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 ISSUE 04   •   6  AUGUST 2006  
   This week's theme: pirates


1. Editorial: Encouraging imaginative play
2. Newspaper pirate hat
3. Colourful pretty polly
4. Fabulous chest for secret treasures
5. More
pirate ideas

WANT MORE? Check out the most recent pirate issue for more great ideas!

1. Editorial: Encouraging imaginative play

Ahoy there and welcome to Kids Craft Weekly!

This week's 'pirate' theme is one that lends itself to imaginative and pretend play.

I am a big believer in giving kids as many opportunities as possible to use their imagination. Recently I was thrilled to come across a brilliant idea to encourage pretend play.

It's not a new idea but it was new to me - it's called a 'prop box'.

A prop box is a box that contains small toys, clothing and household items that are used to enrich pretend play. Each box is grouped together by a particular theme and rotated every so often to keep things interesting. Where possible, prop boxes should contain 'real' items 
(a real phone rather than a toy phone) as kids can always learn more from actual items than they can from replicas.

It's also a good idea to include literacy materials (pencils, paper, books) so that your little one can pretend to read and write and can practice associating literacy/numeracy activities in different scenarios.

I have found prop boxes to be a really effective way to instigate imaginative play and they're quite easy to put together. 

For example, a 'pirate' prop box might  contain:

• bandanas
• hats
a vest
an eye patch
a pair of gumboots
a bag of coins
a pair of binoculars
a treasure box
a toy dog
a paper scroll and pen

There's a good article about prop boxes at Education World which makes some useful suggestions for those putting one together for the first time. It also has some links to prop box ideas.

Once you get into the swing of preparing prop boxes you'll never again have to rack your brains for pretend play ideas.

I hope you have great fun with this week's activities. Please feel free to get in touch and let me know how you got on.

Happy crafting and see you next week!

Amber Carvan

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2. MAKE: a pirate hat

Do you remember making paper hats as a kid? This simple hat is bound to get your little pirates in the mood for some fun and games. We decorated our hats with a crossbones stencil and colourful feathers but you could use whatever you have on hand.

You will need

•  sheets of newspaper
•  sticky tape
•  feathers
•  black acrylic paint
•  small paint roller (available from hardware shops or good art supply shops)
•  cardboard (thicker cardboard will make a more reliable stencil)
•  scissors

Note: A full page spread from a broadsheet paper makes a large adult hat. A full page spread from a tabloid paper will make a perfect sized hat for a young child. If you need an in-between size, cut some length from two sides of a broadsheet spread.

1. Turn the folded page horizontally, with the folded edge on the top. Fold the two top corners down so that they meet in the centre forming two triangles.

2. To make the brim, fold the top piece of paper from the bottom edge up halfway to the body. Fold the same edge one more time so that it overlaps the triangles.

3. Turn the hat over, and repeat the two folds on the opposite side. Tuck in the paper at each end and fasten with a little sticky tape to keep it all together.

4. Draw some crossbones on the centre of a piece of cardboard and cut out the shape to form a stencil.

5. Paint over stencil using a tray of black acrylic paint and a small roller. It's a good idea to have a number of things for your little one to stencil or paint because trust me, you aren't going to be getting that roller back any time soon!

6. When the paint is dry, have your little one stick some feathers on for good measure. When it's done, don hat and retire to pirate ship, shouting 'shiver me timbers' at the top of your voice!

3. MAKE: a pretty polly

Our whole family has fallen in love with pretty polly - even Sunday (our springer spaniel)  who keeps trying to pull the colourful feathers out! This activity is great fun to do but make sure you keep an eye out for those skewers.

You will need

•  one large and one medium-sized foam ball (available from craft supply shops)
•  some colourful feathers
•  acrylic paint and paintbrush
•  one pipecleaner
•  googly eyes or buttons
•  kids pvc glue
•  two wooden skewers
•  a chunk of polystyrene packaging

Note: This activity requires waiting for paint to dry! If you don't want your little one to go crazy with impatience I recommend that you start it one afternoon, and finish it the following morning.

1. Stick a wooden skewer into each of the balls and then poke the other end into a chunk of polystyrene. Once they're stable, paint the balls with acrylic paint.

2. Once the paint is dry, cut one of the wooden skewers into small stakes, about two inches in length. Use two of these stakes to attach the head to the body. Use a folded pipecleaner to form a parrot beak and insert ends into the head. Then add googly eyes - If you don't have any you can use buttons.

3. Use the other wooden skewer to poke holes (about half an inch deep) into the body and insert feathers into each of the holes. Older kids will be able to use the skewer and the feathers, younger ones will have to settle for the feathers. To finish off, form some feet from pipecleaners and stick into the body.

4. Sit polly on a friendly shoulder and offer plenty of crackers!

4. MAKE: a fabulous chest for secret treasures

We have an unwritten rule around these parts that one can never have too many fancy boxes! I have a similar rule involving chocolate biscuits but I don't think I'll go into that right now except to say that a secret stash of chocolate biscuits might fit very nicely into an adult sized treasure chest – just make sure you keep it up high.

You will need

•  a good cardboard box with a lid
•  acrylic paint and paint brush (or roller)
•  fabulous items for decorating
•  kids pvc glue


The fabulousness  of your treasure chest is limited only by your imagination. We painted our box black using a roller (after we finished making the pirate hats) and used  sequins, buttons, baubles, pearl strings and coloured pasta to decorate.

5. More pirate ideas

•  make a pirate ship from a good sized box
•  make an eye patch from a piece of black card and a length of elastic
•  make a treasure map
•  go on a treasure hunt
•  put together a pirate prop box (see editorial)

WANT MORE? Check out the most recent pirate issue for more great ideas!

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