Arts and Crafts

Easy Handmade Holiday Bead Ornaments

December 8, 2016

Your kids can exercise their holiday creativity by making these easy and festive bead ornaments for the Christmas tree. They also look great attached to wrapped gifts as a little holiday extra.

These ornaments are simple to make, although the candy cane ornament is easier to put together than the star and probably a better project for younger children. All you'll need to make these are pipe cleaners, plastic beads in various colors and shapes, some ribbon, and scissors.

Make Your Own Holiday Gingerbread House

December 6, 2016

Gingerbread House

Every year we create a gingerbread house using the nice kit sold by Trader Joe's, but last year, after constructing a house from the kit, my daughter decided she wanted to take our gingerbread house building experience a step further and create another one—this time from scratch! Fortunately, as we found out, it's easy to do and fun.

First thing you have to do is come up with a design for your house. We created a template for a basic gingerbread house that's simple to create and put together. (You can download our template, formatted for two letter-size sheets of paper; get page one here and page two here.) You can embellish and elaborate on this little house and make it your own special creation.

ARTifact Opens New Art School in Downtown Corte Madera

December 1, 2016

ARTifact Corte MaderaMarin Mommies presents a sponsored shout-out from ARTifact in Corte Madera.

ARTifact, a local leading children’s art school, has expanded to a new location in downtown Corte Madera, at 121 Corte Madera Avenue. The children’s art school has been operating in San Francisco for over seven years, serving thousands of students and families from around the Bay Area. “Many families live north of the city, so it was a natural decision to open the second location in the heart of Marin County” says Lauren Sharp, the founder.

The Corte Madera location will offer the same art enrichment programs that ARTifact has become known for: weekly Art Exploration programs for kids Pre-K/Preschool (2.5–6 years old) and After-School programs for K–12 (6–12 years old). The team of teachers also plans to host Summer Camps later in the year.

Ten Fun Family Things to Do on Thanksgiving Break

November 21, 2016

Snow sledding in San Rafael
Go snow sledding in downtown San Rafael at the annual Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland

Thanksgiving week is next week, and since most Marin County schools give kids the entire week off, you'll probably be looking for ways to keep them occupied before and after Turkey Day. Here are our top 10 activities for families for Thanksgiving break:

  1. Go snow sledding in downtown San Rafael at the annual Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland.
  2. Go ice skating at a Bay Area skating rink like Marin on Ice at Northgate and the Bay Area Discovery Museum's Iceless Skating Rink.
  3. Get a head start on the holidays at the West End Nursery Christmas House in San Rafael.
  4. Take a fantastic fall hike with the family.
  5. Make a cute pumpkin turkey centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table.

Create a Cute Pumpkin Turkey Centerpiece for Thanksgiving

November 10, 2016

Pumpkin turkey centerpiece craftEvery fall, my daughter is obsessed with pumpkins. She loves all the different shapes and sizes of pumpkins and winter squash, so we end up buying more than we can really use (there's only so much butternut squash soup and pumpkin pie you can eat).

A couple years ago we worked together to create this cute pumpkin turkey centerpiece for Thanksgiving. We've made it a tradition to make one every year! We created it using a small “sugar pie” pumpkin (available at most grocery stores—we got ours at Trader Joe's for $1.99) and craft supplies that we happened to have on hand.

Create Colorful Leaf Prints for Fall

November 3, 2016

Leaf PrintsCreating colorful leaf prints is one of my children's favorite simple fall craft projects. We love to take advantage of Marin's great fall weather and go on family hikes and walks at this time of year. Along the way, the kids collect interesting autumn leaves, which we bring home to use as decorations and to make leaf prints.

Making leaf prints is an easy project that kids of all ages can do, and the results can be really beautiful. To make them you’ll need:

Halloween Craft Project: Paper Jack-O-Lanterns

October 14, 2016

Pumpkin paper lanternsKids always love to make fun decorative crafts, especially at Halloween, when they can help make the house or classroom extra spooky. These easy-to-make paper jack-o-lanterns are a Halloween-time take on the traditional paper lantern craft project, and are simple enough that almost anyone in the family can make them. Make a bunch with different face designs and hang them around the house.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Orange and green construction paper (we used 12 x 18" sheets, but letter size will work, too)
  • Black markers, paint, or construction paper

Halloween Craft: Recycled Glass Pumpkin Votives

October 10, 2016

Halloween pumpkin votives recycled craft

This easy craft project is so much fun to make, and the finished product looks fantastic, especially when lit with a flickering candle. Best of all, you can make them using materials from your recycling bin! These Halloween pumpkin votives are simple to make, and are a perfect craft project for all ages, with parental supervision, of course. My second-grade daughter and I created the pair of jack-o-lanterns lanterns shown here.

This project is a little messy, so make sure you have a good work area that's easy to clean up. You can also create variations on this craft: use white tissue to make ghost lanterns, and green to make monsters.

Family Fun Under the Redwoods at the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival

September 8, 2016

Blue Fairy at the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival

On September 17 and 18, artists from around the country will gather beneath the redwoods at historic Old Mill Park for the 60th annual Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival. This popular family-friendly festival features the work of over 140 artists, great live music, and kids' entertainment ranging from puppet shows and magic to sing-alongs and storytelling. It all makes for a magical weekend under the trees!

The festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Family entertainment, emceed by the Blue Fairy, includes performances by the Fratello Marionettes; magic with Brian Scott and the Wizard of Ahs; storytelling by Scott the Storyteller; drumming with Mike; and music by Singers Marin, Dave Fromer, Octopretzel and the PAAM singers. Performers on the main music stage include Aaron Redner, Chelle's Juke Joint, Yacht Club of Paris, Faust & Fox, and Deep Blue Jam. Check their website for a complete entertainment schedule.

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