It’s Not All Mary Poppins

May Day! May Day!

My apologies. This post should have gone up on Tuesday, which, as you all know, was in fact the first of May. (Which always prompts a rather rude rhyme my RAF grandfather used to recite on that day, over the protests of my grandmother, as it was most definitely not child-friendly. Fond childhood memories…) I missed posting. I didn’t miss making them, though, so you get to see!

I got the idea from The Fab Miss B, but can I find the inspiring post? I can not. Oops. It’s pretty self-explanatory, though. The one thing I might need to point out is that the toilet roll tubes need to be cut in half to make these teeny baskets. Oh, and the glue-gun, which I used to adhere the ribbon and the handles, is not in the picture. Oops, again.

Here’s what you need:

And here’s what you get!

Cute, no? Now, this craft is pretty much too difficult for my tots. They were involved, holding things, picking papers and colours, but really? I made them.

And then I “filled” them with these. The children did help with that, because we looooove baking around here! And this is their kind of baking: lots of stirring, no oven.

“Filled” in quotation marks, because the baskets are so wee, it took ONE peanut-butter ball to fill it. I sent a few more home with each child, wrapped in plastic. (Do I know how to keep my parents happy? Mwah-ha. It was either that, or eat the whole damned batch myself. Sooooo good!)

May 4, 2012 Posted by | crafts | , , | 2 Comments

Craft: Autumn Tree

Traditions. Traditions are a good thing. They root you, give you a sense of history and place. They mark events, times, places in a particular way. Toddlers understand tradition, in fact, they can be positively compulsive about them. Things have to be done in THE RIGHT WAY EVERY TIME, or… the world as we know it will fall apart, or some damn thing. I don’t know.

Still, I like traditions. I like creating them with the kids. One tradition we have — which none of them know about because either A) they were just about not born a year ago or B) they do not remember a year ago — is the Giant Tree on the Wall.

Every fall I make a tree. We make a tree. Until this year, the trunk and branches of the tree have simply been brown construction paper. Serviceable, unremarkable, effective. But this year I was INSPIRED!!!

The inspiration came, oddly, from that giant stash of toilet paper tubes in the craft room. What possibly connection could there be between toilet rolls and mural trees, you wonder?

First, you take a large sheet of fingerpaint paper. Blurp on a generous few dollops of brown and white tempera paint. And then — this is where Mary gets SERIOUSLY INVENTIVE — then you sprinkle on black tempera powder. Over the paint, over the bare paper. Doesn’t have to be even. Can be a bit blotchy. (Wish I’d thought to take a picture of this, but my hands were seriously gunked up at this point. Perhaps I will insert one later today.)

Then, with the help of your handy-dandy two-year-olds, you smear the paint and powder all over the page. You’ll get a very realistic bark tone, browner in some spots, greyer in others. Because you’ll have used lots of liquid paint, and because you’ve thickened it further with powder, you get DEPTH and TEXTURE.

But it still won’t look like bark. It will just be bark-coloured, slightly lumpy paint gooped on the paper. What you need to make it look bark-like is a toilet roll!!


A toilet roll around which you have very cleverly wrapped a bit of thickish string or yarn. (In my case, yarn, because that’s what I had.) Lightly roll the tube up and down the paper, until you get something that looks quite satisfactorily barkish.

Pre-rolled paint with tube, Ready for Action:

And, ta-dah! Post-rolled paint. This is, obviously, still wet.

Here it is, dried. (I don’t think this is the same page as the previous picture, but you get the idea.) The colour and texture will change somewhat as it dries, but if you’ve started with a thick, gloppy layer of paint, the texture will hold as it dries.

Trunk with branch attached. You can see the different colour variations. It works!

Entire tree — with son. Oops. How’d he get in there?

Entire tree, sans son. Isn’t it cool??? I cut that lowest sheet of paper on a curved slant only so that I could remove some paper that didn’t get paint on it. Now that I’ve assembled the tree, I think the curved edge makes the joint of the paper look much more natural. I may change the other, straight and very artificial-looking edges later.

This entire tree took five sheets of fingerpaint paper. Today we’ll be adding finger-painted pages of green, cut into puffy cloud-shapes to give the impression of leaves, because right now, the trees are still mostly green! And as the weeks progress, we’ll add more and more coloured leaves.

Fall officially arrives in a couple of weeks. Thanks to our Tree Tradition, we are READY!

September 8, 2011 Posted by | crafts, my kids | , , , , , , | 3 Comments