DIY Felt Christmas Tree

DIY Felt Christmas Tree

DIY Felt Christmas Tree

We decided to skip the real Christmas tree this year. Rocky is a little explorer and likes to pull, push, climb, bash and chew everything. Pine needles and Christmas ornaments probably aren’t very baby friendly! I had seen a few felt Christmas trees for sale around the place but thought we could whip up a simple version ourselves at home.

As I’ve said before, I’m really not a crafter. I like setting up crafty activities for kids, but adult craft is not my thing. So I kept the plans for this Christmas tree very, very simple. One green felt triangle, lots of round felt Christmas baubles in bright colours, a felt Christmas star – DONE! Here’s how we did it:

Looking for more baby play ideas?
Get your copy of Zero to Two: the book of play.

Zero to Two - The Book of Play

DIY Felt Christmas Tree

You will need:

  • 1 large piece of green felt (approx 1 x 1.5 metres (3’4″ x 4’9″) – or to the size of the space you’d like to fill
  • 5 sheets of felt in different colours (or more if you want more baubles)
  • 1 sheet white felt
  • 1 star template (I printed one from here)
  • 1 small drinking cup (or small circle to trace around)
  • 1 marker
  • scissors
  • 3- 5 damage free adhesive hooks or restickable tabs

Note: you can buy felt off the roll and individual sheets of felt at your local craft store. Adhesive hooks and restickable tabs are available from most supermarkets.

DIY Felt Christmas Tree

To make the felt Christmas tree:

DIY Felt Christmas Tree Instructions - 1.	Fold felt in half so that the long sides meet.  2. Draw a line from the top left corner of the folded felt to the bottom right corner.  3. Cut along the line to create a triangle tree shape.

To stick the tree to the wall:

  • snip one small hole, about the same size as the point of your hooks, in each corner of the triangle.
  • thread one hook through the top corner of the tree and stick the hook to the wall in your designated ‘tree spot’. Make sure you follow the directions on the packet for your hooks.
  • now that you have the top corner secured, pull each bottom corner so that the tree is flat against the wall and secure to the wall using the remaining hooks.
  • I used a couple of restickable tabs along the length of the tree to keep it snug against the wall. You could also use more hooks.

DIY Felt Christmas Tree DIY Felt Christmas Tree

To make the felt Christmas baubles:

  • Trace circle shapes onto the felt sheets and cut them out. Children who are capable with scissors can help with this part. Cut out lots of different colours to make your tree look gorgeous! You don’t need anything to stick the baubles to the tree – the genius of felt is that it sticks to itself!

To make the felt star:

  • Trace the star shape onto white felt and cut it out. Press the white star onto the top of the tree (felt sticks to itself). Optional: We also made a slightly larger red star to make the white star stand out on our white wall. You could also make an angel, if you prefer :)

I think we’ll all enjoy playing with this felt Christmas tree for many years to come.

DIY Felt Christmas Tree

Tell me about your tree this year – is it real? Fake? Alternative?

Zero to Two - The Book of Play

Sticky Paper Play for Babies and Preschoolers

Sticky paper play for babies and preschoolers {via Octavia and Vicky}Right now I’m all about finding activities that both my children can do together or at the same time. Multitasking! This sticky paper play is perfect.

What’s sticky paper? In Australia it’s called “contact” and it’s the stuff we use to cover our kids school books with, among other things. We can buy it at the supermarket pretty easily, especially at the beginning of the school year. This clear stuff is the easiest to find, either at stationary shops or the supermarket, and is pretty cheap too.

Looking for more baby play ideas?
Get your copy of Zero to Two: the book of play.

Zero to Two - The Book of Play

Sticky Paper Play for Babies and Preschoolers

You will need:

  • 1 roll of contact (sticky paper)
  • masking tape
  • craft supplies (we used foam shapes, cup cake wrappers and pop sticks because they were the most baby friendly options)

Sticky paper play for babies and preschoolers {via Octavia and Vicky}

For baby play:

  • Cut a large rectangle of sticky paper from the roll. Carefully remove the paper backing and use masking tape to stick it sticky-side-up to the floor.
  • Show baby the paper, encourage baby to touch the paper and crawl on it. Put light toys on the paper and encourage baby to pick the toys up.

Sticky paper play for babies and preschoolers {via Octavia and Vicky}

For preschooler play: 

  • Cut a large rectangle of sticky paper from the roll. Carefully remove the paper backing and fold back the top and bottom edge to stick the paper to your chosen surface. We used a window but you could use a wall or easel.
  • Stand back and watch the creativity flow! Preschoolers love creating on sticky easels like this. It’s also great for toddlers and school kids – we had another go a week or so later when my 8 year old nephew came over to visit. He loved it :)

Looking for more fun things to do with preschoolers and babies? Try these:

Zero to Two - The Book of Play

Shaving Foam Sensory Bag - Quick, easy, mess free fun for kids of all ages

Ball and Tube Play for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Ball and Tube Play

Ball and Tube Play for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Ball and Tube Play for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Pebble and Rocky have been having lots of fun playing with balls and tunnels at our house. This ball and tube play, with nursery rhyme sing-a-long, is awesome fun for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. This is how we did it.

Looking for more baby play ideas?
Get your copy of Zero to Two: the book of play.

Zero to Two - The Book of Play

Ball and Tube Play

You will need:

  • one large cardboard tube (we recycled an old post tube)
  • wrapping paper (optional)
  • sticky tape (optional)
  • <scissors
  • string or ribbon
  • a large cardboard box (we used four smaller boxes stuck together)
  • small balls (tennis balls are great – remember not to use anything too small or baby might eat it!)

To make:

  1. Wrap the cardboard tube in the wrapping paper and stick it down using the sticky tape (optional).
  2. Make four holes in the bottom of the cardboard box, ready to thread your ribbon through to secure the tube. We figured out where to make our holes by holding the tube up against the box first.
  3. Thread your string or ribbon through the holes to create a loop for the cardboard tube to sit in. Put the the cardboard tube into position as you do this, so that it becomes secured in place.
  4. Start playing!

Tip: If you don’t have a cardboard box you could try securing your cardboard tube to a fence or gate outside.

Sing a long

While we were playing we were singing this little song.
(to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat)
Roll, roll, roll the ball
Push it through the tunnel
Roll, roll, roll the ball
Push it through the tunnel

Ball and Tube Play for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers
Ball and Tube Play for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

There was so much learning going on during this little play scenario.

Pebble (aged 3 years, 9 months) was learning:

  • estimating measurements when wrapping the tube and securing it to the box
  • sharing and turn taking when playing with her baby brother
  • making meaning through music when singing about rolling the ball
  • patience for her little brother’s efforts at getting the ball into the tube.

Rocky (aged 7 months) was learning:

  • to pull himself up while reaching up to put the balls in the tube
  • grasping small objects while grabbing the balls
  • investigation through play – what happens when I put the ball in the tube?
  • sharing and turn taking when playing with his big sister
  • perseverance when trying to get the ball into the tube while balancing

Fisher Price Giveaway

Giveaway - Fisher Price Prize Pack

The awesome people over at Fisher-Price are big advocates of baby and children’s play, and as their Play Ambassador they’ve given me the chance to giveaway two of their most popular toys to Australian Octavia and Vicky readers.

  • Prize 1: Laugh & Learn Apptivity Story Book – This sturdy case (that looks just like baby’s favourite book!) will protect your iPhone (3GS, 4 & 4S or iPod touch 4G) from dribbles, drool, teething and sticky little fingers. Baby will love unlocking never-ending content at the turn of a page – just open and close the case cover to advance app content!
  • Prize 2: Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Car – put your little one in the driver’s seat of a fun-filled stationary vehicle with all-around learning and play. The interactive lights and sounds dashboard of the Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Car keeps your baby busy with a light-up baby “GPS”, horn to honk, gears to shift, and more. With over 75 sung songs, tunes and phrases, and three modes of play, there’s plenty of fuel for learning adventures and fun!

Christmas is coming up, these toys could be a great way to help Santa fill those stockings and sacks this year.

To enter simply leave a comment answering this question:

What is your child’s favourite nursery rhyme?

This giveaway is now closed.

Zero to Two - The Book of Play

{Guest Post} Afternoon Tea with Charlie and Lola

I’m away on holidays and have invited some of my blogging buddies to share one of their all time favourite posts from their blogs with Octavia and Vicky readers. Our guest today is Jackie Small from My Little Bookcase. Please make her feel welcome!

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The Little Book Adventure projects are designed to engage our children in books in interesting and wonderful ways. Project #4, Dining with a Book Character, most certainly encourages that.

Undertaking this project has honestly been the most wonderful activity my daughter and I have shared together. I won’t lie though; the project required lots of time, effort, planning and patience. I think the following post will prove that the time and effort involved was well worth it.

Getting started and helping a pre-schooler understand the task was probably the most difficult part of the project. As my daughter is already an avid little chef, I asked her if she’d like to create a special meal for someone from a book. I mentioned that we would choose a character at the end of the week from one of the books we’d read.

We didn’t even make it until the end of the week though. We were reading a Charlie and Lola book which Cam had personally chosen from the local library. As soon as we finished reading the book she announced that she’d like to invite Charlie and Lola to our house for afternoon tea.

From that point the project just flowed and so did Cam’s ideas for the afternoon tea. The rich and real-life learning that took place during the activity was absolutely phenomenal. Most importantly though, we had an amazing amount of fun in the process.

Writing and communicating: We wrote a letter to Charlie and Lola inviting them to our house for an afternoon tea. [The use of images (symbols) to replace words was used so that Cam could read the letter back to her dad. After all, that’s what alphabet letters are: symbols. Understanding that we gain information from symbols is one precursor to learning to read.]

Communication and understanding the postal system: We posted the letter in the mailbox. (Cam was quite upset and confused that she had to wait for Charlie and Lola to receive their letter. She wanted the afternoon tea NOW and didn’t want to prepare, shop and bake for the afternoon tea.)

Reading, comprehending and evaluating: We read through the book numerous times trying to find clues that would help us work out what Charlie and Lola would enjoy eating.

Reading and understanding different text types: We looked through our collection of children’s cookbooks for suitable recipes.

Writing and planning: Once we’d decided on the recipes, we wrote a shopping list. I created a shopping list with symbols for my daughter to use when searching for the ingredients in the supermarket. [See notes about symbols above]

Reading and shopping: We went shopping, keeping a record of our purchases.

Art, creativity and fine motor skills: We made personalised placemats for Charlie, Lola and ourselves. Lauren Childs uses collage-style illustrations in her books, which made this activity perfect for our Charlie and Lola afternoon tea.

Art, creativity and construction: We created our own life-size Charlie and Lola paper dolls. So eager was Cam for Charlie and Lola to come to our house, we needed to make them look as real as possible. I was thankful they worked. Cam was smitten with her new friends and couldn’t stop giving them cuddles.

Reading, measuring and cooking: We were busy in the kitchen, making Almond Crescent Biscuits (Little Kitchen –Around the World), Gingerbread Biscuits (Look and Cook) and Strawberry Smoothies (Women’s Weekly Healthy Babies)

Spatial awareness: We set the table

Imagination: We sat down at the table. I thought I had ‘fooled’ Cam with the paper-dolls. But, she quickly declared, “We can’t start yet. We have to wait for the real Charlie and Lola to come. These ones are just pretend. ” We had a long talk about books, characters and pretending. Thankfully, she was satisfied.

Dining etiquette, imagination, conversation and socialising: We thoroughly enjoyed afternoon tea.

Helping others: Cam helped Lola to eat her gingerbread biscuit because, “she can’t lift her own hand.”

How to: Make a marble run

Recently my cardboard tube collection had reached an all time high. I get kinda excited about these things. I decided to put these tubes to good use, and the first thing that came to mind was a marble run. Of course Pebble helped me, and this is how we did it.

How To Make a Marble Run

You will need:

  • cardboard tubes (from inside paper towel, glad wrap, wrapping paper, etc)
  • strong tape (I used plumber’s tape that we had laying around the house. I bought it in a pack of three from my local supermarket for less than $5).
  • a large sheet of strong cardboard or a cardboard box to create your marble run on (or stick it straight on the wall or fridge, if you dare!)
  • stickers or markers for decoration (optional)
  • other junk materials for creating interest to your marble run (optional)
  • marbles (also, optional, apparently! Keep reading….)

How to make a marble run

1. Cut your tubes into 10cm widths and then in half length ways, so that you have several open, curved pieces of cardboard to make your marble run. This part is not very toddler friendly, so why not set up your toddler with some of the cardboard tubes and a packet of dot stickers. Hours of fun, right there!

How To Make a Marble Run
{yep, PJs again}

2. Stick your marble run pieces to your cardboard box/sheet/fridge using the strong tape. You will need to stick each piece so that it is sloping downwards just enough to allow for each marble to roll, and so that it catches each marble as it falls from the piece above. There is probably some kind of mathematical trick to this, but we just used trial and error. Our tape was silver, and I used it to cover each piece before sticking it to the box. This made it stronger and, with some coloured dots, more pretty :)

How To Make a Marble Run

3. I also used a cardboard tube left whole to create a “tunnel” for the marbles to fall through, as well as a cut open plastic bottle as a funnel, and a plastic cup to catch each marble at the bottom of the run.

How To Make a Marble Run

4. So, your marble run is all ready for some marbles. This is where I kinda hit a snag. Yep, only I would create a marble run when we DON’T OWN ANY MARBLES!). Luckily we were able to improvise. I had some smarties and Cadbury Mini Drops (I heart those!) which were just right for the job. Pebble doesn’t really eat chocolate, she just likes to play with it (sorting the colours is a big hit), so I didn’t need to worry about the ‘toys’ disappearing. Do you know how hard it is to find marbles in the shops?! I looked all through our local mall and couldn’t find them anywhere. The search continues!

Have you made anything with a cardboard tube lately? Do tell!