Category: Crafty Activities

Activities inspired by Ella by Alex T. Smith

Ella: Alex T Smith (Scholastic, 2012)

As part of The Educators’ Spin On It Summer Book Exchange, I chose Ella by Alex T. Smith as the book to send to our swap partner, Here Come The Girls. This is a book that my girls love (actually, we’re all fans of all of Alex T. Smith’s work) and one that was too easy to think of activities to fit. Ladybirds and Spiders, what’s not to love?!

Here is the content of the box we sent, hoping to inspire lots of open-ended crafts. You can read about what they did with it here.

Ella Swap Box

I’d love to have more time to create printables to download for this blog, as they’re something I’m slightly addicted to, but this swap gave me the perfect opportunity to and you can download our Ella inspired craft sheets here.

I’ve reproduced one of the activities below as a taster:

Antennae Hair bands

Materials:
Hair band
Black chenille stems (pipe cleaners)
Large red buttons

antennaeInstructions:

1. Choose two red buttons for the antennae – one circle and one flower to match Ella, or any that you like.

2. This part may need grown up help.

a. Thread a chenille stem through one button hole
b. Turn stem and thread back through second hole.
c. Twist excess stem.
d. Repeat for second antenna.

3. Wrap other end of chenille stems around hair band, spaced so they look like antennae.

The craft ideas could also be used alongside other ladybird or spider picture books.

I found the buttons, chenille stems (pipe cleaners) and googly eyes on eBay for very reasonable prices but they can also be found in most children’s art/craft sections in large stores.

When choosing craft materials for the swap, I stuck to a limited colour palette of reds and black/greys, which also made me think of the Claude books by Alex T. Smith. Using a limited (duochrome?) palette is another interesting art / craft experience for children.

I Heart Bedtime: Two soft toy bunnies, entirely hand made!

I Heart Bedtime Blog Tour: Bunny Crafts

It’s PUBLICATION DAY!!!! If you haven’t already, get running to your nearest bookshop and grab a copy of I Heart Bedtime! After you’ve done that, why not read on about my bunny crafting attempts :-)

Clara Vulliamy is the sort of person who could inspire practically anyone to have a go at some kind of craft. From her website packed full of things to try; to events where there’s always something to make involving felt, button and ribbons; to tid-bits that arrive in the post occasionally from the Happy Bunny Club. We’ve had the pleasure of bunnies in matchboxes, bunny ears, felt bunnies with satin hearts inside, colouring and sticking…

Not only is Clara an extremely talented author illustrator and crafter, she can do mechanics too. Look at this amazing music player that she actually made: (You can watch the video of it playing at www.claras.me)

I Heart Bedtime: Clara's Music Box

I jumped at the chance to be part of the I Heart Bedtime blog tour, and knew something crafty would end up happening. I’ve already reviewed I Heart Bedtime in a separate post, and to celebrate publication day I offer you: my rubbish sewing skills! Don’t worry, there’s also a little treat from Clara herself to download too :-)

I didn’t know what I wanted to do so just wandered into the local haberdashery (I know how lucky we are to have one: Masons in Abingdon, if you were wondering) and wandered. Near the entrance I saw the most utterly perfect material for the book: mini hearts in pink, blue, yellow and orange. Squee! And then my latent inner-crafter took over and I came out with a bag including white fleece, felt, mini sewing kit (I didn’t even own a needle and thread) and from their sister shop next door, embroidery thread in pink and black.

We had a paper colouring-in template from last year, which I traced around to make a simple bunny doll template. Actually there was about five iterations, because the picture was designed for colouring in, not for cutting out. I traced around the head, and then moved the body to make a neck; then I ditched the idea of fingers as they’re too small and fiddly; and I moved the legs closer together so they looked better as a doll; plus I widened the arms and legs (but not enough as it turned out!) Finally I drew a dotted line around my template for the seam and cut it out.

I Heart Bedtime: Martha Pattern

The only way I know to make soft toys is the very simple “cut two of the same shape and sew them together” method! I do know enough to leave room for a seam, and to sew inside out and then turn round to fill, so I realised that I would need to create the face first. I pencilled in the face and cut out two inner ears in felt to sew in place then used the black and pink embroidery thread to sew her sunny smile.

I Heart Bedtime: making the bunny toy smile

Next, I put the two fleece pieces back to back and sewed around, leaving the head unsewed for turning. I used backstitch – at least, I think that’s what it’s called! – to make the seams stronger. Oh, I wish I had a sewing machine! Hand-sewing seams takes forever! As I was sewing I thought the arms and legs were a bit thin, and I’m not going to admit to how long it took me to turn them the right way round, with copious help from the back end of a pencil. When the body part was turned, I used the same backwards method to sew the face and ears, leaving a small hole at the top for filling.

I Heart Bedtime: Sewing the bunny toy and dressing her

My plan was to use a funnel and fill the bunny doll with rice. Could I find a funnel anywhere? Hah! We have at least three plastic funnels in the house and the last time I saw one it was in the correct drawer but Destructo-Girl does have a habit of stealing things from the real kitchen for her pretend games and after searching through three boxes of their toys I lost patience! I then looked up toy fillings and it said rice was a bad idea because it went mouldy when wet too, so the next day I went back to Masons and bought proper hollow fibre toy stuffing instead.

I Heart Bedtime: Not Quite Martha Bunny

Of course, having made Martha for Mighty-Girl, I had to make Pip for Destructo-Girl. I made a couple of changes when cutting round the same template, widening the arms and legs, ditching the feet (they were so fiddly) and thinning the neck. I think the original one looks better, maybe third time lucky I’ll get a suitable template, or just leave that to the experts!

I used the perfect material for Martha’s dress (nightie) and decorated it with mini buttons and ric rac we already owned (I’m a bit of a button and ribbon addict!) It was a very simple “cut round the outline and sew it up” design! My plan was for the dolls to have several outfits to dress and undress but I got the sizing totally wrong and it’s a good thing Martha was filled with her outfit on or it would never have fit her! Pip is obviously wearing Monty’s old pyjamas because they’re Monty’s favourite colour and Monty loves stars too (well, he loves rockets, so he probably loves stars too), DG wanted Pip to have stars because he is wearing stars in I Heart Bedtime. I didn’t do any seams on the clothes so they are fraying and rubbish, but it’s the thought that counts?!

I Heart Bedtime: Two soft toy bunnies, entirely hand made!

All the above was something that was a little more complex than my little bunnies could cope with so I begged the lovely Clara for some paper dress-up bunnies and she e-mailed me a set of bunnies and their pyjamas. I printed out a few sets and they’ve been lying around this week for my girls and any guests to have a go. There’s been some great decorating and cutting going on, and a whole lot of mess!

I Heart Bedtime: DG and MG's paper doll bunnies (I might have coloured in one of them!)

You can download your own paper bunnies too! I made two sizes – one where all three bunnies fit on one page and their pyjamas on a second sheet; and another where each bunny and two pairs of their pyjamas are on each page.

I Heart Bedtime Paper Doll Templates

Bunny Paper Dolls small (takes you to OpenDrive to download)
Bunny Paper Dolls medium (takes you to OpenDrive to download)

I Heart Bedtime is a dream of a book, and has spent its life so far in the Chaos household being dragged up and down stairs like a yo-yo so that it can be read just one more time… :-)

I Heart Bedtime Blog Tour so far:
23 March: Clara Vulliamy guest post at Netmums
24 March: Bedtime routines with Jax and family from Making it Up
24 March: Illustrated interview with Martha herself from The Book Sniffer
25 March: Princess C interviews Clara Vulliamy at Read It, Daddy!
26 March: Bedtime routines with the Library Mice
27 March: Bedtime with Smiling like Sunshine

Friday Pick{ture Book}: Katie and the Starry Night

Katie and the Starry Night: James Mahew (Orchard Books, 2012)

Katie and the Starry Night: James Mayhew
(Orchard Books, 2012)

James Mayhew is a simply a genius. As well as the Katie and Ella Bella books, he also paints live at classical concerts and is currently designing the sets for a stage version of Katie and the Mona Lisa. I’m still only really newly discovering James and only just starting to appreciate the depth of his talent and commitment to sharing the arts with all children.

I’m probably a total cretin when it comes to “the arts” but I’m also of the opinion that “I like what I like” is a perfectly valid viewpoint. I like Starry Night, it’s a beautiful painting. I like that Van Gogh was a character in Doctor Who! We were going to watch that episode as part of the “Starry Night” week I planned for half term to go with this book but the week flew by and it turned into one day of projects.

We had a Playing by the Book moment, and I looked up lots of ideas related to Starry Night to go along with reading this book. In the end we made a starry jar (or four), and MG copied the picture freehand (I was going to print off a colouring sheet!) in a painting session. You can click to see my pinboard of collected ideas.

MG painting Starry Night

This is the twelfth Katie book (which means there’s one we don’t own!) and follows Katie through five Van Gogh paintings: The Starry Night, Noon, Vincent’s Chair, Fishing Boats on the Beach and The Olive Grove. James Mayhew seamlessly melds these paintings together as Katie wanders through them and the art gallery to collect missing stars while her Grandma sleeps…

At the end of the book there is additional information about the paintings, providing a springboard for further study if required. All the Katie books are lovely introductions to various art and any (or all!) of them deserve a place in every household. Katie and the Starry Night is a beautiful addition to the series, we all enjoyed reading it and then making messy art too!

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Katie and the Starry Night by Hachette Children’s Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

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Very Basic Cake / Cupcake / Fairy Cake Recipe

MG & DG cooking

Inspired by several very delicious looking cake recipes recently (Stressy Mummy, Life at the Zoo), I thought I’d share the recipe I’ve known since I was little and the one I’m teaching my children.

I know we use grams these days, but scales still have pounds and ounces on and it’s so much easier to remember the recipe in ounces because the ratio of ingredients 1:2:2:2 is so easy to multiply up depending on what you’re making.

Ingredients
1 egg (medium/large)
2oz butter / margarine
2oz sugar
2oz flour (self-raising, or plain plus pinch of baking powder)

The quantities above make about 4-8 fairy cakes / cupcakes depending on the size of the cases and how much of the mixture gets eaten along the way ;-) It’s perfect for one small child to make on their own. For approx one dozen fairy cakes, double the ingredients; this also makes one half of a sponge sandwich. For a more substantial round/square cake, triple or quadruple the ingredients as required.

DG cooking

Instructions

1. Mix butter and sugar

In theory: Butter softened to room temperature with caster sugar whipped until the butter turns a light colour makes the best tasting cakes.
Reality with small children: any kind of margarine that’s soft from the fridge with any kind of sugar stirred until they’re vaguely evenly mixed.

2. Mix in eggs

In theory: Crack the eggs in a separate bowl and whisk before adding to butter and sugar mixture.
Reality with small children: Crack the eggs straight into the mixture (fishing out any shell bits) and mix in.

3. Mix in flour

In theory: Sieve the flour and mix little by little into the mixture.
Reality with small children: Dump the flour in one go and stir until it’s all mixed.

That’s all you actually need for a basic sponge mix, but there are plenty of simple variations that you can make.

MG mixing

Variations

Flavour
After step 2, stir in a dash of vanilla essence or other flavouring. I never follow recipes or measure exactly so I generally go by a ‘dash’ and test the finished mix for flavour adding more if required. It’s better to add too little than too much. Vanilla essence really improves the flavour of a plain or chocolate sponge, but you could also try orange, hazelnut, lemon, strawberry, or other essences that are available.

For chocolate cake, add some cocoa powder to the flour before you mix it. If you do sieve the flour, also sieve the cocoa powder for best results. Cocoa and vanilla flavouring work well together. Instead of cocoa powder you could use chocolate spread (e.g. nutella) or melted chocolate, including chocolates like caramel to vary the flavour.

Colour
MG and DG love making different coloured cakes. Although rainbow cakes are possible with small children, I tend to let them only have one colour each. We tend to have the entire rainbow in food colouring because mixing to make the right colours doesn’t quite work out ;-) If making chocolate cake, there’s not much point adding a colour as the cake will be brown regardless.

Bits
MG and DG’s favourite ‘bits’ to add are chocolate chips; any sort of small chocolate chunks work: broken buttons, chopped bars, other small chocolate sweets (e.g. caramel nibbles, honeycomb clusters etc). But of course anything can be added: raisins, sultanas, chopped nuts, other dried fruit, marshmallow pieces… We find it best to add the bits in last when all the rest of the mix has been made. Sometimes MG and DG just want a few bits in, sometimes the cake is packed with extras!

Cakes for MG's 4th birthday, made using this recipe

Decorations
The picture above is of the cakes I made for MG’s 4th birthday. The cakes were handmade but the decorations are all from packets: Dr Oetker decorative icing plus sugar sprinkles and flower decorations.

Often our cakes are eaten before any decorations are added but sometimes MG & DG like to make icing (icing sugar and water; mix until it looks right!) or butter icing (butter/margarine, icing sugar and water; mix until it looks right!) in a variety of colours.

Hugless Douglas arms from Domesticali

Hugless Douglas Week: Activity Ideas

“Hugless Douglas Activities” is one of the biggest search terms to this blog, therefore I’ve been thinking about what to do for this post for a while. After several hours of often fruitless google searches, I eventually remembered Pinterest and added a whole host of eclectic ideas onto an HD springboard board ;-) A selection are included below with suggested themes.

I have included a linky at the bottom of this post for you to add any related activity posts, and please do comment to suggest themes you think should be added too.

Theme: Bears

Circles Bear from First PaletteCircles Bear

A wonderfully simple craft that even very small children could manage (with help cutting out the circles) and added learning in the form of big/small and shapes.

Hugless Douglas arms from DomesticaliHugless Douglas Arms

No tutorial here, but I had to link to these fantastic bear arms made specifically for Hugless Douglas. Very crafty parents may be able to rustle up something similar!

Teddy Bear Toast from miniecoTeddy Bear Toast

A delicious looking snack to try for your little bears, look like it can be made by small children too so practical skills, cuteness and a fairly healthy snack or breakfast alternative.

Potato Paw Prints from Sunny Side Up!Potato Paw Prints

I love the idea of actually using jam to make paw prints, but I don’t think I’d be able to go through with it. All small children love to make a big mess pawprints :-)

Bears from Handprint & Footprint ArtHandprint and Footprint Bears

Another nice and simple craft for young children and up. If you’ve not tried animal handprints, Red Ted Art has an entire alphabet of them!

 

For older children:
Bears feature in many of David’s books. Look at the bears in the following books:
The Star-Faced Crocodile
The Kiss That Missed trilogy
Two by Two and a half
How they are different from each other and from Hugless Douglas? How are they similar? Are all the bears friendly?

Other book series bears to look out for:
Big Bear & Little Bear (Martin Waddell & Barbara Firth)
Bear (Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman)
The Bear (Jez Alborough)
The Bear with Sticky Paws (Clara Vulliamy)
George & Bartholemew (Virginia Miller)
Muffin (Clara Vulliamy)
Old Bear & Little Bear (Jane Hissey)
Paddington (Michael Bond & various)
Winnie the Pooh (A A Milne & E H Shepard)

Theme: Other Animals in the Hugless Douglas Books
For sheep, see Theme: Sheep, Wool, Knitting and Hats below

Owl Mask from Made in MeOwl Mask

How much fun is this owl mask? Plus it’s made from leaves so can be preceeded by a nature walk in most seasons, except winter. How would it look with green leaves I wonder?

Amazing Edible Owl from Creative PlayhouseAmazing Edible Owl

A fantastic treat for active youngsters. Krisproll, banana and chocolate buttons – who-ooo could resist? :-) I think I must have had food on the brain when I was collecting links, but I love this owl sandwich too!

Bunny Finger Puppet from HolloughbyRabbit Finger Puppet

This finger puppet looks fantastic, and I’m sure the sewing parts could be replaced by glueing for very small children. For something with a template to cut round, there’s these lovely bunny tree decorations.

Theme: Hibernation (Hugless Douglas)

Why has Douglas woken up and forgotten his mum? Well, several months of sleep is enough to confuse anyone! What is hibernation, and what other animals hibernate in winter?

Hibernation Craft from Almost UnschoolersHibernation Diorama

A complex papier-mâché and clay project to be attempted by children with a serious interest in hibernation (or making things!) and a fantastic result to be proud of when complete.

Hibernation Ideas from Mommy and Me Book ClubBear Cave Craft

As well as this bear cave perfect for young children to make, the link also includes a hibernation song and finger play which would be lovely to do with small children. Lots of other ideas too!

Animals in Winter from Montessori Print ShopAnimals in Winter

Not free, but I think Montessori Print Shop’s materials are well worth the price. This downloadable pdf makes a sorting game of how different animals respond to winter: do they hibernate, migrate or adapt?

Theme: Trees, Leaves, Rocks and Seasons (Hugless Douglas)

The search for a perfect hug is also a lovely sensory experience. On a nature walk, try to collect some stones, leaves, bark (or twigs) and maybe some raw wool to feel while reading the story. Does your child think that these things are nice to hug or not?

Autumn Leaf Shapes Printable from Simple CraftsLeaf Shapes

This site has a leaf shape template to download and cut out leaf shapes for all sorts of crafts – the examples on this page are gorgeous. You could also cut out paper leaves to make a tree or animal shapes for example.

Leaf Print Tree from First PaletteLeaf Print Tree

The Hugless Douglas books are full of trees and leaves, so this leaf print tree is a good expressive craft for small children to experiment with senses, colours and mess :-)

Colourful Spring Branch from Inner Child FunColourful Spring Branch

Douglas wakes in the spring, so this fun craft project is another nice addition. When thinking about trees and leaves, the seasons come to mind as most trees change so visually throughout the seasons.

Rock Sensory Bin from Crafts-N-ThingsRock Sensory Bin

Great fun for small children – playing with stones and searching for small objects hidden in them. With added sensory feel of the rocks/pebbles – rough and smooth could be covered here too.

This huge free download from CurrClick has some seasonal learning ideas. I particularly like the tree patterns sheet on page 8, and the ‘how do I adapt to the seasons’ game on pages 41-42.

Theme: Sheep, Wool, Knitting & Hats (Don’t Worry Hugless Douglas)

Sheep feature throughout the Hugless Douglas books, and as an added learning link through Douglas’ hat is wooly. Conversations about how sheep are sheared for summer, how raw wool is processed and knitting and crochet can follow on from here.

Do you have any hats at home? What kind of hats are they: sun hats, winter hats, decorative hats? Why do we use hats? Can you design a hat? There are lots of hat crafts for small children, from a simple paper hat to pirate hats and beyond…

Cotton wool lamb from Rainy Day MumCotton Wool Sheep

Making sheep from cotton wool is loads of fun. This is a Mary had a Little Lamb craft which in turn leads to thinking about rhymes and fairy tales that can be read after Hugless Douglas, for example Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Cloud Dough from Pre-School PlayCloud Dough

This cloud dough looks like wooly sheep and would be a nice sensory follow on from thinking about sheep. Compare the texture with wool too, to see how things that look similar can feel very different.

Felted Balls from Let the Children PlayFelted Balls

Another sensory experience, and could be combined with the sensory bin idea for trees, leaves and rocks plus roving shows the stage between raw wool and yarn wool.

Wool Sheep from Mrs Karen's Pre-School IdeasWool Sheep

I think this craft idea is really good for cementing the link between wool on sheep and the wool used for knitting etc. The link has lots of farmyard ideas which don’t quite follow for Hugless Douglas but would be fun for another day.

Monster Hat from Knotty KnottyCrochet Hat

A fairly tenuous link here, but I thought this hat was so cute! I can’t knit or crochet but parents who can could probably make this together with children – the eyes might be good for children to make for instance. There’s some lovely hats on this site, including an owl hat.

Theme: Underground Homes (Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep)

Rabbit lives underground. What other animals can you think of that live underground? Ants, worms, moles? What are the similarities and differences between animals who make their homes under the ground?

Theme: Nocturnal and Diurnal (Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep)

Hugless Douglas goes to Rabbit’s for a sleepover. They are sleeping at night. Some animals sleep in the day. What does nocturnal mean? What does diurnal mean? What nocturnal and diurnal animals can you think of?

Nocturnal and Diurnal from A Little Learning for TwoNocturnal or Diurnal

A simple, visual way of describing the difference between nocturnal and diurnal animals plus ideas for a sorting game to make using pictures found online and printed.

Nocturnal or Diurnal from Montessori Print ShopNocturnal or Diurnal Sorting Game

Not free, but another Montessori Print Shop sorting game perfect for Hugless Douglas follow-on and saves looking up animals and finding quality images yourself.

Silly Songs
I couldn’t resist creating these silly songs (to the tune of well known nursery rhymes). I hope Mr Melling and Hachette Children’s Books will forgive me! ;-)

You can download the song sheet here.

Goblins
Depending on the age and interest of the child, reading the Goblins books to them before or after Hugless Douglas could lead on to cross-over activities. Some questions to think about:
What would a Hug Goblin look like?
Where would it live?
What would it do?
What would happen if Hugless Douglas met a Hug Goblin? Can you write a story about this?

And now it’s your turn… Please comment or add a link below. Tomorrow I will be rounding up a selection of colouring sheets and other resources you can download.

Note: All images are © their respective websites.



Blackwell’s Festival of Illustration 2012

One of the beauties of Twitter, for me, is that because I follow people / organisations I’m interested in, I find out about events that I would have missed otherwise because of not signing up to the right mailing list or looking in the right newspaper… One of these events was Blackwell’s Festival of Illustration, part of Oxford’s Art Weeks.

This was a whole day of author/illustrator workshops and other fun, which I planned to take MG and DG to as much as they could manage. We arrived just after 11am, with Emma’s talk starting at 11.30. She was setting up so we started to wander the children’s section and hit the Animation Station, where we got stuck for the next hour and a half!

MG loves drawing, although she is a little shy and takes a while to warm up. But once she got started, she was lost in the drawing and concentrated on it for over an hour. She got upset at one point because another girl drew a sun, but the point was to be a collaboration except because everyone was watching Emma she got the sole control until Emma finished! The video below is from the event, MG takes up the first 2 minutes 32 seconds with her drawing! The animation is a lovely idea, I find it fascinating how she approaches drawing and am thrilled to have this memory of part of her development.

I occasionally peeped in at Emma’s talk where she read the first Wagtail Town and a Blue Kangaroo book, plus drew pictures and there was colouring for the children. It looked like a great session from what I got to see!

It was now 12.30 so time to get food into MG and DG if they were going to manage any more of the day. Just as we were leaving we bumped into Clara and the lovely Rosi from Harper Collins who were about to set up for Clara’s session at 1.30. There’s a Wagamama just a couple of streets away from Blackwell’s and both girls love noodles so off we went. Yum :-)

We got back to Blackwell’s in time for Clara’s session where she drew Martha, Monty and Pip (and Paws!) but having forgotten to bring a pink pencil, coloured their ears and noses with lipstick instead.

Clara then read Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Love School, which MG had to listen to all the way through despite being desperate for the toilet! I managed to get her away after the story so we missed the instructions on how to make bunny ears but it was straightforward and the girls picked it up in no time. Sadly I neglected to take any pictures as we were all too busy making, and then we left the bunny ears somewhere *sniffles* but they were lovely.

MG and DG are big fans of Clara’s books, especially DG so we were all thrilled to get to chat to her afterwards. The girls completely ‘adopted’ Clara and were genuinely upset when we had to part. It was an utterly fantastic day. We completely missed Louise Yates because MG and DG were too tired for more sessions and needed to stretch their legs more. DG had a great time twirling with Martha Bunny, and somehow my girls managed to charm Clara into taking Martha home with them ;-)

A great day, and I hope there’s another festival of illustration next year.

I [Heart] Martha Bunny

Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Heart School by Clara Vulliamy is being published by Harper Collins on 29 March. I’m almost bursting with excitement about this book! Before Christmas, Clara posted patterns on her blog to make felt versions of Martha and her bunny brothers Pip and Monty. Then there’s been a fantastic series of behind-the-scenes creating a picture book for the next in the series I Heart Bedtime. And yet more felt bunny making… And to top it off, she’s coming to my home town to share more bunny crafts. So when I got this Martha Bunny picture in my inbox, I couldn’t wait to have a go decorating her myself.

I decided to do a collage Martha. First there was cutting the shapes (poor Martha!) Then choosing magazine pictures, felt, paper, ribbon and just the right buttons to go together…

Oh, yes, the children were in bed asleep at that point. I was testing it out for them to have a go. Honest. It wasn’t because the picture was too cute not to play myself… I used the template to cut felt and paper pieces that were big enough to make the clothes, and cut lengths of ribbon that were long enough to use as trim for the cardigan, dress and shoes if needed. I printed out two more copies of Martha and went to bed. The plan was that I’d present the girls with the project after school the next day.

But I left everything in sight, so bunny making happened at breakfast time instead. And it was so much fun that we might have been a teeny bit late for school… All in a good cause I think!

MG also decided to do a collage, and she traced around the templates I’d cut out to make the clothes: a felt dress and different colours on each side for the cardigan. She also complained that mine was boring because I didn’t colour in the bunny so she decorated Martha’s legs, hands and face too. Ribbons for ears and buttons for eyes, wonderful! My children are a lot more imaginative than I am.

DG chose small pieces of shiny paper to decorate her Martha and stuck those where she felt they needed to be. Then I opened the button box, and she had even more fun. What I find interesting is where the pictures of the buttons were, she chose to line her buttons up and the same with the eyes but everywhere else she was freestyle. She had a great time choosing her colours and sticking everything down.

Huge thanks to Clara for creating Martha, and to Rosi from Harper Collins for sending us the picture to decorate.

Love Monster, Hate Printing

Hate is a bit of an overstatement, but I’ve gone with artistic licence for the title of this post!

Love Monster is a lovely book about being different and being loved for who you are, not for being like everyone else. I really liked the book, and enjoy reading it to the girls. But what I didn’t realise until seeing the video below is that the pictures are created by printing, which is why they have the lovely quality that they have.

On seeing this, I was inspired. This is generally not a good thing, because I have the artistic talent of, um, a cluster of colour blind hedgehogs in a bag… But still, I wanted to do printing! Printing! The girls would love that. Wouldn’t they?

Light sensitive etching plates and printing presses aren’t a feasible option so I started to think lino printing because I remembered doing it at school, but didn’t think that was a particularly safe option for small children. After some great advice from Zoe at Playing by the Book I decided to get 4 colours of water based printing ink, a brayer (or roller) and tried to get the girls interested in attempting printing using biro drawings on styrofoam.

It didn’t really work very well. The girls didn’t really get the idea of drawing on the styrofoam (pizza packaging in our case); I couldn’t find a biro or the paper embossing tools that I’m sure I have somewhere and the blunt end of a paintbrush wasn’t the viable alternative I hoped it would be (although pencils worked well); and one roller between two children (and 4 colours) meant arguments and lots of roller cleaning…

I had a rethink. Foam sheets! Then the girls wouldn’t have to draw anything, just needed some foam stickers to stick on and instant printing. So I invested in 2 more rollers, thinking this would be a huge hit, and we tried again.

The girls weren’t interested. Mighty-Girl did one print, and then was far more interested in making patterns with the foam stickers (and ‘painting’ them with the ink) and although Destructo-Girl managed some prints with help, she much prefered making handprints.

Mummy got completely frustrated that her brilliant idea wasn’t appreciated, and sulked. Looking back at the pictures, it looks a lot more successful than I remembered!

On the bright side, Love Monster is a lovely book that I can read again and again. And we have all the tools we need for attempting printing again, at some point in the future…

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Love Monster by HarperCollins for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Making Paint

Both MG and DG love painting. I’m not a huge fan of clearing up the mess, and it’s never really possible for them to fully clean the mess on their own, especially as it usually descends into an emergency bath moment…

Today while MG was at school I realised that I had a perfect activity for DG (now 2 years 7 months). I’d been letting the readymix paint get used up in order to replace the bottles with mixed powder paint that I’d bought “to save money” and we now had 5 empty bottles to fill. This is an excellent activity, and if properly planned (which of course I didn’t!) covers spooning, measuring, counting, pouring, funnelling, shaking – lots of motor skills for small children plus maths and science activities for older children. In Chez Chaos, what you usually end up with is mess!

In theory the process involves:

  • Unscrewing lid of powder paint jar (depending on age of child – I did this with DG because of the mess aspect)
  • Spooning powder into measuring cup (pouring from the powder jar was far too messy)
  • Pouring powder from measuring cup into funnel
  • Shaking or stirring to get powder from funnel into paint bottle
  • Counting number of measuring cups of powder required (our instructions said 2 parts powder to 1 part water but 3 parts powder to 1 part water made a better thickness for our use – with older children experimenting with consistancies would be great fun)
  • Measuring water and pouring into funnel
  • Screwing top onto paint bottle and shaking to mix the paint
  • Admire your work :-)

Did I mention the mess? Whilst I was taking a picture of DG spooning, she accidentally knocked the bottle and funnel over (we should have got the powder in the bottle before measuring the next cupful) and the powder went everywhere…

An emergency bath was in order, but DG loves baths so was quite happy with that.

I’m linking this up with Montessori Monday – Yes, it’s Thursday but we’re chaotic :lol:
Montessori Monday

Here Come the Girls

Timothy Pope, Timothy Pope…

Yesterday evening MG found a cardboard tube and pretended it was a telescope, which led to reading Shark in the Dark by Nick Sharratt for the final bedtime story. “I want to paint my telescope” announces MG. Of course, I say, we’ll do that tomorrow…

So, as soon as she’s awake in the morning: “Can I paint my telescope? I need blue and yellow paint.” Ad nauseum, until I give in (about three minutes later, before we’ve even had breakfast…)

We have a messy art cupboard in the kitchen full of paints, paper and related paraphernalia. That “messy” belongs with “art”, not “cupboard”; it’s probably the tidiest part of the house at the moment. Generally there are things stacked in front of the cupboard door, so that DG can’t help herself to the paints :-)

MG had her cardboard tube, so of course we had to find one for DG. Blue and Yellow were requested, so that’s 4 paint pots: blue and yellow for MG; blue and yellow for DG…

DG prefered painting on paper, and soon smeared her hands everywhere (she’s left-handed, hence the brush is in her dominant hand: I know she’s a toddler and it’s too early to tell etc but she’s been strongly left-handed from around 10 months old much like MG has been strongly right-handed from around 10 months old…)

MG painted her “telescope” to be like the one in the book, and then painted an empty milk carton before moving onto mixing paints and creating these lovely caterpillars…

…that ended up being smeared onto MG’s hands shortly after I took the picture. The girls were in a tactile painting mood today. Mess turned into running to the sink to wash hands (and bodies); then paint pots and brushes. And when all had finished, it was time for a bath :lol:

I’ve recently discovered Amber Dusick’s Parenting with Crappy Pictures blog. This post on art is so true for this household; we invariably end up in scenario two…