Great Gifts

As we settle into a new year I thought I’d just take a few moments to re-look at some of the great gifts we either received, gave or made over the Christmas season. Many of these were inexpensive and easy to make and yet were so much fun and were loved by all.

We made our own tags and wrapping paper and then…..

Knight #1 made everyone calendars with personalized photos for each person. we then laminated these and they were so well received by every one.

Knight #2 made stress balls and these were a great hit.

The twins made Ginger bread flowers for the girls and gingerbread men for the boys.

Maiden#1 made an assortment of gifts. Including notebooks and a fantastic biscuit recipe book for me! Yum-yum!!!

Gifts that our children recieved that were a great hit were a hairdryer for Maiden #1 (and her own tube of toothpaste – so she doesn’t need to share with the other little people) The boys were over joyed with their FIFA computer game. Knight #1 was thrilled with a bird call CD whilst Knight #2 is enjoying a soccer activity book. The twins are loving their Sylvanian families toys.

But the best gift by far was from their aunt huge piece of plastic, some dish-washing liquid and the garden hose!

Christmas Decorations

As we spent this year celebrating Christ as our king we decorated our table in red and gold. To do this we made crackers, serviette holders and angels as part of our Christmas decorations. I’d say above all the serviette holders were easiest to make and yet so effective.

All you need is some gold cardboard, scissors, glue, tape and sequins.

We simple cut some gold card with zig-zag shapes and then cut the strips in half.

Using wood/cold glue, we added 3 red and gold sequins to the strip.

Lastly we taped the strip shut to make the ring and added the serviettes.

We then make a thinner and longer crown to add to the top of our Christmas cake. It was decided that we’d simply make a small Christmas cake this year, so we cooked it in a bowl that looked a bit like a crown. We then iced it with royal icing and added gold and red balls to it, with the odd red icing flower. The crown was the final touch. The cake was so simple yet so effective in summarizing our advent celebration of Christ our King.

As a final gesture and touch we added little gold gift bags that was personally tagged and had a chocolate and homemade magnet inside – each magnet had a Bible verse on it celebrating Christ our King.

Although the decorations were simple and easy to make the theme and colour scheme meant a lot to the children and not only made it memorable but helped them remember why exactly we spent a day celebrating a baby born 2000 years ago birth today.

Christmas Angels

This year we spent our advent time focusing on Christ our King so our colour scheme for Christmas was red and gold. At the last minute I decided the table looked a bit bare so I had to figure a quick fix for the next day – here are the instructions for the gold angles we decided to add to our Christmas table.

You’ll need some gold cardboard and gold doylies, if you don’t have gold ones you can use white and spray paint them – but then you need to allow time for them to dry, tape and scissors.

Cut the cardboard into circles the same size as the doylies for the bodies and smaller circles for the heads. Then cut a straight line from the edge of the large, body circle to the centre of the circle.

Then fold these to make a cone and tape them closed.

Cut the doyly into quarters. Use 2 quarters to make the wings. Place them in the correct position and tape them together then tape them to the body. You may need to use your fingers to place them in the correct position.

 

Next roll some tape so it becomes double sided tape and use it to add the head to the body.

 

There you have it some lovely angels for your Christmas table!

Christmas Crackers

Not sure about your corner of the world but here we all love popping Christmas Crackers on Christmas day – however we find they are so expensive and the contents are always so disapointing!

For his reason, as part of our year end celebrations, we have over the past six years made out own crackers. We have found a shop that sells the cracker part very reasonably and that is what first inspired us to try make our own. If however you can’t get your hands on these I’d still suggest trying to make your own as your are then able to choose prizes that suit your family, you can choose your own colour theme and your children are able to be apart of the making of them. We’ve found that what makes our Christmas times so special is that the children are fully involved – no things often don’t look perfect and are often not as I imagined them but the fun we’ve had making them always outweighs that.

Firstly you need to gather your materials:crepe paper, raffia, toilet roll insides, glitter, glue, scissors and treats.

The process is as easy as cutting the paper, adding glitter to it.

on the back of the paper add a strip of glue along each of the longer sides. Set the toilet roll on the glue and then roll it closed.

Once this is done take the raffia, cut it into small pieces and tie one end of the cracker – this also teaches important fine motor skills such as tying knots.

place the treat inside….

And tie the other end shut!

These are so easy to make and the children really enjoy this Christmas activity!

Have Fun!

Year End Celebrations

 

We love Christmas. It is such a special family time that allows for us to re-look at our  basic believes, celebrate family and helps us train our children in the art of giving.

I still have the desire to do a full-out Christmas of giving to the poor and lonely on Christmas day but with little people this has not yet been a reality. Therefore we spend time focusing on giving to family and close friends. This involves every child making gifts for others.

As a family we’ve decided to separate Christ’s birth and St Nicholas. We therefor celebrate st Nicholas day  – in our own family way – on 6 December. This has been great as St Nicolas was an amazing man and his life teaches our children to give. This sets the tone for our festive season.

This year we added the celebration of Hanukkah which happened  to fall over Christmas and this too has helped us focus on Jesus as the light of our lives.

Finally we celebrate Christmas by making our own Christ centered decorations, we make Christmas crackers, our Christmas cake, cards and gifts. On about the 16th December we go tree hunting and spend an evening putting up our tree – which is a whole adventure in its self. Christmas day then begins with stockings, us going to church, Christmas cake and gift giving and which is then followed a huge family-lunch.

It’s taken us 10 years to formulate what works well for us, how to keep Christ the focus and how to have relevant fun activities running through out this time of year and with that we have created many fun family traditions and memories that will last for ever!

Autumn Arts

As we move into Autumn take time to look around your and see all the changes taking place these can give you many things to talk about and note. Take out books on autumn and enjoy discovering this season with your child. Pop over to the article on Autumn Learning to get some more ideas on how much fun this season can be!

Autumn Art

Fallen leaves, acorns and grasses provide amazing art and craft tools.

Place Mats

    1. Simply collect autumn leaves – that are not yet dry and crisp
    2. Use wood glue to glue onto coloured card
    3. Cut out some wrapping paper pictures such as butterflies and stick them scattered around the leaves.
    4. Once Dry take it to be laminated
    5. Hint: Cut around the cardboard with zig-zag scissors. 

Grass Bookmarks

    1. Cut coloured board into bookmarks
    2. Stick pretty grasses onto it with wood glue
    3. Laminate or put contact on these
    4. Punch a hole in the bottom and add a ribbon as a “tail”

“Acorns & Seedpods” – Noughts and Crosses

  1. Collect 6 acorns and 6 seedpods
  2. Choose 2 coloured boards of card.
  3. Cut one into a square and cut 4 thin strips off the other.
  4. Stick the strips onto the square to make a noughts and crosses board.

Happy Playing!

Easy Craft Cards

Thank You Cards

Making Thank You cards is not only easy and fun but gives the kids a great sense of satisfaction. Children love to do things for a reason and making a card to thank someone for a gift is a great reason and it enhances so many important preschool skills. 

 

Simply start by discussing who you are writing to and why. If your child is under 3 ask them to tell you what to say and you can write it. If however they are older you can write their short message and they can trace it.

Let them think about the coloured card they want to use and how they want to design it before you get going and then assist them – only when needed.

Placing some wood glue in an old meat tray and by using a sucker stick they can slosh glue onto their thank you card and stick just about anything onto it!

Once it is all dried you can help them address the envelope and post it.

A simple easy task that you must try! It is lots of fun and teaches them so many skills. 

Play Dough Recipe

We just love play dough and I have found the most amazing recipe that keeps in the fridge for months.

We keep each colour in a separate packet for as long as possible but eventually it all ends up mixed together and then it’s time for a new batch! Play dough is used for rolling and cutting activities which are fantastic for fine-motor and large motor development. We sometimes use it to make baskets or snakes and the kids love rolling it between their hands. Other times it is whipped out to be used in a maths activity or as food for the dolls. This last week my older son even used it to balance the nose of his glider he’d made for a science experiment.

The little ones love using it but it isn’t unusual to notice one of the older children hi-jack the activity. This is one easy to make, cheap educational product that you can make readily available to your child at any time. Have Fun

Play Dough Recipe
from Jackie French’s book “Natural Solutions”
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 Tablespoons cream of tartar
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons veg oil food colouring

Add all ingrdients – except food colouring – into a pan. (You can add a few drops of Dettol, eucalyptus or tea-tree oil to make it last longer) Stir until smooth over a low heat. Once thick like dough, take off and leave to cool. Divide into balls and add food colouring to each ball and knead in. Keep in the fridge in an airtight container and throw out any bits that become discoloured or smell.

My 7yr old make a viking ship!

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