Feb 21

Sun and Moon Craft

by Hannah Holt »


What you’ll need

  • two white paper plates
  • yellow and blue tissue paper cut into 2″x6″ strips
  • markers
  • glue

Step 1: Using a black marker, draw a sun face on one plate and a moon face on the other.

Step 2: Color the rest of the sun plate orange and yellow. Make the moon plate yellow and blue.

Ste 3: Turn each plate over. Put a dab of glue on the outer edge of the plate. (We live by the rule, “dot, dot, not a lot.”) Attach a piece of tissue paper to the glue, yellow tissue for the sun and blue tissue for the moon. Continue around the outer edge of each plate until each plate has a tissue paper halo.

Optional activity: Mount the sun and moon to blue poster board. Add cotton ball clouds and silver stars stickers.

Dec 28

DIY: Personalized Journal

by Hannah Holt »


The New Year is almost here. I’m not a resolutionist. Resolutions seem more like ultimatums than goals, and I’m not a big fan of ultimatums.

Instead I try to go with the flow.

Along with my goal setting, I keep a regular but eclectic journal. My journal is part meditations/part shopping list/part brainstorming station.

“Goals that are not written down are just wishes.”

~ Unknown

I like my journal to reflect a bit of me was well. Here’s how you can take a common composition notebook and fancy it up.

What you’ll need:

  • a foam brush
  • Mod Podge glue
  • scissors
  • a composition notebook
  • scrapbook paper

1) Measure and cut your paper to the size of the notebook.

2) Paint glue onto the outside of the notebook.

3) Press the paper onto the notebook, and firm it into place by scraping over the top of the paper with a plastic card.

4) If needed, trim the edges. Let the glue dry completely before using.

Happy (almost) New Year!

Feb 09

Author Meets Artist

by Hannah Holt »


Today for our ongoing series on art & friendship, we have children’s writer Carol Rose. Carol is one of my favorite people. Whether monitoring democratic elections in El Salvador or simply offering suggestions on a manuscript, she emanates compassion and courage. You can follow Carol on all her globe trotting adventures at her blog. This is the story of Carol’s friendship with Hawa, a Liberian refugee and artist:

Hawa and I met on the way to O’Hare Airport. Me, clutching the passenger seat with my eyes clamped shut, she struggling to merge into wild Chicago traffic. Hawa could barely drive. But she’d taken a job at World Relief in order to welcome refugees to our country. And to do this, she needed to make it to the terminal.

Hawa, herself, was a refugee from Liberia. As a young girl in the midst of a brutal civil war, she fled her village. Despite strict instructions to take only bare essentials, she smuggled a tray of paints under her clothing. And that is how she became an artist. During her long years away from home, she painted. She painted to forget the gnawing hunger, the men lurking around corners, her hopeless life. She painted mothers with their children, women doing chores, children playing soccer. She had no supplies to speak of, just dirty scraps of discarded cardboard and paper and her smuggled paints.

I was intrigued by her story and knew it would make a compelling chapter book. Children could learn about life in less peaceful countries, about what being a refugee really means, with crowds of people wasting away their years, with fears of attack, of abuse, of hunger.

When I showed Hawa my finished product, she was kind, but firm, saying I had to see Liberia for myself. She pointed out glaring discrepancies. In my story, I portrayed girls sitting under a tree, playing with their dolls. To me this seemed natural and logical. But Hawa knew sitting under a tree would quickly lead to vicious attacks of biting ants. And furthermore, they had no dolls, just corn husks bent and shaped into play figures.

From Hawa, I learned how difficult and important it is to get the story straight, down to the nuances. I’ve gone on to write stories about the Dust Bowl Era, still struggling with authenticity, down to the grit in the milk. Hawa’s gone on to open an authentic Liberian Restaurant, still struggling to sell her paintings.

There’s a portrait of Hawa hanging in my living room. She’s sitting on the ground, holding a paint brush, her body thin and angular. She’s beautiful. Across her face run tiny words, common everyday thoughts that any young girl might have, concerns about her complexion and skinny legs. It always reminds me of how alike we are, even when the circumstances of our lives are so different.

I will continue striving to capture truth in words. True friends, like Hawa, help me find the way.

Find out more about Hawa’s a Liberian restaurant in Knoxville, TN.

Find out more about Hawa’s art.

Follow Carol on her blog.

If you have a story you would like to share about art & friendship, please email me at hannahweight at yahoo dot com.

Dec 19

Star Wars Birthday Party

by Hannah Holt »

one comment

My big-little-man turned eight this month. His current passion is Star Wars, and that’s convenient for me because Star Wars is everywhere.

I picked up this banner from my local party supply store for about $3, and we played pin the lightsaber on Darth Vadar:


We pinned lightsabers by printing off paper lightsabers from this post.

At first the kids were, like…

Kids: Hey, Darth Vadar already has a lightsaber!

Me: If you win, you get silly putty.

Kids: Ooooh, can I go first? No me! No me!

Cheap motivational prizes solve pretty much all potential birthday party problems.

I also made a Death Star Piñata:

death star pinjata

Really, who doesn’t want to take a whack at the Death Star?

The nice thing about the Death Star is it’s round.


Don’t tell Darth Vadar we built this Death Star around a pink balloon. The piñata paste was made by combining all-purpose flour and water at a 1:1 ratio (one cup water, one cup flour). I dipped newspaper strips in the paste and covered the balloon until I felt like it was strong enough to withstand a rebel attack.


I let it dry for a few days and the cut a hole for the prizes. Then I taped up the hole really well and painted over the entire thing with black and gray acrylic paint (see above).

For the pièce de résistance, I made a Millennium Falcon cake:

melennium falcon cake

I baked two cake rounds, chopped one of the circles up, gave the entire cake a drizzle glaze (regular frosting with extra milk added) of white over they entire cake, and marked it up with gray and black cake decorating gel (click to see a larger step-by-step photo process. I usually frost my cakes with wax paper liners underneath. Then I can remove the wax paper and any frosting drips.

millenium falcon cake inst

Jun 14

Summer Science Projects: Physics

by Hannah Holt »


Launch imagination into orbit with these fun physics activities!

#1) Balloon Rockets

  • Oblong balloons
  • Construction paper
  • Tape
  • Straws
  • Fishing line (we used a nylon chord, but fishing line would have worked better)

Use construction paper to build the rockets (make sure a balloon will fit inside). Cut the straw into a three inch tube and tape this to the back of the rocket. Thread the straw onto the fishing line. Fill the balloon with air and pinch (but don’t tie) the end. Place the balloon inside the rocket. Release and watch it fly.

Discussion Topic: Potential vs. Kinetic Energy

Two sentence explanation: When you blow up a balloon you pressurize it (like stretching a rubber band). When you let go of the balloon’s end, you change stored (or potential) energy into moving (or kinetic) energy.

Follow up questions: Could you design a balloon rocket that will go down the string AND come back? What other ways can you store energy (gravitational, elastic, chemical)?

#2) “POP” Bottle Projectile

  • a one liter plastic bottle
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 3/4 cups vinegar
  • a cork (or a potato cut to fit the top of your bottle)
  • a funnel (to help pour the vinegar into the bottle)

Fill the plastic bottle with baking soda. Pour the vinegar into the bottle and quickly cork the bottle. In 2-3 seconds watch the cork fly. (Make sure it isn’t pointed at anyone.)

Discussion Topic: Gravity

Two sentence explanation: Gravity attracts (or pulls) everything on the surface of the earth downwards. The pull of earth’s gravity will eventually overcome the push the cork received from the bottle and pull it back to earth. (You could also test gravity by throwing a ball into the air, but where’s the fun in that?)

Follow up questions: Can you change how far the cork travels by switching the amounts of vinegar and baking soda? What if you changed the angle of the bottle from launch? What if you changed the substance of the cork to something like a wet paper wad?

Tips: It’s important that the cork have a tight fit. If you have a slow leak, the cork won’t pop. Also, you can use a different sized bottle than the one liter; however, you’ll have to play around with the vinegar and  baking soda ratios.

#3) Win a Quarter Trick

  • Four baseballs
  • A quarter
  • Masking tape
  • A measuring stick
  • A length of PVC pipe (for a cue stick)

This is an old pool hall trick, except we are doing it with baseballs and PVC pipe. If you can knock a quarter (or silver dollar) out of a circle you get to keep it, but the trick is it’s almost impossible.

Here’s the set up: create a two foot diameter circle using the masking tape, and place one baseball in the center of the circle. Balance a quarter on top of that baseball. Place the other baseballs outside the circle. Hit an outer baseball with the PVC pipe such that it knocks the ball in the middle. If the ball leaves the circle without hitting the other ball, try again. The goal is to knock the quarter out of the circle by “shooting pool.”

Discussion Topic: Newton’s First Law– Something won’t move unless something else pushes it.

Two sentence explanation: The quarter (most likely) won’t leave the circle because nothing hits it directly. When one ball collides with the other, the ground is knocked out from underneath the quarter, but there is no forward push. (Think of ripping a tablecloth out from under a bowl.)

Follow up questions: What would you have to do to knock the quarter out of the circle? Can you design any other games with balls and the two foot circle? What if you tried this set up with bouncy balls or soccer balls?

If you liked this post, you might also like Summer Science Projects: Biology, or Summer Science Projects: Chemistry.

Recap: For the past three weeks, our household has been on a science quest. We’ve learned many things. Like, oblong carnival balloons are a riot to have around the house.

However, more importantly, I’ve seen a big difference in the inquisitiveness of my boys (ages four and six). After the first couple of experiments, they started designing their own. Even within the tailored projects here, I was impressed by the range of creativity they expressed. I plan to run at least one science related experiment a week with them; however, I probably won’t post these here. If you’d like to keep up with our summer science projects, follow my Kid Craft Ideas page on Pinterest.