Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Make your own advent calendar

 
When M was younger I started making him an advent calendar.  This now seems to have become a tradition.  It is only the end of October and he has been asking about this years one.  That got me thinking about what I could make this year.  Since last year I've started using Pinterest a lot for inspiration.  It is so easy to use.  Just type in the subject you want to search for and lots of great pictures will be found for you.  In the past we have made a train and a Christmas tree.


This year I've decided to go a bit more grown up.  Not sure if this choice is more for me or for M, but I'm looking forward to having a go at making it.

 
 
 
When I made the first advent calendar I went to a craft shop and bought the boxes. Ok they were nice and plain so easy to work with, but cost me a fortune.  This year I went to the local supermarket and bought 24 boxes of matches.  So if anyone has an idea what to do with hundreds of matches let me know.
  
As I'm making this and not M I've decided to work leaving the matches in the boxes for now.  Thought  this might keep things a bit sturdier while I'm sticking everything together.  First of all you need to stick your boxes together in piles of 3.
 
 
Again to help keep things sturdy I decided to glue a piece of cereal box onto the side of the boxes.
 
 
Ok so far so good.  Now I just need to look around the shops for some nice Christmas paper to decorate them with.
 
I've now found some nice glittery wrapping paper so I can get on with the Advent calendar.  I cut out two squares of thicker cardboard to use as the base and top.  Then I covered the sides of the match boxes and top with our wrapping paper.  The base I decided to cover with white felt to make it a bit snowy.
 

Once I had all the boxes, top and base covered I stacked glued and stacked them up.


At this stage I then tipped out all the matches and added split pins for the handles.  This was easier when I made a whole first.  I used a safety pin and then enlarged it a bit before putting the pin in.
 
 
Now it is all constructed comes the fun of decorating it.  I had some lovely snowflake stickers so decided to use these.  I thought as I was making this for a child and not myself I should add a bit of colour.  I put the stickers onto light blue card and then cut them out before sticking them on.
 

Finally I added numbers to the draws.  I decided to jumble the numbers up so that M will have to look for the number each day.

 
Nearer the time I'll put a joke and a small sweet in each draw.
 
 
I just need to find lots of ideas now to do with match.  All ideas welcome.
 
 

 
 
 
 





Saturday, August 30, 2014

Art doesn't have to be perfect.

 
For a long time M has got upset when things don't go the way he wants.  Recently this got worse as he is now more interested in Art and drawing.  He started throwing tantrums when his picture, painting, craft etc. isn't perfect (in his mind).  It probably doesn't help that we often do crafts together and he sees what I do.  I ask him how old he thinks I am and explain that I've had a lot more practice.

  One morning recently I got a rare few minutes in bed to read while he was drawing in his room.  Then  all hell broke loose his picture hadn't gone right.

This got me thinking about other ways to explain that all art is good and doesn't have to be perfect.  I went on to the computer and googled Picasso.  On the screen were lots of examples of his work.  I got M in and asked him, "are these pictures perfect."  looking at some of the weird faces he said "no".  I then explained that they were done by a famous artist.  I think this surprised him a bit.

A couple of days later we had a free after and M wanted to get the paints out.  This was a great opportunity to again show that art doesn't have to be perfect. M wanted to start by getting the salad spinner out. This was good because you have very little control over the finished picture.

http://mothersmessymadness.blogspot.ch/2013/10/salad-spinner-art.html
 
After this we went onto water colours.  On the internet I had seen a couple of ideas using a very random background.  These fitted my purpose and also looked fun so we gave them a go.
 
 
They both just wanted blobs of paint for the background.  The first one was very random and some swirly lines for a tree.
 
 
Then I got a bit fancier.  I painted a few random blogs of paint, a green base and blue background.  I knew what I had in mind but M had no idea.
 
 
I made sure that the blobs of paint and the flowers I drew after were not perfect.  Not that I can draw any way. I was actually quite impressed with how they turned out.
 
After that I did a very rough background and gave it to M.
 
 
I asked him to have a look at the picture and tell me what he thought it would be.  Then was his turn to make it into something.
 
 
Just what I had in mind and by far perfect.  But he really enjoyed doing it and the finished product.  I just hope now he might just occasionally remember that art doesn't have to be perfect.
 
If you are looking for art ideas to do with kids have a look at my Art for kids pinterest board. 
 
 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Woodland birthday party



 
Lots of M's friends have their birthdays in the Autumn and winter.  The weather can't be guaranteed so they end up with parties in places like McDonald's or a soft play centre. With M's birthday being in June with hopefully better weather I like to be a bit different.  I must admit that I also like the planning and making things for a party.  So while he is still young enough to enjoy them  I still plan his birthday party myself.  Since we moved one of his friends in our road has his birthday the day after.  It would be the same kids invited to both parties so to make life easier we have joint party.  The other boy is Swiss and as we live in Switzerland it is so much easier having a Swiss mum helping with the planning.

M had been saying he didn't want a party at home this year.  So I came up with the idea of a party in the woods.  In Switzerland you can use one of the many fireplaces in the woods to grill sausages.  This is one of M's favourite summer activities and became the starting point for the party.  From here I got carried away on Pinterest looking for woodland party ideas.


Animal Masks

I always start planning way to early so wasn't put off sewing (by hand) 24 animal masks.

 
I chose to make foxes and Owls from templates I found on  http://www.illistyle.com/masks/
 
The owls and foxes were the most popular.
 
Bows/Arrows and Catapults
 
Being a boys party I decided there had to be some bows and arrows and Catapults.  Instead of shooting at each other I thought some targets would be a good idea.  My first thought was to make some cardboard animals.  But then I decided that wasn't such a bright idea so the card got turned into Toadstools instead.  These were mounted on canes and pushed into the ground.
 
 
 

 Woodland Animal Hunt
 
Last year we did pirates and had a treasure hunt.  This year I decided the kids could hunt for animals in the woods with this great Woodland Animal Hunt.
 
I produced a printout for them to tick the animals off.  These didn't get used the kids started finding the animals before I got the sheets out.  So I left them to it as they were having a great time.
 

Woodland Craft

With the weather being something we couldn't control We had to plan for this as well.  With our grill platz (fire area)  we were lucky that it came with a table and shelter.  So if the weather didn't play ball we could do a craft in the shelter.  Browsing the Internet I found a great idea for making picture frames using natural materials the kids could find in the woods.  I just prepared them all in advance.

 
As we were very lucky with the weather and the kids finding a rope hanging from a tree they didn't actually need the craft so went home with a plane picture frame to decorate if they wanted to.
 

 
Party Bags

Pinterest came in useful again to make the party bags.  I wanted to do something a bit different again and came up with this owl idea.  I filled them with sticks (pretzels) and fallen leaves (chocolate breakfast cereal and raisins).  I also found some jelly Worms and Snakes.  M wouldn't let me put spiders in them.


I've also produced a printable if you want to have a go at making these.

And I even got carried away with the birthday cake.

 
If it had turned out a really wet miserable day we would have abandoned the woods and had the party at home.  I had a few ideas for indoor games that I will have to write up including using cotton wool balls with the catapults.  Since the party I've also found some great origami animals that I've added to my Origami Pinterest Board.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Table Top Football

 
Just before Christmas the staff at M's Swiss kindergarten picked up on a speech problem.  Not the lack of it, no way nothing stops him talking apart from the TV.  He has a problem pronouncing some of his letters.  In particular SH.  We are lucky that there are Speech Therapists within the school complex.  Last week I got a phone call that a space had become available.  So this week we went along for his first appointment.
 
The lady was really nice and decided to work on strengthening his face mussels.  They started with some blowing exercises. One of them was blowing a small ball of cotton wool across a table into a goal made of building bricks.  I thought this was a good idea and as she asked us to do this game at home I decided to take it a step further.
 
As M would say google is a wonderful thing.  I don't think there is anything you can't find there, and making mini goals didn't beat it.
 
All you need is a rectangular piece of paper.
 
 
 
Fold the piece of paper in half length ways.

 
 
Then fold it in half length ways again and open it back up.  This gives you a central line.

 
 
At both ends of the piece of paper fold the corners into the central line.

 
 
Then fold the two pointed ends over to the central line.  Let these open back up and it will stand to give you a simple goal.

 
Our speech therapist used a small ball of cotton wool and a straw to blow it across the table.  She then moved onto just blowing the cotton wool.
 
 
After playing with the cotton wool we decided to raid the house and see what else would make good balls.
 
 
M decided a half walnut shell didn't make a very good football.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Woodland Picture Frames



 
I'm still preparing things for M's 7th birthday party in the woods.  I thought it would be nice for them to make something to take home.  I have my fingers crossed that the weather will be nice and the children can collect materials for this from our surroundings.  But I guess I have to be prepared in case it is wet.  So during walks in the woods I've been collecting different materials that they can use if we end up with the party in a house.  It will also give them plenty of time to dry and hopefully stick better.
 
 
I had saved some large sheets of cardboard from flat packed furniture that I cut up and made into picture frames.  I also picked up some empty boxes from the supper market as I have to make about 25.
 
 
Next they will get a photo ready stuck in the middle.  Shame I don't have a Polaroid camera.  With that they could have had a group photo from the party.  I just need to ask all the mums to email me a photo in advance.
 
 
I thought I should make an example to show the kids the sort of thing they could do.  As the kids will also be German speaking I though an example would be easier than using my basic German to tell them.
 
 
M enjoyed helping me collect the materials.  He just doesn't know what we are going to do with them.  I have to keep something a surprise for the day.


Just in case the weather isn't on our side.  I collected some leaves and flowers to press.  Then we can do the craft indoors.  Just need to go out and collect some more bark and anything else interesting I can find for them to use.  I'm still hoping they collect some of their own bits in the woods on the day.  Fingers crossed.