There’s one activity that the twins like to do with mummy and that mummy likes to do with them: painting.
Although T doesn’t like to get messy and B usually paints his own hair by mistake, they both like to paint. I usually make them paint something 3D, instead of painting on paper. This develops their fine motor skills, their creativity and it’s usually a good chance to talk to them in Italian and improve their minority language. My husband says I am a pushy parent and maybe he is right… I love super educational activities like this one!
Painting is obviously a cheap activity, but sometimes kids don’t find it “special enough” because they do lots of it in preschool. Adding a special object to paint makes this more fun and engaging, but it doesn’t have cost a fortune. This time we chose a treasure chest!
The little cardboard chest cost me £1, which thanks to Brexit I believe is less than 10 cents in Euros! The paint cost me £2 per colour (but I already had 3 out of the 4 colours we used) and we obviously had paintbrushes and a protective cloth for the table. The stickers were also already in the house somewhere. Which household with kids under 5 doesn’t have stickers?
We chose a treasure chest because the boys love to keep things such as tickets or colourful chocolate wrappers. We needed to put them in a special place and keep them safe. What better place than a treasure chest?
The final product is messy, not at all neat and badly painted, but extremely loved. Since we completed, the red and blue chest has become one of T’s most treasured possession and it’s appropriately filled with several empty chocolate coins. What a great treasure!
The boys are finally old enough to help me making some bigger craft projects. This time around we also put a little science in the mixture and built a fully functioning vulcano!
It all started with some paper… actually a lot of paper!
Then we added some water and some glue. The boys really enjoyed squeezing the bottle of PVA glue. Instead of yelling “Stop! That’s too much!” like I do when they squeeze ketchup on their plates. I kept on saying: “A little more… a little more…” They loved it!
With paper machè you can make lots of intricate shapes, but with the limited ability of a 4 year old, the blob shape of a vulcano is all you can achieve! We put all the paper machè around a small bottle (about 150ml) and made sure it stuck to the cardboard underneath as well.
Once the paper was somewhat dry, we did some painting. Brown for T, grey for B and a little red for mummy (the lava effect).
Our final product was left to dry in the sun for days and days… we almost forgotten it was there. Once dry, it was finally time for a proper volcanic eruption…
Mummy carefully put the red vinegar and red food colouring in the volcano, while the boys took turns in pouring in the sodium bicarbonate using a teaspoon… their faces lit up at every eruption. I lost count of how many we did.
The moral of the story is… children are never too young to enjoy an explosive chemical reaction!!
I work many hours a day, too many to be precise. The good side of my job though is the long holidays. Every few weeks I get a week (or 3) off. I get to spend it with my boys and I often tend to make it the best time ever. As one of my colleague says, I switch to supermummy mode.
Last week was one of those special weeks, we went places, ate out, did some painting and spent lots of time together. The crown jewel of the week was pirates day.
I spent a day planning it and almost a week preparing it, but it was all worthy. I bought a pair of pirates costumes, some storytelling dice and pirates cupcakes mix. Everything else was prepared by the boys… under strict supervision.
On Tuesday we painted a cardboard shark.
On Wednesday we prepared some golden cardboard coins for our treasure.
On Thursday we painted a treasure chest brown with golden glitter and prepared three pirates telescopes.
On Friday we played!
We built islands with Duplo and looked for treasures. We got tatoos like real pirates. We also told tall tales about adventures on desert islands and far away lands. As any good pirates day should have, we had a sword fight and obviously cupcakes with a (sugar) skull and bones on them. We filled in a mosaic of a parrot and a pirate; we watched the tale of captain Hook; we looked for the hidden treasure chest in the deepest and most obscure parts of the living room and finally… we went for a nap still holding our swords.
What you can achieve with some paint, cardboard and a little creativity is spectacular. If then you add some browsing on Pinterest, only the sky is the limit!
I’m already planning my next themed day…
When you do a craft project for your children, is it really for them? I asked myself this question a few times while working on my latest idea: a medieval castle. The twins would have loved the box as long as it had a door to get in. If we had time to cut in a window or two, they would have laugh at us while looking out. So why did we (my husband and I) built a proper castle with a draw bridge, towers, windows and then not happy with one coat of grey paint, we also spent time adding fake stones to the paint job? Surely not for our 11 months old twins. They have never even seen a castle before!
Lately my brain has started to work in a funny way. Between the hours of 6 AM and 8 PM, I am the mum. I’m responsible, reliable, serious, busy, extremely busy, very very busy and mostly importantly, I cannot stop for a second. After 8 PM, when the boys are in bed and the husband is cooking dinner, I transform into a 5 year old who wants to build castles out of cardboard boxes. So when my husband took home a pair of coffee table in an old box, my brain started to formulate ideas, draw blue prints and imagine a world of possibilities. Apparently I have also married the right person to help with my crazy ideas, because as soon as I explained what I wanted to do, he went to the garage and reappear a few minutes later with everything we needed and more… Did we really need a spirit level to cut the windows straight?
Did we need a coat of arms to put at the entrance of the castle? Obviously not. Definitely we didn’t need multiple designs and a 30 minutes consultation on how to paint it. And were two coats of paint of the draw bridge needed, because the first “didn’t look quiet right”? I would guess not. Was it fun to do? Oh yes!
So the answer to my original question is undoubtedly no, it’s not for them. The craft project is probably something you would have liked to do as a child, but couldn’t; it is a way to unwind at the end of a long day; it is an unusual way to bond with your husband when you can’t go to the cinema anymore and finally it is a way to get amazing pictures of your twins to put on Facebook!
If you would like to attempt a craft project, I would start with something smaller. We probably spent an hour reinforcing the towers, couple more cutting windows and the bridge, 3 or 4 hours painting it and a whole week taking super cute pictures of the boys playing with it. It was definitely worthy!