Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Christmas crafts for kiddies

As you know, we love our homemade gifts and crafts in our house. William loves art, painting and crafting, and so do I! So each year at Christmas time, we try to make some gifts to take back to Williams grandparents. 

Now all these activities are really easy to prepare and use materials that are easy to get hold of, you probably have them already at home! So enjoy having a go at these over the next few weeks!

Glittery Baubles

We went back to an old favourite, painting foil. Different paints make different patterns and marks, its shiny and crinkly and noisey too! 

Simply paint with any colours you like, older children could maybe do some nice patterns of lines or zigzags and spots. Once it is dry, apply some glue and sprinkle on glitter. Cut the foil into circles and mount onto card, I used a thin black pen to draw on the hanging details. 

Christmas tree, oh christmass tree...

Two Christmas tree crafts here for you. Firstly, a washi tape christmass tree. This is pretty self explanatory, cut lengths of washi tape and stick onto paper in a triangle shape. If you don't have washi tape you could use normal trips of paper or card, ribbons, wool, string, Pom poms, painted cotton wool, the options are endless. 

For this spiral Christmas tree, just do some nice painting onto a piece of card, then cut into a spiral shape once it's dry. I also cut out small circles from the painted card scraps and William glued them on as baubles. Again, you could add glitter, Pom poms, scrunched up sweet wrappers or foil. I think this would look really nice if you used a marbling technique to colour the card too. Go crazy! 

Use a hole punch or needle to make a hole at the top of the spiral to lace through some ribbon to hang it up. We added a little wooden star to finish it off. 

Salt dough

Salt dough always goes down well with kids, it doesn't matter what age they are! Let's face it, I would enjoy making adult versions too! I used this recipe for my salt dough, but there are loads out there on the Internet. We added cinnamon as thought it would smell nice on the Christmas tree. 

We used cookie cutters to make our shapes, as well as playdough cutters but simple circles work well too. In dubai, it's warm enough to leave the salt dough ornaments outside to dry out, but if your not living in the desert just wack them in the oven for a few hours on a low heat. 

Do you want to build a snowman?

I am afraid that is something you cannot really do in dubai, unless you visit the snow park at mall of Emirates! So crafting one will have to do instead!

There are loads of snowman craft ideas online, this is just one we tried so far. Simply sticking cotton wool onto a piece of paper, then adding googly eyes and a foam nose. I mounted him onto another piece of card and William did some Christmas stamping around the edge to decorate. 

Here's a few more ideas you might be interested in. If we get time we will work our way through them too in the next couple of weeks. 

Snowflakes - a classic, fold up a piece of paper at least 3 or 4 times (the more the better) and cut out little shapes. When you open the paper up you should have made a lovely snowflake.

Hand and foot prints- you can use your kiddies hand and foot prints to make loads of different animal designs. A foot can make a great reindeer, a hand can make a family of snowmen. Check out these ideas on Pinterest. 

Stamping - kids love print making, so why not make your own wrapping paper? You can jazz up some plain brown wrapping by making some Christmassy prints. Hand and foot prints wlike those above would work well, or just a good old potato! 

Baking - there are tons of recipes out there for Christmas goodies but these cookies caught my eye. They are so cute! If you don't have time to bake the cookies yourself, you could simply decorate some shop bought biscuits like this, using marshmallows and icing. 

Well there you have it, our little round up. Some of these would make great little gifts for grandparents, or entertain your kids on a Christmas themed play date! 

Please let me know how you get on with them, or share with me your own ideas! 

'J' week- back to school

Ok, so after the sparse letter I activities we did, J week was crammed full!

J for Jungle

I like activities which also get us out the house and get us moving! So for this jungle collage, we went for a walk around our neighbourhood here in Dubai. Obviously we have glorious sunny weather here every day so any excuse to get out there and enjoy it! We went in search of some leaves for our collage and William liked practicing his scissor skills cutting them off. We have a lot of these tall grasses here and they make perfect tickling sticks! Hehe... Gets a giggle out of both of us.

J for Jellyfish

We found some awesome books at the library all about jellyfish. We picked one story one and one that had simple information about jellyfish. William really enjoyed reading this non-fiction one. I was advised by my mother in law, a retired infants teacher, to pick at least one non-fiction book each time we go to the library. I understood the idea behind it but wasn't sure what William would think as we always read story books. But he loves it! He actually learnt from the book too, and can tell you that a jelly fish has a bell, and tentacles that hang down from it. 

We used the book as a basis to do a collage of a jelly fish. William used cut up bits of foil for the bell and tentacles, as well as wool, cotton wool and wrapping ribbon. He finished it with some rather attractive blue painting!

He also had a go at making some jellyfish out of old toilet roll tubes. If you read my blog regularly, you will know we seem to work toilet roll tubes into most weeks. William enjoyed painting the tubes, and I finished them off by making holes for the yarns and ribbons to be tied into. Googly eyes (another favourite) and a happy little smile completed them nicely!

Wibble wobble, wibble wobble, Jelly on a plate

I don't normally do many sensory activities. No particular reason. I just guess I try to do things that are quick and easy to get my hands on and don't have time (or quite frankly the inclination) to dye rice into rainbow colours etc. 

However, jelly... This I can do. Empty packet, add water, put in fridge. Job done. William helped me to make it and did lots of stirring. Then when it was set later on, I gave him the bowl and a spoon and said, 'have fun!'

Surprisingly, he didn't get too messy. If you have a child that has a tendency to get messy, maybe do it in the bath or the garden where you can simply hose it away after. (The jelly, not your child). 

There are many reasons sensory play is good for kids. Using jelly is a pretty good option as it doesn't matter if kids end up eating it. When I took William to baby sensory when he was about one year old, they used cooked spaghetti too. Slippy, slimy, gooey, squashy. Great fun for little kids.

J for Jonathon

My husband has a friend at work called Jonathon. Williams collage of Jonathon is pretty accurate. 

Check out his writing underneath! I wrote Jonathan's name in pencil and William copied over the top. Don't think it's too bad considering Williams not yet three! 

How are your letters coming on? As always, please share your ideas! 

'I' week- back to school

Whoa... Apologies for the short post for 'i' week! We have been so busy recently and to be honest my mind seemed to come up empty when trying to think of letter I activities. However, here are a couple of the things we did and some other ideas for you!

I for iguana 

Introducing William to the shape of the letter I, we created this collage. Adding spikes and eyes to turn it into an iguana. Thanks to 'a little pinch of perfect' for this idea! I'm not sure what the red lines coming out of his mouth are all about... You'd have to ask William that!

You may have noticed that there are a couple of 'I' letters on the page too. William does seem to enjoy copying the letters when I write them, and has even done a few sheets now where he copies the letters made out of dots. I printed a set off the internet, sorry can't remember the link now but there are loads of them out there. He only seems to want to do it if it's his idea though! So I cleverly leave the letter page out on the table for a while and he often finds his way to it at some point in the week! 

I is for Icecream

I imagine most people like ice cream. I know I do... Cookies and cream, caramel and praline, good old brownie chocolate chip... I'm not fussy. (Note to self, buy ice cream at next available opportunity). 

William loves gluing and sticking.... And glitter! So cue another collage of colourful papers he can stick down. This activity promoted discussions about lots of things, favourite flavours, colours, counting the scoops of ice cream, shapes of the papers etc. you could number the pieces of paper so that kids can glue the, down in number order too. I think I might try that next time we do an activity like this.

We also had a go at making our own healthy ice cream. We blended up some strawberries and plain yogurt with a sprinkle of sugar then put it in the freezer. Unfortunately we didn't have many berries left and I think it would have been nicer with more fruit in it. But its a good way of getting fruit into little ones who think they are having a treat. 

Other letter I ideas

Indigo - Go in search of any items you can find in the house that are indigo coloured. Cover a page in indigo coloured paints, crayons and crafty bits. If your children are a little older, maybe try tye dying some fabric this colour?

Inventions - Possible another one for older children, read about inventions! I have seen some great books at the library and when William is a little older I'm sure we will get more books on this kind of non-fiction topic. If you don't have a local library to go to, just try the Internet. I often just search on you tube for clips for William to watch. 

Ink - Stamping with inks always goes down well with William. You can get some gorgeous sets now, I like the Melissa and Doug ones. Alternatively, just buy some inks and make your own stamps using potatoes and sponges etc.  (why is it now, when I am sat writing this post, am I thinking of all these things and not when I actually wanted to do them?!)

Well that about does it for now. I hope you are enjoying the lead up to Christmas. We have been busily crafting away and preparing for our trip back to the UK to visit our families. I love the weather here in Dubai, it's lovely here at the moment, dare I say it, even a little chilly in the evenings when your out. So I will miss that, but also look forward to wrapping up warm, log fires, and misty walks to the country pub!

'H' week - back to school

We had a great week learning about the letter H. Lots of activities to share today...

Happy reading

William and I are really enjoying our trips to the library each week. Every Sunday we go for story time at the ductac library in the mall of Emirates and try to pick some books that focus on our letter of the week. We found this great one by Dr Seuss, 'Hooper Humperdink...? Not him!' And we dug out old favourites from Wills collection, Hamiltons Hats and The Highway rat by Julia Donaldson. We did some artwork based on some of the books we read, I'll show you some in a bit.

Our first craft was to introduce William to the letter H, filling the letter with all the stickers we could find that began with H. 


We also got this book from the library, 'Elma and the Hippos'. William did some painting on a piece of paper which I then cut up into shapes to make a collage of a hippo. William glued on all the body parts and googly eyes. You can't go wrong with googly eyes in my opinion. We stuck a piece of cotton wool under the hippos head to give it a bit of a 3D look. 


Will loves play dough, so making this hedgehog out of playdough and cut up pipe cleaners kept him busy for a while! 

We also had a go at some sewing. I made this hedgehog out of an old cereal box, don't judge me, I made it pretty quickly as when I have these weird ideas, I make them fairly quickly without planning! I used a hole punch to make holes randomly around the edge. I gave William a large needle that I use for wool as it's not very sharp, and tied a length of wool onto it so it wouldn't come loose. 

He weaved the needle with the wool through the holes in any direction he fancied. I think it looks pretty good! It was great for his fine motor skills and learning to be a bit more accurate with his hand movements and aiming. I may give this a go again with him for some Christmas decorations. 

Salt dough hearts

As part of a Christmas pack for family back in the UK. I used a salt dough recipe I found online and added some cinnamon for a nice winters smell! William used our cookie cutters to cut out Hearts and painted them with poster paints. I finished them off with some string. 

Building Houses

William loves gluing and sticking, so collages are a fab little activity to do with him. Building this house allowed us to talk about shapes, colours and how an 'H' is formed. This is really quick to prepare, I sat down one evening for about ten minutes, just cutting out the shapes for him and drawing the windows. Of course, if you have older children, they can do the cutting and drawing themselves too. William enjoyed it so much, he made two, one for us, one for a friend at daddy's work. 

We also built a house using his large lego blocks (and towers, because you always need to build a tower when your using bricks), and lined the blocks up in the shape of an H. 

Horse ride

This was also the week I took William for a horse ride. He absolutely loved it! Check out my post here about our trip to Desert Palm Polo Club, Dubai. 

Well I hope you have enjoyed our round up of H activities. As always, please let me know if you have a go at any yourself with your kids. We would love to see them! 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Turtle feeding - mina a Salam, madinat jumeirah

What a beautiful setting for our little outing this morning...

We took a drive down to madinat souk jumeirah today, here in Dubai. It is one of my favourite places to go in Dubai. It is so gorgeous and there are some lovely shops and restaurants to go to! 

The main reason for our visit today though was to see the turtle feeding at the turtle rehabilitation centre at Mina a Salam. Every Wednesday at 11am and Friday at 1pm, you can head down and join in with feeding the turtles.

The turtle rehabilitation centre are doing a fab job of rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing the turtles back into the wild. It would be great to go along to see them release some into the sea one day, so I'll keep an eye out for that. If you would like more info then check out their website; there is a link to their Facebook page there too.

William enjoyed throwing the bits of food in for them, lettuce, carrots and other veg. It was a great free activity to do with William and I enjoyed talking to him about why the turtles were there and that they were being looked after. And to keep mummy happy we had a cheeky milkshake and a browse round the shops! ;) 

Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project
Mina a Salam, madinat jumeirah, Dubai
Phone 043017198

Turtle feeding Wednesday 11am, Friday 1pm.
Lasts approx 20-30 mins, free.
Go to the al muna restaurant and head outside.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Desert Palm Polo Club - Pony Riding

We had a special treat this week and paid a visit to the Desert Palm Polo Club! It's a beautiful location, not too far off the 311 old emirates road here in Dubai. A little oasis of green and nature in the middle of a bustling desert city! 

There's quite a lot going on at Desert Palm, with competitions and riding lessons, so definitely check it out if you love horses. I took William along with a couple of his friends to have a pony ride. He had an awesome time! I was a little worried that as he is pretty young and hasn't done this sort of thing before, that he may freak out and not want to do it. But I had no reason to worry! He was a little star! As soon as he selected his helmet, he was whisked onto a horse and immediately became an experienced cowboy! 

He grinned the whole time! The horses were fab, really well behaved and the stable hands leading them around were nice and slow and cautious with the kids. I snapped away like the proud mummy that I am! The grounds of the club were beautiful and it was so nice to have a wonder around while other riding lessons were going on. It made me think back to my childhood, when I lived on a farm and rode horses every week. I wanted to dump my stuff and find a horse for myself! Maybe next time! 

It was so nice that Williams friends could come along too. Liam, pictured above, is going to turn two next month, and he thoroughly enjoyed it as well!

The ride lasted about 10 minutes or so, and afterwards we were allowed to take a stroll through the stables and visit some of the other horses. I must say, some of them were huge! So who knows what the little ones were thinking when they were gawping up at them! 

We had a brief coffee in the little coffee shop and a walk around the grounds, checking everything out. We will definitely go again sometime soon, and maybe take a picnic next time. If you have been to Desert Palm, how did you enjoy it? I would love to hear your experiences too! 

For those of you who are thinking of going, here's the details....

Tel: +971 4 3238010 

Pony rides 4-6pm, Saturday - Thursday 
Cost: 20 aed for approx. 10 mins
Ages: under 5

For riding lessons for over 5 year olds, just contact the polo club at the number above. Info above relevant as of November 2014. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

'F' week - back to school

We kicked off our 'F' Week with some fish activities. 

Painted Foil Fish

This was a really simple but fun activity for William. I gave him a large piece of kitchen foil and some paints and just let him go mad! It gives a great effect and William really enjoyed doing it. Once it was dried, i cut it into a body, and three fin shapes. I let William glue them down onto the paper and used a sharpie to draw on the details of the fish.


Now if i was at all prepared and thought ahead, i could have done some firework painting with William for bonfire night. But i wasnt. Ah well. 

But we did come across this little way of painting that William thought was absolutely awesome! I had an old spray bottle  and filled it with water and some food colouring. As we were doing the fish art work we chose blue. William loved spraying the water all over the paper, and table... and parts of the floor. I would say that food colouring is possibly not the best to use as its really hard to clean up! Some water colour or just watery poster paint would possibly be better. 

I think this would be a great way to do paintings of fireworks. If you have a nice outside space, maybe try doing it on a HUGE piece of paper. I might try this soon!

Continuing on with the fish theme, we had a little walk around the Dubai Mall and watched the fish in the big Aquarium. Kids love aquariums (and so do i), so a trip to an aquarium for F week would be great fun. If you cant manage that, maybe try a local garden centre as they often have fish for sale that you can go and look at too! 

Here in Dubai there are a few Aquariums, Dubai Mall Aquarium is great as you can walk through an under water tunnel. Atlantis on the Palm is also an amazing one, a bit pricey but definitely worth it! The coloured jelly fish were our favourite.

Fort Making

I have seen some awesome forts on Pinterest, tee-pees, tents and homemade ones. So this morning i quickly put this one together for William. Williams Grandma bought him two of these little tents for his birthday last year. We filled one with blankets, cushions and some special teddies, so that he could get comfy and read some books. I am hoping this will be a little cosey den for him to sneak off to entertain himself, we'll see how that goes!

You don't need your own tents for this, just make your own! Use some chairs as walls, and sheets or duvet covers to cover them, fill it with blankets, soft duvets and pillows and dive in!


We also made some Flapjacks for 'F' week. But in the excitement i forgot to take some pictures! Oops. Anyway, there are plenty of recipes online, we used this one... Chewy Peanut Butter Choc Chip bars. They are fairly healthy and you can beef them up with lots of dried fruits and nuts. 

How has your week been? If you have had a go at any of our activities please let us know! I would love to share them!

Friday, 7 November 2014

'G' week - back to school

G week was great fun! We took inspiration from 'a little pinch of perfect' and created this G for Giraffe picture to begin.

G is for giraffe 

 I was really pleased with how William started his painting for the G, he actually controlled his paint brush really well and kept to the shape. It was only when he got a bit over excited about it that it went a bit blobby! I am definitely seeing an improvement in his control and movement when colouring, painting and writing. I'm so pleased! I actually feel like I am doing a half decent job! 

We have joined a library here in Dubai and really enjoying attending. They do a story time on a Sunday morning which we have been to a few times now and William is really loving it. He has always had a love of books and reading, so he listens really nicely and participates in the singing too! We got some great books from the library for G week. 'Giraffes can't dance' developed into us dancing around the room, if I was prepared for that I would have printed off some giraffe masks for us to wear! 

Gingerbread men 

William loves using cookie cutters. More so if he is using them on biscuits he can actually eat. But never the less this activity was especially good as it meant we could make some bits for Christmas gifts. I used this recipe for cinnamon salt dough so they should smell nice on the tree. Personally I can only really smell the cinnamon when up close, so maybe I old put more cinnamon in next time. A bit of paint, sharpie for details and a bit of string to hang them up they were done! 

Glittery baubles 

Another Christmas related craft here, but the technique can be used for anything really. We revisited the foil painting that we did last week in order to make some baubles for cards. William painted onto foil and once it was dry, I cut them out for him to stick onto card. He then used a glue stick to make sploges on them and sprinkled Glitter on top. I actually think they are really cute! I finished them off with a thin black pen to add the string details. 

Get, Get, Going!

A few other ideas for Letter G crafts...

- Garden - William was let loose to do some free painting of a garden. Basically turned out with splashes of random bright colours, in no particular shape. When it was dry, we added some stickers of flowers and trees, leaves and butterflies. If you have slightly older children, simply doing some observational drawing of your garden would be awesome.

A treasure hunt or nature trail in the garden would be fun too! Draw or print some things you would find in the garden onto some paper, and let the kids go searching for them, ticking them off or colouring them in as they find them!

- Growing - growing plants or seeds would be a great activity for kids. It would give them a taste of responsibility for watering and looking after the plants, as well as the satisfaction of seeing it grow! We had a go at growing some cress seeds. These are soooo easy to do! And you don't need anything special to do it! We literally stuffed some tissue into an empty toilet roll tube, placed it in a small bowl and put some cress seeds inside the tissue. With regular watering they grew well, and quickly! 

- Grape prints - we ran out of time to try this one but we have done something similar before. Using an empty toilet roll tube (anyone would think I am obsessed with these at the moment!), dip the end in some purple or green paint and print onto some paper or card, creating a bunch of grapes. We have done this before but for hearts by squashing the tube into a heart shape. For more ideas like this try here... 

- Glasses - remember back in September when William and I made some gifts for my husbands birthday? Well he wears glasses a lot, and has developed a rather large collection of them. So we added to it by making some toilet roll (haha... Again... I'm seriously not doing this on purpose!) glasses. William painted a tube with some nice bright colours, the. I cut it into sections and cellotaped some pipe cleaners on to bring it all together. 

- Guitar - Try making one out of a shoe box and some string. Or if your little one already has one, get them to play the Guitar in the Garden while wearing Glasses and eating Grapes!

I hope you have enjoyed our round up of activities for G week. If you haven't already. Head over to A little pinch of perfect for more letter of the week ideas. And please share and send with me your photos and activities for letter week as we would love to see them!

Friday, 17 October 2014

'E' week - back to school

E week with William has been a lot of fun! If you haven't seen my previous posts, William and I are focussing on a letter of the alphabet each week. We do crafty activities based on that letter, read books, form the letter in different ways and spot words beginning with it.  Here is our week in pictures...

Elma the Elephant

I began by roughly drawing so,e squares onto a piece of paper and asking William to colour each square a different colour. As William is not even three yet, this was easier said than done, so he needed a little help. We then Recycled a toilet roll tube by sticking on the coloured squares. I made some ears with a cut to slide them onto the tube. These got the Elma make over too. Googley eyes and an accordion trunk later and Elma is complete!

Letter forming

We tried a few different ways to make the 'e' shapes this week. First up was William trying to place his building blocks in the shape of an e. I think he kind of got it, at first he just seemed to pile them all on the paper in no particular shape. We also used pipe cleaners and bent them into shape and used the letter print outs I found to try and trace and copy them. William is doing surprising well at those actually, he is definitely trying to make the right shapes, I just think he needs to work on holding the pencils properly and controlling them a bit more. 

E for Elephants

Elephants obviously featured heavily in this weeks activities. So we had sticker mosaics (a cool sticker book William was given in the summer that had an elephant in it), stickers on an E (eyes, elephants, engines, eeyore), and an elephant mask (William wasn't too keen on wearing the mask so I let him take a picture of me in it). 

Another use for those coloured squares... An Elma collage, along with the book we had from the library. I think the Elma toilet roll is my favourite, it makes me giggle every time I look at it! 

Somehow, after all this, we managed to fit in some fun social time. Along with the regular visits with Williams friends, we went camping on the beach in Fujairah. We had a laugh and the BBQ was good, but note to self... Don't go camping again when it's 35oc at night still. Basically, only 3 hours sleep. 

We also went out for dinner with some friends from hubby's work. I snapped this picture as we were waiting for our car outside the hotel. When I went to look at it later, I couldn't believe how grown up William looks. He has changed so much in the year we have been in Dubai! 

Well that's our week. How have you all been?