Garden exploration

Two of my uni subjects crossed over quite nicely last semester, Primary Science and Health and Wellbeing. Both involved getting out and about outside to enhance student’s connection with the world around them. For my assignments, I did a number of teaching activities that involved my kiddies and their friends, incorporating literature with outdoor activities for Prep-aged children.

Amazingly, a lot of the things we did have stuck – which is really satisfying for me! Bug collection has become a big one in our family, and probably the highlight has been finding praying mantises. I really feel that it’s helping my two with their fear of creepy crawlies. Making collections is another, and we now have a permanent “nest” by the front door where all our goodies are deposited.

There’s nothing like being outdoors, and the kiddies just seemed to get so absorbed in whatever they do, whether that be sweeping leaves, digging to China, extracting toys from blocks of ice or looking for birds through their toilet roll binoculars.

Recently we made bird feeders from old cartons. I cut out the windows, and my two decorated them with stickers. We hunted around the garden for appropriate sticks, filled them with seed and hung them in the trees. Applying the stickers, cutting the string, and spooning the seed were all fantastic fine motor skill activities. We also discussed recycling and repurposing, as well as what birds like to eat.

img_0446img_0450img_0452img_0453There’s something lovely about having an addition to our garden routine. As well as checking on the worm farm, looking for vegies, inspecting the fairy garden, and watering, we can now also check bird seed levels!

Hama time

Remember Hama beads? Bit retro, hey?

We’ve become a bit addicted. Adella has been churning out drink coasters for friends and family in epic proportions. After ironing, I glue a piece of felt onto the back to strengthen them, and they’ve been holding up really well. I think she should start a market stall!

img_0184

Then, we were in Lincraft two days ago, and we found kits. You should’ve seen her jaw drop. So, it was mermaids and princesses, of course.

20161008_200447.jpg

In terms of an activity, it reminds me of Lego. You have to follow the instructions carefully, plus it is SO good for fine motor skills. She pretty much did these on her own, and just needed help with the shape of the tail, and the placement of the eyes.

Arlo and I are working on a parasaurolophus!

I’m thinking that we could make some cool Christmas decorations too.

What have you made with Hama beads? Please share!

 

 

Picture book activities

There are some amazing picture books out there and we have recently done some great craft activities based on our favourite books. Both the kiddies really love making the connection between what we read and what we make.

IMG_5276

IMG_5278

We made the MASSIVE COOKIE from ‘Wild Boars Cook’ (Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall). The recipe is on the last page of the book.

IMG_5281

I remember ‘Corduroy’ (Don Freeman) from when I was little, and this is a follow-up. When I was at primary school, we made knitted bears and Mum helped me sew overalls for my bear to look like Corduroy.

IMG_5280

Both my little ones love ‘A river’ (Marc Martin). They trace the river on every page of the book and also make sure they find the boat every time. For this activity, we drew patterns with crayon like the patchwork in the book, then painted over it with watercolours.

IMG_3933

‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ (Eric Carle)

IMG_3929

And perhaps a lesser known Eric Carle book, ‘The Bad-tempered Ladybird’. The best bit of this activity was discussing which way we were going to put the mouths to make both a happy and a grumpy ladybird.

 

IMG_3931

‘The Rainbow Fish’ (Marcus Pfister)

IMG_4861

We actually made this entire book again redrawing the illustrations because she loved it so much. It’s a great story – very cute! ‘Crayon’ (Simon Rickerty)

IMG_5036

IMG_5035

This one looks a little crude, but it was a LOT of entertainment. Especially when we went hunting around the house for all the elephants we could find! We also kept this box for a long time as a play thing. ‘Too many Elephants in this House’ (Ursula Dubosarsky).

What’s your favourite picture book activity? Please comment below.

I try to keep my pinterest files up-to-date with our latest fave reads if you need some library-inspiration:

Ages 0-2
Ages 2-3
Ages 3-4

Rainy day fun

I just have to share this one… it was so much fun! The credit goes to an amazing website, made by joel, it is absolutely full of wonderful colouring-in pages and I can’t wait to try these paper city printables.

We spent a bit of time making this AMAZING aquarium!

IMG_4805IMG_4809 First, colouring in…

IMG_4806And a bit of button-play…

IMG_4810

And voila! How cute is that??? And we can slide the fishies along from side-to-side.

IMG_4811

Next rainy day? This beauty is getting some paint! With a bit of pipe-cleaner seaweed and a sprinkle of sand methinks!

Advent Calendar

Every year I want to make my own advent calendar, and this year I finally did it! I found this great template on pinterest and then filled the trees with a range of little pressies (bouncy balls, hair ties, coin choccies, baubles and stickers).

IMG_3994

My LO loves opening one each day and I think it’s a great way to learn about patience. Looking forward to when the kiddies are a little bit bigger and we can do activity ones.

IMG_3995

On a side note, I also found this Christmas tree template and we did some great finger painting!

IMG_3996

 

Please share below if you have any other cool Christmas crafts.

Transportation birthday party!

For Adella’s second birthday we thought we’d aim for her lastest obsession… transport! Her favourite place to sit is at the cafe next to the train station and give us a running commentary of the trains going past. “Blue train! Purple train! Blue train! Blue train!”.

Despite her being older, I still didn’t see any reason to go nuts on sugar and things that she doesn’t usually eat. So we made banana pikelets, vegemite and cheese scrolls, sausage rolls and fruit platters. And we just drank water. Nobody complained!

She’d pointed out the train cake in THE Women’s Weekly children’s cake book. So I based it around this one, but I improvised a bit. First, I made a sugarless banana cake. I figured if we were going to have insanely sweet icing, the kiddies weren’t going to need any extra buzz! I made the cake the night before and got up stupidly early to put it together… I figured toddlers wouldn’t be so much help in the construction! I also filled the carriages with much healthier options, such as puffed corn and sultanas. The wheels were baby corn snacks and the train track was made from cut up fruit-rollup-tape-stuff. I originally did want to use licorice, but I just couldn’t find the string one anywhere!

DSC_1524

 

(See all those cake offcuts in the background – they made fantastic banana bread icecream and bread & butter pudding!)

At Kmart, I found little plaster cars and trucks, and we painted these after lunch. This was a GREAT activity to get them all to focus and calm down for a while. It was just like being at the Plaster Fun House again. I made sure I had a ziplock bag with the kid’s (and adult’s!) name on them, so when they’d dried off enough, we could just slip them inside.

IMG_3755

I planned an activity using the big long roll of IKEA paper. I drew a big road and some trees and buildings. We were going to make toilet roll cars with split pin wheels to drive along the road. But, guess what? The kids just went nuts and ran around the yard and in and out of the cubby house.

Our “lolly bags” were brown paper bags with car and truck stickers and stamps, and some sultanas and more of the fruit tape.

I was so happy to receive so many nice comments from parents later on, who said how nice is was to have a home birthday, and a lack of crazy party foods!!

Last year, we did A Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Party!

A homemade Christmas

This year was a homemade Christmas in our family, and a very satisfying one at that! Here’s what we got up to:

20140102_170443

Salt dough impressions of Adella’s hands (and feet – forgot to take a photo!).

20140102_170451

Easy pompoms – find the link here. I always thought pompoms were easy – this was even easier!!! I bought the wool at Lincraft.

20140102_170515

Adella coloured in and painted lots of stars!

20140102_170524

Crepe paper circles sewed together.

DSC_0275

Some of our decorations on our table centrepiece.

DSC_0265

Christmas cake – Donna Hay recipe here.

DSC_0268

Apple and cranberry chutney – Nigella Lawson recipe from her Christmas book.

DSC_0269

Christmas spiced nuts.

DSC_0271

IKEA has awesome packaging!!!

20131216_161016

And it is TOTALLY worth making their gingerbread house – delish!

Can’t wait to try new things next year! Any suggestions or links would be great.