Easy Crafts With Children – Salt Dough Butterflies.

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When a couple of spots appeared on Freya’s legs we thought we knew what was coming – the dreaded chicken pox*.

Mark was promptly dispatched to stock up on calamine lotion and oats while I reached for the iPad to start frantically scanning Pinterest for things to do indoors with a child who, if anything, had more energy than usual.

On the Monday Freya was very upset at not being able to go to nursery (real tears) so we made a batch of salt dough (with added glitter to cheer her up) and thought we’d cut out some shapes to decorate.

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To make the salt dough.

Just in case you want to try it and need a recipe, we use a cup of salt, a cup of plain flour and half a cup of warm water (mix the water in gradually to make the dough). Glitter is optional.

Thanks to our biscuit making activities, Freya’s pretty good at making and shaping dough (she loves getting her hands messy). I gave her several shapes to try but she liked the butterfly one best (she also made a snake) and that’s when I had the idea of decorating our balcony with them. It took about an hour from start to finish (not including my clean up time which took days thanks to finding glitter in every single room).

We remembered, just in time, to put holes in them (using the end of the paint brush) and to prick them with a fork so they didn’t crack up when they dried, which has happened before.

Last time we air-dried the dough and it took FOREVER (three weeks or more) but it was winter so I thought, as it had been quite warm recently, I’d stick them on the balcony (and actually most of them were ready in about four days). I put them on greaseproof paper (because it seemed like the thing to do) on baking trays to keep them flat.

Time to decorate.

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While I hoped we could put a base colour on and then, when they were dry, add some extra decoration, Freya often likes to mix all the colours together and paint at will. I wasn’t that bothered, as it’s for her entertainment, after all, but this time she surprised me by following my suggestion.

We decided to make two different sorts of butterflies; one lot was based on actual butterflies, which we looked up (and learned about symmetry) and the other were what Freya described as “fairy butterflies”.

I didn’t really want her covered in permanent marker so I outlined the real ones while she was asleep and then the next day she helped dab on the spots (making sure both sides were equal) with a cotton bud. Once again I was surprised by how much care she took (my baby is growing up). While I finished those, she decorated the other ones with glitter glue (they sparkle beautifully in the sunshine).

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After they were dry I then threaded the wool and popped them on the balcony. I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with the way they turned out. They were not only easy and fun to make (plus a good learning experience) but they add some lovely colour to our little outside space.

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We actually made about 23 butterflies but I accidentally broke a couple when I lifted them before they were ready.

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* When only six spots appeared and she was still full of life, I took Freya to the doctor who said she couldn’t be sure what it was. She was 50/50 between the pox and a different viral rash. I guess we will never know.

Easy Crafts With Children: A Room Of One’s Own.

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I’m just about to start what feels like the epic task of redecorating our bedroom and living room but, as a sort of warm-up, Freya and I decided to make her “big dolls” a place to call their own first.

Thanks to various charity shop visits she seems to have amassed a little collection of Barbie-sized dolls but her wooden house is too small for them to fit into so, inspired by the Small Stories Exhibition, currently on at Norwich Castle, we found a cardboard box (not as easy as you might think these days) and got our craft on.

Our living room is painted all one colour at the moment and I really fancied having a feature wall this time so I collected a few samples of wallpaper, which have been stuck up in various places while I tried them out.

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Not wanting to waste the ones that clearly were not going to work, we reused one for the carpet and one for the feature wall in the dolls’ room and Freya painted the other walls (and herself).

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While that was all drying we started on the furniture. Freya’s feet have grown yet again and she recently got a new pair of school shoes and some trainers so we used the boxes to make a bed (Freya felt it was a too hard for them to lay on so we padded it and the headboard with cottonwool before covering it) and a wardrobe plus a toilet roll and empty ribbon reel for a bedside table.

Add in some decoration in the form of stick on butterflies, hearts, ribbon and curtains and there you have it – a room I would be quite happy to sleep in (were I a bit smaller).

Sometimes we make things that Freya only plays with a few times but this box had been a hit – she even tries to get in it herself. I’m tempted to try and make a little box kitchen or living room to sit next door.

Before that though I need to make a start on our actual rooms. I have a feeling decorating full size rooms is not going to be as much fun.

Any tips for hanging wallpaper greatly appreciated. 

 

 

 

Easy Crafts For Children – Making A Jam Jar Vase.

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As it’s just me and you here I’m going to make a small confession.

I have a bit of a thing…

For jam jars.

There I’ve said it. Once again I thank goodness we live in a flat because I think it’s an obsession that could quite easily get out of hand if we had more space – and, as it is, I probably have more than I would ever need. They seem so…useful. I find it nearly impossible to recycle them. Even though I’ve never made jam or pickled anything, and have no plans to do so, glass jam jars seem like a good thing to have to hand (just in case).

I use them to keep shells in, mainly (oh yeah, that’s another of my “things”), and to wash Freya’s paint brushes out. In fact, that’s what got me started on our latest “craft” activity.

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We collected some stones from the beach last year and decided to paint them. I imagined beautiful seascapes but expected more like colourful rainbows. What actually happened was that Freya mixed all the acrylic paint together and they came out sort of…brown. That’s ok. She had fun, that’s the main thing, and we can paint over them again.

While I turned my back to get a cloth to mop up a little spillage, she decided to paint the jam jar we were using to wash out the brushes. I didn’t think much of it at first but as I cleaned up, and saw my growing collection of jars lined up on the window sill, an idea came to mind.

Vases. Painted vases. Let’s call them “rustic”.

Using some more acrylic paint I got Freya to paint two of the jars green (we did this on the living room floor, on an old cardboard box, so she couldn’t accidentally drop them and hurt herself if they broke). I got some more colours out and just let her go crazy on the third one (which turned out, you’ve guessed it, brown). I then added some finishing touches (albeit with my rather limited skills, not to mention limited paint, as we’d run out of white) and I quite like how they have turned out, even if I do say so myself.

I modelled the decoration on (a much simplified version of) painted narrow boats, which we looked up and learned about on the iPad.

Originally I thought they might make a nice handmade Mother’s Day gift but I’m not sure they are quite good enough for that (and I think the paint might wash/chip off after a while) so I’m keeping them all for myself! They make a rather happy addition to the window sill (and they are a great excuse to buy flowers).

Do you have a use for jam jars that doesn’t include jam?