October 9th, 2009

Make Holiday Decorations – Free Fun Friday

With the holiday season coming up, it’s a great time to express your creativity as a family and start making holiday decorations. For Halloween, for example, you can cut bats out of black construction paper, make ghosts out of tissue paper, and so on.

There are tons of sites with ideas, and if you’re like me the supplies are already on hand for many crafts.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

July 7th, 2009

Sharpie "Tie Dye" T-Shirt Activity

My mother saw this activity when she was at the Maker Faire earlier this year. She was impressed by how simple it is.

First you need some plain white t-shirts. I suppose you could use other colors, but then it’s harder for kids to figure out how their colors are going to turn out.

You can also use old pillow cases if you like. Mom used one for practice so she’s be ready to help the kids the first time she did this with them. Kind of a neat look and not a bad idea for kids making a present for grandparents or something.

Aside from the t-shirts, you will also need colored Sharpie markers, rubbing alcohol, a plastic cup, a dropper and I recommend having rubber bands to hold the shirt to the cup. A hair dryer can be useful too, for speeding up the evaporation of the alcohol so the kids can do more sections of their shirts quickly. Plastic grocery bags stuffed into the shirts can also help to keep colors from bleeding to the other side of the shirt while the ink dries.

I strongly recommend having windows open during this project, or do it outside. After a while, rubbing alcohol really stinks!

Put a plastic cup inside the t-shirt, wherever you want to begin this project. Wrap a rubber band over the t-shirt on the cup to hold it tight.

Draw dots or a simple design with the Sharpies. It looks great with no more than 2-3 colors. Too many colors will lead to the colors turning kind of muddy. Be firm enough with the markers to leave a fair bit of ink, or your results won’t be too impressive. Light dots don’t have enough ink to spread out very much.

Don’t get too fancy or detailed in your design. You’ll be blurring it most of the way away in a moment.

A design closer to the center works for a more classic tie dye look, but my kids liked dotting or drawing all over the area they were working with, and it turned out fine.

My kids did fireworks patterns, drew hearts, just whatever pleased them. Make sure there’s still some white areas left so that the colors have places to go other than just into each other.

Sharpie t-shirt drawing dots

Once the design is drawn, it’s time to get the rubbing alcohol out. Bring some up into the dropper, and wet the area of the drawing. The alcohol will soak into the shirt and bring the colors along with it.

Sharpie t-shirt drops of rubbing alcohol to blur design

Give it some time to spread, and you’ll come up with something like this:

sharpie tshirt blurring

Don’t give up on the spreading too quickly. There’s the immediate spreading you’ll see as soon as the alcohol soaks in, then more as it goes.

If you want to do more than one section without a lot of waiting, plug in that hair dryer and blow it dry once you’re satisfied with where you’re at. Rubbing alcohol evaporates pretty quickly. That’s why I said earlier to open the windows or do this outside. If you didn’t, by now you may know why I said that. It may help to take something for the headache after you get those windows open!

If you haven’t already, stuff the shirt with a plastic bag so that colors don’t bleed onto the back while they dry. You can still do more work with the bag in there.

Once you’re done you can set the colors either by throwing in the dryer for a while or by soaking in a white vinegar and water mix. I think I did about a 50/50 mix. You’ll get a bit more color out, and help keep the colors from bleeding into the rest of your laundry later.

I’ve had new red shirts bleed far more into the vinegar and water mix than these did, so I don’t know how bad it is if you skip setting the colors. But I did see some definite color coming out. Hopefully no one will tell me how bad it was when they failed to set the colors. Just take the time and get those colors set.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

June 5th, 2009

Find Things for a Collage – Free Fun Fridays

One of the fun things about taking a family walk is all the leaves and such you can find. Take advantage and make a collage when you get home.

You can think of different themes or just do a “stuff we found” collage. Maybe look for seeds, or different kinds of leaves.

This can be a great way to encourage the entire family to pay attention to what’s around them as you walk. Not to mention that younger children in particular love making crafts.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

April 24th, 2009

Improvise Musical Instruments – Free Fun Friday

This is a great way to teach younger kids about recycling. Save up some cans or water bottles and use them to make musical instruments. If you use a side can opener it is pretty easy to tape the lid back on, and there won’t be any sharp edges to worry about.

Put beans or rice in the cans or bottles and close them back up. Fill water or soda bottles to different levels and teach the kids to blow across them and compare the sounds.

If you have art supplies you can also have the kids decorate them before filling them up.

Don’t forget the classic wooden spoon banging on a pot or pan. There’s a reason why that’s a classic, and it’s not the headache you get if it goes on for too long. It’s not so bad if you’re just playing.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

March 21st, 2008

I Like This Way of Dyeing Easter Eggs

We got our Easter eggs dyed yesterday. I tried the crayon shavings bit just to see how it would go, and it produces decent looking eggs. But I like another method better, that we also tried for the first time this year. It also produces a sort of tie dye effect.

Boil the eggs (of course) and let them cool. Then put a few in a colander and pour a little white vinegar over them. Then get some food coloring and put a drop of one color on each egg.

food coloring on easter eggsdyeing easter eggs in colander

Roll the eggs around in the colander to spread the color. Allow to set for 30 seconds. Repeat with a second color. Then rinse the excess color off with a little water and put someplace safe to dry.

Two colors is about the most you should do per egg, and I found this to be easier than any egg kit I’ve ever bought. The colors came out more vibrant than I usually get with less effort too. I don’t think I will ever buy an egg dyeing kit again. No point to it.

You can see both types of eggs in the image below. The crayon ones do have nice, bright colors, but I don’t think they turned out nearly so pretty, and they took much more effort.

easter eggs

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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