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Monday, March 30, 2020

Green Tree Frog Life Cycle Pond Small World

When my big girl started prep last year they did an awesome unit on butterflies where they got caterpillar eggs and kept them in their classroom. The kids got to watch them go through the life cycle all the way to butterflies and it was a great hands on way for them to learn about life cycles. After they did that I started thinking about creative ways I could teach other animal life cycles at home {without actually keeping live animals}.

There are many other ways to teach animal life cycles like drawings, puzzles and books, however I wanted to think of something more hands on. Then I found the Safari Ltd life cycle of a frog figurine set and knew I could easily turn that into a fun small world for the girls. A frog life cycle small world was a great way to physically show them the life cycle of frogs, without having to actually keep {or touch, eww} real tadpoles and frogs.
Green tree frog life cycle small world tray


The life cycle of a frog is most commonly broken down into five different stages: egg - tadpole - tadpoles with leg - froglet - adult frog 

An adult frog lays up to 1500 eggs at a time which then group together with the clear jelly like substance albumen and float on the water surface until they hatch. The eggs will hatch between 1-3 weeks into tadpoles. Once hatched the tadpole will first develop gills, then legs. It will then grow arms and become a froglet and finally it will absorb its tail back into its body to become an adult frog. The entire process takes approximately 12 weeks from eggs to adult frog. The Safari frog life cycle set is a great way to visually represent the frog life cycle to younger children.

safari frog life cycle figurine set



- Water
- Play tray
- Blue food colouring {optional}
- Frog life cycle figurines
- River stones {large}
- Small pebbles
- Foam Lily pads
- Leaf garland

To put together our frog small world I used our trusty Kmart drinks tray, a pack of small river rocks and a few large river rocks, the safari frog life cycle set, an artificial floating lotus flower, a huge leaf I picked from the neighbour's garden that looks like a lily pad and some water with a few drops of blue food colouring. Once I set it up I also wrapped an ivy leaf garland around the tray so it looked like a little pond in the middle of a wetland area. You may notice we were missing the tadpole in our small world, that's because my darling children had lost it somewhere and we still haven't found it. 

Everything I used for our small world we already had in our stash at home but most of it came from dollar stores and I got the frog life cycle set online. To set up the tray I placed the rocks first then added the water to the level I wanted {I always try and keep it quite shallow because I know it'll get splashed}. I then placed the lily pad and lotus and finally the figurines. I put them all in areas they are likely to be found in a real pond so it was as realistic as possible and we could discuss where each of them are usually found.


- Frog habitat facts
- Frog life cycle stages
- Language development
- Hypothesising
- Imaginary play
- Sensory play

The girls both loved the small world. Even though it was primarily set up for my 6yr old, my youngest ended up playing with it for a long time after her sister was done. She spent ages engaging in lots of imaginary play with the frog and babies. And splashing, there was lots of splashing, despite there only being a small amount of water. The only thing I would change is to use a little less blue food colouring next time, or possibly just plain water because she had blue stained hands after playing in the water for over half an hour {but it was totally worth it because she had so much fun}.


Disclosure - this post contains some affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, should you make a purchase.
Friday, March 27, 2020

17 Sensory Play Ideas to try this Easter

Sensory play is my favourite type of play {closely followed by small world play}. Sensory play can involve anything that stimulates children's senses of sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. It can incorporate any number of the senses from focusing on one to all five. It's often the first type of play babies and toddlers engage in and it's excellent for naturally developing nerve connections in the brain as they play.

By engaging in sensory play children are naturally exploring and investigating items and materials in numerous ways. They're using fine motor skills as they manipulate items and they're naturally using scientific thinking and trying to problem solve. As they get older sensory play is also great for language building and prompting imaginary play. 

Sensory play activities can be set up for any type of theme whether it be fundamental learning like colours, shapes, letters and numbers, or holidays themes like Christmas and Easter. We do sensory play for anything and everything in this house. The Easter sensory play activities in this post are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers

Monday, March 23, 2020

100+ Free Indoor and Outdoor Activities and Educational Resources to entertain the kids at home.

Everybody knows that it's only a matter of time before kids inevitably start with I'm boooooored, especially when they're at home. However, now you don't have to worry about kids saying I'm bored on the weekend, school holidays or any other time you may find yourself at home for long periods of time, because I've put together this list of over 100 FREE Indoor and Outdoor Activities for kids to do at home. I've also included some wonderful free online educational resources if you find yourself unexpectedly homeschooling.

Many parents are currently finding themselves with kids at home full time. For some this may be a very daunting thought, especially if it's been a few years since you've had kids home 24/7. It's even more daunting because lots of free activities like visiting the library, going to a park, a museum, a shopping centre or the movies may also be out of the question for an unknown period of time. It's OK though, all the activities below can be done 100% from home, you don't even need to leave your own backyard.

Child with paint on her face

Friday, March 20, 2020

Easter Sensory Bin for toddlers

It's easy to overthink and over complicate play experiences for kids, however when it comes to toddlers especially, simple play is often the best. Toddlers don't have the greatest attention spans, so instead of spending ages creating elaborate set ups then being disappointed when they only play with it for a few minutes, simply pick a few key items they love and you'l often be surprised how long they play {because they're not overwhelmed with options}.

When my 2yr old wanted to do some Easter play I set up this super simple Easter sensory tub for her using a few larger Easter themed items. It only uses 4 different items and only took me less than 2 minutes to set it up {not even joking}. The best part is all the items can be sourced for only a few dollars.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

45+ DIY Games, Toys and Crafts to make from Toilet Paper Rolls

In my opinion the humble toilet paper roll is one of the most overlooked and underutilised craft resources available. Firstly they're free, and anything free is a good thing! They're readily available {well they're usually readily available to any household that has toilet paper}. You're helping the environment and reducing waste by reusing them. 

Also once your children lose interest in whatever craft or masterpiece you've made with them, they're recyclable. So they're a win for the hip pocket, the environment and one of the best boredom busters to entertain children at home, plus an added bonus is you don't need to be a crafty mum to use them. I've put together a list of over 45 games, crafts and toys you can make using toilet paper rolls.
Basket of toilet paper rolls
I know some people may be a bit freaked out about using toilet paper rolls given they may contain germs because they've been near a toilet, however there are a few ways you can disinfect them. If you're concerned, they can be sprayed with disinfectant spray like Glen 20, or left out in the sun for a few hours, or you can use this technique by The Artisan Life. Alternatively you can also make everything below using paper towel rolls, empty wrapping paper rolls or empty cling wrap and baking paper rolls cut to size {or purchase craft cardboard tubes from Amazon here or here}.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Shape Bunny Paper Craft with Free Template

Have you been looking for a creative crafty learning activity for home or the classroom? Well I've got you covered. This cute shape bunny paper craft is the perfect simple craft activity for Easter, spring, or an animal homeschooling unit. Simply print out the free bunny template I designed and follow the instructions below to create your own special shape bunny.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Wheels by Sally Sutton: Review + Magnet Bookish Play Activity

*This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience

Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock have teamed up once again to bring another exciting read aloud vehicle book to life. Sutton's latest book Wheels continues in the same fashion as her other books using descriptive text and sneak peek illustrations to get readers to guess what's coming next. In Wheels a brother and sister are watching vehicles pass down a town street and have to guess what's coming each time they see some wheels.

Rumbly wheels, grumbly wheels,
Hauling-up-the-hill wheels.
Wheels go fast, wheels go slow.
Shout what's coming, if you know!

Wheels is a great interactive read aloud book for story time or groups  with toddlers and preschoolers at kindy or the library. Sutton successfully holds their interest by making them part of the story by guessing what's coming on the next page. It's also great for emergent readers with its simple, rhyming text.

Both of my girls {6&2yrs old} loved reading this book. My big girl could read it herself and my toddler loves guessing what's coming next by studying the illustrations. We love doing bookish play activities in this house, so after we read Wheels I set up a little Wheels bookish play activity for my toddler to play with {see below}. Our other favourite Sally Sutton books that are great to read aloud {and for bookish play} include Dig, Dump, Roll, Roadworks, Demolition and Construction.

<< Please note this activity is intended to be done under full adult supervision >>


- Road tape
- A metal baking tray

I had so many ideas for bookish play after reading Wheels, however in the end I decided to keep it simple and interactive {just like the book}. I chose magnet play because my toddler is currently obsessed with our magnetic tiles, so I knew she'd love the fact that the vehicles stuck to the tray. We also already had the Melissa & Doug vehicle magnet set and lots of the vehicles in the set match up with ones mentioned in Wheels. We also have a stash of road tape that I got from Kmart a while ago because I knew it'd come in handy for play activities.

The set up for this magnet bookish play literally took me about 2 minutes. I just cut some road tape to fit the bottom of our brownie pan and stuck it on then gave her the pan, magnets and book. We read the book and as we guessed what vehicle was coming in the story she found it from the magnets and stuck it on the pan. She also got the magnets and matched them up with the pictures in the book itself.

After a while she got bored with matching the vehicles so she used them on the pan to come up with her own story. It was a great activity for language development as we discussed the types of vehicles as well as their colours, size and the sounds they make as they're driving. It's also an easy activity to pack up and bring back out later and can be portable if you use it with a small whiteboard instead of a baking tray/pan.

Disclosure ~ We were kindly gifted a copy of Wheels from Walker Books Australia for the purpose of review. I did not receive compensation for this post, however this post contains some affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, should you make a purchase.
Friday, March 6, 2020

Hatching Chick Paper Plate Easter Basket

I remember when I was younger we always used to do Easter crafts at school in the lead up to Easter and I distinctly remember making a paper plate Easter basket {possibly on more than one occasion}. I decided this year the girls and I would have our own crafting session at home and make some Easter egg baskets with a twist. There are so many Easter bunny crafts, so we decided to make an Easter Chick instead.

I came up with this Hatching Chick Easter Egg Basket design on a whim and raided our craft stash to see if we had the items to create what I envisaged in my head. This was a fun little craft activity to do with my girls and would also make a great Easter craft for kindy or school. The best part is they can then be used for an Easter egg hunt.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

18 Colour Sorting Activities for toddlers

Learning colours is one of the earliest cognitive skills children develop and it provides a foundation for learning math, science and language skills later in life. Although children can physically see colour from a young age, most start learning to recognise and differentiate between different colours between 18 months and 3 years of age. The toddler years are the perfect time to start actively teaching colours to your children and they should be reinforced until they start school.

There are many opportunities to introduce children to specific colours in every day life, simply through observation. For example: Look at that red car over there... Look the light has turned red... The red man means stop... Do you want to wear your red shoes today? Using language and repetition will help toddlers learn and make distinctions between colours.

If you want to expand on these naturally occuring opportunities each day then you can try setting up specific colour sorting activities. Below are 18 different colour sorting activities I did with my girls when they were toddlers.


These beginner colour sorting activities are great for toddlers starting to figure out the connection between two or more items being the same colour. For beginner colour sorting activities I would start with one single colour and then move onto two and more as they recognise more individual colours. I personally focus on introducing primary colours first.

The very first colour activity I always do when introducing the concept of colours is a colour discovery basket. I pick various items of the same colour and put them together in a basket then leave it on the shelf for them to discover at their own pace. To fill the basket I usually use a mixture of toys we already have like megabloks, duplo, sensory balls, bristle blocks and small wooden toys. Most of our baskets are thrift shop funds, but you can also find cheap ones at Kmart or dollar stores.

The discovery basket is more about giving them an opportunity to realise all the objects are alike in colour, even though individually they're different sizes and textures. Sometimes I add in a corresponding flashcard as well. This activity can also be adapted for older children to a colour treasure hunt where they go and collect items of the same colour and put them together in the basket themselves.

Another simple way to initiate colour sorting is with a set of colour flashcards. We use the Two Little Ducklings colour & shape flashcards as they can be used to match colours, shapes and objects so they've been quite versatile as the girls got older. I initially start out with colour matching just the three primary colours so it's not too overwhelming. Also I was totally stoked that we actually had the three items in the correct colours to match the cards for these {it's the small things that make my OCD happy}.

Colour sorting a single object by colour is another really simple colour sorting activity. The girls loved colour sorting our grimms threading buttons. We even had fun creating different colour sorted pictures with them.

A nature colour sort is an extra fun way to colour sort because the kids get to go on a nature hunt first. Head outside with a basket and collect colourful nature items like leaves and flowers and then bring them inside and sort them. We used our colour board from Works at Play, but you could also use coloured containers or even lay them on coloured pieces of paper.

Another really simple way to sort with a colour board {or sheets of coloured paper} is to colour sort coloured blocks. We used our coloured nature gems because they're dyed with the same natural paints as our colour board, however you could use any coloured blocks like Lego, megabloks or duplo {just be mindful of the size if your child is still mouthing}.


Using coloured containers makes it easier for toddlers to start sorting a number of different colours into specific areas by giving them a colour coordinated defined space. This is particularly useful for toddlers who are in the enclosure/container play schema and love transferring and filling up containers. Many different items can be used as containers for colour sorting.

Colour sorting loose parts into coloured bowls is an activity my daughter still regularly requests. When we first did it I collected 5 loose parts in each primary colour and put them into a basket with three coloured bowls set up in front. For our loose parts I used peg dolls, magnetic tiles, plugging flowers, megabloks and bear counters, but you can use any loose parts you have, just be mindful if they're still mouthing and always use loose parts under supervision.

This house colour sort using magnetic tiles and peg dolls combined my daughter's two favourite toys at the time so it was a huge hit. I set up the coloured houses and then put the peg dolls out with no instructions and she automatically colour sorted them to the matching houses. Our houses are all different shapes and sizes because we only had a small set of magnetic tiles at the time, so I was limited to certain shapes in certain colours. If you have a larger set of tiles you could make the houses all the same shape.

The Grimms rainbow is great for colour sorting other smaller objects. I made this colour spiral with the rainbow and gave my big girl a basket of smaller toys in different colours. She sorted them all into the correct colour arch. For this one we only used 6 of the 12 pieces, however I've also seen grimms rainbow colour sorting done by joining the 2 dark red pieces together, green pieces together and blue pieces together to make different colour circles for sorting.

The girls colour sorted grimms friends and pom poms using grapat rings as a guide. Even though they're made by different brands, the grimms friends colours match up really well with the grapat rings and they fit perfectly inside. We also happened to have some pom poms which almost perfectly matched some of our grapat rings too.

Colour sorting buttons into containers was one of my big girls favourite activities. These coloured shape buttons were part of a board game we owned and I teamed them up with some matching paint cups and tweezers. You can get similar buttons from Amazon here.


With almost all play activities we do, I love to add sensory elements to make things a little more interesting, and colour sorting is no exception. The following activities are three different sensory colour sorts we've done in the past. Each activity uses a different sensory base to add some textural stimulation to the colour sort.

Colour sorting dyed pasta is a fun way to add a sensory element to colour sorting. I dyed our pasta with food colouring and vinegar and this particular batch lasted a few years {just keep it stored in a ziplock bag}. I simply presented it in a big bowl with small coloured IKEA bowls for her to sort {these are the older version of the IKEA kids bowls from a few years ago}.

Colour sorting letters from sensory rice into paint pots was another really fun way to add a sensory element to colour sorting. I partially buried the letters in the rainbow rice and she had to find them and sort them into the coloured paint pots. I added in plastic tweezers for some bonus fine motor practice, but wasn't worried if she didn't use them. This same activity could be done with coloured shapes, numbers or magnetic chips.

I did this playdough colour sorting activity when my daughter was 18 months old. She loved playdough {still does} and really wanted to play with her big sister's linking plastic discs so I combined them into a really quick colour sort. I limited it to only 2 colours so it wasn't too overwhelming {and also because I can't handle having multiple colours of playdough opened at once}.

To be honest as the time I thought it'd just become a free for all mess of playdough, but she actually colour sorted them. Then picked them back out, put them in the bowl and sorted them again 3 more times. She made a few mistakes, but self corrected before she actually stuck the discs into the dough. She also pretended to do some wrong just so she could say "uh oh nah dat one, over dere" 


Once they get a bit older and have more control over their fine motor movements, for example they can open and close tongs and grasp small objects in their fingers, then you can start to add fine motor elements to colour sorting to help build up those fine motor skills. My favourite way to do this is by adding items like tweezers or tongs, but we've also tried some other out of the box ideas.

For this fine motor colour matching geoboard invitation we used an IKEA plate stand, some hairbands and Melanie Shanks peg dolls. Baby girl carefully threaded the hairbands over 2 pieces of dowel to make colour houses and then matched the peg people with the right house. This was also great for building up her hand muscles as she had to work hard to stretch the bands over the dowel sticks and then stretch them open to slide the peg dolls inside. 

The idea of this egg carton colour sorting invitation is that the child uses the plastic tweezers to pick up and transfer the pom poms into the corresponding colour in the egg carton which is a great workout for their fine motor skills. To make it I coloured each section of the bottom of an egg carton with alternating felt pens and found matching pom poms. I made it with four different colours and three of each one so it wasn't too overwhelming.

A while ago Kmart released a wooden money box for $7 and I knew I had to have it straight away. My girls were still a fair way off learning actual money values, but I knew it had great potential to be hacked into a sorting box. To create this kmart colour sorting box hack I simply turned the backing board around and put different coloured dot stickers above each section. I then gave my daughter some coloured paddle pop sticks so she could colour match them to the correct compartment. This activity was extra tricky because the slot to stick them through is quite narrow so they had to be maneuvered just right to fit.

With the same hacked kmart money box the girls sorted our plugging flowers. This is great for pincer grip practice as well as they have to grab them quite tight to get them through the money box slot. We also counted them as we sorted them.

This jelly colour sort was an activity both my toddler and 4yr old enjoyed together. To make it I mixed some gelatin and water and filled the four compartments of a dip tray, then added a few drops of food colouring to each one and let it set in the fridge. Once it was all set I added coloured toothpicks to the centre and the girls pushed them into the corresponding jelly. This was a great activity for working on pincer grip and hand strengthening as they pushed the toothpicks into the jelly sections. Be mindful it does get quite messy though! We did it outside and once they'd finished colour sorting it turned into sensory play squishing and mixing all the jelly.

Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, should you make a purchase.