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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Magic Colourful Fizzing Bicarb Soda & Vinegar Science Experiment

Are your kids interested in science experiments but you don't know where to start? Want a really easy experiment you can do together? In this post I'll show you how to create an easy chemical reaction using three simple household items you'll find in the kitchen. It's a fun way to teach chemistry to young children and create some real life magic.

One of the simplest and safest chemical reactions to create at home is the reaction between bicarb soda {also commonly known as baking soda} and vinegar. Both of these items are commonly found in a household pantry as they're both readily used for baking and cleaning. To take this experiment to the next level and add in even more magic, add some food colouring to create magical fizzing eruptions of colour.



Before you start your experiment get your child to hypothesis by asking them what they think will happen. What will happen to the liquid when we add the bicarb powder? Will it make a noise? Will it make something new? Come up with a list of ideas then perform the experiment to see if they were right.
Monday, May 25, 2020

How to make a Lava Lamp Experiment Sensory Bottle

Do you want to create all the fun of a lava lamp for your kids without the risk of heat that could burn or glass that can smash? Thankfully it's easy to create a magical lava lamp sensory bottle that's completely safe for kids with this Alka-Seltzer science experiment using four household pantry staples. Follow the tutorial below to make a lava lamp sensory bottle in less than five minutes.



Probably my most favourite thing about my bedroom when I was younger was having a lava lamp. It was so mesmerising watching the oily blobs float up and down. Of course I didn't really have any concept at the time of how dangerous it was due to the heat it emitted. Looking back now I can see how much of a hazard lava lamps are, not to mention the huge amount of electricity they require and all of the big fire hazard warnings make me much more nervous now as an adult. So, when my daughter found my lava lamp stashed in it's box and begged me to show her, I decided it was the perfect time to do the Alka Seltzer lava lamp experiment I'd been meaning to try for ages. I took it one step further and together we created some lava lamp sensory bottles that she can use over and over again.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Baby Doll Bandaid Shape Matching Play Activity

Last time I cleaned out and reorganised our medicine cupboard I  discovered we had a heap of really old homebrand bandaids at the back of the cupboard. They'd obviously been there for a while and had started to lose stickiness, but instead of simply throwing them out, I decided to use them for a fun fine motor activity

My girls are obsessed with bandaids and always say they've hurt themselves purely so they have an excuse to get a bandaid, because they know they're special and only get them if they're really hurt. So I decided to put together a quick doctor themed invitation to play using their two favourite things, a baby doll and bandaids. This baby doll shape matching activity was a fun way to reuse the old bandaids and I snuck a fair bit of learning in too.
Baby doll shape matching bandaid activity.
Sunday, May 17, 2020

Dinosaur Egg Small World Sensory Play Tray

There seems to be many phases kids go through with toys as they're growing up, but one that's almost certain for both boys and girls is the dinosaur phase. When I was little this was all thanks to The Land Before Time cartoons. Little Foot, Petrie, Cera, Ducky and Spike were soooo cute I used to watch the movie and cartoons on repeat.

When I had my girls and they first started getting into animal figurines I thought dinosaurs would quickly become favourites, however it took them a little while to get interested. Once Dinosaur Train was on ABC Kids however they got into dinosaurs in a big way. Then when Dino Dana and Andy's Prehistoric Adventures were added it just cemented their love for dinosaurs and the history of them. We've done many dinosaur play activities now, but this Dinosaur Egg Small World Tray we did recently has been a firm favourite.

DINOSAUR EGG SMALL WORLD PLAY TRAY


Do you ever come up with awesome ideas at the most random of times? It happens to me all the time {probably because my brain never switches off}. This dinosaur small world idea popped into my head while I was cooking bacon and eggs for breakfast. I had an idea to do a dinosaur small world in the back of my mind for a while, but when I started cracking the eggs for breakfast it's like a light bulb suddenly went off in my head. 

Straight away I knew if I carefully cracked them right I could keep them and set up an awesome small world complete with real hatching eggs. So the rest of the eggs I cracked right down low near the base and carefully got the egg out then thoroughly rinsed them and put them aside. I wanted to set up a dinosaur nest loosely based on the intro to Dinosaur Train where Tiny, Shiny, Don and Buddy hatch out of the eggs as the theme song plays.

Dinosaur sensory small world play tray with chocolate flavoured mud.
Monday, May 11, 2020

Alfoil Puzzle Piece Fine Motor Activity: Learn ABCs and Phonics With This Simple Invitation to Play

Did you know puzzles can be great open ended toys? Although they appear to only have a single purpose, to match the correct piece into the correct slot, you can use them in many different ways. One of our favourite ways to use older puzzles is an alfoil wrapped puzzle piece invitation to play. It's a game, fine motor and sensory play activity combined.

I already use toy rotation to try and make sure the girls don't lose interest in their toys, however when we've had a puzzle for a long time and they've done it numerous times it can become boring. Before thrifting them or buying new puzzles, I use this activity to spark new interest and make the puzzle exciting for the girls again. My big girl loved this alphabet puzzle activity that helped her practice letters and phonics.

Aluminium foil wrapped puzzle fine motor, phonics and letter activity.
*This post contains some affiliate links*


ALFOIL WRAPPED ALPHABET PUZZLE ACTIVITY FOR CHILDREN


Wrapping puzzle pieces in alfoil is a really easy way to make an old resource feel new again for children of all ages. By wrapping the individual pieces it adds an element of surprise not knowing which letter they'll unwrap each time. It also makes doing the puzzle into an interactive game.

To set it up you'll need to individually wrap each piece with alfoil while your child is not watching. I chose to use alfoil because it adds sensory input as it crinkles as they touch it and it also sticks to itself so it doesn't require any tape. It can also be easily unwrapped and reused to wrap the letters again if you want to repeat the activity. However, if you don't have any aluminium foil you could use tissue paper or newspaper as they scrunch and unscrunch easily, or wrapping paper and tape.



Once all the letters are wrapped up present them in a tray or container alongside the empty puzzle board. If you want to make it easier {or think your child might lose interest after a few letters} you can leave some letters on the board in their correct spot and wrap the remaining letters. When we first did this activity I prompted her so she knew what to do by saying oh look at the presents, let's unwrap them and see what's inside. Once she realised they were letters we tried to guess which letter it would be by feeling the shape of the package before opening each one. 

It's worth mentioning that although my photos only contain an uppercase puzzle {because that's the first letter puzzle we had}, we've since got a lowercase alphabet puzzle too and this activity works well with both options. When I first started teaching her letters I naturally taught uppercase because it was easier for her to learn, but since she started school I've realised teachers place much more importance on learning lowercase letters so it's important to expose children to both options if possible.



Alphabet puzzle pieces wrapped in alfoil


*This activity is intended for children who are no longer mouthing and should be done under strict supervision*

LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES


  • Fine motor skills
  • Concentration
  • Hypothesising
  • Problem solving
  • Letter recognition
  • Phonics {extension ideas}


Although this invitation to play is essentially quite simple, it has so many developmental learning opportunities. The most obvious one being the many opportunities for fine tuning fine motor skills. As children grasp each piece and work to remove the alfoil they're using their pincer grip which is imperative for good pencil grip development later on. If they decide to repeat the activity and wrap the letters back up again then they'll also be building hand strength as they push the alfoil together tightly.

When they guess what each letter is before unwrapping it, and while they try to find the correct space on the puzzle board to place each letter, they're hypothesising and problem solving. These are cognitive skills which will help exercise their brain, improving their ability to process information. Doing activities that involve thinking skills like reading, playing games and solving puzzles will help children strengthen neurological pathways and improve their attention span, memory and reasoning skills.

The entire activity is great for letter recognition and matching the pieces to the empty puzzle spots also helps with letter formation as the kids need to analyse the shape of the letters before placing them. Extending this activity to include phonics practice is also really easy, simply use some of the prompt questions below. 
aluminium foil wrapped puzzle invitation to play

EXTENDED PHONICS PLAY FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND SCHOOL CHILDREN


When I last set this activity up my big girl was 5 and I initially had it out as a fun fine motor activity for her to come home to after kindy, however once she started playing with it she extended the activity herself. I left it out simply for her to find assuming she would unwrap the puzzle pieces and find the correct spot as we'd done with other activities before, but as she opened each letter she said the letter and then started saying the sound they make and a word starting with the letter. I'm really passionate about following the girls lead when setting up any play activities for them so the fact that she loved it to much she extended her play herself made me so happy.

She also surprised me with the word choices she came up with as they weren't the standard default words I expected her to choose. For example for L I expected her to say lion, but she said L lah, lah love. At the time she hadn't started school yet and was only in kindergarden so she hadn't done any formal phonics learning, we'd only practiced words from books and objects we owned at home. To extend the activity like this if you have preschoolers you can simply ask them to sound out the letter and think of a word that starts with that letter, e.g 'What sound does S make. Can you think of a word that starts with S?' If they're only just starting to explore sounds and words you could give them examples e.g 'B says ba like ba-ba-ball'. It's easiest to start using examples of items they're familiar with in their everyday lives.



Please note these are very simple ways to introduce the concept of phonics to preschoolers before formal schooling. The way schools teach phonics will vary between each school {for example some use Jolly Phonics and others use S2L programs here in Australia}. Once your child has started formally learning a specific phonics program I recommend consulting with their teacher and doing activities that align with that particular teaching method.

ANOTHER EASY PUZZLE PIECE GAME FOR TODDLERS


Four years ago when my big girl was only 2 and a half years old she was learning the letters of the alphabet and I was coming up with some fun play based activities to help her learn. Being a toddler still she only had a short attention span, so anything interactive and play based was the key to getting her interested and learning for longer. One of the games she loved to do was pulling puzzle pieces out of an empty wipes container. 

To do this you'll need a plastic wipes container {we used an old Huggies one} so you can fill it with letters and then they can pull them out through the dispenser lid. Just like wrapping letters in alfoil, pulling the letters out of the container adds the element of surprise and suspense into learning letters. She loved pulling them out, guessing which one they were and then finding the matching spot on the puzzle board. I shared this video of us playing the game on Instagram way back in 2015 {her baby voice is so dam cute}.




ALPHABET GAMES AND RESOURCES FROM AMAZON




FOR MORE FINE MOTOR FUN TRY THESE ACTIVITIES






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.
Friday, May 8, 2020

Tape Resist Animal Rescue Activity for Toddlers

Once my daughter was over 12 months old she developed a strong aversion to being strapped into her highchair. Toddlers short attention spans + disdain for being restrained means sooner or later the highchair is going to morph from a place of excitement to a place of resentment. Unfortunately for me the highchair was the only way I could keep her safely contained beside me while I prepped dinner during the witching hours. I used to give her some toys to play with on her tray, but she soon learned she could just chuck them on the floor and scream. So, I had to get a little more creative.

In order to keep her happily sitting in her highchair I started doing tape resist activities on her highchair tray. It was a great way to keep her occupied next to me while I got meals safely prepared. Her favourite was a tape resist animal rescue using our animal figurines. It's super easy to set up and as an added bonus it has loads of developmental learning opportunities.

Tape resist animal rescue fine motor activity for toddlers.
*This post contains some affiliate links*

SUPPLIES YOU WILL NEED


- Animal figurines
- Washi tape {or masking tape}


You can use any animal figurines you have on hand for this activity, just make sure that they are large so that they don't pose a choking risk to mouthing children. We have an extensive collection of CollectA  brand animals so I picked out our manta ray, lion, tiger and zebra because they were easy to tape flat to her high chair tray. We also have lots of the CollectA mini figurines which would be ok for this activity if it's being done with a child over 3 years old who's no longer mouthing. Schleich, Wild Republic and Safari also make great animal figurines.

I used washi tape for our activity because we had it in lots of plain bright colours that I knew would draw her attention and it's relatively easy for her to peel off. Masking tape works just as well. Regardless of which tape you use, ensure this activity is always done under supervision as some children may be inquisitive and try to eat the tape once they have peeled it off.



Animal figurines taped down with washi tape for a fine motor rescue activity.



LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES


- Pincer grip
- Hand strengthening
- Hand/eye co-ordination
- Language development
- Colour recognition
- Cause and effect
- Animal names


This activity is great for helping younger children to develop pincer grip by trying to remove the tape and also when they grasp the animals to pick them up. Pincer grip is an important fine motor skill needed in order to pick up small objects and in order to hold a pencil properly later on at school. At first kids may just try and grab the animals off the table, however they'll soon realise that they're stuck down and they need to work at getting them free. 

This activity is also great for learning cause and effect and helping to improve concentration as they'll have to concentrate on picking up the edge of the tape in order to pull it all the way off to release the animals. You might have to pull up the very edges of the tape at first so that they can grab onto it, but once they've done it a few times they should be able to work it out themselves. You can also add in some language development by saying the animal names as they're removing them.
Fingers peeling green washi tape off of a plastic zebra animal figurine.


Don't be discouraged if your child pulls off a few pieces of tape and is then done with the activity. Remember that young children only have very short attention spans and often won't sit and concentrate on an activity for longer than five minutes, so this is totally normal. Even if they only remove one piece of tape it's still great fine motor practice.

You may be lucky however, and they may want to take the tape off and keep doing it over and over. My daughter took the tape completely off each animal and inspected it trying to figure out why one side was sticky and the other wasn't. She then stuck the tape back down over the animals and rescued them again. Sticking the tape back down was also great for hand strengthening as she had to push it down around the animals to get it to stick. She did this multiple times until the washi tape started to have trouble sticking down properly.

Child peeling washi tape off of tiger and stingray fingurines.
Child sticking yellow washi tape onto a plastic stingray animal figurine

The animal tape rescue activity was great for keeping her entertained in her highchair while I prepped dinner {she was always set up right beside me in the kitchen so I was watching her the whole time}. This activity can be done on any flat surface so you could do it on a table top or the floor. It can also be done vertically on a wall or window to help practice standing with younger children. You could also use other objects like foam letters or numbers, lightweight blocks or matchbox cars {always ensure children are supervised with small objects}.


MORE ANIMAL PLAY IDEAS






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Monday, May 4, 2020

16 Mother's Day Cards Kids Can Make at Home or in the Classroom

Of all the Mother's Day gifts I've ever received my favourites are definitely the handmade cards or questionnaire lists my girls have made themselves. Sure a notebook or pretty soap from the school Mother's Day stall are lovely, and I appreciate all the thought that went into picking them out, however nothing tugs at my heart strings more than something they've made.

I live for all the pretty Mother's Day craft ideas that come home from kindy or class, no matter how cliche they may seem. Give me a painted canvas or collage card any day. Whether you're a teacher looking for a crafty Mother's Day classroom activity, or dad looking for a special Mother's Day gift the kids can make themselves, then have a look at these 16 Mother's Day card ideas. They're sure to make mum or grandma smile and they don't even require a trip to the shops.


*This post contains some affiliate links*

BASIC CRAFT SUPPLIES YOU'LL NEED


Before your kids decide what type of Mother's Day card they want to craft, check what basic craft items you have on hand. We're lucky to have quite a large craft hoard stash so we pretty much always have everything we need on hand. If you do need some supplies you can usually pick up most craft items for a few dollars from stationary stores {like Officeworks here in Aus}, dollar stores, department stores like Kmart  or Target, or even the stationary aisle at the supermarket. You can also get lots of craft items online from Etsy, Catch {AUS} or in my Amazon store.


CARDS FOR MUMS WHO LOVE FLOWERS


Everybody loves receiving flowers right? I know I do, even though most of ours are just picked from the neighbours garden. If your mum loves flowers why not give her one of these gorgeous flower themed Mother's Day cards. The best part is they don't need watering and won't wilt or die over time, they'll stay as vibrant and beautiful as the day she received them.



Give mum the perfect flower with this mix and match flower craft. Use the free printable from Messy Little Monster, some cardstock and googly eyes to mix and match the template to create the perfect card. You can also add a photo to make it a personalised keepsake. 



This adorable mother's day flower card is so easy to make even the youngest of kids can help. You'll need cardstock, paint, buttons and an empty softdrink bottle. Arrange the flowers like Rainy Day Mum, or you could even put them in a bunch and draw stems and a vase.



Make some these cute heart bouquet cards created by Barley & Birch for mum or grandma. Just like a real bouquet of flowers they even come wrapped in some newspaper. To make these you'll need some cardstock, coloured paper, newspaper and ribbon if you want to pretty them up even more. Follow the instructions over at Red Ted Art to put them together.



Bring mum flowers and let her know all the things you love about her with this mason jar flower card. You'll need some cardstock or coloured paper and the free template from The Best Ideas for Kids. There's a blank template included if you want to make the card for grandma instead {or for us Aussies who spell mom, mum}.



These cute cupcake liner flower cards are so bright and colourful. They're also really easy for younger children to put together using different sized cupcake liners, buttons, some cardstock and a green crayon. Follow the steps at I Heart Crafty Things.



Mum will love this cute hand print chrysanthemum picture. It is designed as a picture, however you could always staple or glue another piece of paper at the back to turn it into a mother's day card. This one is really easy to make using paper, pipe cleaners and glue. Follow the instructions at Fun Handprint Art.



This cute dancing flower pot card is a great personalised Mother's Day card. You'll need some coloured foam, a photograph of the kids, glue, a pen and the free flower template from The Soccer Mom Blog. Download the free template here.



This paper flower bouquet card is so easy to put together. Simply print off the template from Fireflies and Mudpies and colour it in with coloured pencils or crayons then stick it onto some cardstock. You can play around with the positioning of the flowers and stems and colour them in your mum's favourite colours.



I love the 3D effect of these tulip flower pot cards. They're also really simple to make with the template from I Heart Crafty Things. You can make the tulips any colour you want depending on what coloured paper you have.



The photo flower cards are another adorable personalised card idea. Make these really easily with just coloured paper, glue, a photo and the template from Arty Crafty Kids. You could also attach a magnet to the back so they can be permanently displayed on the fridge. Download the template here.



This flower basket paper weaving card is great for older kids to put together. Colour in the flowers with coloured pencils and then weave the basket with coloured paper. Follow the instructions at Red Ted Art.



If a bunch or basket of flowers isn't enough, give mum a whole flower garden with this 3D flower pop up card. Kids can draw their own flower designs on any coloured or patterned paper then follow the instructions at Red Ted Art to turn them into a 3D garden.


MAKE MUM'S HEART FLUTTER WITH THESE CUTE HEART CARDS


If flowers aren't mum's thing then don't worry, these heart themed Mother's Day cards will surely make her smile. Nothing says I love you like a heart. The great thing about these cards is they're also all suitable for birthday's or Valentine's Day as well. 

My girls loved making this sticky heart Mother's Day card for their grandma. It was a great collage activity and it can be decorated with whatever you have on hand at home. We used tissue paper, sequins, stickers and some confetti. Get all the instructions in my post here.



This tissue paper heart card is a similar option to the sticky heart card, but uses glue instead of contact paper so is better for kids who are a little older. All you'll need is some tissue paper, glue, a pencil and a piece of card or paper. Follow the instructions at The Joy Of Sharing.



This pop up heart card is the best of both world's combining flowers and a heart. It's also really simple to make, but makes a big impact. All you'll need is some cardstock and the template from Red Ted Art. Then colour in the heart design with crayons, pens or pencils.

FOR ALL THE SUPER MOMS

Every mum is a supermum so why not acknowledge her superpowers with a special supermom Mother's Day card. You'll need some coloured cardstock, googly eyes and the template from Our Kids Things. The card template comes with the words mom you're super, however you could always use a blank piece of card and write your own message.



OTHER MOTHER'S DAY 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 craft images featured within this post have been used with express permission from original authors.
Friday, May 1, 2020

Printable Mother's Day Colouring In Cards, Bookmarks & Questionnaires

Mother's Day is coming up really quickly and may end up sneaking up on some of us, especially this year. If you're looking for a simple and easy Mother's Day gift then have a look through these printable Mother's Day colouring in cards, bookmarks, questionnaires and booklet templates. Whether you're looking for something easy for the kids to do with little preparation, or just need a last minute card or gift option for mum, you're sure to find something in this list. The best part is they can all be printed off and decorated at home with minimal supplies and add a personal touch to mum's special day. 

Colouring in is a great activity for little kids, especially those who can't write yet. It gives them lots of pencil grip practice as they grasp the crayons, pencils or pens and it doesn't matter if they don't stay within the lines. There's no right or wrong way to colour these designs and each piece will be 100% unique. For older children who are learning to write, or already know how to write, the questionnaire templates provide lots of opportunities to practice letters while writing special messages for mum. They'll also make great keepsakes for mum to look back on with fond memories.

Child holding crayons for colouring in