Eye Dropper Paintings

At playgroup on Monday, I set up some eye dropper painting for the kids. I call it painting quite reluctantly because in actual fact it's more of a science activity than an art activity, but it does involve experimentation with colour and it's a great way to get children involved in an "art -type" activity who are usually a little reluctant to do so.

The other thing I love about this activity is the way it works on building fine muscle control, eye-hand co-ordination and cognitive abilities. It is also a great language developing activity because chidlren are usually so intrigued by what's going on, they want to talk about it. As I said earlier, it's a great way to get children to learn about colours and for children who are slightly older, it's an opportunity to experiement a little with colour mixing.

To do this activity at home, you'll need:

- Some eye-droppers. I bought the ones in the photo from an educational toy store for around 30 cents. They're really easy to use because they're long and the tops are really easy to squeeze, but any eye dropper would do

- Food colouring mixed into water. Less is more with food colouring, but you do need a reasonably high food dye/water ratio to get good colour. It's best to start with a few good drops and see how you go.

- Paper towel. The cheap stuff works quite well, but the more absorbent the paper towel, the more fun the activity is.

Some tips:
- encourage your child to do just a few drops and see what happens. If they're anything like my boy, they'll squirt the entire contents of the dropper onto the paper and end up with nothing but a soggy mess. It's all part of the learning though. Encourage them to go more slowly and see what happens.
- food colouring is messy and doesn't wash well, so a plastic cover for the surface you'll be using is highly recommended, as is a water-proof smock
- use only a small amount of liquid so that if it does spill, it doesn't go EVERYWHERE. Glass jars are a really great, sturdy container to use, but if you have some of those non-spill paint pots, even better

Finding Facts at the Library

I love going to the library and yesterday we returned for the first time in about three months after I found the courage to face my $22.50 fine incurred by an (almost) lost book (doesn't it feel good to deal with these things, and the librarian wasn't even cross with me??!!). Anyway, we came home with a great big bundle of treasures.

After getting a couple of story books for bed time from the children's section, we headed over to the non-fiction section to look for some information books. We always find the best treasures here.

Ed chose a couple of digger books, something about Boeing 777s, a book about the history of Holden's and one about Porsches (I don't know how we ended up with such a rev head!). He actually wanted to take home about 6 car books, but I had to narrow it down to 2. He just loves to soak up the facts in these non-fiction books.

I chose a bunch of general animal and insect information books for my playgroup

and then for Em, I got some early reader books, a book about drawing and a kid's cookbook which is her absolute favourite thing to do at the moment.

In the past, we've had gardening books, truck books, art books, photography books, car manuals, bird field guides, insect books, whatever takes the children's interest. It's amazing how long they'll spend pawing through the glossy pictures, taking in what they can, asking about the facts and figures that cover the pages, and it always seems to lead to other activites - car shows, nature walks, art and craft. It's one of our favourite ways to pass the time and a wondeful way to learn about the world we live in.

Ed's Creative Space

I ventured into Ed's room the other night to do a bit of a tidy up and found the usual suspects - random train tracks, cars and trains strewn all over the floor. As I looked more closely, however, I found a little haven of calm, organisation and in the end intrigue as I stumbled across a game he had set up with his Thomas trains.

In the middle of Ed's room I have a large white, wooden toy box, that his garage and train sheds are kept on. I set up this space as a place for him to organise his own play and carry out his games without them being a great big mess all over the floor. He has access to it all the time and his trains and cars are kept in small suitcases at the bottom of the toy box. He can take himself there and start playing with out any intervention from me. Stumbling upon his Thomas game the other night made me remember why I had provided this space in the first place and just why these areas are so important to children.

Looking closely, you could see how intricate and involved his play had been. Each train had specific, matching carriages. Some trains were in sheds, others were lined up, some were facing each other, clearly involved in conversation. You could almost hear the busy station at work, things looked so animated.

I decided not to pack this scene away for the time being. There is nothing worse than having your creativity and momentum stifled by packing away something you're in the middle of and there is so much learning and development going on in this sort of involved play - memory and recall, language, fine motor, problem solving, organisation, empathy, social interactions, just to name a few.

I'll keep my eye on the play and when it gets messy and seemingly disorganised, I know he will be done with it and it will be time to pack it away, but for the time being, the Island of Sodor is alive and breathing in Ed's bedroom!