Showing posts with label missmerfaery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label missmerfaery. Show all posts

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Book In Some Crafting Time

There are some fantastic ideas, photos and tutorials online when it comes to kids crafts (and crafts in general). But sometimes, there's nothing like picking up a lovely craft book and flicking through for inspiration - especially nice when you're plotting your next project with your preschooler, as they can curl up on the sofa with you and get inspired from the pages, too! 

Some of the books that have made it into our library recently include the following four awesome volumes. 

Red Ted Art is one of my favourite blogs and the book of the same name is absolutely fantastic. Beautiful but simple crafts that are easy for little folk AND mums too, using materials that are easy and cheap to source. 


Fans of Thomas the Tank Engine (such as my daughter!) will love the ideas in the Thomas Make and Do Book. As well as a game and baking ideas, it has lots of tutorials for making trains out of cereal boxes and even the Fat Controller, mostly using recycled household items and stickers and cut outs from the book itself. 

Show Me a Story has some amazing ideas to combine art with storytelling, such as making story mats, story stones, story cubes and many other wonderful ideas. MeltedRachel has a review of this book here


Finally, we have just got a copy of The Artful Parent, the official book of another great blog of the same name, which we are just dipping into for some fabulous art and craft ideas. 

There are so many craft books out there aimed at children, but which to choose? That is where you can come in! Reviewing the craft books you have at home, that are tried and tested by your family, can help other mums and dads decide on which books would be best for them. 

Why not review one of the books on this list of the Best Craft Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers? Or if your favourite isn't on the list, review that instead, and add it to the guestbook on the lens! 

Happy crafting, and happy reviewing!






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Crafting Fairytale

It's funny what leads you to a topic or theme when you're blogging, or crafting, or generally doing anything, really! A few weeks ago, we were doing a fun treasure hunt at forest school and the group leader was particularly impressed with my daughter's reading skills (she was able to read all the descriptive words on her treasure box that she had to find on the forest floor). She mentioned it to her colleague and he had a lovely discussion about books with my daughter - far from making her feel a little bit odd at being able to read fluently aged 4, as so many people tend to do, he was really enthusiastic and told her how he also taught himself to read at an early age and went on to read The Hobbit aged 6. Inevitably, with both of us being big fairy and fantasy fans, her curiosity reared itself some time later and I showed her the book in question, read snippets of the story to her, and a new love of hobbits was born. So when I stumbled across the delightful Hobbit Crafts for Kids and Adults by Hobbity, I suddenly found myself on a quest for more fantasy and fairytale crafts, to pull together a week of fun crafting activities!

We also discovered Frozen for the first time recently, so that was naturally next on my project list. I'd already planned to make some rock trolls with my daughter, after finding some perfect pebbles on our recent forest walk, and we had to work Olaf in somewhere as she loved him so much (I don't think I have ever heard her giggle quite so loud as when Anna puts his head on upside-down!). We had a ball making all manner of things and I am currently working on putting them all into a lens, which will include all of our own creations plus a hand-picked selection of our favourite projects from around the web.

Next up, the topic just HAD to be fairies. I love them, my daughter loves them, we go hunting for them in the woods and leave pine cone offerings at the "fairy tree" near our house. How could we not embark on some fairy crafts? There is no shortage of magical ideas on Squidoo, and we particularly enjoyed looking at how to Make Your Own Fairy Wings by relache, Making a Fairy House from natural materials and a plastic bottle by Malina123, and how to make Tiny Fairy Dolls by lbrummer.

Enchanting and engaging for the little kid and the big one!

Photo Credit: Image from Pixabay




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Gruffalo Crumble

Proof that we really do get out and about (and crafty) whatever the weather - today we attended a special party for the Gruffalo, to celebrate his 15th birthday! 

Despite rumbles of thunder and a torrential downpour of rain, we still had great fun and enjoyed all the activities, including (naturally!) some forest crafts. 

We made a few Gruffalo things, including a lovely log birthday badge, but our favourite activity of the day was making a clay Gruffalo using a mixture of craft and forest materials. 

You can make one at home if you have some air drying clay, salt dough or similar! 


1. Roll a large ball of clay for the Gruffalo's body, and a small one for his head. Secure together with a stick if necessary

2. Add two googley eyes (ideally orange, like in the book) and a tiny green pom pom for the poisonous wart on the end of his nose! 

3. Cut a purple pipe cleaner into small pieces, bend in half, and press into the back of your clay figure, for those "purple prickles all over his back"

4. Use two pieces of pine cone or bark to make his ears

5. Find some sticks with bumpy bits to give him legs with "knobbly knees", and some more sticks for his arms

6. Find some small pieces of twig, bark, leaves or other forest objects to give him his terrible teeth, and his black tongue! 

7. If using air drying clay, leave overnight and it should be hard by the following day

Do you have a great craft tutorial to share? Why not create a How To page on Squidoo? As the Little Crafty Kids Contributor, I'm always on the lookout for fabulous new craft ideas, and I'll be sharing all the best how-to's and reviews on the LCK Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter

Happy crafting!  

(c) All photos copyright of the author





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Little Artists

As the Little Crafty Kids Contributor for Squidoo, I don't just look at craft projects for the under-fives, I look at art ideas, too, because to me, the two subjects are inextricably linked! Many crafts involve at least some painting, drawing or artistic input, and all the creativity that goes into them can only serve to enhance the art that kids go on to produce.

I'm writing about art for preschoolers this week because my daughter has done very little crafting, but a heck of a lot of drawing. She is obsessed at the moment, and is really exploring color, too. So much so, that even food cannot get in the way of this current passion - she doodles away on the paper towel that I put under her breakfast, lunch and dinner plates, so I am currently the proud owner of numerous sheets of beautifully decorated kitchen roll, including numerous rainbow designs like the one on the left, which I am working out how to effectively display in some kind of scrap book!

Engaging with children and their art is a wonderful way to connect and encourage, I feel. Don't simply say, "Oh, that's nice," and definitely never ask, "What's that?" - instead, talk about the shapes and colors and styles used. Comment on what you like about the picture, or why they decided to put that particular object there, or whether there is a story behind it. Today, I was telling my little girl how much I liked the way she had drawn the mountains in the background, and the pattern she had colored on the girl's dress. This led to her explaining more about what the picture meant to her and why she had drawn it.

They may only be young at this age, but don't let that put you off exploring the art world! I have been reading lots recently about introducing different artists to preschoolers, and I heartily agree with this idea.
I recently showed my daughter (4) some of my high school artwork, and she was particularly captivated by this pointillism painting I had done (right). So I explained a little bit about pointillism, impressionism, and Monet, and she expressed interest in having a go herself. As serendipity would have it, one of the books we had taken out the library, Katie and the Waterlily Pond, was about a little girl exploring an art gallery, and she magically hopped in and out of, yes, you guessed it, various Monet paintings whilst trying to paint her own impressionist painting! My little girl was now definitely hooked, and we're in the midst of starting an impressionist project as I write!

The beauty of art is that you can make it as simple or complex as you like - great for deconstructing artists and interpreting them at home for age appropriate activities! 

One of the great things about art for kids is that, like crafts for kids, there is plenty of scope for recycling things! I'm slightly obsessed with melting things at the moment, especially with all the terrific ideas for melted crayon art and melted bead crafts. These projects do of course need adult supervision, but under-fives will just love the things you can do - such as seeing what amazing patterns and colors you can make on canvas with this Melted Crayon Art project by neeznoodle.

Another wonderful form of art for children is modelling with clay. We were using it out in the forest this week, making marvelous mini beasts at forest school (here's Pud's lovely ladybug on the left, decorated with twig legs, leaf wings and catkin spots!) 

As this was a fun activity outdoors, the bug is left unbaked. For ideas at home, don't worry if you don't have access to a kiln for proper clay. There are lots of air drying clays available, as well as non-toxic polymer clays such as Fimo, that you can bake in the oven. You can also make salt dough or your own homemade clay too. 

So, are you inspired? What masterpiece of artwork can you create with your children or grandchildren? If you have enjoyed some great art projects with your under-fives, please come and share them on the Little Crafty Kids Facebook page!

As always, happy crafting.

(c) All photos are copyright of the author





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Babies Can Craft, Too!

When it comes to crafting with small children, there are always lots of ideas out there for toddlers and preschoolers. But what about the babies? 

Believe it or not, it's never to early to start getting arty with the bubs! Once they are of an age where they can sit unaided and grip things, you can start experimenting with them. Most activities will need to wait until they are between 18 months and 2 years old, but there are some things you can do as early as 8-9 months. 

My 9-month-old son LOVES getting his hands dirty. The gooier and stickier, the better! Unlike my now 4-year-old daughter, who hated getting her hands messy as a babe, my little boy has his hands straight in his breakfast, lunch and tea as soon as he possibly can. As he loathes having his hands and face wiped, I encouraged him to dab his messy fingers onto some kitchen roll (paper towels) and showed him the "finger painting" he had done - which made him giggle! 

(c) Image copyright of the author

Once he got the idea (rinse and repeat until it clicks with baby that he is the one making marks), I whipped up some homemade edible finger paint (made from squished fruit and veg, mainly!) and let him start having fun on paper. You can do this with edible play-dough and sensory materials like rice, pasta and so on, too! Baby can even try stamping with potato stamps using food-based "ink"! 

If baby doesn't mind having food and edible paint on his or her hands, then hand printing is a lovely craft to do! It makes a beautiful keepsake to enjoy for years to come. All you need to do is cover baby's hands with the paint and help them press down onto the paper. We have done this with all the family, printing the hands inside one another according to size (Daddy's first, then mine on top, then my daughter's, then my son's) to create a lovely "our family" picture for the wall. You could make cards for friends and family, too (which older siblings can get involved in making).

I cover this and many other ideas for older babies in Crafts for 1 Year Olds. If you like the hand print idea, then crafting connoisseur Pastiche has lots more of them in her Hand Print Crafts guide.

If you want to have a go at making homemade paint for baby, then you'll find several recipes in Homemade Paint for Kids by Shellonline (just make sure you pick the ones that are entirely food-based and edible, so it is safe for baby to put in his mouth). As for play dough and clay, homemade recipes are covered in Recipes for Fun - Kids Play Doughs and Clays by jkvkdailey.

Now go and enjoy nurturing your tiny one's creative spark!




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Crafting is for Life, Not Just the Holidays!

I love how crafts can seep into every area of life. My daughter is an autonomous learner, which means an unstructured home education that is child-led and follows subjects that she is interested in. Right now we are learning about the body, and building a skeleton. This term at forest school is all about minibeasts, and there is a new show on the CBeebies channel all about minibeasts too, so we are learning lots about insects! My daughter has taken a great interest in musical instruments recently, and also wants to learn about the vikings. And, as I mentioned last week, we do weekly crafts and activities based around a picture book of choice. All of these topics can include crafts, so not only are we getting creative and arty, we are learning lots, too!


 At the start of the week, we went on a lovely morning out in the forest for the May Bank Holiday. An author was visiting with her book, Teddy Edward's Rainbow Walk, and along with the storytelling and songs was a "rainbow walk" to find lots of different colored "nature treasures" which the children then glued onto a beautiful big rainbow painted onto a large sheet of paper (above). The collage created from the many shades of leaves, twigs, flowers and pine cones was a sight to behold!


Yesterday, we made a tambourine (left) and a kazoo. Both were simple to make and used mostly everyday materials, but the process was super fun and produced great results! Whether crafting from nature, junk or actual craft materials, there are so many DIY instruments you can make. My latest lens on how to Make your Own Tambourine shows you just how easy it can be!

Our skeleton crafts have encompassed both literacy (we recently read and had fun with the book Funnybones), art (chalk drawings, glow in the dark paint, moving paper skeletons), puzzles (printing out and piecing back together skeleton bones) and science - we're building a skeleton week by week with a cool partworks series, which comes with a magazine explaining all about how the body works, and to demonstrate how strong our bones are, despite being hollow, we did a fantastic craft where we stuck about 30 drinking straws inside cardstock and rolled them up to make a bone, before placing things on top to see how strong the construction was!


We also made cotton bud skeletons (right) and pasta skeletons, which LeanneChesser explains how to make in her Spooky Skeleton Crafts, along with toilet roll skeletons, skeleton mobiles and more!  

Minibeasts have also brought out the crafters in us - insect nature collages, making up mud minibeasts at forest school, and even creating our own ant farm out of a plastic container. I can't wait to have a go at making the super cute pom pom peg butterflies that Spelloutloud shows us how to make as part of their Butterfly Unit for Young Children.

You don't have to be a home educator to nurture your child with creativity and learning through crafts - taking time to do this one evening a week or at the weekend will create wonderful memories and teach them so much.










Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Crafty by Nature



 One of my favourite ways to craft is by using natural materials from the world around us. Every week my daughter and I head off to forest school and then have a wander through the forest afterwards, and invariably she will pick up some bits and bobs to take home and craft with!  


There are lots of gems to be found on the forest floor, from pine cones to twigs, leaves to moss. These can be used in so many ways - leaf printing, glitter pine cones in pots or to use on festive wreaths, nature cards and more! 

Our very own mbgphoto shares this tutorial on How to Make a Pine Cone Angel, which you can adapt to make into angels, fairies or elves with your little ones!

Another great source of natural craft materials is the beach. How many different ways can you get creative with a shell? Lots, I tell you! We've made sculptures and mini mermaids, painted pebble friends and treasure boxes, to name but a few things, out of the shells, pebbles, rocks and driftwood that we've encountered on our meanderings.  

Shells - image from JupiterImages Corporation
 Scarlettohairy shows us How to Paint Rocks in her craft guide, and for more beach-themed crafts, I put together a few ideas to get you started in my guide to Sea Crafts for Kids. You'll also find plenty of inspiration in Homemade Beach Craft Ideas by studentz, which includes lots of projects from basic to advanced, many of which can be adapted for children. Which reminds me, if you see a craft you like in a book or online, but it's for older kids or adults, don't write it off straight away - can you come up with a toddler or preschooler-friendly version of it?

Natural materials can be so much fun to craft with, and they can be excellent teachers, too! As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, during the Easter break we had a go at a willow weaving workshop at our local zoo, and came home with two lovely birds nests, which we've been using for all kinds of things. Needless to say, we learned a lot about how clever birds are at making their nests, and how they have to make them strong enough to hold the eggs and soft enough for the babies when they hatch! Greenspirit has a wonderful guide to making Bird Nests Crafts, which little ones would love to help with creating. 


Finally, even if you live in the middle of the city or miles from a beach or wood, you can still find nature's bounty on your doorstep! Find sticks and flowers in the garden, leaves from trees in the street or park... or combine nature and crafts by creating a mini indoor garden in a pot or barrel - perfect for small world play, nurturing green fingers and stimulating creativity! Think fairy garden, dinosaur terrain or even a Lego adventure park. There are lots of Miniature Fairy Garden Ideas to be had such as these by LoveEmbroidery.

Elsewhere in the world of nature, seedplanter shows us how to have Fun with Flowers, while vallain reviews these awesome Model Insect Kits, which once built would look great as part of a nature diorama for small world play. And I just love some of the ideas on lbrummer's Outdoor Crafts for Kids, especially the twig frame, garden markers made from sticks and the super cool grass house!

So, next time you are enjoying a walk out in the natural world, why not have a look around and see what treasures lie waiting to be found?

(c) All photos copyright of the author unless otherwise stated




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Project in a Box

 This week I'm revisiting craft kits, and encouraging YOU to review your favorites. While there is no better source of crafting materials than the contents of your recycling bin, there is also nothing like a fabulous craft kit to inspire and encourage your child to make something creative. A craft kit can provide you with everything you need to "bling" up your own upcycling or other crafty project, or it can provide a complete craft in a box, giving you all the materials you need to make a particular craft (which, despite being most fond of spontaneous crafting, I do love for those times when you just want a quick craft with little or no set-up, or a handy themed craft that is ready to go without lots of prep!) 


This week saw us celebrating St George's Day on the 23rd April, the feast day of the patron saint of England. To mark the occasion, I set up an activity table of St George and the Dragon crafts, puzzles and coloring for my daughter to delve into. 

The main project featured the kits pictured - a catapult craft with St George decor (left), and a castle made from a box (below), all from the marvelous UK company ToucanBox, who post out lovely little parcels filled with everything you need in one box to complete a craft project from start to finish.  

This is an ace idea to get you creating, without having to hunt down individual bits and bobs, and then not be able to do a craft because you don't have any blue ribbon or green foam shapes or the right kind of googley eyes.

The thing I love most about craft kits is that I can pull one out of a drawer and give it to my daughter knowing that she is going to enjoy some independent creative play time. She LOVES new craft kits, big or small, and often raids her art drawers to see if there are any lurking about that she hasn't done yet! She is craft mad and would happily craft every day if she could, and I don't always have the time to prepare a craft on the spot when she wants to do one, so I keep a stock of little kits ready! 

We also have a few "bigger" kits on hand, usually ones given as birthday and Christmas gifts, and these are always a great source of excitement when broken open! One such kit, received this past Christmas, was the Melissa and Doug Wooden Stringing Beads, which I've just reviewed. A combination of fun crafting (creating jewellery and other objects with the wood beads and laces) and fine motor skill practice

What craft kits do your children love? Share a review with us! Review one of the many wonderful kits on this selection of Kids Craft Kits for Under-Fives, or if you can't see your fave, tell us about it anyway! Or perhaps you like to make your own kits, or have a fabulous DIY craft tutorial to share? If so, pop it into Squidoo's How-To format and share your ideas with the world. The more we share with each other to benefit the growth and creativity of children, the better! 

So, what constitutes a good craft review? I've already shared one of mine, now here are some more by talented lensmasters on Squidoo. 

Mosaics provide super fun pattern crafts that preschoolers will love, and sweetheart8148 shares her experience with the fabulous Sticky Mosaic sets.

Play-Doh is always an instant winner with little ones, and you can have all kinds of fun and creative exploration using it. Seahorse60 has a few great ideas about ways you can use it in her review of the Play-Doh Mega Pack.

Finally, craft kits don't have to all be about cards and sparkles and foam shapes... they can come in the form of DIY gifts and objects for the home, too. ComfortsOfHome reviews this sweet Build a Birdhouse Kit, which is ideal for getting kids involved in gardening and wildlife as well as being creative! 

Squidoo is the perfect platform to share your craft reviews, tutorials and ideas - not only are you getting your creativity out there to inspire other parents and teachers, but you have the potential to earn some money for yourself or charity, too! 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Craft Egg-Citement!

Easter Blessings!


It's not too late to get crafting for Easter - we have been busy making little chicks, coloring in Easter bunny paper dolls and even making some little chocolate eggs of our own with a chocolate mold.  

The past week we have also made baskets for an egg hunt, and were lucky enough to attend a willow weaving workshop at our local zoo, where we learned how to make these bird nests pictured! These make a lovely Easter gift, with a knitted bird or two and some pretty foiled eggs. 

This time of year is a haven for crafty ideas - spring is in the air, nature is abundant with bits and bobs to use in crafting, and we have Easter and Earth Day to inspire us! Tomorrow we're going to combine the two events by recycling the pretty colored foil that my children's Easter hunt eggs were wrapped in (below), and using them to create some kind of object or collage. We've not decided yet! 

Squidoo is the perfect place to find Easter craft ideas, or to write your own how-to's and reviews! Whether you want inspiration for a craft, or want to see how you can share your own ideas, take a look at some of these terrific pages

Older preschoolers might like to help (or receive!) these Resurrection Easter Eggs, demonstrated by ideadesigns. And if you're all out of painting and decorating eggs enthusiasm by now, why not try something different, such as this great idea by prosperity66, who shows you how to make Easter Bells from plant pots!

Finally, I love this tutorial from KyraB. Now spring is here, we are itching to get gardening, and have been looking at making a fairy garden in a barrel and a terrarium. So her lens on How to Make a Christian Easter Planter seemed like perfect timing for getting crafty with planting, with an Easter theme!

I was delighted to see my Chick in Egg Easter Cards tutorial selected as Lens of the Day today! This is a great craft for little ones as you can keep it simple (a colored chick in a plain egg) or have fun decorating, coloring or painting it to the hilt! 

I am also delighted to have been blessed with the new regular position of Saturday poster for Review This, so from next weekend you will be able to find reviews, tips, inspirations and ideas from Little Crafty Kids here every week! 

Once again, have a Happy Easter, and happy crafting!  




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Learning through Crafts




Crafting with little ones is perfect for bringing out their creative side, nurturing their inner artist and exercising their imagination. But crafts can also be a wonderful learning tool in other ways as well.

As an unschooling home educator, I use play and art as part of the learning process. We learn and craft with the seasons, the things we see and do daily, and whatever interests my children currently have. 

Of course, right now it is coming up to Easter, so there are lots of beautiful spring, egg and other Easter themes in abundance! We have been making these chick in egg cards (left) to send to my daughter's friends and pen pals, a prime example of learning as we craft. The activity led to a discussion about the life cycle of the chicken, farms, and whether there are chicks in the eggs that we have in the fridge! 

We also belong to a home educators book club on Facebook, which has a different book to read every week or fortnight, and we incorporate lots of crafts and similar activities alongside the reading of the books. We've made stick people in the forest for Stickman (below left), play dough aliens (below centre) and a washing line full of colourful cut-out pants for Aliens Love Underpants (below right, which prompted a mini science lesson on the weather, how clothes get dry, and what we could use to "dry" our craft by representing the wind and sun). Not to mention Jack and the Beanstalk stick puppets, Room on the Broom peg dolls, Three Little Pig houses made of smoothie boxes - well, you get the idea! 




So, when you craft together, think about what other elements you can bring in to teach your child, to make learning fun! Even simple concepts like cutting paper or lacing beads (motor skills), counting out or measuring materials (maths), or trying out a new way of painting (art) are teaching key lessons.

Here are some ideas for the season for you! hlkljgk shows you how to dye eggs naturally for Easter in her Natural Egg Colouring lens. This activity combines craft with science, as you can explain the dyeing process and so on.

You can also get inspired by general craft ideas and apply an Easter theme. Here I show you How to Make a Shadow Puppet. You can teach children a basic history of shadow puppetry or the science of reflection and shadow, and create an Easter puppet show at the same time! 

Finally, why not inspire further crafting this Easter by popping a crafty gift egg inside your child's Easter basket? CorrinnaJohnson has some beautiful examples of these in her lenCrafty Non-Candy Easter Egg Surprises

Happy Easter, and happy crafting!  

  


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Getting Green and Thrifty with your Crafting!

This week is all about recycling! In these harder economic times, parents are looking for thrifty but fun activities for their kids, and there are endless ways that you can use recycling, household junk and natural items in your crafting - all you have to do is share your ideas with the world! Squidoo has the perfect format to do this - the How-To Lens Format.

Since we've started crafting with household junk, our the contents of our recycling bin have reduced dramatically - so we are really doing our bit for the environment by re-using, which is even better than recycling! This lovely pile on the left is just a fraction of what we have put aside for making things.

Kids craft tutorials are huge on social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest, so if you have some ideas for tutorials, make sure you take some beautiful photos (stop by our very own mbgphoto's lenses for some photography tips if you need to brush up on your skills!) that will look enticing on sites like those - as your lens is more likely to be shared, pinned or even go viral!

These past few weeks, I've been out and about with the little ones at forest school, home ed groups and more, and in between, we've been busy making crafts for our weekly book club theme, which sees us choose a book and create activities around it. All of this has led to quite a bit of recycled crafting!

We made a bottle boat at forest school, which is a great way to use up an empty plastic bottle. Toilet rolls are a must in your junk craft box (we have a whole bin full waiting to be transformed!) - we recently turned ours into some beautiful bejeweled toilet roll owls at our home ed group (see below)! We got in the holiday spirit as well and turned another one into a cute little leprechaun for St. Patrick's Day.



You don't have to stick to How-To format lenses, although they are perfect for quick and easy craft tutorials. Squidoo's longer lens format is also perfect for more complex craft ideas, or for where you want to show off several variations on a theme, or a collection of recycled craft ideas. Don't forget you can use the how-to format as a module within the lens as well!

Be warned, however - once you start all this junk crafting, it's quite addictive, you know! I find myself looking at every day objects now and imagining what they look like or could become - believe me, you'll never look at a yoghurt pot or bottle cap the same way again!

We have several projects on our wishlist and a whole stash of recycling ready to use. We have empty cereal boxes waiting to be turned into frames for my 4 year old's artwork, and bottle tops from milk cartons ready to become wheels on a cardboard car. Speaking of card, seedplanter has some wonderful ideas for getting crafty with cardboard boxes (we have one such large monster box, waiting for warmer weather to arrive so we can take it outside, paint it and turn it into a rocket!)


You can also come up with craft projects which make things for children to play with. For example, we used up some old, out-of-date rice by dyeing it with food colouring to make some wonderful sensory tray rainbow rice (right).

Or share your recipes for homemade materials - eco mums like me LOVE recipes for play dough, paint and so on! Our very own Recycler Contributor, BearTale, shares this fabulous recipe for DIY sidewalk chalk that recycles egg shells!

All of these ideas make for perfect crafts to do on Earth Day, which is coming up on April 22nd.

 Finally, for an extra burst of recycling inspiration, why not have a peek at our under-fives craft boards on Pinterest? Tons of wonderful and inventive ideas to be found!

So go on, get out there, get green, and get crafty!

(c) All photos are copyright of the author (2014)


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Imagine, Create, Inspire!

Today I'm going to talk about why it's so great to share your crafts for kids online, and the best ways to do it!

First off, crafting for little ones is so very important, because it encourages them to be creative and imaginative from an early age, makes for great messy play (also very important!) and can benefit them in a number of other ways, ranging from fine motor skills to learning counting, colours and shapes.

It can be hard to know where to start for new parents, so anything online that can help inspire moms and dads is a wonderful thing - it's where I started when I was a new mama! Reviews of books and kits, ideas for resource materials and basics, and step-by-step tutorials for different age groups are all so very helpful to your readers! And even when you're a crafting pro, fresh inspiration for your kids is always welcome, so any more complicated crafts and fabulous ideas you may have are perfect for young crafters as well!

Remember, everything that you do with your kids that makes them happy, could make other children happy too! Sharing resources with other parents means you are inspiring others to imagine and create their own crafts and fun ideas.

As the Little Crafty Kids Contributor, writing about kids crafts comes easy for me because, chances are, we'll be doing crafts weekly anyway, I'll be taking photos anyway, and I'll be wanting to share them online anyway! So it's really easy to find things to write about each week. Plus I love doing it, so hopefully that shows in the writing! Be inspired by the seasons, festivals and events, what you can find in your recycling bin, or the story you've been reading together at bedtime. What can you make today?



To write a great article or tutorial about what you're doing with your kids, make sure you take nice, clear photos of each step, as well as the finished result! It can help to have a not-too-cluttered background, but hey, this is parenting, so that's not essential! Take some colourful pictures of the materials you're using, too. Pictures of your children actually doing the crafts are fab, but if you prefer not to put pictures of them on the internet, then take back-of-head shots of them crafting, or shots of each stage on the tabletop. If you're a wiz in a photo editing program, then you could make a montage of some of the photos with a tagline like "How to make a Toy Oven out of an Old Box" or "10 Great Crafts to Make with Pine Cones"! You could use this as an intro photo and also to promote the article on social media, especially great for visual ones like Facebook and Pinterest.

Think about niches and keywords, and how to get traffic for different kinds of craft articles. Individual how-to's might not get many searches, especially if your tutorial is something unusual, but if you can slot it into a niche phrase that is searched for, then write a piece that incorporates it - for example, you might have a review of an Easter Make and Do book, a tutorial on how to make an Easter bonnet, and a how-to on different ways to dye and decorate eggs, and so on. Write a lens or blog post on "Fun Easter Activities for Preschoolers" or "Easy Easter Crafts for Toddlers" and link to each of your related articles!

How else can you help other moms and dads? Last time I talked about reviewing craft kits. Craft books are also great to review - most parents will want to buy at least one or two of these, but there are so many out there, a really good selection of reviews can help them choose. If you put effort into your reviews and really show your enthusiasm or passion for the book (along with things you've actually made) then your readers will turn into shoppers!

Share your thoughts on:
  • The ease of instructions for each craft
  • Age suitability
  • How clear/inspiring/beautiful the photos are
  • How many projects and ideas there are
  • Levels of difficulty
  • Do they work? Are they easy to make? Are there good challenges? 
  • And most importantly - do your children enjoy making the projects? 
 I created a list of craft books suitable for under-fives here, which you can use as a starting point for writing a book review. There have been some fantastic reviews written by Squidoo'ers in the last few weeks, such as this review of Show Me a Story by MeltedRachel, which shows the passion she has for the book as well as lovely photos of how she used inspiration from it to make story mats and maps from her leftover textiles. Meanwhile, tonyleather shared this bumper binder of books for making things from household items, which gets his granddaughter in the creative mood! Finally, CorrinnaJohnson gives a great example of how to review a seasonal crafts book with her take on Valentine Things to Make and Do.



Of course, when it comes to crafts for little ones, you don't have to just stick to basic crafts - you could also come up with recipes and ideas for materials (home-made paint, play-dough and so on), crafts to create toys and other items (we've been making rainbow rice for sensory play, and we've saved an enormous cardboard box to make a rocket out of!), and crafts for grown-ups to make things for preschoolers. The sky is the limit when it comes to creativity!

Next time I'll be looking at making recycled crafts from household items. Happy crafting!








Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Get Kitted Out for Crafting


As any fan of crafting with kids will know, having a supply of craft essentials on hand is a must for when your little ones cry, "I want to craft!" or "I'm bored!"

This is where craft kits can come in very handy. My personal favourite craft "kit" is our own haberdashery box of recycled household junk, bits of ribbon, material offcuts and so on, that we can delve into and use to create something new and wonderful. However, you do need a few things to help you turn the junk into gems - and for kids, you need to be thinking googley eyes, pom poms, pipe cleaners, sequins and sparkles (along with a set of paints and pens, of course!). We love this jumbo craft jar pictured left - Santa brought it two Christmasses ago and it's still going strong!

Recently I've been asking craft-loving folks to review the best kids craft kits for the under-fives. If you have a favourite kit, whether it's shown on this list or not, please share a review with us!

I've been enjoying the reviews of everything from basic kits to paint your own sets, and adding a few reviews of my own, including this one of our favourite kit to dip into, the Mister Maker Doodle Drawers.

Groovyfinds reviewed the fabulous "My Crafty Kit" by Alex Toys, which not only comes jam packed with lots of crafting goodies, but also comes packed in a handy case with a handle, so perfect for little crafters on the go!

Another great-sounding kit is the Faber Castell Big Fun Crafts Kit, reviewed here by tonyleather after it proved a big hit with his granddaughter. 

Once you've got your basics covered, you can delve into more specific kits, such as paint-your-own models, sequin and mosaic designs, decorate-your-own kits, first sewing kits, stamping sets, cutting sets and many, many more. One such kit which my little girl would love is the Breyer Paint your Own Horse Kit which has been reviewed by KarenTBTEN.

So, if you have a craft kit at home which your preschoolers adore, please share! Or if you make your own kits up, why not write a how-to on making your own craft kit?


Tips on Reviewing Craft Products:

  • Tell your readers an overview of what is in the kit
  • Review the quality of the items, whether there is value for money, the variety inside
  • Share photos and descriptions of some of the things your child made using the items
  • Did your child like it? 
  • Would you recommend it to others, or buy it again? 
  • What could be improved, or was it just right? How does it compare to other kits you've used? 

In the meantime, happy crafting! If you're stuck for ideas, why not stop by the Little Crafty Kids community on Facebook or Pinterest?

There are several great themes to explore crafting this month - we'll be:
  • Making Brighid crosses and paper spring flowers for Imbolc (2nd February)
  • Making heart-themed crafts for Valentine's Day (14th February) 
  • Making friendship bracelets to celebrate International Friendship Day (and sending them to my daughter's penpals) 
  • Crafting little bird houses and feeders for National Wild Bird Feeding Month

How about you?

Photo Credit: Our Jumbo Craft Set before we started delving in and having fun with it!




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.