Alright mamas, school projects. I have heard tales of them and then…my son started pre-k. Cue the school projects. Thankfully we are not on the level of turning styrofoam balls into planets and memorizing speeches. Rather, we are just getting our toes wet with pine cone creations.

Honestly, I appreciate Kaiper’s teacher giving us these little assignments that turn into opportunities for quality time and creativity. Now, ask me in a few years and my feelings toward these projects may change, I reserve the right to change my mind at any time.

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So last week I open Kai’s bag after school to find one lone pine cone, and instructions to transform it into a Christmas tree ornament. After going back and forth with a Kai on ideas, we settled on Rudolph, which I suggested with persuasive enthusiasm all because I already had almost everything we needed to make it. All of the other ideas would require a trip to Hobby Lobby. If we had to go to Hobby Lobby, I would have come home with the supplies for the ornament, 5 new blank notebooks, 2 picture frames, fabric even though I don’t sew, some knobs that I just had to have but would never use (like the last ones I haven’t returned yet), and regret.

materials needed for Rudolph pine cone ornament

When you see our “final” picture, you’ll notice our Rudolph ended up having ears that are brown on the outside and white on the inside. That was an addition at the end, suggested by Kaiper, that turned out really cute.

This craft was so easy, basically mess free, fun, and not painstakingly time-consuming like some DIY projects we have done (and later regretted). I actually had fun doing this with my 4 year old and didn’t start to sweat. (don’t act like I am the only one.)

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Crafts to do with kids

Bonus: Kaiper has been practicing cutting with scissors to strengthen the muscles in his hands and therefore improving his fine motor skills, so cutting the pipe cleaners was the perfect job for him. In fact, he spent a good 30 minutes post-project cutting pipe cleaners “for his friends to reward them when they are good at school”. In that moment I equally felt like I was winning at this mom thing with such a quiet, happy child, and also realized my child is a mini-me (I once made report cards for the 2 boys I was assigned to sit with on the bus, you know, to let them know how well they had been doing with not bothering me.)

Pine cone ornament

So Kai cut the pipe cleaners and I taught him how to twist them on each other to make the antlers, meanwhile I manned the hot glue gun and let Kai stick the fuzzy brown tail on. Next, we picked the spot for the red nose (pretty easy decision), I did the glue, Kai pressed and held. Bam, done.

Ruldolph Pine cone element

I was a little worried that the eyes wouldn’t have a big enough surface to glue onto, but with the glue gun it was no problem. Then we placed and agreed on where the antlers should be, and I glued those on. This is when Kai decided our Rudolph needed ears. He grabbed an actual Rudolph ornament off the tree, pointed out that he had ears, I agreed that was a pretty important part, so we made some ears. We had some white pipe cleaners too, so we created some little ears and glued those on as well.

Rudolph ornament

A little twine tied around Rudolph’s body, and he became an ornament. We are still debating whether we add feet (more brown pipe cleaners).

Want to create your own Rudolph ornament with your kids?

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 Brown pipe cleaners (more if you want to add feet)
1 white pipe cleaner (for the inside of the ears)
Eye balls (with the flat back)
Red pom pom for the nose
Brown pom pom for the tail
Twine/hemp rope/string/yarn for hanging the ornament
Pine cone
Hot glue gun

Cut brown pipe cleaners into pieces: two the same length and then 4 smaller pieces. Twist 2 of the smaller pieces onto each larger piece to make the antlers. Cut two small pieces of brown pipe cleaner and create a pointed fold then round out the sides a bit to make the ears. Cut white pieces of pipe cleaner a little smaller, fold and stick in the middle to fill the empty space. Glue antlers, ears, eyeballs, nose, and tail onto pine cone, then wrap rope/string around the middle and tie to hang on the tree. If you want to add feet, just cut the pipe cleaner the length of the “legs” that you want, and then smaller pieces for the feet and twist them on.

Hang on your tree, give them as gifts from the kids, or decorate random parts of your house with them! If you plan to keep, add some sort of tag to the string that you can write the year and your child’s name on it, for ya know, sentimental reasons. You know you’ll keep that thing in a box for the next 50 years, don’t say you won’t.

How to make a Rudolph Pine Cone Ornament