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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!