Monday, 18 September 2017

Salt Dough Donuts

I can't help it, I just love salt dough! We made a batch with cinnamon and nutmeg in it this week and made them into donuts for Jessica's ever growing bakery. We topped them with acrylic paint icing and a good dollop of glitter sprinkles. Yum!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Harvest Window

We will be making harvest window decorations at Toddler group this week. These will then adorn a window in a local church for their harvest service at the end of the month. We've got paper plate scarecrows, tissue paper apples and bubble wrap sweetcorn to keep us busy. Here are Jessica's examples ready for the session on Monday...

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Owlette Costume

Jessica is a big fan of PJ masks and has been nagging me to make her an "Owlette" costume for some time. I can't be doing with trying to make exact copies of costumes and Jessica is happy to use her imagination to some extent so, for now at least, we've stuck to some superhero wings and mask...

Making these wings gave me plenty of practice with bias binding, which I haven't used a huge amount before. I attached ribbon at the top and elastic hoops for her arms so that she can run around with wings out and hands free. Jess decided how to decorate the mask, which is made of stiff felt. She chose to use feathers and glitter glue. Not an authentic Owlette mask but it's very pretty!

I could be wrong but I think she likes it...

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Salt Dough Acorns

Autumn is upon us and with it a whole new season of crafting. Harvest crafts, Halloween and the lengthy crafting preparations for Christmas are but a few things that will keep me busy in the coming months. 

After collecting Jessica from nursery this afternoon we were in no hurry so we sat down on the path outside and explored some acorns. We twisted them out of their cups, rattled them, opened them, skinned them and left them for the squirrels to collect. Jessica thinks autumn is their favourite time of year; she's probably right. We thought we'd take some home to paint and turn into little people with hats on but that wouldn't be fair on the squirrels so I had a better idea...

Let me introduce you to our salt dough acorn family! 

We collected a handful of acorn cups in the woods near our house and then refilled them with balls of salt dough. I popped them in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes, allowed them to cool and then we decorated them using Sharpies. I baked them hotter and faster than I usually would because I wanted the dough to expand slightly so that the hats would be secure. They were fiddly things for Jessica to draw on but she did incredibly well. Here's a closer look...

David wanted to know why we had done this. To be honest, I have no answer to the question. There's little we can do with them now they're finished but the process was fun and it came from one of those special moments when I was just sitting in the sunshine enjoying my daughter and helping her to discover the amazing world around her. I went with the flow and this is where it took us. I suspect we might even do it again!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Dragonflies Galore

It was back to preschool for Jessica yesterday where we discovered that she has moved into the newly opened Dragonfly room. This was such exciting news that we have spent rather a lot of today making and playing with dragonflies in various forms. Five of these went with her to nursery this afternoon and did not return with her but will proudly adorn the classroom from now on. Jessica was very much involved in making all of these although she was happy to leave the fiddly bits to me. She often insists that she can do these things herself but today was content to accept that the wire work was probably a step too far!

Seed beads and beading wire...

Wooden beads, tiny bells and craft wire... I attached string to hold it up and it makes a really delightful jingly noise as it flies!

Pipe cleaner, beads, straws, paper, paint and washi tape...

Lollipop stick, washi tape, coloured film and sharpies...

A stick, PVC tape, contact paper, card and glitter... The picture's not great but the wings are translucent with patches of glitter. This one flew around the garden for about an hour this morning!

Bugle beads rather than seed beads for the body...

Hama beads instead of seed beads... Much easier for Jess to do herself.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Bag for Gran

For Gran's birthday this year, Jessica decided she wanted to paint a bag for her. We used a calico bag from Hobbycraft  and watered down acrylic paints. It's always good to paint on something other than paper! The technique has worked well for us and I like how bold the colours stay. Jessica really enjoyed doing this one.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Apple Trees

It was our first day back at Toddler group today. Next week we're all off to an orchard to enjoy some fresh, juicy apples (weather permitting) so I thought we'd make our own apple trees this week. Paper, glue, toilet roll tubes and a craft punch - surely a winner! Actually, we were very low on numbers this week as the school's are all on inset so there were only about twelve trees made and at least half of them all went home together - sorry, Karen! The children did a combination of tissue paper and shredded paper and a few of them also made blackcurrant bushes and blueberry trees using some scrunched up purple tissue paper. I loved them.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Blackberry Painting

We have brambles all along the back of our garden and there's a glut of blackberries at the moment. The many that have fallen from the branches are not fit to be eaten so we thought we'd try using them another way yesterday. 

We talked about how dyes and paints used to be made, which we've occasionally seen discussed by Mr Maker - thank you CBeebies. Then Jessica collected a few handfuls and then pounded them in my pestle and mortar to make a lovely squelchy mess!

We probably should have passed it all through a sieve before using it and Jessica would have enjoyed doing that but I didn't think about it at the time. It was fascinating stuff to use because it went on red and dried to a lovely deep purple. Amazing magical ink!

This was a lovely process. We enjoyed it so much that we're now trying to come up with other ideas for making paints from nature. I'm thinking that marigold flowers may work pretty well. I'll let you know!

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Kat's Top for Jess

Almost the minute that Jessica and I arrived in Wales, Katryn wanted to get sewing. She's so ambitious and incredibly confident but she also likes to have me around just in case anything goes wrong. On this occasion she was determined to make a top for Jessica and she decided to make it from some off-cuts of a dress that I'd altered for her. The fabric is stretchy and difficult to handle but she coped well. Aside from the finished article being a little bit long and rather snug I think she did a lovely job. 

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Monster Building by itsy bitsy fun

I recently spotted a monster building printable activity on itsy bitsy fun, which is a lovely website with all sorts of lovely things on it. There are loads of different body parts to chose from and they're only mildly irritating to cut out! I have used similar things with Jess before, which she has really enjoyed but once the pieces are laminated they are a bit slippy and those with little fingers can get a touch frustrated. Actually, in all honesty it's probably those with big fingers who want things to stay in the right place who get most annoyed! Anyway, I thought I'd attempt to tackle this issue so I popped to Poundland and picked up a roll of magnetic tape. By sticking some tape to the back of each laminated piece we could use a magnetic board or, in our case, an old baking sheet to keep everything in position. It worked a treat and I'll definitely do it again. Here's Jessica with one of her creations...

Friday, 21 July 2017

Thank You Abacus!

The thank you presents for nursery were a team effort. Jessica drew a lovely flower and wrote "Love Jess", which I traced onto the front and back of four wooden coasters before using pyrography to make the images permanent. Jessica then painted them with a layer of acrylic varnish to finish them off.

For the card she wanted to paint another rainbow cat and this time she had to have a really spectacular tail!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

"Do You Want to Build a Snowman..."

Picture the scene...

It's July. The summer holidays have just begun. It's hot and sticky outside but your three and a half year old is being Elsa. She has used her power to make the snow and ice for you both to play in but that is not enough, she has got to build a snowman. So, what do you do?

You raid one of your craft boxes for cotton wool, ribbon, pipe-cleaners, a feather and googly eyes, find a toilet roll tube and some glue and you help her make a snowman of course. What else could you do?!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Black Glue and Watercolours

I've seen lots of people recommend using black glue with watercolours recently so I thought we'd give it a try ourselves. 

The black glue is just PVA mixed with black paint (I used ready mixed poster paint). I did this when I didn't have much glue left in the bottle because I wanted it in a squeezy bottle so that I could pipe a design straight from the bottle. I just put some paint into the bottle with the glue and gave it a good shake. 

I drew a simple flower and left it to dry overnight before asking Jessica to paint it in the morning. The outline doesn't stay particularly raised so it's no help with learning to stay inside the lines but it does stay put and doesn't mix with the other paints. This could also be achieved by using black acrylic as I have done on the flower pots but I like this as an alternative too. 

Jessica must have enjoyed doing it too; as soon as she'd painted this one she asked me to draw her a cat in black glue for her to paint. What a surprise!

End of Term Cupcakes

It was the last day of nursery today before the summer holidays. I will share the thank you card and gifts that Jess made in another post but she was also adamant that she wanted to make some cupcakes for all of the grown-ups. She's had a fabulous first term at Abacus and has grown in confidence so much. It's been a joy to see her develop through attending the preschool sessions and worth every single tear at drop-off. Anyway, I digress, back to Jessica and her cupcakes...

Today she did everything (well, very nearly). She measured the flour and sugar on her scales so that they exactly balanced with the eggs she was using...

She creamed the butter and sugar together...

She cracked the eggs (which she doesn't usually like doing)...

She folded in the flour and spooned the mixture into the cases...

Then she licked... :-)

To decorate them we tried out some colour-your-own cupcake decorations by House of Cake. They are printed designs on sugar paste and come with edible food pens. The idea is brilliant but the black printed outline comes off if you're not incredibly quick and careful so they didn't look the best in the end. Jessica did enjoy doing them though and they were something a bit different.

She made pink buttercream (of course)...

She liberally spread the buttercream on the cupcakes and topped with the decorations before licking the rest of the bowl and ensuring that she had a sugar-high for nursery this afternoon - sorry about that... ;-)

Here she is looking as though butter wouldn't melt with her dozen of beautiful cupcakes...

Monday, 17 July 2017

Drawing and Painting

Jessica loves to draw and paint. She always has but all of a sudden she has really begun to understand the concept of drawing and paints things. Here are three of my recent favourites...



"Rainbow cat with two noses!"

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Polystyrene Printing

We have finally got around to trying out some printing using the polystyrene. As with so many things it has been something I've wanted to try for a while. It seems like a great way of creating batches of thank you cards and such like. So, when my pizza came with some polystyrene packaging I knew exactly what to do with it!

Jessica drew a design on the board using a biro to create an imprint in the material. It was originally a person but Jess decided she just liked poking and squiggling so that's what she did. It's a strange sensation to carve into the polystyrene and I can understand her fascination but these would work beautifully with a less haphazard drawing or geometric design. She decided she wanted to use black paint for her printing today and she covered her image using a small foam roller. Then we covered the board with paper, rubbed firmly and peeled back to see the result...

Jess was very pleased that she could make exactly the same picture for as many people as she liked. The only trouble is that there are a lot of people she likes giving artwork to! Here are just a few of her prints hanging up to dry in the conservatory...

Sunday, 9 July 2017

More Pot Painting

Jessica painted terracotta pots for the Grandads for Father's Day this year. Well, first she told me what to paint on them as outlines and then she painted them. Grandad B got an owl just like the pot I shared back in May while Grandad D had to have a cat and a heart. This cat had to have eyes that were different colours but I still haven't got to the bottom of why that was. The eyelashes signify that it's a girl cat and I have no idea why she chose to paint it red and peach but she was very proud of herself when it was finished. Here's the front and back view...

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