Book Review: Mini Makers- Crafty Makes to Create With your Kids by Laura Minter and Tia Williams

mini makers

This is the third book from the brilliant team behind Little Button Diaries and just like The Knight and The Princess Craft Books it doesn’t disappoint. The book provides a wealth of inspiration for original, on trend crafty projects to do with your children. There were loads which I thought were simply brilliant as they were so original but on reflection so simple and basic I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of them myself.

My favourite has to be the pegboard Giant Cross Stitch Art project, this is a lovely project for children and adults alike. I must admit, I’m going to have a go myself. The idea of using a pegboard is so simple but so very effective, not only for children but also perhaps for those who have difficulties being accurate with their hands. Of course, the end result would also look stunning on the wall.

There are lots of projects contained within the book which require minimum outlay in terms of the equipment needed. I loved the Foldaway Cardboard Boat project which although nothing unusual in conception at least (who hasn’t turned a cardboard box into something?) provided the measurements to makes something stunning.

The book is nicely presented, it looks good and is well laid out with loads if images (these are essential when crafting) and clear sections which also detail the sorts of skills your child will learn if participating in these different projects.

Again Laura and Tia have produced a book which is very difficult to fault. If you enjoy doing crafts with the kids as I do, this is a fabulous book to have sitting on your shelf at home and it comes highly recommended from me. In fact, chuck out those old dated craft books and treat yourself!

Watch out for some of our crafty makes from this book on my Instagram.

Mini Makers is published by GMC and you can find out more here.

Easy World Book Day Costumes with Duck Tape

kids roman soldier costumeOver the past few years I’ve had to make a variety of children’s costumes for World Book Day from Dirty Bertie to Harry Potter. On the whole these have been quite time consuming to make for a one off day, so when I was challenged by Duck Tape to see if I could make some costumes purely using Duck Tape I jumped at the chance. The thing is the children dont get that much use out of carefully handcrafted stuff and I do often wonder if its worth the effort. With Duck Tape a whole new realm of quick, easy and simple costumes are opened up to you, robust enough for the day they are the ideal cost effective solution!

Roman Soldier

soldier4Every small boy enjoys being a Roman soldier and one of our favourite books is Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff which we have been reading in sections at bedtime. Since we had some rather fabulous silver duct tape I thought it would be perfect for re-creating Marus Aquila’s lorica segmentata (his armour).



soldier1Creating roman segmented armour must be one of the easiest things you can do with Duck Tape as the width of the tape is about the right size for each of the segments of the armour. To make this costume I simply used an old cardboard box which I cut into strips and shaped around the shoulders. The helmet is made from a strip of card to create a band from which two ear pieces and the top of the helmet are attached. The only additional stuff I used was some wool to create the lacing which is attached with different colour Duck Tape.

soldier2After a bit of a scrum over who got first try of the armour, my four year old won the chance and was exceptionally pleased with the result! I honestly don’t think I could have made a more effective Roman soldier costume  and I think I knocked this up in about 20 minutes. Result!




Mr Strong

mr strong kids costumeHaving realised how simple it is to create a really effective costume using the tape (my goodness I wish I had discovered this before) we asked the children who else they might like to be for World Book Day. Fifi came up with Mr Strong- based on the colour tape we had left. We love the Mr Men books and they are one of the few children’s books which seem to have stood the test of time since our childhoods.

Mr Strong is a really super quick costume. All you need to do is cut a square of cardboard which you cover with the tape. Use a big black marker pen to draw on the face. You can make a sort of tabard, again using two bits of tape for the sections over the shoulders. If you want to make a hat its a simple case of making a band of card to go around the head (a bit like a crown), cutting out Mr Strong’s little green hat and sticking it to the band. Result!

Using Duck Tape saves you getting out the paint! An ideal mess free solution.

Using Duck Tape saves you getting out the paint! An ideal mess free solution.

There you have it two really quick, simple, effective and best of all super cheap costumes made using a little bit of Duck Tape and some imagination. Duck Tape really is fantastic for making dressing up clothes! I hope these inspire you, I’d love to see your efforts and let me know if you make something similar to us.

Disclaimer: We were kindly sent the Duck Tape and some compensation for our time, we’ve had loads of fun making these costumes and I cant think of a more perfect solution for creating (with the children helping) your World Book Day costume.

Book Review: The Knight Craft Book and The Princess Craft Book by Laura Minter and Tia Williams

KnightCraft_Cvr PrincessCraftlCvrI must admit, i’m not the biggest fan of craft books for children as I tend to find that they recycle ideas. However, these two books intrigued me because I wondered how they could actually think of enough things to make for each book. So I agreed to look at them for a review.

I have been astonished by these books. In all honesty, I don’t think the covers do them justice because they are little gems. These are not books full of crafts to do with the children, rather they are books which enable you to make your children’s dreams of becoming a Knight or Princess come true. Packed with lots of ideas, simple tutorials and excellent patterns you’ll find 15 projects in each book.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been making things from both books. The bows and arrows and shoebox catapault have been brilliant hits from the Knight Craft Book. However, I have to say, I think the Princess Craft Book is a goldmine of projects which are incredibly versatile. The patterns contained are second to none and I’ve been really impressed.

A horse #sewing #craft #worldbookday #costume

A photo posted by Claire Thornton Walsh (@clairevictoriawalsh) on

For World Book Day we have a dress up as a Shakespeare character day and my daughter and god-daughter have both decided to be a horse. I’m thinking Richard III horse but alternatively they could be Bottom from Midsummer Nights Dream. My daughter is a massive horse fan so I knew her costume wouldn’t be wasted. The Princess Craft Book has a brilliant tutorial and pattern for making a ride on horse. I used the pattern and tutorial for the head to make their head-dresses. That’s the fantastic thing about these books; the patterns can be adapted. If you want any sort of cape, armour, crown, tabard then you needn’t look further.

Knocked up this horses head for a head-dress. Recipient exceptionally pleased. Result! #sewing #craft

A photo posted by Claire Thornton Walsh (@clairevictoriawalsh) on

I’m seriously impressed with these books, not only are they great if you’re trying to create costumes, there are loads of other activities, many which can be adapted to do alongside your kids. If you’re a museum education officer you’ll also find them a goldmine of information. They have clear step by step instructions, excellent patterns and are exceptionally good value at just £6.99.

If you enjoy making stuff for your children then you cant go wrong with these. You can get hold of The Princess Craft Book here and The Knight Craft Book here.


The Power of Crafting

knittingOver the past couple of months I’ve found myself a bit overwhelmed and struggled a little with anxiety. Its partly because I have so much to do, I don’t get much in the way of down time. As a mum of three every second seems to be scheduled and i’m constantly being asked something or the other whether it actually has a purpose or not. It can be incredibly draining. I’m one of those people who needs to get to the end of each day and feel like I have achieved something, whether its a small or big thing and this is what keeps me going.

To this end I have returned to doing as much crafting as I can fit in between everything else. Perhaps a little to the detriment of this blog. This month I’ve taught myself how to knit socks, my friend Penny showed me how to use circular knitting needles, I knitted Fifi a poncho and a few hats and I’ve been churning out little applique Scandinavian style fairies on my sewing machine. I’ve also begun the arduous process of quilting a kingsize quilt. I’ve tried to do lots of stuff with the children after buying an enormous tub ofairyf air drying clay. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see some of my efforts. I’m not going to pretend to even be that good at any of these things but it has given me something to think about.

Remember I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve stopped reading the newspapers? Well, I’m still going on strong on that one and i’ve replaced my reading with inspirational craft blogs. The only problem with these is that they are not necessarily that frequently posted upon.  I’d very much appreciate suggestions if you have time, as i’m running out of things to read in the dark! (I like to read actual books.)

Spraying with gold paint the kids efforts at Christmas craft with the air dry clay

Spraying with gold paint the kids efforts at Christmas craft with the air dry clay

I’ve even started combining craft plans with work and next year i’m off on a pottery day course and a prehistoric pottery day course. I’m going to learn how to dye wool and refresh my knowledge of spinning and weaving. I should be able to then use all of this in my work teaching children in an outdoor museum. I’m quite excited by these possibilities and for the first time in a long time I feel quite positive about the opportunities for learning that the future holds despite being held back by my childcare responsibilities!


Featured Post: Our Crafty Preparation for Christmas Wish List

oglee poglee craft box

The Works have asked me to take a look at their Christmas range to see what we’d like to add to our Christmas Wish list. I must admit, i’m really surprised by the range of products they sell. I thought it was mainly craft stuff, but you can also get everything from books and toys through to Christmas gifts perfect for little stocking fillers. In fact, having looked through everything you could probably do nearly your entire Christmas shop online in one place. Perfect.

That said, if there is one thing I enjoy doing with my children its a bit of crafting. With the nights beginning to draw in its difficult to chuck them outside and I do find that they need something interesting to do to stop them sitting in front of the television endlessly. I take this term as the chance to get the kids making presents for everyone from their teachers to their friends. That way I know that when Christmas comes we will be well organised. Ive been looking at the Christmas Crafts section of their Christmas Shop and these are the things I think i’m going to get hold of:

Create your own Christmas Cards– a bargain at a quid

Christmas Embellishments– these can be stuck onto the cards!

Wooden handle Christmas Stamps– Im a sucker for a stamp and I think these look fab.

Christmas Glitter and Confetti– perfect for the table and for brightening up pictures and cards

Festive Paper– We like to make our own paper chains and this is ideal for that

Colour your own Christmas placemats– hours of fun for little ones and the satisfaction that comes when nanny likes your colour scheme!

I’ve added lots more stuff onto my Pinterest board here:

Follow zooarchaeologist’s board The works Christmas Crafts Wish List on Pinterest.

I could spend hours popping things into my basket and the best thing of all is that everything seems so reasonably priced so you wont spend a fortune, the kids will be entertained and you’ll be able to give some nice home made gifts to people.