7 Sentimental DIY Father’s Day Gifts

Looking for something more meaningful than a new power drill? Read on for some DIY Father’s Day gifts that are sure to make Dad’s special day even better!

It’s almost Father’s Day! The commercials are filled with specials on toolboxes, neckties are on sale and you’re glaring at that homebrewing kit you bought last year that’s never been used.

With more gift choices now than ever, we’ve done away with the quirky socks and ‘World’s Best Dad’ mugs to list some wonderfully sentimental – and environmentally friendly – DIY gifts that will mean so much more to Dad, Grandad or the special person in your life than a new power drill.

1. Father’s Day Picture Frame

In a world of smartphones, computers and screens seemingly everywhere, it can be easy to forget the simple magic of a framed photograph. A family photo is the perfect addition to a bedside table or office desk, so why not make it extra special?

With some basic materials, you and your little one can create a unique picture frame for Dad in a few easy steps! Once you’ve assembled your desired frame, just add glue and decorate. For example, you can use sequin, glitter, buttons, stamps, old newspaper scraps, seashells or even twigs! The possibilities are endless, so get as creative as you like.

2. Artwork

Do you have a little Michelangelo at home? If so, artwork is the perfect gift for Dad while also providing your child a sense of accomplishment. Whether it’s a portrait, a sketch of a special moment or just some squiggly lines, Dad’s love seeing their children’s artistic spirit come to life.

Moreover, you can print drawings onto t-shirts, mousepads, posters, Father’s Day cards and fridge magnets. Not to mention they make a fine addition to a custom picture frame.

3. Wooden Coaster

If you come across some fallen branch, why not take it home for a DIY project?

All you need is a thick enough branch (at least 9cm in diameter), a saw, a brush, some sandpaper (heavy and fine) and clear varnish. It’s a surprisingly simple process with remarkably personal results:

  • Cut the thick parts of the branch with a saw into desired coaster sized discs.
  • Sandpaper the top and bottom. Use a heavy paper for the wider areas and a fine paper for the harder to reach nooks – don’t sandpaper the bark on the outside.
  • Coat all around the wood with clear varnish and let it dry.

This one requires strict parental supervision, however your child can pitch in by helping apply the varnish with a brush or even team up on the saw. Additionally, you can personalise a coaster further by using a wood burner to write out a message or signature.

For a more in-depth guide, click here.

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4. Bookmark

custom bookmark is the perfect gift for bookworms this Father’s Day. All you need is some coloured card, scissors, ribbons, a hole punch, some texters and an idea.  

DIY bookmarks are a wonderful gift because they can be effortlessly personalised. If he’s a keen fisher, make a fishing rod. If he’s a foodie, make a spatula. Does he love golf? You get the idea. Lastly, you can go the extra mile by writing out a special message or poem to make this bookmark stand out!

5. Clay Creation

Clay play is a deeply sensory experience for children because they use both hands to feel and work the material. Moreover, it’s a popular form of messy play which aids in children’s emotional and physical developmental in an environmentally friendly way. Just make sure to look out for non-toxic clay and always supervise your child during clay time.

You can create mugs, bowls, pencil holders, paperweights or anything your child desires. A dragon? A mini football? A mould of their hand? The only limit is their imagination because clay is the perfect blank canvas. Mistakes are easily reversed by mushing the art and starting over. However, make sure you take finished products to a ceramist to be professionally fired in a kiln as conventional ovens don’t get nearly hot enough to fire clay.

6. Plants

Need something to put into that clay-fired plant pot? Plants are a sentimental and environmentally friendly Father’s Day gift without breaking the bank. Cacti are a Father’s Day favourite, as are bonsai trees, spider plants and dragon trees.

In recent years, Jade plants – also known as money plants – have exploded in popularity. This is likely because they’re considered lucky, require little care and make the perfect addition to a study, bedroom or office space. Just give them water, light and lots of love and they’ll last for years!

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7. Baked Goods

If you think dad will force a smile at all the above, why not keep it simple? Baking your special someone their favourite treat is a foolproof plan because homemade food is so much more personal than grabbing the first thing you see at the supermarket.

You can personalise baked goodies with edible toppers and food dye to celebrate their favourite sports team, hobby or tv show. However, baked goods won’t last (at least you hope they won’t!), so you can always pair them with another gift like a homemade plate or mug filled with freshly brewed coffee.

In conclusion, Dad, Grandad or whoever you celebrate the day with deserves to be spoiled on their special day. Whether it’s a framed drawing, a prickly cactus or a tray of brownies, be sure to thank them for everything they do and to celebrate the occasion together. After all, they deserve so much more than a new screwdriver.

🍃 To tour one of our beautiful Centres, please click here. Otherwise, check out our website to register your interest at Explorers Early Learning today!

5 Super Sustainable Playdough Alternatives

Is your little one in the playdough phase? To avoid the nasty chemicals and in store-bought brands, read on for our list of sustainable playdough alternatives!

Children love messy play. It’s a chance to explore their imagination without fear or judgement. It also aids in fine and gross motor skills, strengthens finger muscles and may even prevent illness later in life. There’s a world of options for messy play, but many parents reach for store-bought playdough without a second thought.

While sustainable playdough brands exist, store-bought playdough is often filled with preservatives and chemicals. Sadly, this makes them unfit for decomposition and recycling – not to mention the plastic containers they come in – leading to unnecessary waste.

Our Explorers Early Learning Centres embrace environmentally friendly messy play, so here are five of our favourite alternatives to storebought playdough for you and your little one to enjoy! 

1. Clay

Clay is an inexpensive alternative to storebought playdough that doesn’t leave the crusty mess when it dries out. It’s easily rehydrated, a breeze to store and costs as little as $2 a kg. Just be sure to always look out for clearly labelled and certified non-toxic clay.

The benefits of clay are multi-sensory. It encourages children to see, feel and smell the experience as they create something new. Above all, this develops children’s curiosity, attention span and confidence as they see a project develop from idea to finished product.

Little masterpieces can be taken to your local kiln to be fired and saved as mementos – perfect for gifts, ornaments or keepsakes.

Note: do not fire clay creations in your oven. Conventional ovens do not get hot enough to fire clay and may damage your appliance. Please consult your local ceramist for a kiln service.

2. Mud

Mud play is a surprisingly fun messy play option for young children. It’s a calming experience that introduces children to the wonders of nature.

Simply go to the backyard or park, add some water to a patch of dirt and let your little ones do the rest. If the weather’s not ideal or you want to save time cleaning up, just fill a bathtub or bucket to replicate the experience in a controlled environment.

2014 study of children in urban environments argued that young children coming into contact with bacteria found in mud may decrease the likelihood of developing asthma. This study was conducted in response to fears that over-sanitisation has led to weakened immune systems. The researchers concluded that:

‘Exposure to high levels of certain allergens and bacteria in early life might be beneficial and suggest new preventive strategies for wheezing and allergic diseases.’

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3. Cloud Play

All you need for cloud play is cotton wool. Children gleefully tear and recombine the fluffy fabric, making clouds, mountains, animals or anything their little minds can conjure.

It’s ideal for hypersensitive and autistic children who may be dismayed by unfamiliar smells or textures. It’s important that children are exposed to these sensations, as not doing so may hinder their development.

Cloud play is the ideal entry point for children to explore new sensations and develop fine motor skills in a calming setting. It’s super simple, completely safe and cotton is 100% biodegradable!

4. Recycled Materials 

Do you have any old boxes lying around? How about some forgotten kitchenware? What about those pipe offcuts in the shed? Don’t throw them away! You’d be amazed what a child can create with some tape, glue and sheets of cardboard.

Those old pots and pans become a robot butler, the boxes a castle in the Middle Ages and those pipes a spaceship to mars. Children’s imaginations are limitless, and using old materials reduces waste while also developing your child’s problem solving and creative skills.

All Explorers Early Learning Centres have a Recycle Station for this exact purpose. They rely on donations from families and the broader community, so if you have any old materials you’re not using, please donate them to your nearest Centre!

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5. Homemade Playdough

If none of the above appeal to you or your little one, there’s an old saying that comes to mind: if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

Homemade playdough is an extremely basic recipe – mostly flour and water – so you can make it with ease in as little as ten minutes. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to spend some quality bonding time with your child!

All you need to make homemade playdough is:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Water
  • Cream of tartar
  • Table salt
  • Vegetable or canola oil
  • Gel food colouring

For an in-depth video guide, please click here.

While it can sometimes be a hassle to clean up, messy play is a vital part of all children’s development. It’s a blank canvas that not only allows, but encourages, experimentation and ingenuity. And don’t forget, it’s not just for them, you can get involved too. That’s why we have soap!

🍃 To tour one of our beautiful Centres, please click here. Otherwise, check out our website to register your interest at Explorers Early Learning today!