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Confessions of an Online Shopping Addict! Part 3: Art and Crafts and other Treasures!

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It's the start of the summer holidays for many parents, so it's time to find fun and interesting activities to keep children busy, bonus points will be awarded if it wears them out.

After recently searching through my pre-vegan art and craft supply, a sudden cold hard realisation dawned on me, the multicoloured feathers might be real. A little research told me that they probably were. During this research, I was horrified to learn of the process to collect these feathers, the unimaginable pain these beautiful birds suffer, just so we can use their feathers for art and craft, therefore, I could not buy any craft kits with feathers in them, as I could not allow myself and my daughter to be a part of such cruelty, however, they all had feathers in. So, this led to bit of a spending spree, as I had to buy everything separately… As per usual, I was like a kid in a sweet shop! There was so much to choose from!

This little bounty was sure to keep my daughter occupied. Some of it was from The Works and the rest of it was from Amazon. I had been saving some of my Life Points survey vouchers to purchase some of these supplies, but I had to wait for all of the art and craft items to be delivered before we could start using them. Today the last piece arrived!

I had been wanting to introduce painting to my daughter for a while, but I was a bit reluctant as she puts everything into her mouth and she does the opposite of everything you want her to do, she can create complete carnage! I didn’t relish the thought of her redecorating the house! I started to look for some non-toxic paints and waterproof paints. The reviews were not encouraging, until I came across a recommendation for some Little Brian Paint Sticks, which were non-toxic and washable, this was within a review of another product. Once I located these on Amazon and found the reviews encouraging, I used my Life Points voucher to buy these. If these appeal to you, they can be found on Amazon here: .

So, today was the first time, we could use them. Maybe I am preaching to the converted? Maybe I am late to the party? These are amazing! They are so comfortable to use, the colours are bright, clear, bold and colourful, and they seem quite durable. The tub that contains the Paint Sticks is also excellent, it's sturdy and handy. In addition to painting, they can also be used for a range of craft activities such as stamping, dotting and scraping. Best of all, in comparison to traditional paints, they are mess free and they are easy to clean off skin, clothes and surfaces! These are magic! Both my daughter and I loved these, maybe I loved them a little more. She really enjoyed her first experience of painting today. As predicted, she did put them in her mouth and hasn't so far been unwell, and as you can see, she also painted herself, no surprise there either! They are also quite reasonably priced too, considering the time and money they will save you as minimal cleaning up is needed and there will be no need to buy new clothes.

The day after I ordered the Paint Sticks, my partner brought the Crayola Glitter Glue Pens which can be found on Amazon here: .She thought they were what I had wanted to buy for our little one… Our daughter was very excited to use these, so much so that in her exuberance the nib came off in the lid, and there were then blobs of glitter glue all over her paper and hands. Unfortunately, with the nib back on, she deemed them not as much fun, there were cries of, “bigger, bigger,” although, eventually, she soon forgot this, and enjoyed using them. You do have to watch out for the nib issue as toddlers are not the gentlest of creatures, so it will keep happening. Unlike the Paint Sticks, the Glitter Glue was harder to get off the skin. They looked vibrant and pretty on paper. We used the Glitter Glue Pens for drawing and writing, as well as sticking objects down. Overall, they were very good, but not quite as good as the Paint Sticks.

I also purchased a waterproof smock from Amazon, just in case the paints weren't that washable... I am sure my daughter is Houdini reincarnated, and most of the painting aprons I found were open backed with a tie at the top. She would probably beat Houdini's record for getting out of one of those! Paint would be everywhere. She is also a fidgeter, she should be in The Guinness Book of Records, so even if she didn't escape out of one, it would never stay in one place, thus paint would be everywhere. My kitchen would look like a scene from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." So, a smock was the answer. I found this one on Amazon, I thought it was cute and pretty. I bought it in a larger size so it would last for longer and so it was comfortable to paint in. It had a long delivery date, as it was from China, but it was worth the wait, although now it is too hot to wear it! I couldn't get it off my daughter once I got it on her, so that must be a good sign! Luckily she didn't want to wear it to bed! It looks and feels a lovely material and it covers her well with plenty of room to move in. It also has a cute pocket, she loves a pocket! This was another purchase courtesy of Life Points surveys.

The A3 sugar paper was also from Amazon, a bright colours pack and a pastel colours pack, there are 50 sheets in each pack. It was quite hard sourcing A3 sugar paper elsewhere. This size allows for plenty of room to get the paints and any other art materials on there, rather than on the table if using A4. This paper is great for artwork.

We discovered Air Spinners (giant inflatable frisbees), which can be found on Amazon here , at a birthday party last weekend, they were very popular with our daughter and other children. We were given one to take home. She has been enjoying playing with it in the garden today. I explained she needed to be careful throwing it as we didn't want it to go over the fence as it might get lost, however, apparently, I didn't get this memo, as it was I who managed to get it over the fence, when a gust of wind carried it over. Luckily, our neighbour returned it straight away. They are best used in a large open field! They are huge! There are different patterned ones such as: a UFO, a Union Jack, a multi-coloured pattern one and the one that we have, a sunflower with a ladybird. These provide hours of fun and are worth their weight in gold. The children did lots of running, throwing and catching whilst playing with these, which thoroughly wore them out. Perhaps I should hire them out at local parks, I'd make a fortune. There were lots of giggles and screams of excitement when these were being played with. Tip: beware of trees, they are not your friend!

We recently purchased a water and sand table. Last summer we bought this one from Amazon, but it only lasted about five minutes, if that, which is probably a world record, before our warrior daughter broke the leg off whilst trying to tip the table over to tip the water out.

We contacted the company about the flimsiness of this toddler table, so they sent us another leg. A leg! How generous! Most companies would have just sent a new table! However, this one only lasted ten minutes, so not much of an improvement. The best thing about it was the sand toys that came with it as we still use these. I guess you could always use the legs as bats!

So, we decided this year, we needed to invest in an indestructible one. After some research on Amazon, I narrowed it down to two, a Smoby one which you can view here, which you could buy chairs for, they looked so cute, I really wanted the chairs, and the Feber table found here I took days, weeks, to decide between the two as they were so similar, both indestructible. The Feber won, as it looked slightly bigger and therefore it would last longer. It also had a water feature, which was the clincher as my daughter loves playing with water. It's a very sturdy table, and it's still in one piece, so it's a winner! However, I do have to hide the lid from her as she likes to stand on it, which has caused a slight crack to appear... The table is a good size and the compartments are bigger than they look in the photos. The water feature is great, my daughter, as predicted, loves playing with it, although she also tried to put sand through it, which doesn't quite work. We use some of the sand toys from the first water table, so at least it was of some use. We haven't used the table for any artwork yet, but it is another useful feature which may come in handy. The lid even has pencil holders in it!

With another of my Life Points survey vouchers I purchased some sand toys, they can be found on Amazon here , so we could make a variety of sandcastles and have more fun with the table. I hoped that they would keep my daughter busier too! They have certainly kept her busy, she uses the buckets to empty the paddling pool that I spent hours filling, and to water the plants into a coma. They are also used to give the plants a sand snack! Eat your heart out Percy Thrower! These toys will also be useful for when we go to the beach as we can take them with us to build sandcastles and to carry shells and water. It took a while to find the sturdiest most indestructible range of sand toys, unfortunately, they were also the dearest at the time, however, you get so many colourful, sturdy toys, so in my opinion they are worth the investment. There were some very similar looking ones for sale, but they were smaller, and the reviews weren't as good. So fingers crossed they are immortal and will stand the test of time. If they survive my daughter, they can survive anything! I should have included that in my review it would make a great strap line!

I hope this post has been useful and that it has given you some ideas on activities to occupy your little ones over the summer holidays and beyond. If you have any other great products to recommend, please post them in the comments section at the end of this post or on the Facebook group page. You could also share them on the Instagram page.

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