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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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Discovery Table Week 2: The Alphabet

Welcome to week two of our brand new ‘Discovery Table’ series! This week, we’re all about the alphabet. We’ve had a fair few alphabet resources out for one of my students recently and Zoey has taken a real interest.

If you haven’t read week one yet, here’s the low-down on what the discovery tables are all about. The aim is two-fold: firstly it’s a way to follow Zoey’s current interests and secondly to rotate toys and resources on a regular basis.

The table is just a simple coffee table (previously used to dump toys on!) that is at an accessible height for Zoey. This is not about forced learning but allowing the opportunity for her to access resources more easily.

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Here’s an overview of the resources on this week’s table.

So what’s on the table?

The books and resources on the table are ones which we already had at home – please don’t go out especially and buy resources unless you are in the market for some new items!

 Alphablocks by Hello Pear!

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Hello Pear is one of our favourite Australian small businesses. The alpha blocks are versatile as a learning resource: we use them for  letter recognition, spelling and even building! There’s something about the tactile nature of alpha blocks that helps learning stick much more readily than computerised learning tools.

 

Letter Match Alpha-Pops  by Learning Resources

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These are a great resources for matching capital and lower case letters. The colours match, making it easy for little learners, plus the alpha-pops can double as a role play resource too!

 

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert 

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We received this gorgeous book in the latest Happy Explorers play kit. It’s a fantastic resources that promotes healthy eating through vibrant illustrations. As you can see from the photo above, Zoey loves it. The latest Happy Explorers kit is all about the alphabet, so click on the link to check it out!

 

ABC Lacing Sweets by Learning Resources

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We love the smooth feel of these ‘sweets’ they come in a little jar that again doubles as a great role play resource. The product also came with laces which help develop fine motor skills – whilst the laces aren’t very long, I kept them off the table just in case!

 

Chunky puzzle from Kmart

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‘Santa’ put this in Zoey’s stocking at Christmas time. To be honest, I thought it might be too old for her, but she’s totally rocked it so far! The beauty of the discovery table is that it allows Zoey to freely access resources of her choosing, allowing me to better understand her preferences and abilities.

 

 

 

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Derek the Dragon

As a general rule, I don’t plan out my crafts. I have really tried to be organised and plan months in advance but I think my years as a primary school teacher entirely put me off a planned approach to being creative! To me, part of the beauty of creativity is being inspired and just going with the flow. Take Derek the Dragon here, he was created because I came across some rather magnificent dragon googly eyes in Riot Art & Craft. 

If you want to make your own, please use this post as a guide rather than a definitive ‘how to.’ You may have different recycled materials at hand which will change the shape.

As you may know by now, we are big fans of recycled crafts and if you’re a parent of young kids, I really encourage you to keep anything that might be useful. Derek here is made from a nappy box, an empty washing powder carton, that random ridged packaging that electrical goods usually come in (in this case a blender!) and two takeaway coffee cups!

Derek was a time consuming build, so I recommend you make him over a weekend or during the school holidays. You’ll definitely need time for paint to dry and glue to set!

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Can you guess which flag Derek is based on?

To make your own dragon:

  1. Assemble all of the boxes/ materials you want to use to see if they work. My original idea didn’t quite fit so I had to use other resources.
  2. Whilst Derek was painted then glued, i’d recommend assembling with masking/ gaffer tape first (our little low-temp glue gun didn’t quite hold up his weight!)
  3. Once you’ve chosen the base colour of your dragon, use foam dabbers for quick coverage.  We actually used 3 different colour reds to give Derek a more mottled look.
  4. Leave to dry and paint again. Depending on the type of box used, you may need to paint the base colour again – if not, go onto the next step!
  5. Choose some complimentary colours to stiple over the top. We selected greens and golds for Derek.
  6. Attach eyes, horns and other loose parts with a glue gun.
  7. Choose details like the box lids to create the dragons frills (a craft knife is a good option here.)
  8. Stare wondrously at the magnificent creation you’ve made!

 

If you’d rather bypass the words, here’s a general photo guide…

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We used the flaps of the nappy box to create frills. A craft knife or decent pair of scissors is a must here!

 

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Derek was made from 3 boxes of various sizes which were stuck together with a glue-gun.

 

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Over on Instagram I did little hint in my stories, but this also shows the colour build of red base and green/gold overlay.

 

If you make your own version of Derek, I would LOVE to see! Either post in the comments below or tag me in on Instagram/ Facebook.

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Bob the Blob: A Halloween Slime Craft

Halloween means slime – right? We’ve tried a few different versions of slime before, but this recipe is hands-down the best for some gooey fun! As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, we like to make our Halloween crafts cute rather than creepy and Bob definitely fits the bill!

As a quick word of advice before commencing this activity with the kids, this is best done with older children (from 6+ really) because of the ingredients used – this is definitely not a taste safe recipe!  Don’t do this activity unsupervised and make sure that hands are washed thoroughly after use! 

You will need:

  • 500ml of clear glue
  • Saline solution / contact lens solution containing saline
  • 1 tsp Baking soda (otherwise known as bicarb of soda)
  • Food colouring
  • Googly eyes
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We used a cheaper alternative to contact lens solution from the local chemist which seemed to work just fine!

 

Method:

  1. Add the majority of the 500ml bottle of clear glue to a mixing bowl. I kept some back to adjust the mixture as needed.
  2. Mix 1 tsp of baking soda into the glue.
  3. Use a few drops of food colouring to create the colour of your choice and stir in well.
  4. Add a few drops of saline and keep mixing with a spoon. You should start to notice the mix binding together.
  5. Keep adding a few drops until you end up with a stringy ball – it’s best to do this gradually so that the slime doesn’t become too sticky!
  6. Start to knead the slime with your hands – be patient and the slime should start changing consistency but if its still too sticky, try adding a bit more of the glue to the mix.
  7. If needed, strain out any extra ‘watery’ mix with a sieve. You should end up with a stretchy, malleable slime that doesn’t break apart easily.
  8. Once you are happy with the consistency, add in some googly eyes.
  9. Pour slime mix into an airtight container to preserve.
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Don’t googly eyes just make everything better?

 

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The slime needs to be stretchy without breaking apart too easily

 

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An airtight container should preserve the slime for longer!

If you have your own version of slime, i’d love to hear about it in the comments section below or you can tag me into your FB/ insta posts.

Also check out our other Halloween themed posts: Cute not Creepy, One pumpkin: two invitations and Betty the Blue-nicorn! Happy Crafting 🙂

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Betty the Blue-nicorn

When I was recently asked to do an Instagram takeover of the Parent Talk Australia account, I decided to make a special craft to mark the occasion!* Here’s a step-by-step guide for making your own version…

You will need:

  • Carving pumpkin (ours was medium sized)
  • Binder/ sealant
  • Non-toxic acrylic paints
  • Hairdryer
  • Wax crayons (we used crayola)
  • Low temp glue gun
  • Shell or something conical for the horn
  • Posca pens or similar.

The vast majority of our craft supplies come from Riot

How to Make:

Cover your pumpkin in a binder/ sealant. This just helps with coverage and the acrylics seem to go on easier:

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Once dry, cover in acrylic paint. You might need more than one coat, but that will depend on the paint you are using! We added a sparkly touch to Betty with some glitter paint too 🙂

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Leave to dry for at least 24 hours before you start phase 2 – which is basically melting the crayons!

Attach wax crayons to the top of the pumpkin with a low-temp glue gun:

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It helps to glue the crayons into the natural ridges of the pumpkin.

Start to melt the crayons with a hairdryer. We found that a high temperature and medium speed setting worked well.

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Team effort! Even the husband did his fair share with the hairdryer 🙂

Once the crayons have started to melt, gently bend the crayons against the pumpkin to avoid spray:

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We always use a giant paint tray for crafts as it helps to catch any mess – like the spray back of the crayons you can see here!

 

It can take a little while for the crayons to start melting, but once they do you can start to manipulate the direction of the wax:

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Messy! But beginning to take shape!

 

Once you are happy with your creation, you can start on the unicorn details! Or if you like, just keep going and melt the crayons further. I decided on a complete whim that the pumpkin would be turned into a unicorn as the crayons started to look like a pretty cool mane!

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I added details with Posca pens. In my opinion, they are definitely worth the money!

Last but not least, add the unicorn horn! We struggled for a while to find something suitable before finally deciding upon a shell:

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Glue on the shell with a glue-gun.

 

And there you have it, one beautiful blue unicorn!

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If you make your own version, I would LOVE to see! Either comment here or tag me in on Facebook/ Instagram. There’s plenty of Halloween themed posts on the blog if you want ideas for other activities so also check out Cute not Creepy  and One Pumpkin: Two Invitation 

*Betty is a great no-carve option for Halloween but make sure that any children helping are under constant supervision. My eight year old helped with some parts, but do be aware that the wax from the crayons can spray if the hairdryer is held at the wrong angle!