Friday, 27 April 2012

Jack-in-the-box photo display

Today we met for our art and craft playgroup. In preparation for today's acivity I had kept some old cardboard boxes aside and gave them a couple of coats of different coloured paints. Now it was up to the kids to decorate them with glue and an assortment of craft bits and pieces. We had stickers, buttons, feathers, ridged carboard shapes, flowers, shells and coloured sticks. These were bought from Spotlight and Eckersley's stores.

It was fun for the kids to play around with colours and design. It was interesting to see the craft bits some kids were drawn to over others. The star stickers and cardboard shapes were popular with Alex and Tom.

See some pics below for the results. I put holes in a couple of the box lids so they could be used for money boxes. The other boxes could be great when presenting gifts to friends and family rather than using wrapping paper. Or of course the kids could store all sorts of trinkets in them.

Later in the afternoon, Jasmine and I decided to stick some photos on the left over box so she could have a photo box to show her friends. Rather than just storing the photos in the box in a pile we decided to make a jack-in-the-box style photo display. When you open the box lid you see a fabulous long strip of photos. To make this, cut a strip of cardboard and fold it like an accordian. I used sticky tape and glue to stick the photos onto the lid and the base of the box. I stuck the photos on with glue. Alex thought this was a good idea so we made one for him too.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Rainbow inspired art and craft

To celebrate our new rainbow wall mural, the kids and I have been spending time reading about rainbows, talking about what makes a rainbow and creating rainbow inspired crafts. See below for what we've been up to.

We made a rainbow coloured letter box so Alex and Jasmine can draw pictures for each other, post them in their letter box and then come back and open them. We used an old cardboard gift box. We painted each side a different colour - blue, red, yellow and purple. I used a sharp knife to cut out a whole in one of the sides, just large enough to fit a folded letter.

Next we stuck some old plastic letters on the box that we had lying around the house. They were magnets once upon a time. We thought letters were very appropriate things to stick on a LETTER box.

We also made rainbow lollipop cookies,  
using our standard, basic cookie dough recipe:

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup self-raising flour

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer. Beat in egg. Add combined sifted flours. Sir until mixture firms a dough.

Separate the mixture into four batches and add food colouring. Then knead the coloured dough and form into small balls. Lay on baking paper on a tray and bake in a moderately slow oven (160c) for about 20 minutes.

The kids always love mixing food colouring. This activity was even better in their view as they could make a mess and eat it too!

We also made a finger print rainbow using food colouring.

We highly recommend the book "A Rainbow of My Own" by Don Freeman. It is full of wonderful things you could make with a rainbow such as a swing or hammock.

Rainbows are so bright and cheerful. You can't help but feel happy looking at one!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Our beautiful rainbow wall mural

We love our new rainbow mural so much we just had to share some pics. I wish I could paint a mural on my kids' bedroom wall but there is no way I could guarantee a result they would be happy with. Kids can be seriously tough critics! So I called upon my aunt, Di, to save the day. Our only request was for a rainbow. The rest we left up to Di.

It took a few weeks to complete the mural. Di began by drawing the design in pencil on the wall. She then used a liquid masking fluid around the images to keep them clean while she painted on the background colours - sky and grass. I bought wall paint from Bunnings for the background colours and tree. Di used acrylic paints for the rest.

The two children were the trickiest part I believe but Di has amazing patience and incredible attention to detail. The other tricky thing is trying to stop the kids from touching all the images and making them dirty. We decided to put a few layers of varnish on the images within the kids' reach to help keep them looking good for longer.

How lucky are my kids?! Although I must say, it's not just the kids who are lucky. I love wandering past their room and soaking up the cheerful view.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Pasta craftivities

I was at the supermarket with my kids when I mentioned we should buy some more pasta to use in the afternoon for some craft time. It was pretty funny to have Alex tell me that pasta is for eating and not for playing with. It is true that pasta is one of my kids favourite meals. But pasta is also great for making pictures. We used it raw and plain this time but may try and paint it another day or cook it and mix it with paint and see what patterns we can make.

For this activity we laid out out three pieces of cardboard, a marker pen, some bowls containing different pasta varieties, craft glue and paint brushes to apply the glue. The kids helped design a city with people and butterflies and glue on the pasta.

Then Jasmine requested that I draw a mermaid outline for her.  She also wanted to mix feathers with her pasta.

Alex felt inspired to use googley eyes with his pasta. So, I drew a few different shapes for him and left him to stick on the pasta and make funny creatures.

Have a look at the Spaghetti Worm Painting over at The Chocolate Muffin Tree -
How fun does that look!

And how about this deep red pasta heart for Valentine's Day made by Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas:

I love this noodle train too:

There are so many fun things to do with pasta ... if only one had more time!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Remember Shrinky Dinks?

I recall being seriously excited when I was first introduced to Shrinky Dinks as a kid. I don't know what it is that makes them so much fun but I guess there's something magical about the concept of shrinking things in the oven. For our first project, we decided to make a chain of coloured hearts to hang in our play room. We traced around a heart stencil with a permanent marker and then cut out the hearts. It was a bit tricky for the kids so I did most of the tracing and cutting. The kids helped me lay out the hearts on trays. Don't forget to punch a hole in the hearts before they go in the oven so you have the option of hanging them up with string.

We all watched them shrink in the oven. It took about three minutes. I wrote the names of different colours on the hearts but the kids suggested that next time maybe it would be better to write their names instead.

For our second project, we used the pre-designed images. The kids had fun colouring in the images with coloured pencils and thinking about what key rings and jewellery they could make once baked in the oven.

I discovered that you need to keep a close eye on the oven while they cook. It is best to take them out quickly to avoid the images curling up on themselves.

We made key rings for their preschool bags and Jasmine made a necklace with a combination of beads and a selection of Shrinky Dinks. In terms of materials for this activity, all you need is:
  • Shrinky Dinks paper
  • scissors
  • permanent marker
  • hole puncher
  • coloured pencils
  • string if you want to hang anything up (there are some decorative strings at Eckersley and Riot stores), and
  • an oven of course!
I tried to find Shrinky Dinks in my local toy stores but didn't have any luck. I managed to find some online but the postage from the USA seemed extraordinarily high. Then thanks to eBay I found both Shrinky Dink plain coloured sheets for designing one's own pictures and some pre-designed images for the kids. For six Shrinky Dink coloured sheets it cost $15 including postage. One box of pre-designed images also cost $15 including postage. In the box of pre-designed images there were three or four trays of images plus some beads, string, clips and a chain to help make jewellery and othe decorations. Yay for eBay!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Felt blankets - do you prefer flowers or monsters?

The kids and I decided it would be a fun idea to decorate some felt blankets to tuck their teddies and dolls into bed over the colder months. There were a number of positives to this activity. We have an abundance of felt and so it was a fab opportunity to use up some of it. Jasmine pretty much made her blanket all by herself including cutting the shapes, choosing the design and sticking them on.

You can probably guess that Jasmine preferred a floral design where as Alex preferred monsters. I am not saying flowers are for girls and monsters are for boys. I know my niece, Hebe, would definitely prefer monsters but in my household, the girls choose flowers when given the choice.

Alex asked me to design and cut out the monsters for his blanket but he was more than happy to offer advice on what colours to use, how many eyes the monster should have, what kind of mouth etc. He was helpful when it came to glueing time.

The only materials we used were: coloured felt pieces, scissors, clear craft glue and a paint brush for the glue. You can find felt at fabric stores such as Spotlight where you can buy metres of it, but I have also seen A4 sheets of coloured felt at art and craft stores such as Riot.

When planning the shapes we wanted to cut, I used chalk to draw the shape and then Jasmine could cut around the outline easily. The stronger craft glues are a little smelly but thankfully it was a warm day so we could have the back door and window open. I would recommend a stronger craft glue for longevity.


Monday, 9 April 2012

Special drawing notebooks for the car

Car trips can be a little stressful with kids as they wriggle and squirm, whinge about their sibling's choice of music or some other such crime - talking too much, hogging all the space, eating all the grapes etc etc.

So for our most recent trip we set about decorating some special notebooks so the kids would have something to look forward to using in the car with their crayons and pencils.

I bought two small hard-cover notebooks on sale at Riot and some sparkly stickers and ribbons. I have seen similar notebooks at my newsagency and at Myers.

Decorating the books was very easy. Jasmine and I laid out the ribbons and played around with different designs. Both of us then cut the ribbons so they would fit neatly across the width of the book and then stuck them on with our trusty clear craft glue and a paint brush. Jasmine put on the stickers.

I wrote Alex and Jasmine's names on the first page. Together with a small bag of pencils and crayons, the books kept the kids busy for the whole two hour trip. Brilliant!

I'd love to hear other people's ideas about how they would suggest covering a book with or for their kids. Or other ways to keep the peace in the car. Please keep in mind, I cannot sing!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Experimenting with textured paint and patterned paper

I woke up this morning and decided that my blog needed a new look. So I fiddled with that and ended up replacing the green backdrop for a plainer white. Then the kids and I experimented with paint textures, colours and patterned paper. I really like the mix of colours and textures the kids came up with, and best of all we had a great deal of fun experimenting and getting messy.

First we squeezed some paint into our egg cartons and took some time to make different shades of colours. Alex liked the dark blue and dark red where as Jasmine preferred the lighter shades such as pale yellow. See some pictures below showing how we used the sponges, cloths and toothbrushes to create a lively background. We set aside the paintings to dry and then traced some animal shapes and hearts onto patterned scrapbooking paper with the aim of glueing these onto our paintings.

The paint dried very quicky being such a warm and sunny day. So, after lunch we poured clear craft glue into a cup and used a paint brush to smear glue onto our paper cut outs. Jasmine helped choose the layout for each painting and stick them on. We were pleased with the end result and stuck them in our playroom.

See below for a list of materials:
  • acrylic paint
  • sponge
  • toothbrush
  • kitchen cloth
  • paint palette or egg carton
  • A3 or similar sized paper
  • scrapbook patterned paper or coloured paper sheets
  • paintbrush to apply glue if needed.
  • stencils, pencil, scissors and glue.
Here are the stencils we traced around by the way.