Mar 25, 2009

Coral Reef Livingroom

Brace yourself... today's project is a long one!

We have wanted to go to the new California Academy of Science for months and months, well, since it opened, but the insane queues with young kids and the $25 per ticket have meant we've been waiting. On Tuesday we finally got to go with a field trip group for the bargain price of $10 per ticket! Yippieeee!!!

I was quietly disapointed that they didn't let kids younger than six into the planetarium there, because astrophysics is what my masters is in and I was curious and wanted to see the kids geek out with that stuff too.

The kids adored the aquarium there though. I mean REALLY adored it and the fact that the scuba crew were down there cleaning the tank at the same time we were there just blew their little minds. It was great! Sadly the photos are a bit naff because we took our crippled little point and click camera.
So, today while they were still psyched over the coral reef experience I drew out a load of the animals that we'd seen in there with a Sharpie for them to make thier own reef in the livingroom. I scanned in the drawings to make multiple copies.
There are five pages of drawings here that you can print out yourself if you want. Each page has two reef creatures for kids to colour and cut out. Just click on each thumbnail to get the full sized image and remember to check "fit to page", especially if you are printing on A4 rather than US letter size.

Also I've got a page with them all on together for if you have older kids and want to make a smaller tank out of a box maybe.

Finally, a crib sheet for what colours these guys actually are. My lot knew what colour the Blue Tang and the Clownfish were from good old Finding Nemo. We didn't stick to the right colours all the time though ;)

So, I fixed up one of our blue double bed sheets in the livingroom and the kids coloured and cut the reef animals and as they did each one they came through to tape it up with double sided sticky tape.
I added rocks from newspaper and coral from the final left over bits of the dollar store crepe streamers. Then they all spent a while sticking on blue circle stickers as bubbles (I think this was the favourite part for the guys that had just turned three).I cut out some more fish shapes from some cheap adhesive labels and the kids coloured those in however they felt and stuck them on the reef too.The four year olds then told me that we needed a diver like in the real reef tank, so, not wanting to have to draw an entire diver, I just drew out the legs and flippers on some card and they coloured them in and we stuck them on too.
Finally they dragged out any suitable fishy type soft toys to add to the display. Even Spongebob was there. My youngest daughter was adamant about Charlie from "charlie and lola" being on the reef for some reason. My youngest also wanted to go and put on one of the numerous homemade mermaid tails that we have and pretended to swim around with the fishies!
Our livingroom looks mighty interesting now, especially seeing as the rocket ship is still alive and kicking after two months of space missions!

Mar 24, 2009

Cardboard Roman Centurion Costume

We're having a lot of fun with the drywall shims. This is another, less girly project we did with them. The kids painted up a few more of the shims with brown paint (to make it look like leather Roman armour) and the back of an old colouring book to use as the chest plate too.
Later i drew out some bits for them to colour gold and cut out to go on the armour as decoration. Once all that was done I stapled it all together pretty much like the streamer dress bodice and again hole punched the two ends of the waist band to add string to fasten it. I added more of the dollar store red crepe streamer to the shoulders and waist.
The finishing touch was stapling together more of the shims and gluing on a paper tube to make the helmet and adding more red streamer to the top.
I need to make another helmet for my younger daughter that's a bit smaller, but my older one I think looks like Marvin the Martian in it!
"where is my Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator?"Any ideas what other costumes we can make with the drywall shims?
I'm definately going to be using them to make some more sturdy robot body panels than the gift bag versions for an upcoming party.

Cardboard streamer dresses

We recently got a load of drywall shims, which have turned out to be massively useful in kiddy crafts. This craft was so easy peasy and the kids loved the end result.
Each one got to decorate a cardboard shim with pens and stickers and then I cut each shim into three pieces (two equal length and one slightly longer). I stapled the shorter two to the longer one to make a kind of pinafore top and then hole punched the to ends of the chest piece and tied on string to make a bow fastening.Then I just cut lengths of dollar store crepe streamer that we had left over from the pirate-superhero-mermaid party back in September and the kids danced around like silly bouncy things in the dresses.Of course eventually they figured out they could pull off the streamers and make headbands and wave them around, but the bodice is sturdy enough that we can keep it and just stick on other streamers another day.
Of course you don't need drywall shims to do this. Any old cardboard will work just fine.

Mar 21, 2009

Lucky Me and lucky me too!

Lucky me just gave my blog an award, which is really cool, because I only discovered her blog "Luck Me crafts and kids" a week or so ago and I'm loving the craft projects she's got on there. Thank you!Again I am ignoring the chain letter protocol that these awards often involve (I'm assuming there are no blog-police) and instead condensing the tag you're it kudos to one blog that has sincerely floated my boat since I found it. Ikat Bag is written by LiEr and when I first visited her site I thought "Yay! I'm not alone in my cardboard construction fettish!" plus, this lady isn't afraid to make crazy stuff involving wiring and batteries and bulbs either. We embrace that kind of crazy in this house! If you've not already, go visit her and her lovely girls in Blogland. If you like it here then I'll wager you'll like it over there too.

If you're freaked out by the level of paint mayhem my kids are involved in, then Lucky Me has got a lovely flowers craft that is similar to ours on her blog that is far less likely to result in you having to scrub your walls down ;)

Playdough Bakery

Well, the kids asked to make a cake shop, but it was more like a bakery followed by a tea party where the bakery staff sang happy birthday to inanimate objects and then pretended to eat all the cakes.

I used to make playdough the way that involved no cooking, but that stuff was kinda gross to be honest. I mean it worked, but it needed more flour adding a lot of the time and stuck to your hands or caked onto the tools and stuck like Araldite when it dried hard.

I came across a "playclay" recipe on Lovelydesign (great blog by the way) with photos showing lovely unsticky, brightly coloured dough that obviously rolled out easily. It was the photos there that encouraged me to try the recipe, so I got out the cream of tartar and a big old nonstick saucepan.

Lovelydesign's recipe is really simple and quick to make and the dough that we made from her recipe turned out beautifully.
It's just 2 cups of water, 4 teaspoons of cream of tartar, a squidge of food colouring and a cup of salt heated together in a pan until the salt is as disolved as it's going to get, then put in 4 tablespoons of oil (I used veg oil) and then 2 cups of plain/all purpose flour. Stir it up until it gloops into a ball that doesn't stick to the sides of the pan, then turn it out and knead it with a little more flour until it's cool enough for the kids to play with. Store in an airtight container like you would with any other playdough.
I put in some coconut extract into the white dough and some vanilla into the brown, so it smelled a bit bakeryish while we were making the "cakes"

The kids had a good time putting the dough into paper cases and some mini metal tartlett thingies, then using more dough as icing and adding candles and beads to decorate them. I made a swiss roll and chopped it up for them to play with too.

I had some mini paper doilies that they decorated the plates with and when they were done making lots of cute cupcakes and one monstrously gigantic porcupine brain cake thing we set up a tea party on the coffee table in the livingroom.Guests were invited from the bedroom and according to the girls it was "everyone's birthday" Even the baby got fed cake (the baby that always has to have selotape on it's head. Don't ask). I love my 1970s cornflower table cloth by the way. Yay Goodwill!

I thought it was funny that the girls wanted to wear aprons to do all this, when we tend not to bother with aprons much, even with the messier crafts, but they obviously think that you need to wear aprons in a bakery, so we did.