Sand Dough Small World

This was a fun sensory activity where we explored the creatures that live on the beach in Australia through small world pretend play.

Dimples loves walking our beachs and collecting me things, recently he went for a walk with his Nanny and bought me home a bag of beach things; shells, beach pebbles, spounges, the bottom clumps of dead seaweed, sea erchin shells and other bits and bobs.  We used these in our small world beach with some plastic palm trees.

First we made up our sand dough using 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup oil and table spoon of cocoa and 2 table spoons of bread crumbs. The result was  "sand dough" a mouldable soft dough that crumbles and resembles sand.

The sand dough was put out in a tray with the shells and beach things, palm trees and plastic sea creatures;  Crabs, turtles, lobsters, seastars, octopus, seals and ofcourse, there had to be a treasure box and a pirate.

Moulding the sand dough Dimples made a turtles nest, turtle eggs, a rock formation for the seals, burried creatures that were "fossils", buried treasure & rocks for the crabs to crawl side ways through.

Happy Adventures :)

Rainbow Spaghetti & Bug Cooking

Play Invitation:
 Cooked Spaghetti in Rainbow colours with some plastic insects and bugs,
set out with Cooking gear & a play kitchen...

Rainbow coloured spaghetti: Cook your spaghetti, then put it in zip lock bags with a drop of oil (so it doesn't stick) & add your food colouring to dye. Soak for a while - Or ask your little one to squish it around, I did this with Dimples & he enjoyed watching the colours soak through and get vibrantly bright.

With some utensils Dimples prepared a scrumptious looking dish for our dog. Rainbow Spag, shaving cream & bugs. Demon, the dog, actually ate some spaghetti that was thrown in his bowl while Dimples went on stirring the cream through, using tongs to pick up the slippery spaghetti & "cooking" it in the pot & play oven.

Pretend cooking in his play kitchen, Dimples role played Head cook, setting the timer, stirring & mixing, putting his handle to the side, using a towl to get the "hot" food out of the oven, letting it cool before serving it.  My little Master Chef.
You can click HERE to check out my post  "The Benefits of Pretend Play" that was featured on  - This type of pretend play fits well into this post, its fun-messy-imaginative Play...

Benefits of Pretend Play

Recently I had the opportinity to do a guest post @ which resulted in some great comments. So here is an extended version with some additional ideas, links & pictures for the Captain Underpants fans...
In a busy world with what seems to be tireless amounts of chores, it is easy to fall into a cycle of giving your child the same toys to play with each day, using the TV as a baby sitter or saying "maybe next time", "hold on, I just need to finish this first" each time your child comes running to you with underwear on their head exclaiming that they are Captain Underpants requesting that you come play with them.  As parents it is important for us to acknowledge that for a child "Play" is not just leisure but is how they learn.

Captain Underpants flying through the clouds... 

 Of course there are many forms of play and endless ways to engage in play with your child. Dramatic or Pretend Play is just one way that children benefit from immensely that will also give you a chance to positively enhance their learning experiences, their self-esteem but most importantly it can strengthen your relationship with them.

Here are some of the benefits derived from Dramatic / Pretend Play-
  • Pretending:  Just the act of pretending is a learning curve for a child. It grants them with an outlet to role play what they have seen in their world. This helps them learn about how the world works and practice how adults interact.
  • Social Play: Pretend play encourages negotiation, cooperation, and role playing different situations. Pretend story lines and characters, turn taking, sharing are all great skills to learn.
  • Social interaction: Not only does it help with social skills but it encourages a child to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and be empathetic and considerate of others. This gives them a chance to practice behaviour, manners and language that is needed when they interact in real world situations, as well as what behaviour is acceptable in public.
  • Language development: Dramatic Pretend play encourages expressive language that would not otherwise be used by the child.  Often through pretend play withdrawn children can first start to express themselves by acting a certain role.  Further, this gives the parent an opportunity to extend on language skills by paraphrasing what the child has said using more descriptive language and exchanging conversations using expressive language examples.
  • Imagination: Pretend Dramatic Play is a great for showing how imaginative children are. Imagination is an important building block for learning.  It is not only important in childhood, imagination is crucial for life. Just imagine a world without it, we would not have scientists making new discoveries, artists making new artworks, Santa traditions, award winning stories like Avatar and we would not be able to cognitively process these possibilities or examples.
  • Self-esteem: By giving your child complete control in their pretend world and accepting them as a silly character like Captain Underpants you are enhancing their self-esteem. While they use their own initiative to develop story lines, their creative imagination to expand stories and their own personality to choose a character they enjoy, you are enhancing their self-esteem by allowing them complete power in the world & enjoying it with them.
  • Motor skills: Playing is very busy work. While pretending to be adults or role playing your child is also fine tuning their motor skills. Mixing, Pouring, scooping, cooking, squatting, lifting, serving, moving around & remaining active.
  • Practice: Practice makes perfect, while they are playing & pretending they are practicing all the skills they are going to need as they grow up into adults in the real world. From simple things like dressing, measuring, serving food, cooking skills, to handling money, grocery shopping, going to the doctor, answering the phone and not to mention practicing appropriate manners, behaviours and etiquette.
Pretend Play: Eating out at a cafe

Try to provide some Dramatic Props:
Tea sets,
cooking utensils,

Old cooking pots
outdoor mud station mud-is-good-for-you
play kitchen,

Fresh food Shop with trolley, plastic food, food boxes & Cash register

plastic food,
a cash register,
empty food containers,
Real ingredients  eg: worms-eyeballs-goblin-finger-stew

Pretend cooking with Rainbow Spaghetti.
Doll houses,
Telephone, masks,
Dress up accesories,

Flower Stand. Playdough as mud & flower arranging.

pretend money,
wallets & bags,
a pretend shop stand,

Muffin tin, Shaving Cream & real ingredients. pretend-cooking-wild-berry-muffins

play tools,
toy doctor kit,

Doctor mask & toy doctor kit

toy animals,
kids tool bench 
building toys
Costumes pirate-party-dress ups
Make Costumes eg: making-robot-suit
Buried Treasure treasure-hunt
By accepting your child in their make believe world you give them complete control not only over the game, but over the 'world' for that short time, this enhances their self-esteem and gives you a chance to engage in their interests and their blooming personality, share in their enjoyments and it strengthens their trust in you and the world around them.

So next time a screaming Captain underpants runs past you, grab a towel and throw it on as a Super hero cape & go rescue Big Ted from the malicious tornado that’s about to hit your house.

Happy Adventures

Bright sparkley Rainbow Rice Box

Rainbow Sensory Box

To brighten up a gloomy rainy day this is the only way to play: Bright & Sparkley Messy Fun all in the one box.

Rainbow rice: Dyed with food colouring in individual cups then set out to dry.

Rainbow Sequins

Rainbox Pompoms

Rainbow Cups, utensils, tongs and funnels.

Filling up cups and pouring them out
 Scooping up the fine granules of rice
Using the tongs to collect pompoms
Measuring ingredients
Making Pretend cup cakes
Pouring through the funnel; what would fit?
Sorting through rainbow colours
Mixing Rainbow ice-cream

Sensory Stepping Stones


On some circular paper, aka Stepping stones to Dimples, I gathered some different textured & unusual feeling materials and Dimples glued them onto the stepping stones to make different feeling sensory mats.

A scourer cut in pieces, a Sponge cut in pieces, a different thicker lumpy sponge, some Bubble wrap layered, some Styrofoam & pom poms, some bristles of an old paint brush, and a gel filled zip lock bag.  All with way too much glue as usual so it took a long time for them to dry!
They were pretty successful none-the-less!

Dimples took off his socks and tip-toed over the sensory stepping stones. The look on his face said it all, he thought they were awesome.

With uhmmms, arhhhs, Ewwwws, giggles and funny faces he trotted over them pulling some pretty unusual facial expressions.  I asked him what they felt like?  " This is squishy & cold in my toes ",  "this ones a tiny bit spiky, it looks like hair?"  "this ones bumpy" "this one sounds funny, Ill pop it?"  "this one scratches my toes".  As he went through I expanded on what he was saying, bumpy, lumpy, uneven, squishy, scratchy, spiky, prickly, ticklish? and so forth as he chuckled to himself and had a good time jumping around....

He mixed them all up and tried again!
He closed his eyes and tried to identify them just through touch
He laid them apart and tried to do big slow steps, moved them close and did little fast steps.
He put them in a circle & went around & around until he fell down.
Then he felt them all on his hands and knees using his fingers to touch around the edges.
He threw them about like Frisbee's
Then his imagination kicked in, he told me he was jumping over a pond of crocodiles & that he cant fall off because he would splash in the water and get eaten as their lunch.

It was lots of fun and it was pretty fun for me as well, just to listen to his giggles and watch the expressions on his face...


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