Wooden bead and pipecleaner peg dolls for dollhouses

queen and baby IMG_8224After making our new dolls house furniture and our shoe box dolls houses, we needed some dolls to enjoy them. These examples are cheap and very easy to make and with a few simple materials, you can put together a whole family in a very short time. A glue gun really is necessary to ensure that the beads do not slide off again, although you may find a craft glue that would do the job.yellow mum and baby IMG_8226

For one doll you will need:

  • 1 long pipecleaner (or 2 regular pipecleaners)
  • 2 small beads for the hands and 2 larger beads for the feet
  • 1 large wooden bead for the head
  • hair of some kind (wool, lamp shade trim – see pic above)
  • scraps of fabric, felt, lace and other bibs and bobs for clothes

how to make a man IMG_8235Method:

  1. Cut your extra long pipe cleaner into 2 pieces; with a ratio of approximately one third to two thirds.
  2. Bend the smaller piece in half and twist the centre to secure. The centre becomes the neck so leave enough to glue the head onto later.
  3. Bend the larger piece in half and slide the neck of the smaller piece through the centre and twist to secure – this should give you a headless pipecleaner man shape (See pipecleaners above.) Give the body a few gentle twists and leave the legs free and open.mum and green baby IMG_8229
  4. Decide on your clothing. For men I folded the felt in half and cut wide pants, leaving the top joined with only a small hole to poke the pipecleaner body through. Shirts are made the same way – fold a piece of felt in half and cut the sleeves and shirt shape, leaving the top attached. Bend over to snip a small hole just big enough for the neck of the pipecleaners to stick through. mums and babies all IMG_8231
  5. For the ladies, I cut a full circle with a tiny hole in the middle for skirts and a V-shaped top with a small hole for the neck, leaving it joined along the top (As for the men’s shirts.)
  6. Put the pipe cleaner bodies into your clothes and hot glue them on.
  7. Glue on the bead hands, feet and heads.
  8. Add hair and any other fashion accessories you desire!

making babies all bits IMG_8222

I found the idea for the babies here. They are made using a similar method, with a small piece of wadding needed to stuff the sleeping bags. The head beads need to be the kind that are only partly drilled – that is the hole does not go all the way through. Otherwise, you will need to give your baby a beanie or something similar to cover the hole!

  1. Bend a short piece of pipecleaner in half and twist for the neck.
  2. Fold a piece of felt in half and cut the shoulders and sleeping bag shape, leaving the top joined.
  3. Cut a small hole to slide the neck of the pipecleaner through.
  4. Glue on the head and hand beads and down the sides of the sleeping bag, leaving an opening to stuff it with.
  5. Push the stuffing inside and glue the hole shut. Of course, you could sew these if you prefer. men on couch IMG_8266

You could make the dolls without faces to allow greater imaginative play scope (they are not stuck being “happy” all the time!) but my girls were adamant they wanted faces and in the end I gave in! I find that they are not constrained by the face I have drawn anyway.


Dolls houses in a shoebox

G's shoebox dolls house IMG_8279

Dolls houses in a shoebox are a wonderful travel activity, take away toy for holidays, table activity, quiet time or room play idea or highchair activity for younger children. They are very portable,  simple to make (these examples were created by my 5 1/2 and 8-year-old daughters) and the possibilities for open-ended imaginative play are endless. We will be making them with a group of girls for our 8 year old’s birthday party next month and with a little bit of preparation, they will be an easy craft to engage a group of young ladies for a couple of hours.c's shoebox dolls house IMG_8272

I will be adding some miniature food (novelty erasers from a discount variety store) plus a couple of ceramic ornaments to use in their little houses and the girls will create the furniture, make wooden peg doll babies (instructions in my next post) and decorate their rooms.mini dolls house furniture IMG_8275

The furniture is made from balsa wood hot glued together with beads for legs and felt pieces for cushions. We cut up cheap plastic bead necklaces to decorate the top of the chairs. A jar lid glued to a plastic shot glass and covered with a circle of fabric and ribbon forms the table. The mirror is a piece of CD surrounded by beads and glued to two shells as the base. The lamp is a small craft stick with a large wooden bead on top and a circle of card cut to form the lamp shade. It stands in a wooden circle that came with the sticks.

A printed clock face glued to a plastic disk, plus some old tiles from a board game with miniature photos inside, decorate the walls. Photos and magazine pictures of outdoor scenes give our rooms a view.mini dolls house furniture bottoms IMG_8278The girls were able to wall-paper and “carpet” their boxes, plus put together all the contents in a couple of hours and with a little more preparation our party guests should be able to complete theirs in an hour and a half.

Lots of fun for all ages and a lovely gift for any little girl.

Other posts you may like:

Wooden clothes peg dolls house furniture

My next post (still to come) on simple peg dolls from pipecleaners and wooden beads.

Wooden clothes-peg dolls house furniture

people around peg table IMG_8254I have had a great time creating a set of wooden clothes-peg furniture for a child’s dolls house this week. After searching the web for designs I combined pegs, popsicle sticks (coffee stirrers), large popsticks (tongue depressors), wooden blocks from a Jenga game and some colourful felt to create the furniture in these pictures. A hot glue gun made the job super fast and my 10-year-old son even made the table and helped with a couple of the other items.table chair back IMG_8258

I have included back and side view photos to make it easier to copy the designs if you would like to. table chairs upside down IMG_8257

Two pictures I used for the designs are here and here.men on couch IMG_8266

Felt doesn’t fray so I just cut the edges with pinking shears to make it look nice and glued it on as cushions and mattresses, plus a couple of extra blankets for the beds and rugs for the floor.couch back IMG_8269The cot (below) was the only piece that required any cutting for the green edges. A Stanley knife did the job but I wouldn’t want to cut a lot that way. A mini hacksaw or something similar would be better if you plan to cut a lot. My designs specifically revolved around not having to do any trimming to make them quick and easy.beds 1 IMG_8261

Hot glue guns are not very forgiving so some of the furniture is a little wonky! White wood glue would probably be better but I was after speed and convenience!bed bottoms IMG_8262

With a collection of basic craft equipment and a pattern to follow or an idea in mind, you could have a set of these done in a couple of hours tops. Enough to make any little girl happy. (And if my younger son’s reaction is anything to go by, they might keep your boys happy too!)bed ends IMG_8265

I’ll be posting in the next little while about how to make a dolls house in a box, as well as how to make a family of peg dolls. I’d love to hear your ideas – I could always add on to the set!

Sensory tub ideas for toddlers and preschoolers

sensory tub A teddies IMG_8196

Sensory tubs are great for mat time (blanket time) or as a table activity and are excellent for when you need to school older children, cook dinner, or during any other time when you need your little ones well occupied and absorbed in a worthwhile activity.

They are quick and easy to put together, cheap or free (depending on what you already have lying around the house) and can be used daily as part of your flexible routine for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and even older children. Obviously the materials you present will change according to the age of the child who will be playing with them, with safety always a factor for little ones who may put small items in their mouths.

There is no limit to what you can put into your tubs. Ideally the materials will be open-ended; that is they can be combined and used in a variety of ways.sensory tub trains IMG_8187

Younger toddlers do not have a well-developed imagination and therefore need more hands-on options, rather than pretend play materials. For example, in the trains tub above, I included a variety of scoops and containers to fill, transfer, tip and pour as well as the trains themselves. A young toddler may examine the trains before setting them aside in favour of transferring the stones from container to container. The older children may go straight for the trains and set up a complicated rail system with rocks delineating the tracks and the containers used as sheds for the trains. Another may decide to serve dinner on the silver pie tins or set up a picnic for the trains.

sensory tub trains JIMG_8193

I find that the tubs themselves are not large enough for the children to play within. They like to sort through, put aside what they are not using and generally spread out, so I use a blanket or sheet for them to play on. When play time is finished, the corners of the sheet are lifted up and all the materials can be quickly tipped straight back into the tub without a tedious pack-up session.

sensory box horses jewels IMG_8183

The older girls were practically drooling over this jewel and miniature pony tub as I was putting it together – usually a sure sign it will be well-loved by the younger children as well! Again, a variety of scoops, containers, bottles and boxes with sparkly jewel squares and pebbles. (The kind used in vases or to fill bowls – from the discount shop.)

sensory box sea IMG_8185

Blue and green gem stones, plastic sea animals, shells, bowl, spoons, scoops and empty pill boxes. This tub covers opening and closing skills, spooning, scooping, tipping, pouring (all transferring skills) and could be extended to sorting and categorizing as well as the pretend play options.

sensory tub S jewwels IMG_8192

My youngest daughter used the pony and jewel tub this morning for the first time. She carefully removed all the ponies and put them back in the box before making a picnic for her teddy bear and the 12 disciples (!) with the containers and jewels. The older girls (6 and 8) have already asked to use it later and tell me they plan to set the jewels up as food for the ponies. The beauty of open-ended, attractive materials is that they will appeal to a variety of ages. My 15 month old can barely restrain himself and wants to dive straight in whenever he sees these tubs out. Unfortunately the pieces are just too small for him to use safely.

sensory tubs A teddies IMG_8194

This is the 15 month old’s sensory “tub” this week. He loved it and used the scoop (a large measuring spoon) to transfer from the large basket to the small bowl, filled and stacked the metal cups and filled and tipped out the basket numerous times. Provide a container or two and something to put in and dump right back out again and it will always be a hit with anywhere from an 8 month to a 2-year-old. 12 to 18  month olds particularly love to fill and dump.

For a stack of ideas to fill your sensory tubs,see this post. Many of the other ideas I have posted as table activities, highchair activities or mat time activities would all work in a sensory tub. See pasta play and teddy food play as examples.

Montessori counting trays 1 to 5

It constantly amazes me how much we can get through in only 15-30 minutes of focussed time. I really encourage all those overwhelmed homeschool Mothers with multiple children that you only need a small window each day to teach basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills.

Montessori style hands-on activities make it enjoyable and interesting for the children and encourage them to be active participants and motivated learners. I have a good stockpile of useful materials collected and organised and in an hour I put together these counting activities for my 3 year olds who have just started doing some tray activities with me on a daily basis. For a more detailed idea of how to introduce these, see here.

counting 1 to 5 rocks IMG_8137

Natural materials like wood and rocks are very appealing. My older children love these rocks and all wanted a quick go of this tong transfer activity. The jewel beads are numbered 1 to 5 and placed in order around the segmented tray before the correct number of rocks are transferred into each section.
counting 1 to 5 doves IMG_8137

These doves and little heart boxes are wedding favours from our local discount store. They are so cute the kids can’t resist playing with them. Half the battle to get children to learn is won when they are interested in what you are presenting to them. Make up a little story to go with it and they will be eating out of your hand. I told mine that the birds have been specially trained by the King and Queen to fly back to their own love heart bed for the night and gave them a couple at a time to count in order to figure out which bed they had to put them into. Taking the lids off to discover what number was inside was a good opening and closing activity in itself and added to the mystery. We also used a number strip to match the lids to as they do not yet recognise the numerals.

counting 1 to 5 jars IMG_8137

A simple popsicle counting tray. You could colour-code the sticks for beginners to sort by colour first before counting and placing into the correct jar. These colours could also match the sticker on the jar for an added self-checking aspect.

counting 1 to 5 fruits IMG_8137

These iceblock fruits (the kind that come filled with water for freezing and adding to drinks) have been a hit from day one. They are a lot brighter and more attractive than they look in the photo and combined with some milk bottle lid numbers (liquid papered on) and a chip and dip tray from the local op shop, this took me about 2 minutes to put together.

counting 1 to 5 gold plates IMG_8137

Sparkle pompoms, some gold plastic disposable plates and teabag tongs  with baby food jar lid numbers make another easy activity tray. If you make up a funny story about guests at a restaurant who are ordering different amounts of food and tell the children that they (as the chef/waiter) need to deliver exactly what the customer wants, they will be enthralled. My guests got progressively more greedy as the numbers increased and this had the twins giggling along. Somehow my children always find it funny when we pretend play about bad manners!

counting 1 to 5 clips IMG_8137

These clips were a mistake right from the start. One side is shorter than the other and they are quite stiff so the children can’t get a good grip to press them open and clip them onto things. I let them have a try but we usually just end up sorting them into the compartments. I’ve kept them because they are bright colours and the kids do find them an attractive material to handle.

Six trays in an hour of prep (most of which was getting the stuff out and packing it away when I’d finished) and I am set for a good few weeks. I’m guessing that by the time the interest in these wears off, they will both be able to count to 5 and ready to move on to counting to 10 trays. Or back to initial sounds, or 3 letter words or… whatever takes our fancy next.

More posts you may be interested in:

Montessori tray activities – starting out

More ideas for 1 to 5 counting

Make your own baby and toddler Montessori toys 

circle time