Best Basket

basket craft
Click to get the basket template and instructions.

Alyssa’s Second Easter

The first time I made this basket craft was many years ago with my daughter, Alyssa.  She was almost two years old.  It was getting close to Easter and I had baked cookies for my neighbor and wanted a container for them.  Alyssa scribbled a beautiful design on some paper and I cut it out and folded it to make a basket.  We put the cookies in it and knocked on our neighbor’s door.  She opened immediately.  As usual, she was on her way out the door.  She had a job at our local mall, coordinating seasonal activities.  This was a busy time of year for her. She thanked us for the cookies and told me to come over to her house in the evening.  She said she had a surprise for … and used her eyes to indicate it was for Alyssa.

Later that evening I knocked on Karen’s door.  She was so excited.  “Come on in.  Look at this!”  She had the Easter Bunny costume from the mall.  “I borrowed this from work.  I thought your husband could put it on and hop in to surprise Alyssa.”  She put the costume in a giant paper bag, so I could sneak it into my house.

My husband was not as jazzed about the costume surprise as Karen was.  As Alyssa, now in her twenties, reminds me, “Dad was the master of inventing games that took little to no effort on his part.  They were super fun, but he hardly had to move to make them happen.”  She’s right.  He invented a game called, “Wrap Me.”  We had one of those foam chairs that folded into a floor bed.  Alyssa would lay on it and shout, “Wrap me, Daddy.”  Grant would then slip his hand under the foam cushion and fold it up over Alyssa.  She’d bust out of the chair and yell, “Wrap me again!” Another of his games, “Cave In,” required him to throw a blanket over his legs and collapse it on the kids.  He’d shout, “Cave in,” when the blanket was about to collapse.  His lazy games were creative and the kids loved them!

Grant reluctantly put on the costume.  He snuck outside and knocked on the door.  Alyssa opened the door, saw the Easter Bunny and said.  “Hi Daddy.  Wanna play Wrap Me.”   My husband is a quirky dresser, but not bunny costume quirky.  We have no idea how she knew the big bunny was her dad, but she knew and Grant was glad she knew.  Apparently, that costume was hotter than blazes.  He was happy to take it off and lounge on the family room rug next to the folding bed-chair for a few rounds of “Wrap Me.”

bbasketpic

This basket craft is perfect for all age groups.  A toddler can scribble on it, stamp it, or cover it in stickers.  Older kids can make more sophisticated designs and glue crafty embellishments on it.  It is a super simple, super functional basket.  Click BEST BASKET to get the template and instructions for the basket craft.

 

“Kwick” Kite

kitecraft
Click to view or print the kite pattern and instructions.

 

THE MANDARIN LESSON

In second grade, Jack went to a Cub Scout presentation at school.  At 3:00 in the afternoon, he came through the front door, waving a Cub Scout permission form and shouting, “These guys said they will show me how to shoot a bow and arrow.”  And that’s how we got involved in Cub Scouts.  My husband took Jack to the information meeting and signed me up to be a co-leader.  Not his co-leader, the co-leader to a single mom with a full-time job.  He called me to let me know what was going on.  “They won’t let us leave until someone agrees to lead the troop.  There is a mom here who says she’ll do it, but only if someone else will help her.  Will you help her?”  I reluctantly agreed, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made.  The co-leader mom turned out to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever known.  Neither one of us knew how to shoot a bow and arrow, but in second grade, it was more about crafts and snacks.  That, we could handle.

It was our job to teach the boys certain skills so they could earn badges.  We tried to complete as many skills as we could in our bimonthly meetings.  In January, we decided to have a Chinese New Year theme.  We looked for skills that would fit that theme:  Learn to count in another language, make a kite, play a cooperative game.  I decided to teach the scouts how to count in Mandarin.  I didn’t know how, so watched a YouTube video, several times, to learn.  We made tangram puzzles for the boys to solve together.  My co-leader decided to order Chinese food for the snack at the end of the meeting.  The length of the meeting was an hour and a half.  The handbook suggested making a paper bag kite.  I knew we wouldn’t have time for that.  I typed, “20 minute kite” in a Google search bar and was surprised to find exactly that.  A guy from Hawaii invented it and it is super cool.  The boys loved making and flying it.

Toward the end of the meeting, I used some flashcards I had made with Mandarin number words printed on each.  The boys practiced counting in Mandarin.  It was going well.  Finally, the delivery guy arrived with the Chinese food.  My co-leader asked him if he knew how to speak Mandarin.  He did.  She invited him to come inside and count to ten with the Cub Scouts.  He did.  When he left she turned to me and said, “I liked your counting better!”

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Click here for the “KWICK” KITE template and instructions. It is made with one sheet of paper and a few supplies. You will be impressed!

 

Quilt Cube

quilt cube pencil holder craft
Click this photo for quilt cube template and instructions.

CREATIVITY?

The first time I remember realizing that a creative idea doesn’t always equal a great idea, was in third grade.  Our teacher was gone for a week and we had a substitute teacher.  She gave us a packet of worksheets.  We had the whole week to complete them.  The work was pretty easy, so I had extra time to “be creative.”  I decided to make decorative borders on each page.  I remember looking at a fill-in-the-blank worksheet and deciding that it would be neat to eliminate the words in the word box by drawing a different shape around each word and coloring it in with a pretty pattern.  As I worked on the worksheet, I remember thinking, “When my teacher sees how great this looks, she is going to insist that everyone do this on every worksheet from now on.  The kids will love this!”

When our teacher returned from her absence, she had a basket full of worksheet packets to correct.  I couldn’t wait until she corrected mine.  I could hardly concentrate on my reading assignment.  I could picture her standing at the front of the class.  She was holding up my worksheet packet.  “Class, I need your attention.  I want you all to look at this great example of how to turn a worksheet packet into a work of art!!!”

As I was daydreaming, I didn’t notice my teacher walk to the front of the classroom, worksheet packet in hand.   “Class, I need you all to look at this worksheet packet.”  I woke up from the daydream.  “It’s really happening!!!!” Then she spoke some more.  And she sounded really angry.  “This worksheet packet is disgraceful!  Someone has scribbled all over it!  Look at this fill-in-the-blank page.   The answers aren’t even right.  And this person can’t look for the correct answers in the word bank because, YOU CAN’T EVEN SEE THEM ANYMORE!!!!!  I don’t EVER want to see another worksheet packet like this one.  If I do, I’ll rip it up and throw it in the trash!!!!”

So that didn’t turn out like I imagined it would, but it didn’t stop me from being “creative.”  My work was often the example of what not to do.  But, sometimes, I got the five star review.  And that made all of the “this is total trash” reviews fade away, for that moment.

This craftivity is called QUILT CUBE.  (Click “QUILT CUBE” to get the template and instructions.)  As I was making the crayon patterns on the cube, I thought of the fill-in-the-blank page and laughed.

2ndgrade2