Creative nomads

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crazy painting days

One night before going to bed, my eldest son gave me the biggest compliment.   I overheard him say  to his dad, “Mummy is like Mister Maker and me and Max are her helpers”…. That was just the right thing to say  to inspire me to create some more regardless of how much mess was being created in the process…..  

I have never been a crafty sort of person.  Even the easiest of craft instructions never   turn out as they should even though  it seems to look so easy – have you ever watched Mr Makers one minute clips?     Before I know it, my craft activity and I  become one big mess of sticky tape, glue and glitter.   I almost failed art class in Year 9 and I can’t draw a straight line to save myself.   However, what I lack in precision and perfection I make up for in free styling mess making which is perfect with kids.  At  4 years old, my son is not too particular about what the end product looks like and is generally happy with whatever we come up with (most of the time!). 

When we lived in Melbourne I used to take my son to a creative toddler class called Happy Hands Art.  It was fantastic; affordable, with simple and fun weekly themed craft activities.   Best of all the mess making didn’t happen in  my home and I didn’t have to clean it up!

So how was I going to nurture the creative little monster in my son while travelling?!  I did have a craft activity box with all sorts of stuff at home but it didn’t quite make it on the list of essentials when packing our suitcases.  Even simple activity ideas can require bits and bobs that begin to accumulate very quickly (not handy when on the move), cost money to buy/replace, aren’t always easy to find (e.g. supermarkets not art shops are usually the priority) or it becomes too hard to decipher what the equivalent is,  or even  if your getting the right product when in a different language.

So what was in my essential first aid creative travel kit?

  • crayons/pencils
  • notepad or exercise book
  • a pair of kids scissors
  • a small sticky tape or glue stick
  • a book  of  things to do with kids  “ Fun and games:  activities for 2-6 year olds” by Clare Renner & Meredith Costain.   Although if you have access to the  internet than all sorts of stuff is available online such as  on
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Collecting things from nature

Along the way I have added things which we have accumulated or bought in supermarkets such as:

  • egg cartons
  • cardboard boxes (these were plentiful in Argentina as supermarkets don’t use bags)
  • old buckets
  • small tubs of paints/brush
  • stickers, balloons
  • anything from nature we’ve collected – leaves, sticks, feathers, shells, sand, dirt etc.
  • coloured paper
  • magazines – tourist brochures etc.
  • a colouring book
  • contact sheet
  • chalks
  • grocery ingredients: food colouring, flour, eggs, bicarbonate soda

In London I found some great kids magazines (Friends, Favourites) which had workbooks with stickers, colouring in pages, craft ideas with all things provided (apart from scissors, glue and sanity), and they only cost 1.99GBP.  So I bought a couple of these to keep in reserve.

In France, there is a similar magazine called “Petit Mains” which has craft ideas and comes with the cut out activities and even though it’s in French it’s pretty easy to work out.  This cost 4 euro.    I  also found  a 2 euro store with some cheap craft activities.

See blog “on craft activities” for easy things we’ve made while on the go.