Category Archives: Crafts

Fun Lockdown Crafts to do with Viking

AD – We were sent a box of crafts by Viking and invited to join a special Zoom lockdown crafts workshop hosted by them.

At the start of lockdown things seemed easier, we were more disciplined at home and we could happily sit down and do school work or an activity for a few hours at a time. But as spring turned into summer, our focus drifted and we are down to doing the bare minimum each day. Even our own lockdown crafts have run out of steam and at best we just sit and draw or paint. We needed an intervention. Thankfully this came from stationers Viking who invited us to join them for a zoom crafting session with Jane a pro crafter at Tea & Crafting.

Lockdown Crafts with Viking

A few days before the session we received a big box full of everything we would need and excitement started to build. We were going to make chocolate bubble wrap bars, a toilet roll fire breathing dragon and moving feet packing tape. It was a serious job to stop my boy scoffing the chocolate ahead of time, but I managed to hide most of it before he spotted it!

We joined a large number of other craft-eager families for the Saturday morning lockdown crafts session. It was scheduled to be an hour long, which is a good length of time to keep kids’ attention. Alongside all the craft kit we needed, Viking had kindly sent some cleaning products and hand sanitiser to help us keep our crafting area clean, especially as we were going to be using food.

We began by making the chocolate bubble wrap, which was probably our favourite thing we made, I think we will be looking at doing this with other textures, because it really is so effective!

Lockdown Crafts with Viking

Chocolate Bubble Wrap

  1. As we’ll be touching food products you should wash your hands with soap – or use some hand sanitiser.
  2. Clean your working area thoroughly.
  3. Cut a small piece of bubble wrap about A4 size and just give it a quick wash and dry it.
  4. Crumble about 3-4 chocolate bars into a small bowl using your fingers.
  5. Wash your hands so they’re not sticky and covered in chocolate.
  6. Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 30 second increments. Ensure you stir after each 30 second blast, so you can evenly distribute the heat and help it melt quicker. This took me about 90 seconds, but yours may take more or less time.
  7. Pour the melted chocolate onto the bubble wrap and then spread it over evenly with a spatula or knife, making sure it’s not too thinly spread.
  8. Pop it into the fridge for about 30 minutes to set.
  9. Whilst the chocolate is setting clean your working area again wiping away any spilt chocolate etc.
  10. After it’s set, peel back the bubble wrap from the chocolate and be amazed at your homemade chocolate bubble wrap.

The chocolate bubble wrap really looked like honeycomb or something, we sprinkled it with some decorations, then broke it into chunks and ate it.

Lockdown Crafts with Viking

Fire Breathing Dragon

  1. Clean your working area and wash your hands or use some hand sanitiser before starting.
  2. Take a sheet of A4 paper. Measure how high your toilet roll tube is and then cut a strip of paper along the long side of the A4 using that measurement.
  3. Spread glue over your toilet roll holder and then glue your paper to the toilet roll tube and cut where the paper overlaps. Trim off any edges that overlap the opening if needed.
  4. Add eyes and a nose to your dragon’s body, do this by using a Sharpie to draw the eyes and then draw a little square under your eye. This square will fold back and be glued down so that the dragon eyes stay upright. Do the same for the nose and glue the eyes and nose down.
  5. Cut tissue paper into strips no longer than about 10cm in length and about a finger’s width. Glue the strips to the top (this would be where the dragon eyes and nose are placed) and bottom of the inside of the toilet roll tube. There’s no need to add tissue paper to the sides of the toilet roll, at this point it’s fine if the tissue paper overlaps.
  6. Hold your dragon at an angle in front of you and breathe into the toilet roll tube – you’ll see the tissue paper fire breath come to life!

Lockdown Crafts with Viking

As you can see, we used white tissue paper, so the boy said it was an ice dragon. Use red, orange or yellow tissue paper to make it look more like fire!

Parcel Tape Feet

  1. Cut a straw in half and tape it (using the parcel tape) to the inside of the parcel tape roll; making sure the straws stick out of the edge of the tape on opposite sides (i.e. left and right) and that they are placed on opposite ends (i.e. top and bottom) inside the parcel tape roll.  You only need a finger’s width of straw coming out of the tube so trim off any excess.
  2. Remove the cotton wool from the cotton buds on both ends. If you’re using a kebab stick, there’s no need to trim at all.
  3. Take a sheet of A4 paper and fold it half. Then trace around your child’s foot or get siblings to help each other to do this. Cut two little feet out of the paper.
  4. Place your feet (ensuring it’s a left and right foot side by side); and tape the cotton bud to the inside of each foot (using image as a guide).
  5. Slot the cotton buds into the straw, roll the parcel tape and watch your feet walk!

Lockdown Crafts with Viking

The activities were great fun to do. The session overran by half an hour; but my son was really engaged, and I really enjoyed having someone else lead our craft activities. The chance to do something different together was one we’ve not really had during lockdown. I think Zoom lockdown crafts are a fantastic idea. We would love to do something like this again, perhaps with friends over the summer holidays.

If you’re interested in more craft activities, you can find all of my crafts here.

FREE Printables: Learning about Bees

As spring turns into summer my garden is buzzing with insects. Like many people we are particularly keen to give our local bees a helping hand and a bit of love. Gone are the days where we pull up dandelions with abandon. Now we’ve got a scruffy, weedy, wild flower patch at the bottom of the garden; complete with a bug hotel, bird box and hedgehog home. It might take a year or two for them to be populated, but we are doing our bit.

How to create a wildlife garden with your kids

We are always on the look out for bees buzzing about the place and we have been learning a little bit about them too. Did you know that there are over 20,000 species of bee in the world and around 270 species of bee in the UK; but only one of these is a honeybee. People can be frightened of bees because they sting, but usually only if they’re being attacked or feel threatened. The are 600 species of stingless bees in the world. They’re all worth looking after and encouraging, so what can you do to encourage bees into your garden?

  • Grow plants with nectar and pollen
  • Create bee hotels and bee friendly habitats
  • Don’t been too keen to weed
  • Grow some wildflowers
  • Leave a patch of your garden unattended and let it run wild
  • Stop using pesticides and weed killers

You don’t have to have a big garden to make the world a bit more bee friendly, a window box or a couple of pots of flowering plants by your front door can all help. If we all learn a bit more about our bee friends, together we can help to support them and create an environment where they can thrive.

learning about bees

The free to download sheets include pictures to colour in and a few facts about –
  • Bees
  • Beehives
  • Honey

It’s enough to keep the kids occupied for a while and a good place to start if you’re going to start learning about bees with them.

Download your FREE learning about bees worksheets here

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FREE Printables: Learning about Bees

FREE Printable: Rainbow Reading Log

Help to motivate your kids to read with this handy rainbow reading log. Just colour in a cute little rainbow for every book they read, or for every 20 minutes they read for and reward them with a little treat for completing the sheet!

If you’re the parent of a primary school aged child you will probably be tasked with listening to them read each night. I love listening to my son read and I love reading to him too. I think of it as a special quiet time where we sit together and get transported to another world.

FREE Printable: Rainbow Reading Log
It’s not all sitting on a magic carpet happily listening to a child read. Sometimes it’s a bit harder to get him to read, especially if he’s not interested in the books he’s been sent home with. In those situations I usually promise him that I will read a favourite book once the less exciting school reading has been finished. That way we get the best of both worlds.

My son is very motivated by rewards, it doesn’t have to be big; a sticker or 20p for his jar is very well received. If he reads for 20 minutes he gets to colour a cartoon rainbow in. Or if he finishes a book within those 20 minutes he colours one in too.FREE Printable: Rainbow Reading LogOnce he’s completed a sheet he gets a treat. Again it’s nothing huge, he might get to choose a Netflix film for us to watch with some popcorn; or he might get a trip out to his favourite local museum.

Download this Rainbow Reading Log for FREE here

I’ve found that this reading log really does help to motivate and encourage him to read. I hope it helps you too.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like this simple children’s book review template or this FREE Pokemon Reading Log or this Dinosaur Reading Log.

FREE Printable: Rainbow Reading Log

FREE Printable: Chinese New Year – Year of the Rat

This year Chinese New Year falls on Saturday 25th January. Chinese New Year is a glorious, colourful celebration of the New Year, just when I feel the year is at its darkest and gloomiest. This year is the Chinese Year of the Rat.

In Manchester the Chinese New Year celebrations are legendary, with a parade, Chinese crafts exhibition, a big celebration in Albert Square and a fantastic street food market.

2020 is the Chinese Year of the Rat. The Rat is the first of the 12-year cycle of animals which make up the Chinese zodiac in the Chinese calendar. People born in the Years of the Rat including 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, and 2008 will celebrate their Zodiac Year.

To celebrate Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rat I’ve created this colouring sheet for children, or indeed adults. It’s a simple sheet which you can print out on A4 paper. All you need are some felt tips or colouring pencils and it should keep the kids entertained for a little while. If you want to extend the fun, you could also try making a Chinese drum, or some traditional red envelopes for Chinese New Year.

FREE Printable: Chinese New Year – Year of the Rat

Click here to download your FREE Chinese New Year printable!

It’s pretty cute isn’t it? It’s A4 sized, so just print off however many you need. Give the kids a million coloured pencils or felt tips and let them go wild with them. Adults who enjoy colouring in might also like to get in on the action too.

I’d love to know what you’ll be doing to celebrate Chinese New Year, let me know in the comment box below. Gong hei fat choy!

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FREE Printable: Chinese New Year – Year of the Rat

Easy Christmas Recipe: Mincemeat Flapjack

One of the most enduring and classic flavours of Christmas is mincemeat. Mince pies are an undeniable Christmas classic, but I’ve been throwing mincemeat into cakes and vol au vents for a few years now. It’s too good an ingredient just to use in little pies. This week I baked a hearty batch of mincemeat flapjack and they all but disappeared in an afternoon. They’re simple, they’re filling and most of all, they’re delicious.

Easy Christmas Recipe: Mincemeat Flapjack

I confess, this idea is not my own. We went for a family walk at Tatton Park in Cheshire, whilst warming up with a cup of tea, we all had a piece of cake. I chose the mincemeat flapjack and was inspired enough to try to recreate it when I got home. If anything I think my version is slightly better, with more mincemeat and a less soggy, slightly firmer texture.

You could try adapting your own favourite flapjack recipe by adding some mincemeat, or you could try my recipe below. It’s delicious, a real crowd-pleaser and would be a lovely addition to a lunch box in the run up to Christmas! This recipe makes about 12 squares of flapjack.

Mincemeat Flapjack

Ingredients:

175g of light brown sugar
150g butter or margarine
3 tablespoons of golden syrup
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
200g of porridge oats
200g plain flour
150g mincemeat

How to make your mincemeat flapjack:

Pre-heat your oven to 180° and line a high sided baking tin with baking parchment. I use a roasting tin, because that’s all I have.

In a pan melt your butter, sugar, golden syrup and bicarbonate of soda. Make sure you stir occasionally until it’s all melted together. Once it’s all melted, add your mincemeat and stir through.

Put your flour and oats in a large bowl and pour over the contents of the pan, mix and mix until everything is well combined. Pour into your lined baking dish and put it in the oven for 20-30 minutes until it’s firm and golden.

Easy Christmas Recipe: Mincemeat Flapjack

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for as long as you can stand it. Slice the flapjack into squares and enjoy with a nice cup of tea.

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Easy Christmas Recipe: Mincemeat Flapjack

FREE Printable: Dinosaur Reading Log

Help to motivate your little dinosaur fans to read with this handy reading log. Just colour in a cute little dinosaur for every book they read, or for every 20 minutes they read for and reward them with a little treat for completing the sheet!

If you’re the parent of a primary school aged child you will probably be tasked with listening to them read each night. We love listening to our son read and we love reading to him too. We regard it as a special quiet time where we sit together and get transported to another world.

It’s not all sitting on a magic carpet happily listening to a child read. Sometimes it’s a bit harder to get him to read, especially if he’s not interested in the books he’s been sent home with. In those situations we usually promise the reading of a favourite book once the less exciting school reading has been finished. That way we get the best of both worlds.

FREE Printable: Dinosaur Reading LogDownload your FREE Dinosaur Reading Log HERE!

Our son is very motivated by rewards, it doesn’t have to be big; a sticker or 20p for his jar is very well received. He loves dinosaurs so I devised this dinosaur reading log for him. If he reads for 20 minutes he gets to colour a cartoon dinosaur in. Or if he finishes a book within those 20 minutes he colours one in too.

Once he’s completed a sheet he gets a treat. Again it’s nothing huge; he might get to choose a Netflix film for us to watch with some popcorn, or he might get a trip out to his favourite local museum.

We’ve found that this dinosaur reading log really does help to motivate and encourage him to read. He’s obsessed with anything with dinosaur on, so this reading log is a real winner!

If you enjoyed this, you might also like this simple children’s book review template or this FREE Pokemon Reading Log.

FREE Printable: Dinosaur Reading Log

How To Make a Puffy Paint I Love You To The Moon and Back Card

Over Easter I’ve been playing about with puffy paint. You can buy puffy paint, but you can easily make your own by mixing PVA glue and shaving foam, and that’s what I did. I played about making a few things with it, but by far my favourite was this I Love You To The Moon and Back Card.

The puffy paint is really fun to play around with and as long as you give it ample time to dry, it’s a really versatile thing to craft with. This, I Love You To The Moon and Back Card I made with the puffy paint, is probably one of my favourite things that I’ve made in a while. It’s a lovely card to give to a loved one.

How To Make a Puffy Paint I Love You To The Moon and Back Card

How to make an I Love You To The Moon and Back Card

You will need:

PVA Glue
Shaving Foam
Black card, two pieces
White card
Glittery paper
White paper
Letter stamps and ink (or neat writing)

How To Make a Puffy Paint Love You To The Moon and Back Card

First of all you’ll need to mix up a batch of puffy paint. In a large bowl mix 1 part glue and 3 parts shaving foam together. If you want to colour your puffy paint you can add a few drops of coloured paint, but for the moon we need a nice white puffy paint.

How To Make a Puffy Paint I Love You To The Moon and Back Card

Draw a circle using a pencil on your one piece of black card and dollop some of the puffy paint on it, spread the paint about so it covers the circle. Try and make it a bit more textural; the surface of the moon isn’t smooth, so your puffy paint replica shouldn’t be either. Leave the puffy paint to dry, preferably overnight.

Once it is dry, cut out the circle of the moon and put to one side.

Take a piece of white paper and draw a circle a little bit wider than your moon shape. Using the letter stamps and ink, stamp your message around the circle. I stamped “I LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK XXX”

Take your glittery card and cut it to the same size as your circle and stick it on there. I then carefully tore the paper around the ink stamped letters. Fold your A4 piece of black card in half and glue the torn paper square onto the front of the card. Then take your moon circle and glue it to the middle of the glittery circle.

Carefully press it down, making sure not to squash the puffy paint. Leave it alone so that the glue can dry. Once it is dry, you can either write your message inside with a nice silver pen, or glue some white paper inside to write on.

It’s such a lovely card to give to someone. It’s really unusual and despite the number of steps, it’s actually really simple.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to try making these cards…

How To Make a Puffy Paint I Love You To The Moon and Back Card

Review: Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit

AD/Gifted. Throughout the year I collect books, games, puzzles and all kinds of things to keep my boy occupied and entertained during the school holidays. He had two weeks off over Easter, so it was time to deploy some of the fun things I’d squirreled away. One of the things was a Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey from Milly & Flynn.

Win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit

Craft kits are great little portable packets of fun. This Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey contains everything you need, except a pair of scissors. The pop up monkey is exactly that, a cardboard monkey you make, squash down, drop on the floor and he pops up again. It’s tremendous fun, especially if you’re 8!

The craft kit included a page of instructions, and most helpfully the link to a YouTube video of someone putting the kit together. We read the instructions and popped out all the parts, read the instructions again and then began building the monkey.

Win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit

There were a few moments where we needed to watch the video to see what needed to be done, but it was a straightforward and clever build. It took around 45 minutes to put together, then it was time to test it out. We found the monkey wouldn’t pop up on a carpet and was better if he dropped it onto the slate kitchen floor while he was stood on a chair.

It brought him enormous fun. I was really very proud that we had managed to make up the monkey by ourselves (without asking my slightly more technically proficient husband). We did find that although the pop up monkey is pretty sturdy, if an 8 year old repeatedly hurls it at the floor some of the sections start to come apart, but this is easily fixed with a bit of sellotape.

Win a Milly & Flynn Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey kit

We really liked the Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey. I liked that everything we needed was in the pack, which made it really portable and great for taking away on our little holiday. The kit costs £10, which on the surface might seem a little pricey, but the quality of the craft is superb and the monkey will last for ages. It’s a brilliant design and we would absolutely try other Milly & Flynn craft kits in the range.

You can find the Paper Craft Pop Up 3D Monkey here on Amazon and you can find out more about Milly & Flynn on their website.

Disclosure: I was sent this craft kit for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Crafts: How to make your own Cloud Mobile

April is famous for its showers, so we decided to make our own weather based craft. We went for this fun cloud mobile which you can decorate however you want really. We went for paint, pom poms and a silver lining and we were pretty happy with the result.

To make life easier I created a simple cloud template which we could use to decorate. I’ve made the template available to download, so you can recreate the cloud mobile easily at home. This is a really lovely craft, we are so pleased with how it turned out.

Download your FREE cloud template here.

Crafts: How to make your own Cloud Mobile

Make your own Cloud Mobile

You will need:

A printout of the cloud template
Paint
String or twine
Sellotape
Scissors
A glue gun
Pom Poms
A yellow foam circle

How to make your own Cloud Mobile

Print out a copy of the cloud template on card. Decorate each cloud, we painted ours different shades of blue with silver linings. I thought they might be quite nice with glued on wisps of cotton wool, but the boy had other ideas.

Leave the paint, or whatever you’ve glued to your clouds to dry and then carefully cut them out.

Crafts: How to make your own Cloud Mobile

Using a length of twine (I used a really lovely blue striped twine I found in a nice shop in Gloucester) sellotape the  twine to the back of the clouds so they will hang evenly. Make sure there’s a decent loop of twine at the top so you can hang the cloud mobile on a hook when you’re done.

The cloud mobile looked lovely, but I wanted to embellish it with hanging pom poms and a bright sunny sun.

I selected five little pom poms and using the glue gun, glued them onto five inch long pieces of twine I’d cut. I then sellotaped them to the back of the bottom cloud. Again using the glue gun I dolloped some glue onto the yellow foam circle and stuck it so it was peeping out form behind the top cloud.

The cloud mobile was done. We did think about adding some sequins or glitter, but decided it looked great as it was. Really, you can decorate your clouds however you want, let your imagination run wild!

If you enjoyed this post, you can find all kinds of other crafts and activities here.

Crafts: How to make your own Cloud Mobile

Spring Scavenger Hunt Activity + FREE Printable

Spring has sprung and there’s nothing nicer than getting out and about with the kids. This week the boy is off school for Easter and we’ve been making the most of the fresh air and sunshine by visiting the local parks and nature reserves. Yesterday we met a couple of his friends for a Spring scavenger hunt in a local park, it was just the thing to keep them engaged and occupied for an hour and they all did really well.

We live by the river and walk the dog down there most days. By the river is a nature reserve and we often see lots of different birds, insects and plants. I’ve tried to keep the Spring Scavenger Hunt quite generic, so you should be able to find most of the bugs, birds and plants in your local park.

Download your free Spring Scavenger Hunt printable here!

Spring Scavenger Hunt Activity + FREE Printable

I have left room on the printable for children to make notes too. If they spot anything different or noteworthy, they can write all about what they’ve seen in the notes section.

While we were out on our walk we spotted a few things which weren’t on the list. We spotted a couple of bees, some different spring flowers, an assortment of birds and (as this was an urban park) dog poo with sweetcorn in it. I was both grossed out and secretly pleased by their observational skills. We also learned an important lesson about looking where we were putting our feet if we are walking in long grass.

Whatever you do over Easter, whether you’re walking in the park; pond dipping in a nature reserve or walking the dog on the beach; make sure you stay safe. Keep your eyes peeled for all the wonders of nature and watch there you put your feet!

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