Craft

Letter/Number Practice Pack – FREE Download!

The new school year is upon us! Whether you’re homeschoolers like us or your kids go off to school, there’s so much excitement wrapped up in the new school year! The teacher in me loves getting all the new supplies and curriculum. I’m kind of an eclectic homeschooler, in that we use a mix of a few things for our curriculum. This year my boys are in fourth, second, and first. Plus I have a preschooler and the baby (oy… he’s a whole post in itself!) We’re big fans of slow learning in the early years – I don’t push them to read before they’re ready, and we don’t do formal school until at least kindergarten. Because play IS learning for littles!! But sometimes my preschooler wants to “do school” like his big brothers, and my first grader could use some review. So I created this FREE download – a letter and number practice pack for preschoolers to first graders! Print it off and add a few materials that you already have on hand to give your kiddos some fun learning activities!

There are six activities in this Practice Pack, though you could easily use the pieces to create even more!

Here are the materials you’ll need to grab from your house:

  • Egg carton
  • Cardboard tubes (we used our Young Living tubes because we have exactly 13,000 of them)
  • Old magnets (the kind that people send you in the mail with calendars, business cards, etc.) – if you don’t have any on hand, you can buy magnet strips at craft stores or online here
  • Cheerios or other small manipulatives
  • Liquid glue and/or glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Download your free  Letter and Number Practice Pack
  • Optional: cardstock or laminator

We don’t use a lot of worksheets for school in our house, but we do like hands on learning activities. When kids are learning about letters and numbers, having something they can hold in their hand helps their brains to make connections. Cheerios is a perfect choice for this! We already have them in our house (Honey Nut Cheerios is literally the number one food my kids beg for at the store!), I don’t have to worry about the baby choking on them when they fall on the floor, and cleanup is easy … it all goes right into their mouths! ;)

I made a variety of letter and number activities at varying levels. Some of them can be used more than one way depending on your little one’s needs.

Here are the different counting activities:
Have your kiddo count out the correct number of Cheerios to match the number of stars on each number card.

Draw a number card (1-20 available). Your child will place the card next to a star and fill that star with the correct number of Cheerios.

With so many kids and homeschooling them all, it’s important for me to have some learning activities they can do without a lot of direction. After I told them the instructions, they were able to do it all on their own!

Of course, your child will need to have a snack mid-activity. This is crucial to their learning. ;)

For this circle activity, your child will count out the correct number of Cheerios to match the numerals around the circle.

Place number cards in each section of the egg carton. Have your little one count out the number of Cheerios to match the numeral. Cut the egg carton in half for kiddos who are just learning numbers, so that it’s not quite so overwhelming.

Here are the activities for Letter Recognition:

This craft has a bunch of different activities you could do with it! Put your magnet strips on the backs of your cardboard tubes. Glue upper or lowercase letter cards to the front of the tubes.

Put the letter tubes onto a magnetic surface like your fridge or a white board.

Have your kiddo say the letter sound as they slide a Cheerio down the tube!

If your little one doesn’t know letter sounds, focus on identifying letters. Ask them to slide a Cheerio down a certain letter tube. This is such a fun activity – ALL my kids liked it, even my almost ten year old! Because who doesn’t love shooting Cheerios down a tube?? ;) I love that I don’t have to worry about my 11 month old getting a hold of the Cheerios as they fall, unlike a marble or some other small manipulative.

You could also print out another set of number cards and glue those onto the tubes if you want to focus on numbers. Then have them slide the correct number of Cheerios down the tubes!

Within each letter strip, have your child find the lowercase letter that matches the uppercase letter at the beginning of the row.

Whether you homeschool or not, these are easy activities to whip out on a moment’s notice with your kiddos. If your littles need a little extra help learning their letters and numbers or if you just need a few fun activities for them to do when they’re begging for some screen time, these are easy to pull out without a lot of prep. If you want your activities to last and be able to use them over and over, make sure you print or glue onto cardstock or get them laminated.

I’m not even kidding when I say that my boys would eat cereal all day if I let them. Ha! I really appreciate that Cheerios has no High Fructose Corn Syrup (one of the biggest no-no’s in our house), and I love that they’ve removed the preservative BHT from their cereals.

When I was pregnant with my youngest, oh my goodness I craved Cheerios!! Unlike my kiddos, I’m not usually much of a cereal eater, but I think I have some childhood nostalgia around Cheerios, because I love a big bowl with bananas. So yummy! :) As we get back into our homeschool groove, having quick and easy breakfast options is important to me. We can toss them in a Ziplock bag for mornings when we need to leave the house early. Plus, can I get an Amen for Family Size boxes?? A total big family necessity!

So grab your FREE DOWNLOAD of the Practice Pack, grab some Cheerios from any local retailer, and have a smooth transition into the new school year!

Download your Letter and Number Practice Pack

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DIY Heart Pencil Toppers

I told you that I’m a little Valentine crazy over here, and the DIYs just keep on coming. These heart pencil toppers are SO simple to make and are ridiculously cute. Pop them onto a pencil to hand out as Valentines or give them to your kiddos to use on their cereal spoons in the morning! These pencil toppers are perfect for kids to make themselves.DIY Heart Pencil Toppers for Valentine's Day

{this post contains affiliate links}

Supplies:

1. Cut pairs of hearts out of wool felt.

hearts

2.Use a blanket stitch to sew the two hearts together. With the two pieces together, pull your thread through from the inside.

pencil topper step 1

3. Pull the thread back through both hearts.

pencil toppers step 2

4. Pull your thread back through the loop made by your first two steps.

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5. Pull the thread through both sides and begin again.

pencil topper step 4

6. Continue these same steps until you’ve gotten all the way around the hearts. Leave an opening at the bottom of the heart big enough to slide a pencil inside.

pencil topper step 6

Now all you need is a pencil! (Target’s dollar spot has some super cute Valentine pencils right now, but the way)

pencil topper

How cute are these pencil toppers?? Seriously, these are super easy to make and are the perfect Valentine to hand out at class parties!

easy heart pencil toppers

If you don’t have any kiddos to send Valentines with, use this same idea to make these hanging hearts to add some Valentine decor to your home!dscf7431

Happy Valentine-ing! :)

heart pencil topper

 

FREE Train Valentine Printable

I’ve always loved the tradition of exchanging Valentines! And now that I have kids, I love it even more. :) Even as homeschoolers, we get together with other homeschooling families and exchange cards. This year I’m slightly ahead of the game, and I made a fun printable for my boys to use. This can be a candy or no-candy Valentine! Keep reading to download your free printable!FREE Train Valentine Printable a great non-candy valentine option

When it comes to the Valentines my boys are going to hand out to other kids, I like to go simple. I don’t want something they’re going to have spend all day making (unless they are going to do it all on their own… in that case, I’m all for it). These are perfect – you can print and go!

Choo Choo Valentine

Print them onto regular paper or cardstock, then if you want to add something special, tape on some candy or a Thomas the Train pencil (affiliate link) or some fun stickers!

Train Valentine Printable

We have these fun mini-trains that would be perfect non-candy option for a small group, like a preschool playgroup or even your own kids. Ours aren’t quite the same as these mini-trains, but they’re similar.

free train valentine printable

:::::: download and print out your FREE ::::::
:::::: Choo Choo Valentine ::::::

quick valentine printable

If you’re looking for more Valentine ideas, check out these posts:

       Free Dinosaur Valentine PrintablesEasy Last-minute Valentines

 DIY Heart Pencil Toppers for Valentine's Day

Easy Vintage-style Christmas Light Garland Tutorial

Christmas is only a couple days away, but if you’re feeling like your house isn’t Christmassy enough, or you need an easy gift idea, this idea will really help you out! This adorable vintage-style Christmas light garland is simple to make, but adds a great pop to your decor. I love those big vintage bulbs, and with this garland, you can bring them into your house and put them just about anywhere – no electricity required!
Make a vintage Christmas light garland with this easy tutorial

Supplies:

  • fabric that doesn’t fray (fleece or felt are great choices)
  • rope, ribbon, or twine
  • embroidery thread
  • hand sewing needle
  • scissors
  • polyfill
  • a chopstick (or something similar to stuff the bulbs)
  • sewing machine (though you can get away with just hand sewing if you prefer!)

1.Cut out your Christmas light shapes. You will need two for every bulb. The number you need will depend how long you want your garland to be. I only made six, because I knew I wanted to hang it on the piano.

christmas light garland step 1

2. Place two bulbs together, wrong sides together. Stitch around the bulbs with a blanket stitch.

christmas garland step 2

3. After you’ve gotten all around the bulb (except for the top part), stuff a small amount of polyfill into your bulb. You don’t want to use too much! Use the chopstick to get the stuffing all the way to the bottom of the bulb.

christmas light garland step 3

4. Now sew the bulb onto your rope, twine, or ribbon. I used a thick jute rope, but make sure you use something that your sewing machine can handle! You can also hand sew the bulbs on, making this a completely hand sewn project – perfect for car trips or sewing by the Christmas tree!

christmas light garland step 4

Now repeat these steps until all your bulbs are on your garland!christmas light garland

The thick jute I used gives this garland a little bit of a rustic feel, but you can change that up by choosing a different material. A shimmery ribbon would have a completely different look!

christmas light garland tutorial

This is such a simple decoration, but it brings such a festive look to your holiday decor. It’s easy enough that you could get your kiddos involved in making it too!

vintage christmas light garland tutorial

Happy holiday sewing!

Need some other last minute gift ideas?

make-your-own-boxy-zipper-pouch

boxy zipper pouch

15 minute infinity scarf

infinity scarf

lego-minifig-carrier-tutorial1

lego minifig carrier

DIYLeatherNotebookCoverIfOnlyTheyWouldNap_zpsb01abb93

leather notebook cover

This post was originally posted at Skip to My Lou on 11/29/15.

15 Gifts for Crafty Kids

If your kids are anything like mine, gifts that encourage creativity are always a safe bet. They love anything that allows them to express themselves. And I never have a problem buying them sewing and crafting supplies, because we are all about raising creative kids over here. Here are 15 gifts for crafty kids, that you still have time to get!

15 Gifts for Crafty Kids

15 Gifts for Crafty Kids:

(this post contains affiliate links – purchases through these links cost you nothing extra, but I receive a small commission, helping me to run this site!)

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Crafty Chloe – this book is ADORABLE. My boys absolutely love how Chloe makes gifts and clothes and all sorts of fun things!41cRbnczNrL._SX450_

Janome Mini – I highly recommend this sewing machine for kids! It works really well (I’ve used it in a pinch ;) and it’s built for even young kids to use safely.

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My First Sewing Kit – this kit has all your kiddos need to hand sew crafts!71fIRkDbHPL._SL1500_

Self-healing Cutting Mat – protect your kitchen table from scissors and scratches

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Sewing Kit – a must for any kiddo learning how to machine or hand sew

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Yarn Craft Kit – your kiddo can learn to knit, crochet, and make super fun accessories!

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Easel Accessory Set – this art set is perfect for many ages. I love sets like this where everything comes all together. These paint cups are so great too and prevent a lot of messes!

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Double-sided Easel – every artist needs an easel!

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Drawing Set – I like how this set has different mediums for drawing, giving your littles the opportunity to use many drawing methods. Perfect for all ages!

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Sketchbook – this is the sketch book that I use to plan out new designs and ideas, and I get them for my boys as well. They like having their drawings all in one spot, and I like not having a thousand different papers lying all over the place. ;)

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Craft-A-Day – this book is FULL of ideas for your crafting kiddos!51+2PgDb4TL

Felt – this is a must for crafting! There are so many things you can do with felt: sewing, crafting, gluing, cutting…

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Stained Fabric Markers – my favorite fabric markers! Pair these with some plain t-shirts or aprons for hours of entertainment.

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Assorted Craft Supplies – pretty self-explanatory ;)

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Embroidery Floss paired with Embroidery Hoops for hours of stitching fun!

Happy crafting, friends! :)

Handmade Gifts for Boys day 4: Floor Cushion Tutorial with hidden storage!

I don’t know about your house, but my boys’ toys need constant corralling. And what’s better than storage that doubles as a place to cozy up and read! This floor cushion has a hidden zipper so that you can fill it with stuffed animals, blankets, or the sweatshirts you can’t fit in the dresser. ;)
floor cushion tutorial with hidden storage

Supplies:

  • 1 yard of fabric – I used a thicker double sided knit, but it doesn’t have much stretch
  • 1 package piping
  • 1 zipper around 22in. (if you make your cushion smaller, you can use a smaller zipper, but you want to make sure you have enough space to open it and put stuff in!)

1. Cut two circles (or ovals… I cut mine as ovals that were 25.5 x 22.5)

2. Measure around your circles and cut your rectangle of fabric to go around the outside (remember to allow for seam allowance!)

3. Sandwich your piping in between one of the circles and the middle rectangle (the raw edge of the piping should be facing the outside). Pin all around the circle and fold the ends of the piping in toward the seam allowance. Then sew all around close to the piping, using a zipper foot.

floor cushion step 1

4. Repeat with the other circle and other side of the middle rectangle. This side you’ll be adding in the zipper, so pin that in place first. You want the zipper to be open halfway. At the ends of the zipper, you’re going to pin in the piping. This is a little tricky, so do it carefully. Fold the ends of the zipper and the piping toward the seam allowance. (I used a separating zipper, because this is what I had. But if you have a non-separating zipper, this part would be a little bit easier)

floor cushion step 2
5. Around the zipper, you’ll be sewing one line of stitching on each side of the zipper. Where there’s piping, you’re just sewing all three layers together, as before.

floor cushion step 3

6. When sewing the open end of the zipper, you may have to go over it several times. If you used a separating zipper like I did, make sure your ends line up and that your piping meets up with the end of the zipper and sew the end above the zipper stop together.

floor cushion step 4Then use the zipper opening to turn it right side out!

floor cushion with zipper

Then fill it with something soft – pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, even a large pillow form – and you have a great new place to sit!

comfy floor cushion tutorial

And then tell your kiddos that there’s a fun surprise…

Hidden storage floor cushion

…which could quite possibly blow their minds ;)

Floor cushion tutorial

Tame the stuffed animal madness and create a cozy place to snuggle up with a great book!
floor cushion

Now you’ve got to go check out Stacey’s awesome Lego Minifig doll!

Mini-figure Teaser

Happy sewing!

Pumpkin Craft for Kids

This post was originally posted over at Craftaholics Anonymous. I’m sharing it here today, because although I originally posted this as a Halloween craft, it’s also perfect for any fall day. Can’t you picture little rows of pumpkins adorning your Thanksgiving table? So if you’re looking for a craft to keep the littles busy today, bust into your recycling bin for this one.

Kids’ Easy Pumpkin Craft

Pumpkin Craft for Kids

My kiddos love art, and raising creative kids is a high priority in our family. We tend toward free for all art, letting the kiddos have free reign of the craft supplies, creating whatever they wish. But occasionally we do a mom-directed craft, and I decided to add to our fall decor with a kid-crafted pumpkin patch!

Kids Halloween Pumpkin Craft using Egg Cartons Tutorial//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js

Supplies

  • cardboard egg carton
  • orange and black paint and brushes (Can’t handle the mess of paint? Use orange markers instead!)
  • small pieces of green tissue paper or crepe paper
  • liquid school glue
  • scissors

1.Cut apart the bottom of the egg carton.

pumpkins 32. Trim down the sections of egg carton, so that they are flat all the way around.

 

pumpkins 43. Liberally apply glue along the edges.

 

pumpkins 54. Press the two sections of egg carton together. Hold them together tightly. I suggest setting it down on a table and putting something slightly heavy on top of it to hold it together while it dries. **If you’re doing this craft with really young kids, do these first few steps for them, as you may have to wait awhile for the glue to dry**

 

pumpkins 65. Once the glue has dried, paint your egg carton pieces pumpkin orange.

 

pumpkins 26. If you want to turn your pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern, use black paint to add a silly or scary face! It helps (especially for young kids) to use the thinest brush you have. You could also use a sharpie after the paint has dried.

 

pumpkins 87. Cut small tissue paper strips and glue them together onto the top of the pumpkin! You can also use a green curling ribbon if you have it on hand.

 

pumpkins 9Watch your kiddos be creative with their pumpkins! Because who said pumpkin vines can’t be pink??

 

pumpkins 10Once your pumpkins have dried, you’ll have your very own pumpkin patch! My boys love that they contributed to our fall decor. They’re so proud of their pumpkins!

 

pumpkinsAnd bonus for mom, you can use supplies you have on-hand! A free activity that keeps the kiddos busy and happy. Win for everyone!

 

pumpkins 11

Happy crafting!

Preschool Color Wheel Matching Game

If you have little ones at home, you probably find yourself looking for things to keep them busy while you’re doing something else, like making dinner, folding laundry or helping other kids. It’s a bonus when those activities are educational and don’t involve a screen! I made this Color Wheel Matching Game for my preschooler and toddler, and I use it to occupy my littlest boys while I’m homeschooling the older ones. You can use it any time including in the car!Color Wheel Matching Game Tutorial

Supplies:

  • 8 clothespins
  • small pieces of cotton fabric in 8 different colors
  • double fold bias tape (about 37 inches)
  • cotton quilt batting
  • paint in 8 different colors
  • permanent marker
  • scissors
  • sewing machine and thread

**For a no-sew option, glue or mod podge the fabric pieces onto a paper plate or any other flat surface**

1. Cut out 8 triangles – the short sides should be 6 3/4in. long, then cut them at a 45 degree angle (which is also known as “on the bias”) to make the triangle.

DSC_09492. Sew pairs of triangles into squares unsung a 3/8in. seam allowance. Press the seam allowance to one side and trim off the “tails” that are leftover at the corners.

DSC_09553. Sew two sets of squares together – make sure the points come together. Then repeat by sewing the two rectangles together to form one large square, pressing the seam allowances on each piece as you sew.

DSC_09564. Cut a square of fabric and a square of quilting batting the same size as the square you just made. Sandwich the batting in between, with the wrong sides of the fabric against the batting. Pin or clip these pieces together.

DSC_09635. Sew lines to quilt the batting in place. I sewed on either side of the seams, but you can do this in whatever design you choose.

PicMonkey Collage6. Cut the square into a circle.

DSC_09687. Now you’re going to add the bias tape. Open up and lay the bias tape onto the back side of the circle. Begin sewing along the first crease — but make sure you leave the first 1/4in. of the bias tape NOT sewn down. DSC_0971

8. When you get almost to the point you began on the circle, pause your sewing to fold the ends of the bias tape back (toward the underside of the bias tape). Do this with both ends of the bias tape. This makes sure that the raw edge of the bias tape is enclosed. Trim off any extra bias tape you may have. Finish sewing the bias tape onto the circle, over your folded ends.

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 9. Trim the seam allowance to be about 1/4in. Do not cut through your stitching!

DSC_097810. Fold the other side of the bias tape over (the raw edge will be tucked inside) and topstitch it down from the top of the circle. The ends of your bias tape will be enclosed, as seen in the photo below.

DSC_098511.Take your clothespins and label one side with the color names. Then paint the corresponding colors on the opposite side.

Clothespins for Color Wheel Matching GameThen hand it off to your kiddos for color matching fun!  The color names are great for slightly older preschoolers or kindergarteners.

DSC_1009They can learn to recognize the color words, and they can use the painted side to check if they are correct.

DSC_1006The clothespins can be tricky for young toddlers – use your own judgement to know if your child is old enough to use these correctly, and carefully supervise them of course. If your child is too little for the clothespins, use it without them until they are. They can still have fun pointing out the different colors!

DSC_1078The painted side is great for toddlers and preschoolers who are learning their colors, and it can be played independently while you take care of other things around the house or even while you’re driving. If you’re in the car, have your child point at things out the windows that are the same colors!

DSC_1073 I love learning games that are fun, low-tech, build fine motor skills, and help share my love of fabric with my littles. :)

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Happy sewing, friends!

Color Wheel Matching Game

 

Summer Fun for Kids: DIY Pool Noodle Sailboats!

For our family, summer = lake. We live near Lake Michigan (which is amazing) and we vacation every year with my family at a small lake in northern Wisconsin. When I was packing up our swim toys, I had a great idea: this year we would make pool noodle sailboats! Simple, inexpensive, and hours of fun. You could do this at a lake, river, or even in your own backyard pool or tub!
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All you need:

  • pool noodle (if you have one that is ripped or broken, this is a perfect use for it!)
  • small stick or dowel
  • piece of paper

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1. Cut off a small section of the pool noodle.

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2. Cut the pool noodle section lengthwise. You can cut it exactly in half if you want, but we found the boats to float a little better if you cut them a little more than halfway.DSC_7770

3. Fold your paper in half and make two small holes to poke the stick through.

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4. Poke the stick into the center of the boat (we found it floated better when in the center vs. on one end of the boat). DSC_8102

You should also trim the sail to be about the width of the boat. If your sail is too wide, the boat will tip over. Ask me how I know… ;)DSC_8110

Then set your boat in the water and watch it sail the open seas!

DSC_7956My boys have been loving these boats! They’ve had such a great time testing them out in different conditions, with different sails, and a variety of “passengers!”

DSC_7894Rock passengers were the biggest hit, and also helped to balance the boat if there were any waves.

DSC_7882There’s so many things you can do with these boats, from races to experiments (how many rocks before the boat sinks? how tall is too tall for a sail?).IMG_5784

We discovered that the boats are also super fun to float with the noodle turned the other direction! If it’s super windy, this will also help your boat stay upright.

DSC_7936Keeping childhood simple and fun! That’s how we like it. :) Happy sailing!

 

The Summer Fun series is going on at Nap-time Creations, and there are some fantastic ideas for you and the littles to enjoy!

Summer Fun Series 3

Check out today’s posts in the summer fun series:

Frozen Pineapple at Nap-Time Creations

Orange Frozen Treat at Frances Suzanne

Ways to Play in the Sandbox by Messes to Memories

Pool Noodle Boats by If Only They Would Nap

Summer fun for kids - make Pool Noodle Sailboats! Easy, fun, and inexpensive!

Painted Planter Tutorial and FREE teacher appreciation printable!

You can smell it in the air… summer is coming! If your little ones are still finishing out their school year, chances are you’ll need a teacher gift or two. As a former elementary school teacher, I can tell you how wonderful it is to feel so appreciated at the end of a long school year! This easy DIY is something that teachers can enjoy year-round, and if you don’t have a teacher to buy for, make one for yourself!

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Supplies:

  • succulent planter (I found these fabulous ceramic hanging planters at Target. Here is a similar one and a glass one.)
  • paint {or a Sharpie marker!}
  • paintbrush
  • Free Thank You Printable

1. Choose the color and find a paint that is appropriate for the material of your planter.

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2. Begin to paint your design! I began with polka dots:DSC_5999

3. Continue to paint all around the planter until you’ve covered it as much or as little as you want. Experiment with fun designs, like these plus signs:

DSC_60244. Fill with succulents and the appropriate dirt/rocks.

DSC_60585. Then, if you’re giving these to a teacher, print off these easy thank you cards that say “Thank You for helping me grow” – I love a good punny thank you note!

Download the Free Teacher Appreciation Printable Thank You for Helping me Grow cards now

Each page has four cards, so you can print them out on card stock and have ready made cards for each teacher in your child’s life or print them onto regular paper and glue to the front of a card that your child colors. I found that they print perfectly on these postcards, which are perforated to it super easy if you have multiple teachers!DSC_6073

And if you aren’t in need of a teacher gift, just hang them up and enjoy them yourself!DSC_6098

Or maybe do both? Because let’s be honest, you just can’t have too many succulents around! So fresh and bright – great for a gift or great for your own home.DSC_6093

This is really one of my absolute favorite non-sewing crafts I’ve made lately, and I just couldn’t part with these two. So I had to make a different one to send with my oldest for his last day of his homeschool group. And hopefully my black thumb will be able to keep these lovelies alive. :)

Painted Planter