How to make a cardboard carousel

Well, it’s been a while! We left Gulf Town over a year ago, and now live in Brick Town, UK, where at the moment there is very little sand or dust, but a great deal of mud and water. Dustyfeet is now a schoolgirl – but it’s half term, the weather confines us to the house, and this morning she set me a new challenge: she wanted to make a fairground. We settled for a carousel.


I couldn’t find instructions online to make the carousel I had in mind, so I thought I’d better write them.

First, you need two circles of cardboard – I drew around a dinner plate. And you need two tubes that fit inside each other. I had a toilet roll tube and a kitchen paper tube. It doesn’t matter if one is shorter than the other.

Take the first circle of card and cut a hole in it, the same size as the wider tube. Insert the tube a short distance and hot glue it on both sides (I’m sure you could make this carousel without a glue gun, but I can’t remember how I lived without a glue gun – I highly recommend them!). This will be the base of your carousel.


Take a long strip of card and glue it around the underside of the base, to raise it off the ground. You might want to add another circle of card underneath (I didn’t – I should have done).


Take the other circle of card and cut a hole for the thinner tube in the same way. This will be the roof of the carousel, and will carry the horses.


Insert one tube into the other. See, it rotates!


Now make holes in the roof and insert straws. These will be the posts for the horses.


If you use bendy straws, it’s easy to secure them with a bit of tape on top.


Meanwhile, your child is decorating the base with bits of torn wrapping paper. She has also been colouring in some cardboard horses (no, it’s not summer, and we are not in Gulf Town – Dustyfeet just likes to dress as if we were).


You can cover up the ugly ends of the straws with a nice decorative paper plate, or embellish however you fancy.


Tape the horses onto the straws, decorate with twirly pipe cleaners, sticky stars and anything else that comes to hand – and you have a carousel!


We found some tiny dolls in my sewing basket. I’d been hiding them for a while, but they were just right for a ride at the fairground.


Well – in a hanging-off-the-horse’s-neck kind of way.

Dustyfeet was slightly disappointed that the horses didn’t go up and down. I told her that was an engineering feat too far for Mummy, and she soon discovered that the whole carousel would take off from it’s base and fly around the room instead, which was much more fun. But does anyone have any ideas how the horses could be persuaded to go up and down?

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Colour-matching with playsilks

The heat is rising in Gulf Town and we are coming once more to that time of year where Dustyfeet and I spend a lot of time at home looking for things to entertain ourselves. The task seems a little easier this year, however. For one thing, we’ve done it before, and for another, Dustyfeet is a year older and is much more able to engage with different tasks and even to create some of her own – which might or might not require my involvement.

When I give her particular activities to do, I try to hone in on whatever her current interests and areas of development are, and at the moment it is COLOUR. She is constantly pointing out to me how one item is exactly the same colour as another. “Look, Mummy, they’re the same!” So yesterday I got out the playsilks, arranged them in squares, and asked her to bring me as many toys she could find that were the same colours. She caught on immediately, and carried out the task with obvious enjoyment.

She had no trouble at all with matching the colours correctly, but she still finds green and blue confusing. I must come up with some green and blue activities!

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A tin of marbles

While I was getting breakfast this morning, Dustyfeet was playing with some marbles. She laid them all out in a line. Then she arranged them very neatly in pairs, placing a plastic link around them to make sure that they were in just the right place. Then she discovered that they made a really interesting noise, and rolled in exciting ways, on the upturned tin that they had been stored in.

After breakfast, as she still wanted to play with the marbles, I gave her a frying pan so that she could see how the marbles behaved differently than in the tin.

They made a great noise, and she was very excited to discover that if she rocked the frying pan in a certain way, the marbles ran all around the edge of it in a “marble train”.

Later, she experimented with rolling the marbles over the perforated bottom of the frying pan…

… and discovered that the handle made a very satisfactory “marble slide”.

I love play ideas that grow out of the child’s own interests and discoveries, rather than having to come out of my head! I’m sure we could extend this and do a whole lot more with marbles, but even this simple play kept us very happily occupied for a good portion of a very wet and windy morning in Gulf Town.

I’d recommend using large marbles like the ones shown for young children. Dustyfeet still puts a frightening variety of items in her mouth, but not one marble went in – presumably because they were just a bit too big to fit comfortably into her cheeks!

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A bag of stones

There’s a great shortage of natural objects in our life. We don’t get to play outside much, and when we do,  it’s “Keep-off-the-irrigated-grass” and “Don’t-pick-that-up-it’s dirty” (and it really is – Dustyfeet has been sick two or three times from eating noxious dust here). We had an amazing Christmas holiday in Oman, where the beaches are clean and strewn with beautiful shells (which we collected and exported to Gulf Town), but most of the time, there are no sticks and stones.

So I bought a bag of stones from Ikea. I paid real money. For stones.

I also made a felt flower (because we don’t really have flowers, either). I could probably have bought one of those from Ikea, too, but why would I, when I can sew one?

For those who like to know, the stem is a straw in a tube of felt, and the flower itself is just two layers of felt with some stuffing in the middle. Easy.

My idea was that Dustyfeet might like to do some flower planting, which she did, for a bit…

…but actually she was much more interested in transferring the stones from one pot to another.

And back again.

Then she found the bags that the stones came in, and decided that they looked like jellyfish, so we sang “Three jellyfish” several times and she acted it out.

Later we put the stones in her sensory box. I thought she might like to play with her digger, but no, it was still all about filling and transferring.

I introduced some cracked wheat (which is nice and gravel-like and good for digging), and she did play with the digger for a bit.

But then she discovered that the wheat was even better for filling and pouring!

Ho hum. She very definitely had her own ideas about what she wanted to learn that day. But at the end of the day, Dustyfeet’s play nearly always comes down to the same thing.

Cup of tea, Mummy?

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Teddy’s swing

I recently acquired this book:

It can’t quite decide whether it’s a how-to book or an introduction to Waldorf educational philosophy, but that’s a winning combination for me!

Dustyfeet likes the book too, as it’s full of beautiful photographs. She fell madly in love with a photograph of a teddy in a swing, and nothing would satisfy her but that her teddy should have a swing too.

This was Version 1:

The basic construction was very simple: a double layer of fabric (about 20 x 50 cm, excluding seam allowances) with a dowel (I actually used the plastic stick from a balloon that T got from a restaurant) in a tube at each end, and another dowel in a tube in the middle (to give structure to the seat). The strings are twice the length of the sewn fabric and attach to the two end dowels.

Teddy liked it, but we had it hung from a broomhandle resting on two chairs, and Dustyfeet’s enthusiasm kept sending it flying.

We spent quite a while experimenting with different options, and both came up with modifications – a good exercise in problem-solving for Dustyfeet! Eventually, we hooked it onto a coathanger and hung it from the clothes airer. Much better – and Dolly liked it too.

I had tied and hot-glued the strings onto the ends of the sticks but our next problem was that they kept slipping off – hot glue doesn’t work very well on plastic. So I found six big wooden beads that happened to have holes just the right size for the sticks to fit through, and glued them onto the ends of the sticks. Problem solved – and looks much nicer too (If you make this with wooden dowels, you probably won’t have this problem – you just cut a groove in the dowel and set the string into that).

This was really quick and easy to make (apart from the logistical hiccups) and Dustyfeet has surprised me with the amount of time she’s spent playing with it. Teddy and Dolly are spending a lot of time on their swing!

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Teddy’s birthday party

We recently acquired a wooden birthday cake, when one of the Gulf Town supermarkets suddenly acquired a big shipment of Melissa and Doug toys from somewhere. I love wooden toys, especially Melissa and Doug, and I couldn’t resist it! Nor, apparently, could Dustyfeet.

It comes with candles. Dustyfeet loves birthday cake candles. In her mind, matches = candles = birthday party. Fortunately, there were no matches provided (although I wonder if I could make some play matches, when her final back molar comes through and she stops chewing on things?). It does, however, have strawberries and sweets for decoration, and Dustyfeet is a big fan of strawberries – and sweets, of course.

First, it was Teddy’s birthday party. Teddy is two, like Dustyfeet, although he insisted on having four candles. We sang happy birthday to Teddy. Several times. Blow out your candles, Teddy!

Time to cut the cake with the special knife…

…and make sure everyone has a piece.

After that, it was Baby’s birthday party.

And then Panda’s, and then Dolly’s, and then Mummy’s, and then… well, you get the idea. We sang happy birthday a lot that day, and it has been sung many times since. Teddy would be an old man by now if he’d lived as many years as he’s celebrated birthdays!

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Making heads

I realise I have been very inefficient at keeping up with this blog since we came back to Gulf Town after the summer. This is partly because the summer is over and we are out and about much more, so therefore home doing bloggable things less – and partly because I have been busy with other projects. Several other projects, in fact, but in particular, I have been making heads.

Here they are: Dolly 3 and Dolly 4, my next Waldorf doll orders.

Just cotton stockinette and carded wool so far, but it’s amazing how a bit of string gives them shape. Here they are again, almost humanoid:

Now add a layer of skin on top of the basic structure of the face (I think the nose is a very important feature, even if it isn’t quite traditional Waldorf):

… and mark where the eyes and mouth should go:

A bit robotic-looking? Choose an eye colour and they start to take on personality:

Arms to embrace the world with:

And legs to carry them through it:


And toes:

And here they are, completed, with hair and clothes:

For Dolly 3, on the left, I made clothes from scratch. This dress was modelled on one of her future owner’s favourite garments, and she also owns jeans and  a nice peasant blouse.

Dolly 4 was a little different. The mama who ordered her gave me a bag of her daughter’s outgrown baby clothes and challenged me to adapt them. I had so much fun figuring out different ways of using all the interesting hems and ruffles, straps and buttons on these clothes!

The blouse for this outfit was made from the lining of the original skirt. She also has matching bloomers underneath, because the little girl had this dress in two different sizes.

More dollies are on the way, hopefully in time for Christmas. They’re getting quite addictive, and I’ll definitely be upcycling old baby clothes again too. Might write a tutorial on how to do it next time.

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