Gifts Even (Twin) Toddlers Can Make!

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Since our girls were about two, I’ve been working to involve them in our holiday gifts, at least in some small way.  I took a quick trip down Memory Lane to find pictures of some of our creations.

gift7Our longest-running tradition is gift tags.  The first one we did was a fingerprint wreath.  The girls finger painted big sheets of green.  I used a scallop punch to make a wreath shape.  I used a hole punch to make “berries”, and the girls glued the wreaths on red card stock for the berries to show through.

[The girls’ involvement has evolved over the years.  “Gluing” with a two-year old, at our house at least, meant that I used a tape runner to apply adhesive to the item to be glued.  I handed a piece at a time to the girls — nestled securely in their highchairs — to place where I pointed.  My girls are almost seven, and I finally (sorta-kinda) trust them with actual glue.]

Since then, we’ve used finger prints (using washable ink pads, which I LOVE!).  At four years old, the girls were old enough to make these reindeer themselves.  I love how different they all turned out!

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The following year the girls made snowmen using non-toxic washable paint.  After the paint dried, they used markers to make the snowman’s features.

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And this year we’re in the process of making penguins.  I love seeing some of our relatives keep these as ornaments year after year.

gift2We’ve also made gift bags.  I cut out the hat and mouth from card stock.  We used buttons for eyes, orange felt for a nose, and a bright rhinestone for the holly berry.  The girls glued everything onto a brown craft bag.  They were so proud to give these to family and friends!

And we’ve been making these gift card holders for a few years now.  I love the personal touch these add to the gift cards we give to the girls’ teachers.

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And in the way of gifts, bookmarks have been big hits at our house.  We’ve done these several different ways.  When the girls were about 18 months old, they did some crayon scribbles, which I cut into strips…put the strips back to back (so they both had representation on the bookmark)…and had them laminated at the office supply store.  I punched a hole and let the girls choose a ribbon and a bead to top it off.  We’ve done similar bookmarks with fingerpaint and water colors.  Most recently, the girls in kindergarten, they wrote notes to each family member.

gift1I love my bookmarks so much.  They’re a great little token of the girls’ art ability, and they’re very functional, too.  Who can’t use a bookmark or two???

The girls look forward to our yearly projects.  I relish the opportunity to involve them in making something from the heart!

I’d love to hear what other mamas have done to involve their kiddos in gift-giving.  This is one of the great joys of my holiday season, for sure!

MandyE is mom to fraternal twin girls who will soon be seven.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

 

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Make-It Monday: DIY Teacher Gifts

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School starts here this week.  (I cannot believe summer is OVER already!!!)

I wanted to do something little for the girls’ teachers, so I decided to get my girlies involved to make some fun paperclips.

My girls had a great time going through my button collection and matching their finds to different colored paperclips.

clips2

(I have found the big clips at the craft store, the office supply store, and even at the dollar store before.  And buttons that are flat on the back work best.)

Once the girls had everything positioned, I used a low-heat glue gun to assemble everything.

The girls wrote a little note to their teachers on some brown cardstock, robbed my washi tape collection for a little accent, and viola!  Super-simple!  I hope this makes their teachers smile!

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(Had this been from me, I probably would have attached a cheesy little note [I LOVE cheesy!] along the lines of, “To mark the start of a great school year!”  I resisted the temptation to direct the girls to write that.  :)  )

MandyE is mom to 6 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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Make-It Monday: Fun & Easy Crafts for Multiples

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Being a parent to a pair of twins, triplets or to children of different ages can make your life a busy one. Multiples can be quite a handful, each with their own quirks and interests. They can also be that much more fun. So how does one go about keeping them engaged in arts & crafts and educational activities?

With a few little tweaks to craft activities and science experiments, you can personalize them for your kids. When children relate to them on a personal level, they are more likely to want to participate and learn. These projects can become joint activities that teach kids to collaborate, bring out their own personality, and celebrate being a part of a unique identity as twins or triplets.

Find ways to allow each of your multiples to make a craft or project her own.
The Twin Chain

Twins can discover more about being twins with this activity. First, discuss different types of twins and how each one is different. In addition to distinguishing between fraternal and identical twins, you can dig deeper into conjoined and mirror image identical twins. Take drawing paper and fold it into half. Draw the outline of a doll with full arms and cut along the outline with a pair of scissors. Avoid cutting through the paper fold line. This will give you two dolls holding hands. Make around seven sets of it. Ask your children to write the type of twin on one side and their characteristics on the other side.

Paper chains offer a fun opportunity to discuss different types of twins with your multiples.

Symmetry in Nature

Children can discover the symmetry in nature with a simple activity. Symmetry is defined as, “The correspondence of the form and arrangement of elements or parts on opposite sides of a dividing line or plane or about a center or an axis.” On a trip to the park or hike along a nature trail, collect natural objects like flowers, rocks, and leaves.

Later, you can lay them out and ask your kids to distinguish between symmetric and non-symmetric objects. Take it further by snipping the leaf along its line of symmetry. Give half to each of your kids. Ask them to place it on a piece of plain paper and draw its symmetric opposite. That is, the missing side should be a mirror image of the leaf.

Think Tweedledum and Tweedledee could grasp the concept of symmetry?

The Brave Bears

For triplets, here’s something fun. Remember Harris, Hubert and Hamish from the movie Brave, who turn into bear cubs?

Ask each child to pick out their favorite from these triplets, and make a felt bear puppet each. For this, you need: bear pattern, dark and light grey felt, Googly eyes, glue, sewing thread and needle, black button, and scissors.

Take a printout of one of the bear cubs and trace an outline on paper. Cut out the outline and lay this pattern on dark grey felt that is folded in half. Cut out the felt along the outline so that you will have two bear outlines. Now, fold the light grey felt in half and draw a round shape, and cut. Also cut out an oval for the nose. Take one of the dark grey felt bear outlines and sew the two round light grey felt in place of the eyes, and the oval light grey felt in the nose area. Sew both the bear outlines together along the edges, leaving the bottom area open. Finish by gluing the Googly eyes and sticking the button for the nose.

Got triplets? Why not help them each make hand puppets of one of the Brave bears.Three-Step Art

Here’s an exercise in collaboration for triplets or for twins and singleton sibling. Divide tasks between each of them. Ask the first child to gather old crayons, strip them of the paper covering, and crush them with the back of a ladle. The second child has to lay out an old hand towel, keep a wax paper on it, pile a small amount of the crushed crayons on this paper, and cover it with another sheet of wax paper. You can step in and use a slightly warm iron over the wax paper. The third child can peel off the crayon design after it has cooled, punch a hole at the top, and thread a ribbon through it.

Which is your favorite activity to engage multiples?

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Canvas Art – A Father’s Day Gift Idea

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Father’s Day is on Sunday. It’s getting down to the wire, MoMs! If you are running out of ideas (or cash) for a Fathers’ Day gift, here’s a quick and easy project everyone can do.

I wanted to have all four kids enjoy the craft and that’s tricky because of their age gap. My oldest is 17 with the twin “cabooses” at 4. I also wanted it to reflect their personalities.

I had originally thought we could all make our own card or picture, but those tend to get discarded over time. Everyone loves to paint so I went to my local craft store in search of cheap options.  I found an 16×20 canvas for under five dollars. The acrylic craft paint was also inexpensive.

I sectioned the canvas with painters tape and let the kids have at it. The only rules were: they had to fill their entire square and no “trespassing” into their sibling’s square. It couldn’t have turned out any better! Each square shows their personality and creativity.

Last minute family Father's Day gift - segmented canvas.

If your kids are too young to follow the trespassing rule, tape down paper to cover all but one of the openings, leaving that one section for one child to paint. When a work of art is dry, cover it and move onto the next child and next opening.

Best project yet!

A cute gift idea for #FathersDay. Give each child part of the canvas to decorate.

I’m thinking of using this same division of the canvas again. I think it would be great for collages, glue art, sand, or even photos. Happy Father’s Day!!

If you decide to try this, send us a picture!

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Make-It Monday: Father’s Day Gifts from the Kiddos

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Father’s Day is fast approaching, and I’m sharing a couple of the ways we’ve made Daddy feel the love on his special day.
I wish I’d had the wherewithal to do this the girls’ first Father’s Day…but, just shy of 6 months old…I think I was still in somewhat of a haze.  Since the girls’ second Father’s Day, though, we’ve been carrying out the traditional of our “Top 10 List”, complete with hand prints, and — since the girls were three — signatures, too.
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On the center card: “The Top 10 Reasons We Think You’re the Best Daddy in the World”, on which I list some of the fun things the girls love to do with their daddy.  I try to come up with things that represent what the girls are doing at that given age/stage.
This picture is from our 2011 list when the girls were two, and it includes cuteness along the lines of:
  • You help us build the best “structures” with our blocks, and the tallest towers.
  • You never tire of sampling our tea and lemonade, and all our culinary creations.
  • You show us how to be super sweet to our furry sister Sasha.
  • Two words…tickle time!!!
  • You sing “Found a Peanut” every night, even though we know it’s not your favorite song, and you make up all sorts of silly lyrics to “Baa-Baa Black Sheep” at our requests.
  • You give us nose kisses the first thing when you come home from work, and you talk to us through the window in the backyard when you cut the grass.

And every list ends with, #10. You’re ours.

Last year, we added a fun new twist to our Father’s Day celebration, and our girls thought it was so much fun.  I drew conversation bubbles and the girls wrote a Father’s Day message.

HDYDI-fd1This year, I plan to have the girls hold the letters D-A-D-D-Y for a picture.  I’m sure that will incite plenty of giggles, too.

Some hand print art and pictures of his girlies…what more could a daddy want?  And I love getting the girls involved in the gift-giving.  That’s what it’s all about!

Do you have any Father’s Day traditions?  We’d love to hear your ideas!

MandyE is mom to six-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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Make It Monday: Spring-Inspired Craft

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Before my twin girls started kindergarten last fall (sniff, sniff!), I loved nothing more than an excuse for a themed playdate.  A craft and a snack to match?  Sign me up!

With our busy schedules these days, we don’t get together with our twinkie BFFs nearly as much as we’d like to.  I ran across this picture of a playdate from last March, and it just warmed my heart.

A fun Easter project for little ones: Paper plate chicks!While I try not to be a hoarder, I still have these little chickies hanging around…they are just so stinkin’ cute!

We started with a white paper plate (I love the cheap-y kind for crafts).  The kiddos colored their plates yellow, and then they glued googly eyes and a triangle beak on for the face.

For the wings, the kiddos traced their hands.  Depending on their scissor-skill-level, some of them cut out their handprints, and the MoMs did the handprints for the others.

It was a challenge for our 4 1/2- and 5-year olds to accordion fold the legs, but they had fun trying.  :)

There are all sorts of variations you can do, depending on the skill of your crafters-in-training.  If you’re brave enough to break out the paints, you could even do some handprint chicks on canvas.  (There are a million cute inspirational ideas on Pinterest!)  However you do it, I think it’s a great way to {finally!} welcome spring!

Happy Crafting!!!

MandyE is mom to six-year-old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

 

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Make-It Monday: A Token of Thanks

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I had great intentions of doing something nice for our mail carrier and sanitation crews over the holidays.  With the girlies in kindergarten and me being back at work full-time, though, my intentions these days don’t always make it into actions.

We’ve had a crazy amount of snow over the past three weeks (relative to our area, anyway), and I thought this would be a great time to say “thank you” to the folks who’ve continued to work, oftentimes much later hours than they normally would, to keep things rolling during this weather.

kitkat1The last trip we made to the grocery store, I picked up packages of snack-size Kit-Kat bars.  I wrote a little note, and the girls were thrilled to add some handmade touches.

They were giddy to leave this in the mailbox on Saturday morning.  And they were ecstatic to get a thank-you note in return from the mail carrier, saying we’d made her day.

Later in the week, we’ll tape a little package (wrapped in a zip-seal bag) to the top of the garbage can, and we’ll try to catch the recycling crew early Friday morning.

I love seeing the girls excited about doing something for someone else, and I was reminded it doesn’t take much to make someone else’s day.

kitkat2

MandyE is mom to six-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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Make-It Monday: Valentine’s Countdown Treasure Box

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(Yes, today is Sunday, not Monday.  Sorry to give any sleep-deprived mamas out there another reason to doubt their sanity.  [Been there!]  I would like to say that I was *ahead* of the game…but that’s just not the case.  I wish I’d done my crafting a week ago…but I didn’t.  So I’m posting this hot off the press…on Sunday, not Monday.)

For the last several years, my girlies have had SO much fun with their Advent calendars, counting down to Christmas.  I had visions of doing something fun for Valentine’s Day…but with my girls’ birthday immediately following Christmas (the first week of January), I just didn’t have it in me for another big project.

Vday1I happened upon some Pinterest inspiration, and I decided I was up for a week of counting down.  And I can’t wait to see my girls’ faces when they see this little surprise!

I bought a $1 pill box for each of them (check the dollar store or Walmart).  I am glad I found an extra-large one…it will be easier to fit tiny treasures.

I cut paper to cover each of the days, stamped out a little message, and Viola! this Valentine’s Day countdown was born.

I put in a Hershey’s Kiss for today.

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The balance of the week I plan to fill with some tiny treats (conversation hearts, M&Ms).  I also plan to put in a couple of activities…I’ll write something like “Make Valentine’s Chex Mix“…to mix things up a bit.

I love sharing holidays with my girlies!  What fun things do you have planned this week?  We’d love to see your ideas!

MandyE is mom to six-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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Make-It Monday: Involving Your Children in Holiday Giving

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We try to keep holidays sweet and simple at our house, and I’m doing my best to impart the joy of giving of ourselves in my twin girls, who are now almost six.

I love to think of opportunities to involve the girls in the process of making handmade gifts, at least in some small way.  Approaching six years of age, there are lots of things the girls can do, especially when it comes to making holiday goodies with me in the kitchen.  I had to be much more creative when they were smaller…the idea of four little hands in the flour was not one I wanted to tackle with twin toddlers!

Today I’m sharing a some of the things we’ve done over the past few years, going back to when our girlies were approaching two.

Gift tags.  It’s become a tradition that our girls make gift tags to adorn the presents and goodies we give to our friends and families.  (I love that a few family members save the tags and use them as ornaments!)  The first year, I let the girls go to town with green finger paint on white card stock.

Xmas4I used a scallop punch to cut out 2″ ‘wreaths’, and I punched holes to show through to a red paper circle of berries.  I applied glue to the ‘wreaths’ and let the girls put the two pieces together.  Here’s the finished product:

Xmas3Another year I let the girls loose with a ‘present’ stamp, which they then colored.  (I had visions of checkered red and green packages…but they had other ideas, using almost every color in the crayon box.)

Xmas6And my favorite to date the girls did last year.  Xmas8At almost-five, they were able to complete these all by themselves, but these could be done with younger kiddos with some supervision.  We used washable brown ink to make thumb prints, and the tip of their index fingers in washable red ink made the nose.  The girls used markers to draw the eyes and antlers.  I love all the personality these little reindeer have!

Gift bags.  The girls had such fun making these bags when they were near-three.  I let them pick out button eyes, and I assembled the other pieces from card stock, felt, and sequins.  I applied glue to the pieces, and they put them in place.  XMas1

Cards.  I LOVE making cards  with the girls.  XMas2These were some of our earliest holiday creations.  At not-quite-two, I had the girls scribble with green crayons.  I cut out their scribbles in the shape of a tree, and I glued them to a blank card.  I let them decorate the tree with stickers, a favorite pastime at that age.

 

Charitable giving.  The last couple of years, the girls have had so much fun shopping for the food bank…it’s the one time of year I let them drive the miniature shopping carts at the grocery store, and they so look forward to it.  And of course we have to decorate bags to carry our goodies.

Tidings of Cheer.  The girls always go with me to deliver goodies to our neighbors.

Xmas9Since they were tiny, I’ve worked with them on a holiday message.  The first year they were able to participate, just shy of two years old, it was a simple, “Merry Christmas!”  We worked up to them singing, “We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!” when they were almost three.  The last couple of years, they’ve sung an abridged version of Jingle Bells as we passed out our goodies.  (Reindeer antlers add to the fun!)

Holidays seem infinitely more fun with littles in tow, and I love involving my girlies in all the festivities.  It’s something pretty special to see the light in their eyes when they share their own creations with our friends and families.

How do you involve your kiddos in the holiday season?

MandyE is mom to almost-six-year-old twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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Make-It Monday: Halloween Decorations with the Littles

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Since I graduated from elementary school, I haven’t been much of a fan of Halloween.  Having kiddos, though, made me appreciate the holiday in an entirely different light.  (Really, I appreciate every holiday in much more depth…an opportunity for themed crafts?  Sign me up!)

Halloween1I just decorated our mantle and shelves for Halloween, and I still love the little wreath the girls and I made about three years ago, when they were a little more than 2 1/2.
I bought a package of foam pumpkin shapes from the dollar bin at Target. I asked the girls what kind of expressions they would like…a smile or a frown…and I cut some shapes from black felt.  I let the girls sort through my button collection to find three sets of two buttons.  And I cut a green leaf from some scrap foam.  The girls were able to glue the findings in place, and I attached them to a small grapevine wreath I found at the craft store.  I added a little bit of polka-dot ribbon to finish the look, and this little creation has been adorning our den each Halloween since.  I love the different expressions on the pumpkins’ faces!

Even more than our wreath, I love our collection of Halloween family pictures.  I didn’t set out for this to become a tradition…the girls’ first Halloween I just happened to take advantage of a neighbor walking by and I asked her to make a picture of the four of us.  Now, I make special arrangements to have someone take our picture.  I love adding a new photo each year!

I had the idea a couple of years ago to paint wooden frames to display our family pictures.  I bought these unfinished frames at the craft store for $1 each (usually less a 40% off coupon!).  The girls have helped me paint the solid grounds, but the finishing touches I leave for me to enjoy.  I love coming up with a new frame theme each year.

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I guess you can say I’ve gotten into the Halloween spirit over the past five years.  As long as the girls are content to wear adorably cute (not-so-scary) costumes, this might even become one of my favorite holidays.

Do you decorate for Halloween?

MandyE is mom to 5 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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