Children, Families

Cork Crafts for Kids

Is it half term where you are?  Looking for ways to entertain the kids?  To help I’ve put together a round-up of some great cork crafts for kids.

I’ve written all about why you should try and pick natural cork stoppered wine over screw-topped or plastic cork bottles so it’s a good way of putting your cork to good use.  Otherwise, you can buy cork stoppers online (eBay is a good source) or you can always ask friends, family and at local restaurants and bars to save any cork for you, rather than drinking litres and litres of wine to gather your cork!

Top Cork Crafts for Kids

Here are my favourite cork crafts.  As with any kids crafts, adult supervision and help will be required:

Cork Keyrings

cork crafts

These painted cork keyrings from El Hada de Papel are very cute. Simply paint a cork and add a little eye hook (available from any DIY store) and hey presto – a unique keyring!

Cork Boats

eco friendly crafts for kids
Cork boats, such as these ones from Handmade Charlotte are really easy to make and great fun.  You could make a few and have a boat race!

Cork Mice

natural crafts for kids

These cork mice, made from champagne corks by the Russian blog Altogether, are incredibly cute.  Make a whole family for added “aww” factor! The post is no longer available but here’s a similar DIY.

Cork Knights

cork activities
These cork knights from Red Ted Art are the ultimate in reusing and recycling – not only do they use the cork but also the wire cage and the metal lid too!  And they look pretty amazing to boot!

Cork Stamps

diy stamps

If you’re looking for an incredibly simple and easy craft then these cork stamps from Knobz fit the bill.  Simply glue wooden embellishments (available from craft shops) onto your corks, and you have an instant stamp set!  If you can’t find any embellishments then buttons or even bits of foam cut out in different shapes and glued on will also do the trick.

If you don’t have kids and are wondering what to do with your cork then you can compost it.  Cork doesn’t break down easily so don’t put the whole cork in. First, chop it up into small pieces (or put it in your blender) and add it to your compost bin.  You can also add the small fragments of cork to the soil when you’re potting plants to aid with water retention.  Alternatively, use the whole corks at the bottom of plant pots, when potting your plants, in place of styrofoam or rocks, to aid drainage.

Main image from here.

Garden, Home and Garden

How to Help Ladybirds

how to help ladybirds

Want to know how to help ladybirds in your garden? Read on for my top advice.

Over summer I spotted a grand total of three ladybirds, which is three more than my other half or my neighbour saw.  I had started to worry about the ladybirds.  I knew that like the bees they were in decline but I wasn’t sure to what extent, so I did a bit of research into what was going on and how to help ladybirds.

Why Are Ladybirds in Trouble?

According to the UK Ladybird Survey, our native ladybird species are in trouble because of a non-native newcomer, the Harlequin ladybird.  

The Harlequin, a native of Asia, is not the friendliest ladybird on the block. When food is scarce they eat the eggs and larvae of other species of ladybirds.  Also going under the names of the Multicoloured Asian Ladybird and the Halloween Ladybird, it was introduced to North America in 1988. It is now the most widespread ladybird in North America.  

Not content with conquering American soil, it has also dominated much of north-western Europe. The Harlequin Ladybird now has its sights firmly set on the UK now. It was first spotted here in the summer of 2004, and the numbers have grown.

ladybirds in decline - how to help them

Not a Harlequin – see here for how to identify them.

How to Help Ladybirds

The people behind the Ladybird Survey, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, are now asking for your help in helping ladybirds.

If you’d like to assist in the monitoring of the Harlequin ladybird population, as well as their impact on our native ladybirds, then they’ve developed a handy app.   Called iRecord Ladybirds (you can search for it in the iPhone or Android App Store), it allows you to record any ladybirds you’ve spotted quickly and easily.  

Using the app you can take a photo and add some information about where you saw it, the number you saw, etc.  There’s even a handy guide to help identify the ladybird in question. This is handy, if like me, you struggle to identify the particular species that you’ve found. There are 47 UK native ladybird species after all!  And don’t worry if you don’t have a smartphone – you can record it online instead.

How to Help Ladybirds in Winter

how to help ladybirds

There are other ways how to help ladybirds too.  As ladybirds hibernate over winter you can lay down some small logs in a corner of your garden. This gives them a spot for ladybirds to hibernate in. Or if you want to get a bit more creative then here are some other great ideas.  You can also buy ladybird homes on the internet or in garden centres. If you’d rather not spend any money, you can even make your own ladybird house using just a plastic bottle and some corrugated cardboard!

Help in Spring & Summer Too

In spring and summer, you can also leave patches of nettles growing. This is helpful because ladybirds tend to lay their eggs on nettles.

You should also avoid spraying plants with insecticides.  Ladybirds eat the aphids that feast on plants. They, therefore, do a much better and safer job at reducing the aphid numbers than chemicals do. As you can see, it’s mutually beneficial to help the ladybirds! You can also check out my post on sustainable garden ideas for more green garden ideas.