puppets.  This made a perfect “stage” for my daughter to put the puppets on as she told her story.  The great part about using a shoebox, is that it doubles as storage to hold all of the characters and a flashlight so they are contained & easy to find for future use.

Check out my video tutorial above for tips on making some shadow puppets with your own children.  fullsizeoutput_eda2fullsizeoutput_eda1IMG_9671IMG_9676IMG_9677IMG_9679

Moana Birthday Party

We celebrated my daughter’s 7th birthday the first week of June with a Moana Themed Birthday Party.   My girl fell in love with Moana after watching the movie in the theater and she’s been belting out “How Far I’ll Go” at the top of her lungs ever since.  Her Grandma and Papa surprised her with the soundtrack for her birthday, which made the party even more special to have her favorite Moana songs playing in the background while she swam and played with all of her sweet friends.

I had so much fun planning this party and I’m happy to say that everything turned out just as I imagined it would.  I started making decorations several weeks in advance because May and June are always crazy busy with all of the end of school activities, dance recitals, and two kids with birthdays just a couple of weeks apart.

I used my Cricut Expression 2 to make the black and white tribal sewn paper garlands and the HAPPY BIRTHDAY KARIS pennant banner.  I also used it to cut some of the pieces for the Kakamora faces.  These were all made out of card stock that I purchased from Joann Fabrics.  I also found the tribal print material at Joann’s that I used to cover the contents of our two bookshelves.

The Dollar Tree is a great place for inexpensive tropical decorations this time of year and it did not disappoint.  This is where I purchased the tissue paper for the giant tropical flowers, the leis, the grass skirts that I used to surround the table, the plastic beach backdrop, plates and napkins, and the Moana and Maui “magic towels” that we gave to the children as party favors.  You can also find a lot of beachy party decorations on Amazon.

My favorite part of the whole party, was the Moana Boat and Sail Photo Backdrop (tutorial link below).  All the kids were greeted by my daughter and given a lei to wear and the first thing they saw when they walked in was a huge beach scene with a cardboard Moana boat and sail to play in.  I even made an oar out of a dowel, cardboard, and twine.  We got some super cute pictures of the kids in Moana’s boat. #CommissionsEarned

If you are planning a Moana party of your own, here are three fun tutorial for you as well as a ton of pictures from my daughter’s party.  Enjoy!

Moana Marshmallow Pops Tutorial

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Moana Boat and Sail Photo Backdrop Tutorial

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Heart of Te Fiti Cupcake Tutorial 

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If you are planning your own Moana party, I’ve included links to some products that you can purchase for your child’s party. #CommissionsEarned

For the Marshmallow Pops you will need-  Moana Stickers, Marshmallows, Lollipop Sticks, blue Candy Melts, and Pretzels

Moana Figurines

Moana Party Decorations 

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Book Page Banner

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I love books!  In this day in age when so many are reading books on Kindles, Nooks, and iPads, you will find me curled up in a cozy spot in my house with a traditional paper book.  The library just so happens to be one of my very favorite places on the Earth!  I think that is why my eyes are drawn to creative projects made from book pages.

Several years ago I made this pretty little book page banner to hang across my mantle for Valentine’s Day and I have reused it several years in a row because I love it so much!  To make one of your own, you will need a book that you don’t mind cutting up (I bought mine from the Dollar Tree).  You will also need scrapbooking paper in several colors or patterns. I went with a black, red, and off white theme.  Grab a couple of buttons and some twine and you are all set.

I used my Cricut Expression 2 to cut the L O V E letters, but made my own template for the large and small hearts.  The book pages are 6 inches long by 4 inches wide.  This gives you enough length to fold the top over to hang them on the twine and to cut a 1 1/2 inch triangle out of the bottom of each.  For my banner, I stapled the individual book page pieces over the twine and then glue the hearts on after to cover the stapes.  For the LOVE portion, I lined the staples up with one of the words to “hide” it as much as possible.

If you love creating banners for your own home, check out my tutorial on How to Make a Pennant Banner.

If you are looking for some other simple and fun Valentine ideas, here are some links you will enjoy.

Valentine Paper Garlands

Valentine Craft for Kids: Cookie Cutters and Paint

Valentine Words of Affirmation for Kids 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries 

Valentine Paper Garlands

Paper garlands have become one of my absolute favorite DIY decorations.  They are simple to create, inexpensive, and they are perfect for everything from holiday decor to birthday parties.  These elegant heart and circle garlands will add a little bit of love to your home for Valentine’s Day.  Watch my tutorial for some tips on how to make some of your own.

For my hearts and circles, I used the Cricut Expression 2, but if you do not have a Cricut, you can simply cut hearts and circles out of card stock.  I used 3 different colors of card stock, plain white, and a shiny gold & red that I purchased from the Dollar Tree.  Sometimes, when I make paper garlands, I use my sewing machine, but for these, I just used a needle and white thread.  I wanted to be able to space them out, so this gave me the option to slide them along the thread and place them where I wanted to. #CommissionsEarned

Some friends of mine gave me this beautiful old window, which made the perfect backdrop to display a collection of Valentine Paper Garlands.  Happy Valentine’s Day from Kerri Creates!

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Valentine Words of Affirmation for Kids

Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to be intentional about expressing our love in creative ways to our children.  So why save it all for one day?  Take the beginning of February and create an “affirmation heart chain” for each of your children.  Hang it on their bedroom doors and write a word or phrase affirming something uniquely wonderful about who they are on one heart, each day, leading up to Valentine’s Day.

I will never forget the first time we did this with our kids.  It made getting up each morning a little more pleasant.  You could see the joy on their faces as they read the words written just for them.  I would even catch them reading down the list several times a day.

To make this a bit easier for me to stick to (as we all know how busy life gets), I like to print out a list of 14 words or phrases of affirmation for each of my kids before February 1st.  I cut them up and put them in baggies.  Then I just glue one on each of their hearts before I go to bed every night.

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Thankful Tree

One of our Thanksgiving traditions is to create a thankful tree.  We have done this several ways throughout the years, but this has become my favorite way to display our gratitude in the month of November.  It is a great activity that encourages families to spend quality time together and to focus on the things we are grateful for.

Fall walks are full of beauty with the changing colors and leaves and twigs scattered throughout.  We are blessed to have gorgeous walking trails in our city.  This year we took our kids out to collect branches near the river.  We brought the branches home and placed them in a vase.  This year I just used a large mason jar. I cut out simple tags using my Cricut machine, punched a hole in the top, and threaded a loop of twine through each one. #CommissionsEarned

One evening, when we were all home together, we sat down in the living room and spent a few minutes writing the things that we are thankful for, then decorated our “tree.”   This activity can be done anytime in the month of November and can become part of your Fall decor, or it can be an activity that you do with extended family and friends on Thanksgiving day when many are gathered, as a part of your time together.

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For more fun Fall activities check out my latest blogpost: Thanksgiving (Turkey Handprints) Kids Table

Frozen Birthday Party

Anna.  Elsa.  Olaf.  My daughter, Karis, turned four a few months after Frozen hit the theaters.  Of course, she, along with every other little girl in America, wanted to have a Frozen birthday party.  Unfortunately, party decorations and “Frozen everything” had not filled the stores yet.  Perfect opportunity to get creative!  I was able to order a few things online from a party store, plates, a table cloth, cups, and stickers.  I bought two posters, one of Anna & Elsa and another of Olaf, and I lucked out when I found some Frozen chapsticks at TJ Maxx. The rest was up to me.  I used my Cricut a ton for this party, cutting letters out of sparkly card stock to make several banners with the phrases, “Let It Go,” “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and “Happy Birthday!”  I also cut out circles, squares, and snowflakes to add to the decor.  My daughter wore an Anna dress that we purchased at Target, and with her long braids, she felt just like Anna on her special day. I had so much fun planning the activities for this party. #CommissionsEarnedIMG_6897IMG_7643IMG_7645

Karis and I made several batches of sparkly Frozen play dough.  We collected everything needed to build our own snowmen…noses (cut pieces of orange pipe cleaner), hair and eyebrows (cut pieces of black pipe cleaner) , eyes (googly eyes), arms (small sticks gathered from our yard), tooth (white rectangles of poster board), and coal (mini black pom poms). When the girls arrived, I had them all sit around the coffee table.  I gave each a paper plate and a hunk of play dough and let them build their own Olaf.  This was the cutest activity and the snowmen were adorable.  #CommissionsEarned Even my older boys participated and enjoyed themselves.  When the party was over, each child got to take their snowman home with them.

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We used the Olaf poster to play “Pin the Nose on Olaf.”  I wanted one more game that would be fun for 4 year olds, so I came up with this “Knock the Castle Down” game.  I printed a castle coloring page off of the computer, colored it to match the party decor, cut it in 6 pieces and taped it to clear plastic cups.  I bought a pack of 3 whiffle balls from the dollar store and set the castle on a children’s size table.  The kids lined up and took turns throwing the balls and knocking down the castle.  This game ended up being so much fun and my kids played with it many times after the party was over. #CommissionsEarned IMG_6935IMG_7612

Frozen cupcakes…so many possibilities.  I decided on these beautiful snowflake cupcakes. I frosted the cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting tinted with Wilton’s food coloring gel in blue.  #CommissionsEarned The day before the party, I made the snowflake toppers with Wilton’s candy melts in bright white and Wilton’s Sprinkles in Blue Sugar Pearl.  (see tutorial) After placing each snowflake on top of the blue icing, I added a couple of Wilton’s Sprinkles in White Sugar Pearl to add a bit more sparkle. 

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These goodie bags were just perfect to pass out at the end of the party… so girly and fun, filled with sparkly treasures for each little princess.  I already had the Frozen chapsticks I purchased early on at TJ Maxx, so I just needed a couple of small items to go with them.  I found the little blue bags in the wedding section at Michael’s and the rings and wands in the toy section. These tiny nail polishes became “Frozen” when we added a snowflake (cut from the Cricut) to each one.  I made some cute tags using Frozen sticker and threaded them through the wands to complete the look.  You can now find a variety of Frozen goodie bag items on Amazon. Karis helped me put the goodie bags together, so she was very proud to hand them out the each of her friends as she said, “goodbye and thank you for coming to my party.” 

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For more fun birthday party ideas check out some of my other blogposts:

Dolphin Birthday Party

Moana Birthday Party

Pink Dinosaur Birthday Party

Adopt A Pet (Beanie Boo) Birthday Party

Warriors Birthday Party

Wings of Fire Birthday Party

Science Experiment Birthday Party

Art Themed (Zoom) Birthday Party

Pink Dinosaur Party

For my daughter’s 5th birthday, she wanted a pink dinosaur party.  Not your common theme…dinosaurs, yes… pink ones, no!  Dollar store and spray paint to the rescue!  I found 7 good sized plastic dinosaurs at the Dollar Tree and spray painted them bright pink. You can find similar dinosaurs here and then use this spray paint that bonds to plastic. I used card stock in several shades of pink to create most of the other decorations.  Did you know that you can sew paper?  I discovered this recently, and have been making the cutest and most cost effective decorations even since.  I used my Cricut machine to cut circles and flower shapes in the various colors and then sat in front of my sewing machine with little stacks of these cut outs.  In no time at all,  I had 6 paper garlands to hang as the backdrop for the food table.    I also used larger flower shapes cut from my Cricut in shades of pink and patterned scrapbooking paper to create a festive birthday banner for my girl.  I found the pink dinosaur by googling “pink dinosaur” images online.  Pink ribbon tied into bows held each individual letter together. #CommissionsEarned

Edible cupcake toppers are one of my favorite things to create.  You can pretty much make a topper for any theme simply by printing a silhouette of it from the internet.   I used Wilton’s candy melts in pink for the dinosaur silhouette toppers and for the pink marshmallow pops as well.  Check out my blogpost on My Little Pony (Rainbow Dash) Marshmallow Pops for an edible cupcake topper tutorial.  

My daughter wanted to do some dinosaur activities at her party.  Her number one request was “pin the horn on the dinosaur.”  I used a projector to trace a cute pink dinosaur onto a piece of poster board.  I colored it pink and cut out a stack of horns for the kids to pin on.  I also set up a water table outside with a bunch of plastic dinosaurs floating inside.  Water play is always a big hit with preschoolers.  Our picnic table became the craft table.  I cut large dinosaur shapes out of card stock and put out glue, sequins, plastic beads, and googly eyes for the kids to decorate.  My favorite activity of all was “make the dinosaur hatch.”  A couple of days before the party, I filled water balloons with plastic dinosaurs and water. I tied them off and froze them.  I brought out these frozen “dinosaur eggs” and handed one to each child.  I gave them each a medicine dropper, added food coloring to cups of water and had the kids make their dinosaur hatch.  They peeled the balloon off of the “ice egg” (some needed a little help from parents with this part).  Then they took the colored water and squirted it over their egg until their little plastic dinos hatched out. #CommissionsEarned

Once again, the dollar store came through for the “thank you for coming” gifts.  I was able to buy dinosaur eggs with a mini plastic dinosaur surrounded by pink and blue slime.  To make them coordinate with our theme, I covered the back with a rectangle of pink card stock and made a front cover with the little pink dinosaur image and the words, “thank you for coming to my party.”  My 5 year old girl was absolutely thrilled with her pink dinosaur party, and so was I.  You can find a similar dinosaur egg party favor here.IMG_9512IMG_9483IMG_9516IMG_9531IMG_9514IMG_8857IMG_8853IMG_8887IMG_9542IMG_9478IMG_8863IMG_8861IMG_8858IMG_9534

For more kid friendly birthday party ideas check out some of my other blogposts:

Moana Birthday Party

Dolphin Birthday Party

Wings of Fire Birthday Party

Warriors Birthday Party

Art Themed (Zoom) Birthday Party

Glittery Christmas Silhouettes

One of our Advent Activities for this year was “make a craft.”  I decided that Glittery Christmas Silhouettes would make the perfect actvity for my kids.  I have to say, I am very happy with how they turned out and it will be fun to put them up each December for years to come.  My kids range in age from 5-13 and they were each able to do this with just a little help from me.  Here’s what you will need for your glittery silhouettes.  Four rectangular canvases, adhesive-backed vinyl, a computer, scissors, cardboard or newspaper (to cover your work area), white school glue, paintbrushes or foam brushes, and four different colors of glitter. #CommissionsEarned

IMG_0993Google Christmas silhouettes online and find four that you want to use.  Size them to fit in the center of your canvas with enough space around each for the glitter.  Try and make all 4 about the same size.  Print out your silhouettes and cut them to use as templates. IMG_0992Trace your silhouettes on the back of your adhesive-backed vinyl.  Cut them out to create four stickers.  IMG_0994Place one “sticker” on each canvas.IMG_0997Paint glue evenly all over the white parts of your canvas.  It’s ok to get a bit of glue on the stickers, but try to keep it to a minimum so that you can see the outline for when you peel it off later. IMG_0998Sprinkle glitter all around your silhouette and be sure to go over the edges a bit to make sure you create a nice line all around each image.IMG_0999Wait about 45 minutes.  You will want to peel your stickers before the glue and glitter completely dry.  This will create a cleaner line.  IMG_1001Allow your canvases to dry completely.  Shake the glitter off.  Then paint over them one more time with white school glue.  This will seal the glitter in so that it doesn’t fall off everywhere when you they are hanging up on your wall.  Let them dry overnight. IMG_1037Hang up and admire your beautiful Glittery Christmas Silhouettes!

Update: We have now been using these for the past 5 years and they are holding up beautifully.  For a tip when storing them: use plastic wrap to cover each canvas individually, then stack them and wrap the stack in plastic wrap as well.  I store mine inside of a closet on a shelf, and each year they look as lovely as they did the first year we made them.  Here is a picture from last Christmas so that you can see how nice they look in my navy blue living room next to my Board & Batten Feature Wall .  

For more fun Christmas ideas check out the following blogposts:

Turn Dad Into A Snowman

Advent

Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses