Don’t worry, this project definitely does not involve bringing any real-life bugs indoors! Instead, it is a simple kids game based on my children’s favourite outdoor activity, which you can play indoors on a rainy day.
The thing my children love to do most in the garden is to turn over the paving slabs in our path looking for bugs. It’s quite sweet to see them occupied (together!) but such a simple activity, but it also drives us a little potty as the slabs are usually replaced at a strange angle.
This project was inspired by that activity, now they can have an indoor bug hunt by turning the wooden slabs to find matching pairs of bugs.
How to make the wooden bug slabs
First what not to do…
The Mod Podge disaster
I read quite a few craft blogs and I find it useful when people explain the things that didn’t work for them, as much as those that did, so I want to tell you about what I tried for this project that didn’t work!
I wanted to transfer the images of the bugs to the wood, so after lots of research, I bought Mod Podge Photo Transfer. What I was expecting was a product that would transfer the image, but what I didn’t realise is that Mod Podge also transfers the paper. The results not only required me to wait 24 hours, but were also really disappointing….
So I went back to the drawing board, more research and more youtube videos! I didn’t want to buy more products and most tutorials recommended either polycrylic or freezer paper neither of which are easy to get hold of in the UK. Then I realised I had just what I needed in my office drawer and transferring the image was quick, easy and cheap.
What you’ll need for this project
• 20 small slices of wood
• A printer (ink jet or laser)
• Parcel labels
• Spray varnish
• Free download of bugs
Where to get the bug images
The bugs used in this project are actually part of a free font called Insect Icons which you can download at www.dafont.com. If you’d like to have total control over your choice of bugs you can download the font for free yourself and then click on the download to install on your computer. Then open any software which you can type in (Microsoft Word, Photoshop etc.) Type the alphabet and change the font choice to Insect Icons. Instead of getting a selection of letters, you will now get a selection of bugs. Choose the ones you like and delete the rest.
There are loads of bugs to choose from, but to make it quick and easy I have picked 10 of my favourite and made them available as a free PDF download.
How to easily transfer images to wood
To transfer the bugs to the wood circles, the first thing you will need is to download the free bug template. You’ll be printing the bugs on to the shiny side of the backing paper that comes with sheets of address labels.
The shiny paper means that the ink is deposited unset on to the surface and can easily be transferred from there on to the wood.
Be very careful when you remove the sheet from the printer, as I said the ink is not set and so will smudge easily. Cut each bug out in turn and place the printed side face down on the wood. Once it has made contact with the wood don’t move it again! Hold it firmly in place with a couple of fingers while you press down the rest. I find a scraper (the kind you use for wallpaper or perhaps bread making) is useful here. Just ensure you keep hold of one point of the paper at all times.
The ink transfers to the wood very quickly and when you take the paper away you should have a print of the insect on the wood and just a tiny amount remaining on the paper.
Repeat this process with all the bugs. To have matching pairs you’ll need to print two sheets, but you could also play a variation of this game where children search for the bugs and get points for bugs and no points when they find a blank wooden coin.
The final step is to protect the finished wood slices. I used a spray varnish for this, it’s very quick and there is less risk of smudging the printed bugs.
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