The Giving Tree

givingtree.jpgThis is a classic tale of selfless love, or learning to be satisfied with what you have, depending on how you view it. The tree, who selflessly gives is happy, the boy as he grows and wants more, becomes increasingly unhappy.

This activity came about due to me having a surplus of sawdust, and thinking, because I hate waste, that there must be something I can do with that, and indeed, google revealed a variety of different recipes for sawdust clay. So I looked at the simplest few and decided to make my own version.




up to 1 cup Water20170816_093609
1 cup flour
1 cup sawdust

Make a paste of flour and water (just mix them together as if making papier-mâché, don’t worry if it’s a bit lumpy).

Add sawdust (wear mask to avoid breathing it in) and mix well

It will probably be too sticky, add more flour and sawdust and knead until it’s a dough-like consistency.

20170816_095649.jpgUse the clay to make models, just as you would with playdough. We used cutters and silicon moulds to shape things. We decided to try to do some jewellery, so put holes in the top of most of our creation.

To make beads:

20170816_102710Take a small piece of clay, roll it into a ball between your fingers, poke a cocktail stick through the middle of the ball. Then holding the cocktail stick, not the clay, roll the ball back and forwards on the table, the hole will expand and the bead will elongate.

Once you have finished your creations, place them on baking trays and if you’re lucky enough to have an airing cupboard like me, leave them in their for a few days, otherwise bake on a very low heat for a few hours, or leave out in the sun/over radiators.


Once dried, you can remove rough bits using sandpaper. Then, paint your creations using kids’ paint. Jumbles didn’t fancy painting his, so he coloured his with felt tip pens, which worked fine, though the coverage was a bit less.

If you made beads, painting them on the table can be tricky, thread them onto beading cord and string them up, either hanging down from something, or what we did was fill 2 empty bottles which had handles with water to weigh them down, then tied the cord to the handles so that the beads were suspended in the air. Make sure you have paper beneath to catch the drips, but it will stop the beads sticking to the paper. They may stick to each other a bit, but I found you could pull them apart easily once dry.


Once the paint is dry, varnish them with watered down PVA glue (2 parts glue to 1 part water). Bean wasn’t happy with the sparkle level, I’d said the PVA would make them shine and obviously it doesn’t when wet, so I added some glitter to the glue, so she was painting sparkles onto them.




Affiliate – buy “The Giving Tree” from Wordery (free worldwide shipping)

Watch the Giving Tree on Youtube


Garden Camping


This week Jumbles and Mr Monkey Juggling, headed off on a Dads’ and kids’ overnight camp that Mr Monkey organised for church. We deemed Bean to be a little young, plus as Daddy would be busy organising everything he’d struggle with 2 kids of his own. So Bean was a little left out. We did have some fun crafting while they were gone, but decided to do some camping in the garden when they got back (it rained a lot while they were camping,  so we waited for a better day).


I was surprised at just how long garden camping kept them entertained for. We read “Maisy goes camping” (If you want a different camping book to read, check the links, there’s a lot available on Youtube), I put up a beach shelter and rocket tent, plus some cushions and let their imagination take the lead. I’m completely rubbish at role play, so letting kids lead is necessary at our house, but it’s also good for them.

Hopefully your kids will be creative, but if you need some ideas, this is how we spent around 3 hours:


  • Watching a show at the cinema – unsure of the logic here, but Jumbles and I were eating imaginary popcorn in the tent, watching Bean perform a film on the trampoline, the film consisted of her singing “Moana” while jumping.
  • Exploring the moon. – this took ages and was the most fun as it involved “flying” in the rocket tent, then landing and setting up base camp in the purple tent. The rocket tent is getting a bit battered from 3 of us rocking around Star Trek style.
  • Lunar picnic – If planned in advance I might have come up with appropriate food, but we just ate sandwiches and fruit outside
  • Lunar colonisation – they were unimpressed at my attempt to steer their play into a bit of gardening. I did manage to pull up a few weeds though, and they did go looking for lunar fruits to pick, but we’d already harvested everything except for a few blackcurrants
  • Nap time – they don’t nap anymore, but there was a short period where we pretended to sleep in the tent and I genuinely thought 1 of us might nod off. This was my favourite part, the few minutes of peaceful snuggles was worth the pain of all of their weight coming full force onto me on their knee or elbow occasionally.
  • Stories in the tent – mine love stories anywhere, but it’s nice to do them outside occasionally.

    I got the fire pit out, but in the end didn’t use it, as we didn’t have marshmallows or anything, and I decided we’ve had a lot of fires lately (we’ve been trialling a sort of “Forest Church” activity for families), so they probably didn’t need another.

    On this occasion I didn’t want us to properly camp out, because I had things to do in the evening, so I didn’t put up one of the proper tents, but that’s definitely the plan for another time.

    Affiliate Links for camping books:

    Buy “Maisy goes camping” from Wordery (free worldwide delivery) – Simple story, a bit young for my 2 now, but they still enjoy it. Maisy and her friends all go camping, but can they all fit in the tent?

    Buy “Bailey goes camping” from Wordery (free worldwide delivery) – very relevant story for this situation, the older siblings have gone off on camp, leaving Bailey at home missing out. So his parents make a camp for him at home, making a sheet tent,  toasting marshmallows, going on a bear hunt.

    Buy “Scaredy squirrel goes camping” from Wordery (free worldwide delivery) – I really like the Scaredy squirrel books, with the ridiculous things he’s scared of, and the labelled diagrams detailing his plans for getting what he wants whilst avoiding perils. Plus, in each book he learns that it’s better to enjoy life close up, than view it from afar.

    All 3 of the above books can be watched on Youtube, just have a search.

    Bucket filling

    bucket.jpgFirstly, yes I’m still here, sorry that it’s been 6 months. I’m not good at regular blogging.

    Today I’m bringing you a picture book that’s much more of an obvious moral lesson than usual.

    The concept here is simple. Everyone has an invisible bucket which they carry around with them all the time. When you treat people kindly, you are filling their bucket, being unkind dips into their bucket. I like how it covers the fact that people often dip because their own buckets are empty, and they’re trying to gain happiness by taking from others, but that when you dip like that, actually you end up emptying your own bucket, you can’t fill your bucket by dipping, you fill your bucket up, by filling other people’s buckets. We got this book at Christmas, and have read it repeatedly, both children (3 and 5) understood it straight away and we have started referring to kind things as filling people’s buckets. There is a video available on youtube (check links) so you can enjoy this book even if you can’t find a physical copy.


    Activity 1 ( buckets)

    The first and most obvious activity was that I got each child a bucket (I bought candyfloss buckets, it was cheaper than buying a bucket). They decorated them using sharpies. Though you could also glue pictures on. We have then been using these in an ongoing way, where if someone does something that fills someone else’s bucket, I write it down and place the note in their bucket. Showing that as they fill other people’s buckets, their bucket fills up. Personally, I’m not planning on rewarding them or anything, we are just using the buckets as a visual representation of how their bucket fills when they are kind to others. They are very happy at how full their buckets are getting, and I do notice them trying to be kind. You could also write uplifting words and pop these in their buckets too. If you want to make it more interesting, or have very large buckets, write on wooden blocks/lego or similar.

    Activity 2 (Scratch art)


    White card

    Bright crayons or pens

    Acrylic paint

    Washing up liquid

    Cocktail stick

    This is a great craft, which is loads of fun to do, but also creates some beautiful little cards to give to people to fill their buckets.

    First cut out a few shapes, we did hearts because they are nice and easy, you can even draw round a biscuit cutter to get the shape right. You can do the shapes whatever size you like, but I find biscuit size to be nice and manageable for getting them covered in colour.

    Use brightly coloured pens or crayons to completely cover the shapes in rainbows of colour. Try to get kids not to just colour each heart in one solid colour. Or if they do, make some yourself, and see it as an experiment.bucket hearts.jpg


    Mix acrylic paint with a squirt of washing up liquid, measurements don’t need to be exact, I used a little more paint than liquid (I did experiment with poster paint, it doesn’t work well).

    Paint thickly over the hearts and leave to dry (some may need a second coat)

    Scrape patterns using cocktail sticks (or if you’re like Jumbles, 5, just scrape as much of the paint off as you can).scratch.jpg

    Give the hearts to people to make them smile. Maybe write notes on the back, or stick them on red card to make a greetings card.

    Why not come up with your own ways for you and your kids to bless friends, family or neighbours. Perhaps bake some cakes and take them to neighbours? Or buy some toys and food and donate them to the food bank.

    There is a second book (How full is your bucket? For Kids) about bucket filling, which can help to build on this book, by giving the story of a boy and his interactions. This is perhaps even more helpful for kids than the original book, so do have a look at that as well in the links section. However, I think that it’s useful to read the original book first to explain the concept.


    Affiliate – buy “Have you filled a bucket today?” From Wordery (Free worldwide delivery)

    Affiliate – Buy “How full is your bucket? For Kids” From Wordery (free worldwide delivery)

    Video of “Have You filled a bucket today” being read

    “How Full is your bucket? For Kids” video story

    Official bucket filling website, with free resources