Hamsa – Crafts From Around The World

by Katy

In this project we were studying Africa and created a Hamsa as part of that study. A Hamsa is an ancient good luck sign that has been adopted by almost every culture and religion in North Africa and Central Asia. They are often created at stained glass pieces and hung in windows to help protect the home. I decided to make ours in a similar fashion.

To make the Hamsa, you will need:

An assortment of light colored crayons (red, yellow, orange, etc.)
wax paper
black and white construction paper or sticky foam
A hair dryer (may substitute another heat source like an iron if necessary)
pencil sharpener
dark permanent marker

The first thing you do is turn your crayons into shreds. A really easy way to do this is with one of those little hand-held pencil sharpeners, but before I figured that out, I was just snipping at it with a pair of scissors and that works too.

You want to get a lot of shavings, and it’s best to stick with light colors. The darker colors just read like black or brown when they mix together. Once you have a nice little pile of shavings, place them between two sheets of wax paper.

Now, most of the crafting books I’ve read suggest using an iron to melt the wax. I tried this, and it was a complete disaster. Wax ran everywhere, residue got on the iron, and I was a little afraid I was going to catch something on fire. I found that pointing my hair dryer at the wax paper worked just as well, felt safer, and created a lot less mess.

Once your wax is melted and cooled, take your child’s hand and place it on top. Hamsa’s are traditionally thought of as right hands, so go ahead and use their right one. Then, cut out the hand.

Create and eye with your construction paper and attach it.

And that’s it! You can hang it in a window to catch the light if you’d like.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Katy is a mom of three who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracles at Bird on the Street.

Stained Glass Leaf Craft

My dear friend and contributing writer Kim sent us this melted crayon art a few weeks ago and it and my son’s desire to melt things with a hair dryer ( how this art was made) inspired this new take on an old stain glass craft. You may remember making crayon stained glass leaves in preschool, I know I do. I have a clear memory of my preschool teacher Fran ironing our crayon shavings.  Since my son wanted to do the melting I switched an iron for a hair dryer. As you will find out there is a reason Fran used the iron… it was not easy making this “kid friendly” and not even all that “kid friendly”. Some days we hit it out of the park, some days we don’t.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a crayon sized pencil sharpener or a zest grater, crayons in various fall colors, wax paper, card stock, scissors and tape. Og and a hair dryer … possibly iron.
  2. Start by peeling the paper off the crayons. This is fantaboulous fine motor skills practice.
  3. Next grate or sharpen the crayons into little bits. Our sharpener broke half way through ( should have been a sign of things to come), so we attached it with pinking sheers, I do not suggest this method. Crayons bits were flying at a high rate of speed all over our playroom. Instead use a zest grater or if you have it one of those parmesan wheel graters would be rad for this. You need the wax to bit thin and small for it to melt.
  4. Put it all on the wax paper .
  5. Sandwich it and either hold it down or tape it to the table. Either way when the blow dryer starts you want a firm grip on it so bits don’t ( yet again if you are us) go flying everywhere.
  6. Even on high my trusty hair dryer from 1989 took a long time to melt the thick bits… I really need to try this again with a parmesan grater , why I didn’t think of that until now after we did it is beyond me.
  7. While the wax cools. Draw a leaf and cut it out of the cardstock so you are left with what looks like a stencil.
  8. Tape the melted wax to the paper ( I tape it all along the wax paper just in case some wax breaks off then it won’t fall into my carpet ) and hang up in a window.

Over all this project was fun , especially for my son who loved every step especially the ones I would call screw ups. That’s the thing when I break it all down we do crafts with kids not to make the prettiest thing but to have fun, make memories and share some time together. Even if some of that time was picking up pieces of crayon that shot ten feet across the room. I should note if you do use an iron make sure the crayon shavings are sandwiched between the wax and still use a towel under it when you pass the iron on low over it. Wax paper is usually great but sometimes the color leaks through.

Leaf Books

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert was the inspiration for this craft and will leave you trying to find all sorts of things like butterflies, chickens and fish in leaf piles. The book is about a leaf man who blows away in the wind and the reader is taken past all sorts of animals like chickens and ducks, past rivers filled with fish and butterflies in the air. All are leaves pieced together to make these awesome images , some are obvious, some take concentration to see the animal among the leaves. Wonderful creative book to welcome the changing seasons.

When Autumn Falls by Kelli Nidey is a stunning book, the illustrations which are painted paper collages, by Susan Swan are so richly colored you will want more after turning the last page. The text is clever as well. Readers will discover that fall is well named not just because of falling leaves, but also pumpkins falling from the vines, temperatures falling, seeds falling from their leaves and even football players falling! The text is the perfect length for toddlers but not too short for preschoolers too.  Cute book for this time of year.