Easy Crafts With Children: Milk Carton Fairy House.

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Dear reader, I’ve done something awful. Truly. Awful.

Something probably beyond your comprehension. You’ll no doubt never want to visit here again after this confession – or you’ll certainly think twice about it.

I have to share it though. I can no longer keep it to myself (I am a blogger, after all).

I have….

Killed….

The Fairy Garden.

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What sort of person, what sort of mother, allows this to happen? I hate to think what the Fairy Queen will have to say when she hears about it.

In my defence, not only is my fading memory well documented but this is exactly why we live in a top floor flat. Imagine if we actually had a garden. It would look like this…only…bigger.

Poor old Fairy Belle moved out long ago – and even her spider friend recently decided enough was enough. Belle has been popping up all over the place – I once noticed her sat on the side of the bath – looking disappointed in me.

In a bid to atone for my crimes against the fairy kingdom (and because poor old Freya has hand, foot and mouth but is not quite ill enough to sit still) I decided we would spend the morning making Belle a new deluxe home with additional holiday lets, should she need the extra income.

After riffling through the recycling bin and craft box, I had a swift recap on Pinterest and  off we went.

The first job was to paint over the beach that the Playmobil people had been enjoying (made from the box our new mirror came in) and turn it into a forest floor with lots of different greens, which Freya had fun mixing. Before this was dry I let Freya spread the essential ingredient – fairy dust!

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My poorly girl 😦
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While I got to work on the milk carton house (you can see various examples on my Pinterest board here), I got Freya to paint the toilet rolls and then make some leaves and flowers (as the carton was a bit tough for her to cut). I was worried about the cut edges being sharp and my plan was to use masking tap on them but they weren’t sharp at all.

Next it was time to decorate everything and pull it all together. I admit, I probably enjoyed this bit more than Freya who was using her scissors to cut up bits of scrap card (it’s all learning, right?).

And ta-daaaa!

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The funny thing is, Fairy Belle, who was last seen yesterday morning sitting on Freya’s bookshelf, is now nowhere to be found. So, Belle, if you’re reading this, please come home. I’ll do better this time, promise (mostly because there is nothing to remember to water).

PS If I haven’t shocked you too much and you are willing to continue reading my ramblings, I’m having another go with Facebook and I would be thrilled if you would follow me or like me or whatever it is you do. I’m still not entirely sure of its merits but I’m keeping an open mind. 

PPS I am replanting the original garden. Must do better.

Things To Do In Norfolk: BeWILDerwood.

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When BeWILDerwood first opened, 10 years ago this month, I remember saying, in quite a grumpy voice: “Why didn’t they have this when I was growing up? I want to go!”.

As it turns out, adults are encouraged to play alongside their children so, since having Freya, I’ve been able to climb, zip, crawl, slide and whoop to my heart’s content  –  although possibly with less speed and creakier joints than before.

What is it?

The award-winning “wild and imaginative adventure park” was created by Tom Blofeld in the Norfolk Broads, near Wroxham. He had the idea to build a healthy and active family experience – and it certainly is that.

It begins with a magical boat ride along the Dismal Dyke and into the Scaaaary Lake.

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Along the way we learn about the enchanting inhabitants of the wood, who also feature in Tom’s delightful books for children. There are Boggles and Twiggles, Mildred the vegetarian Crocklebog, Hazel the Wood Witch and a Thornyclod spider, who loves boots and shoes.

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Mildred.
Back on land there are aerial and ground level woodland walks linking a series of tree houses, play structures, picnic and story-telling areas.

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A tiny Freya showing us how it’s done.
Main attractions include Wobbly Wires, The Sky Maze, Slippery Slopes, The Broken Bridge and a Muddle Maze but there are also lots of things to play on or around under the woodland canopy, which is especially nice on very hot days.

It’s all very hands-on and, as well as den building, there are crafts to make and, at certain times, lovely stories to listen to (and be part of).

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Here’s my little Boggle.
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What I really like are the special areas for under fives (Toddlewood) – including little zip wires, which are Freya’s favourite thing. Although, even the first time we went more than a year ago, there were not that many things that she couldn’t do with a little help.

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Can you spot Freya? Don’t worry, my running buddy is with her.
Dotted about you can find little Boggle homes on the ground and you might spot a Twiggle house high in the trees. There are also signs to read and learn from. It’s all really well done.

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A lot of thought has obviously gone into every area of the attraction – including the food (nearly all of which comes from “carefully chosen and certified local farmers, veggie growers and even odd little suppliers exclusive only to us”). You are also welcome to bring your own picnic.

What do we think overall?

BeWILDerwood is a unique, fun-filled day out for all the family. I have no doubt it will be a trip we make for many more years to come.

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How much does it cost?

On the day (or over the phone).

Under 92cms – free.

92 – 105cms – £14.50.

Over 105cms – £16.50.

65+ – £9.50.

You can save money by booking online in advance. Full details (including opening hours) here.

And now…

As a special treat, here’s a little clip of Tom Blofeld reading a poem he wrote to celebrate the 10th anniversary of BeWILDerwood.

 

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.