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10 Activities with Playdough

Playdough is our absolute favourite play resource. Its a fantastic sensory tool but without the mess associated with other sensory forms of play.

Now that I’m a mama of three, the playdough is out on a daily basis. So here are 10 invitations to play that all involve playdough… Continue reading 10 Activities with Playdough

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Why we LOVE wooden toys

The best toy I’ve ever bought the children? Without a doubt, the Grimm’s large rainbow. Wooden toys have a longevity that makes them particularly appealing to me, a mum of three children.

When my eight-year-old son was small, I fell into all of the parenting toy traps possible. Our house had turned into a plastic city, full of noisy, garish toys that he would lose interest in almost immediately. By the time Zoey was born six years later, there was nothing left from Harrison’s baby and toddler years to pass down. Continue reading Why we LOVE wooden toys

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An invitation to play: muddy farmyard

You might’ve guessed by now that I HATE wasting materials! I recently used coco powder as a writing tray for one of my students and since it was then destined for the bin immediately after, I decided to turn it into mud instead!

Here’s the oobleck farm we made with it:

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This went down an absolute storm with Zoey! She played with it for an hour at least. She made the animals muddy, scopped the mud into different containers and finally washed them clean with water. In toddler terms, i’m sure that you can all agree than one hour of engaged play is HUGE!

What is oobleck?

Oobleck is a fabulous introduction to STEAM. Mixed together, the combination of cornflour and water has some really interesting properties. If you were to prod it with a spoon or your fingers, it would act as a solid, but try to pick it up and its liquid like in consistency! This is activity I tend to do with my youngest (2) as a safe alternative to slime.

You will need:

  • Cornflour
  • Coco powder
  • Water
  • Farm animals or similar
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Large tray
  • Container for the ‘mud’

I’m not going to give you quantities for each ingredient since this will depend on the size of the container you use. My advice is to add each ingredient gradually!

 

Invitation to Play:

I set up the container, utensils and farm animals as an ‘invitation to play’ so that Zoey could choose the direction of play herself. We’re constantly doing sensory activities so she knows exactly what she wants to do HOWEVER if this is the first time you’ve ever tried something like this, you may want to help out a little!

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The little scoops found in washing powders are a fabulous way for young children to practice hand-eye coordination. Zoey enjoyed moving the mud from one to another then ‘feeding’ her farm animals with it.

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Once the novelty factor of the mud had worn off, we extended the play session by adding water in squirty bottles (the one in the photo is an old honey bottle) to wash the mud off!

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Then we just keep adding water with the introduction of warm, soapy water in a bowl. I actually think that Zoey loved this part the most and it also saved me the job of cleaning up – win!

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Discovery Table Week 9: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This is the penultimate week in our discovery table series and I couldn’t finish without featuring another of our favourite books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle! We have LOVED sharing the tables on the blog each week but with a new baby on the way, these posts will finish after 10 weeks. Not to worry though, as we will be keeping them going in real life – just keep an eye out on our Instagram and Facebook pages!

 

First look:

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This week’s table features a lot of play food! At the recommendation of my insta-buddy Julie Curtin, I decided to feature Eating the Alphabet alongside The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a way to explore healthy eating and occasional foods.

The inspiration:

The very lovely Johanna from Hello Pear sent me these gorgeous story stones and they’ve already proved a massive hit with both my children and one of my students too:

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Story stones are a fabulous way of helping children to retell stories in their own words. With my student we combined the stones with these days of the week blocks – both are available from Hello Pear. 

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Food glorious food!

For the rest of the set-up, I simply gathered together a range of play food into a felt IKEA shopping basket that would fit the  ‘healthy’ and ‘occasional’ categories for the children to sort:

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Want more? 

Check out the rest of the discovery table series by clicking on the links!

Discovery Table Week 1: Baby Clinic

Discovery Table Week 2: The Alphabet

Discovery Table Week 3: The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Discovery Table Week 4: The Ocean Waves

Discovery Table Week 5: Rainbow

Discovery Table Week 6: Nature

Discovery Table Week 7: Music

Discovery Table Week 8: Zoo!

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Hot Air Balloon Craft

Big balloon, big balloon Bigger than the sun and moon. Flying high In the sky Fly, fly and fly and fly!

I’m pretty sure that all parents know the Peppa Pig song, right? If not, I promise that as soon as you listen to it, it’ll be stuck in your head for an eternity! It was well and truly on rotation after a trip to the Canberra Balloon Festival, which takes place every March.

 

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Up early to watch the balloons from the National Arboretum in Canberra

After an early start on Canberra Day, we decided to get our craft on. The original idea was to do a paper mache hot air balloon, but after failing to find a single balloon in the house, we went for option B instead.

You will need:

  • Paper lanterns -ideally in white, but we just used what we had!
  • Non-toxic acrylics
  • Paint brushes and sponges
  • Chenille sticks
  • Disposable coffee cups
  • White thread
  • Sticky tape or pins

 

Step 1: Set up an invitation to create

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Our lanterns were left over from a Star Wars themed party, but white would probably work better.

With four of us crafting, I set up the large dining room table with an assortment of paints and brushes.

 

Step 2: Get busy with the paint!

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The beauty of this craft is that you can get a range of age groups involved. We had Zoey (2) crafting side by side with her Nana. The key is to make sure you are using non-toxic paints!

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Note that the kids don’t have t-shirts on. Acrylics don’t tend to wash out of clothing so it’s best to either leave them off or wear a smock. 

Harrison went for a blue and red ‘Japanese’ theme (he loves his Japanese lessons at school) whilst I created random splodges with a sponge.

Step 3 – Leave to dry

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Our balloons took most of the day to dry. Afterwards, we punched holes into the tops of disposable coffee cups then attached chenille sticks so that they hung from the lanterns:

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Taking Timmy the Sheep for a ride in the balloon!

Finally – display your craft!

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This is the kind of craft that could potentially take up a lot of room in the house, so we made it part of our new play space instead. Because the lanterns are so light, we were able to use white thread attached with sellotape.

Want more?

Check out the following posts:

Our New Play Space

Why Mess is Best