The next craft project for our Frida Kahlo learning was to make a bold and colourful beaded necklace from oven baked clay. How do these beads tie in with our Frida Kahlo based theme? Well, we’ve taken creative licence, for sure. What we know is that Frida Kahlo liked wearing bright, bold colours, and liked bringing the essence of Mexico to the world. Have a look on Google for Mexican art and you’ll see a lot of prime colours (we added green) and a lot of delicate patterns. That’s what we were going for with these bead necklaces. If you look at images of our current heroine, you’ll see that she often wore big, bulky neck adornments too, so I reckon she’d have approved of our finished product.
When I was a child, my dad made us a big felt board on the back of a Carrom board and we spent hours playing with felt shapes, making up and telling stories using this board as our base. We had a huge bag of different felt ‘stories’, but now, 20 years and two continents later, I can’t begin to image what ever happened to all of that. Unfortunately I don’t really view myself as particularly crafty – I mean, I can’t make a lady bird out of felt, or a fish out of felt, for that matter… but a little bit of Pinterest and Google later, I realised I probably can make them out of hearts, and I can make hearts!
In our BostikBloggers box we seem to receive some felt sheets every month, so with last month’s box I made these heart-based-animals.
This month the theme is Easter, and our box contained yellow and pink felt sheets, so I made some Easter eggs, spring flowers, bunnies, chickens and a duck.
I need to buy a nice large felt sheet for the girls to be able to use their felt shapes properly, but with any luck, and a bit of practice, I will be able to make them many more shapes in the weeks and months to come.
For these I didn’t really follow a pattern as such – I just free cut, which meant I made some mistakes, but in general you can see what they’re supposed to be.
My girls really loved their Easter shapes, despite Ameli thinking the bunny is a bit creepy looking, Aviya figured since it was pink it had to be fine. Perfect logic in my book! I know they’re not perfect, but they are fun, and that’s good enough for me.
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: There 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.
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.
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.
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. Not 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 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.
Printable Unit Plan
Click on this image for a downloadable, printable study unit plan.
What have other Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fans been up to?
- Wayfair has a fab roundup of Roald Dahl activities (I know it’s fab, because our post from last year is in there too 😉 )
- Verily Victoria Vocalises actually went to see the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory show in London. She tells us all about what looks like a fantastic performance here. Also, if you’re able to make it to London soon, Amazon Local has a fantastic offer on the tickets right now*!
- Treading on Lego has a great recipe for Chocolate Play Dough which would be a great alternative to DIY Jazzies too – or just another activity to do!
- Gramma Luvlee has an amazing list of party games for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – super imaginative!
One of the benefits of home education for me is the ability to learn through play. Of course learning through play is relevant whether children go to school or not, and one of the fun ways to encourage learning without anyone even knowing they’re learning is through puzzle and board games.
We were sent a selection of Ravensburger games to review, and they’ve come in very handy over the wetness of these British “Summer” days.
Ready Set Count! Ravensburger Games
This game is a first counting game, perfect for my 3 year old. While it can be played with the included dice, we found it best for learning what each number looked like. Each card set has an animal(s) image, fingers that show the number, the numeric image and the dice representation of the number.
I set like with like – so fingers in one pile, dice in another, numbers in a third and the animal images in the last. She picked an animal card, counted the figures on it and then found the corresponding fingers, number and dice. She has a great time sorting the sets together, and then organising them into their correct numerical order.
Played as a game each player can roll the dice and find the corresponding number set to match.
This set has the obvious learning goal of counting, but also number recognition and a taking turns/sharing. It can be played by 1 – 4 players.
My First Clock Ravensburger Games
The My First Clock Game consists of a clock and 27 game cards. They bill this as having three ‘games’ in one, with double sided ‘clock’ cards that show analogue and digital times. The cards can be used in different ways – put them in order of time and describe what you would normally do at that time. You can also us it to look at the digital times shown on the cards and try to put the hands on the clock face to the correct time, winning a card each time you do this or finally, players take turns to set a time on the clock face and everyone else must try to find the clock card that is closest to that time. Or of course, you can just let your child figure it out on their own, setting the time to match the activity.
This definitely helps to develop “number association, recognition of routines and sense of the abstract concept of time” as it says in the description, and with a little help it’s a very useful device for learning how to tell the time.
The cardboard clock face has movable plastic hands that you assemble yourself, so it’s a good opportunity for learning the difference between the long and short hands too. These aren’t the best design ever, as the clock ‘hands’ come out quite easy but for £6.99 for the whole set, it’s sufficiently effective and safe enough for a 4 – 9 year old.
ABC Ravensburger Games
Based on a ‘flashcard’ style of learning, the ABC Game is filled with two-piece puzzles with one for every letter of the alphabet and a corresponding image card – a & apple, b & bird and so on.
These cards are ‘self-correcting’ which means if you try to put the wrong image to the wrong letter, you won’t be able to slot the puzzle pieces in together. This is good as it’s a gentle prod to try something different, rather than a ‘YOU’RE WRONG!’ which I like.
The final game we have been playing is My First Words, which is a great follow on from the ABC game. Having learned the alphabet, this game introduces little ones to their first simple words. As compared to the other games, I think this one is more about word familiarisation rather than actually learning words – largely because they can put the word together by putting the picture together, but it does help with familiarity of the words. I like that it’s fun, and that it’s play, but that my girls feel a sense of achievement when they can shout out what the word is, and be right.
For all the games, the cards are decent quality – you have to remember these aren’t expensive puzzle sets – and they last well. The can all be stored within the boxes they come in, and these are stackable in a toy box or shelving unit too, so it’s easy to tidy it all away.
My 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
- 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).
It’s been a rainy day here on the Isle of Wight, and we’ve been spoiled by some of the good weather we’ve had recently. With the children up from before 6 this morning, we’d already had a fairy tea party and watched a movie by 11am and I didn’t feel I had the strength to keep them indoors all day. Instead we pulled on the wellies and rain gear and went painting in the rain.
We took a variety of paints and materials: we took paper, watercolour paint, poster paint and chalks as well as paintbrushes and cotton wool.
It was a fun, if soggy experiment and the girls had a fantastic time:
Painting with watercolours
We fished the watercolour discs out of the box, and used them without brushes, just moving them around on the paper with our hands – then with brushes too.
Painting with poster paints
Blobs of poster paints spread over the paper using cotton wool and brushes – it was a great lesson for the girls in being gentle, since the wet paper easily tears. We also added blobs of paint, then stuck the pictures to the wall, letting the paint run down in a free-style of patterns.
Painting with chalks
The wet chalks didn’t transfer too well on to wet paper, so we decided to change the canvas to the floor, where I drew pictures for the girls to colour in.
And finally, playing in the rain, drawing on the floors? You have to include a bit of hopscotch.
This is a great way for little ones to learn shapes too, as I had my 3 year old call out the names of the shapes she was standing in. Adjust the ‘tasks’ to their ages – so my 5 year old was counting jumps, how many sides each shape has and so on. And in the end, just let them have fun, jump, and play, burn off energy and enjoy the fact that the rain this time of year isn’t entirely freezing!
Try different paints and see how they react in the water!
What feels like a life-time ago now, the girls and I decided to send my dad in Australia a gift parcel with presents. Aside from the fact that shipping to Australia is really expensive, we didn’t actually have anything to send, per se, so had to come up with ideas. When you have family far away, they often miss out on little things – crafts on the fridge, little home made trinkets and treasures. We wanted to give my dad some of that.
We had a rainy spell for a few days, so we used that time to do paper crafts, all of which went off to Australia.
1) Paper Lollipop Flowers
Paper Lollipop Flowers are pretty much what they say on the tin. Cut out flowers, decorated and punch a hole through the middle. Pop a lollipop through it as the Stamen and Stem, and give your recipient a tasty bunch of flowers.
2) Paper Lollipop Butterflies
The same goes for the Lollipop butterflies. Fold a piece of card in half, and cut one half of a butterfly. Open it up so that your butterfly has perfectly symmetrical wings. Punch a hole in the centre towards the top and again towards the bottom. Decorate the wings, and thread a lollipop through. You can glue or draw eyes on the lollipop for the head of the butterfly too.
3) Sweet-filled Octopuses
Did you know that the super-correct plural of octopus is actually octopodes? But the accepted plural is Octopuses. I know this, cause I had to look it up to get it right when telling the girls we were going to make an octopus each. Fun times.
To make the octopuses, paint a toilet roll in whichever colour you feel best represents your sea creature. Decorate it, and then cut half way up the toilet roll seven times to make 8 legs. You can curl them up a little by pressing down on the roll.
Use a little organza bag or plastic bag, and fill it with jelly babies or other sweets. Use a glue gun or other sticky dot to attach the sweets to the octopus firmly, but temporarily.
4) Hug in an envelope
A hug in an envelope is an old favourite around here. Lay your child down on a strip of paper, like wrapping paper. Trace their outline and get them to decorate or fill in clothes and so on. I think the age of the child will determine much of the activity. When you’re done, fold up the outline of the child, and pop in an envelope, with the words ‘open for a hug from *child’s name* written on the outside.
5) Puzzle Pieces & Balloons
I had a fabulous photograph of the girls that I superimposed the word Oupa onto – that’s grandad in Afrikaans, and emailed off to Photobox* to have printed as a puzzle (I tried a DIY puzzle first, but it was impossible to cut the puzzle pieces in the right size, so I had it done properly and I was amazed at the quality of it! I also loved that the individual puzzle pieces were quite small, making them perfectly fit for purpose.)
Since I was shipping this parcel off to Australia I had to rope in some local assistance to pull this one off.
I broke up the puzzle, and put a piece of puzzle in each balloon. This was then sent off in the parcel, with instructions for my brother and his fiance to open the parcel, blow up the balloons, and give my dad a box of balloons, with all the other gifts above too.
Here’s a tip for you: if you want to make a 20-odd piece puzzle last longer, don’t include a picture of the completed puzzle! That was accidental, but it worked out well for us.
So there you have it – 5 crafty ideas to send to faraway loved ones.
Shipping with Parcel2Go.
Parcel2Go gave us £40 to spend on shipping anywhere in the world, so we used the money to ship this parcel to Australia – it cost £32 to ship our box, and a further £7-something to ship two boxes of reusable nappies in the UK. I was surprised by the cost of international shipping, but found it to be on par, if not cheaper, than going through Royal Mail (certainly was for the local shipping.)
What was brilliant though was that I could print off the delivery details at home and stick them on my box. On the agreed upon date, the very friendly delivery man we’ve got to know quite well came and collected the parcel from home – no getting kids in the car, out the car, herding them into the post office having fished out change for the meter, then waiting in line trying to convince them not to pull out all the pretty greeting cards while I try to hold a cumbersome box and stand in a queue before having to move around to the parcel side having balanced my parcel on a too small scale, all the while trying to explain that no, that low lying row of sweets and chocolates aren’t in fact free and no, we’re not buying any before finally dragging kids out the post office and back into the car. Nope. Just open the door, hand over the box, get your receipt and get on with your day.
For the UK based ones it was marginally cheaper to drop the parcels at a drop location just down the road.
The parcel was received in Australia in a timely fashion, and the whole thing was simple, easy and pleasurable. My dad’s reaction? Well, that was priceless.
The Frozen fun continuous here as my two sing and dance their way to Let it Go – that’s one thing they’re not doing – letting it go. But it gives us a lot of fun along the way, and Frozen gives us the opportunity to talk a lot about sisters, and sharing. Ameli has aligned herself as Elsa, the older sister, with ice power, which left Aviya feeling a little sad as she didn’t have any powers. We decided that Aviya’s power was love, and that love is probably the most important power.
I decided for this particular day’s fun and games, to go back to making little tokens from Skrinkles, and go for a sensory play activity, which of course turns into three activities, really:
- Making Disney Frozen Shrinkles
- Snow play (in the bath)
I Googled Frozen Edible Toppers and printed off one of the groups of images I found there. The ones with the white background* came out better than those with the blue background.
I have a heat gun, which we used to shrink these Shrinkles, but the oven works perfectly well.
For the snow play, I went to the Poundshop (Dollar Store) and bought cheap sensitive colourless shaving cream. They also have Disney Frozen themed lip gloss, so I bought two tubes. Back home, I filled a glass dish with the whole contents of the spray can and put the shrinkle disks and the two tubes of lip gloss in with it, before popping it the freezer for a few hours.
I am okay with mess, to some point, but wasn’t in the mood for it yesterday, so I put the girls in the bath in their costumes, with the glass dish of ‘snow’ and left them to search for tokens and treasures, and build snowmen. They had a lot of fun, and loved the feel of the cold between their fingers and they soon got messy enough to make me very glad that I had put them in the bath!
A quick shower and all the shaving cream was gone, leaving them ready for their bath.
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.
Because of the multitude of Dr Seuss stories, there’s so much to do in this theme, it’s rather brilliant.
Crafts and Play
Tweetle Beetle Play Rice
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:
I found this idea on Pinterest, initially, but thought it would work really nicely as a gift for our friends as we celebrate International Friendship Week. Our recipients are only 2, 3 and 4, but their mamas got almost as teary about the gifts as I got while we were making them. I asked my girls what they wanted to say to each of their friends in turn, and wrote it down, so while I did most of the ‘doing’, the sentiments are all theirs.
I think these would make lovely Mother’s Day gifts, or other appreciation gifts, and as they are laminated, they can make a pretty good place mat too.
There’s not much of a science to this activity – Write thoughts and favourite things about your friends, and place them around a photograph, in the middle of a laminate sheet. Leave enough room around the edges for the laminate to stick together and stay waterproof. I also found that gluing the strips of paper together was better than leaving them loose inside, allowing them to move around during lamination.