Best Craft for Kids Blog

Hi friends!

Gosh it’s fun to share fun news and I’m excited to let you know that we’re nominated for Best Craft for Kids Blog over at Parents Magazine. Seriously. I’m in there with some lovely blogs (and even voted for some of my favorites) so I’m not under the illusion that I’m going to win or anything, but you know, it would be nice if I did. Or at least got into, say, the top three. Anyhoo, if you click on the Parents Best button it’ll take you over to their site and you can vote for TinkerLab (and anyone else you like while you’re there). You may have to register to vote, but please don’t let that stop you. If you’ve ever come away from my site inspired, I’d love your support.

Oh, and in case you’d like to share this on Facebook or Twitter, the answer is “yes.”


Rainbow Photo Scavenger Hunt

We’ve had a lot of fun playing this game that’s all about learning and searching for the colors of the rainbow. We started playing this game when my daughter wanted to learn the order of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. All you need is a camera and some time. We like to play this on our way to the park, and it makes the meandering a lot more meaningful. My 3 year old has her own camera (it’s a kid camera) but she’s not interested in it so it’s a good thing I like snapping photos!

To play, we start with red. When she spots something red, I snap a photo of it. Then we look for something orange, and so on. Not only have we been learning the rainbow, but we’re tuning our eyes toward objects in our neighborhood. As a result of this game we’ve had some thought-provoking chats about abandoned cars, storm drains, litter, and nuances of colors like “yellow-orange.” It’s also been fascinating to look at the world through my child’s eyes. For example, when we started with “red” I spotted a big (obvious) red car, but N looked up and asked me to take a photo of the glowing red leaves on a tree. It was so subtle, but they were definitely red!

I added these photos to those from a previous post, Photo Documentary with Kids, and suddenly we’re building a colorful documentation of our neighborhood. Maybe it’s time to figure out what to do with all these photos? Please let me know if you have any ideas for us.

Old Slides into Sculpture

I was excited to find a bounty of blank slides when we visited SCRAP (San Francisco’s answer to a re-use center for artists and educators) a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure what we’d do with them, but it didn’t matter because resourceful children always know just what these sorts of things are for.

My 3 year old colored some of the slides with Sharpies and then taped them together to build a house. I try to keep our clear tape dispenser stocked to support spur-of-the-moment inspiration like this. N needed a little help holding the roof on while she taped the sides together, and I also helped her press all the tape down so it wouldn’t fall apart.

We also picked up a few pieces of wood at SCRAP, which formed the base for these “airplanes.” N colored the windows with Elmer’s Painters Markers and left one unpainted “so that the pilot could see the way.”

If your kids have made things with slides, I’d love to hear about it!


7 Upcycled DIY Paper Flowers

We’re flooded with flowers this time of year, but soon enough we’ll have to make our own flowers to brighten up the dark corners of our wintery homes. These would make great DIY hostess or teacher appreciation gifts. I wandered around some of my favorite sites and found a little sampling of some easy and charming recycled paper flowers — these can all be made with materials that you most likely have around the house.

DIY Paper Flowers

DIY Paper Flowers with Coffee Filter Flowers, TinkerLab

If you do a search for coffee filter flowers, this is the TinkerLab post you’ll land on. These are made with watercolors and chenille stems.

Aunt Peaches Paper Flowers

Coffee Filter Peonies, Aunt Peaches via Design Sponge

These beauties are made with water-based paint, green tape, and ordinary straws.

Flowering Lampshade for a Flamingo, Aunt Peaches

Gorgeous, isn’t it? Take those coffee filter flowers that you learned how to make in the Design Sponge post and attach them to an old lampshade with hot glue.

Paper Napkin Wall Flowers, Dana Made It

Made from Paper Napkins (it looks like the IKEA brand), these are stronger than flowers made from tissue paper. And they’re big enough to make a dramatic statement on a wall. I’d love to try painting these like we did the coffee filters.

Pop-up Magazine Flower, Pink Paper Peppermints

This one is so cool! Cut out a bunch of flowers and then glue them together in a unique way that makes them pop up. It makes me realize that I need to start subscribing to more colorful magazines!

Recycled Paper Flowers, How About Orange

Made from any ol’ paper you have in the house: magazines, books, wrapping paper…They don’t require any glue or tape, and the tutorial even includes a free downloadable PDF with the flower shape.

Cupcake Liner Flowers, Martha Stewart

Would this list even be complete without mentioning Martha Stewart? The picture by itself is a great tutorial.

If you have a favorite recycled paper flower post, please share a link…the more ideas the merrier!

A Little Business + Make a Name Badge

I have a few new things to share today before jumping into our project.

First of all, I’ve received lots of questions about where I get our materials, so I added a tab up in the navigation bar called Supplies that you can click on. As I discover new things or think of other materials that we like to use, I’ll add them to this page. If you have any favorite materials, please feel free to share them. I love to learn about new things.

Second, I’m excited to share that TinkerLab is nominated for the “Best Craft for Kids Blog” at Parents Magazine. If you think this is a valuable resource, please click here and give us your vote! You have to register, which I know is a pain, but I’d be so grateful for your support.

And finally, do you know about the new TinkerLab Forum? It’s been up for a couple weeks and it’s a great place to ask your creativity-related questions or share your expertise on everything from how to use art materials to tips on visiting art museums with small children. There are over thirty topics up on the forum right now and the growing community has been quick to share their expertise. I also try to repost big questions on the TinkerLab Facebook Page when I think the Facebook community can help shed light on a question or idea. Please pop over and check it out.

And now, making a name badge…

When I spotted clips like thesein the office supply store I was sure we’d find a use for them. Within a week, my daughter found them, discovered their purpose, and decided that her dad needed a name badge so that his co-workers would know his name. My husband doesn’t normally wear a name badge at work, so clearly this would help! N doesn’t write yet, so she asked me to write her dad’s on a piece of paper. She decorated it, tried it on for size, and then sent him out the door with his new name badge.

This wasn’t a complex project, but it gave my daughter confidence in manifesting her own ideas and connected her to real world solutions. Plus, my husband went to work decorated in polka dots.