DIY Folded Paper Boxes

My youngest daughter wanted to sort and classify her sea shell collection.  This was a great Nature Study and Science activity, but we needed several smallish boxes to store the different shell types.  She displayed her shell collection on our Nature Study tray.

6-Nature study1

We quickly made these paper boxes.

The nifty, practical aspects of these folded paper boxes are:

  • You can make them in different sizes … so they can nest in each other or form a top and a base to close your box!
  • The boxes can easily be stored flat, unfolded and ready for the next occasion.
  • You can use decorative craft paper or card stock for really pretty gift boxes or display boxes.

Here are the instructions and a free downloadFolded Paper Boxes

You will need:

  • square paper or card stock 28cm X 28cm
  • scissors
  • glue/ cellotape/ stapler

Fold your paper:

  • Fold the square horizontally in half & re-open.
  • Fold the square vertically in half & re-open.
  • Fold the bottom left corner and the top right corner to the center of the square, forming opposite triangles.Paper box 1
  • Fold both the newly made folds to the middle & re-open these folds.

Paper box 2

  • Cut along all 4 of the new fold lines, from the paper edge up to the edges of the triangles.Paper box 3
  • Take the top left corner and the bottom right corner and fold the corners into the center.Paper box 4
  • Fold again in half, so that the last fold is at the end of the cut lines.
  • Fold all 4 pointed strips to form folds in line with the 2 middle double folded pieces.Paper box 5

Assemble your paper box:

  • Fold the pointed flaps around the outside of the 2 center folds.
  • Insert the corners of the center folded piece into the diagonal fold of the flap. This part is a little fiddly, so mom, you may have to help here!Paper box 6
  • Tape/ glue or staple the outside overlapping flaps to the box.

Enjoy this craft project!

Blessings,

Amazing Arrows

Long ago, when I studied remedial education, I learnt about the arrow chart. This chart trains children in spacial awareness and directionality, and it is extremely effective. Arrow Chart

Free DownloadArrow Chart  (Updated September 2014)

Back in the day, as a grade 6 & 7 public school teacher, I conducted my own research using the arrow chart for 2 of my 3 English classes (I taught 3 homogeneous classes the same lessons).  Classes 1 and 2 performed a few random rows of arrow movements, then they sat and wrote their spelling test. The 3rd class simply entered the class, sat and wrote the same spelling test. I recorded their results on the back of my board. By the end of the month, the 3rd class was clearly lagging in every result. When they saw the results, they begged me to do the arrow exercises with them. Their improvement was instant and very encouraging. It takes just a few minutes. Homeschool2 It is fun! It is physical.  It’s effective. It is simple.  It is mentally stimulating.  It is amazing! These exercises are especially effective before maths classes, handwriting lessons, early reading sessions and before any test.  I found that these activities  help “center” the child, especially after a break, or after outdoors activities, when they need to settle down to concentrate on their books.  While it is fun and stimulating, it helps the child to focus on the next task at hand.  Children with attention deficit disorders especially benefit from these arrows activities in between lessons, or when they are distracted.

For quick sessions, especially for groups, call the children to stand up next to their chairs and use both arms to move quickly straight up/down/ left or right.  I turn the chart around a few times, then I hold it where the group can see it, and randomly point to a row.  I usually only do 2 to 3 rows in a session.

Ideally, the movement should be a large physical movement, especially where the child’s whole body changes position. Good movements should cross the body’s mid-line to stimulate the left and right sides of the brain:

DON’T speak.   Simply point.  This is a visual activity.  (But it can be easily made into an auditory message, if the parent calls out the direction and the child moves.)

How it works:

  1. Place the chart in view, orientated randomly. (Any side is on top.)
  2. Describe what action the child must do in the same direction of the arrow. (Suggested actions listed below.)
  3. Start on any row.  Start beginners on the shorter rows.  Always start from the left and go across to the right.  Once the child gains confidence, start some rows from the top and work down to the bottom of the row.  ( I almost never work right to left, or bottom to top.)
  4. When working one-on-one with a child, the parent/ teacher can simply point along the row.  Once the child gains confidence, simply point to the starting arrow in a row and the child progresses along the row at their own pace, performing quick, clear movements.
  5. When working with a group, the teacher/ parent must tap each arrow with a pointer. The children must be trained to execute the movement instantly, quickly and then stand ready for the next tap on the following arrow.
  6. Once a row is complete, point to the next random row.  I often turn the chart around so that the child does not anticipate the direction or row to follow.

Suggested movements: You will need: a foam square or a small pillow, about 6 bean bags, a small plastic chair, an inflatable beach ball & a hula hoop.  Use your mini trampoline too, if you have one! 

  • Stand in a clear space and quickly stretch both arms straight up/ down/ left or right.  When stretching arms left or right, the one arm will stretch cross the body.
  • Stand on a foam square and jump off the square and immediately back into the square ready for the next arrow – jump in front/ behind/ left/ right.
  • Stand in a hula hoop on the ground and turn and lean down and touch the ground with both hands & immediately stand up – touch in front/ behind/ left/ right. (They could also jump out of the hoop, and back in, instead of touching the ground with both hands.)
  • Place a small plastic chair in a clear space and the child must sit ready to move.  They jump up, take a few quick steps to the front/ back/left or right of the chair and then quickly sit down again.
  • On a mini trampoline mark the center with a small masking tape cross and place a small arrow pointing in all 4 directions on the rim of the trampoline. The child stands in the center, on the cross, and jumps forward/ back/ left or right according to the arrow chart and immediately back to the center cross.
  • Sit on a pillow or foam square on the ground and hold a box of bean bags in their lap. The child must take the bean bag in the right hand and place it in front/ behind/ left or right on the ground next to the pillow.  They can alternate doing a row using the left hand and then a row using the right hand.

Homeschool

Throwing and catching is fun too!

  • The child has the bean bags and throws them in front/ behind/ left or right of a target like a foam square/ a hula hoop/ a bucket.
  • Draw a large square with chalk on a wall.  The child holds an inflatable beach ball and throws it to the position up/ down/ left or right of the square on the wall.  The ball will bounce back and the child needs to catch it again.  (I place the chart on the wall near the chalk square and point to the arrows in the row.)
  • A partner/ parent or sibling stands in front of the standing child. Place the arrow chart on the ground in front of the child.  The parent tosses one bean bag to the child who catches it and tosses it to the front/ back/ left/ right of his feet.  He then quickly stands ready to catch and toss the bean bag for the next arrow. When the row is complete, he picks up each bean bag and tosses it back to the parent.

My youngest child, now 12-years, still LOVES these quick, fun sessions!  Not only is her concentration more focused after a few arrow drills, but all her skills show a marked improvement too.  Her handwriting speed and control is noticeably better too!

I highly recommend these amazing arrows.

Feel free to ask questions and share your experiences with this arrow chart with other readers in the comments below.

All in grace,

Google Calendar Homeschool Planning

I simplified my homeschool planning for 2013 by entering everything on Google Calendar.

[To be honest, I use my Google calendar for my planning and I haven’t put it to the test with our actual 2013 schedule … and I still love paper calendars … smiles]

But it is an amazing immediate planning tool!  It is an easy way to capture all the basic lessons, add all the website-finds and organize the schedule with repeats to fill the weeks and months for a whole year!

Google Homeschool Calendar Jan2013For example,I quickly jotted the theme/ subject for each month and put these into the calendar.  As I searched out my Famous Artist pictures, biography etc. for the month, I simply copied all the website links, YouTube URLs, PDF files and documents right on the lesson plan on the calendar.  I used these details later to create my actual pages and detailed lessons.

A few extra tips for planning Famous Artist studies:

I often use Pinterest for picture searches. Repins add these new finds to my collection. I also right-click and “save image” to my computer and download images to each famous artist’s folder. Quick and easy = online visual record of my searches on Pinterest + a copy on my computer to use as a screen-saver or print out.

Here’s an example of my famous artist lesson plan: Famous Artist study and notes

How Google Calendar planning works for me ~

  1. Create a calendar for each child. (Create each calendar in a different color.)
  2. Plot in all school holidays to create my school terms.  (I downloaded the 2013 government school terms as my guideline)  You can copy your calendar to any other calendar you create.
  3. Plan the year with subjects and topics divided across the 12 months.  (I do this with good old-fashioned pen and paper first)
  4. Type in the Nature Study topic, Hymn, Famous Artist and & Famous Composer for every month of the year.
  5. Enter subjects as an event.  In the event mode, I can also add #6, #7, #8, #9 and #10 below.
  6. Assign a color for each subject. (On the calendar it shows as a colored bar, on the printout it is a small rounded square of color)
  7. Click for repeated themes or lessons – Google calendar offers daily, specific days each week, all work-days, weekly, monthly etc.
  8. In the “Descriptions” box, add lessons, chapters & pages to the basic lesson entry. It may be easy to type in the book title for all and then go back to each repeat lesson to add the specific chapter and page numbers.
  9. Also add website links, documents, files and notes for each lesson in the description box.
  10. Attach files. I love this feature as I can organize my downloads to each lesson and print out lapbooks, maps, pictures later when I prepare for the month ahead.Attach document to calendar
  11. Under Tasks add further details for the day – complete and hand in a lapbook/ do a review or a test.
  12. Reminders can easily be added in the edit form – either as an email or a pop-up.  (I chose a pop-up because I don’t want my inbox cluttered with reminders.)
  13. I can print out the calendar.  You can select daily, weekly, the agenda, or monthly view, or even a specific range of dates. (I must confess I am disappointed that text does not wrap in the month view, and even when I selected the “smaller” print size, it was tiny and difficult to read.) I created events as “all day” rather than schedule the times so that the lesson prints out without the times taking up the space. Tick off  the “Add Descriptions” box to have all the extra info printed with the lessons. If printed in color all the events are printed with a small colored block.

This is what the Week Agenda looks like ~ Google Calendar Agenda View

If I had typed in the lessons with time schedules, these lessons would be listed with times instead of “All day” and would be arranged in order of their times.

My Task List print out would look like this:Google Task print out

Some other great features:

  • My Calendar year plan print out will also become my record of work.
  • I can tick off attendance and completed tasks on the calendar as we go along – both on the tasks on the actual Google calendar or on my paper print out.
  • With a click I can add my personal plans/ meal plans/ birthdays on the calendar view.
  • Drag and drop makes changes simple!
  • My calendar on my laptop is available for the kids on the desktop.  If children are old enough and have a gmail account, they can log in and access the calendar for themselves. (Just ensure that “modify event” box is unticked if you don’t want them to make changes)
  • I can take my calendar everywhere on “smart” phone.  This is useful when booking appointments or checking upcoming themes when browsing in the library.

I must admit that mid-year I went and bought the Homeschool Tracker Plus program hoping to use it to plan and record my highschooler’s academic year, but it is just way too complex for me.  Even though I used the forum, I kept getting muddled entries, or “loosing” a whole year’s plans for a subject … and I gave up. (I must spend some more evenings watching their training videos and I still would like to master the program as I believe that it will be a valuable tool.)

But right now, I have easy, quick, detailed and comprehensive plans that work for me on Google calendar.

Do you use Google calendar? What other Google calendar planning tips and tricks do you have?

Blessings,

Related Articles:

Frugal Dish Mat

I saw my first dish mat on Jimmie’s Collage last year and filed away the idea …

When my bath towels became so worn that I had to replace them, I thought of frugal ways to re-use them.

I remembered Jimmie’s dish mats and thought that this would be an easy-sewing project for my children.

Pop over here for the tutorial or to my Projects page for other sewing, crafts, and creative projects.

Blessings,

Time-Saving Tips for Doing Lapbooks

We regularly do lapbooks!

love organization.  I like efficiency.  I love getting to the fun part of writing in the minibooks without fuss and time-wasting.

But what you see in the photo above is NOT practical!

If we had to cut and fold and paste minibooks for each lesson, I would have given up lapbooks long ago.

I have found a wonderful way to prepare our lapbooks in advance, especially if you use several lapbooks regularly in your school week.

Let me share some of our time-saving tips:

1. Download and save your lapbook.

  • Save a back-up of your lapbook download on a memory stick/CD/ EHD (External Hard Drive)

2. Print out the minibooks, index and instructions.

  • I like to print the next project a few weeks ahead of my schedule.
  • Place the index, instructions and the printed pages in a plastic page protector and store these pages with the lapbook minibook pages until you have time to do number 3.

OR go straight ahead and …

3.  Spend one afternoon cutting out and stapling, folding and assembling each minibook.

  • I cut my 2 kids’ copies together to save time.  This usually takes one afternoon.
  • Or the kiddies can cut out minibooks for you.  They need all the cutting practice they can get!
  • We listen to a a read aloud or audio books while we are busy snipping and folding.
  • Use this master template to make your own stash of minibooks!.

4.  Store the folded minibooks in a Ziploc bag for each child (until you get time to do number 5).

(Check out Jimmie’s Collage – where I first saw this idea.)

Here is my problem ~  Stored minibooks are easily muddled and we waste time searching through them to complete the activity for that lesson, so this is a temporary storage.

Here are some other practical problems~

  • I paper-clipped the new minibooks together for each chapter, but the paper clips sometimes fall off.
  • Completed minibooks get muddled among the new minibooks, so I try store them separately.
  • So this is why the next step of pasting all the minibooks into the file folder before we start has saved us from lost and muddled minibooks and senseless time-wasting searches.

5.   IMPORTANT –  PASTE all the new minibooks in their file folders BEFORE you even start your lapbook!

  • Place the minibooks according to the recommended layout according to the instruction page, or according to sequence of the work.
  • The kids do an excellent job placing the minibooks on their own.  They shift and arrange the minibooks until they are happy with the layout.  A random layout has never been a problem.
  • They choose where they want to fix the extra cardboard flap or file folder if they need extra space.
  • We glue all the minibooks down.
  • This pasting stage gives the children an “overview” of the lapbook. They have a good idea of what they will cover.  It helps them find the correct minibook when I read or they research.
  • Note – When working on a lapbook and a child makes a complete mess of a minibook, simply cut out a paper to fit over the writing and cover the errors, if that is a concern for you or your child.  This has happened only once or twice in all our years of lapbooking.

6.  Duct tape the side of the lapbook and punch it if you want to store the lapbook in a ring-binder/ work file while you are working on the lapbook.

  • I love this method of storage.  It makes the lapbook part of our daily file work.
  • Trim the top of the file folders so that the lapbook to fit in the ringbinder/ file.  Check how we do this here.
  • When the lapbook is complete, it is easily filed with other lapbooks.
Duct tape on front of lapbook

Duct tape on front of lapbook

Fold over and stick duct tape to back of lapbook

Fold over and stick duct tape to back of lapbook creating a strip of folded duct tape

Punch holes into duct tape

Punch holes into the folded duct tape strip

7.  Now we are ready to start!

  • It only takes a moment to open the lapbook, glance over the minibook titles to find the current booklet.
  • The children can write in their minibooks and the job is complete.
  • Read Mom – Narration Scribe for ideas to help your young children write their narrations.
  • You’ll notice my young child copying over the pencil writing.  She had just started using cursive and wanted to master it in all her written work.  This made writing her narrations extra hard and slow, so I pencilled in her dictated narrations and she copied over it in pen. Boy, was she proud of her work!

There you have it – lapbooks quick and ready!

Hope this encourages you.  Lapbooks are the most fun activities in our homeschooling! 🙂

What tips do you have?

Blessings, Nadene

Dress Up ~ How to make a “boned” girl’s corset

We all know how young girls love to dress up!

For many years my girls have dressed up for “Olden Days” games

with  long skirts, calico pinafores and bonnets.

This year

I made them some “boned” corsets to wear  over their blouses or dresses.

To read the sewing tutorial click here ~ Boned” Girl Corset

Practice Art In The Frame

Children from about 9 to 12 years start to mature and reach

the “realistic age”.

At this stage they often feel disappointed about their art work.

(Read about Children talking about their art here.)

They want their art work to look realistic, and are often times are discouraged by this difficult task.  Therefore, they may discontinue expanding or practicing their art abilities.  It is important for any teacher or parent to intervene and encourage a self accepting attitude in the student.  They need to realize that they can still practice before they lose the desire altogether.  Unfortunately, many people remain in this stage through adulthood because they do not continue trying.  But that is where parents and teachers should step in with encouragement.  (artistshelpingchildren.org)

Many children express frustration,

give up

or even refuse to do art

when they feel that their art “doesn’t look right”.

Most formal art lessons will create stress.

We need to teach our children different techniques and expose them to different media in a non-threatening way..

With some quick activities, I  introduce children to these methods and media and help them learn new techniques.

  • To start,  I tell the children to draw a frame and write their names on the bottom of the blank page.
  • This immediately eliminates the fear of “messing” a pure white paper.

Draw a frame

  • To draw a wide frame,  I tell the children to hold the pencil between thumb and index finger, and point the pencil in to the page, extend the pencil tip further in to make the margin wider.
  • Then they drag their index finger along the side of the paper while pushing the pencil tip down on the paper to draw a fairly quick, straight line.

Making a wide frame

Now I use this frame to practice techniques.

  • Break the frame into several blocks.
  • In each block, we apply different artistic techniques or experiment with media that we will use later in the art lesson.
  • For example, if we sketch, I show them hatching examples.
  • Each block will have different hatching to create dark, medium and lighter tones  and different patterns for different texture.

Pencil shading from light to dark

Hatching and textures in the frame

Pen hatching for pen drawing

  • Or if we mix white and black paint to 1 colour to create shades and tones, we mix the paints and paint each block from light to pure colour to the darker shades.  We will use these shades and tones in the painting.
  • If we are using oil pastels, we practice mixing and blending colours on the margin.

Blending colours

  • They can try different scratch patterns on coloured oil pastel blocks with toothpick.

Blunt toothpick used for scratching patterns

  • We pretend that we are Beatrix Potter from the movie “Miss Potter” and use just blue watercolours and try make at least 8 different shades or tones of blue watercolour (like she did in the introduction to the movie.)
  • Children can practice painting with wet water paints on wet  paper versus painting on dry to see what changes.
  • Children can create patterns with felt-tipped pens.

These practice activities in the margin may take up a fair amount of time.

This is ok.

The more confidence the children feel working with new techniques and media before they start the real art work, the less stress and fear they experience.

Quite often the frame looks really lovely!

Children may want to repeat the activity all around the frame so it all looks the same.

Others “get it” and want to get on with the art work.

I let them begin if they want to.

With a few blocks and some practice, most children will do much more diverse art works.

For those who want to read up on art stages of development, here are some excellent resources:

Why would this information help?

Understanding the different art development stages, one has clearer expectations of each child’s abilities and can choose the most appropriate approach and art lesson for them.  Also, it helps one understand why children become stressed during their art lesson and we, as parents or teachers can help them.  Effective use of questions helps the struggling child to look at his art without giving up.

Try it and let me know if this helped!

How do I use the Art Era Timeline?

Here are some tips and practical ideas on how to use your downloaded Art Era Timelines.

Bind the downloads as an Art Book of the Centuries ~

Francesco Petrarca. Portrait belonging to the ...

Image via Wikipedia

I bound my printout and made a simple spiral bound book and we use it to reference our artist or art movement.

The book format works well if you  flip through the pages to find artist.  Your children may recognise the thumbnail of the work studied.  They will also notice other works of the same art style.

Your children may need to transfer the dates to a more formal timeline for clarity.

We use a Wall Chart ~

This is a wonderful method because the children can see in one glance, where and when events and eras took place in relation to other events in History.

P1070785

Timeline Wall Chart

I made this chart myself on the back of our Large World Map.  I divided the vertical space into the centuries from 5000 BC to 2000 AD and divided the lines across in decades.

My timeline zigzags to form a flowing timeline.

I coloured some of the timeline eras in different colours; the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution etc.

Also, because I covered the wall chart in packaging tape to protect it, we write details on our wall chart with coloured white board markers.

This is how we use our Art Era Timeline on the Wall Chart:

  • We write the artist’s name and birthdate and stick the picture of the artist or the thumbnail of his most famous works on the timeline.
  • We use a different colour for different art eras and mark off all the years that the art movement occurred.
  • We only update the timeline once a week, or even less.  I find it helpful for an introduction to an artist.
  • The kids look for the year and write the name of the artist above his biographic dates.
  • It is also a good way of concluding a study.  When we have finished studying an artist, we update the timeline and see how his works fit into an era.

As you can see, the chart does get crowded.  This is the only disadvantage of a smaller scale wall chart.

Here you can see the timeline figures I use ~

P1070789

Timeline Figures

These came with my first kindergarten Sonlight purchase. They did not come with all the artists we have studied. We make/ draw/ download pictures of famous artists for the timeline.

I coloured the edges of my figures to help distinguish between the different history cores I was using.

You could use this system to highlight Art figures ( highlighted in 1 colour) different from Notable People (edged in another colour), History (edged in another colour),  from Inventions (a 3rd colour) or Wars (a 4th colour).

At the end of our year we play games and use our timeline figures for  review:

  • group the figures according to categories (discoverers, artists, Bible characters)
  • quiz – give 2 facts for each figure
  • arrange 3/5 figures in time order

Here is our Book of Centuries Timeline ~

P1070520

Book Of Centuries Time time

We used this timeline method while we were travelling and I could not display our timeline chart in our school room.

Each child pastes in their pictures or information and uses the blank page to write more information.

It is a very personal timeline.  Each child adds to their Book of Centuries and it becomes a rich historical resource.

An adolescent needs to start a new Book of Centuries as they sometimes become critical of earlier entries.  They need a blank book to map and record their more mature insights and intellectual understanding.

There are some excellent Book of Centuries with sections devoted to different themes on each page.

This is more appropriate for older students.  Young children sometimes cannot “see” the full picture and how their details fit into the larger scheme of time.

In the same way as explained above, add the names, biographies, thumbnails, pictures and information of the artists or art movements on the relevant pages.  This method offers much more space and so your children can fill more information on the page than on the wall chart.

And lastly, you could make a continuous Timeline Strip ~

I don’t have my first strip timeline photographed, but I used a looooooong strip of sturdy paper, divided into all the centuries and pasted this all around the room at the top of our school room wall.

This was a fantastic method!  The children could see exactly where and when historical events occurred.

It was easy to refer to Biblical eras and see how long ago these events took place.  Also,there were several eras when lots of new events, inventions and changes took place in very short space of time.  This was easy to see during the Renaissance or in the late 18th Century. This cluster could be expanded by making the timeline strip wider to accommodate all the figures and information.

One disadvantage is that the children can’t write or paste items on the wall strip because it is a struggle to climb up to reach the timeline.

You can read more here about our history timeline.

Simply Charlotte Mason have a Book of Centuries pictured and described here and a free pdf download here.

Heart of the Matter offers simple directions on how to make a time line here.

Heather made a free Book of Centuries template download.  (You need to write your own years in on the top of the pages.)

And, of course, please visit my Free Pages to make sure you have downloaded all the free stuff! 🙂

Sniff and find your baby!

Batty about bats!

We have finished reading about bats in our Exploring Creation with Zoology 1:  Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day by Jeannie K. Fulbright.

We learnt some incredible facts about bats ~

  • Bats have a muscle in their ears that closes when they emit their high pitch squeak for echolocation that prevents the bats becoming deaf from their own call.
  • Bats hang upside down without the use of muscles.  Tendons are specially created to close and hold the weight of the bat without it becoming tired.
  • A mother bat can find her baby pup among the millions of other baby bats by scent and sound.

And this last amazing fact brought us to this activity ~

A scent experiment!

I created 20 different scents on cotton wool pads.

Here’s what I used to create different scents:

  • mouth wash
  • make-up remover
  • perfume
  • deodorant spray
  • essential oils – lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, rose, lemon grass
  • lemon juice
  • fruit juice
  • apple cider vinegar
  • baking essences – vanilla, caramel, strawberry, almond, peppermint
  • laundry softener
  • ammonia household cleaner
  • furniture polish
  • condiments & sauces
  • spices – cinnamon, ginger, cloves

We sniffed each pad and the kids guessed what I had used.

Then I blindfolded each child, let them choose 1 pad and name the scent and place it back on the tray with all the other scent pads.

I used tongs (so the scent wouldn’t rub off on my fingers and confuse them) and placed the pad near their noses.

Sniff! Sniff! Think … remember … name it, try again …

And then they found their scent!

Each child showed a remarkable response to the scents when they found their “baby”.

Yes! This is mine!

It  is amazing to see how powerfully our emotions are connected to smells.   Our brains respond to scent and connect it to so many other memories. It is a powerful tool.

How often do we use all our senses to learn or remember or express ourselves?

The girls wrote narrations in their notebooking pages and minibooks.

Our notebooking pages are free from Jeannie Fulbright.

We downloaded our minibooks for our lapbook from CurrClick.com.

You can find more information on Science Notebooking at Jimmie’s Squidoo lens.

“Shrektacular” Shrek Party Ideas!

We recently created a wonderful Shrek theme party for my 8-year-old.

Can't wait to decorate the Shrek cake

My children and I love planning a party!  We brainstormed our menu, games and activities, decor and party craft.

We love painting the decor and creating a craft kit or gift for the party favour. (I don’t believe in sending home a bag of sweets.)

It is much more fun to let the children create and decorate the party cake!  This has relieved me of the burden of creating the “perfect party cake” (and mine always look very wonky!)

(Don’t you agree that a large cake is wasted on little children – I’ve maintained that I might as well ice and decorate a shaped piece of polystyrene because the kids just pull off the sweets and strip the icing and leave the cake!)

We had to take our party to my Mom-In-Law’s house, so about 3 days before our party we  began our party preparations and…

  • Made Masks for decor and a charade game ~click here for a pdf download ~ Shrek Party Masks

  • Princess Fiona

    Donkey

    Shrek

    Fairy Godmother

    Puss In Boots

    And many more ….

  • I created a Shrek File Folder Game.

(I will share  more about that when I’ve uploaded the game.  Included with this are character cards and charades cards. I hope to share this on File Folder Fun, so I’ll share this with you later. 😉 )

  • Created lovely, edible cake decorations with marshmallow paste for a Shrek Swamp Cake.

Moulding a flower on icing sugar

Toadstools, lily pads, lilies, butterflies and dragonflies

Here’s the recipe for Marshmallow Paste:

15 White Marshmallows

100g sifted Icing Sugar

Food Colouring

Corn flour/ Icing sugar

  • Melt the marshmallows in a bowl in the microwave, stirring every 10 seconds.
  • Add the icing sugar to the melted marshmallows and mix till it forms a paste. (Heat again if it becomes too cool and stiff.)
  • Divide into several small balls and colour each ball separately, leaving 1 ball separate for white.
  • To colour – place the ball on a plate in the microwave for 20 sec and knead a few drops of food colouring into the hot paste. (Caution – it gets very hot!  Do NOT use your fingers – I used a table knife and pressed the flat side into the ball and kneaded it on a little sprinkle of icing sugar till the colour was right through.)
  • When the pastes gets hard, just warm it quickly in the microwave for about 10 secs and then create your shapes.
  • If the paste gets sticky use a little sprinkle of corn flour or icing sugar to reduce the stickiness.
  • Different pieces will stick together if it is warm.  Add sprinkles or silver balls for detail when the paste is warm.
  • Although this is completely edible, it is not that delicious. (smile)

We baked a large, flat chocolate cake.

I made Rice Crispies Marshmallow biscuits to use to build Shrek’s house.  We bought wafer biscuits for the ‘outhouse’, windows and doors.  We decorated lollipops and pasted paper sunflowers on the wrappers.  I bought a packet of chocolate discs for a stepping stone path.  We used Flaky chocolates for logs. We baked and decorated Gingerbread men with jelly tot buttons.

At the start of the party the children decorated the cake:

Chocolate cake with Rice Crispie Biscuit Shrek House

Adding Decorations

Excited ~ almost all done!

The Shrektacular Cake!

(The delicious chocolate cake recipe, the biscuit recipe and other ideas are in the pdf. download at the end of this post.)

And the party itself was a Shrektacular!

We lit the candles and sang “Happy Birthday” and then the gorgeous cake was stripped!  ~ just I had planned!

Play Pin the Donkey:

This is an old favourite, but it was a delightful success and everyone’s ‘mis-placed’ tails looked so funny!

Pin the Donkey's Tail

With some fast dance music from Shrek, we played Lily Pad Hop.  It is another easy version of musical chairs, but we used green paper plates as ‘lily pads’.

Who will sit on the last Lily Pad?

We played Fairy Godmother Freezes to music.  The child that moved after the music stopped is out and they then suggest the next movement everyone had to copy and stop when the music stopped.

Outside we played a Shrek version of tag with Dragon Escape!

While outside, each person used their bubble stuff to blow and catch bubbles.

We played our board game, played charades with the masks and played catch and Piggy in the Middle with balloons.

We giggled and enjoyed Princess’ Thimble where each child holds a straw in their mouth and pass the thimble along.

Princess' Thimble

I downloaded and printed a wide variety of Shrek colouring-in pages and everyone left with these, their bubble stuff and a mask.

I found awesome, inspiring party ideas at  kids-birthday-party-guide.com.

You can download my ideas, recipes, game instructions, activities, images and ideas here ~ Shrek Party