New Year’s Resolution: learn foreign languages!

little girl writing and learning foreign languages

Who made a New Year’s resolution this year?I’ll be honest and say I don’t really believe in them myself. Plus, if all the articles on the subject are to be believed then most of us would’ve given up on them by now and January is barely halfway through! But: if there’s one resolution that I do believe is worth the effort, for yourself and for your kids, is to try learning a new language!

It may seem daunting, especially as you get older, yet there are loads of reasons why you should consider learning a foreign language at any stage of your life, and plenty of different learning methods to help. It’s always a good time to take up a new language!

It is true that English has become this century’s “lingua franca” in business, and in other fields. Everywhere you go, you are likely to maybe find someone who speaks English albeit sometimes a very hard to understand English, according to how well they master this language or their native language.

I would argue however that the English spoken today, has become a version of poor American, due to the massive influence Hollywood films have had over the past century and it has intruded into various countries.

When I lived in France I was often amazed at how some English words entered the French vocabulary (such as “le parking” – for car park used in day-to-day life,  or “le camping”) and with more appalling adoptions in the corporate world, such as “forcing” – to force something or someone into something, “burn-out”, “conf-calling”, “debriefer”, “brainstorming”, “personal branding” and so on. Not entirely sure if l’Académie française is over the moon with those.

How learning a new language improves your brain

Less risk of developing dementia

Research has shown that people who’ve learned foreign languages have less chances of developing dementia later in life.  I’ve seen the ugly face of dementia in hospitals, it deprives people of their humanity and dignity. Some people even forget the names of their loved ones, which is heartbreaking. I am personally in favour of doing anything to beat that, whether it is running or playing memory brain games, playing the piano or learning another language!

You’ll have a bigger brain!

Anytime you learn something new, new connections (or neuronal pathways) are created in your brain, which in turn contributes to enlarging your brain.  According to research, if you learned a language, your brain networks are better integrated, and they’re more flexible and allow for faster learning.  The faster those connections are the more efficiently they can work together as a network!

You’ll think more logically

I am biased here, because I loved logic in high school (oh such joy to determine if a sentence is true or false, if the conclusion inferred is therefore valid or not!) and logic is closely linked to semantics (the meaning of words and how sentences are structured). However, geeky arguments aside, developing the more logical side of reasoning allows people to make more rational decision, based on facts and evidence – which in today’s divided world is a plus!

Why is it important for kids (and not just) to learn a new language

Exploring and understanding new cultures

When learning a new language, you’ll be exposed to differently ways of thinking and doing things. Each culture has their own rituals and collective way of thinking. It is said that British people are very insular and their humour is unequalled (I agree, I love British comedy it is what attracted me to this country and civilisation). French people’s humour is somewhat different – a lot of the times directed at others, as self deprecation doesn’t really exist in this culture. It is a much more expressive humour, based on irony and gesture.

During University, I was an Erasmus student from Eastern Europe, studying in France and later on in life I moved to the UK. While very nostalgic for our habits at home – mostly related to certain types of food consumption at Christmas and Easter, or missing my friends and going out with the, – I always felt very lucky to be able to discover other types of food in France, other ways of being and behaving in England and I always felt personally enriched by those. My horizons expanded a lot and I am hoping today to be a more balanced person due to this as in being able to see more than just one side of a story.

Relating to each other

I mentioned above that learning languages let us discover new cultures. This in turn contributes to developing more understanding and empathy towards other people, other behaviours that might not be like ours or other cultural norms. Which leads to more tolerance and more acceptance of differences.

Research has also found that people who speak more than one language develop a higher tolerance to ambiguity and unexpected situations. How does this work? Well, during a conversation between let’s say a native speaker and a non native speaker, if a word is not known by the latter, they will carry on the conversation by inferring the meaning from the context (they won’t stop the conversation saying “oh I do not know this word, I’m completely lost”). What this means then is that people who have this high tolerance to ambiguity and unexpected situations have higher resilience levels against anxiety and stress. And we all know how precious mental health is.

Improved job prospects

If you work in an office, in a firm with several locations abroad, you might have been in a situation where you had to attend a teleconference with your Spanish, German and Japanese colleagues. And all of a sudden the Spanish stop and giggle about something between themselves in their own language. Well, if you know one of those languages you’ll have an advantage over some of your colleagues, in that you’ll understand what the giggles are all about! If you worked with Japanese people you’re also likely to have committed one or more cultural no-no’s in their world (for example, in Asian cultures, the word “no” doesn’t seem to really exist – especially when asked by a superior to do something).

It goes without saying that being able to put a foreign language under “Languages” in your CV will improve your employment prospects. Not just because may work for a  company that operates in a different countries but it also demonstrates higher intellectual abilities to a prospective employer.

Once in a job you may also have better chances for mobility (i.e. being sent abroad as an expat – which usually comes with great perks!).

So don’t rethink that New Year Resolution to learn Japanese just yet!. Plus you can make it really fun and involve your child and learn together. We have  an amazing vendor called Lil’ollo in our directory, they sell a range of printables, maps and cards to help your children learn languages in a fun way – and adults can benefit from this too and learn with their kids.

I would love to hear from people who started on a new language this year. As for myself, I have given myself to learn Spanish as I may embark in a new professional adventure outside Rainy Days Fun.

A bientot, Hasta luego, Ciao, La revedere, さようなら !

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What to do if it rains at Christmas?

Little girl enjoying a sleigh ride. Child sledding. Toddler kid riding a sledge. Children play outdoors in

Although we’d all love for Christmas to be snowy and white let’s be honest: we’re in the UK, so the chances that it will be a rainy Christmas rather than a white Christmas are….quite high.

But don’t despair.

You can put on your wellies and work off some of that turkey and Christmas pudding with a walk and some puddle jumping or you can also try some fun indoor activities for the whole family. These activities are simple, don’t really require hours and hours of preparation (we love simple but fun ideas!)

Make some handmade snowglobes

These are easy to make, will look cuter than the generic ones you can buy in shops and can also make cute gifts!

hand made snow globe with Lego Santa toy and tree inside
Source: Pinterest

You will need:

Glue the toy onto the inside of the jam jar lid using the glue gun (first of all, this is only a job for the adults and not the little ones, second of all you will need a LOT of hot glue as the little ones might do some serious shaking on it).

Make your own transparent baubles

plastic christmas bauble with john snow lego figurine inside
Source: Pinterest

This activity requires a bit more than everyday ordinary supplies, but the result is quite spectacular. The beauty of this activity is that you can use anything to fill up your bubble just like the snow jars activity:  small figurines, Lego toys etc. But for this activity we will use pine cones and glitter, to give the baubles a Christmassy feeling.

You will need:

First of all protect your table, use an A4 sheet of paper and put the pine cone on top. Spray your glue all over the pine cone.

Afterwards just add glitter a bit everywhere on the pine cone. This will make it look really Christmassy and festive. The more glitter the better!! You can add some glitter on your cotton too!

Add the cotton in one of the halves of the plastic bauble, then add the pine cone on top. And there you go you have a very pretty and personal Christmas bauble!

Make a simple paper chain

colorful homemade paper chain on black background

The first time I ever made one of these was in nursery and needless to say I’ve been loving them ever since!

All you need for these:

Using the ruler and the pencil draw equal sized rectangles on the patterned paper, around 3×9 cm depending on how big you want the links.

Cut out the links making sure to keep to the guidelines.

Fold the first paper chain to form a loop and glue the ends into place, overlapping them slightly. Thread the second piece of paper through the first loop, and glue the ends. Continue to thread the paper pieces through to the last loop to create the chain, making sure you alternate the colours (or the papers) for each loop. If you are making a long chain you might find the whole process quicker, if you use a stapler. The staple might be visible, but it doesn’t matter when you’re having fun (and you want to save some time!).

 

Try an indoors winter sport

Is there any time of year more perfectly suited to ice skating? If you’re in Kent, you can pay Silver Blades Gillingham a visit and show off your skating loops and jumps (or take a course if you’re not at ease on ice). Why not give bowling a go or you could also try some cookery classes, such as sushi making with Sushi Queen, or chocolate making classes with the Kandy Factory or Cooking classes for kids with Food Sorcery.

Bake gingerbread Christmas cookies

christmas gingerbread men cooking

This is a classic and fun for all family. Kids will enjoy decorating these, once they are baked (and certainly eat them).

This recipe makes about 20 biscuits, it takes 25 minutes to prepare + 10 minutes to decorate and cook for 10 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter
  • 100 g dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 325 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • Writing icing to decorate.
  • Cookie decorating cutters

Method:

Preheat the oven to 170C , gas mark 3. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup together in a pan, then remove from the heat.

Sieve in the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger. Stir together to make a stiff dough.

Roll our on a lightly floured surface to 5 mm thick. Cut out about 18-20 gingerbread men and bake on 2 large lined baking trays for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Decorate with icing to add eyes, noses, mouths etc.

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These butterflies will warm your heart up in winter

dark butterflies with colourful spots of tissue paper

This is quite an easy craft to do, and one that both parents and little ones will enjoy.

Tissue paper offers so many possibilities – such as creating these amazing candle jars and these tissue paper butterflies are another great little craft activity.

We made ours some time ago and our butterflies are still displayed on the doors leading to our conservatory. The colourful spots of tissue paper act like stained glass, letting the light through and giving a darker room a merry feeling.

You can also make different shapes – butterflies, hearts or more traditional stained-glass like windows. The brightly coloured pieces will look great glued back against a darker coloured shape of paper.

What you will need:

cat playing with pipe cleaners and supplies used for butterflies

Step one: create the butterfly template

Depending on your abilities or mood, you can skip this step and draw freely on the cardboard paper.

We just drew a very simple butterfly with two larger wings and two smaller ones placed underneath.

You can draw other shapes too, such as hearts, or even a window shape. Place your template on the piece of black paper and draw around it using the white pencil (this is to make the butterfly shape easier to see)

 

butterfly shape traced with white on paper

Step two: cut out your butterfly

Use the scissors to cut out the butterfly shape. If you are making more than one butterfly, you may want to try cutting out all the shapes at once before cutting the holes and sticking the tissue paper. We enjoyed drawing them individually and cutting them separately, as some butterflies were smaller and some were bigger.

black cardboard paper butterfly shape

Step three: draw shapes

Using the white pencil, draw rounded shapes on the back of the black paper. Use scissors to carefully cut out the shapes which will form the holes for the tissue paper. We drew various round and oval shapes of different sizes.

Step four: Finishing

Cut out piece of tissue paper that are just slightly bigger than the openings you created in step three. Glue them to the back of the butterfly shape. Use only a tiny amount of glue as too much will cause the tissue paper to get wet and tear. Finish the butterfly with two pipe cleaner antennae attached with bobs of glue or with tape.

colourful paper butterflies against window

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Give a new life to your pegs in the shape of spiders!

Pipe-cleaner-spiders

My son and I were stuck indoors the other day because of illness and rain. So as we were running out of ideas and suffering from cabin fever, we decided to give the idea of making spider pegs with pipecleaners a try with a few supplies that we had at hand.

This is an easy craft that would enchant children of various ages and abilities.

What you’ll need:

supplies for spiders

Step one

Using the felt tip pens colour the spider’s bodies. Colours that complement each other such as a darker and a lighter tone are always best. Leave to dry for a bit.

coloured peg

Step two

Push the pipe cleaners through the pegs. Bend them so as to form legs bent towards the front and towards the back. Tell your cat that it’s not for them to play with!

cat paw holding the spider's pipe cleaners

Step three

Add your eyes and voila: you have your cute sassy pipe cleaner spiders!

spider peg with yellow pipe cleaners as legs

spider peg with blue pipe cleaner legs

three spiders with pipe cleaner legs

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5 of The Best Cabin Fever Busting Ideas for Kids

Little boy behind the window in the rain, looking sad

You’re stuck in the house with your little one. They’re getting over a nasty bug but but can’t yet go to school, or you’re stuck indoors because for the last few days it’s been raining like it’s monsoon season and your weekend plans have been rained-out and you’ve started to hear the dreaded “I’m bored”…. Sound familiar? And a bit like a nightmare? Don’t panic; we’ve compiled some of our favourite indoors activities that will keep you all entertained:

Mission Impossible Obstacle Maze

What Moms love Obstacle Maize
Obstacle Maize: Source What Moms love Pinterest

For this activity you can use either Crepe Paper  or this cute, London-themed Washi Tape.

Create an intricate maze in either hallways or door frames for your children to work their way through. Put the tape up high and down low, forcing them to step over and crawl under at various points. A great, fun activity for the little ones while you put your feet up – though before you know it, they’ll be asking you to keep making another one for them.

Have an indoors snowball fight! 

With DIY snowballs of course!

Indoor Snowball Craft
DYI Snowball craft: credit A Parenting Production

These are easy to make and you can have snowball fights in the comfort of your home, without runny noses, cold feet, wet gloves or snow all over your sofa!

You will need:

How to make the snowballs: 

1. Cut a notch an inch wide and a couple of inches deep on one of the short sides of your cardboard.

2. Wrap your wool around the cardboard over the notched end. The number of times will depend on the thickness of your wool. Cut the end once you’ve wrapped your wool around the cardboard enough.

3. Cut a length of wool from the main roll to use as a tie, about 8 inches or so. Using the notched area of your cardboard wrap the string around the centre of the bunch of wool a few times cinching it down into an hourglass shape. Make sure to cinch it tightly and tie a knot.

4. Once your tie is in place slide the looped wool from your cardboard. Once it’s off it will look a little like a bow.

5. Cut through the looped wool on both ends. Cut down the centre of the loops as best as you can. Cutting the looped ends will give you a rough pom pom or ball shape.

6. After the loops are all cut down the centre fluff the ball a bit to help set the yarn in place and then trim the ends to give your snowball a nice evenly round shape.

Paint with ice!

ice popsicle painting
Ice lolly Painting: credit Easy Peasy and Fun

All you need is:

  • 1 cup of water
  • Red, yellow, green, and blue food colouring (or any colours you like!)
  • Short lolly sticks
  • Ice cube tray

Tips: add just a tiny bit of food colouring to the trays and mix well. Place a lolly stick in the tray and leave around 6-7 hours to freeze or overnight and lay a newspaper on the table before you paint as the newspapers will stain!

Learn Origami

Origami is one of our favourite activities here at Rainy Days Fun.  It’s non-messy, it improves skills such as concentration, fine motor skills and even mindfulness in both adults and children.

We have a few books about the ancient Japanese art of paper folding, we thoroughly reccomend Easy Origami for Children .

You will also need some origami sheets to make your own pieces of craft.

Or you can also buy a ready made Origami kit with paper and instructions, from Creativity for Kids

Make paper indoor umbrellas

DYI Rainy Day paper plate umbrella
Credits: My Teens Guide

We loved this project as it is really easy to do with very little supplies  – you just need some imagination.

You will need some pipe cleaners and cupcake liners, blue cardboard paper, tape, some blue paint colours and either a sponge or a brush (or a sponge brush!).

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Our First Pumpkin Carving Adventure…

Traditionally Halloween is not something we’ve really gotten excited about in our house.  But as our son has now reached the age where such things become the centre of excitement (we blame his playgroup) there was no getting away from it. Every time we went near a supermarket he’d cast glances toward the pumpkins on display and start asking if we could buy one. There was no getting away from it.

So, after initially hoping to get a few groceries we ended up coming away from our local supermarket armed with a couple of pumpkins (despite toddler entreaties to buy more) and zero clue what to do with them.

Of course, the Internet had the answer; there’s an abundance of sites out there with guides like “How to Carve the Perfect Jack O’Lantern” or how to accomplish “A Spooktacular Pumpkin Carving”… all done by experts and looking like it.

Here’s our first tip – if you’ve never carved a pumpkin before DON’T look to Instagram for inspiration; those amazingly crafted works of vegetable sculpture will only make you feel out of your league as you stand there at the table armed with a vegetable knife and bowl for the innards.

So, here’s what you’ll need for a standard pumpkin caving:

1 Pumpkin – the larger the better as carving smaller pumpkins can get tricky
1 Tea light
Table Spoon
Sharp Serrated Knife
Small Serrated Knife

Step One

Choose a pumpkin – the larger the better as carving the smaller ones can prove tricky with less space for the features – and use a sharp serrated knife to cut off the crown.  Try and cut this as straight as you can or, like ours, your finished pumpkin may end up looking like it was given a lobotomy by Stevie Wonder.

Step Two

Grab a table spoon and get scooping – all the seeds and fibres need removing. Use the spoon to remove some of the pumpkin’s flesh too.  TIP: the more flesh you remove the better,  the thinner the pumpkins ‘skull’ is the easier the carving will be so get at that flesh like a frenzied piranha.

To be honest there’s not a whole lot of point doing anything with the seeds and flesh other than lining the bin. Given how most of them end up during October I’ve got a sneaking suspicion they’re not harvested for taste.

You’ll possibly need a hoover / broom at this point too should your helper have been as enthusiastic as ours in throwing away from those pumpkin seeds. Oh, and to wash your hands – the inside of a pumpkin is not the most pleasant of aromas.

Step Three

With your marker pen draw an outline of the face you want on your pumpkin then, with a small serrated knife, cut out the eyes, nose and mouth. Always remember to cut away from you in case the knife slips and to ensure that little ears aren’t paying too much attention when you do….

Step Four

Place the tea light inside the pumpkin, light it and pop the crown back on your Jack O’Lantern’s head and… voila!

For a first go we were pretty proud of ours. They’re not likely to win any beauty contests but we had a whole lot of fun making them and our little one loved the whole process and, cheesy as it may be, that’s what counts, isn’t it?

We hope you have a lot of fun carving your Jack O’Lantern and have a great Halloween. Don’t forget to let us know – in the comments below or on facebook – how your pumpkin carving goes and subscribe to our newsletter for more great fun activities and places to visit on rainy days.

Easy activities to do with autumn leaves

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves open a myriad of opportunities for little ones to get acquainted with nature and its multitude of colours and to use their imagination.

You can try and extract colours from autumn leaves and also give them a new life as hedgehogs, use them to decorate a frame of one of your paintings or to actually be part of a painting and make them a sort of a 3D form of art!

1. Leaf Hairstyles

This is a very creative idea, that will make use of your children’s creativity. You can either download printables on this website or you can ask your children to use their imagination by first drawing various human silhouettes and imagining different hair styles of various colours.

2. Laminated leaves

If you have a laminating machine, you can keep the leaves forever, or for as long as you want, and create various items with them. You can, for example, after you have laminated them, make a whole in one end, using a hole punch, then insert some string in the holes and create a beautiful autumnal garland.

Or you can stick some googly eyes on them and make them into different shapes. We used ours on a scrap book with souvenir pictures of our son. If you don’t have a laminating machine, you can use cling film. Put a few leaves in between two sheets of cling film and you can then put this on a window to make a very nice autumn decoration.

laminated leaves garland
Source: Pinterest

Laminated leaves in a scrapbook

3. Ghost leaves

This is very easy and spot on for Halloween! It makes a very nice decoration for Halloween that your kids can get involved in. All you need is (obviously) leaves, some white acrylic paint and a paintbrush, a black permanent marker and a string – if you want to put them in a garland.

Begin by painting the leaves – usually putting two coats of paint will do the job. Leave to dry, then paint the eyes and the mouth. In order to make the garland, tie the ropes to the stems of the leaves and there you go! Ready to spook up your neighbours!

10 Simple Boredom Busters for a Boring Rainy Day

child home made mask

Turn the kids bed into a pirate ship

Do your children make their beds in the morning? We’re willing to bet they don’t, especially at weekends. So, on a rainy week-end, when everyone wants to lay in their pyjamas a little longer, why not embrace it, create a pirate ship right in your child’s bed and play a little pirate game. First name your ship, something like The Deceitful Eel, the Flying King or the Good Squid. Then make a team of crew mates – with dolls, toys and teddies and give them names : Hysterical Darius Scarr, or Sweatin’ Benjamin Sparrow. Take the top sheet and throw it over the headboard to make a sail. Make sure everyone – the captain, the crew members are on the bed, ensuring that they are not eaten by sharks (remind them of the shark at regular intervals).

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Have hours of pirate fun with this easy to make paraphernalia

pirate map trial

Little ones love pirates and the idea of adventure, but rain can pretty much put a stop to plans of venturing outside for fun, especially during the summer holidays. But don’t let the rain spoil your holiday. What if I told you that you can have hours of indoors fun with a little imagination and very little material?

You can make a pirate hat and a map for a treasure hunt. Use a jewellery case and some chocolate coins or costume jewellery as treasure. You can also use old clothes to make a pirate costume.

This activity combines both the fun of arts and crafts through paper folding and drawing, imagination via costume making, treasure hunting and some exciting indoors (and outdoors) adventure.

Pirate hat

This hat is easily created by folding a black piece of paper and decorating with a skull and crossbones.

For the hat you will need :

  • 1 piece of A2 black paper (the bigger the piece of paper, the bigger the hat)
  • Pencil
  • Glue
  • White paper

Lay the paper on a flat surface with the sort end facing you. Fold the paper over itself along the long side like a book and press flat.

Folding the pirate hat paper

Spin it around 90 degrees and fold the longest piece on itself again. Open it up and flip it back so that the loose ends are facing you. Fold the corners down to make the hat shape.

hat folded corners

Then fold over the bottom edge up to meet the bottom of the triangles. Turn over the hat and repeat. Use some glue to make sure the hat is held together.
To decorate you can draw a skull and crossbones (or use a pirate rubber stamp and an inkpad if you have one) on a white piece of paper. Cut them shaped as badges and glue them on the front of the hat for that pirate-y finish.

pirate hat and treasure

 

Treasure map

You can create an antique-effect treasure map using tea, water and a piece of paper.  You can draw an imaginary island or your back garden – either way children will use their imagination and will have hours of fun with their friends.

You will need:

  • 1 piece of white A4 paper
  • 1 teabag and water
  • Sponge
  • Paint brush and coloured paints
  • Fine black pen

Tear all four paper edges to make them slightly rugged and uneven. Make some tea and leave the tea bag in the water until it becomes dark brown. Make sure it’s not boiling hot! Dip the sponge into the tea and then dab all over the paper to stain it and leave the paper to dry. If you want the paper to be a darker shade, repeat.

For an even more enhanced antique effect, you can use dark brown to pain the edges of the paper, then leave to dry.

For finishing touches use your imagination to draw an island, palm trees, fish. Don’t forget the position of the treasure and to add the clues!

pirate map

 

You can also draw a map of your home, similar to a plan and put different sets of clues but each ending at the same final location. The easiest way to set up the treasure trail is by working backwards. Begin by placing the treasure in the final spot, take the clue for this location and hide it in another chosen spot. Keep doing this for all the clues until you are left with one. This will be the starting clue you give to the treasure hunt players.

Pirate suit

You can use a pair of trousers and just roll them up just below the knee with an old shirt (the more ragged the better).
If you are really in the mood to make costumes, you can convert an old pair of trousers. To convert these, if you don’t mind getting rid of them, cut the legs at an angle, with the long, tapered end facing out.
The cut will look like a long triangle from the side. Cut through the middle of this triangle up to just below the knees. Then tie the two ends of each legging.

And this way, the whole gang is ready to find the hidden treasure! Use chocolate coins or some piece of jewellery in the hidden treasure.
Happy treasure hunting!

 

Turn Your Recycling Into Arts & Crafts – A Great Rainy Days Fun Activity

Paper toy town

Recycling material can be a great material for creating fun crafts indoors while it’s pouring outside. This activity helps little ones develop skills such as creativity, imagination, patience, mindfulness and craft-making.

You can use empty cereal boxes, juice cartons, cardboard tubes and  other boxes, to create a cute toy town painted in cheery shades. You can use scraps of paper in bold tones to make windows, doors and tissue paper or plain coloured paper for the tree leaves.

What you’ll need:

  • A few larger cartons or boxes to create a basic house
  • A few juice cartons to create blocks of flats
  • Scissors
  • Coloured paper – can be scraps of paper – to create windows and doors
  • A glue stick
  • Card for the roof
  • Adhesive tape
  • Various colour paints

Paint the boxes in your chosen shades and let the paint dry completely. We applied a second coat of paint to hide the letters on the packaging and to make the colour pop out a bit more.

Paper Town wip
Paper Town – Work in progress

Once the box is dry, cut out squares of paper in various contrasting colours to create doors, windows and window shades and glue them onto the cardboard.

Use either a fine paintbrush and some white paint or a white pencil to add window frames, door decorations…..let your imagination roam freely.

For the buildings that need a roof, cut a piece of card and fold it three times to form a triangle. Use tape to hold the edges together and to fix it on the building. Use a fine paintbrush to paint the roof tiles – you can either allow the paint to dry completely before glueing the flat base or you can paint the roof tiles once you have glued it on top of the box.

And here is our finished result:

paper town finished

paper town and train

Paper plate froggies

You can paint your own plates or, if you had a party recently and have some left over coloured plates you can use those and skip the painting.

We’ve made some frogs using green plates – they were light green but white on the outside, so we painted the outside with a darker shade. It’s really simple to make – just fold a green plate in half. I used my finger to measure the eye stems and we added googly eyes for more amusement. We cut a piece of red paper to make a cheeky tongue and used pipe-cleaners to make the legs.

If you want to paint your own plates, in order to prevent them from winkling, we’d suggest using two plates when painting and removing the second plate from underneath when the paint has dried. Try to avoid using too much paint, if you have a toddler then this may not be too easy, just let them have fun, but, for bigger children, it is best to explain that two thinner coats of paint will help prevent the paper plates from buckling and wrinkling, and the paint won’t crackle when it dries.

Toddler painting paper plates

Here’s our frogs :

paper plates frogs

 

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