Tuesday, 16 December 2014

DIY Olaf Night Light

Do you want to build a snowman?  This little Olaf will never melt, in fact he glows! He makes a great Christmas night light, & would be a great companion for reluctant little sleepers or those who are afraid of the dark. Simple & quick to make, he's a cute buddy for any Frozen fan too.
To make our glowing Olaf we used:
2 recycled polystyrene cups
Sticky tape
2 brown pipe cleaners
Googly eyes
Sharpie marker pens
Small sections of orange & black card
Battery operated tea light

To make a basic body shape we stuck the two cups together using sticky tape.
As we wanted our snowman to glow we needed to add a battery tea light, so we carefully cut the base out of one of the cups & pushed the tea light in. The tea light we used fitted perfectly & the cup held the base of the light firmly in place.
Now to make our snowman look like Olaf! We cut one pipe cleaner in half & pushed each section through opposite sides of the top cup. (The bottom cup has the night light in.) To make the hair/twigs we cut 3 small sections from the other pipe cleaner & gently pushed these into the top of the cup. The polystyrene cups are perfect to use for this as no holes need to be made prior to threading the pipe cleaners, making this an ideal craft for little hands to make independently.

For the details on Olaf's face we used a sharpie pen, googly eyes & triangle of orange card that we attached with a glue stick. We then cut three rough circles & attached these to the bottom cup with more glue.
Even when he's not illuminated this little fella still looks cute, & makes a neat decoration just as he is.

But at night he radiates a warm glow. You can tell he likes warm hugs!

Our glowing Olaf has been warming the living room with his light, & has been regularly taken into Minnie's room to sit by her bed at night time. She's recently had a cold & been waking several times in the night & this little fella has offered her a welcome light & reassurance when she wakes. She's even had him sitting up on her pillow! He's clearly been a big hit with my girl.
Costing very little to make, this night light / DIY toy has inspired some wonderful imaginative play, creative thinking, & magical moments, both during the day & evening. Who'd a thought two recycled coffee cups could create so much magic!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Little Robin's Christmas - Story Book with TP Roll Robin Craft

Little Robin's Christmas is a perfect book to share in the run-up to Christmas, not only are the illustrations beautiful & captivating, the story has a heartfelt message for all, no matter how old you are.
The story is set a week before Christmas & begins with a little robin ironing his many colourful vests ready for the frosty days ahead. Every day he sets off from his house ready for a new adventure wearing a different coloured vest, & every day he comes across a fellow creature in need. Little Robin then kindly offers his vest to the animal who is suffering from the cold, & they gratefully accept his generosity. He continues to give his vests away until on Christmas Eve he has just one vest left. He meets a mouse shivering from the cold & so gives away his last vest. But he's a long way from home, & the snow is falling, so he huddles up to get warm & soon falls fast asleep. Later something magical happens when a man with a white beard & red suit picks up the robin & takes him home. The man in red knows all about Robin's generosity & is so proud of him that he asks his wife to make him a very special present, telling Little Robin; "You are full of the spirit of Christmas."
The wife knits Robin a special red vest, which will not only keep him warm forever, but will make others feel warm when they see him. Robin's chest glows with pride as the man in red takes him back to his home on Christmas Day, & Robin sits high in the tree to sing "Merry Christmas" to everyone.
I love this book for so many reasons, the stunning, warm & humorous illustrations (the drawings of the vest being stretched by animals larger than the robin are sure to raise a smile) & the flow of the text with the countdown of the vests & days encourages children to join in. But what I love most is how one simple story book can so effectively share the values of kindness, compassion & empathy, & that no matter how small you are, you can make a big difference.
 We wanted to make something simple that we could share with friends this Christmas, so we made these robin decorations, each with a red heart to remind us of the kind-hearted Little Robin in the story. 
To make them you'll need:
One TP Roll
Glue (we used a glue gun but you could use sticky tape or staples)
Red felt heart
Ribbon to hang your decoration
To start we cut our cardboard tube into six sections. Don't worry if the sections aren't all identical, they just need to be roughly a similar size.
To make the tail feathers we joined two of the sections together as shown in the picture below & attached these to another section of TP Roll that would become the robin's body. To make the robin's head & beak we took another section & folded as shown in the picture, then attached it to the body.
We glued the last two sections of TP Roll together to create the robin's wings & attached them to the inside of the body shape to make it look like the robin was flying.
You could leave your robin as he is, but we decided to paint ours with some brown watercolour paint.
Once dry our little robin looked like this. All he needed now was a heart.
We cut a small heart out of some red felt & glued to the front of the robin's body to give him his famous red breast.
Once dry we threaded some thin red ribbon through the body & he was ready to fly off to a new home.
What's been great about giving these little robins as gifts is that we've been reminded of the story in doing so. In sharing a simple gift we've been able to share a little joy & bring a smile to someone.

These frugal little upcycled robins take minutes to make & can be decorated in any number of ways. Why not share a little Christmas spirit this season & make one of these for a neighbour or friend?
We're thrilled to be linking up to Story Book Advent 2014 with Rainy Day Mum. Each day she'll be sharing one of 24 story books & activities from bloggers all over the world as we countdown to Christmas. Click on the image below to find out more & discover some amazing books, & bloggers too.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Leaf Reindeer Cards - Inspired by Nature

Over the last few days we've been busy making our Christmas cards & I just had to share these with you. They are so simple to create & I think they're rather cute too.
Last week we pressed some gorgeous autumn leaves that we collected on a walk around our neighbourhood. Before pressing them we made sure they were completely dry & then placed them in the middle of a stack of heavy books. After a couple of days our leaves were beautifully flat & ready to craft with.
To make an oval template for the reindeer's head we used a tp roll, which I pressed into shape & then drew around.
From our collection of leaves we chose two of a similar size & colour & stuck them onto the outline using a glue stick. 
Minnie then filled in the shape using brown watercolour paints, added eyes, & a small red pompom for a nose. You could of course paint the nose or use red card, but Minnie was keen for Rudolf's nose to stand out.

Our Reindeer cards are now ready to share with friends.
I just love the addition of the seasonal leaves on the cards. A great way to celebrate not only Christmas, but nature too.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Christmas Elves (simple no-sew craft)

Add a little seasonal magic to your home with these adorable Christmas Elves. Simple to make with no-sewing required, they're a perfect size for little hands to hold, & would make a great addition to any Christmas small world play scene.
To create them we used these wooden peg dolls. We bought ours from eBay but they can also be found on Etsy, or other local craft stores.
For our elf outfits I used a selection of coloured felt (again purchased from eBay, but Amazon have a great range) & cut the felt into 3 different sections; a piece for the body, the cape, & the pointed hat. Below are the measurements I used for our 6cm wooden figures, but you may have to adjust them slightly if you use larger/smaller dolls. If you wish to use our templates click on the picture below & then right click to print the image.

To make the elf outfit we added the 'body' section of felt first, wrapping the material around the body & securing with a glue gun.

To add the cape I followed the same method, but tilted the fabric slightly so it gave the cape a cross-over appearance. I secured the material again with a little glue.

To create the tall pointed hat shape you need to make sure the rounded edge of felt is at the base of the hat. I added glue around the middle of the dolls head & then stuck one corner of fabric to it before wrapping the felt around making sure the hat was forming the correct shape. To secure the hat I added glue to the straight edge & twisted the top of the hat, this helped create the pointed edge.
Voila! One very sweet little elf all set for Christmas.
To create a little clasp for the cape I added four tiny sliver beads & stuck them onto the outer corner. Our elf was now ready but I felt he needed a few pals for company!
Here are a couple of elves I made following the same design. I mixed the fabric colours on a few, & also adjusted the cape sizes slightly so they had different lengths. On one of the elves I added a tiny bell to the top of the hat by simply attaching it with glue.

I just love these elves, they are truly magical, & perfect to leave around the house to be discovered by your children/grandchildren during Advent. If you're struggling to buy an elf ready for The Kindness Elves, then these would be great to use as an alternative.
I've since made these elves with children using pre-cut felt shapes & double-sided tape instead of a glue gun, & they turned out great, although their elves seemed to have many more embellishments than mine! :-)

These little elves will start to appear around our house at the beginning of December for our Countdown to Christmas. More info on that to follow soon!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

10 Advent Activities for Young Children

 Looking for Advent themed activities to share with young children?
Here are 10 interactive activities to explore together during the Advent Season.
 Create an Advent Box to open on December 1st & explore in the run up to Christmas.
Make your own Glowing Paper Advent Candles as an alternative to an Advent wreath. This simple upcycled craft focuses on key themes during Advent.

Instead of a traditional Advent calendar create an Advent Countdown. Follow the Star on an Interactive Journey with 25 activity ideas for young children.

Design a natural Advent Wreath & light one candle each Sunday during Advent.

Share a book together & discover the Nativity story with one of these 15 Nativity Story Books for 0-5 years

Build your own Bethlehem with a few upcycled materials. This makes a great small world play scene to explore during the run-up to Christmas.

Decorate an Advent Tree. This simple tree can be decorated & redecorated, ideal for children to focus on all the characters from the Nativity story.
Make your own Advent Tree with paper figures to colour in.
Share a little love with these Advent Angels & explore generosity & thanksgiving with children.
Explore the gifts of the Three Wise Men with this tactile multi-sensory activity. This could be used during Advent, or at Epiphany

However you & your family celebrate Advent I wish you a happy time together
as you prepare for the joy of Christmas.

If you're looking for more Nativity ideas, you might also like
Creative Ways to Explore the Nativity



Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Homemade Soap Mice - a Cute Alternative to Sugar Mice

Do you remember having sugar mice as a kid at Christmas? I remember these so clearly from my childhood, & while I can't recall ever eating them (I think I would've been bouncing of the walls if I had) I do remember the beautiful frosted colour & pretty shape of these little mice. I'm keen to keep these traditions going, but the thought of adding this sugar packed treat to my daughter's Christmas stocking ready for her to munch her way through first thing on Christmas morning fills me with dread! So after a little thought I came up with this alternative to the traditional treat, & created these Sparkly Soap Mice! They're just as cute with their twirly string tails, & I know she'll enjoy discovering all the sparkles when she adds them to her bath.
To make our soaps we used:
* Transparent soap base (available from most craft stores online) 
* Essential oil (we used lavender)
* Silver glitter
* String (cut into 4" lengths) for the tails)
* Silicone sugar mice mould (similar to this one)

I started by cutting the large block of soap into smaller sections with a blunt knife & added to an old saucepan. To melt the soap place the saucepan over a low to medium heat & gently stir the mixture occasionally until the solid soap has melted. The trick is not to stir too much, otherwise you'll finish up with a bubbly frothy mixture.
Once all the solid soap had melted I transferred the liquid soap into an old plastic jug, obviously the liquid is incredibly hot at this stage so if you're sharing this activity with young children it's safer for them to just observe this part of the process.
If you wish to add a scent to your soap, add a few drops of your chosen essential oil into the jug & gently stir into the liquid using an old wooden spoon. Be careful though not to add too much essential oil or your little mice with be rather pungent!
Pour your soap into the mice moulds making sure each mould is completely filled, & then sprinkle over a little of the silver glitter. You could add any amount of glitter, but obviously the more you add the more glitter will end up in your bathtub/shower! We add just a tiny pinch of glitter which creates a sparkle in the soap, & adds a shimmer to the bathwater.

To create the tails take a 4" length of string & gently dip it into the soap,  allow the remaining string to rest on the top of the mould away from the soap. (If the string hangs down from the mould it could fall away from the soap while it's drying.) Leave the soaps at room temperature for an hour to set & then gently remove from the moulds.
These make such fun homemade gifts & are bound to create a smile. Either wrap them in white greaseproof paper & tie with some Christmas ribbon, or add them to a small transparent bag & secure with a sticker/ribbon. For more festive fun how about adding a soap mouse to a copy of that great Christmas poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (A Visit from St Nicholas).

If you're looking for more homemade gifts for children to make you might also like these
18 Homemade Christmas Gifts


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