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How to Make A Family Postbox

The idea came to me when my youngest said she wished she got more things in the post. So I suggested we make our own postbox and anyone could put a letter inside for any member of the family to discover.

It was then she said that she would also like to use the postbox so she could post how she was feeling. Given what is currently going on for everyone right now I decided what a great idea this would be to help children write or draw about how they were feeling. So here is how we made our own family postbox.

You will need:

  • A little box
  • Wrapping paper
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Stick glue
  • pencil
  • Extra card
  • Split pin
  • Modelling clay
Materials needed for the postbox

Start by cutting off the top flaps of the box to create an opening. Then wrap it using the paper and tape. For the top of the box cut down the wrapping paper and glue it into the inside of the box to make the opening. This will be where you post your letters.

Gluing the paper inside the top of the box

Next you can cut out a little flag. This will serve as a marker when someone has put something in the postbox. You can make a hole in the side of the box using the sharp pencil and the modelling clay and then in the flag too.

Making a hole in a piece of card using a pencil and modelling clay

You can then use a split pin to attach them together. If you don’t have a split pin then you can use a piece of thick wire folded over on itself. (but make sure the hole isn’t too big) or use a hair slide/grip at the opening of the box to hold the flag upright.

Finished postbox

Then all you need to do is start writing or drawing little things to put in your postbox. You can put in hearts, mini chocolates, pictures from magazines you really like, draw a little picture, theme a letter from their favourite character, put in inspirational quotes, tell them if they made a great choice. Be as creative as you can as they will really appreciate the kind words they find in the postbox.

Wrting a letter to put in the postbox

Remember to keep some of your favourite things that are sent in the family postbox. We did this activity over 6 years ago and I found an envelope with things we had written as I tidied the art area and the kids spent ages looking through them and reading the messages. It was so heartwarming.

items from the family postbox

Newsletter #16

The Facing Unknown

Over the last few weeks, things have changed massively for everyone on a global scale. In the face of this pandemic, it is difficult not to get swept up in all the fear of what this virus is doing to everyone’s world.

Life has changed as we know it. The future is uncertain too. Shedding a tear most days for what is lost and trying to figure out how your family is going to cope on so many different levels can sometimes feel too much. Many of us are used to a rigid routine of work, school, after school commitments and to suddenly find yourself without a schedule for the foreseeable future is unnerving. 

But one thing that I’m hanging onto is the resilience of humanity. The kindness of people stepping in to help their community and the NHS is proof that we are stronger together. Supporting where we can, when we can. It’s also important not to feel guilty or cross with family members or friends if you don’t agree with how they are behaving. Everyone is doing their best with the resources they have available, and people are just trying to cope with the enormity of the situation.

Already we have been bombarded with a huge amount of online resources, some for free and others charging a minimal amount. It’s brilliant what you can now access and it’s inspiring to see people change and adapt and be so incredibly creative and resourceful. 

people holding hands
Let’s get through together

Making The Best Of It

If I’m honest I’m not sure what the future holds, but when we make it through I know we will be more resourceful and creative than ever. Having work cancelled is devastating, not being able to see one another is equally hard. So much of our work takes place together and although the chats via the web and the phone means we can stay in touch, it’s not the same. But we have a new story to come up with and we are looking at projects in the future so we can build a robust little company that can weather this storm.

We are working out how to record from home in our houses with limited equipment and tech skills so check out our social media channels, we hope to be sharing some useful stuff with you all by next week. We decided we are not going to charge for our content all we ask is that you get a friend to like our page or share and tag our posts in social media. Please help us build a strong community and let’s help one another through these unsettled times.

The monster menders, characters from Here be dragons hold a suitcase of useful stuff
It’s all useful stuff

Celebrating 20 Years

Not exactly how I thought we would be celebrating two decades of working together but celebrate we must! We feel blessed to have met so many wonderful people along the way and to have formed a great many friendships. Thank you.

I’m taking us back to 2017 when we toured “The Golden Thief” to beautiful spaces across Derbyshire. I will never take for granted being able to take our audience on a spine-tingling shared journey in a beautiful landscape.

The Gardener takes the audience on a wild walk
The Gardener takes the audience on a wild walk

Our Creative Process

Ever wondered how we create our work. Head to our website and read our blogs.  Under the heading, ‘ Our Process’ there are posts about how we write the story,design for the stage,puppet making and songwriting.

Newsletter #15

Storytelling Success At West Park Museum

We had a great half term at this beautiful museum in Macclesfield. The event was part storytelling and part shadow puppetry with a good dose of interactive family fun.
We had lots of positive feedback from this event and it was a delight to see the children mesmerised by the shadows and the wonder in their faces when their own shadow puppet found the light and the screen was truly heart-lifting. 

Thanks to everyone for making it a sell-out success. You’ve given us a warm happy glow.
“Wonderful event, fantastic storytelling and super activities for all ages. Thank you so much” Participant.

West Park Museum - Magical Storytelling Machine
Magical Storytelling Machine at West Park Museum, Macclesfield

Here Be Dragons Back For The Summer

We’ve been working hard to find partners and venues who are up for having fun this summer. In the next few months, we’ll be able to confirm when and where you can come and play.

It’s not too late….If you know of a venue that we can transform then contact: 
mark@babblingvagabonds.co.uk

Characters celebrate from babbling vagabonds here be dragons
Here Be Dragons At Heage Windmill

Celebrating 20 Years

This year we celebrate two decades of working together, so I thought I would celebrate our work by sharing a photo from the past twenty years every month. We feel blessed to have met so many wonderful people along the way and to have formed a great many friendships.

I’m taking us back to 2005-2007 which saw us touring a tabletop puppet show of “The Lonely Giant” to schools, communities and venues.

A lonely giant and a litlle girl called Morag meet one another
The Lonely Giant and Morag

Our Creative Process

Ever wondered how we create our work. Head to our website and read our blogs.  Under the heading, ‘ Our Process’ there are posts about how we write the story,design for the stage,puppet making and songwriting.

Newsletter #14

New Year, New Projects

Here’s wishing you a very happy new year. We are currently busy in the office planning and scheming fun adventures for this year and we hope you can join us on the way.

We are very excited to be working in partnership with the Macclesfield Museums and presenting a fun hour-long story-making adventure for families at West Park Museum. Join a confused and muddled Archaeologist and help him find the objects that create a magical story. For more information about this project make sure you follow our social media pages.

West Park Museum
West Park Museum

Schools Workshops

We are currently offering workshops in story making and shadow play. If you are a teacher, PTFA member or know someone who would like a Babbling Vagabonds workshop or want more information then please get in touch. Want longer than a days workshop? We have a great wealth of experience in delivering residencies too.
Email  tara@babblingvagabonds.co.uk

Shadow puppet characters
shadow puppet characters

Summer Adventures Underway

With the success of “Here Be Dragons” last summer we are keen to share it with more families again this year. We are in cahoots with other communities and seeking further partnerships to help make this happen. Look out for more news nearer the time. If you know of a beautiful venue that we can transform then contact: 
mark@babblingvagabonds.co.uk

Thursday Throwback 

This year we celebrate two decades of working together, so I thought I would celebrate our work by sharing a photo from the past twenty years every month. We feel blessed to have met so many wonderful people along the way and to have formed a great many friendships.

This photo takes us back to 2005 where we undertook some pyrotechnic training with those wonderful creatives Vince, Sally and Jim from Soft Touch Arts

Fireworks raining down

Our Creative Process

Ever wondered how we create our work. Head to our website and read our blogs.  Under the heading, ‘ Our Process’ there are posts about how we write the story,design for the stage,puppet making and songwriting.

Meet The Illustrator

In this blog post, you’ll get to “Meet The Illustrator”. The person who creates our wonderful images for all our Christmas productions with DerbyLIVE and this year’s summer outdoor adventure for families, “Here Be Dragons!”

Here be dragons poster image for a family outdoor adventure

Welcome, Andy. He runs Karate Graphics based at Friar Gate in Derby. I got to ask him some questions and here’s what he said:


What inspires your Creativity?
I am often inspired by something that will catch my eye or things that stand out from the normal. Quirky cartoons and stories, popular culture.. Things that are a little bit macabre too! Visually I try to keep abreast of what other illustrators are doing. Growing up I was a big fan of the Tintin and Asterisk books and these still influence me today.

Andy's pencil drawings of mythical creatures that might be lurking in the woods
Andy’s initial sketch drawings for “Here Be Dragons!”

How did you become an Illustrator? I have always loved drawing. I studied fine art at college and then went on to complete city and guilds and evening classes in desktop publishing, Web design, Illustrator (software) and Photoshop. I then got unpaid work illustrating a magazine and from that set up my own graphic design company which eventually became me doing my illustrations!

Andy's pencil drawing of a woman adventurer running
Andy’s initial sketch drawings for “Here Be Dragons!”

What Type of Projects do you enjoy and why? I enjoy most of the work I do. I enjoy working in a variety of styles as I think it keeps the work fresh. Projects, where I have some creative influence, can be nice as opposed to “draw this like this”. But, those too are rewarding in there own way.

Andy’s initial sketch drawings for “Here Be Dragons!”

Looking back, what advice would you have given yourself when you were just starting out in your career? I guess I probably wouldn’t have listened to myself, but I’ll have a go:
Learn to take criticism – not everyone’s vision is the same and if someone is paying you, they’re the boss! Having said that people will come to you because they like what you do. Buy a tablet and pen for your Mac about 2 years before you did.

Andy's pencil drawing with colour . It depicts a male adventurer running through the woods followed by children
Andy’s initial colour sketch for “Here Be Dragons!”

If you love Andy’s work as much as we do you can follow him on Instagram “Karate Grafika” or email him info@karategraphics.com

Buxton Festivals – Making Large Puppets

Babbling vagabonds have been lucky enough to work with Buxton International Festival and Buxton Fringe Festival on an outreach project for Primary Schools in Buxton. This project would celebrate the festivals 40th years and use Saint Saens “Carnival of the Animals” as inspiration to create large puppets.

The idea behind the project was to inspire and ignite creativity in local year 5 pupils. The outcome would then be part of the Buxton Carnival Parade in July. Then displayed around town in the lead up to Northern Chamber Orchestra’s performance of “Carnival of the Animals” during the Buxton International Festival.

The Design

Using the theme Carnival of the Animals by composer Saint Saens we decided to choose four animals from the music he created. We designed the large puppets with the idea that they would be processed in Buxton Carnival this summer.

sketch ideas for "Carnival of the Animals
Carnival of the Animals: Initial sketch ideas

How the big puppets would look in a parade

Working in Schools

We then assigned each animal to a School and gave ourselves the challenge of creating these in one day. Working with around 10 school children at a time in short sessions we were able to construct a large puppet through the course of a school day. The impact was significant. The groups who worked on the animals in the first session could hardly believe the transformation of their work. 

Fish puppets
Fish for the Aquarium

Turtle made using willow and painted fabric
Turtle

Bird Puppets

Rooster
Rooster

Babbling Vagabonds ended up working with over 200 children, over four days, in four local Schools. The children work collaboratively and helped shape the finished sculptures. They gained new skills and were empowered by what they had created. It was a very positive experience for us as artists and the schools. It was certainly an ambitious project in the timescale but everyone rose to the challenge. We are proud of how the children worked as a team to create these wonderful large puppets.  I can’t wait to see them come to life in the carnival this summer.

Newsletter #13

Here Be Dragons!

We are so excited to be performing at a brand new venue this summer. We are setting our Here Be Dragons family outdoor experience against the incredible backdrop of Heage Windmill near Belper. This unique historic building is the only working six-sailed stone tower windmill in England. Be sure to check out their website to find out about some of the events they put on there and the guided tours around the windmill itself via this link.

Heage Windmill
Heage Windmill

We’d love to see you this summer and share more memory making moments with you and your family. To get your tickets click on the links below. Hope you can make it. Tell your friends too. The tickets for these events are very limited as we wan to keep it intimate and personal, so do book ahead.

Seek us out in Grin Low Woods (Pooles Cavern), as part of Buxton Fringe, from Sat 20- Wed 24 July.  Tickets on sale from 1st June
Set sail with us at Heage Windmill Tue 30 July & Thur 1-2 Aug Book Now
Find us in Markeaton Park Craft Village with DerbyLIVE Mon 5- Sat 10  Aug. Book Now

Here Be dragons

Carnival of the Animals

This month sees us working with year 5 pupils across Buxton schools to create carnival inspired animals for the annual parade in Buxton on the 13th July.

Working in partnership with Buxton International Festival and Buxton Fringe Festival and using Saint-Sans as inspiration we hope to turn some heads this summer.

Don’t forget to follow us on the usual social media channels to see more of what we are up too. Facebook has changed their algorithms for business pages so be sure to click on our page as we might not be showing in your news feed.

Turtle made using willow and painted fabric
Turtle

Mask Making

Buxton International Festival would like as many families as possible to come dressed up for their Carnival of Animals performance on Saturday 20th July. If you fancy having a go at making a mask follow this “How To” video. They’d love to see your creations.

Head to our YouTube Channel and you will find videos to make a simple lion mask and bird mask. Happy dabbling!

"How to" mask making tutorial
“How to” mask making tutorial

Our Creative Process

New blog posts in the pipeline! I will let you know via our newsletter of the developments.
Ever wondered how we create our work. Head to our website and read our blogs.  Under the heading, ‘ Our Process’ there are posts about how we write the story, design for the stage, puppet making and songwriting.

Fun Finds This Month

Fleet Arts

A community arts charity delivering visual arts and music projects.
Check out the events they hold at their venue in Belper.

Fleet Arts logo

The Artful Parent

A great resource for creative ideas to make and do with your children.

The Artful Parent

Missing Link

A charming and beautiful stop-motion animated adventure film

Missing link

Spread the Word

Know anyone who would enjoy reading about our work, please feel free to forward on our newsletter and invite them to join the Tribe.

Newsletter #12

Family Adventures Coming This Summer

We are pleased to announce that our new summer adventure for families will be part of Buxton Fringe Festival, Derby Parks Summer Program with DerbyLIVE and a venue in Belper. (TBC)

Seek us out in Grin Low Woods (Pooles Cavern), Buxton from Sat 20- Wed 24 July. Find us in Markeaton Park Craft Village Mon 5- Sat 10  Aug. You can buy tickets now!

This summer we are creating a unique experience for families titled “Here Be Dragons!” For this new adventure, we are drawing inspiration from those unchartered areas of maps where beasts and serpents may dwell.

Ever tangled with a five-headed Hottle-Spottle with a toothache? Or soothed a silver-tongued slimp-slatherer with a drooling problem? Meet the secretive ‘Creature Carers’ and help them to conjure a story to becalm a bewildered beastie.

man running in wood

Happy 40th!

We are excited to announce that we will be working with Buxton International Festival and Buxton Fringe in a schools project to celebrate their 40th anniversaries. We will be creating something wonderful with local school children for Buxton Carnival and BIF performance of Saint- Saens Carnival of the Animals and we will share our progress via our newsletter and our usual social media platforms. Can’t wait to see how this project develops.

Carnival of the animals

Our Creative Process

Ever wondered how we create our work. Head to our website and read our blogs.  Under the heading, ‘ Our Process’ there are posts about how we write the story, design for the stage, puppet making and songwriting.

Fun Finds This Month

boom Magazine

A great resource for anyone living in or near Belper with a young family. From articles on early learning, recipes and a full listing of local activities and eateries it’s definitely something to have on hand.

Boom magazine logo

Jungle Book

Derby Theatre production this for families this Easter
5-20 April

jungle book

Buxton International Festival Roadshow

A bitesize hour-long performance to dip your toe into opera, music and books in a friendly atmosphere

Buxton International Festival Roadshow

Spread the Word

Know anyone who would enjoy reading about our work, please feel free to forward on our newsletter and invite them to join the Tribe.

Newsletter #11

Here Be Dragons

This summer we are creating a unique experience for families titled “Here Be Dragons!” For this new adventure, we are drawing inspiration from those unchartered areas of maps where beasts and serpents may dwell.

Ever tangled with a five-headed Hottle-Spottle with a toothache? Or soothed a silver-tongued slimp-slatherer with a drooling problem? Meet the secretive ‘Monster Menders’ and help them to conjure a story to becalm a bewildered beastie.
We will let you know the full details of the tour as it develops.

Old Map

Our Theatre Adventures Reaching New Heights

Last month we spent time at Greentop Community Circus working out and formulating ideas for a new project. With the help of Claire Crook, circus artist AKA Madam Mango, and Teo Greenstreet from Greentop Circus Centre in Sheffield and Ian Morley at Barnsley Civic Theatre we have been working on a new project idea with the aim to produce a circus production suitable for families which will premiere in 2020. Next will be the task of teasing out the story from our initial ideas and seeking out the funds to realise this shared creative adventure.

Greentop Circus Sheffield

Our Creative Process

Ever wondered how we create our work. Head to our website and read our blogs.  Under the heading, ‘ Our Process’ there are posts about how we write the story, design for the stage, puppet making and songwriting.

Fun Finds This Month

Meet The Storytellers Of Sound

It’s amazing the mundane everyday objects these people use to create the sound effects for films

Sound Desk

Wow! It’s Night Time

Touring nationally, if this comes to a theatre near you it would be worth a visit. Puppetry for 2-5 year olds

Wow its night time

Nurture Store – Creative and delightful learning

Head to this website and sign up for the newsletter if ever you need a bit of inspiration when it comes to entertaining the kids with art, play and sensory learning

Nurture Store

Newsletter #10

New Show For Christmas 2019

The fairy lights have only just been packed away and already, for us, Christmas is in the air. We have the task this year of writing a brand new story all about a Christmas Toy Shop. Where will our creativity take us? Who or what might be the next hero of our story? Rest assured if you follow us, you can follow our story as we journey on our next adventure together.
Some families have thrown caution to the wind and already booked their seats to see The Christmas Toy Shop Mystery. So if you want the best seats in the house then head to DerbyLIVE to buy your tickets.

Christmas Toyshop Mystery

New Adventures Planned for 2019

We are busy working on new ideas for the future. We are already thinking of the summer and submitting funding bids so we can take families on yet more memory making magical adventures. This year could see the rise of Dragons!

We are also developing a project with Circus Artist Madam Mango, Greentop Circus Centre in Sheffield and Barnsley Civic Theatre and we will let you know how things develop with this project through our newsletter and social media.

dragon in sketchbook

Our Creative Process

Ever wondered how we create our work. Head to our website and read our blogs.  Under the heading, ‘ Our Process’ there are posts about how we write the story, design for the stage, puppet making and songwriting.

Fun Finds This Month

The Dad Lab

Be inspired and follow one dad’s journey on creating many and varied fun and easy activities that he does with his kids

The Dad Lab

Hedgehog’s Home

A 10 minute award winning animation about a hedgehog defending his home from a fox, a wolf, a bear and a wild boar. A story that reminds us there is no place like home.

Hedgehogs Home

Just So Festival

Billed as the family weekend beyond your wildest dreams. For anyone looking to create unforgettable memories with their families.

Just So festival