Painting Circles with Light Colours

Ed enjoyed sponge painting the Easter Eggs last weekend so much, that I thought I would set up a painting activity for him this week.

He chose the colours he wanted - 'light' blue and 'light' orange. I thought that he was remembering the pastel colours we used to paint the egg shapes, so I asked him, "How do we make light colours?" Sure enough, he remembered - "We need to add some white paint". So, we made our light colours in some plastic yoghurt containers, added some brushes and headed out to the deck.

I decided to make things a little more interesting for him by putting some paint onto the lid of a plastic container and putting a cork into the paint. I also added some cotton tips. The cork was a great hit. He looked at the bottom of it and said "I can make some circles!" The cork was the first thing to go onto the paper.

He found it a little tricky at first. He dragged the cork onto the paper and then lifted it up. He looked a little confused when he didn't have the shape he was expecting. I felt the urge to intervene, but decided to leave him to it and get those problem-solving skills working. It didn't take long. With the next go he pressed the cork onto the page and lifted it off - presto - a circle. He was delighted with himself and let out one of his trademark giggles. He then set about experimenting and creating his work.

I headed inside but I could hear him talking to himself almost non-stop. he was talking about the shapes, the colours, the 'car' he was painting. It was great to hear him talking so much and working things out for himself without the 'help' of his big sister!

Easter Craft Pt 1

I'm not normally a huge fan of structured art and craft activities. I find they're quite frustrating for everyone involved and I think they can often stifle a child's creativity and imagination. Over the years, I have been able to see that they do have some value though. It's a great way for children to learn how to follow instruction, concentrate, memorise, work at their eye-hand co-ordination and develop their spatial awareness. It also helps them to master techniques that they may not have discovered being left to experiment on their own.

So, a few times a year a like to do some more structured craft activities with the kids and Easter is usually one of those times.

On the weekend we made some Easter cards to send to the family next week. I tried to plan an activity that allowed the kids to still use a lot of their own ideas and also one that they could both get involved with (bearing in mind that Em is 5 1/2 and Ed is 2 1/2). Here is what I came up with.

First I cut some egg shapes out of some white card. To get the egg shape i simply drew around an egg from the fridge.

Next I cut a triangle of sponge from some household sponges i had in the cupboard. I cut them so that the tallest part of the triangle could act as a kind of handle.

Then I got the kids to choose which colours they wanted to use. Em chose yellow and Ed chose blue (as most 2 year old boys would!!). I'm big on pastels this Easter, so I added some white paint to the brighter colours. I put the paint into some plastic picnic bowls from the supermarket - easy to access for the kids and easy to clean up for me!! The kids mixed the colours with some paint brushes.

Next they set about sponge painting their egg shapes. Em was really good at it and could do it unaided, but the boy needed a little help.

He thoroughly enjoyed the sponge painting though. After the egg shapes were finished with, he asked me to get some paper out. He painted with that sponge triangle and a bowl of plain old blue paint for over half an hour!! After this, he was all art and crafted out (and covered in blue paint!), so he didn't want to do anymore, I didn't force the issue, it is all for fun after all.

Em was happy to cover for her brother. While the paint dried, I got out some pastel coloured papers I had left over from my pre-baby card making days. Em got out her box of patterned scissors and she set about cutting narrow lines of paper, edged in patterns by the scissors, to glue onto the egg shapes.

I used a hole punch to cut out some dot shapes (Ed made a brief re-appearance to "help" me). Em did some punching too when she finished the cutting.

Once the paint was dry, Em set about designing her eggs. I encouraged her plan how she wanted it to look before she put any glue on. She took a lot of time and consideration in choosing the patterns and the way the eggs would look and she did a great job. When she was happy with her design, she glued each piece on one by one using a small glue stick. I trimmed the edges that hung over the sides of the egg.

We then chose a piece of background paper, I cut it into a square and then glued the card together for her. She tried to do it herself but wasn't entirely happy with her ability to get it in the right spot, so she asked for me to do it. She was quite tired by this stage and had done such a great job on her own, I didn't mind.

Here are the finished products, a job very well done!

Next weekend we're going to attempt to decorate and dye some eggs, something I've never done at home before. Stay tuned!!

The Animals have Escaped the Ice

Well, the animals were thawed out of their icy prison today. As predicted, there were lots of questions, many lovely little giggles but thankfully, not too much mess.

We got the ice block out this morning at breakfast time and the conversation went a little like this:
Me: "Look Ed, here's the animals we put in the freezer"
Ed: "But how will I play with them now?"
Me: "They've frozen in the ice haven't they? Can you remember what they were in when we put them in the freezer?"
Ed: "No"
Me: "They were in water weren't they. Can you remember what animals we put in there?"
Ed: "A pig, a sheep and a dinosaur"
Me: "Is that one a dinosaur?"
Ed: "No, it's a COW! (giggle, giggle)"
Me: "How do you think we can get them out?"
Ed: "I dunno"
Me: "What if we leave the ice in this bucket, what will happen"
Ed: (giggle with anticipation) "I dunno"
Me: "Do you think the ice will melt?"
Ed: "Yeah it will melt. Ice cream melts mum" (Hooray, this is all starting to make sense)
Me: (very excited) "That's right, the ice melts like ice cream does and then what will the ice turn into?"
Ed: "Water, then I can play with the animals again" (I think the penny has dropped)

We've watched it melting all day and it's almost all thawed out. the animals are free (and are being played with as i write), there is only a tiny bit of ice left in the bucket and best of all, my boy is a little wiser about the workings of the world!

Ice Magic

Ed asked me the other day why I was putting water into ice cube trays. When i explained to him that i was putting the water into the freezer, he asked why i was putting water where the ice needed to go.

When Em was small, I was quite aware of her need to learn about new things and the fact that she didn't (and couldn't) know about things she hadn't experienced yet. I often find myself forgetting this with Ed. It's like I kind of assume that because Em knows things, he should automatically know them as well.

In an attempt to give Ed some of the same experiences I gave Em and to let him discover things about the world for himself, I've set up a little experiment for him that I've done with many of my Kinder kids over the years.

We got a small strawberry punnet without any holes in the bottom and added 3 of our plastic farm animals. Then I 3/4 filled it with water. Ed played for them in the water for a little while, then he helped me put them into the freezer.

When we pull the container out tomorrow, he will see the animals set in ice and then I'll put the animal ice block into a large plastic container so he can watch the ice melt and the animals thaw out and have a better understanding of how the freezer works and what water can do. I'm preparing for lots of questions, quite a few giggles and squeals of delight and probably a little mess, but all in the name of knowledge and good fun!!

Thomas Town

My boy just loves Thomas the Tank Engine, but what 2 year old doesn't?? One of his favourite things to do is to "chuff his trains" (as he likes to call it).

With his big sister heading off to school, he's been a little lost (and wanting his mum to play with him ALL the time!)so in an attempt to keep him busy last week, I set up "Thomas Town" in my lounge room. We used the coffee table to set up the tracks for chuffing. I put a small table alongside the coffee table where we put his wooden garage to act as the "fixing sheds". We put a doll's house on the ground just a little way from the action so that the trains could go home to bed and used his other plastic garage as a bit of a playground (it has a long curly "slide"). I added some buttons as cargo that the trains could transport around and pieces of material as blankets for when they went to bed. You should have heard the squeals of delight as we set it all up!!

After taking these photos, Ed got out his sister's toy camera and got all his trains involved in a photo shoot too.

He had so much fun with this and it lasted the whole week. Sure, we had to shuffle Thomas Town around at the end of the evening to find enough room to watch TV, but the hours of uninterrupted play time made it very worthwhile!!

Playdough Recipe

I was asked for a recipe for playdough by the lovely Chris and so I've decided to add it to my website in case others need a recipe too.

This is my absolute favourite one because it lasts for a long time, is a great consistency and the kids can help make it because it doesn't have to be cooked on the stove. You just need to keep the kids back from the bowl when the boiling water is added - obviously! - but it cools really quickly. We like to add the food colouring after the mixture has been kneaded so that we can have a couple of balls of different colours. It makes enough for 2 children quite easily. It could even spread to 4 children if needed. I've included a couple of our favourite playdough pictures as well!

Playdough Recipe
1 cup salt
2 cups flour
4 tblspns cream of tartar
2 tblspns cooking oil
2 cups boiling water
food colouring (optional)

Stir salt, flour and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. Mix in oil until combined. Add boiling water and food colouring if using. Mix in bowl with spoon until ingredients start to bind together, then knead in bowl until mixture forms a ball.

Outdoor Imaginative Play Segment

My final segment in the series went to air yesterday - Imaginative Outdoor Play. I love to set up little play scenes for my kids. I find taking just 10 minutes to set up something to inspire their imagination can result in hours of play time - which means a couple of hours to myself - definitely worth the effort.

My girl loves fairies and setting up a tea party is great fun. We always add some fairies or dolls, a small porcelain tea set i bought from KMart for a couple of dollars, some glass stones to act as food, some plastic animals from the $2 shop and some sweet little placemats and pieces of material i pick up from second-hand shops. Em always includes leaves and twigs and dirt she finds in the gardens and Ed's trains and cars usually make an appearance to, but they always have great fun with this activity.

The roadways are a favourite that sometimes even find their way inside. I use those painted planks of wood as roads, ramps and bridges. Ed loves to "brrm" his cars along them and his getting to the age now where he can move things around himself. The plumber's pipe is great to use as a tunnel. We sometimes put these into containers of sand too.

My kids always go crazy for a cubby house, so i had the idea of making one using the clothesline. Instead of using my sheets, i bought some from the op-shop for just 50c each. These are my play sheets now, we use them for lots of different things and i don't need to worry about them getting ruined. We literally just pegged the sheets to the line to create different rooms and took out some teddies, pillows, blankets and food. The kids enjoyed having a picnic out there after a busy morning of filming.

Water Play Segment

My water play segment went to air yesterday (click on the link at the side to go directly to the online video if you would like to see it).

I love getting the kids involved in water play, it's one of my favourite things to do with them. It's such a shame that our kids are growing up in a time when they can't enjoy a simple pleasure like running under a sprinkler. At least letting them play in containers of water gives them some of the benefits without massive amounts of water being wasted.

The activities i talked about in my segment are often done at bath time in our house too. Bath time can be such a chore sometimes but i find if the kids have something fun to do, they are happier to hop in and they're clean before they know it!

Thanks to the people who have emailed me about my segment and website, please feel free to drop me a line.