Thursday, 16 April 2015

Crayon art

So if you were excited when you thought this was going to be about a nice piece of toddler artwork using crayons like this:

I am ridiculously proud of this picture - D's first "man"!!

Then I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed... However if you want to make some crazy fun crayon art with your toddler (or just by yourself - it's strangely mesmerising and addictive to do!) then keep reading...

This is all over Pinterest/the Internet but as soon as I saw it I knew we had to try it. It is actually really easy to do, is all about the "process" and is very cheap (each of ours cost about £1.50!).

So what do you need?

A canvas - ours cost £1 each from Tiger. You could probably also use thick watercolour paper secured onto a piece of backing card, but don't use regular paper as it wont be thick enough to hold the weight of the crayons/wax.

Wax crayons - we got a box of 48 for £1 (thank you Poundland!) which was enough for 2 canvases and some left over.

Glue gun (or some other heat resistant way of sticking on the crayons). I've seen other people suggest using the glue dots. Or double sided sticky tape *might* work. But I've got a glue gun so used that. 

A hairdryer. Everyone has one of those :)

That's it. And maybe a disposable tablecloth to protect the surroundings from a waxy coating!

Choose which colours you want

Glue on the crayons to the top of the canvas and leave to harden overnight

The 8yo's canvas - propped up at an angle using masking tape at the bottom. You need it at an angle so the wax runs down properly.

The 8yo's picture mid-melt

D getting ready to start his. We added his initial and star stickers to enable "tape resist" art. We also used a baking tray to keep it propped up at an angle - much more effective than masking tape!

Concentrating hard... (sadly the J bit the dust pretty early on and got blown away!)

The wax rivers were so mesmerising to watch...

D's picture

Not too much splatter on the tablecloth (a disposable one from Poundland)

How pretty is the "waste" product?

When you first start aim the hairdryer along the bottom and middle of the crayons to start the melting process. Then move it to the top. If you aiming from the front you will get more of a splatter effect (like the 8yo's pic). If you aim more directly from above you create more 'rivers' (like D's pic).

Once the pictures were "finished" (the 8 yo had a shorter attention span than the toddler amazingly - you can see by how much wax melted) we left them to dry/harden for an hour or so.

On D's I then carefully scored around the stickers with a craft knife and then peeled them away as best as possible. Some wax had got underneath them but was quite easy to scrape away with a blunt knife.

Once the masking tape stars had been removed

We decided to paint them gold though to make them extra "twinkly" and I think they look cute like this :)

Next time I might try writing D's initial with the glue gun and then melting the crayons over, as the masking tape just wasn't strong enough to hold. Then I could peel away the glue after, similar to 'tape resist' pictures. If you try it just remember to make the glue flat enough that the wax can run over it to get underneath the initial too...

This was such a fun project to do with D. I would LOVE to see if anyone else tries this, or if you've done it before and have any other top tips :)


And then with the leftover crayons we made these:

Aren’t they pretty? D was very happy to get drawing with them as soon as they were cool.

Read about how we made them in this post ("Make your own crayons").


Disclaimer - you know your own child best. Hot wax is hot. As is the end of a hairdryer. I knew that I could trust D to do this activity safely and he was heavily supervised throughout the process, but this project might not be suitable for all toddlers.

Make your own crayons

We made these with the crayons leftover from our melted art project (see here). They were so simple to make I can’t believe I haven’t tried making them before. And I love that you can make them in pretty much any shape. I’m definitely going to be repeating this project often - heart-shaped ones for Valentines, number ones for birthday party favours, Christmas trees etc etc - the possibilities are endless :)

This is how we made them:

Assemble crayons and peel off any paper

Cut or break up into small pieces

Decide which colours you want together and place in oven-proof cases. Cook at around 200 deg C for 5 minutes (or until wax all melted). Then remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool put them in the fridge for a couple of hours so they fully harden.

Once hard (don't try too early or you'll squidge them!) pop them out of the cases. And then admire the pretty colours :)

Enjoy colouring

I'd love to hear if any of you have a go - see how easy it was? Only takes a couple of minutes and then you've got awesomely cute and multi-coloured crayons :)

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Sensory baskets for babies

You can read about sensory (or "discovery") baskets all over the Internet - when D was little I never made him one as we went to a lot more organised baby groups etc but now having 2 children, it's nice to have something special for Iz which she can explore at her own pace, but helps stimulate her senses and keep her attention and focus.

The point is to have a collection of objects that are safe for your baby to explore/play with on their own and this is brilliant for self-directed play. Iz will happily sit in front of her box for 20 minutes, playing with one thing, then choosing another etc. Perfect for when I'm trying to make the lunch or sort some washing :)

This is what is in her discovery basket:

Reflective ball
Floaty scarf
Silicone cupcake cases
Plastic whisk
Baby hairbrush
Stacking cups
Black/white book
Light up ball
Bell shaker
Emergency blanket
Squeaky toy
A few rattles

All the objects are stored in a wicker box and then each time she's going to play with it I'll put about 10-12 objects in this 'half-sized' canvas storage box - it is the perfect size as it's easy for her to reach into and if she stretches then she can reach all the way across it.

Hmmmm where's that toy I want...

Yay found it!!

It's really interesting seeing what takes her fancy as she often has a particular object in mind and will carefully move other objects out of the way until she has what she wants...

Need. To. Empty. Everything.

A few of her favourites are:

The plastic whisk

The reflective ball

The spiky ball

The mirror

The emergency blanket

As time has gone on (mainly thanks to my super helpful toddler!) a few other random things have been added to the box so it also now houses a selection of about 4 teethers, some plastic animals and often a muslin or two....

Sometimes even her age blocks end up in there too!

Over time I'll change what goes in the basket - firstly as Iz gets accustomed to the objects currently in the basket, and also as she gets older and starts exploring things differently. I love this concept though and it is so nice for her to have her own special toy box that is always on hand.

Self-entertaining children - living the dream!!

Have you ever made a discovery box? What have you put in it? I'd love to hear any other suggestions or if you decide to make one after reading this :)

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

What Iz loved - March 2015

Here is what Iz loved this month:

1. Tummy time (finally!)
2. Cuddles
3. Having her own cushion
5. Pulling funny faces when eating ice lollies
6. Bubbles in the park with D
7. Visiting the aquarium
8. Painting (in a very non-messy way!)


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Toddler Book Club - session 2 "The Cat in the Hat"

I've recently started a "book club" for toddlers in our home (you can read more about how it works/the schedule here) and would love other bloggers to join in - so if you fancy reading the book and then doing a related activity (either what we do or something different), let me know. If you'd like to join in without blogging just leave a comment, or if you blog about it, give me your URL and I'll update the post to include your link :)

Here's a link to our first session: Elmer by David McKee



Everyone loves Dr Seuss - I can remember reading the stories with my mother when I was only a bit older than D is now and he loves the funny words, rhyming sentences and wacky pictures. It's quite a long story compared to some of his other books but it is so catchy that the story is over before you know it and D will happily sit and listen to the whole thing without moving.

Having a sneaky read before anyone else arrived...

Snack: Strawberry/banana hats
In homage to the hat in the story we made fruit kebabs with strawberries and banana. D could have pretty much made them on his own but I didn't trust him to cut the strawberry slices evenly so I did that! We used cake pop sticks as skewers so they were blunt at each end and perfectly child-friendly and put banana pieces at each end as that held the fruit on the stick. D was so pleased every time he threaded a piece of fruit on and was so proud of the final result! I think they look really good and were very quick to make. And they got eaten just as quickly aswell ;)

Proud little face :)

Activity: Handprint Thing 1 & 2
We love doing hand/footprint crafts. D loves the process as he is completely "in charge" of his own hand, when he puts it down, how he holds his fingers etc. And I love it because they aren't small for long and it is so nice having concrete memories of just how small they once were. Anyway, back to what we did here...
I drew outlines of 2 jumpers on some card and cut out some circular white stickers. D coloured in the jumpers with a red crayon and then stuck the stickers in place. I then helped D put blue paint on his fingers and top bit of his palm and pale pink paint on his palm. He was surprisingly good at putting his hand down in the right place but needed a bit of help pushing his fingers firmly down on the paper.

It was slightly more challenging getting Iz's handprint so there are no pictures of that bit! But once they were dry I added faces with a sharpie and wrote Thing 1 & 2 on the t-shirts. I love how it turned out - and I think so cute having their handprints side-by-side.

I loved that D also free-styled on one of the pictures and painted a "head" and "hair" with the sponge. It's great when they let their own creativity shine through and we'll keep his picture next to the handprint one :)

How did it work?

I'm not sure if you can call it a pattern if it's only happened twice so far but we'll see after the next session! D loved reading the book (so cute when he was reading it to Iz and pointing out the "Things" to her) and doing the colouring and handprints but the other toddlers were much less fussed. I'm not sure if it's because they don't know the story and are a bit too young to engage if it's not something they are familiar with, or just because there were far too many new and exciting toys lying around to steal their attention away... Next time I might put a blanket over the toy shelves and see if that helps!

D even started colouring in everyone else's when they were too busy playing

It was an excuse for a lovely playdate anyway and then D and Iz had fun re-reading the book in the afternoon and doing the craft again.



At our next book club we're reading "How to Catch a Star". If you've done any Cat in the Hat-related activities I'd love to hear below. Or if you're planning to join in next time it'd also be great to hear from you :)

Monday, 30 March 2015

A week of Elmer

Everyone loves Elmer, right? What's not to love? He's cute, multi-coloured, friendly and even teaches children to be happy being themselves, even if that means being a bit different.
So when we started Toddler Book Club he was an obvious choice for the first book :)
But we love him so much we decided to do a whole week of Elmer-based activities... And here they are, all 7 activities :)
Face painting
I saw this idea on Meri Cherry's blog and D loved it! It must be the most simple face-painting to do but still looks super cute and definitely got us all in the "Elmer" mood. D actually ended up asking for his face to be painted on several occasions during the week and even got upset when he realised that his usually-messy-spaghetti-bolognese-eating was going to mean I'd end up wiping some of Elmer off and refused to eat it!

Yoghurt painting
I blogged about this here earlier in the week and highly recommend trying this as we had a lot of (messy) fun with this activity.


Rainbow platter
I wanted to include one Elmer-related snack and this one was so popular that I'm definitely going to repeat it/variations of it. Although not as Elmer-like as some of the other activities, it is multi-coloured like him and that's the connection ;)


This was great to do with a toddler - D helped with the cutting/chopping and then we talked about each colour as he laid them all on the platter. It was also great for talking about prepositions "behind" "on top of" "next to" and of course for singing the rainbow song (which he learnt in nursery last month). D was so proud to have helped with the preparation and I think felt very grown-up being allowed to help himself from the large selection. Over the course of the day he slowly ate nearly everything (he had some help from another toddler friend) - the only things that got left were some orange pepper slices and cucumber. Not bad going :)

I loved how quick and easy this was to throw together (less than 5 minutes) and that D could then help himself when hungry. Usually he regularly asks for snacks and would turn his nose up if I tried to give him some tomatoes! But this worked a treat - next time I'm going to add in some cooked broccoli and a few other vegetables that he isn't usually so keen on...
Paint-your-own Elmer
This was done as part of Toddler Book Club (read more about it here) and nicely illustrated that even very simple things can be fun.

Milk-paint Elmer toast
We painted toast before for Valentine's Day and this was an obvious Elmer-related thing to do with all his different colours. Although I only made 6 colours (and the orange one looked a more dubious brown...). But anyway, D had fun painting and the toast was delicious :)

Milk carton elephant
How cute are these?!

I'd never thought to do anything with all our used milk cartons before - crazy when we seem to get through 50 gallons a week! - so this was the perfect craft as they make brilliant elephants.
We collected a few different sizes and did a "base coat" in the primary colours. Next I gave D some coloured paper squares, some sticky felt and a pritt stick. He loved choosing which colour to use next and gluing is always a favourite activity! He may not have quite got the patchwork effect spot on but I think they look great and we're all done by him :)

This is a great activity to do after your milk paint toast obviously ;)

Plate painting

This was the one activity that required a bit more planning and more adult input. But D still loved doing this and I think the end result is great :)
First I got a plain white plate (thanks Ikea!) and drew an outline of Elmer in pencil. I also drew a very rough patchwork of squares, just to help remind D about choosing different colours. There's no problem doing as much drawing in pencil as you like because as soon as you put it in the dishwasher all the pencil marks will disappear. Then I drew around the outline with a dark blue ceramic pen (you need to use the right pens or your drawing won't 'set' properly).
Next D coloured Elmer in. I tried to give D as much freedom as possible (after all the whole point of the activity is for him to have fun, whilst learning a new skill, talking about colours and practising his fine motor skills) and you can see the patchwork squares are definitely toddler-work rather than by a perfectionist! But when he went over the outline by mistake, or did a massively over-enthusiastic scribble (happened surprisingly rarely!) then I did remove the paint (very easy to do when still wet).

We had a pack of 5 ceramic paints from Tiger and we did a different colour each day - this was a very easy way to do it as then each colour had dried from the day before so he couldn't smudge them or mix them together and make Elmer all brown!

There were a few little bits left uncoloured at the end which I coloured in with our oil-based sharpies (the pink and light purple bits) and I went over any bits of the outline that had been coloured in. Then I baked it in the oven (90 mins at 160 deg C) and this was the result:

I love it! And more importantly so does D :) don't forget to write your child's name and the date on it if you make one - I wrote it on the back.
So there you go, 7 activities around Elmer. You could do one a day for a week or have a crazy elephant day and do them all at once! I'd love to hear if you do any of them, or if you have any other Elmer-themed things we could try :)