CraftSanity On TV: Fun spring break ideas for the kids and a friendship bracelet maker giveaway

Happy spring break! Snow is in the forecast for Michigan, so chances are good that my family won’t be frolicking on the West Michigan sun during Spring Break 2011. But no worries, I’m a crafty mama with a plan.

This past Sunday the weekly column I write for The Grand Rapids Press offered spring break suggestions to keep the kids entertained. You can read it in full here. The abridged version of my plan to combat spring break boredom is below:

* Buy your kids a fresh box of crayons and a new spiral notebook or coloring book. My kids LOVE getting fresh drawing supplies and the bonus for me is that I get to see what they do to fill up the pages. Art made by children is my favorite.

* Give your kids a pack of pipe cleaners and a bag of pony beads. At 5 and 6, my kids enjoy making bracelets and freeform pipe cleaner and bead sculptures.

* Let the kids go on a supervised photo adventure. My daughters LOVE it when they get to use my digital point and shoot camera. Whether you go for a walk around the block or they shoot dozens of photos of the family cat, kids really enjoy it when they’re empowered to document their world.

These photos are usually pretty entertaining to review. After the shoot load them into the computer and let your child print out a few to make a book or photo collage for the fridge.

* Teach your kids to embroider by pinning a photo copy or tracing of their favorite comic book character, superhero or cartoon character to a piece of fabric stretched across an embroidery hoop. By following the lines on the paper with a simple backstitch, they will be able to create a fun embroidery to hang in their room. This is a good project for tweens, but younger children an do it with a little help.

Kids can us this same method to embroider one of their own drawing too. I absolutely love embroidering my daughters’ drawings and highly recommend collaborative projects of this sort. My daughters have been filling up their new notebooks will designs for me to stitch which means I’m going to have a lot of fun on spring break, too. (Abby drew the chick with bunny ears at the top of this post after watching the trailer for the new movie “Hop.”)

* Another spring break idea is to shop for seeds and make some garden plans. We like to start our seeds using the winter sowing method. We plant seeds in milk jugs and leave them outside on the deck. The plastic acts as a green house and protects the plants from the elements. Please see my column for detailed instructions on transforming the milk jugs into mini green houses.

* In my column I recommended digging out the embroidery floss and clipboard and looking up a free pattern for your tween to make some friendship bracelets. After the column was published I learned about this product…

A representative of the Michigan-based company that produces the My Friendship Bracelet Maker sent me a sample of their bracelet maker and I’m very impressed with it. Where was this machine when I was a tween? I would have loved. it.

While it’s not necessary to use a bracelet maker to knot a bracelet, it does make the process a lot easier for beginners. (It’s more fun for veteran bracelet makers, too.) The bracelet maker retails for $19.99 and can be purchased at select Meijer, Michael’s and Hobby Lobby stores as well as other chains stores. Grand Rapids area readers may be able to find one at Flowerland, 765 28th St. SW, in Wyoming, too. But call ahead, so you don’t waste a trip. See a complete list of national and online retailers here.

I’m going to teach my daughters how to use it over break and report back here on how that goes. I like the fact that it keeps the bracelet under tension and the thread nice and neat while you’re working. I also appreciate the thread storage compartment down below. And I LOVE the fact that is was invented in Michigan by retired automotive executive, David Crorey, after his granddaughters introduced him to friendship bracelet making while he was babysitting.

I’m so impressed by this bracelet maker that I asked to give one away. To enter to win a bracelet maker leave a friendship bracelet memory or other comment below by 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, 2011. A winner will be selected at random. Check back here for a winner announcement next week. Good luck everyone!

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