More adventures in homemade yuletide decorating

December 06, 2002|by LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

A few weeks ago I wrote about my first attempt to make cinnamon/applesauce ornaments with my children. The kitchen smelled great and the kids had a lot of fun, but after the ornaments dried, they started to crumble.

We ended up with some limbless snow creatures.

Some of you mentioned that the recipe I used was missing a key ingredient - glue.

Early intervention teacher Carol Babinsack suggested the following cinnamon ornament recipe, which she got from a friend. This recipe uses craft glue, which makes the ornaments stick together better and makes them easier to roll out, says Babinsack, who teaches 3- to 5-year-olds for the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11. Her class is in McConnellsburg, Pa., and it serves all three school districts in Fulton County.

Cinnamon Ornaments

  • 1 cup ground cinnamon

  • 2 tablespoons ground allspice

  • 1 cup applesauce

  • 1/4 cup craft glue

  • Cookie cutters

Combine cinnamon and allspice in a glass bowl. Add applesauce and glue; mix well. Mixture will be stiff. Add water or additional cinnamon, if needed, to achieve a clay-like consistency. Roll out dough between sheets of waxed paper to 1/2-inch thickness. Remove top sheet of waxed paper. Cut with cookie cutters. Remove excess dough. Air dry on flat surface for a few days.


Babinsack says she usually turns the ornaments the next day to dry the other side.

We had better results with our second attempt at the ornaments, but had even more fun with another project suggested by Babinsack.

She brings the sparkle of winter inside by creating snowflakes from borax. She found the recipe on the Web site

Borax Crystal Snowflakes

  • String

  • Wide mouth jar

  • White pipe cleaners

  • Blue food coloring, optional

  • Boiling water, with adult help (hot water works)

  • Borax (Look for 20 Mule Team Borax in the laundry section of your grocery store.)

  • Pencil or popsicle sticks

Cut a white pipe cleaner into three equal sections. Twist the sections together in the center so you have six sides. If your points are not even, trim the pipe cleaner sections to the same length.

Attach string to the top of one of the pipe cleaners and tie the other end to a pencil or popsicle stick (This is to hang it from.) Fill a wide mouth jar with boiling water. Mix borax into the water one tablespoon at a time. Use 3 tablespoons of borax per 1 cup of water. Stir until dissolved. (Don't worry if there is powder settling on the bottom of the jar.)

You can add a little blue food coloring to give the snowflake a bluish hue. Insert your pipe cleaner snowflake into the jar so that the pencil/popsicle stick is resting on the lip of the jar and the snowflake is freely suspended in the borax solution. Wait overnight and by morning the snowflake will be covered with shiny crystals. Hang in a window as a sun catcher or use as wintertime decoration.

"The snowflakes are a lot of fun. You can see the crystals forming," Babinsack e-mailed. "I made a lot at home one year and used them to decorate a tree on my porch."

If you really want to wow your children, you could talk about the science behind the fun.

According to the Web site, borax is a crystal - a solid with flat sides and a symmetrical shape. Its molecules are arranged in a unique, repeating pattern.

Heated water molecules move apart, allowing hot water to hold more borax than cold water. As the solution cools, water molecules move closer together again. Now there's less room for the solution to hold onto the dissolved borax. Crystals begin to form and build on each other as the water lets go of the excess and evaporates.

If you get a blank stare after that explanation, just shrug your shoulders, smile and hang their pretty creation on the tree.

Be satisfied with the wonder and enchantment for now and revisit the chemistry lesson in a few years.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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