Spring time craft – ladybird pebbles

Paint some stones and pebbles with your child. I have seen huge painted rocks too! Red acrylic paint (avoid oil based) and once dried, a black permanent marker pen (note: make sure you watch your child and take away the marker afterwards – not a great play pen!). These ladybugs were made by toddlers  – whose Mums I was invited to speak with – recently here from Iran and Iraq. Sweet aren’t they? The children loved this activity and travelled the lady bugs up and down my arms – smiling!

Spring is in air (dried flower craft)

Spring is in the air! Travel round your garden with a little basket and collect flowers with your child. Find some heavy books (phone directories are great!). Place greaseproof paper between pages and lay out flowers. Close shut and wait, in a month take a peak and you have pressed and dried flowers ready to make bookmarks for presents or cards (lovely!). Great to do each spring time.

Make a cubby in two seconds…

All young children and toddlers love a cubby, a place to hide and imagine. Did you know that you can transform your dining room table into a cubby in two seconds?

Visit your local Op Shop and buy a big sheet or cotton throw over. Place it over your table with a picnic blanket underneath, crushions, a little snack and some toys. Stand back and watch your young child delight in their new home! This tip is a great idea for a rainy day or when you would like to help your child play, or settle down. Try it today…

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Moving Picture Craft

Moving pictures are a wonderful and simple craft activity to complete with children. All you need is: a piece of card or paper (one large and one small), crayons, a stick from the garden or icy pole craft stick, sticky tape and scissors.

First think of something that moves, children love things from nature: butterflies, bugs, or the sea and a boat (remember the ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’ story; this can be fun to make). Draw the background on the card. Use small pieces of card to draw the moving animal or object, then cut around and sticky tape on the stick. Make a slit in the large background card making sure you start away from the edges so it does not tear. Place the moving picture small card on a stick, through the slit and play away.

Moving pictures can be made into cards to give to loved ones on their birthday by your child, or as a rainy day activity. Try one yourself; make your child a moving picture card each year as a little gift on their birthday. This can be a special memorable rhythm.

Pretzel Fun!

Pretzel dough is better than playdough, you can bake and eat it! If it is a rainy day, a friend is over, or Monday means ‘Pretzel Day’ follow the recipe below to keep your child’s fingers, tummy and heart happy.

Here is the recipe for pretzel dough; once made the child will play away, and then it can be baked and eaten.

In a large bowl, dissolve one tablespoon of yeast in half a cup of warm water.

  • Add one teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of salt.
  • Add to these one and a half cups of plain flour.
  • Knead the dough, divide it up and let young children play and make shapes with it.
  • Place the shapes onto a lightly oiled baking tray, brush lightly with beaten egg or milk. Bake for ten minutes in a moderate oven.
  • Eat with butter, yum!

Write out the recipe for the fridge door (keep ingredients in stock) and buy a special cooking apron for your child, to bring a smile…

Winter Easy Craft

Paper snowflakes  

These look great on your window or little ones hanging on branches in a pot on your seasonal table. A little note, make a special one on your child’s birthday, lay over the cake, sprinkle icing sugar over the top, lift it off and there will be a lovely sugar pattern on top of the cake (to your child’s delight!).

How to make a snowflake 

Get a piece of A4 paper, use a side plate to draw a circle on the paper and then cut out.

Fold the paper in half, then again into quarters (pizza shape) and again (ice cream cone shape).

With scissors cut small shapes from all of the edges of the ice cream cone, little cut out squares and triangles, when all sides including the top are finished, open up and take a look at your individual snowflake.

No two will ever be the same, like snowflakes in real life!

Click to view picture of Jessica (my daughter’s) heart snowflake.

Bulb planting is magical

Now is the time to plant bulbs (a child’s delight!). Visit your local garden centre or plant department of a hardware store and purchase a bag of spring time bulbs, my favourites are daffodils. Plant one in a special inside pot, your child can decorate with a flower picture to wraparound. Keep in a prominent place, your dinner table and/or kitchen window shelf, water once a week and watch the green shoots grow and flowers appear (magical!). Also plant bulbs in the garden or in outside pots, they will surprise your child and appear every year.   

Pinecone bird feeder (what fun!)

Do you have a pinecone at home, if you find some lying around in nature from now on keep them for this special winter craft activity (for children without nut allergies). You will need: a pine cone, jar of peanut butter (smooth), butter knife, bird seed, and a bowl or tray.

Let your child have fun spreading the peanut butter all over the pine cone, then roll in the birdseed (kept in bowl or tray) to cover the pine cone in seed. Tie with wool or string on to a garden tree branch or fence (preferably one you can see out of the window). The birds eat their winter treat, and when pecked clean, you can repeat this craft activity again!

Wonderful seasonal craft ideas in the book ‘Earthwise: environmental crafts and activities with young children’ Carol Petrash (Floris Books). Available from www.honeybeetoys.com.au

Healthy Habits – Happy Face Plate!

A healthy fruit and vegetable plate for morning or afternoon tea establishes great eating habits. Transform chopped carrots, cucumber slices, strawberries etc into a picture of a smiling face and share with your child – what fun! Try a train or other picture food plates too.

Pancake Fun!

My son Jayson loves to cook. If a friend comes over for a play, they often end up in the kitchen making pancakes – yes for them it is play!    

Here is Jayson’s favourite pancake recipe to share with you:

1 ½ cups of flour

2 cups of milk

pinch of salt

cinnamon

two eggs

Play: Creating Farmyard Fences (with your child)

It has been time for pruning and collecting fallen limbs. Saw into blocks and then let your child sandpaper and beeswax with you to make lovely fences for their play farm animals. Thank you to Ophelia who made this farm for us to see her wooden blocks!            

Chapter Book Ideas – Snuggle and Enjoy Together!

M favourite chapter books to spin some wonderful tales are as follows (these are all real gems!):

If your children are young and you find any of these in Op shops, eBay and bookstores, keep them in your treasure chest, they will be a gift one day! I do not know who enjoys the following books more, my children or me! With the old classics, words may need changing at times, olden day referrals for sex and race!

My children’s favourites, for the younger child four onwards:

My all time favourite is Teddy Robinson Stories – Joan G Robinson

Milly Molly Mandy stories – Joyce Lankester Brisley

Mr Galliano’s Circus series – Enid Blyton

The Children of Cherry Tree and Willow Tree Farm books – Enid Blyton

Naughty Amelia Jane – Enid Blyton

Billy-Bob Tales – Enid Blyton

My Naughty Little Sister series – Dorothy Edwards

Mrs Pepperpot series –Alf Proyson

A good ‘Nursery Story and Rhyme’ book with all the classic tales: Three little Pigs, Billy Goats Gruff etc… is essential reading to your child!

I found The Faraway Tree series (Enid Blyton) suitable for my children from around seven. They enjoyed these simpler Enid Blyton books first. Now is the time for classic Fairytales too!

For the older child (nine plus):

All Laura Ingalls Wilder – Little House on the Prairie series

Mary Poppins – PL Travers

Charlotte’s Web – EB White

Black Beauty – Anna Sewell

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach – Roald Dahl

Bedknob and Broomstick – Mary Norton (I avoided the cannibal part, creatively changed the words a little!).

The Famous Five series (my son reads one a day – it may be a boy thing!).

Heidi – Johanna Spyri

The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

Snuggle with a tale (especially if returning from an outing, playgroup, kinder, school or after a busy morning playing). Happy reading!