Category Archives: Arts and Crafts

Easter Crafts and a Rhyming Egg Hunt

…Better late than never!!

Easter happened during our break from blogging – but rather than leave it out, I’ve decided to share the things we did so that we have a record for ourselves, and ready to share ideas next year!

Easter wouldn’t be Easter without an egg hunt – I also think that less chocolate, more fun  is a better balance.  Not that I’m opposed to chocolate but at Christmas and Easter the levels can get ridiculous if unchecked!  So our poor deprived children shared a bag of mini eggs which they found hidden around the house, by following clues.

L had been writing poetry that week, using a rhyming words bank, and so L’s clues involved finding the rhyming word.  N’s clues were simpler, and involved a very basic riddle.

Just for fun, here are our treasure hunt clues:

Once upon a time, there was an Easter bunny

Who thought hiding his eggs was funny!

On Easter morning, while we were out,

He left L** and N****’s eggs hidden all about!




And then he wrote a little rhyme

So they could find their eggs in time –

“I’ve hidden your eggs around in twos

To find them you must read the clues,

First L**’s turn, and N****’s then,

Then back to the beginning – L**’s again!

So off we go, let’s have some fun,

Your treasure hunt has just begun!”



The first clue is for L** to read,

I know he is a good reader indeed.

This clue is tricky, that’s for certain

Look behind the living room *******.




Aha – you found them!  Now N****’s turn

To look in the place where a fire might burn.



For L**’s clue, get down on your knee

To find out where those eggs might be.

Get down on the floor, if you are able,

And look under the kitchen ******.



N****, look inside your bed

–         You’ll find your eggs where you rest your head.


Quickly L**, zoom, zoom, zoom,

The next one’s still in your bedroom.

You’re doing well at this hunting race

–         Go and look in your book ****.



Hello N****!

Splish, splash, splosh!

You’ll find the eggs where you have a wash!

You’re so close, Leo, they’re near the floor,

Just look behind the bathroom ****.



Think hard, N****, and have a peep

In the place where a baby girl might sleep.


Look around, L**, look up and down,

You’ll find eggs in Mummy’s dressing ****.



N****, this is your last clue

They’re near the front door, where you keep your shoe!


You’ve found most of your eggs by now

Just one more clue to tell you how

You’ll need to look where your clothes get clean

The eggs are inside the washing *******!!


Well done, little girl and boy!

I hope these eggs have brought you joy.

They’re made of chocolate, delicious and sweet,

And now it’s time for you to eat –

Don’t let them melt

(They’ll go all runny)

 – With lots of love from the Easter Bunny!!

L and N arrived home from church to find that Daddy had got into the spirit of things – a rabbit greeted them on the doorstep, along with two baskets, and the eggs had been hidden around the house.


The great thing about the egg hunt was that it required co-operation.  L needed to help N read the clues, and also practise the skill of restraining himself from giving the answer on her “turn” (and he really does need to practise this!).  It also required sharing, and a little bit of maths as they divided the eggs between them after each clue.



At the end of the hunt, the children discovered for the first time the joy of Kinder Eggs – I’m sure there must be fine motor skills benefits to opening them and playing with the tiny toy!

The other great thing about the Easter Egg Hunt – a morning’s fun for the grand total of £3 between the two children – an egg hunt kit from poundland, plus the mini eggs!

Also at the end of the hunt, each child found a home made game.  That sounds slightly more impressive than it actually was, but they loved it anyway and we have used them quite a bit since.  They consisted of cut out Easter egg shapes, then cut in half, with a little bit of fun learning.

N’s game was designed to teach her to recognise capital letters, and it’s actually worked brilliantly – she can recognise them all after playing the game a handful of times.  We played this one as a game of “pairs”, matching upper and lower case letters.  Snap would work equally well.


The game was also good for L in that it allowed him to practise turn-taking, sharing, concentration, observation and again that valuable skill of not correcting N and being kind to a younger child who is still learning what he already knows.

L’s game involved number bonds to ten:


 Unfortunately, I haven’t got a good picture, but it involved egg halves which needed to be matched to make a total of ten – 0 and 10, 1 and 9, 2 and 8, etc, etc.01042013(006)

It was a good game, but one that needed to be played with L alone.  When N interrupted and became frustrated by not being able to understand it, L declared it “too boring” and wandered off, but when I brought it out again as a special quiet time activity, he loved it.

We ended Easter Sunday by decorating foam Easter Eggs in the bath!  These were made quickly and easily using craft foam.  L and N did some of the cutting, and we have also used them to explore repeating patterns and geometric shapes.

L and N also used the shapes in unexpected and creative ways – a lilypad for a duck, and to make aliens!







We also did (guess what) a lot of crafts over the Easter holidays (any excuse!).  Grandma and Nana were kind enough to send craft supplies instead of chocolate, and the children’s big cousin wrote a lovely letter full of craft ideas!  So we got busy…


The fun we had was as good as the finished products.  We were in our element, surrounded by goodies such as feathers in all colours, polystyrene eggs, different kinds of paints, googly eyes, papier mache eggshells, and more besides, plus some books of craft ideas!  Even F wasn’t left out – she loved making handprint chicks, finger painted easter eggs, and learning to make marks with felt tips, crayons, pencils… Meanwhile, LI and N practised cutting out, selecting materials, glueing, shape and space, and fine motor skills, all whilst having fun making Easter crafts.

We also made some very simple but effective cards for friends and family, using insulating tape to make a cross on the front of the card, which all three children could then paint over, and the tape was removed to leave a cross once the paint had dried.


L and N then wrote in  their cards, bringing in some sneaky writing practice for the boy who only wants to email, and giving N practice at forming letters, and writing her name independently.

We also went wild in the kitchen, making our Easter cake, topped with a chocolate coated weetabix nest!


L and N had great fun with the leftover fondant and some cutters, and were thrilled to be given access to my proper grown-up shaping tools!


I usually find that when they are trusted, and they know it’s important, they live up to the responsibility.  The novelty of playing with something normally out of bounds made this really exciting, and they both felt very grown-up doing “proper” sugarcraft.  It is full of benefits in strengthening hand muscles needed for writing, fine motor skills (again) and developing creativity.  They also copied some of the animals I had made, so developing skills of observation.  Even F enjoyed playing with some pieces of fondant (and I didn’t have to worry too much if she ate some!)




And last but not least, this was the year I decided to introduce the story of the Crucifixion.  As a Christian family, we have thought long and hard about this.  How to introduce something that is really beyond our own understanding?  How to convey the meaning of Easter without traumatising the children?  Until this year, we settled on “Easter is when God showed us how much he loves us”.

There could be no introducing it to L without N.  The chances of him not sharing this new information with her were slim to none – so together we watched a children’s DVD explaining the Easter Story, read passages from the Bible, drew pictures, arranged pictures from the story in  sequence, and encouraged any questions from the children.  There were many, and some we couldn’t answer.  But I needn’t have worried about L, who ended up telling me the story, having read it himself in the children’s Bible!  This made me all the more glad we had decided to explore the story together, to allow him to ask any questions he had.

L and N were also lucky enough to make these fantastic Gethsemene gardens at the village church, which I can take no credit for whatsoever, but am sharing because I think it is a brilliant idea.  Here is a blog about something similar.


Next year, we also plan to try resurrection cookies as a way of exploring the Easter story.

There we have our Easter, we hope you had as much fun as we did!!










A Rainbow Birthday

After what seems like a long break from blogging while we settled into our new home, we are back, with the news that little baby F is one!  And what better way to start than sharing her birthday celebrations.

The theme was decided by L and N.  We have been learning about the weather, and they have been captivated by rainbows.  We have made our own tiny rainbows with a glass of water and a torch like this, and by lucky coincidence seen this brilliant rainbow in the sky.


L and N requested a rainbow tea party, and so F’s birthday theme was decided.  L and N painted their own rainbow t-shirts to wear on the day, using fabric markers:


And Mummy had fun making a special one for F!




It worked brilliantly – bright, bold colours were perfect for a one year old, and it was such a fun theme to carry out.  This is what our playroom looked like:





The decorations were:

  • A crepe paper curtain – literally just strips of rainbow coloured paper sellotaped to the door frame.
  • A rainbow banner – the letters of F’s name cut out of craft foam and threaded along a string.
  • Paper bunting – easy peasy triangles of coloured paper fixed to a stripy ribbon using double sided tape
  • A rainbow mobile – made of craft foam, PVA glue, and threaded onto yarn using a needle, and attached to two bamboo skewers tied together in a cross shape.

The “party” itself was quite low key – just ourselves and Nana, who was visiting.  I wanted to be able to focus on F, and give her attention rather than entertaining people – also, we thought she would probably be overwhelmed by lots of people.

So we had a trip to the farm, and a tea party with lots of colourful and sensory things to explore.

The toy tray was very easy, and brilliant in that it gave a new lease of life to toys that haven’t been played with for ages.  L, N and I sorted toys that were safe for F to explore, into the colours of the rainbow, and arranged them in an empty drawer.

I tried to give her a range of textures, noisy toys and shapes to investigate.  Some of the things we included were:

duplo blocks

large wooden numbers

pieces of fabric

an unused toothbrush


toy cars

a bottle of coloured water

coloured paper

a hair scrunchie

wooden blocks


We also put together some rainbow discovery bottles.  The beauty of this was allowing F to investigate some of the forbidden objects that fascinate her, in a safe way – hairbands, pipecleaners, pens, paperclips, beads, coloured rice… At first I found it hard to decide whether to group things by type (ie. a bottle of rainbow rice, a bottle of multicoloured pipecleaners etc) or to group them by colour.  I decided on the latter when a friend pointed out that we could then use them for single colour learning.  Another friend suggested a final bottle with an object of each colour, which I plan to do once we’ve emptied another plastic bottle!


I was concerned that including a variety of objects in each bottle would be overwhelming and prevent F from focusing and investigating them fully, so I limited the number of things in each one, and tried to make the bottles different in terms of the sounds they made and the kinds of objects they contained.  There really are infinite ways of doing this and all of them good!

We ended up with:

  • Red pipecleaners cut to different lengths
  • Orange dyed pasta shapes
  • Yellow pom poms and pieces of drinking straw
  • Green bay leaves and dyed rice
  • Blue tissue paper and microbeads
  • Indigo pens, pencils, crayons and shiny fake gems
  • Violet beads and hairbands, plus a purple necklace of mine.

F has had great fun rolling these along the floor, shaking them, banging them…I wondered if shie might be frustrated by not being able to empty the bottles but so far she hasn’t tried (the lids are stuck down with strong glue).

We also had rainbow handprinting (I picked up the rainbow handprint sponge from The Works).



…and F received some fantastic rainbow presents, including Melissa and Doug Rainbow Sound Blocks, a large colourful activity cube, and musical instruments including a rainbow xylophone.

Our present to F was a sand and water table, which will never be limited to sand and water – for the birthday, we filled it with strips of coloured paper, rainbow dyed rice krispies (an alternative to rainbow rice that’s safe if eaten), and shaving foam which we later added food colouring to for marble painting.


We finished up with a rainbow layer cake.  This was actually easy if time consuming, although no more so than other birthday cakes we’ve had.  It just involved making a huge quantity of sponge mix, dividing it into separate bowls, and dyeing each a different colour using gel food colouring.  The gel gives a beautiful vivid colour with only a few drops, whereas liquid would be likely to ruin the cake batter as you’d need so much colouring.  The layers are then sandwiched together with buttercream.  We covered ours in fondant too, as no matter how much buttercream you make, it will never be enough for this cake!

The bonus of using gel colour is that  the gel can be used to dye fondant really smoothly.  Here is our take on the rainbow layer cake:


We served the cake with a rainbow fruit platter (easier and more toddler-friendly than skewers):


And here is the birthday girl, enjoying her day:


Can We Fix It?

Here is a fun activity that passed a rainy Sunday afternoon for all of us – it was the most popular activity we have done for a while, and kept L and N occupied for well over an hour, which is amazing considering their concentration hasn’t been brilliant recently.  What we did was a simplified version of the “Fixing Station” from Teach Preschool.

They love to mend things, and play with a tool set, and also love building things with cardboard, so this activity was perfect for them.  We called it “can we fix it?”.


I cut paper plates of different shapes and sizes into pieces – some big, some small, some just in two, some into lots of tiny pieces.  I put them all in the middle of the table and told L and N there had been an accident in my kitchen, and all my plates were broken, and that I need their help to mend them.  They caught on to the game right away and were full of enthusiasm.


They enjoyed finding the right pieces to fit together, and found this easier than expected – next time I might try some 3D “mending” of boxes and cardboard tubes for an added challenge.

I had supplied them with lots of materials to mend the plates with – tape and scissors (this was insulating tape in different colours for added interest, from the pound shop), glue sticks, PVA and paperclips – to allow them to experiment with which worked best.

L went straight for the tape – and used it very effectively.  He quickly worked out that the best way to make it a strong join was to use several pieces of tape across the join, rather than one running lengthways.  He then decided he wanted to cover a whole plate in tape, and was very methodical about it, measuring lengths and cutting appropriately.


N experimented with the glues, and overlapped the pieces to join together effectively.  She found it more challenging to use the tape, but by the end she managed to use it very effectively, and got in some good practice at using scissors too.


There was some great maths going on here (shape and space), as well as problem-solving skills and fine motor skills.  It also allowed them to experiment with and practise using different materials for construction and craft.  they also got a great sense of achievement from completing the task and solving the problem.  I absolutely loved this activity and we will definitely be doing more mending activities!

Presents for L’s Teachers

Soon we will be moving house, and tomorrow is L’s last day at his school.  He and I had some special time together making some presents for the teachers and teaching assistants in his class.  I thought I would share them here as they are easy and fun, and make lovely presents for children to create themselves.  L and N are always so proud of anything they have made, and can’t wait to give it to the recipient.  I hope it encourages thoughfulness, and an appreciation of the things people do for them, as they realise the effort involved, and also have to think about what other people might like.

As we made these presents we were having a conversation about how someone might feel if they were the only person left out of the present-giving thank-you’s and goodbyes, and how we can make sure nobody feels left out – I think these are really valuable conversations to have, as long as they are done in a way that doesn’t make the child feel guilty.

there was actually no danger of anyone being left out because L wanted to go on making more and more!

For his teacher, we made this notebook:


To make this, I used a plain notebook from the pound shop.  This is what we did:

  1. We cut 2 pieces of upholstery wadding the same size as the notebook.
  2. We used spray adhesive to stick a piece to each outer side of the cover.
  3. We covered the notebook and wadding in pretty fabric, and used more spray adhesive to stick it together.  be careful not to use too much, or it stains the fabric.  An alternative would be to use PVA around the edge of the fabric.
  4. We used pritt stick to glue the first and last page of the notebook to the inside of the cover, hiding the ends of the fabric.
  5. L drew a picture of his teacher on plain fabric, using fabric markers.
  6. I used spray glue to attach the picture to the front of the notebook, and stitched around the edge to secure it and decorate.
  7. To finish, we tied a ribbon around the notebook – this is ribbon printed with “Handmade by L” which I ordered very cheaply off Ebay last year to use with their handmade gifts (N has some too, and I think F might need some soon!).

You could cover any book like this to make a pretty gift – photo albums, scrap books, the children’s own stories…

Then, L and I made some truffles.  This was messy but easy, and L loved rolling the chocolate ganache into balls.  He also very much enjoyed licking out the bowl of ganache afterwards.  The recipe we used was not really a recipe, but went something like this:

  1. Melt chocolate in a pyrex bowl over a pan of boiling water.
  2. Mix with warmed cream in a ratio of 2 parts chocolate to 1 part cream.
  3. Add some butter (I didn’t measure the butter; it was probably about 100g in 250g of chocolate).  If you are using milk chocolate, you will probably need to use more chocolate and butter relative to the cream, to get a really thick ganache.
  4. Chill until at the right consistency – it should hold its shape when you scoop a bit out.
  5. Roll into balls – a less messy way would be to use a small ice cream scoop.
  6. Coat in cocoa powder, dried coconut, crushed nuts, icing sugar – whatever you like.
  7. Keep refrigerated.

So, we needed something pretty to present our truffles in.  L decorated 3 pound shop glasses, which turned out to be perfect!  We coated them in PVA glue, rolled them in coloured glitter, and added sequins.  They would make fantastic tea light holders as the light would shine through them beautifully.  L was so proud of the way they turned out!  His favourite was a rainbow one he made by using stripes of differently coloured glitter.  It always pleases me so much when he comes up with something creative and tries it out, as even a few months ago he wouldn’t do this for fear of making a mistake.  Open ended craft activities with no set end point have really helped him develop confidence to try things out.

Here are our glass pots:


So easy to make and so pretty, plus the children got their dose of glitter!

We also made alphabet cupcakes for the children in L’s class, using sugar letters as decoration.  Similar to the alphabet pudding we had at tea time the other day!



Beaded Valentines Hearts


N and I did this simple but lovely craft together today during F’s nap time.  Threading beads onto pipe cleaners is something we have done many times before (it is much easier for little fingers than fiddly thread, and the beads don;t fall off the other end).  N loves being completely independent, not needing me to cut thread, tie a knot for her, thread a needle, etc.

In a simple twist (literally!) on this activity, we shaped the beaded pipecleaners into a heart shape, and hung them from a branch using ribbon.  It made a beautiful, simple Valentine’s tree that we can add other crafts to.

As well as developing fine motor skills whilst threading, this activity has so much scope for development.  Following patterns of beads is an excellent pre-maths activity, as is sorting the beads by shape and colour (sorting by two or more characteristics makes it more challenging).  N found it easy to alternate colours (e.g. red, blue, red, blue…) but found more complicated patterns (red, red, green, green, blue…) too difficult to repeat without prompting, so i think this is a fun way we could develop that skill.

Younger children might also use the beads to identify colours, then shades of colour, and patterns (stripy, spotty, checked).  We used a lot of adjectives and opposite words today (rough, smooth, curly, straight, fuzzy) and identified materials (wood, plastic, metal) – N even remembered that a magnet would only pick up the metal objects.

Beaded pipecleaners would also make excellent bracelets for small children to make, or star shaped decorations for Christmas.  You could even make beaded letters spelling the child’s name.

Here is N concentrating hard on threading her beads.


Showing off the pattern she made:


And here is our tree:


I like its simplicity and the natural materials – I almost don’t want to add to it but I know we will, because where little children are concerned, more is definitely more!

White Play Dough and Snowy Playdough Mats

The snow here has melted, apart from the occasional pile of sludgy grey mess and all the snowmen are at best droopy and folorn, but it’s looking brighter inside as we are still going with our snow-themed activities.

The other day we made some of The Imagination Tree’s white play dough, made with cornflour instead of flour, which gives a really gleaming white rather than the off-white you get with flour.  We scented ours with peppermint extract, which seemed a fittingly cool scent.  We also added some tiny faux gems as we had run out of silver glitter, and I love these – they really remind me of the light reflecting on crisp white snow.



This afternoon seemed like the ideal time to bring out the playdough.  The days when both L and N are tired after school and playgroup seem to call for activites that keep them focused, occupied and channel their energy whist allowing them the freedom to do their own thing and relax at the end of the day.  Play dough seems to fit the bill very well, and I hoped that moulding the silky dough might be a relaxing activity.

This is how I set up a snowy play scene for them to come home to:


paw prints in the snow

paw prints in the snow

I also made some play dough mats especially to go with the snow-themed play dough.  We loved the alphabet play mats from Twinkl Resources which we reviewed last year, and so I decided to make our own variation on these with a wintry theme.


I used some leftover Christmas wrapping paper with a snowy design to cut out the shapes I needed.  Since L and N enjoyed making dough letters so much last time, I decided to make two playmats with snow related words.  I had an ulterior motive here too – L is becoming reluctant to write, and rather than force him I wanted to think up some activities that would build his writing muscles and stamina, and get him thinking about the process, without actually realising it!  Play dough is perfect for strengthening the hand muscles used to write, and developing co-ordination.

I also made a snowflake mat, by tracing a snowflake template onto the paper, and one larger snowflake made in the same way as our paper snowflake Christmas decorations.  I thought this one would be good for making more intricate patterns and shapes.

I stuck these onto plain white A4 paper, drew an outline in purple felt-tip to define them (and cover any imperfections in the cutting out) – and laminated the paper.  Easy, but effective, and can be used again and again.

All three children enjoyed the play-dough.  Because of the tiny gems we had used, I kept a closer than usual watch on baby F.  But she was a full participant in the game, sitting on the floor with her own play dough, strengthening her own little hand muscles and exploring the material by pulling it apart.


N was the busiest of all.  Despite all the snow-themed props, she reverted to her default setting of play-dough cookery, and I reminded myself this is a child-led activity and accepted the cakes and sandwiches she carefully prepared.  She did go on to make a snowy pine cone and cut out some snowmen, although they were snowman biscuits, she told me 🙂

cutting with scissors

cutting with scissors

using a knife

using a knife

snowy pine cone

snowy pine cone

L stuck to the snow idea, and made more animal footprints in the snow, with the animals, his fingers, and then the end of a pencil.  He made tracks in the snow, and told a part of The Gruffalo’s Child story.


A "Logpile House"

A “Logpile House”

Tractor tyre marks, printed with a pine cone

Tractor tyre marks, printed with a pine cone

Again, it is wonderful finding an activity that all three can join in at their own level, and thoroughly enjoy.  Here they are, all absorbed in what they are doing.

Three Cihildren Hard at Play

Three Children Hard at Play



Sensory Snow-Paint

We have been trying out one of the ideas from our top ten snow-themed activities list.  Sensory “snow” paint, made of one part shaving foam to one part PVA glue.  It ticks a few boxes for me:

  • It is multi sensory (smells nice, interesting texture, dries puffy)
  • It gives the children a brand new material to play with, and an interesting effect to experiment with.
  • It’s suitable for all ages (if you’re feeling brave).

I gave L and N a piece of thick black card for their “main” snowy picture.  I also gave them a pile of coloured paper to experiment with.

I gave baby F a brush to play with and let her dip her hands in the paint.  I did show her how to get paint on the paper but concluded that she is a bit too little – she couldn’t have been less interested in making pictures, but I was excited that she enjoyed feeling the paint, as she hasn’t enjoyed the messier kinds of sensory play until now, and getting to this stage will open up a whole new level of exploration to her.  So I tried to curb my need to limit the mess, so as not to put her off with my reaction.  It wasn’t actually as bad as I thought – a change of clothes afterwards and a quick wipe of the floor was all it took.


L and N didn’t engage with this as much as I expected – they love painting so expected them to be thrilled – perhaps they were tired, or perhaps being asked to paint snowy pictures was too prescriptive and limiting.  They did produce some pretty snow scenes though, and were excited by the way the paint felt when it dried.  The puffy effect feels crinkly to the touch.


I like the abstract blizzard effect!

We have LOADS of this paint left over (a little goes a long way) so I might try again, giving them some different ways of working with it – sponges, spray bottles, water bottles with sports caps to drip-paint, combs to flick or splatter-paint, large paintbrushes (the decorating kind).  I think this paint would work well with a really huge sheet of paper – it doesn’t lend itself to detailed, careful paintings; it screams “huge” and “playful”!  Next time I’ll definitely encourage them to go a bit wilder with it and use their imaginations.  It is more than likely that they will come up with something I haven’t thought of, and probably something even better!

Another idea might be to paint big letters or numbers with the paint, then let the children try identifying them by touch – I think this would be a great sensory activity and reminds me a bit of the Montessori sandpaper letters, only the children can make them, which is always more fun.

Sticking craft foam cut-out feet to plastic bottles would make excellent stampers to produce snowy footprints.  You could even make paw prints of different animals.

To make coloured puffy paint, adding food colouring or powder paint would work.

We could also use the leftovers to make marbled prints like this.

Or get really messy like this (this link also has a variation on the cloud experiments we did before Christmas).

It’s possible that adding cornflour would give you a kind of polymer clay, but don’t take that as gospel, although I would love to hear from anyone who tries it!