Sometimes a walk in the garden is all it takes

The photos in today’s post are not all that exciting, but they show a truly lovely part of our day and that’s what this blog is all about. We had reached the witching hour this afternoon. You know the time of day that I mean, when everyone is tired, patience is an effort, the dinner needs to be made, and no-one is at their best. I knew what we needed was to just re-group and get some fresh air and sunshine. We headed outside with no particular plan in mind.

We began by watering our vegetable patch. R(3) has been carefully tending some carrots and celery that he planted with his Daddy a few weeks ago. As he sprayed the hose over the garden, he said “Just soft and gentle, like Daddy said. We don’t blast them.” He continued watering the garden, declaring that “hosing is fun” and at one point “Hey Mummy. Guess what?” “What darling?” “I love you.”  I knew heading outside was a good idea. :)

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Green Porcupine Birthday Cake? Yes Please!

Have you ever tried Green Porcupine Birthday Cake? No? Really? Oh, you simply must! It’s divine! I had the honour of having one baked especially for me today – and it’s not even my birthday!

R(3) wanted to play with our Play Dough today. We haven’t brought it out in a long time. I spend so much time looking for new and exciting activities for R to try that sometimes I forget about the more “ordinary” things like Play Dough which is a shame because we always have so much fun with it and it has so many benefits:

  • It’s a fantastic sensory play experience
  • Strengthens fingers, hands and wrists
  • Develops hand / eye co-ordination
  • It’s great for developing fine motor skills if you add elements like cutters, popsicle sticks or tooth picks
  • It is a truly open ended play experience, sparking imagination and creativity
  • It can help to develop language skills as you discuss colours, shapes, textures, the items being created etc

One day I will make my own home made play dough but today we used the store-bought variety. R received a set of 10 colours for his last birthday. After it has been used, I store it in zip lock bags and it seems to keep for ages when it has been stored like this, much longer than if it is stored in the plastic tubs that you buy it in. Consequently, we just never seem to run out of it and I haven’t had any need to make our own yet.

This is what I put out for R this morning. Continue reading

St Patrick’s Day Sensory Tub

I have had in the back of my mind for weeks that I need to create some St Patrick’s Day themed Montessori trays. We still have our Valentine’s Day trays and sensory tub on our shelves so I’m a bit behind. This morning I was scrolling through my Pinterest boards  and R(3) (who incidentally loves Pinterest almost as much as I do!) saw this gorgeous St Patrick’s Day sensory tub from Sense Of Wonder. So we decided to get our St Patrick’s Day fun underway and make a sensory tub. This was the first time that R has helped me with putting together a sensory tub and he had very definite ideas about what he wanted. This is what we created together.

Our St Patrick’s Day Sensory Tub contains:

  • Dried green split peas
  • Mardi Gras beads
  • Green pom poms
  • Green pipe cleaner stars
  • Gold coins (I wasn’t able to find any pretend gold coins. These were actually party favours from the $2 Shop that were gold medals for race winners. The kind that you wear around your neck, Olympics style. I removed the ribbons and turned them into gold coins)
  • Clear and green glass pebbles (you can’t see it in the photo but the green ones have a beautiful irridescence)
  • Green buttons
  • Various utensils for scooping and pouring
  • Felt rainbow (I made this to add a game to the tub. There’s more information on the rainbow at the end of this post)

Here’s a pic of the supplies before we put eveything in the tub.

We incorporated a sorting game into the construction of this tub as R sorted the green pom poms from the other colours.

Once we had our “ingredients” ready, R poured the split peas into the tub. When he was done, he ran his fingers through them. I asked him what it felt like. His response? “It feels like peas.” Ask a silly question…..

We tossed everything in there and at last it was time to play. There was lots of pouring and scooping, as expected. We use split peas quite a lot in our sensory tubs. They feel so silky and they make a great sound as they are poured into the cups and bowls. R scooped a few spoonfuls into the little cups and then shook them close to his ear, listening as the peas tapped and rattled against the plastic. Throughout his play, the peas became dog food for an imaginary pet puppy, special green jelly, cups of coffee and later they were water for his special machines (the cups and bowls were the machines).  You gotta love sensory tubs for sparking imaginative play!

The felt rainbow was something I put together as an added game in the tub. I didn’t use a template. I kept it pretty freeform and just eyeballed it as I cut the various colours. I like that it is a bit organic and not perfect.

Here’s a pic of the pieces when they are separated. It’s an excercise is size sorting.

And here it is in action.

I plan on writing an explanation of sensory tubs in a future post, but in the meantime, Mari-Ann at Counting Coconuts has written a very detailed and helpful explanation. You can read it here.

Shaving foam fun!

There’s nothing I love more than when I set out with a particular goal in mind for learning through play and the activity ends up as something else entirely. This happens quite a lot actually! For some time now I have been planning on making a DIY version of the Montessori sandpaper letters and sand tray. All good in theory, but the mere thought of having to cut 26 letters from sandpaper is enough to make my hand ache, and then of course my OCD would not let me stop there. I would need to create a set in upper case as well, and a set of numbers…..

So, as a shorcut, I thought we could make something like this. I planned on filling a zip lock bag with shaving cream with some food colouring added for fun. We would then practise writing our letter of the week in the shaving foam.

As much as possible, I try to involve R(3) with setting up our activities. So, rather than simply present him with the prepared writing bag, I asked him if he would like to help me colour the shaving foam. R had never touched shaving foam before, a fact which is quite surprising given how much sensory play we do around here. It had just never ocurred to me to use it before. He was squealing with laughter as he sprayed the foam from the can and into the bowl I had set out for him. Shaving foam is a fantastic sensory experience for kids. They can watch it expand and grow at it squirts out of the can, they can slide the smooth mess between their fingers, making shapes and mounds with the frothy gloop, and they can smell the aroma if it is a scented foam.

We added some blue and red food colouring and R had fun creating the gorgeous marbelling of colours that you see in the picture above.

 It was then that I realised we would not be making a letter writing bag that day! That shaving foam was going over hands, up arms and underneath finger nails, NOT in a zip lock bag!

We may not have had any literacy lessons that day but we had a lesson in science instead…..and a whole lot of MESSY fun!