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Derek the Dragon

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!

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Can you guess which flag Derek is based on?

To make your own dragon:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!)
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. Choose some complimentary colours to stiple over the top. We selected greens and golds for Derek.
  6. Attach eyes, horns and other loose parts with a glue gun.
  7. Choose details like the box lids to create the dragons frills (a craft knife is a good option here.)
  8. Stare wondrously at the magnificent creation you’ve made!

 

If you’d rather bypass the words, here’s a general photo guide…

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We used the flaps of the nappy box to create frills. A craft knife or decent pair of scissors is a must here!

 

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Derek was made from 3 boxes of various sizes which were stuck together with a glue-gun.

 

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Over on Instagram I did little hint in my stories, but this also shows the colour build of red base and green/gold overlay.

 

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.

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Before you throw that away…

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.

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The recycling cupboard on one of its more organised days!

Here are a few suggestions on what you can make.

Carton Castle

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Materials used for the carton castle 

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.

Sensory Bottles

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We made these sensory bottles for Valentine’s Day.

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

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Daffodils made from lids for Saint David’s Day

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

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A bear mask made entirely from recyclables

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!

Octo-cups

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Happy little octo-cups!

 

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!

Shoe-box Studio

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A collaborative animation filmed inside an old shoe box

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! 

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Nature Walk Activity Guide 

Nature walks are one of our absolute favourite things to do as a family: they boost well being, provide an easy way to spend time together as a family and as an added bonus, are completely free!

Continue reading Nature Walk Activity Guide 

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Rainbow Rice Recipe

Rainbow rice is a wonderful way to introduce sensory play to your toddler. It’s both cheap and easy to make, yet will provide hours of fun. We first started making this with Zoey when she turned one and we felt confident that she wouldn’t just eat the rice! Here’s what you need to do…

Continue reading Rainbow Rice Recipe