Family Memory Match

Personalising games like this memory match one is such a simple way to engage a child with a sense of belonging and it is a great way to get them interested in something they may not usually want to participate in. If its a game about them, featuring them and their loved ones, well it kind of makes them famous.

Memory match is a classic, we've all had a go or remember a memory match game. Flip two cards and try to get a match, if your unsuccessful turn them back over then try again but remember the place of those cards as you go in order to improve the likelihood a of matching a pair. Easy right?
Well, not really. It's estimate that your brain only uses a significantly small portion of neurotransmitters in every day memory, actually out of trillions of neurons your brain only uses a few thousand. However while the brain is still forming in the first 5 years neural pathways are rapidly connecting and being enforced, so this number can be increased dramatically through memory games such as this.

Using or "exercising" more pathways in the brain on a regular bases while it is at its most significant growth period = childhood, ensures their connections and stability, therefore increasing the brain power of the child overall.  By brain power, I am referring to concentration, focus, memory, overall functioning, cognitive and reasoning skills. "Exercise" for the brain has also been proven to ward the mind against Alzheimer's disease and improve ones quality of life by lowering stress levels.

Memory match games are aimed at children age 3-15 years usually.  Unfortunately for the brains sake they can be portrayed as utterly boring. Dimples hasn't really been fond of them. So when our business scanner/fax machine was on the blink I had extra ink canisters that needed to be used before we installed the new machine. I used the left over ink cartridges to print family photos and did a bunch of doubles. I had no idea what I was going to do with them initially because the quality wasn't very good but I knew I wasn't going to waste all that ink.

Viola- family memory match. I used the Doubles to surprise Dimples with a Memory match game featuring him, he hadn't yet seen what pictures I had printed out.
Dimples and I had turns of trying to match pairs. First he wanted to play by claiming the pictures as his own, so if he "won" a pair they were his and if you won a pair you then got a second turn to flip a set of cards.
We also played a full board by keeping them spread out until all pairs were turned up right. For a game he isn't too fond of he really enjoyed himself and he was keen to see which photos I had printed out of the family. Surprise- Children love the element of surprise!

The key to memory match games is to start small so the reward pays off and gradually increase the number of cards as their attention span and memory increases. The great thing about this game is that we can keep it and expand the collection as our family changes and grows over the years to come.
Quite possibly in 5 years we could be playing the same games with a mix of baby photos and childhood photos of both Dimples and Cherub.

Once our family had a few games of the family memory match featuring . . . US, we packed them away in an envelope to store in the games box. See the thing is 'exercise' doesn't pay off if you do it once a month, its got to be regular and used in intervals. Brain exercise is the same, we will play this again more often and add more photos as time goes by.

Happy adventures.

Barley Measurement - Early Math Play Tub

Instead of a sensory tub and some messy play for the sake of purely playing and having fun. Dimples enjoyed this tactile exploration tub, learning about early math measurement as he played and explored. The concept of measurements and adding was explored through the use of measuring cups and he learnt that even though 2 cups may be different shape, colour and size they can still hold the same amount.
 I used a tub of Pearl Barley that was nearing date, it worked great for pouring and rattled around in the plastic tub. I put 2 x 1 cup scoops in the tub, a large measuring cup that held 2 1/2 cups, a smaller 1/2 cup scoop and a funnel.
First of all we checked all the cups by filling them up, reading what measurement they were and pouring them into the large cup to see if it measured the same. Dimples got the hang of it so I let him explore the materials. He filled all cups up and was quick to realise that they equalled the amount needed to fill the large measuring cup.
After doing some math play, measuring, pouring and experimenting with the different cups he played with the D.I.Y scoop & funnel I made from a soft drink bottle. I simply cut the end off on an angle, made it smooth and it worked perfectly with the pearl barley. He filled the large cup up 2 1/2 cups and poured it through the funnel lifting it high and watching it sift out. As all little scientists do, he explored how to block it, unblock it, use it on an angle, run his fingers under the trickle of barley and of course fill cups up until they overflowed.

I love activities like this.
If I get Dimples started on something and show him the basic concept I can then let him explore himself safely, learning and enjoying himself at the same time. Then I am free to go do the dishes, the clothes, feed baby Cherub or just sit for a moment in the sun shine watching the delight in his eyes.

Happy Adventures :)

Stack Up Cup Game - 100 Day Challenge

Have you been checking out all the fabulous play ideas at the 100 days of Play blog Hop?
If you haven't I have been sharing some of my favourites on my Facebook Page  & Pinterest

My contribution to the 100 days of Play challenge is a easy game with materials your children have used already. All you need are plastic cups, Dice, and paper or plastic plates.  I had all of these things in my party box (I sound very organised but I am not).

The stacking up in this fun game builds on focus and hand eye coordination, children need to utilise steady hands with a focused mind and principles of balance to stack as high as they can. Using the die allows children to take turns yet work together, its great for number recognition and practice counting as well.
First, divide your paper plates between all of the players and have your stack of plastic cups ready where all can reach.

Player one rolls, then has to get the corresponding number of cups set them out with the plate on top. Easy right? Well it wouldn't be as easy if you rolled a one, in comparison to a four.
It gets harder the higher you can play to. The best thing is you can play on your own or with a group of people taking turns, you can play how ever you like.

Player two rolls, gets the corresponding number of cups and has to balance them on top of the previously placed plate from player one and so it goes.
The Player whose turn it is sets the foundation for the next player, so they must be careful to stack their cups up as equally and evenly as possible or the whole thing may tumble down. Its a fun game to build anticipation, how far can you go before all the cups crash down?

Dimples and I had a few games before we decided to ditch the plates and see just how good we could stack, still using the die to take turns we made towers, walls and patterns in the cups. You can stack them bottom to bottom or upwards using two below, you can put plates in between or you can start with a circle and build up. Dimples rolled a 6 and 6 cups do not fit on the plate so he very cleverly and to my surprise problem solved and put 3 lots of 2 cups stuck together.

It was lots of fun and so simple. Play doesn't have to be with fancy toys, good company and something from around the house provides a much better learning experience.

How high can you stack them?

Happy Adventures :)

100 Days of Play Blog Hop
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Tips for Messy Painting

I have always embraced Messy Play and Messy Painting, or as I like to call it "Extreme Painting". Children can benefit so much from the freedom, exploration and the creativity of messy painting.
Many parents steer clear of it though because it is just too much!

I get that. You see the perfect ideas on the Internet, picture pretty Pinterest activities and unreal creativity on blogs.
A bit like the picture above

When you attempt to loosen the reigns and let your child be free with the paint it is chaos and not at all what you've planned or expected, right?
You're left with a rainbow child, hand prints up the wall and splats over the entire room.
A bit like the pictures below.

Don't let the word "mess" or "chaos" deter you.
Life is messy, paint is messy, kids are messy so its all bound to be a little chaotic but that is a good thing. These type of activities give children freedom to express and explore their senses and creativity. To them it's great fun.

To a pre-schooler splatting paint from a distance or squishing toes through it provides much more enjoyment then precisely stroking a brush in the one direction.
Experimenting with Lego pieces, potato shapes, sponges or string in paint is much more exciting then using one boring brush.
Mixing every colour together until everything becomes a lovely shade of brown is a great learning experience compared to getting roused on for muddling up the colours.

If this sounds familiar or you've had a bad messy experience with more time doing a clean up then the time your child actually painted, this post is for you and I hope you persist, try again and enjoy.


Tips for messy painting

Preparation is the key, have everything ready to go in the right place and you'll be grinning.

Be age realistic- children's attention spans develop with age, don't expect a 2 year old to do an hour long master peice, therefore keep it simple and quick. Start with one or two drops of paint in a tray and finger painting or one object.

Dress them appropriately- dimples wears a old set of paint clothes and a smock, specific painting wear that usually stays with the paint suitcase. This way it doesn't matter at all if he does get covered in paint.

Take it outside- if its possible, painting is much easier outdoors, do it on a easel over the grass or lay out a large cardboard box opened, use washable paint and you can pin large paper up on a wall.
We have a large old outdoor table where we do all our messy play that is covered in paint, so it doesn't matter if more paint love covers it.

Expect a bit of mess- if you are being realistic then also expect and accept mess. Let it happen, don't sweat the small stuff. Of course this doesn't mean sit by and let your children splat paint over the newly washed clothes hanging on the line, but if your prepared and set up for messy play, then let it happen.

Use a messy mat- if your on a surface that needs protecting or inside use a plastic table cloth or a vinyl off cut as a large messy mat.

Have a wash up tub - Fill a tub or bucket with water and soup for after, so if there happens to be any foot or hand printing then its easy enough to wash off the paint before it dries.

Have a cloth rag- A lot of kids, including dimples, don't like wet squishy paint on their skin. They may like putting it there but not so much leaving it there and this is when they're most likely going to wipe it on something so a cloth specifically for this will be needed.

Use large paper- More space, More fun. Maybe even have back up paper.

Have a drying spot ready for their master piece to hang.

Have an empty bucket- If your using different tools to paint with have a empty bucket nearby so you can put them in it while your helping your child clean up, there's nothing worse then undressing them, cleaning up, hanging up their work and turning around and they've picked up the paint covered tools to try again.

Clean up before the paint dries - If your using tools, supervise their choice, smooth plastic works best, things that can be thrown in hot water (or the dish washer) to be cleaned with little to no grooves or crevasses. Plastic animals foot prints, Lego stamping, hot wheels car tracks for example.


Check out some of our extreme paint

Happy Adventures :)

Dont feel guilty - A day in my shoes

I've been very hands on with Dimples and I still am but since Cherub was born we've have difficulties with feeding, wind, an intolerance to dairy, colic and its been a struggle to have one on one time with Dimples. I've worked hard to keep his bed time routine the same and have that special time just for him so I can have a good chat with him, a big cuddle and read his favourite books. All is well in the world when were snuggled up with a book at night.

Living a day in my shoes at the moment is a bit unorganised and unplanned. We are starting to get into a new groove with Baby Cherub and Dimples is adjusting well. Things are starting to settle but it has taken a new positive attitude to get there.

A day in my shoes - I wear no shoes I don't have time :-D
Time has become my enemy, or lack of it I should say. I am usually one handed, usually comforting the baby while trying to help Dimples with something with the other hand in between attempting house hold chores, running a business, errands, study and blogging (key word attempting this does not imply success).

Things are getting easier now approaching the 3 month mark but for a while there my days blended together, nights went forever and I barely got anything productive done. It seemed as though I managed to feed the family, clean the dishes and look after baby Cherub- that was it; no house cleaning, clothes washing, studies, blogging and to my disappointment no hands on time with my little man. I felt he was missing out greatly and it started to get to me, the one thing I wanted to do was to help him adjust the easiest way possible keeping some one on one time just for him.

In order for me to not feel guilty about the household duties and endless tasks that were not getting done I had to adopt a non guilty positive style of thought. Otherwise I too would get buried under the mountain of chores. This is when I wrote a post for Positive Parenting Connection about making time to play and connect with children, something I had always done but something I was starting to struggle with. So as a new mum, second time around, with limited time I took a new approach and instead of trying to do engaging planned activities for Dimples I simply got down on his level when I had the chance, mostly on the floor and did whatever he was doing.

This was much easier, no set up, no clean up and we had just as much time together connecting. I took the opportunities when they came up, to join in play with Dimples and connect with him, really listen to him and to just be in the moment for a short time so that for starters he didn't miss out on time with Mummy and so that he didn't start to resent his sometimes fussy new little sister but also so that I didn't feel guilty.

I think the key to adapting to change as a mother, whether it be new family roles, a new house or a new baby or any significant change that alters your routine, time or adds stress and the key to staying happy as a parent is to not feel guilty.
If you see fantastic play ideas but don't have the time, don't feel guilty- there will be another time.
Motherhood, Parenting is often a rat race of over commitments and something has to give. For a few weeks the thing that was giving was me.

To hell with the vacuuming, I need not feel guilty. All this on line business getting past around about being screen free, who really is a stay at home mum and has weeks of completely screen free time? I need not feel guilty if Dimples is watching play-school while I feed the baby or playing an educational app on the iPad whilst I'm changing nappies and soothing an upset babe. I'm not doing as many set up activities or planned play, not as much scheduled play is happening at this stage in our journey but I need not feel guilty, we are having more spontaneous Play I'm connecting more and being more present during free play and that's what counts so I refuse to feel guilty for my own sanity.

Dimples has become more independent and he is choosing to spend more time doing things I wouldn't have encouraged him to do. Last year I wrote a post on the importance of doing nothing and this has become a light bulb moment. I'm not doing as much with dimples in the way of planning and prep but I am still being present, engaged and hands-on in his play. So I am not letting those feelings of guilt creep through my mind. I hope you do the same.

Leaving the clothes unsorted and the dishes in the sink for a little while longer is my new thing. Who cares! Really, Dimples is more important and connecting with him, spending time with him and keeping a strong relationship is more important. A new baby takes a bit of adjustment, not just for me but for him also, something I lost sight of as I got taken over with feelings of guilt.
If you too are coping with change and adjusting to a new role as a parent, try to be easy on yourself. Take time for yourself and don't feel guilty. Don't sweat the small stuff!

Happy Adventures :)

Outdoor Surface Rubbing (A classic)

This is a classic. So simple, yet it can be so unique each and every time you try it.
Crayon Surface rubbing; I remember doing it at primary school and I loved it.
Dimples felt the same, he had so much fun exploring the outdoors for different textured surfaces.

First, when I asked Dimples if he wanted to do some surface rubbing he didn't understand the concept of a surface. rubbing what? he said. So we discussed what a surface was and brainstormed some surfaces within view describing the texture of each.

Then we went on a outdoor surface hunt. Dimples was enjoying himself outside on a beautiful day as he tried to find as many surfaces as he could to rub his crayons over. Not all of them worked well, he got the hang of keeping the paper still with one hand and shading with a crayon fast and on an angle.

The rock wall was a successful surface, the patterned concrete had some good grooves and he picked up some small rocks to try as well. The wooden fence worked well as the wood grain came through nice and strong.

The outdoor rubber mat worked well, it had a honey comb print that Dimples said looked like a bee hive. As he found different surfaces I asked him what type of surface it was, describing different textures and prints; bumpy, rocky, rough, grained, and so on.

Starting to take initiative Dimples explored further, trying out the dot grip on the step ladder, then he used the step ladder to do the fly screen on a closed window, walls on the house and the roof on his cubby house.

Of course no outdoor surface rubbing would be complete without some nature prints. Dimples collected some leafs and grasses from around the yard, we tried to get different size shape and textured materials to see what would work best.

Some of our surface rubbings turned out beautifully. It really is a great classic to enjoy with the children, outdoors. The inspiration is endless and why not enjoy a nice sun shining day outside hunting around for amazing prints and textures in nature.
Happy Adventures


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