As the nights gradually draw in again now and it’s time to re-set bedtimes after the long summer evenings, this is a cosy craft to incorporate into bedtime routines if you want to… the basic idea is to create a soothingly simple night-scene with a snuggling, sleepy sloth as the main character.
We’ve made our sloth out of polymer clay, but feel free to use any kind of modelling clay that you and your children like to work with. A plain air-drying clay that you paint later would work just as well (although you might want to glue together any detailed features, if you make them separately). The sloth in this tutorial is a little fiddly and whilst suitable for older children (8+) to do on their own, younger children might need some assistance, however, generally speaking, clay modelling of any kind can be a soothing and grounding experience in and of itself. If you are using polymer clay, remember to work with clean hands (the clay can collect tiny particles of dust etc) on a clean tray/surface, and to oven bake according to manufacturers instructions.
Our cute/Kawaii sleepy sloth is resting inside a miniature box, decorated with a night-time scene – this is essentially a small diorama, which is also a popular craft, and school projects aside, I often found my children making those when they were young. You can make your scene any size you like, using any recycled box you may have to hand. You could even incorporate a cover to make it portable – if you are able to make super-tiny clay figures, why not make a scene in an oversized matchbox so that it can be carried anywhere with you?
If you would like to turn your sloth-scene into a night-light, you might want to consider the size of the bedside table or shelf that it will rest on, when deciding the size of your box. Personally, we quite enjoy making miniature dioramas as the idea of a super tiny world in a little box is always quite magical, and they are also easier to store and tend to endure a little better too (since they take us less space and are easier to look after). It’s worth bearing in mind however that the smaller your box, the more tiny and detailed your characters will need to be. This is great for developing fine motor skills, but it’s not everyone’s preference! Feel free to choose a size that works for you!
You could also have some fun making some different types of animals from your clay – maybe a hedgehog, a little deer, a sleepy cat… or some other details such as flowers, stars for the night-sky or a smiling moon. It’s up to you how many characters or details you add, and a few simple characters – or even just the sloth in the tree – can be just as charming as if there were many. To make the sloth you can look at the tutorial below for the details – but feel free to find another image of a sloth to work from if it will help you!
To use your diorama as a night-light, you will need to position a small torch behind it, allowing light to shine through the small holes that then look like stars. You can make your night-sky as starry or as minimal as you like! You could even pop some fairy lights behind, in or around your sleepy scene for an extra magical effect 😊
Wishing you a calm and soothing start to autumn, and…
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