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Ideas for arts/craft to make with kids

Personalised wind chimes

Why not make a personalised gift for granddad this Father’s day? Here’s how to make some windchimes!

This idea started about a week ago when a friend sent over an idea for the blog based on a wind chime he’d made using some old cutlery (see below). I searched the house for some forks and spoons but couldn’t find any spare ones and thought I’d better not use the ones from the drawer!

The inspiration for the idea!

With father’s day approaching, it got me thinking of an idea for a present for my dad and my father in law from the kids. It’s taken an hour or so each night for a few nights to pull it together, but that’s mainly because of the drying time on the paint and varnish.

Here’s how we did it.

Ideas:

I had an idea of how I could make a windchime (we needed two), but the first task was to sit with the kids and work with them to think what pictures we could include on the present. The question I asked was ‘what do gan gan and granddad like?’ (They call my dad gan gan, and my wife’s dad is granddad). Here’s what they came up:

Granddad likes…

From the ideas they came up with, we chose the best 5 for each person and the kids drew pictures of them. Here’s some of them…

Once they’d done that, I set about cutting up a spare floorboard into small sections, and then we gave them a lick of paint. We also used the two chunks of wood left over from the garden game the other day, which will be the top part of the wind chimes once its finished.

We left it there for one day, as the paint needed to dry. Later, when the kids were in bed I set about tracing the images they’d drawn onto the wood. I guess I could have done this with them but was just impatient!

Tracing:

Maybe you’ve done some tracing recently, or maybe you’ve not thought about it since you were about 6 years old. If you haven’t, here’s a refresher. Usually you’d use tracing paper or something like greaseproof paper, trace over the image, scribbling on the back before putting it in the new place. To get it on to the wood though, you can skip a step and just scribble on the back of the original drawing before then going over it again directly onto the wood. Even my wife was impressed with this so I knew I was on to a winner.

When I’d done them all, here they were:

Varnish and drill holes:

The next day we gave them a coat of varnish. This didn’t finish as neatly as I wanted but we had a thunderstorm half way through and so I had to leg it in to the shed and they all stuck together. Nevermind.

The circles at the top are the leftovers from the garden game : https://www.thecraftydaddy.co.uk/made-for-the-kids/garden-game/

Putting it all together:

Okay, nearly there!

Once everything was dry we just needed to drill holes in each of the drawings, and 5 holes in each of the top pieces to hang them from.

Then take a piece of string for each piece, thread it through the hole in the picture, knot it, and do the same with the top piece.

Tip alert!

A sneaky tip to get the string through the hole without having to get frustrated. Just get some cotton and tie it on to the string, then put a needle on the string and pull through.

Knot it at the top and bottom. Here’s an attached piece:

Repeat for all the pieces, trying to get the string roughly the same length so they’ll bang together when its finished.

At this point I realised that I had no way of connecting the top to whatever they were going to tie it to when they put it in the garden. I suppose I could have drilled another hole but I was losing the will, so found a small picture hook and screwed it in.

And Voila! The finished two products. Really pleased with them. Neither my dad or father in law are on social media so if you do see this and you know them – don’t tell them before Father’s day!

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Ideas for arts/craft to make with kids

Online Drawing Tutorial

You may have had your kids follow a drawing tutorial online, but why not make them the tutors?

My son’s started reading the Dogman books, which he loves (see www.pilkey.com). One of the great things about them is that at the back they have a step by step tutorial on how to draw the characters. This is good fun in itself, and no doubt you’ve also seen the draw with Rob phenomenon. http://www.robbiddulph.com/draw-with-rob that’s caught fire in the lockdown.

An activity you could try as an extension of this is to have your own #drawwith tutorial, with your kids as tutors. In our case, it was my parents who were the ‘students’ and so we Facetimed them and with their pencil and paper in hand, my son took them through the steps with him, my daughter and my parents all drawing the same picture.

Talking through the steps

I was surprised how seriously he took this, he clearly got something out of being the one in charge and was actually really patient. It was quite a good task in terms of developing patience and concentration, encouraging others and having to explain things in a simple way that others can understand (and not get frustrated when people aren’t listening to you – maybe he could teach me that skill).

My daughter’s effort

We started with the Dogman characters but I could see this working with their own pictures too, as long as they can break it down into steps. Why not give it a go?

The ‘students’ efforts – not bad eh?

Only minor issue is that my son was desperate to know whose picture was best on the basis that he knew very well that his was best. Thereafter followed a deep conversation about different expectations of drawing because he is 7 and his sister is 4, and that we don’t want to make anyone feel bad as its the effort that counts. He took this in and then after a few seconds asked again whose was best. Maybe I’ll save the moral discussions for another day.

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Ideas for arts/craft to make with kids

Pizza Delivery! Imaginative play

Sunday morning part 2. When I’d well and truly lost at the game of ‘Feed Me Garden Game’ (see https://www.thecraftydaddy.co.uk/made-for-the-kids/garden-game/), we moved on to a bit of imaginative play, which actually really got my daughter howling with laughter, and shows how you can stretch something pretty simple into an hour or so of fun .

I don’t know if you’ve had a pizza delivery in lockdown but when our local Domino’s leaves our pizza now, they place it on the floor, balanced on a little empty pizza box (presumably so it doesn’t make your floor greasy until you pick it up).

That unused little pizza box provided the idea for a pizza delivery service game.

First, we made the pizza. This was a paper plate, painted red for tomato and then with toppings glued on. The toppings consisted of lots of circles (pepperoni), bits of felt (onion), yellow card (cheese) and bits of plant that she pulled off the garden (herbs).

Anyone for pizza?

When it was dry, she also spent some time painting the box. This had nothing to do with the actual pizza service, but stretched the task out by another half hour and allowed me to have a cup of tea in peace!

Then the fun began. We took it in terms to pretend to phone the other one. It went something like this.

“Ring Ring. Ring Ring.”

Pizza shop (my daughter): Hello, can I help you?

Customer (me): I’d like a pizza please.

Pizza shop: Okay, what do you want on it?

Customer: Ooh, just some ham and mushroom please.

Pizza shop: How many mushrooms?

Customer: Maybe, 5?

Pizza shop: We don’t have any mushrooms. Only vanilla flavour pizzas today.

Customer: Oh, okay well I’ve never had that but I’ll try it. How long will it take?

Pizza shop: Er….10 hours.

Customer: 10 hours!! Okay that’s a long time, but as long as its nice. How much is that?

Pizza shop: Er… Million pounds.

Customer: A million pounds for a pizza that takes ten hours! Well it better be tasty! See you in a bit.

Put the phone down.

Each time the scene got more elaborate, but basically once the order was placed, she would go over to her mud kitchen, pretend to cook it and then get on her bicycle and cycle the two metres to where I was sitting with the box in her hand. She’d then deliver it, I’d make some sort of complaint about the cost and how long its taken, and she’d shriek with laughter. The repetition made it funnier, although after about my fifth turn of being either the customer or the pizza shop, I did ring my mum and dad to get them to order one so I could have a break!

Pizza cooks in the sink apparently. Lots of other dishes on the go in the saucepans.
Delivery on its way.

Anyway, great fun whilst it lasted and free. You don’t have to have a Domino’s box (but its a good excuse to have one). I have to say I shamelessly sent a picture of the pizza to Domino’s on their social media hoping to get a free pizza. No such luck. Shame. Maybe next time.

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Ideas for art/craft to make for kids

‘Feed Me’ Garden Game

A quick but fun garden game made on a Sunday morning in less than an hour.

Feed Me!

Sunday mornings used to be watching telly and nursing a hangover. Nowadays they involve being woken up at the crack of dawn nagging me to play on my ipad. Today was no exception. The kids came in before 7am and as usual, by the time I’ve made a cup of tea, the bed has been taken over. This morning, I decided to make the most of the time by making a quick game for the garden. It’s now called the ‘Feed Me garden game’; watch out for it soon in all good toy shops*, or build your own for free.

*That bits not true, unless of course Hasbro contact me and want to make it in to a game, in which case it is true and I’m laughing all the way to the bank.

Here’s a quick guide on how to make it. I admit I am getting a bit excited at using the Jigsaw.

  1. Find a piece of wood.
  2. Cut some holes in of various sizes. For anyone thinking ‘how do you get the holes cut?’ – Good question. I’m sure there is a better way, but as you can see from the photo I just did a bodge job of cutting into it and then around. It worked fine.

3. Keep the wood from the middle of the holes. You can get the kids to decorate them and hang them in the garden.

Keep these to paint another time.

4. Give it a lick of paint. Any will do, this was just out of the shed.


5. When dry, just draw some faces around the holes to look like the mouths are open. We just used the kids paints. It will wash off over time, but who cares? – a good excuse to paint new pictures!

6. Paint some scores on and then playing the game also includes a cheeky bit of maths! As you can see above, I initially made the mistake of putting the higher scores on the biggest hole. When I unveiled this game to my son, he quickly pointed out that makes it too easy to get high scores. I sighed, had to admit that he was right and swapped them around.

7. Let it dry and you’re all finished. Take it in turns to throw bean bags/balls through the ‘mouths’ and add up the points. Be a competitive mum/dad, and thrash them. Do not let the kids win (that’s a joke, I didn’t need to let them win, they beat me anyway).

Rocking the pyjamas and patent shoes look.
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Blog Ideas for art/craft to make for kids

Some simple ideas

Last blog of the week as I need time to actually do things. Thanks to all those who have stayed with this over the course of its first week!

There’s a second instalment of the Sad Rock stories towards the end of the blog. Today we find out how ‘East’ got sad. I feel like these should build into a kind of ‘Sad Rocks Assemble’ where in the last one they all meet up and are just sad together, but unfortunately I’m not in charge of the script (or yesterday’s reindeer would definitely have got his comeuppance today.)

For now, let’s turn to a couple of nice simple ideas for projects. You could take the inspiration and turn them into Father’s day gifts – make a quick ‘dad’s shed’ plaque and a bead card, wrap them up and then…. watch his face as he smiles whilst wishing you had bought him some beer!

A door plaque:

Who doesn’t love a door plaque? Surely we all had one with MY ROOM – KEEP OUT! hung on the door at some point. I did one as a present for a someone recently. He’s 45 so thought it was a bit strange when he opened it, but he did put it on his door so he must have liked it.

Not really, it was a 5 year old, who was pleased.

Spare floorboard cut into blocks.

To make it I cut some left over floorboards into blocks. Nothing would initially stick well to the shiny surface so I gave it a coat of paint; just some matt wall paint we had left over in the shed.

The paint we’d got was a deep purple, so I chose to paint the lettering in white as a contrast. For this one (see below) I cut out block lettering from some card and then used that as a stencil, dabbing the white paint to try and keep neat lines but if you wanted to paint straight on freehand, you could do. I did the ‘room’ bit freehand and just tried to make sure it wasn’t too wobbly.

To bring it to life a bit, I added a couple of dinosaurs. I copied these off a picture on google images (need to try harder to remember to make a note of the websites). I drew mine straight on and then painted them, but if you had a decent printer, you could print the picture and trace an outline.

To finish it off I then just added something to hang it with, a green bootlace out of one of the kid’s craft boxes as I didn’t have any wire.

Door plaque

There was a double power tool alert. I had to use the jigsaw to cut in to pieces and then the drill to put some holes in the top. This felt very manly and I had a strong cuppa to mark the occasion.

Bead birthday cards:

Going to the shop to buy birthday cards in lockdown didn’t feel like essential travel so we took to making our own when it was my wife’s birthday recently (some people might call it tight, but let’s stick with it being creative for the purposes of this blog!). I guess loads of people with kids have those bead sets, and it was quite quick and effective to put them on a card.

The kids chose a design from their sets, and once they’d made them and they’d set, we just glued them on to some card. They stuck on surprisingly well just using Pritt stick. We went with ‘I love you to the moon and back’ from my daughter, and my son wrote ‘I hope your birthday is a piece of cake’ – a tagline that he thought of himself and was pretty pleased with.

The Sad Rock stories – number 2

Finally, for all those of you who only visited the site to get the next instalment of the Sad Rocks Stories, here it is in all its genre busting glory. Still no happy ending but I look forward to the prequel where hopefully we learn how the human parents managed to have a rock as a son.

Such a shame. What did the haunted house have to do with anything though?

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Blog Ideas for arts/craft to make with kids

The Sad Rocks

Today’s blog revolves around rock painting and story telling; not entirely successful but an interesting insight into the mind of a 4 year old.

My daughter’s story – don’t judge a book by its cover. No, literally don’t, as the story has nothing to do with a desert.

Around our local area, there’s a fairly well established Facebook group in which people paint stones/rocks and hide them for other people to find. For the kids, it brightens up a walk to stumble across them or hide our own, and we’ve been enjoying doing that from time to time. If you don’t know about it, have a quick look and find your local group, there’s bound to be one nearby (or why not start one if there isn’t!).

There’s loads of websites about rock painting, but today I thought I would take that idea a bit further to explore how the kids were feeling given that they’ve been in lockdown for months now, with very little contact apart from us as their parents. Generally my wife and I are in some state of mania about balancing our new part time jobs as school and nursery teachers whilst also working full time, and so I thought a quick check to explore their emotional wellbeing might be a good idea. Turns out they couldn’t care less about my efforts at amateur psychology, but I’ll get to that later.

Anyway, the plan was to paint a bunch of rocks with sad faces on one side, and happy faces on the other. We’d then use this as a tool for talking to the kids about what makes people happy or sad, and for any of the rocks they identified as being sad, we could explore why and what we can do to make them happier. Unwittingly the kids would forget they were talking about rocks and reveal through their answers what was actually on their minds. Slightly manipulative but clever ‘eh?

The first part of the plan went okay as a quick bit of art, and using kid’s paints within a few minutes we managed to get 7 rocks painted with sad faces on. Meet the Sad Rocks below.

Unfortunately, once this was done neither of them was the slightest bit interested in why the rocks were sad, and all I could get was a variation on ‘he’s sad because he’s pooed, or he’s pooed his pants, or that one’s wee’d her pants’. We never got around to doing the happy faces on the other side and so now just have a series of rocks looking sad. Keep an eye out in your local walks, you might find one of them.

The Sad Rock stories…

Not one for giving up, I thought of a different idea. Now we’d got the Sad Rocks, we could create stories around them! My father in law used to do stuff like this with my wife when she was a child and she remembers it – who knows, this could actually become a thing! #sadrockstories.

Mystorybook.com is a free to use, fun website for kids to turn their ideas into stories. You have to register but after that can create a library of stories which you can either just save online or ‘publish’ via a .pdf for $5.

I love it, its really easy to use, you just take each page and add text, pictures and choose backgrounds. You can also introduce your own images or even draw directly onto the page using the ‘brushes’. There’s a variety of appealing fonts, and I thought it was a good way to develop some computer and design skills plus use imagination for the story themselves. I’d done one with my son last week and he’d got into it.

I used paint 3D (free on Windows) to make a sticker of the rock to use in the story. Only thing that frustrated me was I couldn’t get rid of the white behind it in the actual book.

Unfortunately today was not the day for getting any sense out of either of them. My son was busy with something else by now and so I sat down with my 4 year old daughter and started to come up with ideas.

We started with her thinking of a title – ‘Hev and the birds’ she said. Great! I thought. I’ve no idea where the name Hev came from but it was an intriguing title. She then chose the background of a desert. Hmmm, okay, maybe its a Western – not sure about that but lets go with it.

After discounting anything to do with Hev having a poo, we finally got the bones of a story. The full version is below but spoiler alert, there’s no happy ending and your opinion of reindeer may change when you know how selfish they can be. There is also no mention of a desert (so don’t just a book by its cover). Maybe she’s destined for a career in French avant-garde cinema.

That was my daughter’s book. I typed but but she told me the words, chose the font, backgrounds and pictures. I still plan on trying to make this into a series of 7 books with them, hopefully they’ll get into it, and fingers crossed Hev will at some point see those birds.

So, to summarise, the plan didn’t go as intended, but they did find it hilarious creating a bonkers story. The moral of it all? – don’t try amateur psychology on a 4 year old, they will outsmart you at every turn. Oh, and don’t trust reindeer.

Why not have a go yourself? www.mystorybook.com

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Blog My own art and craft

Wall art for the playroom – a tribute to Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake

No time today for craft, but thought I’d capture a retrospective on some wall art I did for the kid’s playroom in the hope that it might encourage others. The point of this blog is that I genuinely didn’t know what I was doing, but if you just have a go, you might surprise yourself, and your kids will love it.

Like many people reading this, the books I loved as a child were mainly those by Roald Dahl. Who didn’t secretly try at least once to move things with their eyes like Matilda, or desperately want to go visit the chocolate factory and eat everything in sight?

I also have a really clear memory of me and my sister being engrossed in Rik Mayall reading George’s Marvellous Medicine on Jackanory. Forget Bottom, the Young Ones, Blackadder or Drop Dead Fred, this is his finest hour! I think you can still access that on You Tube if you’ve never seen it.

Fond memories of watching Rik Mayall reading George’s Marvellous Medicine (picture from curiousbritishtelly.co.uk)

I don’t think I gave much attention to the pictures by Quentin Blake at the time, but have become really fond of them as an adult. They seem so simple but capture the sense of the books brilliantly, and have this enormous sense of fun. For anyone who does want to practice drawing, copying them is a good place to start (try it!).

Anyway, when we moved a couple of years ago, we were lucky enough to have a playroom and I wanted to do something to spruce it up, without actually having to decorate it.

I found a massive old piece of board (about 4ft by 3ft) in the shed, and the idea of using it for a painting came to me, which was quickly followed by a thought to do something Roald Dahl related. Matilda the film is admittedly pretty good, but I’d really love for the kids to have the same connection to the actual books as I did, so felt like bringing the illustrations into their world might help with that.

A board found in the shed

I genuinely hadn’t tried anything this size before, and presumed it would be rubbish by the time I’d finished, but knew that the kids at this point were too young to be anything other than wowed, no matter what it looked like!

I didn’t really know where to start, but gave it a lick of white paint as a base.

Base of white paint

I wanted it to be bright so I then added colour by literally just squeezing the paints (I had some acrylics) onto the board and brushing them out, blurring them into each other a little but not too much.

The actual positioning of the colours was an accident really, and I’d intended on just doing one big picture of e.g. the BFG, but at this point I started to realise that certain books might fit with certain colours, and that this could actually work as a series of smaller images that work as part of an overall scene. Using any pictures I could get my hands on from the actual books, google etc, I hand copied in pencil on to the board then used a paint pen to give an outline.

I was proud of the drawings, and thought about leaving them as outlines as I was a bit worried about spoiling them with paint (I’d tried to do a small Gruffalo before, and just couldn’t get the brown to look right). I’m much better now at knowing how to make colour tones etc, but in the main these were just straight out of the tube. Luckily, it worked as the boldness of the colours stood out.

It took all week, starting once the kids went to bed for a few hours each night. I put on Spotify playlists, and I realised this was actually fun.

The finished product. Measures about 4ft by 3ft.

I’m not ashamed to say that I was really proud of this when I finished it, not because I thought it was of any particular standard but the whole process from start to finish felt good. Its genuinely nice to realise you can surprise yourself sometimes. A hobby is born.

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Blog My own art and craft

Whittling Wood

I’m guessing you may not have thought about whittling wood as a hobby. Yet if something’s never in fashion, it can’t go out of fashion, right?

I got a starter set from my niece as a present (see below), and quickly realised that sitting outside with a beer and chopping bits off a chunk of wood is a surprisingly pleasurable way to spend summer’s evening. I’d encourage you to give it a go, you might be surprised how relaxing it is.

Starter set

Whittling isn’t something I did with the kids, I wasn’t sure I was safe to be handling sharp implements, let alone supervise them (I still intend to buy a protective glove as I nicked my fingers quite a few times). However, I’m including it in the blog as an example of how you can get better quickly with a bit of perseverance.

If you buy a starter kit, you get a pack with a range of different tools in. Basically, they all do slightly different functions. Some carve deep lines, some scoop, some do a blunt edge, some curved. I’m sure you can google what they all do, but I found the only way to figure it out was to mess about with each one. The rough outline of an owl below was literally me just getting a block of wood and taking each tool in turn to see what cut it made. It was good enough to keep me going.

First attempt – an owl. Mainly just trying to figure out which tool does what.

I then moved on to trying to do a little figurine. You can see that first attempt below, carved and then painted. Its rough around the edges but by this time I was really enjoying it, and although its tricky visualising what you want to do in three dimensions, I decided to take it a bit more seriously and find out how to do it properly.

Mike Shipley’s books do carving people in much more detail, but here’s a quick overview of how I did mine.

As mentioned, the tricky bit is visualising in three dimensions. I think Michelangelo is mis-quoted as saying about sculpture something along the lines of ‘it’s easy, just take away the bits that aren’t David’; and whilst I’m sure he wasn’t referring to carving a small bit of wood in your back garden, there is a truth to it in that as you take layers away, it slowly gets closer to what you want to see. You just have to think of how making a cut might change the look of the other sides of what you’re doing.

Using a template can help with those first steps. I got one of a woodland chap and just shrank it a bit onto some card so it would fit the block I was working on. You can see below that it helps with thinking about what the character looks like from the front and from the side. If you draw around these onto the block, you’ve then got an idea of the proportions you want to achieve at the end.

POWER TOOL ALERT! – I don’t have many tools, I’m simply too clumsy to use them. In this case however, I did use a Jigsaw to get cut it roughly to size and shape, and get an overall outline. This did save a lot of time as the tools in the starter set are for intricacy rather than just cutting big bits off. I forgot to take a photo of that stage but it basically looked like the picture below but without the detail on the face, hair etc. Needless to say I was pretty proud of myself at this point and grateful that I still had all my fingers.

I basically then just worked away at the shape, taking an area at a time, and working it with the tools, from each side and then using sandpaper to smooth it off. The hat for example, you just keep rotating it until each side is what you want. The body and feet etc were easy enough, just give it some shoulders, arms, legs and shoes etc.

The face was the trickiest bit as I’m more used to painting where for example, you’re adding a layer each time you paint and the nose can grow towards you with the thicker layers of paint. With carving though, its the opposite – if you want a big nose, you have to leave enough wood where the nose should be. I found that hard to get used to, and made a few mistakes. It was also tricky to do ears as they were quite intricate so I kind of gave up on that and just painted them on at the end.

When I’d finished the carving and sandpapering it looked like this:

I then moved on to the painting, which was fun. I chose quite bold colours and used acrylics as I wasn’t sure how well they would stick. That seemed to work well.

Finally, I gave it a coat of clear wood varnish I had in the shed, and the finished product looked like the figure below. As I said, I didn’t involve the kids but they saw the various stages and were impressed with the final transformation with the paint. I was chuffed with it, and genuinely think you might be surprised what you can do if you give it a go.

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Blog Ideas for arts/craft to make with kids

Old shirt = New peg bag (or how to make a peg bag from an old shirt whilst your wife appoints herself as the Health and Safety officer over the project!)

We haven’t bought a peg bag in years. Probably neither have you, but is the reason because you make them out of old shirts? No? Well read on and save yourself a fiver every ten years!

Old shirt, new peg bag.

6-7pm can be a challenge in our house as we’re shattered after work and the kids are tired but won’t admit it. I wanted to carry on with the blog and so chose to use this time today for a quick project. Not the wisest move ever and took a bit of cajoling. However, this project is pretty quick and it doesn’t really matter whether the sewing is a right bodge as long as it holds together at the end, so it went pretty well.

Here’s how we did it:

Take a shirt (preferably clean). Cut the arms off just past the shoulder seam, and chop the length off wherever you see fit. Remember it will end up an inch or so shorter than you’ve cut it.

The kids loved this bit and couldn’t believe they were allowed to wreck one of my shirts. At this point, my wife saw the scissors and appointed herself as Health and Safety Officer; remaining very committed to this role throughout the project.

I’ll take you through my version of how to sew in case there are are any dads reading this who don’t know where to start. For all those who can sew, just turn the shirt inside out, sew all the way around and then turn it back (and that’s pretty much it!)

Turn the shirt inside out and then get ready to sew.

Sewing, for those who don’t know and aren’t bothered about it looking neat:

Get some cotton and thread your needle. Its worth getting quick at this, as if you’re like me, you’ll end up doing it a 100 times when making something. Below is an easy way:

I tried to show my son and daughter how to do this. It turned out my mum had already shown him, so he wasn’t very impressed, but my daughter got it too after a while (“this is so tricky daddy”).

After you’ve got your needle threaded, you just need to work around the edge of the shirt, about an inch in, sewing it in what I think is called a ‘running stitch’ (I might be wrong).

This is pretty straightforward and just involves holding the material together in one hand, putting the needle and cotton through so it goes from the top to underneath and pulling it though underneath until its tight (but not too tight). You then put the needle through from underneath slightly further up on the cloth and pull it through to the top again. Repeat until you finish.

Some things to remember – whenever you start a new piece, either tie a knot in the end of the cotton, or just go over the same bit a few times so the cotton doesn’t pull out the whole thing each time and you have to start again. Whenever you finish, the same thing applies (go over the same bit a few times and then loop under it) just to keep it from fraying.

My daughter got bored, I think she’s maybe too young for this, but actually my son took some pride in doing the bottom part once he’d realised he was actually interested in helping us.

That’s pretty much it, except to then flip it so its not inside out anymore, put a coat hanger in it and then fill it with pegs! Its not a work of art but its functional and the kids were keen to see it come together. They plan to give it to someone as a present – bet that person will be glad!

The finished product! Not a piece of art but it works!

Here’s one we’ve had for years (if you needed convincing!)

Old faithful

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Blog Ideas for arts/craft to make with kids

Like a puppet on a string.

I wanted to launch the site with something a bit tricky that people might not have thought of doing. My daughter’s been watching Pinocchio, and so we decided on trying to make a string puppet. It was pretty fiddly, but I’m chuffed with the end product, and the kids were genuinely impressed when it all came together.

A word of warning – It took maybe 3-4 hours in total (including a break for lunch and to let the paint dry) so it isn’t a quick thing to do. After initial enthusiasm, the kids got pretty bored of making the parts, so I got left with that whilst they went off to watch telly. They did however like painting it. They have also really enjoyed playing with it – we’ll see how long it stays in one piece!

Here’s how we did it:

We started by getting an idea of what we needed to make. I figured we needed moveable arms and legs, a body and a head. That made 12 pieces in total (see the sketch above – I originally wanted the feet to be separate but got bored and did the shoes on the lower leg as one piece).

Making the pieces was relatively easy but time consuming. I had some old
wallpaper in the shed (you could use any paper I guess), and then for each
piece we basically just scrunched that into the shape we needed before wrapping around it a number of times with masking tape It used quite a bit of tape but meant the shapes had a base surface to paint on.

When we’d finished the pieces it looked like this. For the lower leg/feet, I just folded it and put enough tape around to make the fold stay in one place.

All the pieces.

At this stage we needed to work out how to link them all together. I started by looping some old wire and taping it to the piece. For the body, I did one loop to attach it to the head, and then a big loop that overhangs across both shoulders (see below). That one went okay, but when I tried to do it to the arms (the blue one below), it kept slipping out and it just didn’t have any strength. At this point, it was taking ages, the kid’s were getting bored and to be honest, so was I!

I needed a new plan, and found that using pipe cleaners was much quicker and easier. For the head, I put two holes at the bottom and fed it through to make a loop (see below), which I then knotted (same process at the top of the head). For everything else, I just made a circle with the pipe cleaner, tied it, squashed it into an oval and then taped it on. When we’d finished this bit, it felt like the hard work had been done. It looked like this:

Suddenly the kids were interested again and wanted to paint it. We just used basic kid’s paints from Hobbycraft. I tried to speed up the drying by using a hair dryer, but was told they couldn’t hear the telly, so gave up.

This called for a well earned lunch whilst it dried.

A quick smile, eyebrows and some googly eyes later. Everything was dry and we began putting it all together. I made a selection of small circles with more pipe cleaners, and used them as a link to the two pieces it was joining. There’s probably better ways of doing this, but it held okay, and now we look like this:

Nearly there! I’m not sure whether string is attached to separate sticks on
proper puppets, but I just crossed two bits of twig from the garden and wrapped string around it to secure (one stick slightly off centre, so the the front is shorter).

I then tied string from the top of the head to the front of the sticks, and attached more string to each of the wrists.

And Voila! All finished. It took a while, we’d all definitely had enough by the time it was done, but the kids loved the end product.