It’s fun receiving holiday cards in the mail to keep in touch with family and friends. But why throw these beautiful pieces of art away at the end of the season. A good “green" tip is to keep them from year to year and repurpose the cards with fun crafts that the children can make. Save the Christmas card crafts as memorabilia. When the kids tire of their masterpieces, the crafts can be thrown in the recycle bin. Here are five ideas to try with the kids.
Christmas Card Magnet Stories
Look through discarded Christmas cards with the children. Invite them to pick out the pictures they like and cut out the figures using safety scissors. Glue magnetic strips to the back of each figure (some magnetic strips are self-adhesive). Show the kids how these Christmas card pictures will stick to the refrigerator, a cookie sheet, or any metal surface. Talk about the pictures as they are added to the metal surface.
Play a game with your children by placing one picture up on the board and start a story. Stop and have your child choose a picture and tell the next part of the story. Continue to add pictures until the story comes to “the end." Encourage your children to spend time on their own making up stories or looking for other pictures to add. They can even plan a show to present to the rest of the family.
Make a Holiday Clothespin Garland
Christmas card crafts make attractive home decorations. Together you and your child can recycle these cards into a garland to hang in an area for all to admire it. First discuss the meaning of a “garland" with your kids. Perhaps you can show them a picture of a garland before you start this craft. There are many ways to make a garland, but I like this clothespin craft.
Paint wooden clip-on clothespins in holiday colors. Then, cut out small pictures from holiday cards. When the pins are dry, glue the picture onto the wooden clamp. String a ribbon across an area where you want your garland – for example, across the fireplace mantle, doorway, or string one across cabinets. Invite the children to place their decorated clothespins onto the ribbon.
Holiday Sewing Cards
Sewing is a great way for children to develop fine motor skills needed for later writing activities. Young children may have a harder time going from hole to hole in order. Just remember that it is the process not the end product that is so important to children.
Let your child choose an old Christmas card with a large picture of a holiday item on it. Cut the front cover and with a hole punch, make holes around the design or around the edges of the card. Cut a length of yarn (about 18-inches) and wrap one end with cellophane tape. This makes a needle-type tip. Make a knot at the opposite end. Now, let the kids “sew" by moving the yarn tip up and down through the holes.
Homemade Christmas Puzzles
Look through a box of old Christmas cards and have your child pick one with a large picture to make a puzzle. Cut off the front of the card and turn it around to draw puzzle pieces. With a pencil or marker, draw zigzag pieces that look like a jigsaw puzzle. Invite the kids to cut out the pieces using safety scissors. Invite the children to take the random pieces and put the puzzle together again. Store the puzzle pieces for each picture in a plastic sandwich baggie.
Note: It’s best to mark each puzzle with a code on the back of each piece. For example, on the first puzzle place an “A" on the back of each piece. Use a different letter or symbol for each puzzle. This way if you have multiple puzzles, you will know which pieces go to each one.
Create Patchwork Note Cards
Get the kids in a habit of writing thank you notes for their holiday gifts. What better way to send a greeting than on homemade cards the children have made with recycled Christmas cards? Here is a fun technique:
Ask the children to fold a sheet of construction paper in half and set it aside. Next, invite the kids to cut old holiday cards into geometric shapes (triangles, squares, rectangles) making sure that each shape is no larger than 1-2 inches wide. Encourage the children to glue the pieces onto the cover of the construction paper card in a patchwork quilt design. This takes some thought and practice to fit the pieces like a puzzle onto the card surface; a good way to practice their problem solving skills. When the glue has dried, the children can open the card and write down their thank you note message and pass these out to family and friends.
Keep the children amused during their holiday break from school with Christmas card crafts. You will be teaching them good recycle skills and have some artistic fun along the way.
NOTE: This article talks about using Christmas cards, however any greeting cards will work with these craft ideas and can be used year ‘round.
Personal experience as a parent and teacher