Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Best Picture Books to Read with Dad this Fathers Day.

Looking for the perfect Father's Day gift idea for dad? Something personal, with sentimental meaning, but that can be used over and over... I've found the perfect picture books to celebrate Father's Day 2020 with dad. Picture books are a great way to convey feelings and they can be read together with dad for years to come. Whether you're after heartfelt, hilarious or heroic stories, there's something on this list for every type of dad young or old.

dad reading a picture book with child for fathers day

*This post contains some affiliate links*


When our first daughter was born I started the tradition of giving picture books to her dad for Fathers Day. I go with her to pick a new one each year. We usually try to pick books with characters that match her dad's personality or storylines that correlate with something that's happening in our lives at the time. We also include a little handwritten note to dad inside the cover. When she was really young I would write it for her, then as she got older she told me what to write and this year will be particularly exciting because she can write it herself. 

I love that it's a tradition she looks forward to each year and it also means we're building our own little library of dad related books. I can just imagine their dad in the future looking through the books after the girls have moved out, remembering reading together when they were little. If you want to start your own Fathers Day book tradition, or you just love books, these are our current top picks.




PICTURE BOOKS TO READ WITH DAD THIS FATHERS DAY


2020 Fathers Day picture book covers





wild about dads philip bunting book cover

WILD ABOUT DADS

Phillip Bunting

Good dads come in many different shapes and species, not just humans. Many wild dads go to great lengths to give their children the best chance of growing up healthy, smart and strong. Get ready to learn fatherly tricks from a whole lot of dads, great and small. Philip Bunting celebrates fathers with this laugh-out-loud book that combines his signature humour and glorious illustrations with fascinating facts about what fatherhood looks like across the animal kingdom.

Buy Now: Book Depository | Dymocks | Catch | Booktopia


my dad is awesome by bluey and bingo

MY DAD IS AWESOME

BLUEY & BINGO

One of the most famous cartoon dad's on TV has to be Bandit from Australia's own Bluey. Bluey has been a phenomenal success since airing on ABC KIDS in October 2018, amassing legions of dedicated fans and taking the coveted position of being the most watched program ever on ABC iView. Bluey is now aired globally thanks to a distribution deal with BBC and Disney.

What we most love about Bluey is that it mainly focuses on Bluey's dad Bandit and his relationship with his daughters {Bluey and Bingo} and how they approach big issues through play. My Dad Is Awesome is a book written by Bluey and Bingo that includes all the funny and heartwarming reasons why Bandit is a true blue awesome dad. You can find even more Bluey books here.




how not to annoy dad Dave Hughes Holly Ife Heath McKenzie

HOW NOT TO ANNOY DAD

Dave Hughes + Holly Ife | Heath McKenzie

This is the book we've bought for dad this year. To be honest the fact it's written by Dave Hughes and illustrated by Heath McKenzie is what originally attracted me to it, we love both of them in this household.

This book follows dad throughout a day with his kids and is a pretty hilarious {and accurate} portrayal of daily life with kids. From requests for multiple meals to different coloured spoons, to needing to pee right now... I dare say every single page will be familiar to all parents. How {not} to annoy dad is a fun book to read aloud with dad any day of the year, not just fathers day.

Buy Now: Book Depository | Amazon | QBD Books | Dymocks | Catch | Booktopia


My dad is fantastic by Roald Dahl

MY DAD IS FANTASTIC

Roald Dahl

My Dad is FANTASTIC. He's clever, kind and wise. You'll know he's really smiling, by the twinkle in his eyes! A read-aloud rhyming board book that celebrates dads everywhere - from their most FANTASTIC moments to their most magnificent WHIZZPOPS!




I love dad with the very hungry caterpillar

I LOVE DAD {WITH THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR}

Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of the most iconic picture books for young children and I Love You Dad showcases Eric Carle's unique, vibrant illustrations to tell dad all the reasons why you love him. Unlike a lot of other Fathers Day picture books, this one is written to dad rather than about him. It's a lovely book to read aloud together or for emergent readers to read to dad.



My Dad's the Coolest by Rosie Smith

MY DAD'S THE COOLEST

Rosie Smith | Bruce Whatley

Whether big or small, feathered or furry, dads always know how to make us laugh. My dads the coolest because he is fun and crazy about me... what about yours? My Dad's the Coolest captures the fun-loving bond between father and child exploring activities that they do together like tickling, playing and exploring. We got this book a few years ago when bub was still quite young and it's still a favourite.






MY DAD IS AMAZING

Sabrina Moyle | Eunice Moyle

My Dad is Amazing uses vibrant illustrations, a yeti {and other animals} and a good dose of humour to celebrate all the characteristics that make dad amazing. Whether dad is cool, tough, cuddly, brave or funny, this book has something for every dad. It also has a special message at the end for all the little people reading the book too.



Peppa Pig book: I love you, Daddy Pig.

I LOVE YOU, DADDY PIG


It looks like just another normal day for Peppa and George, Daddy Pig takes them to the supermarket, then for lunch with Granny and Grandpa Pig, before popping in to work for a while. But super Daddy Pig makes their day anything but ordinary by adding lots of fun and excitement to everything they do! I Love You, Daddy Pig would be the perfect fathers day gift from a Peppa Pig fan.




TIME FOR BED, DADDY

Dave Hackett

Come on, Daddy, it's time for bed. But I'm not tired, says Daddy. How can a little girl put her daddy to bed when he doesn't want to go? In every household with children, from the moment that bedtime is announced until the light is finally switched off, bedtime is full of fun and frustration, puns and procrastination. From getting in the bath and putting on PJs to brushing teeth and reading a story, Time for Bed, Daddy flips the fun on bedtime, celebrating the special relationship that fathers share with their children.




my dad thinks he's funny book

MY DAD THINKS HE'S FUNNY

Katrina Germein | Tom Jellett

Everyone loves a dad joke right? Even after hearing them 1000 times. The ideal gift book for anyone whose dad makes them laugh -- or roll their eyes. When his son says "I'm hungry," Dad says, "Hello, Hungry. Pleased to meet you." My Dad THINKS He's Funny is full of different dad jokes, so whether you have a dad who already knows allll the dad jokes, or one who needs to brush up on them, this book has him covered. It's a bit of a long picture book so best suited to kids aged 5+ 



my dad used to be so cool keith negley

MY DAD USED TO BE SO COOL

Keith Negley

Did your dad used to be cool? Wondering what happened to his rock band playing, skateboarding days? My Dad Used to Be so Cool is a funny and relatable story that shows children how their parents are still cool after all, even if it’s not in quite the same way! This book is great for younger children as it's in Negley’s unique style where words are minimal and the emotive illustrations really carry the story along.



my dad snores book by John Williamson

MY DAD SNORES

John Williamson

My dad snores so much that no-one else can sleep. What are we going to do? Your dad, does he snore too? My Dad Snores is a hilariously relatable picture book by award winning Australian musician John Williamson. He hysterically describes the frustration snoring causing the whole family and some of the out of the box ways people try to fix it. If your dad snores too you'll love this book!



My dad is a robot book cover

MY DAD IS A ROBOT

Matt Cosgrove

Psssssst! Wanna hear something cool? Don't tell everyone, But my Dad is a... ROBOT! Admittedly, this dad is an older model. He doesn't have laser eyes or jet powered feet and his batteries regularly run flat. But there is one little boy who wouldn't change a thing...




THERE'S ONLY ONE DAD LIKE YOU

Jess Racklyeft

There's only one dad like you, Dad. My hero, friend and guide. You teach me about this great big world and how to enjoy the ride.

Wise dads, caring dads, daring dads, creative dads - each dad brings their own sense of fun. Joyful, tender and heartfelt, There's Only One Dad Like You is a celebration of the merry magic of dads. 



Guess how much I love you book cover

GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU

Sam McBratney | Anita Jeram


Little Nutbrown Hare shows his daddy how much he loves him... as wide as he can reach and as far as he can hop. Big Nutbrown Hare, who can reach farther and hop higher, loves him back just as much. They each use different measurements to express their love for one another until Little Nutbrown Hare declares "I love you to the moon" and Big Nutbrown Hare declares "I love you to the moon and back". Guess How Much I Love You is adored in our household and was one of the very first picture books we ever bought when bub was born.



my dad is book cover by Ed Allen

MY DAD IS...

Ed Allen

Loudest farter? Best storyteller? Bad joke-maker? Spin the spinner and find out which one is about your dad! This novelty book comes with an interactive spinner on the front cover.

Buy Now: Book Depository 



10 picture book gift ideas for dad for fathers day

Do you have any special Fathers Day traditions in your family?

To keep up to date with my latest posts, play activities and book lists you can sign up to my email list or follow me on Instagram, Pinterest & Facebook. I'd also love for you to join parents from all around the world in our Facebook community Finding Play Ideas.




Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience which means I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, should you make a purchase. All books purchased from Book Depository receive free worldwide shipping.

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Friday, August 7, 2020

Turtle Life Cycle Small World Play Tray

This sea turtle small world is a great hands on way to teach turtle life cycles to young children and is also a fun sensory experience exploring the texture and feel of sand and water. It's a fun way to explore science either in the classroom, or at home.
turtle life cycle small world invitation to play in a tray


Some children learn best by reading information, however my children definitely learn best hands on through play, so I introduced the life cycle of a turtle using a small world play tray with animal figurines. I find my children definitely learn and absorb so much information by being able to touch and manipulate figurines while playing. They're also big sensory seekers so anything with a sensory element is a big win, which is why we love small world play so much!


SEA TURTLE LIFE CYCLE FACTS


Turtles are one of the most fascinating reptiles as they live for approximately 50 years, there's even cases of some sea turtles living over 100 years. There are 7 different species of sea turtles, the Loggerhead, Green sea turtle, Leatherback, Hawksbill, Kemp's Ridley, Olive Ridley and Flatback. The life cycle of a sea turtle has 4 stages: Eggs > Hatchlings > Juveniles > Adults.

Female sea turtles will return to the beach they were born to lay their own eggs. They create a nest by digging a body pit with their flippers, where they will lay up to 200 eggs, they then cover it to camouflage it from predators. Approximately 6-8 weeks later the eggs will start hatching and the baby turtles, hatchlings, will emerge and climb out of the nest. The hatchlings will make their way from the nest to the ocean as a collective group at night time to avoid predators. 

Once they've reached the ocean the hatchlings will swim out to sea and be taken by currents to different parts of the ocean where they spend years maturing into juveniles and then adult turtles. Once they've matured to mating age {usually 10-30 years depending on the species of sea turtle} they will mate and the female turtles will return to the beach they were born at to lay their own eggs, and the cycle will continue. Although turtles return to the same beach to lay eggs, they leave as soon as they've laid their eggs so the female turtles never actually meet their own babies, the hatchlings learn how to survive on their own.



This post contains some affiliate links
This activity is intended to be done under strict adult supervision.

SEA TURTLE LIFE CYCLE INVITATION TO PLAY


- Tray
- Sand
- Water
- Food colouring {optional}
- Turtle life cycle figurines
- Aquarium plants
- River rocks

The sea turtle life cycle pack from Safari is the perfect set to use for a turtle small world as it represents every stage of the turtle life cycle from eggs through to adult. We got ours from The Messy Caterpillar {use code FMY15 to save 15%} or you an also find them online at Amazon. I used real sand and added water which I dyed with blue food colourig {you can leave the food colouring out if you don't have it or don't want to use it}. I kept this small world fairly simple just adding in a few aquarium plants, rocks and a ceramic boat, so that the focus remained on the turtles. You can decorate your small world with as much or as little additional decor as you like. I particularly love using aquarium pieces when we're using water, however be mindful of your child's age if you want to use ceramic pieces. You can find small world pieces at pet stores, dollar stores, department stores and in my Amazon store.



HOW TO CREATE A TURTLE LIFE CYCLE SMALL WORLD


1. Create a beach by filling 1/3 to 1/2 of the tray with sand.
2. Slowly pour in water until it comes half way up the height of the sand.
3. Add accessories {plants, rocks etc}
4. Position turtle figurines on the sand and in water.
sea turtle life cycle small world

turtle eggs and babies in sand
I ended up using too much blue food colouring in our small world as a huge lot came out at once into the water {whoops} so it ended up slightly staining the sand where it absorbed. To avoid this happening use food colouring with a dripper dispensing top or use a pipette to add only 2-3 drops to the water. Good news though is that it didn't stain the girls hands even though it was a lot darker than I originally intended.

safari ltd turtle life cycle figurines


Both my girls played with this tray differently. My older girl went straight into sensory play scooping the sand up and making it all muddy. She had lots of fun squishing and dropping the sand around watching it splat into the water {although she did make a big mess!}. My toddler spent ages using the figurines for imaginary play.

messy small world play tray

I would definitely suggest doing this activity outside to make clean up easier. Because my daughter was mixing the sand up with the water so much it made a sloppy wet cement consistency and it went everywhere. Even though it looks quite gross in the image above, to me that represents a successful play tray as both girls got in and played with it until it was literally destroyed. Clean up was still easy though with a quick rinse under the hose.

TURTLE LIFE CYCLE RESOURCES


Sometimes small world play can spark a deeper interest in a topic and children may want to explore it in more depth via other materials and resources. There are many turtle life cycle books, puzzles and story discs available online. Posters and flashcards may also be great additions to a living things unit in a classroom setting.


MORE LIFE CYCLE SMALL WORLDS



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Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience which means I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you, should you make a purchase. The Messy Caterpillar discount code {FMY15} is available to Australian readers and is valid on all items in stock, excluding mud kitchens.
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Sunday, August 2, 2020

DIY Playdough Stamps

Making DIY resources is a great way to get creative and the perfect use for that recycling stash we all have put away for a rainy day.  In this post I'll give you step by step instructions to create cheap and easy to make DIY playdough stampers your kids will love. An added bonus is they only take a few minutes to make.

diy wooden playdough stamps
*This post contains some affiliate links*


I must confess I probably spend far too much time browsing toy shops on Instagram and online, so I spend quite a few hours window shopping and admiring lots of gorgeous toys and resources. I love all the fancy wooden playdough stampers that are available like these ones from The Creative Toy Shop, Let Them Play and the amazing designs available at Etsy. While I'm a huge fan of wooden toys, sometimes we just don't have the extra cash to splash around on new purchases, so when I work out a way to make essentially the same thing for much cheaper, I'm totally going to give it a go. The great thing is the kids didn't even know the difference and were just as happy with the DIY version.

DEVELOPMENTAL BENEFITS OF PLAYDOUGH


Squishing, squeezing, rolling, poking, pulling and cutting playdough is a great way for children to get tactile sensory input and develop fine motor skills. Adding playdough stamps to a playdough invitation to play provides even more opportunities for children to develop their fine motor skills. Picking up and manipulating the stamps uses pincer grip and improves dexterity. Pushing the stamps into the playdough to leave an imprint helps increase hand strengthening. All of these fine movements will help build hand and finger muscles which will be needed for writing later on. Using stamps also helps with hand/eye co-ordination, concentration and visual reasoning.

child using fine motor skills making a playdough rainbow


SUPLLIES NEEDED TO MAKE DIY PLAYDOUGH STAMPS


  • Scissors
  • Thick cardboard
  • Wood craft embellishments
  • Hot glue gun & hot glue sticks
craft supplies needed to make diy wooden playdough stamps

To make our playdough stamps I used some thick corflute cardboard which I'd saved from some packaging, my trusty hot glue gun and some laser cut wood pieces. We made leaf playdough stamps, however you can make them in any design you like, even letters and numbers. Our DIY playdough stamps only ended up costing me $2 to make as we had all the items needed except for the wood craft embellishments. However, even if you need to buy some of these items, they still end up being a cheap alternative to store bought wooden stamps.

Hot glue guns and refill glue sticks can usually be found at craft stores or dollar stores for only a few dollars and they're definitely a worthy investment for home, especially if you want to make other DIY resources. Laser cut wood stencils, also known as wooden scrapbook embellishments, are easy to find at dollar stores, craft stores or can be bought in bulk online at Amazon or Etsy. They're available in all different themes in both solid pieces and more intricate designs with cut outs. So you can make lots and lots of playdough stamps in different designs, for only a few dollars.



HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN DIY PLAYDOUGH STAMPS


1. Space out the wood shapes onto the cardboard to determine where you'll glue them before getting the hot glue gun ready. Leave enough space between each so that you can cut them out afterwards into big enough sized stamps that are easy for kids to hold. 

wood laser cut stencil pieces on cardboard
2. Hot glue gun each wood piece down. Try not to apply too much excess glue as it will run out the sides of the wood {particularly the ones with cut outs}. If you do end up with excess glue it can be removed {I was able to do this quite easily with a skewer}. If you want the stamps to make deep imprints you could glue two of each wood piece together then glue them to the cardboard so they're twice as thick. *If you're using letters or numbers remember to glue them on backwards so that they show in the correct direction when stamped.


laser cut wood pieces glued onto cardboard to make stamps

3. Cut the cardboard into pieces so each stencil is a separate stamp {once the glue has cooled down}.

diy playdoh leaf stamp

diy cardboard and wood stamp close up

4. Set up the stamps with some playdough and have fun creating! Watch the video below to see how the girls got creative with our stamps.

leaf playdough stamp invitation to play



The girls loved playing with our leaf playdough stamps and were both able to easily use them to create imprints. You can see in the video and photo below some bits of dough does occasionally get caught in the crevices of the stencils, however it's easy to remove with a skewer or toothpick. Our stamps are still good to go after a few plays, however if you're worried the cardboard may deteriorate over time you could use wood slices instead{even branch offcuts} and wood glue.

playdough play with stamps

how to make diy playdough stamps


MORE PLAYDOUGH FUN




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Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience which means that I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you, should you make a purchase.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Slow Down: Bring Calm to a Busy World with 50 Nature Stories

One of the biggest lessons 2020 has taught us, if not forced us to learn, is to slow down. Take note of the world around us and pay more attention to nature. Realise the little moments are the big moments and the seemingly insignificant moments are the most important. If ever there was a children's book that perfectly encapsulates this message, it's this one, Slow Down by Rachel Williams.


Slow down: Bring calm to a busy world with 50 nature stories by Rachel Williams {book cover}

Slow Down: Bring Calm To A Busy World With 50 Nature Stories

BUY HERE: Book Depository | Amazon | Dymocks


Slow down is not your typical children's picture book. Filled to the brim with many, many beautiful stories and gorgeous illustrations, Slow Down is more like a nature encyclopedia for both children and adults alike. Instead of one single story, it includes 50 different nature stories, explaining how at any given moment there are many different significant events happening in nature all around us. The stories include a duck teaching her ducklings to swim, an ocean wave forms, crests and breaks, a tadpole becomes a frog, a snake sheds it's skin, water lilies open on a pond, plus 45 other tales about how the weather, animals and plants survive and interact on a daily basis.

All around us, nature is turning, growing…and working. Every day, hour by hour, magical transformations happen right in front of you. But it's not always easy to see them… Slow Down implores us all to take stock of life and how we spend our time, in order to slow down and really appreciate everything that is going on all around us every single day. To pay more attention to nature and realise the seemingly insignificant moments are the most important and what may appear to be small to us, is actually a really big deal.


frog life cycle illustration from slow down by Rachel Williams


The girls love flipping through the pages looking at all the gorgeous pictures and my eldest will sit and read through the stories herself. I often pick it up to flick through the pages myself. It's also a great book to have on hand for homeschooling, or just for those moments when children ask questions about how or why things happen. My favourite story in the book is how a tadpole becomes a frog because it was a beautiful visual way to show the girls the frog life cycle and we used it alongside our frog life cycle small world. The book is a great way to spark a child's interest in the world around them and a great starting point for inspiring many nature adventures.


15 NATURE IDEAS TO TRY AFTER READING SLOW DOWN


If you're anything like us you'll be instinctively wanting to slow down and appreciate everything nature has to offer after reading this book. To get started here's 15 different activities you can do during the day and night to get the kids out into nature to experience some of the wonderful moments captured in Slow Down first hand.

1. Watch the sunrise.


Wake up early and watch the sunrise. Sunrise times change throughout the year depending on the season, so look up on a weather app or Google to see when the sun is estimated to rise the next morning.

2. Watch bees pollinating flowers.


If you have flowers in your garden, chances are you'll have bees at some point. Sit back and observe how they go from one flower to another. Just remember don't disturb them as they may sting if they feel threatened and a bee sting is not nice {especially if you're allergic like me}.




3. Build a butterfly feeder to attract butterflies to your garden.


It's easy to build a DIY butterfly feeder and set it up in your garden to attract more of them to visit your garden. You'll need some sugar water, flowers and some fruit. Read how we made our own DIY butterfly feeder here.

DIY butterfly feeder by Finding Myself Young


4. Close your eyes and listen.


Lay down somewhere comfy outside and close your eyes. What can you hear? Birds chirping? Leaves rustling in the wind?

5. Watch a ladybird walking or flying.


If you find a ladybird in your garden, don't pick it up. Sit and observe how it walks across the ground or plants. Where do you think it's wings hide when it's walking? If you're lucky you might see it fly as well.


6. Look at dew drops on leaves.


Look closely at plant leaves either first thing in the morning, or after it's rained {or the plants have been watered} and look at the shapes of the dew drops. What do they look like? How many can you see? What happens if you touch them?

7. Look closely at ants.


Look on the ground and find some ants. Watch them as they move around. Where are they going? Are some of them carrying food back to the nest? Where do you think their nest is?

8. Make a bird feeder


Make a bird feeder and hang it in your garden to attract birds to visit. You can easily make a bird feeder at home from recyclable items. Read how we made our own DIY recycled bird feeder here.

DIY bird feeder made from a recycled milk bottle

9. Collect leaves and study them.


Collect leaves from different plants and study their similarities and differences. What colours are they? Are they small or big? Long or short? Wide or skinny? Do some leaf rubbings with crayon and paper to get a better look at the differences in the veins of the leaves.


10. Look at the sky and watch the clouds.


Lay down somewhere comfy outside, look up and watch the clouds blow across the sky. What do the clouds look like? Which way are they blowing? Are they moving fast or slow?

11. Make a frog pond.


You can set up a little pond area within your garden to attract frogs. Make sure there are also rocks and somewhere for the adult frogs to seek shelter like a PVC pipe or pot laying on it's side. If you don't want to set up a real pond, you can make this frog life cycle small world I did with my girls.


12. Watch the sun set.


Look up what time the sun is expected to set and sit outside and watch the sun go down. If you're lucky you may even see a pretty pink sunset some days.

13. Look for bats flying at night.


Just as the day turns to dusk the birds go home and the bats come out to explore. Go outside and look in the sky to see how many bats you can see flying around.

14. Watch the night sky for shooting stars.


Look up at the stars in the night sky. Can you see any of them moving? You may be lucky and spot a shooting star! Don't be fooled by those tricky flashing plane lights though.

15 Look at the moon each night to see how it changes.


Go outside and look at the moon every night. Each night you will notice it's shape slightly changes. Sometimes there will be a full moon and sometimes it might only be a tiny sliver. Draw a picture of what you see each night so you can track moon's lunar cycle.




Disclosure - this post contains some affiliate links for your convenience, which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, should you make a purchase. We were kindly gifted a copy of Slow Down from Walker Books for the purpose of review.
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