Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Imaginative play with craft

Today Alex and Jasmine were in the mood for imaginative play all day. The theme for their gymnastics class at 11am was dress ups so perhaps this is what inspired them. We had a few hours in between breakfast and gymnastics so we decided to make some rocket ships and make a trip to space. We had recently been given three boxes of second hand books including a book on stars and planets. When planning how to build our rocket ships we referred to this book for ideas as well as helping us to learn some planet facts.

I had been diligently collecting boxes for potential kids crafts. I had two shoe boxes that would be a perfect starting point. We then laid out some foil, yellow cardboard, scissors, red cellophane and sticky tape.

The main goal of today's craft activity was to help take the kids on an imaginative journey to space so I wasn't too worried about making perfect, long-lasting rocket ships. The kids needed a little help wrapping the shoe boxes in foil and making the cone to stick on top. They were able to cut the cellophane strips on their own and stick them on the box (with the occasional need for me to help with the sticky tape dispenser). I was impressed with their efforts. See the pics below.

We gathered together all the lego people we could find, made a door in the space ship for them and then spent a good hour whizzing around the room to some space like music playing on the dvd player. We also covered some different sized balls with foil so we had specific planets for the lego people to visit - Mars, Jupiter and Venus.

For gymnastics they wore their spiderman and supergirl dress ups and made the switch from astronauts to superheroes. After much fun at gymnastics we came home and rested a little. After that, the kids decided they wanted to be pirates. I'll tell you all about our craft treasure chest and pirate adventures in my next blog.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Salt dough sculpting

We had some friends in Sydney for the weekend visiting from Port Macquarie which provided a good excuse for a catch up with a bunch of us, including eight little people (five boys and three girls all under six years old). Just before our guests arrived, Jasmine and Alex helped me make three batches of salt dough - pink, green and yellow. Our usual play-dough technique is to follow the directions on the cream of tartar container ie. add salt, flour, water, oil and cream of tartar in a saucepan on the stove. However, this time we wanted to make a dough that we could sculpt and then bake in the oven and decorate our garden pots. So, we used the following ingredients in a mixing bowl (x3 bowls):
  • 2 cups plain flour,
  • 1 cup salt,
  • 1 cup tepid water,
  • food colouring.
Once our guests arrived we brought out some animal cut-out shapes and some skewers and all started making shapes. We poked holes in the bottom of each dough shape with a skewer as we planned to insert them on a skewer after baking them so they would sit nicely in a flower pot.

Alex and Jasmine often have fun with play-dough. They love using the rolling pin, making shapes with their animal cut-outs, moulding, creating or just squishing their fingers in the soft dough. The thought of baking their creations in the oven, however, seemed to add to everyone's excitement. I waited until after everyone had left and my kids had gone to bed to bake the cut-outs. It took about 2 hours in a low oven - 120 degrees for them to harden and completely dry out.

First thing the next morning after breakfast, Alex and Jasmine inspected their shapes. They were quite pleased with them, though I must say I would have preferred more vibrant colours. For a change, I thought we should have added more food colouring to the mixture. Usually I am begging the children to use the food colouring sparingly and not coat themselves in the stuff. We stuck skewers into the holes that we had made before baking, adding a little craft glue to secure them.

We then gave each animal a coat of different shades of glitter glue to add an extra sparkle. We could have used paint, varnish or gems but decided that a simple bit of glitter was enough this time.

With the left over dough, the kids took much delight in baking a cake with decorations from the garden!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Mosaic buttons

I have always been obsessed with mosaic creations of all kinds. I love the mix of colour and texture. When I see mosaic images I think of Gaudi and Spain and all my memories of travel in Barcelona come back - the beautiful sounds of people speaking spanish, sunny walks in Park Guell, vibrant markets, amazing architecture shopping etc.

I have a bag of tiles in my shed waiting for the right time to embark on a mosaic creation for our garden. In the meantime, Jasmine and I decided to make some mini mosaic canvases to decorate the mantlepiece. Tiles are hard to cut for little people and need a great deal of assistance and supervision from an adult so we decided to use buttons instead. We prepared the canvases first by giving them a couple of coats of craft paint. We then tipped some craft glue into a cup and rummaged through our collection of buttons to pick out a range of hues and sizes. We decided to use animal cut-outs to help with our design.

You can see in the pics below that for the blue canvas Jasmine traced the fish cut-out and stuck buttons directly onto the canvas. I like the end result even though it is tricky to see the exact outline of the fish. For the green and pink canvas we decided to stick the buttons on the cut out itself. This seems to give a sharper result. Both work though.

And here is a Gaudi image for future inspiration!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Foil wrapping Christo style

Chatting to another mum at the kids' gymnastics class the other day, we agreed that it is often the really simple activities that kids love the most. The kids were wearing fireman helmets at the time and were following an obstacle course with mega-grins on their faces. How does this relate to art and craft? Well I asked what craft activities she finds successful with her four girls. My girls are funny she says, they love wrapping things in foil. How cool I said ... and recalled Christo and Jeanne-Claude's amazing massive wrapped artworks. See two of Christo's exhibits below.

While I admire Christo's dedication to such grand artistic expression, the kids and I stuck to a much simpler wrapping activity after dinner. We laid out two roles of aluminium foil - one each for Alex and Jasmine - and selected a range of differently shaped household items including shoes, teddy bears, jars, books etc.

Alex in particular thought it was great fun. We decided that, once we had finished wrapping everything, we would make their dad try and guess each item. "Don't look Dadda" they kept yelling into the kitchen as they madly wrapped and wrapped.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Felt puppets

Yesterday the kids and I had fun making felt puppets with a mixture of left over craft bits. This was an easy activity and didn't cost us much at all. We used cut up felt pieces, glue, buttons and googly eyes. I cut out felt rectangles, folded them in half and then sewed up the sides with my sewing machine. Super simple sewing - just how I like it! The kids helped cut out felt pieces to use for noses, mouths and hair and glued them into place. See pics below. Now we are ready for a puppet show. Yay!

When it comes to art and craft for kids there are so many wonderful bits and pieces you can buy from the shops. The only problem is finding time to get there! Since my kids were born I have done the majority of my shopping online - toys, games, clothes, presents, craft items and activity kits. For the most part I have been pleased with my purchases. Once I misread a size guide on kids shoes and accidentally bought an extra large size of silver ballet shoes for Jasmine. She loved them so much that she scuffed them on day one so I couldn't exchange them. For my craft material I am also lucky that my mother has a cupboard full of fabric and an assortment of craft paints, glue, buttons, and cute kids' paraphernalia that she picks up when out and about. We often rely on stuff from her magic craft cupboard. I also have bags with the beginning pieces for a range of craft projects stored in my linen cupboard and in a big suitcase under my bed. One of my tasks this year is to come up with a better storage solution for all our art and craft materials.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Multi crafting - coloured salt pictures and marble necklaces

This afternoon when we arrived home after a day at work and preschool, the sun was still out and we felt energetic. So I thought I'd help set the kids up with a colourful craft activity and then also try and finish off a project that I had been working on. The kids' activity was inspired by one of their favourite substances - food colouring. I wrote down their names and sketched out a few simple pictures and then we used salt, coloured with food dye to add colour. This was an interesting change from textas or crayons. We chose four colours and mixed them with plastic spoons in plastic cups which made cleaning up super easy. A dust buster was also handy to deal with all the spilled salt. As suspected, Alex and Jasmine loved mixing the different colours into the salt. It was lovely and easy for them to manage. They also did a great job painting the glue on the letters and pictures I had drawn and sprinkling the salt over the glue with their spoons. They needed a bit of help tipping the excess salt back into the cup for re-use but any accidents didn't matter as we were at the outdoor table. You can see in the photos that the end result isn't too bad and most importantly it was an exciting activity that needed minimal assistance from me. This allowed me time to dedicate to my marble and fabric necklaces.

When the kids had finished up their coloured-salt pictures, they helped me to thread the marbles into the fabric strips I had stitched together. The first part of the necklaces was easy - basically it involves a straight line of stitches, some marbles and knots. The kids found it fun counting the marbles and watching the necklaces form. Adding the ribbon was a little more fiddly but hopefully will hold together well. I like the bright fabrics and they offer a new look, a change from beads.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Simple but fun - potato people

As you would have read in my previous post on our caterpillar craft, I was surprised when my son's attention waned so early in the activity. So this time I chose a super simple activity in the hope it would win him over. The starting piece for this activity is good old trusty potatoes. With the help of some chopped up vegies and toothpicks you can make groovy potato people. We used radishes, parsley, tomatoes, sultanas, cherry tomatoes, carrots and beans as this is what we had available. You can see in the pictures that my kids thought it a good idea to make some aliens to play with the two potato people they had made.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Crazy Caterpillars

My mum (or Nona as the kids call her) came over this afternoon with her usual bag of goodies. I am not sure the kids deserved her treats after their incessant whinging and moody behaviour this morning. However, it did mean we could have some fun creating crazy caterpillars. I found an old bag of tights in the back of my cupboard and let the kids choose what colour they would like. Jasmine of course chose purple and Alex green. No surprises there. We then used the polysterene balls that Nona brought over and fed them one by one into a leg of the tights. After inserting seven balls, we picked out some chenille sticks and pipe cleaners and tied them in between the balls to make different coloured legs. We then used glitter glue to make a mouth and stuck on some googly eyes. Jasmine patiently twisted the pipe cleaners into place but I'm afraid Alex found it all a little too tiring and disappeared off to the pantry for a snack. Nona managed to entice him back with a reading of their favourite book - The Hungry Caterpillar.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Starting out on our crafty adventure

With all the rain we've had this summer, my kids and I have decided that instead of getting soggy at the beach on our non-work, non-preschool days, we would keep ourselves busy doing art and craft activities.

To help keep us on track and make a record of all our creative achievements I told the kids I would start a blog. So ta dah ... this week begins "Little People Crafts". I will aim to post at least one activity per week.

My twins - Alexander and Jasmine - turned four in November 2011. Being four is exciting in terms of art and craft as this means I can relax more when the glue and scissors are out. When they were younger I would have to be vigilant, not leaving them for a second. I made this mistake once, leaving the room to sort the washing only to come back to the two of them painting their hair and faces with glue. It took two baths and half a container of conditioner before I could brush their hair through. At three years old, I thought they were old enough to be trusted with textas when I had guests over for lunch. I soon learned this was a very misguided assumption when I went to see what was keeping them so quietly occupied in the living room. They had scribbled all over our couch. All I can say is thank goodness for leather couches and leather cleaning solution!

Today we raided the recycling bin, pulled out our paints and brushes and decided to prepare a village. Once the paint has dried we will find our lego people, put our village together and start playing.

Anyway, by sharing some of our art and craft successes and failures I would hope that others can gather some ideas and can also let us in on some of your great art and craft projects.