I’m always slightly wary when putting recipes up on the website – as i’m sure you’ll know from experience, adjustments are often needed. So use this as a guide rather than a definitive, fail-safe recipe.
You will need:
2 cups of plain flour
1 cup salt
Approx 1 – 2 cups of warm/boiling water
Add flour and salt to a mixing bowl or mixer.
Gradually add water until the consistency is doughy but not too sticky.
Dust work surface with a little extra flour and begin to roll out the dough.
Mould desired shape with either a cutter or knife.
LEAVE TO AIR DRY FOR AT LEAST 12 HOURS.
Bake on a low heat (approx 120c for a fan oven) for 3 hours
Once cool, coat with a binder before applying acrylic paints.
You can choose to use cutters, knives or even pre-existing shapes to mould your dough. Here we chose magnetic numbers that we pressed into the dough before cutting:
Cookie cutters are (obviously) a great option if you have them:
When it comes to salt dough, patience and preparation are needed. It’s best to let the shapes air dry for at least 12 hours before baking:
Line the shapes onto baking parchment so that they don’t stick to the tray. There’s nothing worse than broken pieces after they’ve been in the oven for 3 hours!
Use a binder/ sealant to coat your shapes once they have cooled.
After the binder, you can start to apply the paint. We find that non-toxic acrylics work best for really vibrant colours:
Depending on what you are making, you may want to apply more than a few coats. For these ‘biccies’ we used a few layers of paint followed by posca pens:
Salt dough can be used for a range of different creations, from learning aids to decorations. Here’s some that we made with just one batch of dough:
I would LOVE to see your own salt dough creations, so tag me into your facebook/ instagram posts or even comment below! 🙂
As a general rule, I don’t plan out my crafts. I have really tried to be organised and plan months in advance but I think my years as a primary school teacher entirely put me off a planned approach to being creative! To me, part of the beauty of creativity is being inspired and just going with the flow. Take Derek the Dragon here, he was created because I came across some rather magnificent dragon googly eyes in Riot Art & Craft.
If you want to make your own, please use this post as a guide rather than a definitive ‘how to.’ You may have different recycled materials at hand which will change the shape.
As you may know by now, we are big fans of recycled crafts and if you’re a parent of young kids, I really encourage you to keep anything that might be useful. Derek here is made from a nappy box, an empty washing powder carton, that random ridged packaging that electrical goods usually come in (in this case a blender!) and two takeaway coffee cups!
Derek was a time consuming build, so I recommend you make him over a weekend or during the school holidays. You’ll definitely need time for paint to dry and glue to set!
To make your own dragon:
Assemble all of the boxes/ materials you want to use to see if they work. My original idea didn’t quite fit so I had to use other resources.
Whilst Derek was painted then glued, i’d recommend assembling with masking/ gaffer tape first (our little low-temp glue gun didn’t quite hold up his weight!)
Once you’ve chosen the base colour of your dragon, use foam dabbers for quick coverage. We actually used 3 different colour reds to give Derek a more mottled look.
Leave to dry and paint again. Depending on the type of box used, you may need to paint the base colour again – if not, go onto the next step!
Choose some complimentary colours to stiple over the top. We selected greens and golds for Derek.
Attach eyes, horns and other loose parts with a glue gun.
Choose details like the box lids to create the dragons frills (a craft knife is a good option here.)
Stare wondrously at the magnificent creation you’ve made!
If you’d rather bypass the words, here’s a general photo guide…
If you make your own version of Derek, I would LOVE to see! Either post in the comments below or tag me in on Instagram/ Facebook.
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!
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…
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!
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.
An invitation to create…
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:
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.
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.
Whilst I was browsing the Halloween items in my favourite craft store, Riot*, with Harrison a few days ago, we had a little discussion around making Halloween cute rather than creepy. Now that Harrison is a big boy of, ahem, eight, he wants to purchase all of the sinister skeletons and bags of creepy hands (best not ask!) but I had to explain that this just wouldn’t be suitable with a two year old in the house! When I made a googly garland a couple of weeks ago, people loved that it was a bright and cute Halloween option, so here’s a round up of ideas that your little one will love!
You may also notice a reoccurring craft material running through this post 😉
Aside from being a little time-consuming, this garland is actually really easy to make. All you really need is some cardboard, heaps of pompoms, googly eyes and a glue gun! Here’s how to make your own version:
Cut out a piece of cardboard into a circular shape with a craft knife (definitely an adult job!)
Make an o-shape by cutting an inside circle.
Use a glue gun to attach a variety of sized pompoms. I went for bright colours but you could choose a more traditional Halloween theme.
Repeat process as above with a variety of googly eyes.
If you want the garland to hang, attach a ribbon to the back with either a staple gun or glue gun.
Create a Monster
For the very young, try a playdough invitation to create. Zoey had a whale of a time sticking googly eyes onto her monster and even better still, this is a great fine motor skills workout. These little monsters were made using store-bought playdough (we used the Tutti Frutti scented variety) but if you want to make your own, click here.
You’ll probably notice throughout this post little ‘invitations to create’ – this is so that the final creation is really up to the individual. To do your own, either use a circular paint tray (as featured above) or a plastic serving platter.
Got a Harry Potter obsessed kiddo? Then this is perfect! As any fan knows, there’s plenty of Halloween references in the film and Potions is one of the core lessons. We hunted the garden for supplies and added googly eyes plus glitter for a bit of a decorative twist. The pipette you can see Harrison using isn’t essential, but we added it for a bit of a fine motor / hand strengthening workout.
If this puts you in mind to make a more permanent sensory jar, click here.
Zack the Baby Zombie
Did you forget about Halloween altogether? Then my friends, this is the activity for you! Zack literally took 10 minutes to pull together – thanks in part to the gigantic bloodshot googly eyes from Riot! We actually used the inside circle of the googly garland for this activity, but here’s a quick ‘how to’ on creating your own:
Cut a cardboard circle with a craft knife,
Colour with either paints or pastels. We used a mix of black and white pastels to create the grey. This was only a quick job as the brown of the cardboard box kinda adds to his appearance!
Use either gigantic googlies or make your own. We personally think he looks cuter with oversized eyes and a smaller head!
To make him extra adorable, we added chenille stick hair and stuck the whole thing together with our trusty $10 glue gun.
Whilst Zoey is a little too young for some of the crafts we created, she definitely didn’t miss out entirely. I made up a neon rice tub for her and added in some foam bats, pompoms and googly eyes. To add a little skill based dimension to play, I also included tongs and scoops so that her teeny fingers and hands could get a workout.
If you’re wondering about the colour of the rice, it is actually made from non-toxic pre-mixed neon paint from Little Sprout (no vinegar in sight – hoorah!), To make this version of coloured rice:
Squeeze a blob of paint into a sandwich bag along with a cup of rice (adjust quantities according to your preferences)
Use fingers to squish the paint into the rice or better still, get a small person to do it for you!
Place on a tray covered in baking paper and leave to dry overnight.
If you have a toddler who likely to eat the rice, you may want to go down the food dye route. You can see our other method for dying rice here
Egg Carton Spiders
Zoey is kinda obsessed with eggs and as a result we have plenty of egg cartons in the recycling cupboard. After recently taking stock of the aforementioned overflowing cupboard, I realised that I had rather a lot of cartons that needed using up! Here’s what you need to do to make your own spiders:
Cut individual egg holders and paint black/ colour of your choice. We even covered some of ours in washi tape.
Once dry use a glue gun to add on the googly eyes.
Cut chenille sticks/ pipe cleaners into quarters to use as legs and glue into place.
Add decoration in the form of glitter, posca pens or pompoms.
When I saw that my insta buddy Cara from @raising.kinley had made super cute Halloween bats, I knew that we wanted to get in on the action so we made a cat version. Not only because we are a little obsessed with cats, but because our toilet roll collection is getting rather out of control! To make these quirky little Halloween cats:
Paint tubes black / colour of choice and leave to dry.
Push one end of the tube inwards to create pointy cat ears
Use a hot glue-gun to add the eyes.
Add a nose, mouth and whiskers with either chenille sticks/ pipe cleaners or a posca pen.
Decorate with posca pens, washi tape or pompoms
set up invitation to create
Attach googly eyes/ pompoms with a glue gun
Decorate with washi tape or pens
As always, we’d love to see your own creations, so please post below or tag us in Facebook/ Instagram posts!
Some notes on the crafts: I haven’t included age suggestions with these activities because I always feel its best to leave that up to you, the parents. Your judgement on age/ ability will be better than mine, however obviously always closely supervise the very young as some of the materials used here are pretty small. Whilst we use a low-temperature glue gun, it can still feel pretty hot if it gets on the skin so please keep that in mind – even with older kids!
*Although I mention Riot a lot in my blogs and on my instagram feed, i’m not actually sponsored by them. However, I am open to offers! 😉