It's a craft supply you'll have around your house at no extra charge if you buy popsicles -- the popsicle stick! These versatile pieces of wood are wonderful additions to any craft, because they're already sanded for safe use in little hands. You can also buy popsicle sticks in large packs from craft stores for very little money, and they make great family activities for big groups of kids with a creative streak.
Puppets are classic popsicle stick crafts. Just start with paper (cardstock is the perfect thickness -- still thin enough for little hands to cut through, thick enough to make great puppets that won't flop over when used in a show) and decorative utensils, such as crayons or washable markers, and add glue, scissors, and popsicle sticks. Help your kids cut carefully around the shapes they've drawn (alternatively, you can use pages from coloring books for pre-made characters), and then glue them to the sticks around the midline so the character will balance well. Have your kids make entire sets out of popsicle stick puppets, from main characters to trees and cars!
Mobiles make wonderful gifts from your older children to your younger children. Start with the same basic materials as puppets, and add in some yarn. Glue two or more popsicle sticks together in the middle to make the frame, then tie or glue string to various cut-outs of characters and tie or glue these to the parts of the frame. Then make a big loop to hang the mobile with and tie it to the center. Your littlest one can have a great present from his or her siblings, as well as learn something if you help your other youngsters choose educational items to dangle from the mobile.
Your kids will love to fashion animals from popsicle sticks. Using kid-safe glue like Elmer's, they can create the shapes of all of their favorite animals, wild and otherwise. Find a book of animals, such as The Big Book of Animals by DK Publishing, and have your kids snap and cut their popsicle sticks into smaller segments to form the outline of one of the animal pictures. Pre-glue, they can even lay the sticks over the top of the pictures in order to better structure their artwork.
Of course, there is the classic popsicle stick picture frame. Find some photos that aren't too important, or print up copies of special ones -- these make great presents from children to grandparents or other relatives on gift-giving holidays. Have your kids cut out the pictures, then lay the popsicle sticks in an orderly fashion around the picture. Glue them there, then let your kids go wild with coloring utensils, colored paper, cutouts, shape punches, and colorful cotton balls.
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