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.
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.
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.
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.
Squish, pull, press, poke, scoop and sniff!
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now and then, brushes were discarded. Dip dip dip!
The process of pressing the paper down with more glue on top of the previous glue caught his fascination.
Careful placement of the paper pieces!
Dab dab dab.
We left them to dry overnight on foil, wiping the backs free of glue so they didn’t stick.
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.
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.
I also demonstrated hold the star over the dish and gently sprinkling them onto the star.
Despite the rough throwing and over excitement related to the beads, he was incredibly delicate with the stars!
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.
The day after that, we had a lovely big collection of beautiful, unique sparkling magnets.
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!
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!
This post is part of Unit 3. Winter & Christmas.
This post is linked to the 1+1+1=1 Tot School Gathering Place.