It's nearly Halloween - EEEEK! Time to get crafty with the boy...

We were walking through the park the other day and I was looking at a holly bush, and it got me thinking... wouldn't they make fantastic bat wings? 

So we picked some (well I picked some - Matthew wasn't keen on the prickles) and took them home. I found an old cardboard tube and cut some lengths off, folded over the tops to make ears, and then we painted everything black. One of us was more interested in painting their face and hands black. (It wasn't me.)

Once they were dry, we made some holes in the tube to poke the holly stalks through, and stuck some googly eyes on (you can rely on us to use googly eyes - every time). 

They are a bit too prickly to play with, but they make fab Halloween decorations - we have three of them in a line up on a shelf in the kitchen. Looking suitably batty. 
Matthew has started school (*gulp*) so we're in the strange limbo of settling-in weeks, trying to find stuff to do on our half days. This morning we took a rainy walk in the park looking for conkers and things. 

We found these baby pine cones, picked a few and discovered that when you take them off the tree a little halo of pine needles comes off with them too - how cute is that! They were just asking to have eyes stuck on. So we did. Then we got them to stand up by sticking them onto drawing pins. 

They'd also make rather wonderful coconut trees, don't you think? 
I've been trying to think of more loo roll craft ideas, and have come up with this nice easy project - a bird finger puppet. 

Dead simple - take your loo roll and bend the edges of one end over, to make the ears. Then cut finger holes at the other end. After painting, stick on eyes and nose of your choice (I would have made a big pointy beak out of card or something, personally, but Matthew wanted to use a jewel sticker, and it is his puppet after all), and then add feathers (we made holes and pushed them in). 

Here are some other ideas for loo roll finger puppets... 

- other animals: lions, rabbits, dogs, jellyfish would work particularly well
- monsters: you could really go wild here and stick all kinds of bits and pieces on to make fantastical creatures 
- robots: add the finishing touch with silver foil or silver paint
I was in a multicoloured lolly sticks kind of mood today - luckily we have a bumper pack of them in the cupboard. Phew. 

For the porcupine card, I cut a body shape out of orange card and then we glued that and the orange sticks onto the blue card, added a googly eye and coloured in the nose. 

The monsters on sticks couldn't be easier to make - just wrap pipe cleaners around sticks in whatever shape you fancy and add googly eyes (we used extra big fluffy pipe cleaners). Matthew's passion for googly eyes apparently knows no bounds. 

For the tulips, we painted some bits of card first (quite subtle here but you could go wild), cut out the petal shapes when they were dry, and glued them onto green sticks. The vase is an empty plastic vanilla essence bottle with its top cut off. Matthew took ages decorating it with dotty stickers in an impressively painstaking way. Blimey. This is new. 
Last week at The Little House in the Park we did some book-related crafts, to mark the end of Bath's Literature Festival. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was a good choice - everyone knows it, the story is nice and simple, and there are lots of colourful pictures to draw inspiration from. 

First we made a lovely big butterfly, by blobbing lots of paint on one side of some thick folded paper and then pressing the two sides together to make a mirror print. We cut the shape out when it was dry, and added a pipe cleaner body.

Next we stuffed a stripey sock with scrunched up tissue paper, tied it with wool, and added googly eyes and pipe cleaner antennae to make a caterpillar puppet. (This is Matthew's favourite: he likes bouncing it round the house doing squeaky caterpillar voices and finding new places to hang it.)

Finally, we made our own interactive version of the book. We started with a thin paint wash over both sides of a long strip of folded paper, and when that was dry we stuck the fruit on and cut out holes. The cover of the book is a green felt leaf with a pipe cleaner caterpillar nestled inside ready to take out and weave through the holes. 
We had a busy old session at The Little House in the Park last week. The theme was boxes and we had to make three - one large, one medium and one small - all decorated differently and all with little creatures inside. Gulp.  

I didn't think we were going to get any of it done as Matthew made a beeline for the clay (as usual), but eventually I managed to tempt him over to look at the marbling tray and that got him hooked. 

The boxes are just folded paper (here is a step-by-step tutorial, which uses the same technique). The large one is decorated with collage, the medium one is marbled, and Matthew drew on the small one with crayons. 

Inside the large box is a butterfly made from tissue paper, netting and pipe cleaners; there is a woolly pipe cleaner spider in the middle box; and the two bees in the smallest box are made from netting wings glued onto tiny pine cones wrapped round with yellow wool. 

The most amazing thing - apart from the fact that we actually got them all made (with time to SPARE even) - is that these are all still intact (so far). Matthew likes opening them, saying hello to the little creatures, then closing them again carefully and going on his way. Unprecedented. 
Ever since Matthew's first rapturous encounter with a hole punch, I've been trying to think of a nice crafty activity we could channel this passion into. Hm. 

Recently I bought some A5 self-laminating pouches and have been wondering what I could use them for. Hm. 

Bingo! I present you with: self-laminated dotty pictures. I did the shape cutting (obviously. He's 3), and Matthew did the hole punching and thereafter scattering of the dots. It was surprisingly tricky getting the pouches to seal without lumps and stray dots, but by about the fourth one we had it down. 

I think they look pretty good but... that sunflower is a bit rubbish, isn't it. Good excuse to have another go sometime. 
We have a surfeit of pipe cleaners in the house. A glut. An embarrassment of pipe cleaners. I don't know how it happened, but we should probably start using them instead of hoarding them (not sure what kind of situation I've been envisaging in which shedloads of pipe cleaners would save the day?). 

Thought it would be fun to experiment with making animal finger puppets - here are the results. An octopus (actually an octo-alien - he has two more eyes at the back, Matthew was quite insistent about it), a bird and a butterfly. 

I reckon the possibilities are endless though, really, depending on a) how adventurous you're feeling and b) the dexterity of the little fingers you're working with. How about trying mice, rabbits, frogs, lions, elephants... dinosaurs...? 

This week's session at The Little House in the Park was all about Chinese New Year - tomorrow marks the start of the Year of the Snake. So we went snake crazy.

The one on the right is your classic paper plate snake - covered in tissue paper and cut in a spiral. This one has a separate head glued on and is tied to a stick for extra springy fun - Matthew held it on the way home and it twirled round and round in the wind in a very pleasing way. 

The one on the left is a felt bracelet snake, made by Matthew's grandma, who came with us this week (there is NO WAY I would have been able to make that one during the session... far too busy trying to prevent Claygate). I think it involved winding lots of bits of wool round and then glueing a felt face on top. Seemed to keep her happy anyway. 

The clay snake is all Matthew's own work and he's very proud of it. It's just a shame it keeps breaking into bits. His dad looked at all the pieces bemusedly and said "Oh. You made poo at The Little House today."

We made the two little pipe cleaner snakes when we got back home (obviously couldn't get enough of the whole snake thing). Just two pipe cleaners twisted together with - yes - googly eyes stuck on. 

Happy Chinese New Year! 
Matthew's been experimenting with trashy little cheeses lately. He mostly loves unwrapping them rather than eating them, so we end up with bits of cheese packaging (and bits of cheese) all over the place. 

Now these latest ones - Primula Pods, I believe they're called - came in the most fish-like plastic packets imaginable. So we (I) sort of felt obliged to make something fishy with them. 

The plan was to make a mobile, but for various reasons - I won't bore you with them - that turned out to be a bit ambitious, so we did a collage instead. Matthew got really into this. First we painted each fish a different colour (they could have done with two coats ideally, but I felt like that would be pushing my luck), then we sprinkled glitter on, and when they were dry we added spotty stickers and googly eyes. 

We put glue all over a sheet of blue card, to make it nice and shiny, and then stuck the fish on, along with a few bits of crumpled up green tissue paper just to make it a bit more exciting. I could have gone on... but the boy had had enough. A good innings though.