Friday, 27 April 2012

Pirate Birthday Party

Little Chick turned 4 this week (where does the time go!) and we had a lot of fun celebrating with friends.  She wanted to have a pirate party so I also had lots of fun thinking of things we could do.  Here's some of things we got up to.

  To start with I drew out some pirate themed invitations, some treasure maps, pirate ships and treasure chests.  Little Chick absolutely loved just sitting up next to me chatting all the time whilst I was doing these, enthralled by the thought of what her pirate party might be.  With baby no. 3 due in 3 weeks I didn't really feel up to doing loads and wanted to keep it fairly simple but hopefully with lots of imaginative and creative fun for Little Chick and her friends with a homespun feel.

Next on the list was to create some pirate costumes and Little Chick and I had a big girls only trip on the bus to Fabricland to choose some fabric - which is all very exciting when you're about to turn 4!  I'm not a huge fan of the pirate skull and crossbones motif so we went for anchors, polka dots and stripes in red, white and navy blue.  More details of how these were made to follow in another post.

We had a cardboard pirate ship, made out of some old packaging.  Do you remember our Indoor Camping Cardboard Box Tent - well this is the same cardboard box recycled and upcycled again into a pirate ship.

We then a few activities on the dining room table.

We had cutlasses to decorate.

With some beautiful results.

And some telescopes to paint and decorate

(particularly adding lots of jewels and sparkles!)

We also had a small side table at toddler height for drawing treasure maps.

Shoeshine loved this area and drew A LOT of maps!

Despite lots and lots of rain recently it was dry enough to head outside for a play with the cardboard pirate ship and to tuck into some pirate tea.

Boats, anchors and lighthouse cream cheese sandwiches
Gold nuggets popcorn
Rubies (cherry tomoatoes)
Treasure rings (Hula hoops)
Starfish and seashell mini savoury biscuits
Digging for Treasure in quick sand (Mini breadsticks with homous dip) 
Plus a platter of Treasure Island Fruit (Strawberries and Grapes)

We then had jelly in little orange boats with flags.

These were so cute.  Small portion sizes for little ones and the bonus of no washing up afterwards!

After tea there was time for Daddy Pirate to do a treasure hunt round the garden, using an A1 size map I'd drawn out, they had to find bottles hidden in the garden each with clues to finding the treasure.

A good pirate needs a good beard!

A clue in the jungle (some shrubs in the garden), among the rocks (in a pile of gravel), in the swamp (in our water play bucket) and in the long grass (in some more plants).

And finally discovering the treasure chest in a cave (actually our garage!) Then lighting the candles and singing happy birthday. The treasure hunt was a great hit Daddy pirate really got into his role and the little ones loved him.

For the party bags I just used simple brown paper bags inscribed with 'pirate treasure' and sealed with a pirate sticker.

Each party bag contained a bandana, some edible pirate treasure of gold chocolate coins and sweetie necklaces and a pirate eye patch to finish off. 

A tired Mummy and Daddy and hopefully a crew of happy little pirates!  Thank you to the wonderful friends who came and helped us celebrate, hope you had fun too.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Outdoor Play: Playing in the Rain

Just because it's been raining most of the day doesn't mean you can't have fun outside. No specific play, just simply putting on wellies, coat and grabbing an umbrella to heading outside into the pouring rain.

To sing, to dance,

to splash in puddles

I love the way kids show us that rain can be so much fun!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Music and Singing: Creating a Song Box

Singing is a great activity to do with little ones, whether it be in the car, out on a walk, as part of a toddler group or just at home on a rainy day.  I love the way singing together can be great family teamwork.  It can calm a crying baby, amuse a bored toddler and entertain a preschooler all at the same time!  Plus it's great for building language and numeracy skills as well as teaching memory, rhythm and rhyme.

Although we do some singing pretty much every day we often get stuck in a rut and end up just singing a few songs on repeat!  So one of the things I've been thinking of doing is creating some Song Boxes for when we do singing together with prompts for lots of different songs (saves a tired Mummy having to think up what to sing and the girls love being able to choose an item from the box and thinking of a song that links to the item).  

Shoeshine beautifully decorated a shoe box a little while ago - just perfect for turning into a Song Box.  I simply added a label and then we started raiding our toy boxes and cupboards for things that linked to a song we know. 

We grouped our songs around a number of different themes, but to be honest the girls would probably have been just as happy with a random assortment box, it's probably just me that likes things more ordered! So the themes I used: Farm Animals, Water, Transport and Buildings, Space, Food, Jungle, My Body and Health.

Farm Animals Theme

Old MacDonald had a Farm
Baa Baa Black Sheep
Three Blind Mice
Incy Wincy Spider
There's a Spider on the Floor
Five Little Ducks
I'm a Dingle Dangle Scarecrow
Little Peter Rabbit's got a Fly upon his Nose
Little Rabbit Foo Foo

Water Theme

The Big Ship sails on the Ali-Ali-Oh
Row, Row, Row your Boat
Climb Aboard the Pirate Ship/ The Day I Went to Sea
5 Little Speckled Frogs, sat on a Speckled Log
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Once I caught a Fish Alive
5 Puddle Ducks went Swimming One Day

Transport and Buildings Theme

Bouncing Up and Down on the Big Blue Tractor
Peter Hammers with One Hammer, One Hammer, One Hammer
Wheels on the Bus/Car
The Wise Man Built His House Upon a Rock
The Big Ship sails on the Alli-Alli-Oh
Row, Row, Row your Boat
Climb Aboard the Pirate Ship/ The Day I Went to Sea
Journey Home from Grandpa's (Barefoot Book)

 Space Theme

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Zoom, Zoom, Zoom We're going to the Moon
5 Little Men in a Flying Saucer 

(I need a bit smaller rocket!)

Food Theme

I Like Bananas, Monkey Nuts and Grapes
Oranges and Lemons
5 Currant Buns in the the Baker's Shop
Polly Put the Kettle On 

Jungle Theme

Down in the Jungle
Nellie the Elephant
5 Little Monkeys Bouncing on the Bed
Walking Through the Jungle
We're All Going to the Zoo Tomorrow

My Body and Health Theme

Miss Polly had a Dolly who was Sick. Sick, Sick
Rock-a-bye Baby on the Treetops
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Roly-Poly, Roly-Poly
If you're Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands
Lavender's Blue (not strictly fitting with the theme but very popular with Little Chick at the moment)

 I have most of the items together in a drawer now (some have been claimed back to play with!) and have a few in the box at any one time so that it can be got down from the shelf as one of the things we can play with (great for those times when you suddenly need to get them occupied quickly!)

We've also created a travel version in a little bag for long car journeys and this has been a great hit.   I'd also like to create a faith-based box for using in family worship.  The girls absolutely LOVE the excitement of diving into the box or bag and choosing an item and it's definitely increased our repertoire of songs.

What songs do your little ones enjoy?

Friday, 6 April 2012

Water Play: Creating a running stream

We've been making the most of some lovely weather over the last couple of weeks and spending as much time as possible outside. Water play is always popular so we created our own make-shift garden water feature with a running stream!

Our recycled water butt with a bit of extra sealant came out to play again (see our Winter Outdoor Water Play for some fun we had with it a couple of months ago).  This was raised up on a bucket full of stones and a riddle, just what we had to hand really, and formed the top part of the stream. 

At the bottom of the run was another yellow flexi-trug and running between the two to form our stream was a piece of guttering.

We then had some little bits of wood offcuts that we used as boats and we had lots of fun letting them 'sail' down the stream and into the bucket at the end.  

Next time I'll think we'll maybe have a go at making some little mini boats or rafts for playing with this, although having said just the little bits of wood provided endless entertainment for both the girls.  They loved sending them down the stream, watching them drop out into the water and then collecting them up to take back to the start.


 When the stream stopped running we simply dunked a watering can into the bottom bucket and took it back to the top, refilling the water butt and off it went again.  It even had that nice water feature trickling sound that was nice to listen too!  The tap of the water butt also provided lots of fun for Little Chick seeing if she could stop the boats mid flow and also creating waves by turning it on and off.  

Shoeshine just loved putting her boats on the stream and watching them sail down and drop into the bottom bucket.  She was busy doing this again and again and again! 

Can't wait for some more sunny weather and thinking what other things we could do with water, maybe some dams or locks or waterwheels?  I love this idea of making a weir from At Home with Ali.  What water play do you enjoy?
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