I love when a book sparks a craft. I also love when a book inspires a discussion. I’ve been dying to do this craft ever since we read the book and this weekend I finally put idea and materials together.
I need to back track slightly. A few months ago, BL, TF and I were waiting in the car while AJ was in her harp lesson. It’s too short to do much, so I tend to take a book to read to them. This time I chose The Tortoise’s Gift. TF didn’t want to wait in the car. He didn’t want me to read to him, but as soon as I started reading he settled down and listened. So captivated, I hoped he was remembering to breathe. He was totally distracted from his disgruntled mood. In fact when the music lesson was over, both children pleaded for me to finish the book as the story had grabbed them. Complete turn around.
The book is a Barefoot Books chapter book with enchanting illustrations. It’s perfect to read to TF at 5 years, and BL, at 8 years, is captivated by the story enough to read it for herself more than once.
This weekend, I dug out my supply of walnut shells and sequins and began to glue. One child at a time found me. Each sat down to make their own tortoise, until all three had joined me at the table, concentrating on colours and patterns, in absolute silence. You could have heard a sequin drop.
I knew that I wanted to put the shiny tortoises on the Christmas tree, where the fairy lights would make the sequins glisten. My idea for attaching them did not work. It was AJ that came up with the idea to glue the pipe cleaner to the inside of the walnut shell. Perfect!
While preparing to glue the tortoises, I put the glue gun on to heat and then popped outside to check that the hens’ water hadn’t frozen over again. It had. A couple of inches of solid ice. Back outside with a kettle of not-hot water. When I came back in, after chatting with the hens, there was a definite smell of something over hot. I checked the Aga to see if I had left something on it. Or in it. I recognized the smell, but couldn’t place it. Until I walked passed the very hot glue gun. Too much multi tasking. The glue came out easily and there was a puff of smoke as I glued. The tortoises survived and the children were safely at school. Phew!
Funny as being distracted was the very discussion that this book and craft have sparked.
This morning, we were discussing the book. I asked the children which character, from the book, they felt that they were most like. The elephant who stopped for a scratch and forgot, the lion who was too busy anticipating glory to remember, the monkeys who were distracted by a game or the tortoise who was single minded in the task and succeeded. Funnily enough the children all chose the tortoise. They felt that they would not get distracted.
As they got ready for school, the subject changed. Soon there was more messing around than getting ready. To such an extent that we left slightly late (still on time for school). As we walked down our lane to school, I asked them if it was ever good to be distracted and when it was bad. They came up with some lovely ideas. Good to be distracted when you’re hurt or upset. Not good if you are doing school work or walking to school (narrow country lanes do not have pavements).
I might just add that using a glue gun is a bad time to be distracted too! Not sure I can claim to be much like the tortoise either.
(AJ has blogged about another BB book that we got at the same time. Take a look here. It’s for a slightly older reader.)
I love cinnamon and apple sauce christmas ornaments. It’s one of those activities that just keeps on giving. Not only does my kitchen smells spicy and seasonal when we make them, but each year, when I open up the tin I store them in, they smell as gorgeous as ever. It is just the most wonderful craft activity to take into school. This week that’s exactly what we did.
Most of the children loved it, with only a few finding the fragrance a little too much. I took the ornaments home to dry them in the Aga. They were then sent back into school to be decorated with glitter.
We also took another craft activity into their classroom this week. Reindeer handprints on to card. As this is the youngest class, the grown ups helped paint their hands. Lots of smiles and a few giggles due to the tickley paint brush.
I don’t have a photo of their masterpieces, but this is the sample I took in to show them. One AJ made when she was about 6. In class, the children left their print on white card and added a magnet on the back. Hopefully the reindeers will spend the festive season on fridges all around the village. All as different as they possibly could be. I’m back with the children again next week with a different crafting activity.
Last year’s class spotted me going into their younger school mates’ class with my craft basket. I was mobbed in the playground by children asking when I was coming into their classroom. Hmm. How could I resist such sweet entreaties? I do have a fun craft activity that I know my little friends would enjoy. I’m hoping I can arrange a time to visit them too.
All this festive crafting has made me feel so …..well, festive! Especially as I listened to them rehearse their songs for next week’s nativity play. Just so festive.
If you’d like to make your own cinnamon and apple sauce ornaments, 5OrangePotatoes has a great tutorial here.
Busy weekend, but there is always time to fit in a little bit of creative magic time with the children. I’m re-reading the Dragons of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, so when I saw a fire breathing dragon on Pinterest, I knew we had to make one. Okay, three. Making just one of anything seldom happens.
Toilet rolls and egg cartons were put aside. Instead of the ball shaped eyes of the original pin, I knew I needed pasta. It is the first time I have stood in front of the dried pasta in the shop and made my choice entirely based on the pasta’s resemblance to a dragon’s eyes. This could be a whole new way of shopping for me.
I think it was worth it. As the children glued and painted, I kept the fire-breathing part secret. Youngest wanted to know why we were not making wings and tails. Patience. He even bought one of his dragons through to show me that dragons do have bodies and wings and tails. Patience. Huh? Patience.
As they created their dragons, I told them the basic story of the dragons in the book I was reading. How the dragons ate firestones to breath fire. They flew, with their riders, and used their breathe to destroy the red threads that rained down. If they failed then the threads would burrow into the ground and devour all living things that it touched. The Pern books are not children books but they loved the retelling of this part of the story.
We added red and orange tissue paper. I showed them how to blow through the back to make the flames flow. It took no time for them to realize that they could hide the tissue paper in the mouths and puff. With great effect.
(Attempting a Harry Potter style photo.)
Crafting magic at it’s best.
Excuse me now. I just need to go and oil my dragon.