Easy DIY pencil eraser stamped birthday card

I find Pinterest very inspiring, do you? A while ago I came across this pin which shows you how to stamp a silhouetted heart shape onto a tote bag using a pencil eraser, and I thought to myself “that would make a lovely card”. But the card was going to be for my husband’s birthday, so a heart wouldn’t necessarily have been the most appropriate (we’re not that soppy!), so I wanted to choose something else for the silhouette shape. I could have done a large monogram-style letter (like I did with this card) or number (like I did with this card), but instead I decided that I wanted to write ‘Happy Birthday!” And this is how it came out:

easy stamped birthday card

The hardest part was actually figuring out how to make the removable letters that I was going to stamp over. I needed something that would stick to the card without being too thick (my first thought was to stick paper letters down with blu tak but that would have lifted the letters away from the card too much). From my wanderings through blogland, I remembered that one blogger (Minted Strawberry, who I have featured in the past here) used vinyl to create a silhouette that she spray painted over to decorate the front of a notebook (see here for details) and then peeled the vinyl off to reveal the design. Another blogger (The Postman’s Knock – fantastic resource for calligraphy and art!) hand-lettered a silhouette using art masking fluid in the place of ink, painted watercolour over the top and then peeled off the (now dry) fluid to reveal the letters (see here for details).

But I didn’t have vinyl or art masking fluid. So instead I came up with my own solution – post-it notes! It’s the most well-known temporary glue there is. So if you have some post-it notes lying around, and you’d like to try this card for yourself, then read on to find out how to make it!

For this tutorial, you will need:

  • Card blank (mine is DL size)
  • Post-it notes
  • Pen/pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors or a craft knife
  • Paint – you will need one strong colour, plus white (I used poster paints but I’m sure most opaque paints would work)
  • Felt
  • Paint-proof surface, such as a lid

1. Decide what shape or letters you want to have silhouetted on your card. I wanted to write HAPPY BIRTHDAY!, which worked quite well since the letters were quite small (mine were 2cm high) and therefore not much wider than the strip of adhesive on the post-it note. Larger shapes or letters might not work as well since a larger part of them won’t be stuck down with the adhesive.

2. Draw your shapes or letters on the post-it note(s). For some reason, I forgot to take a photo of this stage, so here is a mock-up of what it looked like. As you can tell, I needed two post-it notes!

cutting letters out of post-its3. Carefully cut out your shapes or letters. You could use scissors or a craft knife for this, whichever you find easiest. I didn’t bother to cut out the holes in my letters, partly through laziness and partly because I liked the effect!

4. Arrange your shapes or letters on the card. I found the easiest way to do this without marking the card too much was to make a mark at opposite edges of the card where I wanted the bottoms of my letters to be, and then place a ruler between the two marks. Then I could position the letters so that the bottom of each letter touched the ruler and voila! the letters were all nice and level. Also, I started with the middle letter and worked outwards either way so that my sentiment was aligned centrally (but obviously you can align yours however you like).

using post-it notes for temporary masking letters

5. Squeeze a fairly small blob of the coloured paint onto an appropriate surface (I used a margarine-tub lid) and then press your felt onto the blob. In order to make sure the felt is well soaked in the paint you can either use the end of your pencil eraser to repeatedly press the felt into the paint until it is soaked through, or turn the felt over so that both sides are covered in paint.  If you do the second option, then you will need to do some test stamps on a spare piece of paper with your pencil eraser to make sure there’s not too much paint on the eraser, or else you will not stamp cleanly. I discussed using felt to make a paint stamp pad in this post, if you’re looking for more information on this.

6. The next step is the fun part – stamping! Start stamping in the centre of your card. You want your spots to be closer together in the middle and spread out more away from the middle. Don’t go too far out though! You can see how far I went with my spots in this picture:

pencil eraser stamped card

7. Now on a different part of your lid, squeeze the same-size blob of your first colour as you did before, but now add some white and mix them together to make a slightly paler shade of your first colour. Stamp a little of this colour in the centre of your card, but more outwards, and again get further apart the further you get out. The aim is to avoid having rings of each shade, but mingle them so that there is a gradual colour change from dark in the middle to pale near the edge of the card. It also looks quite nice if the spots get more spaced out the further they are from the centre. Repeat this with increasingly paler shades of your first colour by adding more white paint each time and continue stamping until you have almost covered the card, or until you are happy with the effect. I had 4 shades of blue in my card.

Tip 1: Make sure that almost all the edges of the letters are covered in spots so that they will be clearly defined when the letters are removed

Tip 2: I found it easier to pretend that the letters weren’t there when stamping my pattern so that the pattern was more natural and even. This sort-of contradicts Tip 1 above, but you can always add in a few extra spots at the end if you think there are any edges that have been missed!

post-it note stamped card

8. Now you are ready to remove the letters (another fun part!). I peeled off the letters while the paint was still wet to avoid the risk of pulling dried paint away from the card. I don’t know if that would have happened, but it worked fine doing it this way (as long as you don’t accidentally stick your finger in the paint!). This was the result:

silhouette letters stamped card

DIY pencil eraser stamped card

 

Yay! I was so pleased with it. And my husband liked it too, which is a bonus ;)

I liked it so much that I used the same technique (in green) to make a card for my new baby niece. Doesn’t she have a beautiful name?!

green shades pencil eraser stamped card tutorial

Do you like the ombre stamped spots effect as much as I do? Do let me know if you have a go yourself, I’d love to see it!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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DIY crystal stud earrings

As I mentioned in my recent post on DIY button stud earrings, I am looking to increase my collection of stud earrings since the twins like to pull on dangly earrings. So when I saw these beautiful DIY crystal earrings on Thanks I Made It, I really wanted to try this for myself!

My only concern was, where do I get the crystals from? You can get them from Amazon UK if you search for “sew on crystals” (but make sure you buy the ones mounted in metal clasps, not the flat back ones), but that was no use to me in Hong Kong. But then I was wandering down Yu Chau Street in Sham Shui Po (THE best place to get craft and jewellery supplies in Hong Kong!) and came across a whole shop-load of them! I was in heaven trying to choose which ones to buy!

So, being totally predictable, I fell for some round mint green crystals and paired them with some marquise (leaf) shaped clear crystals. I got out my trusty E6000 glue and just stuck them together and stuck the earring back on (I didn’t bother with the wax paper like she did in the tutorial above, but it might be a good idea if you’re worried about everything sticking together).

DIY crystal stud earrings

It was so simple and quick and I love the results! I’m definitely going to make more of these!

Handmade mint green crystal stud earrings

What do you think? Will you have a go yourself? Do let me know if you do!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Easy activities for toddlers that you can do at home

A while ago I posted about some easy home-made baby toys that I made for the twins when they were little. Things have moved on a bit since then (the twins are now 22 months old), and they require much more than a pompom or two to keep them occupied! Once again, Pinterest has been my friend and a great source of inspiration and I’ve tried a few things out that I’ve found on there. So I thought I’d share with you some easy activities that the twins enjoy doing.

1. Edible paint

My twins still put things in their mouths, especially if it looks like it might be edible so I’ve been making this edible paint recipe from The Imagination Tree whenever we do painting. The paint itself is quite thick so it lends itself well to finger painting but when it dries it does crack a bit and tends to make the paper shrivel and warp a bit (instead of staying flat). Having said that, it’s quite easy and quick to prepare and I think it’s quite nice that it doesn’t have chemicals (bar the food colouring) in! My only tip is that sometimes it doesn’t thicken for whatever reason so I find that gently heating it makes it thicken up to the right consistency (which is apparently custard-like). Also, they will keep for a short while in the fridge, but I wouldn’t leave them too long (and they dry up a little so you need to add a bit of water to bring them back to the right consistency).

toddler activities - edible paint

The twins aren’t overly into painting and drawing yet, but they will have a good go whenever I get these paints out – even if the enthusiasm often doesn’t last very long!

toddler activities - finger painting

2. Beads

This is currently one of the twins’ favourite activities and it comes out pretty much every day. Basically, I bought a number of large holed plastic beads from a bead shop in Sham Shui Po (Hong Kong’s craft district) and some shoelaces from a nearby market stall and gave them to the twins! They love playing with the beads – and not just threading them on the shoelaces (which they still need help with). For a start, they find it much easier to put the beads on chopsticks, so they can stack them up and let them fall off again! The beads also get rolled around, put in pots and generally investigated and played with.

toddler activities - threading beads on shoelaces

3. Foam shapes on the window

I got this idea, again, from The Imagination Tree. It’s so simple – cut shapes out of sheets of foam, make your window wet with a cloth (or they use a sponge in the link above) and let your toddlers stick the shapes on the window. It’s taken quite a while for the twins to get the idea that you stick the shapes on the window and don’t just pull off what mummy put there, but they are finally getting it.

toddler activities - foam shapes on window

The window needs to be pretty wet (and in the heat of a Hong Kong summer it dries pretty quickly so we have to keep re-wetting it!) but the twins also like to make the window wet again so that’s another plus point for this activity.

toddler activities - wetting the window

4. Cotton wool balls

Another simple (and low mess) activity is to get a bag of cotton wool balls out. Add in some pots to put them in and out of and some scoops or spoons to help transfer the balls around and you’ve got a great activity. This one doesn’t keep my twins entertained for too long at a time but they do like it!

toddler activities - cotton wool balls

I found this idea here.

5. Pipe cleaners and a colander

Sticking pipe cleaners into the holes of a colander is surprisingly entertaining when you’re almost 2. When I first tried this activity with the twins a few months ago, they found it quite frustrating as it was just that little bit too difficult for them to get the pipe cleaners in the holes but now their fine motor control has improved to the point where this is a great activity for them.

toddler activities - pipe cleaners in colander

And you don’t have to limit it to the colander either! Pipe cleaners make great bracelets, hats, necklaces and glasses!

toddler activities - playing with pipe cleaners

This idea came from here.

6. Songs with musical instruments

This is my backup if the twins are starting to get a bit antsy! I just pull out everything we have that could pass as a musical instrument (shakers, bells, tambourines, clappers etc) and we each pick one and sing nursery rhymes. Usually the twins change instruments about every 10 seconds, but that’s part of the fun! The twins are only just learning to talk so it’s really just me doing the singing, although Isobel does like to join in a bit, which is incredibly cute :)

toddler activities - playing musical instruments

So those are just a few ideas of activities that you can do with a toddler. There are lots and lots more that I have pinned to my Activities for Toddlers board on Pinterest so check it out if you’re looking for more inspiration!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

 

DIY button stud earrings

Since having the twins, my dangly earrings have been relegated to the jewellery box (the twins do like to pull on them!) and I have mostly been wearing studs. I’ve got a few pairs of stud earrings, but it’s always nice to have more to choose from, so I thought I’d expand my collection by making some button stud earrings.

DIY button earrings

I’m not sure where I got the idea of glueing buttons to earring posts to make earrings from, but it’s not exactly ground-breaking! You literally just glue the two pieces together. This is one of the quickest crafts I think I have ever done.

I had fun picking buttons from one of the button shops in Sham Shui Po (the main craft district in Hong Kong) – I chose buttons that were quite small since I wasn’t looking to make statement earrings, just pretty studs. I purchased my silver plated ear posts from International Craft, where I buy a lot of my jewellery supplies. I forgot to buy butterfly backs when I bought the ear posts (doh!) so I’m using some clear plastic stoppers that I already had.

button stud earring tutorial

To make the earrings, I started by cutting off the shanks on the shank buttons (some of the ones I picked had them, some didn’t) using old jewellery cutters. Then, I sanded down the remains of the shanks to get the back of the button as flat as possible.

To glue the buttons to the ear posts I used E6000 glue, as I’ve heard it’s pretty good. I’m not very good at glueing things together, so I wanted to give these earrings the best chance I could of actually staying together. So I sanded the back of the button and the pad of the ear post a little to make the surface more rough, and wiped both parts with nail varnish remover (I’ve heard it removes grease). I then just glued the two together and left them for a day or so, and there you have it, button earrings!

The buttons below had shanks so you can’t actually tell that they are buttons, they just look like normal earrings. Those of you who regularly read my blog will not be surprised to see some mint green earrings here – I just love the colour so much!

glue buttons to ear posts

These dark blue buttons look a bit iridescent in some lights (you can see it a bit in the top photo), but unfortunately most of the time they just look almost black. Still, these earrings will go well with lots of different colour outfits!

remove shank from buttons to make earrings

I think the navy blue and white earrings are my favourite. It’s more interesting when you can tell they are actually buttons! I don’t think I’ll wear the bright pink earrings – they’re a bit too bright! But I thought the buttons were quite fun. I think I’ll give them to someone who will appreciate them more!

cute button earring studs

What do you think? Why not make some earrings of your own? They’re so quick and easy!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Making a sequin necklace

A while ago I saw this tutorial on Pinterest for making a sequin bangle. I really liked the look of all those sequins stacked up together and thought I’d try making a necklace using the same technique! Here is what I made:

sequin necklace DIY

I’m not going to post a detailed how-to here since I used very basic jewellery making techniques to make my necklaces, but do let me know if you want one!

The original blog post used cup sequins strung onto wire and shaped into a bangle shape. I didn’t realise she used cup sequins until after I had bought a load of flat sequins! (very cheap from a shop in Sham Shui Po) Oops. I think that the cup sequins stack together better than the flat sequins, but I still like the look that I managed to achieve.

mint green and white sequin necklace

Another difference to the original tutorial is that I strung the sequins on flexible multi-strand beading wire, rather than standard wire, to allow the necklace to drape well. I started out by stringing the sequins one at a time (VERY slow!) but quickly got bored. I realised that a much quicker way was to stack a bunch of sequins between my forefinger and thumb and then roll them gently to line them all up so you can then just thread your wire through the middle.

I was originally thinking of putting a bead on each end of my sequin string, but then I thought that a spiral copper cone would be quite fun! I’ve not made one before but I’ve seen various tutorials that use a pencil tip to create the cone shape. I wasn’t sure whether to start my cone at the tip or the bottom but I found it easier to make the cone shape from the tip down, by using pliers to hold the end of the wire cone against the tip of the mechanical pencil I was using. I had a few goes, and used the best two on my necklace. I have to admit that it’s very difficult to make a nice even, tightly curled cone! It’s certainly made me realise how much work I’m going to have to put in if I want to be really good at wire work…

sequin necklace with copper wire cones

One thing to note is that the base of the cone is slightly angled because there is a wire sticking out, and this makes your cone angled against the sequins. Maybe you could trim the end of the wire on your cone at an angle to reduce this.

Also, your cone won’t naturally stay central because it has a big open end. To get around this you could either make the end of the cone slightly bigger than your sequins, so the cone fits over the end of your sequin string, or thread a small bead onto your beading wire before you thread the cone on so that the bead fits inside your cone (and is hidden). I did mine the second way, using a large seed bead.

I was really pleased with how the cones look on the necklace!

silver and copper stacked sequin necklace

Anyway, I was having so much fun that I made another sequin necklace! This time I strung my sequins onto a short, straight piece of 0.6mm (22ga) wire.

mini stack sequin necklace

Again, I wanted to do something with each end of the sequin stack. This time I made a little flat copper wire spiral, which was actually really easy to do. Just make a small loop with some round nose pliers, and then continue winding your wire around the loop, holding the spiral flat with pliers as you go.

sequin necklace with copper wire spiral

I finished off each end of the wire with a wire-wrapped loop, threading the loop through the end of a piece of chain before wrapping the wire round. Again, because the wire wrapped loop finishes with a piece of wire sticking out, it makes the end of the sequins slightly angled. You could trim the end of the wire at an angle to minimise this, although it would be quite fiddly.

I think I prefer the other necklace, but the little cylinder-type pendant is quite nice!

green and white sequin stack pendant

What do you think? Do you have a favourite? Do you like the look of the stacked sequins? Do let me know if you have a go at this yourself!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Paper strip heart garland

After making a garland of 30’s for my husband’s birthday last year (mentioned here) and then a 3D paper star Christmas garland, I really wanted to make another garland which could stay up in our apartment all year round! I saw some beautiful paper strip heart garlands on Pinterest (such as from here) and decided that was exactly what I wanted to do myself. I’ve seen them made from books, comics or maps, but I used some plain and patterned paper that I already had.

paper strip heart garland

Aren’t they pretty?!

To make this, all you will need is some paper, a ruler and a pencil to mark your strip widths, scissors or a cutting knife to cut your paper into strips, and a stapler. You could use paper strips instead of sheets of paper to make this a very quick craft.

Firstly, I cut my paper into strips 1″ wide and then I had to choose the length. I had seen some hearts which used 4″, 6″ and 8″ length strips but I felt like that made the insides too small. So I made a trial heart with 5″, 6.5″ and 8″ length strips. I quite liked it but I wanted bigger hearts as they were going to hang from the ceiling.

This is the trial heart:

yellow paper heart

To make my heart bigger, I used 6″, 8″ and 10″ length strips instead. You need 2 strips of each length for one heart. I used plain coloured paper with some scrapbook patterned paper for the inside of the hearts. I thought that the plain paper might look a bit boring so I drew a pattern on the outside strips with a white pen. I cut my strips from A4 paper, and the cut-off from the 8″ strip was just the right length for a hanging piece! (it was something like 3″ in length)

paper strips for heart garland

Once your strips are ready, all you have to do is to line up the ends of the strips and staple them together, and then bring the free ends round to make the heart shape and line up those ends together and staple them together too. A word of warning: if your paper is only patterned on one side, check very carefully which way round the strips are before stapling. I had to take apart at least 2 hearts and re-do them because I got this wrong!

I also punched a small hole in the hanging piece to hang it on some ribbon. And there you are, a finished heart!

scrapbook paper heart

paper strip heart

Of course, I wanted a garland so I didn’t stop at one… (I made 10 in the end)

coloured paper hearts

pretty pastel hearts

And here is the garland all hung up :)

pastel colours paper strip garland

heart garland hanging

green blue yellow paper hearts

I’m really pleased with it, and it was so easy to make. If you already had paper strips ready to use and you didn’t decorate them by hand, you could whip up a long garland in half an hour! Let me know if you have a go at one yourself!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Easy home-made baby toys

There are so many baby toys in the shops, but as any mum will realise, babies are often more interested in the packaging or random kitchen implement that you’ve left lying around! You can channel this by making some of your own baby toys from things you might have lying around your house, or if not, easy and cheap to find in the shops (if I can find it in Hong Kong, then it can’t be that hard to come by!). There are so many ideas for making baby toys online – you can scour Pinterest or google to find them. I can’t remember where most of my ideas came from, but I’ve included references where I do know.

Here are some things that I’ve made for my own children. I hope you find inspiration to find some things to entertain your own babies with! (or you could make some for other babies that you know…)

Hanging toys

These were the first things that I made, and they comprised woolly pompoms and balls of tin foil.

I made some pompoms before the twins were born and blogged about how to do so here, and I hung these from their activity centre for them to bat at (note: these come apart pretty easily so keep them out of grabbing distance – mine are now almost completely demolished!).

The tin foil balls were the ones that caught their eye the most though, they took quite a bashing! I just scrunched up a large piece of foil into a ball and wrapped some string around it to hang it with. The foil balls did fall out of the string sometimes so you might want to try other ways of attaching the string – perhaps you could glue it inside somehow?

20140206_075659

You can see the pompoms and foil in the middle of this photo, although they’re a little blurred. I forget how small the twins were once upon a time!

Discovery bottles

These are so easy to make and my twins still play with them at 15 months. All you need to do is find some plastic bottles and put interesting things inside them. Here are some of the things that I have put inside our discovery bottles:

  • Beads of different sizes and colours (note: my twins didn’t like this when they were really little because it’s actually very noisy when shaken, but they love it now!)
  • Pipe cleaners, some curled into twirls
  • Little pompoms (bought from a stationary store)
  • Coloured rice

Discovery bottles baby toys

The easiest way that I found to make the coloured rice was to squirt a small amount of hand sanitiser into an old margarine tube, mix with a fairly generous amount of food colouring, and add enough rice so that it was all covered and there was no hand sanitiser left at the bottom. You really don’t need much hand sanitiser for this at all.

I got the idea for the discovery bottles here and they have lots of ideas for other things to put in the bottles too! I can’t find the website I used before for the rice colouring, but this one does the same thing.

Glitter bottle

These are everywhere online, they are sometimes called calm bottles or time out bottles. I ended up looking at a few different websites before I made mine so I can’t give a reference, but they’re really easy to make. A little side note: many people make them with mason jars or other glass jars but obviously that wouldn’t work for babies, so I just used a plastic bottle with relatively smooth sides so you can see the glitter easily.

To make mine, I filled the bottle most of the way up with fairly hot tap water. (Note: I tried using hot boiled water from the kettle but it melted the bottle! Do not try this!) Then I squeezed in two small tubes of glitter glue and poured in some additional loose glitter. I also added some CLEAR glue (again, I know by trial and error that white glue does not miraculously go clear in warm water and you end up with a foggy mess!) which slows the movement of the glitter in the bottle – the more glue you add, the slower the glitter settles. And finally, I added some food colouring.

The reason the water needs to be hot(ish) is to break up the glitter glue. I found that it clumped a bit to start with but after a couple of hours there were no more clumps even though my water wasn’t that hot to start with. If you’re not using glitter glue, you can just use clear glue and loose glitter, and you then don’t need to use hot water, it can be cold.

Here is my green glitter beauty!

Green glitter bottle

And here it is when the glitter has settled…

Glitter settled glitter bottle

I made mine in a fairly large 750ml bottle, which makes it quite heavy for the twins to lift and carry (although they still do) – I’d recommend using a smaller bottle, less than 500ml if possible, if you’re giving this to babies to play with.

Buttons

These were a big hit! I just bought large buttons (as big as I could find) in different colours from a button shop in Sham Shui Po (THE place to buy all things haberdashery in Hong Kong). The twins loved to play with them, bang them together and against anything else, drop them so they made a spinning noise on the floor (like a coin does), or watch while I spun them. It was fun trying to make as many spin at the same time as possible! Sadly, these had to go away when the twins got bigger because their mouths grew enough that they could fit the whole button in their mouths and would walk around like that! I hope they’ll come out again soon when they stop putting everything in their mouths.

Big buttons as toys

I got the idea for the buttons from one of the Babycentre emails, which features activities to do with your babies every week.

Ribbons

This was a bit of free thinking on my part, but partly based on some props used at a music class I go to with the twins. I had some hair bands lying around and bought some cheap brightly coloured ribbon (again, in Sham Shui Po) and just tied long lengths of ribbon to the hair bands. I tied simple knots in the ends of the ribbons to help stop fraying, but I’ve since bought a lighter which I now use to seal the ends of ribbons. I assumed that I would put the hair bands on their wrists, but they just like waving them around in their hands instead!

Ribbon pom poms

I also tied long lengths of doubled-up ribbons into a plait. I just did it for a fun thing to do, but Isobel quite likes playing with it.

Ribbon plait

Something else that I’ve seen at the same music class is that they sellotaped long lengths of ribbon to the end of a chopstick to make a streamer. I fancy doing this myself!

I’m sure there are many other toys you can make with ribbons, just let your imagination go wild!

Water play tray

I got this idea from this website. They used plastic milk bottle tops but I didn’t have any (for some reason the milk here comes in tetrapaks instead) so I used large jam jar lids instead. Also, I used a large oven tray on the floor rather than the high chair tray. My twins didn’t really get the idea of bashing the lids around the water so they float, but they did enjoy taking them out and trying to eat them. And also splashing the water all over the floor. This activity is best to do on a hard floor rather than carpet! As I said, my twins didn’t really get what was going on, but it did entertain them for 10-20 minutes so that gets a thumbs up in my book :)

Some other things that I’ve wanted to make but haven’t got round to yet…

Baby treasure baskets – basically find a basket or container and put things in that your baby will find interesting. Lots of ideas of what to put in on this website

Sensory bag for baby – looks like fun!

Rainbow spaghetti – colourful sensory play

Post the blocks – my twins are at an age now (15 months) where they just love to put things in things and take them out so I think they would love this. It probably isn’t very suitable for babies under 1 year as they won’t have the co-ordination, but you will know what your baby is and isn’t willing to try

Block painting – I’ve not tried much in the way of ‘art’ yet with my twins but this is something I’d love to try soon! I saw somewhere the idea of using plain yoghurt with food colouring in instead of paint if your baby likes to put everything in their mouths, which I think is a great idea!

Update: I have pinned many more things you can make or do with babies on my Activities for Babies Pinterest board – take a look if you’re looking for more inspiration!

Let me know if you have any other great ideas for easy to make baby toys. I’m sure the ideas must be endless!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel