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Peta’s fun things to do at home

So, that’s the fourth week of lockdown almost done. As a gentle wind-down into the weekend, I thought it would be nice to get back to some straightforward drawing. My book, Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes is all about painting and drawing, and and why the process of drawing – practising, making mistakes and learning – is more important than the end result.

So why not get your little ‘uns to have a go at my drawing challenge? Why not have a go yourself? I’d love to see anything you do – you can email it to, post it on my Peta Rainford’s Facebook page @dogpigeon, or Tweet me @PetaRainford

10: Draw a picture in a frame!

I’ve got some frames for you to create your drawing in, because every picture looks better in a frame!

There’s a printable version here. Have fun and have a good weekend!

Peta’s fun things to do at home

9: Have fun with rhyming!

I’ve always loved rhyming! I remember writing silly poems and rhyming stories and plays when I was still at school. I like it when a rhyme takes a story or poem in an unexpected direction. My book Hairy Fairy was written in that way; the content of each section of the book is dictated by a word that rhymes with fairy, ie hairy, scary and wary.

A great way to get started with rhyming is to draw up a rhyming grid and go through the alphabet finding rhymes for your chosen word. Here’s a grid I’ve drawn up, with some words that have lots of rhymes:

There’s a printable version (with more space for writing!) here.

There are lots of extra challenges you can try once you’ve completed your grid (if you want to!)

  • spot the homophones! These are the words that sound the same, but have different spellings, eg: be and bee or see and sea.

  • use two of your rhyming words to write a rhyming couplet, eg:

The icy sea

Stings my knee.

  • If you are feeling confident, why not use more of the words to write a longer poem?

It was me

Who made the plea

For the bee

To leave the tree

And join us three

In time for tea.

It doesn’t matter how daft it is, just have fun!

Peta’s fun things to do at home!

8: Go on an alphabet treasure hunt!

As you know, my book, Isabella, Rotten Speller, is all about a land made entirely out of letters and this treasure hunt is a lockdown variation of an activity I’ve done with a number of schools. It’s a very easy, but fun activity: the challenge is to go round your house and/or garden and find objects in alphabetical order.

As an extension of the activity, you could:

  • List, photograph or draw each item
  • Make it competitive! Who can find an item for each letter first?

Here’s one I did earlier (had to cheat a bit on the x!):

Here’s an extra challenge you might like to try:

  • Use your objects to spell out words… like this:

Peta’s fun things to do at home

Welcome back! This activity has absolute nothing to do with any of my books, but just a bit of fun for Easter.

7: Make a woolly Easter/Spring card!

So, I had some yellow wool and fancied making something for Easter, but didn’t really want to make the standard pom-pom chick, when I had the idea of using wool as a medium for colouring in, instead of crayon or paint (as you do!)

My first idea was to do this ‘freehand’; painting with glue direct onto the blank card, but this does take a fair amount of manual dexterity and may be a bit tricky for little finger (I’ll show you how I did this at the end), so I produced a couple of templates for you to ‘colour in’ with wool (or crayons if you prefer). or, of course, you can draw your own…

The printable version of the bunny card is here. The printable version of the chick card is here.

You will need:

  • A print-out of the card or your own drawing
  • coloured wool or string
  • PVA or similar liquid glue
  • Scissors
  • Felt tips for details (optional)

And here is the chick version:

Top tip: if little fingers get gluey and find this all a bit tricky, try cutting the wool up into lots of little pieces (for a ‘shaggy’ effect!) – it’s a lot easier to handle than one long bit!

And for those who want an extra challenge, here’s how I made the ‘freehand’ version:

Peta’s fun things to do at home

Over the years, I have done a wide range of art and craft activities in schools and at other events. Sometimes I give the children a range of activities to choose from, and when I do, it’s always interesting to see how many children like nothing more than a spot of colouring in…

6: Have some fun with colouring in!

So today, I’m sharing a colouring sheet based on my most recent book, Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes.

Why not have a go? Don’t forget to help Milly finish her picture! What is she painting? A boat? A bat? A balloon? There is a printable version of the colouring sheet here

Don’t forget, I’d love to see the work you produce! You can email it to, post it on my Peta Rainford’s Facebook page @dogpigeon, or Tweet me @PetaRainford

You might also like to try this extra challenge:

  1. Have a think about where Milly is doing her painting, and include some details to show this. For example, if she’s in her bedroom, there might be toys on the floor; if she’s at school, how would you show this? But perhaps she’s doing her painting somewhere much more exciting: in Buckingham Palace, or on a space ship! You decide!

Peta’s fun things to do at home

Hello again! As you probably know, my book Jacob Starke Loves the Dark has inspired quite a few nature-based art activities. But the one I’m sharing with you today came about quite by accident when my daughter took her science teacher’s suggestion to ‘paint some flowers’ quite literally, and emerged from the garden with a handful of flowers smothered in paint! It reminded me of the playing cards painting the white roses red for the Queen of Hearts in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland! Anyway, we decided to put her painty flowers to good use and do some printing with nature! Why don’t you have a go?

And don’t forget, I’d love to see what you get up You can email it to, post it on my Peta Rainford’s Facebook page @dogpigeon, or Tweet me @PetaRainford

5: Printing with nature!

This really doesn’t need much explanation: when you go out in the garden or out on a walk, look for interesting shaped leaves (veiny ones are best!) and flowers. Other objects like feathers might work well too. Apply some paint… and print!

You might also like to try these extra challenges:

  • Once you’ve done your printing, you could embellish with drawing (see top of page) or painting, like Tilly did (see below)

Peta’s fun stuff to do at home

4: Fun with anagrams!

Hello! I’ve got some wordy fun for your today. In my book, Isabella, Rotten Speller, the letters of the word rearrange get rearranged to make several new words – anagrams. Here is an anagram worksheet I’ve used with several schools over the years – why don’t you have a go?

There’s a printable version of the worksheet here.

Handy hit: if you’re finding this a bit tricky, write the letters on bits of paper or post-it notes, or use scrabble tiles, so you can physically move the letters around.

You might also like to try these extra challenges:

  • Can you make up some anagrams of your own? Start with three letter words; see if you can rearrange the letters to make new words. Then do the same with four letter words – or longer words if you like!
  • Choose a long word and see how many small words you can find inside it, words like: elephant, conversation, anagram – anything you like!

Peta’s fun stuff to do at home

3. Make a picture with nature

Hello! I have used my book, Jacob Starke Loves the Dark, as the starting-point for lots of different art activities – particularly the bit when The Dark declares:

‘… Don’t you see,
All living things depend on me.’

If you are having a walk today, or can go out into your garden, how about gathering up some natural objects – sticks, leaves, flowers, feathers, earth, sand, whatever else you can find – and making a picture. You can make a small one by gluing the things you find on paper like these – maybe including some drawing, bark rubbings and other types of mark-making:

Or you could make some ‘land art’ in your garden (or indoors, if you can stand the mess!). Here is one we made earlier:

Here is our stick yacht, sailing on a pebble sea. We added detail – seagulls, jellyfish and fish – by drawing on pebbles and some slate we found in the garden

You might also like to try these extra challenges:

  • Once you’ve made your ‘land art’ picture, take a photo (if you like) and then rearrange all the elements to make another image. How many different pictures can you make out of the same objects?
  • If you can’t get outside, or just want a different challenge, you could make your ‘land art’ inside, out of household objects!
Our yacht has been turned into flowers and butterflies and bees drawn on stones by Tilly

Peta’s fun stuff to do at home

2: Make a nocturnal picture

Welcome back! Today I thought I’d share an activity relating to my book, Jacob Starke Loves the Dark. It is exactly the technique I used when I was producing the illustrations for the book.

Don’t forget, I’d love to see the work you produce! You can email it to, post it on my Peta Rainford’s Facebook page @dogpigeon, or Tweet me @PetaRainford

This is one of the illustrations I used in my book

This would probably work best if you have some black paper. But you could make your own by painting white paper black.

So what do you have to do?

  1. First step is to create your nocturnal animals like the ones above on a piece of white paper. You can draw and colour your own, or print off the ones I have drawn and colour them in. A printable version is available here
  2. Next, cut out the animals. Handy hint: it’s best to leave a bit of white space around the shape, rather than risk cutting off an ear or a leg!
  3. Arrange them on the black paper to create a nocturnal scene. Once you’re happy with the position, stick them down
  4. Use some light coloured pencils (eg. white, yellow, pale pink, pale blue) to add background details like stars, grass, flowers etc
  5. For a really professional finish, you can use a black crayon to colour in the white edges of your animals to make them blend in more with the background
These are the fab nocturnal pictures created by Year 1s at Henham and Ugley Primary
when I visited last year

You might also like to try these extra challenges:

  1. use the same technique to create a picture set in space
  2. write a story or a poem about the picture you have created

Peta’s fun stuff to do at home:

I’m going to miss doing my usual school visits and other events over the coming weeks and – potentially – months. So I thought I’d share some of the resources I’ve developed over the years, so that you can try them at home.

I’ll be sharing a few new activities too. Many of them will be based on my books, but others will just be ideas I want to share with you. I hope you find them fun to do with your family. And do, please, share any artwork or writing you create – I’d really love to see it!

You can email it to, post it on my Peta Rainford’s Facebook page @dogpigeon, or Tweet me @PetaRainford

1: Create a self portrait out of letters!

One of the most popular activities I have done is based on my book Isabella, Rotten Speller, which is set in a world where everything is made out of letters.

Can you create a self portrait made entirely of letters?

There’s a template to download here – but you can just as easily go DIY and start off with a large face-shaped letter, like a U or an O.

Once you’ve practised a few times, you might like to try these extra challenges:

  1. try to use as many different letters as possible
  2. try different ways to create the letters – for example cutting them out of magazines or painting rather than drawing
  3. try to include all the letters of your name, or other words, in the portrait
  4. create other pictures out of letters
Years 1 and 2 at St Helens Primary School did these fab self portraits back in 2015. Why don’t you have a go!