diy with kids

Creative Afternoon #3

Most of my joy and wish for crafting comes from my mother and the many many projects she did with us. Specially for birthdays of family members, she always had ideas about nice presents to create with us. So it was quite natural that when the birthdays of all of Alva's grand-parents came up (they were all born within the same two month) i searched for small projects i could do with him. 

It's not quite easy to find something suitable for a toddler to create and enjoyable/useful for a parent to receive...Alva loves to scribble around with paint and brushes. The result of it is often a baby covered in colors and a white paper, but he enjoys it so much that i let him. So i thought to work with his joy of scribbling.

What you need for this DIY:

- A wooden box or any other wooden object that you think fit (mirror with wooden frame or picture frame, pin-board, terracotta plant pot, ect...) - I got a simple box with a small locker at a craft store.

- Acrylic paint - I used two different colors but you could use as many as you like and do a JacksonPollock type of box

- A medium sized flat paint brush and a medium sized round paint brush

- Any kind of protective layer for the table you will do the project on

- A piece of white or colored paper (A4 size is perfect)

- Eventually clear lacquer (if you like a glossy finish) but careful, lacquer is toxic and should NEVER get into the hands of your child - i personally don't use lacquer because i don't like the smell of it and i prefer the natural look of the matte finish...

1. Cover the table you are working on with some kind of protective layer.

2. Paint the box in the color of your liking. Let it dry for several hours and make sure that the paint is entirely dry before you go to the next step. If your kid is old enough, maybe he/she can do this step on their own with your help. (You could of course also skip this step and let your kid paint on the natural wood).

3. Let the fun part begin. Put some clothes on your toddler that you don't mind getting dirty, (or take all the clothes off him/her)... Show how to dip the brush in the paint and make a first stroke on the box, then hand off the brush to your kid and let them do whatever they choose to do. eventually turn the box slightly to make them paint on all surfaces more or less equally.

4. Since the painting of the box is probably done pretty quickly, get a piece of paper ready so your kid can continue to paint without getting frustrated. In the meanwhile, put the box away to a safe place to dry over night.

5. Once dry eventually apply the layer of lacquer. This should be done by YOU and never by your kid!!!

6. Finished is the birthday present...Maybe you can even use a piece of the extra paper you gave your kid to paint on as a matching birthday card.

Creative Afternoon #2

One of the things i like most about weekends - besides family time and baking, is crafting. At the moment, Alva is fascinated by elephants. Every object in the house which even remotely resembles an elephant, is an elephant in Alva's eyes. So i decided to print an elephant shirt for him. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. One color on an unicolor cotton shirt. 

Here is the very simple step by step DIY tutorial. At the end you will find the print out templates for 3 different animal shirts. The elephant, a giraffe and a whale...Please notice that this tutorial is not suitable for kids under the age of 10. For smaller kiddos, i recommend to cut out and glue the shape yourself and let them apply the color with your assistance.

What you need for this DIY:

- A simple cotton shirt

- Textile color (I am using Marabu Textil)

- The printed out template (printed out in A4 or adjust the size of the print by playing with the % on the copy machine)

- Washable, non-toxic stick glue

- A paint brush (medium size)

- Scissors

- A piece of carton (i.e. from a cornflakes box)

- An iron (most of the textile colors are permanently fixed to the fabric only after ironing)

1. Once you have the template printed out in the right size to fit the shirt, start cutting out the elephant. Make sure to keep the "ear" and "eye" cut outs, you will need them later.

Place the carton piece inside the t-shirt, to make sure the paint will not pass on the other side.

2. Flip around the paper and apply a layer of glue to the borders of the elephant. There is no need to apply glue on the rest of the paper. It would just make it unnecessary difficult to remove the paper afterwards but make sure that all the edges, specially the smaller parts (like the tail) are covered.

Flip the ear and eye as well and apply glue to them.

3. Flip the paper and press it on the shirt. Place the ear and the eye in the correct place. Make sure that all the small parts are sticking well to the fabric in order to guarantee a clean edge for your drawing. 

4. Apply the paint to the shirt. Brush from the paper to the textile and not the other way around. Paint out the whole elephant...

5. Till it looks like this...then let it dry for a few hours.

6. When the paint is dry, gently remove the paper. This can be a bit tricky, since in some small parts, thin layers of paper will probably stay. Don't worry too much about them, since the glue is washable, they will come off later once you wash the shirt.

7. Follow the instructions on the textile paint about how to fix it permanently to the shirt. For Marabu colors, you need to place a cloth on the drawing (to prevent ruining both your iron and the drawing) and iron the painted area for 3 minutes (cotton heat without steam).

8. Wash the shirt with 30 degrees celsius to take off eventual remaining bits of paper and glue.

Templates to print out (please do not reproduce for commercial use)

Creative Afternoon #1

I wanted to create something nice for the white wall space in Alva’s room. The main criteria were budget and educational.

I have been reading about Montesory education lately and I like their approach of learning through ordering and classifying objects, so I wanted to go in this direction with my project. Alva’s room has a lot of natural elements and I decided it should be something with shells. A few years ago I saw some really nice art pieces made with shells by Peter Greenaway. I took it as my inspiration, collected some shells on one of our beach walks, ordered them by sizes and from darker to lighter color and glued them on a painted wood board.


I love the result. We hung it in the kitchen for a while to look at it.

Detailed diy:

You could make this picture with any objects that you find nice. (Please make sure that small objects don’t come off if you have small children that tend to put everything in their mouth).

1. Take a piece of wood (I found mine in our backyard), sandpaper it a little and cut it to be 38x29 cm.

2. Collect 20 shells of different sizes and colors

3. Mesure 1cm on each side from the edge of the board

4. Tape those 1cm over (it will keep the space of getting painted and will give us some frame-like feel)

5. Paint the whole surface with diluted white acrylic paint. The wood structure should still be visible. It’s best to make a few tests on an other small piece of wood to check the water/color balance and that you like the result before starting to paint on your board.

6. Once the paint dry, take the masking tape of the edges (don’t worry if the edges are not really exact, I think it gives the picture a nice touch)

7. Measure were to put your shells. Just do a little mark on the spots, don’t mark the dotted lines. The spots will give you the place where to center each of the shells.

8. Glue the shells on the board (I used a hot glue pistol). Fix a picture hanger on the backside.