Plasticine

I’m a child of the seventies, and for a large part of that time my creative play revolved around plasticine. Seventies plasticine was the kind which didn’t mix into nice colours, and just went brown. Thankfully, things have changed. We have been sent a selection of Plasticine goodies to see what we think.

plasticine box

Plasticine brings back so many memories for me – I remember getting pots full of various colours back when I was young and making loads of things until you couldn’t use the stuff any more. These days things have improved.

The first, most important thing is that Plasticine does not dry out! I wish we’d had some when some friends stayed over earlier this year. Our friend made an elephant head with that similar other stuff that begins with P, but after a week it was crusty and dry – and eventually it had to be thrown away which was sad.

plasticine donatello

The second thing which is also very important, you can blend Plasticine together really easily to mix colours. We put this to the test when H made a Squidgems Donatello Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle model (rrp £1.49) – which came with really easy to follow instructions. Mixing the brown and green for the shell brings out a great shade – see the pictures above.

Next we put the Plasticine to the test with an Animal Creations kit (rrp approx £4) – you add various colours to parts of the plastic legs, tail and head, then blend what is left to make the body. We got a dog and H really wanted to copy the picture on the box – it could have done to be a little bit bigger (my poor eyesight there), but H still got on with it and was pleased with the results.

plasticine animal creations

The thing which appeals the most to me about the Plasticine range we were sent is how affordable it is. H enjoys doing crafty things and liked trying out the range we were sent. We still have some packs to work through, but I know she will have lots of fun – the Fluro (rrp £1.99) looks bright and good for working with, and the Basix range (rrp £0.99) is a perfect pocket money price and a good starter point.

Something we weren’t sent but that caught my eye was this fabulous Morph plasticine kit – after all, who wouldn’t want to make their own Morph? That’s the beauty of Plasticine – there’s such a big range you can make whatever you want!

plasticine

We were also sent the Funtubulous (rrp £6.99) – a tub full of Plasticine and some cutters – we haven’t played with this properly yet, but I know it’s something H will enjoy playing with a lot – probably to make me all kinds of ‘delicious’ food… I like that the kits come with tools which help with modelling. H is rediscovering her love of making things!

We were sent a fine selection of Plasticine products for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own.

Box Garden Challenge

School gave us some Home Learning for the Easter Holidays – to make a Box Garden. So  we decided to use a few bits from our craft tub to make it look like a garden. So far, the most fun thing has been the cork bees!

Cork bees are ridiculously easy. All you need are some corks (handy if you drink wine), some paint (black and yellow), a pipecleaner and some play doh to stand it up – and a couple of googly eyes.

cork bees

First of all we painted the corks yellow and left it to dry overnight. We used Tiger Stores paint which covered the print on the corks really well. In the morning it was still a bit tacky, so I used a corn on the cob holder while we painted the black stripes onto the cork. After that they were left to dry overnight again. Get some googly eyes and stick two to the front of the bee. Then all you need to do is create the wings.

This is where the pipecleaner comes in – this is where I had to help H the most too. Wrap it around your fingers twice – these loops are the wings. Criss-cross them on themselves so they look kind of wing-like, and then just wrap the two ends of the pipecleaner around the cork, making sure there’s enough to create a stand. Then all you need to do after that is put it in some playdoh to stand up. It’ll now wobble around a bit like bees do, and looks jolly cute!

box garden

For the base of the Box Garden we got tissue paper and crunched it up, then found flower stickers, feathers, covered toilet rolls in sticky backed plastic and basically went crazy with decorating. We also added a caterpillar by threading beads onto a pipecleaner, putting a head on him and bending him to look sort of like a caterpillar crawling. It worked pretty well anyway, even if I say so myself!

In the middle is what makes it a garden – Tiger Stores had little basket type things for sale, and I picked one up a while ago. Inside the little basket is enough space for a shallow dish, which we put cotton wool in, and sprinkled some cress seeds on top of! Fully sprouted it looks like a very cute little crafty box garden – and while I’m sure we won’t be winning any prizes for our creativity, I LOVE THE CORK BEES!

Box Garden

So that’s our Box Garden done!

Lego Table Ideas – Ikea Hacks

It’s H’s birthday and one of the things she wants is a Lego table.

A Lego table does not come cheap, this we have found. I don’t want her to have the plastic ones as they’re already quite small for her. We wanted something which would suit a tall girl and grow with her. I spotted an absolutely gorgeous wooden one you can buy for £100 which is a bit too much.

So I googled around. There are plenty of Lego table options to make out there, but this one stood out – so we stole a few ideas then added some of our own.

Lego Table

After shopping around, the Lego boards we need to go on the top can be bought via Amazon for £5 each, so four were ordered. After that all you need is the table and containers which worked out really reasonable and cheap.

H decided she wanted a turquoise Lack table from Ikea. We spotted some Bygel plastic hanging containers which fit on a Bygel rail, coming in at a very reasonable £1.50 for the rail and 60p for each container. After that we went for the Grundtal magnetic knife holder at £11 (it’s really strong) and three Grundtal magnetic pots at £5 – which were slightly more expensive but will be a nice touch to the table.

After that it’s just a case of drilling them on – so it looks like this!

Lego Table

The final touch to the Lego table is the four lego boards. As said in the link above, you can’t place them close to each other so need to use lego to space them out properly. Something like on this picture (use Lego to make sure they’ll fit). Glue-wise we used ‘No More Nails’ and left it overnight – the night before H’s birthday in fact.

lego table

And that’s it. Rather than spend loads of money we spent a fraction of the cost. The Lack table has really good height on it and Ikea do a small chair which fits perfectly.

EDIT – this also works with Duplo. If your child isn’t quite ready for Lego but is likely to move up then this would be ideal! It doesn’t work with other brands we’ve tried like MegaBloks unfortunately!

Easy Bunting Craft With Tiger Stores

Tiger Stores is one of my favourite craft supply shops – everything is at a good price, so today I made some easy bunting which involved minimal effort from me and still looks good.

easy bunting from Tiger Stores

Easy bunting is something I’ve had in mind for H’s birthday – and Tiger Stores have some cool things in stock at the moment, but I hadn’t had the time to start it.

Today I was ill from work and needed something to occupy myself without it being too strenuous, something which involved minimal effort but decent results.

easy bunting from Tiger Stores

So here’s my Tiger Stores Easy Bunting Instructions :

Buy the Karton cardboard triangles which are bunting shaped. There are 50 in total, in ten different colours. £2.

If you’re anything like me you’ll always have a stash of the sticky back plastic drawer liners Tiger do – they have various colours at £4 a roll. I always keep any pieces I might do something with, as even the tiniest amount works. I have four different patterns at the moment.

Other than that I picked up some Snor purple string (£1 or £2) to use for hanging them.

easy bunting from Tiger Stores

Step 1

Work out the letters you need and using the handy guides on the back of the sticky paper make sure they’re the same size. Cut them out and look out for the letters which will come out the opposite way (like p) – don’t forget to do those backwards (I forgot).

easy bunting from Tiger Stores

Step 2.

Take each card piece of easy bunting and sort them into the colours you want. There are ten colours; green, dark green, blue, light blue, pink, cerise, yellow, orange, red and black.

easy bunting from Tiger Stores

Step 3.

Sort out which letters you want on which colour. Peel off the backing and stick them on.

easy bunting from Tiger Stores

Step 4.

You’ll probably have bits of plastic sticky stuff left – don’t throw it away, use it to fix the card to the string at the back – it’s strong sticky stuff so should do the job.

Step 5.

Hang up and admire your easy bunting then have a long lie down afterwards.

easy bunting from Tiger Stores

Gulp. I’ve just read they’ve opened a BIG store on Oxford Street. Dangerous. For my bank balance, that is…

Bunting For Impatient People

As part of our MoneySupermarket challenge to spruce up H’s room, one thing we wanted to add was bunting. Her room is a mish-mash of colour schemes, though decidedly yellower at the moment. She’s set to move back in there tomorrow, so tonight we need to get the walls decorated. Bunting was one of the obvious choices as it’s simple to do, or so they say.

Lazy Bunting

H’s curtains are the girly bunting design you can get at Ikea, with blue, red, orange, green and light blue flags (1) – and with them being Ikea there was plenty of fabric left over, so I cut out a few of the flags – with about 1cm of hem around them, cutting a line across the bottom and diagonals across the top so they lie nice and flat. (2)

Then they just needed pressing to make it easier to sew.

As luck would (or wouldn’t) have it I managed to sew two on the machine (3) before I wasn’t able to thread the needle, so gave up – and did the rest with the invisible wonder-web type stuff you get at Ikea. There wasn’t a lot so I had to be careful, but there was enough to get two sections of bunting. I used what was left to then attach the flags to a length of ribbon I had saved. (4)

This is how it looks (5) it could be better in parts, and I put that down to me rushing things – but we have plenty of fabric so I could try again… if I find the patience from somewhere….

I found that putting some of Tiger’s fabric tape at the back helped the ribbon stay straight and strong and avoid getting twisted too.

bunting

Operation Dollshouse – Part Two

So last week we left the house as a shell which needed some personality, with gorgeous furniture inside but already Madam has decided she needs a bathroom. As luck would have it, she was ill on Monday still so Shaun stayed off with her and the two of them added paper to the inside of the house, and decorated the roof with orange ’tiles’. It reminds me of a kind of Dubrovnik orange – and looks fantastic.

dollshouse-2

There wasn’t enough orange paper to go round so I had to head to Poundland on Tuesday for their bargain packs of paper and fabrics (£1 of course!) – where there was a matching shade as well as some fabulous scraps which have since been made into carpets for the houses.

tuesday

Tiger Stores have some fabric tape in stock at the moment (for £2-3), as well as some really good sticky paper (£3) so I bought a few bits – and these were used on the carpets as it’s good strong tape but easily moved. The sticky paper I used on the other side of the carpet – both sides are on some light card which is just slotted into the house, mainly to strengthen but also in case H fancies changing the carpets – then she has two options for each floor; the scraps from Poundland or a design from Tiger! It works pretty well.

dollshouse-3

One thing H feels she’s missing is a bathroom – it was our local car boot sale today and I found someone selling some Le Toy Van pieces (including ones from the starter set!) but no bathroom bits – and anyway we need to build an extra room for that! We did get some chairs which will fit in well, there’s just no room (but now I’m thinking a roof terrace on top of the bathroom.. ha, I’m getting a bit carried away here…) – but this is the joy of making the house this way, you can do anything.

So right now we’ve fully papered walls, floors and the roof – but we’ve still the outside of the house plus the chimney to do, as well as the bathroom.. and I just found a bargain Le Toy Van set on ebay! We’ll see how things go… H may have to earn the set through good behaviour… (is that mean?)

Worry Dolls

H is probably going to be a worrier like me. I’m really bad at talking about my problems until I hit THAT point, then there’s no stopping me. Unfortunately this means that often I’ll mention something and I’m sure my friends think I’m moaning… but hey.

Anyway, H seems to also be like me and with school on the horizon and her nursery days spent having best friends then not any more (god, she’s SO like me), and occasional days when she really doesn’t want to tell me what’s wrong, I decided that we’d make some worry dolls. I then worried about this – of course – as she’s very very young, but my rational thinking was that if she had something she’d express her worries to, then this was a good thing emotionally.

making simple worry dolls
So we kept it simple. She’s got plenty of craft supplies so we raided the lolly stick collection. We selected one of each colour and got her sticker collection out too. Then it was a case of naming them – now, she can’t read but I can; she has a good memory, I don’t. So I wrote their names on each stick.

We both drew faces on them and added a sticker to try to personalise them a bit before I got an old Innocent Smoothies carton and cut it down to size, then found some fabric scraps (a nice red with sparkly spots on) and covered the box – the dolls live there.

making simple worry dolls

That was it. Nothing too fancy, and everything we  had around. I then demonstrated how I’d tell a ‘doll’ one of my worries and place it in the box, (I think I was worried that Peppa Pig might not come on tv in time or something) and H followed, mentioning friends at nursery and how worried she was they wouldn’t be her friend any more (SOB!). But it was good – she wouldn’t talk to me about it (and just wanted cuddles), but wanted to share her problems with her worry doll.

It’s an easy one to do anyway. More importantly, H understands what they’re there for – and if she can’t talk to me, hopefully she’ll share her worries with these…

making simple worry dolls

 

Finger Knitting Good!

As part of my technology-free Saturday I did some finger knitting with H (aged almost three and a half) – and considering she’s quite a patient little girl I was amazed how quickly she picked it up (as you do need to be really patient!). Currently we have two bracelets, and she has a sense of achieving something “a bit like mummy”. She needed help but knew what to do once we’d done it a few times.

Finger knitting is new to me; I’ve knitted since I was young, though only followed my first pattern late last year. It follows the same principle as a knitting doll bobbin.

Hold the wool with the thumb of the hand you’re going to be knitting on and wind the wool around each finger alternately until you’ve looped them over each finger two times – remember to keep hold of the end your thumb is holding!

finger knitting

Then all you do is pull the lower loop over the upper one. Start again winding the wool around each finger until you have two loops on each finger, and keep going, making sure you start from the same finger each time you pull the lower loop over the upper (we started from the little finger). Eventually it’ll look like this :

finger knitting result

At some point you’ll want to cast off. Cut your wool but leave a good length on it, and thread the end through the wool on each finger. Remove the wool from the fingers and pull tight – and voila – you’ll have something which looks a bit like a large knitted bracelet!

The best thing about this is the lack of mess, and it’s something you can do quickly and easily – and you don’t need a whole ball of wool either. I picked up a knitting doll bobbin from Tiger for £3 recently so think we may make a start on that with H, see how we get on…

Crafty – Toilet Roll Butterflies

I’m posting this up on behalf of Heather – they look fabulous!Toilet Roll Butterflies

Here’s what to do!

We had some toilet rolls kicking around for a couple of weeks as M has been collecting them – she’s had a bit of a thing, and wanted to make Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus characters as we’d seen them on a tv programme before Christmas.

I googled around and adapted them with things we had around the house – like pipe cleaners and fluffy bobbles for antennae, then experimented with different patterned paper from the crafty drawer, and some glitter glue pens for decoration! 

M was really good with doing most of it with some help (like drawing the lines, glueing the paper on) – we ran out of plastic eyes (but they’d look really good too!) – but they’re really simple to do, I just stuck plenty of paper on the rolls – the wings are folded in half when they’re being cut to keep them symettrical, and away you go! Great fun!

Thanks Heather! I know what we’ll be doing this weekend…!

Activity – Painting Stones

I don’t know about you, but every time we go anywhere H comes home with pockets full of stones. We were at home on Wednesday, our last day of the holidays before nursery and work kicked in again, so decided to do a spot of painting.

Painting stones, that is. It’s a really simple idea, messy enough it’s fun and allows your child (or you) to get creative.

I used watercolour paints (the ones in tubes) as they seem to take a better colour on the stones and wash off your hands easily. We did some one-colour ones, and some dual colour, and even a ladybird which was fun. (the large black one with red spots is H’s seal)

We’ve run out of our paints now, so I’ve more on order arriving next week, so here’s what we did the other day – and even better, we both worked on all of the stones. Now H has a train set to play with, we decided she should paint some stones golden, for the ‘Gold Rock’ station – now I’ve just got to build a station…

Painting Stones