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Friday, January 24, 2020

DIY heart wall hanging

We have a wall in our living room that is known as the craft wall because we use it to show off all of the craft, paintings, drawings etc that the girls have made. We usually theme the display and add to it as they make more pieces and then change it over when a new holiday comes along. It was recently full of Christmas drawings and paintings and now we're switching it over to a Valentines display. Usually it's only filled with the girls masterpieces, there's never a shortage of fabulous artwork to hang because they create something nearly every day, however this time I decided I'd get my crafty mum hat on and make a heart wall hanging myself. I did it in secret at night while they were asleep so it was a surprise and my 2yr old now tells me every morning wow mummy look that you made it pretty as soon as we walk downstairs. I think I might move it into their bedroom once we take down our Valentines craft wall.

It was super simple to make and can be used as room decor, a valentines gift, or just for display. It can also be made by preschoolers pretty easily if you sub out the hot glue for sticky tape. The best part about this heart wall hanging is it was completely free!


*This post contains some affiliate links*


WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE A HEART WALL HANGING


- A thin branch
- Paint chip cards
- Bakers twine or jute string
- Heart cookie cutter
- Hot glue gun
- Scissors
- Pen


When I decided to create a heart wall hanging I simply looked through my crafting stash to see what we already had at home. I came up with the design based on the materials we had on hand, so this craft didn't actually cost me anything to make, except time. If you don't have everything on hand though you can get most of it for free or relatively cheap.




The girls love to collect sticks and small branches every time we go outside so I had a collection readily available, but if you don't have any a quick walk to the local park is all you need to find the perfect branch. I chose ours because it was thin, so not too heavy, and I liked its character. Plus the small twig ends sticking out provided a good anchor point for the string.

To make the hearts themselves I used some red and pink paint chip cards I already had. If you don't have any take a trip to Bunnings, or your local hardware store and you should be able to get them for free in the paint aisle. The girls always take some each time we go because they're such a great resource and there are so many cool paint chip crafts, we'll never run out of ways to use them. You can always use coloured cardstock for the hearts as well if you don't have any paint chip cards available. Hot glue guns can be found relatively cheap at local dollar stores and craft shops or online at Etsy or Catch {AU}.



HOW TO MAKE A HEART WALL HANGING


1. Use a heart shaped cookie cutter or playdough mould to trace heart shapes on the back of the paint chip cards. I did this on the back so the pen lines wouldn't be visible on the coloured side of the finished product. Try to fit as many hearts as you can onto each paint card. Mine were square cards and I managed to fit 6 hearts onto each one.



2. Carefully cut out all the hearts with scissors.



3. Cut 3 similar size pieces of jute string. Tie them individually onto the branch. They can be tied in any position you like, I just evenly spaced ours out. Don't worry if they don't end up hanging at the same length once the knots are tied {it just makes it look more rustic}. If you don't have jute string you could also use bakers twine, fishing line or any string/ribbon you already have.



4. Turn the hanging over to attach the hearts to the string. Remember it's now backwards when you're attaching the hearts if you had a specific colour order in mind. Attach the hearts one at a time by placing the heart upside down so you can't see the coloured side. Apply some hot glue to the heart and then hold the string into the glue until it's dried. Attach each heart in this way to various spaces on the string. I chose to do ours in colour order from dark to light and spaced them at similar heights across each string. It could also be done with the colours all mixed up, haphazardly spaced, or even colour patterned. The design is completely up to you. If you have younger children and they want to help assemble the hanging you can always use tape to attach the hearts instead of hot glue.

5. Once the glue is all dried attach another piece of string to either end of the branch so it can hang to the wall.









Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, should you make a purchase. 
Monday, January 20, 2020

Easy Valentines Day Heart Crafts for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Valentines Day doesn't have to just be for adults in love, it can also be a great reason to get preschoolers crafting and thinking of others. These easy diy valentines crafts all make great classroom activities and can be used as cute valentines gifts for friends at school or kindy, or for mum and grandma. They're a great way to celebrate the joy of friendship and show others how much they're appreciated.



Friday, January 17, 2020

Australian animal small world play tray

When my big girl started at school I noticed  there was an abundance of gum leaves, tiny gumnuts, flowers and sticks always strewn across the paths thanks to the wind. I love using nature in our play so I immediately had a brainwave to set up an Australian themed small world play tray. So I collected a few bits and pieces with my toddler on the way home and set up a surprise play tray for her big sister.


Australian animal and plants small world play tray



WHAT YOU WILL NEED


- Play tray
- Australian animal figurines
- Coloured rice or edible dirt
- Gumnuts, sticks, flowers, rocks etc
- Wood slice or small chopping board
- Blue play silk

I like to set up most of our small world play in a tray because it gives the kids a defined play area and the high sides help to contain the mess {most of the time}. Using a tray also means it's portable and can be set up in any room, or moved up high away from tiny hands. It can also be taken away and brought back out later, for example if the kids are being too messy I'll remove it then if they want it later I'll bring it back out. We use the Kmart drinks tray but similar trays can be found at other homewares stores in the kitchenware section.

kmart play tray aussie small world

Being a nature based play tray most of the items needed can be foraged from the backyard, local gardens or parks. When we set up any type of nature play I usually give the girls a small wicker basket and we go on a nature treasure walk and collect bits and pieces that have fallen near footpaths near our house. We love collecting interesting leaves, sticks, small logs, gumnuts, flowers and seedpods. For this play tray all our nature items were foraged except the dried lotus pod which I already had at home.

I don't like mixing dry and wet sensory materials in the same small world because I prefer to reuse all our sensory materials. So in this case because I used coloured rice and natural wooden elements, I used a blue playsilk for the river, rather than water. I also find rice is easier to clean up than dirt or cocoa which is why I opted to use rice as the dirt base. However, you could definitely use edible dirt or even real dirt for this small world, it all comes down to personal preference and how messy you want things to get! If you're worried about it getting too messy set up an old sheet underneath the tray so clean up is easy {a stick vacuum comes in handy too} or simply set it up outside.

There really are no rules when it comes to setting up a small world tray. I usually start by working out where I want the ground sensory base/s to be then start building it up by adding the other elements {gumnuts, sticks, leaves etc}. If I'm using taller bits of branches as trees I'll put them towards an edge of the tray so they don't get constantly knocked over. I also use rocks or sticks to separate different areas like the water and dirt so the spaces are obviously defined at the start of play, however it all ends up a mess once the play starts anyway. Lastly I add the animals to wherever they look right. Basically just jump in and start placing things where you think they'll look good and move them around a few times until you feel it looks right {or at least similar to the idea you have in your head}. The kids are going to have their own ideas and make up their own stories while playing, the small world is just a starting point for their play.


Australian animal figurines in small world

Australian kmart play tray




For this small world I used our koala, platypus, tortoise shell butterfly and bearded dragon. I put it together quickly and these were the first of our Australian animal figurines I grabbed. We also have a kangaroo, ostrich, wombat and cassowary that could be used as well. All of our animal figurines are collecta brand, but their are similar ones available from Schliech.

collecta Australian animal figurines



This small world can be used to teach different Australian animal facts like animal names, different animal habitats, what they eat and different types of animals {mammals, marsupials, insects}. It's also a great bookish play activity after reading books about Australian animals like The Very Hungry Caterpillars Australian Friends. Of course it's also great for imaginary play. 

Australian animal small world play tray by Finding Myself Young



For more small world play ideas using animal figurines see our rock pool small world and animal figurine play ideas post and check out our animal play ideas pinterest board.





Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, should you make a purchase. 
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

12 Picture Books to Make Starting School Easier for Children

Starting school is a time of massive change and upheaval, and not just for the children heading off to school. There's new places to be, new routines to learn, new people to meet and new friends to make. All of that can be a little bit daunting for both parents and kids. Us adults are pretty good at coping, or at least pretending like we have it all together, but our little people sometimes need help to manage big feelings and emotions.

Will the other kids like me? Who will my teacher be? What will my classroom look like? Where is the playground? When do I get to go home? Why can't mum stay with me? There's so many questions and so many changes children have to work their way through. I've always been a big believer in books helping explain feelings, experiences and complex ideas to children, so it's no surprise we used picture books to help my daughter with the transition to school when she started prep. 

With another school year on the horizon I've put together a list of picture books that are great for helping children with the start of school, whether it be the start of kindy, prep, foundation, primary school, or changing to a new school, there's books for everyone {even the ones who definitely don't want to go to school}.

12 picture books to help make starting school easier for children

Thursday, January 9, 2020

DIY Sticky Heart Card

Ever since my girls were toddlers they've loved making home made cards for family and friends for any and every occasion. I mean every occasion, like say Wednesday... Most of the time they draw random designs, but sometimes we make purposeful designs like this sticky heart card I came up with originally for their grandma for Valentine's Day. We've also made the same design for her birthday, Mother's Day and for their dad for Father's Day. It's quite a versatile design and can be used for a number of occasions. Follow the steps below to create your own DIY sticky heart card.

*This post contains some affiliate links*


YOU WILL NEED:


- White paper or cardstock
- Coloured tissue paper
- Stickers {optional}
- Rhinestones {optional}
- Contact paper
- Crayons/pens
- Scissors


The majority of the items needed to make these cards can easily be found at local dollar stores, Kmart, Big W, or online at stores like Catch and Etsy. You can create the cards with any coloured paper/cardstock and tissue paper combination you like. We prefer to use a white background and choose red and pink tissue paper for Valentine's Day cards and usually use the person's favourite colour if we're making them for a birthday or Mother's Day/ Father's Day.






HOW TO MAKE A STICKY HEART CARD


1. Fold your white paper or cardstock in half so it makes a card

2. Draw a heart shape on the front of the card. Gently fold the paper inside the heart then cut to make a slit inside the heart then carefully cut around the outline until the entire heart is cut out.



3. Stick contact paper to the back of the heart cut-out so the sticky side is facing the front of the card. This will create a sticky heart window.



4. Decorate the heart window with scrunched tissue paper. Tear the tissue paper into thin strips then scrunch them into small balls and press each one onto the contact surface.  You could also add stickers and jewel embellishments.



5. Write a cute saying on the front or inside of the card. Some ideas are:

  • Let's stick together
  • I'm stuck on you
  • Stick with me
  • You make my heart shine
  • You stole a piece of my heart
  • I love you to pieces
  • Be my Valentine



ALTERNATIVE MULTI STICKY HEART CARD DESIGN


If you have OCD tendencies {like me} and want your hearts to be perfect, or you want multiple different coloured hearts without mixing colours together; try this easy variation. Instead of hand drawing a single heart on the card, use a small heart cookie cutter and trace multiple hearts onto the card. Follow the same steps as above and you'll have some cute cards like these.





Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, should you make a purchase.
Friday, January 3, 2020

9 Picture Books That Celebrate Australian Animals, Places & People

What plants and animals are in the rainforest, or the desert, or The Great Barrier Reef? 

Is pavlova Australian? 

Does Vegemite really taste good? 

What does ANZAC mean? 

What does it really feel like to be Australian?

These are just some of the questions young children may have about Australia... how will you answer them?

I've always believed in the power of books for explaining big {or new} concepts to children in an age appropriate way, which is why my house is overflowing with them and we use them all the time. If you look hard enough there's a book for anything and these are my favourite books to introduce and explain Australian animals, places, icons, diversity and culture to children

Each one celebrates and captures quintessential parts of modern day Australia. Whether it's learning why a koala isn't a bear, where a wombat sleeps, when Australia was colonised, what vegemite tastes like, or who calls Australia home... these books have the answers {and some pretty cool illustrations too}.