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

More

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!

More

Posts from Renee

Nature Craft Ideas

Discovery box: for items kids like to collect from nature

Kids Collection Display Jars

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

More

Ice Boats

Imaginative Play Scenes

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!

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

Backyard Bottle Bowling

Backyard bowling. All you need is empty bottles and a ball.

One of my readers sent me this idea. It’s one of those fab simple things you can pull out on a lazy Saturday afternoon for some family fun. Fabulous to keep in mind for Christmas or the school holidays!

What you need

10 Empty 1.25 L Bottles

Food colouring – 3 colours (optional)

Large Ball

Water

How to play

1. Fill the bottles with water.  The more full they are, the harder they will be to push over.  

2. Add a few drops of food colouring to the water, depending on how many pins you have. If you don’t have colouring, you could just make a mark with permanent marker or adjust the game to simply knocking them down.

When the kids and I played this game, we decided to have different points for each colour, the clear (no colouring) being the least and the blue being the greatest points.  The idea is to add up how many you knock over! For example, if you knocked over the clear, 2 x red, 1 green and 1 blue it would be: 1 + 4 + 3 + 4 = 12. A strike would be 30. Great little maths project!

backyard bowling

3. Mark a line with chalk (or just make a mark with a stick or whatever) to stand behind and roll the ball!  Make it harder/easier by standing back further from the pins.

Backyard bowling

4. Take turns and when you’re done, tip the water into the garden and recycle the bottles.

backyard bowling

Easy Marshmallow Pops

Celebrating birthdays at school or day care – easy marshmallow pops

I love that teachers and caregivers take the time to celebrate our children’s birthdays at school and day care. Singing happy birthday, wearing a birthday hat or badge and taking along a birthday treat to share with class mates helps make their day even more special.

Traditionally, a humble birthday cake was baked and sent along – maybe a swirly marble cake if you were really lucky!

Then came the cupcake revolution – beautifully decorated and irresistible – they were welcomed by teachers because they were so easy to distribute.

More recently, ice blocks, jellies, chips and even lollipops have been replacing birthday cakes – these options are ideal for time poor parents and children that can’t eat (or don’t like) cake.

Pinterest is overflowing with ideas for creative and delicious birthday treats that children can take to school and share with their class mates. But if making fiddly cake pops is not your idea of a good time, you must try these easy “marshmallow pops”. They are so simple that your children can make them with just a little supervision.

Easy Marshmallow Pops - Great for birthday parties!

Ingredients

Marshmallows

Chocolate freckles

Chocolate for melting

Paper straws

Easy Marshmallow Pops

Method

1. Insert straw firmly into marshmallow.

Easy Marshmallow Pops

2. Melt chocolate (in microwave or on stove top).

3. Dab some melted chocolate onto the top of the marshmallow.

Easy Marshmallow Pops

4. Stick a chocolate freckle on top.

5. Allow to set.

Enjoy!

Easy Marshmallow Pops

What birthday treats do you send in to school or day-care for your children? Do you make your own or do you purchase something from the shops? Do you go for traditional cake or a more modern take on birthday treats?

Other Relevant Posts

Birthday Bunting Cake

Funny Face Biscuits

Sea Animals Shoebox Puppet Theatre

Sea Animals Shoebox Puppet Theatre

This is a surprisingly simple and fun DIY project for sea animal fans. There are whales, dolphins and turtles!  Great for a school projects, show and tell, a themed holiday activity or just for fun!  Here’s an idea: make a theme day and borrow a sea animal book from the local library, watch a documentary, set up an ocean themed play scene and make a puppet theatre! Something the entire family could enjoy.

Shoebox sea animal puppet theatre

Materials

Base of a shoebox (or use a cereal box)

Paddle pop sticks (or fishing line for diorama option)

Glue (clear craft glue or other paper glue works well)

Sea Animal Printable/Background (click the respective pictures below for either outline (to colour) or the coloured version PDF files.

Sea animals puppet theatre

 

Sea Animal Colouring Page

 

Blue background PDFInstructions

1. Print out the templates.

2. Cut around animals, the wave graphic and the blue background.

3. Glue the background into the back of the box.

Shoebox puppet theatre

4. Fold the wave graphic about 1cm from the bottom.

Shoebox puppet theatre

5.  Glue the folded part of the wave under the box so it sits up like this.

Shoebox puppet theatre

7. To make a puppet theatre, glue a paddle pop stick on the back of the animal cut outs.  To make this a diorama, sticky tape a length of fishing line to the back of the animal cut outs. Tip: Printing the animals on card works best (but not essential).

Sea Animals Printable

Sea Animals puppet theatre

6.  To use the box as a puppet theatre, cut a rough rectangle section on the base of the box. This allows a space for the paddle pop puppets to enter the theatre.

Shoebox puppet theatre

Puppet Theatre

Great for show and tell at school, story telling, science projects and just for fun!

Shoebox puppet theatre

Shoebox puppet theatre

Paddle Pop Stick Dolphin Puppets

Diorama

This looks so cool because it’s 3D and the sea animals seem to hover in the air.  It’s a fun decoration for sea-loving-child’s bedroom too! Simply sticky tape the fishing line to the inside top of the box where you want the animals to sit.

Shoebox puppet theatre

Shoebox puppet theatre

Paddle Pop Stick Dolphin Puppets

Paddle Pop Stick Puppets

Another simple way to play with the printables is to simply make paddle pop stick puppets to play with.

Paddle Pop Stick Dolphin Puppets

Sea Animals puppet theatre

Colouring Pages

Or just colouring them in.  For individual colouring pages of the mother/baby animals, click the picture below for 6 pages of options.

Whale / Dolphin / Turtle colouring pages

Imaginative Play: Sand & Sea

Imaginative and outdoor play are a priority when it comes to facilitating play opportunities for my kids. Combining them together is gold.

We visited the beach a couple of weeks ago and then I created a beach scene for the kids to play with at home. It’s really so easy and cheap to set up and here is how I did it:

Beach play

Materials

Underbed Storage Container (or other plastic container)

Play Sand (you can get bags from Bunnings and places like that)

Small plastic container (that fits inside the underbed storage)

Animal Figurines

Blue Food Colouring (optional)

Imaginative Play: Sand & Sea Animals

Animal figurines - Fraser Coast

Set up

This can be set up on the grass (that way any sand spillage is no big deal) on a patio (where I set mine up; easy to sweep) or other outdoor space.

1. Tip the play sand into the underbed storage container.

2. Put a few drops of blue food colouring into the small container and fill with water. (When only a few drops are used, it’s very diluted and doesn’t tend to stain kids hands). Regular water works well too, but I think it looks fun when it’s blue!

3. Push the sand to one side to make space for the water dish.

4. Add the plastic figurines (a few rocks work well too!)

Imaginative Play: Sand & Sea Animals

Boats are great in the mix. The kids used a Lego boat; milk bottle lid boats or plastic bowl boats are great too!

Imaginative Play - sand and sea

Imaginative Play Scene - sand and sea

play figurines - turtle

I purchased the animal figurines from Mini Zoo.  I thought it worth a quick email to see if I could get a special offer for Be A Fun Mum readers because I love facilitating this type of play and giving back. After 13 years of parenting (and going through many different toys), plastic play figurines are in my top 5 best toys for usefulness, versatility and longevity (through different ages).

I chatted to Jason and he kindly organised 10% off storewide for Be A Fun Mum readers. Mini Zoo have over 5,000 products and every type of plastic play figurines you can imagine!  Free shipping is standard on domestic orders over $50. Just use the code beafunmum at checkout. The coupon code is valid until 3rd October 2014 and may be used an unlimited number of times so feel free to share the code with anyone else who would be interested.  Great Christmas gift idea too! 

minizoo.com.au

More 

Small World Play Ideas

Straw Construction Challenge

Straw Construction

On the school holidays, sometimes I throw a heap of straws on the table with tape and tell the kids to make something, anything! It’s really cheap, relatively non-messy and an easy activity to set up.

Materials

  • Straws
    (different colours/size/lengths work well; straws with a bendy top are fun to work with; you can get jumbo straws from discount/party supply shops)
  • Tape
    (clear tape and/or decorative washi tape)
  • Scissors

Straw Construction

What to make

Anything! Here are some ideas:

  • Person
  • Boats
  • Raft
  • Animals
  • Tower
  • Car
  • House
  • Flowers

Boat Challenge

I’ve done this with different groups of kids (not just my own). Some kids just get into it but sometimes they need inspiration.  One idea is to challenge the kids  to experiment in designing a boat that floats. A tub full of water can be set up on the table for them to test it out to see what adjustments need to be made etc.

Straw Construction

More School Holiday Ideas

100 School Holiday Ideas

15 Adventurous Things To Do With Kids

School Holiday Kit

Washi Tape Birthday Party Decorations

Brought to you by 3M (S1 Post)

Early this year I did a series of posts on using Scotch® Expressions Tape around the home. It’s fabulous stuff, and what I like most about this tape is you can make simple things look funky and fun! This time, I’m sharing how to theme a pre-teen or teen birthday party.

Colour Scheme

The first thing is to pick a colour scheme from the large range of Scotch® Expressions Washi Tape, Scotch® Expressions Magic Tape or Scotch® Expressions Masking Tape. Pictured below is a selection of the available colours. The tape is easy to work with so you can position and reposition if you need to.

Washi Tape Birthday Party Decorations

I recommend picking 2-3 colours (but you can do whatever you like!). Adding different patterns provides interest, which always looks great.   I went with a colour pallet of orange, pink and purple.

Washi Tape Colours

Decorating Ideas

Once you have the colours sorted, there are many ways you can use the tape for party decorations, and I’ll show you eight:

  • Cake bunting
  • Cupcake flags
  • Straw flags
  • Invitations
  • Gift wrapping
  • Loot bags
  • Party craft
  • Party favour

Washi Tape Birthday Party Decorations

Washi Tape Birthday Party Decorations

Washi Tape Birthday Party Decorations

1. Cake Bunting

The cake is the centre of the party and bunting is an easy way to take a cake from lovely to absolutely gorgeous!

Materials

2 x Kebab Sticks

Twine – half a metre

Scotch® Expressions Washi Tape (colours of choice)

Scissors

For full instructions and more pictures, click here: Washi Tape Cake Bunting.

Washi Tape Cake Bunting

Check out in this video to see just how easy it is! 

2. Cupcake Flags

Add a special touch to the cupcakes, fruit platters and other finger food.  You can make these flags in different shapes. I went with a simple rectangle but I’ve made them in different shapes before.

Materials

Toothpicks

Scotch® Expressions Washi Tape (colours of choice)

Scissors

For full instructions and more pictures, click here: Cupcake Flag Toppers

Washi Tape Cupcake Flags

3. Straw Flags

Straw flags are uber-easy and add a bit of fun to the party drinks.

Materials

Straws

Scotch® Expressions Washi Tape (colours of choice)

Scissors

For full instructions and more pictures, click here: Washi Tape Straw Flags

Washi Tape Straw Flags

4. Bunting Invitations

Introduce the bunting theme into these gorgeous and easy invitations.

Materials

Card stock (size of choice)

Scotch® Expressions Washi Tape (colours of choice)

Black permanent marker

Scissors

For full instructions and more pictures, click here: Birthday Party Invitations

Bunting Invitations

5. Wrapping

A few wrapped goodies on the table adds to the festive vibe.

Materials

Brown Kraft paper

Scotch® Expressions Washi Tape (colours of choice)

Twine (or you can use a permanent market instead)

Scissors 

For full instructions and more pictures, click here: Washi Tape Bunting Wrapping Paper

Bunting Wrapping Paper

6. Loot Bags

Something special for the guests to take home. 

Materials

Small white (or other light coloured) bags

Scotch® Expressions Washi Tape (colours of choice)

Permanent Marker

Scissors

For full instructions and more pictures, click here: Washi Tape Party Bags

Washi Tape Loot Bags

7. Party Craft – Notebook

A simple craft is a fun icebreaker to start off a party as guests arrive. Children can take the craft home as part of their loot bags. 

Materials

Small notebook

Scotch® Expressions Washi Tape (colours of choice)

Scissors

Kids can decorate the books however they like!

Washi Tape Notebook

8. Party Favour

You can even use decorative tape to decorate your party favours. I used little plastic cylinders and decorated them with tape so they matched with the theme of the party.

Materials

Plastic party favour cylinders (found at discount & party stores)

Scotch® Expressions Washi Tape (colours of choice)

Lollies of choice to fill

Scissors 

Birthday Party Favour Idea

Simple and cute take-home pack: Bag, notebook & lollies

Birthday Party Favour Idea

These decoration ideas are easy to make and kids can pitch in and help. It’s all part of the fun.

PIN IT

Re-pin these ideas for later here.

Your Turn! Get Creative!

I hope you’re inspired! Grab some Scotch® Expressions Tape and show how you Get Creative for the chance to win a $500.00 AUD Westfield Giftcard. There’s also product and Instax Fuji 8 Camera instant wins. For loads more inspiration and details on how you can win, head over to the respective websites:

Australia: www.3mgetcreative.com.au

New Zealand: www.3mgetcreative.co.nz

3M Get Creative

 

Links to Tutorials

Washi Tape Cake Bunting

Washi Tape Straw Flags

Washi Tape Bunting Wrapping Paper

Washi Tape Bunting Loot Bags

Washi Tape Bunting Invitations