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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 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.