Friday, November 22, 2013

Thankfulness Turkey

We love to do crafts with all of the cousins when we get together for Thanksgiving. Each year I go on a quest to try and find new and exciting crafts.  Sometimes it is tricky to get one that works for all ages, as we currently have a wide range, from preschool to almost middle school.  I am happy to report that this next craft I'm going to show you was a BIG hit with everyone.  It was a "Thankfulness Turkey". 

Besides awesome food and chillaxing with family, we also like to focus on the meaning of thanksgiving, and help the kids really think about even the little things they can be so thankful for.  

Okay for this project you will need:

Brads/brass fasteners   
Brown + yellow construction paper or white cardstock with brown crayons/markers
Paint swatches in a variety of colors
Googly eyes

Also on hand you should have:

Thin sharpies (for writing in small spaces)
A round object or bowl for tracing
Hole punch

By the way we got this fabulous idea from the website Preschool Alphabet.  

First you want to make the body of your turkey.  You can use brown construction paper, or like we did, trace a round circle on a piece of white card stock (sturdier) and have the kids color them what ever shade of brown they think their turkey might be.  We used a small lid or bowl to get the perfect circle shape.

Add a small mark for the future hole.  It should not be dead center, but slightly towards one side

Once they have colored it brown, have them cut it out and punch a hole in it slightly off center.

Next, before the big day go around and collect some colorful paint swatches from Lowes, Home Depot, or Walmart.  I tried to find the colors of the rainbow plus a few extras.  These will make the feathers.  Round out the ends with a pair of scissors to make them more "feather" like.

Try to find tall swatches to maximize your turkey feather length
You will have to measure these up against your "turkey body" to find the right placement for the holes.  I prepped the feathers with a mock up turkey before hand and had all the holes punched in the paint swatches so we could be ready for our craft quickly.  This is where we are going to put what we are thankful for.  Hand out to each child all the colored feathers.

I had a sample of what their finished turkey would look like so they could see that they should probably write their thankful things in the top three or four spaces, as the lower parts of the paint swatches would be covered with the turkey body.

With thin sharpies, have them write on each feather things they are thankful for.  If they are too little to write, they can draw small pictures.  For our youngest ones, we had them tell us what they were thankful for and we would write the words for them.  Also at this time you can glue on some googly eyes above the hole of the turkey body, and a small yellow or orange triangle beak if you wish.  Or like Gabe here, stick the biggest googly eyes on your head.

After that it is just a matter of putting your cute turkey of thankfulness together.  Slip a brass brad through the top of the turkey body, and through all the holes in your turkey feathers and secure.  Fan out your feathers and you've got yourself one adorable turkey!

I thought it was pretty cool that the length of our turkey feathers were just long enough to poke out the bottom end of our turkey body, giving it a nice full turkey "look".

These were so bright and colorful.  We all LOVED making them.

Here is a whole FLOCK of turkeys.  GOBBLE GOBBLE
After dinner we all sat around and each child shared what they were thankful for.

Overall this turned out to be a fabulous and colorful craft that was not only FUN, but was able to drive home the atmosphere of thankfulness, how not to take anything for granted, and to help these little ones learn how to count their blessings.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Little Drum Cake

Well I have been so busy lately.  My oldest daughter turned 9 last week and I have been so occupied planning and throwing her music birthday party extravaganza this weekend (will post soon, wait til you see my grand piano cake), I haven't had time to even share what I've been up to.  You see, her real birthday was on a Monday night and we had a small family party featuring her favorite meal (spaghetti) and a small cake.  Keeping with the "music" theme we were going to do later in the week I thought it would be fun to have a drum cake!

The idea came to me rather last minute, but compared to my other, more complex birthday cake creations this shape was going to be easy... ROUND!  I made our favorite banana cake recipe in two round pans and froze them the day before (which makes them easier to frost and work with), and turned them out onto my serving board.

Wish you could smell it here, this recipe really fills the room with a nice banana scent
Some of these pics are a little dark, I was doing this after she had gone to bed as a surprise.  First I slathered a layer of frosting on the bottom layer of cake.

Next I added the 2nd layer of cake.  Sometimes it is good idea to flip one of the cakes over, to help make a more even top surface.

Then I knew I wanted this drum to be an aqua blue, her favorite color, so with a little wax paper tucked underneath the sides of the bottom of the cake, I spread on a layer of blue frosting

I used the neon food dye colors to get this bright aqua color

I tried to make this side frosting come all the way up to the edge of the cake

After that I knew I wanted the surface of the drum to be pure white.  I wanted to make sure that when I got close to an edge, I tried to "connect" the white frosting up to touching where the blue frosting was.

As you can see, it was not perfect.  Matter of fact I frosted this whole cake in about an hour.  I wanted to cover up the places where the white met the blue.  I looked high and low for one of my flat Wilton tips, but could not find them.  In a pinch I used a simple round tip (a little larger, maybe a 10 or a 12) and used a complimentary color of pink to add some detail and dimention to the cake.  By going slow and pressing slightly in, I was able to give a nice edge to the cake.

To make it more "drum like" I also piped some ribs down the side of the drum. To make the ribs even I mentally divided the drum like a clock. I piped a rib at 12, 3, 6, and 9.  Then I went back and piped I rib between each of those. For added effect, I added blue MnM's to help cover where the joints met and it added a nice finished look to my little snare drum.

The only thing you need after that is some "drum sticks"  At first I was going to use large rod pretzels, then last minute thought that these fancy Pirouette cookies might be a bit more tasty AND, of course, adorable.

The next morning, she woke up to see her surprise drum cake and was very pleased!

What she DIDN'T know is that later that night... we had another BIG surprise for her... A REAL set of drums.  She has been wishing for these (and lessons) for over a year.  I LOVE her face here!

She was thrilled!

My happy little drummer girl!

So the last minute drum cake turned out to be a big hit... and fit with our music theme perfectly. 

 The only tough decision was: Do I eat the drum sticks, or play them?

We went with eat this one time.  She is starting her first lesson this week... I will keep you posted when she turns into a famous drummer girl.

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