Friday, 28 September 2012

Make a Rain Gauge

With lots and lots of rain here in the UK, our rain gauge has proved very popular and is regularly inspected by Little Chick (and occasionally emptied by Shoeshine!)  

Little Chick and Daddy made it one rainy day together.  We talked about how we might catch the rain and how we might measure the rain.

Daddy cut the top off the bottle and Little Chick then inverted it and put it in the top.  We then added stones to the bottom to stop it falling over and filled it with water up to our zero mark.  There is absolutely loads you can talk about and problem solve about with recording the weather but this depends a lot of what age you are doing it with and what you want to learn or explore.

We then took it outside and carefully wedged it between some flower pots.

And waited for more rain.

Each day we went out to check on the rain's progress - and the British weather was very 'kind' to us and we had lots of rain!

It took several weeks but it did get completely filled up.  It was much fun to check on it each day and see over time it slowly collecting more water.  As the girls get bigger I'm sure we'll be looking at other aspects, such as clouds, temperature, wind etc. and I keep meaning to make up a simple felt weather chart for them to use, but haven't found the time yet.  At the moment we're just having lots of questions about the weather forecast and who decides what the weather is going to be and why are they sometimes wrong and how do they not know what the weather is going to do - don't you just love those sorts of questions!  Check out some rainy story books in our 14 Story Books about the Wind & Rain

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Books: 14 Weather Storybooks: Wind and Rain

Here are some of our favourite wind and rain, weather stories, perfect for snuggling up on the sofa to read together when it pouring outside!  We love this Dr Suess inspired weather book, full of fun rhyming text but also some great explanations of weather in there too.

This is a lovely story about little hedgehog and his trip out to try out his new wellie boots and umbrella and his kindness rescuing the field mice from the flooded field and paddling up the river in the up turned umbrella, finally ending up at badger's house for a nice hot drink by the fire.  A great little story of adventure and friendship.

We love Elmer stories and I think this is one of my favourites (along with Elmer and the Lost Teddy).  The rainbow has lost it's colours and Elmer and his friends are searching for the start of the rainbow to see if they can help get the rainbow back it's colours.  Elmer's friends are worried that he might lose his colours if he gives them to the rainbow.

Lot of rain in this fun retelling of the Noah's Ark story.

A great rhyming book from Julia Donaldson, following the hat as it blows here and there.  A favourite with Shoeshine.

This is a story I rediscovered recently that I had when I was growing up.  It's a great story about the journey of Mrs Merryweather's letter, with a fair bit of rain and wind during its travels.

Another find from my childhood book collection, short rhyming text as the wind blows anything and everything.  The girls love pretending to be the wind blowing when reading this story.

A great classic story with some rain and then sunshine as they go for a drive with Mr Gumpy.

Alfie has some new wellies in this story, perfect for splashing in puddles after the rain.

Another Elmer story, this time it's really windy, but surely an Elephant can't get blown away?

A really silly funny story, about ridiculous weather, where it's rains food for breakfast, lunch and dinner so you never need to go to the supermarket!  Little Chick loves how nonsense this story is.

A lovely simple illustrated story exploring the rain that's often one of our library books.

A great touchy-feely board book starting to introduce different weathers to younger ones.

Finally a Bagpuss story.  The mice want the rain to stop so they can go and play in the garden, but who can they ask to turn off the rain?  Another retro book.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Outdoor Play: Cardboard Box Play Kitchen

There are some amazing outdoor play kitchens and mud pie garden areas around on the web, I'd love to create some sort of space in our garden, but at the moment we're still digging up lots of concrete and the majority of the garden resembles more of a builder's yard than a garden!  So given the girls love play cooking, this was our temporary outdoor kitchen set up this summer - a cardboard box kitchen in the garden for sunny days and with lots of pine cones perfect for autumn too.  Great for lots of imaginative play.

Stored in the garage we have a box of bits and pieces for play cooking outside.  We've got a couple of saucepans, wooden spoons, some old oven gloves, a rack with wooden blocks and utensils pot.  The cardboard box simply had a hole cut out of the front on three sides with the remaining flap forming a door and the piece of wood on top is just to give a flatter, firmer surface to work on.  

I also put out a bucket of pine cones for play and the girls also have access to a herb bed and various leaves and petals around the garden (within reason!)  You can add all sorts of things - sticks, stones, conkers, leaves, mud, sand and water.

Busy stirring!  

All the cakes ready to go in the oven.  

Collecting herbs for cooking - some sage, rosemary and marjoram - smells lovely!

The herbs being carefully shredded to go into the mixture.

And into the oven.

The girls had a lot of fun with this and it was really good for playing together (without too much squabbling!)  Cardboards boxes make such fantastic play things, we previously made a cardboard box house, a cardboard box pirate ship and a cardboard box tent.  I can't wait to make an area in the garden that's a bit more weather-proof for this sort of play and wouldn't fall apart if they wanted to do the washing up there too - maybe a project for next year! 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Podding Beans Sensory Play and Bean Art

This is a post from last autumn that I never got around to posting so now it's Autumn again I thought I'd share it.  We're just about ready to do some of this again with the beans from this year's crop!

Last year was a great year for the runner beans and french beans in our garden, so much so we couldn't keep up with eating them fresh so we left a load to dry on the plant with the plan to store them and use them over the winter in stews and soups.  At the end of their growing season it was time to collect them up and pod them.  What a great activity for little hands!

These are our black french beans.

Little Chick loved helping to do the podding.  The beans are dried which makes it much easier to get into the pod and she could do it all herself.

Lots of lovely hands on stuff.  Great for developing fine motor skills and concentration.

I gave her a few different pots to put them in and she enjoyed moving the beans from one pot to another or pouring them into the big bowl.

Little Chick also loved the sensory aspect of putting her hands in and scrunching them around and lifting up handfuls and running them through her fingers.

Once we'd finished podding, we collected all the bits and did some natural art with them.

This is Mummy's Lion.

Here is Little Chick doing her own picture, she loved the beans and wasn't really interested in using the pods for her picture.  Again some great fine manipulative skills and lots of fun.

Little Chick 3.5 years

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Kids Get Arty: Anthony Gormley in Play Dough!

For the Kids Get Arty challenge we decided to take a look at some sculpture art and look at Anthony Gormley's "Fields for the British Isles" and have a go at creating our own Play Dough version! 

 Kid's Get Arty Link-up is a bi-monthly linky, all about exploring art and different artists, having fun together and there are no right or wrongs - perfect!  It's hosted by some fabulous blogs Red Ted ArtThe Imagination TreeImagination SoupMom 2 Posh Lil Divas, Creative with Kids and Tinkerlab and we're very excited to be taking part.

First we had a search on the internet and had a look at some of the pictures of Fields for the British Isles installations.  We talked about how all the little clay figures were all individually made by hand and that they were all different.  We had a go at describing what they looked like, what their expressions were and Little Chick thought it was important to recognise that the biggest ones were daddys, the next biggest ones mummies and the smaller ones children and the tiny ones babies!

Antony Gormley's "Field for the British Isles" art installation 

Little Chick decided we should make ours in lots of different colours - so out came ALL our play dough for some little figure making.

With the laptop open and the pictures on screen for us to keep referring to, we started making our own little figures.

Shoeshine was helping too and enjoyed poking the eye holes with a stick - there were a few with a lot of eyes!  I also enjoyed making a few too.

Our collection of little people began to grow.

And there was an opportunity to practice counting too!  We didn't quite get up to 40,000 though!

But we did make quite a lot of figures before the girls said they were done.

I love these little play dough characters!
You could, of course, try this with real clay, but I just love the malleability of play dough in little hands.  
Next time I wonder whether we might have a go at Anthony Gormley's Angel of the North in another medium?

Little Chick 4 years 4 months
Shoeshine 2 years 1 month
Boo 4 months

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Shaving Foam Marbling

Over the summer we've been having lots of fun outside, making the most of messy activities whilst the weather is good.  

Shaving foam marbling is something we've been meaning to have a go at for a while and it was definitely a great one to take outside and get messy! 

I gave the girls each a tray of shaving foam, some brushes and sticks and then we set about adding blobs of food colouring and seeing what happened when we mixed it in.

The mixing is beautiful. And this is the point at which you should do your prints for marbling, but the girls were a little exuberant with their mixing and we only managed one print before it all turned into more of a grayish-greenish colour, see below! 

But that's still a lot of fun to be had - so whilst you're at it- get your hands in!

The girls were loving playing with the shaving foam but wanted more colour.  So we then got our poster paints and glitter pot out and just kept adding things!

And the girls got busy making prints.  Shoeshine got the hang of it really quickly.  (The glitter really did get everywhere - I love the sprinkling that seems to have got into Shoeshine's hair!)

The poster paints mixed with the shaving foam made for some great vibrant colours.

The girls had quite a production line of pictures going on, putting them in various bushes in the garden to dry.

Here are a few of the pictures whilst still wet.  We found that you really needed to scrape off the excess shaving foam before leaving to dry otherwise it never made it to being dry!  Thicker paper would also have been good as a number of our pictures were very soggy.

Here are some of the pictures once dry (below). 

Once dry the colours weren't quite so vibrant and they weren't really proper marbled paper and some of the picture had so much foam on them they never made it to being dry, also the glitter didn't stay stuck once they were dry (we didn't expect it to as there was no glue) so I think you'd definitely have to call this process based art!

And I love this one where you can clearly see the two little hand prints from where Shoeshine pressed down to make the print!  

Shaving foam makes for a great toddler art activity/messy play time.  It's a great play medium for all kinds of messy fun. 

Other ideas for play with shaving foam include Shaving Cream Bath Paint from Meet the Dubiens, Park in the Snow Small World Play from The Imagination Tree and finally a fabulous round up of Shaving Cream for Kids: 67 Ideas for Art, Play and Learning with Shaving Cream  from the Artful Parent
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