Since I’ve been doing this blog, I’ve been pretty amazed at how simple things can be to make. Today we made a Piñata. It took not much longer than an hour and yeah, it looked pretty rustic but then again, a 4 year old did decorate it. Also, not sure about you, but I don’t want to spend that much time on something that’s then going to be hit with a stick.
Here’s how to do it:
First off, you need a cardboard box. Better to have a big one if you can, as you’ll need the flaps on the top/bottom too.
Decide what shape you want your Piñata to be. You could pick something elaborate, but I wasn’t sure at the start whether this would work or not, so we just went with a heart shape.
Cut it out and then use the first one as a template for the second one.
You then end up with two hearts.
Next step is to connect them together. We used the flaps from the top of the box, which we place in a strip around the outside of one of the hearts. We just used masking tape to hold it on, and to be honest I wasn’t convinced it would stay together, but it was fine.
You should then have a 3-D version of your heart, but just missing one side. Next step then, is to flip it over and stick the other heart on.
You’re now ready to decorate. Again, you could do this very elaborately, we just covered it in glue and stuck tissue paper on it.
We were also too impatient to let ours dry before we tried to hang it up.
To hang it, you could just make one hole in the top and thread some string through. Our seemed to be too big for that so I made two holes (one in each side) with a screwdriver then tied the string to a long twig and threaded it through using that. I’ll try to show what I mean in the photos below for no other reason that I was quite smug after I did it :
You can either fill it with sweets before hanging it, or vice versa. We hung it up as I wanted to make sure the string was strong enough.
And that’s it! Easy peasy! Now, get some frustration out by bashing it with a stick, and then eat some sweets! Oh, maybe let the kids have a go too.
I woke up early today. Well, technically the kids woke up early, I sent them back to bed at which point they went quickly to sleep and I was wide awake.
Anyway, there’s worse things in life than having an hour to yourself on a sunny summer’s morning so I used the time to have a tea and see if I could make scratch art from, well, scratch.
Part of the blog is trying to work out how to do things myself. On that basis, I’m not claiming this is the best way of doing this, it’s just the way that I thought of. I’m sure you can find some more elaborate or sophisticated methods online, and if you’re looking to do professional standard pictures then probably have a look for those. However if you just want something quick that the kids can get stuck into and then forget about 5 minutes later, this might be for you.
Here’s how I did it in a few very easy steps.
First step, take some card. I’d suggest card rather than paper, as paper might just crumple under the paint or rip when you scratch it. We only had black card, so I had to use that but I’d probably recommend white or a brighter card so the colours stand out better.
I presume that part of making scratch art is that you need two substances that don’t mix very well. I’m not sure whether that makes any difference, but I used wax crayon to colour on the card as I guess that the paint won’t stick to it and it’ll come off easier (that may or may not be true).
Colour the card and then put a coat (or maybe two) of black paint over the top. I just used bog standard kid’s water based paint. Other paints may be better – let me know if so.
Then let it dry. I got a bit impatient!
And that’s it! I used a cocktail stick to scratch it. There probably are better ways, but I thought it worked pretty well really as a quick thing that’s fun. I would recommend not using black card to start and using really bright crayons so there’s the biggest contrast possible.
Struggling for inspiration today. I was tired after work, but I figure that’s not the kid’s fault and so pressed on to find an idea.
A mouthwash bottle came to the rescue! My daughter loved this as she basically did it herself with only a bit of guidance. It took maybe half an hour with a bit of time for the glue to try.
Here’s how we did it:
I’d been looking at this empty bottle of mouthwash every time I’ve been in the bathroom for the last few days.
Yes, you’re right, I should have just picked it up and put it in the bin/recycling but I was mulling over what the shape reminded me of. Eventually today when I was stuck for something to do as a quick activity, I clicked that it reminded me of male torso. Not my torso admittedly (would need two muffin tops on either side) but a body nonetheless.
First step is take the labels off, which might need a quick soak in water. Then, cover the bottle in kid’s glue and stick on ripped pieces of tissue paper. Ideally I would have like different colours but it wasn’t me in charge on this one, so completely yellow was what happened.
Once that’s done and whilst it’s drying. Make a cape.
Next take the lid off and fix the cape on just by looping it over the neck. Put the lid back on and should hold.
Next add a face. My daughter did ours but you could go to town on this with hair, googly eyes etc.
Finally, add any superhero apparel. We went for a belt and a big ‘S’ for super bottle!
Pretty good eh! Kept her entertained and think she enjoyed basically being able to do this herself.
Very quick blog today just to highlight that anything can be a jigsaw. Well nearly anything – I just chose a cake box as it was a good excuse to open the cake!
My son’s Beavers group sent through a list of things they could be doing during lockdown, and one of them was to cut up a cereal box in to pieces and see if you can put it back together again.
We did this, it was actually pretty tricky to put together. It turns out that a jigsaw is just a cut up picture. Who knew!
With that in mind, since then I’ve been on a mission to cut up anything that remotely resembles a picture to see what works and what doesn’t. Just about any box from food packaging works well and as you can see, the Victoria Sponge box was one of my victims. I tried to actually cut jigsaw shaped pieces in to that one, but mainly we’ve just chopped things into rectangles. The beauty is that you can make it as easy or hard as you want, just increase the number of pieces. We did a pizza box and had to give up, it was so hard!
If you’re anything like our house, and you’ve got Disney+, you’ve probably been on a journey like this:
Day 1: Kids ask to watch Zombies. Me: ‘Zombies? I’m not sure I want you watching that, sounds gruesome’.
Day 2: Kids watching Zombies on the TV in the background. Me: ‘What is this anyway?’ Looks rubbish
Day 3: Kid watching Zombies. Me: ‘So what’s happening in this?’
Day 4: Kids watching Zombies. Me: ‘That song was pretty catchy’
Day 6: Me: Walking around singing to self ‘What could be so wrong, with a girl and a zombie?’ Someday….we could be, we could be, extra-ordinary!
Day 14: Me: Full re-enactment on my own of all the songs including dance routines.
Anyway, back to jigsaws. I printed off a promo picture of Zombies from imdb.com and glued it on to some card, before cutting it up. Kids loved this one.
Finally, here’s one with a photo….(I’d probably suggest avoiding wedding photos etc. unless you’re absolutely sure that your other half won’t mind. And even if you are sure, I’d still say to ask!)
Shadow puppets are one of those things where as soon as someone mentions it you think ‘oh yeah, we used do that, I’d forgotten about that!’. Here’s a refresher if you (understandably!) haven’t thought about them in a while…
This blog is just to give an idea or remind you of something you might have forgotten. The method is simple and pretty quick really. Google ‘shadow puppet templates’ and there’s loads for traditional fairy tales on the web. If you look at the picture below you can see some we did based on templates for Little Red Riding Hood.
We made these a year or so ago for a Halloween party at my sister’s, and although there a bit battered now, they’ve served their purpose well.
I then had the idea the other day of making some of our own for one of my daughter’s current favourite stories – Penguin by Polly Dunbar. We chose this as although my daughter can’t read yet, she knows it well enough to tell it.
Basically then, all I did was have a quick think about what we needed in order to tell the story e.g:
how many characters do we need?
what do they need to be doing?
what parts of the story can be told by just wiggling the same shape around, and which need their own shape?
That might sound a lot but that whole thought process took about 20 seconds, as basically in this story there are three characters – a boy, a toy penguin and a lion. The penguin’s pose is the same throughout. The boy does lots of different things that you could make a shadow puppet out of, but I settled for just one of him standing (going for the ‘wiggle him around’ approach to cover the other bits). The twist in the tale (spoiler alert!) is that the lion eats the boy, and so I thought we needed that as a particular outline (as that’s where the fun is in the story).
I drew these quickly freehand on to the card, but you can trace them easily enough too from the book.
Then just cut them out. It makes them have a more interesting shadow if you cut some eyes or features in the design too.
Finally, just stick them to a lollypop stick and you’re ready to go.
Now the fun starts. Find a torch and take turns to tell the story!
Actually, given its father’s day today, why not take a photo of your dad’s shadow, cut it out and make a story out of it! Here’s one of me. I just need to make another one of a cup of tea and then use it as a prompt to keep getting tea made for me!
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!
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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?
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Here’s one we’ve had for years (if you needed convincing!)