Fairies in a Jar (The truth exposed!)

I kept seeing this photo on pinterest time and time again, and know that I had to try it as well, it looks amazing so who wouldn’t want to give it a go?!

fairies in jarPhoto from pinterest

But before I continue, can I just say one thing, the above photo is IN NOW WAY REAL!!!!! It is, I am convinced 100% photoshopped. Even though we followed the instructuions to the letter, the results were nothing like this photo. However it was still pretty awe inspiring for my boys and so I would say that it is still worth trying to make ‘Faries in a jar’ but just prepare yourself (or maybe your kids) for a slightly more realistic outcome, as I have shown in my photos here.

You will need:

  • a jar with a lid
  • a glowstick
  • some diamond coloured glitter (I am not utterly convinced I used the right sort of glitter, or that it is even necessary but we went with it as per the original instructions)
  • scissors

Fairies in a jar

You need to make sure that the next part is fully supervised as glow sticks can contain some nasty stuff in them that you don’t want your littlies getting on themselves…

Snap your glowstick to make it ‘glow’, then carefully cut the top off to shake it in the jar. If you find this tricky (as I did) cut both ends off and blow (without putting your lip to the glowstick!) the contents into the jar. I found blowing it in more sucessful then shaking… Note the distance I was blowing from!

blowing the glowstick into the jarmaking fairies

Then add your glitter, and pop the lid on…

Then shake!

Thats it!!!

Next, overcome the slight dissapointment that it doesn’t look remotely like the pinterest photo…

Then marvel at the glowy-ness…

Now quickly retreat to a darkened room for fairy watching!Fairies in a jarWatching fairies in a jarFairiesThe Fairy CatcherHere is my little fairy-catcher.

The boys had a jar of fairies each, and were very excited to go to bed with them as a glowey nightlight next to their beds. As I said earlier, I think the glowsick liquid shaken in the jar was what produce d the look of the fairies – I am not sure the glitter did much to add to the effect, however as the glow faded by morning it was nice to see the glitter inside the jar. I think in hindsight perhaps a jar of water filled with diamond glitter might make a more similar effect to the pinterest photo…?

I wil have to try it and see! x

 

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Clean Mud ‘Recipe’

What do you do when your two year old throws two new rolls of toilet paper in the bath??

You make clean mud of course!

Clean mud recipe - Sensory play

ingredients for clean mud

I hate waste, and throwing things away unecessarily, so was slightly horrified when my toddler took my husbands words of “put these in the bathroom for me” a little too literally… (I could see it happening in my mind’s eye the second the words were out of his mouth as the bath had just been poured, why do men not think?!) So I fished the soggy rolls out of the bath, and set them to one side, then when my little darlings were washed and dried and fast asleep I went on Pinterest find inspiration. Of course.

And voila! Clean mud was there jumping off the sceen demading to be made the following day, and I was happily satisfied that I had triumphed in the face of disaster. Okay not disater, wet loo paper. Still its a good reslut in my book!

Clean Mud Recipe:

  • 2 toilet rolls (they do not have to be wet!)
  • 1 bar of soap
  • Warm water
  • you will also need a cheese grater and a large container to make the mud in.

Usually you would take a couple of rolls toilet paper and shred it into a large bowl, bucket or storage bin. Since my rolls were pre-dampened, (the inner cardboard tubes just slipped straight out by the way) I just had to tear at them and added enough warm water to the bowl to saturate them. Then I got busy grating in the soap. Usually I would have let S do this but he was happy playing with a friend and so I just got on with it to avoid arguments! next you just need to squish it about till its all muched up and dough like, then its time to play!

Clean mud

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clean mud - Glitter mud pies

clean mud piesWe added glitter and plates so we could make some ‘real’ mud pies. it was a great sensory play activity that they could really have fun moulding and squeezing. Perfect for a rainy day! Unfortunately S got a bit carried away and poor M got a faceful of mud pie and glitter (had it not been cruel it would have made a great photo)… So that was the end of the clean mud for that day…. But aside from that and since finding glitter in every nook and cranny of my house for the rest of eternity, I would say it was great fun all round and much better then throwing the toilet rolls away, so I have to thank little J really for his impulsive act of ‘helpfulness’! I will definately make this again, next time though, I will try it outdoors.

Still, at least their hands (and faces) were very clean afterwards!! x

Salad Spinner Art

Salad Spinner ArtThe most fun you (and your kids) will ever have with a salad spinner…

You will need:

  • A salad spinner (no, really?!)
  • paper
  • scissors
  • pen
  • non-toxic poster paint, watered down slightly if it is thick.
  • blu tack or masking tape
  • child, or children, if you decide to let them join in…

Take the inner basket out of your salad spinner and draw around it on a peice of paper so you have an idea of how lagre your paper will be. Use this as your template and cut several peices of paper into this circle shape.

use a piece of blu-tack or masking tape folded over ontu itself to secure a piece of precut paper inside of the basket.

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Let your child (or go on, have a go yourself) put a few blobs of slightly watered down paint on to the middle of the peice of paper. Be as experimental with colours as you like! Get them to try the 3 primary colours to guess what colours will be created (using red and yellow for example).

Pop the lid on and SPIN BABY SPIN!!!!

DSCF1335 DSCF1334 DSCF1329Remove your paper and admire your artwork! Then try another, and another… (be warned, salad spinner art is seriously addictive so be sure to have enough paper handy!)

Spin Art

Make sure you wash your spinner thorughly, before using it actually spin salad (or keep a spinner just for art making purposes!) x

 

DIY Fossils with salt dough

DIY fossils

A super easy craft activity that my boys LOVED. All you need is a simple salt dough and either items found from nature or toy dinosuars (or both!)

Salt dough recipe

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 3/4 cup hot water (or there abouts)
  • black food colouring

Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Then add the oil. Add about a teaspoon of black food colouring to the hot water water and slowly pour it into the mixture, stirring as you go. If dough becomes too wet add a little more flour, or too dry add more water at a tablespoon a time. Kneed until it is a nice smooth dough.DSCF1216Divide dough into roughly equal sized parts and roll each piece to about 1 cm thick. let your childs imagination take over, as they choose which fossils to make. We went on a ‘nature walk’ to select shells, leaves, and things such as seed pods, and also used a selection of plastic dinosaurs.

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I didn’t manage to get many photos as S needed a bit of help during the process, but I think its easy enough to work out what to do!

Bake them in the oven at 120 c (I used fan mode) for 1-2 hours, I greased the baking tray lightly with spray oil first, and turned the ‘fossils’ every half hour until they felt hollow and seemed thoroughly dried out. It depends on the thickness of your dough. You may need to remove some sooner then others before they get brown.DSCF1226DIY salt dough fossilsVarnish if you like, but we left ours as they were. S took his proudly to his Montessori pre-school where they have placed them in a basket with a magnifying glass for the other children to explore, so we have since made another batch and he seemed to enjoy it even more. x

Underwater ‘Fireworks’

Not really fireworks at all. Just a simple experiment ulitising the properties of oil and water, and the beautiful result of food colouring unfurling and spreading wonderful patterns and colour in front of your astonished child (and your own) eyes.DSCF9188

Note – before you start, explain carefully to your child that there will be no real fireworks invloved, just an underwater display similar to firewrks. That way you won’t have a sulking toddler on your hands. Just saying…

You will need:

  • Glass jar,vase or similar (Taller and slim is better that a bowl)
  • water
  • 2 tablespoons oil – any veg oil will do
  • Red, yellow, blue food colouring – no more them 3 drops of each colour
  • small measuring jug
  • measuring spoon
  • teaspoon

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Directions:

Fill you jar/vase 3/4 full with water

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Pour your oil into a small, easy pour jug. Add 2-3 drops of each food colouring no more then this, LESS IS MORE! (*note, we first did this with 3 colours, the second time with just two. I actually preferred only 2 colours as they mixed to form a secondary colour i.e. yellow and blue made green, the 3 colours together ended up a brown shade which wasn’t so exciting. Too much food colouring won’t give you good ‘fireworks’) Let your child to stir the oil and food colouring into the jug to break the droplets apart, they won’t mix.

DSCF9158Give it a good stir!

Tell small person to carefully, slowly (s.l.o.w.l.y….gahh we had one big mess when it all overflowed) pour the oil mixture into the water. Now wait…it takes a little bit of time…but sit back and watch with fascination as the oil and water separate, and ‘ta-daaaah!’ there you have it, underwater fireworks!

DSCF9186 DSCF9172 DSCF9177We repeated this a few times till they got bored, (which usually takes S about 5 minuts) It was really was interesting seeing the different colour combinations and wacthing the colours slowly unfurl in the water, just a little bit magical. I’m not sure if ‘fireworks’ is the best term for this underwater display, but it kind of adds to the drama so I’m going to stick with it!

Oh S wanted me to stir the water too and it created a whilrpool, which was fun to watch and another learning moment! DSCF9163 A quick and easy indoor activity. x

Space-dough – Playdough for Matariki

S0221067So this month in New Zealand it’s the Maori celebration of Matariki to mark the start of the Maori New Year. S loves space. Actually he’s pretty much just obsessd with it. We talked about the stars, the constilation of Matariki (also known as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters) and the Solar System. Learning whist playing is by far the best way to learn! So to tie the two together what better then a good old bit of playdough.  Any excuse to get glitter invoved as far as I’m concerned, yay!

This is by far the easiest (and I think best) playdough recipe I have tried (and I have tried a LOT of recipes…) simply because it uses minimum ingreadients, is a no cook recipe i.e. less washing up (fist pumps), and makes the perfect amount.

Best ever, basic NO COOK playdough recipe:

  • 1/2 cup of table salt
  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon Cream of Tatar (find in baking section)
  • 1 tablespoon any veg oil
  • 2/3 – 1 cup on boiling hot water
  • food colouring

SPACE-DOUGH

  • foil confetti, glitter, small glitter stars, small balls etc

Method – Place first 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Boil kettle and fill cup almost full and add as much food colouring as required For a strong colour about 2 dessert spoons. Add most of the water to bowl and stir thouroughly. If mixtures seems dry add rest of water. If too wet, add about a tablespoon of flour. Take care as mixture will be hot, but kneed until dough forms a ball. Allow to cool. Store in airtight container when not in use. Keeps for 1-2 months.

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For SPACE-DOUGH you will need black food colouring (duh) and I used foil confetti (from $ shop) plus regular glitter, and some larger glitter stars, the type you get in the craft section. Add the glittery stuff just before you kneed it. Save the balls to give to the little peeps, I gave the boys small bouncy balls for planets (again, from $ shop) and marbles too. In the photo you can see beads but I actually decided against using these in the end. 
S0021034 (1)S0031036S0041038 (1)S0081045S0101049S0111050S0141055S0161059It was so much fun to play with, yes I totally got involved, and S even chose different marbles and balls to represent the ‘solar-system’ – see top photo (Only about 1 million questions asked) I happen to randomly know the order of the planets off by heart…phew. But if you don’t after the Sun it’s:

  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Earth
  • Mars
  • Jupiter
  • Satrun
  • Uranus
  • Neptune
  • Pluto – Yeah no longer classed as a planet but, anyway.

Happy Matariki! x

 

10 Tips for Photographing Children

I’ve done my fair share of photographing children and babies, not only as a professional but of my own (poor over-papped) children. And, as most parents know, its easier said then done to get a decent picture. Still, practice makes perfect and I have learnt quite a few tricks on the way, some of which I thought I’d share so others can maybe take a more ‘frame worthy’ photo of their kids.

They say a poor workman always blames his tools, but with photography it really does help to have a half decent camera, and a basic understanding of how it works… that said, you dont have to spend thousands on the latest SLR, most digital cameras nowadays have settings such as ‘macro’, ‘sport’ and surpressing flash. My best peice of advice is whatever camera you have READ the manual! I know, its dull. No one wants to read the manual. Ok so you probably won’t, but it will save you frustraion in the long run and you WILL get better photos if you know how to properly use the functions on your camera, but to save you time…

Here are my top 10 tips for the novice!

  • use the sport mode…

 Most cameras have ‘sport’ mode, usuallly a speedy looking person (or perhaps zumba-esque?!) like this:sport modeIt will enable you to capture them in at a fast shutter speed, therefore in action. Cos lets face it, kids move, a lot. Better still, some cameras allow for ‘continous shooting’ where by pressing your finger down on the button it will fire off a succession of photographs very quickly so that later you can just scroll though and pick the ‘winners’. Kids don’t stay still so the sport mode is in my opinion, your best friend when it comes to photographing them to maximise your chance of getting a decent photo – especially if you are trying to snap more then one child!! sportmode

  • use a zoom lens…

You will get get a much better photo if a child is (almost) unaware you are taking their photo.. which seems slightly impossible, unless you factor in a zoom lens. Here’s the usual story – you see your kid doing something that would make a great photo, you run and get your camera, but as soon as you darling child spots the camera its game over. Or, you start trying to get your child to ‘perform’ for the camera, they seem to have a uncanny knack of suddenly acting like a celebrity in a scandal – all coy and running away from the mum-arazzi, totally impossible to photograph… So if you have a zoom lens or decent zoom setting back off, be quiet, patient and let them do there thing, and voila, the photo opportunities present themselves.IMG_1851

  • Use ‘macro’…

OK so its a complete contradiction of my previous tip, but if you have a complient child (usually the under twos, or ok, babies) ‘macro’ or ‘close up’ mode is your answer: macroThe little ‘tulip’ icon means macro, basically alowing you to get closer to your subject and still stay in focus. Make sure you have it set and you will kiss those fuzzy close -up shots goodbye. Sooo many people don’t realise what this simple function can achieve.IMG_1111

  • Change photos to black & white/edit/crop…col:bwSometimes, a photo you didn’t think worth keeping can be saved by a bit of basic editing. You don’t need to have the latest photoshop software, you can easily download Picasa for free, or even edit the photo in your local photo printing shop, as most machines have all the basic functionssuch as cropping, B&W etc.
  • Use a different point of view.

Literally, just get down on their level, squat, lie down, and see what they are interested in, or get up high and look down on them, try different things other then just standing at your own hight and snapping away mindlessly!

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  • Think about framing

Guess what, you don’t have to have your subject slap bang in the middle of the photo! In fact, the most interesting pictures are more likely to be ones where the viewer’s eye is ‘led’ into the photo, as in the ‘rule of thirds’. And don’t always thing that kids have to be looking straight at the lens to give you a good picture.IMG_1687IMG_1504

  • Be silly – wear a wig/mask/ears etc –

IMG_0740 (2)Yes, I meant you. Although you can get the kids to do this too, but if they see you being silly and having fun, they are more likely to want to play along. You can ask them “where’s the bunny?” whilst wearing silly ears, or act like a clown in a funnny wig to get them laughing and looking at the camera. Cringe worthy, but you who cares if everybody’s having fun?!

  • Props or activities

Use bubbles, ride on or pull along toys, fairy wands, suggest they climb a tree, give them a pile of leaves etc etc… Get them doing something, and you will get a better photo. Here’s where ‘sport’ mode really comes in handy!DSCF8125 - Version 2

  • Turn off your flash.

Find the surpress flash button and use it. Flash kills emotion in a photo, often you can use the natural light available, and if indoor photos are turing out blurry, its more then enough of a reason to get outside! IMG_7556IMG_0761

  • Dont say ‘cheese’… say ‘cheesy feet’…

Kids are pretty easy to make laugh. And if that fails, tell them to scream. Enough said. DSCF5530

I hope this post may have given others some new ideas to try, I will follow it up with tips on photographing babies soon!  If you still don’t think you can take a decent photo, check out and like my facebook page Phoebe Gander Creative and you can get me to come and do the hard work for you!!! x