Sunday, 5 July 2015

The big move...

The time has come for Iz to move into D's room. I find it pretty terrifying just writing that but she can't stay in our room forever...

We had been waiting for her sleeping to "get better" and for the 2/3/4am feeds to stop. Thankfully we seem to be *slowly* winning the sleep battle and there was even one night last week when she actually slept through from 7pm to 5.45am - AMAZING!!! But they're still not perfect and she is often still up several times in the night.

My two biggest worries are that Iz wakes D up all through the night (some nights she is up A LOT) and/or that D wakes her up at the start of the night (and at nap times) as he chats/sings/shouts to his animals for about 15 minutes before he falls asleep. 

So, wise people of the blogosphere, any top tips for how to go about it and what to do (or just as importantly, not!) would be very gratefully received.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Toddler Book Club - session 4 "Paddington"

I've recently started a "book club" for toddlers in our home (you can read more about how it works here - but the schedule has changed since!) and would love other bloggers to join in - so if you fancy reading the book and then doing a related activity (either what we do or something different), let me know. If you'd like to join in without blogging just leave a comment, or if you blog about it, give me your URL and I'll update the post to include your link :)

Here's a link to our first two sessions:
Elmer by David McKee
The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss



Ever since D first saw a trailer for the Paddington movie he's been obsessed by this little bear so we definitely couldn't not have him for a book club :) 

Paddington is a bear who arrives in London from deepest darkest Peru and is adopted by the Brown family. The books have been around forever (I read them as a child) but lots have been re-released because of the movie and you can get the stories in board books which is perfect when you have a baby with grabby little hands who would rip paper pages!!

Costumes essential!
Love them reading together :)

Snack: Bear toast
We made "Paddington faces" by cutting a circle out of toast, spreading it with peanut butter and then adding banana and raisins to make a face.

D is really into working out emotions at the moment and had lots of fun making Paddington "happy" or "sad" by changing the arrangement of raisins on his face :)

Activity 1: Mini Paddingtons
As soon as I saw these on Red Ted Art's blog I knew we had to try making them. You can read the full instructions here (and there's also a great YouTube video). Because I wanted D to be able to make his own I made it even more simple (e.g. by using sticky-backed felt for the coat) and made one alongside him so he could copy what I was doing. 

Drawing on the face
Sticking on his coat
Playing the trumpet?!
Gluing on the pegs
Putting on the hat
And the sign of a fun crafting activity? Every time he sees a loo roll now he asks to make another Paddington :)
I think D's one is amazing!

Activity 2: Marmalade and ice
I wanted Iz to be able to start joining in with book club so am also introducing some sort of messy/sensory play into each session from now on. This obviously wasn't really marmalade but instead I coloured some cooked spaghetti orange (see here for how) in homage to Paddington's favourite snack and also froze a few large ice blocks (coloured blue with food colouring). Both D and Iz really enjoyed this sensory bin so am definitely going to make them a regular feature of book club :)


How did it work?

I loved how much Iz could join in with the second activity and am going to try and incorporate as many "joint" activities as possible in future. This book is always a firm favourite with D and he loves dressing up in his Paddington outfit so we had a really fun day :)


At our next book club we're reading "Lost and Found". If you've done any Paddington-related activities I'd love to hear below. Or if you're planning to join in next time it'd also be great to hear from you :)

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Rainbow spaghetti

Last year I made some rainbow rice for D. It was a great success and he loved it but Iz still insists on eating *everything* you put within arms reach so I wanted to try something different. Although rice is obviously edible, I didn't really want her eating handfuls of uncooked rice! So we mixed it up a bit and used spaghetti instead...

There are two different ways to colour cooked pasta - I've used both and prefer the second method as the colour is more "entrenched" (you'll see what I mean further down the page...).

Method 1:
Cook the spaghetti as normal. Once drained, separate it into separate ziploc bags (the number depends on how many different colours you want) and add a small amount of food colouring. If using food gels just add a small amount of vinegar aswell (that's how I do it - much more vibrant colours). Seal the bag and shake until the pasta is coloured. Toddlers are good at helping with this bit (as long as they don't get over-excited and rip the bag by mistake!). Then spread the pasta out on a piece of greaseproof paper and leave to dry completely.

D helping with the mixing
Method 2:
Add some food colouring to some water in a saucepan. Then cook your pasta as normal, in the coloured water. Hey presto, once ready your pasta will have that colour "locked in". You don't even need to leave this pasta to dry before using it - just make sure it's not too hot though!

Diving straight in...

I initially thought up this activity for Iz and she did love it.

It was perfect that I didn't need to worry about her eating it!

But I was amazed at how much D enjoyed it too!

He used tweezers to try and pick strands up (great fine motor practice). He made spaghetti cupcakes. We talked about the different colours as he identified them. He loved it and actually played with it for longer than Iz!

After each play we put it into a Tupperware and stored it in the fridge. We kept it for 5 days and played with it most days.

And for any of you wondering why I now prefer method 2 for colouring my pasta... On day 5 when both D and Iz had played with the spaghetti lots and I thought it was probably approaching the end of its shelf-life, I decided to do something slightly different for them. So I filled up the paddling pool and told D he could put the spaghetti in.

Water looks nice and clear to start with...

Both of them loved playing with the spaghetti in the pool. It was like it was a whole new sensory material they hadn't seen before.


But as you might have noticed in the above photos after a while the water turned a slightly muddy grey colour. I suspect it was bits of the colour leaching off the spaghetti in the water. Not dangerous but not the most aesthetically pleasing sight! So from now on I prefer the boil-in-colours method :)


Have you done any pasta play with your baby or toddler? D's had lots of fun with some dried pasta too which I'll blog about later and I'd love to hear about anything you've been up to.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

What Iz loved - June 2015

Here is what Iz loved this month:

1. Baby jail
2. Chilling out in the paddling pool
4. Eating messily...
5. An early cake smash
6. Going for a row
7. Sharing swings


Sunday, 28 June 2015

What Iz loved - May 2015

This post is so hideously late... but at least I managed to write it before it became July!! Here is what Iz loved in May:


2. Starting nursery
3. Her new dress
4. Tunnels
5. Pulling to stand
6. Her giant duck
7. Playing peekaboo

Shaving foam towers

When I saw this idea on Happy Hooligans blog I knew we had to try it. Such a simple set-up but perfect for D.

What do you need:
Foam blocks (think ours came from Toys'R'Us)
Shaving foam

First we saw how high we could build a tower just using the foam blocks. D could do about 4 or 5 before they toppled over (not helped as we were doing it in the garden and there kept being little gusts of wind!). Next I put some shaving foam in a shallow bowl, handed him a craft stick and then the challenge was to build a much taller "cemented" tower. 

To start with he only put small dabs of foam in the middle of the blocks but after I showed him how to spread it all the way across he had great fun being a builder.

He also learnt that as the tower got taller it was easier to spread cement on the new bit you were about to add, rather than on the tower. And we talked about choosing a wide base structure to give the tower extra stability - he's pretty good with sizing (thanks to those weird chocolate egg videos on YouTube!) so was easily about to pick out the biggest bits best for the job.

He could build much taller with the foam cement (and would've gone even higher if it hadn't been windy) and was even able to pick the towers up by the top - definitely can't do that with a regular tower!!

Afterwards I filled up a plastic tub with water and he washed all the blocks clean and laid them out to dry. He probably had as much fun doing that bit too! Love how toddlers enjoy nearly everything...


Have you done any building projects? Or twists on a normal game? I'd love to hear about them :)

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Spin art t-shirts

After I read this blog post by The Jersey Momma I really wanted to try making some t-shirts of our own. D loves doing spin art (you can read about how to do the normal version here) and often wanders up to me clutching the salad spinner so I knew he'd be keen :)

We followed exactly the same approach as before except we used fabric paints. These were much more "solid" than the poster paints we've used before so took much more muscle to spin them out. D gave it a good try but I had to help with the spinning to generate enough "splatter". Because of this it was harder to generate as big patterns so instead we did one circle, waited for paint to dry on fabric and then the next day did another circle with different colours over the top :)

We also used stickers in a "resist-type" method, so their initials stayed white in amongst the colours. The sticker on D's one peeled off halfway through though but I just touched up the initial with white fabric paint afterwards. If you do use stickers I'd advise peeling them off while the paint is still wet - I waited about 20 minutes after making the imprint - as if you wait til it's dry there is a risk some paint might flake off as you peel the sticker away...

I love how they turned out :)

D helping take the pictures :)
Even though the fabric paints were slightly harder work it now means I can wash the t-shirt/babygro as much as I like and I know the pattern will stay firm. I might even make them into small cushions or bags once the kids have outgrown the clothes :)


Have you done any spin art? Or decorated your own t-shirts? I'd love to hear more ideas for us to try!