Olympic champions

Crafty, kids, let's pretend
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We’ve got olympic fever. Team GB are doing so well, I think it’s great for the children to get caught up in the patriotism and enjoy good, competitive sport (rather than the politically correct non-competitive nonsense).

Mind you, having just learnt to cycle, it’s quite difficult trying to explain to no.1 son why the sprint cyclists seem to want to go amazingly slow…

Nonetheless, I thought we ought to start early for 2012 by having our own home grown gold medallists.

We were sorting out school clothes (as I’ve learnt from last year not to leave it till the last minute) and found that the polo shirts that seemed to be enormous 12 months ago, are somewhat ‘skinny fit’ now, but were too good to simply throw straight in the bin. So with the help of my Sharpies, and a bit of imagination, I created these:-
olympic medal shirt olympic shirt back
Everyone’s a winner!


All I want for Christmas….

Crafty, games, kids, let's pretend
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….is a cardboard box.

Honestly, we sit watching advert after cheesy advert for ridiculously expensive toys (I’m not mean, but I consider anything over £30 for a child to be outrageous and a waste), and I know that despite all the ‘I would like that one please Mummy’ ‘I’d play with it loads’ etc etc that after at best, a week, it would be gathering dust in a corner.

But, bring home a cardboard box (free from work or a supermarket) which is large enough to fit a child in and you have a multi purpose toy. We’ve had it as a toy box, a garage, space city, a space rocket, a fire station, a house, a dog basket, a den….the list goes on and on.

It’s recyclable, reused and reeeeeeeeet great 😉

Bob the Builder would be proud (hmmm…it hasn’t been Sunflower Valley yet!)

Santa cam

Christmas, Crafty, kids, let's pretend
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You’ll like this one – it’s a crafty idea. That’s crafty, as in ever so slightly sneaky 😉

I know it’s depressing to think of Christmas in October, but let’s face it, the toy manufacturers are already plugging this years ‘must have’ toy during the commercial breaks.  If, like me, you’re increasingly fed up of ‘Mummy, I want one of those’, then here’s a tip from a colleague of mine (I can’t take the credit for this one, even though it’s sheer genuis!)

The only thing you’ll need is a house alarm motion sensor – the kind a lot of new builds have installed as part of the integral house alarm where the red light comes on if it detects movement within range.  In the scenario above, when faced with the 3rd ‘I really need one of those’ within the last 5 minutes, point to the sensor and say ‘That’s Santa cam – when the red light is on, he’s watching.’ Then it’s up to you to embellish the story to suit your circumstances.

I just live in fear of coming home to find no.1 son up a ladder dismantling the sensor to try and find Santa…….

Island hopping

Crafty, games, kids, let's pretend
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No, nothing to do with the Caribbean, rather another easy-to-make-way-to-help-active-children-get-rid-of-some-excess-energy game. It’s ideal for one of those days when the weather prevents you from going outside.

All you need is:-

  • plain paper
  • a few fleece blankets (I told you they would feature again!)
  • felt pens, crayons or pencils and
  • a little imagination

Blankets for island hoppingPieces of paper for island hopping


  1. draw a picture for each blanket (coloured square will do)
  2. cut or rip them into individual pieces
  3. write as many ways as you can think of for moving between the blankets (islands)
  4. cut or rip them into individual items
  5. place the blankets around the room (eg on the sofa and across the floor)
  6. hold up a piece of paper showing one of the blankets and one showing a way to move
  7. the child has to make their way from where they are to where they need to be without stepping in the sea (carpet)

They’ll soon learn to recognise the words and you don’t need to be Picasso to draw something they’ll recognise as a specific blanket – as the photos demonstrate!

Ahoy there, me hearties!

Crafty, games, kids, let's pretend
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It seems that all that sailing has got them in pirate mode again. So time for an improvised pirate outfit. This post deals with the pirate hat. Not quite a Jack Sparrow effort, more of the deck hand but still enough to keep them ‘quiet’ for an hour or so.

 For this, you’ll need an old child’s tshirt. One you can’t get the chocolate or fruit stains out of, or something too well worn to give to the charity shop is perfect.

So, scissors at the ready….

  1. Cut the sleeves off at the seam (but keep them for use later – they make good buccaneer boot tops, folded over the top of wellies!)
  2. Cut across the shoulder seams
  3. Cut down one side seam
  4. That should leave it looking like this…

Pirate hat tshirt template

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Sailing In the Night Garden

Crafty, kids, let's pretend
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Ok. I admit. I don’t understand that programme either, but there’s no denying that the boys love it.

Time for some quick and easy improvised Iggle Piggle antics of our own…

I used:-

  • an old baby bath (washing basket will do)
  • a fleece blanket (red if you really want to look like the real thing)
  • a piece of garden cane
  • some paper/card to make the sail
  • two wooden spoons (oars)
  • toilet or kitchen roll cardboard tube (telescope)

Iggle Piggle’s boat
I also let them choose from our vast array of fleece blankets (currently planning 101 uses for a fleece blanket post…) to make the sea.

Unfortunately no.2 son chose the zebra striped one, but hey, that’s all part of the fun!

We topped it off with a couple of related Lego models – a whale tale poking out of the water and a lifeguard tower (in case we needed rescuing as a result of falling into the sea) 🙂

“Don’t make me angry”

Crafty, kids, let's pretend
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Any child of the late 70’s and early 80’s will have automatically replied “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!” in response to the title of this post.

But clearly, everything comes back into fashion, as the Incredible Hulk has recently featured on the pull ups for no2 son. Hence when they were invited to a superhero fancy dress party, I couldn’t resist making a costume.

It was easy peasy. Green face paint is obviously a must – I like the ones from the Early Learning Centre, though in store, you can buy them as individual colours for £2 each. Personally, I prefer that as there are always some you don’t need in a pack.

So, other than that, just select some old clothes and chop ’em up. If you really want to go to town, I bought half a metre of wadding for less than £2 and stuffed some in the breast pockets of the cut up shirt to create pecs, and some more wadges inside the sleeves for bulging biceps (make sure the child has a tshirt underneath or the wadding will make them scratch like hell against bare skin).

Then just teach them the pose and roooooooooooaaaarrrrrrrrrrr!

Incredible Hulks

Ehh, What’s up Doc?

Crafty, let's pretend
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Following a lengthy spell of watching Boomerang, whilst on holiday, Bugs Bunny has become a retro favourite – a timeless classic (along with the ‘Tom and Jelly’ according to number 2 son. Story Makers has a lot to answer for…)

Anyway, we have recently had bestowed upon us the great honour of looking after our neighbours rabbit. I say honour- it’s rather a dubious honour as this rabbit is the animal equivalent of Houdini. I’ve been outside in my pyjamas at the crack of dawn having spotted the bloomin’ thing making a break for it, not to mention returning home to see it cowering under a bush at the entrance to the estate with every adult within a 2 mile radius trying to capture the elusive beast.

So, we have to feed this animal and were discussing what rabbits eat. The dried food looks a bit like dayglo cornflakes and number 1 son was a little perturbed as he is currently on a self-imposed healthy eating regime (nursery teaches them so much!). The topic of conversation then turned to carrots, and in my wisdom, I decided to knock up a craft carrot. To be fair, it only took a few minutes before breakfast, so should you ever find yourself in a position where you need to make a carrot, you’ll require:-

  • 1 A4 sheet of orange paper (or just colour a plain piece of paper!)
  • 1 A4 sheet of green paper
  • 1 cardboard toilet roll inner
  • some stickytape
  • and scissors

Picture of a craft carrot

Easy peasy – stick one end of the orange paper to the toilet roll to secure it, then wrap the sheet round and stick down the other end. Then roll up the green sheet quite tightly and stick the edge down to hold it in place. Cut some slits in it all the way round (like making a paper tree if you’ve done that before), grasp one of the resulting strips and gently tease the insides of the rolled up piece of paper out. This should make it look like the green leaves for the top of the carrot (well, it will to a pre-schooler…). Then, stick the green ‘leaves’ inside one end of the carrot, and fold and stick the other end into a point.

Bugs Bunny would be salivating at the result 🙂

Pirates ahoy – hunting for hidden treasure

Crafty, games, kids, let's pretend
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With all the hype about the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film, you can bet your little Captain Jack Sparrow will want to be hunting for hidden treasure at some point over the next few months.

So today, we played at pirates. A game suitable for indoors or outside, depending on the weather, it works best with 4 year olds and over (IMHO).

Start with deciding what the treasure will be. Cap’n Jack decided he’d like some snacks and drew a picture of what he’d like hidden (exhibit A below)

Drawing of treasures to be hidden


  • 1 banana, 1 apple, 4 cherry tomatoes, 5 grapes, 3 pieces of chocolate, some apple juice (I cheated and used an apple Fruit Shoot), 15 raisins, 1 babybel, 1 jelly baby and 1 pot of fromage frais.

Quite an eclectic mix! Rather than looking for gold, I covered the ‘treasure’ with tin foil, so it was pieces of silver instead.

Then, I drew a very basic plan of the garden. You don’t need to be Picasso as you’d be amazed what kids will be able to interpret. In true pirate fashion, X marked the spot.

Treasure map

And finally, the map was rolled up and put inside an empty toilet roll cardboard tube (which later doubled as a telescope!)

Land ahoy!

Let me show you to your seat

Crafty, games, let's pretend
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Tickets please!

As another Bank Holiday approached, inevitably, it was raining. So how could I entertain two active kids?

We’d been swimming, had a coffee and surfed the net at the local internet cafe, made robots with seed hair (keep checking back – will post about them soon!!) – what could possibly be left to do?

Then, I struck upon the idea of making a home cinema. Now by that, I don’t mean some fabulously hi-tech massive TV and surround sound made from cardboard boxes and sticky back plastic. This was the recreation of a cinematic experience, safe in the knowledge that if we actually took them to a real cinema a) number 1 son would be afraid of the dark and b) number 2 son would be talking about what was happening on the screen throughout the entire film.

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