As the days get colder and rainier, we naturally spend more time indoors with our children. So if you need some inspiration for indoor entertainment, here's a book that will give you that and more.
Custard and Crayons is very different to any arts and crafts books for families I've seen. It's a month by month encyclopedia showing how various cultures mark the year. It includes decorations, recipes and craft projects to suit every day of the year.
It's created by two mums, and narrated by their kids Polly and Jago. The projects and recipes are satisfyingly simple, and designed to be completed using every day objects you might find around the home. So if you're not really a naturally arty person and need some ideas to get you going, you'll find them in abundance here. Older children could probably do the projects independently, and would enjoy reading all the facts and legends about many worldwide cultures.
As a taster, here are some ideas for Autumn and half term from the book's co-author, Jo Vestey:
Autumn has to be our favourite time of year - Polly and Jago try and get out and jump in the leaves, searching for conkers, blackberries and the best and biggest leaves!
1 - Why don't you choose some lovely shaped leaves to take home - big horse chestnut ones are perfect, to do some leaf rubbing with. Simply put them on the table, place a piece of paper over the top and rub over the leaves with a crayon.
2 - St Crispin's day is 25th October (middle of half term week) - he was the patron saint of shoemakers - you could encourage your little ones to set up a little shoe cleaning stand for friends and family and charge them 10p a shine. Gather up a selection of old cloths, old newspapers and tins of polish and shine away!
3 – There are loads of great Halloweeny things to do such as choosing a pumpkin and carving faces into it. Draw a face on first and then start by cutting the top off, when there is a lid lift it off and start to scoop out the seeds. Then begin cutting out the face, put a little tea light candle in the bottom of the pumpkin and then pop the lid back on.
3a - Polly and Jago are massive fans of apple bobbing and Jaffa cake races - put a hole in the Jaffa cake and tie a piece of string through it, hang them at nose height for each child and get them to try and eat without using their hands! For the apples simply fill a tub with water and drop in a few apples - sure to bring hysterics and squeals of delight.
4 - You could try one ongoing craft project for the week too - perhaps making an enormous rocket (in honour of fireworks night). Polly and Jago used card and paper, coloured pens, paint, sticky stars, tissue paper, glue sticky tape, glitter and scissors but you could use all sorts of things - theirs was as big as Chloe, Jago's little sister!
They made a big cylinder with thick card and then a stand for it which looked a bit like a launch pad slotting 2 pieces of card together to make a cross. They made a cone for the nose of the rocket by cutting a semi-circle of card and bending it around until the 2 straight sides met and then using sticky tape to hold together - there was a lot of painting and sticking on of things, drawing portholes with astronauts, adding fiery streamers to the bottom before lightly dusting the whole thing in glitter (moon dust)!
Custard and Crayons with Polly and Jago by Sarah Rowden and Joanna Vestey is out now and available here from Amazon