Dec 25, 2012

Paper snowflake fun

Yule tide festive vibes to all!

Just popping in to give you a link over to my post on making paper snowflakes at Alpha Mom. Folding tips to make an easy six sided snowflake, plus some ideas for using them to decorate. Here's a piccy for you to see how we used a big one to conceal the fact that our table is not really one table, but two folding leaf tables next to each other. Just a big strip of wrapping paper and a snowflake and it looks like a giant present (I can't do table cloths at all at our house because they would get stained immediately or everything would get pulled onto the floor by Delyth).
We popped some big snowflakes made from wrapping paper up on the wall too, as well as the usual white paper ones on the windows. So, if you're interested in upping your paper snowflake making game, pop and have a look at the folding instructions and tips over on my post here.
 Happy Holidays and wishing you all a cracking 2013!

Dec 1, 2012

Star of treats advent craft

Wow, welcome to December! That snuck up on us didn't it! As usual I'm a last minute kinda crafter and yesterday we put together our advent calendar for this year. It's fabulously cheap to make and you can re-use it next year too, so it may be entirely possible that next year I actually have this advent calendar thing all sorted without the usual night before flurry of glue and recycling. Yay! It's a double sided star with 24 little containers that can be opened and closed again.

I've posted all about how to make it over at Alpha Mom. Here's the link. There's a printable that I made available over there too, so you can print out the numbers to go on it and also the little center circle that the kids can decorate. You can't see the numbers on the photo above because they are hidden in the tinsel (you have to hunt for the number that you are opening each day). You can see the numbers in the photo below before I put the tinsel on.

I'll get to posting some links to a few of our older Christmas/winter crafts in the coming week, but in the mean time, here are a couple of advent calendar posts from years gone by...

Tissue paper and condiment cup advent calendar from 2008 (first saw this idea by Brenda Ponnay as a November calendar on Alpha Mom, years before I started writing for them, Brenda still writes for Alpha Mom by the way, and did her own advent calendar craft for them this year as well, link here)

Last minute count down calendar for slackers (see, I don't even manage to get my act together for Dec 1st some years!)
Happy Holiday planning you guys! Now that we're back in the UK, this will be the first Christmas that we can have our parents and siblings over to our house for the holidays and I can't wait! There will be grandmas and grandpas and aunties and uncles and cousins. Question is, can I rise to the challenge of Christmas dinner for all those people? Place your bets!

Oct 23, 2012

Free pharaoh's mask and collar printable

We're gearing up for Halloween here. It's not such a big deal in the UK as it is in the US though, so sadly there will be no parade in costume at school for the kids. We'll likely do a minor amount of local trick or treating though, and I'm sure the kids will be excited to embrace the UK tradition of Guy Fawke's night five days later, what with all the fireworks and toffee apples!

This year what we needed was a costume that captured the kid's current fixation of ancient Egyptian mummies, and allowed them to get involved in creating their own costume at a very low cost. So I set about making a 3D Pharaoh's mask and collar from paper that we could combine with a lot of toilet roll to jazz up the classic, low effort, loo roll mummy costume. The head dresses were just improvised by sticking a long sleeved t-shirt on our heads with the arms hanging down in front. Easy peazy lemon squeezy.

The kids loved it, and I've written up a tutorial with photos and all the print outs for both the mask and the collar, available as either A4 size, or US letter size pdfs over at Alpha Mom. If you think your kids would also get a kick out of this then pop over there to read the post and print your own copies. They are black and white line drawings, so that the kids can colour them any way they like and it is low on using up printer ink too.

I'm hoping that some home schoolers might find them a useful resource when studying ancient Egypt too (you can probably tell that I based it heavily on the mask of king Tut) Interesting fact: According to Wikipedia, on November 4th it will be 90 years since the day that Howard Carter's team discovered the steps leading down to Tutankhamun's tomb! I may put on a suit and a stick on moustache to be Howard Carter when going trick or treating with the kids. Maybe I can get Paul to go as zombie Lord Carnarvon with a tiny piece of bloody tissue stuck on his face. Sorry, I got a bit carried away there.

While I'm posting about halloweeny/fall/autumn type things, I thought it would be useful if I put a few links in here to some older posts in the Filth Wizardry archives, that might be useful for either costume making or just plain crafty fun on the theme.I'm sure there are more if you go digging, but these are the ones that sprang to mind.

Costume posts:

  1. Star Wars X-wing fighter pilot's helmet from recycling.
  2. Star Wars X-wing flight suit iron on printable.
  3. Roman centurion costume from cardboard and crepe paper.
  4. Storm trooper's helmet from two milk jugs.
  5. Mermaid tail from old pants and skirt.
  6. Gift bag robot costumes.
  7. antennae from cable ties and felt.
Halloween/Fall/Autumn craft posts:

  1.  Toilet roll bat.
  2. Halloween card printable by Carys.
  3. Laminated fall leaf magnets.
  4. Trick or treat pumpkin pots from milk jugs.
  5. Collaborative fall leaf rubbing mural project.
  6. 3D colourful skull and monster sugar dough cookies.
Hope there's something in those lists that will be useful to you this year. If anyone does make the storm trooper mask or Egyptian mask or the X-wing helmet, any of it really, I would so love to hear about it or see photos! The idea of people out there embarking on similar projects with their kids as a result of us blogging about our antics is such a lovely thought!

Have a lovely Halloween, and here's one last link to the Alpha Mom post with the Egyptian mummy mask, so that you don't have to scroll back up ;)

Oct 8, 2012

Autumn woodland treasure sculpture

Thought I should post about this project we did over the weekend, because the kids had a lovely time doing it, and the gift recipient (Grandma) really liked it too, so a win-win!

The making dragonflies using maple seeds and twigs appeared in Family Fun magazine a month or two ago, credited to a Shanti Nordholt. Here is the link to the originals (that also have glass bead eyes). As you can see in the picture below, we didn't do the glass bead eyes. I think we might have some somewhere in the shipping, but right now, a craft that we can do with just hot glue, paint and stuff we found on the ground on the way home is where it's at!

We had a couple of different sorts of seeds, so maybe one type was maple and one type sycamore? Not sure. We also picked up a load of twigs, and a small dead branch and a few conkers and leaves.

The conkers became the centers for the big flowers, with the sycamore seed petals hot glued around them, and the dragon fly bodies were a twig that had a natural little Y shape at the end to be the antennae. We used more twigs to make the flower stems and glued fallen leaves onto those too. We ended up cutting the lumpy seed bits off of the sycamore seeds with scissors to make gluing the wing bits onto the twigs a lot easier.

The kids painted them all up with acrylic paint. Some of them came out absolutely gorgeous, which is always an unexpected happy surprise when you've got little kids making stuff. I was kind of expecting that we might have really odd, crushed and weird looking insects and flora, but nope, it came out great.

All we did to give it to grandma was stick the twig in a glass full of rice to hold it. If you've got a vase and some proper floral glass nugget things it might look a bit classier, but given that it's made from hot gluing together stuff that fell out of trees, I think the glass of rice works just fine.

We are so making more of these, because I want one to stay in our home too! Something about it sort of reminds me of the victorian fixation with things like fire screens that hold stuffed bird displays or butterflies made out of feathers, or even the weird gluing seashells together to make freaky looking animals. I really do like it though, and because the seeds are so very thin, the light shines through them in a lovely way. It would also look much classier if it was done just in it's natural fall colours, but painting it all crazy was at least 50% of the fun.

Sep 19, 2012

Talk Like a Pirate Day Printable

Hello again! Dust is settling around us as we unpack our shipping here on the UK side of the Atlantic. It was a busy couple of months, but we're just about catching our breath now, and although everything isn't exactly unpacked or even in the room that it should be in, we are somewhat settled. More on all that later though. Right now I'm popping in to give you a link over to a post I just wrote on Alpha Mom for "Talk Like a Pirate Day", which is supposed to be September 19th, but really, honestly, any day is a good day for pretending to be a pirate, right?

I put together this single page printable that you can colour and cut out to dress up your soft toys and give them some piratitude. Ffi and Carys had a lot of fun dressing up their toys and Del had a lot of fun undressing them and sticking the eye patches on her legs (whatever floats your boat matey).

There are also instructions on how to make the nifty little removable pirate hook hand covers for your toys too, so, pop on over to the post (here is the link), download the free printable and have half the toys set sail in the laundry basket with some pillow case sails! It's available as an A4 size or letter size download for ease of printing by pirates from all corners of the seven seas.

Nothing says piratitude quite like a one eyed, golden toothed, bearded Pikachu brandishing a cutlass! Yaaaarrrrrr!!!

If you're interested in more piratey posts that I've done, these are from Talk Like a Pirate Day 2011 and 2010.

Jul 8, 2012

Transatlanic mayhem

Oh my goodness me! So much I wanted to find the time to post about, but long story short- we're moving our family from California back to the UK this week! So so so much to sort out. We've been planning the move for nearly two months, but well, it turns out if you've been living in the same house for nearly seven years and you have the same sort of making stuff out of things lifestyle that we do, then there is a whooooole lot of sorting out that needs to be done before you can emigrate. I've been a little wild eyed and panicky the last couple of weeks and have been making a few too many jokes about throwing everything out on the lawn and setting fire to it, but as we get closer to the day we fly, it is actually coming together thank goodness!

There's been garage sales with friends and lemonade stands:

There's been plenty put on Craigslist. After a year of taking photos of Del in our rocking chair, we sold that a couple of days ago too.

There's been a lot of stuff to donate too. We're in luck that not far from us in San Francisco there is a fabulous school that does a lot of this open ended making and inventing and experimenting malarky with their students, so we've been up there with a couple of car loads (another couple to go this week too). Brightworks has been open for a year now and I hope they will grow and grow and allow many many more children to have this sort of experience, because it's lacking in the world today. Makes me happy to know that our tools and glue guns and soldering irons and low tech light table and paper and all manner of other makey things will be used and enjoyed some more by children. Here are the big 'uns enjoying the creations made by last week's group at Brightworks, when we popped in at the end of the day to drop things off. It was lovely to have Ellen and Justine be as excited about things like our elderly leaf blower as we were when we first picked it up at a garage sale and thought "Yes! Giant Bernoulli effect demo with a soccer ball!" Back to ping pong balls and hair dryers for us!

If you want to see more of what the kids at Brightworks get up to, Josh writes a blog daily for them with lots of great photos. They were building a harmonograph last week! Harmonographs are cool! We gave them the weights from ours, but their set up is much bigger and capable of more degrees of freedom, like the one at the Exploratorium. I'm kind of hoping that it will still be up when we call back next week to drop off the last of our tools and things.

So, things are winding down here. I'll still be posting here on Filth Wizardry in the future and I'll still be writing posts over at every month once we get settled, but for the next few weeks we're going to be hopping about and kind of nomadic while we get rid of the last of our belongings here and then attempt to re-accumulate the important ones on the other side of the Atlantic. Oooh, and for those of you that are interested... After several years of staying up and being lovely and colouful, the tissue paper stained glass window came down really fast and easily without leaving any mess or damage to the window. Yay! Here's a pic I took with it all half peeled off. It was sad to see it go, but the peeling was fast and fun to do.

The kids dug up the purple potatoes yesterday and washed them off. I took apart the planter we made and painted, and the kid's lovely kindergarten teacher (who we will miss very much) has adopted the strawberry plants. Our neighbour took the twelve bags of soil over to his place for more veggie growing, so even in this rush and chaos it feels nice to have this community of help and mutual benefit surrounding us, with very little going to waste. Even the giant geoboard was taken in by my oldest's second grade teacher :)

What else, what else? Oh yes, totally awesome accidental timing on our part, but we are arriving in Manchester only a few days before they are holding a Manchester Mini Maker Faire! Yippie! Will we see any of you UK peeps there? It's Freeeeeee! My favourite price! I'm sad that we will unlikely get to all go to the Bay Area Maker Faire again any time soon though. We had such fun there the last three years. The kids were excited about it for weeks before hand this year.

Right, baby is awake and I've got to do more packing! There's so much more that I want to share. Maybe I will have time to write more when we're back in Wales and still living out of suitcases before any shipping arrives. Hope you're all having a good summer!

May 26, 2012

Coffee Cup Sleeve printable for your Teacher

It's nearly the end of the school year here in our bit of California. The kids actually only have three days left of school, which is shocking to me. I'm sure it was last week that Ffion went off to her first day of kindergarten with her "writing arm" in a plaster cast. Here we are though, on the brink of the summer vacations (this year's is going to be a pretty epic and challenging one for our family, but that's for another post). I just wanted to share with you the printable that I made last week to personalize the kid's teacher's gift cards that we got them.

The teachers that my girls have had so far have all been fanbloodytastic. Really really lovely people with a genuine passion and drive for what they do. The kids don't get the issues like the chronic lack of funding and curriculum difficulties, but they can feel the dedication these teachers have and boy do they love them for it! The last couple of years I've knitted something for the teachers, but this year time has been tight (plus all knitting has been directed towards friends and family that have been relentlessly making tiny people that all need cardigans damnit!). So this year for each teacher I got them a Starbucks gift card and made this "Top Teacher" print out sleeve to cover a take out coffee cup that we put the gift card in. Pretty simple, but both teachers this year love Starbucks, so everyone's a winner baby!

If you'd like to do the same, you can find the printable download (for free of course) over at Alpha Mom, here.

I also wanted to let you know that the bloke I am affiliated with has written the post he's been meaning to for ages over on his own blog, that shows the birthday present he made for Ffion this year. (he wrote about the house he made for Carys last year here).

In other news... Delyth started walking and is all over the place and into everything. It's very very cute but she's really keeping me on my toes here. I had to tape some wood to the bottom of the ladder to the kid's loft bed yesterday to stop her trying to climb it! No sitting still for pictures any longer.

Back to explain our summer plans when I get a mo :)

Apr 10, 2012

A new Easter hunt challenge

I know this is a little late to be of use to anyone for this year, but given that I have the template files to hand from making these on Friday night, I should post them before I either loose them to the depths of my hard drive file structure, or just forget to blog about them altogether when Easter comes around next year. If I'm still around and posting this time next year then I'll try and remember to link to this again to remind folk that it's here.

I've written about how we do egg hunts here before, and we did that again this year, but we added another game into the mix at the last minute. My friend Jennifer had got all the kids a chocolate Peter Rabbit each, so the plan was to have them "earn it". I wanted to sort out some kind of challenge that they could complete in their own time. I had seven kids doing this that were between six and nine years old and I only had the idea to do it the night before, so had to make the answer sheets and bunny clues rather hurredly.

I've drawn these little bunnies in this specific way since I was a kid, and I used to draw them exploding up into the air as if they were farting themselves off the ground like this...

That's how mature I am, and they made my mum giggle, so of course I kept doing it!

I decided to chunk up my "classic bunny" to give enough space to put the challenge clues on his tummy, and remove his signature propulsion system to make little rabbit markers that could be "hidden" around the garden for the kids to find and collect clues from.

The clues I came up with were to have each rabbit have a "clue letter" that you would have to write down next to the rabbit's number to spell out a password to get your chocolate bunny. To make it a bit tougher for the older kids, so that they couldn't just find a few rabbits and then guess the rest of the letters to complete the password, I also put a different famous rabbit on each marker that they had to make a note of next to that marker's number too.
Being extra fancy like we are around here, I used some little bulldog clips to attach the answer sheets to some hard backed kids books we had on the shelf and then used a bit of yarn to tie a pen to each, so that the kids would find it easier to go around gathering and writing the clues down.

The kids did a grand job on this challenge. Everyone completed it and got their chocolate bunny within about 20 minutes, which worked out really nicely. They had twelve bunny markers to find and the twelve "clue letters" when put together spelled out the prize password: "Hot Cross Buns".

If you wanted to make this easier then you could omit the extra step of having to name each rabbit found, or to make it harder you could have the code letters not be in order and they would have to figure out the password like an anagram puzzle at the end. Lots of ways of tailoring this to fit your crowd.
Leave it to Paul to hide eggs in a tree...

I've put a few printables here for you in case they turn out to be useful for someone next year. The first three are print outs of the markers I made for the hunt (they were cut out and taped to popsicle sticks to stick in the ground). I've removed the clues we used so that you can make your own hunt the way that you want it to be. Just click on the thumbnails to get the larger version to print.

Next is the answer sheet for the kids to fill in. The code letter boxes are coloured the same as the rabbits they go with so that the kids can more easily see which is which when reading across from the numbers. Two of these answer sheets fit on one US letter sized piece of paper.

Lastly, I threw together a page of smaller, plain, uncoloured, and unlabelled bunnies in case anyone wanted to use them as gift tags or use them to cut out and make into a card game somehow, like a matching game or something, or just let your kids colour them. Just thought that might be useful.
We had some seriously nice weather for this, which was lucky timing because it's due to start pouring down again tomorrow. Went on a wander with the family later in the day and found the world's best field of daisies for making head dresses with!

Also, I am happy to report that a couple of years later and they are still happily rocking the superhero ponchos I made them and blogged about way back here.

If you've got any of your plastic eggs left over then you might want to make some toadstools with them like these,

Or use them to make R2D2 secret storage boxes, or hang on to them because I have another craft that I want to post about that we did with them too.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend too and that this post might be useful for Easter time next year :)