Advent 2017: Day 8

Thumper is a little bit under the weather today, so it’s been rather quiet around here. He perked up after a little rest, so we still managed to make it a productive day.

P.S. We are following the Advent calendar from Truth In The Tinsel this year!

P.P.S. Check out our other Advent posts here with lots of crafty fun for the season and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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Author Showcase: Satoshi Kitamura

We at Owls Well are completely unapologetic about receiving hand-me-downs, especially when those hand-me-downs include awesome books by awesome authors!

Satoshi Kitamura is a Japanese author-illustrator and his bright and bold, incredibly detailed watercolour pictures are sure to captivate even the youngest reader in the household.

I particularly love his quirky stories featuring funny animal characters presented in a comic-book style. It also has interactive components that oftentimes cannot be reproduced on other forms of media!

For example, the book, What’s Wrong With My Hair?, features cutouts that make for tons of fun when reading it with the little ones. This is one of Thumper’s current favourites and we take turns sticking our faces through the holes in the book! He laughs like mad and sometimes tries to talk to the picture on the facing page.

satioshi-kitamura-book-kids-cutout

Can your Kindle do this?

It is this very book that inspired J to make his own cardboard cutout Photo Booth years ago.  I think it’s a great way to get kids crafting on their own using recycled materials.

I also really enjoy reading this kooky story about a boy who wakes up one morning and has switched bodies with his pet cat. Elijah Wood does a brilliant job of reading this hilarious book on Storyline Online (where you can find hundreds of other videos of celebrities reading great storybooks)

If you’re looking for a really fun book for a little one that you know, check out the links below!

Get Me and My Cat? by Satoshi Kitamura here

Get What’s Wrong With My Hair? by Satoshi Kitamura here

Find books by Satoshi Kitamura on Amazon

Find books by Satoshi Kitamura on The Groovy Giraffe 

(Amazon and The Groovy Giraffe are our favourite online bookstores for buying children’s board books! Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Owls Well possible.)

Upcycling for kids: Make Captain America’s Shield using MATH

All those who choose to oppose his shield must yield!

All those who choose to oppose his shield must yield!

J is seriously into superheroes right now, and I mean seriously, mummy I’m really serious about superheroes. Earlier this year he attended a party and was given a bright blue domino mask to bring home, which he immediately dubbed his ‘Captain America’ helmet.

Which is why we decided to make him a shield to go along with it, out of some cardboard boxes that I have been hoarding in the storeroom for such a purpose.

Instead of making a flat shield using a single piece of cardboard, we decided to give it more shape and depth by stacking the circles of cardboard on top each other to approximate the concave-convex appearance of Captain America’s circular shield. As a guide, we decided to use the shield design from this old copy of the Avengers comic.

Materials:

  1. Large Cardboard Box
  2. String
  3. Pushpin
  4. Pencil
  5. Stanley knife or box cutter
  6. Glue (we used PVC glue for this)
  7. Red and blue paint (we used tempera paints for this project)

Instructions:

The red, white and blue'll come through

The red, white and blue’ll come through

1. Draw five circles of diminishing circumference sizes on the large cardboard box: To get the round circles, I had J draw the circles using a length of string with one end pinned to the cardboard and the other end tied to a pencil. Then we shortened the string by an inch and repeated the process five times. This is a great way to physically demonstrate the concept of a circle’s radius, diameter and circumference, as well as the relationships between them.

2. Use a sharp Stanley knife to carefully cut out each circle.

3. Use blue paint to cover the entire surface of the smallest circle. We used tempera paints as they are kid-friendly and washable, but you can get a much nicer, brighter colour using spray paint or acrylic paint, or by adding a layer of varnish or ModPodge to get a nice glossy finish.

4. Use red paint to cover the entire surface of the biggest circle and the middle-sized circle.

5. For the 2nd largest and 2nd smallest circle, we decided not to paint them white. This is because white tempera paint tends to disappear into the brown cardboard and you need many layers of tempera paint to get a good white finish, which will soak into the cardboard and weaken it’s structure. Instead, we peeled off the top layer of cardboard to expose the corrugated centre, in order to give it a contrasting texture.

You are my star

You are my star

6. Next, we drew a five pointed star onto the small blue circle. This is a great way to demonstrate the relationship between a convex polygon (in this case, a pentagon) and a regular star polygon! Using a stanley knife, J carefully traced the outline of the star, then peeled off the cardboard to expose the cardboard centre.

7. Using PVC glue, we glued the circles one on top of the other, making sure to line up the exposed pleats of the corrugated board so that the pleats are all in the same direction.

Double strap time

Double strap time

8. For straps, we cut out two long strips of cardboard around 5cm or 3inches wide and glued them to the reverse surface of the shield, making sure there is plenty of room to comfortably pass one’s arm through the straps. (If you want to be super fancy, you could use thick cotton or felt strips and space them further apart so that the shield can be worn like a backpack!)

9. Prepare the men to do battle!

Upcycling for kids: Houses from boxes

A little village

A little village

So, I had a couple of little empty cartons, so we decided to turn them into a little box village for all of J and Little E’s Lego minifigs.

Materials:

  1. Empty cardboard boxes of whatever size you fancy
  2. Ruler
  3. Pen
  4. Scissors
  5. Double sided tape or glue
  6. Crayons or oil pastels
  7. Tempera paint

Instructions:

The more you turn me inside out

1. Start out by dismantling the boxes. Carefully tear apart the flap on the inside of the box using your finger, so that the box is now completely flattened.

2. Using a ruler or straight edge, draw a line down the centre of the box using a pen.

3. Use scissors to cut along the two narrow panels of the box, stopping at exactly at the line.

4. Crease the two narrow panels along the line.

tape-cardboard-house-base

5. Turn the box inside out so that the blank part is facing out, and then glue or tape the sides and bottom of the box back together. (We used double sided tape). Make sure the cut narrow panels at the top are left free. As you can see, we chose a box that had a perforated hole, and we left that at the bottom as the door of the house.

roof-paper-cardboard-house

6. Fold the two narrow panels towards each other to form the roof of the house and fix together with tape or glue (we used double sided tape).

7. Using a pen, trace the outline of your roof onto the two wide panels.

fixing-roof-cardboard-house

8. Trim the spare cardboard straight across the top of two wide panels.

9. Crease the two wide panels along the pen outline, and tuck them into underneath the roof or on top of the roof, whichever is easier. You can fix them with glue or tape if you wish!

SONY DSC

10. Draw in windows using black wax crayons or oil pastels, then cover your little houses with paint!

Wax-resist Easter egg decorating craft (and 15 more kid-friendly projects!)

Easter is just round the corner! If you are scrambling around for some last minute Easter or Spring-themed projects, or you are planning to throw an Easter Egg hunt and are looking for ideas, here is one simple egg decorating craft for you which can be done with your preschoolers (or kids and grownups of any age!).

HOW TO MAKE WAX-RESIST EASTER EGGS

First, colour patterns or draw pictures over cool boiled eggs using wax crayons. Pick bright or light colours like yellow, orange, pale green and pink. Younger kids can just scribble lightly over the eggshell. If you use brown eggs (which is what we did), don’t be worried if you cannot see the patterns right away – they will show up later, as you will soon see.

Scribble away

Step 1: Scribble with wild abandon

Prepare the egg dye in a deep bowl. We used 1 cup of plain water and a 1/4 cup of plain white vinegar, along with half a teaspoon of liquid blue food colouring. I chose blue because it would contrast with the yellow and orange crayons that we used.

Step 2: Prepare the dye

Step 2: Ensure that fingers are perfectly manicured

Using a spoon, we dropped each egg into the bowl until they were the desired colour. The longer you soak the eggs, deeper the resulting colour will be and the more brightly your wax design will show up. We used a long handled spoon to rotate the eggs in the dye to give it an even colour.

Step 3: Drop in the eggs one by one

Step 3: Create Egg Spa with Spoon Massage

Don’t be afraid to put the eggs in the dye for a second round if the colour isn’t deep enough. We used brown eggs, so each one came out a slightly different shade of turquoise, but if you use white eggs, the colour will be more even. Experiment with different patterns and let your imagination be your guide!

Step 4: Make different patterns

Step 4: Oooh and Aaah

J and Little E really liked how the food dye made their patterns appear as if by magic! J made a few eggs inspired by the Lego Movie’s Good Cop-Bad Cop character, whilst Little E was much more abstract in her designs.

Good Egg-Bad Egg

Good Egg-Bad Egg

If you need some more ideas, here are my 15 favourites from around the web! These are all kid-friendly projects so you can do them alongside your kids too.

Picture credit: Scissors Paper Stone

Picture credit: Scissors Paper Stone

1. Resurrection Eggs tutorial and free printable from Scissors Paper Stone This is a very simple tutorial – kids can practice their scissor skills to cut out the ovals from the free printable designed by Jasmine of Scissors Paper Stone, and you can even string the eggs together to make a bunting decoration! You can put your own messages on the paper eggs or print out the accompanying symbols and Bible verses to teach kids about Easter. There are also a ton of really simple tutorials for very pretty Easter decorations on Jasmine’s blog that you can do together with your kids!

kids-easter-bunny-celebration-face-paint-fun-1

Picture credit: Sakura Hakura

2. Easter Bunny face painting from Sakura Hakura I really like this creatively done Easter bunny costume! The bunny ears are simple to make and the bunny face paint can be achieved with simple blusher, eye shadow or powder and eyebrow pencil – so you don’t have to rush out to the store to buy special face paint. 7055478635_65ab1a9141_z 3. A brilliant list of Easter book recommendations and colouring pages from Princess Dana Diaries With the symbols of Easter – eggs, bunnies and chicks – plastered over every store window, kids may wonder what it all means. It’s worth checking out some of the books from the Princess Dana Diaries booklist – which are all available at any public library in Singapore! There are also some free colouring pages on there – great for keeping kids occupied if you’re planning an Easter party this weekend.

easter resurrection

Picture credit: Olimomok

4. Hot Cross Buns from Olimomok Debra and her kids made those delicious looking hot cross buns together. They seem rather straightforward and easy to do – and I bet they taste REALLY good when smothered in butter and jam!

kids-craft-bunny-rabbit

Picture Credit: A Juggling Mom

5. Upcycled Easter Bunny Tutorial from A Juggling Mom I have a soft spot for upcycling things around the house and turning them into fun toys for the kids and this craft is entirely made from bits and pieces around the house! I especially like the use of the shoebox – you can decorate the lid and then turn the whole lot into a portable playset.

6. Suncatcher Eggs from Life is in the Small Things This is a really quick and easy craft and is perfect for Easter Egg Hunt parties. This tutorial features little foam shapes and stickers on laminating paper, but I think it would work just as well with torn up coloured tissue, crepe paper or cellophane which would give a really pretty stained-glass effect!

Picture Credit: Sew Country Chick

Picture Credit: Sew Country Chick

7. Yarn egg garland from Mod Podge Rocks This particular craft uses regular 12″ balloons to make giant Easter eggs, but you can also made it using tiny water balloons filled with sweeties – pop the balloon afterwards and the sweeties will remain inside the yarn egg, making it a cute candy gift for kids.

Picture Credit: Artists Helping Children

Picture Credit: Artists Helping Children

8. Easter lily handprint bouquet from Artists Helping Children This is a very lovely paper and pipecleaner bouquet which kids can make themselves, using a rolled up handprint on plain white paper! I think it would be very pretty and meaningful as a Mother’s Day gift or even a Teacher’s Day gift!

Picture Credit: Glooshmoo

Picture Credit: Glooshmoo

10. Towel bunny from Glooshmoo I really like this cute little towel bunny – my 3 year old can make it too! Use a very thin, short pile face towel to make it easier for little fingers to manipulate. The tutorial calls for coloured push pins to make the eyes and nose, but I think you can get an even cuter effect with googly eyes or paper eyes stuck on with double sided tape – and you won’t run the risk of getting pricked in the fingers either.

Picture credit: Home stories A to Z

Picture credit: Home stories A to Z

11. Easter Bunny Bunting tutorial and free printable from Home Stories A to Z I like the idea of making this into an edible bunting with chocolate eggs. That would be just yummy. Just make sure you hang it in a cool area so that the eggs don’t melt! If  chocolate eggs aren’t your thing, you can even replace the eggs with a fluffy cotton ball tail  or turn the bunting into a ‘pin the tail on the bunny’ game for your Easter-themed party!

Picture Credit: Spoonful

Picture Credit: Spoonful

12. Cotton Ball Lamb from Spoonful This is a great one for preschoolers, using just cotton balls and a paper plate – simple and straightforward and it looks really cute too! Download the template from the link so that you can trace and cut out the sheep’s head and legs onto black or pink paper.

Picture Credit: Willowday

Picture Credit: Willowday

13. Clucking Rooster and Bunny from Willowday This is a really brilliant toy – which doubles as a rattle! Willowday even has a short tutorial video to show you how to put it all together.

Picture Credit: Dagmar*s Home

Picture Credit: Dagmar*s Home

14. Clothespin hatching egg from Dagmar*s Home The picture is pretty much self explantory!

Picture Credit: Inhabitots

Picture Credit: Inhabitots

15. Leaf print easter eggs from Inhabitots I really like these very pretty nature themed egg decorations! The edible dyes used to make these are all homemade from various vegetables and the recipe is included in the link.

ENJOY YOUR EASTER WEEKEND!

Upcycling for Kids: Cardboard + plastic biplane model

Ready for the Red Baron!

Ready for a Dogfight!

After the Chinese New Year holiday, we had a ton of Yakult bottles and empty cartons (from the boxes of oranges that people were exchanging) lying around, so J and I decided to turn them into a cool model Biplane!

I tried my best to model the biplane after the Sopwith Camel[1] that Snoopy uses in his epic battles against The Red Baron.

Materials:

  • Cardboard scraps
  • Cardboard toilet roll 
  • Small plastic bottle (we used a Yakult bottle for this as it has the same diameter as a toilet roll)
  • Scissors
  • Any sticky tape or glue (PVA glue or white school glue is best. We used masking tape.)
  • Optional: Paint
Adding some colour

Adding some colour

Instructions:

1. Cut out the various pieces of the aeroplane out of the scrap cardboard and paint them. You will need two wings, two struts/wheels, one propeller and one tail fin (made out of a rectangle and a triangle shaped piece). I made a template of the various parts that you can refer to as a guide (or you can print it out, glue it to the cardboard and cut around it). Just click here to download the free printable template[2].

2. Create the plane body:

  • Attach the plastic bottle to the cardboard roll, so that the tapered end of the bottle acts as the ‘nose’ of the plane. We did this by jamming the Yakult bottle into one end of the toilet roll.
  • Glue or stick the propeller onto the ‘nose’ of the plane.
  • To make the tail fin, glue or stick a triangle perpendicular to the centre of a rectangle.
  • Cut 3 slits, about half an inch apart, on the other end of the cardboard toilet roll.
  • Slide the tail fin into the slits in the cardboard roll. The flat end of the triangle goes into the middle slit whilst both ends of the rectangle can be fitted into the slits on either side.

3. Add wings:

  • Cut 4 slits in the bottom wing of the plane, along the bold line.
  • Fold the struts/wheels along the dotted lines to make a U shape.
  • Slide the struts into the slits on the bottom wing of the plane, making sure that the wheels on each side are on the bottom of the plane, in the two slits in the centre.
  • Place the body of the plane in between the struts in the middle. Adjust the body so that one third of the plane sticks out in the front and two thirds at the back. Glue or stick into place. Adjust the struts so that the top of the struts are roughly flush with the top of the plane’s body.
  • Place the upper wing on top of the struts and glue into place.

Now you are ready to fly!


[1] Yes, I know that the Sopwith Camel propeller has only two blades on it! We used some artistic license ok?! Geez.

[2] Want to share this free printable? Thanks for being generous but please direct readers to this post for the actual file. All my downloads are intended for personal use only with your home printer. Commercial use or any sharing or distributing of these files is strictly prohibited.

More Cardboard Fun – Star Trek Cutout Photo Booth

kids-imagination-boxes-play

Look! I’m a green lion!

So, continuing my series of recycled cardboard crafts, here’s another one that I made.

Mum bought a new vacuum cleaner and I cannibalised part of the box to make the roof of the space rocket. I still had these cardboard panels leftover which had holes in the middle.

I didn’t have any plan for them, but J got them out of the store cupboard and was running around the house, playing peek-a-boo with it. Then, he put his face to the hole and started pretending to be a green lion (rarrrr Mummy rarrrr!).

This gave me an idea.

I got out one of my sharpies and doodled on the blank side of the panels. Now J can be a pirate, or a surfer! Cool, huh?

DIY-photo-booth

Say ‘Arrr’ or ‘Cowabunga’!

J was really happy that I took his brilliant idea seriously in making this collaborative craft. He was very proud of himself for coming up with the idea!

Anyway, I thought to myself, why stop there? MAKE. IT. SO.

Which is how I came up with this Star Trek-themed cutout, featuring two of our favourite Starfleet officers (and the different Starships that they captained). I used a black sharpie to draw the pictures, and then painted it using tempera paints.

I think it’ll make a great prop for a party photo booth!

recycle-box-star-trek-photo-booth

J says ‘Engage!’.