100 Ways to Be A Fun Mum

100 Ways to Be A Fun Mum

The Be A Fun Mum team brainstormed together and came up with a huge list of ways to be a fun mum. Some of these are super simple and quick, and some are more elaborate.  This list is supposed to be 100 Ways to Be A Fun Mum, but we ended up with more than that, so it stands at over 120 (at the moment). Do you have any other ideas to add to the list? 

  1. Laugh.
  2. Have a water fight.
  3. Let them win.
  4. Cute picnics outside.
  5. Slow Down.
  6. Go with the flow.
  7. Jump in puddles.
  8. Camp out in the backyard.
  9. Get down on their level.
  10. Lounge room dancing.
  11. Have a day of YES. Don’t tell the kids about it but simply just say yes to every request (within reason) and let the other things go.
  12. Tickle.
  13. Do an activity you’ve never done before (Google for inspiration).
  14. Join in with EVERYTHING the kids do for an afternoon.
  15. Be silly.
  16. Tell jokes.
  17. Let them help peel veggies.
  18. If you have more than one child, take them out somewhere special on their own, just the two of you.
  19. Squishes at bedtime.
  20. Sing songs.
  21. Quote lines from favourite movies.
  22. Forget the housework sometimes.
  23. Listen, really take the time to listen.
  24. Let them help you cook and bake.
  25. Camp in the lounge room.
  26. Make a fort under the table.
  27. Sit on the floor with your kids.
  28. Play in the rain.
  29. Skip together, anywhere!
  30. Do funny voices during story time.
  31. Sing off tune (on purpose).
  32. Use expression.
  33. High-Five.
  34. Make mistakes (on purpose) when telling a familiar story.
  35. Pretend to get cross when they fly away from you on the swing. “Come back here!
  36. Allow them to pick your outfit or do your hair for the day.
  37. YOU have fun.  Yes, YOU!
  38. Make doing chores fun by being enthusiastic. COME ON TEAM! WE CAN DO THIS!!
  39. Say, “I love you.”
  40. Drop your expectations.
  41. Run through the sprinkler in the backyard.
  42. Have a race.
  43. Wear colourful accessories.
  44. Make up a silly story.
  45. Smile. A lot.
  46. Make something yummy as a treat.
  47. Go swimming with them.
  48. Show them how to enjoy the little things in life.
  49. Practice gratefulness.
  50. Tell stories about your childhood. When I was a little girl…
  51. Enjoy nature everyday.
  52. Let them create.
  53. Be imaginative.
  54. Lay a beach towel in the back yard and look for shapes in the clouds.
  55. Watch television together
  56. Make paper airplanes and have a race.
  57. Sit back and watch your kids.
  58. Create felt pen tattoos.
  59. Organise surprises for your kids.  For example: Plan a trip to a theme park, the cinema or something your child loves but just tell them it’s a mystery outing. Have their bags packed and start driving to your mystery location. 
  60. Visit family and cousins.
  61. Have themed international dinners. Pick a country, do some research together online or at the library, shop and prepare it together. Maybe even find decorations or costumes eg. sombreros and brightly coloured serviettes for a Mexican night.
  62. Have a ‘stay in your PJs all day’ day.
  63. Chase the kids around the house.
  64. Leave little treats in their lunch boxes for them to find at school…like a special note or a  secret message on a banana.
  65. Introduce the kids to fondue!
  66. Make a dessert pizza (Max Brenner style). Put all the ingredients on the table and let the kids go for it! Nutella ‘sauce’, cornflakes, marshmallows, white and milk choc chips  Either buy thin pre-made pizza bases or make them yourself if you have a good recipe.
  67. Do funny-face selfies.
  68. Give them a spay bottle of water each on a hot day. Let the kids go nuts.
  69. Makeovers. Set up hair brushes, combs, hair accessories, lipstick, blush, glitter spray etc.
  70. Hair chalk.
  71. Do nail polish.
  72. Put a drop of food colouring in the bath. Or a few drops of different colours.
  73. Set up a fish tank together.
  74. Make a fairy garden together.
  75. Bury “treasure” in the sandpit and let them dig it up.
  76. Go to Bunnings and let them push a mini trolley around.
  77. Set up a beach tent in the lounge room, pile in pillows and snacks, and watch a movie.
  78. Make sock puppets out of old socks.
  79. Plant a vege/herb patch.
  80. Write a letter to a friend or relative and post it. Pre-writers can draw a picture.
  81. Wash all the doll clothes (old school style) in a bucket with soapy water, rinse and let them hang them on a lower line with pegs (good for fine motor)
  82. Go through or visit a car wash.
  83. Google natural face mask recipes (e.g. honey, oats, egg whites etc) and give each other a facial.
  84. Play ‘car wash’ with toy cars or small ride ons.
  85. Build a tree house.
  86. Flower pressing: find pretty flowers in the garden and press between wax paper inside some very heavy books.
  87. Buy fabric paint and get your child to decorate their own shirt.
  88. Camp out in your own backyard.
  89. Make paper airplanes and have a race
  90. Do a water fight outside.
  91. Set up a lemonade stall outside your house…see how many you can sell!
  92. Go strawberry picking.
  93. Get your child to choose a cake from a kids birthday cake book and make one…just because. Invite friends for afternoon tea.
  94. Lay a blue beach towel out in the living area and add toys to create a beach play scene.
  95. Get a huge roll of paper and let the kids go nuts with drawing a huge mural or tracing around their bodies.
  96. Make your own kites and fly on a windy day
  97. Go on a nature walk around the block & see how many cool flowers, feathers, rocks & leaves you can find.
  98. Treasure hunt around your house: Leave clues and drawings at certain spots around the house which directs them to the next clue with a little surprise or note at the end.
  99. Play wii with your kids. When mum gets involved sometimes, it can be lots more fun.
  100. Take the telescope outside at night a do star gazing. Get a book or research online about the stars.
  101. Let the kids to make their own placemats. They can cut out lots of coloured cardboard into shapes and stick them onto a piece of contact. Contact the other side and turn them into placemats for dinner time.
  102. Make barbie or dolls cloths together out of paper.
  103. Tarp, water & laundry liquid. Do a homemade slip and slide!
  104. Mix dishwashing liquid & water. Use a straw and blow bubbles upon bubbles on baking trays set up on a table top.
  105. Set up a photo booth and take funny pictures. Think party hats, sunglasses and stick on moustaches. 
  106. Work on a Christmas family concert for Christmas Eve. Read or act out the Christmas story, look for a Christmas poem to recite, play carols on instruments, a special dance or do a mock interview with Mary and Joseph ect. Good fun in the lead up to Christmas!
  107. Go on a family holiday at least once a year.
  108. Have an early dinner and then go for a ‘mystery’ drive to a lookout or a jetty and look at the moon. Then get a soft serve ice cream cone on the way home.
  109. Explore your own city! Get on the ferry, bus or train and get off at one stop per outing and explore that area. Look for parks, cafes, any local attractions, interesting houses.
  110. Take the kids to the museum and let them take photos of their favourite exhibits.  Print out the photos when you get home and make a book
  111. Go ice skating!
  112. Board game night. Scrabble, monopoly etc.
  113. Smash out exercise together with your kids.  Do something you all enjoy.
  114. Watch funny cat videos on YouTube.
  115. Establish a ‘how does it work Wednesday’. Each week, watch a how-to video on YouTube.  For example, how bread is made, how is rice grown, how is glass made.
  116. Research your family tree together. Draw it out on paper. Look at photos.
  117. Make shadow hand puppets.
  118. Try and draw anything your child asks you to. Take turns and laugh at your efforts.
  119. Watch old home movies…show the kids your wedding video!
  120. Make gloop, cloud dough or play dough
  121. Greet your kids after school with a huge exuberant smile!
  122. Be you. And share that uniqueness with your kids.

100 Ways to Be A Fun Mum

Other Lists

100 School Holidays Ideas

100 Ways to Love the Moment

100 Ways to Enjoy Nature with Kids

Add the Festivity to Play

I love the Christmas season. The kids pick up on the excitement building and it’s a beautiful time for family.  It’s so easy to capitalise on the excitement of the season and incorporate it into play. Just a few mock wrapped presents and mini Christmas trees you can pick up a dime a dozen from discount, department or supermarket stores can do the trick. BAM! Play time extended. Imagination stimulated. 

Ideas

  • Wrap boxes of different sizes and give to the kids to play with
  • Buy a small Christmas tree and decorations and this can be a dedicated kids tree to decorate and use with toys for play
  • Little trees are wonderful for doll play
  • LED Battery operated lights can be added to a play space to make it look magical

Wrap a few mock presents and give to the kids to play with.

Wrap a few mock presents and give to the kids to play with.

Wrap a few mock presents and give to the kids to play with. Add a few trees too!

Wrap a few mock presents and give to the kids to play with. Add a few trees too!

Frozen Toy Ice Skating Rink

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Ice Skating Rink

Frozen Play Scene

Snow Play Scene

DIY Book Flower Press (free craft from the garden)

how to press flowers

When I was a little girl I loved to dry and press flowers. I had them hanging in my room, randomly placed in books and stored in little bottles like potpourri all over the house.

Recently, my six-year-old daughter has shown an interest in collecting things from nature; leaves, feathers, rocks and sticks are among the favourites. When I shared with her my childhood passion for pressing flowers she was, in her words ‘so excited to try’. So with a garden full of flowers, we got started.

Supplies

Garden flowers

Heavy book (old phone book is perfect for this purpose)

Baking paper

How to Press Flowers

Step 1: Picking the Right Flowers

The main issue faced when pressing flowers is mold, which is caused when a section of the flower is taking too long to dry out, usually around the receptacle of the flower. The easiest way to avoid is to pick flowers that are known to dry well. My favourites are; pansy, African violet, petunia, daisy, snapdragons, brunfelsia, geranium, roses and vinca.

 How to press flowers  - Nine best flowers for book flower press #beafunmum #aboutthegarden

Step 2: Preparing the Flowers for Pressing

To prepare the flowers for pressing, simply dispose of thicker areas that you think might potentially go mouldy. For example, with roses it’s best to pick the petals and press them individually rather then as a flower head. 

Step 3: Creating a Moisture Barrier

It’s a good idea before you pop your freshly picked flowers into that favourite volume of Dickens, to use a protective barrier so the moisture from the flower petals doesn’t seep into the book pages. In the past I’ve simply recycled an envelope, but I’ve recently found the non-stick surface of baking paper to be superior. Now all you need to do is;

 How to press flowers  - Book pressed flowers free craft from the garden be a fun mum

 How to press flowers  - Book flower press get ready to fold the pages free craft from the garden be a fun mum

 How to press flowers  - Book flower press using big heavy books be a fun mum

  • Cut the baking paper to required size, ours was A3.
  • Fold the baking paper in half.
  • Lay the baking paper open within the pages of the book.
  • Place the fresh flowers inside, ensuring adequately spaced.
  • Carefully shut the book

Step 4: Storing the Book Flower Press

Store your Book Flower Press in a dry location. It takes several weeks, we left ours for 5, for flowers to dry and press using this method, so ensure your location is up and out of the way.

Remember once your flowers have completely dried out, they will be fragile, so teach children to handle with care.  

How to press flowers  - Book pressed dried flowers free craft from the garden be a fun mum

Pressing flowers is so much fun and best of all you can use them in a variety of craft activities from papermaking, decorating photo frames to bookmarks and potpourri.

If you plan to use your pressed flowers for future craft projects, store them in a dry air-tight container to avoid exposure to moisture.

Happy Pressing!

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Posts from Renee

Nature Craft Ideas

Discovery box: for items kids like to collect from nature

Kids Collection Display Jars

Candy Cane Bead Christmas Tree Decoration

Candy Cane Christmas Tree Decoration

This is a super simple tree decoration that looks adorable hanging on the Christmas Tree or around the house.

Materials

Pipe Cleaner

Beads

Twine

Method

1. Thread 1 bead on to a pipe cleaner, leaving just a little at the base to bend around the first bead to secure it.

2. Thread beads in a red/white sequence until the end of the pipe cleaner is reached, bar 1 cm at the end.  Bend and twirl excess pipe cleaner around the final bead.

3. Bend the pipe cleaner into a candy cane shape and tie a piece of twine to hang.

Candy Cane Christmas Tree Decoration

Candy Cane Christmas Tree Decoration

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Handmade Christmas Tree Decorations 

Cane Cane Reindeer Christmas Craft

Other Easy Bead Tree Decorations

Easy Bead Wreath Tree Decoraiton

Ribbon Christmas Tree Decoration

Bead Christmas Tree Decoration

Yoghurt Finger Painting

Yoghurt Finger Painting

This is the sort of activity I wish I knew about when my kids were little.  Like when making dinner.   I often would bring my toddlers in the kitchen with me as I prepared food and something like this is perfect for half an hour play and interaction time.

Yoghurt Finger Painting

plain, greek or vanilla yoghurt

Natural food colouring (The Hooper brand is a good one)

(or make your own vegetable food colouring. Experiment with mushing up or juicing: beetroot, raspberry or strawberry for red and pink, carrot for orange, spinach for green and blueberry or red cabbage for purple).

  • In separate (small) bowls, mix together colouring and spoonful of yoghurt.
  • This activity works well on a high chair, outside in a plastic shell or empty small pool, on a lined biscuit tray, or a plastic plate.
  • Draw pictures, mix the colours and get messy!

Yoghurt Finger Painting

Nicole, Occupational Therapist from Gateway Therapies explained the benefits of this type of sensory play for young children:

Many kids are reluctant to try foods that have different textures, or smell and look different to the food they normally eat. One way to encourage kids to enjoy new food is by letting them use their hands to explore. The nerve receptors in our fingers are numerous ( 2,500 receptors per cm2!) and very sensitive, which means that exploration through touch can make for very powerful positive associations with different food. Combine this with smell and an array of enticing colours, and yoghurt painting (and other food play) makes for a very sensory-rich play experience.

I also asked Nicole about the common question from parents about this sort of activity, namely if children will learn to distinguish between edible sensory activities and other non-edieble activities and here is her comment:

Kids from an early age are constantly presented with situations in which they can feel conflicted or contradicted e.g. Water is good to drink, but the bath water not so much. It’s lovely to give your little brother kisses, but the baby in the stroller belonging to the stranger at the park won’t like it so much. It’s fine to play with pretend plastic knives and ‘cut’ play dough sausages, but real knives are off limits. 

This is an awesome opportunity to teach your child that there are different rules for different situations. And yes they CAN learn this from a very early age.

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Mess Free Zip Lock Bag Painting

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Wool Christmas Tree

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year! As soon as the stores start displaying their ornaments and wreaths I’m there baby! I love browsing through new designs and colour combinations. Every year, the stores seem to come out with something different, which I think is awesome! When I was a kid in the 70s and 80s, I remember Christmas decorations featured whole lot of paper, foil and plastic.

1980's Classic Christmas Decorations

Decorations sure have come a long way! These days anything goes and people think out of the box. This year, I noticed a lot of warm materials (like knitted wool and fluffy feathers) on decorations.  

Christmas Craft Ideas with Wool

I particularly loved the woollen trees, their softness appealed to me.  I thought to myself, “I could make one!” So below is what I did.

Materials

Styrofoam cone

Grey/white thick wool (or other colours — this is a great little project for left over wool if you have some)

Tacky/school glue (don’t use clear craft glue because it will corrode the foam)

Pom poms (form a cheap shop) 

Instructions

christmas crafts - wool christmas tree

1. I found a Styrofoam cone, grey/white thick wool and craft glue at Spotlight. Starting from the bottom of the cone, I glued and wound the wool around bit by bit, positioning and pressing as I went (being careful not to leave any spaces; I didn’t want to see the white cone underneath).

2.  I left the cone to dry over night and then I glued pom poms (from a cheap shop) randomly over the tree. I thought white with silver flecks would go well with the grey.

That’s it really…it cost less than half of the one I saw in the store, but more importantly, I made my own decoration and that whole creative process makes me happy!

Make 2 or 3 of these homey wool Christmas trees place along the middle of the table as a feature.

christmas crafts - wool christmas tree

christmas crafts - wool christmas tree

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Christmas Table Decorations

Christmas Crafts

Homemade Christmas Tree Decorations

Frozen Ice Play

“That should keep the kids occupied for half an hour,” I said to my husband who was sitting at the computer desk going through paperwork. 

I was wrong.

The activity I set up kept the kids occupied for well over an hour.

You see, I have these little things up my sleeve sometimes, ready to bring out at an opportune moment.  All I had done to prepare was to freeze water in different shaped plastic containers. These babies were just sitting in the freezer alongside the bread and frozen peas.

Frozen Ice Play

I have a dedicated underbed storage container for these types of play activities. To set it all up, I simply placed the large rectangle block (still in the plastic container) in the underbed container for an ice rink, and then removed the other different sized shapes from their containers and put them in there too (good for making an ice castle). A few themed figurines (like Frozen or even other plastic figurines) were thrown in and THAT WAS IT! BAM! Over an hour of awesome play.

The kids moved the ice blocks around, they added other toys and played happily together on the hot Sunday afternoon until the ice melted into a cool pool.

Frozen Ice Play

Frozen Ice Play

Frozen Ice Play

Frozen Ice Play

Frozen Ice Play

Frozen Ice Play

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Ice Boats

Imaginative Play Scenes

Easy Bead Wreath Decoration

Simple Wreath Bead Christmas Tree Decoration

Probably one of the easiest, quickest Christmas Tree decorations, even kids cane make.

Materials

Pipe Cleaner

Beads

Instructions

1. Thread beads on a pipe cleaner.  Allow a small portion of 3-5 cm on one side of the beads and large space on the other side (depending on how large you want the wreath circle to be).

2. Make a circle with the beads and wind the short section of the pipe cleaner over and around the top to form a circle

3.  Make a loop with the long end of pipe cleaner (for hanging) and wind around the top of the wreath to secure.

Easy Christmas Decorations Wreath

Super simple and a heap of these look really cute on a stick Christmas tree feature like this one.

Simple Wreath Bead Christmas Tree Decoration

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Christmas Crafts

Handmade Christmas Tree Decorations 

Other Easy Bead Tree Decorations

Candy Cane Bead Decoration

Ribbon Christmas Tree Decoration

Bead Christmas Tree Decoration

Disney Paper Doll Printables

What is your child’s favourite Disney movie? Snow White? Frozen? Tangled? Whichever film your child likes best, there is a related Disney paper craft to match! We discovered free printable doll templates on the Disney website, road tested them and collated all the instructions and printables in one place so you can get started. Allow approximately 20 minutes to make each free-standing paper doll, but allow hours of imaginative play time for your child!

Disney Printable Paper Dolls

You will need

Printing paper or thin card
PVA glue
Scissors

Method

1. Follow the links below to your chosen paper craft doll and open the printable.

2. Print onto paper or cardboard (cardboard works best).

3. Cut out the pieces and glue them together, according to the instructions provided.

4. Allow to dry.

Note: These are a little fiddly to make, and so are best suited for older children to assemble. However, both younger and older children will enjoy playing with them and an adult could assemble the dolls for younger children.

Frozen – Anna Paper Doll 

Frozen - Anna Paper Doll

Click here for the printable: Frozen – Anna

 Frozen – Elsa Paper Doll

 Frozen - Elsa Paper Doll

Click here for the printable: Frozen – Elsa

Snow White Paper Doll

Snow White Paper Doll

Click here for the printable: Snow White 

Snow White – Evil Queen Paper Doll 

Snow White - Evil Queen Paper Doll

Click here for the printable: Snow white – Evil Queen

Sofia the First Paper Doll

Sofia the First Paper Doll

Click here for the printable: Sofia the First

Tiana Paper Doll

The Princess and The Frog - Tiana Paper Doll

Click here for the printable: Tiana

Tangled – Rapunzel Paper Doll

Tangled - Rapunzel Paper Doll

Click here for the printable: Rapunzel

Cinderella – Cinderella Paper Doll

Cinderella - Cinderella Paper Doll

Click here for the printable: Cinderella

Aladdin – Jasmine Paper Doll

Aladdin - Jasmine Paper Doll

Click here for the printable: Jasmine

Sleeping Beauty – Aurora Paper Doll

Sleeping Beauty - Aurora Paper Doll

Click here for the printable: Aurora

Mulan – Mulan Paper Doll

Mulan - Mulan Paper Doll

Click here for the printable: Mulan

The Little Mermaid – Ariel Paper Doll

The Little Mermaid - Ariel Paper Doll

Click here for the printable: Ariel

Beauty & The Beast – Belle Paper Doll

Beauty & The Beast - Belle Paper Doll

Click here for the printable: Belle 

Click here for the printable: Christmas Belle

Tips for paper craft success

  • Older children may be able to cut and glue the paper dolls themselves but always supervise children when using scissors.
  • Print the dolls onto thin cardboard to make them more durable.

Fun Ideas

  • Why not watch a Disney movie together and then play with your characters, acting out scenes from the film?
  • A favourite character looks cute displayed on a shelf in the bedroom
  • Make a heap and give them out as a birthday party favour
  • Sleepover craft fun

More

Disney are Raising My Kids!

Easy DIY Name Bunting

If you’re looking for an uber easy way to decorate a birthday or even cake quickly, name bunting is fab. It’s a slightly different take on my regular Washi Tape Bunting Tutorial.

1. Materials

  • 2 x Kebab Sticks
  • Permanent Marker
  • Washi Tape (I used Scotch Expressions Washi Tape)
  • Twine – half a metre
  • Scissors

2. Tie a piece of twine between two kebab sticks about 1-2 cm from the top. The sticks should be spaced just less than the circumference or length of the cake. Trim off any excess twine from each side of the sticks, allowing for a little overhang.

3.  Cut sections Washi Tape about 8cm in length.  This doesn’t need to be perfect because the tape will be trimmed. You will need one section of tape for each letter in the word.  If the name is too long, you can make two lengths of string.  Fold a section of tape in half over the twine, starting from the left side of the length of string. Continue this process until the flags are finished.  The name flags should sit in the middle; it’s easy to slide the flags into place if you need to.

4. Trim the flags to the same length.

5. Cut a small V shape at the bottom of each flag.

6. So it looks like this.

7. Write the letters on with permanent marker (or you can use letter stickers)

8. Insert the sticks into the cake and you’re done!

DIY name cake bunting

DIY name cake bunting

DIY name cake bunting

Just a really simple cake idea for birthdays, baby showers, adult birthdays, special morning tea/afternoon tea or any occasion really!

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Birthday Party Ideas

Pipe Cleaner Crown

DIY Clay Nativity Scene

Christmas is still a few months away but it’s closing in fast!  This is a gorgeously simple Christmas craft activity to keep in mind when you come to decorate the house for the festive season in the up coming months.


A nativity scene captures the essence of Christmas, and reminds us of the real reason for the season. It’s also a lot of fun for kids to put together and makes a special decoration for a table, display shelf or in a child’s bedroom. Younger children can join in the fun too by cutting out simple Christmas shapes from clay and decorating them. All the material you need are easily found at craft stores like Spotlight or even at many discount shops and department stores like BIG W and K Mart.

Christmas Crafts - Nativity Scene made out of clay

Materials

Air drying clay

Paint and brushes (1 large brush for bigger parts, and a finer brush for details)

- Colours used: Gold, Brown, White, Blue, Green, Black, Beige, Lemon

Glitter (for the star)

Varnish

Instructions

1. Begin shaping a stable, cradle, baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, shepherds, sheep and three wise men. Keep the shapes very simple – the details will be painted on. Ensure the base for each piece is as flat as possible so it will sit well. To do this, simply press down slightly on a flat surface.

Characters for this set:

  • Mary
  • Joseph
  • 3 x Shepherds
  • 4 x Sheep
  • 1 Stable
  • 3 x Wise Men
  • 1 x Manger
  • 1 x Baby Jesus 
  • Star

DIY Clay Nativity Scene - Parts to shape

2. Allow the clay pieces to dry in a warm, airy spot. Depending on the size of the pieces, it will take approximately 24 hours.
3. Paint your Nativity scene – include cloaks, headdresses and beards for the men. Don’t forget some glitter for the three wise men. Simple lines and details (like dots for eyes) work well.
4. Once the paint is dry, varnish the pieces and your Nativity scene is complete. I used Jo Sonja Poly Gloss Varnish.

Christmas Craft: DIY Clay Nativity Scene

Tip 1: Complete the steps above on grease proof/baking paper to prevent the clay and paint from sticking to your work surface.

Tip 2: You can make a mini version of the nativity scene with just the stable, star, Mary & Joseph, Baby Jesus & Manger 

Christmas Crafts - DIY Nativity Scene

This is a Christmas keepsake that you will want to bring out year after year. It’s always fun to create something as a family to add to the festivities in the home.

More Christmas Crafts

Find the entire range of Christmas Crafts on the blog here: Be A Fun Mum Christmas Crafts

Creating With Bread Dough (like play dough for older kids!)

My daughter still loves playing with play dough and she’s 10! I don’t make it for her very often any more but today I had a brilliant idea! I could make some bread dough for her to “play with”. This way she’d have an outlet for her creativity and I’d be organised for tomorrow’s school lunches…it’s a win-win!!! Sometimes I even amaze myself!

I used my thermomix but I’ve also included an alternative recipe if you don’t own one. It will just take longer to knead, which means more play time ;)

Thermomix Bread Dough Mixture

Thermomix Bread Dough

Ingredients

100 grams wheat grain

300 grams water

2 teaspoons dried instant yeast

20 grams olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

400 grams plain white flour

1 egg lightly beaten plus sesame seeds and poppy seeds to sprinkle

Method

1. Place wheat into mixing bowl and mill 1 min on speed 9. Set aside. Thermomix Bread Dough Mixture 2. Place water, yeast and sugar into bowl and heat 1 minutes on 37 degrees, speed 1. Wait a couple of minutes till it starts to foam. 3. Add oil, salt, flour and wheat and mix on speed 6 for 6 seconds. 4. Lock Lid and knead for 3 minutes.

5. Transfer dough onto ThermoMat or floured bench and work into a ball. Wrap in ThermoMat or place into a bowl and cover with damp tea towel. Put in a warm place (30 degrees) for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

6. Knock down dough and cut into 12 equal balls.

7. It’s time to play! Let your child’s imagination run wild! My daughter made a bow tie, funny faces, a braid, a rainbow and a crown. Place on trays lined with baking paper and brush with lightly beaten egg yolks. Then decorate with seeds (the egg wash helps them stick).

Thermomix Bread Dough Mixture Thermomix Bread Dough Mixture Thermomix Bread Dough Mixture Thermomix Bread Dough Mixture

Cooking Instructions

8. Once the shapes are finished, sit in a warm place for a further 20 minutes to rise.

9.  Then bake in a 200°C oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Non-Thermomix Bread Dough

If you don’t have a Thermomix, use this recipe!

Ingredients

500g plain flour

2 teaspoons dried yeast

1 teaspoon salt

375 mls lukewarm water

Egg wash, for brushing

Sesame and poppy seeds, for sprinkling

Method

1. Place the plain flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Make a well in the centre and add the water to the dry ingredients. The water needs to be lukewarm (not too hot or cold) to activate the yeast.

2. Use a wooden spoon to combine and then use hands to bring it all together into a ball.

3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. The best way to knead is to use the heel of your hand to push the dough away from you and then lift it with your fingertips and fold it over itself towards you. Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat. You can tell when the dough has been kneaded enough by pressing your finger into the surface of the dough – if it springs back, it has been kneaded sufficiently. You may need to help your child with this step.

4. Shape the dough into a ball. Brush a large bowl with the melted butter to grease. Place the dough into the bowl and turn it over to lightly coat the dough surface with the butter. This will stop the surface of the dough drying out as it stands, which can affect the rising process. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and then place it in a warm (30 degree), draught-free place to allow the dough to rise.

5. Divide into 12 equal sized balls and have some fun! Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds. Make sure the rolls are far enough apart on the tray to rise. 

6. Follow the cooking instruction above at Step 8.

Enjoy warm with butter and honey!

Shape Ideas

It’s fun to see how they will turn out. Here are some of our attempts:

bread shapes for the lunch box

Simple shapes work best. Here are some ideas:

  • Snake
  • Fish
  • Octopus
  • Letters
  • Braid
  • Pig
  • Bunny with ears
  • A hand
  • Rainbow shape
  • Circle shape (so it looks like a bagel)

Octopus bread shape

Bread shapes for the lunch box

bread shapes for the lunch box

Lunch Box

  • Bread roll shapes work especially well!
  • J Bread shape
  • Yoghurt covered cranberries
  • Cherry Tomato
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Blueberry muffin

Bread shapes for the lunch box

More

How to set up a Play Baking Experiment for kids

10 Activities for Tweens

Make Your Own (super easy) Bubble Mixture

Make your own (super easy) bubble mixture

DIY Bubble Mixture - so easy!

The following recipe makes 1.25 litres of bubble mixture, and you can double the amounts to make a larger batch. It works perfectly in bubble machines, and will keep for months in an air-tight container.

You will need

1.5 cups dish washing detergent
Glycerine (available in supermarkets)
Warm water
Container with lid to hold the bubble mixture
Bubble wands or wire coat hanger

DIY Bubble Mixture Recipe - so easy

Method

1. In your container, mix together 1.5 cups of dish washing detergent, 3.5 cups warm water and ½ cup glycerine. Stir until well combined.

2. Create your bubble wand by twisting the wire coat hanger into a circle, leaving some wire for a handle. 

3. Enjoy the magic of bubbles… and don’t let the kids have all the fun!

Tips for bubble fun

  • Bubbles can be messy, so it is best done outdoors.
  • It is easier to wave your wand to create bubbles, rather than trying to blow bubbles with your mouth.
  • Keep your left over bubble mixture – it actually improves with age!
  • Get your camera ready as kids and bubbles make for great photos.

DIY Bubble Mixture - so easy!

DIY Bubble Mixture - so easy!

DIY Bubble Mixture - so easy!

DIY Bubble Mixture - so easy!

DIY Bubble Mixture - so easy!

Five fun facts about bubbles

  1. Bubbles are made up of air, surrounded by a thin film of water.
  2. No matter the shape of your bubble wand, bubbles will always be round.
  3. Bubbles look clear, but you can see a rainbow of colours in them, especially when blowing bubbles in the sunlight.
  4. Adding glycerine to the bubble mix makes the bubbles stronger and last longer.
  5. Bubbles will last longer on a humid or wet day. Dry air causes bubbles to pop!

More

Easy Marshmallow Pops

6 Great Play dough Recipes

Watercolour Jacaranda Tree Tutorial

Ever since I did an Autumn tree watercolour experiment with the kids, I’ve thought about doing something similar for each season. Here in Brisbane, it’s beautiful, and there are Jacaranda trees popping up everywhere! The idea is to do something really simple to celebrate the season that has a wow factor kids feel proud of (looks great hung on the wall too!)

Jacaranda Tree Easy Watercolour Painting Tutorial for Kids

Materials

  • Watercolour paper

(you can get this from many places like discount stores, craft stores or Kmart/Big W/Target)

  • Watercolour paint – purple

(optional – for a little depth, add a touch of dark blue and light pink)

  • Brushes x 3

(2 Large brushes and 1 small square brush)

Tools needed for Jacaranda watercolour painting

Step 1 – Practice

First, do a little practice. This activity IS very simple, however there is a process to follow for best results.

1. Rule a piece of paper in 4 equal squares. 

2. If using powder watercolours, fill the desired colour with water and mix the powder through so it’s very wet.

Jacaranda watercolour painting

3. Dip the large brush into the paint and then hold over the first square.  Hit the brush with paint on the handle of another brush to spray the paint on the page.

Jacaranda watercolour painting

When the brush is very wet, the dots are larger. After a few hits, move to the next box for smaller dots, then to the next and to the last.  For the last one, you will have to hit hard to disperse the dots (because the brush will be quite dry at this point)…and they are very small. This pre-activity gives an idea of how wet you want the brush to be/what it will look like/how far to hold the brush for the paper/how hard to hit.

 Jacaranda watercolour painting for kids - steps

Once the four squares are filled with different splatters, experiment with building the splatter to see how it looks.

Watercolour Practice

Step 2 – Painting Layers

Once the testing is done, it’s time to get started. Start with the hitting/spraying of the paint on the paper in the same way as the practice, adjusting how wet the brush is for different splatter patterns. Just keep in mind the shape you want the tree to be.  Jacaranda trees tend to be more spread out in a oval shape so keep an invisible shape in your head, allowing room for the tree trunk at the base.

jacaranda tree painting - watercolour

The idea is to do this in layers (as pictured below).

  • The first 3 pictures (L to R) are different layers of dots made with the method practiced in Step 1 over and over again.
  • The 4th picture is a small hit of pink.
  • The 5th a (tiny) touch of blue (just for a little depth) – optional.
  • Allow this first stage to dry. The blossoms won’t be done yet, you will add more once it’s dry.
  • Once the ‘flowers’ are dry, do the tree trunk/branches (see notes below about trunks)
  • When the trunk is dry, make more blossoms with the paint spray over the top until you have the look you want!

Note: As the paint dries, it becomes less intense.

How to paint a simple Jacaranda Tree
Step 3 – Trunk

If you do a quick google of ‘Jacaranda tree trunks’, it will give you a sense of the shapes. Jacaranda trees often have a few low branches/trunks that spread out widely.  I went with very simple/achievable with my kids and we did three trunks that end where the bloom starts.  The Jacaranda tree pictured below has a special story to it, and you can read about it here.

jacaranda tree -- brisbane

Use the a small round or square brush to draw in the branches.  Again, it’ s good idea to do a test run on a scrap piece of paper before drawing it on the final copy. One thing to try for branches that are thin: use the top of the a square top brush to press down (rather than stroke) – as demonstrated here.

Jacaranda Tree Trunk

Jacaranda Tree Trunk

Once the trunk and bloom is dry, add more blossoms if desired by using the process at step 1. You can keep doing this process (paint / allow to dry / paint / allow to dry) until you’re happy with the blossoms.

Easy Watercolour Jacaranda Tree

Jacaranda Tree

Here’s one that Miss 8 did later, all by herself without any supervision.

Jacaranda Tree - Watercolour Tutorial for kids

An easy painting product to celebrate Spring! This process would work well for a cherry blossom tree too! You could make a row of them!

More

Spring Inspired Activities 

Early Watercolour Experimenting 

Check out the Autumn Tree tutorial by clicking the picture below.

Watercolour Autumn Tree