Family fun: Homemade gifts for Father's Day

By Emelie Battaglia

Dad is always the hardest to shop for. And honestly, how many ties do you think a man really needs? This year, get the kids involved in more creative ways, and they'll be able to make something for Dad that he'll love, and that he just may use every once in a while! Here are a couple projects for younger ages that are a great place to start:

Flying Carp: Ages 5+

A lot of newspaper goes into the recycling bin every week, so why not use some of that to make Dad a great new family-fun gift? In six easy steps, your young son or daughter can make the world's greatest dad the world's greatest kite, and it's just in time for summer! Here are eight easy steps to make Dad a flying carp:

1. Grab one full sheet of newspaper, preferably the classifieds section. It needs to be a 28-by-22-inch page. Just be sure not to steal Dad's sports section, or he may get upset!

2. Gather the following materials: pencil, scissors, glue, extra newspaper for stuffing, lightweight wire or string, masking tape and chalk, crayons or another painting tool.

3. Before letting your child begin, talk about fish and what they look like: colors, designs, scale appearance, etc. You can look at all kinds of pictures for inspiration.

4. Once you've chosen the fish type, fold your newspaper in half lengthwise. Design and draw your fish form. On one side, draw the silhouette of your fish, using the fold as your center point. It will look like half a goldfish.

5. Help your child cut out the silhouette, making sure to cut along the lines and not cut across the fold. Then, open the fish shape and lay it flat.

6. With your crayons, pencils or paint, draw the designs on the fish, using all sorts of color and fun imaging that you saw in the pictures.

7. Now, fold back the paper at the fish's "mouth" about 1/2 inch, twice, and glue it down. This will strengthen the mouth edge for attaching the wire. Then tape your wire or string along the length of the mouth.

8. Fold the fish back together along your original fold. Stuff it with crinkled newspaper to add shape, dimension and wind resistance. Then glue the edges together, so it looks like a whole fish.

To hang it, attach wire or string to the edges of the mouth, and voil! You're good to go, and Dad will be so pleased with his new kite, which he can either use outside or just hang from his wall. Either way, it's a personalized gift that's sure to win praises.

Key Holder: Ages 8+

Tossing your keys onto the counter or other flat surface is always a recipe for disaster, especially for Dad. He has his lunch pail, his newspaper and a briefcase to worry about, and the last thing he needs is to lose his keys underneath it all. Well, put together a little craft time this June, because we've got the perfect DIY gift surprise.

1. Start by grabbing a sturdy scrap of wood, preferable a 2-by-4-inch piece. Also, gather three to four screw-in hook hangers, assorted coins or other flat treasures, super glue, lead-free paint in Dad's favorite color, a paintbrush and a heavy-duty permanent marker. You'll also need a flat working surface and a tarp or newspaper to protect it from stains.

2. Next, tarp your work surface. Have your son or daughter put on some rubber gloves for safety (it's a good practice to learn, and will help come the glue portion), then get to work!

3. Get out the piece of wood. Have your child paint the wood with the color they've chosen, and to do two thin coats. Brush with the wood grain to make paint application smoother and more consistent. Allow the paint to dry for at least an hour.

4. Have your daughter or son write carefully at the top of the wood in black or silver permanent marker. You can either go traditional with "Key Rack" or something personalized like "Greatest Dad Ever." It's up to your child.

5. Then gather your coins/treasures and the get out the super glue. Help your child if necessary. Apply the glue to the back of the coins, not the wood itself. The wood could absorb the glue and leave it more susceptible to falling. Put on as many coins as you'd like.

6. Now get out the hooks. Carefully screw them into the wood, making sure to secure them effectively and carefully. Applying a small amount of super glue to the screws will help them to stay in place, as well.

7. Let the whole project dry for a day, and you're free to hand Dad his great new present, made special by the family!

This year, get a little creative with your kids and make Dad feel special with a homemade treat. He'll love you for it.


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