This tea party craft for kids is such a fun, hands-on project for parties or bigger groups.
It is open-ended and involves using lots of different materials. Total winner for all ages!
In 2019, I ran the Kid’s Crafty Corner at the Sydney Tea Festival.
These tea party small worlds kept the crowds of creative kids engaged and entertained.
This crowd-pleaser was originally inspired by these Under the Sea sculptures by my friend, Arielle at Art Camp LA.
Here is what you’ll need for this tea party craft for kids….
I set up a smorgasboard of craft materials featuring:
Paper straws and toothpicks
Sprigs of rosemary
Flowers and gumnuts
I greeted all mini-makers with the prompt of “What materials can you use to create a mini tea party?”
* To colour pasta, place dry pasta in a ziplock bag. Add a few drops of food colouring into the bag. Squeeze in a few drops of hand sanitiser. (You don’t want to soak the pasta.) Zip the bag up and massage the liquid through the bag. Once it is evenly dispersed, pour the pasta out onto basking paper and allow to dry.
Each mini-maker was given a paper plate and a ball of play dough to start.
(You can find my fave play dough recipe here. I substituted the vegetable oil with coconut oil.)
Then the little creatives were let loose on the smorgasboard and they collected their materials. I adore how every tea party is so unique. When they presented their tea parties to me, I asked them something along the lines of “Tell me- what is happening at your tea party?”
I love how each tea party feels a bit like a Dr Seuss world.
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What even is book-based play?
Somebody recently asked me about my beliefs and values.
It was a rather hard-hitting question for my sleep-deprived soul, and one that should probably only be answered after at least two morning coffees.
Somewhere in amongst all the umm-ing and aah-ing, I replied “I believe that reading is as important as breathing.”
Especially for children.
Reading aloud to and with children brings a crazy array of benefits.
Letter and sound awareness. Increased vocabulary. Helping little minds make sense of the world. Imagination development.
The list goes on. And on. And on.
If you want to take things to the next level, encouraging book-based play will do just that.
How to encourage book-based play at yours!
What in the holy bananas is book-based play?
It’s when you create play and learning opportunities that take things beyond the book.
These experiences deepen understandings of story and character and help little people make meaning of the texts they have read.
So here you go.
A poster summarising how I encourage book-based play at my place.
Print it out. Hang it somewhere. Hand it to friends.
Be like “that” preacher at Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, and preach!
It’s as important as breathing, people.
Let me walk you through it with a bit more detail.
1. Read a book
This seems like an obvious place to start. So don’t miss this step. It’s probably the most vital step in the whole process.
Let your child have ownership over the process and ask them to choose a book to share together. And you don’t have to be a thespian. I know that some people feel a bit silly reading aloud. You don’t have to worry about putting on a voice for each character. Just read the book!
As I read, I tune in for the main themes or symbols. If you don’t feel confident doing this on the spot with your child, I encourage you to choose a few books and have a go sans child. It goes against my advice in Step 1 of letting your child choose the book- but better to build your confidence in this process first!
For example: Spirit is a tale of a girl who makes a toy boat and experiments with sailing it in different places. It explores the themes of resilience and rising above frustrations.
3. How can you playfully extend the book’s themes or symbols?
Could you set up a Small World? Make some puppets out of paper bags to retell the story? Anything goes at this step!
For example: With Spirit, it was pretty easy- “Hey, guys- who wants to try and make their own boat?”
4. Create and Play
This step will obviously vary based upon what activity you choose to do.
During this step, I also try and tune in for the Teachable Moments.
Model vocabulary used in the books.
Use open-ended questions to ask your young reader about their thoughts on characters and plot.
For example: We gathered our recyclables and began a Design and Make process. What materials will sink? Which will float? What shape will your sail be? How will we keep the mast upright? Hypothesising. Predicting. Experimenting. OH EM GEE DO YOU SEE ALL THE LEARNING AND RICH VOCAB HAPPENING HERE?? Teacher-Nerd-Happy-Dance
Boat-making led to some frustrations- “it won’t stand up.” “It’s not what I want.” HELLO TEACHABLE MOMENTS! We related our frustrations back to the frustrations of the main character.
5. Gather and Keep Exploring
I then try and gather a few books on the same topic/ themes and leave them out so we can keep discussing and exploring. And so the cycle begins again.
NB- I obviously don’t do this for every.single.book we read. Once you start though, you begin to see the possibilities everywhere!
Pin for later to encourage book-based play at yours:
This is a sponsored post with Cheeky Little Media. You can read my disclaimer here. Thanks for your support.
My husband works in animation. Many years ago, he worked at a seriously cool creative studio where they were developing a concept for a kids TV show.
That show became Kazoops!
Now every time it comes on, my husband and I shout “Daddy used to work with the people that created this show!”
Our kids generally respond with something along the lines of “SHHH! KAZOOPS IS ON!”
It has been seriously cool to watch Kazoops! take the world by storm.
The show revolves around an inquisitive and imaginative boy called Monty. Each episode sees Monty confront a preconception about the world, imposed on him by an adult.
By asking “Why?” and “What if?” Monty embarks on a wild imaginative adventure with his pet pig Jimmy Jones.
Each episode contains a unique soudtrack, developed specifically for the themes explored in that particular episode. The music is exceptionally rad.
To celebrate the release of the Kazoops! toy range, I’ve chanelled my inner-Monty and am sharing 6 ways to encourage imaginative play with your littles.
As Monty explains, “things could always be different if you just imagine….”
Thanks to the team at Cheeky Little Monkeys, I’m also giving away a set of Kazoops! figurines valued at $100 RRP. (All the ones pictured.)
1. Small world play
What is a small world?
A small world is simply a miniature play scene set up with objects and toys from around the house. Above you can see a fairy-garden small world, a sailing small world and a dinosaur garden.
You can read more about some of our small world set-ups here.
How do I set up a small world?
Most small worlds are thematically developed and follow a child’s interests. If your child is enamoured with animals, how about a farm or zoo small world? Pirate lover? What about a sea-themed small world?
So decide on a theme and then collect toys and objects that fit in with the theme. Set your small world up within a tub, container or planter box.
Small worlds encourage story-telling, vocabulary development and oodles of imaginative play whilst encouraging children to develop their understanding of the world around them.
The one below incorporated sensory play and fine motor practice. Inspired by my friend Kristian, I filled a tray with baking soda, pom poms, pipecleaners and beads to create a Winter Wonderland small world. I also provided pipettes and water so that the kids could add it to the baking soda to create snowmen (Thanks for that idea, @raising.kinley!)
2. Bow down to the humble old cardboard box
You know the old joke about why bother buying toys for kids when they just play with the box anyway?
The humble old cardboard box is basically the greatest imaginative invention ever.
At the moment, every time a box enters our house it beomes a boat. Transport is BIG here at the moment.
Above you can see some ways we’ve coupled our imagination with cardboard boxes.
We created a colour-coding posting game (back when the eldest was obsessed with post boxes.)
We’ve created a garage for all the toy cars., a stove top for the play kitchen and a birthday cake for some role play.
3. What could this become?
Similar to the way that most cardboard boxes are reused here, we play a game called “What Could This Become?” with our recyclables bin.
We wonder. And imagine. Then we create.
An egg carton coupled with cardboard tubes becomes a cityscape.
Paper tubes from the aluminium foil become binoculars.
A plastic berry basket becomes a weaving frame for a spider web.
It is always rad to see what the kids come up with.
4. Loose part play
Providing children with loose parts, be they natural or synthetic, promotes open-ended play.
When play is open-ended, this is where the imaginative and creative magic happens.
I used a book about birds to invite loose part play with playdough, sparkly doo-dads and feathers. Many fine-feathered friends emerged.
Another time, I set out sponges and more loose parts. As a result, I was treated to some delectable cakes.
5. Never underestimate the power of the pencil…
…or the power of the crayon. Or marker.
A piece of paper and something to draw with is a simple way to invite children to use their imaginations.
The dialogue that goes along with drawing provides a perfect route for children to develop fictional characters and landscapes.
“Tell me about your drawing” is a simple prompt to get an insight into your child’s imagination.
Another game we enjoy playing here is when one person draws a shape or line. They then pass the paper to another person who has to turn the squiggle into a drawing. Always a guaranteed laugh.
6. Open-ended creative prompts
Setting up art materials and inviting your children to create is another playful way to encourage imagination.
The first invitation above involved some dried leaves, paper and chalk pastels.
The emphasis is on the process and not the product.
The second example above involved process and product.
We squirted liquid watercolours onto colour diffusing paper.
I then cut the artwork into different shapes and created a Make-a-Monster activity.
Each monster created was unique and came with an imaginative back story.
The Kazoops! characters have been brought to life in a range of plastic figurines from TOMY and are available from Toys “R” Us.
Just in time for Christmas for the Kazoops!-loving kid!
Thanks to the awesome-sauce people at Cheeky Little Media, I have a set to giveaway. RRP $100.
If you are not on Instagram, you can leave your comment on this blog post.
Enter by completing the sentence…. “Just imagine if….”
Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you are the winner!
Ts & Cs
Open to Australian addresses only.
This is a game of skill. To be eligible you must complete the sentence.
Competition opens Tuesday 5th December 2017
Competition closes Sunday 10th December 8pm Sydney AEST 2017
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Spring has sprung and I just want to fill my house with all. the. flowers.
And then I remember that a) I live in the inner-city b) we have a small backyard that doesn’t produce many floral delights and c) I’m too tight to spend money on flowers.
So paper flowers will have to fill the void! These are also the perfect bouquet for any hayfever sufferers out there. (more…)
Um, I’m sorry. Wasn’t it just Christmas?
How exactly do we find ourselves in February?
(Incidentally, today I finished the very last of the “Christmas chocolates.” Hurrah!)
January was a whirlwind.
Here are the perfectly imperfect creative adventures that happened here in the first month of 2016.