If you have any crafting energy left after the Valentine's Day flurry, consider giving these wee figurines of U.S. Presidents a try.
I wouldn't have predicted it, but when I got the book Every Day's a Holiday: Year-Round Crafting with Kids (Chronicle Books, $22.50), this was the project my 8-year-old picked out of the 50 projects described. Me, I liked the Mini Radish Mushrooms for Eat Your Veggies Day (June 17) and Skeleton Cookies for El Dia de Los Muertos.
The book is by Heidi Kenney, who blogs at www.mypapercrane.com and sells through her Etsy story of the same name.
We got everything we needed for the figurines at Joann Fabrics and Crafts: acrylic paints, mini wooden figures and pipe cleaners. Most craft stores would have them as well. A word of warning: the younger ones will need help as the painting and other details need to be more precise than the average kindergartener can make. As well, this is a good project for explaining to the kids that the ones in the picture look so perfect because a professional made them look that way for the photo.
On the upside, this project creates a good opportunity to pull out pictures of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other presidents and to talk about who they were and what they did. And the figurines are awfully cute when they're done.
Mini President Figurines
What better way to celebrate Presidents' Day than creating mini pres-ident figurines? The small wooden bodies can be found at most craft stores. Makes 4 presidents
You will need
Acrylic paint (color of presidents' hair and clothing)
4 mini wooden figures
Black fine-point felt-tip pen
Pipe cleaners in various widths and neutral colors, such as white, gray, brown, and black
Tiny plastic hats, bits of fabric, and other small presidential accessories (optional)
Choose the presidents that you'll be re-creating. You may want to print out pictures of your favorites for reference.
Using paintbrush and paint, add hair and clothing to the wooden figure. Start with the lightest colors, such as white and light gray (so you can paint over any mistakes with darker colors). Move on to the darker colors. Leave the faces and hands unpainted natural wood. Don't worry about details; you will draw on faces, buttons, and collars with the pen later. Let dry completely.
Using the felt-tip pen, let the children add eyes, nose, and mouth to each figure—small dots work perfectly and do not require such a steady hand. The supervising adult may want to tackle outlining the clothing, creating collars, buttons, shirt ruffles, and sleeves. Let dry completely.
Using scissors, cut the pipe cleaners to use for hair, sideburns, and beards. Depending on the president you have chosen, cut small pieces of pipe cleaner to use as sideburns or hair curls, and longer pieces to wrap around the face for beards. Pipe cleaners come in many sizes and types, so experiment until you find the one that gives the look you want. Dot small amounts of glue onto the figures, and hold the pipe cleaners in place for about 5 minutes, until dry.
Attach small plastic accessories such as Abraham Lincoln's famous black hat using dots of glue. Allow the figures to dry for several hours.
Reprinted with permission from Every Day’s a Holiday: Year-Round Crafting with Kids, Chronicle Books.