Washi-tape Lollipop thank you cards

This year, at the very last-minute, I realised we hadn’t made thank you cards for the teachers and LSAs at school. A quick bit of searching for ideas on Pinterest led me to creating a quick and simple card, which complemented the ice-cream hampers and had the feel of summer sun. Washi-tape Lollipop thank you cards could be adapted and used for most celebration cards (think phrases with ‘fab’, ‘lolly’ and ‘cool’).Washi-tape Lollipop thank you cards craftFortunately my craft boxes had everything needed to make the cards.

We used:
A4 white card – I pick up ours from The Works as it’s really good value.
A4 paper – just from the ream we have in the office.
Lollipop Sticks – I have loads from a trip to Hobbycraft.
Washi tape– from a frequent trip to Paperchase.
Double sided tape – not in the photo but I decided it worked better in places. I think from The Works.
Double side square foam – I had these from my mum, I think they’re for card making.
Envelopes- From a stash we keep in the house.

We also used scissors, a printer, and paper-cutter to make the card.Washi-tape Lollipop thank you cardsI started by quickly setting up a design using Picmonkey. I wanted to have a real pun to the card, it wasn’t great, but hopefully it worked. These were printed onto white card.

I then found a template for the lollipop. It would be easy enough to cut this freehand but we had eight cards to make, so I used this template to print them out onto white card.

We cut the lollipops and then the children added the colourways to their choice- dependent on who the card was for it transpired.

Whilst the children were busy with the lollipops, I cut the card to size. Before I cut the card I folded a piece of A4 paper and popped it inside. The cut was a bit random dependent on what text was on the card- and I like to think this made each card unique. Once cut, I then trimmed down the paper a bit more.

I then cut the lollipop sticks to size, which means you can use one stick for two card.

Once all the pieces were to prepared, the children then set to writing in the fold of the A4 paper (you could pre-print most of this if you wanted).

I used double-sided tape to put the lollipop stick in place, and then used the stick pads to pop the lollipop on. I really liked the effect of this.

With the card made, once the children had written their words, the paper was added using double-sided tape to the side of paper closest to the fold at the back, and putting in place.

And ‘ta-da’- the perfect way to bring on the summer for teachers who have been looking forward to it since Christmas (one assumes!).

myStyle Surf Style Jewellery

myStyle Surf Style Jewellery set was a perfect introduction to jewellery making for CM. Whilst it is designed for children aged 8+ the fantastic part of the set is that the projects are of varying difficulty, meaning that at age 7 CM was able to make some bracelets and necklaces, supervise others, and have some wonderful additions to her beach-themed additions for her school project.My Style Craft Surf Style JewelleryOn being presented with the third element of her beach themed project, CM quickly got to work looking at the projects, deciding to whom she would gift each, in what colour way, and in what order we should do our making.My Style Craft Surf Style JewelleryThe set contains everything you need bar a pair of scissors. From lengths of two thicknesses of cord, jump-rings, beads, clasps, and pendants- the instructions even have a handy ruler across the top of each page to help you out.
My Style Craft Surf Style JewelleryThere were parts of each project which CM was more adept at than others. The projects which have charms as their focal points were more focused on single knots, which CM was able to create and got to grips with threading beads and manipulating jump rings.My Style Craft Surf Style JewelleryAnd CM was really pleased with the fruits of her labour, and mine. Some of the projects are more straightforward, and perfect for 8 year-olds. The effect of your efforts is pretty and particularly complemented by the pendants included in the set.My Style Craft Surf Style JewelleryThe overall result of projects which can be undertaken between a 7 year-old and their mother is shown below. It was a good project for us to work on together. Some (where there were plaits) took more effort from me than her, others were just me making sure she had her knots and measures so the bracelets were of a good size.
My Style Craft Surf Style Jewellery There are other projects which are more testing, which is a natural progression in the suggested projects. I have to admit on a few even my patience was challenged. Much of this is due to my lack of spacial awareness and appreciation- but in honesty some projects have been returned to the case for another look on a brighter day.My Style Craft Surf Style JewelleryBut then were the projects where as soon as she had finished making her brothers demanded they were theirs.My Style Craft Surf Style JewelleryThe myStyle Surf Style set retails at £9.99. Making 12 projects it is value for money and has the ability to stimulate creativity in young people. The range of projects available to create ensures it offers stimulation to a broad age range.

 Disclosure: We received the myStyle Surf Style set for the purposes of this review. All opinions and views contained are our own.

Button Art Craft – Hot Air Balloon

I love the button art craft that I see on Pinterest. So it seemed such a good idea to try to create a Hot Air Balloon with a 7-year-old for a school project about transport. Or something like that.Hot Air Balloon Button Craft This was a complete first attempt, but the price of canvases at Home Bargains, and keeping the button and yarn tubs well stocked meant it felt a good idea.

The first thing was to find a printable template and the materials we needed- buttons, embroidery yarn, sticky glue and a blank canvas.Hot Air Balloon Button CraftOnce we had found the template, we cut around the outline and tacked it onto the canvas with washi tape. We then began gluing the buttons to create our balloon. It turns out we weren’t as considerate as we might have been. CM quickly decided on the colours she preferred- and my button collection disappointed her. Additionally her preference (as per the outline) was to use small, pastel buttons. This is quite a task. Adding a large button every now and again helps patience levels. Realising your button collection is mainly primary colours increases frustration.Hot Air Balloon Button CraftBut she did it. The space was filled with buttons- with large buttons making the task easier.

And then we waited for the glue to dry to transparent, and removed the template.Hot Air Balloon Button CraftI had aspirations for the basket. Or biodegradable plant pots cut in half, covered in thread and glued to the canvas in 3D.

Time was not on our side. So I left her to. Template tacked to the canvas. Lines created to the basket, with the help of glue, the thread became the basket.Hot Air Balloon Button CraftIn fear of a fail. glue covered the basket again to ensure it was a part of the canvas. Hot Air Balloon Button CraftAnd the art work was created – our button art hot air balloon craft:Hot Air Balloon Button Craft

Making a Papier-Mache Starfish

It’s that time of the term- end of school projects- this time the theme is your favourite part of the seaside. I had fantastic ideas of visiting lots of local beaches and creating a layer jar, which is of course why we ended up making a papier-mache starfish.Creating a papier-mache starfishCM decided her favourite part of the beach is starfish. Not that I can actually remember us seeing one, but hey ho. And so as we came up with a few starfish based crafts, we of course ended up echoing previous projects with papier-mache. 

This was a new one on me. I’ve only used papier-mache with balloons before, so I was left scratching my head.

We started by finding a starfish template we liked, fortunately there are a few to choose from at Kidspot. I drew a pentagram on a piece of cardboard, and we created the starfish shape around it. A bit of care with a pair of scissors and we had our base.Creating a papier-mache starfishNext was to figure out how to make it 3D. We made rolls of newspaper and cut strips in various lengths. We made a paste using one part plain flour to two parts water, mixing to ensure there were no lumps.Creating a papier mache starfishI was really impressed with the finished result, it was as messy as always, but we did end up with a starfish. Once left to dry overnight, we then added honey nut loops with craft glue to create the familiar spiny skin.Creating a papier-mache starfishOnce we had the starfish created we moved on to the next part- painting. One of CM’s favourite pastimes, a key consideration was getting the colour just right. With close inspection, we added white and yellow to our orange because we didn’t want the colour to be too bright.Creating a papier mache starfishBut something a little special was a part of the brief, so adding a layer of gold glitter paint was a necessity.Creating a papier mache starfishAnd with that CM was pleased with the finished result. Effortlessly integrating on the beach.Creating a papier-mache starfish

Mila & Pheebs Kids Subscription Box

Mila & Pheebs Subscription BoxI can only start this post by saying I can’t believe how fantastic the Mila & Pheebs subscription box is. 
I went through a massive phase of subscription boxes for me,  until I realised that I know what I like and that’s for a reason. Because the subscription boxes I bought were just like “here’s some of what you might like”, and some would be ok, some would be put in one of my many storage boxes as there might possibly be a point in the future when I would like to use it, or I’d re-gift some of the contents. I came to realise I wasn’t getting my monies worth. So I stopped, and just bought the make-up/ stationery/ food that I wanted or that I wanted to try.

When CM was invited to try a subscription box for children, focused on crafts and stationery, well I couldn’t help but think it was perfectly suited.

I think I’ve previously written about how difficult my daughter is to buy for, having never been particularly enamoured with teddies or dolls, she usually ends up with everything on her birthday and Christmas lists because she likes so little- My Little Pony/ Monster High/ Shopkins – that’s it.

But creating. Creating has always been her thing. The mainstream things mentioned are top-ups for notebooks, crayons, paints and crafts. She loves to draw, to write, well, to be.

And so Mila & Pheebs subscription box couldn’t have been more perfect:Mila & Pheebs Woodland Themed Subscription BoxI’d love to tell you at £9.99 I think it’s pricey. 
I don’t.
The other day, as a treat, I bought one of the boys a magazine. Even the woman on the checkout commented how expensive it was.
With this subscription box you could feel the quality in each item. 
I’d love to think about how much I’d pay for the Bark Colouring Pencils alone. Mila & Pheebs Subscription BoxI love that everything keeps to a theme. 
That is encourages CM to ask questions.
That it’s not a load of random things which you might like.
But there is the common thread running through. Mila & Pheebs Subscription BoxAnd as is CM’s nature, everything became about someone else.

She created the most creative cards for her friends.

I tried not to get too cross when I collected her from school to find one of her friends with the hedgehog craft kit. It had been a stowaway with her that morning, she and him had taken the time to create it perfectly, and it was her gift to him.

That feeling of being cross because I couldn’t take a photograph of it, and just feeling the love of how proud they were that he got to take it home. Money really can’t buy those moments.

CM also gifted her brothers. The boys and I are making our way through the Roald Dahl collection, and the Fox paperclip made the most perfect bookmark as we made our way through ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’.
Mila & Pheebs Subscription BoxSo, what of the £9.99? 

Well, it depends on what you’re likely to spend on your child each month, but I think at seven years-old CM is now at the age to earn things rather than having random treats based on behaviour or chores.

I love the idea that this constitutes quality and learning, rather than acquiring more blind bags.

And before it becomes about me, the enjoyment she got from her subscription box was (and is) fantastic. Unlike the Shopkins which I tread on like Lego. The subscription box on the other hand is kept where mummy keeps all her theatre programmes (the shelf which should not be touched). The contents are removed, used, and returned. I am tempting fate, but I have never seen CM look after something so well.

Saving up her points each month to deserve a subscription box? I think this is something to which she and I would be happy to commit.

So… worth £9.99.. yes. And, like any good subscription box, by prepaying, the boxes can become £8.33 per month,  and there’s no postage fee on subscription boxes if you’re in the UK.

Perfect for the 6+ year old it’s aiming at, Mila and Pheebs have designed this box perfectly.

And, if there was anything else to convince me of why this box is perfect, Mila & Pheebs is a family run business and with a name inspired by  the couple’s 21 old twins Milena and Phoebe (enough said really!).
Based in Cardiff, Mila & Pheebs create themed stationery and activity boxes for kids. A new box is released each month and includes items such as stickers, notebooks, pencils, word searches and a collectible iwako eraser. 

Subscribe at Mila & Pheebs by the 19th of the month to get a perfectly creative subscription box for your primary school aged child.

Disclosure: We received a subscription box for the purpose of this review. All opinions and views contained are our own.

Papier-mâché Hot Air Balloon Craft

CM’s home learning project for this term was transport.
I get the feeling I should stop thinking laterally where her schooling is concerned. I thought it would be a good idea for us to create a papier-mâché hot air balloon. Until I read a bit more on the topic the week before the due date, to see the focus was trams, trains, and bicycles.
But the hot air balloon was well under way so we quickly swotted up. My memories of Phileas Fogg and his 90 days around the world were quickly replaced with new knowledge that the first round the world trip in a hot air balloon took 19 days and 21 hours and 55 minutes, in 1999. New fact learned, I went back to the comfort zone of craft.

Our papier-mâché hot air balloon was made in the first with the traditional method using flour, water and newspaper.Papier-mâché Hot Air Balloon Craft We made a more watered down version, very messy, but perfect for something which we knew we wanted to be light enough to hang from the ceiling. Our base was one part plain flour to two parts water.Papier-mâché Hot Air Balloon CraftOur original intent was to make a hot air balloon each, but the mess put the little people off and soon I was left making sure the single balloon had enough layers.

This approach did seem much messier than in the past, but the result was perfect, so in hindsight I wish we had persevered with the mess and made three.

We left the balloon for a week to dry, I’m sure it would have been ready after about 48 hours but this was our weekend project.

Once the balloon was dried, we did the best bit – and popped the balloon. I trimmed the bottom to make it bit more even.

We then cut A4 paper into stripes, glued them using PVA – a lot less messy for CM – to create a slightly more even surface than the Papier-mâché had left us with.

We left to dry again so the fun part of painting could begin.

Again, originally CM had all kinds of visions, of strawberries dipped in chocolate, and balloons covered in flowers. It turned out her boredom threshold allowed her to paint it yellow.Papier-mâché Hot Air Balloon CraftAnd my need to show effort meant I persuaded her to persevere with stripes by drawing orange lines over the balloon in a standoff.Papier-mâché Hot Air Balloon Craft Which fortunately turned out perfectly, especially because the boys had now negotiated that as this was their original balloon the finished product would be theirs. Papier-mâché Hot Air Balloon CraftWith the balloon painted, I tempted CM to finish things off with a basket, and decided on the most simple solution, using a garden planters, lots of glue, lots of twine, and lots more glue.Papier-mâché Hot Air Balloon CraftAnd it would turn out fine. Once mummy attempted to put holes in everything.

A single hole in the top of the balloon, and a strand of elastic to connect to a ceiling, so the balloon could bob wonderfully across the eye-line.

Four holes evenly placed around the base of the balloon connect with the basket. Less successfully as for love nor money could I get the stands to be the same size, and the basket to sit parallel to the balloon.

But once CM stuck her Playmobil character in, it was perfect, and all was well in the world.Papier-mâché Hot Air Balloon Craft

Tea themed Gifts for teachers with Snapfish

It’s a thing in our family, nothing shows appreciation like a handmade gift. I’m not sure where it’s come from, my mum no doubt, but now, each Christmas and end of school year we prepare a form of hamper for the teachers and assistants who take care of my children’s wellbeing from 8.55 to 3.10.

Whilst the summer can be themed more around the 6 weeks of relaxation and sunshine (ever the optimist!), Christmas for me is about homeliness and family.

This year I decided our gift would be based around taking a break, with visions of a wood fire, thick cardigan, and a great big sofa to fall into.

And what would accompany this vision better than a warming cup of tea and biscuits. 
And so our vision began.

I started collecting tea bags from my hotel stays, I love the variety of teas also on offer, and yet my taste for tea is limited due to very selective tastebuds. So, a couple each time land in my overnight bag, and due to the number of overnights- well…. what can I say?!Teacher inspired thank you mugs from SnapfishTo accompany the tea I really wanted to create a personal touch, and fortunately Snapfish was able to meet my brief. Whilst mugs with favourite photographs on would be my association, I loved the idea of using PicMonkey to create an inspirational quote, accompanied by a smaller font message from my children. I changed the quote slightly for the LSAs and each has a different heart design to ensure a unique design which will make a wonderful personalised Christmas gift. I loved the mugs we received, whilst you can choose from a more delicate porcelain, I went for the kind of mug you can wrap your hands around and hug for warmth.Tea wreath - thrifty gifts for teachersRather than present a cup and tea bag, I wanted to carry through a Christmas theme, and loved a wreath idea I had seen on Pinterest. I wanted to customise mine with a more traditional Christmas theme, so painted the cardboard green, wooden pegs red, added a ribbon hook and a big red bow. A little quirky, I hope the association comes through.Teacher's gift mugs from SnapfishNearer to the end of term we’ll make cookies in a jar to complete our thank you gift. I’m sure the children will want to use a range of cutters, despite my OCD need to use round to fit in a jar.

And then, maybe with a good book, the people who invest so much in our children, can escape for Christmas, with tea and biscuits for sustenance. 

I hope these gifts are appreciated, I truly want the children to understand what offering thanks is about and, to me, making a gift, putting your heart into it, is a part of understanding gratitude.

Disclosure: We received a voucher from Snapfish for the purposes of this review. All opinions and views contained are our own.

Gifts for teachers – craft with children

I have a long chat with myself at Christmas and in July, it probably is a lot easier to contribute to the parent’s collection for gifts for teachers and LSAs. But it’s two-fold, most importantly I love Pinterest, secondly by creating gifts with the little people it allows us to talk about what they like most about those who support them, why we should be grateful to them, and why it is important to take the time to say ‘thank you’ and appreciate them.Creating gifts for teachersIt may be less appreciated than a spa day, but I hope the family is effort is recognised, we want to take the time to show that we appreciate the ways in which they have supported us.

This year, the first bit of inspiration came around Mother’s Day from In The Playroom– a wonderful Twinings inspired card.Thank you cardWe echoed this, and had great fun with painting, pipecleaners, and stickers. What I liked most about the card was that everything came from our craft cupboard- so absolutely minimal cost for a really effective card.

I also struggle with how to package our gifts, which usually results in a large quantity of cellophane. The weekend we moved to Wales, the Welsh Government introduced a charge on carrier bags, and I’ve come to hate unnecessary packaging, a play on Pinterest inspired me to use tote bags as gift bags- personal and reusable.

I found the bags “reasonably priced” on ebay, and combined a few ideas to create a design which would be personal from our children (their handprints), and personal to the recipient. I loved the added personality of CM writing each of their names- a cause of great stress as her handwriting is an angst- the end result was a perfect representation of a young child’s gift- using fabric paint, fabric pens and embroidery thread.Making a tote bagThe reason for deciding on flowers on the gift bag was because I had decided on a gardening theme for this year. I cannot wait for next year when the teachers are all different so I can repeat previous hampers, but this one did seem to work.

It didn’t go entirely to plan, I really want to attempt seed bombs, but time and materials didn’t allow.

And we obviously won’t talk about the failed lavender seedlings, but instead focus on the lovely lavender plants we ran out to buy the week the children finished school.

I wanted to do the blackboard paint on plant pots thing, and found some great smaller sized tins in Wilkinsons, as well as some absolute bargain pots in Ikea.

And we had lots of fun painting and potting.
Creating a plant pot for a teacher

We finished the ‘hamper’ off with a purchased gift, we did differentiate at this point between the teachers and the LSAs- I found some gardening themed gifts at dotcomgiftshop and picked up others along the way.

The result was well received, and I do remain convinced that getting the children involved in thank you gifts is a key point of the gesture of giving.

A handmade gift for teachers