When I was recently asked to do an Instagram takeover of the Parent Talk Australia account, I decided to make a special craft to mark the occasion!* Here’s a step-by-step guide for making your own version…
You will need:
Carving pumpkin (ours was medium sized)
Non-toxic acrylic paints
Wax crayons (we used crayola)
Low temp glue gun
Shell or something conical for the horn
Posca pens or similar.
The vast majority of our craft supplies come from Riot
How to Make:
Cover your pumpkin in a binder/ sealant. This just helps with coverage and the acrylics seem to go on easier:
Once dry, cover in acrylic paint. You might need more than one coat, but that will depend on the paint you are using! We added a sparkly touch to Betty with some glitter paint too 🙂
Leave to dry for at least 24 hours before you start phase 2 – which is basically melting the crayons!
Attach wax crayons to the top of the pumpkin with a low-temp glue gun:
Start to melt the crayons with a hairdryer. We found that a high temperature and medium speed setting worked well.
Once the crayons have started to melt, gently bend the crayons against the pumpkin to avoid spray:
It can take a little while for the crayons to start melting, but once they do you can start to manipulate the direction of the wax:
Once you are happy with your creation, you can start on the unicorn details! Or if you like, just keep going and melt the crayons further. I decided on a complete whim that the pumpkin would be turned into a unicorn as the crayons started to look like a pretty cool mane!
Last but not least, add the unicorn horn! We struggled for a while to find something suitable before finally deciding upon a shell:
And there you have it, one beautiful blue unicorn!
If you make your own version, I would LOVE to see! Either comment here or tag me in on Facebook/ Instagram. There’s plenty of Halloween themed posts on the blog if you want ideas for other activities so also check out Cute not Creepy and One Pumpkin: Two Invitation
*Betty is a great no-carve option for Halloween but make sure that any children helping are under constant supervision. My eight year old helped with some parts, but do be aware that the wax from the crayons can spray if the hairdryer is held at the wrong angle!
I’ve always been tempted by the lure of activity boxes for kids, so when Julie and Lisa from Happy Explorers asked if they could send me one of their feelings boxes, I didn’t hesitate to say yes!
Happy Explorers is a brand new activity box and is aimed at children aged between 3-6. The whole design is based around the early years framework (Julie is an experienced prep teacher) so as parents, we can be rest assured that the activities are both fun and educational.
As a teacher mum myself, I could immediately see the benefits of buying the box. With my ‘teacher’ hat on, I knew that it would be carefully planned by experts. With my ‘mum’ hat on, I felt confident that I would be doing fun and engaging activities that would also help the kiddos learning.
The box was kindly gifted for the purposes of this review, however the post isn’t sponsored.
Our feelings box arrived just in time for the weekend – I don’t know about you, but weekends can sometimes leave me desperate for some structured activities! The box itself was beautifully presented and both kids were excited to open it. You can visit my YouTube channel to view the full unboxing.
The presentation was spot on: each activity was packaged separately with its own prompt card, but there also wasn’t an insane amount of plastics that needed recycling either – win! With the exception of glue, you don’t need any extra resources to complete the activities as everything is included. In total, there were 6 different activities to try under 3 main categories (explore, create and communicate), which we’ll go through in more detail below.
It was apparent right away that the resources included were of good quality and carefully selected, however the items that I was really drawn to were the prompt cards. I absolutely loved the fact that the guesswork was taken away and I didn’t have to think of questions or activities that related to the resources. As you can see from the photo, the cards are beautifully designed without a complete overwhelm of information:
1. Playdough Faces:
Whilst Harrison is a little older than the core demographic, we had a fun playdough session after school. First we chatted about different emotions using the prompts as a guide . I asked questions like: ‘How do you feel on your birthday,’ ‘How do you feel when you’re sick?’ ‘What makes you confused’ and ‘What makes you frustrated?’
It was actually really interesting because I tend to assume I know what makes Harrison happy/sad/angry/confused etc, but we’ve rarely really discussed it together. The activity prompted us to open up a dialogue about our feelings – something which is vital for a good relationship.
Materials included: 2 colours of playdough, mini wooden sticks, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, create prompt card.
2. Paper-plate Masks
We decided to use the paper-plates to make mini puppet faces so that we could act out our emotions. We chose different scenarios that might make our puppets feel happy, sad, confused, fed up and angry. This was a really safe way of talking about emotions that can sometimes seem confronting. Harrison isn’t one to share his feelings all that often, so the role play helped him to open up.
Depending on the age of your own child, you could also try putting the opposite feeling on the reverse of the plate. We used confused/ confident and angry/ joyful as our opposite feelings.
Materials included: 2 mini paper-plates, shape stickers, paddle pop sticks, googly eye stickers ( we also used some of the materials left from the playdough activity)
3. Hippo is Happy
We read Hippo is Happy to Zoey for story-time several times! She loved the vibrant illustrations and the cute animals. At the age of 20 months, she’s just starting to understand the concept of happy and sad. Whilst she’s a little too young to discuss the story, she can on a very basic level share when she is sad and the book helped her to explore those feelings further.
For older readers, I thought the prompt card was a brilliant way to discuss the story. Comprehension is such an important part of reading and the card definitely takes the guesswork out of the process.
This is such a great resource! Not only for exploring feelings, but to take a look at family members too ( grandma, grandpa, mum, dad, brother and sister are included). As mentioned above, drama and role play are really important ways of conveying feelings and big emotions in a non-confronting way.
Harrison and Zoey both made a beeline for the finger puppets.With this activity, I just sat back and watched them play rather than get involved too heavily. However a prompt card is included if your mini one needs a little nod in the right direction.
Do you ever struggle for cafe friendly activities? I thought the Feelings Hunt card would be good entertainment whilst out and about. Although I guess a conversation would need to be had about being discreet first! With the school holidays fast approaching, we intend to take the feelings card out with us so that we can continue our conversations about emotions.
Materials included: laminated feelings hunt card.
6. Happiness Notebook
Last up is the mini happiness notebook. I’ve seen a lot of posts about ‘100 Days of Happiness’ recently, so this little book would be perfect for noting down or drawing feelings. Harrison is actually pretty obsessed with writing journals (thanks in part to Diary of a Wimpy Kid!) so he will make good use of the notebook.
Materials included: communicate prompt card, small notebook.
What we loved about the Happy Explorers Feelings Box was the nudge towards having some quality together time whilst being creative. As Harrison’s sister is almost 7 years younger than him, it often gets difficult to spend real time as ‘just us’ so the activities we did together felt special.
The box meant we both learnt new things about one another – like what makes the other person fed up, shocked, happy or sad. It made me realise that I don’t always know exactly what triggers Harrison’s emotions and as he grows older, it becomes increasingly more important to have that open dialogue.
I would wholeheartedly recommend ordering a Happy Explorers box – even if your child is slightly outside the suggested age group. It’s a brilliant way to have some side by side creative bonding time with some core early years skills thrown in!
Ways to use the Happy Explorers box:
When I started to really think about it, there are just so many ways to use the Happy Explorers box. Here’s just a few that would get me ordering:
We travel a lot and I thought the box would be ideal for road trips. Even if your days are busy, chances are you’ll have afternoons/ evenings where you’ll want to entertain the kids. The fact that everything is included takes the stress out of packing.
We tend to do so many crafts during the school holidays – the box would be a great way of exploring a particular theme without having to come up with activities.
The box would be fantastic for rainy days (whether that be actual rain or a sick day!) when leaving the house is difficult.
If you’re in part-time work and need ideas or themes to explore on the days you have the kids at home.
If you’re a grandparent and the kids are coming to stay for the weekend!
The Happy Explorers box retails at $39.95 and postage is free Australia-wide. You can buy a box here
Before you throw that carton away, what could you make with it? In celebration of Earth Day, here’s our invitation to make and play with the stuff you’d usually just throw away.
There are so many items that we humans must recycle or bin on a daily basis. Instead, put your creative caps on and get crafty. We’re lucky enough to have a whole kitchen cupboard dedicated to coffee cups, egg cartons and plastic bottles.
Here are a few suggestions on what you can make.
Made entirely from cardboard packaging, this castle is still going strong a few months later. The seven year old is obsessed with all things knights and castles so when I saw this packaging (in my mind it resembles a portcullis), I knew that it would make an ideal castle. Sometimes you just need to be a little bit creative with the way you view the raw materials!
We painted it with grey and brown acrylic, along with some glue and glitter. All the parts are loose, which means that the seven year old can redesign his castle whenever he wants.
These are one of my favourite things to make for grisly toddlers. Otherwise known as ‘calm down’ bottles, they certainly do the trick when other toys fail.
All you need is a plastic bottle (pictured is a plastic Voss bottle), a couple of tablespoons of glycerine, water and glitter.
Fill the bottle up half way with water, then add the glycerine and glitter into the mix. Add more water to just below the top and screw on the lid. Give the bottle a little test to see if you like what you’ve made before gluing the lid shut. Simple!
Food Pouch Flowers
If you’re anything like us, you’ll probably have billions of food pouch lids from baby food. We’ve kept them all and they’re great for making pictures, fine motor skills (threading) and counting too. In fact, this has just given me material for another post!
Paper Plate Masks
We usually have way too many paper plates left over from birthday parties – we discovered that they make really cute masks. This bear mask was made from a coffee cup lid and scraps of card. All we did was dab a mix of various brown acrylics onto the mask and stick everything together with craft glue.
We had great fun running around The National Arboretum one sunny Sunday afternoon, pretending we were going on our own Bear Hunt!
When I forget my Keep Cup (naughty!) I try to make myself feel better by holding on to the coffee cups. One of the activities we tried during an ‘Under the Sea’ themed week was to paint and craft the coffee cups into octopus – or octo-cups as we decided to call them.
These cute little octo-cups are a great way of developing fine motor skills (using scissors and glue) with a little bit of creativity thrown into the mix!
If you’re feeling completely ambitious, try making a shoe-box animation studio. We’ve made a few mini films now, which despite their short duration, have taken entire days to make (great for rainy days). We’re new to YouTube, but you can check out one of our films here There’s plenty of free apps that you can download to make a stop-motion animation – no expensive equipment needed at this level!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about our suggested ideas. Parenting is an expensive business, so we love to save money by reusing household items wherever possible. Check out our Instagram feed for daily updates on what we do at home – there’s often a recycling element to our activities!
Please comment below to let me know what you think of our ideas or even send me photos of what you’ve tried yourself!