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 ISSUE 11   •   24 SEPTEMBER 2006  
   This week's theme: underwater


1. Editorial: Why craft?
2. MAKE: a happy octopus
3. MAKE: some beady starfish
4. MAKE: simple sea urchins
5. MAKE: some swishy jellyfish
6. MAKE: a spongy crab
7. MAKE: a school of glittery fishies
8. MAKE: a fabulous underwater diorama
9. More underwater ideas
10. This week's featured subscriber's blog

1. Editorial: Why craft?

Earlier this week, Claire at Kiddley posted a great article about finding time to do stuff with your kids. As we all know, caring for little ones is hard work and sometimes it can feel too difficult to attempt anything out of the ordinary. Claire offers great advice on how to find the time and energy for crafting, exploring, playing, cooking and experimenting.

At our place making time to do fun stuff is always a challenge, but in the end I find that the benefits far outweigh any disruption or hassle.

Here are some good reasons why it's worth finding the time to craft with your kids and how it can actually help your week to go smoothly.

1. Regular craft time gives your week added structure. It may sound daunting but setting aside a specific time for craft each day or each week can add valuable structure to your time with the kids. And if you're having a bad day there's nothing like structure and routine to help pass the time till dinner, bath and bed!

2. Craft projects teach children practical skills. Crafting gives children the opportunity to learn new skills that they might not otherwise come across. Simple tasks like punching holes in paper or threading beads onto a pipecleaner are skills that require learning and mastering through practice.

3. Crafting encourages kids to think creatively. Crafting presents opportunities for kids to practice their problem solving skills, and to think creatively and laterally about a specific task. It also gives them ample opportunity to use their imagination.

4. Craft time means 'together time'.  Working on a craft project can give you and your little one the chance to function as a team and bond. When Arky was a little baby and Ella was feeling so very jealous, craft time (which always coincided with the baby's nap time) became a special time for us to spend together.

5. Make craft work for you. You can use a craft project to fill a difficult ten minute slot or to occupy your kids for an entire afternoon. Tailor your craft projects to suit your agenda.

6. Craft Is fun! Let's face it most kids love craft and, unlike pushing a swing for hours on end, it's fun for adults too!

Happy crafting and I'll see you next week!

Amber Carvan

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2. MAKE: a happy octopus

Kids who enjoy threading will be happily absorbed by this simple octopus. When it's finished, attach a length of elastic to the top of the balloon and enjoy the satisfying clack of his colourful legs banging together.

You will need

• a balloon
drinking straws
eight beads
two buttons
permanent marker

1. Cut the straws into one inch lengths and thread them onto eight pieces of string. We tied a bead at the end of each of the pieces of string to form a 'foot' and to stop the straws from falling off the end.

2. Blow a small puff of air into the balloon and tie off. Then tape the legs to the side of the balloon.

3. Tape on buttons for eyes and draw a mouth with a permanent marker.

3. MAKE: some beady starfish

Tiny glass or plastic beads are near impossible for young kids to thread but they are great for adding colour and texture to craft projects. Buy a cheap plastic bead set, pour them into a small tray and use them to create these pearly starfish.

You will need

• cardboard
kids pvc glue and paintbrush
a selection of small beads

1. Cut starfish shapes from the cardboard and paint one side of the cardboard in glue. Then dip cardboard glue-side down into a tray of small beads.

2. Carefully lift up cardboard and allow glue to dry.

4. MAKE: simple sea urchins

This is a simple project that even very young kids can be involved in. Before you start I recommend that you show your little ones a picture of a sea urchin so that they understand what they're trying to create.

You will need

• play dough
• matchsticks

1. Roll dough into a ball and stick the matchsticks in.

5. MAKE: some swishy jellyfish

These fetching jellyfish are easy to make, and very popular with kids who love to use sticky tape. For one of our jellyfish's dangly bits we used short lengths of clear plastic string that I found in a craft shop and pieces of pearl-cotton cord from my sewing supplies. For our second one we used a plastic shopping bag cut into very thin strips.

You will need

• plastic lid
• sticky tape
• dangly bits (see above)

1. Cut dangly bits into small lengths and tape them to the plastic lid.

6. MAKE: a spongy crab

These lifelike crabs don't require any fancy craft supplies and are great fun to put together. Just like the real thing, these crabs have ten legs – two of which have pincers at the end. But unlike real crabs, this spongy variety have pincers made from clothes pegs!

You will need

• a dish sponge
two pegs
hole punch
permanent marker

1. Cut a circle shape from a dish sponge.

2. Punch four holes down each side of the sponge using a hole punch. Keep two of the punched out sponge pieces to use for eyes.

3. Thread pipecleaner legs through the holes and glue the punched out sponge pieces onto the head. Then colour in the top of the eyes with a black marker.

4. Attach two pegs for claws.

7. MAKE: a school of glittery fishies

The glitter and sequins used in this project give the illusion of glimmery fish scales. Older kids will enjoy getting involved in this activity from the very start by drawing fish shapes onto cardboard and cutting them out. Younger kids will prefer to get their hands on the glue stick as fast as they can!

You will need

permanent markers
sequins and glitter
glue stick

1. Cut fish shapes from cardboard and draw on an eye and fin and any other details that you want.

2. Glue spots and stripes onto the fish and dip glue-side down in a tray of sequins and/or glitter.

3. Add some kissable lips with red marker pens or glitter glue.

8. MAKE: a fabulous underwater diorama

It's not hard to guess what this week's favourite activity was! Diorama's are such great fun and will hold your child's attention for a considerable length of time. The only downside to the diorama is that they're difficult to throw away!

You will need

some underwater creatures from the projects above
wooden skewers
acrylic paint and roller
polystyrene box

1. Paint a polystyrene box blue on the inside. Of course you could use a cardboard box also – the advantage of using polystyrene is that it enables you to stick things into all sides of the box. If you wanted to use cardboard you would have to rely more heavily on sticky tape.

2. While you wait for the paint to dry, tape skewers onto the back of your fish.

3. Make seaweed from cellophane and stick to the top and sides of the diarama.

4. Glue and tape and place and skewer your creatures in the diorama. It's a good idea not to stick everything down as your little one will enjoy doing some re-arranging.

9. More underwater ideas

•  Give your kids some goggles to play with in the bath
•  Visit an aquarium
•  Finger paint an underwater scene
•  Cut out pictures from magazines of things that you can find underwater
•  Make a miniature fish tank using a jar, water, blue food colouring and some shells or plastic fish.

For more ideas read my article on how to get great mileage from a weekly theme.

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10. This week's featured subscriber's blog

Chef Messy

"Chef Messy is a nickname affectionately given to me by Ryan. We made a deal when we were first married that one of us would cook and the other would clean up. I love to cook, and I generally make a huge mess of it, so you can see how Ryan got the raw end of the deal. I am scatterbrained, unorganized, I hate cleaning, and I flit from one project to the next. I knew Chef Messy would be the perfect name for the chronicles of my attempts at domesticity."

To have your blog featured in this section just send in your web address! I still need some more addresses to add to the list so do let me know if you would like me to link to you.


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