Posted on Leave a comment

10 Toddler-Friendly Valentine’s Activities

So I know that ‘toddlers’ and ‘Valentine’s’ in the same sentence may seem a little weird, but what we’re really doing here is using creative play to explore both the senses and feelings! Here’s 10 activities for you to try…

1. Make a Love Potion 

Ahh potion making. Practically everyday of the long summer holidays was spent making some type of potion. Potions lend themselves particularly well to a Valentine’s theme because it’s usually easy enough (in our case, anyway) to find fallen petals in the garden. If flowers aren’t as easy to access in your corner of the world, you could always try freezing the petals from an old bouquet of flowers!

2. Create a Valentine’s themed squish bag

When Zoey was very small, squish bags were our ‘go-to’ craft. They are both a safe and contained way to try painting with a baby but toddlers can have just as much fun with them too. Here I squirted pink and purple acrylics onto a piece of spare cardboard, then placed the card into a sandwich bag before letting Zoey have some squishy fun. The end result was quite striking!

3. Make some shaving foam hearts

valentines 2.jpg

Have you tried shaving foam marbling? It’s such brilliant sensory fun! The beauty of this activity is that you can make a craft for a loved one and squeeze in some sensory play too. You can find out how we made these hearts by visiting the blog post Heart Mobile 

4. Introduce a pink and red sensory bin

IMG_20170212_135234

This sensory bin was one of the first activities I posted to Teach Investigate Play over on Instagram. I simply dyed some rice red, then added in sequins, glitter and pompoms. The kids then used scoops, spoons and tongs to investigate the sensory bin. You can find out how to dye rice by clicking the link here. 

A 2018 version of the sensory bin will be featuring on Instagram soon!

5. Make process art stamps out of cardboard tubes

valentines

A few months ago, we were asked by the amazing Red Ted Art to make a Valentine’s themed project for the 31 Days of Love Project. These cardboard tube hearts were part of the process art wall hanging we created, but could just as easily be used as a standalone project.

6. Make a felt busy bag

IMG_20180109_123945

I’m pretty addicted to making felt busy bags for Zoey! Get on board the felt train if you’re not already because this stuff is ace! Simply cut one background piece of felt to A5 size of smaller, then cut out hearts in different colours and sizes. The beauty of felt is the fact it sticks together without the need to glue or sew. I’ve done a few different felt busy bags for Zoey now and they’re a great occupier in cafes!

7.  Talk about scents with a sensory jar

IMG_20171207_161917

We used lavender as it grows in our garden, but you could just as easily try dried petals – or even both! Simply place the lavender into a bottle (we like the plastic Voss variety the best) and let the aroma take hold. Incidentally, this works really well for herbs too so it’s a great activity for exploring scents.

8. Read some books…

IMG_20170204_104441_690

There’s no denying that we LOVE our books! We have a few Valentine’s themed books, but this is also a great opportunity to talk about feelings too. In My Heart by Jo Witeck is our choice pick but we’ll also be featuring some more in an upcoming ‘Discovery Table’ series post about love.

9. Go crazy with a sponge stamper…

IMG_20170209_121700

This is so simple, yet effective! I first did this activity with Zoey when she was one, but will definitely repeat it again this year. You can cheat a little and buy a sponge stamper like I did (this came in a pack of 4 different shapes) or you could cut your own. All you need to do is provide paint and paper too, then you’re good to go!

 

10. Make it super-simple with chalk…

IMG_20180127_175608.jpg

Everyday, come rain or shine, we get outside to play with our bumper box of chalks. Zoey currently likes to request drawings (like the heart shown here) and she will copy what i’m doing. She relates objects to the size of the family so I will get requests for daddy, mummy, Harrison or Zoey sized hearts – cute!

 

For more related ideas, check out:

Fingerprint Hearts

Simple Mother’s Day Crafts 

Posted on 2 Comments

Cute Christmas Pompom Wreath!

It’s Craaaaaftmas!

craftmas

I probably love the Christmas build-up more than I love the big day itself, so when Little Buttons Diaries asked me to get involved with the Craftmas project, I didn’t hesitate to say yes!

I’ve gotta say, my craft sessions are usually totally random and unplanned, so actually putting thought into the project had me all of a dither! For the first time in a long time, I actually stuck to my original idea so here I present to you a Cute Christmas Pompom Wreath…

You will need: 

IMG_20171109_111556.jpg

  • A piece of cardboard that will be cut into an ‘o’ shape.
  • Low temp glue gun
  • Glue refills (around 5)
  • Sharp scissors
  • Felt in a variety of Christmas colours
  • Craft knife
  • Variety of pompoms in Christmas colours
  • Christmas ribbon
  • Googly eyes (if you want to make it super cute!)
  • Chenille sticks/ pipe cleaners

Step 1: Cut the cardboard base

IMG_20171109_111702.jpg

Cut part of a cardboard box into a ‘O’ shape using a sharp craft knife – this part is definitely a ‘grown-up’ job! Don’t stress if the cut isn’t perfect as it’ll all be covered up with the pompoms anyway.

Step 2: Get gluing! 

IMG_20171109_115232.jpg

This is the most time consuming part so if you have a tween or teen around, this is an ideal one for them to get involved with!

Be mindful of the fact that ‘low temp glue gun’ does not make it any less burny if you accidentally get some on your fingers – which is why it’s best to be super careful if younger children are joining in.

Step 3: Check your work

IMG_20171109_122210.jpg

Once you’ve filled the entire circle, gently pull off the gluey ‘spider webs.’ Double check that the wreath is covered from all angles and add more pompoms if needed. Approximately 150 green pompoms were used to make this wreath, using a special Christmas pack from Riot Art and Crafts.

Step 4: Time to get your felt on! 

IMG_20171109_131709.jpg

Play around with a few different iconic Christmas images to see what works best on your wreath. Featured above is our final pieces, but we also considered a reindeer, Santa and a snowman too – keep it simple if the kids are joining in!

Once the felt is cut, try blinging it up with some glittery chenille sticks and pompoms. Glue everything together with the help of that trusty glue gun. You may also want to add googly eyes for that silly/ cute factor…

IMG_20171109_132002.jpg

 

Step 5: Placement 

IMG_20171109_132057.jpg

Test where the felt pieces will go first. We found that the Christmas tree and stocking looked better along the vertical sides, for example. The glue sticks super fast so you don’t want to ruin your amazing craft by attempting to re-stick!

Step 6: Finishing touches

IMG_20171109_151414.jpg

Glue a Christmassy ribbon to the reverse of the wreath, then stand back and admire your amazing handiwork!

I hope that you all have an amazing Christmas with your family and friends. If you decide to make crafts part of the festivities, do tag me in. I absolutely LOVE it when you share your ideas and if you decide to make your own pompom wreath, send me a photo!

Sian x

For more Christmas ideas, check out the following links:

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Christmas Activities for Toddlers

Gift Guide for Toddlers

Posted on Leave a comment

Bob the Blob: A Halloween Slime Craft

Halloween means slime – right? We’ve tried a few different versions of slime before, but this recipe is hands-down the best for some gooey fun! As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, we like to make our Halloween crafts cute rather than creepy and Bob definitely fits the bill!

As a quick word of advice before commencing this activity with the kids, this is best done with older children (from 6+ really) because of the ingredients used – this is definitely not a taste safe recipe!  Don’t do this activity unsupervised and make sure that hands are washed thoroughly after use! 

You will need:

  • 500ml of clear glue
  • Saline solution / contact lens solution containing saline
  • 1 tsp Baking soda (otherwise known as bicarb of soda)
  • Food colouring
  • Googly eyes
bob the blob ingredients
We used a cheaper alternative to contact lens solution from the local chemist which seemed to work just fine!

 

Method:

  1. Add the majority of the 500ml bottle of clear glue to a mixing bowl. I kept some back to adjust the mixture as needed.
  2. Mix 1 tsp of baking soda into the glue.
  3. Use a few drops of food colouring to create the colour of your choice and stir in well.
  4. Add a few drops of saline and keep mixing with a spoon. You should start to notice the mix binding together.
  5. Keep adding a few drops until you end up with a stringy ball – it’s best to do this gradually so that the slime doesn’t become too sticky!
  6. Start to knead the slime with your hands – be patient and the slime should start changing consistency but if its still too sticky, try adding a bit more of the glue to the mix.
  7. If needed, strain out any extra ‘watery’ mix with a sieve. You should end up with a stretchy, malleable slime that doesn’t break apart easily.
  8. Once you are happy with the consistency, add in some googly eyes.
  9. Pour slime mix into an airtight container to preserve.
bob the blob
Don’t googly eyes just make everything better?

 

bob 4
The slime needs to be stretchy without breaking apart too easily

 

bob 3
An airtight container should preserve the slime for longer!

If you have your own version of slime, i’d love to hear about it in the comments section below or you can tag me into your FB/ insta posts.

Also check out our other Halloween themed posts: Cute not Creepy, One pumpkin: two invitations and Betty the Blue-nicorn! Happy Crafting 🙂

Posted on 1 Comment

Betty the Blue-nicorn

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)
  • Binder/ sealant
  • Non-toxic acrylic paints
  • Hairdryer
  • 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:

pumpkin binder

 

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 🙂

betty 10.jpg

 

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:

betty 9
It helps to glue the crayons into the natural ridges of the pumpkin.

Start to melt the crayons with a hairdryer. We found that a high temperature and medium speed setting worked well.

betty 8
Team effort! Even the husband did his fair share with the hairdryer 🙂

Once the crayons have started to melt, gently bend the crayons against the pumpkin to avoid spray:

betty 7.jpg
We always use a giant paint tray for crafts as it helps to catch any mess – like the spray back of the crayons you can see here!

 

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:

betty 5
Messy! But beginning to take shape!

 

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!

betty 4
I added details with Posca pens. In my opinion, they are definitely worth the money!

Last but not least, add the unicorn horn! We struggled for a while to find something suitable before finally deciding upon a shell:

betty 2.jpg
Glue on the shell with a glue-gun.

 

And there you have it, one beautiful blue unicorn!

betty

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!

 

Posted on 2 Comments

One Pumpkin: two invitations…

Okay so pumpkin carving isn’t exactly new, but it is an immense amount of fun! If you’re on Pinterest, and lets face it, who isn’t? You’ll see a myriad of pumpkin ideas ranging from easy peasy to super skillful. When you’ve got kids, you just have to go for the options that are accessible and fun so here are two activities you can try with just the one pumpkin – i’m sure you’ll all agree that this is a money saving win too! 😉

An invitation to play…

pumpkin scoop 5.jpg

In the beginning, I wasn’t going to carve the pumpkin at all, but then I started to think of all the wastage which made me a little sad! After I lopped the top off of the pumpkin (definitely an adult job!), I set the kids to work scooping out the flesh. They used scoops, spoons and their hands to remove all of the pumpkins innards for a real bit of sensory fun!

Great for:

  • Fine motor skills: using fingers to grasp at the pumpkin
  • Hand grasp: using the spoons/ scoops
  • Language: describing the texture of the pumpkin, what it sounds like etc.
  • Sensory development: everything from smell, taste, touch, sight and sound is covered in this one activity!

Side note: younger children should be under constant supervision due to the size of the pumpkin seeds.

 

pumpkin scoop 2
If you do a lot of sensory play, a tuff tray like this is a good investment. Ours is from Invitation to Play 

 

pumpkin scoop 4
Zoey really loved the texture of the pumpkin seeds and flesh.

 

pumpkin scoop 1
All of the seeds were ‘sorted’ into a pan – you could get older kids to sort the seeds from the flesh too!
pumpkin scoop 6
Once the kids had finished, I scooped out the extra flesh myself to avoid any mould.

An invitation to create…

pauline the pumpkin
This is Pauline – Isn’t she beautiful?

Have you ever tried to carve a pumpkin? It’s not that easy and certainly not a job i’d entrust to the kids. There’s way too much margin for error but compromises can be made if you want to get your creative on as a family. Like I said above, I was loathed to waste the flesh, so Pauline is a halfway house between a no-carve and carved creation. Here’s how she was made:

 

pumpkin scoop 6
1. Scoop out all the flesh! Just in case you missed the bit above – getting out every last bit of flesh is important so that the pumpkin lasts longer. Any extra pumpkin flesh tends to get moldy pretty quickly!
pumpkin 6.jpg
2. We used a binder/ sealant from Riot  as a base.
pumpkin 4
3. After the binder had dried, we set to work on the white acrylic. We used approximately 3 coats, but you might need more of less depending on the brand of paint!
pumkin 3
4. Once the white paint was dry, the kids set to work splodging neon paint all over the pumpkin – so much fun!
pauline 2.jpg
5. We left the pumpkin a few days before I carved the eyes with a craft knife (in hindsight, this would’ve been best done prior to painting) Then we added in ‘Day of the Dead’ style drawings using Posca pens. The flowers have been recycled from a previous craft – you can find out how to make them here.

This activity is great for:

  • Expression: the kids went crazy with the neon paint.
  • Fine motor skills: drawing on the features.
  • Creative thinking: how could we all join in with the activity?
  • Teamwork: sharing out the tasks.
  • Historical research: with older kids, you can explore the background of the Dia de los Muertos festival for the ‘why’ behind the decoration.

 

Side notes:

  • Carving should really be done by an adult.
  • Be aware of the paint you are using if you want to light up your pumpkin with tealights. Although we used water-based acrylics (which are considered safe), we avoided any dilemma altogether by placing a mini torch inside Pauline.  Definitely do not use oil based paints!!!
  • And FINALLY, although Pauline was very beautiful on the outside, by the 5th day her insides were a totally different story. I suspect the paint caused her to get moldy quicker so if you want a longer lasting decoration, I would go for the no-carve option. As it happens, it turned into a fascinating STEAM experiment! 🙂

 

Have you got an accessible pumpkin idea you’d like to share? Either comment below or tag me in on Facebook / Instagram.