How to make a paper plate clock

Whether you are teaching your children to tell the time or just want a great craft activity, a paper plate clock is an excellent way to get talking about time as you make one.  Both my boys have watches and use them too.  The Watch Hut has some great childrens watches that are perfect for telling the time. paper plate clock What you need:
    1. Paper Plates
    2. Split Pins which are sometimes called Paper Fasteners
    3. Pen's or crayons
    4. Card
    5. Paper numbers (for younger children)
    6. Scissors
How to make 
  1. Cut out the hands from contrasting card, making one longer than the other for the minute hand.
  2. Place the numbers round the clock, this is easier if you to the 12, 3, 6 and 9 first.
  3. Make a small whole in the center of the plate for the hands and use the split pin to secure
Variations - You can use two paper plates like we did to make lift up flats and put the minutes underneath.  Alternatively you can add them to the outer rim of the paper plate and colour the minutes past one colour and the minutes too another colour. clocks Free clock printable from Mini Eco.  If you don't even feel like making your own clock, then you can print off one of Kate's free printable here. 3.
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Something for the weekend – Winter Olympics Edition

olympic crafts and activities We are so excited in the Mad House that the Olympics are upon us again.  I love the winter olympics and it is a little known fact that Mini was named after a scottish skier!  So this week's something for the weekend is dedicated to Olympics.

Make your own Olympic Torch

For inspiration we took a look at the previous torches and discussed what a relay race is.  We also looked at the torch being used for this winter Olympics Olympic touch make your own  What you'll need:
  • 1 sheet of white construction paper
  • Clear tape
  • Red, yellow, and orange tissue paper, 12" x 12" square of each colour
  • White craft glue
 How to make it:
  1. Roll the construction paper into a cone shape, tape closed.
  2. Layer the tissue paper squares, red on the bottom, then orange, and yellow on top.
  3. Gather from the centre of the squares and hold in your hand like a bouquet of flowers.
  4. Put some white craft glue into the sides of the opening of the cone.
  5. Place the tissue paper into the cone and let the glue dry completely.
Variation: For older children why not make it look more authentic, by covering the torch with bubble wrap to represent the holes and paint with gold paint.  I also love this torch painting by J Daniel4's Mom

 Other Olympic activities

olpympic-medal-chart We had great fun making our own medal chart.  This was a super opportunity to discuss why Countries often have different spellings to how we know them and to look at their flags and where they are in an atlas or on the globe.  I adore this flags of the world bunting by No time for flashcards. Below are some other great activities for older (6 plus) children:
    • Be a reporter at your favorite event at the Olympic games.  Try to encourage descriptive words and ask lots of questions, which should encourage this.  Including What is the sport about?  How is it played?  What is the weather like? What is the atmosphere like? What is the score? Who wins and how do they do it?
    • Pretend you have won a gold medal at the Olympics.  How would you feel?  Try writing a speech that you would give after winning a medal.
    • Write a biography of your favorite Olympian.  Use the internet to find out information and write about your favorite Olympian.  How old are they?  What sport do they do? You could even draw a picture of them.
    • Design a poster for your favorite Olympic sport.
    • Junk model your own ski slope
Olympic Activities for Preschool and toddlers Picture1 The Olympic pictograms above would be perfect to print off and make a matching game with.  They are really beautiful.

Great Books about the Olympics

Make sure you are following our facebook pageGoogle + page or on Pinterest for lots of Winter Olympic crafts and activities over the coming weeks.
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Something for the half-term holidays – let your kids become an Animal Champion!

February half-term is just around the corner, which means a number of parents are frantically searching for a various action-packed activities suited to the entire family.  Giving parents the perfect option to keep the kids entertained while teaching them vital life lessons, the RSPCA is launching their Animal Champion campaign – the perfect antidote the humdrum nature of half-term. rug A lesson worth learning Those who have pets at home will already know how important it is to care for animals. Aside from showing them love and affection, caring for an animal comes with plenty of responsibility and requires owners to ensure the safety and health of their pet. Animals need consistent exercise, must be fed throughout the day and groomed on a regular basis. It can be hard work having a pet but the love received in return is certainly worth the effort and this is what the RSPCA wants to reinforce. Animal Champion Logo Become an RSPCA Animal Champion Not all animals are fortune enough to have a happy home and that is one of the reasons for the RSPCA Animal Champion scheme. The animal charity hopes to encourage children to become a champion to teach them a number of important lessons when it comes to caring for animals and provide parents with an easy way to keep them occupied over the holidays. What’s involved? To sign up, parents will need to apply for an RSPCA Animal Champion toolkit. You can sign up for this online and it costs just £15 to do so. Inside the kit, you’ll find a challenge checklist poster, a number of video updates and a choice of several challenges. Prior to beginning these challenges, it’s important to sit down with the kids and help them choose five of their favourite ones. These challenges can be completed both inside and outside and involve the likes of baking cakes, becoming a detective for the day and organising an animal themed sleepover. There’s even one fundraising challenge to embark on for those who want to help raise money for this worthy animal charity. Rewards for all Children who complete five challenges will receive their very own special award and certificate, which of course should take pride of place on their bedroom wall. Aside from being presented with a certificate that proves they’re a fully-fledged Animal Champion, this fun-filled scheme is a great way to teach your children the differences between right and wrong when it comes to properly caring for animals. This training will hopefully encourage them to teach their friends and family similar morals in the future; spreading the word about animal care far and wide. Visit the RSPCA website for more information on the work of this great charity and for details on how to help your kids become an Animal Champion. The Animal Champion scheme is open to children between the ages of 6 and 12 years and costs £15 per pack/child. The closing date for applications is February 12. 18.            
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The ultimate guide to crafting with stones

If you children are anything like mine then they will always return form an outing with some sort of treasure.  We are lucky to live five minutes from a beach and I have to check the boys pockets each time we come home as they always have stones in them. crafting with stones Stones or beach pebbles are so tactile and make a great crafting and activity material and I am going to be using them for this week's something for the weekend, so do come back on Friday to see what we have been doing with the ones they collected this weekend. One of our most favorite things to do with stones is to add them to our memory jar.

Memory Stones

memory stones Memory stones are so simple to make, but are perfect for using to encourage crafting and also to help instill memories in children.  We make them each summer to record what we have done and the boys adore making them. All you need are some pens, sharpies are great for this and some stones, oh and a jar to put them in. We like to place them in a clear jar so we can look at them and watch as they increase over the summer.

Story Stones

unknown-2 When I saw this great activity over at Happy Hooligans I knew I had to include it.  You do not need any artistic ability just some pictures and glue.  Jackie explains how she did it, so go and take a look.

Stone Pets

pet stones The boys made these stone pets way back in 2009 when they were only 4 and 3!  They have really stood the test of time and are so simple to make. Materials:
  1. Stones
  2. Acrylic paint
  3. Paintbrushes
  4. Googly eyes
  5. Glue
  1. Paint the stones with acrylic paint and allow to dry.
  2. Use different colour paint to add your decorations
  3. Glue on eyes
If we make these again, I will varnish them with a clear polyurethane varnish so we can put them in the garden. craft-materials-blog-hop  This post is part of Cratulate's guide to 50 craft materials.  
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Blowing away the cobwebs

valley gardens cliff view alvin mini maxi ball January was dark, wet and dismal and we were determined for February not to be and a Sunday with sunshine and no rain meant blowing away the cobwebs and taking a trip to the beach.  There was a flask of hot chocolate (with marshmallows to add) in the rucksack and then the first icecreams of 2014 for the boys (lemon twist for Mini and Blackcurrant and Licorice for Maxi). All this fresh air was followed up by fabulous Roast beef and yorkshire puddings made my MadDad and the boys. A perfect sunday.  
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Heart bookmarks

We are big readers in The Mad House and love books.  So when Bostik invited us to be part of their craft club and come up with something with a selection of craft things they sent us we decided to make heart bookmarks in celebration of reading and valentines.

Simple glued Bookmark

card book mark This bookmark is super easy for children to make. Materials:
    1. Card
    2. Decorative paper
    3. Heart stencils (we printed out hearts about 3 inch and then 2 inch in size)
    4. Glue - we used Bostik All Purpose Glu & Fix Clear Extra Strong Glue
  1. Cut out the larger heart in the car and the smaller one in decorative paper (or you could use one of your children drawings)
  2. Place the smaller heart on the large one and glue the top two thirds of the hearts together, leaving an opening for page marking.

Felt bookmark

felt heart book mark Felt is a great fabric for teaching children to sew as it doesn't fray. Materials
    1. Felt
    2. Heart template
    3. Scissors
    4. Thread (we used silver)
    5. Needle
    6. Embellishments
    7. Glue - we used Bostik All Purpose Glu & Fix Clear Extra Strong Glue
  1. We decided to use the three inch template from our previous bookmark and with a soft pencil drew around it on to the felt and cut out two hearts.
  2. Then placed the right sides of the fabric our (our felt was more glittery on one side.
  3. Thread the needle and tie a know in the end of the thread to prevent it coming through the felt.
  4. We stitched the sides from around two thirds down in a running stitch.
  5. The boys then went though my buttons and embellishments until they found what they wanted (A large white snowflake) and they stuck it on the felt.
hearts collage bostic
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Something for the weekend – Heart Activities

something for the weekend header Valentines Day is just around the corner and this weekend we are focussing on some heart activities which are suitable for doing as a family.  First up is our Family Heart Art.  I am a sucker for making art as a family and love things that we can display seasonally that mean things to all of us, just take a look at our family art christmas tree to see what I mean.

Family Fingerprint Heart Art

  family fingerprint heart Materials
  1. Canvass (I love the hard board ones for little fingers as they can press as hard as they like without damaging the tension)
  2. Paint - We used red and white acrylic, but any paint works
  3. Paper
  4. Low tack tape
  1. I drew a heart on to a piece of paper and cut it out the size I wanted our fingerprint heart to be.  If you want something more precise then print out a heart and cut it out.
  2. Fasten the stencil to the canvas with low tack tape.
  3. Place some red and white paint on to a paper plate or palate
  4. Take turns in dipping finger in and making fingerprints on the canvass.
  5. Allow to dry before removing stencil
  6. Date the canvass
heart art collage   There are some great heart art out there, this valentine heart mosaic is great for younger children who love glueing and sticking as it encourages them to try and keep in the lines or print out this fab activity printable for using in the car if you have to travel.   You could brighten up your windows with this lovely heart window collage and use up any heart cut outs you have with this amazing heart window collage at Hands on as we grow. For those of you with preschoolers here is a great collection of valentine sensory activities and why not improve cutting skills with these broken hearts.

Look for hearts in Nature

  Shape-Walk-Tree-Trucks This activity was inspired by Dansom Lane who went on a shape walk in their local forest.  We are planning on going on a beach walk to see if we can find heart shaped stones to decorate and also look in our local woodland for heart shaped leaves.  If the weather is bad, why not take a look round your own home for heart shapes or look and see if you can see heart shaped clouds in the sky.

Acts of Kindness

  Why not use this time of year to discuss acts of kindness and the fact that being kind is something that we should all do as much as we can.  It makes me think of the song "Love is like a magic penny" which I learned as school.  By giving it away you get much, much more in return.  Maggie from Red Ted Art has a fab 31 days of love series at the moment, so if you have time why not make something from it to gift to someone. heart crafts The boys are taking lollipop flowers in to school for their friends next week. and we have been making heart bookmarks (for their teachers) with our craft pack we received as part of our Bostic Craft Club membership.  See more on this tomorrow! Whist talking about kindness, I adore this hug jar, perfect for moment when we all need a little pick me up. and we will certainly be making a valentines heart happy wall.  I am also going to do a heart map with the boys too (and one for myself).  A "I love you more than....." picture would be perfect for loved ones this valentines day too.

Kids Books about love

  One of our most favorite books is all about unconditional love.  No Matter What by Debi Gliori.  It is an emotional hug in a book. Debi manages to use beautiful lyrical words to reaffirm that a mothers love is limitless in such a beautiful way.  We were introduced to this book when my mum died, but even now my boys love this book.  Other books about love: sftw   I hope your weekend is filled with family,. love and laughter and do let me know what short of things you would like to see featured. Make sure you are following our facebook page, Google + page or on Pinterest for lots of heart crafts and activities over the coming weeks.
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Something for the weekend – Bird activities and crafts

something for the weekend header   Welcome to the first ever something for the weekend #sftw.  A regular series which I hope inspired you to make, so, see, cook and just generally enjoy family time at the weekend.  The idea is to provide simple activities that can fit into family weekend.

 Bird Watching

  live_bird_counter_tool This weekend is RSPB Big Garden birdwatch, so I thought I would so a something for the week with this in mind.  The birdwatch only takes an hour of your time and is a great way to introduce different birds to your children.  You can print out a checklist (or use their online tool on your tablet, desktop of mobile phone) from the RSPB website and they also have information of what to do to attract the birds to your garden.  If you want more bird based activities, they also have some great family fun activities on their web site.   Alternatively you can find a super free bird watching printable book here at Buggy and Buddy

Bird Feeders

    bird feeders When I was decluttering my kitchen this week, I am ashamed to say I come across a rather large amount of very out of date nuts and seeds, so rather than throw them away we decided to make bird feeders with them. Ingredients
  1. Bird seed or nuts and seeds
  2. Lard or solid vegetable fat if you are vegetarian.
  3. Yoghurt posts or other pot (we used jelly jars)
  4. String
  5. Cookie cutters
  6. Greaseproof paper.
  1. Pop your block of lard in a large heatproof bowl and place over a pan filled with simmering water.  The aim is to softener not melt the lard.   If you are doing this with small children you can do this by vigorously beating the lard with a wooden spoon.
  2. Stir in the bird seed
  3. lay your cookie cutters out on wax paper and fill half way with the birdseed mixture.
  4. Cut your twine, knot the end and push the knot down into your birdseed.
  5. Continue to fill the rest of the cookie cutter with  birdseed, covering the end of your twine and knot.
  6. press down on the birdseed so it is compact.
  7. Allow them to dry overnight and then remove from the cookie cutters and hang them
birdfeeder collage We also made some in pots, which do not have very well as they are rather large and heavy, put they are perfect for popping on top of bird feeders.  Another way to do this is to use pine cones.  just mix the lard with seeds and oats with your hands – lovely messy fun and swish it into the pine cones. Then refrigerate and hang.  You really can just use what you have in.  No seed or lard, then do not despair you can use peanut butter and loo roll to make bird feeders! .  Or if you have some cheerios, then try these fab cheerio bird feeders from Happy Hooligans.  

Pinecone Owl

  pinecone owls You can find the instructions to make this adorable pinecone owl here.  You only need to have pinecones, glue, Felt, (or you could use craft foam or even card if that is all you have) and googly eyes.

Books about birds

bird books

  I hope you like this and would love any feedback you can give me.  If you are looking for other bird crafts you could always make bird cards, handprint duck,  foam birds with feathers or these fab play dough feathered birds.  I adore this fab creative writing ideas from Nurturestore.  Buggy and Buddy has a great roundup post all about learning about birds. sftw
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Grandma’s Chicken Soupy Stew

This is my Mum's recipe and it is a family favorite with both the boys and even better it is frugal too as it uses up the chicken carcass for making the stock.  You could make it suitable for vegetarians by using vegetable stock and substituting the chicken.   If you do not have much chicken then a broth pack is a great way of bulking it out and I have to say I love adding pearl barley to mine. It reminds me of dinner round the table when I was growing up and there was always a fight for the extra dumplings! chicken soupy stew
5.0 from 4 reviews
Grandma's Chicken Soupy Stew
  • Chicken Carcass
  • Leftover roast chicken
  • Vegetables
  • Suet
  • Self raising flour
  1. Place the chicken carcass in a slow cooker and cover with boiling water.
  2. If you have any leek or carrot tops then add them too and cook on low overnight.
  3. Strain the liquid and if you want pick off any meat from the bones.
  4. Allow the stock to cool and remove fat from the top.
  5. Place the stock in to the slow cooker and add chopped up vegetables. This one had carrots, swede, parsnip, leeks and onions.
  6. Add chicken.
  7. Cook for 4 hours on high in a slow cooker or 8 hours on low.
  8. For the Dumplings (this makes 8)
  9. g of vegetable suet and 200g of self raising floor in a bowl.
  10. Make a well in the middle and add water, mixing with a butter knife until it comes together.
  11. Form loosely into 8 portions
  12. For a crispy top cook in the oven uncovered for 20 minutes.
  13. For a soft top leave on high in the slow cooker for 30 minutes.
Perfect for cold winter evenings.  I guarantee empty bowls for this meal!  It also freezes well and is great warmed up and you can blend the leftovers to make a smooth soup perfect for flasks. soupy stew This is our favourite winter warmer recipe and we are entering it in the competition.
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Something for the weekends

something for the weekend header Weekends are often busy, filled with things to do and places to go for most families, but I also want them to be a time where you can create as a family and make the most of each other.  With this in mind I have decided to run a weekly post on a friday featuring fun, fabulous and simple ideas for a creative family weekend. These will be seasonal ideas of simple things that you can fit into your frenetic family life along with homework, movies, birthday parties, shopping and everything else a busy parent does. I will give you a list of materials needed (most of which you will be able to find around the house or supermarket) and then some inspiration of what to do with them and hopefully help you fill your weekend with less #screenfree time. But I need your help with this.  I would like to know the type of things you would like to see.  Do you want arts and craft, cooking, baking, ideas for outdoor play or a selection of all? I do not want to make life more complicated but to encourage you to enjoy the simple things in life and slow down.  I want to encourage us all to put down our mobile phones and to be the change we want to see in our children. I am not looking to make life more busy, but to help you find a balance and inspiration.  I want to encourage our children to not reach for their screens at the first sign of boredom. So what do you think? Are you up for reestablishing the connection with your children, for being a child again and having some fun? Are you ready for something for the weekend?
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