Ideas for arts/craft to make with kids

Puppet Theatre

Lockdown #3 is now in place in England and the challenges of finding things to do with the kids arises again. Even more tricky this time due to the colder weather and the darker winter mornings/nights.

Today we made a puppet theatre from a cardboard box. Easy to do, and if you used it with home made puppets, this is a nice project to keep them entertained (see Like a Puppet on a String – The Crafty Daddy UK).

Here’s how we went about it.

Take a box, the bigger the better in my view. Cut the a square out of the front. We also cut all the top flaps off just so we could access it easy from above. Save those as you’ll need them.

Then give it a lick of paint, inside and out, whatever colour you like.

We used the flaps from the top of the box to make some pieces to decorate the front. You can see them on the right of the picture above, my daughter painted and decorated them.

After that we talked about what theme we should go for with the scenery. We decided on space (seemed easiest with the black paint) and just freestyled with the decorating. We used kitchen foil for the floor to represent the moon, and I found some wrapping paper with stars on, that we glued to the sides. For the scenery at the back I just let me daughter loose on this – she actually took far more care with it than it than I thought and even went to the lengths of copying all the planets from a book we have. That was a bit of a bonus as meant we talked about the planets for a while. Incidentally my son (7) has just realised how funny talking about ‘Uranus’ is.

Once it was all decorated, we finished off the front pieces and glued them on.

For the curtains, we had to improvise. In the end, we cut up the back of one of my work shirts in to two large pieces and then glued the top of each of them around a stick from the garden, leaving it loose enough for them to move back and forth. We then just threaded the stick through from side to the other.

All finished!

For the puppets we used a combination of ones we’d made before plus some of my daughter’s toys that we just tied to sticks with string so that we could walk them around from above.

My daughter put on a show for, they were absolutely hilarious. A welcome distraction to the bleakness of the last few weeks.

Other cardboard box ideas:

From cardboard box to Handbag! – The Crafty Daddy UK

Proton Packs – The Crafty Daddy UK

Amazon packaging to… snakes! – The Crafty Daddy UK

Piñata. – The Crafty Daddy UK

Ideas for arts/craft to make with kids

Proton Packs

We’re in lockdown 2 at the mo. The kids are still at school in the week, but after a brief period of being out and about more at weekends when restrictions were easier, we now find ourselves at a loose end again.

Today we had a cardboard box left over from our loo roll delivery (see, it was chucking it down with rain outside and so we wanted to think of something to do. In the end we came up with a Ghostbusters proton pack. Here’s how we did it…

Take a cardboard box, paint it black and let it dry. Hairdryer at the ready to speed up the drying process if your lot are as impatient as mine.

We had two packs to make, so we cut it in half.

Whilst that was drying, we copied the Ghostbusters logo on to some black card, painted it and left those to dry too, before gluing them on.

The kids then went to work on customising each of their packs – stickers, glitter, foil, cotton wool, whatever was in their craft box.

When they were happy with it, we were left with the issue of the gun/hoover thing that sucks the ghosts (that’s the technical term) and then the handles to put them on their backs with.

Luckily we’d made some snakes from some Amazon packaging a while ago that were now just lying around (see and so we cut a hole in the side of the pack and then shoved the snake through and sellotaped it on the inside to hold it in place. If for any reason you don’t have a snake (quite likely) then just improvise – if you had an old vacuum cleaner tube that would be amazing, but otherwise, some newspaper wrapped in tape or carrier bags knotted together – anything really.

Finally, we needed handles so they could put their arms through and carry them on their backs. For this, we made two hole at the top, two holes at the bottom and then tried threading wool/string from the top hole to the bottom one and looping round until it felt strong enough to hold the weight of the box. This was okay but we got bored and so just used the cords from our dressing gowns!

There were go – two ghostbusters ready to go. When it was all finished we then made a stop motion video of the two of them capturing a ghost.

A good effort, and kept them occupied for a few hours.

Ideas for arts/craft to make with kids

Sunday morning – painting, string and conkers…

Lockdown eased (for now), the kids went back to school (including all their after school clubs) and all of a sudden it’s become harder to fit in our craft stuff.  I’m a bit frustrated about that but after a really intense 6 months, I don’t think we should be too hard on ourselves.

We did however find we had a few hours to spare this Sunday and so we spent the time doing a variety of quick things which was pleasant on a warm and sunny autumnal morning.

We also had a quick game of conkers, which I obviously took great pride in beating them at even though I haven’t played it since 1986.

Conkers; best game ever.

Pouring paint….

First thing we did was create a picture by dripping layers of paint.  I’m trying to make sure that where possible we use materials we’ve got around the house (and I’ve used most of the spare wood we had through all the project on this website) but I did find some bathroom tiles in the shed, which seemed like a good surface to paint.

We cut the top off a plastic bottle and put a hole in the lid for the paint to drip through. 

We put some masking tape over the hole in the lid so the paint we’re putting in didn’t pour out straight away. You could obviously use anything you want to do this as long as its got small holes in.   

We then just put layer after layer of paint in the bottle, using all different colours. 

When we’d put 5 or 6 different colours in, we then just took the masking tape off and let the paint drip through the hole on to the tile, moving it around to create a picture.  It made some lovely bright patterns, I was surprised how vibrant it looked.  Took about a day to dry out, but the finished painting is pretty funky! 

The colours don’t really come through too well on the photo, but it looked great. Like someone had splatted a bag of marbles on to the tile.

Using string….

We then tried some string pulled art, by dipping pieces of string in paint, then putting them on to a tile and dragging them across the surface.  I’ve seen people doing quite intricate pictures using this style, but no matter what we did, ours just still looked like a piece of string had been pulled along it! 

My daughter then got bored and decided to just do a load of scribbles with the string.  Not exactly what I had in mind, but no problem, it still proved to be a bit of entertainment for half an hour or so.  The added bonus was the strings all dried in bright colours, which added a nice touch to the game of conkers we used them for afterwards.

Painting conkers…

Finally, we painted the leftover conkers we’d got from a recent trip to the woods.  Not quite as good as painting rocks ( but a bit of fun nonetheless. Look out for these around the local area.

My own art and craft

Recent sketches/paintings

No blog, just some of my recent paintings/sketchings…(practice, practice, practice)

jelly rings!
First go at a landscape. Our local woods.
Nile Rodgers
Yorkshire Terrier.
Ideas for arts/craft to make with kids

Amazon packaging to… snakes!

We like making things from cardboard in this house (or at least I do – see Today I was looking at the Amazon packaging that had been delivered and realised how long the paper was inside. Only one thing for it – make a snake!

I enlisted my 4 year old to help, and half way through it, my 7 year old actually turned off the telly to come and do his own. You know you’re on to something when that happens! We also made a stop motion video afterwards of the snake coming out of the box (using Stop Motion Studio app) which was really great fun. I’ll try and get better at doing those and then write a brief blog.

Anyway, a quick overview of how to make the snakes…

Get the paper out, it might look like this:

If that’s not a snake waiting to be made I don’t know what is!

Next, fold it over a couple of time at the end to make a head shape. I know from making the puppet (see:

that masking tape holds well and takes the paint nicely so we used that to wrap around the head to keep it in place.

The head

Then carry on with masking tape around the body to hold it together and give it shape.

Next get painting!

Nice and quick, but looks great! Why not have a go next time you’ve got an Amazon box!

Blog My own art and craft

My first set of prints!

First set of prints – Exciting!

After my pontifications in I made some minor changes to the orangutan painting, but then stopped, thinking that I wasn’t really adding anything, just playing around. Maybe you get more confident with knowing that as time progresses?

Anyway, I did look into how to get a set of prints and had some lovely advice from on first steps. Essentially there’s something called Giclée, which is an unofficial standard for prints and seems to comprise of the resolution of the image, the paper and the quality of the print. You could do the required standard of printing yourself but its not for the faint hearted due to the costs of the ink etc.

After some playing around with the scanner that’s built into my existing printer, I realised that I could get a good scan resolution on it which was a bonus. I then just did a quick google of printing companies and went with for my first toe dip in getting prints (they had an offer on!). A few days later they arrived – really pleased with how they look. They’re Giclée standard at A4 size on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Pearl 320gsm with a 2mm card backing (for anyone who cares!). Its satisfying to be developing this hobby, and continuing to learn.

I plan to try and sell the prints for Hopefully someone will be interested!

(Update – they all went via Facebook/Instagram links and I donated the money raised – woohoo!).

For other painting blogs see:

Playroom –

Painting part 1 –

Painting part 2 –

Painting part 3 –

Blog My own art and craft

Painting part 3. How do you make a print? – and the dread of overworking.

So, although Covid-19 continues to be a concern, the overall lockdown has eased and some of the drivers that were there for doing all the craft (namely, keeping my sanity and entertaining the kids when we’re all in the house together 24/7) are not quite as intense.

Couple that with the fact that my son has become obsessed with going out to hunt Pokémon on Pokémon Go, and we seem to have spent more time outdoors chasing Pikachu through the park and less arts/craft. I definitely don’t want to stop consciously doing creative things with the kids but it’s been good to be outside more. That said, I’ve been continuing to draw and paint once they’re in bed, and it remains satisfying that I’m getting slowly better.

This week, I started working on this painting of an orangutan. Random, I know, but its world orangutan day on the 19th August (bet you didn’t know that) and in the back of my mind I thought maybe I could ask for a donation to charity from anyone who might want it when its finished.

It’s not yet finished but you get the idea…

I contacted the Sumatran Orangutan Society to see whether they have a forum for selling paintings etc. They can try and sell things for you, but it’s easier if you do it yourself and then donate the profits so I will try and do that as even if it only gets £20 then that’s still something good for charity!

However, it also got me wondering about how prints are made from paintings, what’s the cost involved etc etc. I’m going to look into this and write about it for whoever’s interested in knowing about that sort of thing. As with most things I suspect that its only complicated until you know what to do.

Something else that’s been on my mind when practising painting, is when to stop with something you’re working on. I’ve never studied art or have any awareness of different styles etc, but it strikes me that as you do start to know your own preferences and skills, you have to make the decision on when is enough, enough. I know for example, that I’m not aiming for photo-type realism, so what am I aiming for?

As an example, take the orangutan painting. You can see that picture 2 is better than picture 1, but would a picture 3 be better than picture 2?

Picture 2 is where I’ve got to with it at the moment. It was never intended to be the final thing, but when I got up this morning I was actually pretty happy with it. Only thing is that I just bish, bash, boshed (technical term) the fur as I know I find it difficult (see and the fingers are only suggested, both of which I was aiming to go back and work on. I’m not now sure whether to do that or not though, so I thought to myself ‘am I starting to find my style?’, or ‘am I just scared of messing it up?’ (or can I just not do the detail?).

The answer I came to is that I need to keep going with it, and prove to myself how much is too much. I’m hoping that I’ll naturally find a point to stop where it looks its best, but I’m guessing I might go past that before I realise it!

I’ll put the finished thing on here so you can judge for yourselves. in the meantime don’t forget about world orangutan day, and if you’d like to make a donation to SOS, I’m sure they’d appreciate it.

For other painting blogs see:

Playroom –

Painting part 1 –

Painting part 2 –

Ideas for arts/craft to make with kids

Pine cones

If you’re anything like us, each year the kids will pick up a load of pine cones from the woods with the intention of making something from them. However, skip forward a few months and normally they’re either dumped on the side, or still in the bag.

Here’s a quick idea that we did today to use them up…

Take a canvas or piece of wood/card and give it a quick bit of colour with some paint. Leave it to dry.

Meanwhile, take your pine cones and cut them through the stem in the middle (probably need to do this with some garden clippers or you’ll wreck your scissors). This gives you either a nice flower-like shape, or if you turn it over, a different sort of flower.

Then paint them! We just used normal kid’s paint.

When both your cones and your canvas/card are dry, glue the cones on. Let it dry and you’ve got a lovely colourful picture for the wall or a gift.

Ideas for arts/craft to make with kids

Bug hotel

Cupboard to bug hotel!

Doing the bird box last week was fun (see, so for our next project we decided to make a bug hotel.

You can proper advice on this from e.g. We’ve still got some leftover wood from having work done on the house last year, including a cupboard which has been getting a bit fusty out the back. We just decided to go with that.

Essentially what we did was paint it and drill some holes in the front so the bugs can get in.

We then added a bit of style by colouring some wallpaper and glueing that on the shelves (may as well give them a nice hotel experience!).

Once it was dry we made a sign for the front (Bugingham palace) and screwed that on. We painted various creepy crawlies on the sides and top.

To fill it, we went to the woods with some bags and the kids found twigs, sticks, pine cones and leaves to bring back and put them in. We also put old egg boxes, some brown paper etc in there.

There’s loads of creative skills involved in the painting and decorating, as well as some learning about wildlife (there could be more of that if I actually knew anything about insects to teach them!)

When you factor in the time it took to get the stuff from the woods, the paint drying (it rained twice so we had to quickly try and find somewhere to put it so the paint didn’t wash straight off) and all the decorating on the outside, this took nearly a whole day. The kids enjoyed it (albeit with waves of being more and less interested) and it kept them busy.

The first thing they asked this morning was to go and check whether we had any bugs in there, so that seems likes a success. As of this morning two woodlice were in there as our first residents – a private booking via Air Bee ‘n’ Bee (#dadjoke)!

For other wood projects:

Little birds:

Penny drop game:

Personalised wood chimes:

Feed me garden game:

Wheel of fortune:

Bird box:

Whittling wood:


Blog My own art and craft

Painting..part 2 – fur

This week I’ve tried to keep practicing painting when the kids are in bed. I’ve continued the dog theme (see but chose to try and paint a friend’s Cavapoo; who is adorable but has really thick teddy bear like fur.

Here’s what the end products looked like:

You can see they’re pretty different. The larger one I was working on a lot and getting very frustrated that I couldn’t get it how I wanted it. The fur is really tricky to do, and although I wasn’t aiming for an exact replica of a photo, I did want something that at least looked like it had some texture. In the end I had to take a break from it as I was getting my hair off. Teaching yourself to paint has its limitations!

I then chose to do a much simpler one, building up the fur from the start by painting simple, thick strands on a dark background. I was pleased with that one, and felt it had a nice style to it that deliberately wasn’t aiming for realism. It encouraged me to go back to the bigger one.

Long story short is that I’m still not sure exactly how to make fur look realistic. I plan to look into this and try and develop. I don’t have the patience for really detailed work, I just can’t see that being my style even when I’m a lot better. So, I need to find a way of making it look good without having to spend hours on it – if you know any tips, let me know!

In the meantime I’ll just keep practicing and see how it goes.

For other painting blogs see:

Playroom –

Painting part 1 –