From Drawing to T-Shirt {The Artful Parent}

Transfer A Kids Drawing to A T-Shirt -- Makes a Great Gift!

By Jean Van’t Hul

Do you wonder what to do with all of the art that your kids produce? If your children are anything like mine, they draw and paint a lot. I’m often trying to think of ways to use or display their many masterpieces.

The Artful Parent Book by Jean Van't HulSome go on the wall, some get sent to Grandma, some are stored (and some, frankly, end up in the recycle bin).

While I have a whole chapter on displaying, reusing, and storing art in my new book, The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art and Creativity, I’m still always seeking out or thinking up new ideas. This spring, for my husband’s birthday, my daughters and I created t-shirts for him, using transfers of some of their recent drawings.

These T-shirts make great gifts and my kids were literally beaming with pride when they presented theirs.

Here’s how to make them…


Transfer a Child’s Drawing to a T-Shirt


  • Children’s drawings
  • T-shirt(s)
  • Fabric transfer paper (This is widely available at craft stores, office supply stores, and online. If you have a white or yellow t-shirt, make sure to get the kind that says for light-colored shirts. And ditto for dark-colored shirts. You’ll need the packet that specifies dark colored shirts if you’re working with blue or black…)
  • Ink-jet printer/copier
  • Scissors
  • Iron

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1. Copy your children’s drawing onto the fabric transfer paper following the instructions on the packet.

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2. Cut out the image, rounding corners as you go as much as possible.

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3. Match the drawings up with the T-shirts.

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4. Iron your shirt to remove any wrinkles and then then position the drawings as desired.

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5. Next, follow the packet instructions to iron the drawings onto the shirts. This will vary depending on whether you are transfering onto light shirts or dark shirts. It may even vary from brand to brand so make sure to read the instructions provided.

Here’s what we did:

For light-colored shirt transfers: Turn the transfer paper image side down. Iron the paper to the shirt. Let cool, then peel off the paper backing.

For dark-colored shirt transfers: Peel off the paper backing first and then arrange the image right side up. Cover image with ironing paper provided then iron the image onto the shirt. Let cool then remove the ironing paper.

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Here’s my older daughter, Maia, pulling the paper backing off to reveal her owl drawings.

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And here’s my three-year-old Daphne’s very first person drawing transferred onto an oatmeal-colored shirt after we (um, I) botched the first attempt onto the navy shirt by not reading the instructions properly. Ahem. So learn from my mistakes, folks!

This is not a difficult process at all, but the iron-on instructions are different depending on whether you’re doing the light or dark T-shirt transfers.

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The girls wrapped the shirts with birthday paper and lots (and lots!) of tape and ribbon. They were SO excited to present their Daddy with the shirts they had made with their own drawings.

We’ve since made several more T-shirts using fabric transfers of their drawings. They each made a shirt for themselves. And I’ve heard rumblings that one or two might be in the works for me as a Mother’s Day present…

Jean Van't HulJean Van’t Hul writes about easy and fun arts and crafts ideas at The Artful Parent and has a new book out, The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art and Creativity, that combines the whys and how-tos of children’s art with 60 all-time favorite activities.

Snowflake Thank You Cards

by Kim

Writing Thank You cards is a task that is more manners than tradition. But it is slowly fading out. Parents can always text it or a phone call will usually suffice. I think Thank You cards are the perfect way to promote manners while practicing valuable skills. So this year we made snowflake cards with salt to spice things up.


You will need posterboard (or cardstock), glue, paint brush, pencil, marker, salt, scissors, and a tray or large flat bottom bowl.

Cut up your posterboard into smaller pieces that will be easier to mail.

Now write “Thank You” on the front and draw your snowflake. The simpler the better. If your child is writing then go ahead and let them do this.

Have your child write their name or draw the item they received on the back. Sometimes they might want to draw a heart or just doodle. That is okay. I tried to encourage my daughter to write her name, but she really doesn’t know how to yet. So her version of her name was just perfect. At least she tried and got some practice.

Let your child paint glue along the drawing of the snowflake. This where the simpler snowflake is very important.

Place the card inside the tray and have your child pour salt over it.

Be sure to cover the entire glue area with the salt. Shake off excess immediately.

Now let your snowflake dry. Your Thank You card is ready to mail!


Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.

Fall Noodle Tree Craft

 by Kim 

The temperatures are tapering off. Summer has gone and Autumn is making its appearance. Whether you live where the lives change or not, this craft is the perfect way to prepare for fall and all of its splendor.

You will need construction paper, glue, sandwich/snack bag, brown marker, cotton swabs, and three colored pasta (uncooked).

You or your child can draw a rectangle on the paper for the tree trunk. Have them color it in. My 5 year old drew his own, my 3 year old just colored.

Put some dry pasta in a plastic sealed bag. I used a snack size bag, but it really doesn’t matter. You want to make sure all of the excess air is out, though.

Have your child crush the noodles. Depending on the brand, they can be difficult to crush. Having the excess air out enables you to have the option of putting the bag on the floor and stomping it, or using a plastic hammer and whacking the bag. Trust me, we have done it all. Obviously the more intense crushing you do the more likely the bag is to rip and make a mess. So just be prepared. Regular crushing (and even stomping) hasn’t ripped our bags yet.

Squeeze some glue onto the piece of paper in the general shape of a tree top. Have your child spread around the glue with the cotton swab. I squeezed glue out for my daughter, but my son did his own glue.

Now sprinkle the noodle pieces onto the glue. This is exactly like giant noodle glitter. You will need to put on a lot, let it dry, and shake off the excess.

The final product looks just like a fall tree. It will have a wide array of colors, too. This craft is great fro talking about Fall, the changing seasons, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and colors. It also is a great sensory craft.

Look at that texture! It is so much fun to run your fingers across.


Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It

3D Word Search

When children are learning to read playing games with their developing skills is a great way to practice while playing. This giant 3D word search can be used so many ways. For my almost 5 year old I put in simple words he could recognize or easily sound out.  I also helped him by making all the words a consistent color and horizontal only. With younger children it can still be a fun game simply looking for specific colors or letters. With older ones you can make words multi colored, going every which way. The learning isn’t just in the searching either, using the dry erase marker to carefully circle the letters or words is fantastic writing practice and the foam letters are a sensory experience too.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a sturdy backing like a inexpensive canvas or even some cardboard, contact paper ( which will make it wipe off) foam letter stickers ( two packs) and scissors. Also a dry erase marker to play with.
  2. Start by covering your canvas or card board with clear contact paper. This makes the surface friendly for dry erase . I found that a baby wipe worded the best to get the marker off after we played.
  3. Start making a column of letters.
  4. Decide on some words to pop in. Like I said in the preamble you can customize this to your child’s specific stage of learning.
  5. Add the words mixed with some random letters.
  6. Invite your child to play. I meant to make a list of the words I included but forgot and it turned out we didn’t need them. You may want one though.
  7. Oops he circled the o but it was no biggie because it’s dry erase!

I was fascinated by which words he knew by sight and which he sounded out. He loved this and I can see myself making a few more over the next few months for sure.

Custom Reading Lights

I have been having so much fun decorating our playroom and although it’s not quite ready for the big reveal ( being 5’4 with a baby perpetually in my arms is limiting sometimes). One thing I could do was to turn these dollar store push lights into a fun light up sign for our book nook.  For the last week we’ve been snuggling in the nook before quiet/ nap time and reading book after book. It’s the coziest place and totally worth loosing a closet and it’s storage space.

  1. Gather your materials. You’ll need one push light per letter and a permanent marker ( I used a broad-line Sharpie) .
  2. Write out your letters or draw something fun. I stuck to one letter per light with such a short word , but you could do anything you want.
  3. Add batteries and hang up.
  4. Push on and read.

Do not forget to participate in our 2nd Annual Summer Reading Challenge , it’s not too late!