Make A Winter Mobile

We’re participating in the Bostik Bloggers campaign for a few months, which means every month a box of crafty goodies arrives in the post and my children’s faces light up because they know what’s coming! This month the theme was ‘snow’, and in our box of tricks we received something that among the other Bostik Bloggers we didn’t know what to do with! It turns out that it’s actually a Hama Bead Mobile Ring but since we don’t have Hama Beads, we decided to make a different mobile out of it, featuring all sorts of wintery bits.

Make a winter mobile

For this mobile we used:

To start with, prepare all the parts – paint the stars and snowflake with the glitter paint and thread the ribbon through the holes on the mobile ring. You can determine your own pattern, but ideally stick with the one you start with. (So e.g. through the hole, to the left, across, or through the hole, across and through the hole on the opposite left etc)  This creates a nice woven look, but also gives an area for things to hang from the centre of the mobile from.

Snowflake Mobile

Around the outside of the mobile ring, attach the sticky squares and attach Christmas- themed embellishments to each sticky pad. The pads work well here with a flat surface to attach to on each side. They peel easily too, so though a little tedious going all the way round, it works without hassle.

Select bias binding in different shades and tie to the woven ribbon on the ring, spreading it out so that they appear to hang randomly. I used three lengths, but feel free to add more.

Finally attach a giant snowflake to the centre, quite high up, and do the same for the stars.

Snowflake Mobile

I didn’t find the glue foam pads to work too well on the stars. Either my glitter paint was still a bit wet or there just was’t enough flat surface space, but the Bostik glue dabbed on then left till it was properly dry did the job.

Attach a string or more of the ribbon to the centre and sides of the ring to give the mobile something to hang off  and hang the mobile somewhere that the light can catch the glitter – if it refracts the kids can pretend to catch falling snow! ;)



Marble Art Christmas Wrapping Paper

Marble art is a lot of fun, and if you use large enough sheets, you can use them for gift wrapping your Christmas presents. If you’re a little concerned about marbles with small children, then you can use non-toxic water beads instead. They do the job the same way, but if they are softer so they are a little more small-child-safe.

You will need:

  • Marbles/water beads
  • paints
  • paper
  • a large box, dish or roasting pan

Dip the marbles or water beads into paint and lay them down on paper. marbles

Lift the sides of the tray or box and tilt it so that the marbles run around the page. Replace the beads as they require new paint, and fill the page with fun, bright colours. marble art

Set aside to dry and soon you’ll have lovely coloured paper that you can use to wrap your Christmas presents.

You can also do this with glitter glue. It takes a while to dry, but it’s really pretty!


3 Simple Halloween Crafts #BostikBloggers

I saw an ad recently that asked for bloggers who did a lot of crafts, and since that’s us, I signed up. A few weeks later a box full of Halloween Craft goodies arrived in the mail, and we had a fun time sifting through all the supplies that arrived.  I decided that rather than simply do parent led crafts (there is one!) I’d allow six year old Ameli to decide what she was going to make with the supplies that arrived. She decided on a spider and a clock, and then we worked together on a Jack-in-the-box Ghost-in-the-box.

Spider Craft


For this craft you will need:

To start with, prepare all the parts. The spider body looks like an 8 without the centre holes cut out, and the legs should be cut to eight equal sizes. Bend the legs into a square root symbol (sqrt{,}) which you’ll turn upside down.

Take your spider body and add glue.

(The Bostik Glue Dots are great as you simply lay the felt onto the dots, pull it back up and lay it down onto the paper plate, no mess, no waste.)

Stick the spider body to the middle of the plate.

Next, stick the two flat parts of the pipe cleaner ‘legs’ to the glue dots, then onto the plate, trying to get the bit that attaches to the body as close as you can to the body.

Continue this till all eight legs are in place.

You can fold a strip of ribbon double and attach the two ends to the plate (again, the glue dots work well here) to hang it up with or just leave it as a freestanding spider – on – a – plate.

I wanted to add some googly eyes too, but my daughter thought that was too scary.

Witching Hour Clock


Ah, this craft brings new meaning to the words witching hour!

Ameli has been learning to tell the time recently, so she decided she wanted to make a Halloween clock.

For this you will need:

Using the glue dots, stick pumpkin images or ribbon to the key parts of the clock – 12, 3, 6 and 9.

Use a felt tipped pen to write the times on the clock

Pierce a hole roughly in the centre and fold a pipe cleaner in half. Make a knot in the back to keep it from slipping out, and cut the front facing parts so that you have a long hand and a short hand.

I called out times, and Ameli set the clock to the right time (mostly) before deciding that the clock had stopped, and with it, the game.

Pop Up Ghost


For this craft you will need:

  • White paper/tissue paper
  • Googly Eyes
  • A cone
  • A polystyrene ball that fits inside the cone
  • A stick (bamboo works well here)
  • A white pipe cleaner
  • Glue

Cut a hole in the top of the cone, just big enough for the stick to pass through.

Apply glue to the polystyrene ball and wrap the paper around the top, allowing the bottom to hang loose in the way ghosts are pictured.

Add the googly eyes

Stick the wooden stick through the bottom of the cone, then attach the pipe cleaner to the stick. With bamboo you can glue the pipe cleaner into the bamboo, leaving it to dry so that it is secure.

Stick the two loose ends of the pipe cleaner into the bottom, uncovered part of the ‘ghost’.

Cover the cone part with black felt.

When all the glue is dry, pull the stick away from the ghost so that it lowers into the cone.

Walk up to an unsuspecting victim and with a ‘Boo’ push up on the stick so that the ghost jumps out of the cone.

It’s really quite more fun than it sounds ;)

We were sent a box of tricks from Bostik and tasked with making Halloween themed crafts.  

Roald Dahl’s Matilda Activities – Sailing Books

One of the lines I really loved from Roald Dahl’s Matilda movie was

So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.

I didn’t realise this at first, but that’s not actually in the book. The book actually says,

“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village

The very soul of me relates to this quote. I may not have read Ernest Hemingway and Rudyard Kipling as a 3 year old, but in junior school I read Famous Five, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Secret Seven, and a bunch of others you would only know if you were Afrikaans, like Trompie en die Boksom Bende. At one stage I was reading them at a rate of a book a day, in school time. Really, I thought school just got in the way of my reading time!

Matilda's Books Like Ships

Well I am on the way to instilling the same love of reading in my girls. Their dad has a big part to play in that – he has read to Ameli almost every night he’s spent with her. On her sixth birthday, they finished reading the entire Chronicles of Narnia.

Anyway,  while preparing our current Matilda theme, I couldn’t get “ like ships on the sea” out of my head.

Matilda is also full of metaphors, it’s a fabulous book for introducing the concept too, with metaphors like:

Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful

Matilda's Books Like ShipsIs the child actually a disgusting little blister? No. But what does it tell you about the appearance of the child?

It’s quite fun actually, talking through some of the metaphors in Matilda.

But, the one we were focused on today was that of ships on the sea.

For this craft you’ll need:

This craft couldn’t really be simpler. We printed some of our favourite book covers – Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss and so on – and cut them into squares or sail-shape (if you know the word for that, let me know!)

For the square – pirate – sails (clearly not a sailor, am I!) thread the large, then small sails through the toothpick. For the others, glue the sail to the skewer.

Apply a healthy helping of glue to the shell or driftwood, and place the skewer, holding it for a few seconds so that it can dry in place.

Matilda's Books Like Ships

It’s quite a quick craft, in the end, and before you know it you’ll have a literary armada.

Make A Pumpkin Garland

It’s coming up for Pumpkin Time, so it’s time to decorate our learning space with something a little different for the new season. Our current house really doesn’t have the space for things like nature shelves and loads of sensory play – like last year’s autumn sensory box or the indoor fairy garden. What we do have though is a lot of wall space in our high ceilinged Victorian house, so wall decorations are always a good thing.

For this activity you will need:

  • orange cardboard
  • yellow cardboard
  • string
  • glue
  • market pens
  • a printer (optional)

You can either use our templates, or if you’re artistically inclined, you can draw your own pumpkins and faces, otherwise just print them off.

I’ve compiled these templates based on drawings from npics, lakeshore living and bkay.

If you print these pumpkins on A4 you’ll get 6 pumpkins – two of three styles – per page, so print as many as you’d like to use.

pumpkin garland

Once printed, cut them out.

I also printed faces from – printed as is they make half an A4 page, and they are the perfect size for the pumpkins. I printed three pages of pumpkins and two pages of the faces, but knowing full well the girls wouldn’t glue the faces on 18 pumpkins and I’d be left doing it after three or four each, I used a marker pen to draw some of the faces on quickly.

Once all the pumpkins have their features added, turn them round and space them out equally, then drop/squeeze glue over the backs, where you want the string to appear.Pumpkin Garland 2

This is a lovely Lidl string that they do once a year and I can’t seem to find anywhere else. If you know where we can pick up extras, let me know!

Make a loop on both ends so that you can hang it around pins, with tac or whatever else you use on your walls.

Pumpkin Garland Hanging

Be as creative as you like, and have fun with it!

Print these:


Pumpkin Templates

Study Unit: Roald Dahl’s Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Last year my children had watched most of the Roald Dahl movies available on the market, but we hadn’t read any of the books, so our Roald Dahl inspired arts and crafts were varied and mixed. Over the last few weeks we’ve been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, however, so all our activities the last few weeks have been around that.

Next week we’ll be working on Matilda, so check back in if you love that book too!

PIN THIS: Roald Dahl WeekThere are two versions of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie:

And there is the book, famously illustrated by Quentin Blake

While we like having fun with our ‘themes’ as we call them, I do try to bring elements of learning into them too. Remembering that my children are 5 & 3, I do keep things pretty simple, but I’m quite excited about the possibilities of redoing all these themes in years to come, and seeing how much they have grown in their understanding, and how much ‘deeper’ we can go on each topic.

Having watched the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie and read the book, I decided to do a reading comprehension ‘test’. I designed a comparison chart, so Ameli could compare what happens in the book with what happens in the movie, and also make a note of major things that happen in a similar fashion. For example, in the book, Mr Bucket tells them about the golden ticket competition, in the movie, Charlie sees the posters going up. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Reading Comprehension Worksheet

Sticking with the loose ‘English’ or ‘Language Learning topic, we decided to make up words, something Roald Dahl is incredibly good at! This little making up words activity went down a charm, and made an amazing platform for telling our own stories. Make up words like Roald Dahl

I use the word math very lightly here, but since we’re starting out, we used measuring a bag of candies as an introduction to units of measurement.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Units of Measurement

It’s Charlie and the CHOCOLATE factory, so we had to get some inventing with chocolate going – I went for the easy option and made Jazzies, with DIY decorations for my little inventors. DIY Jazzies Charlie & The Chocolate FactoryNot all the creative activities this weeks should include tons of sugar, so we decided to make our own party decor. We made giant lollipops, giant boiled sweets, and giant lollipop swirls. This was a great afternoon’s paper sweet crafting.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Decor


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a great theme for introducing some science too – see what happens with popping candy when you pour water, coke and then vinegar into three different bowls and top them with popping candy.  Measure jelly babies and put them in a bowl over night – how much did they grow? Put boiled sweets (the kind with stripes on them) into a bowl with a few drops of water. What happens to the sweets? How do the colours disperse? Could you do it on paper and see what happens with the colours? Does the paper remain in tact? Put boiled sweets in mould and put them into the oven. When they melt, do the colours mix? Do they retain their shape? Do they re-set into their new shapes? There are loads of candy experiments you can try!

At the end of a long and exciting week of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, everyone needs a good, long, relaxing bath, so this Chocolate Bath Salt recipe smells delicious, and helps induce a deep sleep too.

DIY Chocolate Bath Salt

Printable Unit Plan

Click on this image for a downloadable, printable study unit plan.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

What have other Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fans been up to?

Easy Paper Giant Candies For Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a superb theme to do with kids, but it does make for a pretty heavy sugar week! We are having a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ‘party’ in a couple of days, and rather than just having endless amounts of sweets to set the scene, I wanted décor that didn’t cost an arm and a leg and wasn’t really consumable. I also wanted it to be something that kept the kids busy and helped them learn a little something too.

1) Giant LollipopsCharlie and the Chocolate Factory Decor

I loved these giant lollipops I spotted somewhere on Pinterest, but I didn’t have the budget to make them as they were done originally, so I used a giant bubble wand to wrap an A3 page round, then cellotaped a blown up balloon into the cylinder. Next up, wrap some clear or spotty spotty cellophane* around it to look like the sweet wrapper. You don’t have to do this, but it does make it look a whole lot more authentic!

2) Giant boiled sweets

For the giant boiled sweets you will need a paper plate, tissue paper* and cellotape. Take a sheet of tissue paper and wrap it around in a rectangle, then at the edge of the plate, squeeze the sides together and wrap cellotape around. Easy peasey giant boiled sweets.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Decor Sweets

 3) Painted Giant Rainbow Lollipops

Again using paper plates, draw a spiral from the center to the outside of the plate, and get children to paint from the inside out. I used this as a colour mixing lesson on primary and secondary colours = start with blue and then yellow, then mix the two together (overlap them in the middle) to get the  mixed colour. The same with the blue and red (to make purple) and red and yellow (to make orange) and so on. Work your way to the outside, and leave to dry. Next, glue a stick, or a lollipop stick to the plate and there you have your rainbow lollipops.

Stick them all up in the garden for your own Charlie and the Chocolate Factory party, and see happy little faces like this!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory party

Study Unit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Find more Charlie & The Chocolate Factory activities here.

How To Make A Bird Mobile

bird mobile bird mobileMy girls and I have been talking about birds the last few days, inspired by the ‘how do birds fly?’ question. One of the things we’ve done is look at the difference in beaks, wings and tails on different birds, and in the course of our play-learning, we decided to make a bird mobile.

The girls then decided they wanted it to be a present for the new baby upstairs from us, so we took it to them. They didn’t look quite as impressed with it as the girls (and I!) were, but never mind – we enjoyed making and gifting it.

What you need to make a bird mobile:

You will need:

  • Bird template: Print the template for bird mobile here. I couldn’t fit our coloured paper into the printer, so printed onto white paper, laminated it and then traced onto coloured paper.
  • Glue: a glue gun works best for these sorts of projects! This is a great little glue gun* from Amazon
  • String: we used a beautiful decorative string with butterflies and beads. I can’t find it online, but there are similar here. You can add bells too.
  • Corrugated paper
  • Scissors
  • Black pen

How to make your bird mobile

To start with, I found bird templates online, and put them on a document – you can print that here if you want to use the same ones – before cutting them out and laminating them so we could use them again.

Next, trace the outline of each bird, then flip it over to trace the mirror image (for the ‘back’).  If you use double sided paper, it’s easier, but then your string will be visible in the final product.

Fill in the extra bits with a black pen – like the wings, the beak, feathers and so on.

Glue the two halves together, leaving a small gap at the top for the string to go in. (Or glue the string on one half, then glue the two halves of paper together.)

Use a sharp cutter to cut through the centre of the appropriate birds to slot the ‘wings’ through.

You may also need to ‘trim’ around each bird to make sure it’s identical back and front.

Cut the string to the appropriate length, and glue to a strip of corrugated paper. Cut an equal sized strip to cover it, so the string is sandwiched in between. Add another bit of string to the other side of the corrugated paper to act as a hanger.

Leave everything to dry, then hang out your lovely bird mobile!

Talking points while making your bird mobile:

How do birds differ?

Are all their wings the same?  How about tails and beaks? How do different birds use their different shapes?

What birds do you think these shapes represent? (My girls said Blue Tit, Dove and Swallow).

For more learning activites about birds, click here. For more nature activities, click here.

Skills - Creativity Skills - Explore Nature


Getting Crafty With Meadow Kids Mini Stencils

We recently received a Great Gizmos Mini Stencils set from Meadow Kids to review with my 5 and 3 year old girls. While this set is billed as ‘for girls’ which is evident from the over abundance of pink in the packaging, they are suitable for anyone who likes fairies, flowers, butterflies, dresses, crowns, shoes and other frilly and generally ‘girly’ things. stencils

The Great Gizmos Meadow Kids Mini Stencils set comes in a self contained box, which opens up as two drawers. In the drawers are 12 x stencil sheets with over 150 stencil shapes, 20 x sheets of framed paper (A6? If that’s a size), 6 x small sized colouring pencils, 1 x pencil sharpener, and a selection of blank cards and envelopes.

The stencil sheets and paper come in two spiral bound booklets, which is great because the stencil sheets can be left in the book and used that way, or removed and returned as needed – which I did the first few times, then decided they could live quite comfortably in the drawers without my interference!

The stencils are very thin, which initially I thought would see them break really easily, or they’d just be a pain to work with, but I was surprised by how solid they are. They are quite durable.

Great Gizmos Meadow Kids Stencils

Great Gizmos Meadow Kids Stencils For Girls In Action

I also thought the small size of the sheets would make them hard to hold onto while drawing the outlines, but the stencils all have a matt-style finish, which means they grip plain white paper pretty well and don’t slide around the page much.

I like that the kids can use the framed pages for practice or for adding to the envelopes, and obviously the card and envelopes are ideal for getting kids sending ‘letters’ to family and friends, which my two thought was a great plan.

Great Gizmos Meadow Kids Stencils For Girls Sample A

Great Gizmos Meadow Kids Stencils For Girls can make an artist out of me yet ;)

If you’re not excited by the pink set, there’s also a ‘for everyone‘ set and a blue set, both of which have over 170 stencil shapes, along with all the other bits. But thefor girls’ set is certainly good for most things girly girls like!


Salt Dough Alphabet Learning

My life over the last year has not been ‘my life’. It’s been a crazy attempt at keeping my head above the water as both a mother and an employee.  My job is winding up this week, and while I’m panicked to the hilt about how on earth I’m going to stay afloat, there’s also a part of me that feels a huge amount of energy returning to my day to day. I feel excited about spending time in home education again, and not like my little girls are just another thing on my to do list every day. We’ll see how the next months go, but I’m excited about getting back to being a mother first, even if the government is trying to push mothers back into work – even those that don’t want it. But that’s a post for another day.

Today I decided that it was time to start at the beginning again. Ameli is reading beautifully and mostly confidently, when she can be bothered to. Aviya is slowly starting to recognise letters, and I think it’s time we start focusing on our play-learning themes again. At least for Aviya it’s a formal start to alphabet learning.

I thought a fun introduction for us all would be something crafty, so I went with the Little Cooks Collection alphabet letters. I gave them all to Ameli to sort out for me, “so that we can see if we have them all”. I was really pleased that she got it right as far as I expected her to – that is, she still confuses “j” and “g”, but we’ll work on it.

Salt Dough Alphabet Learning

Salt Dough Recipe

The salt dough I used is probably the best recipe I’ve used to date. I’ve often found that making salt dough is fine, till you try to dry it, then it tries to rise and cracks and breaks. This one didn’t do that. For this recipe I used 270g flour, 160g fine salt and about 170g water (2/3 cup). Mix it all together, so that it’s properly combined, then knead the dough. I have a Thermomix so I did a quick three minutes in that, but a 10 minute knead by hand should produce a similar result. You want it pliable, and not crumbly. It should also not stick to surfaces.

Roll the dough out, and cut out your shapes. We transferred ours to a pizza stone (two, actually) and put them in the oven for 2 hours at 135C. This may vary from oven to oven, so keep an eye on it. It needs to be dry, but not browned.
Salt Dough Alphabet Learning

Leave the shapes to cool completely, then paint and decorate as you wish. I let the girls run with it, but they  had to make sure the sides were painted too, which is pretty good fine motor skill training. We used a water-based paint, which I wasn’t initially sure would work, but it did work beautifully.

Salt Dough Alphabet LearningOnce properly dried, we will focus on a letter a week and do alphabet learning around it, using some for word sounds (like ‘ch’ and ‘th’ and so on too. It should keep us busy for a while!

For other literacy themed ideas, click here

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