Clay Owls – Part 2

Way back in April last year I made this post on the Clay Owls that I made with my then 4-year-old daughter. We finally got round to finishing them, and our neighbour fired them in her pottery kiln.

I don’t have a picture of my daughter’s owl, as she decided to give it to our neighbour as a present. but here is how mine turned out (and I’m rather pleased with it!)

If you ever get hold of some clay and don’t know what to do with it I really would recommend giving these a try, as they’re so easy and fun to make!


Clay Handprint & FootprintTiles

As I’ve mentioned before, we’re lucky enough to have a lovely neighbour with a pottery kiln. This time she invited us over to make some clay tiles, so I thought I’d have a go at making designs using the children’s hand and footprints.

I used a handprint for 5 year old Amelia, and footprints for 2 year old Ciara, which meant both fitted nicely onto the space available. Amelia enjoyed painting her own hand and making the print, and then I added on extra detail to turn it into an owl (yes, I know I always make owls – I think they’re beautiful creatures, and one of the only things I can actually draw or sculpt successfully too!)

Next I’m planning on getting some thick cord to go through the holes at the top so we’ll be able to hang the tiles from the wall.

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!