Octopus Gift Box Craft

Octopus Gift Box My girls climbed in a box a few weeks ago, and asked me to ship them to their Oupa – my dad, in Australia. I didn’t do it, because that would be illegal I would miss them too much, but I did think that it would be a good idea to send my dad a parcel with little bits and pieces made by them, which we’ve been working on.

One of the goodies we made was octopuses from toilet rolls, which we then filled with sweets.

You will need:

  • Toilet roll
  • Googly Eyes
  • Paint
  • Sparkly stickers
  • A small bag
  • Sweets

How To Make An Octopus Gift Box:

To start with, cut 8 ‘tentacles’ out of about a third of the toilet roll by cutting up in towards the centre of the toilet roll.

Think about how you’re going to do it first. The keen among you may have spotted that our octopus has 10 tentacles. It’s a GMO Octopus.

Next, paint the octopus, making sure to paint the top and the bottom of the tentacles, before ‘curling’ them up by gently pressing them upwards.

Once the paint has dried, decorate the octopus, so we can turn it into a gift box.

We used jelly beans and stuffed them inside organza bags.

Glue the bag gently to the inside of the toilet roll. I used a glue gun and just made two glue dots.

Finally, trace the outline of the top of the octopus, and cut a circle with two ‘tabs’ on either side so that you can fold them over and glue them to the inside of the toilet roll, creating a ‘lid’ for the octopus’ head, and a cover for the sweets. In the picture I haven’t glued it in yet, so you can see the tabs.

With the organza bag, the string looks like further tentacles… because eight are clearly not enough!

Ideas For Dr Seuss’ Birthday {PlayLearning}

Our PlayLearning theme this week is Dr Seuss and a touch of World Book Day, we have a few books waiting to be read, so we’re going to work through them this week.  We are also huge Dr Seuss fans, and Ameli particularly loves them for bed time stories, so Dr Seuss is a great theme for us to repeat again, despite having done it once before already.

Dr Seuss ActivitiesBecause of the multitude of Dr Seuss stories, there’s so much to do in this theme, it’s rather brilliant.

Crafts and Play 

Lorax mask

Truffula Tree Landscape

Lorax Pencil Holder

Lorax Puppets

Truffula Tree Waterless Snowglobe

Truffula Tree Hop (And other games)

Cat in the Hat Paper Plate

Horton Hears a Who Toilet Roll Craft

One Fish Two Fish Three Fish hand print craft

Family Foot Book

Green Eggs and Ham Bath

Hop On Pop Site Word Cards

Tweetle Beetle Play Rice

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut Glasses

The Sneetches Game

Cat In The Hat Paper Plate Craft Hats


Cat in the Hat Yoghurt

Marshmallow Truffalo Trees

Green Eggs And Ham

(Scrambled) Green Eggs and Ham

Cat in the Hat Fruit

Cat in the Hat lunch

Truffula Tree Fruit

Lorax Cheese Snack

One Fish Two Fish Savoury Crackers



The Loraxand Youtube has been most helpful with movies too, such as: Green Eggs And Ham, The Cat in The Hat, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas (awesome drawing art)


There’s so much Dr Seuss stuff out there, that it’s hard to know what’s worth spending money on. We don’t have a definitive list by any means, but here are some of our favourites:

The Lorax Pop Up (US) – A beautiful pop up version of the story, with really funky interactive bits.

A Classic Case of Dr Seuss (US) – A case of books. We have this one. Ameli loves it.

I Can Do That Card Game (US) – A fun little card game, especially for a group of children.

Follow Luschka van Onselen’s board {Themes} Dr Seuss on Pinterest.
disclaimer for links

The Night Before Christmas – 24 Days Of Christmas Crafts {Literature To Crafts}

‘Twas the night before Christmas…

Well, actually it wasn’t. It was one of the 24 Days of Christmas story books that we read together and turned into a craft.

We’re Parragon book buddies and every month they send us a book to review and tell you about. The November book was this one, although it only arrived a few days ago – just in time to go into the advent calendar.

The Night Before Christmas by Clement.C. Moore is a longer version, I think, of the traditional story (although it’s possible that the other version we have of it is just shorter, I’m not sure!) It makes for a nice bed time story length, however, if you’re not used to chapter books.

One of my favourite things about the book though, is the cover. See those white hills in the top left? That’s all sparkly glitter, adding a real sensory feeling to the book. It’s lovely. Sadly the sensory bit isn’t carried into the story, but the illustration – done by Henry Fisher – is just lovely.  It’s bold and colourful and rich. Really pretty. And we loved Santa in his drawings too – rotund, rosy cheeked and so very jovial looking.

The glossy pages are lovely to look at and touch, and it’s definite a favourite in our Christmas book pile.

One of the things I really like about this story is that the teller – the dad – ‘meets’ Santa. He sees him, and Santa winks at him and he ‘Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread’. I’ve heard of so many children that are scared of Santa, and I figure if daddy‘s not scared of him, that’s a good start – in a little person’s mind at least.

For our craft I photocopied one of the pages with St Nick on in black and white, and we used the story teller’s physical description to decorate Santa. He says:

“His  eyes – how they twinkled!

His dimples – how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow. “

We used silver and pink stamping ink for the ‘sparkly’ eyes and rosy cheeks, and red glitter for the nose. Finally, we tore up cotton wool for his white fluffy beard, and the girls had great fun glueing and decorating Father Christmas – so much so, I now have two copies of him hanging on the living room wall.

Disclaimer for reviews

The Snowman – 24 Days of Christmas Crafts {Literature to Food}

The advent calendar book for day three was The Snowman, a much loved classic I always hear people saying they remember from their own childhoods. The first time I ever heard of it was when I was sent the book for review earlier in the year. Apparently there are two versions – one with no text, just images, and this one, a written story. I don’t know the original, but this one was kind of sweet, although I’m not sure about the message that it’s a good thing to sneak out and go to a dance with a random snowman! But my paranoia aside, the children love the story. This particular version came with a CD so there’s a song we got to listen and dance to a few times over too.

Our craft of the day was to make meringue snowmen. You can find our recipes for making it the traditional meringues here, or for using the Thermomix here. I made three different styles of snowmen too – the first were piped as snowmen, the second as meringues and then stuck together in the icing phase and the third as flat figure of eight style snowmen. I preferred the ones we had to stick together in the end. They were the most manageable.

Not only did we have fun reading the story, but we also enjoyed baking and decorating together, and a lot of fun was had in the eating too. 

And it may just be me, but I think it would make a fun gift too! A copy of the book, with a jar of snowmen, right?

Foods, Activities and Crafts To Celebrate Roald Dahl Day

Celebrate Roald Dahl Day

Celebrate Roald Dahl Day

It’s Roald Dahl day on Friday 13 September, (being his birthday) and while I’ve left it a little late to read all of the books to Ameli – and to be honest she’s still a little young for them – she does love The Fantastic Mr Fox movie, and also Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We’re currently busy reading The BFG though, and she’s enjoying that.

Below are ideas for celebrating Roald Dahl Day. As we do them I may replace the links, but these are mostly to other people’s posts right now.

Update: Want to focus on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? See this post!

You can watch:


You could go ahead and buy the Roald Dahl Revolting Recipes Book but there are also plenty ideas available online. How about trying:

Make and Do

Follow Luschka van Onselen’s board {Themes} Roald Dahl on Pinterest.

{PlayLearning} Underpants Wonderpants Book Review And Activities

As Parragon Bookbuddies, we receive a book in the post every month. This month’s selection arrived last week, a funny and colourful book called Underpants Wonderpants.

Underpants Wonderpants is a book about a superhero dog who wears underpants and solves all his problems with underpants.

Here’s the description:Is it an eagle? Is it a plane? No – it’s Underpants Wonderpants to the rescue again! Whenever you need him in sun, snow or shower, he’ll sort out your problems with underpants power! He sorts out a pantachute for a queen in distress, puts out a fire with his super-pant-scoop… But that’s not the end of his super-pants day. The aliens are heading towards Earth! Can Wonderpants’ underpants power save the world in this laugh-out-loud rhyme to share?

Something that really struck me in reading this book to Ameli is that I would never have chosen it off a shelf, because it’s a ‘silly’ book, I mean, who uses underpants for a fishing net? a hammock? a slingshot? a baby carrier? Well, Underpants Wonderpants does, and it made my 3 year old giggle on almost every page. For that alone, I think it’s perfect as it exposes her to humour I never would have.

While most of the book is very easy reading, with it’s rhythmical tempo and rhymes, there was just one word she didn’t know – mirth – so we looked it up (I like her to work for the answers sometimes, not just get them from me) and then I wrote it down, and she copied it.

I tend to make a bit of book-themed fun from the books we’re reading in the hopes of bringing them to life and encouraging a love of reading, so we used some pipecleaners and beads to make a ‘super hero belt’ along with some shrinkles from which we designed our own superhero ‘W’ belt buckle badge. We used a play table red table cloth as a cape and had a morning of role play, which was quite sweet.

Another regular and easily adaptable activity is colouring, decorating, stamping, stickering or glueing pictures that go with the theme. Today I chose to cut some pantaloon style underpants from an A3 sheet of paper, and Ameli made swirls, glued pompoms and glitter and made some special underpants for the superhero pup t
o use in his superhero antics.

Have you read Underpants Wonderpants?

{PlayLearning} Dr. Seuss Activities For Toddlers

Our PlayLearning theme this week was Dr. Seuss, inspired by the lovely Tiana at Two Cheeky Frogs.

The books we’ve read are:  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (I muted it and read along), The Lorax (audiobook)

The movies we watched were: The Lorax, and Youtube has been most helpful with movies too, such as: Green Eggs And Ham, The Cat in The Hat, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas (awesome drawing art)

We only did two craft activities this week, The Lorax mask and a scenic Truffula Tree picture:

Our Lorax mask is pretty easy to figure out instructions for. You will need:

  • A paper plate
  • String
  • Orange crayons, pencils or chalk
  • Yellow paper
  • Scissors
Colour the paper plate orange, and cut holes for eyes. My Ameli didn’t like her nose squishing against the plate, so we also made a hole for her nose.
I then folded a yellow A4 page in half, and cut eyebrows and that fantastic moustache. Make two holes around the ‘ear’ area to thread a string through, and have fun playing the Lorax, guardian of the trees.

Again a simple craft, for the Truffula Tree we needed:

  • Blue paper for the sky
  • Green paper for the hills
  • Pompoms for the treetops
  • Embroidery thread for the tree stumps
  • Glue
  • Scissors
Cut a wavy line along the green paper, and glue it to the blue paper for your background. (You could of course draw this)
The tree trunks are good old fashioned friendship bracelets,  just not tied into a bracelet. To make them, take two colours of string, and tie at one end. Secure that end – I get Ameli to hold it tightly – and twist the other end around and around and around until it’s tightly wound. Bring the two ends together, and the whole thing will twist together. Stretch it out so that it doesn’t bunch up anywhere, and tie the open end into a knot. Glue everything onto your scene and enjoy your very own valley full of Truffula trees.
(I tried to explain to Ameli that you could show distance by gluing the shorter trees further ‘back’, but he wasn’t having that. She wanted them to be baby trees.)

 Dr Suess books lend themselves really well to food related snacks, it seems, and we took full advantage, enjoying tasty foods.

Cat in the Hat Yoghurt

Layer pureed or mashed strawberries with coconut flavoured yoghurt and top with crushed meringue. Ameli thought it was delicious.

Marshmallow Truffalo Trees

Stake marshmallows on chop sticks, skewers or lollipop sticks,

Dip in liquidised strawberries

Roll in crushed meringues

Green Eggs And Ham

Prepare pasta according to manufacturers instructions.

Stir in cream cheese or other sauce and sliced proscuitto or other ham. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Boil the eggs, and cool.

Scoop out the yolk. Add a pinch of paprika and salt, and blend well. While you can add green food colouring, use a tablespoon of pureed spinach for the green colouring.

Using a piping bag, pipe the mixture back into the egg.

Dish up the ham pasta, and top with the green egg.

Cat In The Hat Fruit

A simple activity for toddlers, great for introducing knife skills.

Slice banana and strawberries, and alternate onto skewers. Strictly speaking, it should be red, white, red, white, red, white, but whose checking 😉

Our Dr Seuss Week was fabulous. We hope you like our ideas!


{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:

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. Another 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.

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.

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.

The finished dinosaur eggs:

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!