Monday, October 28, 2013

Trick or treat, Pumpkins and Ghosts.

Back in the autumn we made some papier-mâché pumpkins as decorations.  Now they have been given a face and mouth to hold our lolly ghosts for Halloween.

In Switzerland Halloween is not such a big thing, and in our old village nothing seemed to happen.  Ok Matthew was younger then and didn't really know any of the local kids.  So last year I was expecting the same.  We had also only been in the new house 2 months so I wasn't prepared when trick or treaters came to the door.  Luckily that day Matthew and I had made Halloween biscuits so these had to do the job.

This year I won't get caught out again.  Today I was busy making lolly ghosts.

Very simple and easy to make.

All you need are.

  • Wrapped lollies
  • Square Tissues
  • Thin white string or white thread.
  • Black pen.

Some of my lollies turned out to be fully wrapped rather than just the head.  But they will still do the job.  All you have to do is trap the head of the lolly in the tissue and wrap the white thread around it to keep it in place.  Then draw on the face.


I then put all of these Ghosts into the pumpkin ready for all the trick or treaters on Halloween.  Knowing my luck they won't come this year. 


I'm also planning on drawing pumpkin faces onto tangerines with Permanent markers.  Ok someone has to try and be a bit healthy. 

Matthew then decided he wanted to hide them around the garden as a treasure hunt.


Footprint treasure hunt

Matthew loves doing treasure hunts of any kind.  This is one that he often gets out to do again and again.  He also likes to lay the trails.
It is so easy to do.  Firstly draw around your child's foot.  Then cut out lots of feet we did it in lots of different colours but you could also use newspaper or turn their old art into feet.  Also easier and quicker if you put lots of sheets together and cut lots out in one go.
Then all you need to do is lay a trail to be followed.  Ours have been all over the place up the stairs in the kitchen and out the back door.  Although out the back door wasn't such a good idea at the time as they were blown around a bit.

As Matthew got older we wrote messages on the feet with things he had to do as he got to them.

  1. Sing a song.
  2. Count to 10
  3. Find a blue car.
  4. Jump 5 times.
  5. Tickle your tummy.
  6. Find something starting with B.
  7. Stand on one foot.
  8. Touch your head.
  9. Clap hands.
  10. Go to the next red foot.

You could ask you child to come up with ideas to go on the feet.  Then as they follow the trail they have to do the activity as they get to it.  It extends the activity and helps with their reading.

I just had our feet out to see what I had written on them. It's fun to see how much Matthew's feet have grown since the first time we played this game.

What fun treasure would you put at the end of the trail.  Ours has been known to end up at the fridge around snack time.

Me time

Switzerland is a great place to live and bring up kids.  There is so much open space to get out and enjoy. Great areas to go walking, grill sausages over open fires in the woods, skiing during the winter, and lots of different activities laid on for kids in the school holidays.
We live in a quiet road so Matthew can play outside with his friends and the kids walk to Kindergarten/School by themselves they don't have to be driven.  May sound idyllic but there are always drawbacks to everything.
Switzerland is well and truly behind the times in lots of ways.  It is made very hard for Mums to go out to work or really do much at all.  Unless you go to the huge expense of putting the kids into an international school.
Schooling is currently not organised by the country.  At the moment it is arranged by the Canton/county.  Every Canton has a different system.  When Matthew started kindergarten he was 5 and in our area they only did 3 mornings and 1 afternoon in the first year.  The afternoon wasn't even the same day as one of the mornings.  He has always been a very sociable boy and loves being with other kids so really enjoys going.  This year he is happy that he has more hrs.  5 Mornings and 1 afternoon..  Great one full day for me.  Would be but he has to come home for lunch.  This is such a rush I have to make sure that lunch is ready on the table as he walks in so that he can be ready to go back 50 minutes later.  He also loves learning and I guess they are but they don't start reading and writing etc. till they are 7.  Matthew has already taught himself to read English and can write his letters and do simple sums.  His challenge at school will be to do it all again in German.
Even when Matthew is doing more afternoons he will still be coming home for lunch and it still won't be every afternoon he goes back.  Sometimes I wonder when they have time to learn.  This is the first year our school is trialling a mittagtish.  (somewhere the kids can go to have lunch).  So when kids are doing more afternoons I guess there is a bit more of an opportunity for mums to work.  Hardly gives you time to go into town to do any shopping.  I might just have to ask someone to have him for lunch once in a while. 
Our house is very time consuming to keep in order.  Matthew has an allergy to dust mites so I have to keep the house on the clean side.  We also like to have a kid free area come the evening so all his toys have to be back in his room at the end of the day.  Some days I just seem to be constantly on the go what with looking after the house and Entertaining Matthew.  I know we all have it but some days you just think it would be nice to sit down with a quiet cup of tea for 10 minutes rather than drinking a half cold cup on the go.
Some days I just feel so guilty for wanting time on my own with nobody else around. I think this is why two mornings a week while Matthew is at kindergarten I try to make me time.  I try not to do house work (although on a nice sunny day there is often washing to hang out) and do something that I enjoy. 
Recently this has been making cards.  I saw ideas for making cards out of the paint colour charts you pick up in the DIY stores.  Looking on Pinterest I found lots that looked nice so I'm currently playing around with these and also Christmas cards.  Cards are not a big thing in Switzerland and they are expensive so at least this hobby has a use.


My other main interest is our veg patch.  Luckily Matthew also loves this so we get to work on this together in the afternoon.  It is so good for him to be able to go out and pick the veg fresh for the meal.  I'm sure he eat more beans this year than if I had bought them.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

String Art

Over the weekend there always seems to be so much house work to be getting on with.  Matthew had been pretty good so when he started to get fidgety we did a craft he had previously asked to do. Matthew likes to watch a TV programme called Mr Maker. He has lots of different ideas for kids to make, including this great string picture.
You would need.
cereal box card
other materials of your choice
First of all you need to make a pattern on the card with the string.  The TV programme said to dip the string in the glue and then lay it on the card to make a pattern.  I found this rather messy and the string kept sticking to my fingers.
I found it easier to get Matthew to make a pattern of glue on the card. I then laid the string on top pressing it down with the point of a pencil.  That way the string staid on the card and not my fingers. Then you need to leave it to dry.
Once it is dry the fun part starts.  Painting all the different sections of the pattern different colours. Matthew even managed to keep the colours separate rather than every thing turning the normal brown sort of colour.
We also tried filling some of the sections with glue and added coloured rice. Thanks to Jackie from Happy Hooligans for this idea.  There are so many other things you could fill the sections with, for example Sand, Lentils or sequins.
I prepared a few more boards at the same time thinking that nearer Christmas we would try it again using glitter or home made glitter paints
 I know I must be mad thinking of using glitter but we have hard floors so it is easy to hoover up.  I always wonder how my Mum copped having 4 kids and carpet on all the floors.  So much easier now with tiles and wood.  Spilt drink no problem just dry it up.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Country living and pumpkins

I'm so glad that we managed to find a house that suited us out in the country.  From our front door we can go walking in the hills or cycling through the fields.  Matthew also has the freedom to play outside and before long will be walking to Kindergarten with his friends without a parent.
This time last year we were nearing the first snow so we are making the most of the unseasonably warm weather.  Today we decided to walk/ride to the neighbouring village to buy our Halloween pumpkin.
On the way we came across these carvings.  Amazing what you can do with a chainsaw.

Somebody has more imagination than I do.

Matthew was amazed at all the different types of pumpkins available.  Given half the chance I think he would have taken them all home.  In the end I let him choose one large one and a few small ones to make a table arrangement.

He had enjoyed his ride out so much, I managed to talk him into riding home again as well.  Luckily I had taken a drink and chocolate biscuits to snack on the way. 

Not mine but thought it looked fun.
Not like the cows we see every day from our front door.

Once home, Matthew just about gave me time to drink a cup of tea before going outside to make his lantern.  I did the cutting while he decided to plant some pumpkin seeds.  Not sure about it being the right time of year.  But that might be handy as I don't think our vegetable patch is large enough for pumpkins as well as everything else we want to grow.
 It was interesting to see how realistic our Papier-mâché was.  Don't think we did a bad job.  Just need to add the faces to them as well now that Halloween is fast approaching.


Easy party food

Recently at kindergarten one of the girls was moving away.  Matthew got really upset saying she was his best friend and he always sat with her. 
I found this so funny as it was the first time I had heard him mention her.
The kindergarten teacher decided to have a farewell party for her.  It was one of the rare occasions they were allowed to take something sweet in. I tried to think of something a bit different to send in and came up with this simple idea.
I had lots of cake decorations in my cupboard that needed using up so it killed two birds with one stone.
I didn't want a lot of chocolate so I just put some in a mug and put it in the microwave for a short time.  Regularly checking till it was liquid enough to dip the biscuits.
I then just sprinkled the decorations over the chocolate.  It was to warm to set the chocolate I ended up putting them in the fridge for a short time.

I had hoped that some might come home for me to nibble but no such luck the container came back empty.

Edible art

Here is just a very quick easy activity and the kids can even eat it.
All you need is
  • Milk
  • Bread
  • Food colouring
  • New paint brushes 
Just put some milk in a small container and add some food colouring. Any kind of food colouring should work but this time I used powder and it gave a much brighter colour.  We have some paint brushes that are only used for food so we got these out and let the kids loose. 
When they are finished with their masterpiece toast it and enjoy.
I used to help run a playgroup.  My job was to organise a craft each week for any of the kids who wanted to do it.  They turned out to be very popular and the number of kids joining us went up.  Luckily the group meets near a supermarket as this week we ended up having to send out for more bread and milk.  They didn't need snack time after this.

Pine cone trees

When Matthew was young he was given a railway.  Over the years this has been added to.  The track has got longer the trains faster, towels have become rivers and more tunnels have been added.
Last winter Matthew decided it needed some trees so the train could go through a forest.  Luckily near his kindergarten there is a pine tree and we had previously collected lots of pine cones.  I'm terrible for collecting things with the idea that they will come in useful some time.
I also have a bag of various bottle tops and jar lids which came in useful.
We stuck the pine cones into the lids which then became instant trees.  Looking back now these would have been great painted green or autumnal colours as well.  PVA glue took a while to dry so I think we probably resorted to the good old glue gun to speed things up.
A bit nearer Christmas Matthew decided they needed to be turned into Christmas trees so out came the glitter paints.
I have some large cones we collected in Spain this year.  No doubt these will get used in the future maybe a Christmas decoration.  Will have to browse pinterest for some ideas.  Another great way to find good activities (or should I say waste time.)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Raid the kitchen cupboard.

Looking around the house there are so many inexpensive things you can use in kids crafts. In the kitchen cupboards there are lots of things that can be used.  I'm sure we all have dried cooking ingredients left over.

Looking through our cupboards we found things such as dried lentils, different shaped pasta, poppy seeds and rice.

All these and more can be used by our little ones to make great works of art.


You can even colour the rice and pasta.  While I'm at it this is a great website to follow Jackie runs a home day care and does such great things with the kids.

Salad spinner art

It's nice some times to go back over old photos and see what you got up to in the past.  This activity is still popular even a couple of years after we first did it.

All you need is an old salad spinner.  We got one from a second hand shop.  Best not to use mums from the kitchen.
Paper and paints.

I drew round the bowl onto an old cereal box to make a template.  With the template you can easily cut out several sheets of card at the same time.  We tried it with paper but it just folded up.
Put a piece of card in the spinner.  Then put blobs of paint on (the child can probably do this depending on their age).  Then put the lid on and spin that is all there is to it.
Matthew really liked doing it using glittery paint.
And I'm sure you can come up with some uses for the finished picture.  We turned these into Easter cards. 
Next time we do it though I fancy trying this Frisbee idea. by

Doing this has reminded me to get this out again.