Letter & Shape Matching Puzzle

So simple and easy for any age. This DIY puzzle takes just 5 minutes to gather and draw, you could do a new puzzle every day and it would never be a bore.
All you need are some coloured, numbered or shaped objects a piece of paper and some markers.
This Easy DIY puzzle could be adapted depending on the age and ability of your child. Try it with numbered fridge magnets, of coloured blocks. You could try it with different shaped toys or similar shaped items of different sizes.

I used a variety of alphabet blocks, different size and shaped triangles and different coloured blocks.
I traced them onto a piece of paper and put them all in a small basket for Dimples to sort through.
This was a great quick floor activity that used letter recognition, colour matching and cognitive manipulation of objects.

The Triangles were a little difficult, they were all different sizes and different angles. Dimples had to put his thinking cap on to work out which way they faced, to the right? to the left?
No, it still wouldn't fit, he figured out that he needed to flip the block to make it fit.
I put in some small blocks and balanced them on their ends, trying to outwit Dimples but he worked it out straight away.
If you use your imagination and go with your child's interests to see what type of puzzles you can make from every day objects, it'll provide a new fun way to learn and keep your child's mind active.

Happy Adventures

Making a Mud Brick House

Marvellous Mud, it really is an endless resource with endless ways to play. Mud was used back in the day to make mud bricks to build houses with, there are very few still standing but I think its a neat and easy idea for outdoor play, we might do this again when Dimples is older and make a large scale mud brick building. Now that would be an awesome experience.

I have wanted to make mud bricks with Dimples for a long time but was unsure how to approach it & with the birth of Miss Cherub, I've been a bit behind with planning projects for Dimples. Ever since we made the Marvellous Outdoor Mud kitchen I have been planning to do this with Dimples as a different experience to teach him about the formation of materials and how the elements effect materials, like mud.

He just adores construction activities and has lately been questioning how things work. How was that built? How does that spin? He has been fascinated with the mechanics of things and the structure.  So this was a different outdoor play experience still utilising messy sensory play and the fun of playing with dirt but a great lesson in construction and something he is really interested in at the moment.

First we needed to make our mud brick moulds; I collected the bases of milk bottles for a few weeks as they are square and perfect shape and always the same size.
Next we needed to make our Mud "Cement"; This was an interesting lesson on materials and how certain materials are made. As I said before, Dimples has been asking me how things are made like for instance  what is cement, how are houses built, where do drains go? everything really.  He always comments on bricks and relates it to the big bad wolf. So using this story we discussed how bricks are made to be strong.

Now the learning unfolds!
We had a great talk about how mud bricks are made. Too wet and they are sloppy and wont hold together, too dry and they will crumble apart. How can we make them stronger? Dimples came up with the idea to add sand, as I had told him sand was in cement. Great! Then we mixed together our dirt and water. I went on to tell him how mud bricks need to be held together by grass or hay so that they are nice and strong right through the middle once they are dry.  We added some dry grass and mulched it up so they would hold, a little more sand, a little more grass until it was nice and gluggy.

Further, we talked about how they formed into bricks and the drying process, how they would become strong enough to keep out the big bad wolf and how they kept their shape as bricks through completely drying out and cooked in the sun.

Then, Dimples as cheeky as always decided it was a good idea to splat mud on my leg. I warned him that if he was going to splat mud at me I would have to get him back. With a big Dimpled Grin he splatted me again! I was still heavily pregnant when we made the Mud bricks and didn't really feel like chasing him around but alas he was after a mud fight so that's what he got.  I got a handful and splatted his legs before he could run away, then he came back for more. He thought it was hilarious throwing mud at Mummy and then trying to escape my mud covered hands.

The mud bricks took about 3-4 days to completely  "bake" in a dry Sunny covered spot in the yard.
After I had been home for a couple of days with the new arrival, Dimples little sister Miss Cherub, I thought it would be nice to do something special with Dimples and spend some quality time with him as I always did. I didn't want our relationship to change so I put Miss Cherub in her Sling and headed up the yard.
Dimples cracked them all out - Mud Bricks, they worked well. He was straight into building mode

Mud Brick Huts and Houses.

Dimples made a flight of stairs, he stacked them up, he made a real house with a stick roof.
We collected some bits and pieces from around the yard from nature to make the mud brick houses real natural pieces of art. He loved it, once he had made a building, he unbuilt it and asked to make a different one.

Dimples balanced them on their sides and experimented with different shaped bricks at different angles then he build a cool house and had to cover it over with the box, and leave it there so he could show Adventures Dad, he was very pleased with his creations. Not only did he made the bricks but he made the house, the roof and the path and decorated them.

Happy Adventures 

If you are looking for Mud Play ideas have a look at these:

MUD Painting - Process Art

Mud Rally Sensory Box

8 Benefits to Playing in the Mud

Introducing Miss Cherub

Remember this post -- from-one-to-two-little-peoples ??

Dimples is now a proud big brother, we are pleased to introduce to you the second Adventures Baby "Miss Cherub," Born 11.3.2013 at 1.33 am, she weighed 4.26 kg & measured 58cm, the exact same as Dimples did.

I have chosen this name for her on the blog because she is so prescious and was an absolute angel during her entrance to our world. She was very kind to me; I had an amazing and short 1 1/2 hr labour (1 hr 15 minutes being at home) and it was relatively easy. I had done a fair bit of reading up on hypnobirthing, relaxation, calm birth and natural birth so I was able to breath through contractions without too much trouble and I really believe this had a lot to do with it.

I was 5 days over due and dreading a nasty medical induction (this is what happened with Dimples) so I had been trying every possible labour preperations theory since 38 weeks. Id had several "sweep and stretch's" done that confirmed I was 3 cm dilated and on the scale of cervical readiness I was 8-9. But still nothing as my due date rolled through and pasted. Miss Cherub had been 2/5's engaged for 4 weeks so I was getting very anxious by that stage.

On Sunday we took Dimples for a picnic on the beach, I got a thai curry hoping to speed things along, we spent most of the day exploring rock pools, walking the beach looking at shells and building sand castles, then we got some ice cream and went to the park. It was a normal lazy Sunday, then in the evening we sat back watched a movie and when it was bed time I read Dimples his story and left him with his lullaby music. The usual sleepy Sunday - "I love you to the moon and back, Ill See you when the sun comes up" I said, as I do every night, "I love you to the stars and around" he replied. By then I had forgotten about thinking, maybe she will come tonight, I wasn't expecting anything to happen.

It all began at Midnight, my waters broke, as they did with Dimples but this time I got contractions straight away, 1-2 minutes apart lasting 45 seconds about. I woke Adventures Dad, he told me it'll be Ok and it'll be a while yet so try to get some rest when its in the early stage.  Yeh right! I thought, but I let him rest, I tried and I couldn't.  As I timed contractions they slowly got a little more intense so I put some of the breathing and visualisation skills to work.  After about 20 minutes I woke him again and called my mum to come get Dimples, then I called the hospital to see what they had to say. I was able to talk to the midwife as usual and do my own thing so the assumption was that we would go get checked and come home.

I had always planned to stay at home for as long as possible so I could be in my comfort zone and cope my own way, Miss Cherub had a different idea though. As soon as I got in to the car I felt the need to push. The contractions werent as bad as I had been expecting and even I was convinced there was a few hours in it yet. I tried to do the quick panting to slow things down as we drove to the hospital, (which is literally 100 meters up the street). As I got to the door I waited for a break, as the contraction had stopped I got up and almost sprinted into the hospital.

The midwife met us at the door and told me to take my time. There was no time!
I made it to the midwife station as the next contraction hit, then I hit panic mode. This was all happening to fast, "she is there already, shes coming and I am not even pushing!" I said to the midwife as calmly as possible in the process of tearing off my PJ pants. She reassured that its ok, and helped grab my PJ's then realised Miss Cherubs head was there and went into a footy catching pose, I grabbed Adventures Dad and swung off him like a monkey jumping onto the bed trying not to sit because I could feel Miss Cherub was on her way out already. For an overdue pregnant women I'd never moved as fast as I did then! He had a stunned look on his face when he seen that Miss cherub was crowning - That'll teach him to not believe me again. The midwife was stunned too, she was expecting me to cruise in and get checked then be on my way, she was there by herself and not at all prepared for me running in having a baby before I was on the bed.

The moment I managed to turn over, they buzzed the doctor who luckily was already at the hospital, and about 10 minutes of pushing (it felt like 2 minutes) Miss Cherub was born. I got to hold her skin to skin straight away and feed her just like I had wanted, we got to spend the first few hours alone with her as all the other medical tests and so forth waited, just as we wanted. She was healthy, I was buzzing with adrenalin and Adventures Dad was so proud but still so absolutely blown away. After all this anticipation and preperation, all the readings and worrying about how and when she will come, and preying for a better birth then Dimples, it was finally over and we were holding our little Cherub.

In the days before hand my best friend had joked with me that second babies come fast, she will just pop out she told me. "POP OUT" I exclaimed, I highly doubt it. She gave me some kind words of encouragement as I was dreading having another long traumatic medically induced birth resulting in nasty interventions, and she told me that she has faith in me (By the way, I love you Boo xx). She joked that it will be a peice of cake. When I sent her a text message with a picture I wrote in it "peice of cake" and it truely was, I am very pleased with how it went. I am proud and blessed that this time around it was quick and exactly the way I imagined. I did it!

Now 2 weeks later, Dimples is a very proud big brother. He adores little Miss Cherub. He has been a good help and has shown so much love towards her. It is the sweetest thing, he wants to cuddle, kiss, pat, hold rock and touch his little sister and simply smoother her with love. Which admittedly can be a little overbearing. Its a new chapter, were still settling in and finding a new groove but we couldn't be happier.

Rainbow Ice-Crystal Science

This awesome Ice colour mixing Experiment started as our usual sensory bin and developed into something I hadnt planned or imagined, a much more magical episode of play and learning.
I love it when Play manifests into new discoveries and something completely unexpected.
It all started outside as I was cleaning out the deep freezer!  Instead of wasting the ice slabs I was chipping them off and giving them to Dimples to play with.
Dimples adores penguins so he was happy to play away in an imaginary small world where a Killer whale was chasing penguins onto ice capsules and lion seals were dancing around in the snow. Once all the ice was in the tub I gave him some coloured water to muck around with seen as though it was a warm day, blue & green that represented the ocean then I let him be.
Just quickly a word of advice, if you are doing this with younger children be careful as the ice can stick to their skin, I explained this to Dimples first and had some water in the bottom of the tub in case it happened but he thought it was the funniest thing ever and wanted to stick his fingers to the new pieces of ice.

To our surprise the coloured water looked amazing on the ice capsules. Because freezer ice is crystallised over time, the colour really soaked up into it much better then on any other ice that we have played with. The capsules kept their crystallised form, with small icicles and didn't melt too quickly, instead they took on the colours and looked like crystals themselves.

Dimples thought this was the coolest thing ever and used up all the green and blue then asked for more. 
Extending on the magical look of the coloured ice crystals we got a few different colours to experiment with and a dropper to use.
Dimples tried out yellow and then got the red, by then most of the ice crystals had blue on them but remained nice and vibrant in colour.  Instead of running through or dripping out the colour stayed nice and bright.

As he squirted red over a blue ice capsule he excitedly yelled "look Mummy Purple!" and I was amazed just how well the colour mixed through the ice. "Wow what other colours can you make?" I encouraged and he made a bright Orange. With every new colour he mixed he would say "WOW, look!" it was great to see him so engaged in the theory of colour mixing.
He experimented with mixing colours and got some beautiful shades of orange and purple amongst the red, green and blue.  By the end it looked like a rainbow of ice crystals.

After all the colour mixing and mucking around Dimples just continued to play with the Rainbow ice trying to break it up and smash it around.
Then after breaking a large slab in two he showed me that the colour had gone all the way through. Instead of the colours running off or only staying on the surface, as they do with your usual ice/salt play they had actually soaked into the entire slab and mixed in the process.

The large purple Ice crystal reminded me off a crystallised amethyst stone that my Nan gave me as a girl. We thought it was quite a magical and beautiful way to have some sensory play and experiment with colour mixing and ice crystals.
Happy Adventures

Angry Bird Stacks

We all know little boys love smashing blocks down, throwing things and demolishing structures so this fun game was the perfect outlet to incorporate some learning and for Dimples it was a fun new way to explore his fascination with Angry birds.

Stacking blocks is an easy way children develop and work on hand eye coordination. It allows them to work on keeping a steady hand and balance blocks with even distribution.

Angry Birds Stacks. Lets see how many learning principles are in this fun and simple game?

Symmetry and comparison.
Initially, in order to stack them up the child must balance the blocks, compare like size items to make them evenly spaced and at an even height and make them parallel, they need to use symmetry to balance planks over the top.

Foundations of balance and construction. Not only is the symmetry and balance of blocks important but a strong foundation. Dimples and I discussed how we could make the stacks "extra tricky" by making them strong, we had a talk about how buildings need strong bases to hold the walls up so we started making towers that are wider and stronger at the base.

Technique; Cause and effect. after a big talk about how buildings are made and how we could make them stronger with even distribution and wide bases, Dimples found out through trial and error that he could knock the entire stack down if he aimed at the base and took out the foundation that held the rest up.

Hand eye coordination. Aiming uses visual tracking and perception with the coordination of gross motor skills.

Motor Control. The child may have to adapt the strength and speed of their throw, or the distance and height that they throw with, which reinforces motor control. This can be enhanced by using different types of throws to get better results, over arm or under arm and from different locations in the room, move closer or further away and try at an angle.

Counting. How many can they stack up? How many did they knock down?

Addition. Try stacking them up so that you have 3 different levels worth different points. A point for shortest, 2 points for medium and 3 points for the tallest. Add up your score!

Position. Build towers of different size (short, medium tall), in different positions (in front behind, between). Place an angry bird in different positions, is he under, above or next to the tower.

Window painting - washable stained glass

I love to paint.
Dimples not so much, but he loves to make mess.
I'd much rather sit calm and focused while doing a painting as a means of relaxation but that is not on the cards with Mr. Dimples.
His idea of painting is all (mainly splatting or hand printing) or nothing.

To satisfy his messy play urge and my love of painting, in the past I've intertwined the two into some pretty fun activities, we've done

Splat painting

Extreme outdoor painting

Bath painting

Glowing bath paints

This time it's window painting,

I made some washable window paint by mixing together paint (kids washable) & washing liquid.
I then put masking tape over the glass sliding door, on the outside of course, to create a tape resistant stain glass look.

Using green, blue, yellow and orange dimples sponged, splatted and painted the sections of glass with the window paint. Yes, his messy play urge was satisfied.  It was lots of fun, but don't worry it will all wash right off.
Once dry you peel the tape away and have your different coloured sections, it looks nice and bright in the morning with the sun shining in through it.

Our window painting was left on for 4 hot days and admired by visitors, then Dimples had lots of fun with a watering can, a sponge, cloth and a window washer getting it off. As soon as the water covered the paint it bubbled up and was so easy to simply wipe clean. The window actually looked cleaner then before!

Happy Adventures :)

Free Crafting Benefits - Just a Creation

Since we have established a craft corner, I have noticed dimples taking more of an interest in craft and creating. Before our art corner, some where down the track I had forgotten the importance of being creative. Freedom!
If you missed the Art Corner check it out by clicking HERE :) 

It shouldn't be about copying other work it should be about designing and creating your own. How can you be truly creative with so much restriction.  For this reason, instead of forcing creativity on Dimples with strictly planned activities I have set the craft corner up so that everything is organised and accessible to him so that he can create his own craft with whatever materials, colours and ideas he has.

This is one of his creations. Just a creation! But there is a story to it. I gave him the reigns and asked him to make something, anything he wanted and off he went. He asked for some muffin cases, and as he went on creating this piece he was telling me that it was a 3 eyed monster but 2 eyes are magic, it has X-ray vision, and it lives under the water (the ribbon is its tentacles).  He came up with every idea and every material on his own and made up the story as he went. Apparently this sea monster can trick fish with its glittery mouths and the beads are suckers. Go figure! I love it.

It has been great and he really enjoys doing his own thing. The free craft corner, or self directed creativity corner has given dimples a real sense of belonging where he can create and express anything in his own space and display his work with pride.

Child directed free craft can really develop a child's creativity because their options are endless. It gives them a chance to work on fine motor skills, use various tools, explore different materials/textures,  visualise ideas and create something using their own ideas and skills. for a child this free crafting can work as a self motivating achievement and improve their desire to be creative and work with their own ideas.

Dimples has made some pretty unique craft.  He enjoys experimenting with stickers, sticky tape and glue. There's been many collages and lots of shapes cutting. Sometimes he enjoys just sitting and cutting up scrap paper into a million tiny shapes and other times he just draws lines using a ruler.

Every few craft corner adventure sessions Dimples creates something that makes me smile, like his sea monster above. It is amazing to see his creativity unfold and to hear him express his ideas.  As he explains to me what he has created, I can try to visualise his creation as he does and get a glimpse into the workings of his imagination. It makes me smile and it is a boost of his esteem when his work gets displayed.

Free craft isn't always about the product, even though dimples mostly sits down and fiddles around with bits and bobs, cutting, sticking, pasting and tracing, there are so many important skills at work. Not to mention the benefits of being independent and expressive. To be honest, I am happy to let him cut, paste, stick and trace even if there is a bit of waste or no purpose at all because he is much better doing this then say, sitting in front of a TV or annoying me while I am over a hot stove.

Happy adventures :)


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