Balance Stumps - Outdoor Play Decor

Our Out-Door Play Area is slowly growing, its beginning to take over the yard. I love it! I am a strong believer that outdoor Play is essential and one of the fundamental ways kids learn. Particularly gross motor skills, but outdoor play also builds a kids physical confidence; it encourages safe risk taking, children get to test their ability and know their boundaries. Through this they learn what they are capable of and when they should stop. Have you seen Dimples tree house & water wall??? Click here.

These bright balance tree stumps are such as easy way to spruce up an outdoor play area.  They look fun and add a colourful addition to a play area, they could be adapted into any area or even used as a garden border. All you need is a fallen tree (or you could get a post from the hardware shop) we are lucky enough to live in the country and had a fallen tree that was in perfect condition. Adventures Dad cut it up into different lengths and Dimples had a ball painting them with me.

I used Exterior Paint, half a litre of paint in each colour did about 3 coats on each stump, the paint was fade proof and didn't require any under coat or protector. However, if your timber was still wet it may absorb the paint so you could end up needing more paint as it dries out. The other thing I was weary of was the colours, I went for bright rich colours instead of light ones, again if you picked light colours or pastels you would require much more paint or under coats to seal the stumps first.

The stumps were dug and packed into the ground using mud about 15-10 cm deep, ideally you would cement them in but a good strong pack has done good for us and they can steadily hold my weight with out any movement what so ever so I trust they are safe for Dimples.
Just to add another element to the task I placed them around in a S shape so that Dimples has to shift balance and direction, they are also at different heights.

There are many benefits of outdoor play, this type of activity helps develop a child's body strength, Imaginative play, happiness being outdoors & being active, Perseverance, Testing their own limits, Balance, Attention & focus, body coordination, Stretching, Learning what they are capable of doing, connecting them to natures, & helping them to rely on their own instincts.

Dimples has already formed a game where he is surrounded by snapping crocodiles below and he mustn't fall into the swamp below. He has learnt to have his arms out by his sides as he balances and he tends to go right foot first as he steps down, but left foot first as he goes up a step.
The colours are also fun. Dimples and his good friend Miss K chanted the colours for each other as they stepped on them and it brightens up his whole play area making it look so much more appealing.

Happy Outdoor Adventures :-)

Ice & Salt Reactions - Halloween Theme

Spiders in Ice castles and a Salt Melting Experiment
Another Halloween themed play treat. This time Dimples had a play date with his good friend Miss K. I had prepared some Ice castles (using sand castle molds) with some spooky plastic spiders and flies frozen inside.  I set out the Ice castles, some salt to help melt the formations and some coloured water with a dropper each.

Dimples and Miss K went to work sprinkling salt over their Ice and trying to master the squirt droppers.  Its not working, they both exclaimed slowly adding more and more salt, but it was. The salt reacts with the ice and as the ice melts it speeds up the process, so as the salty water runs down the castle is causes cavities, rifts and small trails for the coloured water to flow through. 

It is a slow process but it looks really cool when the colours start running down the crevices. I think these two 3.5 year olds were just a little impatient and wanted to get to the spiders straight away. They stuck with it, adding different colours on top and watching it flow down the sides. Dimples the extremist tried to speed things up by dumping handfuls of salt on top.

It looked vibrant and some what spooky but it wasnt what he had in mind, so he tipped amore and more colour over the top.  Slowly he seen it start to melt down the sides and he seen some spider legs poke through.  Miss K successfully removed a fly and decided to taste the ice. Hmmmm yukky she said to the salt covered ice.

The two friends mastered how to use the droppers and the syringe squirts by observing me and each other, Miss K found it easier to do it one handed pushing with her thumb and Dimples mastered the skill using two hands to fill the entire tube then squirting it with his pointer finger. Both got the hang of it though. This intruquit technique helps develop the muscles in the hand needed for writting skills and develops hand/eye co-ordination.

They also got a lesson on colour mixing; as our yellow and red colours mixed together we got a nice bright Halloween Orange, and the yellow and blue = Green. The friends noticed that all of the colours pooled at the bottom of the tray into a black colour.

Happy Adventures :-)

Wombat Stew

Do you bring your stories to life?  We do!
Lately we have taken this to another level.
This is how we bought Wombat Stew to life using pretend play & a little imagination.

Wombat Stew

Reading is much more interesting and intriguing to children when you use exciting faces, character voices and engage them in the process.  Pointing to the words as reading them, discussing what they think will happen or for older children, getting them to fill in the blanks. I do this often with Dimples, reading a familiar sentence then pointing to the last word and pausing so he can finish it.

Our new thing though, is playing out stories through dress ups or pretend play.  We did this with The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, one of our favourites.  One of Dimples other favourites is "Wombat Stew" By Marcia Vaughan and Pamela Lofts.
Have you heard of it? I think it is an Australian Classic. Well written, great illustrations, up beat, fun, educational and it rhymes. Dimples sings along to the dingos chant and gets right into it, he finds the ending hilarious every time.

We bought this story alive by making our very own wombat stew, Dimples was the Dingo and had a big fat wombat reading to stew up. I gave him some blue cellophane that he cut up and put in a large laundry tub,  I mean into the bubbling billy. We collected some Mud from the Platypus, Some feathers for the Emu, Some Plastic flies from the Blue tongue Lizard, Plastic creepy crawlies from the Echidna, and Real Gum nuts from the Koala.

All our ingredients were placed out on Dimples table and he got his stuffed toys ready. He had most of them but his echidna was missing in action. We spent all morning looking for it, it didn't turn up until later that day when we weren't looking, I found it hidden in a jacket in my wardrobe, go figure!

Dimples sat his fat wombat ready as he stirred the billy and chanted "righto, in  they go!" along with the story as he put in the ingredients.  All the while the kookaburra sat by and watched, just like in the illustrations.

It was funny to see Dimples get right into it and act like the dingo, his eyes lite up as waited for me to read the next part of the story, of course he already knew which ingredient was going to be next but waited patiently stirring the billy.

At the ending Dimples tasted his stew, not really, but he went to the extent of getting mud on his face. " Argowwwwwwwwweeeeee, I've been poisoned, You've tricked me!" He screamed and then ran off, hands waving in the air and his tongue poking out. Never again to sing - " Wombat stew, Wombat Stew, Gooey, Brewy, Yummy, Chewy, Wombat Stew!"
It was awesome fun and he played with his Wombat Brew for a while after chatting away to himself. I'd here the occasional "righto in they go!" as he inspected the ingredients.

Happy Adventures :)

Ice cream Dough and Sprinkles

Today's outdoor activity was a messy, sensory play all rolled into one fun dramatic pretend play session. We took it outside to enjoy the fresh air and the lovely smell of spring flowers while saving on the mess factor.  I made what I will call Ice cream dough from a large cheap bottle of baby powder and 1/2cup of baby oil, coincidental both were lavender scented. Our ice cream dough smelt wonderful and felt silky soft.

Delicious Looking, sweet Smelling, Silk soft to play with and oh so fun.

I mixed it up in a large tub and served it to Dimples outside with some small different shape bowls, a measuring cup, an ice cream scoop, some plastic spoons, some sprinkles and some Pom poms.

First I made him a bowl of Ice cream, a few moulded scoops with a cherry on top and gave him the spoon. He grabbed the spoon and hooked in (instantly falling into his dramatic pretend play mode) 'yum yum delishhh-us!' he said. It was a funny moment because I had never heard him say this in context before.

He took the role as ice cream maker very seriously and set to work making me a bowl of ice cream, 'try it' he insisted, watching me when a huge dimply grin. 

The game went on and on, Dimples enjoyed scooping it all up and patting it into bowls and the measuring cup, as you would with sand castles then carefully putting them upside down to get them out. I think he mostly enjoyed smashing the balls of ice cream I made up and of course generously sprinkling on the 100's & 1000's.
The ice cream dough looked so appealing with its rainbow sprinkles and it smelt so fresh. I am glad we took it outside though, it was definitely an outside activity. There was white powder and crumbs every where, Dimples tends to throw his hands up when they are covered on something and flick them over head like a chopper so that stuff flies off in every direction.

Tap and flatten the bowl full of Ice cream face down.

Dimples had an awesome time building, forming and patting the dough into ice cream and mastering how to scoop it packed in to the bowl or scoop and then slowly sliding it out. Through experimenting he learnt how to perfectly build a dome using a bowl and had lots of hands on play with scooping, pouring, smashing, patting, measuring, using the spoon, measuring cup, sprinkles and bowls to pretend make ice cream. He also learnt that the dough was very fragile and cracked easily.

slowly does it

Big smiles. Successful!

Happy Adventures :)

Halloween Discovery Bottle

This is an easy fun DIY activity in preparation of Halloween. To get in the spirit we put this discovery bottle together in just 10 minutes and Dimples enjoyed exploring it all afternoon.

Using an empty Pom juice bottle we added-
  • Glucose syrup
  • Halloween Sequins
  • Eye Ball buttons
  • Orange Glitter
  • Black and red buttons
  • Small plastic spiders
  • Star sequins

We played I SPY, and named things starting by letter such as Spider, Star, Bat, button, Pumpkin, Eye, Orange, Black, White, Red, Slime & Glitter.  Dimples enjoyed helping make this one because of its funky shape and the messy time we had getting the glucose syrup in. These are so easy and simple, the best thing is though, anyone can make them out of recycleable materials and things you find laying around in your art/craft supplies, or even every day materials. Just remember to glue the lid shut!

6 months - 18 months:
Discovery bottles are great for developing observation skills, predictability and thinking skills.  For young children they are great for gross motor, grasping, passing from hand to hand, twisting, turning, shaking, they aide in the development of focused concentration. High contrast colours should be used for younger children to develop their sight perception, depth and visual focus. They are great for sight and sound sensory development and when used with more than one child can help in sharing, interacting and swapping.
18 Months- 4 years:
With older children they can be more detailed and used as  I Spy bottles to introduce letters, numbers,  themes and some science lessons such as separation, depth, gravity, density, sinking and floating. Again it helps with predictability, cause and effect cognition's, observation skills, focused attention and thinking skills.

They can be used for experiments such as sink or float, separation using water and oil, gravity with non liquid ones or like you seen here the Halloween one explore concepts of density and depth. Themes can be taught also, like the use of this Halloween theme. With non contrast similar colours and softer colours older children need to pay attention to objects presence.
If you want to make it more interesting for younger children, enrol their skills and help. Get them to choose what they want to add in to the bottle, how many and get them to help measure and pour anything in via a large funnel as I did with Dimples. This one is his favourite because he made it.

Happy Adventures :)

Lavender Rice Mini Zen Garden

Mini Calming Zen Garden

Soon I will be implementing a chill out corner as a discipline tool, instead of usign the negative isolated time out, this chill out with follow the basic principle of time out but will be used as a calming or settling technique, not as a punishment. There will be no time limit and the space will be a calming, relaxed, quiet and soothing atmosphere where Dimples (and I) can go to re-centre and chill out. It is still in the making, so look out for that post. Here is one of the calming activities that will be in the chill out corner.

This is a form of Miniature Zen garden. It is made with Lavender Dyed Rice. I first soaked the rice in purple colour, drained and dried it. Then soaked it again, this time in Lavender Oil. It was a success and has the nicest sweetest fragrance. 

I found a suitable storage tin, an old short bread tin to keep it in but while in use, the lid works perfectly as the base of the Zen garden. I gave Dimples a scoop, a fork, a swizle stick for drawing patterns through the rice and some smooth blue and white pebbles, then i added a buddah statue and an elephant magnet.

The smell was definitly strong enough to soothe the soul. As Dimples played he breathed it in and seemed very content and calm as he designed a little garden with the rocks.

He buried the stones so that only the tops were out, and scooped the rice around. Lavender is said to be a stress relief, or a relaxing smell that helps ease the mind and the body. The colours of blue and purple are also said to be cool calming colours, so these were the basis of the zen garden.

Dimples enjoyed the activity and stuck with it a lot longer than I had imagined. I am not 100% sure if it did have a calming affect on him, or if he was already in a good mood but he was definitly was at peace and sat very quietly fiddling around with full concerntration. Then we packed it all up in the tin and will put in the chill out corner.

My Very Hungry Caterpillar

Our favourite book of all time is Eric Carles The very hungry caterpillar, so when my little bookcase announced the Create a picture book tableau challenge I knew we had to participate and I knew just the thing we should do. Click the link to see more!

We sat and read our all time favourite cuddled up on the lounge. I have read this story over and over since Dimples was a baby and he still never takes his eyes off it as I read. It would be one of my favourites as well, such a fun colourful book with an educational element and the unique style of fun sized pages with holes through them, it really brings it to life.

I asked dimples what he would do if he turned into a hungry caterpillar and he told me he would eat fruit and grow into a butterfly. When I asked him if he wanted to be the hungry caterpillar his eyes lite up with curiousity.  First we made a sun from circular paper and some feathers, we put up a back drop sheet and found dimples caterpillar sleeping suit. Also from when he was a baby, it still fits but more as a dress, his legs hang right out the bottom.

Dimples helped as we gathered an apple, a pear, a passion fruit (standing in for a plum, they're not is season at the moment) a strawberry and a orange.  You can't see but my very hungry caterpillar has already taken a bite from the apple, the strawberry and stuck his thumb through the orange. 

He is very photogenic, when its just me he is an absolute poser, but can be very camera shy for strangers. There goes my chance of a Santa picture again this year. I think he is just so used to Mummy with a camera in her hand that it doesnt phase him.

In the past, early in on my blog, we have done some Very Hungry Caterpillar crafts:
 Very hungry Caterpillar Painting using Jar spinning technique.

We didnt just read the book and take some photos, we read the story and talked about all the things in the book. The fruit, how many, the process of metamorphis, the days of the week and ofcourse, the junk food that gives him a tummy ache. As we re-read the story Dimples acted out the story, doing crazy eye movements as he looked for fruit. Rolling around with a tummy ache and pretending to POP out as a butterfly. Then we cut the fruit up and had it for afternoon tea.
This is very happy hungry caterpillar as a 6 month old grub :)

Dimples exploring fresh fruit and veggies in his caterpillar suit when he was just 6 months old

Discover the Seasons ~ I Spy Bottles

We haven't done discovery bottles for a while so this was an easy in door activity that we did on a very windy day.  Previous discovery bottles have been made when dimples was younger for him simply to explore and shake around, so this time we did a little more of a grown up activity 'I spy Bottles'.
Dimples said 'why is it winter?' this morning, because the weather doesnt know what it is doing, although it is spring it does feel like winter of a morning.
We went around collecting bits and pieces that represents the seasons and discussed what happens over the course of a year as the weather changes, and why it may still feel like winter but it is actually now spring. We then went on a quick flower hunt and noticed all the new blooms and all the nice smells that Spring brings.

Winter: Some white dusty corn flour, snow flake sequins, thinly cut cellophane, some pearl beads, blue glitter and some pearl blue shaped bunny heads. Symbolising cold, snowy weather during winter. The picture does no justice as you cant see the pretty snow sequins, it does look just like snow with snow flakes.

Spring: we gathered some lavender, added some bright pretty coloured Pom poms, a fake daisy flower, purple, yellow and aqua coloured rice, a knitted daisy flower, some pink glitter and some green plastic petals.

Summer: To us Summer means the beach, so this was easy. Sand from the sand pit, some shells, a plastic sea star, and some blue sparkling jewels.

Autumn: In our Autumn Discovery bottle we had some gum nuts and fallen leaves in shades of yellow and red, dimples added some golden decorative stones in it and painted a few leaves in yellow and orange.

For older children these discovery bottles are great for I spy games. For younger children and babies they are great for shaking, twisting, switching hands and inspecting.

We did lots of I spy games: I spy games based on what is in it, for example I spy with my little eye, something beginning with S- Sand, sea shell, sea star, Summer. We did some based on colours that were in it and some based on the objects in it and we lined them all up in order. Dimples still enjoyed knocking them around and shaking them as musical maracas.

Happy Adventures

Halloween pumpkin play dough


It may be a little early but I've always been a fan of Halloween and get right in to the spirit of the decoration, dress up and trick or treating. Last year we had a Halloween theme play date and I'll do the same this year for dimples and his friends but for now it's all about psyching him up and building the excitement up with some Halloween craft and play.

First up, some orange play dough, some twigs with leaves on them and a black texter. Easy right. We had fun making these cute jack o lantern heads out of our play dough and they looked so cute.

Starting with some rolling dimples made balls, circular motions on the table and in his hands. Perfect!
Then using a stick he imprinted the sections through the pumpkins.

I made one first as he played and he imitated me straight away making the cutest pumpkin by him self.
Dimples was very pleased as he added in the pumpkin stems, asking me how they grow which started a great discussion. We then talked about the spooky jack I lantern face as I drew one on, then it was his turn.
They turned out so cool that we had to roll it all together and make one huge pumpkin head!


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