Drink Bottle Dinosaur

Drink Bottle Dinosaur

My 5-year-old’s school homework this week was to make a model dinosaur. We started with the simple materials below (2l drinks bottle, wrapping paper tube, yogurt pot, silver foil and masking tape).


We cut 4 short lengths from the wrapping paper tube to use as legs, then used masking tape to attach the remaining long section to the drink bottle at an angle to make a long neck. We attached the yogurt pot to the top of the tube to form a head, then shaped a tail out of silver foil.

We used more silver foil to shape the dinosaur’s back and chest, then covered the whole thing in masking tape.


The masking tape was followed by 2 layers of paper mache (newspaper strips soaked in PVA glue diluted 50:50 with water) and finished with a layer of plain white paper.


Amelia painted the dinosaur, choosing orange and gold for the body, then sticking on white paper circles for eyes and adding detail with black paint.


Our junk-o-saurus was complete!


Lantern Making – Part 2


With our lantern frame looking good we moved on to the next step. I bought a string of battery powered fairy lights and wound them around the frame on the inside of the lantern, securing them at various points with masking tape.

Next we made an astronaut cutout using the technique from Rainbow Macaw Suncatcher (it was tricky to cut such a fine outline, but worth it in the end). We then glued the decorated cutout to the outside of our willow frame and covered it with a piece of white tissue so the image would shine through. If I were doing this again, I think I would glue the decorated cutout to the outside of the lantern after it had been covered in tissue instead, so that the picture appeared more vivid – but either way will work.

Before covering the lantern, I twisted some think wire around the top and made a loop so that the lantern could be hung from a hook and carried by it.

Everything was going so well, I didn’t anticipate any problems covering the lantern, and even thought my children would be able to help. I mixed equal parts of water and waterproof PVA glue, then cut some large sections of blue and green wet strength tissue paper. It may well have been “wet strength”, but it certainly wasn’t “preschool child and toddler strangth.” About 20 holes, twisted paper pieces and 2 glue-haired children later, I hurried the kids into the lounge and attempted to repair the situation myself with the last remaining pieces of tissue.  I wish I had taken some pictures of our first attempt, but I was too busy with damage mitigation (and covered in glue myself) that I couldn’t risk taking out my camera! Anyway, the lantern is pictured after I had patched it up as best I could. I’m not entirely happy with it, but think it will look alright when it is lit and in the parade.

I cut out various shapes from coloured tissue paper and Amelia glued them on as well as cutting some of her own. We used regular tissue for some of the colours which was a bit of a mistake as the colours were not waterproof and bled when they made contact with the glue – but again I think it will look fine when it is illuminated at night time.


We hung the lantern up to dry, and as it dried the tissue began to shrink, which made it look a little neater and also feel stronger. Once it was completely dry, I cut a small hole in the bottom so that the switch for the fairy lights could be accessed, then covered this with a small rectangle of tissue paper (doubled over for strength and glued on one edge to form a hinge).

Now we’re looking forward to the parade – and hoping it will be a warm, dry day!

Lantern Making – Part 1

Last year was our first time at the New Mills Lantern Parade. We were all mesmerized by the beautiful lights, and decided that this year we would have a go at making our own lantern to take along.

New Mills Lantern Festival 2015

This year the theme of the parade is “inventions”.  We decided on a space rocket lantern (mainly because it involves less tricky curved pieces than a lightbulb or a wheel!)


Making the frame was surprisingly simple. Amelia helped to stick the willow withies together with masking tape, while 18-month-old Ciara had a good explore of our materials.


And before we knew it, we had a (vaguely) rocket shaped structure.

Watch this space (lol!) for further updates! 🙂

Paper Plate Ocean Drum


Here’s a lovely fun musical instrument that is so easy to make.

You will need:

  • 3 paper plates
  • Clear plastic (from any strong plastic packaging)
  • Strong glue, staples or tape
  • PVA glue
  • Paints and brushes
  • Beads


Cut circles from the centres of 2 of the paper plates. Cut a circle of strong clear plastic (I used the lid of an old chocolate box) making it slightly larger than the circles you have cut out and affix it securely to the raised side of one plate.


Now give your children the other paper plate to paint (on the raised side) along with the uncut plate (paint on the inside).


When the paint has dried, glue the painted plate with the hole in it over the one with the plastic on it to secure even further and cover up the taped joins. This will be the front of your drum.

Decorate the uncut plate further if you like (we added a turtle sticker, to stick with the ocean theme) then add a good handful of beads.


Staple or hot glue the plates together with the beads inside, then reinforce around the edges with duct tape. And there you have it – your very own ocean drum!

Home Gardening

A few months ago we planted some fruit and veg in the garden. We’d tried this in previous years, only to find everything devoured by slugs in a single night. (Well, everything except the radishes – it seems that slugs don’t like radishes.)

Radishes are always a success

Anyway, this year we thought we’d outsmart them and grow everything in containers.

We didn’t just plant our crops in containers, we fortified them with copper tape, coffee grinds, broken shells and milk-bottle cloches… all the things that are supposed to keep slugs away.

Well, it’s amazing how high slugs and snails can climb, and how persistent they actually are.

We lost the whole crop of lettuce, the thyme and the coriander. However, we did have some success with the carrots and the one pot of strawberries that we’d placed several foot above the ground (the ones at ground level stood no chance!)  Most of the herbs also did well – especially the mint, rosemary and lemon balm.

Tiny carrots

But out of everything we grew, we all agreed one thing was by far the best – our heart shaped strawberry!

If anyone has any suggestions of edible crops that slugs and snails just won’t touch please do leave us a comment, as we’re hoping for even more success next year! 🙂


Jammy Vanilla Cupcakes

Jammy Vanilla Cupcakes

This is one of our favourite cupcake recipes – it’s so simple, and can be used in so many variations. I’ve found the key with it is to whisk, whisk and whisk again! This recipe makes 24 small/medium cupcakes, or 12 larger ones.



  • 175g (6oz) butter + 75g (2.5oz) for the icing
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 175g (6oz) self raising flour
  • 350g (12oz) icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • jam/jelly (we used seedless raspberry)
  • candy sprinkles & decorations
First time with the electric whisk

Preheat oven to 170°/350°/Gas mark 3

Soften the butter in a microwave (you don’t want to melt it completely, just make it easier to mix, so use a low power setting for 10 seconds at a time). Put the softened butter into a large mixing bowl with the sugar and whisk until light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla extract and eggs and whisk again.

Now add the flour and whisk until smooth. Keep going for several minutes to make a really light, fluffy mix.

Pour into cupcake cases and bake for 14-18 minutes. The cakes are done when the top bounces back when touched, and a skewer comes out clean. (If they don’t bounce back, return them to the oven as quickly as possible to avoid them going flat!)

Allow to cool on a wire rack.

jam.jpgOnce cool, cut out the middles (I found a traditional potato peeler was great for this), fill with jam (jelly) then put the middle back on as a “lid”.

Soften your remaining butter and mix with the icing sugar, 2tsp of vanilla extract and 2 tbsp of milk until you get a smooth icing.

IMG_0452.jpgIce your cupcakes, and add whatever tasty decorations take your fancy. (We used rainbow strips and sugar sprinkles, along with some My Little Pony figures we’d got from Kinder eggs.)baking.jpgEnjoy!