Friday, 4 November 2011

Whizz, bang! Bonfire Night Crafts!

This week at Little ARTventurers we've been doing a fireworks theme - I am still picking all of the glitter out of my hair!!

If you fancy doing some Bonfire Night crafts at home here's what we've been doing....

Bonfire collages

I made a big pile of coloured tissue paper and cellophane pieces in the middle of the tuff spot on the floor this week in lovely firey colours and added some twigs and sticks. It looked like a gorgeous crinkly bonfire! The children had a large piece of clack card and stuck the different papers on to make the fire, adding twigs at the bottom which we fixed on with masking tape. Don't worry if the pieces of paper aren't all stuck down properly - it adds to the effect! The finished results were really great

Sparklers and rockets

We made our own fireworks! We made sparklers with a piece of black card which we laid flat on the table. Along the longest edge we stuck some shiny sparkly things - I had some of those "cocktail straws", we used tinfoil strips, srips of cellophane and also pipe cleaners which we dipped in glue then glitter. Roll it up, secure with tape and you have your own shiny sparkler for Bonfire night! We used ours at circle time to make shapes and dance with.

We also made rockets with larger pieces of card - rolled into a tube, added some tissue paper streamers and lots of glitter of course!

Glittery fireworks pictures

This is a really simple and effective craft. We simply painted on black card using pva glue - using brushes or sticks and making firework swirly shapes. Add lots of coloured glitter, shake off excess and hey presto - a fab fireworks picture! We also added string for texture.

String painting

With my painting activities I really try and get away from painting simply with paintbrushes or rollers and string painting is lots of fun and creates a great firework-y type effect. There are different ways of string painting - for this session we dipped string in paint and then danced it accross large pieces of paper to create a fantastic effect. I popped a peg on the end of each string and then showed the children how to hold the peg rather than the string - it makes it easier for them to manovere and control the string.

I only wish I could add a picture of the great string paintings we created but for some reason I can't upload them :(. Will try again later....

Chalk pictures

Try drawing firework patterns on dark coloured construction paper using chalks - chunky chalks are great for little hands to hold

Have a great and safe Bonfire Night everyone!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Spooky Halloween crafts!

It's been a fab couple of weeks at ARTventurers with some great spooky art and craft sessions with different age groups - Halloween is a great time to really go to town with colour and paint! Thought I'd share with you a few of the things we've been doing this fortnight.....

Pop up ghosts/monsters

These were really popular with all age groups - its a great craft which can easily be adapted for different ages and abilities. You'll need - a polystyrene or paper cup, a craft stick (or lolly stick), some tissue paper, card, sellotape, pens

 One of the pop up ghosts from a toddler session

The first step was to decorate the cup - in the toddler sessions we did this with tissue paper (orange of course!), halloween stickers and pens. I try to get the little ones tearing up the tissue paper rather than cutting it for them - great for coordination and strengthening muscles!

For the littlest ones I had then pre cut some ghost shapes which they sellotaped onto the sticks. With the older groups they let their imaginations run riot and created their own scary monsters (just make sure they're not too big to fit inside the cup!)

The last step was then to push the stick with ghost/monster attached through the bottom of the cup so that the ghost could then fit inside the cup and then "pop" out. We used thin craft sticks which could easily be pushed through the base of the cup but if you're using lolly sticks then just snip a slot in the bottom of the cup with scissors.

Scary spiders

A really easy but effective toddler craft is these hanging spiders - really popular with little ones, can be used as spooky decorations, and we danced around with ours at the end of the sessions!

All you'll need is a circle of black card, some white card or paper, some coloured strips of card and some wool. I don't think I need to put any instructions with this one as hopefully it's self explanatory - for the littlest ones I pre cut all of the shapes, the older ones could cut out their own legs and features.

Spooky spider at the top of this pic!

We tried to concertina fold our spider legs - not necessary but just another skill I was trying to introduce into the activity. We also used paint dabbers to add detail to the eyes but again not absolutely necessary - I just know they're always popular at my classes :)

Eyeball painting!

I think I've blogged before about bouncy ball painting - one of my all time favourite painting activities and this is just a spooky variation on it! I bought some eyeball bouncy balls in the pound shop and set them in the middle of the painting table with some large trays, black paper and plates of paint (we used Halloween-y colours). The children put the paper on the tray and then dipped the eyeballs into paint and placed them on the paper. Moving the tray around and therefore the balls around the paper makes some really great patterns, plus its great exercise in hand/eye coordination plus lots of fun too! I think the paintings produced looked quite spiders web like - once dry you could get your little one to make a spider to stick onto it!

 A spooky eyeball painting!

Pumpkin lantern craft activity

Another paper based craft which works well with different age groups - just black and orange paper required!

We decorated a piece of orange paper with a pumpkin face made of black paper shapes - for the youngest I provided some pre cut shapes but for the older kids it was a great chance to get scissor happy and produce their own scary faces. We then sellotaped the two edges together to make the lantern and simply added a black paper handle. Simple but cute - I've got a family of these dotted round my kitchen  and they look great!

You can see a pic of one of the lanterns made in the spooky spider picture above!

So what else did we do??

We made haunted house cards with paper shapes, cotton wool and Halloween stickers..

We painted Halloween pictures with stamps and stencils......

We made spooky spider biscuits with Oreo cookies, strawberry laces and coloured icing - yum!

With the older children we created our own Halloween masks!

Phew - what a fantastic, busy Halloween it's been! Well done and thanks to everyone who's been ARTventuring with us this past fortnight :)

So now its onwards and upwards into a new half term and the countdown towards Christmas begins....we're already taking bookings for our super sparkly Christmas art and craft sessions so get in touch if you want to reserve a space! And this week sees the launch of our new Thursday morning class at Washington Arts Centre! This week is "Fireworks" so join us as we create glitter firework pictures, bonfire collages, make rockets, try string painting and lots more!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Clay Monsters!!

We recently made some fantastic clay monsters at the Saturday Diddy Art club - some of you who follow me on Facebook might have seen the pictures. The children really enjoyed the creative process of modelling the clay and then bringing their monsters to life with facial features etc!

We used air dry clay for this project which we did over 2 weeks - making the models the first week and then painting them the second. You can buy air dry clay very easily online or in craft shops - we used the natural "stone" coloured clay as we were going to paint our monsters.

The main body of the monster was made using a cardboard tube. We filled the tube with scrunched up newspaper to make it firm. The children then rolled out a lump of clay and wrapped it around the tube to cover it. Extra pieces of clay were added to the top of the tube if needed to cover the top completely then we smoothed the clay out using a damp sponge to get rid of any lumps and bumps and smooth the joins.

Now for the fun bit - giving our monsters their features and personalities! We added eyes, beaks, mouths, hair, feet..... I brought out feathers and wiggly eyes which the children could press into the clay. I showed them how to make sure that any pieces they attached would stick firmly to the main body by using the score and slip method - making small marks (scores) on the pieces of clay to be joined together and then using a very small amount of water to dampen the clay and help it stick together. The challenge when doing this type of modelling with kids is to try and ensure that they don't use too much water and end up with a soggy mess - you only need to use the tiniest amount!

Making the models took up virtually the full 1.5 hr session - a lot of the children got really into it and made whole families of monsters, pets for the monsters, accessories like tables and chairs.....!

Some of our unpainted clay monsters on a drying rack

Love this one's long beak!

We then had a week to leave them to dry. As some of the pieces of clay used were quite thick they definately needed the full weeks drying time. Don't be tempted to rush and paint the models too quickly as the paint won't take and will flake off - you can see how the clay lightens up as it dries.

The following week we painted our monsters. We used ready mix paint for this but you could also use acrylic paints for a really bright result. With the combination of the brightly coloured feathers and the paints the results were fantastic!

How fantastic is this one? Painted with a camoflauge effect!

Some of the children then went on to make houses for their finished monsters!

This activity was done at my Saturday class which is for children aged 5+. However I've also done monsters with air dry clay at my toddler classes which has also been really successful - in the toddler sessions we've just used a piece of clay to model with and then stick googly eyes, feathers and sequins into to create our creatures rather than modelling around a cardboard tube.

The response to this activity from the children was so positive that I definately plan to do more modelling work with them this next half term - newspaper modelling next!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Autumn Crafts!

Last week at Little ARTventurers our theme was "Autumn" - I am a huge fan of autumn crafts and our kitchen is already covered in them!

I asked all of the children to collect some autumn leaves and bring them to the session - we then tipped them all out into the middle of our circle and the kids loved showing each other the leaves that they'd brought and rustling them around.

Then we created some autumn art using some of our leaves......

We made Autumn Tree collages - this was great fun! I'd drawn a tree trunk outline on a large piece of coloured card for each child and had also pre-cut some tissue paper leaves in autumny colours. The children had loads of fun gluing and sticking the leaves they'd collected onto the tree together with the tissue paper leaves, they looked fantastic. Lots of glue was needed and we pressed each leaf down well to make sure it was stuck down (I use glue sticks in my session as they are so easy for the littlest children to grip hold of and use but PVA might work best). We finished with a good old sprinkle of gold glitter!

We also used our leaves for leaf printing. I've done this activity many times before but it isn't always the most succesful, especially for toddlers. This time I revised my technique and we made the prints using rolling pins which was lots of fun and worked really well. We painted the leaves first them places them flat down on the paper. We then popped a piece of newspaper over the top and then rolled over the top with a rolling pin - then peeled the leaves off to reveal the prints. Like I said, the prints came out really well......

We also made scarecrows on sticks (very cute!) - a really simple activity but took a bit of prep. Basically I cut out all of the pieces - the scarecrow head, jacket, hands and drew the face on. The children then stuck it together and added texture through the buttons and hair (I found adding a hat made him too top heavy and floppy). And then we stuck the scarecrows onto sticks. The children really seemed to love them - we ended the session with a game of Musical Scarecrows!

I also run a Saturday art club for older children and I found it tricky to find autumn crafts that weren't going to be too "babyish" for them. However one autumn activity that did go down well with them was doing some linear autumn leaf drawings. I had pre cut some leaf shapes which they drew round on a large piece of paper (or they could just draw their own leaf shapes) - making the outline in thick black marker. They then drew in the veins of the leaf using the marker, taking the lines right to the edge of the leaf to divide it up into different sections. I then asked them to use lines and patterns (no shading) to fill in each section of the leaves. Some of them did find this quite challenging - thinking of different combinations of colour, lines and pattern to fill each space. We finished the pictures by drawing energy lines around the leaves themselves. I think the finished results look great, really effective!!

Long time no blog!

I've been quite neglectful of this blog of late - running the business on a day to day basis while juggling it with family life is quite a challenge in itself!

The ARTventurers summer classes went really well and I can't believe that we're already on the countdown to half term! We've got some great Spooky Halloween sessions lined up for October half term - on the Tuesday at Ashbrooke and the Thursday at Washington Arts Centre. Think pop up ghosts, creepy spiders, big black bats and eyeball's going to be lots of creative (and sometimes messy!) fun! And if you're coming along to one of the sessions please feel free to come along in Spooky fancy dress (I will be!!)

Talking of Washington Arts Centre, I'm thrilled that we're going to be running a weekly Little ARTventurers class there from November. This will be in addition to our Tuesday class at Ashbrooke. The centre is such a vibrant, creative space in the heart of the community and it's great to be part of it in a small way. The Little Potters course there over the summer was a huge success and I also hope to run some more sessions for older children (6+) there in the run up to Christmas so watch this space!

Some of the handprint tiles created at the Little Potters summer sessions - fab work!

Friday, 23 September 2011

ARTventurers Autumn Newsletter

ARTventurers Autumn

Spooky Halloween Craft Party!
We’ve got some fantastic spooky crafts planned for our half term sessions – pumpkin lanterns, creepy spiders, witches and ghosts and lots more! Pre booking essential, £6 per child including all materials and refreshments for the little ones. Suitable for ages 18m-7yrs.
Tues 25th Oct – St Johns, Ashbrooke
Thurs 27th Oct – Washington Arts Centre

Little ARTventurers
We’ve had a great couple of weeks so far this term exploring and creating with our “Space” and “Bugs” themed sessions. Coming up – “Under the Sea”, “All about Me”, “Autumn”, “Crunchy, Scrunchy Textures” and lots more!. Little ARTventurers is suitable for children aged 18 months plus – painting, collage, modeling, sensory activities and lots more.


We’re delighted to be launching a new Little ARTventurers class at Washington Arts Centre on Thursday mornings after half term. It’s a fantastic venue and we really enjoyed running our Little Potters course there over the summer. Little ARTventurers is suitable for pre school age children from 18 months upwards. To book a place contact Fiona - Sessions are £4.85 per child including materials and refreshments, sibling discount available. We also hope to run some pottery painting activities for children aged 6+ in the run up to Christmas – register your interest now!

Christmas Crafts!
Christmas is a fantastic time of year for childrens art and craft activities – what better excuse for lots of glitter and sparkle?!
Our Christmas craft holiday sessions will be taking place w/c 19th December in Ashbrooke, Washington and Roker – places are already filling up so book your space now! Suitable for children 18months – 7 years.

Weekend Sessions
 If you can’t make our weekday sessions don’t forget we also run weekend sessions – our Saturday morning Diddy Art club suitable for 4-11 yrs runs at Hawthorn Arts in South Shields and we also run  occasional workshop sessions on Sundays at the Seaburn centre. Watch out for Spooky Crafts on Sun 23rd Oct and Christmas Crafts on Sun 27th November!

Birthday parties
Looking to do something a little bit different for your little one’s party? Our creative birthday packages are great fun for age 2-12 years. Themes such as Glitter and Sparkle or Pirates, activities like pottery painting or teddy bear making….let us host the activities and then clean up the mess too!


Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Very Hungry Caterpillar week!

This week at ARTventurers we've been running some Very Hungry Caterpillar sessions - inspired by the Eric Carle classic!

So what have we been up to? Well, we've been making paper plate suns, fantastic Hungry Caterpillar hats, butterfly puppets, collage fruits and trying butterfly painting as well as making some delicious looking lollipop bookmarks! Then at circle time we used the things that we made to tell the story of the Very Hungry Caterpillar - it was great fun! I love to get the children using and interacting with the things that they've created during the classes rather than them just getting stuck on the fridge, it's a great way to get them inspired and thinking creatively and I'm sure that the book has been read and read over this week at home!

Making our paper plate suns

I think that the buttefly puppet was the most popular activity this week. Here's how we made them -

You'll need - a butterfly shape cut out from stiff card, glue, some collage materials (we used tissue paper and sequins as well as squares of coloured paper), a wooden stick or lolly stick, some sellotape.

We decorated our card shapes with the collage materials (the more colourful the better), of course remembering that buttefly wings are always symmetrical! We attached some tissue paper streamers to the bottom of our butterflies and then attached them to the sticks with sellotape - they were then ready to be fluttered around the room!

Butterfly puppet making!

Next week we're going On Safari - can't wait!!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Summer Holiday fun!

Phew - it's been a busy week for ARTventurers, the first full week of our summer holiday schedule!

Tuesday and Thursday mornings we ran our Little ARTventurers summer fun sessions for children up to 6 years old at Ashbrooke and Roker. Both sessions were fantastic - we made pirate hats, parrots and telescopes, tiaras and wands, got mummy/daddy/gran to draw round us and made life size pirates and princesses and we also tried loot rubbing! Great and very very glittery - the life size drawings were especially popular! I love to do activities like that where the kids can get down on the floor and really get stuck into what they're doing, moving around their artwork - it makes for great creativity.

On Tuesday the Sunderland Echo came to visit the session to take some photos - always tricky to get toddlers to stay still for more than 2 seconds, especially when they're full on engaged with what they're doing but hopefully we've got some great action shots which sum up exactly what ARTventurers is all about - having lots of fun experimenting and creating! The article should be in the paper later this week - watch out for us (and me with a face covered in glitter no doubt!). I'm really pleased that the Echo is supporting us as a local business, having publicity like that really helps spread the word.

Wednesday also saw the first week of our Little Potters course at Washington Arts Centre where we worked with clay to make some handstamped coasters and also tried out different pottery painting techniques on a breakfast mug. Really looking forward to seeing how they've turned out when they come out of the kiln - will try and post some pics!

Tomorrow is a day off with my little ones (fruit picking hopefully) then the weekend is a busy one with two things booked in for Sunday. Sunday morning we're running a craft workshop at the Makers Market at the Seaburn Centre (fabric painting and keyrings) - come along and say hi and treat yourself to some gorgeous handmade goodies. Then later in the day we're off to run some activities at the Leighton Cook family fun day at Quayside Exchange, Sunderland. Leighton is a little local lad - just 4 years old, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma June 2010, four days after his 3rd birthday.
Leighton's family and friends have set up a fund to raise the £50,000 they need to raise to send Leighton to Germany is to increase his chances of survival from 30% to 50%. Leightons story is such a heartbreaking cause and I'm just pleased that there is a small something that I can do to help with their fundraising efforts.

Please take a minute to pop over to Leightons page to show your support and to see if there is anything that you could do to help them reach their target.

Thank you!!

Next week's holiday sessions - The Very Hungry Caterpillar! Caterpillar hats, butterfly puppets..... it's going to be tons of fun!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Make a Summer Suncatcher!

The photo of this craft doesn't really do it justice - when we made these they looked really pretty and sparkly hung up in the sun and the children in the session really loved making them!

What you'll need is some sticky back plastic (2 circles of it) - an assortment of sequins, tissue paper and maybe some glitter, a hole punch and some ribbon.

I cut the two circles of sticky backed plastic out by drawing round a tea plate - leaving the paper backing in place of course! Then we peeled the backing off one circle and laid it on the table sticky side up. The children then had loads of fun arranging the tissue paper and sequins on the circle.

To make the suncatcher we then peeled the backing off the second circle and placed it over the first (so both sticky sides together if that makes sense!). Hole punched a hole at the top for hanging, threaded ribbon through and there you go - a lovely suncatcher that really sparkles!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Phew - a busy weekend!

Have had a jam packed weekend to top off a manic fortnight so whilst I'm just chilling on the sofa catching up on emails and Facebook/Twitter thought I'd jot down what I've been up to and what's going on in the next few weeks in the world of ARTventurers....

The last couple of weeks have been really mad - getting the summer programme sorted, venues and planning activities. I've had some really exciting meetings too. Perhaps the most exciting was a meeting with a local art shop - they already run a fantastic Saturday morning art club for kids age 4-11 and I'm really chuffed that they've asked me to take over the running over it from September :). It's a big responsibility to take over what is already a very successful and happy class run by a very talented artist but I'm always keen to take on new challenges and have some great activities planned for the kids....

As some of you might know my great love is ceramics and so I can't wait to run "Little Potters" over the summer - a three week course which is an introduction to ceramics for kids aged 6+. There'll be some handbuilding with clay as well as pottery painting and I've found two fantastic venues to hold it in, including the Washington Arts Centre. The struggle I've had is with the pricing as the cost of glazing and firing is becoming so expensive, as electricity prices are shooting through the roof!

And for littler ones I'm teaming up with Music Bugs in Sunderland to run a Teddy Bears Picnic party in the first week of the summer hols which should be tons of fun - then launching straight into 3 weeks of Little ARTventurers Summer Fun classes. Pirates and Princesses, the Very Hungry Caterpillar and On Safari - three themes I can't wait to get cracking on! I've run the same summer programme a couple of years ago back in Yorkshire and they were really good fun and feedback was excellent so I'm hoping that the kids and parents/carers here will be just as enthusiastic!

And as for this weekend - yesterday was a school fayre at Durham High which was a lovely afternoon. Didn't start well as I had the wrong start time so was running late and then the roads were all closed in Durham due to the Miners Gala. To top it off I also managed to lose my voice somewhere along the way (don't ask!!). All that aside though, the children and parents were all great and very friendly making me and the other stall holders feel very welcome. Then today I was down in Seaburn running a couple of pottery painting sessions for kids at the Makers Market in the Seaburn Centre. If you've never been to a Makers Market then you really should get down there - they are fantastic markets packed with gorgeous handmade goodies, cupcakes, I've got a few kids craft sessions booked in there for the course of the year - next one is Sunday 7th August, T shirt printing (and might do some keyrings too!)

Hope everyone has had a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Hot hot hot - warm weather activities for the garden! Part 1

It's so warm here at the minute - who knows how long it will last but we're all making the most of it by opening those doors and windows and letting the summer in! We've got the paddling pool and water slide out already this morning (and it's only twenty to ten!) but when they get bored with that it's a good opportunity to try out some outdoor art and craft activities that we might not have space for in the house (or just not want to do in the house!!!)

Here's some ideas you might want to try.......

Ice cube painting

My kids LOVE doing this - it's great for all ages but takes a wee bit of pre planning. Make some ice cube painting sticks - you can either do this by using ice lolly moulds or alternatively ice cube trays and toothpicks/lollysticks. Make up the ice cubes/lollies by pouring paint in and then freezing overnight. You can use normal non toxic liquid paint or try watercolours mixed with water. Then when frozen the kids can have great fun using the lollies/ice cubes to paint pictures - make sure the paper you use is quite thick. Just remember to remind the kids that the lollies aren't for eating!

Life size self portraits

Fab activity for on the lawn! Get a large roll of paper (wallpaper is great for this) or stick a few sheets together. Get your child to lie down and then draw round them and cut the shape out. They can then paint the figure, make a collage person......

Football painting

In a previous blog post I talked about bouncy ball painting - this is a super sized version! Get a large piece of paper and a tray of paint. Roll the football through the paint then have fun kicking it around the paper (best to do this barefoot!). If you're not too precious about garden toys you could try scooter painting or even space hopper painting using the same theory - but thick card or even board will work best.

Painting with water

This is one for the teeniest tots - give them a bucket of water and a paintbrush and set them off to "paint" the fence, the patio....keeps them entertained for hours and is a good way of mastering holding a paintbrush, a fun way of learning to draw shapes etc.

Den building and decorating

All kids love building dens - easy enough to do with chairs and a couple of sheets. Then they can spend many happy hours decorating then den and getting really creative designing bunting, keep out signs, pictures to decorate the den....!

Hope this might give you a few ideas to be getting on with - my ice cube paints are now frozen so off we go...!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Why do we have music at our pre school sessions?

At our Little ARTventurers art and craft classes for pre schoolers we always round the session off with a well deserved snack and a drink and a noisy sing along  joined by Arty the Bear!

For me it’s an integral part of the class structure – the kids absolutely love it, it's part of the routine of the weekly classes and it got me thinking again about the importance of music for babies, toddlers and pre schoolers.
So why is group singing and music making so important for young children?
-         It’s a sociable activity – it stimulates a basic desire to join in and interact with others
-         Music encourages self expression  and self confidence
-         Engaging with music encourages children to develop gross and fine motor skills and coordination – moving and dancing in time to the music and using instruments to tap and shake
-   Sing a longs are great fun!
One of the most fun sing a longs was when we ran a carnival themed session and the children made their own musical shakers as well as party hats and pasta jewellery - they then had loads of fun  using their shakers during singing time! One for this coming term again I think.....:)
And don't forget our Teddy Bears Picnic party on Tuesday 26th July when we'll be teaming up with Music Bugs to run a jam packed session of teddy bear art and craft activities, biscuit decorating and a fab and noisy Music Bugs session! Session is to take place at St Andrews Church, Roker, Sunderland and places are limited so must be pre booked! check out our website for more details!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

All About Me Collage Craft Activity - for all ages!

I first used this craft as part of an “All About Me” themed session where we also made a fingerpainted house and created some fantastic self portraits on the painting table!

It's really simple idea and craft but very often the most simple ideas are the best!

It was such a popular craft for younger children that it’s one I’ve taken out and about again and again. Kids love to make their whole family so it’s worth printing out quite a few extra templates – and it’s a craft that can be used as a great learning tool for colours, families and body parts as well as exploring different textures. Older kids can also use it as a scissor practice exercise!

This is what you’ll need
Stiff a4 card
Pens or crayons
A box of different materials – fabric, card, papers,wool, tissue……..
Firstly, print out the A4 template below onto card – like I say it’s a good idea to print out a few! You should hopefully be able to copy and paste this template and then resize it if needed - if not then you can download templates elsewhere or just draw your own person!

Let your child get creative with the template, materials and glue – dress it, colour it in, add hair (or not!).
You can either leave the person as he/she is on the card – or try cutting it out to make a cardboard doll!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Brum brum beep beep - Transport crafts Part 1!

My 3 year old Isaac loves anything with wheels so here’s a couple of my favourite car themed art and craft activities –

Car Painting
We love to get a huge piece of paper down on the floor, a plate full of paint and some toys cars, trains, diggers – whatever you’ve got in the toy box! Drive through the paint and them vroom vroom around the paper leaving paint tracks behind! Great fun and makes fab and funky patterns, especially if you use lots of different colours. This activity works especially well with a group of kids!

Bubble car craft (for ages 12 months +)

Kids love this cute bubble car craft - it works well for a wide age range as they can put as much detail into it as they like so it's a craft activity I often do for something like a family fun day when I know there'll be lots of different ages along to join in.

Basically all you need is a piece of stiff card, some paper and pens and lots of bits and pieces to decorate the bubble car. I have a big box full of odds and ends of scraps of paper, fabric, sequins, ribbons.. ideal for this type of craft!
Draw or print a bubble car outline onto the card then cut it out.
Cut two window shapes for the window and then two round shapes for the car, I use this as an exercise to get the children drawing round a round object to leave a circle shape.
Have fun decorating and personalising your bubble car!

Egg box bus
I’d love to be able to take credit for this one but it’s not one of my own ideas – I found it on a fab site I came across while  browsing the internet called dlkt kids -
Grab a large egg box, paint, some glue, paper (including black for the tyres) and pens/crayons. You might want also to use magazine pics for the passengers.
Firstly cut the lid off the egg box as that’s the bit you’re going to be using for the bus.  Cut out some squares along the egg box for the windows. Then let your little one paint it whichever colour he/she wants.
Cut some black circles out – these will be the wheels. Then cut out some magazine pics of faces and stick these on the bus behind the cut out windows for the passengers – or even better, get your child to draw their own passengers which you can then cut out and stick on the bus together!

Happy motoring!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Making a Magic Craft Box

If you plan on getting crafty with your kids at home then it's a great idea to make a designated craft box and stuff it full of craft essentials so you've got everything in one place ready for when you hear the cry "Mummy, I want to make something!".

As I hoard more and more stuff our Magic Craft Box has turned into the Magic Doodle Drawers (we nicked that term from Cbeebies Mr Maker LOL!) - a set of drawers I bought from Ikea which live in the playroom. I also love the idea of making the craft box itself from a plain cardboard box and getting your child to decorate and personalise it him/herself. We also have a little childrens table and stools in the playroom and all of the craft stuff is accessable for them to use whenever they like - apart from the glitter, I'm not brave enough to allow free reign with that!

Anyway, I thought it might be helpful to have a list of those bits and pieces that I think are essential if you're starting your own magic craft box at home......
  1. Construction Paper (slighty rough surfaced coloured paper - cheap, buy in bulk, fab for childrens crafts)
  2. Scissors
  3. Glue - glue sticks and PVA glue
  4. Sellotape
  5. Things to write and draw with - felt tips, pencils, crayons, pastels..
  6. Googly Eyes
  7. White plain paper bags - can buy in bulk on ebay really cheaply
  8. White Paper Cups - as above!
  9. Lolly sticks
  10. Pipe Cleaners
  11. Stickers - what child doesn't love stickers?!
  12. Bits of coloured wool
  13. Cotton Balls
  14. Paper Plates - I buy Smartprice ones from Asda
  15. Ruler
  16. Washable Paints - I buy the squeezy bottles
  17. A variety of brushes and sponges
  18. String and ribbon
  19. Bits of fabric, tissue paper, foil, foam sheets, textured paper for collages
  20. Empty cardboard tubes
  21. Glitter/sequins to add a touch of sparkle
Whilst this list might seem long and expensive - lots of the stuff can be picked up really really cheaply, or for free by recycling! As you might have gathered I'm a bit of an ebay queen and I get a lot of my session materials via ebays Wholesale section as I'm buying in bulk for large numbers of children. Shops like Poundstretcher, the Pound Shop, B and M Homestores and good old Asda are also fantastic for crafty items at great prices. Google searches will  produce a vast list of online craft suppliers.

If you're a bit of a novice at childrens craft activities the list above should stand you in great stead and get you on your crafty way - you can begin to add to your magic craft box by saving everything from old magazines to yoghurt pots, cardboard boxes to egg boxes and then you'll never be stuck for things to do on a good old British rainy day!

Happy crafting! x

Sunday, 19 June 2011

10 Reasons why art and creative activities are so important for children

I have always spent a lot of time doing art and crafts with my two children from a very early age at home - here's a pic of my youngest Isaac when he was 12 months old after a fun but very messy painting session!!

Now I know that many parents are put off doing art and crafts at home with their little ones because of the mess - which is why classes like my Little ARTventurers pre school sessions are so popular as you can leave the mess behind for us to clear up! - but here's a little reminder of why it's so important for us to get our little ones involved in creative activities from an early age :
  • Children learn by using their senses and art is a great learning tool from a very early age
  • Art stimulates both sides of the brain
  • Art promotes self expression and self esteem
  • Art and craft activities develop hand-eye coordination
  • Art helps to develop creative thinking and problem solving abilities
  • Art and craft activities aid concentration
  • Studies show that children who participate in art activities read better and get higher grades in maths and science
  • Art encourages children to think more about their environment
  • Art is a great social activity for all ages - encouraging frienships and strengthening relationships 
  • Art and craft is rewarding and fun!

    Experimenting with splodgers, dabbers and other painting tools and spending some quality time with mum at one of our pre-school sessions!
    For more information regarding our art and craft classes for children of all ages in Sunderland and surrounding areas visit our website or email us at

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Kids crafts for Fathers Day!

It’s Fathers Day tomorrow – so here’s a few suggestions of some Fathers Day crafts you can do at home – suitable for all ages! All tried and tested at our sessions…
Handprint Boat Fathers Day card
For this cute card you’ll need
-         Stiff A4 card
-         Some other coloured card or paper
-         Glue
-         Pens and paint

Fold the card in half and cut some shapes out of the paper – a half circle and two triangles. For older kids it’s good scissor practice, for tiny ones get them to pick out the shapes. Glue the shapes as pictured to form a boat shape then get your child to make a handprint on the sails using the paint. On the pic I’ve printed the message on the front of the card but you could get your child to write it out. It’s a simple card to make but looks very effective!

To make this bookmark we cut a long strip of card and glued to the top of it a car outline shape. We then decorated the bookmarks in the session using paint dabbers but you could try finger painting, gluing on some embellishments, whatever you like….
Printed football
Something the smallest artists can produce – a potato printed football for dad!Really easy to do – just cut out a large circle from white card and squeeze out some black paint onto a plate. I then cut some potatoes into hexagonal shapes (roughly!) to print onto the footballs – and bobs your uncle! It’s a good idea to have a spare piece of paper nearby to get rid of any excess paint before you start printing on the football. Really popular activity!

Paperweight or small plaque
Use air dried clay to create a paperweight for dad. Shape the clay and then you can press stones or pebbles into the clay to create a design. Leave to dry according to instructions and then you can also varnish it for durability with a couple of coats of clear varnish

Stone paperweight

I love doing this craft with my two kids! We can spend hours on the beach picking stones – simply clean, paint and then varnish with a couple of coats of clear varnish. Bound to brighten up dad or grandad’s desk

Hope everyone has a fab Fathers Day! x

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Yum Yum Yum - paper plate pizza craft!

Yum Yum Yum – paper plate pizza craft!
This craft was a great hit at a Food and Drink themed c raft session where we also did printing with various fruit and veg and decorated sensory gingerbread men (details to follow….!)
This is what you’ll need
-         White paper plate
-         Red paint
-         Sponge
-         Yellow tissue paper
-         Card or foam in different colours
-         Glue and scissors
-         Green glitter (optional)
First thing is to put the tomato sauce onto the pizza – when I do this craft I just squeeze the paint onto a big dinner plate and let the kids dip into the paint with sponges and sponge paint the paper plate (pizza base). Uses less paint than brushes and less chance of the plate going soggy – no one likes a soggy pizza!!
Whilst the paint is drying let the children rip up some pieces of yellow tissue paper – this will be the cheese. I always like to get the kids ripping their own sheets up – much more fun than adults sitting and cutting it out for them and I think a good exercise in coordination and strengthening those arm muscles for the littlest ones!
Then stick the cheese onto the pizza with the glue and begin to add the toppings using whatever card you’ve got or foam pieces. Pink can be ham, black = olives, green can be peppers (or peas!)….. a good chance to talk about likes and dislikes and even introduce the concept of a few things they mightn’t have tried before.

The pizza pictured is missing the Italian herbs – green glitter of course!
Happy pizza making!