Mint Choc-chip Ice Cream Play

Does this look real or what?
After seeing some Ice-cream Dough Pinspiration Here I started craving for my favorite flavored ice cream; Mint Choc Chip. 
I thought it would be pretty cool to make this play Ice cream dough, that looks so realistic your kids might try to taste it in a minty green mixtures with choc chips, looking through my play supplies I also found a large tub of ground coffee so I decided to make a coffee scented ice-cream dough as well.

Working with corn flour can be difficult and messy (just a warning) what you need is a bowl with 1 1/2 cup corn flour, then you add 3/4 cup of cheap Hair conditioner your colour and your extract. Here I used a green food dye and a peppermint essence. For the coffee flavour I simply added ground coffee with the conditioner. Depending on the shop your at you may find some suitable conditioner that smells like.... Berries for instance if you were doing a berry ice cream dough. Then Mix; Its a good idea to get some little hands in there mixings it up for a bit of extra sensory experience. It smells so good!

As stated by the creator Play, create, explore, the secret to make it look real is to scoop it roughly and break it off, if you roll it in a ball and use it like a play dough it goes Super smooth and silky. It looks really cool and feels soft but not like real ice cream. See the original ice cream dough post by play -create -explore here:

For our Choc-Chips in the Mint flavor I added some black and brown beads. 
Then a selection of pom-poms, straws, cardboard cut into triangle wafers for decorating our ice creams.

Using scoops and ice cream bowls Dimples played with the dough and put together some funky looking Ice creams. They look so cool & they smelt really yummy. He put one into the fridge and when Adventures Dad came home from work he looked very puzzled as he opened the fridge and Dimples laughed Hysterically "I tricked you!"

I have tried this several times and failed, but we wont go there! Many bottles of conditioner have been sacrificed. The key to getting the mixture right is don't be like me, don't try and "wing it" you need to go off the recipe and have the cornflour in the bowl first. No water & measure your conditioner, if you have too much liquid it goes more like a goop than a dough. 

So now you have a super yummy scented Ice cream dough that looks very realistic, pop it in the fridge while you set up your pretend ice cream parlour, just long enough to chill it. Once the children are ready to play you will be providing them with an awesome sensory play experience; smells good, visually interesting, feels nice and cold. the only thing they cant do with this stuff is eat it.

Learning Concepts:
Sensory exploration
Pretend Play
Imitating Real Life

Ideas for Exploration:
Make your own wafers and ice cream cones from cardboard
Experiment with different flavors; chocolate (cocoa), berry (red color & berry conditioner)
Try our Ice-Cream Sprinkles Dough
You could make real ice cream, search pinterest or google for ice-cream in a bag
and Of course after all that ice cream play you could go ice cream taste testing at a real ice cream parlor.

Happy Adventures

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A Coloured Rice Quarry - Pretend Construction

Last week I colored some rice, adding some Peppermint essence so it smelt super Yummy. 
I had no idea what I was going to do with the rice but Dimples hasn't had a Tactile Play tub in a while so I dyed some red, yellow and green. I dyed the rice by getting 3 separate bowls of dry rice, adding a smidgen of water and some color, mix it all around and let it sit for at least half an hour, then spread it evenly out on paper toweling and let it dry for a day. 
Dimples had seen it and asked to use his cars in it, so I set up a mini Construction Quarry. I kept the rice in a tray on top of a spill mat and laid it out separately (knowing that it would get mixed up- but that's part of the fun), collected some dump trucks and construction vehicles, trailors, some plastic trees, traffic cones and traffic lights. It looked very bright and visually appealing but it smelt minty and fresh also.
Dimples transferred colors dumping one lot on top of another color then he used the roller to flatten piles, and the snow scraper to clear a path. He went through and worked out which vehicles made the best tracks and which ones carried a trailer full of rice. It was a pretend quarry and there was lots of clever narration from Dimples being heard as I let him play freely.
He had his go at mowing the green rice and eventually all the colours got mixed together, he made a huge pile that was a hill then rolled it flat. He did try to separate and sort some colours out into dump trucks once they were all mixed up but it proved to be too time consuming.
Dimples did a great job at containing the rice in the tray, even after lots of trucks had to have a go at making burn out tracks and " skids" through the rice, then he parted the rice down the center. All the tipper trucks got loaded up and made a big pile, they were dumping and hauling rice from one end of the tray to the other, Dimples was pretending it was a Dangerous Construction site and had his sign at the site of danger.
Dimples keep mentioning how yummy it smelt, at one stage the little plastic trees were pine trees because it smelt so nice. The pretend construction quarry, clever and cute narration and imaginary play went on for a hour or so. He thoroughly enjoyed it and when I left him to have free play it was nice to listen to his little imaginary world come to life.

Learning Concepts:
Colour identification
Tactile/Sensory Play
Developing imagination
Imitating real life through play
Fine Motor
Colour sorting

Ideas for Extension:
Car & Construction Ideas:  Playdough tracks, Tire Paint Printing, Dirt digging & more
A pretend play car wash

DIY Ribbon Tickle Time Baby Toy

Babies just adore having things brush over their face. A classic Baby play game that everyone has done before is to get a sheet or light scarf and throw it up over a baby letting it slowly drift down and brush over their face, or playing peek-a-boo with it - Lots of first giggles here! 
Miss Cherub loves these type of games and I love playing them with her because she giggles and smiles and coo's in excitement, she throws her arms and legs around as if she's going to take off. It is so funny to watch.

The other thing she loves doing at the moment, which shows her developing pincer grasp and fine motor skills, is to " read" the tags on any toys; carefully grabbing and inspecting with great focus the writing on tag and flicking back and forth if there is a few together. I remember Dimples doing this as a baby and I thought it was just so clever & adorable to watch. 
This DIY tag toy was made to conquer both the fun of tickle time and the sensory aspect of having soft things fall and brush over babies face and the fine motor aspect of flicking through 'tags'.

In her treasure basket shes been exploring a bunch of different materials and textures. I added this DIY taggy toy that she loves and plays with each day. It is a new favourite. 
It is a Link with ribbons tied to it. 
So easy- Make sure the link is baby safe and make sure all ribbons are double tied and of course, be aware that any long ribbons pose a strangulation hazard. I recommend always supervising and interacting with the baby as they play, its a great opportunity to foster a connection through play and watch them imitate you and learn through play. 

I limited the ribbons to about 10-15 cm long and I tried to find a variation of ribbons. 
Different colours, widths, textures, patterns, sizes and styles of ribbons make an interesting toy to explore. 
Miss Cherub had such a great time with it. She shook it and pulled it apart, swung it around, put it over her own head and then slowed down inspecting each ribbon in details, trying to grasp the ends and pull them into individual lengths, she passed it back and forth in her hands watching the way the ribbons fell. 
It was all so interesting time after time.

Peek-a-boo Baby!
We also used it as a tickle toy while she is both sitting and laying down; While Miss Cherub was sitting i put it over her head and she tensed as it tickled the back of her neck, she giggled and tried looking around. Her facial expressions were so funny to watch.
While she was laying she fluttered her eyes as it gently brushed over her face, then she was excited and kicking around in anticipation waiting for it to fall again. Lots of fun.

Baby Learning Concepts:
Sensory Play
Developing Pincer grasp
Fine motor skills
Exploring different colours, texture, patterns and size ribbons
Laughter & fun in play

Happy Adventures

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Building a Body - Preschool Anatomy

This has been an ongoing project for a Month or so, after reading an interesting post by An Everyday Story on Reggio inspired learning. I asked Dimples what he would like to learn about, his answer was his body. We talked and defined exactly what he wanted to know about his body, Dimples decided he wanted to know about bones and what was inside his body. Then we discussed exactly how we could learn about this. "Make a body" was his top suggestion & his tag body book.
I was so inspired by his suggestion and I went researching, I set up a self inquiry table where he could explore things about the Human body.

On the table we put his tag reader along with a height chart, some posters on Human Anatomy, he chose some books from his large collection of book that represented the human body. There were some early words human books, some activity books and the cat in the Hat body book. I found a copy of the Magic school Bus goes inside a Body DVD and a little Human replica with removable organs. We had a sponge stress ball of a brain and a liver, we had some body magazines and a rib cage, we had a large Body Puzzle.

Then it was time for Dimples to explore and guide his learning with these materials. He was very interested in digestion, and in particular how food turn into poop. We did this fun experiment on Digestion in a bag, to show how stomach acid and muscles work to digest food, then we made a Body with lungs, a stomach, intestines, a heart, liver and bones.

First we traced Dimples silhouette onto cardboard. Then as he used his Human Anatomy Tag reader to explore the path our food goes on, he compared his activity books and his human replica model and discovered the intestines. Using crepe streamers we cut one along the middle to make it the "small intestines" and then used a darker colour of full width to do the "large intestine" on the outside and glued them into place on our body. Being a typical boy, Dimples found it funny that the poo comes out the bottom and had to keep mention "and then it gets pooped out there!"

Using two cardboard shoe soles from a pair of slippers I had bought (you know your a Mummy blogger when you keep everything that could possibly be used for craft purposes) Dimples next explored the lungs. Again cross checking with what his tag reader said, reading through his books and looking at a reference text book I had he learnt what the lungs do.  We got a paper bag and did a little experiment breathing in and out, watching it inflate and deflate as he breathed then he painted a couple of nice red lungs for his Human. Using a hot glue gun we put them into place.

The inside of an Avocado tray proved to be a good shape for our stomach, Dimples used ribbon around the inside of the stomach to represent the stomach muscles and put in some crepe paper to represent the stomach contents then we closed it up in some bubble wrap, stapling the outside and trying to shape it as a stomach. The liver was a piece of maroon felt. both were glued into place on the body and it was starting to look very interesting.

Next was the heart - I racked my brain, how on earth could I make a heart. I was pretty pleased with what I came up with. A pink Balloon filled with flour. I then cut a blue balloon so that there was only really think veins left and then it was put around the flour filled pink balloon, then the next layer was a thicker red balloon with pieces missing. It turned out pretty cool looking.
Dimples was impressed. We did a experiment on the heart; listening to it through a stethoscope, running around & doing star jumps for a while then listening to it again. Our heart ended up being a little high once we stuck it on.

Then of course we had to give our body a brain. Dimples has a couple of brain stress balls and knows the basics of what the brain does, he used his tag reader and asked many questions then made a brain from a pink piece of felt cut out in a brain kind of shape. He used pink fabric paint to represent the parts inside the brain and the wriggly form of it, and glue to represent the grey matter. It took a day to dry but it really looked the part when it was complete.
I glued it on with a hot glue gun and he added some big craft eyes, an oesophagus and a trachea straws, then he had to draw a smiley face.

The body sat there for a week or so, Dimples wanted to do bones on it. Another tricky task.
In the mean time we explored fish bones washed up on the beach.
Eventually I got the idea to use flat bamboo from some fencing we had, we painted it white and glued them on as bones. We used white bottle caps to represent the knee caps.
We did some experiments; We put a chicken bone in vinegar for a week and made it go bendy and we did some bone drawing on black paper body shapes with chalk as well as reading and looking through reference books. We searched the Internet and looked at Xrays and Dimples got interested in what animal bones looked like, so we looked at different shapes animals and how their skeleton and spin is positioned differently.

All pretty interesting stuff.
The entire experience was a fun hands on learning one for Dimples and he enjoyed himself making sure he asked lots of questions that we searched to answer, he showed me just how curious he is about our world and how things work.

Learning Concepts:
Human Anatomy Basics
Linking facts, visual learning, craft and our physical self together
Hands on learning using a wide array of skills
Self guided inquiry

Ideas for Extension:
Science experiments; how our lungs work, listening to our heart after exercise, exploring bone structure.
Trace body parts
Digestion experiment
Cut out human figures and draw the different body systems on it
Cut out black body figures and draw Bones with white out or chalk

Happy Adventures

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Baby Sound Discovery Tray

Miss Cherub (nearly 6 months old - Jeez that's gone quick) wants to grab at everything these days.
She isn't shy to express herself when something gets taken away from her either; call it spoilt, call it a temper but boy are we in for it.  She is almost sitting completely unassisted, still a little wobbly & growing up all too fast. Won't be long and she'll be following me wherever I go.
Each evening I throw a discovery tray together of things she is allowed to explore with some assistance. It really helps us get through the fussy time after tea but before bed.

I love watching how babies (& kids) first learn. I put this discovery tray together for Miss Cherub so that she could explore with making sounds, experiment with handling new objects and have her first play with some DIY instruments. She thoroughly enjoyed herself and it reminded me just how curious babies are and hoe the simplest things can aid in their development and learning.

I made 2 DIY Baby shakers by adding beads & lucky stones into plastic containers. These are much like discovery bottles but with the purpose of shaking to produce different sounds.
Do the lids up tight and enforce with scotch tape so there's no chance of a choking hazard & they're good to go. These are a great way to introduce babies first understanding of vocabulary, for instance " shake!" hold the bottle and shake it, pass it to your baby and help them shake it, then say shake as they do it. It didn't take long and Miss Cherub was shaking them with a big grin on her face.
Another shaker for babies just learning to hold objects is an easy maraca made from some dry pasta in a baby cup with handles, do the lid up tight and use it as a maraca that is easy to grip.

The baby discovery tray was a cooking pan. Inside it were a couple of metal egg cups to clang together or to bang onto the tray, a spoon to bang with as well as a wooden xylophone stick (be careful and supervise all the time as young babies may wave these towards their face) and a honey dipping stick.
There was also a bell to ding, the DIY maraca's and a bowl.

The egg cups and the bowl were definite favourites.
"Do you like my hat?" I asked with the bowl on my head & it wasn't long before she was trying to lift it on her head. Unsuccessful of course but it was a good gross motor experience, lifting and turning the bowl around.
Every time she lifted the bowl I put the egg cups in it and she was tipping them out, over and over and over. Babies do love repetition and learning through cause & effect.
Miss Cherub quickly learnt to bang things on the side of the cooking pan to produce sounds & found shaking the side of the pan rattling all that was in it quite amusing. I think she surprised herself when she lifted it up by the corner and everything slide out. 

The bowl was easiest to grab as it was largest so she explored this for a long while, banging it on the side and against the bell. She had a quick attempt of banging the spoons onto it but mostly enjoyed tipping things out of it, passing it between her hands and turning in back and forth.

Not only did she discover how to make sounds but it was a good way for her to explore with her grasp and practise handling, holding and manipulating a variety of objects in different shapes, sizes and weights. The bell was a tricky one to master but she gave a big grin when she worked out where she had to hit to produce the ding sound.

Who said babies can't have fun with every day objects. Sometimes the best toys are the ones you find in your cupboards and not only do they provide lots of amusement but they help with development in many ways.

Baby Learning Concepts:
Exploring every day objects
Making sounds
Imitating Parent
Cause & effect learning
Linking vocabulary to actions/objects
Exploring objects of different weight, size shape.
Gross Motor Skills
Developing grasp
Ideas for Extension:
Baby Maracas/Shakers can be made in different sized bottles with different objects inside to make a variety of different sounds.
Explore different objects made from different materials, for instance bowls in a variety of sizes (try a mix of plastic, metal, melamine)
Happy Adventures

Exploring patterns & details in seashells

One of the major advantages of living in Australia on the coast is getting to explore beaches, rock pools and endless amounts of beautiful shells and we are lucky, there are a few serene, mostly deserted beaches nearby that we visit regularly. 

Usually we hunt for treasure, look for crabs and creatures in rock pools, build sand structures, draw in the sand, jump waves and search for unusual shells. There is one beach we visit driving there by 4x4 and we usually have the entire beach to our self, it never fails to provide pile after pile of shells. Amongst them are these pretty little shells with the most intricate patterns that I used to collect with my mum as a kid.

Dimples has taken on the family tradition, he loves collecting shells. On this occasion we collected our treasures and specifically seeked out these small little shells. Bankivia Fasciata, a mollusk known as silver kelp shell but they don't actually live on kelp they live in sand just out of the break water. So after rough seas lots get washed up. Pinks, purples, greys, browns, whites, & cream colours with stripes or zig zag patterns (or both).

Once home we sorted our finds into piles; rocks, our silver kelp shells, shells with holes to thread, shells for the hermit crab pet & shells for the garden. Dimples started noticing the patterns and asking if they were a crab or slug (mollusk) & if they were the same even though they were all different. He noticed the zig zags and stripes so we decided to pick some favourites and look at them under a microscope. I drew up some outlines and dimples chose his shells and identified the colours and the shades on them, then focused on the detailed patterns. 

It was complicated; drawing tight zig zags and differentiating between shades of the colours and then identifying the way in which the patterns flowed on the shell. Using a steady hand and trying to stay in side the lines he did the patterning.

After he spent a long time focusing on the details of the shells and talking about how they are different, he announced he was finished and got a bit of clear tape to stick the shell he drew next to his picture of it. He was very pleased with his creations and told me that one is for me, one for Nan & one for his great Aunt who he went shell collecting with while she was visiting recently.

Learning Concepts:
Identifying colors & shades
Exploring Nature
Learning about shells
Steady pencil grip
Focused attention to detail
identifying differences and similarities

Ideas for Extension:
Draw the patterns in white crayon & then use water color to paint the sea shell
Collect shells for a pretend play beach
Exploring different sizes and shapes of shells found
Use them with some sand dough in a Sand Dough Activity like this
Use them in some Play dough Texture Printing

Happy Adventures :)


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