Patriotic Decorations to Make with Your Little Sparkler

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I was thinking that we'd reached the stage in the year when holiday crafts take a back seat to the flurry of summer activities, but then I realized it would be fun to have something up in the way of festive decorations over the next couple of months and that using a patriotic theme would satisfy both Memorial Day and 4th of July, so we got ourselves all star‐and‐stripy and now we're set!

Gv and I have really enjoyed becoming artsy together this past year.  We completed projects for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day,  St. Patrick's Day, and then Easter and boy, have I learned a lot about doing activities with a 1‐ to 2‐year‐old.  I found myself becoming braver and braver with my mess anxiety each time, and Gv was exposed to so many different art techniques.

This time around, I wanted to give her more of a choice in the projects, while also trying a couple of new ideas out.  I stuck with the three motifs of stars, fireworks, and flags although I was tempted to create an Uncle Sam out of a paper plate, like I did with Santa Claus at Christmas.  But I decided to save that for next year, when she's a little older and might be able to participate in the activity a bit more than merely sticking the cotton for the beard onto the plate.

So here are some fun, crafty ideas for you to try with your toddler that will result in some really cute decorations this summer:

Baby, You're a Firework

 Straw Firework Painting

The straw tips continued to be all bendy when Gv tried to stamp it down onto the paper, but the results were still quite effective and she had a blast, which is all that matters, anyway!

Begin by taping six bendy straws together (I found it was helpful to do this close to the base) and then bend the ends so that they splay out, like octopus arms:

Squeeze some red and blue paint onto whatever you're using for a palette (I just used scrap paper), rub the straw stamp around in just one of the colors to get it all covered in paint, and then stamp away.

Repeat with the other color to complete the display:

Wet Chalk Fireworks 

We'd experimented with the wet chalk last month and Gv really enjoyed it, so it seemed like a natural thing to try on a background of black construction paper:

Yes, I helped her draw most of the fireworks, but she did all the dots and added her own touch to the pink burst on the right.

Straw‐Blown Paint Fireworks

This did not turn out the way I'd planned, but I think that's because I just put full‐strength drops of paint onto the paper.  If I were to try it again, I would dilute the paint with a little water, so that it flows across the page better when blown at through a straw.

Gv still got quite a kick out of this activity, though, and even though the project turned out more like blobs than fireworks, I still think it's kind of cool:

If you look closely (especially at the lower‐right corner), you can see that Gv added her own twist to this project by dipping the straw end into the blobs and then "stamping" them onto the page.

Glittery Hands Fireworks

One of Gv's favorite activities anytime is to have us trace her hands and feet, so I try to always include a handcutout activity in the mix.

Cut out the firework hands, then add some glitter for a little bit of sparkle:

This is up on our mantle and sends Gv into a fit of giggles every night.  "Shake!  Shake!  Hands!"  (because we sing the "Shake Shake Shake SeƱora" song whenever we use the glitter.  Or the salt and pepper.  Or any other spice.  We like to really shake things up around here. {grin})

Sparkly Glitter Fireworks

I bet you're still singing that song, aren't you?  Or at the very least, experiencing an unexpected desire to go and watch Beetlejuice, right?

This project is another of Gv's favorites.  She requested this all on her own (well, she pulled out the box of glitter "Shake! Shake!" and I decided to make glitter fireworks with it) and one we're entertained by nightly when she does her recitation of "Purple! Orange! Green! Blue! Wellow! Wed! Shake! Shake!" which is cuter than a couple of baby goats meeting a barn chicken

You Are My Lucky Star

Oil Painting/Stained Glass Effect Stars 

Gv enjoyed doing this so much with the Easter eggs last month, I knew she's love experiencing it again.  This time, I just dripped a little oil across the stars and let her smear it around with her fingers, which I think she loved even more than the Q-tip painting:
Yup.  That's a sticker.  In the middle of her chest.  (And check out that left arm!)

It's hard to see the cool effect of these stars in this photo, but trust me, it's neat.

You can see a little better how the light shines through the oil spots, but the photo still doesn't do it justice.  The oil does continue to spread over time, though, so just one or two drops will be plenty!

Stamped Star

This was another request by Gv - she's been on a stamp kick lately - and she happily stamped away at this star for a good 15 minutes (after which I tossed it in the recycle bin, but Shhh...don't tell her that!):

Multiple Materials Star Garland

The girl really likes to color.  Markers, crayons, colored pencils, pens, whatever she can get her hands on that will leave a mark, she's up for trying out.

Since I didn't want to make half a zillion stars like I did with the eggs last month, I decided to cut out a few stars, paper-doll-style, and let her color those with whatever she chose:

Markers won out on this occasion...

Don't you just love the concentration of color in the center of that far left star?

Fingerprint Star

...because once you've stamped your heart out with the rubber stamp, you've got to stick your fingers in the stamp pad and see what happens next:

Another gift for the recycle bin (Shhh!)

Sticker Star

I wonder when the love of stickers will start to fade with this one.  Certainly not any time soon, and although I didn't have any star stickers, I did find these perfect red and blue skater achievement stickers that looked close enough to stars for us:

These Colors Don't Run (But the little girl sure does!)

Paper Pieces Flag 

It's all about the glue with this project.  This time, I cut scraps of paper (instead of having Gv tear them) because what she really enjoys is placing the pieces onto the stripes of glue that I've laid down:

Pom Pom Flag

Another Gv request.  Any excuse to play with the box of pom poms gets her excited.  I think this flag turned out pretty cute:

Salt Painting Flag

We tried this technique last month and it was such a hit, I knew we needed to do it again.  Squeeze out glue and then cover it with salt, like you'd do with glitter.  After everything dries, dab some watercolors onto the salt and then drip water onto it all to watch the color run:

Handprint Flag

I didn't even think about which hand to paint to make sure the flag faced the right way, but it didn't matter, because I just ended up hanging the flag lengthwise anyway.

Next time, I'll paint the base of the right hand below the pinky finger blue and it should wind facing the correct direction:

Lots of giggles as I painted her hand...which has me thinking I might try more hand painting activities in the future.

Are you looking for ways to get a little more red, white, and blue into your life this Memorial Day or 4th of July?  Which of these activities do you like best?  I'd love to hear - leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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