Friday, 29 June 2012

Make Your Own Olympic Torch

With the Olympics nearly upon us and this time being hosted here in the UK it's a really exciting time.  The Olympic torch has been making it's journey round the country over the last months, so we decided to make our own Olympic torches.

Perfect for running around the garden with!

These were really simple to make.  We got a large piece of gold card

then the girls stuck ribbons along one of the sides (we used glue sticks which didn't work very well, so we ended up stapling them afterwards, I'd have thought that pva glue would work fine otherwise.)  We then rolled the cardboard up into a cylinder and secured with sticky tape.

One made there was lots of running around the garden from Little Chick

And Shoeshine.  There was definitely the needing to run off energy for some reason this afternoon!

And plenty of falling over, diving down and generally having fun.

These were super simple to make and have resulted in lots of fun play, waving and running round.

Can't wait for the real Games to begin!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Cloud Dough / Pretend Sand: Pirate Sensory Tub

Following on from our fun making and playing with cloud dough/pretend sand, we had the box of it out again this week and with a few things left over from Little Chick's Pirate Party I created a Pirate Sensory Tub for the girls to play with.

To our tub of cloud dough I added some gold coins, seashells, some mini pirates, a few parasols and some old necklaces and bracelets that could be pirate jewels and treasure.

I also put out a bucket with a few scoops, spades, rakes and some sand moulds from the sand pit next to the tub.  As the weather was nice we took the box outside to play with.

The girls started off by digging for treasure.  And of course what better than to wear your jewels to show them off!  The girls loved going round the garden wearing all the necklaces they had found in the sand - I think this might be a girl thing!

Little Chick then decided to do a treasure hunt and busily hid lots of the coins around the garden.  The girls then rushed all around the garden searching for the hidden treasure.  It was very sweet watching Shoeshine following her big sis around saying 'findin' treasure!'

Shoeshine was very pleased to find one under the runner bean netting, clasping it with both hands.

Once they were worn out from hunting treasure all round the garden they then got busy making sandcastles.  Little Chick was busy telling Shoeshine to fill the bucket whilst she was busy patting it down in between - some great teamwork!

Carefully lifting the bucket away.

Revealing the sandcastle.  Of course it needed a little pirate and parasol to complete it.

Little Chick also made some of the sand moulds.  This cloud dough/ pretend sand is a great sensory play item.  It's lovely to run through your hands, press or mould into shapes and create lots of different things with.

Here are some of the results of the sand moulds.

We had lots of fun this afternoon with the tub I'm sure it will be back out again over the summer.  Once they'd finished I just put the lid back on the underbed storage box and have put it away to get out another day.  There is so much scope for child led imaginative and creative play given a few play prompts, I love seeing the different ways the girls play with them.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Cloud Dough / Pretend Sand: Beach

This week we've had the tub of cloud dough out to play with and I realised I never got around to writing about it when we made a batch of it a few months ago.  This is absolutely fantastic stuff to play with, simple to make and it stores really well.  It's pretty much like soft, fine, pretend sand (not really like a dough at all).  So here's how to make it and the fun we had creating a mini beach for some of Little Chick's toy people.

The recipe is really simple, just using 2 ingredients, flour and oil and mix them together.  Here's the recipe I got from Tinkerlab

8 cups of flour (we just used economy plain flour)
1 cup of vegetable oil (or baby oil)

Little Chick got busy measuring out the flour.  We nearly lost count of how many we'd added in the enthusiasm of measuring!

Then it was time to mix it all in.  We used a small under bed storage box to make it in.

Messy Hands!  

It was great to see Little Chick really enjoy the mixing and making of the cloud dough.  Sometimes I'm too quick to get things ready for the girls to play with and forget how much they enjoy being part of the making too.  Just like making play dough together this is another great activity to do together too, as well as having fun playing with it afterwards.  The measuring and mixing and watching and feeling it change in consistency is fun and a great example of hands on learning through play.

This stuff has a great feel, it's like sand but softer, smoother and finer, but probably the best bit is that you can shape it and mould it.  I've found it great for Little Chick to play with when the sand pit is too soggy or when you're in the depths of winter and you're dreaming of the summer and trips to the beach.

We added some shells and some pebbles collected from the beach on a previous holiday.

And some little people and of course some parasols.  These are probably one of Little Chick's favourite things to play with whenever we do anything to do with the beach or the seaside.  They are also perfect for sticking in play dough too.

She spent ages playing with this and I have to say I enjoyed playing with it too!

This was Little Chick's Island.

She also made miniature sandcastles.

We tried a number of different containers and bottle tops for making our mini sandcastles and found that the baby food pots work really well as they were about the right size and had slightly angled sides making it easy to get the sandcastle out in one piece.

She made lots of little sandcastles (thankfully we did this when Shoeshine was having her afternoon nap as I'm pretty sure they wouldn't all be still standing so neatly if she'd been playing too!)

Shoeshine also enjoyed playing with it when she got up from her nap, although I think next time I do it with her I'll do it outside!

And once they'd finished playing I just popped the lid on the box and put it away for play another day.  This is really lovely stuff to play with and so simple and easy to make.

Note: A cavet if you have boys - see here for a link to my friend's blog where they had a go with this stuff - boys generally seem to just LOVE mess! 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Herb Garden Play Dough

This week we've been joining the play dough pledge, hosted by three fantastic & creative preschool play blogs: NurturestoreThe Imagination Tree and Sun, Hats and Wellie Boots.  This is all about having creative, playful fun with your little ones with play dough.  If you're short on ideas, do check out some of these blogs and their amazing ideas.  Not sure about play dough?  Here's a great summary on the benefits of playing with play dough from The Imagination Tree.

As part of the play dough pledge this week, we pledged to try something new with play dough.  One of the things the girls love at the moment is picking herbs in the garden for their play kitchen so we decided to have a go at making some herb play dough using some of the herbs from our garden.  See here for a great post on natural play dough colours, textures and smells from Sun Hats and Wellie Boots.

First off we started collecting herbs from the garden.  

This little raised bed is our herb patch and the girls are able to pick the leaves as the want for the play cooking or other games (within reason!)  Thankfully most of our herbs still have plenty of leaves despite lots  of the little handfuls being picked.

They collected some sage, rosemary, oregano and some lavender leaves that Little Chick was very keen to add, although it's still too early in the year for lovely purple lavender heads to be out yet (I promised her that later in the summer we would make some special lavender play dough with the flowers.) 

I then gave Little Chick some simple instructions and together we made the play dough. We used the recipe from The Imagination Tree which we usually use, although this time I thought I'd try using bread flour to see if it made the dough super stretchy. I was thinking that the higher gluten content might make it better than all purpose flour, but to be honest there wasn't a marked difference from usual.  If you want to keep it properly natural you can substitute the cream of tartar with lemon juice, but it might not keep quite as long.

Little Chick got busy measuring out the ingredients.  I love using American Cups for measuring with her because they are so simple for her to use compared to grammes or lbs and ounces.

I added the boiling water bit by bit and Little Chick did the mixing.  We then took turns to knead it to a lovely, smooth, malleable dough.  I love this bit as it always reminds me of making bread and kneading the dough by hand, although play dough seems quite a lot easier work!

The we added the herbs and did more kneading and it started to smell lovely.

Kneading dough is great for developing hand strength and it's so much fun too.

I then gave the girls a selection of natural materials to play with the dough.  Some sticks, pebbles, jumbo pasta and pine cones.  I put out some plain pine cones and Little Chick promptly said she didn't want the plain ones, they were boring and she wanted the painted ones which we did last autumn, so these were added too.

We made pizzas.

 and flat breads. 
 Little Chick independently came up with idea of using the pine cones to make some lovely prints all over these.  Mummy got to eat a lot of these! 

Shoeshine loves copying her big sis and she got busy with the pine cones on her creations too.

The girls (particularly Little Chick) played for ages with this new play dough.

There were trays of various rolls and buns as well as a few train funnels and an aeroplane!

We loved our new herb garden play dough and I'm just wondering what to try next with play dough!
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