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We built a zoo…

Inspiration often strikes when we have a billion tonnes of recycling to use up! After so many trips to IKEA recently, we have a serious surplus of cardboard. Whilst we always recycle, it seemed like a shame for these huge canvases to be immediately consigned to the yellow bin.

With another baby on the way, I’m not as up for massive messy projects (literally really, since I can no longer hoist myself off of the floor!) so we made use of the dining room table to make ourselves a zoo. This project was inspired byDiscovery Table Week 8: Zoo!

Here’s a photo diary of the process:

On Saturday we set about mapping out the zoo. My 8 year was eager to do this, drawing roads and animal enclosures with the help of a Posca pen.

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Posca pens are well worth an investment. We LOVE ours!

By the end of day one, we had a basic outline of the zoo. As you can see, my 2 year old also made her contribution! When creating with very young children, I think it’s really important not to be too precious about the end result. I would much rather have Zoey involved and exploring materials than have perfect colouring!

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On Sunday, the project really started to come together. Everyone had got over their colouring in fatigue from the previous day and using a range of crayons, pens and paints helped get the job done quicker. We started to add signs (using cut-off pieces of cardboard) and trees made from paper towel rolls and green foam.

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All we really needed to do then was play! Our Grimm’s rainbow people became the tourist and the minature animal collection we had was also put to good use! If you follow us on Instagram, do check out the story we made on this project – I absolutely love the conversations Zoey was having between the animals and people!

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Key Learning

  • Creativity: drawing, colouring and making all feature in this project.
  • Writing: my eldest wrote and spelled all of the words himself. On this point, let them spell words themselves – again this isn’t supposed to be about perfection!
  • Fine motor skills: drawing, cutting and writing.
  • Imagination: visualising what the zoo might look like, role play with the final results!
  • Language development: learning names, acting out roles, making animal sounds.
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Hopfest: Easter Week Egg-stravaganza!

 

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Do you remember all the way back to December when we did Craftmas? Well this is kinda the same and kinda different because now it’s all about Easter and springtime fun! There’s an awesome crew of kick-ass craft ladies involved again, you can find links to the Instagram feed at the end of this post.

We’re Welsh and as daffodils are basically the national flower of Wales AND a springtime flower, we decided to make this beautiful bouquet for you. Being heavily pregnant (at the time of writing this) meant that a simple craft was an absolute necessity this time around. I was also really keen to use recycling as they key element. Something about having another child makes me hyper aware of environmental issues, so we’re really striving to reduce, reuse and recycle materials wherever possible!

So here’s what we made: egg carton daffodils that can be made into a bouquet or presented as a wreath, as shown here:

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You will need:

  • An egg carton (ideally for a dozen eggs)
  • Hues of non-toxic acrylics in yellow
  • Green chenille sticks/ pipe cleaners
  • Glue gun and approximately 3 glue cartridges.
  • Ribbon
  • Pompoms
  • Embroidery hoop or cardboard
  • Green felt

 

Step 1: Paint your egg carton

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We used hues of yellow and orange to make the daffodils. We didn’t buy any extra paints, but made the most of what we had in the craft cupboard.

Paint the egg carton in its entirety as you will using all of it to make the daffodils! We decided to paint the whole thing first and then cut out the sections. Afterwards, we added details to the individual cartons.

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After cutting, you’ll be able to go back over the carton and add details. Note that you need the smaller, central dividers too!

 

Step 2: Glue guns at the ready!

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Add glue both underneath AND on top to make the stems extra secure.

 

Grab the larger ‘egg cups’ (seriously, my pregnant brain is struggling to describe these!) and glue green chenille sticks to the underneath of each. Unless you have an older kiddo around, this is best left as an ‘adult job.’ Harrison (aged 8) helped with this part.

 

Step 3: Assemble your daffodil

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I cannot tell you how seriously tempting it is to just write ‘glue the smaller thingy into the larger thingy.’ Thank goodness for photographs! Okay so, place a blob of glue onto the end of the smaller cone shaped sections and place in the middle of the egg cups. You might need to hold them in place for a little while until dry.

 

Step 4: Arrange prettily

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Place in a vase and use as a center-piece on Easter Sunday or give someone special a bunch of ever-lasting Springtime flowers.

 

ALTERNATIVELY…

Go the full distance and turn the daffodil bouquet into a springtime wreath.

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You will need an embroidery hoop, pompoms, green felt, green pompoms and your pre-made daffodils.

For this part, we simply wrapped the stems of the daffodils around the hoop, then glued the flower head in place. To cover over any wooden gaps, we used strips of green felt for petals and pompoms as extra decoration – because when isn’t there a good excuse to use pompoms?

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The final result!

I hope the ramblings of a heavily pregnant lady weren’t too off-putting! If you want more ideas please check out the following links:

Before you throw that away…

Simple Mother’s Day Crafts 

To follow along with Hopfest, use the hashtag #hopfest on Instagram or hit ‘like’ on my Facebook feed.

 

 

 

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Fishes in the water, fishes in the sea…

Do you ever just get inspiration from totally random objects? This is exactly what happened here!

With a surplus of cardboard thanks to a recent IKEA binge, I had been desperately wracking my brains on how to use it. Then I noticed the fish themed ice cube tray lying on the draining board, waiting to be refilled and the idea sparked. So here is our fish pond…

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In total, it took us a few days to complete as each layer needed to dry first but it did make for a brilliant ‘end of the school holidays’ project that both children could join in with. Here’s how we did it:

You will need:

  • acrylic paint in sea-themed colours (we always use non-toxic paints)
  • green or coral themed acrylics
  • orange or other fish themed acrylic colours
  • bubble wrap
  • scissors
  • paint scrapers
  • large piece of cardboard
  • ‘fish’ ice-cube tray or alternative (e.g. foam/ sponge cut into fish shapes)

1. Paint Scrape Water

Start off with blobs of sea-themed acrylics on a piece of cardboard:

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Spread the acrylics out using a paint scraper of two:

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No floors were harmed in the making of this artwork!

Leave to ocean to dry (!) overnight before carrying on with the next step.

2. Bubble Wrap Coral

Cut bubble wrap into pointy strips to print around the outside of the cardboard canvas. We decided to use flourescent green for our coral reef but any bright colours you have would look striking:

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Have baby wipes on hand to mop up any foot or hand-prints left by very sensory toddlers!

Again, it’s best to leave this part to dry for a few hours before continuing with the fish…

3. Fish Prints

Put a blob of orange paint onto an old plastic plate or paint tray, then dip the underside of the fish ice-cube tray into the paint. Print across the whole section of the blue canvas – we decided that our fish should swim in different directions!

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Watching big bro intently – so many of our crafts are done together and Zoey learns so much from her big brother!

Want more?

Check out the following:

Discovery Table Week 4: The Ocean Waves

Why Mess is Best

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Hot Air Balloon Craft

Big balloon, big balloon Bigger than the sun and moon. Flying high In the sky Fly, fly and fly and fly!

I’m pretty sure that all parents know the Peppa Pig song, right? If not, I promise that as soon as you listen to it, it’ll be stuck in your head for an eternity! It was well and truly on rotation after a trip to the Canberra Balloon Festival, which takes place every March.

 

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Up early to watch the balloons from the National Arboretum in Canberra

After an early start on Canberra Day, we decided to get our craft on. The original idea was to do a paper mache hot air balloon, but after failing to find a single balloon in the house, we went for option B instead.

You will need:

  • Paper lanterns -ideally in white, but we just used what we had!
  • Non-toxic acrylics
  • Paint brushes and sponges
  • Chenille sticks
  • Disposable coffee cups
  • White thread
  • Sticky tape or pins

 

Step 1: Set up an invitation to create

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Our lanterns were left over from a Star Wars themed party, but white would probably work better.

With four of us crafting, I set up the large dining room table with an assortment of paints and brushes.

 

Step 2: Get busy with the paint!

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The beauty of this craft is that you can get a range of age groups involved. We had Zoey (2) crafting side by side with her Nana. The key is to make sure you are using non-toxic paints!

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Note that the kids don’t have t-shirts on. Acrylics don’t tend to wash out of clothing so it’s best to either leave them off or wear a smock. 

Harrison went for a blue and red ‘Japanese’ theme (he loves his Japanese lessons at school) whilst I created random splodges with a sponge.

Step 3 – Leave to dry

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Our balloons took most of the day to dry. Afterwards, we punched holes into the tops of disposable coffee cups then attached chenille sticks so that they hung from the lanterns:

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Taking Timmy the Sheep for a ride in the balloon!

Finally – display your craft!

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This is the kind of craft that could potentially take up a lot of room in the house, so we made it part of our new play space instead. Because the lanterns are so light, we were able to use white thread attached with sellotape.

Want more?

Check out the following posts:

Our New Play Space

Why Mess is Best

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Simple Bunny Masks

Looking for an alternative to the traditional Easter bonnet? Try this bunny mask instead!

After doing some rather experimental process art with paper plates, we decided to turn them into something Easter themed. We seem to be all about the bunny crafts this year so here is a cute little mask to try at home with your little crafters:

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You will need:

  • non-toxic acrylics
  • oil pastels
  • scissors
  • glue gun
  • googly eyes (optional)
  • pompomps
  • craft stick

 

Step 1 – paint!

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Start off by painting the paper plate. We actually used up the remaining paint from our Funny Bunnies craft, but you could choose to block paint instead.

 

Step 2 – details!

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Once dry, cut off the bottom section of the plate in an arc shape. We then split that arc in two to make the ears.

Oil pastels seemed to work well on top of the dried acrylics, so we used those to add detail to the bunny ears.

 

Step 3 – glue guns at the ready!

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We used a glue gun* to attach the ears. For our craft, we also went for pompom cheeks and googly eyes but you could just as easily cut out eye-holes if the mask is to be worn rather than held.

Finally, we added a craft stick (reinforced with tape) for a hand-held mask. My kiddos don’t really like the confines of a worn mask!

*Age depending, this is more of an adult task!

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Want more?

Check out the following:

Easter Themed Sensory Activities for Toddlers

Funny Bunnies