I'm fortunate that my husband is pretty low maintenance when it comes to gift giving for events like Father's Day and birthdays. He usually just requests something simple, like spending time together as a family at a park, getting some coffee at a favorite coffeehouse or going out for lunch at a Mexican restaurant. I know that he also appreciates homemade items and anything that the kids make, so this year I wanted to provide him with a keepsake from the kids. Since I had been reading storybooks to the boys that centered around kids spending time with their dads, I decided to have my 5 year old and 3 year old sons make up their own "dad" stories and then illustrate them. We re-read the storybooks we had checked out, and I discussed the roles of author and illustrator, picking a title that relates to the story, how a story is structured (beginning, middle, end), and how the story lines in the books we read centered around activities that the main characters enjoyed doing with their fathers. Then I took Hopper 1 and Hopper 2 aside one at a time and had them each make up a story about doing something with their dad. I had to do a little prompting and clarifying at times - "what did you actually do with your dad?", "how did you feel about your dad?", "what happened next?", "where did this happen?" - but they did a good job given their ages, with my older son doing a better job of telling his story in chronological sequence. We've been working with Hopper 2 on sequencing (first this, next this, then that...), so story telling was a good way for him to create his own sequencing scenario. Despite trying to separate Hopper 1 and 2 when I transcribed their tales, the two boys' stories were somewhat similar in theme. I managed to mitigate excessive plagiarism by having my younger son tell his story first, since he is more prone to copying his older brother. Once I had transcribed the boys stories, I typed them in a PowerPoint presentation, printed them off (using card stock for the title page), and had the boys illustrate their stories. We recently purchased a binding machine so that we can create our own photo books, educational workbooks, books of the kids' artwork, recipe books, calendars, etc., and I used that to bind this project. The kids were very proud of their stories, and it was great watching their faces as they gave the books to their dad and as he read the stories aloud. My husband told the boys that he would put the books in a very special place, to which my oldest son knowingly stated, "Oh yes, on top of your dresser!" (My husband's dresser has become the dumping ground for his miscellaneous "stuff" which probably seems like wonderful mysterious treasure in the eyes of a young child.)
For Father's Day, we additionally made some items for the grandfathers. In perusing the internet for homemade Father's Day gifts from kids, I came across the idea of mini tool boxes made from Altoid tins on the site Alpha Mom. I thought the toolboxes were really cute, and I wanted to give them a try. Since I knew the boys wouldn't really be able to help much in the making of the tool boxes, I had them come up with their own idea for a DIY project and tell me the instructions in their own words, which I compiled with some clip art and colorful background, then printed and laminated. We did something similar for their grandmothers on Mother's Day, but the boys made up their own cooking recipes then (since both grandmothers like to cook) as well as picking a "real" recipe to share. (The digital clip art I used in these projects came from the Etsy shops PrettyGraphik design and AMBillustrations; the background digital paper came from the Etsy shop Fudgybrownies.) I think the instructables and recipes the kids come up with are good keepsakes, with the sometimes absurd, rambling and incoherent instructions reflective of their age. For the mini toolboxes for the grandfathers, I departed a bit from the tool theme, and rather than put nuts and bolts in the toolboxes, we added golf tees. The tees fit perfectly, and since both grandpas like to golf, it seemed like a way to give them something they might actually use. I made additional toolboxes, one for my husband, and one for each of my sons to use as "wallets" when I give them money for certain outings, such as farmers' markets. The toolboxes were relatively easy to make, and most of the supplies were easy to obtain, with the exception of the toolbox "handles" (which are actually eye straps, for use on boats and such). I ended up ordering the eye straps through Amazon, and then found suitable hardware at a local home improvement store.
I hope that the recipients of our Father's Day gifts find them meaningful. The kids and I certainly had fun making them. I hope that it helped teach my kids that they don't need to spend a lot of money or do grand things when giving gifts, but rather that spending a little time making something homemade and personal holds great value. At least, that is my perspective and is a lesson that I want my kids to learn.