Paid collaboration with St Fagans National Museum of History
Usually when I write about St Fagans the focus is on the different historical buildings – the old farm houses; the school; the miners’ cottages; the chapel; the mill and so on. That’s not surprising given there are around 50 original buildings on the 100 acre site.
But today we spent four hours at St Fagans and didn’t actually go inside any of the historic buildings at all. Well my children stood outside Kennixton Farm House for a photo just as we were leaving but as it was 5pm the house was shut.
So what did we do all afternoon then? They passed a good hour or so on the new playground. My eldest two have been desperate to visit ever since they discovered their little brother went one morning when they were at school. We didn’t take any photos of the playground today because it was full of too many children for me to take my usual non-identifying shots – but you can read our review from a couple of weeks ago here.
And then we did crafts. Lots of crafts!
The stunning new entrance building is home to various learning suites and this is where we headed for our first craft session of the day. The rooms are located upstairs on the right hand side as you enter so it’s not likely you would stumble upon them by accident – it’s worth looking out on the St Fagans website for future craft events or you can also find them in my regular events listings.
There are two craft options running throughout half term – and you can drop in between 12pm and 4pm every day until Sunday 25th February.
The first is a free activity where you can decorate your own paper Welsh lovespoons inspired by Dwynwen the Welsh patron saint of love and Valentine as well as the love spoons in the museum’s collections.
Children can cut out the various shapes at the side of the spoon such as hearts and anchors, using pens or pencils to colour everything in. Or there’s a range of craft materials including patterned paper and card, shaped stickers and different coloured glitter tape.
My eldest two children – Little Miss E age 8 and Little Man O age 6 – are very independent now when it comes to crafts so set to work with definite ideas of what how they wanted their lovespoons to look and needing minimal supervision from me.
Littlest Boy I will soon be four and has suddenly developed his concentration skills and interest in arts and craft activities. He’s always been the most reluctant of my three children when it comes to painting, drawing, sticking and so on, preferring instead to be climbing, running and jumping. But I’ve noticed a real shift in him recently and he was really keen to do both activities.
He naturally needs a bit more assistance than the others. To start with he was happy colouring with pencils – but then he saw his sister using some of the glitter tape and wanted to do the same. We worked together to stick stripes along the handle of is spoon. At one point he turned it upside down and then decided it was no longer a spoon but a person. So we made a face, arms and legs. He was super proud of his creation and I love that he is his own person and confident enough to use his imagination to do his own thing.
The second activity is ‘print a card’ and costs £2 per person. Children are given a polystyrene sheet of around A5 size and can then score a picture or pattern on it. You then cover a roller in paint using a tray and roller the paint over the polystyrene. Press a piece of card over the polystyrene and your print will appear.
My children thought this was great fun – although you do need to remember that any writing needs to be backwards so that it appears the right away around when printed.
We spent an impressive hour and a half in this room because my children were so into their creations. There were a few other families taking part but it wasn’t overly busy – which is always lovely in half term.
Our next crafty adventure was in the Makers’ Market – a regular fixture at St Fagans, also running until Sunday, and open all day. The tented market features a number of local stalls with crafters selling handmade goods including jewellery, candles, pebble art work, and more. Some of the stalls offer visitors the chance to take part including one where you can make your own jewellery; a pottery stand where you can throw your own pot; and my children’s favourite Sadie Hurley Ceramics where you can paint clay models of everything from dogs, butterflies, dolphins and owls to unicorns, robots and Star Wars characters.
Prices vary from £1.50 for the smaller hanging ornaments to £8 for the larger models with most around the £3/£4 mark. We’ve been to this stall a few times in previous school holidays and so my children are building up quite a collection of ceramic ornaments. They were desperate to do another one so spent their pocket money on one ornament each.
Sadie manages the stall really well – her only rule is one paint brush per colour. As soon as you are done with that colour, pop the brush in the pot of water and take a new one. This means paint doesn’t get mixed up and turn that odd shade of murky brown every parent knows and the paints don’t get filled with water from cleaning their brushes.
You can leave ornaments with Sadie to dry while you explore the rest of St Fagans and return at the end of the day to collect them.
We were lucky that after a grey and miserable morning the sun started shining in the afternoon – but with the craft activities being inside and under cover it would easily make a good rainy day activity this half term too.
Entry to St Fagans is free. Parking costs £5 for the day (coins only) or if you visit regularly an annual parking pass is £25.
Cardiff Mummy Says is a blogger ambassador for St Fagans National Museum of History.
We paid for all arts and crafts activities ourselves.
Need more half term inspiration? Check out my 100 family-friendly events in and around Cardiff for February half term and March.