Simple DIY gift tags, made using cardboard, pattern scissors, a hole punch and some kitchen twine. One A4 cardboard sheet (upcycled from the back of an A4 notepad) made about 30 tags in about 15 minutes.
I originally made these tags so that four year old daughter and I could ‘play shop’. The idea was that we could add price tags to things around our home, and my daughter could buy them with play money. I thought that both writing and reading simple price tags would be a playful way to practise her numeral recognition skills.
I think they would work equally well as present gift tags.
But as it turned out, they ended up being used as price tags for our preschool market stall. The stall was lots of fun to help run, and it raised money for new equipment and fun activities for the preschool.
Here’s a cute little worm-in-an-apple craft idea. The kids and I made these wormy apples for Bee’s toddler exercise class when ‘apple’ was their word-of-the-week. Of course, Bee’s big sister wanted to make an apple too, so we ended up with both a toddler and a preschooler version. My favourite bit is the cut out section where their finger becomes the worm!
Worm in An Apple Craft
I drew an apple outline onto recycled cardboard, and invited the kids to paint. Initially I suggested either green (for granny smith apples), pink (for pink lady apples) or red (for red delicious, and all the other red apples out there), but Bee chose pink and purple, and JJ chose blue with a black leaf. As we had just finished reading Eric Carle’s The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse the night before, I quietly applauded their colour choices.
Bee (then almost 2 years old), had a lot of fun splodging in pink and purple with a paint brush. JJ (4 years old) started painting hers, and then very politely asked if I could finish it off so that the paint would go all the way to the lines. (She hasn’t really been worried about keeping within the lines before, so I wonder if this is going to be her new focus?) Afterwards I cut two rough holes in the cardboard with scissors.
The kids loved poking a finger worm through the apple holes. It’s just like those interactive finger puppet books, except that you get to make up this story.
And then, guess what happened?
JJ helped herself to an apple! Which was not very surprising really, considering my kids go through 2 tonne of fruit a day. (Almost).
Opps, I haven’t had a chance to tell you how the rest of Bee’s Wiggles birthday party went. I already told you about the Dorothy the Dinosaur egg carton rose and paper plate rose craft ideas. Here’s a third craft idea that I thought would be fun for a bunch of kids to do together – stick the clothes on Henry the Octopus!
So I made this cute, but very naked Henry the Octopus! What a rudie nudie!
Actually, I can’t take ALL the credit. JJ did help paint. After all, purple is one of her favourite colours…
Henry’s made from sturdy recycled cardboard. I cut out and put together all the pieces over the next couple of nights. The bowtie and shoes are glued on black upcycled fabric. The yellow part of the hat is repurposed fabric too. The facial expressions are drawn on with black permanent marker and liquid paper. The arms (or legs) are attached with paper fasteners (which are sometimes called split pins). The ‘clothes’ are just red, blue and yellow pieces of paper that have been cut into rough squares or rectangles for the kids to glue on with glue sticks.
Before the party, I stuck a few of the coloured squares on to give the kids the idea, and then left them to decorate Henry however they wanted. Apparently they thought he needed some rosey cheeks and a yellow tongue. After the party, Henry still had a few bare arms, so the kids and I finished dressing him over the next few days.
Once Henry was fully clothed, he became a fun homemade toy! He’s light weight enough that he’s easy to carry around. The kids especially like the moveable arms and legs.
I thought he could double as our ”elf on the shelf’ this Christmas, but I have a feeling Henry might be hard to hide. 🙂
I got the idea for these egg carton roses when I saw something similar in a beautiful craft display at our local library. Their version was a little more intricate, but it got me thinking about the huge pile of egg cartons in our recycling stash. I’m on a bit of a rose roll after making paper plate roses for Bee’s upcoming Wiggles Party… Maybe they could go together with these egg carton roses to be both party craft and party decorations??
So I set about to make some, and was surprised at how quick and easy they were. Besides the drying times, I reckon I could make half a dozen of these roses in under ten minutes.
To make some, you’ll need:
an egg carton (or egg box if you’re British)
paint and paint brush (optional)
craft glue or PVA glue
Start by painting an egg carton, on all sides, and let it dry. This step is super fun for both toddlers and preschoolers to do, especially as the results don’t need to be perfect. In fact, lots of little paint gaps will just add character to your rose. (Or, if you’d prefer plain roses, you could leave this step out altogether.)
Then cut out each individual, umm, egg cup? (What do you call the little space the egg sits in? Wikipedia calls it a dimple, which seems more quaint than accurate to me…). Cutting these out is a bit tricky for little hands, and probably needs a grown up. There’ll be two pointy corners that are higher than the rest – trim these down to size.
Then make four cuts at the lowest point on each side of the egg cups, so that they can be spread out roughly flat and look like they have four petals, and cut the lid of the egg carton horizontally into roughly one inch strips. My preschooler JJ (4 years old) was able to help with this, with some assistance. The hardest bit is that she had to cut through thick cardboard, which requires greater hand strength than cutting through paper. She could do it if I held the cardboard, so that she could use both hands to squeeze the scissors, but it would probably be better suited to a slightly older age group.
The next step is to glue two of these cut egg cups on top of one another, so that the petals underneath show through the gaps of the petals on top. Then roll up one of the horizontal strips and glue it onto the middle of the flower. Set the flower aside to dry.
We’ve made these three so far. (The bottom one was the one that JJ helped with).
Rosey fun! I think Dorothy the Dinosaur would be proud. 🙂
I might make some more and use them as party decorations. I’m thinking about also have a stack of painted and plain egg cartons available in case any of the kids (and likely a few grown ups) are feeling a bit crafty….
Here are ten everyday things we do to help encourage environmental awareness in our kids and help them to ‘think green’.
Walk more, drive less. Play outside every day if we can. Celebrate the different seasons – collect Autumn leaves, make kites on a windy day, find sunny parks in Winter, smell the flowers in Spring, and splash barefoot in puddles during Summer storms.
Pick up and dispose of litter that we find on our neighbourhood walks. Talk about how garbage can be washed down drains and float out to sea.
Join a local conservation society or bushcare group. Talk about the importance of protecting pockets of bush for flora and fauna. Go on guided bushwalks, and look for fungi.
Learn about local flora. Notice, discuss and research. Consider the height of trees, the colour of leaves, common botanical names, flowering seasons and the shape of seed pods. Garden with the kids, focusing on the experience rather than the result. Plant bulbs. Compost. Get them their own (real) gardening tools, and give them the freedom to dig, pick flowers or cut grass.
Teach respect for all life (except mozzies). Be intrigued about spiders, insects and snails. Borrow library books about bugs. Catch (non-poisonous) spiders that have wandered indoors and relocate them back outside. Talk about ecosystems and how everything in nature is connected. Visit as many zoos and aquariums as you can.
Sort through your rubbish, and recycle. Save items from the recycling or normal bin to reuse in art & crafts or loose parts play. It’s environmentally concious, it’s frugal and it encourages creativity! We have large ongoing bottle top, glass jar and toilet paper roll collections! (See some of our recycled crafts here, here, here, here and here – just to name a few!).
You can also use natural materials for art & craft or for loose parts play. We’ve started a nature collection where we collect found feathers, cicada shells, seed pods, herbs, pebbles, knobbly sticks, flowers and unusual leaves. The kids play with items from their nature collection every single day, in so many different ways. (We’re also on the look out for snake skin, but we haven’t found any yet – which is perhaps a good thing). You can see some of our natural arts and crafts here.
Reject excess plastic bags – use green bags and boxes for grocery shopping instead. Buy in bulk, and avoid products with have excessive packaging.
Buy seasonal fruit and vegies – they are fresher, tastier, better for the environment, and frequently better for the hip pocket too.
Buy less stuff (a hard one in our consumerist world). Fix things. Buy second hand. DIY. Encourage the kids to see handmade things as more special than store bought alternatives.
There are some of the things we do everyday to encourage our kids to grow up environmentally aware. (There are lots of other things we do – like using energy efficient light globes, choosing to pay extra for renewable electricity, donating to bushcare organisations, etc – but these things aren’t very ‘visable’ from a toddler or preschooler’s perspective.)
There are loads of other things we could (and should) be doing, but at least this is a start. Whenever I get a chance, I love reading Down to Earth Mother for more ideas – it’s a fabulous resource on green living for busy mums.
What do you do encourage ‘green thinkers’ in your house? I’d love to hear your tips!
We had so much fun making our paper plate pandas recently, that we thought we could try some more hand sewing ideas. This time we made these hand-sewn heart and star decorations.
To make them, we used:
knitters needles (bigger size so they are easier for a preschooler to handle)
polystrene (Styrofoam) takeaway containers.
Generally I try to avoid polystyrene, but when we ordered takeaway recently and it was served in a polystyrene container, I figured we may as well upcycle the lids for craft since we can’t recycle them easily in our area. So I cut off the lids, and drew on some easy shapes – a heart for JJ, and a star for myself. Then I attached some thread (using the sticky tape trick as recommended by Make It & Love It), threaded a pair of needles and we started to sew.
The polystyrene is firm enough that JJ could hold it with one hand, yet soft enough that she could push the needle through quite easily. She could follow the heart shape easily on the drawn side, but she had to guess where to sew on the reverse side. There were (quite) a few misplaced stitches, but that’s all part of the learning process.
Once she had sewn around the whole heart, I tied off the ends. Then I cut a large circle around the heart and JJ punched a hole (using a single hole punch) at the top and threaded through some ribbon for hanging.
Here it is hanging up on our fence, alongside the star one that I made. Don’t they look pretty! We didn’t do them for any particular special occasion, but I think they would work well for party decorations hanging from a tree – they are so light that they sway in the slightest breeze.
(They could also work as a Christmas tree decorations – but I’m putting my head in the sand and totally denying that Christmas will be here in just a few months time…)
I’ll be adding this post to my Arts & Crafts for Kids page – if you’ve got a spare sec, pop over and have a look. 🙂
A while back, poor JJ came down with a bug and was feeling poorly. Too sick to run around and too sick to initiate her own play ideas, she was feeling pretty miserable. So we sat down at our craft table to create something together – something that would gently distract her from her woes, without burdening her with too much concentration or effort.
I came up with the idea to try out a childhood classic – growing plant ‘hair’ out of little pots with faces on them. I found these little pots in our upcycling stash – the tall ones originally held some Australian native seedlings, and the smaller ones once contained face creams. JJ sorted through our craft stash to find materials to make the faces, and she came up with the designs. I used the low temperature glue gun to attach all the various bits and pieces, with JJ helping where she could.
It was 100% JJ’s idea to make a Rudolph, and she also came up with the idea of using twigs with tiny gumnuts on them for antlers. (Even though Christmas was long gone, it obviously had a lasting impression!).
Afterwards, I partially filled the pots with toy stuffing, and then filled the rest with wet cottonwool balls. JJ sprinkled on some watercress seeds, and we covered the tops with paper for a day or two until the seeds began to germinate.
And then we watched them grow!
Everyday, JJ dampened the cotton wool with a water spray bottle (which incidentally is a great practical life activity to build up hand strength).
As you can see, they grew, and then a couple of them shrunk! I guess the hot Australian sun coming through the window was just too strong for poor old Rudolph. The next day we also lost the one with the orange nose, before I learnt my lesson and moved them to a shadier spot. Nevermind, we still ended up with three watercress heads full of glorious hair…
And all the while we got to learn a little bit about seeds, plants and what they need to grow.
And then we ate them. 🙂
We still have a lot more watercress seeds left (from just the one packet), so I’ll think we’ll be growing some more again soon…
Brought to you by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
Have you ever watched Gaspard and Lisa? JJ first watched it when she was transitioning from a toddler to a preschooler, and she still enjoys watching it today.
From a parents point of view, I love that the story is set in France, exposing JJ to glimpses of French culture. I love that Gaspard and Lisa both model consideration, manners, respect, creativity, resourcefulness, determination, and most of all, playfulness. I love that the story is of friendship between a boy and a girl, and that their gender difference doesn’t alter their relationship. And I also love Georg Hallensleben’s beautiful illustrations.
When ABC asked if we would like to receive some Gaspard and Lisa products to try, we were so excited!
So excited in fact, that we decided to make some Gaspard and Lisa puppets of our own while we waited for the parcel to arrive. And guess what we used to paint Lisa? Liquid paper! (Or white out, correction fluid, etc). Does anyone use that stuff legitimately any more? Seriously, I found a ton in the long-forgotten stationery drawers of Mr Banya’s computer desk. We’re fairly paperless these days, so I thought we could help him move some of that old stock…
I started out by sketching Gaspard and Lisa onto some recycled thick corrugated cardboard.
JJ really loved using the new liquid paper ‘paint’. She loved the feeling of dip dip dipping the brush into the bottle, and kept closing it to give it a little shake. I noticed that the tiny brush made her very deliberate with her brush strokes and she took a long time making sure to paint right to the edges, which is great fine motor skill practise.
She kept saying things like “sorry Mum, I can’t talk right now, I’m concentrating”. You can tell how hard she was working, because she started out painting whilst standing, then whilst kneeling up on the table, then lying down, then sitting up on the table again! Goodness preschoolers can jiggle while they work. 🙂
We reverted back to normal paint and brush for Gaspard, and I noticed immediately that the attention to detail decreased with the increased brush size again. (I think that we’ll be doing some more fine motor liquid paper painting soon as the difference was quite dramatic…)
When Gaspard’s fur was mostly all black, JJ’s attention was diverted by the call of the trampoline, and so I finished off painting Gaspard & Lisa’s eyes, nose, scarves etc. (This was a bit of a blessing as Gaspard’s eye in particular is quite tricky).
There were lots of spots on Lisa’s nose and scarf where the liquid paper had ‘strayed’, but these were easy to cover up with the black and red paint. You can still see my initial sketch under some parts, which adds a bit of definition. I adore the mottled effect that JJ achieved with the liquid paper. Textural!
Once they were dry, I cut them out and stuck some matching red and blue chopsticks on the back with masking tape. And then the next day….
…we discovered that some furry friends had arrived! Our Gaspard and Lisa puppets really enjoyed meeting the ‘real’ Gaspard and Lisa toys, and they quickly became one big happy family.
We were also sent this super cute summer dress – that JJ has worn every day since. (She even sneaks it on after her bath and I have to pry it off her at bedtime).
Another favourite product is this adorable double jigsaw puzzle each with a classic French scene. I love the Eiffel Tower shaped box – it stands easily, and I can see it becoming a roleplaying prop whenever we pretend to be in Paris…
JJ loves puzzles, which is fantastic as they are such a brain workout. Jigsaw puzzles work on fine motor skills, problem solving, spatial awareness and persistence, just to name a few. These particular puzzles are quite tricky, just the challenge that she needs. Right now, I need to sit with her and help her out with a few gentle prompts, such as “I think we might need a piece that has a green line through this part, can you see one like that?”. As she becomes more familiar with the scenes, she’ll soon be doing them on her own.
We received a few other Gaspard and Lisa products, including a ‘best friends forever!’ DVD, red t-shirt, striped cotton backpack and two greeting cards, all in keeping with the Gaspard and Lisa classic style. JJ hasn’t had a chance to play with these just yet, but I’ll put them aside for a rainy day.
This month, ABC Shops will stock an exclusive range of Gaspard and Lisa products. The great new range of specially designed toys, puzzles, clothing, accessories and the “Best Friends Forever!” DVD are now available, only at ABC Shops. For more information visit: https://shop.abc.net.au/t/brands/gaspard-and-lisa.
Oh and I almost forgot that I have a little announcement to make! I’m pleased to advise that Rachel is the lucky winner of the recent The Very Busy Spider competition with her comment
“Our favourite Eric Carle book is Little Cloud. We love trying to find shapes in the clouds because of that story! We would love the Girl’s Pink Stripe Pyjamas (size 2-3) and the Albert Skinny Pyjamas (size 4-5).”
Congratulations Rachel, I hope your kids enjoy their new Hickory Hill pyjamas. 🙂
(This is a sponsored post for ABC. I was not paid to write this post, however I received the above products to trial, review and keep. With the exception of the boxed promotional paragraph above, all opinions are my own unless stated otherwise.)