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It may be a little early to start pulling out the Christmas decorations and baking holiday goodies, but if you begin making Christmas cards with your kids as soon as the air outside begins to cool, you have the opportunity to introduce them to several valuable lessons.
My son and I sat down one Saturday evening with some silly music playing in the background and in an hour we had 3 Christmas cards that he was completely pleased with. Not one of them was met with a threat of being crumpled in a ball or even looked at with a frown.
We began by using a variety of Fiskars punches and some plain white printer paper to create some templates. Punching them from white paper helps a child focus solely on the placement of their shapes rather than being distracted by the colors and patterns of papers.
Cardstock manufactured for papercrafting can be a pricey way to experiment with children and cardmaking when you are looking at creating a large number of them. We created our card bases by folding an 8.5 inch x 11 inch piece of printer paper in half lengthwise and then in half again crosswise. This left us with cards that are 5.5 inches x 4.25 inches and plenty sturdy enough.
After making our card bases, I had my son place the punch templates and stamps of his choice directly onto the card. This was a good time to encourage a little organization in the process. Once he had his elements in place, I could decide on a grid design that would work best with his choices.
For his first card, he had a story to tell. He planned to have 2 penguins on an ice blocks in water and mice floating in the sky on bells so I had him use a 4-square grid. We placed one penguin and ice block in each lower square and a mouse on a bell in each upper square. Envisioning the squares may be difficult for some children, especially younger ones. You can fold a scrap piece of paper (cut to the same size as your card front) into fourths and when unfolded, they can practice on it using the fold lines to help them "see" the grid on their card.
When the design was set, I had him choose papers from my stash of scraps left over from other projects. You can also use materials such as magazines, construction paper, or gift wrap. Fiskars manufactures many punches that are kid friendly. The mechanism on the lever punches is easy enough to depress that even small hands can work them without the need of placing them on a hard surface. Although different in design, the squeeze punches also very easy for kids to use.
Next it was time to replace the templates with the shapes punched from colorful patterned papers.
This is his finished card. Imagine it is divided in half from top to bottom and again side to side and you'll "see" the 4-square grid. A stamped title, some stamped snowflakes, and a long strip of water for the ice blocks to float on disguise the symmetry of the 4-square grid design while the orderliness it provides is still intact.
We reversed roles for the second card. I asked him to help me with a card. I showed him how to begin with a grid in mind with the goal being to choose elements to fill the squares. This works well for kids who don't have a story to tell with their design as my son did when he started his card. I started with organized space in mind and added shapes. He started with shapes in mind and added organized space. Both methods work!
My son designed the final card himself. Again, he started with a scene in his mind of a plate of cookies created from punched circles. Organized space was added. Since he just wanted the plate of cookies and a stamped title, a 2-square grid, with the dividing line running from the top of the card to the bottom, was all we needed. Allowing the elements to slightly spill over the grid lines, as both the cookies and the title do, is a great way to disguise obvious symmetry and make the design look a little more advanced.
Try these 3 simple grid designs with your child and you're likely to see some confident smiles when he or she is finished!
8.5 inch x 11 inch printer paper or other card base material; patterned paper scraps or magazines, gift wrap, or other materials for punching