Nature printing Tuff Tray

After the success of our previous nature themed tuff tray I decided to set this one up again.

Last time I covered the whole tray in brown paper but we didn’t end up using it to full effect, but I’m glad I provided some sheets of craft paper alongside paints squeezed in to paper plates and some bamboo sticks, pine cones and straw.

As you can imagine, on a warm and sunny day Arlo didn’t take too long to get stuck in – feet first! We sat around this tray exploring all the different materials – using the bamboo straws as stamps on the craft paper actually worked out even better than expected, we have some lovely prints on our craft paper which I have saved for a rainy day.

The paint on the bamboo sticks also became a happy accident and we decided to give our bug hotel the rainbow treatment!

So I set to work painting the cones, we all enjoyed painting in rainbow colours too. This is actually quite a good activity for little ones, Arlo had to concentrate and really work the brush and paint in between the spaces for full coverage.

Check out our finished bug hotel here

Beautiful Butterflies

We are working on crafts inspired by the classic Eric Carle book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” whilst also watching our insect lore caterpillars grow, so craft projects such as this help to reinforce the life cycle of a butterfly learnings and help with other important eyfs skills.

You will need:

  • A4 Card stock (not paper).
  • Paints
  • Brushes
  • Scissors

This is a super simple activity and requires minimal prep. Fold a piece of A4 cardstock in half and then cut out the shape of a butterflies wings.

I did this for Arlo because his scissor skills aren’t quite there yet, but you could draw or an outline for older children to follow.

Once you’ve cut the wings you should be able to open the card and have the basic butterfly shape.

Mum tip: if you aren’t confident with getting the shape then google and print out a template to follow.

Then let the kids go wild with paints on one half of the inside of the butterfly. This is one situation where more is more with the amount of paint.

I always make at least 2/3 templates for craft activities and sit alongside Arlo so that he can copy me because he tends to have his own “expressive” ideas as soon as he sees paint, but loves to copy me step by step and then tell me his is bigger or better.

Once you have enough paint splodged on then you need to fold the butterfly wings together, and press all over the outside…. smoothing and smudging helps the paint to spread and create a great effect.

Then carefully peel apart the wings whilst the paint is still wet to reveal the colourful patterns.

You can make a small hole and use pipe cleaners to make antennae. Just like on the egg box caterpillars

Chase the Rainbow

The Rainbow trail facebook page was set up in early March in response to the news regarding the Corona Virus Pandemic. It’s a simple concept – display a rainbow in your window for passers by.

Rainbows are a symbol of positivity, hope and togetherness and have quickly become a viral phenomenon. In a strange time where we are unable to speak or communicate with others, we can still make our neighbours smile and also give the kids something to do.

When you ask Arlo his favourite colour he often says “rainbows” and so we of course had to get involved. My mum used paint pens to create a glorious rainbow of flowers across the whole kitchen window. We live on a corner and so it’s on full view for everyone passing on their way to the local shop, and key workers heading to the bus stop every morning.

I shared pictures of our rainbow in the Facebook group and was contacted by a BBC journalist who also featured our picture in a news article – here’s the link

Here’s a fun fact for you – our home used to be home to monks, and serve as a local community centre, many of our neighbours recall coming in to the house when it was “The Society of St Francis” and so we always make an effort to decorate our windows for celebrations, people share with us their most treasured memories from meeting Santa in what is now our front room, when they see the twinkle of our Christmas tree lights, and when we had a recent delivery of a new oven, the gas fitter let us know he remembered playing hide and seek in our hedges during youth club.

On our daily exercise it has been wonderful to see so many rainbows – from had painted stones in the local park, to crochet hangings in trees and beautiful childrens drawings in windows.

We have also been working on lots of rainbow inspired designs for clothing too and Arlo is very appreciative

Salt Painting

You will need:

  • Salt
  • PVA glue
  • Printable worksheets
  • Watercolour paints (home bargains)

I chose to print some colouring pages from twinkl to fit our caterpillar theme because our Insect Lore Caterpillars arrived this week.

This is a really simple idea and creates lovely image effects.

STEP ONE:

Paint a background colour with your water colours and then apply PVA glue generously.

STEP TWO

Sprinkle salt all over your image like glitter. STEP THREE

Shake of excess salt and the picture is ready to decorate

STEP 4

Use a wet paintbrush loaded with watercolour paint to dab the salt and watch the colours spread

We ate strawberries whilst we painted in keeping with the very hungry caterpillar theme.

Wood Painting

We love doing this because the finished items are small and beautiful, we’re running out of display space for our masterpieces on paper but can always find space for little wooden shapes which have play value too.

You will need:

  • Newspaper
  • Paint palette (a plate will do)
  • Brushes
  • Wooden blanks
  • Paints

Mum Tip – To avoid the inevitable toddler brown splodges only provide colours from the same section of the colour wheel:

Red, yellow and orange

Yellow, blue and green

Blue, red and purple

If you mix opposite colours then you will get brown (red/green, blue/orange, yellow/purple)

Our flower paint pallet is from home bargains and the wooden rabbits are from HobbyCraft

Magic mess free painting

I can’t remember where I first saw this idea – probably a Pinterest board or another mum blog but it’s certainly one worth sharing!

We love mark making – I used to be happy with paint when we had laminate flooring and Arlo didn’t move quite so fast but with cream carpets and my little Usain Bolt on the loose this is the next best thing!

It’s a sheet of magic paper used to practice Chinese calligraphy. You use water instead of paint and it turns black on contact.

I gave Arlo and cousin Paloma sponge brushes and little pots of water and let them play – and it occupied them both for about 20 mins.

The paper clears once dry and you can re use it over and over again. It probably takes about 15 mins to dry completely so it’s something you can keep coming back to.

Paloma was quite delicate and happy making more intricate lines immediately whereas Arlo too a while but as soon as he figured out the water made the marks he started pouring it and splashing and patting with his hands

This magic paper is from eBay and cost me £5.50.

We have also tried the aqua doodle which is £15-20 from most high street retailers and creates colourful patterns but is often out of stock and also the Melissa and Doug “wow” books which are about £5 on Amazon which are great options for “on the go” (we’ve used them for travel and also at restaurants). They all share the same principle and I’ve noticed a definite improvement in the way Arlo does make marks and handle brushes and his utensils.

Creating a masterpiece

I thought I’d share a quick “how to” – this is such a simple idea, and if you get a couple of the steps right you can create something to treasure forever.

First things first – head to The works for your materials. You don’t need to spend huge amounts on things for arts and crafts, and their basic canvases come in all shapes and sizes.

You will need:

  • A canvas
  • Masking tape
  • Paints
  • Brushes

To get going use the masking tape to mark out something on your canvas – a name, a shape or just some random lines. We’ve tried hearts for gifts, a sunshine, initials etc – there’s no limits.

Now here’s where to focus – only put down one colour at a time to begin with. Use small amounts because it goes a long way. Try and stick to one colour per brush – this helps to stop everything becoming a brown mush.

The paint is going to get everywhere – just let it go! I use water based paints which do come off everything and I put something down, a tarpaulin or an old towel and have a pack of wipes to hand.

Here I’d just added the yellow – the order you place the colours is important – obviously Arlo doesn’t know about the colour wheel at this stage but we do – keeping red and green separate helps. It’s never going to be “perfect” but that’s the beauty of it.

Arlo was almost 14m when we did this activity and you can see in the video clips just how much he enjoyed himself. We spent about 45 mins painting and chatting about all the colours. Yes he did try and eat the paint brushes and we did make quite a lot of mess but he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

The final thing to remember is to be patient with your finished piece. Don’t peel back the masking tape until the paint is dry. I left ours in the sunshine whilst Arlo had a splash around in the bath tub.

And voila – this little canvas takes pride of place in my front room.

Have you tried this out? Do you have any ideas for creative projects I could try at the weekend? Share your experience in the comments