Button Christmas Tree Craft

button christmas tree craft One of the great challenges of mothering is trying to get my son to do things that are good for his development but all he thinks of them are that they are fun. This Christmas tree craft was a perfect example of when I succeed in this mission, which is not always the case.  There are versions of this craft for adults ( or very patient older kids) all over like this one from Better Homes and Gardens  all I did was make it easier for kids and more importantly add a hammer. For a 5 year old boy this craft was all about the hammer. Here is how he made the button Christmas tree.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a foam cone, I used a green floral one because I knew my son would not have the patience to fill the whole thing up with buttons. Also some white tack nails, glitter buttons ( it’s Christmas time let them have glitter! ) and a toy hammer. button and nail hammer tree
  2. Put the nail through the button hole.christmas tree craft for kids
  3. Push it gently into the foam.
  4. Hammer!christmas tree craft with buttons
  5. He really loved this.button christmas tree craft for children  He worked so calmly on this project and we took the time to talk about silver and gold. For whatever reason he’s always confused the two and while he worked away I sat across from him taking pictures and brainstorming ways for him to remember which was which. button christmas tree craft for kids
  6. I didn’t intervene at all and loved that he wanted to put a gold button on top for the star.button christmas tree craft
  7. The hammering is great hand eye coordination practice and as you have already noted putting the nails through the buttons is a great fine motor exercise. All this skill development AND a new holiday decoration for our mantle.Button xmas tree

Books About Christmas Trees

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The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston made me cry. The story is about the hardships and love of one family torn apart by World War 1 as they prepare for Christmas with no resources. I love how strong the mother in this book is, she does the best he can with what she has, treks through snow to cut that big old Christmas tree down , and the part that made me cry uses her own wedding dress to make her daughter an angel costume for the Christmas pageant. Oh but that is not all she sacrificed, she  used the silk stockings her husband sent her from the war to make a doll for Santa to give to her daughter. The father coming home right as they were leaving the church service – once again starting my water works.  It’s an awesome story but probably too long for a group of kids , or toddlers , but perfect for a bedtime story for preschoolers on up. Also this book and the one previous were illustrated by Barbara Cooney , who captures such meaningful stories with her amazing work.

Mooseltoe by Margie Palantini is a funny holiday story with the characters from Moosestash , this time Moose is set on making Christmas perfectly perfect, only ooops he forgot the tree!  I reviewed this a few years ago when my son was too little to really get the book or to sit ong enough for me to finish but we re read it last night. He thought it was hilarious and now at 5 he had fun repeating some of the great melodic text as we read it. The story is one kids and parents can relate to about trying so hard to make the holidays perfect that you forget something important like the tree!  It’s a silly story with a big heart.

Little Tree by Chris Racshka is another awesome find. I love this book, it’s another visually amazing book and my son was much more into the pictures that are so packed full with fun details that they steal the show. The story inspired by the E.E. Cummings poem by the same name the story follows a little tree who has big dreams of becoming a Christmas tree . I think this book is great especially for children who want to know where the trees in the lots in a city come from. * This seems to be out of print but check your local library for it .

Marshmallow Skull Craft

If you are a long time reader you know I love these marshmallow crafts. For good reason, my son who you may know has done a lot of crafts is still very enthusiastic to do these.  I like them because I add in drawing, counting and fine motor skills while he just thinks he’s having fun.  Last year we made a ghost, this year we got a little more complicated because he’s older and able! Always make sure that you are in that sweet spot where a project interests and offers some challenge but doesn’t frustrate because it’s too hard.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some mini marshmallows, white glue and a white crayon.
  2. Start by drawing an outline of the skull. I did this for my son but if your child wants to have them do it.
  3. I did encourage him to draw the eyes nose and mouth and was happy that he was eagerly doing it. I am glad I started it off for him by doing the outline, I am not sure he’d be as eager to draw the face if I’d given him a blank page and said draw your skull. Your child might so do what works for yours.
  4. Time to add glue. This is great for hand eye coordination.
  5. Marshmallow Time! Before you ask, yes my son ate marshmallows but we have a system.
  6. He has to count to a certain number before he gets to eat one from the bowl.
  7. More counting…a little more eating and then let dry.

Books About Bones!

Dem Bones by Bob Barner is sort of two books in one. The superficial layer uses the words of the ever popular old time spiritual with fun Halloween inspired skelleton illustrations. There is also a second layer that has longer text for older children that goes into the anatomy of the bones the song sings about. Great way to keep a Halloween theme strong while teaching about the human body!

Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler is a silly book about a skelleton who can not get rid of the hiccups. He tries all the old tricks , which probably won’t be old to your kids… I spent a lot of time explaining them to my son while we read . The story is simple and parents will find it predictable but kids find it silly and fun, and that is what matters.

6 Clothespin Crafts!

clothespin crafts for kids

I get emails often asking for ideas based on materials so today I compiled some of our crafts that use clothespins. These fun and easy clothespin crafts are just some ideas you can do to use this material.

Our favorite is the Clothespin Dinosaur Craft above but over the years we have used clothespins for a whole bunch of learning.

Paint Chip Color Match

Clothespin Teaching Turkey

Color Wheel Match

Jack and The Beanstalk

Clothespin Patterns

Frustration Free Dry Erase Mazes

This week I dove into Pinterest full on. I love the ideas that are out there and for creative bloggers it’s this fine balance between getting inspired and feeling like everyone else has all the best ideas. After brushing myself off, telling myself not to act like my children I dove back in and fell in love. All of this is to explain that I got this idea from a pin – after seeing these great labyrinths from bloesem kids I thought how can I make it so it encourages writing but is low on the frustration meter. This is what we did.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a CD case, some plain paper, markers, scissors and dry erase markers.
  2. Start by taking the liner out of the cd case and tracing it to make your own liners – we made 4 by folding and layering the paper before cutting.
  3. Next make the mazes. Ok so you could totally print some off the internet too and I encourage you to do this because man making mazes isn’t super easy, but maybe I am just maze challenged.
  4. Pop them all in a stack and into your case facing the back . Now your child can do a few at a time or all in one sitting.
  5. Add your kid and dry erase – mistakes are no biggie and look , writing practice!
  6. If you make a mistake , just wipe and try again!

You really should check out bloesem kids they have some magnificent ideas.

Inspired By Jasper Johns

I love fine art. I love museums and I kinda like taking my kids there. Ok I love exposing them to art but honestly I wish I could take them to museums for a quick zip through then send them off with their dad to get ice cream while I soak it all in at my speed ( which is normally fast but in an art museum I am a turtle, a lethargic one at that).  Luckily one way to expose kids to fine art day to day is through books. We have a coffee table book that we flip through daily and we all have our favorites. The other day I caught my son pretending to shoot at this painting by Jasper Johns. I suggested we make our own and he skipped off to the kitchen to do just that.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some white paper, red paper and if you want another sheet of card stock to make it sturdy enough to throw things at. Also some round objects like jar lids to make the rings if you aren’t talented enough to make them free hand ( I am most certainly not, even with the lids I did it twice), blue and yellow markers, glue and scissors.
  2. Start by making the target using the lids to trace. Kids or adults can do this. I wanted this project to focus on cutting for my son so I chose this step and he did all the cutting ( which you’ll see later on) but there is not reason it needs to be perfect if wee ones want to do it , go for it.
  3. Next add the bulls eye.
  4. Time to color. This was a lesson in being careful, I didn’t tell him to stay in the lines but he naturally wanted to. I am not big on asking kids while doing art to stay in the lines but practicing control while drawing/writing is a good skill once they are working on printing letters.
  5. Time to cut. I wasn’t sure how far he’d get so I had adult and children’s scissors ready.
  6. He did it all himself – hooray. Cutting is another wonderful fine motor skill and important for writing as well.
  7. Add glue to the red paper. He was dropping “glue bombs” here… what can I say ?
  8. Pop the target on .
  9. Add more glue to the card stock add the target and let dry.

Fine Art Books by Bob Raczka


Artful Reading (Bob Raczka’s Art Adventures) is a perfect combination of promoting an appreciation of art and a love of reading. The concept is simple with each page showcasing a painting of someone reading . What I love so much is that while the text suggests what type of reading the painting is showing it’s still up for the reader to go deeper into each and decide what they are seeing. Both times my son and I rad this book we discussed what the people were reading and which we liked the best. I love books like this.

Here’s Looking at Me: How Artists See Themselves (Bob Raczka’s Art Adventures) is devoted to self portraits and the story behind each one in this fascinating book. This is a book for children older than my son who is 4 but I still showed him every painting ( all self portraits) and read highlights of the text which I found fascinating and can’t wait to share it with my kids when they are a little older. I read a lot of art history books for fun and I learned a few things reading this.  I can’t think of a better book to couple with a lesson about self portraits for kids 6-12.

No One Saw is a more general book  focusing on familiar subjects of different artists. What I think is so genius about this book is that it focuses kids’ attention on the subjects of the paintings and i a natural introduction into a conversation asking children what they would paint better than anyone else.