Make Your Own Garden Fairies #BostikBloggers

My girls are all about the fairies, so we have a very random collection of different fairies around the house, but when we wanted some for our fairy gardens in the allotment, I didn’t want to use any of the beautiful fairy statues in case they go walkabout fly off in the middle of the night.

Fortunately the theme for April’s Bostik Bloggers was “wings” or “flying”, so a bag of fun coloured feathers seemed a perfect way to bring some fairies into our garden.Make Your Own Garden Fairies #BostikBloggers

For this project, each fairy will require:

  • A lollipop stick
  • A mini cupcake case
  • A pompop
  • Two feathers
  • Scissors
  • GlueMake Your Own Garden Fairies #BostikBloggers

You can be as decorative with these garden fairies as you like, and could incorporate pipe cleaners for arms, but we didn’t find that necessary this time round.

Make Your Own Garden Fairies #BostikBloggers

To start, glue the feathers half way down the lollipop stick.  Turn the stick around and add a dollop of glue where the head would go and pop a pompom in place. Make Your Own Garden Fairies #BostikBloggers

Make a small cut in top of the cupcake case. Slide the lollipop stick through the case to two thirds down.  (You can use a glue dot to fix it in place if it is too big or loose.)

Make Your Own Garden Fairies #BostikBloggers

Leave it all to dry, then find a spot in the garden!

Introduce your fairies to their new home, and enjoy how pretty it – and simple – it is.

Gelatin Bird Feeders For The Garden (With Recipe)

I love the idea of helping out nature, though living on a lush green Island with rolling hills and meadows, it can be hard to imagine that we need to. But, because here and now we might not need to, doesn’t mean I don’t need to instil a wish to protect our wildlife in my children. At five and three they are perfectly capable of learning how, and now is the time that they are still so full of enthusiasm, so it’s the perfect time to do it.

Recently we’ve been talking about birds and how birds fly, and the different types of birds and all that, so it seemed fitting to make gelatin bird feeders for the garden, though this is something we’d normally do in Autumn. We don’t actually have a garden either, so we’ve just hung them in trees around us.
Gelatin Bird Feeders For The Garden (With Recipe)

These bird feeders are made with gelatin, as they last a little longer than for example peanut butter, and gelatin isn’t harmful to the birds – and probably helps their beaks grow stronger too!

We’ve made them in cookie cutters so that we can play with the shapes, and have fun with them. Since we live by the sea, we’ve even had a few ships to hang in the trees.

Gelatin Bird Feeders For The Garden (With Recipe)

Tip: Don’t hang them in direct sunlight. If it gets too hot the gelatin begins to melt. Also, press as much together as you can in one shape to hold them tightly together. Gelatin Bird Feeders For The Garden (With Recipe)

How to make gelatin bird feeders:

  1. To make the birdfeeders, plan on a packet of gelatin (powder) to a cup of bird seed. So if you’re making two cups (500ml) bird seed, add two packets of gelatin and so on.
  2. Prepare the gelatin to the manufacturers directions, but only add 1 cup of water to one packet of gelatin (250ml water). (Or double if you’re making double) It needs to be thicker than jelly to hold it all together. Once the gelatin has melted, leave it to cool for a couple of minutes, then add in the bird seed. It mustn’t be runny and since your seed may differ to mine, just add more if it’s too wet and liquid.
  3. Stir in well till all the seed is coated, then scoop in to your waiting shapes.
  4. We scoop half the amount needed to fill the shape, then add a length of string, before adding in the rest of the seed, so that the string is in the centre when you pull the shape out of the cutter. Press down firmly to compact everything as much as possible, before setting aside overnight to dry.
  5. Don’t leave in the sun or it may melt again.
  6. Carefully remove from the cutter, and hang somewhere to enjoy.

Google ‘garden birds’ in your local area and see if you can find a checklist of what you should be able to find in your country. Keep an eye on your bird feeder and see how many local birds you can spot in your garden.

We love the RSPB’s ‘First’ Series of books. They are perfect for small people.  And why not turn it into a full experience by using a bird watching kit to really feel like a nature explorer.

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Gelatin Bird Feeders For The Garden (With Recipe) Gelatin Bird Feeders For The Garden (With Recipe) Gelatin Bird Feeders For The Garden (With Recipe)

How To Make A Bird Mobile

How To Make A Bird Mobile How To Make A 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.

How To Make A Bird Mobile How To Make A Bird Mobile

How To Make A Bird Mobile

Create A Home For Nature With A Free Pack From The RSPB

I’ve just had a new campaign from the RSPB land in my inbox – if you’re a subscriber you will have too – and it’s really sweet. It’s the perfect timing too, as the girls and I are looking at ‘birds’ at the moment, how they fly, what makes them different and so on. Have a look at this video:


YouTube Direkt

I’ve just requested the pack for my girls too – we don’t have a garden at the moment, just a driveway, but that strikes me as even more reason to see what we can do to ‘create a home for nature’. The pack includes straightforward tips and hints to help the nature that shares your space, from frogs and newts, to butterflies, beetles and bumblebees. You can download it either in English or Welsh, and you can also choose to have the English version posted to your home address.

The RSPB website have also added 20 new activities to include nature-friendly activities in your home environment. You can filter the activities based on your available space: balcony, small garden, large garden or neighbourhood. You can add a filter for which animals you want to help, and how much time you have to spend on your project.Create A Home For Nature With A Free Pack From The RSPB

Once you’ve chosen your activity you can download an activity PDF to instruct you throughout, and there are also links to the RSPB shop if you want to buy any products from them to help you, though you aren’t required to.

You can make it interactive for yourself and the children, and ‘pledge’ to complete an activity – the birdbath activity currently has 15 pledges – and you can even share your pictures on social media with the hashtag #homesfornature.

I think it’s a fantastic way to keep the kids busy over the summer, prepare the garden for autumn and winter, and give the world that supports our lives a bit of support too.

Do your children like kids magazines? The RSPB do a fantastic wildlife magazine 6 times a year suitable for young children.  Starting at £4 a month you’ll receive a magazine, welcome gift and more. Find out more here. There are also tons of free teaching resources here.

A Good Day

I don’t really have a lot to say, at the moment, but I think as parents we’re often hard on ourselves. We judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else can, and when someone else compliments us, we normally down play it. And if someone else does ‘do’ parenting well, or achieve what we’ll call the ‘Pinterest Perfect’ parenting, well, we shun them for making us feel inadequate. Or at least that’s what the latest trend seems to be.

Well, I suck as a parent these days. I’m so busy trying to keep a roof over our heads, and food on the table, that my girls don’t get the mama I intended to be, and they don’t get the mama I dream of being. Oh, if I could pause time, go back in history, do a few things a bit differently so that I could have, and provide more security right now for these childhood years…. and so the thoughts go round and round in my head.

But, yesterday was a good day. Yesterday my children played in crystalline water and wore mud shoes. Yesterday they frolicked like lambs in a field and were carefree, and happy. I hope that yesterday will be a memory, one day, when they look back. That they’ll remember a childhood that looks like yesterday. And in the meantime I’ll celebrate and share the winning moments.

A Good Day

A bridge over troubled waters – except they’re not that troubled, fortunately 😉

A Good Day

Muddy shoes. Signs of a childhood well spent, methinks

A Good Day

Frolicking and frivolity, wild and free – and boy did they sleep well

A Good Day

There’s so much to learn in nature too…

Growing Butterflies & Ladybirds

Last year the girls and I ‘grew’ our own butterflies. It was an amazing experience for us all – I mean, them, mostly, of course, but I loved every minute of it.

Growing Butterflies & LadybirdsThe butterflies arrive in the post in a small tub with self contained ‘food’. Over a period of about 2 – 4 weeks, you watch the butterflies go from tiny caterpillars to huge ones, to chrysalis, and eventually, to butterfly. Feed them for a few days, look after them while their wings strengthen, and before you know it, you have five fully-fledged butterflies ready to send out into the world to help cross pollinate the plants in your area, bringing new life into your environment. I find it quite an emotional thing, letting those butterflies go!

You can buy the butterfly kit at any time, but the company will only send the butterflies out from March onwards, to make sure that they’re looked after, and do as much as they can to make sure the little insects have a good start to life.

Growing Butterflies & Ladybirds

If you’re worried that you wouldn’t know how to raise a butterfly, it’s honestly easier than fish! You largely just sit and watch them for four weeks, but it is an incredible learning journey for children too.

There are fantastic resources to help you on your journey too, like the Butterfly Life Cycle from Twinkl or one of the ample free resources online too. And don’t forget Youtube – there’s everything from songs to kids shows about the butterfly life cycle

Growing butterflies is so rewarding – I can’t wait for our new kit to arrive.

*I’ll receive 5% of your purchase price for recommending this product. You won’t pay any more or less through using or not using these links.

Catch A Falling Leaf

The end of the summer is coming, and pretending it’s not so doesn’t do anything to stop the impending doom winter. I think we may have some exciting plans up our sleeves for this winter, but I’ll have to see how it all pans out before I start sharing. In the meantime, we’re carrying on with our #50things and well on target to get through a lot, if not all of it, this year.

Earlier this year we went to the Whipsnade Zoo for a family day out. It was an early spring day, and the air was thick with cherry blossom scent. Yes, cherry blossoms aren’t leaves, I know, but hey ho, the skills are the same. Catch A Falling Leaf

There’s something about standing waiting in anticipation, spotting a leaf – blossom – jumping into action, grabbing, missing, catching that can’t but make you feel 5 years old. There’s nothing you can do but laugh, and giggle, and shout as you wait and act. The feeling of success as you finally clutch that foliage in your hand.

It’s a great way to burn energy, and to laugh together, play together.

It also costs nothing!

And while catching spring blossoms is imbued with the hope of warmer days, catching autumn leaves are indicative of chestnut roasting, mushroom foraging, and berry picking – there’s nothing not to love.

And while you’re having fun, the kids are learning hand-eye coordination, action and reaction and that mama can run and laugh and play too.

Get out there this autumn, and chase the leaves.

Catch A Falling Leaf

We’re completing  the National Trust’s #50Things campaign because, well, it’s great. This was number 33: Catch a Falling Leaf on their list. You can see the full list here.

5 Growing Themed Activities For Children

Our PlayLearning theme this week is ‘growing’ with a bent towards gardening, seeds and the plant cycle.

While it’s still a little early to be planting, I think, and we have absolutely no space to really be doing it – what with the swamp garden in the state it is, and the conservatory the new garage – but somehow it still feels like a good thing to be doing this week.

Here are five great ideas for helping children understand the seed – to seedling – to plant process, and just a fun activity too.
5 Growing Themed Activities For Children

1) The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

The Tiny Seed is a gorgeous little story about a tiny seed blown away from the parent plant, where it travels a long way with all the other seeds. The seed survives the hazards of the journey and finally falls onto fertile earth where it grows to become a huge flower, attracting visitors from miles around, before the seasons change, and the flowers seeds begin a journey of their own.

Ameli loved this story, and even a few hours after the first reading, was able to answer questions about the story, and the journey of seeds.

If you don’t want to buy the book, there’s a beautiful reading of it on Youtube.

2) One Seed – a children’s story and song

Another lovely story, with valuable lessons about being  strong against ridicule, and standing up for what you believe it and having faith in yourself. This story talks about how following your dream and doing what you know you are capable of can affect many people down the line. There’s emphasis on roots and the strength they give and how putting those roots down attracts water to the plant. There’s also the spread of plants through the seeds, birds and people.

After the story there’s a song, pictures and things to think about. We didn’t go through all those, but did watch the story a few times. It definitely sank in, because later today, driving somewhere, Ameli was answering all my questions about the roots – if the roots are deep, would the wind blow the tree over? if you leaned against the tree, would it fall over? can the leaves blow off?

This story definitely increased her understanding of roots and growth.

5 Growing Themed Activities For Children

3) Craft a Flower Garden

My mom’s final memorial service was on Saturday, in Perth, and obviously we weren’t there. The girls and I created a flower garden – Nana’s flower garden.

We used:

  • Lolipop sticks
  • Mini cupcake cases
  • Cut out ‘petals’
  • 3 photographs
  • Ribbon
  • Circle of polystyrene out of packaging

I cut a few sets of petals for the girls to glue to green and white lolipop sticks. We also glued and snipped a few mini cupcake cases, gluing the pictures to the middle. We added some ribbon (blue) around the outside of the polystyrene, and twirled some starry ribbon around too.

The girls love their Nana’s Garden

5 Growing Themed Activities For Children

4) Watch beans grow

Not literally. It would be very tedious. We’re actually a little early on the bean planting, according to the instructions on the package, but never mind. We used three empty spice bottles, and some cotton wool, and the girls helped place the seeds from Barlotti beans, Broad beans and Runner beans in the three bottles in such a way that as they sprout and grow, we can keep an eye on them. I’m quite excited about this. I hope they do sprout!

Add a popsicle stick with the name of the beans and sit back and wait. We hope.

5 Growing Themed Activities For Children

5) Onions grown indoors

This is a Pinterest offering I spotted some time ago, and never gave much thought to again, but when I was about to throw out a 3l oil can I suddenly remembered it and thought it could be a good idea.

Now, I’m not sure how the heck they made the perfect circles in their plastic on the Pinterest version, but it was quite a job. In the end I pierced the bottle with the tip of a knife, then cut squares out all around.

I bought an expanding potting soil which the girls thoroughly enjoyed watching and mixing with the water, and we layered water with onions sticking the tip out through the hole and the roots covered in soil.

Our onions are currently on the window sill where they might get a few rays of sun, if the sun ever shines again.

These five ‘growing’ activities gave us loads of fun and conversation today and I look forward to seeing our vegetables grow as my girlie’s mind expands and absorbs too.

What A Lovely Sound {{Book Review}}

What A Lovely Sound  by Starr Meneely  follows a young girl, Melody Jane, as she leaves a busy, bustling city with all its noises and sounds, and goes to spend a night in the country. When she arrives there, she is surprised by how quiet it is, and at first she worries that she can’t hear anything. As she closes her eyes and opens her ears, however, she begins to hear the sounds of nature – a babbling brook, a warbling bird, the wind swishing through the grass.

Soon Melody Jane is swept up in the sounds and song of the outdoors, and she spends a beautiful summers day in wholesome surroundings, find a lovely sound in nature.

The book is perfectly written for young children as there are enough words to make it engaging without taking too long, so it’s also an ideal bed time story.

What A Lovely Sound {{Book Review}}

The illustrations – by Susan Merick – are engaging, enchanting, and just lovely. Melody Jane strikes you as a real little girl, rather than a stick figure. She has chubby little thighs and rosy cheeks. I love it. She’s so cute.

We normally do a craft, or some kind of learning with our books, even if tenuous, but because of the things that have happened in our lives this last month, all our home education or play learning activities have been on hold. We are also on holiday as I’m writing this, so we haven’t had the routines and rhythms we normally have.

Instead, we’ve been staring at mountain and walking along streams, reviving our souls and restoring our hearts.

Today we were walking along the river, when Ameli closed her eyes to listen – it filled me with excitement that she was able to be present in the moment, and hear a river flowing, birds chirping, wind blowing, a dog barking, occasionally a car passing (and rather more obscurely, the ice in the puddles! We did hear some of them crack though, which was so unusual!)

So what did my four year old take from What A Lovely Sound?  A reminder to close your eyes, to feel what’s around you, the hear it, to listen to it, with your heart. It’s very cold at the moment, here in Wales, but I do look forward to reading the story again, in the summer, and lie in a field, listening, breathing, and becoming part of the beautiful story of nature, with Ameli and Melody Jane.

{PlayLearning} Dinosaurs

I was curious to see how dinosaurweek would go down in our home, as my daughters are just over one, and not yet four – not the target age or gender for dinosaurs, normally. Turns out, however, that they absolutely loved it. We had two dinosaur books that we focused on this week:

{PlayLearning} Dinosaurs Ameli chose a dinosaur she liked out of ‘Things You Never Knew About Dinosaursand she made her interpretation of the dinosaurs that ride around on bikes. {PlayLearning} DinosaursAnother day another dinosaur, so we made some quick and easy salt dough:

  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 cup of flour
mixed together and coloured accordingly – I mixed green, red and blue food colouring for the grey-ish colour.
We made a few dinosaurs, eggs and nests, and then left them out to dry. It provided a great opportunity to discus the difference between amphibians and reptiles.

{PlayLearning} Dinosaurs {PlayLearning} Dinosaurs {PlayLearning} Dinosaurs Of course, no conversation about dinosaurs can be complete without excavation. I put some toys, pompoms and water beads into blocks of ice, and the girls had a lovely, cooling, time ‘excavating’. I would say keep the blocks small for younger children, as they lost interest half way through. Smaller blocks would give them the pleasure of completion in the small attention span time frame. {PlayLearning} Dinosaurs

I’ve seen these dinosaur eggs floating around Pinterest for ages now, and thought we’d try it for the dinosaur week.

I boiled a few eggs – the Thermomix makes amazing boiled eggs! – and then Ameli cracked them gently. We then poured some food colouring over them and left them for a few hours.

Later, Ameli peeled the eggs, which is great fine motor skill practice, and equally great for learning how to work really gently.

The peeled eggs looked fantastic, really! The blue egg only had a couple of cracks in, so didn’t have the same pattern. It was a fun experiment, and a yummy lunch.

{PlayLearning} Dinosaurs

The finished dinosaur eggs:

{PlayLearning} Dinosaurs

As much as you can with a three year old, we discussed extinction, creation, evolution and everything that goes with dinosaurs.
It was a really fun week!
{PlayLearning} Dinosaurs {PlayLearning} Dinosaurs {PlayLearning} Dinosaurs {PlayLearning} Dinosaurs
{PlayLearning} Dinosaurs