Crown of Thorns

Since the girls can’t really give something up for P1020019Lent, we are instead focusing on doing things this religious season.  (Personally I’ve always preferred this approach anyways.)  Our Advent activity of adding straw to Jesus’s manager was such a hit in our house that I loved the idea of doing something similar this Lent.  I made this Crown of Thorns and during the Lenten season we will remove a thorn every time someone does a good deed.  Our goal is to remove all the thorns before Easter.

P1020016To make our crown, I purchased a small grapevine wreath at Michaels.  I then stuck toothpicks throughout it to make the thorns.  We used about 100, I just to a package and stuck a ton in there.  We are setting aside each of the “thorns” we pull out and will use them to make a cross towards the end of the season.  (The added benefit of this is that it keeps the girls from playing with the toothpicks they pull out.)

What kind of deeds count?  In our home it is P1020021anything that eases someone’s burden or brightens his day, which is exactly what we would want to offer Christ in his journey to Calvary.  It could be as simple as helping with dinner or sending a card to a grandparent.

As a kid I always thought Lent was one of the worse times of the year.  It’s only now as an adult that I can enjoy Lent as a time of focus and reflection to renew my faith.  While this is also a time of sacrifice and prayer, I want my girls to have a positive experience with Lent so that later they may be able to appreciate this time of year.

Good Deeds for Jesus

It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday season and start to miss the real focus.  So, to get ready for the coming of Jesus we have been adding straw to his manger.  Each time the girls do a good deed this Advent season, they add a piece of staw (yellow yarn) to the empty manger.  We want Jesus to have a nice, cozy place to sleep so we want to add lots of straw.

In our family Nativity the Jesus is attached to the manger so I made a manger out of cardstock.  I just colored it to look like wood and then folded/taped it together.  I’ve included the pattern I used to make it, which you can easily adjust to fit the size you need.

Click Here for Manger Template

On Christmas Day when we add Jesus to the Nativity scene, I will just put the yellow yarn on the stable floor under the ceramic Jesus.

The girls are loving adding straw to the manger.  And we really like the focus being on good deeds for Jesus as opposed to avoiding bad behavior for Santa.  After all, Jesus is the reason for the season!

Homemade Advent Calendar

Advent started this past Sunday.  I had meant to have this finished and posted by then but life got in the way.  Anyway, this year I wanted to do more to celebrate Advent with the girls as we prepare for the coming Christmas season.  Towards that goal I made our own Advent calendar with activities to celebrate the season.

Supplies: cardstock (red and green), glue, stickers, twine, clothespins

This was super simple.  I cut red cardstock into rectangles (mine were 3.5″ by 5″).  I debated using the colors of the Advent candles, but decided to wait until the girls were older to add in that aspect.  So the tabs were red and then I cut the numbers out of green using my Cricut.  You could just as easily use number stickers or write them by hand.

On the back of each one I wrote a message or activity for the day.  Each day we will turn over a card to see what it says.  Keep in mind what events you already have scheduled.  Here are some of the messages I included:

  • Advent is when we get ready for Jesus’ birthday.
  • God loves you so much!  He is always with you!
  • Buy toys for those who won’t get any at Christmas.
  • Say a special prayer for someone who needs extra help.
  • Go to church with your family.
  • Help make Christmas presents today.
  • Be extra nice to your sister today.
  • Learn a new Christmas carol today.
  • Help feed and take care of Hero. (Our dog, this is a chore they haven’t done before).
  • Draw a special Christmas picture.
  • Do a Christmas craft today.
  • Tell a family member the story of Jesus and the first Christmas.
  • Bake Christmas cookies today.
  • (For the Immaculate Conception) Say a special prayer to Mary today.
  • (On Christmas Eve) Happy Birthday Jesus!  Sing Happy Birthday to Baby Jesus!

To included the girls in this activity I had them decorate the cards with stickers and then help me hang the pieces up.  At first I liked the plain cards better but I knew that the girls would like being a part of it and this would make it more meaningful.  Now I enjoy the colorful cards so much that I think we’ll have to add stickers each day to the backsides of the cards as we read them.  🙂

Happy Advent!

Turkey Tiara

I love our Thanksgiving tiaras!  These were actually inspired by Fancy Nancy Our Thanksgiving Banquet.  (We love Fancy Nancy in our house!)  They are festive and fun and pretty easy to make.

Supplies: headband, felt–brown, mustard, and red (for the red use the stiff, sparkly felt), googly eyes, red feathers, ribbon

To assembly the pieces you want to start with the face.  Layer the two circles together and then add the red felt wing bits.  For the red piece, I used the stiff, sparkly felt to give the piece a firmer structure and a little more pizzazz.

Once all the felt parts are together you want to glue it onto the headband.  I attached it a little at the side because you don’t want it right on top of the head.  And then add the real feathers.  If it’s already on the headband it is easier to be sure pieces aren’t poking into the head.

For the headband piece I covered mine in ivory ribbon.  We had cheap colored ones and this made it look nicer and match the girls’ outfit.  You could just as easily by a nicer headband with which to start.

Don’t like the showgirl look?  You don’t have to make it with the feathers and the sparkles.  Last year I forgot ours at home when we traveled to California so we had to make a quick detour by Walmart and borrow my grandma’s glue gun.  I just used dark brown felt instead of the bright red and no fluffy feathers.


Turkeys, Turkeys Everywhere

We have made a few different turkeys this season.  They were fun and cute and a lot are easy enough that you could even do them on Turkey Day to keep the little ones occupied while you are cooking or the grown ups are visiting.

Coffee Filter Turkeys

I think that these turkeys came out so cute.  It was a different take on the coffee filter flowers using liquid water color.  We also used scented pine cones to spice up the place.

Supplies: coffee filters, liquid water color, pippettes or eye droppers, pine cones, googly eyes (if you want),  construction paper or another item for the head (pom pom, small pine cone, etc.)

Using our sensory table so it didn’t make too big a mess, I gave the girls little cups of the water colors and plastic pippettes to drop the paint onto the coffee filters.  If you haven’t made the flowers before it makes a tie-dye type design once it dries.  You could also just color the filters with markers and then spray them with water to create a similar effect.  We went with the droppers and water color to make what the girls called “a science craft.”

We then crumbled the filters up into flower shapes and glued them onto the base of the pine cone to make the puffy tail feathers.  Older children could do the folding and stuffing themselves and probably wouldn’t even need to glue in the “feathers.” Since I have little ones that like to play with their crafts, I did the stuffing and hot glued in the pieces.

Then we added the head pieces.  I have included the image of the template I used so you could just download that and size it to your needs if you don’t want to draw your own, but really it’s pretty easy to freehand.  You could also do something different for the head such as use a pom pom or a small pine cone piece.  We didn’t have any natural pieces to use and the pom pom balls I had just didn’t look right with the color of our tail so we went for a paper head.  And the girls chose the googly eyes because “everything is better with googly eyes.”

Spray Paint Turkeys

These make great wall hangings to decorate the house for the big day.  And the graffiti style makes this good for a wide variety of ages.  Little ones can work on their hand muscles spraying the paint and older ones can play with the spray functions to create different designs.

Supplies: liquid water color, spray bottles, paper, tape

We used the liquid water color for these turkeys as well.  I drew the turkey feather piece on thick paper (we just use a roll from Michaels) and then cut out multiple copies.  I taped up all the feathers on our wall in the backyard.

Then I gave the girls spray bottles filled with liquid water colors–one bottle per color.  The girls had a great time spraying down the feather pieces.

After they dried we glued on the turkey pieces.  I cut out beaks and waddles ahead of time for the girls to add along with googly eyes.

Fancy Turkeys

I love crafts like these where we just put out a bunch of different supplies and the girls go wild. It really is just a turkey and whatever craft supplies you have on hand.  The girls had the idea to turn these decorations into puppets and added the craft stick handles.

Supplies: Cardstock, glue, markers, sequins, feathers, glitter, tissue paper, 

I used the cricut to cut out the turkeys out of cardstock (Cricut Lite, Celebrate with Flourish) but you could just as trace their hands or use a template online (there are tons of them).  We didn’t do the traditional hand turkeys for this one since the girls’ hands are still so little (there would be very little space to decorate).


Who hasn’t made a woven paper placemat for Thanksgiving?  This went great with our practicing patterns.  In addition to the placemat, we’ve done our pattern file folder game and made bead necklaces.  But really I included this in the post because I think it’s easy to think that projects need to be super creative, complicated, and unique but all those projects you loved as a child are new and fun to your little ones.  So don’t forget about them!  Make a hand turkey.  Weave a placemat.  Have fun!


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