Anna's blog post for the week is brought to you by guest writer, Deputy Editor Emma Pocklington.

This week, I am playing with hand puppets. Battle crab hand puppets to be precise. I’m sat at my desk, researching the best way to make working crab claws and crafting a crab shell from a paper plate.

But I’m not just playing with puppets because I’m the youngest member of the RPSB magazine team and I love a craft, it is in fact part of my job. And one of my favourite parts at that. As Deputy Editor to Anna, I’m allowed to get fully stuck in with the RSPB’s wonderful children’s magazines, designing and making many of the crafts that appear in each issue.

Our craft projects in the magazine often start with a phone call to Youth Editor Jack. It’s mid-March, months before we can start thinking about enjoying the summer sun, and there’s frost on the windows. We’re all wrapped up in jumpers and scarves, but our editorial meeting today will be about the late summer issue of Wild Explorer. We’re discussing rock pooling and marine themes, and Jack has a vision. As usual when we get onto the fun stuff, you can hear the excitement in his voice.

“What about battle crabs, that sit on the back of your hand and you can play a grabbing game with them?”

“Amazing!” Anna and I exclaim. We put down the phone. “How are we going to do that?”

Research is the starting point of any good craft project. The internet is awash with crafters, bursting with good ideas. A little bit of searching found us a number of workable paper plate crabs, but no one had done quite what we were planning. Clearly we were leading the curve in battle crab technology. Time for some prototypes.

We’ll take the best bits of what we find online and make them into something better!

Once we’ve got an idea of what we’re going to do, we start practical testing. The only way to do this is to delve into the craft cupboard and begin the process of trial and error. 

 

The craft cupboard is a veritable cave of wonders.

It can take a few attempts to work out the best way to do a craft. Even if we make something we’re happy with, we’ll continue to iron out the process until we’ve made it as simple as possible. We’re always working with kids in mind and our top priority is to design something that will be as fun to make as it is to play with when it's finished.

We’ll try a few different approaches before we settle on the finished product.

Of course we also want to make something that is going to teach children about nature, and inspire them to learn more. So Jack will take a look over our designs and use his expert knowledge to make sure what we’ve come up with is factually accurate and educational.

Once we’ve found our final design, it’s time to make a finished crab. This is when we’ll hand our prototype over to a professional freelance crafter to really bring it to life.

The day that the final craft is delivered to the office is always an exciting one. Everyone downs tools and dedicates some time to having a good old play. Purely for product testing purposes of course.

  

I thoroughly tested our battle crab game. It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it.

As with all good magazine projects, our crafts end with a glamorous photo shoot. Our creations are whisked away upstairs, where Steve and the team at Secret Studios capture them in all their glory. Then all we have to do is put them on page for the next edition of our action-packed kids magazines!

And for the finished product? Well, you’re just going to have to wait for the September-October issue of Wild Explorer to land on your doorstep! Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

Anonymous