Toddler‐Made St. Patrick's Day Decorations & Activities

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St. Patrick's Day has always been one of my favorite holidays.  It's around the same time as my birthday, my favorite color is green, and as I've said before, I absolutely love rainbows.

So I was pretty excited to delve into some fun St. Patrick's Day crafts and activities with Gv this year, after having so much fun with our Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine's Day creations. 

Although we did several shamrock‐themed projects, I felt that Gv would get even more out of the rainbow side of things during this holiday, since she's just beginning to learn about colors now anyway.

It's been a blast.  She's loved coloring for some time, but now the process takes on even more meaning, as she recognizes which colors she's using.  And since colors are everywhere, even the books we've read a bajillion times have become new again, after pointing out the different hues found on each page.

Even though I got brave and tackled some painting projects last month for Valentine's Day, I decided I still preferred to ease into projects according to their potential mess factor.  Take a look at what we've been up to:

Color Sticks


After coming up with two fun ideas for using Popsicle sticks (read about Alphabet Sticks here and Puzzle Sticks here), I decided to create another one that focused on colors.

I simply grabbed some Jumbo Popsicle sticks and basic markers, then colored the ends of two of them for each color.  I wrote the names of the colors on the back sides ‐ this way Gv could use them to match like colors right now and then partner up the colors to the words (or even words to words) when she gets older.

We started off with my just naming the colors for her, but after the first day, she'd already moved on to choosing the color sticks I named (or naming the colors on the sticks I chose), and even picking up the sticks herself and naming the colors.  I didn't expect the game to be so successful so quickly, but she's been enjoying this new toy ever since.


Rainbow Boxes

The next activity was another grow‐with‐her game.  I grabbed six "greens" boxes (we have a zillion of these; our lettuce comes in them) and wrote the colors of the rainbow on the sides with different colored Sharpies.  Then I gathered random objects from amongst her toys that fit into each color category.  We talked about the colors of the things in the boxes, I'd ask her to go get me something red, or to get the green box, or even to dump everything out and sort them into the appropriate boxes (at the moment, I have to put the first item in each box, then she knows which box is which).

In the future, I'll expect her to be able to sort everything into fully empty boxes, and to be able to go on a "color hunt" around the house for items that will fit into each box.

We have these boxes sitting on the floor in front of Gv's closet and besides looking pretty, they add a touch of fun to the rainbow decor.

Side view of the "blue" box ‐ I obviously didn't use Cascade (Anyone else remember the old commercials?  "Cascade:  For virtually spotless dishes!")

Rainbow Clothespin Wheel

Similar to the sticks toy, but a bit more challenging.  I made this a couple of days after the sticks, so Gv was able to match up the correct clips to the correct color slices right away, but she hasn't yet been able to open the clothespins up herself in order to get them on the wheel.  She just fits the "pincher" side onto the circle, which means they all fall off the minute she picks the disc up.

I like that this game will also help develop her fine motor skills, which I know will help her writing later on (I used to suggest activities like this for students in my class who were struggling to improve their handwriting).

Like the Popsicle sticks, I used a marker to color one side of the clip and then wrote the color's name on the other side.  I used a piece of card stock glued to a piece of Styrofoam for the wheel.

Gv can pull the clothespins off by herself and has fun naming the colors while she does it.

Pipe Cleaner Rainbow

This next project was pretty much all done by me, but Gv did try to help.  I took the cotton stuffing from a bunch of vitamin bottles and then wrapped it around both ends of rainbow‐colored pipe cleaners.  Then it was just a matter of bending the pipe cleaners into a bowed shape.

I have this hanging up in the center of our mantel and it just makes me smile.  I'll be transferring it to Gv's rainbow‐themed room when the holiday is over.


Shamrock Hands

What, you didn't think I could let a holiday craft season go by without something made from hand prints, did you?

One of Gv's favorite drawing activities is tracing hands and feet, so she was all excited about creating these.  I just traced around her hand, cut a small stem, and then taped the pieces all together to form a shamrock.


Rainbow Chain

What could be easier than creating a rainbow out of paper strips?  Just grab some good construction paper and your stapler and make your chain as long as you want.

Sorry for the glare on the blue link ‐ I had no idea the sun was so bright that day and I am just too lazy to pull it down to re‐photograph it now.

Shamrock Strips

I'd seen an idea similar to this for Valentine's Day.  And I know shamrocks have three leaves and not five, but I just felt like this looked better with the extras.  Gv began showing some interest in stapling while I was making the rainbow chain, so I decided to show her how to push down on the stapler herself.

She ended up doing the whole thing alone!  Well, I still held the paper strips together while she stapled, but still.

You just need to staple two strips together about half an inch from the end, then peel the strips apart and staple the ends together like so:
 


Colored Plate Rainbow

This idea was way simple.  Cut a paper plate in half, hand your child rainbow‐colored markers, and let them do their thing.  Obviously this will begin looking more like a rainbow as Gv gets older, but you get the idea and she still had a lot of fun working on it:



Coffee Filter Shamrock

We did this idea with a heart for Valentine's Day and Gv enjoyed it so much (& it turned out looking so nifty) that I knew we had to repeat it for St. Patrick's Day.

I handed Gv a coffee filter and several greenish‐hued markers.  She got right to work with her dots and scribbles:

Apparently one must engage in this activity while wearing a hat and holding a baby (like we used to hold phones) at the same time...
Once the coloring stage is complete, hand your child an eye dropper and a small container of water and watch as the magic happens:

When the water drops hit the marker on the filter, the color runs, which is both fun to observe and creates a pretty result.
After the coffee filter has a chance to dry out, fold it in half and cut out a shamrock shape (half a heart on top, a full heart jutting to the side, and a stem):

See?  Pretty, right?  This turns out so cool, I think every holiday deserves a version of this craft.

Torn Paper Rainbow

Gv and I were pretty successful with some torn paper decorations for previous holidays, so this idea was another one that made sense.

It's pretty time‐consuming, which can be good or bad, depending on your child's attention span.  Begin by tearing up pieces of colored paper and then squeeze a line of glue out for each rainbow arch (although you'll want to just squeeze one arch at a time!).

Place the paper scraps onto the glue.  This is another one of those great fine‐motor‐skill activities and since we've done several other similar crafts, Gv knew how to stick the paper down onto the glue line herself.


Glitter Rainbow

Oh. My. Goodness.

I can't believe I finally got brave enough to dip our toes into the world of glitter.

And, like the painting experience last month, it wasn't nearly as messy as I expected.

Gv has helped to shake herbs and spices into various recipes we've tackled in the kitchen, so she had no problems shaking out the glitter onto the plate.  I made the mistake of squeezing out a too‐thick glue line for the red arch, so that accounts for all the dripping you see in the photo.  You can tell I figured out to squeeze just a thin line for the rest.

You can also see where Gv got excited and touched the glitter on the plate (upper left portion of the rainbow), which was a little frustrating, but also made the final product more unique:

I went totally paper‐plate crazy for this holiday's decorations, but hey, it makes total sense when creating rainbows!

Pom Pom Rainbow

Yes, another paper plate was severed for this project, but it just took two mini‐plates for all four crafts, which isn't too bad...

I suggest pre‐sorting the pom poms before beginning this project.  Your child might be old enough to help with this activity, but Gv was not, so the task fell to me.  You can use pom poms of a uniform size, but I like the effect of different sizes for this project:


Put a thick arch of glue onto the plate and hand your child the first color to be applied:


Repeat with the other colors.  Look how cute this is:


Shamrock Cork Stamps

Even though Gv did more painting than stamping with the TP roll heart stamps last month, I figured the corks would make a sturdier stamp and had a better chance of working out for this project.

Simply tape three corks together and show your toddler how to dip the end in paint and stamp it on the paper:
 
Look!  She's actually stamping it!
This was pretty much Gv's first experience with stamps and she was really interested in exploring how it all worked:


Of course, even though she successfully stamped with the corks at the beginning, Gv resorted to her typical "smear and paint" technique by the end:

I did the stamp in the upper‐right corner, adding the stem with the edge of one of the corks.

Comb Painting

This could be done a little differently with an older child, but for someone Gv's age, I suggest this method:

Begin by dropping the paint colors onto the paper in a line:

I think this is so pretty just like this ‐ maybe I'll create my own masterpiece using the paint‐drop method!
Next, hand your child a comb and sit back and watch:

Her process was so interesting to observe ‐ first she pulled the comb down through the paint drops...

...and then she started scraping the comb back and forth across the paint.

Baked Rainbow Cotton Balls

When I read about this idea on learnplayimagine.com, I didn't get it.  Oh, sure, it would be a great way for kids to explore different textures and colors and make a mess (Ack!) and see how the paint hardened after being baked, but I really didn't expect Gv to be all that interested in it.

Boy, was I wrong.

Now, I'm warning you, this is very time‐intensive.  And messy.

Not messy in a way that makes it unpleasant to deal with, but I am so glad I decided to stick Gv in one of G's old t‐shirts, because it made cleaning up a snap.

Begin by mixing up your rainbow paint.  This takes a while to do, because you'll want to mix flour and water (I used about 1/8 cup of flour and just added water a little at a time until I achieved the ideal consistency) and then add a couple drops of food coloring (it just took two drops to create these colors) for each batch:

This paint washes out so easily...it really just takes a little water to get everything squeaky‐clean again!
I went ahead and dropped the cotton balls into the containers of paint, to make the activity a little simpler and help Gv understand what to do:
 

I rolled the first cotton ball to cover it in paint and then placed it on the foil‐lined baking sheet as an example.  Gv followed my lead, but then proceeded to paint with her cotton ball.

She did this with every cotton ball and while it wasn't what I'd initially intended for the project, Gv had a blast.


While Gv was doing her thing (honestly, it went on for well over an hour), I dipped a small piece of cotton in each color so that I could still get my rainbow:


After all the cotton was saturated with paint, my little organizer decided to "clean up" by putting all the balls away in one of the paint containers:


We dumped everything back onto the baking sheet and baked it all at 300 degrees for about an hour.  Then we went outside with a hammer (yes, I gave her a real hammer, but it was small and I showed her what to do and I was there to monitor her pounding and stop it when she got overly enthusiastic) and she got to smash it all up:

You can see how vivid the colors turned after baking.  Our cotton balls didn't really smash apart, but that might have been due to the fact that they sat in the turned‐off oven for several hours after they were done baking.  It didn't matter, though, because Gv was having a great time just pounding away at the things.  I totally get this activity now.  It's all about the process and exploration and we will completely be doing this again in the future!

Toilet Paper Tube Shamrocks

Remember when we tried the toilet paper heart stamp for Valentine's Day?  Well, I'd thought about doing something similar for St. Patrick's Day, but only came up with two empty toilet paper rolls and didn't think I could justify drinking gallons of water just to get another...

Besides, when we tried that activity last month, Gv was more interested in "painting" with the tube, rather than stamping it.  

I still think it's a neat idea, though, and will probably try it with her next year.  Here's a great link to some good directions, although I probably would have just used 3 TP tubes to make a shamrock and not bothered with the hot glue (just tape). 



Besides creating our crafty St. Patrick's Day decorations, we've focused on a few other activities, mainly to continue our focus on colors.  Books, of course, are a given.  Some of our favorite rainbow books are:

What Makes a Rainbow ‐ the cool thing about this book is that it has a new piece of ribbon that comes out to add to the rainbow each time you turn the page.  I've actually had it for years (so, way before Gv was born), just because I like rainbows so much.



A Rainbow of My Own ‐ the rainbow in this book isn't made from official colors, but it's still a classic addition to your collection.



The Rainbow Fish ‐ this tale isn't as much about rainbows as it is how to be a good friend, but it has always been a staple in my classroom and still fits the theme.



The Rainbow Book ‐ this is one of the prettiest books I've seen and not only discusses all the colors in a clever way, but emotions often associated with each one, as well.  If you have not seen this book before, you have got to check it out!



All the Colors of the Rainbow ‐ a good non‐fiction book covering the subject of rainbows for the younger set.



Monsters Love Colors a fun book covering colors that your little monsters will love.


Mix it Up another clever interactive book by the author of Press Here.  If you haven't seen this one before, it's another one you just have to own!


We're also big into music around here.  It's playing all day long and always good for a dance break.  There are two songs that we enjoy about rainbows that I've written about before:

Give Me the Rainbow 
Eat Like a Rainbow 

Speaking of "Eat Like a Rainbow," why not serve up some rainbow‐themed snacks, too?  Check out my post on Gv's Rainbow‐Themed Birthday Party for some tasty (& healthy) ideas.

And finally, when linking to the books, I discovered something that looks so cool, I just had to share it.  It's not cheap and totally impractical, but check out this thing that projects a rainbow in your room:
 
Rainbow in my Room


I totally want one for myself!

Oooh, I just discovered two cheaper versions.  I wonder if they're any good...

Rainbow Over My Bedroom
LED Rainbow Projector Night Light

I am so asking for one of these for my birthday!!

Although I think rainbows are a perfect accompaniment to St. Patrick's Day, most of these activities could be used any time of the year ‐ definitely whenever you're looking for ideas to help your toddler learn about colors.  Which idea do you like best?  I'd love to hear - leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com. 

Homemade Healthy (ish) Corn Dogs

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It's a big tradition of ours to have corn dogs at our annual state fair, but this year we decided to put a whole new spin on our little food‐on‐a‐stick ritual.

To begin with, they have gotten crazy expensive ($10 each!), which is just way out of our budget.  Second of all, we figured we'd be able to create a healthier version ourselves and just indulge in them after returning home from a day packed full of critter‐and‐people watching fun.

Although we've got plenty of Popsicle sticks lying around the house (see how we use them here, here and here) that we could have used for these corn dogs, I decided to omit the fancy handles because who needs unnecessary waste when you can just enjoy a new finger food?

What You Need:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking powder (learn to make your own here!)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

6 Tablespoons butter

1/2 cup milk of choice

2 Tablespoons honey

8 hot dogs (these are decent, for an occasional junk food treat)

mustard for dipping (make your own!) or whatever else you want on them


What You Do:


1.  Mix up all the dry ingredients, then cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly.

2.  Stir in the milk and honey until combined.

3.  Smoosh (yes, that is a technical cooking termI'm sure I read this in my CIA Professional Chef textbook!) the dough around each hot dog and place on a silicone‐lined cookie sheet.

Corn dogs ‐ these are corn dogs!  I saw that not‐so‐innocent look that just passed across your face!

4.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20‐30 minutes and enjoy with some mustard or ketchup, especially after a fun‐filled day of animals and exhibits at your neighborhood fairground.



Do you have to get a corn dog fix every year during your local fair?  Have you ever thought about creating a healthier version at home?  I'd love to hear - leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.