Garden fun – #CountryKids

After quite a few weeks of blogging about our out and about adventures for Country Kids, I thought it would be good to do another garden fun post, especially because this week I have really appreciated the fact that we now have a garden (admittedly this particular one is temporary, but we do have one at our new house too). The first two days of this week were very showery, so the garden was the perfect place to be in the afternoons after nap because we could just nip back in again or shelter under the gazebo if the rain got too heavy for a little while, then go back out again when it stopped. Wednesday afternoon I realised just how much we appreciate going in the garden – a case of you don’t know just what you’ve got til it’s gone – because it was absolutely pouring with rain the whole afternoon and even the boys didn’t want to go out in that, so got very wound up inside, and trying to entertain a 3 year old and 19 month old with the same indoor activity for a few hours is tricky. So now I am so grateful when we can just open the door and get out in the garden.

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One of Andrew’s favourite role play games at the moment is to pre tent to be an ice cream seller. He stands behind his kitchen and shouts out “Anybody want an ice cream?” loudly and repeatedly until someone takes him up on the offer. He then takes a shuttlecock for the cone, and various coloured balls act as ice cream scoops of different flavours. Recently his ice cream business has branched out into toasties – white discs that go in the giant connect-4 game which come apart and he can sandwich some knid of filling inside for you. In these pictures, Joel was also joining in with this game, even if he didn’t realise it: Andrew said he was doing the washing up, which is fair enough because he was standing by the sink.

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The slide that Andrew got for his birthday in the winter and which will come with us to our new house rather than staying at Granny and Grandad’s house when we move is always popular with both boys, even though it says from age 2 – things like that don’t bother kamikaze Joel. Recently Andrew has taken to going up the ladder behind Joel and making them do a “doubler”, that is slide down the slide together, Joel at the front and Andrew at the back. They both seem to like it, even if it does take Joel by surprise sometimes. They both like sliding down it in the most unconventional ways too, like Joel has on his front in the bottom right picture here.

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The seesaw is also popular, even if not always as a seesaw. Joel likes turning it on its side and climbing over it like it’s a climbing frame! Andrew likes it when I get on too.

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A popular game this week has been the junior putting golf set that Great Grandma bought for them last week. Here you see them using a rather large bouncy ball rather than a small plastic golf ball, which was hilarious to watch! They did do a pretty good job at sharing it though, which isn’t always the case these days, though it does help that we have (at least) 2 clubs. Andrew got more annoyed with the wind than with Joel, as it kept blowing the green strip up until we weighed it down.

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Andrew is still not really into doing much drawing or painting – he’ll happily cut and stick but he’s not so fussed about colouring with crayons or paint. But I thought it would be a good idea to try and encourage him to do a bit more by getting the paints and his easel outside. He had a bit of a go this week and painted a penny farthing (the orange picture) and a rocket (the purple picture), two of his favourite vehicles. Joel was eager to get at the paints, but I only had enough pairs of hands to supervise one lot of painting at a time, and by the time Andrew was finished, Joel wasn’t bothered and was off playing in the garden. In general Joel has shown more interest in colouring and painting when we’re at groups than Andrew has. I’m interested to see if Andrew becomes more interested in these things once he goes to pre-school in September.

Linking up our garden fun with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Silk butterfly painting for kids

This morning we had a bit of free time while Joel was napping (having been up since 5am) before we went to our usual group. With all the nice weather, we’ve done less craft and baking recently because Andrew just loves being outside on his bike. So for a change I asked him if he wanted to do some painting, and he replied with a resounding ‘yes, oh thank you’!

The best paints for kids that we currently have are a set of children-friendly fabric paints, because our finger paints went a bit weird, not sure why, and I haven’t got round to buying any more like that. I have some scraps of fabric that I’ve used for various projects in the past, so I dug into it and found a small length of silk from when I did some silk painting with proper silk paints ages ago (when I was a student!)

I decided that it would be fun to do some ‘butterfly’ painting – you paint some blobs of colour on one side of a piece of paper/fabric and then fold it over on itself and squidge the paint across and along, and when you open it up again it looks a bit like a butterfly with a similar pattern on each side (or wing).

PicMonkey Collage  1

Andrew enjoyed the blobbing (along with an enthusiastic “BLOB” for each touch of the fabric with the brush), and I held my hand on one side of the fabric so that he could only paint on one side. He also enjoyed the squidging (only the finest technical terms are found here for art work 😉 ). I then painted a couple of antennae on to each butterfly for him, and once they were dry, I trimmed them to have more of a wing shape.

PicMonkey Collage  2

This was a quick craft idea that filled a nice amount of time and kept his attention, and afterwards he carried on colouring on the paper that we had put down to protect the table from paint. We now have some pretty butterflies, which we will stick on to cards for sending as notecards.

Daffodil card for Mothering Sunday

I’ve been getting Andrew into helping me make simple cards recently. I bought a bargain bumper pack of plain white A6 cards with envelopes, and we’ve had a lot of fun together sticking things onto them. We made one for Granny’s birthday and Andrew and Joel’s cousin’s Baptism last month, and now Mothering Sunday is the occasion. I know it’s a bit late to use this idea now for a Mother’s day card, but I thought the daffodil design would work well for Easter too, so I’m sharing it on here. It’s not an amazing picture; I just about had chance to take one whilst still not feeling well earlier in the week before we had to get them in the post to arrive by today. Thankfully we made them just before the bug struck, and hopefully you get the idea from this picture.daff card

It was very simple to make. The yellow petals are a ‘pinwheel’, which you make by cutting a square of card the size of the space you want to fill and cutting a slit from each of the four corners to almost the centre; you then fold alternate corners (there are now 8) into the centre and stick them down with double-sided tape. The orange middle bit is made from an egg box, by cutting out one egg holder and cutting a zigzag shape into it from the top; we then painted it orange and stuck it into the centre when dry, using double-sided tape. The stem is a green drinking straw cut to size and stuck on with double-sided tape. Obviously I did all the cutting, but Andrew was very happy to help stick and paint.

We made one for each mum – Granny and Grandma. We have heard that they like them, so that’s a success! I have been given my own live daffodil and a handmade card from my boys 🙂live daff

Star Christmas cards

There seems to be a bit of a star theme going on on this blog this Christmas! First there were the cupcakes we made for my friend’s sister’s charity fundraising efforts, then Andrew’s nativity play costume, and now these homemade cards. One of my reasons for choosing a star as the shape to feature on the cards was that I wanted to use the finger paints that I bought last year (they seem to last ages, even having used them a few times since last Christmas) to do some potato stamp painting, and a star is a shape that is both Christmassy and simple enough that I could easily make a potato stamp using a star biscuit cutter that we have. Plus Andrew is a big fan of stars, particularly the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, so I knew he’d enjoy making cards with stars on.

Potato stamp cut with biscuit cutter and knife is ready to roll (or stamp!)

Potato stamp painting is something I haven’t done for a long time, and it reminds me of early school days. It’s such an easy and cheap way to make your own stamp – a baking potato cost me about 30p, and we already had a star cutter for making biscuits and playing with play dough. I cut the potato in half, and pressed the cutter into it and took it out again; I then cut out the potato from around the edges of the star to the edge of the potato, to a depth of about 0.5cm.

Andrew enjoying helping me paint the stamp before pressing it onto the paper.

The paint we used was some blue finger paint that came as a set of 4 pots (with red, yellow and green too). We stamped one blue star into the centre of A5 orange paper (A4 cut in half) – blue and orange are complementary colours, so the star stands out well on the background. Once the paint was dry, we stuck some glittery mini star stickers randomly around the big star, to make it look like a starry sky (with a bit of imagination 😉 ). Then to assemble the cards, I chopped a 1cm border off each edge of the orange paper, and stuck it down using double-sided tape onto A4 brown thick card folded in half.

11 stars drying overnight on our kitchen floor.

I always like to make (or buy) my Christmas cards with a design that reflects the real reason for Christmas, rather than something seasonal like snowmen, robins or holly. That was another reason for choosing a star – it was a star that marked the place where Jesus was born, so it had a vital role in the first Christmas. To go with this star design, I printed the text of a Bible verse that tells of the Magi’s (or ‘kings’ or ‘wise men’ as they are traditionally known) encounter with the star that shone over Bethlehem:

The star the Magi had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
Matthew 2:9-10

We then stuck this verse onto the inside of the cards, the opposite side to where I wanted to write the greeting. I used a silver pen to write on the brown card. And that’s all there was to our card making, pretty simple really, but something Andrew could get involved with and enjoy doing!

A finished card, ready to write and send!

Christmas card craft

This year I wanted Andrew to help make some Christmas cards for family. What I came up with would take too long to do for all the friends we wanted to send greetings to too. I’ve had to wait til now of course to put this online (and I thought it would be best to do it before the end of the year – I’m just in time), otherwise it would have spoiled the surprise for any of them who read this blog. So here is a step by step guide on how we made footprint angel cards!

  1. Andrew got stripped to his nappy (it was nice and warm on the floor as we have underfloor heating), and I laid out some newspaper. We opened a pot of red finger paint which I bought from Hobbycraft. Andrew held a (still sealed!) pot of yellow finger paint, so his hands were kept amused.
  2. My glamorous assistant Tom (dressed in old clothes) sat Andrew on his lap in front of the newspaper, and held his (A’s!) legs out in front. I laid some A5 pieces of cream card on the newspaper.
  3. In a rather speedy manoeuvre, I got a dollop of paint on my fingers, and smeared it onto the soles of his feet before he had chance to grab them, then on the shout of ‘Lift!’, Tom hoisted Andrew up whilst I directed his feet to stand on a piece of card. Once the red footprints were firmly established, I pulled the card away and Tom sat Andrew down again.
  4. When they were dry, I then transformed each set of footprints into an angel by drawing a head, body and halo in pencil to fit with the footprints as wings. A black gel-ink pen then made the pencil lines bolder, before I went round the whole angel shape with glitter glue, plus the halo on top.
  5. We still have quite a lot of A4 chocolate brown card left over from the wedding stationary that we made (we got married in 2008!), so I folded several pieces in half to make A5 cards. I then cut round each angel with about a 2mm border of cream card beyond the glitter line, and stuck it onto the centre of a brown card with double sided tape.
  6. The finishing touch was a verse from the book of Luke in the Bible, telling of what an angel said to the shepherds who were watching their flocks on a hillside near Bethlehem on the night that Jesus was born. I stuck this to the inside of the card, again using double sided tape.
  7. It took 3 sittings to get 14 sets of footprints from the little fella (artists can be temperamental you know). I decided to ring the changes and use green paint on the 3rd go – it looks quite effective with purple glitter I think.

(Andrew had to be dunked straight in the bath afterwards, and he loved the green water!

A green bath!

We even found that a little hand had managed to grab the bathroom door on the way in!)

Look what we found on the bathroom door

There we go – handmade Christmas cards using the raw talent of Andrew’s feet! Tom’s words were: ‘they’re random, but in a good way’….what do you think?!