Friday, December 19, 2014

Simple Christmas Crafts: Time Capsule Ornament

I'm one of those annoying overly sentimental moms. The one who you'd freely give a hard eye roll. Nostalgia's my middle name. I will make a tradition out of anything, I post too many pictures, and I cry over and/or celebrate everything. "She burped for the first time.... our baby is growing up!"

Last year was Sadie's first Christmas, so I came up with an idea for an ornament that fulfilled all of my mommy nostalgia dreams. My idea was for a time capsule ornament that Sadie could add to every year. On her last Christmas at home (when she's 17/18?), we'd crack the ornament open and look through all of the years of drawings, notes, pictures, etc. Unfortunately, I never got around to buying the ornament last year, so I decided that this year I was going to make this new little tradition a priority.

This project is simple and fun way to make some memories, even if you're not an emotional hoarder like me. You really only need three things. The mess is optional. Your kid will enjoy it. There's no reason not to do it! Plus, your future self will be so glad you did.

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I decided to let Sadie use a half sheet of white paper every year for her contribution to the time capsule. She can do whatever she wants with it... draw, glue pictures, write a note, whatever. I bought the clear bulb ornament at Walmart, but you can find them all over the place. I chose plastic, but if you're brave enough, you can go with glass. This bulb is 100mm, which is pretty large, but I think it will be a good size for fitting in all of the papers. You could get away with a smaller ornament.

I sat Sadie down at the table with her half sheet of paper and some crayons. She's perfectly content with paper and crayons these days. She could sit and color all afternoon. Next year, I'm sure she will have more of an opinion about what she wants to put on her paper. I'm excited for the days when she can write notes... those will be sweet, hilarious treasures.

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I traced her hand on the middle of the paper, because I knew that my future self would love seeing how tiny her hand was. I also wrote the year since she obviously can't do that yet. I folded the paper twice (hot dog fold), then rolled it around a crayon. I tightened the rolled paper a bit, and let Sadie put it in the ornament. See you again in 16 years!

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Sadie helped me add a big glittery "S" to her ornament, but that step is not necessary. As a rule, I just try to insert a little bling wherever I can. There aren't any pictures of us glittering the ornament, because I don't trust my 22-month-old alone with a jar of glitter. I wrote a big "S" on the ornament with school glue, then Sadie shook glitter all over it. Easy, but messy. Worth it! If you have more than one kid (or plan on it), you'll need to mark their ornaments somehow... get creative with it!

I added some baker's twine to hang the ornament, then let Sadie add it to the tree. She dropped it (twice). Glad I bought plastic!

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I think the ornament looks super cute on the tree, and I'm so excited to fill 'er up over the years. How fun is it going to be to open it up and laugh/cry through 17 years worth of goodies from my girl?! I'm already emotional thinking about it.

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Do you wanna build a (donut) snowman?

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Sadie has two major loves: Christmas and "Fronen" (Frozen). So, in keeping with our Christmas-themed activities, and in honor of our beloved Princess Anna... we built a (donut) snowman! It's possible that we sang the entire time. It's probable that you will too.

I picked up a bag of powdered donuts (which I may have later devoured), then rummaged the cabinets for snowman embellishments that Sadie would actually eat. Yes, we keep M&M's Minis in the pantry... don't you?

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Sadie used orange M&M's Minis for the nose, brown Minis for the eyes, raisins for the buttons and mouth, pretzel sticks for the arms, and graham crackers and grapes for a little hat.

I would recommend using a skewer, it keeps the snowman from getting wonky, and makes a nice handle for little hands. We used a little white icing as "glue," but it's not necessary. If you push your embellishments into the donut, they should stay without the icing.

Other than the skewers and the actual powdered donuts, the rest is up to your creativity. You certainly don't need to use what we used. Use what's in your pantry/fridge, or let your little one pick a few things at the grocery store. Picking snack foods that your little one is into will make this activity way more enjoyable.

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Sadie was seriously digging this activity. She kept giggling and saying, "Fun!" And, surprisingly, she put the entire snowman together without eating any of his embellishments.

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When she was done, though, she didn't hold back. That serious donut love makes this mama proud.

Enjoy your donuts! Merry Christmas, y'all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Simple Christmas Crafts: Stained Glass

Next up in the super simple Christmas craft line-up: stained glass! These are great for the whole family--easy enough for young toddlers, but fun for older kids. Sadie made a "stained glass" ornament and sun-catcher, but you could turn your stained glass into anything.

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To prep, I cut squares from red, green, and white tissue paper. Then, I cut two equal pieces of laminating paper. Lastly, I cut out a couple stencils. I chose a tree and stocking (stencils attached below!), but you could make your stained glass into any shape. If your little one is good with scissors, have him or her help with the prep!

I peeled the backing from one of the sheets of laminating paper, laid it out for Sadie, and handed her a cup of tissue paper squares. I did some dishes while she worked on laying out all of the tissue paper pieces. She prefers the sprinkle and press method.

At this point you can have your child add other embellishments like sequins or glitter. We've used embellishments in other stained glass projects with awesome results, but we stuck with paper this time. Let your little one get creative!

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When your child is done laying out the tissue paper squares, lay the sheet out on a flat surface. Remove the backing from the second piece of laminating paper, and place it gently over the tissue paper. Remove any air bubbles by pressing firmly outward from the center to the edges. And, you've created "stained glass!" So simple.

Turning your stained glass sheet into cute shapes is as easy as taping and cutting. Sadie helped me tape the stencils to the stained glass sheet, then I cut around the shapes to create the cutest tree and stocking.

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We decided to make the stocking into an ornament. I punched a hole, then added some string and sticker numbers. It looks really pretty with the Christmas lights shining through! We taped the tree on the kitchen window next to Sadie's beloved window-cling elf, and she admires it frequently.

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If you're looking for a festive, but seriously simple craft, this one is it. I'm making it even easier for you by providing you with two stencils--you can download them HERE.

Share your stained glass projects with me by tagging me on Instagram... I'd love to see! 

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Simple Christmas Crafts: Santa Keepsake Album

Today's simple Christmas craft isn't really a craft, but it is simple!

Christmas nostalgia has had me thinking of ways to create keepsakes that I can look back at (read: cry over) in ten years. I have been brainstorming ways to save Sadie's photos with Santa and letters to the big man in a fun way, and I think I've come up with something cute.

I set out to our local dollar store to find a 4x6 photo album like this:

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My plan was to take the ugly cover cardstock out and either replace/cover it with scrapbook or wrapping paper. But, I got lucky, and found a larger album that I think works a little bit better. Any size album will work though! If you have an old one sitting at the bottom of your closet--because who actually remembers to print their pictures anymore?!--this is the perfect use for it.

After finding the album, I created a template letter to Santa that Sadie could fill out every year. I kept it simple, but made sure to include opportunities for her to draw, color, and eventually write. It will be so neat to see how those things change over the years!

I printed enough letters to last for the next thirteen years, but I'm not delusional enough to think that Sadie will want to do this as a teenager. Would it be terrible to force her? I'll think about it.

 I went ahead and put all of the letters into the album, so that they're ready to go as soon as I take the album out of the Christmas box every year. If you decide to go with an album that has individual pages (this one is double), just skip the first page, so that your picture and letter are side-by-side.

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 I pulled out this year's letter, Sadie put her reindeer antlers on, and she got to work. They may look like scribbles, but if you ask her, she drew herself and Santa.

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When she was done coloring, I filled in the letter for her. She's very persistent with that pink kitchen--good thing Santa's bringing one! I'm not sure if she's thankful for crayons because she loves to color or if it's because they were right in front of her. Either way, she's cute.

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When we were done with the letter, I slid it back in the album next to this year's (seriously sad) picture with Santa.

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Eventually, we'll have an entire album full of pictures of Sadie and Santa and the cutest little letters.

It's not too late to start an album, even if you have an older child. It's never too late to start new traditions! You can start your album with this year's picture and letter or with Santa pictures from previous years. This obviously isn't Sadie's first Christmas, so I put last year's picture in the first page of the album. Because I don't have a letter to go with last year's picture, I just wrote some stats on a 4x6 piece of cardstock: "Sadie's first Christmas, 10-months-old.." etc.

If you have more than one kid, your pictures with Santa will likely include all of your children, so don't buy multiple albums--just print multiple letters and stack them in the same letter slot. You can easily pull all of the letters out and read through them every year.

If you're interested in making your own Santa keepsake album, you can download the letters HERE. Before you print, be sure to turn on borderless printing!

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns. :)

Merry Christmas, y'all! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Simple Christmas Crafts: Paper Plate Tree

Y'all, it's the most wonderful time of the year! Sadie and I are fully immersed in the Christmas spirit over here. The tree's up, the cocoa's warm, and the house is covered in lights.

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We're making the most out of our December by packing in as much Christmas as possible--movies, crafts, activities, books, etc. I've planned some super cute and simple crafts for the month, and I'm excited to try them out with Sadie. I'll post them all here so y'all can do them with me!

Our first craft of the month was a paper plate Christmas tree! This one was incredibly easy, and Sadie really enjoyed it. Here's how we did it...

I set Sadie up with some brushes, green paint, and had her paint a paper plate (I had to help a bit to get the paint in some of the grooves). When the plate was dry, I used a pencil to divide the plate into three equal-ish parts. The easiest way to do this is just to draw a peace sign (shout out to my 5th grade self!). I cut the plate along the lines, then cut a small rectangle out of a piece of brown construction paper.

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After everything was cut, I let Sadie glue the three pieces of plate together to create the tree. Just put a drop of glue on the point of two of the pieces, then layer all three pieces so that the ridges on each of the plates are showing along the bottom. We glued the brown construction paper to the very bottom to look like the tree's trunk.

When the glue was dry, I gave Sadie her Christmas sticker book and let her decorate her little heart out. We used stickers from our beloved One Spot (because Sadie's sticker-obsessed), but finger prints, paint, or bingo markers would also create awesome "ornaments."

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To finish up our tree, I bent a pipe cleaner into a star, and glued it to the top. If you don't have any pipe cleaners, paper would also do the trick.

We hung Sadie's tree above her book shelf to add a little cheer to her play area. We're both pretty excited about how cute it turned out!

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If you and your little make a tree, tag me on Instagram at janiewtaylor--I want to see!

I've got a couple more simple Christmas craft ideas up my sleeve for this week, so keep an eye out!

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Monday, November 3, 2014

M is for Moon!

We're taking a little break from our letter of the week project for the Holidays. We'll pick it back up in January. In the meantime, look out for some fun Christmas posts!


We went to the Moon this week!

The resources we used this week were…


Videos: 'The Letter M Song'
Storybots 'The Mighty M'
Storybots 'Time to Shine (The Moon Song)'


This week we got Many Moons by James Thurber, Hello, Harvest Moon by Ralph Fletcher, When Moon Fell Down by Linda Smith, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, New Moon by Pegi Deitz Shea, and Moon Plane by Peter McCarty from the library.

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We read through our books, talked about the letter “M,” then Sadie did her moon mosaic. Then, I helped her add it to her alphabet book.

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On Tuesday Sadie had lots of fun painting a 3D moon. To make the 3D paint, I mixed 4 parts white paint with 1 part flour. I traced a white circle on a black piece of construction paper, and then Sadie painted inside the circle (sort of). The paint has a super cool texture that looks just like the surface of the moon. I wrote “Mm” and “Moon” on the paper, and we hung it up on the fridge.

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We used a paper plate and a printable stars to create a moon and stars mobile on Wednesday. I wrote a large letter “M” on the edge of the paper plate, and then Sadie (with help from dad!) colored and glittered the plate and stars. While she was decorating we talked about the letter and practiced saying the sound.

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When she was done decorating, I cut out around the “M,” which created a man in the moon face with the middle point of the “M” being the moon’s nose. I drew an eye above and a smiling mouth below the “nose.” Then, Sadie helped me tape one piece of ribbon to the top of the moon, and another to the top of the moon’s crescent shape. I cut out the stars, and then we taped two on the hanging ribbon and one in the moon’s crescent.

It looks super cute hanging up in our living room!

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Sadie had a “moon cheese” snack on Thursday. I read the adorable poem The Cheese Moon by Gareth Lancaster (included in the lesson plan), and then I served her “moon cheese” and crackers. I just put several different types of cheese—cheese stick, shredded cheese, and sliced cheese—on a plate with some crackers. I explained that the spacemen mice brought the moon cheese all the way from the moon just for her snack. She loved it!  


The moon sand we made on Friday was definitely Sadie’s favorite activity of the week. We threw some black and purple glitter into 2 cups of flour, and then mixed in ¼ cup of vegetable oil. Sadie always loves combining and mixing ingredients.

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I put the mixture into a large, shallow baking dish, and Sadie dug right in. The moon sand is super soft and moldable. I gave Sadie a few kitchen utensils, and she loved digging and scooping the sand. This is really similar to the kinetic sand you'll find in stores, but literally a fraction of the price!  

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Weekend Fun:
This weekend go to the planetarium and learn even more about the moon in new, fun way! Or, if you don’t have a local planetarium, just take it outside. Lay a blanket on the grass and spend some time looking at the moon and hanging out with your family!

Our planetarium doesn’t kids under 4 (how lame), but we spent some time outside looking up at the moon. Sadie is so fascinated, and it was a great opportunity for me to take a second away from the business of life to relax and marvel a bit. 

Download the lesson plan HERE! and enjoy!

Note: make sure you set up your printer to print borderless before printing the lesson plan!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to use the comment section below or email me at I’d love to help you make the project work for your little one! 

Happy learning to you and your future nerds!

Monday, October 27, 2014

L is for Leaf!

This family of autumn lovers was super excited for leaf week!

The resources we used this week were…




We had a hard time finding leaf books this week—I guess everyone else I just as excited about the leaves changing! Thankfully Grammie is a teacher, and hooked us up with books from her school’s library. She got us: Fresh Fall Leaves by Betsy Franco, Chipmunk at Hollow Tree Lane by Victoria Sherrow, Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber, and Fall Leaves Fall! by Zoe Hall. We already owned Let it Fall by Maryann Cocca-Leffler, and I looked desperately for We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger, but couldn’t find it anywhere.

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Sadie’s been so into the leaves changing color, so we celebrated with orange and red for the leaf mosaic.

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We started out our leaf week by collecting leaves in the yard. Sadie picked a few favorites, and we brought them in and spread them on the table. I cut out an “L” and then Sadie went to town gluing the leaves to the letter. She glued the leaf-covered letter to a piece of construction paper, and then we hung it up. It’s great for sight-recognition, but also makes nice piece of fall d├ęcor! I think this project would look just as pretty and interesting in the spring and summer, so no worries if you’re not doing the project in the fall. And, if it’s winter where you are, you can always buy fake leaves at the craft store!

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I created a matching game that I introduced to Sadie on Wednesday. I made a little game board and matching cards with pictures of leaves. I clipped the game board onto a clipboard, shuffled up the cards, and then gave Sadie some quick instructions. She loves puzzles, so this game was a winner. She has played several times a day everyday since.

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I stuck the cards in a sandwich bag and clipped them onto the clipboard, and then just stored the game on her bookshelf where she can get to it when she wants it. I love the portability the clipboard gives!

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It feels like every year autumn comes and goes so quickly, so I have to cram as much pumpkin-anything into October as I can. So, this week we made leaf-shaped pumpkin cookies. Sadie always loves baking, and especially loves using the cookie cutters.  We made these for Dan’s coworkers, and I’m told they were a hit. We may have snuck a few for ourselves too.
A few words of baking wisdom:
1. Refrigerate your dough for a few hours or overnight before rolling and cutting.
2. Always dip your cutter in flour before cutting.
3. Bake on tin foil, so that you can transfer cookies onto a towel to start cooling immediately. This saves the bottoms from over-baking while resting on the hot baking sheet.
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On Friday Sadie made some leaf prints. We stuck some leaves under a simple "Ll" printable, and Sadie rubbed over them with crayons. The rubbing created prints of all of the different types of leaves we chose. The prints turned out really cool!

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The leaf print activity doesn't take long at all, so if you're looking for another project, hand print leaves are an easy way to make some cute seasonal decor that's fun for the little ones too. Sadie and I actually made her hand print lead back in September, but it would be a perfect project to do this week.

It's super simple: paint your kid's hand in whatever color you want for your leaves (I did a little red, yellow, and brown), help him or her make a hand print on a piece of paper, then add veins and a stem with a Sharpie when the print is dry. I framed Sadie's and put it on our end table. I'll pack it away with my other autumn decor to use every year... I think I'll love it even more ten years from now!

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Weekend Fun:

Go on a leaf hunt this weekend! Read the book Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger, and then plan your very own leaf hunt in your yard, neighborhood, or a nearby park. You can even go for a hike! There is a checklist in the lesson plan, so you can easily check off different types of leaves as your little one finds them. There are even spots to include your own descriptions. Hunts are always fun for kids, but this is also a great activity for teaching and practicing descriptive language.

Sadie did her leaf hunt in leopard sweatpants, because she's sassy like that.

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Download the lesson plan HERE! and enjoy!

Note: make sure you set up your printer to print borderless before printing the lesson plan!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to use the comment section below or email me at I’d love to help you make the project work for your little one! 

Happy learning to you and your future nerds!