The Easter Craft Box is OPEN!

Mrs Fox's Crafty Boxes have arrived safely and the contents are ready to be placed and glued, cut and painted or even stitched.  Opening the box is an exciting time as the little ones can see the bare bones in front of them.

Mrs Fox's Crafty Boxes

We hope that they add a few of their own ideas and make each of these crafts their own.

Inside are egg boxes with 5 pressed cotton eggs and a pot of yellow paint, the starting point for our Easter themed crafts.  With the egg box are wraps containing all that is needed to turn the little eggs into 5 gorgeous Easter chicks.  We offer suggestions to adapt the craft according to age.

We also tried using the wing and head pattern on some pretty handmade paper with great results.

easter chicks

These little chicks could be a colourful centre piece for an Easter feast - or could even be popped on top of an Easter cake... on the mantlepiece... a window sill... in flower pots...

But once the chicks are made, what do you do with the box?

We wanted every part of the egg box to have a purpose and you will see that only the smallest trimmings made it into the recycling bin.  We ran a little competition earlier in the week asking for ideas and suggestions and the possibilities for an egg box are clearly endless.  For this Crafty Box though, we wanted to stick to an Easter/spring theme and thought a chicken run, a pond (no-one said they couldn't be ducklings) and an Easter basket would compliment the chicks nicely.

Nina Fox made her chick into a cute duckling with webbed feet.

easter chicks

 So I made him a wee pond to paddle about in.

easter chicks

We still have the bottom of the egg box in hand.  What a bonus!  We thought that both boys and girls would love to give Mum or Nanna a bunch of flowers which could last the whole spring.
Here was our third craft for the egg box - we supplied felt, green pipecleaners and plant supports to turn the egg cups of the box into a bunch of flowers.  On the back of our instructions, we printed a template for extra flower petals to give the flower a daffodil look - perfect for Easter and spring.

I absolutely love the flowers we made, plus, they don't require water and they don't drop leaves!

daffodils

We also offered ideas and bits and bobs for several additional crafts - more than enough to keep young children busy for a 2 weeks inbetween eating chocolate eggs and running them off.  All of these ideas can be done at home with nothing but an egg carton and inspiration.

Animal noses and ears... foxes, pigs and rabbits...

fox head - Mrs Fox's Crafty Boxes

Of course, we had to have a go at the fox first.

We supplied scraps of beautiful handmade paper in our Craft Box and Little Tom Fox wanted to have a go at making the collage egg decorations with them.

easter crafts - collage egg

We made one each, he really enjoyed this activity...

crafting with children - easter egg collage

...and we have hung them from our mirror in the front room.

easter egg mobile - Mrs Fox's Crafty Boxes


We also gave instructions to make marbled hard boiled eggs... we've not made ours yet this year so you'll have to use your imagination!

In the middle of next month, we will mail out a new Crafty Box, this one based around pegs and making traditional peg dolls - with a little more Mrs Fox's craftiness to boot.
If you'd like to join our subscription, and receive Mrs Fox's Crafty Box for April you can find more details here, it's only £10.50 (+p&p) per month for hours of crafty fun with your little ones.


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Easter crayon winners....

The winners of the Easter crayons are;
Louise, Jenny, Annie, Charly and Sara.

If you've not emailed us your postal address, please could you do so to, info@mrsfoxs.com

Thank you for all comments, we really hope you get to make some of them over the Easter break - and send us picture if you can.

Here below is one of our ideas to compliment the theme of or Mrs Fox's (Easter) Crafty Box:


It's a little chicken run - it did have some straw in it but my oldest son stole it all for the hat we made for his school 'Mad Hatter' competition.
Thank you for all your comments and ideas.
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The Yolk Folk - FREE to the first comment

crafty chicks from mibo at mrs foxs
Eggory Peck, Sophia Le Hen and Cluck Gable - a very sweet set of chicks

Mrs Fox loves to make things, so, along with our own Easter inspired Crafty Box this Friday I will be raiding our stock cupboard and making some of these lovely little guy's with my crafty little foxes.  Over at Mrs Fox's store we sell these great paper chick kits from Mibo for £6.50.  

All you need to get started is a pair of scissors, a ruler and some glue. Suitable from about age 6 upwards.  The chicks range from 9cm-10 cm high when made. Printed on 100% recycled 200gsm card and made in the UK.

The first person to link up to this post on their blog or FB page, LIKE us and send a little love our way with a comment and I'll pop a pack in the post to you today, just in time for easter.






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Easter Baskets.

mrs fox's crafty boxes easter 2013

Our Mrs Fox's (Easter) Crafty Boxes are on their way and all the crafts will be centred around the egg carton in which the main craft is packaged.  In the egg carton are the main components of the main craft but once these are made, you're left with a very handy box.  We have thought of many things to do with this usually 'recycled in the recycle bin' box.  We have three idea's just for the lids, two of which are specifically dedicated to the main craft.  The third idea we offer for the lid is not.

For this third craft, we suggest that you take the lid (of a 6 egg box) and turn it into an Easter basket.  If you make this yourself, you could present it to your child with chocolate eggs inside or have them use it for an Easter egg hunt.  If your child is one of those rare young beasts (surprisingly I actually know of 3) who don't like chocolate, you might want to choose to put a little gift or two in the box or use gifts in the hunt rather than choccy eggs.

mrs foxes crafty boxes easter baskets 2013


I am going to put a little gift in this box for Eve as she helped me to make it - and then she can use it for the choccy egg hunt that her Aunty Sarah is planning.

I found a lovely little wooden chick brooch on Folksy so I bought one to pop into this basket and then, because my girl can never have enough colouring pens, pencils and crayons, I'm going to add some of these beautiful locally handmade crayons.

mrs foxes crafty boxes easter crayons, win, giveaway


You could win a free set for your little ones, just post us a comment below by 23rd March on what you think our other two idea's for the lid of the egg carton are.  We have 4 sets to give away for either the correct idea or for the most interesting idea's - something to do with chicks...

To decorate our basket, we used;

  • the lid
  • 2 paper doilies
  • a sheet of tissue paper
  • some paper scraps for petals
  • some tiny cuts of felt for the middle of the flowers
  • some raffia ribbon.


To make the basket, simply;

  1. Smear glue to the bottom and sides of the egg carton lid and place it in the centre of your doilie and then bring the sides up so that they stick.
  2. Then cut another in half and stick it round side to the top, flat side folding underneath the lid then fold and stick the sides down. 
  3. Next, fold some yellow tissue paper and glue it to cover the inside of the lid.  
  4. The flowers on the outside were Eve's idea to make it prettier - cut some small flower shapes from some scraps of paper (we keep all our interesting paper scraps) and stick them around the outside before adding the yellow felt 'pollen' flower centres.
  5. With a hole punch, punch holes in each corner of the box and tie the raffia ribbon diagonally across the basket.


If your child is a boy, you could paint the lid to look like a standard punnet and put straw in the bottom (I'm doing this for my 2 boys) or decorate the lid in one of the ways we have suggested in our craft box - more on that one later though... don't forget to send us a comment with your idea on what our ideas might be!
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Ladybird Tuesday - The Story of Our Canals

On the weekend we went up to Cheshire to visit my husband's side of the family.  As I roamed the thrift shops of Bramhall I came across The Story of Our Canals, A Ladybird Achievements Book, Series 601, by Carolyn Hutchings with illustrations by Roger Hall, published in 1975.

ladybird tuesday, vintage books, the story of our canals





"From the opening of the Bridgewater Canal in 1761, until well into the 19th Century, the canal system in Great Britain grew at a tremendous pace.  At it's height, there were over 6,000 miles of navigable rivers and canals...

The story of how this was achieved, of the colourful characters who dug the canals and operated them is here depicted in words and pictures, in all its fascinating detail."






Other than this vintage Ladybird book being one that I do not own, the thing that drew me to it is that where we live in Hertfordshire we have both a canal (Well, the River Lee Navigation to be exact) and a river (Well, the New River to be exact, so actually a man made river - does that make it a canal? ) running through our village.

ladybird tuesday, vintage books, the story of our canals

So, along with being obsessed with the little foxes learning to swim I also find myself really, genuinely interested in canals.  In fact I have been suggesting to Mr Fox for at least the last few years that what we really need here at Mrs Fox's Hertfordshire HQ is a beautiful old narrow boat.  We could use it as guest quarters when people come to stay.  And it would make the shopping trip into Ware so much more picturesque.

ladybird tuesday, vintage books, the story of our canals

This book has not only increased my knowledge and understanding of canals no end, making my dreams of owning a narrowboat all the more vivid.  It has also piqued my interest in the stories of the old Bargee families in the village.  Apparently there are still traditional Bargee families that settled here once the work on the waterways dried up.

ladybird tuesday, vintage books, the story of our canals

I'm sure that my idealised notion of life on the canals is nothing like the reality.  I had similar romantic notions when I was little and was sure I wanted to join the gypsies and live in a caravan.   As Little Louis Fox is also smitten with caravans at the moment maybe I can encourage him to join forces with me in petitioning his father for a narrow boat.  All I have to do is convince him a narrow boat is a caravan on water.   It's nice to have dreams!

ladybird tuesday, vintage books, the story of our canals


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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Ladybird Tuesday - A Second Ladybird Key Words Picture Dictionary and Spelling Book

Yay, we're back!

A Second Ladybird Key Words Picture Dictionary and Spelling Book by J McNally with illustrations by Eric Winter, published in 1966.  McNally along with William Murray is the co-author of Ladybird's Key Words Reading Scheme which is still in publication today.

vintage children's books, ladybird






"Some words in our language are used much more frequently than others.  Three hundred of the most frequently used words make up about three-quarters of the total number of those used in juvenile reading. "










Based on the simple concept that if children are taught the most frequently occurring words in the English language it is easier for them to learn to read, the Key Words Picture Dictionary presents all three hundred key words in a series of illustrated sentences.  As below:

Vintage Children's books Ladybird

Vintage children's books, Ladybird Tuesday

Children are expected to recognise these key words on sight, also known as the "look and say" method of learning.  The illustrations of course reinforce this style of learning.

My daughter's school which teaches children to read using a synthetic phonics approach.  Excellently I might add.  Also uses the 'look and say' method to teach these key words.  The approach seems imminently sensible considering that the English language is not phonetic.
Vintage children's books, Ladybird Tuesday

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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How To Make The Easiest Tutu Ever

peacock tutu  children kids party

I made Little Una Fox a tutu to wear to her peacock birthday party.  I have looked at a couple of different ways to make tutu's and decided that I was going to keep it really simple as I intended to decorated this one with a felt peacock tail.  So the method I used to make the tutu is so simple there is almost no sewing involved.  You can add the peacock tail or not of course.  Here's how I did it:

You Will Need:
For the tutu
elastic approx 2cm wide - a length roughly 4cm larger than your child's waist measurement
tulle - I used almost all of 3 x 5m rolls in 3 different colours
ribbon in a contrasting colour 3 x length of your child's waist.
scissors
needle and thread - optional

For the peacock feathers
purple, green, blue and brown felt
paper & pencil
scissors
pins
glue
ribbon
needle and thread
gold thread - optional


To make the tutu:
1.  Measure your child's waist and cut a length of elastic approx 4cm larger than this.  Create a waistband by sewing the two ends together.  If you really can't sew you could just knot it.
(The extra 4 cm is to allow you to sew the two ends together and also the thickness of the tulle wrapped around the waistband of the tutu needs to be taken into account in the waist measurement - so, I'm being generous with the elastic.)


2. Measure from your child's waist to your child's knee and add about 2cm.  Cut strips of tulle double this length and approx 14cm wide.
how to make peacock tutu  children kids party craft


3.  Loop your tulle round the elastic and then back through on itself; see steps 1, 2 & 3 in the pictures above.  Keep doing this until you have completely covered the elastic waist band, alternating the different colours of tulle; and voilĂ ...

4. I also threaded a piece of contrasting ribbon through the tulle loops at the waist to tie in a bow at the front or back if you are not making the peacock tail.


To make the feathers:
I made 10 feathers as this number forms a nice symetrical triangle pattern, you could do more or less.

how to make peacock tutu  children kids party craft

1. Draw a design for the feathers onto A4 paper and from this make a template for each part of the feather; see the pictue below:

how to make peacock tutu  children kids party craft

2.  Assign each part of the feather a colour then pin that piece of the template to the felt and cut around.  Make as many as you want feathers. Then with fabric glue, used very sparingly, you can glue each section of the feather one on top of the other.

3. If you wish you can also embroider lines of gold onto each feather.  I used a few extra stitches to secure the layers of the feather design.

4. Sew the first few feathers to the ribbon you have looped through the waistband of the tutu.  Then each remaining feather can be sewn to lengths of ribbon and then the ribbon sewn to the waistband.  Vary the lengths of the ribbon so that the peacock feathers hang at different lengths down the back of the skirt. 

how to make peacock tutu  children kids party craft






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Crafty Intervention...

children creativity craft

We think that giving your children space to be creative is incredibly important.  I remember back to the time my oldest first got a sticker book, the kind with faces on the pages and the middle pages full of stickers of noses, eyes and lips, etc.  Much to my frustration, he stuck the stickers in all kinds of ridiculous places, an ear where the nose should be, an eye under the chin and so on - I spent the whole time he was occupied with it, itching to have him put them all in the right places.  Incredibly, I managed to keep quiet, leaving him to it, to do as he pleased. When he had gone to bed, I'm ashamed to say that I peeled them all off and stuck them where they jolly well should have gone in the first place.  Oh dear...

Very soon, our first crafty boxes will be winging their way to some crafty individuals, who, in turn, will be using the contents to encourage their little one's to get creative with their own unique imaginations.  What I wonder is this; how much of their own input will each parent think is acceptable?  Luckily for the children, our boxes will have enough ideas and bits and bobs that should the overseeing parent desire, they will be able to make something themselves - and if their children ask for help, then they may put down their own creation and give assistance.

children creativity craft
I'm sure getting creative won't be new to these little people.  As is plainly obvious from a previous blog, my little pests certainly spend many, many hours getting themselves and the house extremely messy in pursuit of their next masterpiece.
Being creative myself, I have always 'gently bossed' my little ones into investigating and experimenting with their imaginations.  Their 'pieces' do not always appeal to my sense of aesthetics I might add.  Like many of you, I'm sure that the red and black crayon 'Mr Messy' looking scribble on the wall at the bottom of the stairs was not a 'keeper', nor the similar art work I discovered next to the front door.  I was less than best pleased when I once spent many hours of time, care, attention and fabric upholstering a dirty linen box.  Shortly after I finally completed it, my eldest (then 3) declared that he had decorated my box too - with a black Sharpie pen.  In fact, I can honestly say that I shed a tear or two.

Anyway, recent events made me examine my involvement with my kids when they are being creative.  At any given time, one of them will generally be drawing or making something or other and on assessment, it is this fact that has redeemed me - I am not the interfering, picky mother come art teacher that I judged myself to be following a chat with a friend.

This friend commented that when I set all 3 of my little ones to task on a new project, I got too involved, not letting them do as much of it on their own as perhaps I could or should.  I felt a little put out by this comment but thought back to the last new project I had introduced and disappointedly decided that she may actually have a point, I thought about how utterly frustrated I get when baking with them.
I brought this up with Nina Fox who thought about it and said that - to the contrary, she thought I gave my kids much more room to make a mess than even she ever could.  Whenever she comes to my house, the dining table is piled with all manner of crafty, arty paraphenalia and various projects in various stages of completion.  She herself, hovers over her children as they get creative, picking up bits of paper when they fall on the floor and offering a helping hand at any and every opportunity.
I thought back to the instance my friend had sat and watched.  It was the sour dough shape making afternoon.  I re-considered what had happened that afternoon and came to the conclusion that Nina was right.  That had been the first time I had done this with my kids and I had not tried making it on my own beforehand as I sometimes do with a new craft idea.
Not only this, but I'd needed the final pieces to look half decent because I wanted to take pictures for Mrs Fox's blog.  Finally, the dough mixture was really quite stiff and so mixing and then rolling the stuff required something stronger than the arms of children aged 6 and under.

On the whole, when my children are doing their own arty crafty things, the most involved I get is finding the end of the sticky tape, squeezing glue into little pots and changing the water for the paintbrushes.  If we're doing something new, I do tend to get more involved but in this respect, I feel I am teaching them some new skills and they need me to show them.
children creativity craft

children creativity craft

It can be really quite difficult to back off while your children make their way through the creative process but it needs to be just that, a creative process - which is a learning process too.  They will learn what works for them, they just need a little help getting off the ground.  Even putting a brush to paper gives them a sense of freedom and shows them that they can make their own mark.  We cannot expect the perfection we may feel that we ourselves might (possibly) achieve but the beauty of their work will be in their own sense of fun and accomplishment.  If they're chuffed with it, you can only match that and enjoy it the joy.



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A Peacock Party for my Seven Year Old

peacock children kids party craft
Little Una Fox was 7 on Wednesday.  My very creative daughter drew a beautiful picture of a peacock, there are a couple of these beautiful birds that roam our village so she has seen them often.  When I suggested to her that we could use the picture as the invitation to her birthday party, she got very excited.  So, we had a bit of a brainstorm, a look on pinterest for more inspiration (I put the mood-board up on one of my last post) and a Peacock Party was born.

I'd already told Una that this year we would celebrate her birthday at our home, which is a small, very narrow, cottage in Hertfordshire, so it would be an equally small number of children.  Until this year she has always had a pretty big do at a hall or restaurant.  But now she is 7, we decided an intimate party with just a few of her friends from school would be fun.  And more manageable for me with a busy month of parties and Mrs Fox's Crafty Boxes launching.

I planned to make something for Una to wear at the party.  One of my children's birthday and Christmas gifts is always made or vintage.  So, this year I made a peacock tutu, for my little Peacock Princess.  I will give more details on the making of this in my next post.

peacock children kids party craft

The party started straight after school with Una, her cousin, Joseph, and 5 friends.  In the front room I set up a simple craft for the guests on their arrival; making paper lanterns and these beautiful paper-craft peacocks that I bought from Happy Thoughts Papercraft.  Just something to keep them busy until everyone had arrived.   These are sold as downloadable PDF's on Happy Thoughts site and are GREAT value for money and perfect as a party craft.

peacock children kids party craft

Once all the little guests had arrived we moved into the back sitting room where I had set up a table with our main craft; making peg dolls.  Scraps of fabric and paper, ribbon, string and wool, felt tip pens and a few black sharpie pens, scissors and glue were what this required, along with old style wooden pegs with little stands.  I also supplied them with a single pot of turquoise paint.  The results were great.  I had several peg dolls I had made for them to take inspiration from but otherwise I let them do whatever they liked.  I had one boy amongst the guests and so had some more 'masculine' peg doll ideas.  A couple of the girls really liked his superhero peg dolls and so Captain Fartypants was joined by a couple of other scatalogically named superheros.

peacock children kids party craft

After the peg dolls we had our first game.  Onto A2 sized paper I hand painted a peacock, taken from a design by the fabulous Lab Partners -a design duo based in Oakland, CA whose limited edition prints can be purchased and are shipped internationally.  I left white shapes on the design to be filled in with peacock feathers.  These feathers I cut out from the handmade paper I used to make the children's sweetie cube party favours.  The children each had a feather with their name on and had to try and stick these onto the white shapes on the peacock.  Much hilarity fuelled by chocolate 'peacock eggs' for the 'winners' lead to several rounds of this game.

peacock children kids party craft

And then it was time for tea.  I used my mismatched vintage china to serve a typical party tea.  Una felt very grown up as she hosted her little guests, who were left in the playroom unattended until the noises coming from the room started to sound like little high-pitched gremlins running amok.

After tea we had a few more games, musical bumps and pass the parcel.  I'd made a peacock birthday cake, and candles were duelly blown out.  I'm quite proud of the result of my mad rush on Tuesday morning to purchase a giant cup cake mould and cake decorating supplies.  The warm helpful staff at the Sugarsmiths in Hertford were supportive to a fault, even though I must have seemed a complete idiot.  I've no baking skills at all, and simply figured fondant icing surely works like playdo and if I can paint a peacock onto paper I can paint a peacock onto a giant sponge cup cake.

peacock children kids party craft

Phew! I was more than exhausted when the children were ready to go home.  Their party bag was decorated with more peacock feathers, handmade paper and real.  A little sweetie cube, another peg doll kit and a Happpy Thought papercraft peacock to do at home, a mini paint box and a chocolate cupcake with a single edible rice paper peacock feather on it.  I sent them off happy (nay hyper!) with their parents and then sank into the sofa with my little foxes telling me how great the party was.  Even if I didn't enjoy all the crafting, baking, decorating and entertaining those words would make it all worthwhile.

peacock children kids party craft how to

peacock children kids party craft

peacock children kids party craft

peacock children kids party craft
Add caption

peacock children kids party craft

So, if this post makes you think you'd like to have a chat with us about creating your child's party please send me an email.  Or look at the pictures, and use them as inspiration to make your own Peacock Party, please do.  Any questions drop them into the comments box and we'll get back to you.  For my next post I'll give further details on the tutu.  Honestly, the easiest way to make a tutu ever.

And next Wednesday, I will be doing Louis, my car mad soon to be 4 year old son's party.  We are taking inspiration from his favourite book of the moment; Cars and Trucks And Things That Go.  So, look out for details on that one too.


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