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. 
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
Matthew's really into castles at the moment, partly because of Mike the Knight on CBeebies (which has a particularly irritating theme tune that stays lodged in your head all day) and partly because we visited a couple of castles on holiday last month. 

We're going to get him a play castle for his birthday, but in the meantime I thought we could have bash at making one using loo rolls. 

So to make the towers, I cut out notches all round the top of four loo rolls, and then we folded the leftover bits down to make battlements. Then I made cuts all round the bottom of the loo rolls and we splayed them out for gluing later. I also cut two long slots up two sides of each loo roll. 

For the walls I cut up pieces of cardboard box and then fitted them into the loo roll slots. We cut a doorway before gluing the splayed bottoms of the loo roll towers onto a base of stiff card. 

We painted the castle (purple, obviously), and then when that was dry we painted the base. We found a rainbow sticker for the crest over the door, and some bits of material to make flags (glued round toothpicks).

You could easily adapt this basic design to make more complex layouts with more/taller towers and walls.  
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. 
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. 
We were back at The Little House in the Park last week, getting creative again after the Christmas break. 

The session was all about exploring wintry colours - silver, white, pale blue and purple. We made long hangings and collages using various bits of paper, felt, wool, tinsel, pine cones etc. Matthew also discovered the apparently endless joys of using a hole punch. Anyone needs any holes punching, he's your man.  
One of Matthew's best stocking presents (which I had to grudgingly let Father Christmas take credit for) was a kit for adding wheels to cardboard boxes to make them into little carts etc. Really cool and very easy to use (check out Rolobox). 

Now while it's great having some extra storage for toys, it wasn't the most attractive cardboard box, so we decided to paint it to make it blend in a bit more tastefully with our snug (OK - the tasteful bit was my idea, not the boy's). A couple of coats of white paint, followed by red and yellow finger paints on top - job done. 

But the possibilities are endless really. How about a bright red fire engine... or you could cut a tractor shape into the box... or tie several together to make a train...
Last week's session at The Little House in the Park was all about hibernation and hunkering down for the winter. 

The spider's web is made from wooden skewers stuck into a conker, then wound round with wool of different colours. It was very therapeutic to make (I was deliberately blocking out Matthew unravelling all the other balls of wool in my peripheral vision). The spider is just four short black pipe cleaners twisted round in the middle, with its legs pushed into the wool. 

The hedgehog is made out of clay, and his little den is a cardboard box painted with shiny autumn colours and then stuffed with kapok and straw. We finished it off by gluing leaves on top. Matthew always likes it when the clay makes an appearance - I think he'd be quite happy just spending the whole session making clay hair with the garlic crusher. 

I fancy hunkering down for the winter. Wonder if the boy would be OK if I just crawled under the duvet for a few months?