Lighted Shadowbox Nativity

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My favorite Christmas decorations are Nativity sets.  We have a few Santa and Snowmen decorations here and there, but we have several Nativities.  I just love the simplicity of Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus in the manger.  And I love how a nativity reflects the true meaning of Christmas!


For this craft, I was inspired by the Stained Glass Nativity from Meaningful Mama.  Little Brother and I decided to make our own shadowbox version using the top of a clear plastic to-go container.  I didn’t want to run to the store, so we decided to use what we had.  In hindsight, I wish I would have just purchased a shadowbox because I would love to keep this to display year after year!  We might end up just having to make another one!


Here’s what you’ll need:  a shadowbox deep enough to hold a tealight (we just used the top of a clear to-go container), battery-operated tealights, orange and yellow tissue paper, scissors, a glue stick, a simple Nativity silhouette, and an Xacto knife.  



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1.  Print off the nativity scene and then use an Xacto knife to cut out the silhouette.  CAUTION:  This step is for adults only.  DO NOT let your child use the Xacto knife.



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2.  Lay the nativity onto your shadowbox and tape in a couple spots to keep it from sliding.  As you can see, we used the top of a clear carry out container to make our shadowbox.



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As you can see, we used the top of a clear carry out container to make our shadowbox.



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3.  Use a glue stick to add glue to the pieces of tissue paper.  Glue on top of the nativity.




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4.  Use a battery-powered tealight behind the shadowbox to illuminate.



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Be sure to check out more Christmas crafts here and on our Christmas Pinterest Board.



Feed the Alphabet Monster

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I love being able to repurpose things that would otherwise end up in the trash.  And if you have children in your house, chances are the two items needed for this activity are plentiful:  bottle caps (from milk and other drinks) and a baby wipes container!   I shared this bottle cap sorting activity a few years ago and recently found a stash of bottle caps leftover as I was cleaning out a closet.  I decided to make this Feed the Alphabet Monster activity to help Little Brother practice identifying lowercase letters.        

The title of the post was inspired by Toddler Approved’s Feed the LEGO Monsters post.  :)


Here’s what you’ll need:  a plastic baby wipes container, bottle caps, and 1″ stickers.        


IMG 9176 500x333 Feed the Alphabet Monster     IMG 9178 300x450 Feed the Alphabet Monster  These 1″ labels are perfect for the tops of bottle caps!  Just peel and stick!    
IMG 9180 500x333 Feed the Alphabet Monster  1.  Write letters (either capital or lowercase) on the stickers.      
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    IMG 9462 300x456 Feed the Alphabet Monster 2.  Have your child place “feed” the caps to the monster one at a time while saying each letter.  
  IMG 9471 300x450 Feed the Alphabet Monster       IMG 9468 300x445 Feed the Alphabet Monster         IMG 9478 500x333 Feed the Alphabet Monster I love that this activity can be easily packaged and stored in the wipes container!     
    Check out more ways to recycle and browse our Alphabet Activities Pinterest Board:  
Follow Jenae {I Can Teach My Child!}’s board Alphabet Activities on Pinterest.

Paint with Tops

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A few weeks ago we made homemade spinning tops (which the boys are still having a blast with).  We found yet another way to have fun utilizing them:  paint with tops!!  Besides being a fun art project, this activity is also great fine motor practice as your child learns to spin a top.


We chose to do this activity outside, just in case the paint was to fly.  And I would definitely recommend it…especially if you have little ones who love to get LOTS of paint on the top.


Here’s what you’ll need:  tops (add to the fun and make your own with our tutorial), washable paint, paper, and a tray (we used the top of a shallow box).


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Just dip the marble (on the bottom of the top) into the paint and then spin on a piece of white paper!  We had three different tops with three different colors.



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 A top in motion!

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This was the result!  I love how unique this art project is!

 What unconventional material have you and your kids painted with recently?

Homemade Afterbite (anti-itch salve for mosquito bites)

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  I do not always remember to put mosquito repellent on the boys every time they step outside, so we inevitably have some mosquito bites around here.  After Bite has been a lifesaver this summer.  Unfortunately, however, I left ours at the lake on our recent trip and didn’t want to make a special trip to the store.  So we made our own homemade afterbite (based on the ingredients listed)! Much to my surprise, this stuff really does work!  It has been used and approved by everyone in the household as a remedy for helping to ease the irritating itch of a pesky mosquito bite.  :)   Here’s what you’ll need:  baking soda, tea tree oil, and water.   IMG 9150 300x450 Homemade Afterbite (anti itch salve for mosquito bites) IMG 9157 500x333 Homemade Afterbite (anti itch salve for mosquito bites)

 1.  Mix baking soda and water until it is the preferred consistency.  I used 5 tablespoons of baking soda and 2 tablespoons of water.

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2.  Add a few drops of tea tree oil to the mixture (I used 1/8 teaspoon and it is a little bit too strong).  Store in a closed container.

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 3.  Rub a little bit of the salve onto your child’s mosquito bites to help relieve the itch!


 And there you have it!  Be sure to check out our homemade mosquito spray as well!  


World’s Best Spinning Top

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Tops are one of the oldest and most beloved toys.   Clay tops have supposedly been found in the Middle East dating all the way back to 3500 BC and wooden tops in Egypt from as early as 2000-1400 BC.  These toys are the epitome of “timeless”.


Spinning tops also defy continental and cultural boundaries.  My parents recently went to Nhowe Mission in Zimbabwe to work at the hospital that our church and family helped to build and now support.  We learned how to make the world’s best spinning top after a patient of my dad’s made about a hundred homemade tops to send with he and my mom for the children there to enjoy.

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Our boys were recipients of the very few that made it back home without being given to the children (and adults) at Nhowe.  They were immediately in awe of the fun that transpired with such a simple toy!


Once we realized how much our boys enjoyed the homemade tops, we decided to make our own and let them decorate them! This project is so versatile:  it would be a great project for VBS, birthday parties, summer camps, craft time, or even as a service project to send to missionaries or to put in Operation Christmas Child boxes!


*Please note:  Due to the marble, these toys are not appropriate for children under 3 as they could pose a choking risk.  If you have younger children in your house, please use extreme caution when playing with these tops.


Here’s what you’ll need to make your own spinning tops:

Wooden Toy Wheels
Wooden Dowel Pins (be sure to purchase at least 18 since there are 18 toy wheels in a package)
Gorilla Super Glue
Various Colors of Sharpies
Puff Paint


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 This is all you need to make each individual top:  a wooden toy wheel, marble, dowel pin, and glue.  We learned through trial-and-error that gorilla glue worked much better than the glue pictured above.


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 The process of making the top itself is actually pretty simple…just make sure an adult is doing these three steps.  (1) Add some gorilla glue to the end of the wooden dowel pin and insert into the center of the wooden wheel.  (2) On the opposite side of the wooden wheel, add a generous amount of gorilla glue and place a marble in the center of the wheel.

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Poke holes in an egg carton and let them dry for at least 2 hours (if not longer).

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Use Sharpies to color the tops.  Then add some puffy paint for more decorating!  Let dry completely before you use your top (speaking from experience–the puffy paint will spin all over your counters)!


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All of the boys in our house (children and adult alike) have had hours of fun with these tops!  Check out this video that demonstrates how well they spin!

Can’t see the video? Go here.


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