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Making Christmas finger puppets

I came across this finger puppet set and grabbed it with no particular purpose in mind.

A day later, my daughter needed a quiet day to recover from an unexpected overnight hospital visit and this kit was a great activity for us. With the incentive that the finished puppets will be part of the Christmas gift to a young friend of ours, she happily set to making some finger puppets!

 

The finger puppet kit…

The Jolly & Joy finger puppet craft set cost me $3.00 and contained the following items:Christmas finger puppet kit contents laid out

Underneath all the pieces were some red and green felt squares – it seemed a bit strange to find them glued on (I was scared of ripping the felt by pulling it) but then I realised they have no direct purpose in the kit and they are just there to form a nice background (thus the gluing). Of course, it also gives us some Christmas coloured felt for another craft activity!

Making the finger puppets

The instructions in the kit showed four pictures and explained how to sew together the actual puppets. My nine year old was able to read them once and then sew together the puppets without too much trouble – she got four sewn together in under 20 minutes. red felt with white stitching

The only issue is to make sure you hold the pieces of felt together correctly – my son got one reindeer piece around the wrong way and found they don’t fit quite so well!

Our next task was to attach the details and decorations, which required providing our own glue which I had not realised until this point. Make sure you get some glue that works on felt as I will have to reglue bits of ours as the glue we used was too easily absorbed by the felt.

Unfortunately, things slowed down at this point as the instructions were lacking from here on – we were directed to use the picture provided to figure out how to decorate the puppets which sounds ok until you realise the only picture provided is the small image on the packaging handle:

finger puppet instruction image

It was easy to confuse pieces – for example, we stuck the stocking top onto Santa’s hat initially then swapped to the actual hat trim piece – and not altogether clear where to stick major parts – which way to lay Santa’s hat down and how far up to place the beard took a little bit of figuring out.

attaching white felt felt beard to Santa's hat

Deciding how far up to attach Santa’s beard was a bit of trial and error

Christmas finger puppets to play with!five felt Christmas finger puppets on a red and green background

And thus we created five very cute finger puppets!

This was a simple kit and the puppets were fairly easy to make, although young children will need adult guidance.

 

Once created, the puppets mostly require a very large finger, especially the Santa puppet, making them better suited for adults to use but finger puppets appeal more to children obviously, especially if they made them! I guess one option is for adults to wear the puppets to entertain young kids, but it still seems a bit disappointing to me. Having said that, making smaller puppets would be much trickier for little kids…

Santa finger puppet on adult fingers

The Santa puppet was large enough for two adult fingers (and space to spare!)

The stocking puppet is upside down once it goes on a finger! And again, this one is quite large so it comfortably sits on two of my fingers, rather than one or two little fingers.

Christmas stocking finger puppet

The stocking puppet was upside down when placed on two adult fingers…

The other puppets had smaller openings so fitted nicely on one of my fingers (so will still be a bit big and floppy on a toddler’s fingers!) to put on voices or a performance!

Christmas tree and snowman finger puppets

By this point, my daughter had lost interest (thus the puppets have only been on my fingers so far!) but we will gift them to our young friend and hopefully he will enjoy them.

Creating shiny Christmas baubles for kids

This year, I decided on some decorated glass baubles for my daughter to give to her classmates – we usually make something rather than just giving the kids another candy cane!

shiny glass bauble hanging in a bush in the sunshine

Shiny bauble materials

I got the idea by seeing some pretty glass baubles on a clearance table at Westminster Christmas shop.

materials required for the shiny Christmas baubles

In looking for some ribbon or tinsel to use for decorating the baubles, I discovered some shiny red and green cheerleader pompoms in a discount store! This made things really easy as we only needed to pull off a length of ribbon instead of having to cut anything up (and given there are 31 children in the class, it would have involved a lot of cutting!)

Making the baubles

Very simply, we took two green and two red ribbons and tied them onto the bauble’s string, resulting in shiny decorations!

collage of child making shiny Christmas baubles and the baubles in a tree

My tip is to use baubles that have a fixed string – the ones we had just had string tied in a loop so it moved around as we worked, making it a bit more challenging.

As it turned out, this activity required quite a lot of fine motor skills so I ended up helping the kids and then making many of them myself. So it was a simple idea but not so easy to implement, unfortunately.

Finished decorations

I think they look very pretty, though, especially when sparkling in the sunshine.

What do you think – pretty? shiny? Christmassy? Will you try making some?

Finished glass baubles, haning on a bush or placed in Christmas card envelopes

More festival of Christmas tree ideas

As well as all the decoration ideas for a community group Christmas tree, I collected some ideas for the tree itself and for making the most of the decorating experience. So here are those ideas in another post for you 🙂

Again, many of these ideas were inspired by the 1st Facebook Scout Group, so thanks again to those leaders.

ideas for the tree and surrounds

  1. make a tree shape by lashing poles together – it can be a simple tepee shape or more advanced with branches off a main stem
  2. use an old canvas tent to form the tree, using something like an umbrella stand to hold it up
  3. stack 2 litre plastic milk bottle in layers to form a tree shape. You can stick a badge or picture over each lid as decoration and insert a light inside the pile

    Two Christmas trees made of milk bottles!

    Plastic Bottle Trees made by Harleston Guides in England

  4. whittle old wooden tent pegs to form a tree (in miniature) or the branches (on a bigger tree)
  5. stack up some old wooden pallets to form a tree shape – simple, rustic and effective!
  6. collect some sticks then lash them together in an appropriate shape. Spray white paint across the top and sprinkle over some glitter
  7. get the youth to collect some sticks (about 5mm thick) and cut them to size. Drill a hole in the middle of each stick and place them over a threaded rod (or straight wooden rod) attached to a wooden base. Spray paint or drizzle with glitter, maybe add some battery powered fairy lights or thin tinsel.

    Christmas trees made out of sticks

    Christmas trees made from sticks by scouts in the UK

  8. cut a tree shape out of thick cardboard (shiny gives a nice effect!) and attach it to a wall or divider. From there, it can be decorated however you like, but some ideas are to cover it with a photo of each person in the group and have a feature in the middle (Christmas song/poem, group photo, group logo, photo of your hall, etc), cut photos of everyone into bauble size and shape to stick on the tree, get everyone to put a paint handprint on it, or let the kids decorate it with textas and glitter.

    Christmas tree made of a collage of photos

    A collage based Christmas tree from Guides in Darwin

  9. use some old branches to form a natural looking tree – I once used a gum tree branch that way on our house. You can make this as small or as large as suits your space, too.baby grabbing tinsel off a gum tree
  10. collect some old LPs and add a photo or picture over the label of each one. Heat the record until the sides curve up and in to form a bowl of sort. Use a hot glue gun to join the ‘bowls’ to form a pyramid tree. decorate it with a bit of tinsel or just drizzle glue and glitter over it all.
    A similar option would be to keep the records flat and glue them onto a wire frame to form the tree.
  11. create a tree by gluing lids (plastic milk bottle lids, metal or plastic jar lids or metal drink bottle lids) onto a frame or just to each other to create the shape.

ideas for sharing the experience

So instead of just one person, or two or three, coming up with an idea and implementing it, here are some better ways to make the group Christmas tree a community experience.

  • get lots of people to give some input – you don’t have to be the creative one, and sometimes a group will brainstorm a much better idea than any one person thought of.
  • take it in turns. For example, one scout group gets a different section to design the tree each year – it always has a scouting theme but different age groups have different designs so it stays interesting, everyone gets a go and the other sections get a surprise.
  • allow time – maybe have one meeting for discussing and deciding on a theme and concept, and then another for making the tree, decorations, etc. For young children, an adult or two may need to put everything together, but older groups may need a third session for the construction and decoration!
  • have two trees! Divide everyone into to groups and let each group decorate their own tree – maybe on inside and one outside, or one big tree to sit under and one small to be a table piece. Lots of options and more Christmas trees just mean more joy!

So, what ideas will you be using for Christmas tree decorating this year? Maybe you can start a new tradition in the groups you belong to, and leave the box of old decorations stored away instead.

 

* Photos courtesy of Love Santa, Andrew (a UK Scout leader) and Fiona (Harleston Guide leader) – thank you!

Make Santa and his sleigh!

Last Christmas, my daughter’s grade 1 class made some Santa sleighs and reindeer in their art classes. I think they are very cute, and a clever idea on the part of their teacher.

COllage of kids craft work - Santa in his sleigh with a cotton reel reindeer

I love the Santa face and beard some of the children created! The reindeer are very cute but don’t really stand up very well unfortunately – you need something stronger than pipe cleaners really.

Two child-made Santa sleighs and reindeer, with Santa smiling

As this could also be a great craft activity for Christmas in July (and craft in the upcoming winter school holidays may be a good choice!), here is my break down of how to make Santa and his sleigh.

Making Santa and some reindeer is a fun kids' craft activity.Click To Tweet

Materials

  • 1 cardboard box with lid (about 7cm long and 4cm wide)
  • sheet of plain paper (could be coloured or Christmas themed but that reduces decorating!)
  • scissors
  • textas, pencils, glitter, glue, etc for decorating
  • double sided tape (or glue)
  • two cotton reels (wooden preferably)
  • 1 brown pipe cleaner
  • 3 glittery red pipe cleaners
  • two googly eyes (you could draw them on if you wanted to)
  • gold elasticized thread or string
  • a golden bell (or a bead will do)
  • a couple of cotton wool balls
  • thick red paper

Instructions to make the sleigh

Cut out two sides for the sleigh, making them about as long as an A4 page.

One end needs to be about 15cm high and the other only 3 cm or so high. The shape in between is up to you – it can slope down quickly like a husky sled or stay high and then slope down like a sleigh (better for keeping Santa warm and his sack safe!)

CLose up images of Santa's sleigh made from paper and a cardboard box

Decorate the cut outs as you wish with colour and glitter.

Sit the box inside the lid.

Doing one side at a time, attach the sleigh sides onto the box with double sided tape (or glue). Leave 2 or 3 cm of the paper past the box.

 

Instructions to make SantaRed paper Santa face made by a child

Take the red paper – cut it into a circle of about 10 cm in diameter (ie 10 cm across the circle).

Cut a triangle wedge – about 1/5 of the circle.

Roll the piece of paper so that the two sides of the wedge overlap and can be taped or glued together.

Stick a cotton ball on the top of the cone and another near the base to be Santa’s beard.

Draw on some eyes and Santa is done!

 

Instructions to make the reindeer

Stick the googly eyes onto a cotton reel.

Fold the brown pipe cleaner in half and push the folded end into the top of the cotton reel with eyes. Depending in the size of the hole, you may want to add some glue to keep the pipe cleaner in place. Adjust the pipe cleaner to look like the reindeer’s antlers.

Cotton reel and pipe cleaner reindeer made by a child for Christmas

Push all three red pipe cleaners through the other cotton reel. Then, adjust them so that there are four ends are equal on each side of the cotton reel – these are the four legs and can be pulled into position.

One of the remaining ends can be shorter and bent upwards to form the tail. Take the remaining end of the pipe cleaner and put into the other cotton reel to join the two reels together, forming the reindeer’s neck.

Note you could make one pipe cleaner a different colour for the tail and neck – I just kept it simple!

Putting Santa with his sleigh

Stick one end of the gold thread onto the smaller end of the sleigh side with some sticky tape.

Thread the bell onto the thread and knot it in place about half way along the thread.

Loop the golden thread and bell around the red pipe cleaner neck.

Stick the other end of the thread onto the other side of the sleigh.

Sit Santa in the cardboard box.

Santa and his sleigh can now be put on a display as a hand crafted Christmas decoration or given as a gift.

Christmas stars – a fun craft activity

My daughter and I made some Christmas stars for her to give as gifts to her kinder friends last year – like for my son, I wanted something other than candy canes and it is so much nicer to make something.

Making Christmas stars

I was inspired for these stars by Crafty morning’s snowflake ornaments. I prefer to make stars rather than snowflakes don’t mean Christmas to Aussie kids – and I think mine look more like stars anyway!Materials for making bud stars

Materials

cotton buds
coloured cardboard
glue
glitter
ribbon or similar for hanging
scissors and hole punch

How to make the Christmas stars

cut cotton buds into two pieces – uneven sizes is the aim so don’t worry about making them equal or matching sizes!

Cotton buds cut into pieces

Add glue to a piece of cotton bud – I found the easiest way for my daughter was to have a blob of glue on a plate and put the pieces in the glue.

Child putting pieces of cotton buds into glue

Stick 5 or 6 pieces onto cardboard with the cut ends together and the other ends spreading out to for a star shape.

child sticking buds onto cardboard

Spread some glue roughly between the cotton bud pieces – close to the centre, reaching out to different lengths.

Glue between cotton bud peices stuck on cardboard in star shape

Sprinkle some glitter over the star.

Glittery cotton bud stars

This stage needs adult supervision or assistance for younger children. Cut out the cardboard around the stars – it is easier to cut roughly around each star and then neatening it up. Rounded edges look nicer, I think, but sharp corners could be effective, too.

pile of cut out cotton bud stars

Then simply put a hole in the cardboard of each star, thread through some ribbon or twine and you’re done! I made a little loop of the ribbon so it would be easy for the kid to hang the stars on a tree, and it also made it easy to hang a number of stars on a length of ribbon at home, too.

cotton bu stars hanging in a row

The stars are small and light enough that my daughter could pop them into an envelope with a Christmas card to hand out to her friends.

Child putting a cotton bud star and Crhsitmas card into an envelope

Making paper lanterns

Three child-made paper lanterns lit by candles Paper lanterns can be a beautiful decoration, indoors or out, but they’re also very easy to make.

Making lanterns with kids

For preschoolers, you will need to help with the cutting but otherwise kids can pretty much do this themselves.

  1. decorate a piece of A4 paper children decorating a red paper lantern
  2. fold the paper in half length wise
  3. cut 1cm strips across the paper – start cutting at the fold and stop about 2cm before the edge of the page  Cutting paper to create a paper lantern
  4. open the page out
  5. spread glue along one short edge  Adding glue to hold a paper lantern
  6. roll the paper to overlap the short edges, sticking them together
  7. cut a strip of paper and glue it on as a handle  Four paper lanterns made by children
  8. use your lanterns as you will – you can hang them or stand them on a table or window sill

handy lantern tips

  1. you can use other sized paper, just be sure it is rectangular, not square. A4 is a good size for little fingers to work with
  2. decorating the paper with crayons, stickers and textas is more effective than pencils!
  3. colour paper is a good basis
  4. remember they are made out of paper – you can put a tea light candle inside but the fire risk is high. Don’t leave them unattended or near kids, and be sure the paper is firm enough to stand first (cheaper printer paper isn’t!) A good compromise is to use a candle inside a glass jar or a battery operated tea light candle.

 

Gifts from my kids…

… are often home-made, especially for Grandparents and aunts.

children stuffing sachets as gifts

When kids make gifts, they come from the heart. Like these scented sachets being made at home.

It started partly to be cheaper but it isn’t always the case.

What’s more important is that the kids put their time and love into it so it means so much more than some $5 soap or chocolate we could buy.

It also teaches them the real value and pleasure in gift giving. Aside from the giving bits, making gifts also entertains them in a positive way, teaches them crafty skills and IS FUN!

I’m looking for some new ideas for this Christmas, although we’re thinking of pots of herbs that the kids grow from seeds and maybe decorate the pots.

My children have already made…

  • stepping stones
  • dyed tea towels
  • photo frames (thanks for that idea on a Love Santa letter!)
  • painted pots of citronella candles

Has anybody got some other ideas they could share please?

Creating a Christmas Wreath

Having a wreath hanging on your door or veranda is a common tradition in many Australian homes. Have you thought of hanging a homemade wreath?

Here is how my daughter made one a few years ago (she was about 6 at the time and had help) …

  1.  bend a metal coathanger into a circle
  2. cut the hook part of the coathanger off (unless you prefer to use it for hanging) and make sure sharp edges are hidden/filed
  3. cut plastic shopping bags into long strips – the more strips you use, the better the final result but 3 bags would be the minimum
  4. tie the strips onto the circle (double the strip and pull the lengths through the loop is the easiest way)
  5. spray paint the wreath
  6. once dry, tie on some Christmas baubles (or plastic holly , etc)
  7. use some pretty ribbon to create a large bow at the top, with enough left over to use as a tie for the wreath
  8. hang it on your door – or give to someone else for their door

And Squiggle Mum has instructions for three lovely wreaths you and/or your young children can make.

Do you have another way to make a wreath you could share with us?

A tree of thanks

If you want to have a Christmas tree that is a bit different or has a different significance, you might like this idea. It can be in addition to your usual Christmas tree or instead – and it is a lot cheaper, too.

So, get a tree – it can be the branch of a tree, an artificial Christmas tree, a candelabra or even a pine cone!

Make the decorations for your tree – maybe once a week or once a day, or make lots early in December and randomly choose one each day to hang on your tree.

The decorations are all hand-made by everyone in your family/household. They can be squares of paper with a few words, or you can cut various shapes and draw pictures on them – whatever feels right for you.

What is important is to write on each decoration about what you are thankful for. It can be anything, but some examples to get you started are:

A Christmas Tree made of Thanks

Being thankful in the Christmas spirit

  • thankful the family is healthy
  • thank you for a great year
  • thanks for having a place to call home
  • I’m grateful to be part of this family
  • thanks for the spirit and magic of Christmas

Each time you look at this special tree, you will be reminded of the good things in your lives. And you can make a special time on Christmas Eve or even Boxing Day to read the decorations together and value what is important.

It may be a great activity in the middle of Christmas Day if the kids are getting too caught up in presents.

Merry Christmas, and thanks for sharing the spirit and magic of Christmas with us.

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