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.
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.
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.
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 https://uk.whogivesacrap.org/), 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 https://www.thecraftydaddy.co.uk/with-the-kids/snakes/) 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.
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.
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!
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.
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…
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.
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)!
It took us three hours, but we got there in the end!
One of the benefits of doing this blog is that the kids have started to think a bit more creatively, and are now coming up with ideas of things we can do themselves. I’m quite proud of that, I do think its genuinely helped us cope with some of the tougher elements of the lockdown. I’m trying not to lose that momentum as things get back to ‘normal’.
As an example, today my son asked if we could make something big with wood – ‘like a tree house or something’. It makes me smile that he’s still of an age where he thinks a) I can do these things and b) we have the stuff to do it. That said, I want to make the most of the few years I have left before he realises my general incompetence – so as a compromise (not wanting to let him down completely) we agreed a bird box might be more manageable for both of us.
I’ve made the decision not to include a template of what we did as you can find loads on the internet of many different shapes and sizes if that’s what you’re after. We didn’t use a template because we only had some old floorboards to work with, and so wouldn’t have been able to follow a lot of them anyway as they weren’t big/wide enough.
Also, I really wanted to let my son do most of it as there’s loads of different skills this project brings with it. Measuring, a bit of maths, problem solving, sanding, painting, visualising in 3-D, screwing etc. Probably most importantly he quickly realised that it also needed patience and perseverance; which is something none of us are particularly strong at.
I’ll be honest it wasn’t perfect, there’s gaps where it doesn’t quite fit together, but it has a charm and we were all proud of it. Three of us worked on it solidly for three hours without any major arguments or strops – which in itself is a triumph!
Anyway, here’s how we did it.
First off you need wood. We have a load of old floorboards, and so used them. We wanted to do one with a peaked roof but quickly realised we didn’t have enough wood for that, so settled on a flat roof.
We figured we needed:
Two sides pieces and a front pieces – all the same size.
A back piece – we went for a long piece for this so that the back can easily screwed onto wherever we hang it.
A top and bottom – the same size; you’ll need to figure out how big these should be based on how the size of the other pieces (mock it up on top of the bottom piece and mark how big you need it, then use the bottom piece as the template for the top).
Get the kids to measure and mark off where you need to cut them. As a guide, our front and sides were about 25cm high.
Cut the pieces with a jigsaw. My son’s not quite old enough to do this, and I’m not competent enough to supervise him with a power tool, so I did this bit myself. Get the kids to sand them off though to smooth the edges.
You should now have all your pieces. One last thing to do before you put the jigsaw away – you need a hole on the front for the birds to get in (otherwise you’ve just made a box!) There’s probably an ideal size depending on which type of bird you want to attract but I have no knowledge of what that might be so just cut one smallish. The trick to do this (which it’s probably no surprise to anyone who has the slightest knowledge of power tools but has come to me through trial and error!) is to use a drill to make a few holes in the middle of where you want it to be so that you can then get the jigsaw blade in. You can then cut a circle.
Next step to paint them. We used some blue paint that we’d done the garden furniture with as it was waterproof. I suppose the other option would have been to use any old paint and then varnish it at the end.
This took two coats of paint, during which my son got bored. However, with a bit of encouragement he did carry on and was pleased when the second coat made them nice and neat.
Now for putting it all together. If you had strong glue, I guess you could use that and save a lot of bother. However, we didn’t and so we used screws. We ran out near the end so had to go on a mad dash around the house to see whether there were any more loose screws in drawers etc. We did in the end find enough but probably a good idea to make sure you’ve got these before you start!
There’s no real trick to this, you just need more than one set of hands! We just took the back piece as the starting point, then drilled a couple of holes into the sides pieces so that it wasn’t too much effort to then get the screws in. The bottom went on with the same process. The front actually slotted in then quite nicely (only a small gap but we’ll ignore that!) and finally screwed the top on.
That’s it! Simple, but took a while for us to figure out what we had to do.
Took three hours, but we got there. Actually looks pretty good.
A craft session involving a cereal box, some paint and glue. Make yourself a fab-u-lous handbag!
First off, you need a cereal box. Open it out and cut along the folded lines. We used pretty much all of it, so don’t throw any away at this stage.
Then paint them all! Do it as simply or as flamboyantly as you want!
When they’re dry, draw the shape of your handbag on to one of the bigger bits. Cut it out and then use it as a template for the other one. Keep the thinner strips as they’ll give the handbag its depth.
You should now have fours pieces, two handbag shaped bits (for the front and back) and two strips.
Take one of the strips, and draw a straight line about centimetre from the top, all the way along. Do the same at the bottom. Take a pair of scissors or a knife and score it (not too deeply) so that it folds over and makes a crease.
Glue one of these thin folded edges of the strip on to the length of one of your handbag pieces. It should look like the picture below, with the painted bits on the outside and the cereal box still showing on the inside (unless of course you’ve been clever and painted both sides of the card, which thinking about it now might have been a good idea).
You’ve now got the front of the bag glued to the bottom. You can trim this off if your strip is a bit longer than the front.
Take the other strip, and cut it in two, which hopefully should give you enough length to cover both of the sides. Do the same in terms of creating a fold on each side if you haven’t already.
At one end of both strips, fold it over about a centimetre from the end, and then make a small cut down each side to make some little tabs which can fold over (see the picture on the right above). If you fold the sides up and press the tabs on the end, it should give you a box like edge. Glue that together.
Next step is to glue the side with the glued/folder edge on to the front and the bottom of your handbag. Do that on both sides, and it should look like this from the inside.
You then need to glue the back on. This might be the trickiest bit so far as unless you’ve measured if all really accurately (which I didn’t) there’s a bit of push and pull to get it to hold together. If you use a fairly strong glue, and press it though, it should hold after 30 seconds or so.
Once it’s dried you should have a surprisingly strong structure. Feel free to accessorise with diamonds!
Final step is the handle. We had some spare ribbon, so just made a hole in each side (not so close to the top that it rips straight away), pulled it through and knotted it. you could use string, or a proper handle of another bag etc.
And there you have it! One fab-u-lous bag! My daughter loved marching round the house with it!
A relatively quick project using a block of wood and a wire coat hanger. It does need some power tools (jigsaw and drill), but you can involve the kids in sanding and glueing. You could go to town and spend a lot more time on them, making them more lifelike and painting them etc, but I think they look quite sweet as they are.
This genuinely is easy to do. Firstly, take a block of wood. I used this one.
Then draw the outline of the bird. Ideally I wanted to have the shape of a robin when I did mine, but it didn’t really fit on the the wood, so just went for a generic bird shape.
Once you’ve done that, cut a rough outline with a jigsaw. Leave yourself a bit of extra space around your edge so that you can refine it once its cut.
I realised that the wood I was using was too thick for what I needed, which gave me the idea of making two birds rather than one. I cut them in half up the length.
Keep the bits that you cut off as they might make a good base.
Now’s the time to involve the kids. Give them some sandpaper and ask them to smooth it off. This will take about ten times as long as if you did it yourself (and you’ll probably end up taking over anyway after a while when they get bored) but there is a novelty to using it that they will probably enjoy.
If you can’t get the shape you want just through sanding, then sharp tools or a wood whittling set (https://www.thecraftydaddy.co.uk/my-art-work/whittling-wood/) will help. This would allow you to get more detail, texture and shape but for today, I wanted to make sure the kids were involved and so left it as just sanding.
We got them nice and smooth. We also sanded two of the bits of spare wood to make the bases smooth too. If you wanted to paint them, this would be the time.
Next step, the legs. I took a wire coat hanger (actually harder to find than I thought as everything’s plastic these days) and cut four roughly equal pieces off it. I had to use gardening clippers as didn’t have anything else to cut it with, so I’ve probably ruined them now but never mind. Obviously if you’ve got any old wire lying around you won’t need to go the lengths of finding a coat hanger!
Drill two holes in the underside of each bird, wherever you want the legs to go. You can either drill straight or at an angle depending on what position you want the bird to be in at the end.
Take two of the metal pieces and glue them into the holes in the bird to act as legs.
Leave it to set for a few minutes then make two more holes in the base and insert the legs into them. I drilled in a small hole on each side for an eye too at this point. Then let it all dry, and Voila!
I owe my wife credit for this blog entry as she made me aware of how pebble art was taking off. She did a quick picture of our family which was great (see below).
I had no idea this is as popular as it is. Since becoming aware of it, I’ve seen that people are starting to charge quite a price for framed pebble pictures. Don’t get me wrong, they can be really appealing and can capture something about a scene in lovely simplicity. That said, if you can find the time yourself to find a bag of various pebbles (easier for some than others if you don’t live near anywhere particularly pebbly!) and buy some card and a frame, you could make some really personalised art yourself in just a few minutes.
We got a bag of pebbles, put them in front of the kids with some different coloured card as backgrounds, and then just let them go with it. Obviously at first they moaned about it and said they couldn’t think of anything but after me showing them a couple of examples they carried it on with it and came up with some nice ideas. Here’s some…
So that’s it! A cheap way to pass a bit of time, and if you do find one you particularly like, then glue it onto some card, pop it in a frame and hang it on the wall.