10 cute Christmas crafts to do with toddlers

By Crystal Bassler for Moms.com

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Every child’s head is filled with thoughts of Santa and what presents might end up underneath the tree. Meanwhile, parents are buzzing around like bees trying to get things ready so that they can have the perfect Christmas. There is no doubt about the fact that the holidays can be stressful, so why not take a break, sit down, and do some fun crafts with your little ones to get the most out of this Christmas?

Doing crafts with your little ones will create memories that they will always have and keepsakes that you can store away for when they are older. This is great bonding time and the perfect opportunity to explore your crafty side. Take a look at these 10 cute Christmas crafts that are perfect for toddlers.

Fingerprint Christmas lights

Fingerprint Christmas lights are a fun and easy Christmas craft for kids of any age. This craft is super easy to do and requires very little supplies. Go to your local crafts store and grab some finger paint and some construction paper and then you are good to go.

Simply let your child pick out the color of construction paper that they want, what color paints they wish to use, and give them a space to work on that you don’t mind getting messy. Let them dip their fingertips in the paint and get creative with their lights as seen in the picture above.

Paper plate Santa

This is another craft that is super easy and great for young children to do. For this one all you will need is some markers, a paper plate, cotton balls, and some glue. Have your child simply color in the top of the plate red for Santa’s hat, make two eyes, and a nose.

You will then have your child glue one cotton ball at the top of his hat and then a bunch of cotton balls on the bottom of the plate making Santa’s beard. This is a cute craft that you can store away and keep forever.

Construction paper tree

This is a simple craft you can do with your toddler that requires very few supplies. You’ll need green construction paper, a pencil, scissors, and some sequins. If your kids are younger, they may need some help with the cutting, so stay close by and offer them help as needed.

Simply trace out the pattern of a tree on the green construction paper, cut it out, take the glue, and start decorating! Super easy, fun, and adorable. As with many of the crafts on this list, be sure to pack it away and treasure it forever.

Reindeer masks

Reindeer masks are super fun and easy to make, not to mention the fact that your child can wear it on Christmas instead of it just being something that they put on the fridge to look at. For this fun craft, you will need scissors, construction paper, ribbon, and of course, some glue.

Cut out the shape of a mask, you might need to measure your child’s face to do so. Let your child then help make the antlers, nose, and ears. When all of that is done glue some ribbon to both sides so that your child can put on the mask.

DIY ornaments

If you don’t feel like investing in expensive ornaments that might end up broken, then this one might be a fantastic idea for you. Have your children make their own paper ornaments, get some string, and let them hang the ornaments from the tree. To do this you will need a ton of construction paper of all different colors, scissors, a hole puncher, and some string.

Simply cut out the shape of a typical ornament, punch a hole in the top, tie a string through the hole, and have your kids decorate them however they would like to before hanging them on the tree.

DIY snow globe

The next cute Christmas craft on our list might get a little bit tricky, but it is super cool when finished. For this, you will need two paper plates, sequins, markers, a stapler, and some saran wrap. Have your toddler color on the inside of one of the plates, be it a Christmas tree or a snowman.

While they are doing that you will want to cut out the middle of the other plate and tightly wrap Glad wrap around to cover the hole. When your child is done with that have them sprinkle the sequins on the plate that they coloured then staple the two plates together.

Pinecone Christmas tree

This Christmas craft we like to think of as the Christmas equivalent of easter eggs. To do this you will need pinecones, paint, paintbrushes, some of those little pom pom balls, and some glue from your local craft store.

To start, have your children paint the pinecones after they dry your kids will then glue the pom poms on as if they are ornaments, and if you want to make them shine feel free to add some glitter for a little extra fun. These could look really neat as a centerpiece for the table at Christmas dinner.

Toilet paper roll snowman

Who doesn’t love building snowmen? Everyone does of course, but what happens what it doesn’t snow and your kids are feeling bummed out about not being able to make a snowman? Well, we have the next best thing for them.

Gather up the rolls to empty toilet paper rolls, tape some white paper around them, push some small twigs inside of it for the arms, and use cotton balls, pom poms, and markers to decorate your snowman. It might not be as good as the real deal, but it sure is fun to make.

Fingerprint Santa sleigh

This craft is very similar to the fingerprint Christmas lights. Break out your construction paper and let your kiddos pick out whatever colour they want.

When that is done, you’ll want to get out the finger paint and allow them to use their thumbprints to make the Santa, and the reindeer and three prints together to make the sleigh. A small paintbrush would then take care of the rest. This would be an adorable craft to add to your fridge for all to see.

Construction paper puppets

This next craft is especially fun because once you are done making it you can put on a show! Construction paper puppets are relatively easy to make and all you will need it scissors, tape, glue, and of course construction paper. To do this you will want to staple two pieces of paper together leaving a hole for your little one’s hand to fit inside of.

You will then use the additional construction paper to turn the puppets into fun things like Santa and his reindeer or even an elf. After the puppet is done, have your little one put on a show for you using them.

Local seven-year-old starts stationery business

By Lungile Satsuma for IOL 

Omphile Mabitsela, 7, is so determined to beat the country’s harrowing unemployment statistics that he has already started building his stationery empire.

Mabitsela, a Grade 2 learner from Randburg, has already roped in two of his friends, his aunt and mother to help him grow his stationery business.

His “office” space is situated at his mother’s business building, also in Randburg. Quirk Quirk Inc, Omphile’s business, produces and supplies a variety of paper-based stationery, such as bookmarks and party packs and sells puzzles, crayons and pencil cases.

He told The Star this week he wanted to be the person who hired the unemployed who he heard President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking about in the media. It was announced recently the country’s unemployment rate had shot up to 29.1%.

“President Ramaphosa told us there are so many people who are not hired so I want to be that person who hires them,” Omphile said.

His mother, Prudence Mabitsela, said parents needed to instill entrepreneurial skills into their children to become self-starters and not necessarily wait for jobs.

“We should stop creating job seekers as a country and start creating jobs ourselves,” she said.

The young mogul said he was inspired by his mother to start his business which has been in existence for a year now. It also has its own website.

“It was my mother that inspired me to start my business because she is a business owner as well. I want to hire people who don’t have jobs,” he said.

Quirk Quirk Inc is a registered and 100% black-owned business. Omphile mixes his academics and arts to produce his products.

He said his passion was inspired by his friend who showed him his “quacks quacks” and that inspired him to make bookmarks for people who read books. These sold for R10 each.

His mother said Omphile was someone who was aware of his surroundings and wanted to assist where he could.

“He has hired a team which consists of social strategists, a brand manager and a receptionist,” she said.

Omphile said his target audience is from everywhere in South Africa and people can order items online.

His parents initially funded the company which eventually grew to be self-sustainable.

The determined young man said he was motivated by unemployed people seeking jobs and knowing that he can be the solution in inspiring people to be business-minded.

“I want to inspire them to have their own company,” he said.

The company has sold more than 1000 products countrywide.

Colour-in wallpaper ideal for children’s rooms

By Rebecca Knight for Ideal Home

Once upon a time, colouring-in books were the domain of toddlers and primary school kids. However, soon the adults were quick to catch onto the past-time that was leaving their children quiet and zen-ned out.

We were all clamouring to get our hands on an adult colouring book at WHSmiths. Not since we were 11 had we been so excited at the prospect of a new pack of felt-tips and gel pens.

Well now, your destress colouring sessions are no longer confined to a book. You can now go a step further and get colour-in wallpaper.

Amazon is selling Colour Me wallpaper by Graham & Brown for around approximately R500. The colour-in wallpaper is designed by illustrator Lizzie Mary Cullen and features a crazy cityscape, complete with the taxi, coffee shop, cafe and even an octopus.

After pasting it to the wall all that is left is to select your colour scheme and start colouring in. This beats a standard session painting your living room hands down.

When choosing what to use to colour the walls in you have two options: colouring pencils, felt-tips or fine liners. Colouring pencils will offer the most even colour but can come out a bit faint for a wall. Felt tips and fine liners will offer the punchiest colour, however, you will need to colour carefully to create an even wash of colour.

The next choice is where to put them up. If you aren’t fussy about colouring within the lines, why not use the wallpaper to create a feature wall in your kid’s playroom. Just be sure to arm them with either colouring pencils or washable felt tips to avoid any colourful accidents.

Image credit: Ideal Home

The fascinating history of paint-by-numbers kits

By Emma Taggart for My Modern Met 

You probably remember “Paint-by-Numbers” kits from your childhood, but do you know the history of how they came to be? A mix between a coloring book and painting on a canvas, painting by numbers allows anyone to create a detailed work of art, even if they’ve never taken an art class. The simple art sets were first invented in the 1950s and they still remain popular for both kids and adults today. Despite this, very little is known about their original creator, Dan Robbins

Robbins was a Detroit-based commercial artist who began his career working for the art departments of various car manufacturers. In 1949, he started working at Palmer Show Card Paint Company alongside the company’s founder, Max Klein. At first, Robbins was hired to illustrate children’s books, but Klein soon tasked him with a new, more urgent mission: sell more paint. His solution was to devise a hobby kit that would promote the sale of Klein’s paint products.

Where did the idea come from?
Robbins based his concept on Leonardo da Vinci’s teaching system of numbering sections of his canvases for apprentices to complete. “I remembered hearing about how Leonardo da Vinci would challenge his own students or apprentices with creative assignments,” Robbins recalls in his autobiography. “He would hand out numbered patterns indicating where certain colors should be used in specific projects such as underpainting, preliminary background colors or some lesser works that did not require his immediate attention.”

To create each kit, Robbins first painted an original artwork, and then placed a plastic sheet over it and outlined the shapes for each hue and shade. Each segment was then given a number and corresponding color. After trial and error, Robbins’ Paint-by-Numbers kits were born, and were introduced to the public with packaging that proclaimed, “Every man a Rembrandt.” Post-war, they were launched during a time when American people had more time for pursuing leisurely activities, and the concept quickly became a cultural phenomenon.

The first paint-by-number kits
Robbin’s first ever Paint-by-Numbers kit was called Abstract No. One—a vibrant, abstract still life that paid homage to the abstract expressionists of the era. Unfortunately, the design wasn’t commercial enough to appeal to the masses, so Robbins, Klein, and a new team of artists started to produce less abstract landscape and portrait hobby kits that proved to be more popular.

The public’s response
Palmer Show Card Paint Company was renamed to Craft Master, and the company quickly grew to 800 employees who worked around the clock to produce 50,000 Paint by Number sets a day. In 1955, around 20 million kits were sold in America, and finished works hung proudly in homes across the country. Even President Eisenhower’s presidential appointment secretary, Thomas Edwin Stephens, curated a gallery of Paint by Number pieces made by administration officials in the White House.

However, not long after its initial success, Craft Master went bankrupt, as it couldn’t keep up with the demand. Although Craft Master remains the iconic pioneer of the paint by numbers movement, numerous rival companies soon emerged and started producing their own versions of the hobby kits.

What did the art world think?
While the consumers’ response was positive, Paint-by-Number kits triggered a strong reaction from the art world. They were criticized for oversimplifying the creative process and undervaluing the work of “real” artists (some Paint-by-Numbers designs were based on famous paintings). One anonymous critic in American Art wrote, “I don’t know what America is coming to, when thousands of people, many of them adults, are willing to be regimented into brushing paint on a jig-saw miscellany of dictated shapes and all by rote. Can’t you rescue some of these souls—or should I say ‘morons?’ ”

Paint-by-Number kits meant that art could be infinitely copied, leaving many wondering if they could even be classified as art at all. However, the concept unsurprisingly caught the attention of Pop Art icon Andy Warhol who is known for his love of repetition. He become a dedicated fan and collector of Paint-by-Number canvases.

Despite the backlash, Robbins wasn’t overly concerned about the negative response of art critics, because he achieved his dream of bringing art to the masses. In his 1998 memoir—Whatever Happened to Paint-By-Numbers?—He wrote, “I never claim that painting by number is art. It is the experience of art, and it brings that experience to the individual who would normally not pick up a brush, not dip it in paint. That’s what it does.”

By James Greig for Metro

August 2nd was National Colouring Book Day. This seems as good a time as any to consider the adult colouring book trend, which really took off in the UK in 2015 and … hasn’t been talked about much since.

Are adults still using colouring books? Are they as good for mental health as people claim?

First, the bad news: these are hard times for adult colouring books. Hailed as the saviour to the publishing industry in the middle of the decade, by 2017 sales had plummeted so dramatically that there were a spate of articles concerning the death of the trend. But that said, a quick Google suggests that the trend is soldiering on.

You can still buy books with titles like I Hate My Ex-Husband (aimed at people who hate their ex-husbands).

What could be more rib-ticklingly funny than using swear words in a genre of book traditionally thought of as being aimed at children?

During the boom years, adult colouring books were bought en-masse, whether by people trying them out for themselves or as stocking-filler gifts for their least favourite relatives, many of whom would find that they weren’t that into them.

But there seems to be a small, steady market of people who simply enjoy doing them, or else find them therapeutic. In that sense, the trend is unlikely to vanish outright. As for the much discussed mental health benefits, these have been backed up by research.

One 2017 study showed that using adult colouring books does actually reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety – which confirms what plenty of people had been saying all along.

But are people who experience anxiety or depression still using these books as a way of improving their mental health? If adult colouring books really are an effective way of alleviating symptoms, this doesn’t seem like something which would simply tail off as a passing fad.

We spoke with Olivia, who lives with anxiety and still occasionally uses colouring books, though not as much as she used to.

“I find they’re really good when you just need to step outside of yourself for a little bit,” she says.

“Even though making my own art is a good outlet when I’m really anxious, I sometimes find having to create from the self can be a bit daunting and anxiety-inducing in itself. Colouring books take that pressure off. They let me zone out and reset.
“I always compare them to Buddhist monks creating mandalas,” Olivia continues. “It’s about focusing on one thing in front of you. It’s definitely meditative. Even destroying the pages afterwards is a really nice reminder that everything is impermanent, and that this too shall pass.”

Although, in one sense, the whole point is that colouring books don’t leave much scope for individual creativity, Olivia says that she still makes her mark.

“When looking back on certain pages, I can immediately tell what mental state I was in when I did them: how hard I was pressing, how loose or manic my strokes were, what image or colours I chose,” she explains.

For Olivia, and many others like her, adult colouring books are more than a short-lived publishing trend. Instead, they are an important act of self-care which helps them to manage their conditions – and there’s nothing childish about that.

Is the adult colouring book craze dead?

By Adam Rowe for Forbes

In 2015, adult colouring books became the dark horse of the publishing industry, as a surprising surge in sales boosted major players’ revenues. In 2016, there was no end in sight. In 2017, the bottom fell out of the adult colouring book market and, this year, the trend is officially dead.

So it seems, at least. It’s possible that adults still enjoying colouring as much as ever, but independent publishers — whose sales numbers aren’t reported with the same rigour as those of traditional publishers — have cornered the market. Here’s a dive into the timeline of the adult colouring trend, as told through the cottage industry of articles covering the phenomenon.

A July 2015 New Yorker article described the early stage of the adult colouring renaissance, noting a connection to the popularity of other infantilising activities like adult summer camps and adult preschool. The trend was picking up, even if the numbers hadn’t come out yet: Dover decreed August 2, 2015, as the first National Colouring Book Day, and Bantam Books and George R.R. Martin teamed up on a Game of Thrones-themed colouring book. In December, Business Insider profiled a self-publishing colouring book creator who had earned $329,000 in Amazon royalties in 2015 alone, by selling her books via Createspace — noting that colouring books were at the time holding five out of the top 10 spots on Amazon’s hourly-updated bestsellers list.

The colouring book sales spike continued across 2016, to much media attention as numbers came to light: Nielsen Bookscan estimated 12 million colouring books sold in 2015, up from a paltry one million the year before. The hot takes were entertaining: America’s obsession was a cry for help, while studies showed colouring exercises reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. Retailers doubled down on art supplies and colouring books. The Canadian company Newbourne Media LP released a music CD/colouring book combination product. Adult nonfiction books across the industry sold 12% better in the first half of 2016 than the same period in 2015, and Publishers Weekly credited colouring books.

In 2017 the cracks began to show. Barnes and Nobles’ third-quarter profits, released in March 2017, revealed sales were under expectations, though still strong, and the decline in colouring book (as well as Adele album) sales was responsible for “nearly one-third of the sales decline.” By August, the trend was declared dead.

But did interest in adult colouring books really wane, or was it diverted away from traditional publishers and towards the retailer to rule all retailers, Amazon? The evidence lies in a slide from a 2016 presentation by Author Earnings, one of the more authoritative analysts in the murky world of book data. A chart breaking down online book sales by genre shows that about 60% of crafts/hobbies/games books in 2016 were being sold by non-traditional publishers (indie self-publishers as well as Amazon imprints). That’s a huge percentage, second only to the formidable romance genre, and it indicates that in 2016, the year that Barnes and Noble’s third-quarter colouring book profits began levelling off, most online craft book sales went to Amazon and self-publishers.

In other words, book publishers might have lost their colouring book market share to the same retail giant who endangered their industry in the first place.

Author Earnings hasn’t offered comparable data in 2017 or 2018, and major industry databanks like Bookscan don’t track Amazon’s data, so it’s impossible to say for sure whether the colouring book craze is really over or whether faster-adapting colouring book self-publishers have used Amazon as a channel to scoop up the majority of what was once traditional publishers’ cash cow. But as publishers turn to the digital audiobook as the next popular format (sales are up 32.1% in Q1 2018!), they should be wary of Amazon’s growing interest in audiobooks.

Imagine having an easy, on-the-go journal at your fingertips, filled with interchangeable inserts, and convenient pockets for tucking away all those interesting bits and bobs.

Fill the spacious inserts with words, ideas, pictures and doodles to inspire and remind.

Refill your journal easily with new inserts and take them with you everywhere. Choose from a variety of fabulous covers and colours – there is truly something for everyone.

So, indulge yourself and get creative.

To view these amazing products you can visit our website at www.trocraft.co.za

By Mindy Weisberger for Live Science

A type of blackboard chalk that was produced for decades by just one factory in Japan was so highly prized by mathematicians they referred to it as “the Rolls-Royce of chalk.”

And when rumors surfaced about the chalk being discontinued, some academics resorted to stockpiling as many boxes as they could get their chalk-covered hands on.

The tale of Fulltouch chalk, manufactured by Hagoromo Stationery in Nagoya, Japan, and thought by many to be the finest chalk in the world, was recently featured in a short video.

Hagoromo made chalk for more than 80 years, and for those who weren’t lucky enough to live in Japan, Fulltouch was always difficult to get. Then, as Hagoromo prepared to shut down in 2015, many dedicated aficionados began grimly preparing for a world without Fulltouch. They bought dozens upon dozens of boxes, some hoarding enough chalk to last through the end of their careers, according to the video.

What is so special about this chalk? Mathematicians in the video described Fulltouch in glowing terms. The chalk is long-lasting, virtually unbreakable, bright and easy to read on a chalkboard, smooth as butter to write with, and practically dustless, Jeremy Kun, a Google engineer with a Ph.D. in mathematics, wrote in a 2015 blog post bidding farewell to Fulltouch.

So renowned is the chalk among mathematics professionals that it is accompanied by its own legend: It is impossible to write a false theorem with it, David Eisenbud, director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Oakland, California, said in the video.

When the news broke that Fulltouch’s maker was ceasing production and closing its doors, it launched a “chalkapocalypse” among mathematicians, said Brian Conrad, a professor at Stanford University in California. In the video, Conrad and others recounted their responses to the chalk emergency, stocking up on enough to carry them through as much as 15 years in a chalk desert.

However, there is a ray of hope for those who didn’t have the foresight to fill their closets and cupboards with Fulltouch when they had the chance. Hagoromo sold the Fulltouch recipe — and two of the factory’s original chalk-making machines — to the Korean company Sejongmall. The chalk is being manufactured again under its original name, and is available to buy in the U.S. on Amazon.

Why wedding stationery matters

By Jess Young for SWNS

When it comes to planning a wedding, there is a lot to think about and you’d be forgiven for forgetting how important stationery can be. From invitations to menus and everything in between, it can all be a bit overwhelming.

Yet, wedding stationery is a relatively simple, affordable and important way to add style to your big day.

In this post, we will consider where you can make savings, things that can be done at home and the items that are definitely worth spending money on.

Programmes: get a professional to design them
In our opinion, these are an important and worthwhile investment for your big day, and they are something that should definitely be outsourced to a professional designer. It’s a quick and easy way to organise your day, introduce people to the running order and even introduce the key members of the wedding party.

If done correctly, they can provide a beautiful way of telling your story and of ensuring that everyone is on the same page. What’s more, they offer a beautiful keepsake for guests to take home and can help the wedding magic to last that little bit longer.

Menus: can be side-stepped
Yes, it’s nice to have menus on your wedding day, but in the grand scheme of things they really don’t matter. This is one option that could easily be omitted from your ever-growing to do list.

Why not consider putting your menu inside your programme – that way you are killing two birds with one stone.

Escort and place cards: these can be made at home
Escort cards are definitely another optional, but place cards are very important. Unless you’re having a small wedding, place cards are going to save you a lot of hassle on your wedding day. However, they’re not something that are worth spending a fortune on.

In fact, these can both be made at home and even supermarkets sometimes stock pretty and appropriate offerings. If you have pretty or neat handwriting, then use your creative spirit to do them yourself. Alternatively, ask a friend who has beautiful writing. This will save you time, money and make them more personal than any ordered place cards would ever be.

Wedding timelines: optional but cute
This is a relatively new trend in the wedding world but one that we are definitely fans of. There are some really cute examples of wedding timelines online and they’re a fun, time saving and quirky new tradition.

Again, these can be made at home but if you have a theme, we suggest asking your stationer or a graphic designer to create this for you. As it can be a playful way to tie your theme together.

Whilst it might initially feel like a chore, wedding stationery offers a creative and fun way to show the intended character of your wedding. Using these tips, tricks and advice, wedding stationery will be fun and something that all parties can be involved in.

How YouTube is replacing hobbies

By Marchelle Abrahams / Daily Mail for IOL

Are we raising a generation of web addicts? A major new study seems to point in that direction, saying children in the UK have become so addicted to screen time that they are abandoning their hobbies.

It found that under-5s spend an hour and 16 minutes a day online and their screen time rises to four hours and 16 minutes when gaming and TV are included. Youngsters aged from 12 to 15 average nearly three hours a day on the Web – and two more hours watching TV.

The study said YouTube was “a near permanent feature” of many young lives and seven in 10 older children took smartphones to bed. It concluded: “Children were watching people on YouTube pursuing hobbies that they did not do themselves or had recently given up offline.”

Creative parenting expert and author Nikki Bush believes the danger of technology is that it has become a management tool.

Many times parents look to it as as a virtual babysitter, to the detriment of a child’s mental health.

“Your child’s cognitive intelligence is all based on emotional bonding.

“They are growing up in a very hostile world and it’s hostile for a number of reasons,” said the author of bestselling book Tech Savvy Parenting.

What they really need is that feeling of safety and security that comes from belonging and togetherness.

It’s very important for them – it’s like a cushion for a hostile world. And that comes from human interaction, which is very important.”

But as parents spend more time away from their younger ones, many are flocking to YouTube to fill that void. Some youngsters are becoming so obsessed with YouTube celebrities that they idolise them as role models, an Office of Communications report said.

“YouTube was a near permanent feature of many children’s lives, used throughout the day,” researchers in the study said.

Often they come across unsuitable content by accident, when they are searching for something else.

Sometimes they simply seek out material they are too young to view.

They are also led to it by YouTube’s own algorithm which feeds them suggestions based on their tastes.

Children prefer YouTube to old-fashioned television or TV on-demand services because they “could easily access exactly what they wanted to watch and were being served with an endless stream of recommendations tailored exactly to their taste”, the report said.

Many of the parents involved in the research were shocked to learn what their children had been watching.

 

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