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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 24: A Christmas Tot Book

Recently I have been a little obsessed with tot books.  I love the compactness of the tot book, the way all the little activities fit within a simple filing folder.  I found the print-outs for this tot book on this website and decided to try it out on Wugs.  It was a bit advanced for Wugs.  He has just turned two and doesn't yet understand prepositions or matching, so this one may need to wait until next year.

What we used:
Old Plastic CD sleeves (for pockets)

Monday, 23 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 23: A Christmas-Themed Bath

After the huge hit that was the coral reef-themed bath back in May, I felt inspired to create a Christmas-themed one as part of our advent activities.  The tree scene was made from coloured foam sheets. On the side of the bath, I included some interactive play in the form of a snowman bath bomb and a tray and bucket of "snow" (shaving cream). On the opposite side of the bathroom, I had a cinnamon-scented candle burning away.

What we used:
Coloured foam sheets
Coloured glittered foam sheets (baubles)
Foam letters
Snowman bath bomb (I cheated and bought mine from Lush)
Bucket, tray and spade
Shaving cream
Scented candle

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 22: The Story of the Nativity in Felt

Shortly before Dooey was born we made a little investment into a bible teaching resource called "Betty Lukens Bible in Felt" because it illustrated so vividly the stories from the bible and it was something Wugs could interact with as a toddler. Whilst some aspects of it are not entirely accurate (most of the felt people, for example, are Caucasian), the felt set certainly brings the bible stories alive.  Today we read the story of the nativity whilst Wugs added and played with the felt pieces.

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 21: An "I Spy" and Discovery Bottles

Admittedly not the most challenging of "I spy" bottles, but a bottle with Christmas-themed objects partially hidden among the rice nonetheless.  I had planned to make the "I spy" bottle bigger, but the bottle I had set aside for the task left a sticky mess when I removed the label, whereas the small bottle's label could be removed easily.  "I spy" bottles can be a good way to expand a child's vocabulary.  If I had chosen a bigger bottle, I would have taken a picture of all the items I had hidden in it and then set Wugs the challenge of finding them all.

The bottle on the right is a Christmas discovery bottle for Dooey.

What we used:
Christmas tinselled pom poms
Christmas figurines
Strips of tinselled pipe cleaners

Friday, 20 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 20: Christmas Coffee Shop Treat

Today we took a break from crafting and went to our local Costa coffee shop for a treat of chocolate cake and hot cinnamon chocolate with the sound of Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" playing in the background.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 19: Make Christmas Playdough

Trying to convey the idea of snow to a two year old who has only ever known temperatures of 30 degrees is a little hard going.  There is a Baby TV programme over here that features two snowmen, so I thought it would be a good idea to introduce the idea of snow by making playdough in the shape of a snowman.  The recipe I used came from the crafting blog site Nurturestore.  I created a batch of the dough and then separated half which I dyed green and red (although the food colouring I used for red always produces a pink instead!).   I added three pots of spices (cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise) to use to decorate our snowman.  If Wugs learned nothing else from this activity, he learned the word "snowman".

What we used:
Corn flour/starch
Cream of tartar
Vegetable oil
Silver glitter
Green and red food colouring
Cinnamon sticks
Star anise

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 18: Coffee Filter Hand Wreath

Dying coffee filter paper is one of Wugs' favourite activities and the process of watching the colours bleeding into each other is always amazing.  Please refer to my post here on how we do this.  For today's activity I let Wugs go wild, dying as many coffee filter papers as he wished.   Whilst they were drying out, I drew around Wugs' and Dooey's hands onto card, cut them out and used them as templates for drawing and cutting out the hand outlines on the coffee filter paper. As I wanted to preserve the hand wreath, I laminated the coffee filter paper, cut around it and arranged it into a circle before gluing the edge of each of the laminated hand outlines to the next.  The wreath now brightens up a rather dull area of our lounge and as it's not Christmas-themed, I can keep it there the whole year round if I wish to.

What we used:
Coffee filter paper (large enough to draw around the child's hand)
Washable markers
Laminating sheets
Hole punch

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 17: Playing in the "Snow" at Tanglin Mall

You've got to hand it to the Singaporeans - if they don't have something naturally, they go right ahead and create it!  Tonight we went to Tanglin Mall to play in the "snow".  That has to be a first - snow in 30 degrees (or thereabouts)!

At 7.30pm we were surrounded by hundreds of people, some decked out in bathing suits, swimming trunks and goggles waiting for the snow foam machine to start up.  At first it looked tame, only covering a small, overcrowded area, but once we moved further away, we got a better view. Some daring teenagers had their faces literally pressed up against the snow machine, before pulling away and sloping off like ghosts in the night.  I caught a glimpse of a bride dressed in a pink satin dress and her groom in a black suit posing in front of the tree.  The younger children joined in towards the end, some lying on the ground making snow angels, others scooping up the snow in their hands and patting it on their faces. Wugs fell into the latter category, a little uncertain at first and then he got caught up in the excitement.  Even Dooey from his buggy looked intrigued as white blobs of foam landed on his curly black hair.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 16: Decorate a Felt Gingerbread Man

Using the side of a cardboard box, I cut out a rectangular shape and then covered it in felt to use as the baseboard.  Then I drew up a template for the gingerbread man's body on paper and drew around the template on brown felt, cut it out and stuck it to the baseboard.  (I didn't want too many things moving at once).  I cut out shapes that could be used as the eyes, nose, mouth and accessories and put the loose parts in a dish for Wugs to decorate.  As he was doing it, he was talking about the different parts of the gingerbread man's body.

What we used:
Different coloured felt

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 15: Make An Angel

Today's activity almost didn't happen as we spent most of the day out and it was too late to bring out the paints, so I used some of Wugs' previous art work to create a psychedelic angel.  I made the body from a toilet roll covered in golden crepe paper and the wings from Wugs colouring and wetting coffee filter paper.  I fixed the wings to the back of the angel's body using a popsicle/craft stick and cut out a head using yellow card.  In retrospect this craft would probably suit an older child as I found myself doing most of the work!

What we used:
Toilet roll
Golden crepe paper
Coffee filter paper
Washable markers
Popsicle/craft stick
Yellow card

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 14: Winter Wonderland at Marina Bay Sands

Singapore is renowned for its skyscrapers and modern architecture and if there is one building that really stands out along the city's skyline, it is the hotel at Marina Bay Sands which features an enormous boat on top of the building.  Immediately in front of the hotel is a shopping mall and it's here that we found ourselves today at the Winter Wonderland where we found: Santa's grotto, giant toy soldiers, candy canes, a Christmas train , reindeers pulling a sleigh and dancing ballerinas.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 13: Salt Dough Candleholder

The inspiration for this activity came from a blog called Nurturestore and in particular from a post about Diwali candleholders.  Instead of using acrylic paint to colour the candleholder, I used yellow food colouring to dye the dough first.  This activity was a bit of an experiment as I didn't have any sequins to hand for Wugs to decorate, but I did have some star anise and cloves that had been lingering in my kitchen cupboard for a while.  I showed Wugs how to push one or two of them into the dough and then pretty much left him to it.  I imagined that after 5 minutes, all the star anise would be crammed into one area and the candleholder would have collapsed.  To my surprise, Wugs worked in rounds, decorating the candleholder evenly throughout.  The candleholder was then placed in the oven on a low heat - just enough to dry out without baking so the star anise and cloves were not too overpowering.  At tea-time, I lit Wugs' little creation and we dined by candlelight.

What we used:
Salt dough recipe
Yellow food colouring
Star anise

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 12: Decorate Your Own Gingerbread House

My husband came home yesterday with a "Decorate Your Own Gingerbread House" kit that a colleague had kindly given to him.  The kit included a mini tube of icing sugar and a selection of sweets to stick onto the already-baked gingerbread house.  We ditched whatever activity I had planned for the day and set to work on our house.  I showed Wugs how to use the tube of icing sugar and encouraged him to stick the sweets to the house.  This was fairly successful as he didn't like the sweets that came with the kit so they actually made it onto the cake.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 11: Christmas Small World Play

This has been my favourite Christmas activity so far. I found a couple of tubes of Christmas-themed figurines and decided to create a small world Christmas scene using them together with "snow dough".  I followed this recipe on the Imagination Tree website.  The brilliant thing about snow dough is that it clumps together just like snow, so I could create a hill for my sledge to go down and hide presents within the scene.  The presents were actually smarties wrapped in coloured transparent paper.  It took Wugs a while to realise that he could unwrap them and eat the contents.
What we used:
2 cups corn flour/starch
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Silver glitter
Transparent paper
Mini Christmas/winter figurines

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 10: Decorate Your Own Christmas Tree

I came across these cute little Christmas trees (presumably for desks) in our local (Fairprice) supermarket together with some mini decorations.  Finally a tree that Wugs can reach the top of!

What we used:
Mini Christmas tree
Small decorations

Monday, 9 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 9: Baking Gingerbread Men

I confess that I have never baked with Wugs before today - not because of the fear of the mess so much as my hopelessness at cooking.  Betty Crocker's Gingerbread ready-mix with gingerbread man cookie cutter to the rescue!  Wugs absolutely loved every second of this activity and because it was a ready mix, I didn't get flustered about following a recipe but could focus on his enjoyment.  Wugs required a bit of help decorating the men with Smarties, especially once he discovered what Smarties were!

What we used:
Betty Crocker's Gingerbread Man Ready-Mix (included a gingerbread man cookie cutter)

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 8: A Christmas Quiet Box

I had been considering making a quiet box for some time now as Wugs doesn't always take his nap, but still needs a quiet activity to occupy him in the afternoons.  I found these cute little suitcases in a local craft store called Spotlight, which were the perfect size for Wugs to pull out and carry around when he needs to.  I personalised the front of the case with his name and added some small activities and supplies.  I intend to change the contents of the box as the seasons change to keep it interesting.

What we used:
A cardboard suitcase
Foam letters
Colouring pad
Christmas cards/art
A lacing snake
A small magnetic ball puzzle
4-piece cardboard colour puzzle
Christmas stickers

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 7: Christmas Pom-Pom Drop

I had seen the pom-pom drop activity on various blogs for sometime.  Apparently it's a way of keeping little ones fascinated with the laws of cause and effect.  Using a nearly empty wrapping paper roll, I wrapped the remainder of the paper around the roll and stuck it down.  Then I fastened the roll to the balcony door frame and left a tub of tinselled pom poms beneath it.  Wugs had fun dropping the pom poms down the tube, catching them at the bottom and investigating any piles-up.

What we used:
A nearly-empty wrapping paper roll
Pom poms (small enough to travel down the paper roll)
Sticky tape

Friday, 6 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 6: Christmas Sensory Tub

Following the successful tree-decorating activity on 1st December, I decided to put together a Christmas sensory tub for Wugs to play with.  I would like to say that I had these decorations hanging around, but apart from one or two, our decorations were too fragile to withstand a toddler slamming them into the compartment under the seat of his ride-on car before being roughly transported up and down the apartment.  Thankfully I managed to find some child-friendly ones for Wugs to transport, jingle, crumple and stuff into various spaces as he wished.

What we used:
Child-friendly decorations

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 5: Star Decoration

Every year my husband and I argue over whether there should be a star (his tradition) or an angel (my tradition) on top of the tree.  Sadly both his star and my angel had broken, so I decided Wugs could make both to go on the tree.  Using 6 popsicle sticks, I created 2 triangles which I painted in silver acrylic paint before gluing them together in the shape of a star.  Then I passed Wugs some stickers for him to decorate.

What we used:
6 popsicle/craft sticks
Silver acrylic paint

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 4 - Glitter and Sequin Decorations

I took the idea of sticking glitter and sequins to contact paper from our suncatcher craft.  I used just an A4 sheet of contact paper each time which I changed once enough glitter had been collected onto it.  I poured glitter into small containers for Wugs to pour over the contact paper and spread around as he chose.  Once he was finished, I sandwiched the glittered sheet between the two sides of laminating paper and whizzed it through the laminator to seal it properly.  Then I drew and cut out shapes and outlines of the boys' hands using a washable marker. I hole-punched the glitter decorations in the top and threaded them with string and then hung them from Wugs' and Dooey's tree in their play area.

What we used:
A4 sheets of contact paper
Different colours of glitter
Sequins or confetti
A4 laminating sheets
A laminator
Washable marker
A hole punch

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 3: Make and Decorate a Gingerbread House with Fischer Tips

This was a last-minute and not entirely successful project.  ("Shouldn't gingerbread houses have sloped roofs?" I remember somebody commenting).  I was actually looking for an excuse to test out a different modelling material on Wugs and had come across Fischer TiPs in a local toy shop during a sale.  The TiPs have a similar texture to that of polystyrene, but are made from potato starch.  If dabbed on a moist sponge, they become sticky and can be pressed into different shapes, stuck to other materials or to each other.  If dipped in water, they turn to paint.

What we used:
Cardboard box
Fischer TiPs
I started the activity by putting the coloured Fischer TiPs into different pots, which Wugs emptied out and then sorted into different colours.  I cut out parts of the box to make the house and showed Wugs how to dab the Fischer TiP onto the sponge and then stick it to the house.  He created the chimney and the wreath-like shape above the door and then he spent the afternoon sending his cars down the chimney and racing them through the doors!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 2: Make Christmas Cards

Today we made Christmas cards to send to our family in England.  Each card contains some art work from Dooey and some from Wugs.  Dooey's contribution was in the form of fingerprints (on the star, snowman's body or the holly berries) or an outline of his hand on dyed coffee filter paper.  Wugs' contribution was in the form of stickers, painting or the outline of his hand on coffee filter paper (all of which he dyed last week).  For details on how to dye coffee filter paper, please see this post. 

What we used:
Different coloured A4 card
Coffee filter paper
Washable markers
Glitter Glue

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Advent Calendar 2013 Activity - Day 1: Decorate the Christmas Tree

Today we kicked off our Christmas activities by decorating the Christmas tree.  I found myself wondering if part of the "magic" of Christmas was the way it evokes all the senses.  Whether it's the twinkling of lights on the Christmas tree, the reflection of one's face in a bauble, enlarged and distorted, the smell of turkey and roast potatoes in the oven or the ticklishness of tinsel when draped around the neck - Christmas truly is the ultimate super-sensory experience!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Advent Calendar 2013

It was the eve of Advent - literally the evening of 30th November - and up until that point I hadn't felt particularly inspired to do anything special to celebrate the season.  I had pinned various ideas to my Pinterest board and I had purchased a few Christmas-themed craft supplies, but I was still waiting for inspiration (or motivation) to strike. Thankfully it struck that evening before advent and I wrote out these activity cards to put in the advent calendar for Wugs to pull out each day.

In order to build some flexibility into our days I didn't number the cards.  This meant I could swap the activities around if I needed to and use them for future advent calendars.

As Dooey was only 7 months old and therefore too young to enjoy most of these activities, I made some nativity craft stick puppets for him using a template from this site.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Coral Reef Small World Play

My little family has fallen sick today.  Dooey is congested and Wugs is out of sorts, so I thought we would take our small world play out on to the balcony and soak up some vitamin D.

I set up the coral reef scene by placing some small mats (a mini version of our bath mats) on the base of our plastic tub.  These have small suckers on the bottom and were a good alternative to glass nuggets which I can't find in Singapore.  I built the rest of the scene on top of the mats and placed a bowl of additional figurines and a bowl of pasta shells for Wugs to dunk in the water.

What we used:
Aqua-coloured plastic place mats
Shells and precious stones
Pasta shells (I used these simply because I didn't have many real shells, but it would have worked better with the real ones as the pasta shells made the water cloudy)
Coral reef/underwater-themed figurines

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Ocean Squishy Bag

We have been following an ocean theme at the moment with our coral reef small world play and bath play.  To extend the theme a little further and to take advantage of all that light pouring through our balcony doors, I wanted to see how Wugs would respond to an ocean squishy bag.

I emptied a tube of hair gel into a clear file pocket and added blue food colouring, squishing it about until the blue colouring had evenly dyed the hair gel. Then I added some coral reef/underwater figurines, sealed the top of the file and fixed it to the balcony doors with strong tape.  It looked like a mini aquarium on our balcony doors and Wugs enjoyed prodding and poking it and pointing out the fish.

What we used:
Coral reef and underwater figurines
Hair gel
Blue food colouring
Clear file pocket

(Note: I washed out the file pocket before I made my squishy bag to see if the file pocket leaked.  In retrospect, this was a bad idea as the pocket appeared to retain some of the water which broke up the hair gel at the top and corner of the file.  It probably would have been better to use a Ziploc bag inside a Ziploc bag (for double protection) rather than a clear file pocket).

Sunday, 3 November 2013

DIY Light Box

For a while now I've been enviously reading posts about all the fun children are having with light boxes.  We managed to find one in Art Friend the other week, but it's not exactly toddler-proof, so I wanted to create one that was a little more robust and portable.

What we used:
Large plastic, shallow and transparent box with a lid that fastens down securely
Battery-operated white lights (Christmas tree lights would also work)
Tin foil
Grease-proof paper

It was only when I embarked upon this project that I realised just how difficult it is to get hold of a shallow, wide, transparent box with a lid that fastens down.  Thankfully the box came to me!  We were having a belated celebration for my husband's birthday and had ordered some catering and guess what the chicken rice came in?  I had my eye on that box all the way through dinner, making sure nobody took it home with the leftovers!

I made our light box by fixing two sheets of tin foil across the inside and up the sides with sellotape.  Then I added some battery-operated white lights which I fixed to the sides. I sellotaped a sheet of grease-proof paper across the inside of the lid which had the effect of spreading the light around without giving off a glare.  I sealed the box by fastening down the lid and we were ready to use it.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Garden Small World Play

Wugs is fascinated with flowers at the moment.  Thankfully we live in an area that is plentiful with them. Lining the path from our condo to the local supermarket is a hedge full of little orange and yellow flowers. Every time we come back from our walks, Wugs insists on picking an orange flower from the hedge and taking it back home with him.

I decided to have some fun and experiment with a small world  play based on his love of flowers and incorporating a couple of sensory materials.  I added a little edible treat to the small world play in the form of milo chocolate cereal balls which surprisingly took him a while to discover.  He played with this for a full hour and was so careful with the scene that when he finished, we were able to fasten down the lid and play with it the next day.

What we used:
Large shallow container
Green play dough (following this recipe)
Rolled oats
Artificial flowers
Small plastic flowers
Small plastic bird figurines
Toilet roll
Milo chocolate cereal

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Expanding Vocabulary Using Old Greetings Cards

I'm in decluttering mode at the moment.  It's a therapeutic activity I turn to whenever I feel there is just too much stuff in the house and things are spinning out of control.  I found myself in the spare room this afternoon sorting through an old box of stationery that I brought across from England. I discovered some beautiful old greetings cards and art postcards there that I have held onto for years.  I didn't really want to throw them out, but I couldn't find a use for them as it's been a few years since I wrote a letter by hand.  Just then a little head popped up...Elijah gathered up the cards and started pointing out the different things he could see.  It occurred to me that this would be a wonderful way for him to expand his vocabulary and an interesting (and cheaper) alternative to using flash cards.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Play Dough Gift Tubs

It was Wugs' birthday party today and I was in a rush to complete my play dough gift tubs which I added to the party bags for the children to take away.  They were a fairly inexpensive gift to make.  I made a couple of batches of play dough using the recipe from this site and dyed it blue, green and red and filled the tubs to two-thirds.  The remaining play dough I dyed yellow (which came out a darker yellow than I anticipated).  I added some gold glitter to the yellow play dough and filled the tubs to the top separating it from the first batch of play dough with wax paper.  Finally I inserted a cookie cutter and they were ready to go.

What we used:
Vegetable oil
Cream of tartar
Food colouring

Cookie cutter
Small tubs

Friday, 27 September 2013

Resist Tape Art

What a brilliant, effective process art and it makes lovely cards and gifts!  This was a gift to Wugs' "Nana" in England (which probably should have been spelt "Nanna").  The only problem we encountered with making names using the resist tape is that the names have to be fairly short in order to fit onto the card.

The preparation for this art took a little while as I needed to cut the tape and place it onto the card for Wugs.  A bit of precision is required here because if the tape is not aligned perfectly, the letter looks disjointed.  (For example, in the first picture, on the bottom of the first "N", the tape wasn't overlapped exactly and it shows up when the resist tape is peeled away).  The first picture also shows what the art work looks like before the resist tape is removed (see the two middle letters).

Once I had finished adding the resist tape, I let Wugs paint away and when he was finished I left the art work to dry a little before gently peeling back the tape.  The beauty of resist tape is that it sticks to the paper like sellotape, but doesn't tear the paper when it is pulled off like sellotape would.

What we used:
Scotch magic tape

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Rain Art

It is the start of the monsoon season here in Singapore and I thought we would celebrate by trying some rain art. 

I gave Wugs the felt tip pens and let him colour in the paper plate.  Once he had finished, we went out onto our balcony and placed the plate in an area where the rain would reach it.  We stood back and watched as the rain water blended the colours together to give this beautiful effect.

What we used:
Paper plate
Washable felt tip pens/markers

Alphabet Tubs

I wanted to find a fun way to introduce Wugs to letters and I came across the idea of doing an alphabet tub.  These tubs can either include all the letters in the alphabet or focus on single letters.  I didn't want to overwhelm Wugs so I focused on one letter per month.  The idea is to fill the tub with objects that have names beginning with that letter.  To compliment the activity, I added some flashcards so Wugs could match the images on the cards with the objects in the tub.  This was a great activity for building up his vocabulary.  I didn't continue with it beyond letter "C" though as creating the flashcards was a little time-consuming (and not necessary, but Wugs had come to expect it) and I found myself buying objects for the tub, so it might be a better activity to do with a slightly older child who has more toys.

Sun Suncatcher

I have been trying to build our activities around particular themes this year.  This month we were focusing on the sky and the weather.  As Wugs has just learned the word for “sun”, it felt appropriate to create a sun-shaped suncatcher. 

What we used:
Contact Paper
Coloured Transparent Paper (red and yellow)
Coloured Tissue Paper (red and yellow)

I cut up the paper into large squares and put it into the tub.

When we attempted this activity previously (see here), we attached the contact paper horizontally to the table.  This time I attached it vertically to the balcony glass door.  This worked much better as it reduced the chances of Wug’s hand and arm getting stuck to the contact paper.  I put the tubs of coloured paper on a chair near the balcony door and left him to play.  He engaged with it straightaway sorting out the tubs of cut up paper.  Although I offered him both yellow and red (anticipating that he would stick both to the contact paper and overlap to create orange) he seemed quite specific about only wanting the yellow coloured transparent paper on the contact paper.  He added to the contact paper over a number of hours (without any instruction from me) until his bath time when I took the paper off the door, backed it with a large sheet of tissue paper and cut out a sun shape.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Chinese Lanterns for Mid-Autumn Festival

Singapore celebrates the Mid-Autumn/Full Moon Festival on the 19th of this month.  There is a mass lantern walk taking place in Chinatown where the children will carry a lantern or come dressed as a lantern and walk through the streets.  We wanted to take Wugs, but it is too late in the evening and I know my routine-loving boy will flake out after 8pm.  I decided we would still join in the fun by creating our own lanterns. We made our lanterns by following the instructions on this site.

What we used:
Coloured Card
Glitter Glue Pens

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Counting Apples

Wugs has recently learned the word "apple" and every time we go to the supermarket he helps himself to one from those baskets that are unhelpfully placed at toddler height.  (Seriously, if I worked for a supermarket after having two children, there are a few things I would change with regards to the placing of food...and breakable items). The apple usually ends up battered and bruised and uneaten in his children's kitchen and is thrown out once he goes to bed.  As I wanted to introduce Wugs to numbers and counting, I thought I would take advantage of his interest in apples and create a foam apple tree for him to add apples to.

I cut out the tree from coloured foam paper, dipped it in water and stuck it to our balcony doors. I made the apples by drawing around a spice pot and using a black permanent marker to number them. Then I placed the apples in a tub with just a tiny bit of water at the bottom so they would stay moist and stick to the tree.

What we used:
Coloured foam
Black permanent marker
Bowl with water

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Cars in the City Small World Play

My inspiration for this activity came from the craft website The Imagination Tree.  I loved the idea of creating a small world play within a suitcase, so I was delighted to discover these little suitcases on sale in my local craft store, Spotlight.  I based the scene (roughly) on Singapore's business district with the skyscraper, river, bridge, palm tree and the yellow and blue Singapore taxis. Wugs adores cars and in particular running his cars over different surfaces, so I created the bumpy ramp from an old cardboard box and car parking area from two rubbery heat resistant mats.  I wanted the scene to be multi-sensory so I used materials of different textures (clear coloured paper, perspex, foam, card, felt, wood etc) and I glued everything down as some of the parts were too small for an 18 month old.

I have plans to extend this small world scene to incorporate a felt road mat with Singapore landmarks on it that could be laid outside of the box so that the car that comes down the ramp would land on the mat.  The mat could then be folded up and placed in the box when not in use.

Wugs loved this small world play and enjoyed opening and closing the suitcase and carrying it around.  We bring out the suitcase only occasionally so that Wugs continues to treat it as something special.

What we used:
Small suitcase
Foam Sheets
Coloured ("sweet wrapper") paper
Craft sticks
Pom poms
Heat resistant mats
Cardboard box

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Herbs and Spices Sensory Play

I was sorting through my spice rack this afternoon and discovered a couple of pots (tarragon and ground cinnamon) that had reached their best before date.  Rather than throw them away, I decided to create a sensory play activity for Wugs out of it.

The pots I used were plastic, so I let Wugs shake the contents into the flour and stir them around with the scoops.  Prior to play, I ensured there was just enough cinnamon and tarragon left in the pot to allow him to appreciate the smell, the colour and texture without the smell becoming overpowering.  I also added a few cinnamon sticks.

What we used:
Ground Cinnamon
Cinnamon sticks

Friday, 21 June 2013

Lavender Rice Sensory Play

I was looking for an activity that would calm down an agitated Wugs following a couple of vaccinations he received earlier in the week, when I came across the idea of adding essential oils to rice. 

What we used:
Lavender essential oil
Purple food colouring
Distilled white vinegar
Plastic freezer bag
Cloud-patterned pom poms 

I added about 3 cups of rice to a plastic freezer (Ziploc) bag together with a few drops of purple food colouring, a few drops of vinegar (the vinegar helps to bring out the colour of the dye) and a drop or two of lavender essential oil.  I was careful not to make it too overpowering.  I was looking for other calming objects to add to the rice.  I found some cloud-patterned poms poms and put these in the tub together with scoops and small containers for Wugs to transfer the rice into.  Whether it was the lavender or just the distraction of playing with rice, I found the activity settled his mood.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Coral Reef Bath Play

Wugs' coral reef bath marks my first attempt at doing something creative for Wugs' bath time.  Just 4 days later I gave birth to Dooey, so I'm glad I managed to sneak one fun activity in before the demands of a newborn baby took over.

I made the beach and coral reef scenery by drawing the images on foam sheets, cutting them out and dipping them in water which made them stick to the window.  The coral reef scenery was made from some glittery foam sheets, which added a nice effect. I dyed the bath water blue and added a couple of interactive elements: A bucket of "sand" which was made from shaving cream, yellow food colouring and a little sea salt (Wugs had great fun painting the tiles with this) and a tub of "ice cream" which was actually a bath bomb with a turtle inside.  I haven't introduced Wugs to bath bombs yet, so he was a bit wary of all the fizzing, but was thrilled to see the little turtle popping out.    

A successful first attempt at creative bath time play which I measured according to the speed in which Wugs fell asleep that night!

What we used:
Foam sheets
Glittery foam sheets
Blue food colouring
Shaving cream
Yellow food colouring
Sea salt
Bath bomb - I followed this recipe.
Bath toy (small enough to fit inside the bath bomb mould)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Shaving Cream Art

Today we experimented with mixing shaving cream and food colouring after watching this amazing craft from Teaching with TLC  It's at times like this that I'm grateful I do not have a son who likes to explore everything orally.

I lined a baking tin with foil and I sprayed the shaving cream over the baking tin, spreading it around to form a thin, even layer.  Then I added a few drops of blue food colouring to the shaving cream randomly and encouraged Wugs to mix the two together.  At various stages during the mixing process I pressed down an A4 sheet on top of the mix lightly, making sure the underside of the sheet was fully covered.  After 30 seconds, I took the sheet away and removed the shaving cream by using the side of a squeegee and gently scraping off the cream.  The combination of the shaving cream and the food colouring left an amazing mark on the paper.  Part of the way through the process we added green food colouring, which together with the blue, made it look like an underwater scene.  We also experimented with orange and purple food colouring.

What we used:
Baking tray
Gillette shaving cream
Blue, green, orange, purple food colouring
A4 white card
Squeegee (a window wiper would also work)

We used some of the shaving cream art as a beautiful underwater backdrop to my nephew's birthday card: