Box drawings

A quick after school drawing activity…the drawing prompt asked the girls to think about who lives in the little windows. I sometimes leave a drawing activity out after school. Sometimes they do it but often they ignore it all together! This one was a big hit though with some lovely results.

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We used some old pieces from a game… these are the bits that are left over after you have punched the counters out. If you don’t have them to hand (not likely unless you hoard everything like me!) then just draw squares on paper. Pickle used them to draw her own boxes and then removed the card.

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Noodle prefered to draw with the boxes still on. This card was the inners from an old Graze box.

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The finished – first and only “Panda Operatic Hotel” – we have been drawing to music recently and I thought this was truly inspired! Pickles drawing went missing…but it was really cool with a giraffe stretching through several windows – its head finally poking out of the top!

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Enid Blyton Rating: 7 out of 10 (Straight forward fun after school! Or maybe leave it out on a Sunday morning if your children are old enough to go downstairs on their own and you might get 10 minutes extra in bed!)

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White Glue Dough v Salt Dough

This was an interesting experiment in creating hard white dough shapes but I want to say upfront – we prefer salt dough! Check out our post here on how to make the best one. It is fun to try new things though and the dough only has two ingredients. The benefit is that you do achieve a lovely white dough so coloured stamps are extra vibrant (salt dough is more of a creamy colour). Plus it dries very quickly (about an hour in an oven at 100 C).

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What you need…

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  • PVA glue (half a cup)
  • 1 cup of cornflour approx. although we needed a bit extra, plus a bit more for rolling
  • a little water to get your dough to the right consistency (couple of tablespoons worked for us)
  • biscuit cutters
  • rolling pin
  • Stamps and ink pad to decorate

Simply mix the glue and cornflour together.

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This is more tricky and messy than it looks…you are mixing glue after all! I would start off with a spoon. (We mixed it by hand and it all stuck to our fingers and we couldn’t mix it). We had to add a little more cornflour as the dough was very sticky. It still didn’t feel quite right so we added a few tablespoons of water. You will just need to experiment to get it into the ball pictured below. The children will love this part. However I like a little more precision, if you are like me…apologies… it is one of those doughs that you have to make by touch. I think a lot depends on the glue you have and as ours is pretty strong we had to add water.

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Then simply roll it out and cut out your shapes. Dust your surface with more cornflour to prevent sticking.

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It’s quite fun to make a repeating pattern.

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Or you can roll small balls and stamp directly onto them.

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Any stamps you have to hand will be great. I wanted to get out the animal stamps but apparently it was a heart and flower sort of day.

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Although I managed to sneak in some bugs which have been very popular as an item for treasure hunts. I have hidden the little bugs around the house and the girls love finding them. They have also made their own bug treasure hunt maps too.

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The dough will look like it is not going to go very far but there was plenty to play with.

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When you have finished creating leave to dry overnight or you can pop them into the oven at 100 C  for an hour and they will firm up well. Get the paints out to decorate any ones you have left white. If you intend to use them as hanging decorations then simply take a straw and poke a hole through before you dry them. To give them a shiny finish paint over with PVA glue.

Enid Blyton Rating: 5 out of 10 (not our favourite dough as it was tricky to get the right consistency but the results were lovely in the end)

Collage People – a fun drawing prompt

This is a really simple after school or weekend activity as all you need are some old clothes catalogues, glue and pens. Add paint and any other collage material if you like. I love digging out an old activity to see what they will come up with this time. The photo below shows the pictures they created when they were 3 and 5. They are now 5 and 7 and they loved seeing their old work. This activity is a real favourite with the little girls.

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Simply leave the following on a table and let the children pick it up if they feel inspired!

  • Clothes pictures cut from old magazines in a bowl (I do this the night before and weirdly find it very relaxing!)
  • Pot of glue and brushes
  • Any other collage materials such as string, tissue paper or wool (although this is a nice addition and not critical)
  • Pens
  • Paint if you feel you are up to more mess but if not pens will work just fine
  • Paper or card (the frame above I found at Scrapstore which is an amazing resource for collage bits and pieces)

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The picture above is by Pickle (7) she choose paint and a few collage materials and had it finished in about 10 minutes. A very happy picture of the three of us! Sometimes activities like this will last up to an hour…but the lego was calling. The picture below is a self portrait of Noodle (5) on a lovely summers day…I love the sky which she spent quite a long time on as she patiently explained to me, “the sky is not all one colour Mummy.”

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Drawing prompts are a fantastic way of encouraging art at home. Blank pieces of paper can be a little scary sometimes so providing a few well chosen materials really helps start the process. Plus leaving a surprise project on the table after school or at the weekend is a real treat…a little gift to your children.

Enid Blyton rating: 8 out of 10 (Always interesting to see what clothes they will choose…usually quite different to what I would buy for them! I have left this project out for boys too and they really enjoy it. Just like the girls they may need help imagining a scene in which to set their people – surfing, at the sweetie shop, at the park, in a car race etc – but once they are off they come up with some fantastic creations!)

Beach Sculptures

I feel so happy when I am messing about on a beach, particularly around the tide line which is crammed full of washed up treasures. I love that you can create art here too. From drawing pictures in the sand to making rock sculptures. If you find yourself by the sea this half term take some pictures of your art – we would love to see them. Here are a few of ours just in case you need inspiration…

Try making rock creatures… this is Rudolf by my littlest. I think he has a lot of personality!

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Go big with a giant beach sculpture by all the family. I think a beach calls for a frantic group projects before the tide comes in! This was about 6m long! In the past we have made large scale mermaids and fish but sadly I can’t find the photos.

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Or just make a happy face with rocks, seaweed and sea water.

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We felt this happy because we had this beautiful little beach in Wales all to ourselves!

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Make a fairy garden with pebble tables, seaweed trees and shell plates (very hard to photograph but this one was really lovely, set on a sand hill surrounded by a driftwood picket fence..ready for the Devon fairies!).

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Sculptures done… don’t forget to make sand angels!

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Enid Blyton rating: 10 out of 10 (You can’t beat the beach, from digging holes to Australia to making giant sculptures, it is just fun…that is until someone really needs to go to the loo…)

Super quick bead bowls

A speedy post for the weekend…all you need is a heatproof bowl, a smidgeon of vegetable oil and some beads.

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We have had our box of beads from Ikea for years…I think they are actually multiplying as the jar is still full. Although currently they are all over the floor being used as panda and bear food! To put them to a less messy use and save your hoover simply…

1. Take a heatproof bowl and wipe it over with vegetable oil (we used small ceramic cereal bowls and hoped they didn’t crack!). Pop on your oven to 180 C.

2. Put a handful of beads into your bowl and push them into one layer so they go all the way to the top. Plug in the gaps with more beads. It dosen’t matter which way round the beads are. (We didn’t get to take a picture of this as it was so quick!). Don’t worry too much about holes either it will all melt together.

3. Pop it in the oven for 10-15 minutes (ours took 15 minutes). Take it out when it’s all melted and run a knife around the bowl while it is still warm to release it. If your bowls are oily just give them a wash with a little washing up liquid. So easy! We want to make some two and three colour bowls next. We just need to find the time to sort those beads…

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Enid Blyton Rating: 8 out of 10 (Super quick with very pretty results.)

Make your own paints

Paint comes out of tubes and pots today… but what if you couldn’t just nip down to the shops and buy some? How is paint made? Can you make your own? This is a lovely sensory activity…the most fragrant paint you will ever create!

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What you need…

  • Old Spices (we all have them hiding at the back of our cupboards don’t we !?! In the past we have made paints with vegetable water too but that’s for another post)
  • Pestle and mortar
  • Warm water, pots and paint brushes (warm water releases the colour and smell)
  • A muslin cloth (to pass your mixture if you want a smooth paint, we didn’t and it added an interesting texture to the paintings)
  • Cornflour if you want to thicken them (although we didn’t)

How to do it?

We raided the cupboards and found some dusty old spices – Cardamon, Turmeric, Star Anise, Five Spice, Cinnamon and Smoked Paprika. We decanted them into bowls and enjoyed sniffing them and chatting about how we would use them in cooking. Cinnamon smells of Christmas! I gave Noodle free reign and she bashed up all the spices separately so we could see the different colours. She smooshed, smashed and generally had the best time creating her paints in her own time.

I did try to talk about how amazingly valuable our haul of spices would have been hundreds of years ago but bashing up the spices was more important…

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Here is our selection of rather lumpy paints! Passing them through a muslin cloth would have been useful to give a smoother consistency but Noodle wanted to get on and paint. If you do decide to ‘pass’ them and you would like a slightly thicker paint you can add cornflour. As we expected the Star Anise and Cardamon did not give any colour but the bashing was entertaining! We bashed everything…even the ground up ones…just for fun!

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Then we just painted. The aromas in the kitchen were intoxicating! Be aware that you will end up with lots of earthy colours but it is still fun. Perhaps try boiling up some berries or red cabbage at the same time to get a greater range of colours.

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I would say that Noodle enjoyed making the paints more than creating pictures with them but the process was really interesting and it was a fun hour!

Enid Blyton Rating: 7 out of 10 (An interesting take on making your own paint and it really makes you appreciate the wonderful array of colours we can buy off the shelf!)

Sticky eyes!

Set up this easy giant drawing prompt in 5 minutes when everyone has gone to bed. The next morning, sit back and enjoy a quiet cup of tea while they draw! All you need are sticky eyes, paper and pens.

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Set up is easy…. just tape some paper to the table. We used rolls of IKEA paper. Then simply add eyes anywhere you fancy…a strangely fun job! On the first morning they spent an hour drawing on this. We left it out for over a week and friends also added to it. We stuck more eyes on and got into more detail…

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We just couldn’t stop and I love the range of characters and expressions created by all the different children and adults who collaborated on this fun artwork. You cannot walk past without adding to it!

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Since this project we have used the eye stickers on our drawing robot (post to come!), countless cards and we have made ‘eye drawing sheets’ as presents for our friends… simply roll them up and tie them with a ribbon for a fun gift.

Enid Blyton Rating: 10 out of 10 (Easy and something the whole family can collaborate on. The eye stickers are inspiring and help give real personality to the drawings. But if you don’t have any stickers, don’t worry, simply draw eyes yourself and I am sure you will have just as much fun!)