Wednesday, 26 June 2013

I'm not just a stick, I'm.....

Sticks can make many parents panic at the mere sight of them! I on the other hand see them as a great tool for fun play but do appreciate that you have to teach your tots rules about playing with sticks: do not wave in your or anyone's face, do not hurt anyone (including poking them), do not damage / break anything and ideally do not run with sticks (this is easier said than done!).

Sticks can be:

.... bridges for toys
.... houses for toys
.... flag poles: make a flag together to fly proudly
.... islands: make squares big enough to jump into all over your lawn and avoid the shark infested water!
.... rafts: Apryl Duncan on offers a great guide to make these
.... writing tool: in your sandpit or dirt, practise writing numbers and letters
.... fishing rod: visit the rock pools with your handmade rod
.... twig monsters: Catherine Spencer posted on Yahoo! some fabulous creations that you can make with your children
.... twig tower: Woodland Trust's worksheet shows you how to make great towers, which would help your youngsters with their motor skills
.... bird house: Making Friends have posted a brilliant tutorial
.... Dream catcher: what a lovely idea to make with your children. Enchanted Learning have posted instructions that are simple to follow
.... stick men: I love Red Ted Art's
.... twig trivet: a little early for Christmas but kids will love making these for gifts (TLC)
.... Fairy house: Feathered Nest Studio's fairy house is soooo cute!
.... twig stars: again for Christmas! Go Explore Nature feature a really cute star
.... twig fairy: Activity Village have created some great fairies to make with your children
.... dragonflies: I love these beauties from Twig and Toadstool

Please send in your ideas, as the more to make, the better!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

It's not about winning but taking part....

In response to a request, today's post is about dealing with sore losers.

The little one in the request has just turned 4. At this age children do not understand the emotions that they are feeling and are unable to express them; therefore, tantrums are common place. Tantrums are not easy to deal with and become especially embarrassing when they occur in public.

Imagine, you settle down with the family to play a great game but halfway through your little one does not agree with a rule or comes last when the game is complete - the board is thrown in the air, siblings may be hit, the tears and shouting start.... Help! How do you stop this behaviour from happening and ruining those few precious moments you have to sit down and play with your children?

The first thing to point out is that this is perfectly natural behaviour for a preschooler or even older children. With time the majority of children grow out of tantrums, as they are able to communicate effectively.

Here are some top tips:
  • Before
  • Chat to your child before you start and explain that sometimes they may win and sometimes they may lose; mention too that we should be happy for the winner. Focus on the losing side so that your child has this fresh in their mind before you start playing.

  • During!
  • Throughout the game, try to praise any good moves etc. that your child may make. Hopefully, they may feel proud at all they have achieved in the game and not be so concerned about winning, as they have already been lavished with praise. Also, as above, as you are not focusing on praising winners, the good feedback they receive throughout the game will make them assess their game plan.

  • After
  • Liz from Answers at, responds to a mum asking for advice about her 7 year old girl. Liz states that we should let them win and lose but if we win we say "oh well! at least that was fun". When your child is the loser, Liz suggests that we ask them if they have had fun and try to explain that this is the point of playing games and it is not about who comes first or last.

  • Encourage good losing behaviour
  • Reward / star charts, treats and praise should be lavished on your child when they keep calm or react mildly after coming last or not liking a rule. Hopefully, after a few times they will learn that tantrums do not get them rewards. When you lose say, "Oh bother! I wanted to win that game! I will try better next time!"

  • Winning behaviour
  • Try not to praise the winner or show added attention to them for coming first. Also, as an adult you lead by example, parents should make sure that they do not gloat about winning. Show your child how to win or lose and manage frustrations. Perhaps you could say things like, "Well done everyone; good game".

  • Win and lose
  • Don't let your child win all of the time as they need to learn that we win and lose. Over time, experience of both sides will gain a balanced attitude to all occasions where things do not go according to plan and at other times they go better.

  • Worst case scenario
  • If your child does not calm down with all the calm and gentle aids above, it may be worth trying to restrict competitive games for a while, until your child is better able to deal with the outcomes. Simply say to them, "I guess you are not old enough to play this game", and store it until you think that they may be.

To teach your child about the game of chance, you may wish to play games like Hungry Hippo, Snakes and Ladders etc. Games where they have to interact as well as play will put their focus on taking part; and ones that take a long time may help as your child will become bored before it is finished but will have enjoyed the 'taking part' aspect.

Throughout, try to keep calm and keep your voice gentle and steady - even when they are throwing a spectacular tantrum! Try not to give attention to any tantrums, but do ensure that they are safe (and others should they lash out). If they move to another room to sulk, let them calm down and return when they are ready.

If the tips do not work, bear in mind that hopefully your child will 'grow out' of this behaviour and you can create happy family memories in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

35+ Things to Make From Cardboard

We have just had a kitchen makeover and now have a stack of empty boxes! Rather than chuck them, I thought that my children would love some cardboard fun!

I thought that I would share the great ideas that I stumbled across...

Cardboard Box Castle and Puppet Theater by Sherri Osborn on
How cute is this castle?
Sherri Osborn,

Cardboard Box Shape Sorter by Jocelyn Worrall, Parents Magazine
My baby would love this!
Jocelyn Worrall, Parents Magazine
Cardboard Box Castle by Jocelyn Worrall, Parents Magazine
A hit with the boys
Jocelyn Worrall, Parents Magazine
Cardboard Box Car: Steering Wheel by Jocelyn Worrall, Parents Magazine
Tots would have fun 'driving' this around
Jocelyn Worrall, Parents Magazine
Cardboard Box Fridge by Jocelyn Worrall, Parents Magazine
A must have for any play kitchen
Jocelyn Worrall, Parents Magazine
Cardboard Box Kitchen Sink by Jocelyn Worrall, Parents Magazine
This is so cute
Jocelyn Worrall, Parents Magazine
Cardboard Box Kitchen Stove by Jocelyn Worrall, Parents Magazine
I want one!!!!
Jocelyn Worrall, Parents Magazine
DIY: Castle Story Box by The Imagination Tree
Just brilliant...
The Imagination Tree
DIY Cardboard Castle Tutorial - Cost: $4 by The Busy Budgeting Mama
My little princess would love this
The Busy Budgeting Mama
Summertime fun: make a recycled playhouse by Nest of Posies
Now all we need is the weather!
Nest of Posies
Build a Rocket Ship by
What tot would not love
soaring to the moon in this?
Building a Cardboard Castle by 99 Solutions
One of many options
99 Solutions
Dramatic and Imaginative Play: Cardboard Box Project Round Up by Childhood 101
Check out these fabulous makes
Childhood 101
Greengrocer, etc by iKatbag
Role playing would be great
with this market stall
DIY Kids: Ice Cream Shop by Childhood 101
If only we had the sun...
Childhood 101
The ‘MISTER Make It and Love It’ Series: Cardboard Guitars by Make it & Love it
These are FAB-U-LOUS!
Make it & Love it
Carboard Flowers by Filth Wizardry
Great for Mother's day and Grandmothers
Filth Wizardry
Cardboard-Box Oven Craft by Martha Stewart
Looks too good to be true
Martha Stewart

Oliver's Cardboard Box Train Party by Apartment Therapy
A must for any child!
Apartment Therapy
Cardboard Fire Engine Truck Tutorial by Everyday Mom Ideas
Monkey would LOVE this engine
Everyday Mom Ideas
Automobiles from Busytown! by iKatbag
Look here for a whole play scene
DIY: A Frugal Project with a Twist! Come meet our bus! by The Coupon Snob
Fun, fun, fun!
The Coupon Snob
Cardboad Box Police Car by Here Come The Girls
Looks like great fun
Here Come The Girls
DIY Cardboard Playhouses by A Beautiful Mess
This would be so much fun
A Beautiful Mess
Easy Cardboard Project! Kids' Toy Car by Who Knew? Tips
Labelled as 'easy'; perhaps a good place to start!
Who Knew? Tips
DIY collapsible cardboard playhouse by She Knows Parenting
Very handy to move around
She Knows Parenting
How to Work with Cardboard by iKatbag
A 'how to' for working with cardboard
Prehistory Activity: Make a Cave by Raising Cajuns
This is brilliant
Raising Cajuns
Cardboard Play Dome by Supersoftdrink on Instructables
Looks like it is made of more than cardboard
Construct a Kid Size Cardboard Castle by
The drawbridge alone
would be a hit!
What Can you Make From a Cardboard Box? sourced by The Crafty Crow
One of many makes sourced by
The Crafty Crow
Cardboard Tube Space Ship by Martha Stewart
Boys would love this craft
Martha Stewart