Sunday, 28 October 2012

Arghhhh Spider! Exploring Spider Webs

Two of our favourite books at the moment are spider stories - Lydia Monks' Aaaarrgghh. Spider! and Eric Carle's The Very Busy Spider.  So we headed into the garden to find some of our eight legged friends.

Aaaarrgghh. Spider! reminded me of when webs glisten in the dew and the frost and I thought it would be great to search for a real spider and her web.  It isn't cold enough for the frost yet and there wasn't any dew so we make some 'dew' of our own.  We took our garden plant water spray and went on a hunt around the garden.  

The spray made the webs appear as if by magic!  Which of course was very popular - particularly running round the garden with the water spray trying to find another web.  We had lots of spiders in the garden (and we have plenty in the house too!) but this one was at small person height and we had a look at it's body and counted it's legs.  Little Chick and I talked about the shape of the web, how it was made, what the spider used it for and what it's made of.

A very, very simple but fun way to explore some of nature's wonders.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Small World Play: Town

We had fun making our own 'diy' play map complete with roads, railway, parks and shops for lots of small world play with train, cars and little people.  Simple and fun play.

I drew a simple map on a piece of A3 card.  (I cribbed most of my ideas from the Usborne Farmyard Tales Train Book, below).  We had some shops, a station, a farm, the seaside, a camp site and park. 

I then collected up various bits and pieces from our toy boxes to make a small town scene.  I included some farm animals, brio trains, trees and signs, a few small people figures, a London bus, a roundabout and some toy cars. 

Sometimes we make these sorts of scenes together, this time I set it up in the evening for them to play with the next day, as a little surprise.  Although we do have a bought road map play mat, I often find that presenting the same activity in a new way or different environment provides the starting point for some lovely in depth play.  Little Chick also added a lego boat, a see-saw and a few other things, once she started playing with it.

We had lots of train crashes and rescues and the police coming to sort things out.  We had a horse loose on the campsite and the farmer rounding up his sheep in the field.
And yes she is wearing her swimming costume in the house (I think she's trying to suggest something to me!)

The trains had to stop at the stop sign.

Susannah loved moving all the people about and driving the trains along the tracks, chattering away all the time, most of the time I didn't really have any idea what she was on about, but it was lovely to hear her chatter and see her concentration.

 For older children you could also draw the map of your real town or neighbourhood.  I think Little Chick would love one of London, with an Uncle and Aunty living there she is always asking when we are going to London and what are we going to see in London!  

Also see here for a lovely small world play town all in a large cardboard box, from the Imagination Tree. Or take the chalks and create a road map outside, this is always popular in our house.

Little Chick 4 years
Shoeshine 2 years

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Baby & Toddler Play: Discovery Bottles

As part of the 'try not to smother your baby brother with love' efforts in our house, I suggested we make Baby Boo some discovery bottles to play with and for them to play together and show him.  At 5 months he's still a little off sitting up and being able to play with them himself, but Little Chick has been so desperate to make them and I was getting tired of being asked at least several times a day when we could make some I thought we should get on with it!  

Discovery bottles are such a great idea for baby exploring and play.  With different sounds, colours and moving objects within they are perfect for rolling, shaking, waving and of course all babies favourites - putting in their mouth!  We made 6 bottles this time, but I'm sure Little Chick will be wanting to make more, so I'm sure we'll be adding to the collection.

Blue bubble bath and a couple of plastic fish.  The higher viscosity of the bubble bath mean the fish float slowly around which is very relaxing to watch - although they probably would be better in a bottle without ridges as the fish occasionally get stuck.

Water and Sequins and a glass pebble to give it a lovely sound when you turn it.

This is one of Little Chick's favourites, it has glitter a few blue glass pebbles, clear washing up liquid 

and lots and lots of glow in the dark stars.

Coloured poms poms of different sizes.

Sand and seashells.  These were some of the shells we collected on holiday in the summer and again a good noisy one as well as good at playing hide and seek and counting games for Little Chick.

Colourful feathers.

Little Chick really enjoyed making them.  First we'd added juice bottles to our shopping list and had fun looking for suitable sized bottles at the shops then over the next week we enjoyed drinking some nice juice and getting them ready to making into discovery bottles!  When you're done you can either super glue the lid on or put tape around the top (toddlers are often amazingly good at undoing things you think they couldn't possibly manage to undo!)

And as I said Boo is still a bit too young to be playing with them by himself so Shoeshine is enjoying making the most of them at the moment.

  Shoeshine enjoys carrying them round, lining them up, shaking them very hard and of course showing them to her little brother.  Little Chick also likes making a lot of noise with them and also counting up the items in the bottles.

Little Chick 4.5 years
Shoeshine 2 years
Boo 5 months

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Toddler Art: Autumn Leaf Printing

Autumn is such a great time of year for collecting things outdoors - it seems that with every trip to the park or woods we return with a bagful of leaves, sticks, acorns, fir cones and other bits and pieces.  Last year we had fun imaginative play cooking over a pretend camp fire and making an autumn leaf bowl with some of our finds.  This year we have also been busy collecting leaves etc. and today Shoeshine and I had a go at some autumn leaf printing.

This is part of a family art project we're doing.  Recently I found some canvases in the local 99p store and thought it would be really nice for each member of the family to take a season and make a piece of art that can be displayed on our lounge wall.  So as it stands Little Chick has chosen Summer, Shoeshine Autumn, Mummy Spring and Daddy and Baby Boo have been given Winter jointly.  So here's the first one of Autumn.

Shoeshine collecting leaves in the local park.

Little Chick collecting leaves on a recent trip to a local National Trust garden.
 (This little girl just doesn't feel the cold - You wouldn't think it was a fairly brisk autumn morning here!)

We got all the autumn colour acrylic paints out and some glitter paints as well.  Acrylics work well on canvas but don't always wash out of things so take precautions, Shoeshine still managed to get paint on her top even with the overall on.  The leaves were fairly fresh, still soft and fairly flat so they didn't curl up or crumble when we painted them.

 She got busy painting the leaves.  I painted one first and did a few prints on a piece of paper to give her the idea of what we were going to do.

She soon got the hang of painting the leaves, adding different colours and then printing with the leaves, although she did need a bit of help with ensuring the whole leaf was pressed down to get a good print.

 This was to a certain extent a collaborative art project so I did make occasional suggestions as to what leaf she might paint next and helping with making sure there wasn't too much paint on the leaf before printing and encouraging her to make sure it was fully pressed down.

Gradually the picture started to build up.

With more and more leaves until she was happy the picture was finished. She's really pleased with the picture and I think she will love to have her art work on display in our house, we just need to work on the other seasons now! 

As I said this was a joint project so I thought it would also be nice for her to have total freedom for another picture, so I gave her a sheet of paper and left her to create. 

This is a fab, but messy, autumn activity and you could use leaf printing to make some beautiful autumn wrapping paper too. 

Shoeshine 2 years 3 months

Baby Play: Autumn Treasure Box

This is a post from this time last year that I never quite got around to finishing, but as we're heading into Autumn again I thought I'd get it finished and post it now.  Seeing the photos again it's amazing seeing how much Shoeshine has grown in the last year - she's definitely not a baby anymore!  

This was our Autumn Treasure Box.  Based on the idea of Treasure Baskets (see here for a fantastic summary from The Imagination Tree) I love giving Shoeshine little boxes or baskets with a few non toy items to explore and play with. 

The idea of treasure baskets is all about giving your baby natural, everyday objects for them to explore.  It's all about allowing them to explore using all their senses.  Babies love exploring things - the saucepan cupboard, the laundry basket, your desk drawers!  Exploring with their hands, exploring with their ears and of course exploring with their mouths.  Treasure baskets are great for babies from around 6 or 7 months when they first sit up until about 18 months (although at nearly 4 and a half Little Chick still loves a beads and bracelets treasure box).  The things can be anything, such as shiny things, noisy things, nature things (and as always use your judgement as to what is suitable for your child and supervise them).  Now I can't wait to make up a few more for Baby Boo when he get's big enough to sit up and join in the play.

This is our autumn treasure box of pine cones and stones.  There are loads of other things I could have added (leaves, apples, conkers) and looking at it now it is perhaps a little on the sparse side of things, still Shoeshine seemed to enjoy it. 

I just love the face of concentration when she first looks over the side of the box to see what might be inside and then getting stuck into picking things out and putting them back in.

Exploring what noise they make when you hit them together.

Exploring the smooth texture of the stones in contrast to the rough texture of the pine cones.

And of course she loved taking the lid off and putting it back on lots and lots of times!

Shoeshine 14 months

Friday, 5 October 2012

3-D Art Painting a Cardboard Box

Isn't it funny how you always forget just how much fun little ones get out of creating art from the contents of your recycling box.  These pieces of cardboard were some leftover packaging from a parcel we'd received and when Little Chick saw them she was keen to get painting!  

Painting 3-D objects can be a great way for little ones to express their creativity.  Sometimes giving a different thing to paint, a cardboard box, rocks, an egg box for example, rather than a sheet of paper, can really spark their imagination. This is a great messy activity for toddlers with all sizes and shapes of cardboard boxes.  And it's also good for those that find it hard to create art on a blank sheet of paper. 

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the process, suffice to say the girls were very engrossed for ages and I was being constantly asked for new colours and asked to 'ooh' and 'ahh' as the art progressed and trying to prevent the paint pots from falling on the floor as Shoeshine repositioned her box for the next bit of painting and generally trying to contain the mess - so no time for pictures!

This is Little Chick's art (above), as you can see she's really into letters at the moment, hence the addition of lots of letter stickers.  And of course the other popular thing - glitter paint.  

This is Shoeshine's creation.  She loved putting more and more colours in the bottom compartment and mixing them all together, using it almost like a paint tray - some great process art, exploring what happened each time another colour was added.

This was very much a process-based art activity as new colours were constantly added and mixed with others as the art work continually evolved and the bonus that it had them busy for ages!  The only problem now is where to put these, not quite so easy to hang as a sheet of paper!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Gruffalo Play Dough

The Gruffalo goes in and out of favour in our house (apparently the Gruffalo is sometimes too scary to read!)  But I love this fantastic story and as it's currently in favour we had a go at The Imagination Tree's Gruffalo Play Dough with some chocolate play dough (recipe also from The Imagination Tree)

We read the story all together and then Little Chick set about looking through the book and looking at the pictures describing the Gruffalo.  We then raided the cupboards for things that we could use.

For the purple prickles we had purple sticks and some purple play dough.  The orange eyes were some coloured counters and the horns and teeth are beads from a broken bracelet.  The claws are various beads and sticks.  And a green bead for the poisonous wart on the end of his nose!

Little Chick and I worked on this together, I did help with some of the shaping and Little Chick did the rest, whilst we talked about what he looked like and kept referring back to the book.  (I had to restrain myself from doing more of it - I love modelling things and this was so much fun!)  Shoeshine meanwhile was busy with a big lump of chocolate play dough and lots and lots of sticks!

Once we'd finished our joint project, Little Chick set about making the Gruffalo's child.

The next day we had the request to do Gruffalo play dough again.  

And here is the Gruffalo's child, take 2.  Apparently the yellow button in the middle is it's dummy!
Such a lot of fun - thank you Imagination Tree

Little Chick 4.5 years
Shoeshine 2 years
Boo 4 months
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