Thursday, 23 April 2015

Easter crafts

I'm not sure who these bloggers are who manage to not only do all the seasonal crafts ahead of time but also write up their blogs before the holiday.... But anyway I am clearly not one of them, so here is my post about Easter crafts - 2 weeks after Easter! :)

Tape resist eggs

I got these flat ceramic "egg" shapes online and D had his first go at "tape resist" art. I cut out some shapes from plain white stickers and he stuck them on the egg. Then using the ceramic paints from our Elmer plate activity D got to work. 

The pens are quite difficult to squeeze and draw with at the same time so doing the dotty design really suited D. And when his attention spanned waned it was very therapeutic to do some myself :) 
On the other egg I squeezed small amounts of paint out and he then smooshed them around.

I'm not quite sure why this pic is upside down... but this is them halfway through :)

After the paint was dry I peeled off the stickers and we were left with these:

After baking them (to set the paint) we gave them a coating of clear glaze and I think they're pretty cute for our first attempt. 

Polystyrene eggs

This was a "filler" activity whilst I was cutting out the stickers above. I gave D some polystyrene eggs and some felt-tips. A completely child-led activity :)

Easter cards

We don't usually send Easter cards but D was given his first Easter egg as a present so we decided to make some more as a thank you card. And because I'm a bit obsessed with anything D makes we made an extra one for us to keep :)

First D did some finger and thumbprints in ink along the bottom of the card. Next I added little faces and details to turn them into chicks and rabbits. Lastly using our alphabet stampers he stamped "Happy Easter" and added some stars and hearts. I mounted them on a piece of card and there you go:


So there you go, 3 pretty quick and simple crafts but all fun.

And here's how we finished off the weekend:

An Easter egg hunt - love that he's still happy doing it with plastic eggs!

Chasing giant bubbles

And popping them...

Toddler-friendly egg and spoon races

Rabbit pancakes (courtesy of my talented sister-in-law!)
Hope you all had a lovely Easter too!

Bubble dragons

Sometimes it's nice to get elbow deep in craft supplies and hot glue... But other times it's nice to be able to through together an activity in less than 2 minutes. This is one we did a few days ago when we had that brief period of glorious sunshine :)

These are the simplest thing to make and are guaranteed to amuse your toddler for quite some time.

Empty plastic bottle
Rubber band/elastic hairband 
Bubble mix

Felt or card to decorate

If you've never made one before it literally takes 2 minutes.

1. Cut the end off the plastic bottle
2. Put the sock over the cut end (we used one of Iz's baby ones as then there was a lot less surplus material)
3. Secure it with a rubber band (I couldn't find any - typical when you want one! - so used a hair band)

And there you are - finished already!

We decided to decorate ours to make them into dragons. Even this step was super simple - I just cut some shapes out of sticky felt and let D choose where to stick them.

Then dip the sock end into your bubble mix and blow through the top - instant bubbles and no risk of your toddler accidentally ingesting them :)
Easy peasy

He loved the piles of bubbles

And enjoyed making bubble mountains

D also had fun smooshing the bubbles (he can make pretty much any activity into messy play!) 

And he loved playing bubble "cheers"

Even Iz tried to get in on the action :)

But was a bit too young to be able to blow her own yet...

A lovely simple activity that took a couple of minutes to set up and brought us a whole afternoon of fun!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Crayon art

So if you were excited when you thought this was going to be about a nice piece of toddler artwork using crayons like this:

I am ridiculously proud of this picture - D's first "man"!!

Then I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed... However if you want to make some crazy fun crayon art with your toddler (or just by yourself - it's strangely mesmerising and addictive to do!) then keep reading...

This is all over Pinterest/the Internet but as soon as I saw it I knew we had to try it. It is actually really easy to do, is all about the "process" and is very cheap (each of ours cost about £1.50!).

So what do you need?

A canvas - ours cost £1 each from Tiger. You could probably also use thick watercolour paper secured onto a piece of backing card, but don't use regular paper as it wont be thick enough to hold the weight of the crayons/wax.

Wax crayons - we got a box of 48 for £1 (thank you Poundland!) which was enough for 2 canvases and some left over.

Glue gun (or some other heat resistant way of sticking on the crayons). I've seen other people suggest using the glue dots. Or double sided sticky tape *might* work. But I've got a glue gun so used that. 

A hairdryer. Everyone has one of those :)

That's it. And maybe a disposable tablecloth to protect the surroundings from a waxy coating!

Choose which colours you want

Glue on the crayons to the top of the canvas and leave to harden overnight

The 8yo's canvas - propped up at an angle using masking tape at the bottom. You need it at an angle so the wax runs down properly.

The 8yo's picture mid-melt

D getting ready to start his. We added his initial and star stickers to enable "tape resist" art. We also used a baking tray to keep it propped up at an angle - much more effective than masking tape!

Concentrating hard... (sadly the J bit the dust pretty early on and got blown away!)

The wax rivers were so mesmerising to watch...

D's picture

Not too much splatter on the tablecloth (a disposable one from Poundland)

How pretty is the "waste" product?

When you first start aim the hairdryer along the bottom and middle of the crayons to start the melting process. Then move it to the top. If you aiming from the front you will get more of a splatter effect (like the 8yo's pic). If you aim more directly from above you create more 'rivers' (like D's pic).

Once the pictures were "finished" (the 8 yo had a shorter attention span than the toddler amazingly - you can see by how much wax melted) we left them to dry/harden for an hour or so.

On D's I then carefully scored around the stickers with a craft knife and then peeled them away as best as possible. Some wax had got underneath them but was quite easy to scrape away with a blunt knife.

Once the masking tape stars had been removed

We decided to paint them gold though to make them extra "twinkly" and I think they look cute like this :)

Next time I might try writing D's initial with the glue gun and then melting the crayons over, as the masking tape just wasn't strong enough to hold. Then I could peel away the glue after, similar to 'tape resist' pictures. If you try it just remember to make the glue flat enough that the wax can run over it to get underneath the initial too...

This was such a fun project to do with D. I would LOVE to see if anyone else tries this, or if you've done it before and have any other top tips :)


And then with the leftover crayons we made these:

Aren’t they pretty? D was very happy to get drawing with them as soon as they were cool.

Read about how we made them in this post ("Make your own crayons").


Disclaimer - you know your own child best. Hot wax is hot. As is the end of a hairdryer. I knew that I could trust D to do this activity safely and he was heavily supervised throughout the process, but this project might not be suitable for all toddlers.

Make your own crayons

We made these with the crayons leftover from our melted art project (see here). They were so simple to make I can’t believe I haven’t tried making them before. And I love that you can make them in pretty much any shape. I’m definitely going to be repeating this project often - heart-shaped ones for Valentines, number ones for birthday party favours, Christmas trees etc etc - the possibilities are endless :)

This is how we made them:

Assemble crayons and peel off any paper

Cut or break up into small pieces

Decide which colours you want together and place in oven-proof cases. Cook at around 200 deg C for 5 minutes (or until wax all melted). Then remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool put them in the fridge for a couple of hours so they fully harden.

Once hard (don't try too early or you'll squidge them!) pop them out of the cases. And then admire the pretty colours :)

Enjoy colouring

I'd love to hear if any of you have a go - see how easy it was? Only takes a couple of minutes and then you've got awesomely cute and multi-coloured crayons :)

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Sensory baskets for babies

You can read about sensory (or "discovery") baskets all over the Internet - when D was little I never made him one as we went to a lot more organised baby groups etc but now having 2 children, it's nice to have something special for Iz which she can explore at her own pace, but helps stimulate her senses and keep her attention and focus.

The point is to have a collection of objects that are safe for your baby to explore/play with on their own and this is brilliant for self-directed play. Iz will happily sit in front of her box for 20 minutes, playing with one thing, then choosing another etc. Perfect for when I'm trying to make the lunch or sort some washing :)

This is what is in her discovery basket:

Reflective ball
Floaty scarf
Silicone cupcake cases
Plastic whisk
Baby hairbrush
Stacking cups
Black/white book
Light up ball
Bell shaker
Emergency blanket
Squeaky toy
A few rattles

All the objects are stored in a wicker box and then each time she's going to play with it I'll put about 10-12 objects in this 'half-sized' canvas storage box - it is the perfect size as it's easy for her to reach into and if she stretches then she can reach all the way across it.

Hmmmm where's that toy I want...

Yay found it!!

It's really interesting seeing what takes her fancy as she often has a particular object in mind and will carefully move other objects out of the way until she has what she wants...

Need. To. Empty. Everything.

A few of her favourites are:

The plastic whisk

The reflective ball

The spiky ball

The mirror

The emergency blanket

As time has gone on (mainly thanks to my super helpful toddler!) a few other random things have been added to the box so it also now houses a selection of about 4 teethers, some plastic animals and often a muslin or two....

Sometimes even her age blocks end up in there too!

Over time I'll change what goes in the basket - firstly as Iz gets accustomed to the objects currently in the basket, and also as she gets older and starts exploring things differently. I love this concept though and it is so nice for her to have her own special toy box that is always on hand.

Self-entertaining children - living the dream!!

Have you ever made a discovery box? What have you put in it? I'd love to hear any other suggestions or if you decide to make one after reading this :)