Monday, 14 July 2014

Washing his hands

Can your child reach the tap to wash their hands independently? Finn can't. (and his Fun Pod isn't much help as he can't get on it by himself)
I had been putting off setting up a bowl of water that would be accessible, because I was worried that he would tip it off or not be careful with it. Also, I didn't have a bowl the right size, had nowhere to hang a towel, didn't have a small table to put it all on... I was looking for solutions but couldn't really find any. Nothing seemed good enough so I just didn't do it.
One day, as I realised how heavy Finn had become to lift up to the tap, I decided to just set up something with items from around the house, even if it wasn't perfect. 
I used a bedside table that we weren't really using for anything useful, the washing up bowl we take camping, a jug, a basket of washable wipes, a mirror, a towel for the floor, a towel to dry hands, and a liquid soap dispenser.  The bowl is too big and  I have nowhere to hang the hand towel. I still need to add a container for dirty wipes. It is really not perfect, but at least it exists! Proof below! 
I use the jug to fill the bottom of the bowl with fresh water every morning (less than an inch deep) and Finn uses it to wash his hands and face after meals. We have had problems with over enthusiastic use of soap, forgetting to squeeze wipes before washing his face, carrying drippy wipes around with him and trying to hoover up the water from the bowl with the vacuum cleaner (it worked). But if I look at the larger picture, these incidents only happen one time out of ten and only when he is very tired, so I should be able to avoid them in the future.
Have you set up something similar for your child? Please share your links in the comments!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Exploration of the geometric solids

I had grand plans when we started this. We would roll the flour flat and make prints with the geometric solids (as seen on several blogs), staying OUT of the box. Finn was not in the least interested in making prints though. As soon as he saw the flour, he felt it through his fingers, removed his trousers and jumped in eagerly! He was ecstatic and I could see that the sensory input was truly making him happy!
He explored the flour for a long time. He buried his dinosaurs in flour and when he had buried them all, he looked for something else. That's when he spotted the box of geometric solids patiently waiting nearby.

He was very engrossed as he sifted flour over each geometric solid, watching them disappear in all sorts of funny ways.

This game lasted for half of the afternoon and I love how he called me to share his discoveries with me. He was really fascinated! He doesn't know the names of the solids yet but when he does, we'll play a solids hide and seek game in the flour; he'll have to guess which solid is hidden from only a teeny tiny bit of it peeping out.

And afterwards, spontaneous practical life!

(By the way, I used wheat flour to get rid of it as we are starting a gluten free diet. Have any of you tried going gluten free?)

Thursday, 19 June 2014

A few things we've tried

 Mixing one part white glue with one part shaving foam to make cloud pictures (they dry but remain spongy - interesting texture!)

Our first cake decorating experience - why do the pictures always look so much better than the actual result??

When we were in Austria, we bought puffed rice balls that Finn loved. He has gone off them now and we had tons of them to use up, so we crushed some of them for the ants in our garden.

We also used them to make some art. We mixed paint with white glue, dipped the rice balls in and arranged them on some cardstock. I tried a 3D sculpture which you can see in the background, and the next day it was rock hard!
Finn really enjoyed crushing coloured chalk on our patio. Later he poured water from his watering can over it all and watched the chalk turn into a paste and the colours combine.
One day, Finn looked confused not to be able to see the contents of a ceramic bowl from underneath. I thought we could build on that to introduce the words "opaque" and "transparent". I took 6 lidded containers, 3 opaque and 3 transparent. I placed a different object in each.  I gave each to Finn in turn and asked him what object was in the container. He could easily tell me what was in the transparent boxes but not in the opaque ones. I explained that the boxes through which we can see through are called "transparent" and the ones where we can't see the objects are "opaque."


Sunday, 15 June 2014

A felt world map

Can you spot the newest addition to our playroom? You can't really miss it!

I'm really pleased with how this map turned out. I didn't take any photos of the making process, but I used two sheets of foam core boards side by side (from Hobbycraft) which I covered in blue felt. I printed and cut out the continent shapes from this website, taped them to the coloured felt and cut them out. Positioning them took a long time and it's not perfect but it will do. I glued the continents on using craft glue. The supplies for this project cost about £16. Much better than the £95 for this map! 
It's attached to the wall with Command strips, which means we can take it down to use on the floor if needed.

I can see so many uses for this map! Finn already enjoys matching the continent puzzle map pieces to the continents on the felt map. As he is interested in animals, I can now show him where the animals live on the map and he likes placing them in their home continent. He is starting to recognise the shape of a few continents in books and on his continent boxes. His favourite is definitely Antarctica at the moment and he loves saying the name! I'm planning to take one object from each continent box for him to match to the continents on the map and keep a basket of them on his shelves.

I would love it if you shared any ideas for activities to do with a map like this!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Our road trip to Austria

900 miles to get there, a bit more on the way back due to somebody's poor navigation skills....

Five countries in 12 days...

Beautiful scenery and memorable experiences...
If you happen to be planning a road trip with a young child, I recommend stocking up on CD stories. We loved the Julia Donaldson CD collection but 10 stories were nowhere near enough to sustain Finn during this very long journey.
I also highly recommend Rotraut Susanne Berner's In the town all year long, a big visual book with lots of details and quirky characters. This book really did entertain Finn while sitting in the car.
What I DO NOT recommend, is giving your child Lego in the car, especially if they are tired!
Do you have any holiday plans? Any advice for families planning long road trips?

Monday, 5 May 2014

Our not-quite-sandpaper numerals

 I've been making a lot of resources lately, and one of them is this set of felt numerals. I don't like tracing sandpaper numerals and was not looking forward to cutting a sheet of sandpaper so I decided to go for felt instead!
The idea behind using sandpaper is that the child absorbs the shape of the numeral through their sense of touch while tracing them. Tracing felt is smoother, softer, more enjoyable and it does leave your fingertips tingling slightly. This set of numerals was a test to decide whether or not I want to make letters in the same way. And I think I do!
I used foam board (3 for 2 discount at Hobbycraft) which cut like butter with a craft knife. I didn't even measure, I just cut my A2 size board in half, then in half again, and again, and again. This gave me large tablets, exactly what I wanted.

 I took a picture of my hand so you can see how large they are. I glued my felt numerals on the left hand side of the tablets so that Finley can hold them using his right hand while he traces them with his left hand as he is left-handed.
If you do this, you should know that once you have put your tacky craft glue onto the back of the felt numeral, it will be really floppy to hold and it will be difficult to position on the tablet. After realising this I left the numeral facing down with the glue on top and applied the tablet on top instead. It wasn't so easy to get the numeral where I wanted, but it worked.

I finished them with a border of white electrical tape to cover the rough edges.

I'm quite pleased with the result even  though Finn has shown ZERO interest so far. And yet, he's only 2, but I should say that he can count to 9. Yes: Two, three, nine! Easy peasy!

Have you made textured numerals? Are you planning to? I'd love to know how you made them.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

The magic of salt

I had close to no expectations when I set up a wooden tray with a thin layer of salt on Finn's shelves. I was inspired by this post but didn't think that a 2-year-old would get much out of it and probably wouldn't really engage in the activity. How wrong was I! He immediately spotted it and made marks in the salt with his hands. He then grabbed a dinosaur and used it to make tracks. One idea led to another (his or mine) and he emerged from his play SIXTY MINUTES later! I have rarely seen him so focused and I love that he surprised me today.

Have you tried salt play with your children? What did they enjoy doing most with it?