Tag Archives: crafternoon

Tuesday Crafternoon: DIY Bath Crystals

We had a little special-edition Crafternoon for Valentine’s Day this week. We figured everybody was full-up on construction paper, glitter glue and doilies, so we decided to do something a little different and make our own bath crystals. This is a super-simple project with lots of steps that kids like (pouring, stirring, adding more paint than they probably should …) and it was a HUGE hit with our participants. I know a Crafternoon is good when the parents have to drag the kids away from the art table, and that’s exactly what happened with this project.

Here’s how to make your own bath crystals at home:

Materials for DIY bath crystals

Materials for DIY bath crystals

Gather your materials. You’ll need:

Chunky salt of some kind. Epsom salts are ideal, but we didn’t have those so we used water-softening salt (which happens to be super inexpensive at the hardware store).

Baking soda (optional — we didn’t use it at Crafternoon because I wanted to make the project very simple, but it’s nice to add some)

Food coloring or liquid watercolor. We used our favorite liquid watercolor, Watercolor Magic by Sargent Art. I love this stuff because it’s washable and it actually colors the salt better than food coloring.

Essential oils. We gave the kids a choice of grapefruit, lavender and peppermint.

A cup and a popsicle stick or spoon to mix everything up with

Some sort of packaging. We used inexpensive clear plastic treat bags from Michaels, but a jar would be pretty.

DIY bath crystals made from salt, watercolor and essential oil

DIY bath crystals made from salt, watercolor and essential oil

Then, just mix it all up! For each little batch I used about 1/3 cup salt, a teaspoon or so of baking soda, a couple drops of watercolor and one drop of essential oil.

The hardest part about doing this with kids is keeping them from adding a HUGE amount of paint. Pipettes are too big, and all bets are off if you give them a spoon. I finally decided to put the paint into a paint cup with a brush, then showed the kids how to take the brush out and press it against the inside rim of the mixing cup to get a few drops of paint to come out. Of course, a lot of them went wild anyway — but it’s just washable watercolor paint, and it will be diluted like crazy in the bath, so I didn’t sweat it too much. If it gets too painty, you can always add more salt.

When it came time for the essential oils, I let the children choose which oil they wanted and then I droppered it into the salt.

After your bath crystals are mixed up, you can package them pretty and give them to your Valentine!


“Art Glass” fortune cookies from melted plastic cups

fortune cookies made from melted Chinet cups

“Fortune Cookies” made from melted Chinet cups


I was searching around for a good group project for our next Crafternoon. We usually have between 40 and 60 kids from ages 3 through 11, so I’m always on the hunt for art projects that are inexpensive but interesting for a wide age range.

Inspired by this post at Dollar Store Crafts, Susan B. and I tried making necklaces by melting Solo cups. It was fun! We liked it. But then my eyes landed on a half-empty package of Chinet Cut Crystal cups (the 9-ounce size) that we had left over from an event. I saw that they were #6 plastic (the kind that Dollar Store Crafts recommends for shrinking), so I decided to give it a try.

I was blown away when the cup melted into … the perfect shape of a fortune cookie. I tried it again … another fortune cookie. Then I started coloring the cups first with Sharpies — even better! I found that if I baked them at about 300 degrees (in our toaster oven) for about 2.5 minutes, they shrank and melted to just the right shape, with openings to slide a slip of paper in after the “cookies” cooled.

We set the oven directly in front of a wide-open window with a box fan sucking air out, to avoid the possibility of any fumes (especially since we are doing it with kids)!

"Art glass" fortune cookies made from melted Chinet cups.

“Art glass” fortune cookies made from melted Chinet cups.



Tuesday Crafternoon: Slime Time

Slime with extra Watercolor Magic and glitter, for good measure.

This week at Crafternoon we made SLIME. It turned out slightly putty-ish — a denser sort of slime — but everyone loved it! Here’s how we did it.

(First, let’s have a brief chat about Borax. The bottom line is that you pretty much need Borax to make good slime. But I have seen questions from people online about whether Borax is safe to handle. The most informative thing I’ve read on the subject is here at Crunchy Betty. My personal feeling is that it’s fine — we’re using a tiny amount and we’re not eating it or anything. But I always like to let people know ahead of time that we’re using it, so that they may make their own decision. There is a recipe you’ll find on the Internet for “slime without Borax!” that uses commercial liquid starch. But, as it turns out, one of ingredients in liquid starch is Borax, aka sodium tetraborate (which is why it works to make slime; surprise!). But in addition to the Borax it has a bunch of other chemicals like formaldehyde, so … I don’t like to use it. I just make my own liquid starch, and add a little Borax. Now, on to the recipe!)

Ahead of time, I made my own liquid starch and mixed in some Borax. To do that, bring 3.75 cups of water to a rolling boil. In a little cup or mug, mix 1/4 cup cold water with one tablespoon of cornstarch and one tablespoon of Borax. Whisk thoroughly, then slowly add to the boiling water. Let the mixture cool. You can also totally make slime without cornstarch — just mix water and Borax together during this step. But I feel like there’s something about the starch that just makes better slime, so I go the extra mile.

To make the slime, put about 1/3 cup of white glue (we used Elmer’s) into a gallon-size zip-lock style bag. Add about half as much liquid starch. Then squirt in some liquid watercolor (or food coloring, but be careful because it stains). I always use Watercolor Magic and let the kids squirt it with a pipette — so fun and great for their fine motor skills. We also put in some extra-fine glitter, which was fun.

Next, zip up the bag tight (get rid of the extra air inside) and start squishing everything around. You’ll want to knead and squish until the majority of the liquid is absorbed and you have a nice gloppy goo.

Then, dump out your gloppy goo onto a paper plate (I prefer the kind that’s sort of shiny so the goo doesn’t stick) and knead it around some more. The more you knead it, the nicer and softer it will get, and the less sticky.

Once it’s all nice and smooth, you can play with it! Try stretching it, forming it into a ball, making impressions in it with rubber stamps, and cutting it with child-safe scissors. It’s all fun! When you’re done playing, seal it up tight in your same plastic bag and it will keep for a good long while.

Stamped slime with extra glitter on top.

Stamped slime with extra glitter on top.

Fancy Octopus Masks

Searching around for Crafternoon ideas, I came across this great post at  Prudent Baby. Cute animal masks! Free templates! Score!

We modified things a little bit — instead of felt, we cut the masks from foam. For the eye parts, we used sticky-back SPARKLE foam. I didn’t even know there was such a thing, but there is! And instead of string or ribbon for the ties, we used pipe cleaners. (It can be hard for kids to tie the strings onto the masks, but I find they can usually twist the pipe cleaners themselves.) Then, to decorate, lots of stick-on jewels!

Fancy Octopus Masks

Fancy Octopus Masks

Tuesday Crafternoon: Bubble Wrap Printed Photo Frames

Bubble Wrap Printed Photo Frames

Bubble Wrap Printed Photo Frames

This week at Crafternoon we made bubble wrap printed photo frames. It’s easy and the results are wonderful! We had 47 children from ages 1 to 8 over the course of the afternoon, and all 47 frames were beautiful. Here’s the quick and easy step by step.

First, gather your materials.  You’ll need:

  • Wooden photo frames (I got ours from the local craft store).
  • Paint and brushes. We used craft acrylics in eight different colors. They do stain, but they dry fast, are cheap, and come in gorgeous colors. We wore smocks!
  • Bubble wrap. We used the kind with small bubbles since our frames were small.
  • Masking tape, to secure the bubble wrap to the table
  • Little cups to put your paints in.
Materials for bubble wrap photo frames

Materials for bubble wrap photo frames

Start by painting your frame with a thin coat of paint (so it dries quickly). You can paint it all one color or mix it up.

photo frame

Next, secure your bubble wrap to your work surface with some masking tape. We used pieces of bubble wrap about 12″ square, but just go with something a bit bigger than your frame. Paint all over the bubble wrap with other colors of paint.

Paint all over your bubble wrap.

Paint all over your bubble wrap.

bubble wrap with paint

Finally, take your photo frame, painted-side down, and place it into your bubble wrap. Press gently to lift a print from the bubbles.

Place your frame on your bubble wrap

Place your frame on your bubble wrap

Press gently to lift a print

Press gently to lift a print

Carefully lift up your frame to reveal your print. If you want, you can paint on the bubble wrap some more and lift another print! Or, just let it dry and you’re all done. You can seal the frame with a water-based sealer like Mod Podge once it’s dry, if you like.

Lift  up your frame to reveal your print

Lift up your frame to reveal your print

Here are some of the 47 frames that our Crafternoon kids made yesterday! Aren’t they all beautiful?

Tuesday Crafternoon: Cosmic Watercolors

crafternoon sign

Today at Crafternoon we made Cosmic Watercolors. It’s easy and really fun, and all you need are some basic household materials:

Liquid watercolor (or watered-down acrylic paints) in six or seven colors
Rubbing alcohol
Big paintbrushes
Pipettes or medicine droppers
Watercolor or paint paper
Little cups
Metallic paint

Completed cosmic watercolors

Completed cosmic watercolors

First, put three colors of liquid watercolor into separate cups. We used blue, blue-green and purple. These will be your background colors. In additional separate cups, mix a few tablespoons of rubbing alcohol with a squirt or two of paint to tint it. We found that some of the paint colors acted sort of weird in the alcohol (the pink ended up with a brownish layer on top) but it didn’t cause any problems. We made pink, yellow, orange and green alcohol.

liquid watercolor background colors

Liquid watercolor background colors

tinted rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol tinted with liquid watercolor

Brush-paint your paper with the watercolor or watery acrylic. Cover the whole paper or close to it, and get it nice and wet. We used half-sheets of Strathmore paint-pad paper, because it’s nice and sturdy but less expensive then watercolor paper.

cover your whole paper with paint

Cover your whole paper with paint. Get it nice and painty!

Once your paper is colored with watercolor, load up your pipettes or medicine droppers with colored alcohol and drip-drop it all over your paper. The alcohol reacts with the water on the paper, pushing it around and creating “cosmic” effects. The wetter your paper, the more the paint will move around. A lot of the kids who did this activity went really wild with the rubbing alcohol. After they finished dripping it, we used paper towels to soak up the excess and reveal their cosmic creations. They were beautiful.

Drip your tinted rubbing alcohol over your paper using a pipette.

Drip your tinted rubbing alcohol over your paper using a pipette.

A drippy specimen

An especially drippy specimen

Blot up the excess paint and rubbing alcohol with a paper towel.

Blot up the excess paint and rubbing alcohol with a paper towel to reveal your cosmic watercolor creation!

After we mopped up the excess paint, the children added “stars” to their paintings by dipping Q-tips in silver paint and stamping them on their artwork.

Completed cosmic watercolors

Completed cosmic watercolors

Tuesday Crafternoon: Watercolor Flower Gardens

Watercolor Flower Garden

This week at Crafternoon, we made flower gardens using watercolor crayons and watercolor pencils. Even the littlest ones enjoyed putting color on paper and watching it move when they brushed on some water … and, of course, blowing with a straw.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Watercolor paper or “paint” paper (we like Strathmore’s kids’ paint pad — it’s less expensive than watercolor paper but nearly as sturdy)
  • Watercolor crayons
  • Watercolor pencils (optional)
  • Water in a little cup
  • Brushes (a larger one for watering your grass, a finer one for adding details to the flowers)

Step one: Prepare your paper. We used Strathmore watercolor paper cut in half.

Step two: Plant your grass. Scribble hard all along the bottom inch of your paper with whatever colors of watercolor crayon that you’d like your grass to be. Use a lot of color! Most children chose green, but we had plenty of blue grass, yellow grass, brown grass and red grass, too.

Our favorite watercolor crayons, from Staedtler

Our favorite watercolor crayons, from Staedtler

Planting the grass

Plant the grass

Step three: Water your grass. Use a brush to apply big pools of water all over the areas you’ve colored in.

Watering the grass

Water the grass

Step four: Make your grass grow. With a straw held close to the surface of the paper, blow hard to move the water up the paper and create your grass and flower stems.

Make the grass grow!

Make the grass grow!

Step five: Add your flowers, and whatever else you’d like (birds, butterflies, sky, sun, etc). We used watercolor crayons and pencils for this as well, and encouraged the children to try different techniques. You can color on the dry areas of the paper then add water with a brush, dip your pencil or crayon in water first and then draw, or paint an area with clear water and then color on top of it. It’s all fun.

Add flowers to your garden

Add flowers to your garden

A finished flower garden

A finished flower garden