A couple of weeks ago I came across a very stylish castle project on Bloesem Kids and knew straight away that it would be something the girls would enjoy doing AND that we had the perfect book to read alongside – Castles by Colin Thompson.
Castles presents itself as a non-fiction book cataloguing a variety of magical and mysterious castles the author has seen or heard of. Each double page spread is filled with a gloriously detailed illustration of a castle, accompanied by a short commentary on where one might find the castle or who its inhabitants are. My favourites include the castle made of musical instruments (“It was built by a family of musicians who were tired of the neighbours complaining about their terrible music. It is three weeks by donkey to the nearest house so now the family can play as loudly as they like without disturbing anyone“) and another made out of mashed potato (“This is what happens when sensible people tell you to stop playing with your food and you ignore them.“).
Each castle hides secrets, and M loves looking for the kings, queens, princes and princesses on each page – a little like Where’s Wally?/Where’s Waldo?, only far more beautiful, and much more inspiring! The text will make you smile and the images will transport you to other worlds and times – this is a fabulous book for getting lost in! As a mum I also like that this is a great book about castles that isn’t full of battles, canons and fighting. Although there’s of course a place for that side of castles, it’s great to have a book that is much more about imagination and dreams than destruction and doom!
What was so *brilliant* about Khali’s castle was (1) it uses materials that were all at hand (2) its design is fab – simple and bold, and (3) it is so easy to make. Often you come across project for kids and actually they’re rather complicated, time consuming and require a trip to the shops to get yet more stuff, but not so with Khali’s castle. It was just perfect for filling our Sunday afternoon.
All instructions for making the castle are over at Bloesem Kids. We added turrets to the towers (by making cones of construction paper), instead of making flags we happened to have some sandwich flags (like these) and decorated them instead, and we also provided some platforms inside the castle, just below the parapet, so that it was easy for the King and Queen and their entourage to look over the battlements at the scene below them (the platforms were made from shallow plastic trays – the sort you might find inside a packet of biscuits – sellotaped to the inside of the box).
We’ve had the castle for several days now and it is getting a LOT of play – a testament to its great design and the power of imagination!
Whilst painting and playing with our castle we’ve been listening to Clapping in the Castle by Nancy Stewart and Castle on A Cloud from Les Misérables. Castles, unlike whales, don’t seem to feature often in songs!
Other castle activities I hope we’ll find time for include: