Creative Kid: Shoebox House

I recently opened a “maker space” in the school library where I work. In some libraries, maker space refers to a spot for a 3-D printer; in mine, it means something more basic: recyclables, masking tape, glue sticks and scissors.

The kids (grades 3-5) decided to make a shoebox house for a library elf–a mythical creature they hope to lure to our library with some luxe real estate. The project is collaborative, with each group of kids adding to what the others started. I’ve been amazed, watching as the structure grew and grew–the pad even has a pool and barbecue. Although I’ve only had a light hand in the project, I do occasionally get out my glue gun to solidify the foundation.

Our maker space rules are simple: share the space; build, don’t break; and when class is over, clean up the blizzard of little bits of paper scattered all over the carpet.

Roundup: Fall Crafts

Time for an autumn craft round-up! Why not paint leaves? I’ve ironed leaves in sandwiches of wax paper, after all. I also once sewed a patchwork cat–a pattern from a Denyse Schmidt quilt book, but things went askew for me and the kitty came out lopsided and scrawny. Do any of these inspire you?

1. Painted Leaves by Small for Big

2. Gray Patchwork Cat by Purlbee

3. Felt Leaf Garland by A Beautiful Mess

4. Printed Leaf Tags by Skip to My Lou

5. Felt Acorns by Free People blog

6. Halloween Peg Dolls by Mr. Printables

Make: DIY Ribbon Belts

Fresh notebooks, long pencils with sharpened tips, uncreased shoes on polished floors–I love the possibility implied by the start of a school year.

And what evokes school in its pressed, preppy essence more than the ribbon belt?

I made these for myself, and was surprised when the white-and-blue belt was nabbed by my teenage son. So, make enough for everyone!


grosgrain ribbon (your waist measurement plus about 10 inches)

webbing (to match and back your ribbon)


thread to match

Step one: Pin the ribbon to the webbing, making sure to fold 6-8″ of ribbon over the back of the belt. (This bit will be visible when the belt is looped through the D-ring.)

ribbon belt by

Step two: Sew in place.

ribbon belt by homemade city

Step three: At the other end of your belt, add the D-ring and fold over once. (The webbing was too thick for me to fold over twice).

ribbon belt by

Step three: Sew the D-ring in place. And . . . wear!

Creative Kid: Sand Art Bottle

This one’s a crowd pleaser. There’s something about funneling layers of rainbow sand into an old glass bottle that brings out the mad scientist in everyone. There’s not much to it:


Colored sand (you can also use natural sand or salt and color it with food dye)

Recycled bottles

1″ to 1 1/2″ corks (recycled wine bottle corks also work)

funnel (we only had a single metal one so we also rolled paper into funnels)

That’s it. You just pour and layer!


See what I mean about mad scientists?

bottle sand art by



Days of Summer

I realized I hadn’t posted in a while mostly because we’ve been busy doing a whole lot of nothing–floating down rivers, lingering over afternoon Monopoly games, looking out at a big delicious bowl of lake. Those of us with steel stomachs tried the centrifugal forces of the Zipper and the Tornado, while others of us (in our middle years, ahem) kept our feet on the ground, walking and hiking. I wish I could bottle and cork a bit of these green days to open during the short dark months of winter. Happy summer to you all (there’s a couple weeks of it left)!