Friday, January 18, 2013

My buddy and me! (Remember that little jingle that went with the creepy looking doll? Or am I the only one?)

You may (or may not) remember a little series I started right before Christmas...

The idea was to help my kids (specifically my 4 yr. old) to be able to make his own Christmas gifts for our loved ones.  I knew he'd be more excited and very proud of himself when people unwrapped the creations he put his own work and little heart into.
Of course, December started flying by faster and faster the closer we got to Christmas, and I found that not only was I unable to blog about every gift he made, I didn't even get a chance to photograph the gifts I made OR blog about them.  It was sad really.
Fast forward to contemplating the direction of my blog in 2013, and as I was deciding on the kinds of things I wanted to do I realized that I could STILL show you those cool kid gifts!
Everyone can use a good kid gift idea for birthdays, grandparents day, teacher appreciation, etc.  Am I right?  There are moments for kids' gifts all year long!
So I'm extending my series!  Here and there we'll be posting things the kids and I have made for others and are planning on giving as gifts.  Hopefully this will give some inspiration, but will also serve as motivation for me to not only keep creating with my kids but also teach them to think of others.  

You can read the whole idea behind it in this post, but here's the criteria just as a refresher:
* They must be made from things I have on-hand, or at the MOST very inexpensive ingredients.
* They must come from the heart and be something that gets the kids excited.
* They must require very little of my attention and hands-on guidance.  Not that I don't want to craft with my kids, but I wanted them to be really proud of their achievements.  
* They must take little time - usually only an afternoon, no more than two.  Kids don't have a long attention span.

And that's that!  
So, today, I wanted to show you something my daughter and I did as a gift for her brother!

We call them:

I suppose the idea of making stick puppets out of craft foam isn't novel, but here's how we turned them into a cute little gift.

You'll need:

Now, obviously, as with any other kids' craft or gift you and your kids are making, this can be modified to meet the needs/age/abilities of the child.  Obviously, my 3 yr old isn't super adept with scissors, so I helped a lot with that.  I also drew the faces on these particular puppets, but she made some of her own on which she drew her own faces - which was probably her favorite part.  She helped pick all the colors and decide what each puppet should wear.  She pulled the backing off and stuck things together.  Basically, just adjust how much adult involvement there is for your needs.

We didn't want to make any old random puppets.  We wanted to make puppets based on ourselves and our best friends!  And THAT'S what makes this a personalized gift!  

So first, make sure you know who your inspiration is.
1. Make a little person template.  You can print yours from the computer, but I just sketched one out on notebook paper.  Then cut it out.
2. Trace around your template on the BACK side of the correct color foam for the skin color.
3. Cut the little people out.

4. To make the hair, first trace around the head on the BACK of the correct color foam for the hair color.  Now you'll know how wide and tall to make your hair.
5. Once you have your head shape, fill in the HAIR shape on the INSIDE of the line you traced.  The hair will then stick nicely to the head with little or no hanging over.  Make sure to draw the hair as accurately to you and your buddy as possible.
6. Cut the hair shapes out.
7. Lay your person down on top of the foam (BACK SIDE UP) for the shirt.  Line up the waist of the person with the bottom of the foam (which will line up the shirt where it is supposed to be on the person).  Roughly trace around the person, from the neck to the waist and down to the wrists.
8. Fill in any details, like collars.  Then lay your person on the (BACK SIDE) of the foam for the pants.  Line up the waist of the person with the TOP of the pants.  Trace.  Do this for any other clothing pieces you have.
(Note: I made my collar pieces separately for a 3D effect.)
9. Cut out each of your clothing pieces.

10. Peel off the backing and stick the clothing on your people.
11. Add details to the puppet's faces with pen.  You can draw patterns and shoelaces and pockets on the clothes, too.
12. Use an exacto knife to cut through JUST THE PAPER BACKING on the puppet in a long rectangle shape.  DON'T CUT THE FOAM.  You're making a VERY shallow cut here.  You want a long strip the width of your craft stick right in the center of your puppet starting right between the legs.
13.  Peel the paper off of this strip.  Leaving the paper on the rest of the puppet will ensure that it doesn't stick to random things or get hair, dust, fuzz and other gross stuff stuck to it.
14. Press your craft stick to the strip.  Make sure to leave some of the stick hanging down from the puppet.
15. Turn your puppets over.  All done!

All you have to do now is add a tag!  

I used a simple tiny binder clip to keep the puppets together and attach the tag.  Obviously you could use cuter binder clips than this, or even some cute twine or ribbon.
Would you like a simple tag to print out for yourself?  Sure!
And now it's:

Mini's puppet show included 2 songs of her own creation, lots of kissing and a dance number.  What a ham.

You can use photos of friends to make your puppets.  If you're making them for family members, like cousins, you could even make their whole family - your child's aunts and uncles and other cousins.  

Picture making these for Valentine's Day for a few special friends with a little Valentine's Day tag!  The puppet kiss is especially appropriate in that scenario.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!
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