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….. We make
….. We explore
….. We nuture

Three children *** One big, grey dog *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

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“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”


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crafting for boys and girls

Halloween themed projects

Bearing in mind that I like love to make things and I take every opportunity to encourage others to have a go too, you’ll probably understand why I really enjoy going in to school to help with crafting sessions. I’ve volunteered to do a halloween activity with the youngest class. One aspect that I have learnt is that preparation is everything. A run-through with my own children is a definite must.

This weekend we tried out three different halloween themed craft activities. I’m glad we did. One was a flop, one suited a different age group and the last was perfect. ( I feel like the Three Bears!)

Starting with the middle activity. I wanted to use egg cartons for this craft, as I have lots to use and that makes it easy for school. With some clever cutting and sticking, we managed to make a cup shape out of the cartons and a circle for the base. The children painted them and drew a jack-o-lantern face.

Next they stuck tissue paper leaves on to the base, to make it look like a leaf pile. In the garden we found beech nut cases or cupules. They make the most perfect miniature hedgehogs. The children glued gold coloured seed beads for the eyes and used big blobs of glue to stick the hedgehogs on top of the leaf piles.

For the final touch, we used thin elastic to hinge the cup to the base. Our pumpkin hedgehog houses were complete. At first glance, they look like pumpkins.

Open them up and they reveal a little hedgehog inside.

Now for the flop. This did not go down well as it involved lots and lots of glue.  I should have known better than to try this out on the child that eloquently communicates her loathing of everything papier mache related.

It looks good, but I did have to finish it. There is an insect caught inside the web, which is fun, but I shall not be taking this activity into school. Not all children like glue on their fingers.

Final project is the one I will take into school. Thanks to Pinterest, I found an egg carton bat. We love bats, especially as we hand reared a baby bat this spring. Mention a bat and the usual reaction at school is vampire. Hmm. I wanted to take it from a different angle.

We made the bats roughly along the same lines as shown. I discouraged the children from adding fangs, pointing out that the only time we ever saw our bat’s fangs was when he was yawning. Did they want to make a sleepy, bored bat? Maybe not. We opted for blue sequin eyes which would sparkle in the dark. Once they were dry, thin elastic was threaded through the top, so the bats could be hung up and bounced.

We added a moth to the elastic. This summer, we have loved watching the bats swoop around the garden catching anything small that flutters. I wanted my children to remember these evening experiences.  The moth is a pipecleaner with colourful fleece for fast flapping wings. The bat and moth can slide up and down the thread. Lots of moths were caught by our egg carton bats. So good to have another chance to talk about the food chain.

By the end of the weekend, I had found the right halloween project, recycled some egg cartons, had lively discussions about food chains and added another pin to my “Done and Dusted” board. Oh, and my children had fun too. Hey, that’s not bad.


Marvelous Magnetic Marble Run

How to make a magnetic marble run

Ingredients: a bagful of toilet roll tubes, paint, a sheet of magnetic circles, a group of enthusiastic children (aged 4, 7 and 9)…oh and a marble!

Step one: leave children to paint designs on the tubes. Allow time to dry. (Tubes, hopefully not children.)

Step 2: Watch children add magnetic circles to the dry tubes.

(These circles easily peel off the sheet and they are sticky on one side. No need to wait for glue to dry – remember that enthusiastic children are being used in the manufacturing of the marble run.)

Step 3: Discover that one magnet does not give enough balance when marble is sliding through tube, so subsequent tubes have two magnets. Return to step 2 and retrofit other tubes with another magnet.

Step 4: Shove all pre-existing magnetic attachments, on fridge door, out of the way. Do not clean fridge door (no one will notice the smudgy finger marks).

Step 5: With the use of the magnetic circles, start arranging painted tubes on fridge door. Careful attention to how the tubes line up with each other.

Step 6: Test the marble run. If marble run does not equal perfect and it is not bedtime, then go back to stage 5.

Step 7: ….it is unknown if we will ever reach step 7.

Absolutely loved this activity. So did the children. I let them design and build this totally by themselves. The only limit, apart from be nice to each other, that I gave them was that glue and sticky tape were not to be used.  The run had to be a temporary structure that could be moved to another surface. So no permanent joins.

The children have learnt lots already. In the short time between supper and bed, they got a working run. This morning BL added the tubes under the catching station (which had three magnets) to stop it tilting and the marble escaping. No need for a brother to hold it in place anymore. They have played with the gradients, to alter the acceleration. They’ve talked about adding alternative routes for the marble. We discussed the weight of the marble and strength of the magnets. We talked about the restraints of the materials available. They will continue to add and learn.

Another successful crafting (and learning) activity!

Other magnetic projects:

Special thanks to Jonathan at First4Magnets who sent us the sheet of magnets. He noticed that we like to craft with magnets. Looking at their website, I had no idea how many different forms and shapes magnets were manufactured. Seriously, I have been living in the dark ages in terms of magnets. I can think of so many crafting and scientific activities that could be enhanced by using the right kind of magnet….

……I foresee more magnet projects!

(Disclaimer: we received a sheet of magnets free of charge, but were not paid in any way or provided with any words for this post.)

Linking up to NutureStore’s Paper free art

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