Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Goldfish kites for Chinese new year

This is our third craft so far for Chinese new year which is on February 3rd, the children have been having so much fun preparing for all the festivities, and have learned so much in the process. I think this craft was their favourite and caused many delighted squeals as they played with their creations.

We decided to make a goldfish kite, goldfish are considered very fortunate in China especially at the new year and signify abundance. This is another very simple kids craft and we have used a inner tube from a kitchen or toilet roll as the base for our goldfish and covered it in orange crepe paper. We then attached 2 fin shapes to the side with a glue stick and many long strips of crepe and tissue paper to one end to represent the tail.

As you can see from the above photograph the design is pretty self explanatory, little googly eyes were added to make it more fish like. Initially we intended to draw on scales but the crepe paper had an interesting texture so we decided to leave the goldfish as it was.

After the glue was dry, string was attached to the front of the goldfish, which was then attached to a stick or a piece of dowel if you prefer. This allows the goldfish to fly out behind the child as they run about, it has an effect a bit like a wind sock. The children also loved twirling them around above their heads in large circles, as I said earlier this has been by far their favourite craft and it gave them hours of fun.

 These are the 2 goldfish kites hanging up for a rest at the end of the day, just waiting for tomorrow. Our cat thought this was a cool craft too, he was fascinated by the tails as they whizzed past him.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Chinese New Year - Red Envelopes

Another craft in early preparation of the coming Chinese new year on February 3rd, this time we have made the lucky red envelopes (Hong Bao) that are usually given to children for the new year celebrations filled with a lucky amount of coins. There are many beautiful examples of these envelopes, but in the interest of crafting with small children I have kept this simple.

The above photograph shows the small red envelopes in various stages of being cut out, folded and glued, a very simple packet shape. Next I printed off some  Chinese words for my son to practise writing, we chose the word Fu which means luck.

Now I would like to point out that we do not normally speak or write Chinese so if our writing is incorrect or says something offensive I would like to apologise in advance as we only intend to learn something of the celebration and the culture. I'm sure my husbands parents will inform me, if this is not correctly written as they both speak and write Chinese very well.

These are the finished envelopes, we had some trouble getting the writing to show up using a metallic pen, gold paint would be more ideal, so we have used a glue pen and gold glitter. Closer to the New year these will be filled with a lucky amount of coins, probably 8, and given to the children.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Chinese New Year Lanterns

Chinese new year of the rabbit starts on February 3rd, we are planning more than one craft and hoping to learn more about the Chinese celebration so we are getting an early start again. This first craft activity is aimed at very small children, it is a very simple craft and I'm hoping to get my kids glitter lust out of the way.

Every one has made these lanterns before but I'll briefly explain as I go along in case you have forgotten. First fold your A4 sheet of red paper in half length ways and cut strips almost to the edge as seen above. open out and let the kids go to town decorating, I tried to get them to keep to red and gold mostly to keep the lantern looking Chinese. We glued tissue paper strips along one edge to act as like tails and rolled the paper up, stapled the edges together and also attached the handle.

This is the finished lantern, the children made one each and they are now hanging up on the door as a decoration for the new year celebration.

Of course they had to spend some time running around with the lanterns flying behind them like kites so I am lucky they are still in one piece.

                                                 Happy New Year China for February 3rd

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Decorating Candles

We thought we would get an early start on the up coming celebrations, and start some of our crafts early. On February 1st / 2nd there is the Pagan festival Imbolc (or on the 2nd Candlemas if you are a Christian), I have to find crafts suitable for a very independent 2 year old and a 6 year old to participate in, so for the festival we have decided to decorate candles rather than make the candles.

I had the idea that a nature inspired,decorative candle would look very nice and thought we would stick the rest of the flowers that we have already pressed to the pillar candle, the children have also added some of their own ideas too. So we have started by pasting PVA glue on the candle and sticking dried, pressed leaves and flowers, we have also added some plants and herbs from the garden and some coloured leaf skeletons too.

This sort of craft can be done by any age group, I had the idea that I might make one myself using a tapered candle and some tendrils but haven't got round to that yet. Once the children were happy with their designs the candles were left out to dry.

Once dry an adult can brush over the leaves and flowers with melted wax to seal them in if you choose to. The photograph below is of the finished candles, the children are quite proud of these and no glitter in sight for a change. All ready now for February 2nd. What do you think?

*Safe candle burning rules are ALWAYS observed in our house, no candles are ever left burning alone for even a second or any where they can be knocked into by children. Please keep an extra vigilant eye on any modifications you make to any candles. These candles are beautiful for decorative purposes, if lit anything that may fall onto the flame should be safely removed first.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Change of direction

It seems such a long time since I have written anything here, we have all had the flu over Christmas starting with the smallest ones on boxing day and then spreading through the rest of us like a plague. It has been a really horrible virus and we are still coughing and finding it difficult to breathe sometimes but we are improving everyday thankfully.

There have been lots of stargazing activities for us to use our new telescope on, which was kindly gifted to my son, by a lovely lady who we met through free cycle. This has enabled him to continue to learn about his love of astronomy. The above photograph was taken on the day we received the telescope, while he was trying to learn how to operate it. In the last few weeks there has been a lunar eclipse, a partial solar eclipse, a few meteor showers, visible planets and so much more.

My son has had a really difficult decision to make over the holiday season, this is whether to continue going to the football coaching classes that he was enjoying so much or not. We have left this decision to him, even though we wanted to stop him going due to the pain he has been in with his feet and legs after his surgery earlier this year, see here. We have obviously comforted and supported him while he was thinking about his options and he has come to the very painful decision that he can no longer go to football classes, participating has put him in so much pain afterwards that it often led to both of us in tears. We have wondered whether he is in more pain due to the cold weather, so he will assess how he feels when the weather warms up slightly. Bless him.

As it is a new year, I also asked him what he thought he might like to learn more about this year, he stated that he would love to learn more about his first love, dinosaurs. This will be a difficult challenge as he seems to know so much about this subject already, he is like a mini professor. The photograph above shows some of his fossil teeth collection. The thing he would most love to do is go on a dig as he is sure there are still new species of dinosaur to be discovered, he would love to be involved in finding something 'like a real palaeontologist'. So you can see my predicament, how am I going to pull that one off ?  Maybe we could visit some of the fossil rich areas and where they can be seen in the rock, I'll have to see.

The other things he is interested in studying at the moment are the Nature Journal project that we will be starting soon, he loves nature and this will be his way of documenting the world around us from his point of view. Also the Victorians have captured his interests, he has been watching lots of documentaries, reading books and even watching programs designed to show you exactly how they lived and worked. Looks like we will be very busy then!