The Rainbow Tree is One!

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The Rainbow Tree is 1 years old today! Today this time last year, I took the leap and started writing down the arts and crafts that I was doing with Patronus A. I was pregnant with Patronus B and had almost finished writing my first book, 'Potty About Pots; Arts and Crafts for Home and School.' It is my debut book and is released THIS MONTH! 30th March 2018. Eck!

The blog ran away with itself and the activities just keep coming as I entertain my tribe of little feet. Below is a little summary of just some of the stuff that has happened in the last year.

A little summary of some of our favourites! 

A little summary of some of our favourites! 

As I put together a gallery of just a sprinkling of activities we have done over the past 365 days, I can't believe how many things we managed to achieve! I hope you enjoy looking at them. Why not make a cuppa when you have a spare moment and have an explore of the website?

Some of our favourites from our Toddler section are shown below.

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Some of our favourites from our Primary section can be seen below.

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To celebrate this baby milestone, we created a Spring coloured rainbow cake, because it's Spring and we like cake. Obviously.

At the prospect of being allowed to eat cake on a school night Patronus A was thrilled to get stuck in, even after a long day at nursery. This is quite unusual, normally she comes in and goes to play quietly, or ends up on the sofa whining for TV. But cake brings out the best in me so... naturally it does for my offspring. I considered buying a large 1 balloon like so many Instagramers do but for anyone that knows me, food is a huge part of my life. Food is the source of most of my childhood memories and adult memories. Whereas smells or sights trigger some peoples memories, food is littered throughout my memory, being the cornerstone of most of my most meaningful memories. So cake it was! 

This recipe is a Gluten Free cake taken from the fab great blog, 'Flippin' Delicious'. Her tagline is, 'gluten-free can be that good.' Link below for the recipe. Patronus B is gluten and dairy intolerant so I like wherever possible, to be able to include her in the food or make an alternative. I decided this time round to make a gluten free cake for all of us. The little cake, (picture lower right in the above gallery of pictures), is solely gluten and dairy free, the other big cake is gluten free but with a Betty Crocker Vanilla Buttercream. 

It is a fantastic recipe and you can't tell it isn't gluten free, something that it a huge feat. for gluten free home baking! We can definitely recommend it! 

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So if you have followed me on this journey from the beginning then thank you! To those who have joined along the way, thank you! To those who may have recently joined us or who have just stumbled across us, come and walk with us through this funny thing we call life-with-little-feet. It is tiring and hardworking, but rewarding and full of laughter (and tears!). Doing arts and crafts with my little feet gives me so much pleasure, my only hope is that it will give you and your own little cubs pleasure too. 

Here is to more years to come... hopefully!

Books and the Jelly Bean

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Jelly Beans. It turns out jelly beans and books go together quite well, no matter what age! World Book Day 2018 is coming up SUPER quickly. It is on 1 March every year and schools and nurseries around the world will be dressing up in their favourite book characters. We had loads of fun last year dressing up Patronus A! You can see pictures of her from last year at the bottom. 

This year we are championing Storytelling with props. If you want to read more about that then I have previously written a blog post about it, link below. 

Reading books with your children with the additional use of props can further help spark imagination and play long after the book has finished being read. It can lead to further discussion, dressing up, creating, eating and general playing. As i was going through our books I realised we had a couple of books that have or are about Jelly Beans in them. When was the last time you ate a Jelly Bean? It has been years, so that's when I decided our storytelling prop would be an eating one! Patronus A and B have never had them before so it was really fun. 

The two books we used are: 

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Jelly beans feature in both these books. The New Small Person by Lauren Child was given to us after Patronus B was born. Patronus A was struggling somewhat, tantrums went nuclear and more often then not she became Dementor A. This book really helped us. It is about a boy being the centre of attention until a new person arrives. This new boy is annoying, until one day he realises that the new boy is actually fun, he even lets him share his jelly beans. So well written and the illustrations are awesome. 

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The next book we used was The Magnificant Jelly bean Tree, by Maura Finn, illustrated by Aura Parker. This is about a boy who explains his Jelly Bean grew into a tree, a tree so magnificent that it produced hundreds of jelly beans. They are juicy and not hard like the ones you buy in the shops, the glow like lanterns in the dark and he stays in his tree. He soon realises that it's pretty lonely without anyone to share it with so invites his family along. Again, the illustrations are so fun. 

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I hadn't realised when I bought them that these particular Jelly Beans have 35 flavours in them. After Patronus A had eaten a few she came running to me saying that she didn't like them. Funnily enough I had just eaten a Liquorice one and it was so unexpected I had to laugh. I'll bet all my Jelly Beans she must have eaten a coffee, cinnamon or liquorice one. As soon as I crunched down on that liquorice one my mind took me straight to Harry Potter. Can anyone guess where I'm going with this? 

Bertie Botts Every Flavoured Beans. 

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If you haven't read or watched Harry Potter,   ( shame on you) they were sweets that a wizard named Bertie Botts accidentally made.

Bertie Botts pictured to the right. 

Albert Dumbledore (headmaster of Hogwarts, again, shame on you if you don't know who that is) famously said that he had eaten a vomit flavoured bean in his youth and had put him off them. 

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I guess my point to the above paragraph is that, Storytelling with props is not just for kids! That string of consciousness that I had while eating Jelly Beans has made me want to pick all the Harry Potter books and read them again! Older children can play games with the jelly beans guessing which is which flavour. 

 

As promised last years celebration of World Book Day. Patronus A went as Princess Daisy from Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights. An EXCELLENT read. It is all about girl power. We have noticed that the children's book market have more and more books about Princesses who are not just damsels in distress. We love these books at our house. If you are interested in some GIRL POWER books here are a few:

  • The Worst Princess, Anna Kemp
  • Zog, Julia Donaldson
  • Zog and the Flying Doctors, Julia Donaldson
  • The Princess and the Giant, Caryl Hart
  • The Princess and the Peas, Caryl Hart
  • The Princess and the Christmas Rescue, Caryl Hart
  • Princess Scallywag and the Brave, Brave Knight, Mark Sperring 

Crafty Bargains for Half term

Half term is almost upon us. Can you believe it? Anyone else agree that January has flown by in a blink of an eye? It'll be Easter before we know it! So looking forward to the shots of yellow daffodils everywhere. 

Anyway, February half term can be wet and a bit miserable.  This means that unless you are going away, then having some ideas of how to entertain the kids indoors can be useful. Having them prepared and up your sleeves ready to stave off cries and echoes of the, 'I'm bored' phrase. With that in mind I have trolled the internet and have done some research on the best Arts & Crafts that might inspire little feet to get involved. What with Valentine's Day round the corner there are an abundance of hearty crafts which I have included. Don't panic though, there is something for everyone and every taste. 

So, without further a do, scroll down and have a look.

Just click each photo to follow through to the relevant website to purchase.  

Enjoy and send me pictures of all your craftiness!  

 

Colour In Cardboard Rocket Playhouse, Hobbycraft £17

Out Of The BoxJumbo Craft Box, The Entertainer, sale price £6

3D Wooden Unicorn Head Puzzle, Hobbycraft, £6.50

Pom Pom Heart Wreath Kit 4 Pack, Hobbycraft, £12 

Kids Brushes And Ready Mix Paint Bundle, Hobbycraft, £5

The Works, Colour Your Own Everyday Bag, £1

Heart Craft Punch 0.6 inches, Hobbycraft, £2

Heart Wooden Cross Stitch keyring, Baker Ross, £3 .75 for a pack of 5

Heart Hedgehog Decoration Kits, Baker Ross, £3.75 for a pack of 5

Heart Weaving Kits, Baker Ross, £3.75 for a pack of 6

Love Heart Tree kits, Baker Ross, £3.75 for a pack of 5

Heart Porcelain Mugs, Baker Ross, £5.75 for a pack of 4

Tesco Go Create, Make Your Own Bear, £6

Wooden Desk Tidy, The Works, £1

Fairy Door, The Works £2 for 1 or £26 for 15 (Art party anyone?!)

Medium Wooden Birdhouse, The Works, £2

Make Your Own Mesmazing Wind Chime, The Works, £3

Make Your Own Magical Unicorn Wind Chime, The Works, £3

12 Pack of Wooden Hearts, The Works, £1

10 Pack of Wooden Heart Pegs, The Works, £1

Make Your Own Slime Kit, The Works, £5

Heart Day

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It's hard to believe but it is almost February! How did this happen?!

February brings thoughts of pinks, reds and purples, of flowers, cards and chocolates. Let your little people get involved with Valentine's Day or as we call it in our house, Heart Day. Over the next couple of weeks we will be sharing some activities that have been Heart Day inspired.

I am a strong advocate for using this day as one not simply for lovey dovey couples cooing at each other, buying each other expensive presents and sharing a dessert (who in their right mind shares a dessert or any food for that matter, anyway...). The only people I will share my food with, if I have to, and ONLY if they ask, are my children. Ladies and Gents, let me make this quite clear, that is ONLY because I actually grew them inside me. Daddy Patronus and fur-ball know better then to swipe or beg something off my plate and if their judgement happens to fall short, lets just say they quickly wished it hadn't. Anyway, I digress... 

Heart Day. 

Yes, it has become super commercialised, superficial, blah, blah, blah. We know. Everyone knows. Some people love it, some people accept it, ignore it, deal with it and there are some who really loathe it. I'm mostly ambivalent.

If I am brutally honest, I used to dread the day at school. My school was one that thought it would be a good idea to encourage people to buy carnations for people. You'd buy as many as you wanted, write a note and they would be delivered to those people. I think the money may have gone to charity which off course is a fab idea. And actually thinking about it, it must have been hell of an operation because there were hundreds of students. However, it became a day to get anxious about. How many would you get, would you get any, would they only be from friends, or might there be a mysterious one. It drove people to make pacts with friends, 'I'll send you one, if you send me one.' Then naturally after break when everyone had received them, the dreaded question. 'How many did you get?' UGH. I mean seriously. It is no wonder why people hate the day. You guys, it doesn't have to be like that! 

The History

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Valentine's day actually originates from the Roman Empire. During the time of Emperor Claudius II there was a priest by the name of Valentine. Claudius believed that men were too attached to their wives and families to willingly join the Roman Army. So he banned marriage. Obviously. That's the logical course of action *eye roll*. 

Valentine disagreed with this and began to marry people in private. Predictably, he was discovered and thrown into prison and be put to death. The sentence was carried out on 14 February 270 AD. 

 

The Legend

Legend has it that while in prison he fell in love with his jailers daughter. Before his execution he left a letter to his love, signed, 'from your Valentine'. 

This legend is likely to have become mixed and blended with a pagan Roman festival, celebrated mid February called, 'Lupercalia'. It a welcoming of Springtime. Boys would pick a girls name out of a box and girls a boy and they would be partners for the rest of the festival. Some of them even married afterwards. 

What the point I am making here? It is that it is a celebration of LOVE. It has been marketed as a day for romantic love, but it doesn't need to be. It can be a celebration of love of a parent, sibling, friend, cousin, aunt, grandparent. Hell, it could be your dog, or your love for painting, walking in the hills, eating cake or drinking champagne. It doesn't matter what it is at the end of the day. It is just a day to take a moment and think about the people you love in your life and or, the things you love doing in your life. The weekly droll can be long and monotonous. We shed light on irritations, despair at our failings, shrink at comparisons and our plagued with what ifs. What if, for one day we just appreciate LOVE. In all it's forms. How could anyone loathe that? Surely, that sort day is one to really celebrate, especially with your little people on this earth.

 
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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. 


Martin Luther King

 

Hate has no place here. It's Heart Day. 

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So, join us over the course of the next two weeks while we explore some Heart Day arts and crafts. Some are gift inspired, some will be edible, some to decorate your house and some just for fun.   

Storytelling with props

You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need a is a book. 

Dr. Suess 

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Books. Books. Books. 

We are a family that loves books. We have more books then we know what to do with. We gather books at the speed a mouse produce baby mice. We never have enough shelf space and I'm too picky with buying bookshelves that we have books stacked up in strategic places.

I realise this makes us sound like hoarders. I promise we're not.

Though to some, with normal book keeping habits, perhaps we are. Our hands are never far from a book and we always have a book or two on the go. This love of books has inflitrated the little people. Which of course, we love. But this means that as well as hoarding adult sized books, we now hoard children's books. Those buying books as presents for them is now risky as we have all the best ones. More then once we have been bought duplicates, it's no ones fault really, except probably ours. We could start a small regional library and stock it with board books, children's books, history books, politics books, military books, religious books, art books, design books, craft books, classical fiction, humorous non-fiction and an embarrassingly (actually sorry-not-sorry) large amount of fantasy/sci-fi books. 

From an early age the kids became interested in flicking through books. They were just part of their toys and as such became like toys. 

Now, reading for some children and even adults can be a struggle and an effort, finding it difficult to immerse themselves and get lost in a book. My sister was never a reader until recently, Now we swap recent reads and geek out over dragons and wizards.

For some people the thought of reading anything with dragons, wizards and sorcerers makes their faces contort in disgust before being able to control their facial muscles. But reading can be made fun for kids. There our some books which I really loathe having to read Patronus A (a particular troll book springs to mind), but for some reason she adores. She will go through obsessions where we will have to read the same book everyday, multiple times a day for a week until she has completely rid herself of the addiction and knows it off by heart herself. She'll then go 'read' it her self from memory. 

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My point is that book reading with your littlies doesn't have to be a bore. Especially if you do it with PROPS. We have discovered this fairly recently and the results have been fab! We got gifted the book, 'The Hundred Decker Bus', by Mike Smith. I had never heard of it or even seen it at the library, but man, is it a fun read! It's about a bus driver who gets bored of doing the same route every day so decides to go on an adventure and everyone wants to join him. 15 pages later and the bus has 100 levels. It's fun and ends with a page that folds out. As we were reading it, I remembered the kids got given a red London double decker bus for Christmas. Once I realised that the rest was easy! 

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We found any toys we could find to recreate this gigantic bus. We had a lot of fun with it. The extra bonus of this is that this then led on to playing with our duplo lego in a way we had never played with it before. Patronus A was so taken with the whole idea that she was entranced and happy playing for about 45 minutes afterwards. No mean feat! 

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Storytelling with props could be as simple as having a caterpillar soft toy when reading the 'Very Hungry Caterpillar', making a Stickman when reading, 'Stickman', going for a walk in the woods after reading 'The Gruffalo', letting your littleun make a marmalade sandwich after reading Paddington Bear, or building a pirate ship from lego or play dough before reading 'Ten Little Pirates'.

Have fun with it! 

 

The more you read the more things you know. The more that you learn the more places you'll go. 

Dr. Suess 

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My First Painting

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Despite loving doing anything creative with my kids, I soon realised once I had had my first that actually the mess, tended to make me slightly anxious. I had always thought of myself as being pretty laid back and relaxed with mess.

Then I got married and had kids.

And well, it turns out in no way am I relaxed about it. I like the kids to tidy as they play and generally if Daddy Patronus has been looking after them I near have an aneurysm when I see every toy that we own spread across every inch of carpet.

Where am I going with this?

When I had Patronus A, I didn't really know much about children. I didn't really know when they could start doing the creative stuff I loved to do. We did a lot of drawing and playdoh but I didn't introduce paint until later then I could have. Mess had something to do with this. The thought of paint splatter on the walls and carpet sent shudders through me. However, the older she got the more I pre-prepared the activities we did. That meant I could limit and contain the mess and more importantly control the creative environment in a way that kept me calm. As time went on the process got easier. the more relaxed I became, the more fun we began to have.

Now we do painting at least once a week!

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“You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have.”  – Maya Angelou

Generally we will paint on a non-nursery day and when Patronus B is napping. This week however we did it when Patronus B was awake. For those who don't know Patronus B, she is 14.5 months and has THE WORST case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) I have ever witnessed. She needs to be in the excitement at all times and God forbid she might be not included, all hell breaks loose. So she saw Patronus A painting and INSISTED on coming to sit on my lap so she could watch. And then watching led to her grabbing a paint brush and that is where her painting journey began.

I stripped her off into her wife beater onesie and just let her explore. It was so interesting watching her! I got such a kick out of seeing her explore creatively. She did three pieces in one sitting and when I decided it was time to 'close shop', she full on lost it and had a screaming fit. Turns out she loves painting. At 14 months. 

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Her Creative Process

As I said, it was really fun to see how her brain was working when learning a new skill.

1. The first one, below. She really enjoyed the process of putting her paintbrush into different colours each time and watching how they looked when she made contact with the black card. 

2. The painting below was her 2nd. It is really expressive and you can see she was experimenting with how it looks with the movement of the paintbrush on paper. The effect is like spider legs or sun rays. 

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3. Below is her 3rd and last painting, again which I found fascinating. She had covered having fun with the different colours of the 1st and the arm movements of the 2nd. The 3rd one she discovered that if she made the same arm movement then she could actually cover large expanses of the paper in a left, right, left right movement, from one side of the paper to another. 

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This whole process, brought me back to remembering to allow your children to experiment in this way. It is called, 'process art'. It is so important for children to be allowed to do this. It allows them to develop their own creative confidence, to experiment, think outside the box, to make their own decisions and it helps them make sense of the world around them. It means, that the 'doing' is more important then the end product. 

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.”  – Mary Lou Cook

It's ok to hate mess. If you plan ahead for activities like these you can remain in control of that. Do it in the kitchen or the bathroom if you are worried about carpets. Get splat mats that you can lie on top of the floor and PVC tablecloths for tables and surfaces. Get your children naked or cover them in overalls. Have wet wipes or a bowl of warm soapy water on hand. If you are in control and relaxed then your kids will be able to relax and have fun too.  

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The moral of the story is that it doesn't have to be stressful and messy. Your kids will love creating memories and artwork. They'll learn really important skills that they will use throughout their play and not just in art. It is not enough to assume that they do 'art' at school or nursery. Certainly in Primary Schools it is deemed not important and they'll have an art class every two weeks. If they have one every week, they are one of the lucky ones. 

Being creative doesn't have to be a specific activity. When someone tells me they aren't creative, I get so frustrated. EVERYONE can be creative. A child doesn't need to be told to do a particular activity. Put in front of them paint and paper and they'll paint with their fingers. Put in front of them playdoh and a plate and they'll make a feast. Don't limit the young, they'll teach us a thing or two. Just give them the platform.  

Family Christmas Traditions

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Memories of childhood were dreams that stayed with you after you awoke. 

Julian Barnes 

What are your Christmas family traditions? What are your Christmas memories from childhood? Memories are so special and precious. They sometimes come to you in a blink of an eye, a smell, a song or hymn. You may not have thought about it for years. Or you may remember it every year and love those memories. Christmas is SO magical for children isn't it? The sheer excitement and twinkle in their eyes when they know it's almost the season. I have always been a bit of a child around this time of year, I never grew out of it. Ask Daddy Patronus. After almost a decade of knowing me he is finally coming round to the excitement it brings. The scent of cinnamon and star anise, the twinkling of fairy lights, the tune of a Christmas hymn, the sight of a Christmas jumper, smell of baked cookies, the icy clouds of winter breath and gloved hands around mugs of mulled wine. Christmas is where memories happen and traditions are born. 

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Since having kids it has taken us a little while to think about what sort of Christmas traditions we might like to start for them. This year we have seen the birth of the Christmas Eve Box. I don't know about you, but this seems completely ludicrous to me. Why give your kids an entire box worth of stuff when that night Santa will be busy filling stockings and you will be quietly filling in the bottom of the Christmas tree with wrapped presents. So, clearly there would be no Christmas Eve box in our house. However, I did sort of like the framework of the idea. So I adapted it. This year we introduced the 'Advent Box'. On the 1st December, to usher in the festive season, the girls will receive their 'Advent Box' which is filled with items they can use throughout the month of December. Things that I would have bought for them throughout them month regardless of whether we had a box or not. 

In it they found each a Christmas jumper, a pair of Christmas jammies, a chocolate advent calendar, Christmas chocolate, a Christmas book, Christmas DVD and some Christmas bedding. In probable all honesty, this box is partially for my own build up of festive excitement. 1st December was always when I have allowed myself to crack on the Christmas music and venture into the Christmas boxes. If I have this excitement then it only seems fair that everyone else join in the fun. Right?!

The making of the box

This took me a little while to formulate. I looked around online for the type if crate I wanted. I didn't want one with a lid as this restricts the size of books you included. I finally stumbled on the one shown on eBay and I was pretty happy with it. As a general style, I like a homey one, especially around Christmas. So that includes, exposed woods, pinecones, poinsettias, classical, red, green and gold colours. With that in mind I wanted it to be natural coloured so I didn't bother doing anything to the crate. I just used black gouache paint for the writing and found a couple of eBay shops that made MDF cut outs. I wanted some Biblical input into it so one side has a little MDF nativity scene and a quote.

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On each side I found the most BEAUTIFUL MDF cut outs of names. They look like an initial on an illuminated manuscript. So each of the girls names are on either side. Additionally I had some little Christmas tree buttons and pom pom trimming which I had been keeping for the perfect thing and this was it. I painted the trees green and with my glue gun stuck them on. I made a pom pom trim around the inside of the crate and glued it on so they hung over. 

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What is so great about this box is that throughout the month of December it has sat in our living room overflowing  with Christmas books and DVDs. 

So. What are your traditions?

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From our Family to yours

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

TASCHEN

Homemade Christmas Post

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Making Christmas cards is a fun way to do seasonal crafts with your children. I try to do this every year. We like to send them to family members to make them that bit more special. Nothing better then receiving snail mail. 

This year we have made some negative Christmas shape cards using gold finger paint. It is effective and looks pretty too. Plus for those who have an aversion to mess and glitter, this is a great way to limit the mess. The finger paint is like jelly and doesn't wander far. So your children get their sparkle fix without the days of glitterfication afterwards! Win, win if you ask me!

We also made our own envelopes as we didn't have any envelopes to match the size. Also a great way to add some colour to your post. 

What you will need:

  • Black card
  • Gold finger paint 
  • Paper and white paper
  • Scissors 
  • Prit stick glue 
  • Earbud

Instructions: 

  1. Cut and fold your black card into a card shape. However big or small you would like. 
  2. Decide what Christmas shape you would like on your card. Draw it and cut it out so that it will fit on to your black card. 
  3. With the glue gently glue some dots around the back of your shape and gently push onto the centre. You don't want it to be completely stuck down as you will need to lift it back up again. 
  4. With your earbud, dip into the gold finger paint and dab it around the outside of the stuck down shape and around the outside. 
  5. When complete slowly take the stuck down shape off. It should leave behind a sold black shape. It will show the shape you have chosen which has been made by the outline of the gold paint around it. Pretty cool huh? 
  6. Leave to dry. Once dry cut some white paper to fit inside the card so you can write in it. If you have a silver or gold pen then no need to do this bit, just write directly on the black card. 

 

Homemade Envelopes

Follow the picture instructions to show you have to make some envelopes. Make sure you sellotape either side at the end (Step 7). 

TASCHEN

Festive Salt dough

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Our house has been on the Christmas craft train for a couple of weeks already. We have been doing a few seriously fun bits with our Festive Salt Dough. So I figured that before I post all the crafts we have been doing I should make a generic salt dough post so we can cover how it is made in one post. I have previously done a salt dough post however this one is a little different as it has the addition of food colour AND glitter. What's not to love right?! 

So the premise is the same to make it. You need the same ingredients; salt, flour and warm water. For this recipe however you will need some sort of food colour, I would suggest a food gel as you don't need much of it for the colour to come through. Liquid will require a lot and it will change the consistency of the dough meaning you'll need to adjust the flour by adding more. And lastly, you will need glitter. 

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Instructions: 

1. With your child, measure out the ingredients and pour the salt and flour in a bowl. Slowly pour in the warm water and begin to mix it until it forms a dough. Once in a dough, lift out of the bowl, sprinkle flour on the counter and continue to knead until firm. You may need to add a little more water if it isn't coming together properly. 

2. Spilt your dough into as many as you have colours. If you only want to do one colour then ignore this step. We spilt ours into five as we had purple, blue, yellow, red and green. 

3. We used Wilton food gel. With a toothpick we dipped it into a colour and then into the dough. Then the kneading continues until the colour has spread completely creating an even colour. Do this for each of your colours. 

4. Slightly flatten your dough rolls and pour the glitter you have into the middle. Fold the dough in on itself and knead again until the glitter has dispersed evenly. 

5. If you are not using them straight away make sure to wrap them tightly in clingfilm and keep in the fridge as they will keep for longer. We kept ours successfully for a week and I even have some still in there two weeks on. 

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So there you have it. Now the Christmas crafts can begin! Stay tuned! 

A book a day and the elves will stay.

It should come as no surprise to you all by now that we are a family that loves books. It is a part of who we are. We love to get completely lost in a story. Sometimes so much so that Mummy and Daddy Patronus can feel pretty devastated when it is finished. As parents we love long epics of books that tell of faraway lands where people live and breathe magic, where dragons, mythical people and beasts are not pretend and where heroes are made or destroyed. To be blunt, we are through and through Fantasy and Sci-Fi fanatics. Our house is overflowing with books, so much so we could easily open our own little village library. This passion for fiction has overspilled into our Patronus A and B's everyday existence. A week wouldn't be the same if we didn't make at least one trip to the library to get out as many books as we can carry. There's only so many books I can buy the children... Plus it is a fantastic way to test out books and see which ones will make our forever pile. 

So with Christmas round the corner, it is just another excuse to delve into the deep vast internet and libraries to uncover old family Christmas favourites and discovering new and exciting ones too. Most respectable libraries have a plethora of Christmas books where one day at the end of November magically appear on their shelves. Of course, we all know it is the Christmas elves that come at night with their sack loads of books, carefully depositing them onto the shelves when no one is there. Come January those same elves squirrel them away somewhere safe until the next year. A touch of Christmas magic. Blink and you'll miss it. So, don't blink! Open your eyes and see the sheer volume of Christmas books you can get your little ones involved in. This is how Christmas traditions begin... 

Now listen, I know it is still November, but I can already feel in the wind the quiet before the storm. Can't you? The busyness of December is mounting and before you know it you won't have time to even think about Christmas books let alone reading them. Why not take stock in the week and a half before December hits and make a list of the Christmas books you might want to make a special effort to read to your children. Most parents do a book or two before bedtime anyway so there is really no excuse! 

So, in the next few weeks I will be scattering our instagram feed with Christmas books.

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Use them, don't chuck them

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Lets be honest with each other. Our kids can do A LOT of artwork. They produce artwork like mummy mice produce baby mice. They come back from nursery with arm full of artwork and if, like me, you do a lot of art at home, you have piles of the stuff at home. There is mummy guilt about needing to keep them and treasure them in an art portfolio to show them when they are older. My Dad used to even get them framed, to the extent that we have mounds of framed pieces collecting dust, abandoned in one of the corners of their loft. A bit like 'Sugarlump and the unicorn' by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks. If you haven't read it, it's quite fun. And it rhymes so that is always a winner in the Patronus house.

Anyway, I confess there have been occasions when I have thrown nursery artwork straight into the bin. There were a few times I was given a piece of A4 with, one pen line drawn on it... I wish I was kidding. Equally, having said this, some pieces that Patronus A does, I do keep. Her first proper hand print artwork that she used to be obsessed with when she was 2. Everything was about painting her hands at that stage. Her first drawing of a person, a sun, a spider. Things like that. However, Patronus A loves to paint. She could paint, paint, paint all day long. So we have lots of piles of masterpieces. So while deciding what to do with them in one of my clear outs, this is when I decided to make use of them. 

I know snail mail, is not often used anymore, but there is nothing more warming then receiving a hand written letter through the door. Does that make me sound old?! Maybe, but it shows that the person sending it has spent just that little bit longer thinking about you.  Friends and relatives love getting post from the kids. It turns them all gooey like not much else does. Especially my own siblings, it's quite cute really. So, we began to use the artwork Patronus A did to make birthday cards, thank you cards, thinking of you cards, any cards really! 

Some of the activities shared on the blog are quite attractive and look good being displayed. After weeks and months though, you may want to replace them with new pieces and this is when I normally recreate them into cards. Below are just a few examples of this. 

The hearts here have been cut from our 'Conkerific Rolling' artwork with a heart paper cutter.

The hearts here have been cut from our 'Conkerific Rolling' artwork with a heart paper cutter.

We have a heart stamp paper cutter so the hearts above and below have been cut using that. Simple, but effective. 

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Likewise below, we have used an piece of artwork that we used with the salad spinner in, 'Negative Space Splatter', to create another piece of poster artwork. 

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Cards and artwork like these are more meaningful then shop bought cards. They last longer then cards which will be throw away in a few weeks and it is better for the environment. It's dressed up recycling. So, use them, don't chuck them!

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Negative Space Splatter

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So before we moved I was given a salad spinner by my Aunt. I had been wanting to buy one for a while and had never got round to it. So I've been dying to show Patronus A how to use it for something other then spinning salad. Does anyone actually use them for that...?! 

So we did some experimenting. Now, I can't by any stretch of the imagination claim this genius idea, i'd love to find out who did. I'd seen it somewhere, probably Pinterest, lets be honest! I've been wanting to try it for a while and boy did it not disappoint! 

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After having done the above I felt like we could go further and have a little fun with it. We had a load of freshly 'harvested' leaves on the table that we have working on so I decided to use prit stick to stick the leaves on the measured and cut out circle. 

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Once stuck down, we popped it in the salad spinner and squirted some paint on top and got spinning. The result was so effective and actually I almost love the leaves more then the negative leaf shape left on the paper circle!

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All you have to do is close the lid once the paint is in and get spinning. Note, if you spin it too vigorously the paper does fly up and crunch, so not too fast. Once we were happy that there paint covered the entire leaf and edges we lifted it out and carefully placed it on the table. Once it had sat for about 5 minutes, I lifted the leaves out slowly. 

Don't they look awesome?!

Don't they look awesome?!

 

What you need:

  • A salad spinner
  • Paints, post or acrylic will be fine (we picked autumnal colours)
  • White card or paper
  • Scissors
  • Autumn leaves
  • Prit stick glue
  • Tweezers or a toothpick

Instructions:

  1. Cut out as many circles from your paper as you like. Measure them to the size of your salad spinner. Ours was small, but you can buy bigger ones if you wish. 
  2. Put glue on the back of a leaf and gently press it down into the middle of one of the paper circles. Place the circle into the middle of the salad spinner. 
  3. Squeeze three paints into the salad spinner, when there is enough, close the lid on it. Make sure its fitted on properly. Ours wouldn't move unless it was fitted on properly. 
  4. Now is the fun part, get spinning! Not too fast though. 
  5. Have a peek in, if you think you need to add more paint then do so. If not, then carefully take out with with a toothpick or tweezers. 
  6. Lay on a flat surface and allow to sit for 5-10minutes. Then using the tweezers or just your hands slowly lift the leaf off the paper. Allow to dry. Then repeat until you run out of leaves or get bored! 
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Finally. We utilised our 'Wall of Fame' to display them. 

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Earth Day 2017

Nasa.gov

Nasa.gov

Earth Day 22 April, 2017

 

Every year hundreds of countries join together to educate the world on an international level about the environment. 

The first Earth Day was on 22 April, 1970, started in America. On that day 20 million Americans pounded the streets, parks and auditoriums in support of the environment. 

20 years later it has gone global and now engages 200 million people throughout 141 countries in environmental matters on an international stage. 

SO,

in honour of Earth Day, I will post a new blog post every day that is related to nature and the fun you can have with it until the 22 April. Lets teach our kids to love nature and take care of it. 

Humans.

We are the worst predators on the planet. 

We only have one planet. Let's love it. 

 

Some books to read with your kids about the environment

 

Films to watch with your kids about our world

TASCHEN

Family Throw Down

One egg is never un oeuf! 

 

Create a fun piece of art as a family this holiday in our Family Throw Down!

What you will need:

  • Approximately, 12 egg shells though more is encouraged!

  • An egg carton to hold all the eggs

  • A canvas

  • 6 different colours of paint

  • A good aim!

Our empty egg shells, washed clean and waiting

Our empty egg shells, washed clean and waiting

Instructions:

  1. This couldn't be more simple. Fill each of the eggs with different coloured paints and then one by one each hurl a paint filled egg shell at the canvas and watch them explode!

  2. Leave to dry.

  3. Hang and admire!

Some action shots...

The aftermath...

Finished product drying in the sun...

 

In case you are stuck for ideas about using 12-16 eggs... 

 

 

Easter Crown

Bringing the Easter Bonnet into the 21st Century

The History

Ever wonder where the Easter Bonnet originated from? It stems from the Christian tradition of wearing brand new clothes after Lent. On Easter Sunday everyone used to get dressed and go to church in their brand new clothes symbolising Christ's resurrection. The phrase 'Sunday's Best', implies that every Sunday people would wear their best clothes to church. Well on Easter Sunday, this stepped up a notch and the women wore bonnets too. In Europe women used to wear flowers on their bonnets to represent Spring and new life. 

I feel like Bonnets are a little over done. So we came up with something a little different but just as FUN and just as BRIGHT! 

Pom-Pom Easter Crowns!

The colourful pom-poms represent the beautiful flowers we have been seeing blossoming as Spring emerges. But also, it reminded me of Christ's Crown of Thorns, this take is what comes later, it is what Easter is all about. Christ dies on the cross, crowned as the 'King of the Jews' with a ring of thorns. But it's ok, what comes next is the ending, or rather the beginning.

 LIFE!

He gave us life, and SO here is our take. A beautiful crown of psychedelic coloured pom-poms which if I don't say so myself, is just TOO darn cute. 

 

What you will need:

  • Colourful thread
  • Pom-Pom makers - preferably small ones (Amazon or Hobbycraft will sell them)
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun
  • Glue sticks for the glue gun
  • A thick alice band

Instructions:

  1. Make as many pom-poms as you can and trim them with the scissors.
  2. Once you have enough use your glue gun to stick them on to the alice band.

Watch the video links below if you don't know how to use a pom-pom maker or glue gun.

 
 

This is a really quick craft and the results are maximum. When I showed Patronus A her new Easter Crown she was so happy! We used lots of bright colours but it is up to you what colours you do. Perhaps you have a special outfit you want them to wear, why not colour co-ordinate?! Have fun with it. 

Craft-asaurus Rex

Over the last few weeks I have been exploring Dinosaurs with Patronus A. Every month I like to explore a new topic with her. Entertaining a toddler in this day and age where there are so many electronics can be tough. It is super easy to break in to their cries of 'TV Mummy'.

Listen, there is DEFINITELY  a place for TV and electronics. I am not one of those mothers who refuses to let their toddler watch TV. I would be lying if I said my toddler doesn't watch TV every day. She does. She has notoriously always woken up with the dawn chorus, since she was a baby. And quite honestly who at that time of day, especially in the winter, has energy to entertain a big ball of energy. Especially when the whole day stretches out in front of you like a big sticky roll-up. Like everything though we go through seasons where she may watch more TV than others. At the moment Patronus B, hates to nap, but needs to, three times a day. This means that the other one watches an episode or two as I generally fail at the former task of getting the younger down to peaceful slumber. I do on occasion beat myself up about the TV consumption, but at the end of the day, as long as I can find time in the day to give each of them a little bit of my undivided attention, I think they'll both turn out alright. 

With all this in mind, I like to do projects with Patronus A every month. A couple of months ago it was Space (I will share these activities in due course.), this month it is

DINOSAURS, RAWWWWWR.

In our tribe we tend to use 'asurus' as an adjective rather a lot... For example, if Patronus A falls asleep in the car going somewhere where I need to wake her up, she firstly; morphs into Dementor A and secondly; becomes a huge Grumpasaurus. If she has had a crazy day she becomes crazy Tiredasaurus, and so on.

As the days have passed she has begun to get more and more interested. In fact just the other evening we discovered her, sat quietly on a window sill (not a high one, calm down) reading a comic book from the library about Dinosaurs. It was one of those swoon, heart emojis popping out of our heads, try not to go grab her and smother her in kisses moments.

 

Our Favourite Dinosaur Story Books

It turns out we are a bit partial to Dino books in our Tribe! Here are a few of them that are well loved with our Patronus A and the Hubbie. 

One of Patronus A's favourite films for about 2 months was, 'The Good Dinosaur'. I personally, find it a tad dull *silently hears husband glaring daggers in my general direction*, but it teaches about family, loss, never giving up and making friends. All good things to learn. 

Wellington Country Park

If you happen to be in or near Hampshire and have kids that like Dinosaurs I would recommend taking them to Wellington Country Park. They have a little Dinosaur Trail section that is awesome. Also, as a whole the park really is amazing. It has Adventure Trails, sandpits with diggers, various playgrounds, a miniature train, a bouncing pillow (if you haven't heard of this, Google it, they are fab, especially if you have a toddler like mine who is literally OBSESSED with jumping), a petting farm, tractors and outdoor connect four games, a large lake where you can feed the ducks, lots of places to have a picnic and grab an ice cream. There is also a Cafe AND an added bonus for us is that you can take your dog. All in all, everything you could want from a day out with kids!

Keep an eye out over the next few days for Dino activities, there will be a few coming up on here - The.Rainbow.Tree. 

 

Dino excavations coming tomorrow

TASCHEN

Expecto Patronum

I love my kids. I love them more then life itself. I would do anything for them. I spent 10 months growing them in my belly. Yes, 10 months, not 9. It's a fact. Go google it. They are part of me and part of my other half. The tie and link couldn't get much stronger. They are my Tribe.

 However.

If you are a parent, especially, currently to a Toddler, life can be a little challenging sometimes. We recently realised that our kids flicker between two states of being, Patronus and Dementors. For those who don't understand these terms, let me enlighten you. 

They are from the world of Harry Potter.

Dementors.

They are employed by the Ministry of Magic to guard the Prison of Azkaban. They are gliding wraith-like creatures that feed on human happiness and can cause depression and despair to anyone around them. 

Patronus

The Patronus is a type of advanced magic. As Professor Lupin tells Harry in the Prisoner of Azkaban, a Patronus is

‘a kind of Anti-Dementor – a guardian which acts as a shield between you and the Dementor.’ It’s also ‘a kind of positive force, a projection of the very things that the Dementor feeds upon – hope, happiness, the desire to survive

Having kids is the most rewarding thing you will ever do in your life. They can make your heart want to burst out of your chest with pride and happiness. A kiss or unexpected show of affection make a bad day good. Being with them is like being home. They are hope. They are happiness.

 

If you are in full throws of Toddlerdom however, one will know that this hope and happiness can drop like a lead balloon in a blink of an eye. From laughing hysterically one need only take a breath and in front of your eyes your beautiful patronus will have morphed into the wildest dementor one could ever behold. The longevity of this state of being will depend on a few factors. How much they have eaten and drunk that day. What they have done that day. How much sleep they have had that day. Whether it is raining. In our house, whether it is windy. And most importantly, what time of the day it is. If it is the witching hour, you've had it... Get too near that Dementor and they will take every good feeling and memory you had that day and suck it out of you. 

Again. Just to clarify with you all. I say this with the deepest love. And also, being in full throws of a 4 month sleep regression cycle with my youngest, so patience levels are slim. 

Why this post? Mainly so that in future if I talk about Patronus A/B or Dementor A/B you will know who I am talking about and more importantly what kind of day we had. 

Again. I love my children. 

Current Craft Deals Online

Current deals 

 

Hobbycraft

  • Easter £1 deals - A whole section with items for only £1, for example: stickers, buckets, embellishments, plastic eggs and chocolate eggs.
  • An entire £1 section that you can scroll through that even includes large MDF letter. 
  • Art Sale- hundreds of discounted items, including half price paint for £1.50. 
  • Half price stamps and inks

Baker Ross

  • In honour of Mother's Day they have a 15% off everything deal. Code: R711D, offer ends 17th March

Crafty Crocodiles

  • Have a couple of pages of sale products. One particular one that caught my eye was the Wooden Hanging Heart Picture Frame. Makes a nice present for any family members.
Wooden Hanging Heart Picture Frame £0.75 each! 

Wooden Hanging Heart Picture Frame £0.75 each! 

The Works

  • 10% off your first online purchase
  • Easter crafts for £1 - Easter stickers, Easter cut outs pack of 8, Easter mini eggs, Easter fabric craft shapes, Bunnies and flowers felt shapes pack of 6, Easter colouring books, Easter Bonnet decorating kit. 
  • I came across THE cutest little thing. A wooden Fairy door you can decorate for £2. SOOO sweet. Perhaps for those who are loosing teeth and need the tooth fairy to come?!
Fairy door, £2

Fairy door, £2

OR, if you would rather buy all the things you need as a oner..

Decorate your own Fairy Door and make your own flowers set

Decorate your own Fairy Door and make your own flowers set

The. Rainbow.Tree

Did you know that a Rainbow Tree is a tree that can be found in the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia? It is called the Eucalyptus Deglupta or Mindanao gum,. In laymen terms, The Rainbow Tree/Rainbow Gum. 

As the top layer of bark peels away it leaves the bright green colour behind. It then changes to a darker green, blue, purple, pink, orange, red, maroon and then back to brown. This shedding happens gradually and at different rates. This is why the trees look like they have been splashed with paint.

This is nature at its best.

The ingenuity is child like in it's imagination and I love it. No rules, no boundaries. Art can take you places nothing else can. It can inspire, create emotions, be therapeutic, be a learning tool. It can be as big or as little as you want it to be. It doesn't matter how you do it. But just do it.

So.

WELCOME to my humble abode,

THE.RAINBOW.TREE