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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ (Eric Carle)

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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.

 

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‘The Rainbow Fish’ (Marcus Pfister)

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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)

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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…

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

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

A dinosaur birthday party

A brainstorming session with my toddler meant that my bubba got a dinosaur party. Not because he loves dinosaurs, but because Peppa Pig’s little brother had a dinosaur party. That pig has a lot to answer for.

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I made a dinosaur-spiked tee from here. It was SO easy and SO quick. Such a great tutorial.

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I watched this video and used this template for the cake. I used my ol’ sugar-free banana cake recipe (see below) with buttercream icing.

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I found a dinosaur sandwich-cutter at Officeworks.

IMG_4267And something little for the adults! (Half white, half bubbles and fruit).

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And, finally, some “lolly bags”.

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(I was quite proud of my dino pasta thankyou cards).

We had some craft activities to do to, but we just didn’t need them! Cubby houses, scooters, bikes and food are all too exciting.

*****

Sugar-free Banana Cake Recipe

  • 125g butter
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups SR flour (I used part white, part wholemeal)
  • 1/2 cup milk (any milk works fine if you need to go dairy-free)

Cream butter and bananas together. Add eggs and beat well. Gently add flour and milk. Bake for about 25 mins at 180 until a cake tester comes out clean.

Toddler planner

My little one is a bit OCD. Like her Mum. Already. Eek!

She always wants to know what’s happening each day, what day it is, and gets quite irate if we change plans.

I was getting a bit sick of the repetitive conversation, so I decided to make her a planner, so we could easily talk about what was happening each day/week.

I searched pinterest and fell in love with this one from Mama.Papa.Bubba. So I used this as a guide to make my own.

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The velcro sticky tags make it flexible and we can just print out more pictures if we need more activities. It’s a great way to initiate conversation and discussion, and will hopefully last a long time since we laminated it all!

What organisational activities have you done with your kiddies?

Potty Training

A wise mama said to me that potty training would be the most stressful parenting journey that I would go through. She sure was right. For the toddler years anyway.

We’d owned a potty for a while and now and then she’d use it, but not often. And she was starting to develop a bit of a dislike for it, so we decided it was time to change that. Plus, it was Summer and a good time weather-wise. We’d tried the sticker-chart reward system, but she just didn’t seem that fussed about it.

I read a lot*. I printed out blog posts. I highlighted my favourite pointers. I made lists.

Three days is what everyone says, so that’s what we planned for. Hubby took a day off so that we had a long weekend to work with.

We’d been talking about buying big girl undies (just like Mummy and Daddy) for a week or so before our weekend. Two days before our start date, the little-y and I set off for Kmart. We made a big deal about it, and talked about it the whole way in the car. We spent some time choosing what she wanted. Again, another big deal when we got home to tell Daddy. I think we even called the grandmas to tell them too. The next day we washed them all and kept talking about the concept. And talking. And talking. We said goodbye to all her nappies. They were now only for her baby brother. She was a big girl now.

On the first day, she did well. We started with accidents but would often finish in the potty as we rushed her there. We thought it would be important to keep the potty in the bathroom so that she got used to holding on until she got there. I really liked this idea and I think it was quite important. It also meant that  we weren’t looking for where we last left the potty. Every ten minutes or so, we’d say “remember to tell Mummy/Daddy if you need to do wees or poos”. We also often asked whether or not she had dry undies and when she did, she got a big congratulations.

Day two, she seemed absolutely exhausted. Almost every time was an accident. I think we were just hounding her so much that her poor little brain just didn’t want to listen to the questions anymore.

From midday on day three until the end of the day, she had dry undies and she even did a poo in the potty! We were so happy!! But perhaps a little over-confident…

Daddy went back to work on Monday and I decided that a trip to our regular playgroup would be a safe idea. There were no carpets, she knows the people well and everyone else is a Mum who has already gone through potty training with at least one child.

I prepped a toilet bag: cleaning wipes for the toilet, a fold-up toilet seat, changes of undies and clothes, plastic bags for wet things, toilet paper and hand sanitizer. I was ready.

When we arrived we went and ‘checked out’ the toilets so that she knew where they were. I asked her every now and then whether she needed to go. And then I took a phonecall. Bad parenting move, Mama. She, of course, had a massive accident in the thirty seconds that I was outside the door. So, she was embarrassed and probably a bit scared because she couldn’t see me. Ugh. I think I felt safe, but she didn’t. In retrospect, we shouldn’t have left the house.

And for the next few days, every wee was an accident. It was horrible. I was getting stressed. She was getting upset and we were all exhausted. By Thursday, I was at my wit’s end. Hubby took a day off to give me some space. Bubba and I hung out at IKEA (did you know it’s free tea and coffee during the week? Nice.).

We also realised that she was holding on until she got into bed when we put a pullup on for night-time. So, we just got rid of the pullups. We had a few night time accidents. But, we were prepared with clean sheets, mattress protectors and pjs, so we could make the change super-quick.

And with more persistence, by the following Monday, it started to work again. We introduced a reward (which we hadn’t done up until now) and she could watch some Peppa Pig on our tablet when she used the potty successfully. This was a huge help. The night accidents were also reducing. Things were finally looking up.

We had a four-day holiday with no day-time accidents. We had the potty in the car with us, but she only used it once. We did do pullups overnight, purely because I didn’t want to travel with lots of sheets. But she coped with this idea.

And now? I can tell you when her last two day-time accidents were: the 14th of Dec and the 28th of December. She’s done it. She’s amazing and she’s a little trouper! And we don’t need Peppa anymore.

But, I’d like to rename it seven-day potty training!


*The e-book from 3 day potty training

*50 potty training tips from real mums
*Potty train in just three days