Ten Charlie and the Chocolate Factory activities for younger children

This post was originally published in November 2015. It reappears here in collaboration with million eyez.

We’ve just finished a happy romp through the wonderfully bizarre world of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Having realised from page one that this chapter book was going to be a hit, I gathered a few ideas for activities we could try alongside it. For my four-year-old, it was delightful to dig deeper into the experience of the story. For my 21-month-old, it meant she didn’t keep trying to pull the book out of my hand or take me some place else.

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Make a family tree
The book opens by orderly naming the people in Charlie Bucket’s family. I’d been wanting to do a family tree for a while so we took the opportunity to print out photos, cut and stick them and draw lines to show relationships. I helped Talitha with ours but she went on later on to draw Charlie Bucket’s family tree on her own.

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Sweetie Swoop game
We’ve been having fun with the whole sweetie theme by playing a board game called Sweetie Swoop which Talitha got for her birthday this year. It nicely accompanies chapter 11 where he goes into the sweet shop. It’s such fun. In general board games and card games are a brilliantly easy way to develop maths skills while doing something together that we both enjoy.

Drink hot chocolate
When you finally make it inside the chocolate factory, meeting the chocolate river calls for a drink. Preferably one offered in a cup by Mr Willy Wonka and not risking falling in!

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Make playdough sweets
Most of the time we read, we got out the playdough. Talitha made playdough sweets and both girls generally had fun squishing and making while listening to the story.


The Inventing Room
This was an idea I came across on The Imagination Tree when looking for birthday party ideas. I put together an “inventing room” the night before which was the source of much excitement and creativity. I wish I’d taken more pictures because she got the stapler out and put together some 3D sweets later in the day.

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Make real sweets
Of course, who can read about all these amazing sweets and not want to munch something sweet. Better yet, make some! We tied this in with learning about Diwali by making coconut barfi. They were too sweet for the girls, though, so I wonder if we should have gone for biscuits in sweetie shapes instead.

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Play with fizz
All the experimentation you observe in the Mr Willy Wonka’s factory certainly tickles the imagination. The science fiction elements of this book are the bits that shine brightest. Talitha was quite taken with the fizzy lifting drinks that make you float upwards unless you burp to come down again. Inspired by this fizzy fun experiment, we got the muffin tin out and had a messy go (should have put a tray underneath as suggested in that post, mind!).

Here are few more ideas I came across but we didn’t get around to:

Make lickable wallpaper
Pipe cleaner lollipop craft
Chocolate play dough recipe

Do follow my Learning to Love Words board on Pinterest:

Follow Adele’s board Learning to Love Words on Pinterest.

I’d love if we could share our ideas on how to help kids get into books and this million eyez Photobox offers the perfect medium. With million eyez you can start a photo box in a topic to receive authentic photos you can’t find, just as I’m hoping to do here, curating, communicating and organising to cleverly crowd source what you need. Just upload your photo of your literary kids activity, whether it’s a dress up, craft, baking, creative writing prompt or invitation to play. Let’s inspire each other!

via million eyez

If you’re a blogger, you can also enter million eyez’s amazing giveaway to win your own Olypus PEN camera here!

Summer Crafts: CD Suncatchers #CollectiveBias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias

I tried to get some bigger crafts and activities with kids in before the baby came and life inevitably slowed right down and got that bit more chaotic. As it turned out, we managed this windchime made of CD suncatchers literally just before the day Delilah was born.

As in, we started it on the due date, finished it on 40+1, I went into labour that night and she was born the next morning! I wrote the birth story that night so once I’ve reflected, talked it over with Laurence and edited it, I’ll share that here too.

cd suncatcher wind chimes - hobbycraft

Summer is all about making the most of the light. CDs are particularly effective for catching it and what I found was that their size allowed the girls to feel like they completing lots of little projects. So rather than getting bogged down in a large craft, they were keen to do another and another and another, which was particularly useful because we needed to do both sides for our chimes. It’s an ideal summer craft for families, really.

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First we went to our local Hobbycraft to get supplies. I’d forgot what fun it is in there and what good value everything is.

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I’ll need to make my way back there soon as I want to try tie-dyeing and Talitha wants to get some knitting things. Going there together meant the girls could help me choose what materials they wanted to use, giving them shared ownership of the project.

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Here’s what we used:
Music CDs for stripping
Blank DVD-Rs (blank CDs are fine too)
Dimensional fabric paint
Embroidery hoop
Indoor/Outdoor Multi-surface paint
Craft buttons
Embroidery thread
Permanent marker
PVA glue or hot glue
Glitter pony beads

Here’s what we did:

We used a couple of bases in this craft. I stripped a some CDs by making a scratch and taking the labels off with tape so they’d be clear and fully let the light through. The others were actually DVD-Rs we had hanging about that are never going to get used. Though they weren’t clear, they are reflective so catch the light in a different way.

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We picked up dimensional fabric paint in Hobbycraft’s sewing section. Using a permanent marker, we drew mandala patterns on the CDs and traced the patterns with the fabric paint.

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I was really unsure about what Talitha would make of such a tricky medium but she got the hang of it in no time. We left the patterns to dry overnight then painted them the next day using indoor/outdoor multi-surface paint.

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Others, we painted directly without any outline.

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For yet others, we stuck buttons on with PVA glue. This worked fine for mine but I should have encouraged the kids to put more glue on theirs as we needed to restick. An alternative would be to use hot glue as the result is immediate and it gives you more options in terms of where you put your finished piece.

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We decorated both sides and once everything was dry, I threaded the CDs with embroidery thread and tied them on to the embroidery hoop at varying lengths, adding glitter pony beads at the top of each CD. I also added a couple of lengths of thread to create a handle for the hoop to hang. Now it’s up in our livingroom making everything extra cheerful.

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What do you think? Also, do you have any summer crafts in the pipeline? Anything super easy but effective I might attempt with my big girls with a newborn in tow?

Make a matchbox trinket box

While I love getting my teeth stuck into bigger craft projects – I have a few on the go at the moment – there’s something surprisingly satisfying about quick projects that yield great effect with little effort.

Make a matchbox trinket box

So when Harveys Furniture sent me a few swatches from their sofas range with the challenge to use the fabric to craft a home accessory. I’m a sucker for little boxes so decided to quickly decorate a matchbox fit to hold the odd trinket. They have a fun quiz at the moment to find your “shape” with Sofas by You. I unsurprisingly got “comfort”!

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You’ll need:
A matchbox
A pair of pinking shears
Glue gun with glue stick

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Stick the fabric to each side of the matchbox. Do the same on the other side.

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Cut off any excess with pinking shears and repeat on the uncovered side. Le voila! A cute, handy little box for storing pins, jewellery or any other little bits you want to give a sweet home to live.

Matchbox trinket box

Brought to you by Harveys Furniture.

Lucky fish – Chinese New Year craft

Last year when Talitha was three-and-a-half, she and I really got into Chinese New Year with lots of reading, looking and videos and, of course, crafting.

Fish appear a lot in Chinese New Year iconography as symbols of good luck. So, this lucky fish craft fit right in with our Chinese New Year wall display on the go (we need to start this year’s!) and worked those fine motor skills too.

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We used:
a red paper plate
a marker
stick on eyes
glue pen
gold glitter
hole punch
pipe cleaners
a small measure of gold rick rack
a red rectangle of card (for the “luck” symbol)

What we did:
I wrote the “luck” symbol on the card and let Talitha trace it with glue pen and sprinkle glitter on top (obviously they can do it all if they’re old enough).

I drew a fish shape onto the paper plate (including the mouth) and she cut it out. She struggled a bit with this so she did some and I did some. She’d be fine with it this year, though. She drew scales, traced them with glue and added glitter, and stuck on the eyes.

Chinese New Year craft - Lucky Fish

I punched holes into the tail and she threaded the pipe cleaners through, twisting each one. I helped when she tired of twisting.

I used glue to stick the “luck” symbol to the rick rack and the rick rack to the fish.

Lucky Fish Craft - Chinese New Year

Good luck. 🙂

What I wore – Lori & Lumps Lace cowl

This cowl has pretty much made the season for me. My friend Tash crocheted it and it’s a real testament to her craftsmanship, quirky personality and joyful dedication. She recently launched her crochet business Lori & Lumps Lace and there is lusting a-plenty to be had over the collection there.

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There are dragon shawls, swirling scarves, children’s cardigans, mermaid tails and much more, all exhibiting her careful stitching and beadwork. Many of her pieces are made from beautifully hand-dyed merino yarn.

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You can probably tell I’ve been drooling over her shop for a while! I kept saying that I would buy something and I finally have. I’ve ordered two of her My Little Pony hats for the girls for Christmas. Talitha, for some reason, has decided that Coconut Cream is her favourite and I couldn’t resist choosing Rainbow Dash for Ophelia.

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In the meantime, this beautiful, crazy cowl is brightening these chilly, grey days and garnering lots of compliments. She’s named it her “Serendipity Cowl” as it was the product of a happy accident! From the moment I saw it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it! I was actually planning to buy it but she ended up offering it to me for the purpose of this review.

Her prices are extremely accessible (the cowl is valued at £29), especially when you consider how much work goes into each piece. I love giving gifts that are handmade, added bonus if it means supporting an independent business. So as our thoughts turn towards Christmas *hint hint*, I suggest you take a look here.

Milk bottle cap hot air balloons

With hot air balloons fresh in our minds from the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, I wanted to do a craft with Talitha featuring them. We always have lots of recycling objects around so I grabbed a few milk bottle caps and we got going.

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Milk bottle cap hot air balloons

We used:
Blue card
Milk bottle caps
PVA glue
Glitter glue pens
A toilet roll tube
A dark felt tip pen
Polystyrene packaging chips

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What we did:
Spread LOADS of glue on the bottle caps and stick them to your card. Talitha did her own, I helped Ophelia. Cut the tube into little rectangles for the basket and stick them on. Decorate the balloons with glitter pens. Stick on the chips for clouds and draw in some details with your pen.

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Talitha wanted to do another scene using green card to show hot air balloons that haven’t taken off yet so she drew some people too.

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Even Ophelia had a go. I put glue on the paper and gave her stuff to stick on it. I’d have let her do the glue herself but I could only find one spreader and it was causing a bit of a sharing issue! Once distracted with sticking the clouds she was OK.

Hama Beads

While Talitha napped (!) one day, I fancied doing something fun with the time instead of stealing an opportunity to wash dishes/hoover/do a million other things I probably should be doing. So I got out a set of Hama Beads sent to me by CraftMerrily.

Creating with Hama Beads involves following a pattern by placing beads on a board. In this case, the beads were so tiny I used a pair of tweezers to place the beads. It’s kind of like cross stitch, without the stress of having to rip thread out if you make a mistake – which I did.

Of course you’ve also got to be careful not to tip over the design or you’ll have to start again, which I also did. Thank you, pussycat.

I think the fact that I even contemplated doing this shows that at almost five months, life with the baby is beginning to settle. Kind of. At the very least, I’m regaining enough mental space to count and tell colours apart – not skills to be sniffed at.

This is what I got done in the first sleep cycle:

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