2 winter crafts to try with your grandkids

The next time you have an afternoon to spend with the grandkids, consider surprising them with a seasonal craft. It's always wonderful to have time with your family, plus the innocence and genuine curiosity that children have can be inspiring. Prepare to pour mugs of hot chocolate for the kids as you gather around the kitchen table and get crafty.

Depending on how old each child is and the types of materials you want to gather, choose one of these two winter art projects.

"Many store-bought art supplies can be made at home with items you have in your pantry."

1. Microwave puffy paint snowflakes
Many of the art supplies that stores sell can also be made at home with items you have in your pantry. One such item is paint that becomes raised when it dries, making the craft more dimensional. To make this paint, you just need self-rising flour, salt, water and food coloring, which is optional. If you don't have self-rising flour, you can use all-purpose flour and add 2 teaspoons of baking powder for each half cup. The flour and salt should be added in equal quantities and water is used to make the mixture into a paste. So if you use 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, you'll also need a 1/2 cup of salt and 2 teaspoons of baking powder.

When the ingredients are well-combined, pour your homemade paint into an empty squeeze bottle, such as a shampoo or dish soap bottle. On pieces of cardboard or cardstock, let your grandkids draw snowflake designs with the paint. If you use regular paper, the paint may leak through. Once they're done drawing, put each piece of paper in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Make sure to keep an eye on the appliance while you're doing so, because the timing isn't exact. The paint should be dry and puffy before you take it out of the microwave and hang it up on display.

Connect with your grandchildren through art.

2. Stick puppets
You'll need to gather some popsicle or paint stirring sticks, white paint, buttons, toothpicks, google eyes and scraps of paper or fabric for this craft. Your grandkids will be using the materials to make snowmen puppets, and perhaps they'll perform a show for you when the snowmen are complete.

Start by painting each stick white. Keep in mind you'll need extra time to let them dry if you want to apply a coat to each side. When the paint is dry, the children can start accessorizing and personalizing their puppets. You can help them cut out top hats, arms, buttons and the like from colored paper or fabric. Small lengths of string or yarn make perfect snowman scarves and pieces of toothpicks can serve as arms. With a bit of glue, the children will be able to attach buttons to the front of the puppet. Alternatively, the kids may want to decorate the snowmen with markers. This is a good route to take if you don't have a lot of space or time to complete the craft.