The Last Peg - Crafty Boxes

mrs fox's craft boxes for kids - pegs April 2013

All our Crafty Boxes for this month have now been mailed out to our lovely crafty subscribers.  We had a few requests last month for the easter box from people who didn't necessarily feel they could commit to a monthly subscription.  So, this month we have created a few extra boxes these are on sale on the website HERE for £12 + £4.50 p&p.   There are a very limited number so you will have to be quick if you are interested.

Inside Mrs Fox's Crafty Box for this month, you will find:

5 old style wooden pegs with stands

5 modern wooden pegs

2 scrap packs of cloth, paper & string scraps, labelled A & B

1 roll of washi tape

Detailed instructions to make peg dolls, peg leg animals, Big Fish, Little Fish, Cardboard Box, Peg Leg Horses, concertina paper dolls & flip dolls.  Plus ideas for other crafts leading on from these, tips and skills covered.

All you need to add are some crafty little foxes, paper, pens, glue and cardboard left over from your re-cycling.

Our Crafty Boxes will inspire your children to be creative and teach some real crafting skills.

If you like this craft box you can purchase a subscription for £10.50/ month +p&p


Paper Concertina Dolls

mrs fox's craft boxes for kids - pegs

Mrs Fox's Party Boxes are on their way to all those lucky little crafty foxes out there.  We are already working on next months, the theme is growing things, the late spring has inspired us.  This month we put together some wonderful ideas for crafts with pegs, both old style and modern pegs.  We can't wait to see the results of this months creations, so, please, please, when you have created your peg people and animals we'd love you to send us a picture.

Making the traditional peg dolls made me think of the really simple ideas that my granny used to keep me occupied at her house when I was a little girl.  One of my favourites were paper dolls.  

Crafting with Children - Paper dolls

I thought that everyone would know how to make these, but a friend said that she had never made them as a child.  My little foxes and I have now developed a bit of a hair-style fascination when we create ours.  Here's how we make our paper dolls:

You will need:
pencils or pens

Take a rectangular strip of paper and fold it accordian style.  Draw your doll figure onto the top flap and remember the hands and feet should finish right on the edges of the paper.  Cut out the figure.  You can then decorate them, colouring or painting each doll.   We like to cut out the hair styles in a different colour paper and stick them onto the dolls.

mrs fox's crafty boxes - paper dolls

crafting with children - mrs fox's crafty boxes

This is a really simple craft, one that can be done on the fly using newspaper if you are caught out for something to do.  The set that Una just made were used as a "Thank you" card for a friend of ours who bought her a very generous easter gift.

So, it just remains to say thanks for the waggletags Louise, xxx.

Not all pegs are equal!

And I mean that quite literally after spending the morning replacing all the pegs in our Crafty Boxes.  I have Little Una Fox to thank for spotting it.  Little 'Una-belle' has become our quality control manager at Mrs Fox's HQ.

Today she quietly, but insistently, complained that one of the crafts I have created, a peg leg horse, was not working properly.  Una was playing with her Pipi Longstocking peg doll and her peg leg horse, on the cardboard roof, of the cardboard house she created some time ago for Caine's Carboard Challenge.

mrs fox's craft boxes for kids - Peg Leg Horse

The horse had had no problem standing during our final afternoon 'user testing' earlier in the week.  But today, with the new pegs I had bought especially for the Crafty Boxes it was not standing up.  And our clever little fox pup had figured out why.  The pegs were not equal, one half was slightly longer than the other, and so the horse would not stand.

So, this morning instead of packaging up the last of the boxes, I was re-packing them all with pegs of  less 'odd' dimensions.   Fortunately I am a fan of packaging so doing things twice is not the end of the world for me.  I am helped along on my mission by our beautiful Belle and Boo London Umbrella Parade tape.

Belle & Boo London Umbrella Parade Tape at Mrs Fox's

Along with the rest of Belle & Boo's beautifully designed products the illustrations on this tape are nostalgic and whimsical.  I love that when Mrs Fox's products arrive at our customer's front doors they look beautiful from the outside, as well as on the inside.


The Next Crafty Box

Crafting with children

We will be sending our next Mrs Fox's Crafty Box out shortly.

Mrs Fox's Crafty Boxes is a children's craft box scheme; just like those veggie box schemes but with crafts not veggies.

Pegs are the theme this month.
I know, what crafty things can you do with a peg?  Well, you'd be amazed - we have pirates, horses, Pipi Longstocking, fish, helicopters... the list goes on.  Look at them all lined up and ready to go.  All in one crafty box of fun!

peg dolls mrs fox's craft boxes for kids

The great thing with our Crafty Boxes is that we don't just send you one or two crafts that your child makes and then you discreetly throw away a few days later.  Our Crafty Box is packed full of creative activities for you to do with items around your home, inspiration for other projects and ideas you can return to again, and again.

This month we have added a little gift of a roll of washi tape, our latest crafty obsession.  Washi tape is a patterned adhesive paper tape, it's a Japanese thing.  You can see rolls of it in the picture at the top.  I first started to use washi tape to stick the children's art work to the walls.  It peels off easily without marking the paintwork and it looks good.  It's also a great way to make a birthday pressie look a little special.  We use it loads in our crafting.   I even used it the other day as a plaster on a poorly finger.

After much user testing, our ingenious boxes of fun will soon be leaving the comfort of Mrs Fox's studio to make their way in the big wide world.  If you are interested in subscribing, Mrs Fox's Crafty Boxes are available for a 3 month minimum subscription, each month works out at a cost of £10.50 plus P&P (£4.95).

We have had a few requests for our last box without a subscription, so, ever responsive to our customers wishes we've created a few extras of this one.  We will be selling them on the website for £13 plus P&P.  There really are only a few of them though, so, if you're interested you'll have to snap them up asap, when they're gone, they're gone I'm afraid.

The environment is very important to Mrs Fox, after all we have lots of little foxes who will be inheriting this world of ours.  So, inside Mrs Fox's Crafty Boxes are not the usual plastics but natural materials, recyclable, upcyclable, you can find a use for it all, the packaging can be used in the crafts and where we can we even mail the boxes out to you in used parcel boxes and envelopes.  We are not just being 'tight' we want to reuse and recycle everything we can.


Mrs Fox's Crafty Easter Box round up.

Our second boxes are about to make their way out and so I thought it time to share a few snaps of various kiddywinks getting their hands dirty.  I was pleased to note on seeing these pictures, that I am not alone in neglecting to properly attire my children when they are about to use paint and glue.  Unfortunately, I don't think either me or my kids have clothes that don't have a spot of 'something' somewhere.  Always regretful when getting a fairly new jumper out of my drawers to find it has a white dribble of paint that missed it's destination - and my immediate gaze.

Anyway, I love these pics so here they are for you to see;

First off, Marley.  I love this because he has decided that his flower will be spiky,

crafting with children

...and Mia here shows how very good she is at cutting out delicate shapes.  The concentration is clear.

crafting with children

easter crafts - daffodils

Apparently they haven't gotten around to adding the petals yet, but the flowers still look lovely.

Next up, Lucie.  I think the paint won't show up too much on this pretty dress.  Not so sure about the white roll-neck though.

crafting with children

What a beautiful picture.

crafting with children

Last but by no means least, here is Kitty below, having fun making the chicks.

crafting with children

crafting with children

Clearly the best part is using the glue and somebody more sensible than me has protected the table - sigh.

We're so pleased that our crafters had fun with our Easter box.  It's such a pleasure to see children other than our own getting to grips with our projects.

Only one fox so far it would seem.  Remember - foxes, rabbits and pigs aren't only for Easter so start cutting up your next egg box.  We'll be adding our ear stencils as free downloads very soon.

crafting with children - fox head

Pegs dolls next, for girls and boys - lots of fun indeed to be had with a peg you know...

Ladybird Tuesday - Wild Life in Britain - A Ladybird Conservation Book

Wild Life in Britain by John Leigh-Pemberton was published in 1972 and is one of series 727, a Ladybird Conservation Book.   As such it begins with an explanation of what 'conservation' means and what role we can all take in conserving our wildlife in Britain.

 “...we can all make these rules and observe them at all times:  never needlessly to pollute or destroy any part of Nature; never to exploit it selfishly; never to ignore it or to assume that we can live aloof from it; and always to realise that we know only the merest fragment about it.”

 This is one of the books from my childhood Ladybird library. The vast majority of Ladybird factual books from my childhood were natural history books.  I think natural history books may have been the only factual books I read as a child, unless forced to by school.  I thought I wanted to be a vet, I was such an animal lover.  I also loved natural history documentaries on TV, David Attenborough was a GOD to me.  And the reason my parents bought a colour TV - yes, I am that old.

I loved the first page of this book, the idea that bears, wolves and beavers had once roamed the British countryside was so exciting.  Although I am a Londoner by birth, my grandmother was a farmer's daughter and was never happier than when she was outdoors, I have inherited this love of the rural life.  (Our move to Hertfordshire is only a short term thing in my mind, one day we will do rural-proper.)  But as a child I thought that our weekly dog walks in the woods would be made all the more exciting by the presence of such large exciting animals as bears and wolves.  Never thinking of the dangers of course.

Like many children I had a particular fondness for otters having watched the film Ring of Bright Water, and having read and dreamed of meeting Tarka the Otter.  My daughter is equally smitten, amongst her bed time soft toys she has a otter named Ottoline.

Of course foxes are also very important to me.  Townie foxes obviously have a lot more front than their shy country cousins.  I saw more of the debonair urban fox living in central london than I see foxes now that we live in the countryside. 

My grandmother bought me many of the Ladybird books on nature that I still own.  She also gave me a beautiful old set of books on birds in Britain that I still have on a shelf in my room.  They have wonderful colour plates of familiar British birds.  

This Ladybird book was my introduction to many of the core ideas and ideals of the environmental movement, and at a pretty early age, it must have been significant to my lifelong interest in the natural world and conservation.  With my own little foxes I consider it very important to give them access to the great outdoors with as much freedom as my slightly paranoid parenting can cope with.  

We had a wonderful time in Wales last summer (no wait, it must have been the summer before, because we didn't really have one last year did we) with the little foxes spending hours combing rock pools for signs of life.  It is amazing how long children can remain interested in a rock pool, when you think how quickly they can get bored of toys you've bought for them.

And we are really lucky where we live to have easy access to woods, fields and lakes.  Only yesterday we spent the entire day outside at our allotment.  The little foxes and their friends spent much of that time exploring a field that the allotment backs onto, in sight of the allotment but still with that sense of freedom and adventure that I remember from my own childhood.   It's not always an easy balance, safety v freedom, but I hope that, along with all the other benefits of an outdoors lifestyle, I am giving my little ones a sense of ownership WITH responsibility for the world around them that will see them value, respect and protect their environment.

This post is part of Ladybird Tuesday started on the Being Mrs C blog, take a look at her posts here.

And the rest of Mrs Fox's Ladybird Tuesday posts are here and if you have a collection of Ladybird books, please do feel free to join in.


Ladybird Tuesday - Talkabout home

A day late Im afraid...

Talkabout home was published by Ladybird in 1973, compiled by W Murrray and illustrated by Eric Winter and Harry Wingfield. It is one of Ladybird's series 735, books designed with the help of nursery school advisers from The British Association for Early Childhood Education. Other's in the series are; Talkabout animals, Talkabout the beach, Talkabout shopping and Talkabout starting school which I have already blogged about.

"Education begins long before a child goes to Infant School...  All the books in this talkabout series are designed to stimulate conversation between child and adult, encourage the early growth of vocabulary, assist mental development and provide a sound basis for future progress in reading and general awareness."
This book has very little text and is designed to to be enjoyed by pre-school children in conversation with their parents.  I love the Talkabout books as they really are perfect for sharing with pre-school children, and while this one is a little battered, I do read it with Little Louis Fox, who is 4.  Full of illustrations of familiar objects and tasks about the home, the book aims to encourage conversation about subjects that are a well established part of the child's world.  Most of the pictures are in Ladybird's typical realistic style.  I love the old hoover and radio below, although Louis doesn't recognise the radio as that thing in the corner that we call a radio that plays CDs and MP3s all day.

There are pages with simple games or tasks, to help the conversation flow, developing the child's attention and vocabulary as you read:  

There is a section at the back of the book with advice for parents on how to "read" these books with their children.  And it encourages you not to just stick to the suggested text, but, where a child shows interest, improvise on the pictures.   

Above is one of our personal favourites.  Louis knows who is supposed to own each item, but, sometimes with a cheeky grin insists that the doll is the mummy's or the cowboy hat belongs to the daddy, the result is much hilarity as we make up stories.  Mummy once became a bit of a kleptomaniac and ended up stealing everyone's toys.  And I often insist that the iron does not belong to Mummy, after all, Louis has seldom seen me with such an object in my hand!

There are also pages with simple counting tasks...

and pages with cartoon illustrations in a "storyboard" format designed to encourage children to create there own story through the pictures.

Sharing books like this one in Ladybird's Talkabout series with pre-schoolers  is exactly what has been 're-discovered' in schools as a means to improve children's writing.  My oldest little fox, Una, is in year 2 and along with the rest of her primary school, and many other's around the country, takes part in The Big Write every week.  This is a teaching method devised by Ros Wilson that many schools use to raise Key Stage 1 and 2 children's attainment levels in writing.  Follow the above link to hear Ros explain The Big Write far better than I can.
It's a great way to improve and encourage children's listening, talking and writing skills, and there is also a version for early years called The Big Talk.  The Big Talk is also used by our school to encourage parents of the Key Stage 1 and 2 children to participate in the learning process.  Each week we are told the The Big Write topic for that weeks and asked to talk to our children around this - The Big Talk - ready for that weeks writing.  The Big Write takes place every Friday with special pens and special paper, a relaxing atmosphere in the class room with music and sometimes candle light.  Writing is made to feel special and important not just something you HAVE to do at school.  It's a wonderful message to give children - that writing is special.

This post is part of Ladybird Tuesday started on the Being Mrs C blog, take a look at her posts here.

And the rest of Mrs Fox's Ladybird Tuesday posts are here and if you have a collection of Ladybird books, please do feel free to join in.

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