Conker Comets! Autumn Fun for Kids

Have your kids conkers gone wrinkly? When autumn comes around my kids just can’t help collecting bucket loads of shiny horse chestnuts, but they start to loose some of their charm once the shrivels (as we like to call it) sets in. There are only so many games of conkers we can play, so, to avoid being buried alive by these puckered leftovers, we’ve found other ways to make use of them. One of our favourites is to turn them into Conker Comets… Probably the most fun you can have with conker – and it makes a great bonfire night craft too! Read on to see how we do it.

Brightly coloured conker comets - kids' conker activity

A quick, easy and fun autumn conker activity to use up all those wrinkly old conkers!

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HABA Terra Kids – Real Woodworking Tools

We love a bit of woodwork with the kids – whether out in the woods, at forest school, or at home with a bit of softwood, so we were very happy when One Hundred Toys asked us to test out a pile of fabulous-looking, kid-sized real tools from HABA. Read on to find out why we’re now eschewing pretend tools for the real deal.

Boy using saw at a worktable in a forest

HABA’s folding saw is kid-sized and just right for taking to forest school.

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DIY Mini Doll Food – Made from Wine Corks!

Do your kids love having little picnics with their toys? Mine do, but what they don’t love so much is tidying away, and those little bits of teeny tiny doll food often go astray. So instead of buying them more, why not try out our quick and easy DIY solution? All you need is a bottle of wine and some paint…

Maileg toy mouse having cheese and cake picnic outside a toy bell tent

Make a lovely play picnic for your child’s toys – all out of wine corks!

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Leaf Painting – Quick and Easy Nature Craft

Leaves painted bright colours, with a stick used as a paintbrush

We love leaf painting! Use natural materials like leaves, sticks and stones as the canvas for your kids’ artwork!

Painting is a great activity for young children. It’s a fantastic work-out for their imagination, and helps them practice their fine motor skills, as well as helping to develop their understanding of colour, shape, texture and viscosity (yes, wet paint WILL drip onto the floor/your clothes/the dog’s dinner…). We do a lot of painting in our house, and love finding different things to paint – after all, flat paper can be SO last earlier-this-morning. We try to bring natural materials into our play at every opportunity, and painting is the perfect thing for this as its easy to find natural objects to decorate. Stones, sticks, pinecones, shells… you name it, we’ve painted it. Leaf painting is an absolute favourite, though, and something that we do all the time – read on to find out why!

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Playing with Stories – Why We Love Our DIY Playdough ‘Bog Baby’ Kit!

If you’ve read ‘The Bog Baby’ by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward, you’ll know that bog babies are round and blue, with goggly eyes, spiky tails and ears like a mouse, and their wings are no bigger than daisy petals. This magical book is perfect for inspiring creative model making and small world play, while at the same time gently encouraging children to explore what it means for a thing to be wild and free. Read on to find out how to make a home-made play dough bog baby kit with our play dough recipe and basic craft accessories – not only are they great fun, they also make fantastic and original gifts when given with a copy of the book!

Book 'The Bog Baby', home-made play dough bog baby kit, and fishing net

A magical story about two children who find a mysterious wild creature, ‘The Bog Baby’ is perfect inspiration for creative play!

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Linocut Project – Harry Potter’s Firebolt

I’ve made a simple Harry Potter linocut of a Firebolt broomstick as part of a project I’m working on for G-Man’s birthday. It’s intended to be the first of a few themed Harry Potter linocut prints, and though I have something very specific in mind for it, I  couldn’t help but play around with a few other ideas too.

lino print of Harry Potter's firebolt broom

Making a linocut print of Harry Potter’s Firebolt broomstick – kitchen table art!

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A Home-Made Harry Potter Party Bag

DIY Harry Potter party bag

Make your own Hogwarts inspired goodies for a Harry Potter party bag or trip to the Studio Tour.

G-Man didn’t want a birthday party this year, instead he wanted to visit the Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour, in Leavesdon, just outside London. So we took him and one friend along for a magical day out in January 2017. As it was his birthday treat, and as we knew beforehand that everything there would be exorbitantly expensive, I put together a Harry Potter party bag for the boys to supplement their pocket money purchases in the tour’s shop. There are tonnes of ideas for Potter gifts on the internet, and not only was it great fun to do (and a big hit with the kids) it also saved us a whole heap of pennies.​

If you’re planning a trip yourself, or are lucky enough to be hosting a full-on Potter Party at home, have a look at our DIY wizard treats for a little Hogwarts-style inspiration!

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How to Make Willy Wonka’s Hat…

Instructions for a DIY Wonka hat like Gene Wilder's

You only need cardboard and glue for this quick but impressive make – soon we’ll all be rockin’ Wonka Hats!

I’ve been making a few odds and ends with the kids over the holidays in preparation for this September’s Scarecrow Festival (yes, I know it’s still only August!). Last year I managed to rope in friends on my street to do Alice in Wonderland scarecrows. This time our scarecrows will be characters from Roald Dahl’s books, in celebration of what would have been his 100th birthday. I’ve got grand plans for our tableau (which will be a character and scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and one of the things I wanted to include was Willy Wonka’s iconic hat, laid casually on his desk as if he’d just popped away for a moment. Making the Wonka hat turned out to be surprisingly easy – read on to see how I did it!

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Make Toy-Food Mushrooms Out of Stuff You Already Have!

Our kids love cooking up meals in their play kitchen, and one of their greatest pleasures is mixing up the ingredients.  We’ve had great fun stocking their kitchen with all sorts of little bits and pieces that can be stirred in a mini cooking pan with a handful of other things; pompoms for meatballs; soy sauce fish containers for, er, fish; strands of wool for spaghetti, and so on.  I’m always on the lookout for new things to include! The other day I had an absolute brainwave, and came up with this easy-peasy, quick, and essentially FREE way to make these fabulous play-food sliced mushrooms.  Want to make some DIY play food too?  Read on!

make play food sliced mushrooms out of wine corks

Make the kids some sliced mushrooms for their mud kitchen, out of just a handful of wine corks!

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