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    If you're not up for a weekend of well-dressed debauchery in honor of Kentucky Derby, there are some great family-friendly activities taking place throughout the city as well. But if, like me, as a parent of a young child you'd prefer for most of your crowded-city festival celebrations to take place in the comfort of your own home, we did a test run on a few toddler-appropriate projects that pay homage the most exciting two minutes in sports (which I think just means that no one watching Derby has ever heard of March Madness).

    We love crafts at our house in a big way. But here's the truth, fellow Louisvillians: I am really, really bad at them. Hopefully some very Pinterest-savvy parents and caretakers can execute these solid ideas much more fabulously than we did this morning. If nothing else, these make for an hour of creative, toddler-approved fun.

    Project 1: Mini-Hobby Horses

    This project is so good in theory and I've seen real-life proof that it can look very, very cute if it's made at someone else's house by… not me. These cute, decorative horses rely mostly on old and outgrown (or sneakily laundry eaten) kids' socks, plus an assortment of things you probably already have stashed in a craft box for just such an occasion: buttons and thread [or googly eyes, mini-pom-poms, felt and glue, or even a permanent marker would work in a pinch], ribbon or yarn, stuffing (or cotton balls), and wooden cooking spoons.

    Supplies for making mini-hobby horses.

    First, select your sock. This will serve as the base for the head and body of your mini-horse. If you're going to sew on button eyes (definitely the safest option for little ones who are still figuring out what something is or does by sticking it directly in their mouths), do this now. Otherwise, skip right along to step 2.

    Next, stuff your sock. Then, if you haven't already, affix the eyes. We used Tacky glue and googly eyes, which is effective only if your toddler will never, ever touch this. We briefly considered hot glue, but for what I hope are obvious reasons quickly vetoed that idea. Word to the wise: To avoid a series of bonus glue spots, It's also helpful if the mom directing eye-placement stops to think for a second about what a horse looks like.

    Gluing. Very seriously.

    Next, add the mane. I cut five pieces of yarn around an inch long each and tied them together in a single knot at one end because I'm pretty craft-lazy and that meant there was less for us to glue. Plus it helps ensure we won't find a Hansel and Gretel trail of purple string scattered throughout our apartment later.

    Finally, slide the sock-horse over the bowl of the spoon just far enough so that the muzzle of the horse (the foot part of the sock) hangs downward appropriately. We happen to have an apocalyptic shortage of wooden spoons in our home at all times, so first we tried to use wooden skewers with the sharp end cut off. They were too thin and short but would probably work great and look super cute for newborn socks, especially as a centerpiece at a baby shower or first birthday party. We ended up using (as a temporary placeholder) a small rubber spatula and will be raiding the dollar store for wooden spoons sometime after Derby madness has ended. Tie a ribbon around the horse's neck to secure it to the spoon's handle, and you're ready for the races!

    This horse most certainly looks like he's ready to give California Chrome and Hopportunity a run for their money.

    Read about our second Derby toddler craft, horseshoe picture frames, here.

    Did you make this with your toddler? We want to see! Tweet us photos of your own mini-hobby horses or other crafts you're making in honor of this year's Derby.

    Photo Credit: Kirsten Clodfelter

    Kirsten Clodfelter's picture

    About Kirsten Clodfelter

    Kirsten Clodfelter’s writing has been previously published in The Iowa Review, Brevity, Narrative Magazine, Green Mountains Review, storySouth, and The Good Men Project, among others. Her chapbook of war-impact stories, Casualties, was published last year by RopeWalk Press. A regular contributor to As It Ought to Be and Series Editor of the small-press review series, At the Margins, Clodfelter lives in Southern Indiana with her partner and young daughter and has called the greater-Louisville area home since 2010.

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