Salt Dough Star Magnets

Multi Skill Salt Dough Star Magnet Craft

Keeping Squirrels interest while crafting has so far been pretty tough; hes experimental and methodical, so giving him a material with which you hope to create something can be a bit hit and miss. But I have learned that Squirrel also likes guidance and instruction. Although his responses aren’t always willing or even on my wave length, on the whole, if I give him a demonstration of a new action to try with a material, or something to observe, and be excited and descriptive about it, I’ve got his attention, and his reactions are often beautiful to witness.

 

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With this craft, I hoped Squirrel would have a whole batch of little gifts to give the family for Christmas, planned out to do in small sessions, exploring particular fine motor skills or observations of changes and textures, and we completed it all over several days.

editIMG_4121Like I said, sometimes, his responses aren’t always on your wave length, but they are brilliant.

 

Salt Dough Star Magnets List

Dough Actions.

We start the craft with making a batch of salt dough, I went for a simple process recipe; 1/2 a cup of salt, 1 cup of flour mixed together in a bowl and stirring and adding 1/2 a cup of water until we achieve a nice elastic-ish dough that holds together well.

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Squirrel tipped the flour and the salt into the bowl, and I worked it into a dough with the water, then handed it to him and let him explore and get a good sensory fix.

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Squish, pull, press, poke, scoop and sniff!

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I helped him use his hands to play at kneading, pressing, and folding, while exploring curling his hands into fists and applying pressure instead of his finger tips and palms.

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We rolled out the dough onto the floured surface of the highchair and enjoyed cutting out stars.
We lined them onto a tray and transferred them to the oven on low and baked them low and slow for about an hour, maybe just over. I’m not going to lie, I was winging it by that point. Then watched them come out.

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Once they were cool, I handed some to Squirrel, who tried to squish one in his palm, and when he couldn’t, gave a little “oh!”, which was a delightful cue to show him the difference between hard and soft, and to show reiterate the ovens part in the process of this change.

(I pressed holes into the stars in case we wanted to tie ribbons into them as well, but that later became redundant as the finish as you see now was quite lovely without bows.)

Pretty Pages

On the next stage of our craft, with our cooled and hardened stars beside us, I prepared some Decopatch varnish glue into a small container and grabbed a few brushes. I gave him one of the old books from my craft stash, this one about butterflies and moths, and let him explore it.

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I showed him how to tear at a page (trying, hopefully, to explain to do it ONLY when mama says so and gives him a book with which to do it. Ha, we’ll see…) and we had a lot of fun with a bit of Christmas music, tearing pages into little bits.

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We fetched the brushes, and I demonstrated dabbing glue onto the stars, placing a piece of our torn paper over the star and dabbing it again, with a pressing motion.

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He got it straight away, and for a good 10 minutes, we worked through our star collection, occasionally reminding Squirrel that we didn’t need to paint the Christmas tree, which was within arms reach, calming a brush related meltdown, and picking up swept paper and stars from the floor.

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Now and then, brushes were discarded. Dip dip dip!

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The process of pressing the paper down with more glue on top of the previous glue caught his fascination.

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Careful placement of the paper pieces!

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Dab dab dab.

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We left them to dry overnight on foil, wiping the backs free of glue so they didn’t stick.

 

 Sprinkling Sparkles

If I had known how much joy beads with bring this kid, I would have started involving them in our crafts way earlier. I probably chose the wrong time to invite him to work on this stage, as he was so tired that we had a few disagreements about up turning the dish of beads and getting scatty, but each time I invited him to have a calm time somewhere… well… beads, apparently, are very important. Thats me told.

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I demonstrated how to dab more glue onto the star surface over the set paper, and dip it glued side down into the dish of beads.

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I also demonstrated hold the star over the dish and gently sprinkling them onto the star.

 

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Despite the rough throwing and over excitement related to the beads, he was incredibly delicate with the stars!

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Once we managed to establish that he was indeed tired, and was done with experimenting with the beads, we went and left the craft behind and I later added a lot more of the glue on the top to make sure that the beads were generously sealed to the stars.

I left them to set over night, and the following day, while Squirrel was out with daddy delivering Christmas cards, I used my cold process glue gun to attach these small circular craft magnets to the backs of the stars.

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The day after that, we had a lovely big collection of beautiful, unique sparkling magnets.

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Squirrel and I explored the changes in solidity and ran his fingertips over the beads, identifying the paper stuck underneath them, and then I showed him how magically, they stuck to the fridge, just like his dinosaur and animal magnets!

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We are thrilled with this craft, and as I am writing this to you after Christmas, having packaged them up beautifully with several other crafts that I have blogged (Scribble Charms, Fingerprint Keepsakes and Snow Dipped Stars) and gifted them to our family and friends from Squirrel, that they went down REALLY well! The family were really pleased with them and found the fact that Squirrel did so much of the creative process himself really delighting and impressive.

Squirrel and I are pleased as punch, and seeing stars!

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This post is part of Unit 3. Winter & Christmas.

This post is linked to the 1+1+1=1 Tot School Gathering Place.

Shrinkie Plastic Scribble Charms

Shrinkie Plastic Scribble Charm Gift

 

Scribbling is satisfying. It just is! Just grabbing a pen and letting all the loopy out in whatever shade you like is nothing less that completely therapeutic, for both children and adults. Try it, it is entirely liberating!

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What with being 21 months old, and with a new favourite colour every week (FYI, it is red right now, I know, terribly festive) Squirrel gets fired up at the very sight of his pens, and I swear he cracks his knuckles in a showdown type manner, ready to scribble the scribbies right out of him.
Such passion.

So, harnessing it is totally a thing for us. Wrapping paper, cut outs for cards, whatever the occasion, we scribble and make it work. So when I saw this activity from Rust & Sunshine I figured we could have scribbley fun in a keepsake gift form. I “ooh’d” outloud. Yep.

scribble charm list

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I ordered my shrinky plastic, I have to admit, its been so long since I used it, I expected to just go straight at it with felt tips. I was apparently wrong. Thats a nono, with the brand I ordered anyway.

So, as it just so happened that I had 2 sharpies in teal and blue, I reluctantly decided to let Squirrel have a shot with them, because I was in a I’m-not-wasting-money-on-flipping-shrinky-paper mood.

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I was on him like a hawk. A big, hovering squawky hawky. He was completely unphased by my flapping and created some glorious scribbles on this mysterious transparent stuff! Scribbling aside, the shrinky plastic rocked his world for 10 whole minutes, lifting it up and looking through it AND his scribbles, flapping it around his head and experimented pressing his hand against it and then moving it with the other, as if it were moving independently. Mind blown, man.

 

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That being said, I figured we would give the other pens a shot…

 

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Nope. Thats a nu-uh. Oh well. It pooled, lesson learned.

So, with Squirrel keeping an eye as I cut them into large rectangles, curving the edges and hole punching them once each to create a place to thread them, we layered them out on a tray, and Squirrel and I watched through the oven as they curled up and shrunk!

I’m not going to lie, I was a bit more excited than he was, but still! We looked at the itty bitty ones compared to some unheated cut pieces and he felt the differences in their thickness and size, acknowledging the interaction with the oven, pointing at it saying “innn deeeer!” while holding them.

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That is where Squirrels part in this activity came to an end, the rest was all me, but it didn’t take long, and these are going to make sweet little keepsakes for his family, so it was a lovely craft to do together with some great scientific observation thrown in too!

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I raided my beading box, one container among the vaguely organised shelves and shelves of hoarded craft material and tools, and found bits and beads that would work, and in the right colours too! These are all easily purchased from craft and bead shops, and I daresay there is a world of choices online too.

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I looped split rings into each of them, threading on several small colour matched beads, then a flat headed bead pin with a thread of white beads, and plied a loop into the split ring too. Jolly sweet.

I followed that by taking lengths of fine chain, threading them through and rejoining them with size matched split rings, and there we suddenly had a collection of hangable scribble charms, beautiful gifts for the family from Squirrel in the small gift packs that we are working on together.

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These are so versatile too, they could easily be threaded onto full necklace chains, made into wind chimes (an activity I’m hoping to do in the Spring!), keyrings, you name it. We are very pleased with our charming little scribble pendants!

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This post is part of Unit 3. Winter & Christmas.