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 ISSUE 08   •   3 SEPTEMBER 2006  
   This week's theme: transport


1. Editorial: Boys and girls
2. MAKE: easy jet and propeller planes
3. MAKE: a hot air balloon
4. MAKE: a boatload of peggy passengers
5. MORE: transport ideas
6. This week's featured subscriber's blog

1. Editorial: boys and girls

I have to admit that, despite years of serious crafting, I'm not completely at ease with constructing planes, trucks and the like. Could this be related to the fact that I am a woman and that my first child was a girl? After all, I can easily whip up a cradle for a soft toy with only a moment's notice but construct a toy aircraft carrier? Well, I might have to think about that for a while.

As someone who tries hard not to gender stereotype my own kids, the thought that gender could so strongly shape the way I play with my children is a confronting one.

A series of famous studies in the 1970s and 80s called the 'baby x studies' showed the extraordinary difference in the way adults treat babies depending on whether they're dressed in pink or blue. The adults gave toy dolls to the babies who were dressed in pink (and who were actually boys) and toy trucks and cars to those dressed in blue (who were girls).

Gender roles are further reinforced as children grow with studies finding that 'parents talk more to their young daughters, give them less autonomy and encourage them to help others' while boys tend to be encouraged from an early age to 'express certain types of emotions but not others'.

While children do tend to develop preferences for play along gender lines most experts agree that it's good to give kids a range of experiences beyond those that are gender-stereotypical.

There are several practical ways in which we, as parents and caregivers, can achieve this. These include allowing girls and boys to try all activities (don't assume that girls just like 'girl things' and that boys like 'boy things'), encouraging boys and girls to play with things together and encouraging respect of the opposite sex.

You can find a good list of tips to encourage healthy gender development of boys and girls. As for me, I'm more determined than ever to tackle that aircraft carrier with Ella.

Happy crafting and see you next week!

Amber Carvan

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2. MAKE: easy jet and propeller planes

These simple planes look great and are really easy to put together once you've rustled up some good boxes. When your little one has finished playing with them they look fantastic suspended from the ceiling with a piece of fishing line.

You will need

• two long boxes (we used toothpaste and lightbulb boxes)
two matchboxes
two paddlepop sticks (popsticks)
cardboard for wings (we used the side flaps from a couple of egg cartons)
four buttons
kid's craft glue
acrylic paint and roller
for jet plane – two cotton reels and (optional) a half spherical wooden block
for propeller plane – cardboard cut into a propeller shape and a split pin

1. Paint the cardboard boxes. Or, if you're short on time you might want to omit this step.

2. Tape wings to the top of the planes.

3. Glue matchboxes and paddlepop sticks to the rear of the planes to form a tail. The tail can be attached in different ways depending on the size of your cardboard box.

4. Thread buttons onto a pipecleaner, fold over the ends and tape to bottom of the planes.

5. To make the jet plane, tape cotton reels to underside of the wing. We have also taped on a wooden block as a nose.

6. For the propeller plane, attach a cardboard propeller to the nose of the plane using a split pin. I've also attached a piece of plastic that I prised off from the top of a jar of cinnamon.

3. MAKE: a hot air balloon

This simple craft will capture the imagination of both toddlers and preschoolers. Before you decide on a box for the basket, make sure that your child's special toy will be able to fit in to go for a ride. Also, it's a good idea to have some spare balloons on hand in case of sharp mishaps!

You will need

• a balloon
lengths of colourful ribbon
a box
items for decorating the box

1. Decorate your box and tape lengths of ribbon to the sides. We had a very colourful tissue box that didn't need any decorating, but if you had a plain box you might want to paint it and glue some bits and pieces to it.

2. Blow up the balloon and tape the other end of the ribbons to the balloon.

3. Tape an additional length of ribbon to the top of the balloon so that your little one can make it fly. You can also use it to hang the balloon from a doorway or window.

4. MAKE: a boatload of peggy passengers

About a year ago we came across a large bag of old fashioned wooden clothes pegs or 'dolly pegs' at a craft shop and have enjoyed making peg dolls ever since. Peg dolls are one of those crafts that can be as simple or as complicated as you choose. Our peggy passengers are simple and colourful individuals who enjoy nothing better than an afternoon on the boat with some friends!

We used

old fashioned wooden clothes pegs – these are sometimes called 'dolly pegs' and are readily available online
• a texta or permanent marker
wool, cotton balls, buttons, fabric and contact for decorating

We drew faces on the pegs using a permanent marker. Ella found this quite difficult – next time I think we'll try doing eyes by using a cotton tip dabbed in paint. We then wrapped a small length of fabric to form a skirt and attached it using a square of sticky contact. You could also use tape, glue or even rubber bands. We glued wool strands, cotton balls and miniature pom poms  to the heads along with a couple of buttons and foam circles.

Peggy passengers are great for travelling in your custom created crafty vehicles. All you need to do is provide them with an appropriate perch.

5. More transport ideas

•  Make a spaceship for a favourite toy
•  Travel on an unusual (for you) form of transport
•  Draw as many different forms of transport as you can think of
•  Transport a pile of sand from one spot to another – using only a teaspoon!
•  Construct an aircraft carrier for your 'easy jet and propeller planes'

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6. This week's featured subscriber's blog

The life and times of this vintage chica

I'm a native Texas gal who is raising three boys, keeping my husband fed and happy (the fed part is a full-time job in itself), and trying fit a little creativity in somewhere. My style is pretty eclectic, but always vintage inspired. Most of the time I think I should be committed, but this is my crazy life and I dont know any other way to do it."

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