DIY Tinkering Workshop for Kids

My son Micah is that kid who is always trying to figure out “how things work.”  He absorbs information like no one I know and often amuses us with the most off the wall, interesting facts that he “read somewhere in a book.”  He also loves science and technology.  We always say that he’s going to be a famous inventor someday!

For the last couple of years, Micah would often say, “Mom, I wish I had a workshop of my very own!   I wish I had a place that I could just go and build stuff.”  Whenever he said this, I was left feeling like I didn’t even know where to begin, so I’d look up a project on Pinterest or try to get him engaged in a creative activity.  I never really thought it would be possible to make his dream a reality.

Recently,  I started talking to Micah about what he wanted for his 11th birthday.  He didn’t have a specific gift in mind.  Then inspiration struck!  I started dreaming about how we could make a special workshop just for Micah in our house.  We have this random, small utility room between our living room and garage that had basically become a storage space for all kinds of  random things.  I realized that this could become a perfect tinkering space for Micah.

I knew that I wanted to start with large pegboard on one wall, so we took a trip to Lowe’s to see what we could find.  In a matter of days, Micah’s workshop came together, and I was very pleased that we were able to keep the cost down to under $60 by using a bunch of thing we already had in our garage and in our house.

I put together this little video (below) of “The Making of Micah’s Tinkering Workshop” which includes a cost breakdown and a few fun moments with Micah too!  Micah is thoroughly enjoying his “place to go build stuff.”  The first day it was finished, he spent over 4 hours in there working on building a robotic arm that was given to him by a friend.

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We would love to hear from you!  If you know of any cool building projects for kids or ideas of what Micah could do in his workshop, leave us a comment and let us know!

3 Simple St. Patrick’s Day Treats

If you are planning on making some St. Patrick’s Day treats, here are 3 simple options for you…  Pretzel Shamrocks, Shamrock Oreo Cookie Pops, and Shamrock Marshmallow Pops.  All of these treats use Wilton’s Candy Melts, which you can find at crafts stores like Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics.  Watch my tutorial to learn how to make these tasty treats!

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Click on these links for more St. Patrick’s Day fun…

St. Patrick’s Day Treasure Hunt

Make a Rainbow of Color: Skittles Science Experiment

Rainbow Fruit Kabobs 

Portal Cookie Pops & Birthday Party

My son, Micah, is a huge fan of the video games Portal and Portal 2.  So for his 11th birthday, he decided to have a Portal themed party.  I wanted to send a special treat for Micah to bring to school on his big day, so I went to work making these super tasty Portal Cookie Pops.  He was so thrilled to bring them to share with all of his friends!  You can watch my tutorial above if you want to make some of your own Portal Cookie Pops!

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portal cookie pop topper template pdf

The party itself didn’t require a whole lot of preparation because Micah wanted to have it at a local “fun center” so that he and his buddies could play laser tag and ride go carts.  I did want to add a couple of fun elements though, so I created these labels to make “Propulsion Gel” and “Repulsion Gel” to give to each of the kids.

According to theportalwiki.com , “Propulsion Gel is a bright orange substance that greatly reduces the friction of objects moving across the surface to which it is applied. Propulsion Gel also increases velocity, as objects covered in Propulsion Gel also have their friction reduced, causing them to slide around and be moved more easily.  Repulsion Gel is a light blue substance that repels objects, and any player or object that hits a surface coated with Replusion Gel will bounce off.”

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We used orange slime that we found in the dollar section at Target for the Propulsion Gel and blue Gatorades for the Repulsion Gel.  It’s close to Easter, so we could only find orange slime in “carrot” containers.  We transferred the slime into 4 0z extra small ziplock square containers with lids.  These were the perfect size!  I bought a 12 pack of 12 oz Gatorades, which were just the right amount for Micah’s party.

Here are the printable templates I created for the Propulsion Gel and Repulsion Gel.

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repulsion gel template pdf

 

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In Portal, there is also a specific cake that is talked about throughout the game.  We definitely had to make a Real Portal Cake for Micah’s 11th birthday!  Click here for my recent blogpost on How to Make a Real Portal Cake.

I would definitely have to say that Micah’s Portal Birthday Party was a huge success!

How to make a Real Portal Cake 

How to Make a Real Portal Cake

Portal and Portal 2 are popular video games.  Truthfully, I’ve never played either of them, but according to my son they are the “best video games ever!”  Here’s a bit about the games according to my son Micah…”In Portal, you are a test subject in a huge underground facility called Aperture Science that is supposedly under Michigan.  You go through the tests (which are puzzles), solving them, and they get harder and harder along the way.  At a certain point in the game, you acquire a tool which makes portals that objects and you yourself can pass through.  This tool is official called the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, but is more commonly referred to as the Portal Gun.”

Micah’s 11 birthday was March 3rd and he wanted a Portal Themed Birthday Party!  Micah chose to have his party at a Fun Center in our city so that we could play laser tag and ride go carts, so the cake became the main thing that represented the Portal Theme.

In Portal there is a gigantic robot named GLaDOS at the center of the facility.  GLaDOS runs everything and she promises you cake at the end of the test, but it turns out that she’s lying.  She actually puts you on a platform headed towards a fire pit.  In the game, there is a message written on a wall in a secret room, written by a scientist that says, “the cake is a lie!”   Here are a couple of images from the actual game.

This was a super fun cake to create!  You can watch my tutorial to learn how to make one of your own.  This cake is definitely NOT a lie!

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St. Patrick’s Day Treasure Hunt

What is St. Patrick’s Day really all about?  Is it about leprechauns, shamrocks, rainbows, and pots of gold?  Who was St. Patrick anyway?  Every year, on March 17th we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but as I began thinking about some fun things I could do with my kids this year, I realized that I didn’t know anything about St. Patrick.  So I did a little reading, and what I discovered gave me a whole new perspective on this Irish holiday.

Patrick (Patricius) was a teenage boy living in Britain when he was kidnapped and put on a slave ship headed for Ireland.  He spent 6 years as a slave and it was in those years that he encountered God and received Jesus Christ as his Savior.  One day he had a dream that he was going back to his own country and he heard a voice say, “see your ship is ready.”  Patrick escaped and returned home.  Sometime later, he had another dream that he was to return to Ireland as a missionary.

St. Patrick was a man of God who brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to a very Pagan country.  In 432 A.D. he built the first Christian church in Ireland.  Over the course of 29 years, St. Patrick planted 300 churches and baptized over 120,000 Irishmen.

According to legend,  he used the three leaf clover to explain the trinity.  He used the one plant with three leaves as an analogy for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. unknown-1

 

With all of this in mind, I had an idea for a St. Patrick’s Day Treasure Hunt for children that would highlight the God who St. Patrick lived for.  I’m all about good old fashioned holiday fun!  We always wear green on St. Patrick’s Day so we don’t get pinched 🙂 and for the last couple of years, we have celebrated by making these Rainbow Fruit Kabobs.  But I love an opportunity to teach my children about their identity in Christ.  I love to create fun experiences for them to learn Biblical truths.  So I think we have started a new St. Patrick’s day tradition in our house!

Here’s How the Treasure Hunt Works:

Print out the free templates I have included (at the end of this post) for the Gold Coins and the Bible Verse Cards.  Cut out the circles and use a glue stick to attach them to the chocolate coins.  I found my coins in the dollar section at Target. Cut out the Scripture Cards and have them ready.  Hide your gold coins out in your yard (or inside if it’s a rainy day).  Gather your kids and tell them that you are sending them on a treasure hunt.  Have them each collect the same number of gold coins.  Bring them inside, sit down together at the table and lay out the scripture cards.  Now your kids can match up their coins with the cards that have the same scripture references.  Have your kids take turns reading the verses that they found.  This fun experience will give kids the opportunity to discover the treasure of who they are in Christ.  As you wrap up your time together indulge in a little chocolatey goodness!

Here are some pictures and a video of our family enjoying our St. Patrick’s Day Treasure Hunt.

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Sources: Patricius: The True Story of St. Patrick, Saint Patrick, The Shamrock, and The Trinity, Shamrock Image

DIY Tablecloth Curtains

A couple of years ago we rented the cutest little house in an older neighborhood.  The street was lined with big trees, the neighbors were friendly, and the backyard was filled with a variety of fruit trees.  The house itself had a lot of character, including a wall covered in shiplap, a large window with a view of a train trestle, glass doorknobs, and old light fixtures.  The master bedroom, however, needed a bit of help.  Because we were renting, I didn’t want to invest a ton of money into bedroom decor, as we knew we wouldn’t be living there very long.

One afternoon my husband decided to take the kids to see a movie and he left me with a couple of glorious hours home alone.  I had purchased two rectangular tablecloths at Target a couple of days before, so I went right to work on creating some curtains to brighten up my bedroom.  The windows truly were the best feature of that room, so I wanted to highlight them.

I can’t believe how easy it was to sew these simple curtains!  By the time my family came home, I was finished and my bedroom had a completely new look.   Here’s my tutorial on how to make simple curtains out of a rectangular table cloth.

I would love to hear from you.  Leave me a comment and tell me about your favorite DIY project and of course show me a picture if you make some tablecloth curtains of your own!

 

Dr. Seuss (Cat In The Hat) Birthday Party

Dr. Seuss’ birthday is March 2nd.  When my boys were little, they LOVED Dr. Seuss books.  The Cat in the Hat was one of their favorites!  Several years in a row I made cupcakes for my oldest son’s class for Dr. Seuss’ Birthday.  Then when Jacob turned 7, he decided to have a Cat In The Hat Themed Birthday Party.

Jacob will be 15 in May.  Time sure flies!  But sometimes I look at him and I still see that sweet little 7 year old running around in his Cat in the Hat, red and white, striped hat.  Thankfully he’s still just as sweet, almost 8 years later, but we are well past the age of themed birthday parties.

So today I am taking a few minutes to reminisce.  With Dr. Seuss’ birthday  just a few weeks away, I decided that I would look through our archives of photos and share some of my memories with all of you.   The quality of photos isn’t the greatest.  I had no thought of starting a blog back then…just of keeping up with two busy little boys, but I’m sure there are some fun ideas for those of you who are thinking of hosting a Cat in the Hat Party or just looking for something fun to do on Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

For Jacob’s party, he wanted to watch some classic Dr. Seuss cartoons, so we made our house into a mini movie theater including a “red carpet” entrance made out of a red plastic table cloth.  Our snack bar included popcorn, red vines, water bottles, and m&ms.  We gave each of the kids some pretend money to “purchase” their snack items and ushered them into a curtained off room, lit only with white lights around the perimeter of the floor. We projected the movie onto a wall to make it feel like a movie theater and set up some cozy seating along the other wall.

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I decorated with a display of our own Dr. Seuss books and some cardboard cut outs that I purchased online.  For the cake, I bought a white plate and turned it upside down for the base.   I made 5 cake rounds and stacked them one on top of the other.  I frosted every other white and red and piped a bit of black frosting for the lines.

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The cupcakes featured are the ones I brought to Jacob’s class.  For the toppers, just layer white lifesavers and round cinnamon hard candies with frosting in between to “glue” them together.  Place the candy toppers in the refrigerator to harden before putting them on the cupcakes.  Frost the cupcakes blue and then add a circle of white in the middle before placing the candy hats in the center.  The white frosting becomes the base of the hat.

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I filled a basket with Dr. Seuss pencil and eraser sets for each of the kids to take home as a “thank you for attending my party” gift.  This was definitely a fun and memorable birthday party for my oldest boy!

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