Saturday, 22 December 2012

Child-led crafting

How often do you let your child lead the way with crafting?

I'm guessing that the older your child and the more comfortable you are with mess the more likely it is that you let them lead the way.  The younger they are and the more pristine you like to keep the nest, the less likely that they get free rein.

Up until now I've mostly led the way to some extent.  Either I've told them what we are making (such as with the snowmen and the Christmas tree decorations, or I've just decided on the equipment or media and let them get on with it, such as with our shell sculpture, or pipe cleaner people.

Sometimes C has asked for particular items, but up until now he's been a bit aimless, and just been sticking or cutting randomly.

This week was the first time that he's had a very particular end in mind, and has come asking for the bits and pieces he needed.  He had an interesting stick which he had found in the garden and brought into the house.  He left it to dry on the radiator for a couple of hours.  At the beginning of quiet time he requested "some sparkly things and some glue".  When I asked what for, he said he wanted to make a sparkly stick as a present for Santa.  I suggested that he might want something to stick the stick into so that it would stand up, so he also asked for some playdough and a little pot.  I provided the goodies and left him to it.  A little while later he reappeared and asked for a wet cloth so that he could wipe the glue off his fingers.

Here's the result:

Isn't it awesome?!  He came up with this all by himself, and he's only three and a half.  He is adamant that its a gift for Santa and that we need to take it with us to leave with the beer and mince pie that we leave out for the big man on Christmas Eve.  I just love him so much.  He makes me proud.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Christmas Gifting

I'm having mixed feelings about my Christmas gifting.

Some of the gifts are, I feel, pretty good.  I'm quite proud of the ones that I've made, though they don't look much.  You'll get to see them after Christmas, when the recipients have seen them too - but I'm quite pleased.  One or two that I've bought have been pretty good too.

Others, unfortunately, are distinctly lacking in inspiration.  There are a few people for who it is difficult to buy.  I really want to get something  brilliant, personal, that they can see is well thought out and special to them.  I can't always succeed.  Either I hoped to make them something but never managed to fit it in, or I just didn't know what to do.  In any case, I know which people they were, so I'll start with them next year and concentrate to get something better.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Easy Toddler craft activities - salt dough Christmas tree decorations

Salt dough is a brilliant activity for toddlers.  It feels good, it is cheap, it washes off and you can do so much with it!

I've made things with salt dough in the past, but not for a long time and this is the first time I've done it with the children.  We made Christmas Tree Decorations, which we've painted with glitter paints and threaded with ribbon ready for the children to give as Christmas gifts to whoever they would like to.

Salt dough recipe:
Use half as much salt as flour and mix to a dough consistency with a little water at a time, usually about the same volume as salt.  I used one cup of flour, half a cup of salt and about half a cup of water and it made two baking trays full of decorations.

What to do:

  • Make the dough by mixing the ingredients (you can add food colouring and even glitter at the dough stage if you want).  Knead it well - the more you knead the smoother it will be.
  • Roll it out.
  • Cut with cookie cutters or just free-form if you prefer.  For Christmas tree decorations or anything else that needs hanging, don't forget to poke a hole through with a skewer at this stage.
  • Bake in the oven at 120 C until the dough has completely dried out.  I think I left it in for about two hours, but I'm not sure that this was enough, and now I have the finished items sitting on top of a radiator just to make sure they are completely dry.  Apparently you can also put them in the microwave for two or three minutes.
  • Once dried out, paint your creations.  You can use any type of paint - poster paint, acrylic, glitter glue.  You can also varnish with proper varnish or with PVA and water mixed 1:1.
  • Thread with ribbon.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

More Christmas activities for toddlers

Following our Advent activities to get ready for Christmas - we have:

made a wreath (this one was largely me, once they'd felt the holly prickles they suddenly weren't all that interested and wanted some CBeebies!)

decorated a potted mini Christmas tree (it wants re-potting really but was frozen into its pot so will wait until after Christmas).  Decorating it was C's job

decorated the Christmas cake  - now we can eat it!

watched The Snowman

been to The Ceramic Experience to paint some coasters for family Christmas gifts

put up the Christmas Tree

Please forgive my shocking lack of posts lately.  I'm full of cold that I just can't seem to shift so have no energy, and I'm frantically trying to finish some crafting projects required for Christmas presents.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Quick Christmas crafts for toddlers - angels and stars!

This is a glittery one, so beware!

What you need:
  • some doilys (white, silver or gold - all good)
  • some cardboard - empty cereal box is perfect
  • glue
  • glitter
  • pencil
  • string or thread
  • scissors
  • selotape
The Angel
  • take a doily, and imagining that it's a pizza, cut out 1/3.
  • Cut out a piece of cardboard that is the shape of a skittle (head on top and a fattish bit for the body).  Get your toddler to draw a face on the blank side of the cardboard.
  • Take the larger piece of doily and wrap it around so that it makes a good cone shape, cut off the pointiest bit.  Unwrap again and then rewrap with the neck of the cardboard in the point of the cone (look at the pictures for help deciphering what I mean here) and glue the dress in place.  
  • Now glue the smaller piece of doily onto the back as the angel's wings. 
  • Dab some glue on to the front of the angel's head and dip in glitter to make a halo.
  • When it's dry, use some selotape to attach a loop of thread to the back so that you can hang it from the tree.
The star
  • show your child how you use a ruler to draw straight lines.  Draw three longish lines all crossing in the middle, and then three smaller lines each going in between the three longer lines.  Now join up the ends of all these lines (again, look at the picture to get a clue what I'm on about).
  • Depending on the development of your child you can then get them to draw their own star, or not; and to cut out their star... or not.
  • Get your child to put glue wherever they want on the star.
  • Sprinkle glitter over the star (show your child how to do this inside a tray so that the surplus glitter can be collected back up and sprinkled again).
  • When all the glitter is dry, use tape to attach a loop of thread from the back so that you can hang it from the tree.
Enjoy!  Please share links to your favourite Christmas crafts for little ones, I'm always after some inspiration.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Quick and easy crafty ideas for toddlers - cotton wool snowmen

I think that these are totally cute, and very easy to make.

First - take an empty cardboard box from the recycling and cut out a snowman shape.
Next - provide your toddler with glue and encourage them to liberally spread it all over the snowman shape.
Provide them with cotton wool balls and show them how to tease out the ball shapes to make "clouds", then get them to stick the cotton wool all over the snowman.
For the next stage it depends on the development of your child.  If they are happy to do it, then just provide them with some coloured paper scraps and encourage them to cut out appropriate pieces for hat, nose, eyes, buttons etc.  If they are still... well... anything like Bug, then you need to cut out the shapes and direct them exactly where to stick them on (she really wanted to stick the nose on to her own nose... and to stick everything else to the table!).
Et voila!  Gorgeous snowmen to decorate your home.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Things to do in central Scotland with toddlers - Stirling Castle

The accumulation of another twenty stars on the fridge (rewards for doing as they are told promptly, being kind and helpful etc), it was time to choose another treat.  Sometimes they get a new book, sometimes a toy, and sometimes a trip out.  This time it was a trip to Stirling Castle - the centre of the Scottish Universe back in the 16th Century. 
As well as exploring the rooms, looking out over the battlements and generally roaming around, I was delighted to discover a change since my last visit - the Vaults.  These were originally used for storage, but have now been turned into an interactive space for younger visitors.  There's a musicians vault, where you can try out some musical instruments, and hear the type of music that would have been part of the castle day.  The Jester's vault, the Painter's Vault... and best of all the Tailor's Vault, where you get to try on Stewart Dynasty costumes!  How gorgeous do my two look with their outfits on over the top of their big coats!?

The hour that we spent on this visit is really not enough, as there is so much to see.  We'll be going back again soon so that we can explore a bit more.  Preferably in the warmer months so that we can spend a bit more time outdoors!