Painting is a great activity for young children. It’s a fantastic work-out for their imagination, and helps them practice their fine motor skills, as well as helping to develop their understanding of colour, shape, texture and viscosity (yes, wet paint WILL drip onto the floor/your clothes/the dog’s dinner…). We do a lot of painting in our house, and love finding different things to paint - after all, flat paper can be SO last earlier-this-morning. We try to bring natural materials into our play at every opportunity, and painting is the perfect thing for this as its easy to find natural objects to decorate. Stones, sticks, pinecones, shells… you name it, we’ve painted it. Painting leaves is an absolute favourite, though, and something that we do all the time - read on to find out why!
If you've read 'The Bog Baby' by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward, you'll know that bog babies are round and blue, with goggly eyes, spiky tails and ears like a mouse, and their wings are no bigger than daisy petals. This magical book is perfect for inspiring creative model making and small world play, while at the same time gently encouraging children to explore what it means for a thing to be wild and free. Read on to find out how we made a DIY bog baby kit of our very own out of home-made playdough and basic craft accessories - not only are they great fun, they also make fantastic and original gifts when given with a copy of the book!
I've made a simple linocut of a Harry Potter Firebolt broomstick as part of a project I'm working on for G-Man's birthday. It's intended to be the first of a few themed linocut prints, and though I have something very specific in mind for it, I couldn't help but play around with a few other ideas too.
We are big fans of a classic Victoria Sandwich sponge cake in our house, but this variation is also a favourite with it's hint of zingy citrus flavours, tangy mascarpone cream filling and sharp blackcurrant. It looks so pretty, it makes a great cake for special occasions too, but is really easy - and cheap! - to make.
G-Man didn't want a birthday party this year, instead he wanted to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour just outside London. So we took him and one friend along for a magical day out in January 2017. As it was his birthday treat, and as we knew beforehand that everything there would be exorbitantly expensive, I put together a Harry Potter-themed party bag for the boys to supplement their pocket money purchases in the tour's shop. There are tonnes of ideas for Potter gifts on the internet, and not only was it great fun to do (and a big hit with the kids) it also saved us a whole heap of pennies.
If you're planning a trip yourself, or are lucky enough to be hosting a full-on Potter Party, have a look at our DIY wizard treats for a little Hogwarts-style inspiration!
Every September, members of our local community are invited to make and display a scarecrow for the annual festival, and then everyone troops around all the houses looking at what we've all done - which is actually a whole heap of fun, and also involves a stop for tea and cake at the Community Orchard, making it even more fabulous. This year's event was only a few days after what would have been Roald Dahl's 100th birthday, so of course our scarecrow had to be Roald Dahl themed!
I've been making a few odds and ends with the kids over the holidays in preparation for this September's Scarecrow Festival (yes, I know it's still only August!). Last year I managed to rope in friends on my street to do Alice in Wonderland scarecrows. This time our scarecrows will be characters from Roald Dahl's books, in celebration of what would have been his 100th birthday. I've got grand plans for our tableau (which will be a character and scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and one of the things I wanted to include was Willy Wonka's iconic hat, laid casually on his desk as if he'd just popped away for a moment. Making the hat turned out to be surprisingly easy - read on to see how I did it!
Our kids love cooking up meals in their play kitchen, and one of their greatest pleasures is mixing up the ingredients. We've had great fun stocking their kitchen with all sorts of little bits and pieces that can be stirred in a mini cooking pan with a handful of other things; pompoms for meatballs; soy sauce fish containers for, er, fish; strands of wool for spaghetti, and so on. I'm always on the lookout for new things to include! The other day I had an absolute brainwave, and came up with this easy-peasy, quick, and essentially FREE way to make these fabulous play-food sliced mushrooms. Want to make some too? Read on!
One of the many wonderful community events run in our local neighbourhood is the annual scarecrow parade that takes place every September. This year, I really wanted to get involved and so corralled some of my friends and neighbours on our street into doing our scarecrows on the same theme. In honour of this year's 150th anniversary of the publication of the book, we themed our scarecrows around Alice in Wonderland.
Posting things is a very common schema/urge in young children, as is transporting, so our postal play session satisfied both needs - T-Bird could collect up our "letters" in her postman satchel, and then pop them through the slot in the postbox. Simple stuff, but she took it very seriously and was kept engrossed for a good old while.