Teaching children to sew can be a fun and rewarding lesson if you let them take the lead and design their own monster dolls.

let your child make their own monster doll

Make Your Own Monster Dolls

Aren’t they cute?! Okay, they may have a few imperfections, but I don’t want to hear about it because my boys made them! That’s right my 4 and 7-year-old sons made their own Monster Dolls (with a little help from me). It was a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon together. And as a bonus they learned some basic sewing skills.

My 7 year old really dove in and enjoyed every aspect of making his monster. He used the sewing machine with my help. My 4 year old needed a bit more guidance and help. He was very tentative about the sewing machine, but I convinced him to push the pedal. After one time pushing it, he was LOVING puttin’ the pedal to the metal! LOL!

Materials:

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Instructions:

Let your child draw their monster on a piece of paper.

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Help your child draw the outline of the monster onto the backside of the fleece. Explain that you might need to fatten up any skinny appendages so you can turn the monster right side out and stuff (him or her) after sewing.

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Pin two pieces of fleece together (right sides together.) Help your child cut out around the outline of the monster’s body. This will give you two identical pieces for the monster doll body.

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Cut eyes, nose, and mouthparts out of colored felt. Pin the facial features to the right side of one of the body cut-outs. Let your child use the vanishing marker to mark other facial features that will be stitched.

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Using the sewing machine, stitch the facial features and attach the felt pieces.

Helping Children Learn to Use a Sewing Machine:

To help my boys learn to sew, I let them depress the pedal on the sewing machine. We focus on light pressure, slowing down, and stopping. Meanwhile, I guide the fabric through the foot.

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

To emphasize the features we drew over the stitching with the Sharpie marker.

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Use buttons or the Sharpie to create pupils for your monster doll.

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Pin the right sides together (facial features inside) of the doll. Stitch around the edge, leaving a small three-inch opening for stuffing.

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Trim any excess fabric away from the edges before turning the doll right sides out.

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Turn the monster doll right sides out. Use a pencil’s eraser side to poke out any corners and turns. Stuff the monster with polyfill stuffing. Use the pencil to push filling into small areas.

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Whipstitch the opening closed after the doll has been fully stuffed.

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Your child’s monster doll is complete!

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Ugly Monsters or Adorable Monsters? What do you think?

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Your child will surely love his creation and will definitely feel a huge sense of pride that he (or she) designed it themselves!

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

I let my boys do as much as possible so they could feel a HUGE sense of accomplishment when they were done. They both were so proud of their monsters. They tote their monster dolls everywhere and tell friends and family, “I made it!”

 

 

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Need an activity to do indoors that will help the kids burn off a little excess energy? An Indoor Hopscotch Game with Painter’s Tape is just the thing you need.

indoor_hopscotch_painters_tapeIndoor Hopscotch using Painter’s Tape

When the weather outside is frightful and your kids are less than delightful, lay a roll of painter’s tape on your floor and soon your kids will be having fun indoors.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

How about that for a quick little limerick? Well, this project is almost as quick. All you need is a roll of painter’s tape (I used ScotchBlue for delicate surfaces, but you can use any type) and a pair of scissors.

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Lay out your hopscotch grid on the floor. (It was easy on our square tile floor because the tile layout acted as a guideline for our course.)

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Add numbers inside the squares.

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And let the kids loose. Soon they’ll be a hop skippin’ and a jumpin’ that energy away…

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…well, maybe not all their energy.

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Important note, don’t leave the tape on the floor for weeks on end or you may struggle to get the adhesive up. But, in the meantime, have fun and let’s pray we can all venture out safely soon!

Anyone else have any great ideas to let kids burn off energy indoors? Please, leave me a comment, I need help here.

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Make glass bead magnets with the kids for a simple and easy craft project to help you get through those long summer days when the kids are home.

how to make glass bead magnets horizontal photo

How to Make Glass Bead Magnets

I love working with mod podge, especially for this decorative book with a secret hiding place and this vintage map lampshade. But, when it comes to a craft the kids can safely work on, I chose these Easy Decorative DIY Glass Bead Magnets.

We recently visited the Art Museum in Chicago and I found myself swooning over the beautiful paperweight collection. The glass magnifies the design inside the weights allowing you to see all the intricate details. While I don’t foresee making my own glass paperweights, the kids and I could get creative and use glass beads to make some beautiful magnets.

beautiful paper weight collection

A while ago, I happened upon a craft tutorial creating decorative push pins with glass beads. The next day my boys and I picked out glass beads and the rest of the supplies at AC Moore. My 3 and 6 year old were so excited when I pulled out the Oriental Trading Catalog and asked them to pick out their favorite pictures. We spent over an hour chatting and giggling as they cut out pictures from catalogs and magazines. If your children are looking for specific photos, you can always print them out from your computer first. Once you have your images, you are ready to get creative!

Materials:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

glass bead magnet materials - scissors, mod podge, pencil, E-6000

Instructions:

Lay your bead on top of a picture you want to use.

boy laying out glass beads onto magazine pictures

Trace around the pictures and cut them out with an x-acto knife.

Paint mod podge on the front of the picture.

Center the glass bead on top of the picture. Then seal the picture by coating the back of the image with more mod podge.

After the beads dry, take out the magnets. Apply a dab of E-6000 glue to the magnet…

adding a small amount of E-6000 glue to the magnet

…then set the glass bead on top.


Within 30 – 45 minutes they should be dry and hardened.

Now you have beautiful custom glass bead magnets.

finished glass bead magnets

I chose mostly black and white images and graphic numbers and letters for my set.


The kids on the other hand – well, let’s just say they do love their cartoon shows!


Let me know if you make your own glass bead magnets. What images will you use?

Be sure to pin this image for a friend. You know how hard it is to keep the kids entertained over the summer, right?!

how to make glass bead magnets vertical photo

After the abundance of candy and cookies consumed over the holidays, I cringe at the idea of more sweets finding their way into our home. Especially candy with artificial colored dyes added. Valentine’s Day and Halloween are the two holidays where I have to brace myself for the inevitable influx of dye-laden candies. I don’t have concrete proof, but I’m fairly certain that one of my sons has a dye sensitivity. This sensitivity manifests itself in behavior issues.

Because of this, I try to make Valentines that don’t use candies. Introducing Melted Crayon Heart Valentines!

For Halloween I give out chocolates instead of hard “colorful” candy. Read more

three-book-recommendations

I’m thrilled to share with you a selection of 3 DIY books this holiday season. If you are looking for ideas for someone on your gift list who: has children who love to create; loves rustic metal decor; or wants some simple ideas to love the home they are living in…I have the book for you!

Let’s start with C.R.A.F.T – Creating REALLY Awesome Free Things (affiliate link). This book by Jamie Dorobek was not a book I had originally planned on reviewing. But, when I opened the envelope and set the book on the counter it was instantly whisked away from me. My boys took the book and read it from front to back!

C.R.A.F.T. Book Review

Within 30 minutes, my oldest (a middle schooler) had already cut up a cereal box and was working on his own puzzle.

C.R.A.F.T. Book Review

C.R.A.F.T. Book Review

The next day, my 3rd grader had a playdate at our house. He and his friend asked for the materials to make their own Emoji masks. Read more

DIY Marble Toss Game | Pretty Handy Girl

This summer, parents are busy trying to keep their children busy with quality games and toys. Any seasoned parent knows that those electronic noise-maker toys have no place in a sane household. With this in mind, my friend Stefanie from Brooklyn Limestone has started a summer long series called “Die Ugly Toys Die.”

Die Ugly Toys Die

Every Thursday she’ll feature another DIY toy or game that you can make for your children. It’s time to get back to the basics and send those annoying and ugly toys off a cliff.

My tutorial for creating a DIY Marble Toss Game is starting the series today.

Click here to find the instructions to build your own. Then watch your kids have hours of fun challenging each other in a tossing game.

Be sure to check over at Brooklyn Limestone every Thursday for a new DIY toy or game.

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20 Summer Boredom Busters for Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

If you’re on a quest to keep the kids entertained, I have several Boredom Buster DIY craft projects for you and your kids that will keep you busy over the next few weeks or so.

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Summer Calendar & Bucket List

 

Thumbprint Pillow | Pretty Handy Girl

Kids’ Thumbprint Envelope Pillows

 

cooling_crayon_hearts

Melted Heart Crayons

 

Sunprints | Pretty Handy Girl

Sunprints (frame-worthy art)

 

DIY Magnets Noggin Characters | Pretty Handy Girl

DIY Character Magnets

 

Placemat_summer_garden_flag_pin

Summer Garden Flag

 

Planning a beach vacation? Why not bring a few craft supplies to create some beach-themed crafts!

Writing Name in Sand Art | Pretty Handy Girl

Writing in the Sand Art

 

Sea Shell Memory Game | Pretty Handy Girl

Sea Shell Memory Game

 

Dragonfly Garden Decor using a Dollar Store Whisk and Skewer | Pretty Handy Girl

DIY Dragonfly from a Whisk and Skewer

 

block print tea towel

Potato Block Print Tea Towels

 

Easy_washi_tape_vases

Easy Washi Tape Vases

 

how to make a yardstick star

DIY Yardstick Star

 

Spray-Dyed T-shirts | Pretty Handy Girl

Spray-dyed Shirts

 

Easy Decorated Chalkboard Clipboards | Pretty Handy Girl

Decorative Chalkboard Clipboards

 

Monster Dolls Designed and Made by Your Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Kid Designed Monster Dolls

 

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Indoor Hopscotch with Painter’s Tape

 

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Wine Cork Animals

 

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Doodle Shirts

 

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Decorated Glass Jar Votives

 

Magnetic Mailbox Cover | Pretty Handy Girl

Custom Painted Magnetic Mailbox Covers 

Those ought to keep your kids busy for a little while and let you make summer memories that last forever. Happy Summer!

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Little Playhouse | Pretty Handy Girl

I love giving my boys creative freedom on projects. Frequently I let them have access to my scrap pile. Inevitably they build little houses for their stuffed animals. This little house was designed and painted by my 8 year old for Ollie (his little stuffed octopus.) I helped him build it. If you want to build a little playhouse for your child to paint, follow along.

Before we begin, I need to back up and tell you that this project is part of The Mystery Thrift Off.

#TheMysteryThriftOff is the brainchild of Lindsey from Better After. She chose a handful of people to take part in this challenge. After scouring her local thrift shops for ugly and hopeless items, she shipped off the chosen items to those of us in the challenge. I signed up—because frankly—I love a challenge. And, I love saving ugly items from the landfill. Be sure to see some of the other Mystery Thrift Off transformations at Better After and vote for your favorite.

But, when the box arrived from Lindsey, I was terrified to open it up! I mean what if she had sent me a ceramic scabies bear!  Yikes. You can imagine my relief when I opened the box to reveal this dated Christmas village.

Chalkboard Arrow Sign (Mystery Thrift Off) | Pretty Handy Girl

Not too bad looking is it.? Truth be told, it was falling apart and the colors were hunter green, colonial blue, mauve and fleshy tan.

Chalkboard Arrow Sign (Mystery Thrift Off) | Pretty Handy Girl

I quickly pulled the three houses apart and began to transform them into A Chalkboard Arrow Sign, a Housewarming Gift Caddy and the Little Playhouse I’m going to show you today.

I began by removing some of the embellishments.

Little Playhouse | Pretty Handy Girl

I saved them for a future project.

Chalkboard Arrow Sign (Mystery Thrift Off) | Pretty Handy Girl

Next I sanded off the glue.

Little Playhouse | Pretty Handy Girl

Here’s where you can pick up the tutorial. Start by cutting a house shape into a piece of plywood or scrap wood. Cut out a doorway (the Dremel Multi-Max worked perfect for this task.)

Little Playhouse | Pretty Handy Girl

Flip the house shape over and attach hinges to one side of the door and the house.

Little Playhouse | Pretty Handy Girl

Cut two pieces for the sides of the house (1″ x 4″ lumber) and a back piece the same height as the house front.

Little Playhouse | Pretty Handy Girl

Clamp the back of the house to a solid surface and attach the sides of the house with glue and finish nails. Read more

Dragonfly Garden Decor using a Dollar Store Whisk and Skewer | Pretty Handy Girl

Summertime is coming and I’m enjoying spending more time in our garden. I’m always looking for cute craft ideas that I can do with the kids while school is out. When I saw this great idea for making a wire whisk dragonfly on Morena’s Corner, I knew I had to try it. I altered Morena’s plans slightly using plastic beads and used a skewer for the plant stake. The cost and materials are minimal to make this Dragonfly Garden Decor using a Dollar Store Wire Whisk and Skewer. This craft can be done with the kids, but you’ll need to be the one to cut and bend the wires and watch out for the pokey edges with real little kids.

Dragonfly Garden Decor Materials:

Dragonfly Garden Decor using a Dollar Store Whisk and Skewer | Pretty Handy Girl

  • Wire whisk
  • Wire skewer
  • Beads
  • Needle-nosed pliers

Dragonfly Garden Decor Instructions:

Begin by bending the first wire loop out to the side to create a wing.

Dragonfly Garden Decor using a Dollar Store Whisk and Skewer | Pretty Handy Girl

Repeat with three more loops (2 on each side).

Dragonfly Garden Decor using a Dollar Store Whisk and Skewer | Pretty Handy Girl

Use the needle-nosed pliers to cut one wire loop into two short pieces as shown below. (You might need to twist the pliers back and forth to cut the wires.) Read more

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

Before the end of the school year a REALLY GOOD friend of mine asked if I would give a talk in her daughter’s class about what I do for a living. I hemmed and hawed because I rarely have the free time. But, the main reason I was hesitant was because I didn’t know how to talk to 4th graders about what I do. Saying I’m a blogger is something that is hard for me to vocalize. “I write a blog” sounds simple and easy. But, in actuality, I do so many other things to make this blog a reality. Just a few of my job descriptions are: writer, photographer, builder, crafter, teacher, photo editor, business woman, manager, social media coordinator, graphic designer, web designer and all around handy girl! How could I explain all of that to the students?

Suddenly, an idea hit me! I would waltz into that classroom and use my platform to break down the stereotypes about women and handy people within 30 minutes (or less!) Then I’d empower the 4th grade students by letting them build their own chalkboard memo board AND use a power tool! Lofty goals, but I felt sure I could do it. Little did I know that the students wouldn’t be the only one empowered.

The quiz:

I started out by talking to the kids about what a handy person is. They shared terms that fit the definition of a handy person: fixes things, builder, carpenter, plumber, woodworker, and home improvement specialist. Then I showed them a slide presentation and gave the kids a quiz asking them to tell me which of these people are handy:

DIY Chalkboard Memo Board (4th grade project) | Pretty Handy Girl

I showed them one picture at a time and as expected, they got all of the answers wrong.

The answers: Read more