Friday, 11 November 2011

Absent friends

Hello all

Not seen you for a while. We started a new school and my son and I have had whooping cough!

I know what you're thinking,  no-one outside a Dickens novel gets whooping cough any more.
I wish you were right. There are now so many people in the UK that don't get vaccinated that occasionally the disease creeps through the net.  We were vaccinated but the nasty little bug has gotten clever and is stalking unsuspecting folk like us.
So, sorry to have abandoned you..... back soon, germ free and raring to go!

Oh yes...soap box moment.....
Get your kids vaccinations done and keep them up to date.
The tear on your child's face after being jabbed is nothing compared to what the disease could do.

See you soon,
Heli x 

Monday, 12 September 2011

Sea Creatures we go.... straight in this week!

We will make sea creatures and monsters from paper card and scraps. No drawing required just cutting and sticking. You can use almost anything, from coloured paper to old birthday cards, sparkly sweet wrappers to magazine pages.
The creatures might be fish, octopi, crabs and lobsters, jelly fish or just made up beasties!

This is what we're aiming for....

You will need.......

Supervised scissors
Sticky tape or cheap masking tape
Split pins are a useful luxury if you can buy them cheaply at a stationery store, a stapler is also handy but only for older kids and grown-ups.
Coloured scraps of card or paper
Shiny bits and sparkles
Pipe cleaners and strings or little ribbons, wool does nicely
And maybe a bit of string to hang them up.

Here's how to do it....

1.   The children will have lots of ideas but the easiest way to start is to glue a strip of card into a loop.

2.   Add as many legs as your creature needs.  The best way is to use sticky tape as the legs tend to fall off before glue has time to dry. Don't worry about how many legs the creature is meant to have.....I think the best sea monsters have lots and lots of different coloured legs!

3.   Now leave the kids to decourate madly adding fins, tentacles, tails, faces, teeth, pincers and scales.

4.   Hang the creature up with a piece of string once the glue has to hang it where it will give granny a nasty shock!

All done and well done!

And that's that....a really easy one but the children will go on to make endless variations, especially if we encourage them by making one or two of our own.

If you need inspiration there is a great book with fabulous pictures called "Fidgety Fish"
It's by Paul Bright and Ruth Galloway. You can get it in most British libraries, high street book stores and from Amazon. It's been one of our bedtime favourites for years. It has lots of sea creature pictures to feed the imagination.
(Dear Paul and Ruth, I hope you don't mind a free plug for your book!)

These simple models are great for developing the children's making skills but are even better for exercising their imaginations. If you ask questions like, "What does this one eat?" or  "Can this one creep out of the water?" or "He looks like a friendly chap, where are his friends?", the children will quickly make up stories to tell about them.
Slightly older children might record their stories in words or pictures, or even by video.

Having said that, you may just find that they use them as puppets and chase their little brother round the house with them, making, what I was assured were squid noises!
What noise does a squid make?.....perhaps I'm happier not knowing!

See you next week for pirate fun!

Heli x

Thursday, 8 September 2011


Hello again!

All back to normal now...or at least the current version of normal!
We've had a wonderful summer holiday, camping in the rain in Devon. Lots of fish and chips and walks on the hills. The kids have been great fun and are now installed in their new school classes for the coming term.

My son has started at senior school and happily trotted through the school gate in new shiny shoes and uniform with lots of growing room. It was great to see him and his mates going in together comparing the latest sports scores and giggling over their new term haircuts.

It was a far cry from the tender days when we first dropped the kids at infant school, tightly clutching little sweating hands and shoving in our pockets all the tiny toys and plastic animals which had stowed away hoping to visit the reception class. At the time we forced our brave smiles and uttered encouragements and then ran, sniffing audibly, to the local coffee shop to console each other whilst our little ones had an outrageously good time. Now, 7 years on, it still tugs at the heart strings but their confidence and joy is self evident and I ran home to get the washing on and run the hoover round!

It's really tough letting them go the first time, but with a few exceptions, it gets easier and then after a short while they start to organise you. The friends I made in those early days at the school gate and sniffed with at the coffee shop are still the best friends I have. We've seen each other through a lot .If dropping your child is much more difficult than this do ask for help. The teacher, classroom assistant,  your friends and even your own mum will be quick to help. Lots of folk go through it and it's often the mum that finds it harder than the child. The school will call you if the child has a problem....get yourself wrapped round a cup of tea and have a nice chat.

Just to hop on my soap box briefly...if you spot a mum sniffing at the school gate by herself, do have a chat or offer her a cuppa. Apart from doing a good deed, you'll gain a friend for life!

Parental sanity may now creep back although the usual cries of "Mum, I need a new sweatshirt/ rugby boots/ pencil case/ hair tie/ book money......" have kept this week at a frantic pace.
There should be some sort of vitamin supplement for super strength for parents and grandparents to get us through the first week of the school year. I always have the same glamorous thought that when they go back to school I'll languish in a hot bath with a relaxing book for a whole luxurious hour but every year it's the same scramble to establish any kind of civilized order!

How to ensure your kids run quickly into school an the first day back.......
stand by the car and wave whilst shouting "Bye you!".........Don't do it!......Not cool!

Posting of fun activities will resume on Monday with a lovely sea creature activity. Save up any bits of card and coloured paper, any shiny bits and decorative sparkles. We'll be using glue and scissors.

Love Heli x

Monday, 15 August 2011

What a week !

Not managed the activity this week......what a week it's been!

School hols are my favourite times in the year. I actually love having the kids home. We play, we bake and we create carefully orchestrated havoc. It's great!

This week has seen son going on kayaking trips (courtesy of the local scout group), packing and delivering daughter to a weeks summer camp, a hundred miles away, (local church group),  group visits for the kids and friends to the cinema (mum's taxi service), reunion and suppers with old friends (thanks to facebook), quality time with brother and his family (this was the best bit) before their return to sunny Taiwan  and now the endless washing after the kayaking and camping!
And ...oh yes...normal life too!
Truly tired but happy and glad to see them all happy too. It is definitely worth being a mum. (most days!)

This week has also witnessed rioting in our capital city and around England.
It has been frightening and saddening that our youngsters should come to this. Much blame has been laid at the doors of idle youth, poor parenting, poverty, media fuelled dissatisfaction with life, politics, social action failure and community break down. It may be some or all of the above.

It is hard to be a youngster in the modern world and harder still to be a parent.
To govern such a diverse social structure is verging on impossible but look at what has followed this week's events. Through the same social networks sites that were used to orchestrate chaos, people of all ages have come together to make a stand for their neighbourhoods. Youngsters have organised clean-ups gangs and peace rallies. Funds have been raised to support those who experienced loss. Eyes have turned again towards youth schemes that teach kids to respect and believe in themselves.  Politicians must look again to supporting these ventures and raising the hopes and expectations of our communities.
Perhaps , good can from all the anguish.

So, as parents and carers what on earth can we do?
Two things....."Be there and go there".

"Be there" for our own children. Listen and guide, teach them not only rights but responsibilities. Create environments in our own homes where the kids can bring their friends home. ( We may have to turn the odd deaf ear but at least we'll know where they are.) Train our children to interact with peers and elders. Praise them for their successes and self respect and frankly, be firm about crossing the line.

And "Go there"... go the extra mile. If our neighbour is tired and overwhelmed, take her kids to the park for an hour.  Talk with other parents, agree on common boundaries and safe places to play.  Get involved with local groups and community events, hold coffee mornings, homework clubs and anything that gives the kids a sense of belonging.
It's not much but it's a start.
I have a deep belief in the inherent goodness of can be done.

Oooops ! it seems I've been standing on my soap box....Still...perhaps we all should!
New activity this space!

Heli x

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Quick change of name.

I've made a quick name change to the blog to help people find it more easily. Pass it on to your friends for me.
Heli  x

Water play

Hello again and welcome to new followers in New Zealand and the Netherlands!

This week we are playing with water, paddling, splashing and generally keeping cool in our mini heat wave.
No summer holiday is complete without it so we are having that river or seaside moment at home in the back garden. Water play is a really helpful part of childrens learning. It forms part of their early exploring of their environment. It's basically science lessons without the boring physics teacher and the blackboard!

So let's find a way to make a mini water park for the day. Be aware of safety...always watch over water play with little ones, especially if it's a paddling pool big enough to get into. Be careful of surfaces that become slippery when wet and if you live in a flat watch out that your little one isn't pouring water over the balcony onto Mrs Jones below.  Also watch out for little ones getting suddenly cold when they're sopping wet and run out of energy.

Having said that, this is the most clean fun anyone can have and on a hot day the grown ups love to dip their feet too.

This is what we're aiming for....

You will need....

A bucket or box. My mum uses an old baby bath for the grandchildren very successfully.
Half a box of water.(Warm if you've got tiny children or big softies!)
A towel on standby.
Some bath toys.

You may also like to use......

Little boats, or make paper boats.
Empty squeezy bottles for squirting water.
Plant pots for draining water through.
Things that float and things that sink. 
Bubble mixture.
Spray bottles.
Food colouring
Pots and cups for pouring and filling......and so on.
Don't go buying things, just scout around the house and collect things up.

Enjoy !
You can make your water play even more exciting by adding a few drops of food colouring or a dash of glitter to make the water shiny. Bubble bath is also fun but only add a splash or your child will disappear into a cloud of foam.

There are a couple of things that I have found useful. I have the luxury of a garden so we paddle outside but that means my kitchen floor gets flooded by little wet feet going in and out, so I lay old towels on the floor to soak it up. I also put a box of water by the kitchen door to use as a foot wash before the kids come in which reduces the amount of wet grass clippings walked through the house.  In fairness to the kids I should mention that Daddy is the biggest paddler here and leaves the biggest wet footprints in the world!

Don't forget sun cream and hats if your'e splashing in the sunshine.

Once we've got the water play going it tends to be around all summer. 
The children love it and it's great for entertaining their various friends too. 
So whether its a box on the balcony or a bath in the garden have a lovely splash.

See you soon.
Heli  x

Monday, 25 July 2011

Camping at Home !

Camping at Home.

Here in the UK the school summer holidays have begun.  Hoorah!
After the world wide credit crunch lots of people are not going on holiday this summer, so we have a few ideas for "holidays at home" over the next few weeks.
This week we are having a camping holiday at home.  We often do this, even in the winter.  It takes a bit of imagination but the kids have always loved it.  Sometimes the children sleep in sleeping bags on their own beds and sometimes they go the whole hog and sleep out in the back garden in tents.
Depends on the temperature.  However, the absolute best thing is building our own tents.

This is what we're aiming for.....

 This is what you'll need for starters.....


Old curtains.
Old sheets.
Clothes many as you can find.

You may also use.......

Chairs, sticks, string, clothes airers, cushions.....anything that comes to hand and lots of imagination.

Here's what to do....

1.   Indoors or outdoors, find a space or gap to build a camp in.  Find a place where it can be left up for a while and won't be in the way.

2.   Lay down a blanket or mat to be a floor.

3.   Spread a cloth or curtain over the nearby chairs or clothes rack to make a roof.  Use the pegs to secure the cloth. Now my kids are older they use drawing pins too but I would not recommend them for little kids.

4.   Use lots of imagination to customise your camp.  Add teddies and toys, treasures and books.

5.   Play all day!

Didn't take long for the cat to move in!

Camp in a gap in the living room.

Palatial camp built by son.

All's done and well done!

Tents are so much fun, whether it's under the laundry rack or built together outside, the fun lasts for days.
The children like to have their supper in their tents or for you to squeeze in with them.  However tiny the interior of the tent is, the kids are great at giving guided tours to the adults and cats who come to visit. 
Little children often then love to fill their camps with everything they can find.  Entire bedrooms have been known to disappear into their tents, with the children sitting outside because they've run out of space for humans!
Go with the's good clean fun and it can all get put back tomorrow.
This is so good for their imaginations and, if you enter into the swing off it, your tent will be
for a jungle explorer today and for having tea with the queen tomorrow!

Have fun, see you next week,
Heli  x

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Hello and Welcome

Hello and welcome to more new countries. I love this part of blogging. I was a geographer in my murky past and I love tracking the countries on the blogger map as they come up. Is that a bit sad?... probably, but I like it !
Hello to Thailand and Kuwait!

Heli x

Me trees

Hello everyone.

Wow , what a week!

We've had sports days , netball matches, school plays, leavers assemblies, gifts for teachers, lockers to clear , school trips and my 42nd birthday. My youngest has just completed his junior school, so it's new school uniform and excitement about senior school.  It's also been the soggiest week of July ever known!
Being a mum is such a scramble but it's such fun. You all arrive in a breathless heap on the floor on the first day of the holidays but it soon turns into games and painting, friends and playing. I love having them back in the holidays, during term time every thing is so rushed. They grow up so fast and we want to enjoy every minute. (Until they argue and then all bets are off!)

So here we go. My kids made "me trees" or "me flowers" at nursery school and loved them. It's a combination of self portraits and body prints to make a plant. The stalk is simply a piece of string measured to the child's height.  Kids love having their height measured and comparing it with each other or you. There always seems to be a competition to be the tallest.

It will be a bit messy so I suggest you pop down some old news papers or a paint proof cloth before you begin.  Have that bowl of warm washing up water standing by and start early enough to get all cleaned up before tea time is due.   Never let children near paint when they're tired or doubles the cleaning up!

This is what we're aiming for....

You will need....

String for the stalk and  an extra bit to hang the plant up with.
Paints in a range of colours.
Paint brush and water pot.
Supervised scissors.
Paper plate or a large flat, washable plate/tray.
Plain card from a cereal box.....we used a cheerio box this week!
Sticky tape.
Hands and feet.

Here's what to do....

1.   Cut a circle from the cereal packet. It's easiest to draw round a small plate. This will be the face.

2.   Paint your own face on the circle and leave it to dry. This is a good chance to chat about all the different features on a face. Use a mirror.  I have freckles to they've been painted on too.

3.   Mix up some brightly coloured paint on the paper plate or a washable dish. Dip in hands and make hand prints on the plain paper. These will be the petals an the flower. Make lots, we did 9. Leave to dry.

4.   Mix some green or brown paint and do the same with footprints. These will be the leaves. Yep, this is the messy bit. Have that warm water standing by! Leave to dry. The point of the paper plate is to throw it away afterwards and reduce the cleaning up.

5.   Cut the piece of string to the same height as your child. Measuring is always fun.

6.   Sticky tape the end of the string onto the back of the dry face.

7.   Stick the hand prints to the back of the face. Do this round the face so that when you look at the front, the petals frame the face.

8.   Use sticky tape to fasten the foot leaves to the string. Spread them out to look like a beanstalk.

9.  Finally, hang the flower up at the same height as your child. In a row if you have several, and admire!

All's done and well done!

There we are then. In our house Daddy is the tallest and it's fun measuring his height by standing on stools and chairs.  Believe it or not .... this is very early practical maths, so encourage your little ones to go round the house measuring everything.  Measure with string or play bricks, even lego.  
Have a contest to find the tallest teddy!

Something less painty next week!

See you soon
Heli x


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Welcome !

How exciting.....the blog has now reached Ireland, Uganda and South Korea . Hello and welcome!
This week will be making "Me Trees". Nice and messy, so I'm waiting for the kids to come home from school to help me with this one. Standby with string , paint, paper and a paper plate if you've got one. (don't worry if not).
All will be revealed......
regards Heli x

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Paper Cup Castles

Hello everyone,
This week we'll do a really simple make. These cup castles are cheap and easy and don't require too much adult supervision. Except with the scissors of course.

First of all, a word about scissors.
This is a tricky one and as an infant teacher I have been all around the houses about this.
Most scissors that are designed for small children don't cut properly. The manufacturers, in their wisdom, have decided that the only safe scissor is a non-cutting scissor !  Actually, I have seen children hurt their hands by struggling with the tiny handles against whatever their trying to cut.
It's better to have slightly more grown-up scissors but supervise them more closely. I never allow scissors in bedrooms or in a room without an adult popping in and out.
Blunt-nosed or rounded ends scissors are good for little ones but make sure there is room for them to get their fingers in the handles. They should be sharp enough to cut paper easily and card carefully.  It is safer to have properly working scissors than allow children to become cross at frustratingly blunt ones. My kids and my pupils have always used well supervised junior scissors not infant ones.
Many parents won't allow little ones to use scissors and you'd be amazed how may children come into their first class at school unable to cut.
It drives the kids mad.....better to train them to use them safely.
Don't  forget that nowadays you can buy "left handed" scissors and even "either hand" scissors. It is also possible to get  scissors with special handles for children who need extra help gripping things.(These are more specialized but you can get them online.)
Shop around to get good ones... it's worth it. And at the end of the day, put the scissors away, out of reach !

OK, I'm may have noticed.... scissors are touchy subject !!

So, Paper cup castles. They're very quick and easy so you can makes lots of them. They're great to use with little toy people, lego men, plastic animals, toy soldiers and so on.

This is what we're aiming for ....

This is what you'll need ....

Paper cups.   Not plastic because the glue and the felt tips won't work so well. Plain paper cups are best, but you can use recycled paper cups after you've been out for a coffee !
Supervised scissors
Glue or sticky tape
lollipop sticks
Felt tip pens or crayons or pencils
Scraps of coloured paper or sticky coloured shapes. Maybe little stickers.

Here's what to do ....

1.   Prepare your paper cup.....rinse out the coffee (or black tea in my case), cover it in plain paper if you want to hide any logos or pictures. If you don't have cups, it can be done with cardboard tubes, cut into a range of lengths.

2.   Supervise the scissors to cut a door or two. Measure the height of the door against your toy people. Cut up one side and across the top to leave a door flap.

3.      Decorate the castle with felt tips or pencils.

4.   You can cut shapes out of coloured paper to stick on as flowers or simply as pretty colours.

5.   Make a small cut in the top of the castle (base of the cup) and shove a lollipop stick through to become a flagpole.

6.   Wrap the ends of a strip of paper around the top of the stick to make a flag.

7.   Add some more castles and small toys to make a whole village to play with.

All's done and well done !!

The children can then decorate as many cups as you can give them. This is a lovely activity to do with other little friends and they can be made as fancy as you like. You can add ribbons to the flag pole and add shiny stickers for princess castles or draw on dragons to battle with knights ! You can get cardboard trays from supermarmarkets (trays for catfood tins or coffee jars etc) just ask customer services. By putting the cups inside tray it becomes castle walls or village fences . Note the doghouse ! Decorate madly !

When the castles have been played with they can be easily stacked up and kept for to next time without taking up too much storage space.....which always helps.

Great fun ! See you next week.
Heli x

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Rock Buns!

Hello again

Nearly all technical difficulties have been overcome. I downloaded a great new photo handling program but it's taken me a short while to get to grips with it. It's great to learn new skills!

So, Straight to business!

I love making things with the children that we can all eat.  We often had these with a teddy or two at our picnics. It's lovely to wrap a couple of warm rock buns in a cloth, grab a bottle of drink and nip down to the park for an impromptu picnic. You could picnic in your own garden, on your balcony or even in your front room on a blanket with your home made flowers and bugs. The buns are a simple cheap recipe and your little ones can do almost all of it with a little help....and they can get their hands gooey !
Message to the world-  Edible mess is the best possible mess!!

First of all- hand washing.  A little bit of health and safety, and it makes the buns more edible afterwards!
Preheat the oven  190C, 374 F or gas mark 5- grown-ups only

This is what we're aiming for....

Here's what you will need....

8oz, 225g  flour
4oz, 112g  butter or margarine
3oz, 85g sugar (brown if you have it)
1 large eating apple
Grated rind of 1 orange
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
Greased baking tray

Here's how to do it....

1.   Grease the baking tray with a little bit of the margarine.  The children can do this with their fingers.

2.   Mix the flour, sugar and the margarine in the bowl.  Rub the margarine into the flour to make it in breadcrumbs- use finger tips to get the best results.

3.   Chop the apple and put it with the orange rind and the sugar in the bowl with the flour mixture

4.   In a cup briskly mix the egg and milk together

5.   Pour the egg/milk into the mixture and mix it with your clean hands to make a dough

6.   Drop small handfuls of the dough onto the baking sheets in little mountains.  If the mountains are too big, the middle won't cook properly.

7.   Sprinkle with sugar and bake for about 15 minutes.

All done and well done !

ALLOW TO COOL- the apple gets very hot

You can make these with any other dry fruits such as glace cherries or raisins. It's best with self raising flour but I have been known to do it with plain flour and the buns were still pretty edible !
These little buns can be popped in the freezer for up to three months

Serve for tea with teddies or keep in a box for tomorrow. I tell you what, why not go mad and have an adventure..... Pop a couple of buns in a bag and hop on a bus to a different park. We love pop and hop adventures. When children are little bus rides are a very big deal.  Strangely it's the kids who travel everywhere by car who find it the most exciting.  You don't need to go anywhere special but they'll love it and it gets you out of the house too.  And every stay at home parent or grandparent needs that as much as the little ones.  So, pop and hop !

See you next week for paper cup castles.....invented by Grandad !
Heli x

Thursday, 30 June 2011


Arggh!!  technical hitches on machine and inadequate skills in human !
Rock buns will be next tuesday, by which time all will be graceful and smooth perfection.
Yeah right !   But I will battle on.

If you're thinking,  "Hang on a minute... what am I supposed to do with the kids now?"
I recommend my favourite standby.

" Hello darling, did you know it's teddy's birthday today ?"
"Really mama ?"
"Absolutely....lets make him a card and celebrate at tea time."
"Hoooray, I'll get teddy !"

Never fails.
(unlike technology!)

see you on tuesday
Heli xx

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Quick update

Hope the dough bugs are going well !
Next week will be rock buns for teddies tea parties.
I'll post it on Tuesday...see you then.
Heli x

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Dough Bugs !

Hello again.   I've been experimenting with food dye for this week's activity so I am typing now with bright blue fingers. Very fetching.
Oh well...such is a mother's lot!
This week we're going to make something more adventurous.

Salt dough!

Salt dough bugs and beetles to go with our flowers and garden pictures.  This will produce bug models and provide cheap play dough for the days ahead.  It's been raining endlessly here so it's been fun doing these in the kitchen with the radio on, waiting for the sun to return. (Some of us have started to forget what it looks like!) Anyway, this is a good one for a rainy day.

This is a very simple recipe.  There are several more complex methods, but this one is the easiest and always works.  You may want, or need , to spread this over several days.  One day to make and bake the bugs, another day to paint them and another day to play with the play dough. (It will keep very happily in the fridge for a week.)

This is what we're aiming for....

This is what you will need....

A small cup for measuring. It doesn't matter what size, as long as you use the same cup for measuring everything.
3 cups of plain flour.  Nothing fancy, just the ordinary flour from your cupboard .
1 cup of table salt.
1 cup of cold water.
Mixing bowl.
Spoon for mixing ... then hands.
Lollipopsticks, pastry cutters, rolling pin, ...anything to make shapes and marks. I find a wooden chopstick is the most useful thing .
2 dessert spoons of vegetable oil.
Edible food colouring or flavouring to add scent to the dough.
Plastic box.
Poster paint, same as last week.
Paint brush.
Baking tray or oven/ microwave proof dish.
Wire cooling rack, if you have such a luxury.

Here's what to do....

1.   Using the cup, measure 3 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of cold water into a mixing bowl.

2.   Stir up with a spoon or knife then use hands to make the dough into a ball.

3.   Put half of the dough to one side. This is for the bugs.

4.   Still in the bowl knead (squish and squash) the other half of the dough with 2 spoons of veggie oil and 2 teaspoons of food colouring.  This makes coloured  play dough.
You can add a flavouring like mint to give the play dough a fun smell when the children play with it. (Worryingly, my two like the smell of alcohol free rum flavouring.... mmmm!)

5.   Put the coloured dough in the fridge in a plastic bag or plastic box.  It will keep for at least a week in the fridge.

6.   Now return to the plain dough. Knead the dough well then break into 4-6 pieces. Not too small.  

7.   Make each piece into a different bug.
Snails are the easiest .... roll out a long sausage of dough then curl it round to make a shell shape.
Butterflies need to be cut out of flattened dough.
Beetles have six legs and spiders have eight.  (We checked, in the garden, hopefully without killing too many bugs !)
Tease the dough into legs and heads rather than sticking separate bits on. Bolt on bits drop off when cooked.

8.   Now the tricky bit......The dough must dry out. Only grown-ups go near the cooker or microwave.
The thicker the dough the longer it takes.
In the oven on a lightly greased tray, for 1 hour at only 100 C, gas mark 1/4, 225 F.
OR microwave on low for ten minutes, then 3-4 on medium.
(Cook for longer if thicker. Stop cooking if it bubbles.)

9. Leave to cool completely.

10. Paint your bug with lovely bright colours.  Watch out for the black getting everywhere.  Leave to dry

All done and well done !

The children can do all of this except the cooking first.

Aprons are a great help. My mum bought the kids two little aprons that they wore for everything. A brilliant granny gift !

Helpful hint.... Whilst the bugs are and cooking/cooling the children can "help" wash up, then play with the dough from the fridge.  Don't bake it. Pop it back in the fridge afterwards to play with another day.
My daughter has just finished a rather expert tortoise, but then she's twelve and much more artistic than her mum.....apparently!  You'll probably find that you can't resist having a go. I have made dough flowers and baskets and allsorts in the past.  It's really relaxing, so why not ?

All that remains is to display your bugs on the windowsill or perhaps with some lollistick flowers.  Really handsome bugs could be wrapped in tissue and given as homemade presents to unsuspecting relatives..

See you next week for more fun.  Do send a comment or share what you have made.

Heli x

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

My Garden Picture.

Here we are.... Week 2 !

Hello to everyone who has logged on around the world...Germany, Taiwan, Britain and the States so far.
I hope you and your little ones are ready for something a little bit messier this week.

Paint !

Don't's not too messy but I would suggest having a bowl or sink full of warm water and a hand towel standing by before you start.  I learnt this the hard way. Children nearly always wait to get truly painty until the point when we've got our hands full with their wet painting, their teddy that wants to see the painting and their brother or sister who tried to eat the painting.  Have the hand washing water ready first, trust me. Actually, the more you can get ready in advance the better. It's so much easier to pop a few things together when they're asleep or watching cartoons. (You'll feel much more on top of things.)
Todays message...Messiness is good , but so is soap and water !

Here we go then. This week we are going to make a picture of a garden with nearly 3-d plants and bugs. Why not take the children for a walk in the park or around your garden first to look at the plants and bugs in real life. (Watch out for the ones that bite or sting !) Once again this is a cheapy creation. I have used children's paint which we already had at home but if you don't have any you could use pencils, crayons or scraps of coloured paper instead.

This is what we're aiming for....

Here's what you will need....

One cardboard box, mine had cornflakes in it.
Lollipop sticks
Supervised scissors
Children's glue
Washable paint, green, blue and any other spare colours. (Avoid black unless you supervise it carefully or pictures can be spoilt very easily.)
Paint brushes, large ends are better for this.
Optional glitter.

Here's how to do it....

1.   Cut up the cereal box . You need the two large sides of the box to paint on and the remaining scraps for making flowers and bugs.  The inside of cereal packets are great for kids paintings because they are stronger than paper when wet.

2.   Paint one cardboard sheet blue for sky. All over. Leave to dry. (Use the inside surface not the printed side)

3.    On the other sheet make green hand prints. This will be the grass. If your child is nervous of putting their hand into green gooey paint (and what sensible person wouldn't be) then they can paint their hand green with the brush to make the hand prints. Leave to dry.

4.   On the left over scraps, paint bugs, beetles and flowers. Leave to dry, then cut out. (If a grown up curls the edges slightly before drying they will be more 3-dimensional.)

5.   Cut out the green grass hand prints. Supervise the scissors.

6.   Using the glue, stick the grass at the bottom of the blue sky. It can overlap.

7.    Stick 2 or more bugs onto the end of lollipop sticks. To make puppets.

8.   Stick the rest of the bugs and flowers onto the grass and sky.

9.   Use a little glitter on the wet paint to add that special sparkle.

10.   Display proudly, perhaps with a pot of lollipop flowers either side !

All done and well done !

The bug puppets can then pop in and out of the grass or flutter across the sky. 

My big children have loved doing this again. They make much more detailed bugs now but still love the hand painting. It's a great activity to do if you have a mixture of younger and older children. 
The only thing you may have to buy is paint. Everything else is lying around around at home. If you do buy paint, just get cheap and cheerful washable poster paint. Don't bother with black but white is very handy when you want to start mixing colours. 
Top tip... if you add a dash of water and a tiny squirt of washing up liquid when you stir up the paint, it goes a lot further and is much more washable afterwards. 

Do send me your pictures and comments. I'll try to get my head around the technology to make a gallery.

Happy painting ! Tune in again for another arty idea.  Next time... dough bugs !
See you next week,
Heli x

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Indoor flower pots

So, here goes the first week's activity. Should have been earlier in the week but how silly was I to try to start a new project during half term holiday.  As I type, my two children are sitting in the paddling pool throwing buckets of water and rubber ducks at each other, while I snatch a few moments. They're nearly teenagers now and I hope they ever grow out of it ! 
My message to the world today.... don't let your kids grow up too quickly !

Right .... to business.....the first few ideas are all to do with gardens.
This week it's indoor flower pots. You can make them on a rainy day in the kitchen or outside in the sun if you're lucky.  Whether you live in the country or in a city apartment  you and your little ones can make window box flowers for next to nothing.

This is what we're aiming for....

Here's what you will need.....

Empty yoghurt pot or some other delicious pudding pot,
Paper or card, (I've recycled an old file divider),
Felt pens, or pencils,
White childrens glue,
Scraps to decorate (anything pretty that's going spare....shapes cut from old wrapping paper, sweety wrappers, tissue paper, crayons, glitter etc)
Supervised scissors.

How to do it......

1.  Draw large flower shapes on the paper and cut them out.  Draw them about the same size as the pot you'll put them in, (draw round the pot, even.)

2.  Decorate one side of the flower head with the pens and pretty bits. This is the arty bit. Let yourself go!  Lollisticks make good glue spreaders.

3.  Stick each flower onto a lollistick.  This can be the tricky bit.  It helps if you stick a bit of spare paper over the back of the stick, after you've stuck the stick flat side down on the back of the flower.  Don't move it until it's dry.  (if your flower is very heavily decorated you may need to use two sticks.)

4.  Stand the flowers in the yoghurt pot. (or in my case, the tesco chocolate mousse pot, yum!)  Yes... the pot now falls this is the clever bit. The grown-up takes the pot to the kitchen and makes a slit in the base of the pot with a sharp knife, just wide enough for the lollistick to pop through.  Now turn the pot upside down and shove the flower stalks in to the holes. It's upside down but it should stand up.

5.  Alternatively.....if you have a real garden you can fill a plant pot with soil or stones to plant your lolli-flowers. You can also fill your yoghurt pot with rice to do the same thing, but it always spills!

6. Display pots with pride.

All done and well done!

Try to let your little ones do as much of this for themselves as possible. If you get the urge to be arty yourself, then make your own . Although, obviously, your children's will be best!! 
All of these materials were scavenged from around the house with NO expense. If you must buy anything, buy childrens white glue. Smiths sell it and most art shops and many cornershops.

There we are then, and I only had to pause to untangle my own children twice!

Next week, another garden idea....tune in again.
(Thanks to husband for showing me how to load skills coming on steadily!)


Heli x