Home-made Kites

It started out with my youngest beavering away to make his own kite, presumably being inspired by some brave kite-flyers and surfers on the beach the other day. He wanted a bit of help with the tail, so I gave him some coloured paper and showed him how he could stick triangles on to create the ‘bow’ effect.

Kite 2

Once my eldest saw it, he wanted to make one too, so, with “Let’s go fly a kite” from Mary Poppins ringing in my ears, I helped him make a diamond-shaped one, thinking that they’d look nice and jolly suspended from the ceiling.  But that wasn’t what he in mind – as far as he was concerned, we were going to make a kite and “…send it soaring”. Ahem…

Kite 3a

How we made it…

  1. We stuck four sheets of A3 paper together to make a rectangle big-enough for a kite-sized diamond to be drawn. It’s obvious in retrospect, but we should have drawn the vertical/horizontal crossbars before the diamond around it (as we did it the other way and it wasn’t straight…).
  2. Then we stuck coloured paper to each quadrant and stuck different coloured spots on to jazz it up.
  3. Then we used some small green garden canes to make the cross structure which we sellotaped to the back.
  4. Then we cut some triangles from coloured paper and stuck them to some red ribbon for the tail.
  5. We put Sellotape around the four edges of the kite, to prevent it from tearing when being flown.
  6. We then tied white parcel ribbon to each end of the garden canes to form a cross-shape and tied a longer piece to the middle which became the main flying line.
  7. In retrospect, we should have also decorated the back (as that was the part of the kite that ended up being most visible when we tried to fly it), but there’s only so much cutting and sticking a 7-year-old can be bothered with – he wanted to get out and try it as soon as it was vaguely ready.

When the kite was nearly ready, I mentioned to my husband that we were off to the beach to test it – his response was luke-warm to say the least – he didn’t think it’d work and suggested buying one instead.  It was a bit like the pirate ship all over again and just upped the ante to prove our own ‘Mr Banks’ wrong…

But by the time we were down at the beach, the reality-check had sunk in.  It began to dawn on me that this would end up as another elaborate lesson in expectation-management – like the non-exploding Mentos.

Kite 4

However, it was more successful than I’d feared – although it involved a lot of running around and holding the kite high.  I’m not sure why it didn’t catch a higher wind-current (aerodynamics is a bit beyond me), but despite one of the cross-bars snapping, it got a bit of height.

The making of Mark II…

After we got back home and fixed the broken bit, we ended up making another one using plastic bags and a different design.

Mark II involved making the diamond-shaped structure and the cross bar out of the garden canes first, then attaching different coloured plastic bags to it (a white bin bag and an orange Sainsbury’s bag). We also made the tail differently, by using off-cuts of ribbon which we stapled together (much quicker!):

Kite 5a.jpg

We went out again the next day with both kites and although one of the canes snapped again (they definitely need doubling-up), it worked pretty well and the boys liked running around trying to get them off the ground and watching them bob about in the wind.  I wouldn’t exactly say that we “sent them soaring”, but it was fun giving them a go.

It also seems that Mark II won’t be the last as my eldest said “we’ll crack it by the end of the Summer” – just six weeks to nail it then…

Kite 6

Other crafty ideas for the holiday from Wonderinalexland 

Make your own Tissue Pompoms

These pompoms are completely pointless (in that after making them, I didn’t know what to do with them…), but are a lot of fun to make and pretty satisfying as they look so good when complete. The only problem was the colours we chose.  Rather than looking like flowers as intended, our wall looks like a display of shower puffs at Boots!

I’d had a hankering to make these for a while (not sure why, or where I got the idea from) and then happened to come across a good how-to video on OneLittleProject (which incidentally seems like a lovely site for other crafty-stuff).

We were also prompted by the need for something to brighten-up the wall once the kids’ Easter pictures had come down. Although they were quick and easy for adults to make, they were a bit fiddly for little fingers, so my 7-year-old was game, but my 5-year-old opted to watch.

pompom 4 v2.jpg

Make them as follows:

  1. Cut a stack of coloured tissue (10 sheets)
  2. Concertina-fold them along the longest-edge
  3. Tie in the middle (and add thread if you are going to hang them). I used ties from sandwich bags as the paper pops open quite easily
  4. Cut both ends into a curve-shape (this makes the ‘petals’ look more convincing)
  5. Tease the layers of tissue apart on each side

I haven’t tried mixing up the coloured layers, but reckon that could be a good effect too.

They’d probably also be best suspended from a ceiling, or hanging from trees at a party, but for the moment at least they’re on our wall!

pompoms finished v2.jpg

Make your own Paper Butterflies

These paper butterflies aren’t strictly origami as the paper is cut (stuck and tied), but I’m no purist 😉

I came across how to make them on RedTedArt and thought that they’d be a good replacement for the Easter eggs that we’d previously had hanging in our hall. They were quick and easy to make which meant they were great for my guys to have a go too.

Butterfly 4 pics

As we already had some origami paper (ironically too small for any actual origami), it worked brilliantly for these. The video on the Red Ted Art site suggests that it doesn’t matter whether you glue the upper and lower pieces together, but we glued ours as it helped them hold their shape.  We also used sandwich bag ties rather than the wire, as well as folded, rather than cut the corners (as our paper had different colours on each side).

I then stuck some white cotton into one wing on each butterfly and suspended them from some branches that we got from our garden, hung from our banister with white ribbon.

Butterfly pic vertical

Other kids crafts

DIY Robot Fancy-Dress

Given that I have posted a few space-themed art and craft ideas and for home-made fancy-dress, I thought I’d also share this idea for robot outfits made from cardboard boxes.  I did them a few years ago when my guys were asked to dress up in a space-theme for a sponsored walk at their nursery.

As they were going to the park for a play date afterwards, I just had them in their normal clothes underneath.

As you can see from the picture, my youngest was less impressed… I can’t remember whether the grumpiness was about the outfit, or having to pose for a photo. Whilst I have some other photos where he seems happy enough, the sheer look on his face in this pic makes it a keeper ;). Especially when, a few years on he only seems to wear fancy dress and finds this picture as funny as I do. He still hates having his photo taken though…

Robot 2

For each outfit I used two pieces of thick card (from a cardboard box) to make a tabard (with brown parcel tape to give a bit of flexibility at the shoulders), then covered it with tin foil.  I also added string to the sides for my eldest as I know he’d want to run around in his.

After covering the tabards in silver foil, I stuck some coloured paper and stickers on the front to look like buttons and just put a small note on the back saying ‘BOT 1’ / ‘BOT 2’, and each of their ‘production dates’ (date of births).

I had an old panettone box which I used for their heads.  I cut a neck space into each, then tied it closed around their necks with string.  The deely-boppers were foil food picks that I had kicking around.

If you liked this, you may also like: 

Make your own jet pack

These jet packs were easy and quick to make.  They were also easy enough for the boys to do without too much help (whilst they don’t mind putting me to work, the initial plan is to do stuff together… although doesn’t always end up that way, as my blog on space helmets describes!).

You can make them as follows:

  • Cover 2 litre bottles of water in tissue paper or tin foil
  • Cut a rectangular piece of thick card which is no wider than your child’s shoulders (this will form the base of the jet pack)
  • Put two holes in each side of the card
  • Thread string / elastic through the holes on each side, making sure it is the right size for your child to be able to take it on and off
  • Stick the bottles to the card (we did this with double-sided sticky tape)
  • Add decorations (flames, lightning bolts etc.)
  • Cover the neck of the bottle in tin foil / card (to give a tidier finish)
  • Stick red/orange/yellow tissue paper in the necks of the bottles (for the fire)

If you liked this, you may also like: 

Make your own space helmet

I’m not going to lie, these weren’t that easy and took about a week to complete (allowing for drying time and lapses in our ability to concentrate on what became a rather gargantuan task).  I was also the sole member of our team left to put on the tin foil on the inside – the fun of sticking had long gone for my kids.

Having said that, I was initially inspired to give it a go after seeing the amazing effort by MudPieFridays.  My 7-year-old and 5-year-old made theirs at the same time, which proved a little difficult when they both needed help simultaneously…

Despite low expectations, I was intrigued to see if we could pull-off something similar using stuff that we already had around the house, so we found two balloons and a roll of packing paper left over from when we moved house. The paper was thin and there was lots of it, so it seemed great for the job.

We then mixed some flour/salt/water to make the paper mache mix (with a ratio of 1:1 flour to water and 3 tablespoons of salt to prevent the finished piece going mouldy). The plan was to do 3 layers, let it dry completely and then do 3 more layers (but by the end of it we had paper mache delirium, so who knows exactly how many layers went on each…).

space helmets 2

On the first evening, I looked back at the original post when I was unconvinced that our soggy-papery-balloons (1) would ever dry hard enough to hold their shape once the balloon was popped.  Only then did I see the small (but critical) detail that MudPieFridays used plaster bandages (AKA plaster of Paris).  This gave not only a pristine finish, but would harden to rock.

As we’d started, I thought we might as well finish (and the boys wanted to do the balloon-popping bit).  They were very excited when all the layers had been put on and our interest in soggy paper had well and truly waned (it’s pretty unpleasant to have salty gloop on your hands if you happen to have any cuts).  By this point, it was just me and my eldest soldiering away.  My youngest had wandered off to play Lego, telling me “I’ll come back in 10 minutes to see how you are getting on” (…OK, boss-man).

Once the paper mache had completely dried (2), we popped the balloons and I used a Stanley knife to cut a larger circle to put their heads through and another for them to look out of.  Then it was time to paint (3) and they went with various wacky designs (my eldest drew around an egg cup for the circles, which he painted red).  The horns on the black and red one were from the inside of an egg box.

After that we (or I should say ‘I’…) finished the edges and lined the inside with tin foil (4).

Then, the guys ran outside with them on the rampage.  We’ll see how long they last 😉

Other Space-inspired crafts:

Make your own space rocket

Make your own jet pack


Make your own Space Rocket

With Easter holidays around the corner, here’s an easy space rocket to make that my son first made on a play-date.  My boys gave their rockets different looks, including doors, windows (and even a green alien hanging on my youngest son’s one).  They were easy and quick to make, so suited my boys’ attention spans.  All you need is:

  • 1 plastic bottle
  • 3 toilet rolls
  • Tin foil
  • Black card
  • Red / orange / yellow tissue paper

This is how we did it:

  1. Cover the bottle with tin foil, ensure the overhang is long enough to fold under the bottle so that it is all covered
  2. Draw around a cup on a black card, cut a line into the middle of the card, then overlap it to create a cone shape
  3. Stick the cone over the top of the bottle to create the nose-cone of the rocket (we used double-sided tape for this)
  4. Paint (or cover) the three toilet rolls for the rocket-boosters and stick to the sides of the rocket (we used double-sided tape)
  5. Tear off assorted colours of tissue paper and stick to the inside of the boosters to look like fire
  6. Decorate the outside of the rocket with a name, numbers, doors, windows and an alien or two…

Other space-inspired crafts:

Make your own space helmet

Make your own jet pack

The highs and lows of egg decorating (Minion-Style)

There was a family Easter egg competition at my sons’ school, so we thought we’d do four minions, with different expressions (one for each of us). Seemed simple enough as they seem like egg-shaped blobs just asking to be reincarnated into the real thing.

That’s how things usually start (naive optimism)… they usually end with mountains made out of molehills.  This was no different – it’ll be no surprise to those who know me that cooking the eggs was the first obstacle.  They all cracked – but in the spirit of ‘a bad workman blames his tools’, I’m sure I had a faulty batch.  I’d followed directions from my husband to no avail (just for the record, I can boil an egg when crackability is not an issue).  Seven cooked eggs later, I had four contenders (as well as some bonus sandwich content).

The next stage was the painting, AKA ‘the fun bit’.  What I didn’t bank on is that paint doesn’t stick to eggs – it hadn’t really occurred to me before we’d got the usual array of half-used pre-mixed, water-based poster paints out.  Our first attempts ended up in a see-through, watery mess with more paint on our hands than the eggs.  However, every problem has a solution…. so, after a bit of huffing, puffing and rummaging, the solution was found: a tin of left-over chalk paint we had knocking around.  Boom.  I know the discovery of Penicillin is one of the most significant scientific discoveries, but the use of chalk paint in egg decorating should also be up there.  Pure magic.

OK, so uncracked eggs cooked, chalk paint discovery made, it was time for decorating.  The watery paint was still a bit rubbish, so it took a few coats and lots of waiting, until discovery two: a hairdryer. We were finally on a roll:

egg 2

By the way, I think the reason the white egg resembles the moon’s surface is because the chalk paint was a bit clumpy.  I’m sure with a trip to a DIY shop, it would be smooth as a proverbial baby’s bottom.  This however had to do (by this point, time was not on our side).  Dressing the Minions was straight forward enough, although to blame my tools again, the dodgy edges are courtesy of a dog-eared paint brush.

After doing the base colour, the rest of the details were drawn on or cut out of paper and stuck on.  The dungarees and hair were done with a black felt tip directly onto the eggs.  I’d have liked to have had a fine fibre-nibbed pen to tidy the edges, but I didn’t have one, so I just used a pencil instead.

I mentioned that each guy was meant to be one of us.  In the end, they were all me – a case of life imitating art you might say:

egg 3

So, all was well until my youngest came home waxing lyrical about how his teacher had shown the class lots of ideas for how to decorate their eggs.  For him, Minions were out, it was all about Ninja Turtles. Sigh. Back to the proverbial drawing board and Google. Turns out that Ninja Turtles are easier than Minions.  Why didn’t he speak sooner??… My husband then helpfully said that he had to have four too, otherwise it’d not be fair (cue Minion facial expression number 3 from me…).

After cooking 11 boiled eggs, creating a Minion / Ninja fleet and being subjected to enough egg sandwiches to sink a ship, it’s safe to say that I didn’t want to see or hear about eggs for some time.

…That was until I heard that one of the entries was Egg Sheeran – genius.

egg 4

Related Content:

Easter party ideas & alternative egg hunt

Indoor Easter egg hunt with clues

Easter parlour games – retro-inspired family fun

Other crafty ideas you might like…

The one about the Brown Barnacle

Build your own Marble Mayhem Mountain

Make your own Superhero Outfits

A couple of years ago my kids were asked to ‘dress their teddy’ up for a charity fundraiser at school.  Superheroes seemed like the natural choice for my guys, especially as I remembered a simple, but cool home-made outfit that my nephew once had.  I decided that if I was buying material anyway, I may as well buy a bit more and make them matching outfits too.

I bought over-sized vests for the guys so that they could fit their outfits on top of their clothes, attached some silver material to the back for a cape (chopped with pinking shears to minimise the need for sewing).  Then I did the smaller outfits (with old baby vests) for their bears for the fundraiser:


The home-made outfit gets a surprising amount of use, given that it competes with shop-bought superhero outfits on the dressing-up rail.  Only my eldest’s one fits now, but it’s commandeered it to create home-concocted crazy characters – and I’ve since made silver cuffs for around each wrist to give it a bit more pzazz.


More recently we gave my youngest son a Seedling Make you Own Superhero Cape (Seedling.com) for his birthday.  It was quite expensive and difficult for him to do by himself – but it was a lovely kit, containing everything you need to create something special (glitter glue, material and a good quality cape to decorate).  Once he had commandeered us as his ‘doers’, he was chuffed to design his cape to wear for his Superhero-themed party.

superhero cape 3.jpg

Polymer Clay: rekindling the love for FIMO!

Do you remember FIMO?  Well I think it was just a brand name for Polymer clay.  My youngest got some for his birthday and it’s brilliant.  The best thing about it is that it doesn’t go into that horrible grey murky colour when all the colours inevitably get mixed together by little hands (as Play-Doh does).

We’ve previously had a go at modelling with traditional grey clay before (which also requires baking and then painting afterwards), but I much prefer the Polymer clay with its bright colours.

As each colour is retained, you can combine the colours to make pretty multi-coloured beads and bowls (and anything else your skills enable you to, beads and a bowl were all we could cope with and they were done in two separate sessions).

My guys enjoyed making the beads, even though you’d think boys would think it was all a bit girly, they liked being able to make something that was within their (and my!) ability. We used cocktail sticks to create the holes in the centre of the beads and then used left-over bits of ribbon and string to thread them together.  As the clay is quite tough, it is difficult to mould, so I’d say children under 5 may find it pretty tricky to manipulate.

The bowl shown in the photo was a group-effort (hence why it has a random colour combination).  We all made the clay ‘worms’ in our favourite colours, then realised we’d need to group together to make a reasonable-sized pot (the plan was to make something to store Lego men).  I’d initially thought about making a lid, but this took enough effort as it was…

After moulding it, you just bung it in the oven to bake for about 40mins, then it is pretty hard.  Happy sculpting!