Make it a Handmade Holiday

It’s December and the holiday season is here! The holidays are the perfect time to show off your maker skills with handmade gifts and decorations. However you celebrate, if you’ve got a Maker in your family, you’ll want to incorporate some of these activities into your festivities. Below are a dozen fun, inexpensive activities the whole family can make together.


Washi Tape Cards 4          Washi Tape Cards 5

Washi Tape 

from Art Camp LA

These are super cute and super easy cards to make with decorative tape and a few other materials.

Washi Tape Christmas  Tree

What you’ll need: black print washi tape, sequins or hole-punched card stock for balls, glue

What to do

  1. Lay a vertical strip of washi tape for your trunk.
  2. Build out your branches with skinny, black print washi tape (you can cut your washi tape down the middle to get these skinnier pieces).
  3. Glue on the sequins or hole punched circles to decorate the branches


What you’ll need: washi tape for scarf and buttons, googly eyes, small scrap of orange construction paper for nose, black pen for smile, pink for cheeks

What to do

  1. Scarf: Lay a piece of washi tape from the left side of your card to the right.
  2. Cut out 2 circle shapes from a strip of washi for your snowman’s buttons.
  3. Cut out an orange triangle shape for your snowman’s nose and glue it down.
  4. Add your googly eyes above your carrot nose.
  5. Draw a simple smile shape with a black pen.
  6. Add your rosy cheek.


Star card

Shooting Star


This festive greeting card is really easy to make — no sewing skills required. Check out the website above for step-by-step pictures & directions.

What you’ll need: Fabric or decorative paper, scissors, glue, blank card or piece of  folded cardstock, hole punch, embroidery thread

What to do

  1. Cut 2 or 3 different-size stars from fabric or decorative paper. Glue together.
  2. Cut 7 to 10 1/4″ slits on the bottom left-hand half of card, spaced 1/4″ to 1/2″ apart. Punch a hole about 1″ in from top right corner.
  3. Insert thread through hole, and wrap over the front of the card, securing string inside first slit; repeat until all slits are threaded. Trim and knot ends together.
  4. Glue star over hole.

Easy Holiday 


Super simple and fun- the sky’s the limit with these cards

What you’ll need: scrap paper of different colors, glue, fine point pens or markers

Light Up

from Melanie Stemdola

For those who want to take their card making to the next level, add some led lights. Let your imagination run wild with all the images you can light up once you get the hang of making a complete circuit. You can draw your own pictures, use stickers, or cut out images from magazines to decorate the front of your card.

What you’ll need: cardstock paper, glue, foil, tape, brass fasteners, led lights, &  a 3v battery.



Washi Tape Festive Wreaths

Festive Wreaths

from Parents.Com

Made from clothespins, these graphic rings are terrific for kids and parents to do together. The best part: You can hang them up and admire them for years to come.

What you’ll need: clothespins, embroidery hoops, washi tape or decorative tape, small scissors, ribbon

What to do
Start with wooden clothespins (available at the Dollar Store, Target, Amazon). Apply strips of washi or other patterned tape (available at craft stores like Michael’s or Joann’s)  to one side of each pin (smooth it right over the groove that holds the metal spring). Trim the edges of the tape with small scissors. Discard the outer rings from embroidery hoops (we used a few sizes, ranging from 4 to 7 inches) and clip on the clothespins. Hang the wreaths with nylon thread or ribbon.

Screenshot 2018-12-05 at 10.57.32 PM

Ugly Sweater Garland

adapted from Fun Learning for Kids                     image from Oriental Trading Company

What better way to get in the holiday mood than create this fun ugly sweater chain to decorate your home.  Make at least 10 sweaters to add to your string or ribbon

What you’ll need: sweater template, red, green or any other color/patterned cardstock you like,  glue, pom poms, buttons, jingle bells, confetti, stickers, sequins, & any other embellishments, ribbon thick enough to glue the sweaters onto

Christmas collage art activity for kids.

What to do

  1. Draw a sweater or trace the sweater template on the cardstock. You can also just print the template directly on to the cardstock ,then just cut the sweaters out.
  2. Put all of the supplies in a tray with separate compartments for easy access.
  3. Glue on the embellishments any way you wish
  4. Repeat with as many sweaters as you want to string on your ribbon
  5. Glue your sweaters to the ribbon, let dry completely, and hang

Magazine Christmas Tree

This quick video from the School Library Journal shows how to make a Christmas tree tabletop decoration from a magazine- reduce, reuse, recycle!

3D Star 

from Sea Lemon

You can use this easy tutorial to create a start to top your magazine Christmas tree or use it as a festive decoration anywhere in your home. The best thing- it’s made from recycled cereal boxes! Here’s a link to the star template mentioned in the video


Peppermint Sugar Scrub 

This scrub from the Jacolyn Murphy website makes a great gift for anyone who wants to keep their skin glowing all winter long.

What you need: white sugar, olive oil, peppermint extract,  food coloring, a pint glass jar with lid, ribbon, candy cane as decoration

What to do

  1. Mix together white sugar, olive oil, coconut oil and peppermint extract or oil in the amounts described in the website linked above.
  2. Add food coloring and mix to desired color.
  3. Layer in pint jars and decorate the jars with ribbon and candy cane.

Change it up: Check out Murphy’s post to change the colors and scents of the scrub. Or make one without scent or coloring, decorating the jar with a special holiday ribbon.


Sock coffee cozy handmade gift

Jolly Java Jackets


Kids can take an old sock and give it new life by turning it into a reusable sleeve for coffee or hot cocoa to go.

What you’ll need: Old socks, fabric scissors, buttons, felt, felt stickers, fabric glue

What to do: Cut 4 inches from leg of sock to form a cup cozy. Add embellishments using fabric glue.


Pom-Pom Pens

These pretty pens from the Sew Sara blog are a go-to gift for teachers and students, and a fun project for beginning sewers. Check out the blog post for step by step instructions. This activity is best for kids 8 years and up.

What you’ll need: pens, fabric strips, glue gun, needle & thread, scissors

What to do

  1. For each pen, measure two strips of fabric (one measuring 3 1/2 inches x 13 inches, and one measuring 3/4 inches x 13 inches). Wrap the pen with the narrower strip of fabric and glue in place.
  2. Create and sew a pom-pom from the wider strip according to the directions on the blog post and glue to the pen.

Change it up: Wrap the pen in duct tape, and/or add a flower instead of the fabric pom-pom.


Cookie Mix in a Mason Jar Christmas Gift - Sugar Cookie Recipe & Label - Free Printable

Holiday Cookie Mix in a Mason Jar

from Mom Skills

This is a great gift  for all the people in your life who love to bake or who love to eat cookies!

What you’ll need: green felt, red felt, mason jars (quart-sized) , twine, craft glue, red buttons, scissors, pen, paper for tags, dry ingredients from your cookie recipe

What to do

  1. Add sifted dry ingredients from your favorite cookie recipe (or the recipe from the link above) to a clean, dry Mason jar. Press each layer firmly into the jar.
  2. Add a pop of color to the top with holiday-themed candy sprinkles.
  3. Print out the tag from the blog post or make your own if you’re using a different recipe and decorate the jar lid with felt and buttons.

Wishing you and yours a happy handmade holiday!

Press Start: Useful Websites for Game Design

Is your child at the age where all they want to do is play digital games? As educators or parents, we want to restrict this type of game-play, but that should not always be the case.  What if I told you that playing and creating digital games is a productive and educating moment for the child? Well, it is–and we want to talk to you about it.

Here at the Wonder Workshop, we want to inspire children to make their own digital games. It is a valuable outlet for them to learn more about coding, mathematics, design, planning, and creativity.

How can my child and I  create a game?

Doing so is easier nowadays with all the free resources available online (a heads-up that you might have to download some software). Below is a list of our 3 favorite websites for game making.


Lets you create different types of games from 8-bit arcade games and flash games such as puzzles, 3D adventures, and classic creator.  It is a drag-and drop interface, where you can drag pre-designed graphics and add pre-written coding.  It is a super easy–I created this game within 20 mins.

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 5.47.32 PM




If they are more confident, they can create their own graphics through the graphic editor.

The best part is that child can share their work with friends and loved ones. The platform is free on computers and laptops. However, there is a fee of $1.99 for those downloading through the App Store and Google Play Store.

TIP: There are several Youtube tutorials videos for this game creator. For example: Jaction Rowe, a kid, created this video for the Retro arcade game creator. It is easy to follow and shows how child-friendly this game creator is.

Construct 2

This HTML game creator is an easy program that lets anyone design 2D games. Here is a mini preview:

It is super easy. The drag and drop design makes it child-friendly, which makes it perfect for users who are not familiar with creating graphics for the games. You can purchase add-on graphic packages for a small fee.

The limited Construct 2 is available for Free for Windows here. If you want to create applications for Android and Apple products, you will need to purchase the download for about $129.99. Of course they have also an Education discount for educators and schools (prices vary).

If you do not know what version of the program to get, check out the Compare Features section here.


This drag and drop interface makes it easy for anyone to make their own 2 dimensional game. Stencyl Starter download is free for Macs, Windows and Linux computers, and laptops. If your child is very invested, you can upgrade to Indie for $99.99 per year. Here is a preview and tutorial of how to make your own game.

You can build your own apps on multiple platforms such as Android and iOS. Download Stencyl Studio for a fee of $199.99 per year.

With these tools, you and your child have an opportunity to not only create, but build confidence. It’s also an opportunity to brag about your child genius and show off their digital creations to loved ones. Of course, you can show off on this blog post, too! Please feel free to comment below with a link to your child’s creations. And don’t feel like it’s only limited to your child–we’d love for you to share your work as well! Remember, Everyone is a Maker, so even adults can create their own games and learn.

About the Author


Maria Renteria, AmeriCorps VISTA 


Maria comes to us from the South Bay of Los Angeles. She has been a Maker since she can remember. She is excited to share this passion with Grass Valley Elementary students because she wants them to create their best memories of school through making like she did when she was little.

Grass Valley’s Cohort 1 Maker Project Expo

Join us for our Maker Cohort 1 Project Expo, as they explore the question:

How can we, as food scientists, investigate ways to interact with food?


Hope to see you there!