Monday, 31 October 2011

5-A-Day Books: Silly Books!

This week we're reading silly books!  These are the books that either make you laugh or make you groan when you're asked to read them again.  These books are all about bold illustrations, snappy text, lots of plays on words, nonsense words and things being simply wrong.  Nick Sharratt seems a particular expert at these sort of books, so 4 out of the 5 are by him this week.

We got this one from the library last week and Little Chick absolutely loves it.  It's split into two horizontally so you mix up the bottom and top half of the pages to create lots and lots of utter nonsense.  Little Chick finds it so funny she loves reading it aloud to me and asking me the questions: Do you want jam on your toes?  Do you want jam in your bed? and so on with each time I am required to answer No! That would be Silly! or such like.

Another silly book celebrating the world of pants with fabulous illustrations and brilliant rhyming text, perfect for a 5-a-day book.  I particularly like the 'lighting up at night pants!'

The girls love this one, particularly Shoeshine, there's a hole on every page for little people to put their fingers through and then you turn the page to find out what they've put their finger into!

 Lots and lots of nonsense words in this one and lots of flaps and tabs to lift and pull.

And a return to Norman, I love this book.  It's a very funny story about a slug who wants to be like a snail and his hunt for a suitable shell.

What silly nonsense books do you enjoy?

Friday, 28 October 2011

Baby Play: Eggs and Egg Boxes

With Little Chick now at preschool every morning, there's time for a bit of play with just the Shoeshine and me.  Whilst a lot of the time she's just happy playing with her big sister's toys uninterrupted, she does love (as all babies do) exploring new things.  Based on the idea of treasure baskets I sometimes put together a few items into a basket and just watch her explore and join in if she wants me too.  This time her basket contained eggs (plastic eggs - a 75p bargain from after Easter sales last year) and some egg boxes.

Treasure baskets are a lovely idea for baby play, ideal from when they can sit up to around 18 months.  Basically they are baskets of goodies for your baby to explore using lots of their senses.  They can be noisy things, textured items, things from nature.  Basically anything your baby can safely explore.  (One of Shoeshine's favourite is actually the washing basket with all the coloured pegs - a treasure basket you didn't even realise you already had prepared!) 

I love the idea of not needing to always buy more toys when they tire of what they have, but that a quick search round the house can usually rustle up a selection of goodies for exploring (whose little one doesn't love searching the kitchen cupboards for you!).

As Shoeshine loves putting things in and taking things out (most babies to seem to love this) I thought eggs and egg boxes could be good to play with.  And I just love these beautiful eggs, perfect for a baby (and a mummy) to play with and explore.

I love how inquisitive little ones are.  Straight away she saw the basket and crawled over and stood up to look inside.

She then got busy taking out the egg boxes and trying to open them.  She couldn't quite manage to open the egg box by herself at first so on her prompting (her squawking at me whilst thrusting the box at me!) I gave her some help to open them.

But she was very pleased with herself when she managed to open it all by herself!

Once the box was open it was time to explore what else was in the basket.

She quickly worked out she could put the eggs in box and had a lot of fun putting them in and taking them out.

There was a lovely moment when she picked up the 7th egg and tried to put it in her box and you could see the little cogs whirring as to what might be the solution.

Then she discovered that once one box was full she could put the eggs in another box as well.


We played with the basket on another day too.


With lots more putting in and taking out.  Then she discovered that the eggs opened! So she then spent a lot of time pulling them apart and putting them back together, with a little help when mum when she got frustrated.

We had lots of fun with this activity.  Putting things in and taking things out is just what Shoeshine loves doing at the moment so perfect for little hands to get busy and perfect for little minds to be occupied thinking and exploring.  

This would be a lovely activity to do around Springtime and Easter.  I'm also thinking it would be good to put some things inside the eggs for her to discover next time we use them. 

Monday, 24 October 2011

5-A-Day Books: Baby Favourites


Shoeshine is now 15 months and absolutely LOVES books.  She loves having stories read to her and she loves sitting by herself 'reading'.  I find it so amazing that already she got the idea of flipping through pages and she's got her favourite books that she will go and get off the shelf.  So this week our five a day books are some of Shoeshine's favourites.

Shoeshine was given this at a wedding we went to earlier in the year.  All the babies were given little books on their high chairs at the reception - such a cute idea. This was hers.  We've got quite a few from this series and all of them are fantastic, colourful, touchy-feely and really robust.  A great series of baby books.

This book is from another great series.  Each page there is a hole through to the next page and it might be the duck that you can see, but every time it's something else, amazing illustrations and really simple text.  Shoeshine has just started joining in with the"shh" bit when you come across the sleepy sheep dog.

Absolute classic, all babies and children seem to love this book.  I must have read it well over 100 times and I still really enjoy reading it.  Good choice Shoeshine!

The builders have such a busy day at the building site in this lovely rhyming board book.  There are little tabs so you turn the cement mixer or you can move the builders up and down the ladder.  Brilliantly these are pretty robust and they are all still intact after both the girls have read this book al lot.  Perfect if Daddy works in construction!

I know this is really 4 books! But they're only short and they're really good.  Shoeshine was given this mini box set by some lovely friends and she loves it.  They are perfect size for little hands and who wouldn't want to keep putting them and taking them out of their box as well as reading them.  They are also really simple text so Little Chick is able to 'read' them aloud to her little sis. 

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Fir Cone and Pipe Cleaner Bugs

We been making our own bugs, spiders and flies using pipe cleaners and fir cones.

I got a few bits and pieces ready.  Some fir cones (collected on holiday a while ago), some colourful feathers, poms poms and fluffy pipe cleaners.  We also had a packet of goggly eyes that we had bought the other week together and Little Chick has been asking when we might get to play with them.

The girls had fun exploring what was in the basket.

Shoeshine loved the pipe cleaners.

Little Chick wanted to know what we were going to do with these things, so we got out our Mad about Minibeasts book and had a look at what bugs or creatures we might have a go at making.  We decided to try a spider (with all those lovely colourful fluffy pipe cleaners we needed to do something with plenty of legs!) 

As we were both making spider some of what Little Chick decided to do was copying what I was doing, but with her own take on it.  Here she is squashing the eyes onto the body, having chosen one blue and one white.

We then used pipe cleaners for the legs, wrapping them round the fir cones.

Then it was time for Little Chick's favourite bit - glueing!  

And these were our finished spiders.

Little Chick then decided she wanted to make a bird (who wouldn't with those lovely feathers?)

 Using pom poms to make eyes.

Add some feathers.

And have a chat to your new friend!

Then together we had a go at making a fly.  I cut out the wings from an empty lemonade bottle and we used pipecleaners for the antenne and pom poms and goggly eyes for the face.

And here are our finished creatures in their natural habitat! 

 Little Chick did the spider at the front, whilst I did the spider at the back.  As we didn't use glue for anything other than the goggly eyes, Little Chick did get a bit frustrated with bits falling off as she was trying to make it, but then it made for great fine motor skills and manipulation practice, winding and bending them around the fingers of the fir cone.  Although I'm sure you could use glue if you'd prefer, I just quite like their temporary nature and the  idea of being able to take them apart and reassemble them as something different another day.

I've link up at:

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell Biscuits


We've been having fun baking and decorating Norman biscuits, based on the book Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell.  

Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell is a great book, silly funny and full of nonsense a perfect story book to get the imagination going.  The lovely colourful illustrations to this book definitely lend itself to lots of activities and I thought we could try some baking around this book.

Recently Little Chick hasn't been as interested in baking as usual, so I thought the idea of making Norman biscuits might be a bit more tempting - boy I was right - she was in the kitchen like a shot!

Doughnuts would probably have been too difficult (wanted to stay away from hot oil), so we did biscuits instead.

We used a very simple biscuit recipe called Old Fashioned Jumbles:
100g margarine
100g brown sugar
200g self raising flour
1 small egg beaten (just enough to make a stiff dough)
 Measure out the sugar.

 Measure out and add the margarine. 

(I really like recipes with margarine as it's more predictable than butter, which often seems to be either rock solid or almost liquid, whereas margarine's consistency doesn't seem to vary so much with the weather.  It also seems to cope well with being handled lots when in dough form.  This makes it great for little hands to scoop, measure, mix and squish.  Also good for disorganised mummies who can't remember to get the butter out of the fridge in advance!)

Cream the margarine and sugar, then add the flour and mix together.  Then add just enough egg to make a stiff dough (don't worry if you add too much you can just add a bit more flour)

We then floured the work surface ready for our biscuits. (We used a mix of 25g flour, 25g brown sugar amd 1tsp cinnamon this was meant to give it a sugary crispy coating like a doughnut, but I'm not sure it really worked.)

Then with our book at the ready we started making our dough into Normans.  Chick loved this bit, she was concentrating so hard!

We just went freestyle with our dough.  Using our hands to roll it into balls, then squashing into a circle and then making a hole with your finger and wiggling it around to make it the right size.  We then rolled little sausage shapes for the head.  But if you wanted a neater look you could use 2 different size round cutters instead.

We then baked them in a fan oven at 160 oC for about 12-15 min.

The next day it was time to mix up some pink icing (icing sugar, few spoons of water and a drop of red food colouring - afraid no measurements here).

Again with our book to hand...

Little Chick got busy decorating...

And sprinkling.

Shoeshine also wanted to get involved so I gave her a biscuit and a small bowl with a little bit of icing.

But really she just wanted to eat the icing!

 When Little Chick had finished decorating we added sliced dolly mixtures for eyes (stuck on with a bit of spare icing).

And our finished Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell Biscuits.
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