Frugal Crafts For Kids: Make Your Own Fairy House


Our 5 year old daughter Miss E is super artsy, and can spend hours every day coloring, drawing, cutting, pasting, weaving, and creating. We are happy to indulge her love of making things as long as it doesn’t translate into being spendy. She is usually happy with a blank artist’s notebook and drawing materials, but she does like to get more crafty sometimes.

We have three fairies made of felt, thread, and bobbie pins, and she felt they needed a home. We saw a kid’s craft episode on PBS where they made a fairy house out of an oatmeal container, and she waited patiently for a couple weeks until we finished off our giant container from Aldi.

We started by scrounging in the yard for some bark. Our sycamore tree had naturally peeling bark, so we gathered some from the ground.

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We used our giant 32 oz. oatmeal container, but a smaller one should work just as well.

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We peeled off the label, cut about 3 inches off the height, and then cut out a door. We left a piece of the door attached at the hinge.

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All we had on-hand was Elmer’s glue, Scotch tape, and paste. We tried gluing the bark pieces on with Elmer’s, but it was just too heavy for the glue. A couple pieces were thin enough to stick though. I think something a little more tacky and strong is necessary if your bark is thick.

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I brainstormed for a roof idea. I pulled an old cereal box out of the recycling and scrounged some wrapping paper that was already used and hanging around in my gift wrap stockpile. (We don’t tear off wrapping paper in our house. We carefully remove it, smooth it out, and reuse.)

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I used a large bowl from our salad spinner to trace a circle on the cereal box.

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I cut a little pie-shaped wedge to make sure our roof made a nice cone shape.

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I used the same bowl to cut a circle from the wrapping paper. I then pasted the wrapping paper atop the cardboard circle, and glued the end of the circle together to make a roof.

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We scrounged for some more natural materials in the yard. We found dried pine needles, seeds, flowers, and some huge leaves from our hollyhocks.

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We used glue and paste to cover the container with our treasures from the yard, including a seed we used for our chimney.

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Tutorial: DIY Spring Poppies Using Do-A-Dots

DIY Spring

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My older sister Kate is a graphic designer and has always been super artsy. Alas, I did not get that gene, and even hated coloring as a kid. While my son is more like me, our daughter E takes after her Aunt Kate quite a bit. She can spend hours coloring, drawing, weaving, cutting, pasting, and painting.

I usually hit up Pinterest for ideas for her, otherwise I would be lost. She never fails to surprise me though in her ability to come up with her own projects. Yesterday she spent the morning making these red poppies (one of my favorite flowers), and I thought I would share her process. Everything she used we had on hand.

Here’s what you need:


1 sheet of construction paper (she used yellow)


Do-a-dot markers (I love these because they get the fun of painting without the mess for me to clean up.)

  1. Start out by making some well-spaced orange dots with your do-a-dot.

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2. You can use your red do-a-dot to surround your orange dot. E wants to be sure you know that if you use yellow paper, you can use your purple do-a-dot and it will look red. Especially if your baby sister is already using the red.

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3. You can be frugal and use one sheet of paper for your entire project. Make every flower at once and space them out to fit on one sheet.

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4. Once you have your flowers, and the ink has dried, you can get ready to cut them.

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5. We unraveled pipecleaners we had used for a bracelet project and reused them to make the flower stems. The pipecleaner has a tiny sharp metal end on the top, so carefully poke it through the center of the orange dot. You can fold the end over once it’s through to keep it safe.

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The result: a bouquet of poppies.

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Frugal Skill-Building: Cupcake Icing Tutorial From YouTube

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When I was in 5th grade, I decided I wanted to learn how to crochet. Because no one I knew nearby was skilled at crochet, I checked a book out from the library, convinced my dad to buy me a crochet hook and a skein of yarn, and learned how to do it on my own.

A few years later, when I was in high school, I taught myself to quilt using the same methods (with less stunning results, but they worked).

I would say I am good with cooking and baking, but I have never learned to make those nice finishing touches to cakes. I’ve usually outsourced birthday cakes to my friend Bridget, who has a side business making cakes. She’s the one who made this amazing Thomas the Tank Engine cake for my son’s second birthday.


This past year, I have been making my own cakes and cupcakes, but they are plain and simple. Bridget learned her skills from a Wilton Cake Decorating course at Michaels. I looked into doing the same, but I didn’t want to pay if I didn’t have to. I decided to give YouTube a try to see if I can pick up some basics. I used a 50% off coupon to buy a Wilton cake decorating kit and another coupon to buy a cake turntable. My kit had everything I needed to do some basic piping for cakes, cookies, and cupcakes.

My daughters are having a combined birthday party next month, and I wanted to make a rainbow cake with piped icing. I did my first trial last week. I started out by dividing a bowl of yellow cake batter into four bowls and coloring them different colors. My daughter helped me to put some of each color in each cupcake tin. It was a little bit technicolor for me, but my 5 year old liked it.

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I used this video to learn some basic techniques for cupcakes, and after a few tries, I think I got it! The nice thing is if it looks bad the first time, you just scrape it off, put the icing back in the bag, and try piping it again.

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My first attempt at rainbow cake turned out well too. I’m not sure how much I like the technicolor cake, so I am thinking of making some regular cupcakes with rosette icing piped in different colors and shaped into a rainbow, like this one, instead of a brightly colored cake. If my plan goes well, I will be able to keep homemade cakes on the menu for many years to come.

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