Craft ideas

Five free craft ideas to keep kids busy this semester

Mid-term is approaching, but have you planned enough activities to keep the children busy?

Buying craft supplies can be expensive, but a new book by parent blogger and mum-of-three Sydney Piercey, inset, has more than 60 ideas on how to have fun at home using empty boxes , jars and toilet rolls.

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Portrait of a cute little boy carefully cutting paper in the kindergarten arts and crafts classCredit: Getty

Natasha Harding chooses five craft projects from the Sydney Sustainable Play book (Greenfinch, £14.99, available now) that could come in handy next week.

BIRD HOUSE

I first did it in the fall, so playing with it was more of a chance to talk about the birds than to see them.

When we went back in the spring it was amazing. He invited so many birds into the garden. My daughters were thrilled and it made it onto their list of their favorite cardboard toys.

My daughters were thrilled and it made it to their list of their favorite cardboard toys

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My daughters were thrilled and it made it to their list of their favorite cardboard toysCredit: Michael Wicks

WHAT DO YOU NEED:

  • Cardboard box
  • 2 toilet roll tubes
  • egg carton
  • Scissors (and utility knife, if you have one)
  • Tape and glue
  • Optional: tissue paper, ruler, string, bird food (breadcrumbs or toast, seeds, and even cooked rice work great)

WHAT ARE YOU DOING: Start by creating the pointed roofline of a house. Remove a right triangle from each corner of the top of the cardboard box. You can cut them neatly with scissors or a cutter.

Next, add a peephole for the birds. I use one of the toilet roll tubes as a guide for this. Place it in position and trace around it lightly with the blade of your scissors or cutter before cutting it out completely.

Through the open top of the box, you can add shredded cardboard or tissue paper to the bottom of the box. From the scraps you cut to create your pointed roof, cut a wide strip of cardboard and fold it in half. Place it over the uncovered roof space of your birdhouse and glue it in place to create your roof.

If you have twine, tape a length to the back of the house so you can hang it from a fence or a tree outside.

FOR THE BIRD BOWLS: Take an egg carton and cut out pairs of cups. Cut close to the bowl shape that cartons naturally make. Cut a length of twine and tie it in a knot around the deck of your bowls. Leave the lengths of twine long so you can hang them in your garden.

Lollipop puppets

This is a lovely craft for your little ones to create their own unique characters.

Decorate the shapes with faces, clothes and color

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Decorate the shapes with faces, clothes and colorCredit: Michael Wicks

WHAT DO YOU NEED:

  • cardboard sheet
  • Popsicle sticks (or straws or cardboard strips)
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon

WHAT ARE YOU DOING: Cut silhouettes of your choice from the sheet of cardboard, as directed by your young theater producer. We created sea creatures for our underwater theater theme.

Decorate the shapes with faces, clothes and colors. Glue the finished creatures to the bottom of lollipop sticks, bands or straws and start playing.

BOAT CORK BOTTLE

THERE are many method variations, but this is how we make them.

Secure the corks together in the middle, using elastic bands or tightly tied lengths of twine or twine

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Secure the corks together in the middle, using elastic bands or tightly tied lengths of twine or twineCredit: Michael Wicks

WHAT DO YOU NEED:

  • 3 x plugs per boat
  • Twine, twine, or rubber bands
  • Piece of paper or fabric
  • cocktail stick
  • Glue (superglue, if using flag material)

WHAT ARE YOU DOING: Lay three corks together in a line. If one of your corks is a champagne cork and the others are wine bottles, place it in the middle to provide balance.

If you have two champagne corks and one wine, place the wine cork in the middle. Secure the corks together in the middle, using elastic bands or tightly tied lengths of twine or twine.

Take a piece of scrap paper or fabric to prepare the flag. Cut a diamond out of paper or fabric and fold it in half to form a triangle. Place a cocktail stick along the folded line and glue the two halves of the triangle together.

Finally, pierce the rod through the center plug of the boat. It is now ready to set sail.

TAMBOURINE

YOU WILL need rings pulled from boxes or cans for this one. If you don’t have enough, you can always add to your tambourine as you encounter more over time.

You'll need rings pulled from boxes or cans for this one

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You’ll need rings pulled from boxes or cans for this oneCredit: Michael Wicks

WHAT DO YOU NEED:

  • cardboard sheet
  • Rings pulled from canned drinks or cans (we used 12)
  • Twine or twine
  • Scissors
  • A glass
  • Pencil
  • hole punch

WHAT ARE YOU DOING: Cut a wide strip of cardboard from the sheet and roll it into a circle (I wrap mine around a glass to achieve this)
Then open it up and punch a hole at each end of the strip.

Poke or punch pairs of holes at intervals around the tape. You want two holes next to each other, but not so close that they merge into one hole.

Cut a few short lengths of string – as many lengths as you have pairs of holes. Thread a length of twine through two rings. Very young children may be able to do this, but be sure to check beforehand that there are no sharp metal edges.

Then, thread each end of the length of twine through each hole in the pair. Pull the string through and tie inside the band.

Then tie the two ends of the band to secure the tambourine together. Cut off any overhangs and give them a little rattle. Repeat this process until you run out of rings or holes.

PLANE

Our planes are played without end

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Our planes are played without endCredit: Michael Wicks

THREE empty toilet rolls can create a wonderfully detailed airplane with plenty of room for your little ones to add designs and decorations. Our planes are played endlessly.

WHAT DO YOU NEED:

  • 3 x toilet roll tubes
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon

WHAT ARE YOU DOING: Cut a toilet roll tube vertically. Open and flatten. From there, cut out a piece in the shape of an airplane silhouette. Next, take a second toilet roll tube and fold it in half and flatten it.

Cut a small semicircle in the middle of the longer side, then reopen. Place this second tube on top of your cutout planar shape and glue or tape in place. Take a third toilet roll tube and cut it in half horizontally. Take one half and cut in half vertically.

Roll it tighter to create a narrower tube shaper and tape to secure it. Make four slits in this narrower tube, like cutting the north, east, south, and west parts on a compass.

Take the other half of the third toilet roll tube and cut it in half vertically. Open and flatten. Cut out two oval shapes. Insert an oval into the west-east slot of your narrow tube. Cut a slit in the middle of this oval.

Slide your remaining oval into your north-south slot and through the slot of the oval you just cut. It is the rudder of your plane. Glue it or tape it to the side of your tube.