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10 sensory bottles to try

Sensory bottles are an absolute winner in our house. They are engaging, easy to make and perhaps most importantly, don’t cause a huge mess like other forms of sensory play.

The bottles featured in this post are all plastic Voss bottles. We personally prefer this brand because they are pretty versatile: you can see clearly through them.

With the exception of the bottle filled with water, it’s important to note that the lids are glued in place. This is because these bottles are intended for babies and toddlers.*

Here are ten sensory bottles to try at home. In most cases, you probably already have most of the materials at home already. All of them are suitable as a tummy time activity (from when your baby is old enough to reach and grab) or as an educational tool for slightly older children. Continue reading 10 sensory bottles to try

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5 ideas for tummy time

The very early days and months with baby are HARD. You’re tired and your bub will probably sleep a lot but almost definitely not at night. The midwives and healthcare visitors will encourage you to do ‘tummy time’ but that’s sometimes easier said than done.

Tummy time helps babies to strengthen their head and neck although initially, they won’t be able to lift their head at all. That comes with time. So if you’re reading this and your baby is very new, try very short intervals of tummy time a few times a day.

Once your baby begins to show interest in the world around them, here are some ideas to try that will make tummy time more engaging. Continue reading 5 ideas for tummy time

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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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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:

pumpkin binder

 

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 🙂

betty 10.jpg

 

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:

betty 9
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.

betty 8
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:

betty 7.jpg
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:

betty 5
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!

betty 4
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:

betty 2.jpg
Glue on the shell with a glue-gun.

 

And there you have it, one beautiful blue unicorn!

betty

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!

 

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One Pumpkin: two invitations…

Okay so pumpkin carving isn’t exactly new, but it is an immense amount of fun! If you’re on Pinterest, and lets face it, who isn’t? You’ll see a myriad of pumpkin ideas ranging from easy peasy to super skillful. When you’ve got kids, you just have to go for the options that are accessible and fun so here are two activities you can try with just the one pumpkin – i’m sure you’ll all agree that this is a money saving win too! 😉

An invitation to play…

pumpkin scoop 5.jpg

In the beginning, I wasn’t going to carve the pumpkin at all, but then I started to think of all the wastage which made me a little sad! After I lopped the top off of the pumpkin (definitely an adult job!), I set the kids to work scooping out the flesh. They used scoops, spoons and their hands to remove all of the pumpkins innards for a real bit of sensory fun!

Great for:

  • Fine motor skills: using fingers to grasp at the pumpkin
  • Hand grasp: using the spoons/ scoops
  • Language: describing the texture of the pumpkin, what it sounds like etc.
  • Sensory development: everything from smell, taste, touch, sight and sound is covered in this one activity!

Side note: younger children should be under constant supervision due to the size of the pumpkin seeds.

 

pumpkin scoop 2
If you do a lot of sensory play, a tuff tray like this is a good investment. Ours is from Invitation to Play 

 

pumpkin scoop 4
Zoey really loved the texture of the pumpkin seeds and flesh.

 

pumpkin scoop 1
All of the seeds were ‘sorted’ into a pan – you could get older kids to sort the seeds from the flesh too!
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Once the kids had finished, I scooped out the extra flesh myself to avoid any mould.

An invitation to create…

pauline the pumpkin
This is Pauline – Isn’t she beautiful?

Have you ever tried to carve a pumpkin? It’s not that easy and certainly not a job i’d entrust to the kids. There’s way too much margin for error but compromises can be made if you want to get your creative on as a family. Like I said above, I was loathed to waste the flesh, so Pauline is a halfway house between a no-carve and carved creation. Here’s how she was made:

 

pumpkin scoop 6
1. Scoop out all the flesh! Just in case you missed the bit above – getting out every last bit of flesh is important so that the pumpkin lasts longer. Any extra pumpkin flesh tends to get moldy pretty quickly!
pumpkin 6.jpg
2. We used a binder/ sealant from Riot  as a base.
pumpkin 4
3. After the binder had dried, we set to work on the white acrylic. We used approximately 3 coats, but you might need more of less depending on the brand of paint!
pumkin 3
4. Once the white paint was dry, the kids set to work splodging neon paint all over the pumpkin – so much fun!
pauline 2.jpg
5. We left the pumpkin a few days before I carved the eyes with a craft knife (in hindsight, this would’ve been best done prior to painting) Then we added in ‘Day of the Dead’ style drawings using Posca pens. The flowers have been recycled from a previous craft – you can find out how to make them here.

This activity is great for:

  • Expression: the kids went crazy with the neon paint.
  • Fine motor skills: drawing on the features.
  • Creative thinking: how could we all join in with the activity?
  • Teamwork: sharing out the tasks.
  • Historical research: with older kids, you can explore the background of the Dia de los Muertos festival for the ‘why’ behind the decoration.

 

Side notes:

  • Carving should really be done by an adult.
  • Be aware of the paint you are using if you want to light up your pumpkin with tealights. Although we used water-based acrylics (which are considered safe), we avoided any dilemma altogether by placing a mini torch inside Pauline.  Definitely do not use oil based paints!!!
  • And FINALLY, although Pauline was very beautiful on the outside, by the 5th day her insides were a totally different story. I suspect the paint caused her to get moldy quicker so if you want a longer lasting decoration, I would go for the no-carve option. As it happens, it turned into a fascinating STEAM experiment! 🙂

 

Have you got an accessible pumpkin idea you’d like to share? Either comment below or tag me in on Facebook / Instagram.