Random ramblings and TV-inspired activities

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Stick horse

Mock me, will you sock? Roaming defiantly un-paired? Well HA! This'll teach you.

I'm not a fan of princesses in general, but for Little Princess I will make an exception. She's 4 years old, charming, frustrating, stroppy... did I mention she's 4 years old? I'm told she's very like I was at that age.

Visually, it reminds me of King Rollo, but it's actually drawn by Tony Ross of Horrid Henry fame. Little Princess lives in a castle, with her Mummy, Queen (who's permanently wearing a headscarf, crown balanced on top) and Daddy, King (usually wearing a tie and scruffy jacket). They are pretty much a normal family but they happen to be royal. And there's sundry other supporting characters who live with them in the castle - take the Prime Minister, for instance. To quote his biog on the Little Princess website, he'd "rather ride around on his tricycle with the Princess than run the country". Obviously a Tory then.

It's very wittily observed. Little Princess is pretty much at the centre of all things, and yes, I can relate to the feeling that your household is run around your preschooler. Of the staff, the General is my favourite, all well-meaning bumbling and 5 o'clock shadow. He rides Nessie, the stick-horse which inspired this activity. Have you seen Monty Python & The Holy Grail, where the knights pretend to ride horses but are just followed by a chap clapping coconut shells together? It's that sort of deal with the General's horse. Plus there's a wonderful romantic subtext going on with the General and the Maid that's begging for it's own ITV2 miniseries. (How I wish I had a Maid! I'd settle for a General though, if he was good at washing up... heck, I'd settle for a dishwasher.)

I'm not keen on princesses, all beautifully useless waiting for their princes. And I do think that the 'princess' message pushed at our kids is potentially damaging, especially when there are books like this in school libraries today (as dissected in an excellent blog post by SenseofEntitlement). However Little Princess is much more "real" than the usual princess fantasies; being 4 years old helps, of course, as even princesses have to learn how to use the potty. All in all, it's one of the programmes that I will hop across to Five for; it foregrounds relationships in most of the plots, getting along with people, helping each other, and that sort of thing, but not in a preachy or idealised way. It's a world much closer to one that I recognise... apart from the Maid thing*. But if we had a maid we wouldn't have stray socks available for horse-transformations, so there's an upside for you.

Anyway, you can buy yourself a real "Nessie" for the princely sum of around £15. Or you can fashion your own by using the inner tube from some wrapping paper and a sock.


One sturdy tube of around 1m length (ours was from some old Xmas wrapping paper)
One sock - white for preference
Some newspaper
A rubber band
Some white paper and some brown/black paper - or fabric if you want something more permanent
Some felt-tip pens - washable, if you're bothered about re-using the sock

Take the sock and stuff it with newspaper, up to just beyond the heel.
Insert tube into neck of the sock.
Sellotape edge of sock to the tube, and loop a rubber band around it for added security.
Draw a face and spots on the sock
Cut out two 'arches' out of the white paper and fold in two lengthways.
Use sellotape to attach these 'ears' to the horse.
Cut a length of brown or black paper and frill it for a mane.
Sellotape mane to horse - I cut tabs and alternated the side I stuck the tab down to make the mane stand straighter.
(You could use fabric and stitch the mane and ears on instead - I was going for a fast make so didn't bother. If the appeal proves durable, I may re-make it in that fashion. If I can be bothered.)

Gee up! Get busy with the boxes and toys for an obstacle course/jump race for the littl'uns...

*And we don't have a pond either. Or an Admiral stood in it. Or in fact any staff at all...


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