Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Building with polystyrene

Recently we coloured some bamboo skewers green to make stems for spring flowers.  I liked the way they turned out so got carried away and coloured some more.  To do this I used power food colouring with a little water in a zip lock bag.  I left the sticks to soak for a while and then stood them in an old container to drip before laying them across a bowl to dry.  We also had a huge box of polystyrene left over from flat packed furniture.  Luckily my husband hadn't had the chance to throw it all away.  So I put the two together and we ended up building.

The building was so easy.  All you had to do was stick the skewers into the polystyrene blocks.  We had some long strips that we just broke down for this.
We also used cocktail sticks.  I would say these were more stable.  Next time I'll colour these as well.  I didn't have any blue powder so after colouring eggs at Easter I'll try colouring sticks with the left over dye.  Wonder how this will turn out?

This occupied M for ages.  He even wanted to keep it out for the evening when a baby sitter was coming to look after him while we went to the parents evening at Kindergarten. Show off.

There are so many more activities we want to try out.  I save them in Pinterest.  Have a look at our  Pinterest boards if you would like more ideas.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Spring Flower Garden

We have been lucky this year with a very mild winter.  Last year it felt the snow just wasn't going to disappear.  Even so we are looking forward to the spring weather and flowers. The daffodils are starting to pock through the soil and we have already seen snowdrops.  So I'm not surprised to be seeing lots of ideas on the internet for making various flowers. I can't  wait to get around to making some of these and decided to make a garden/window box for them to go in.

Recently we had a lot of polystyrene left after unpacking some flat packed furniture.  Amongst this was a piece the size of a brick.  I decided this would make a great base for making an indoor window box.  I started off painting the block brown to look like soil.

I thought I would turn ours into a window box but you could also do a  garden by cutting out green grass to stick around it.  To turn ours into a window box I cut out some pieces of paper shown in this photo.
The size and number of these will vary depending on the size of your polystyrene.  I folded 4 of the arrow shaped pieces in half to make the corners and stuck them onto our block.
The others were then also glued on and cut to size.
Now to make the flowers.
I saw these Tulips on craft ideas.info They are very easy to make with a nice clear tutorial.  We had already coloured some wooden skewers with green food colouring so we used these as our stems.  The first flower can now be added to our garden.
This afternoon I ended up with two boys wanting to join in making spring flowers. So we ended up making more of the tulips and also some sunflowers.  The instructions for these I found at the baby centre They were really easy to make.  It was just handy that I already had the outline for the daffodils ready made.
While the boys were doing Daffodils and Tulips, I got carried away and make a ladybird and a butterfly.

I'd had lots more ideas for making spring flowers but we ran out of time for these. 
So if you are looking for flowers to make out of cake cases or egg boxes have a look at our
Spring Activities Pinterest Board.  You never know I might still get around to making some more myself.
Here are a few I was especially looking forward to having a go at.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Childrens activities, Thinking outside the box

When I'm looking for children's activities I like to do something a bit different.  If a toy can be used for more than one activity it makes things more interesting and saves money.  A toy that hasn't been used for ages suddenly has a new lease of life. Here are a few ways that we have used children's toys/games in a different way.

Car Art

Cars can be used to drive around roads, but they can also be used for drawing.  In this picture all we did was tape some felt pens onto the back of cars and then drive them around a piece of paper.  You just have to fiddle about with the position of the pen so that it touches the paper.  Another way to use cars for art is to find ones with good tread on the tyres and drive them through paint to make tyre tracks.
Building with Dominos
We like to browse round the kinder floh Markts (sales of second hand children's toys and clothes) around our area.  I'm a terrible one for a bargain.  A while ago I had bought a small set of Domino Express.  So when I saw a bigger set for sale second hand I jumped at it.  After all it was only a couple of francs.  As well as building the traditional Domino runs to know down.  We tried building towers with them.  We experimented with different shapes to work out what was the easiest to build and the most stable.  M decided building with just two on each level was much easier.
Letter games
At the moment we are enjoying word games.  Both shop bought and home made.  Shop bought games are great as they are but can also be used in a variety of different ways.
Tiles from scrabble games can be used to spell out objects you have around the house or toy box. Or you can print out clip art pictures from the internet.  We have a selection of pictures that were used in Fun with Vowels that can be printed out.
I also picked up another word game.  Ok it is in German which M is learning fast, but I just saw the letters and thought they must have a use.  It got tucked away in my cupboard for a while till I thought of a way to use them.  One night we were doing train anagrams and I decided we could use these letters to help us work out the answers.  So we found the letters for our anagram and moved them around to work out what word they spelt.
We have the instructions for this, so one day I should sit down and make the effort to find out how to play the real game.
Second Hand shop finds
I also like second hand shops.  We have lots around the area and you can often find bargains for a few francs.  I had been looking for a table top bell for a while but didn't want to spend 15chf.  So when I saw a kids I spy game with one for 2chf I jumped at it.  The game was much to young for M but that didn't matter.  We have since used the bell along with a ducky whistle in Bottle top maths to say if someone has answered a maths question write or wrong.
We have also bought a salad spinner that got used for Salad Spinner Art
Play food has been used to teach healthy eating and a BBQ.
Internet ideas
Drawing outside the box
Looking on the internet you can find lots of great ideas for Thinking outside the box.  I recently found this great drawing activity.  You start with a shape and see what you can turn it into.  This website has some printable pictures to start you off and a great example of turning a lolly into a guy with a cold blowing his nose.  We will have to give this one a go.
Gardening outside the box
with spring coming round the corner we are wanting to get out into the vegetable patch.  Browsing on the internet I have found lots of ideas for doing things in a different way.  At the moment we are growing bean seeds in an old CD case and I want to try growing various seeds in a clear plastic glove.  If you are also interested in growing thing have a look at my pinterest board Gardening with kids
No brush painting
Nurture store has a great article on painting with a brush,  She has used things such as forks, Potato Mashers and bubble wrap.  Visit her site for more ideas. Nurture Store

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Fun with Vowels

At the moment we are working on spelling and pronunciation. Matthew will be going to be going to the speech therapist. But he will be doing this in German.  There are some English sounds he has trouble with that are not in the  German language so we will be working on these ourselves at home. I'm hoping with this game that he will listen to the way he is saying words and hear the sounds.
Don't worry about he a it is on a separate sheet.

I printed out some trains with the vowels on them (there is also a sheet with flowers).  We then printed out a selection of pictures.  These pictures all have a vowel in the middle of the word that you can hear.  The idea was to say the word that the picture was showing and match the vowel to the train or flower.
I have included a copy of the pictures here if you are interested in using our words.  Print here
You could just sit down quietly with all this in front of you.  Or you could hide the pictures around the room for the child to find. 
Some of the pictures could have more than one word such as alarm and clock.  It doesn't matter what word the child uses it is just to get them listening to the sound of words.
After doing this you could get out some magnetic letters or scrabble tiles and spell the words.  Or you could write the letters and hang them on a washing line.

 If you are looking for more spelling and word games try looking on our spelling games pinterest board.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Story Time

Given half a chance Matthew would watch TV constantly.  By the end of the day I have often run out of energy for entertaining him so I let him watch it.  Some nights however I persuade him to switch it off and do a quick game or activity before bed time.  I find it strange that in these times he normally goes and gets a game that I have made.  At the moment these are tending to be maths and spelling games.

Tonight when I did this story game he was a little disappointed expecting it to be a word game.  So I had to promise a word game for tomorrow night.  When he got over this and found out what the new game was he soon got into it.

Earlier in the evening I had raided his bedroom for small toys that would fit in a basket.  The idea was to make up a story using all the things in the basket.

I found a selection of things and just put a few in the basket.  To make it more of a surprise I decided to cover the basket.
We ended up with a tiger driving a green car looking at the stars.
There are lots of different ways you could do this game.
  1. Have lots of items and the person telling the story can choose 5 to put in the basket.
  2. Choose a selection of items for the other person to tell a story with.
  3. Take it in turns to tell a story using the same items.
But most important make them as silly as you can.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Indoor fun in the snow


Last weekend we bought some new furniture that came flat packed.  As normal it came in lots of cardboard and polystyrene packaging.  It was my job to tidy all this away.  I took one look at it all and thought not until we have made something from it. 

So the polystyrene and cardboard all got neatly stacked in the basement.  That was until today.  We have been reading a Magic Tree House book called Sunset of the Sabertooth.  This is set in the ice age.  This gave me the idea of making an ice age scene out of the polystyrene.

There were some large sheets so these got tapped together to make a base.

Ok it isn't ice age but we then decided we wanted our trains to be able to drive through.  So we got some track and drew round it so that we knew where it would go.
After this we started cutting up the polystyrene. This was very easy with our carving knife.  Matthew did use this but he is very sensible and I was doing it with him.  These blocks then stuck to the base to make our Ice Age.

In the story we are reading there are caves.  So we built a cave in the corner.  Trains go through tunnels so we also built one of those.  Think we might be getting further from the Ice Age all the time.  Oh well he is having fun.
In the snow you also get snowmen right.  We used cookie cutters of different sizes to cut out circles to make ours.
We also decided to add some animals.  I looked through the box but no polar bears or penguins.  Dinosaurs it would have to be.  I said we were getting away from the ice age.
Now all that is left is the tidying up. You can imagine the mess all this polystyrene has made.  The little balls were all over the lounge and kitchen.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Train anagrams

We are currently having fun with words and trying to learn to spell.  Today I decided to have a go at some anagrams.  In word I put together this train picture.  I was then going to type a words and anagrams such as train and airtn.  But then I decide to just print the picture, cover it with sticky backed plastic (or you could laminate it).  To make them a bit stronger I printed them on card.

Once I printed out the trains and covered them in plastic, I cut them into separate trains.  Then I separated the train from the carriage.

 After this I got the board marker and wrote an anagram on the train and the whole word on the carriage .  This way as we learn to spell the words I can wipe them off and add new words.
  The idea of the activity is then to work out which carriage goes with which train.

To decide what words to put on them I have been using spelling lists.  You can find these easily on the Internet.  The one I use is http://www.k12reader.com/first-grade-spelling-words/

To get this game started we actually got out our magnetic letters.  With these we could find the muddled up letters and he could move them around to work out what word they made.  He didn't need them for long to get the idea of the game and was soon racing through them.

For more spelling and word games look on our Pinterest Board.

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