Monday, May 24, 2010

Balloon painting

We did some balloon painting today, which Bubble thought was pretty exciting judging from the squeals of delight :-) The effect it left on the paper was like a chrysanthemum flower, very pretty. We will probably try using more colours next time we do it I think!


* balloons
* craft paper
* paper plates
* sponges for making paint pads
* paint

Rock candy

I remember making rock candy and salt crystals when I was little and being so fascinated watching the crystals form over days and weeks. My girls are a bit little to appreciate the science side of things fully, but I still thought it would be fun so Bubble and I gave it a go today using this recipe and method.

Taken directly from

  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2-1 tsp flavoring extract or oil (optional)
  • food coloring (optional)
  • glass jar
  • skewer or thread (see below)


1. Prepare your materials: wash a glass jar thoroughly with hot water to clean it. Cut a length of thick cotton thread a few inches longer than the height of the jar, and tape it to a pencil. Place the pencil across the lip of the jar, and wind it until the thread is hanging about 1 inch from the bottom of the jar. Attach a paper clip to the bottom of the thread to weight it and ensure it hangs straight down. Alternately, you can use a wooden skewer as the base of your rock candy, and use clothespins balanced across the top of the jar to clip it into place.

2. Wet your thread or wooden skewer, and roll it in granulated sugar. This base layer will give the sugar crystals something to “grab” when they start forming. Set the thread or skewer aside to dry while you prepare your sugar syrup.

3. Place the water in a medium-sized pan and bring it to a boil. Begin adding the sugar, one cup at a time, stirring after each addition. You will notice that it takes longer for the sugar to dissolve after each addition. Continue to stir and boil the syrup until all of the sugar has been added and it is all dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat.

4. If you are using colors or flavorings, add them at this point. If you are using an extract, add 1 tsp of extract, but if you are using flavoring oils, only add ½ tsp, and make sure you don’t stand right in front of the pan—the scent can be very strong as it rises in the steam. Add 2-3 drops of food coloring and stir to ensure even, smooth color.

5. Allow the sugar syrup to cool for approximately 10 minutes, then pour it into the prepared jar. Lower the sugared string or skewer until it hangs about 1 inch from the bottom.

6. Carefully place your jar in a cool place, away from harsh lights, where it can sit undisturbed. Cover the top loosely with plastic wrap or paper towel.

7. You should start to see sugar crystals forming within 2-4 hours. If you have seen no change to your skewer or thread after 24 hours, try boiling the sugar syrup again and dissolve another cup of sugar into it, then pour it back into the jar and insert the string or skewer again.

8. Allow the rock candy to grow until it is the size you want. Don’t let it grow too large, otherwise it might start growing into the sides of your jar! Once it has reached the size you want, remove it and allow it to dry for a few minutes, then enjoy or wrap in plastic wrap to save it for later.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I saw the idea for making a felt play set to go with the Eric Carle book The Very Hungry Caterpillar somewhere on the net and am very sorry I didnt bookmark it, if anyone can link to the original idea I'd be much appreciated! I thought it was a beautiful idea and a great addition to a story that is one of Bubble and Squeak's very firm favourites, so decided to make them a set of their own. I adapted the original design because I wanted the butterflies wings to move and a bit more space in the chrysalis so that the girls could fit their hands right inside. They absolutely love playing with the set whenever I read them the book and also just as a general play thing, and I love that it is teaching them the life cycle of the caterpillar in such a visual hands on way.

A felt play set to go with the Eric Carle classic - a caterpillar, a butterfly and chrysalis.

The chrysalis with the butterfly inside.

Bubble using the caterpillar to eat through the food in the story.

Plastacine scenes

While Squeak napped Bubble and I got into the plastacine today. It was loads of fun creating different scenes and animals, and Im looking forward to when Squeak is that little bit older and can join in the squishy fun. We made up all sorts of stories and created all kinds of things, with snakes being Bubble's firm favourite as she loves the rolling action. We ended up with a snake collection that would make Indiana Jones sweat :-D

Using a large baking dish for our play helped contain the mess and also create a little 'world' for us to fill up.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Stone memory game/matching game

I saw this great idea on SquiggleMum and since we had a stack of river stones (leftover from the days when Bubble was obsessed with all things Makka Pakka) I decided to try it out and make a memory and matching game. I drew scenery type pictures like houses, people and trees so that they could double up and be used for other imaginary play purposes as well. They were a big hit and such a lovely sensory experience compared to our usual cardboard matching game versions.


* fine point marker
* flat river stones

Messy mat play

My girls love to do sensory play of any kind so we are quite often sitting around a big ground sheet playing with all sorts of interestingly textures things. We try to reuse as much of the food items as we can salvage each time, and of course the messier it gets the better! :-) I love this kind of play because it's something Bubble and Squeak can do together; even the littlest hands like to feel and squish things, and the odd taste test is thrown in here and there as well.


* a drop sheet of some kind or newspaper, or a large tub to contain the mess.
* anything you can find/think of that feels nice to touch or looks/smells/tastes interesting. Some ideas: rice, flour, cornflour, water, sand, gravel, couscous, lentils and dried beans, custard powder, salt, glitter, playdough.
* kitchen utensils and bowls

I always put everything out in seperate bowls to begin with so that we can talk about what the different things are and what they feel like before mixing it all up and having fun.

It's a great time to practice cooking skills.

Peg play

Whenever I'm hanging out washing I always set up a small clothes horse for Bubble to do some peg play. It's great for her fine motor and co ordination skills and most importantly she thinks it's great fun! Squeak has recently started having a go as well, although with new teeth coming through her pegs usually end up in her mouth instead.

Coin matching

Bubble has become fascinated with coins lately and likes putting my change into the donation boxes when we're out shopping. As an add on to this interest Im trying to teach her the different denominations, so today we did a coin rubbing activity.
I got a brown paper bag and placed the coins inside so that we could use crayons to get rubbings of them. We just used the number side since she is starting out, but later you could use the 'heads' side of the coins to make it a bit trickier. We used the coins and rubbings to do a matching game, saying the denomination amounts as we went, and then turned the bag over and just wrote them in number form instead and matched the coins to those.


* coins - one of each denomination
* paper bag
* crayons

Making our coin rubbings

Matching the coins.

Bubble blower prints

We found a new use for our collection of bubble wands today - painting! They made interesting patterns on the paper, were easy to hold and cleaned up very easily too.


* paper
* paint
* bubble blowers/wands
*face washer on standby!

Making tracks

Toy cars + a tray of paint = lots of fun today.

* plastic washable toy cars
* craft paint
* large piece of paper (we taped scrap paper sheets together)
* tray for paint so you can coat the car wheels easily (we used the lid from an egg carton)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Crayon hunt

A fun game the girls like to play at the park is crayon hunting. If we have the park relatively to ourselves I hide crayons behind trees, around play equipment, in our pram etc.. and the girls search for them. If it gets tricky I give them clues to let them know if they are getting closer or further away. When we have them all we spread out a groundsheet and get colouring! We have played this game before and had other kids at the park join in, which is even more fun :-)

Pumpkin soup

My girls favourite pumpkin soup recipe, taken directly from

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, white part only, finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1kg peeled pumpkin, diced
  • 1 large potato, peeled, diced
  • 1L chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) thin cream
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over low heat, add onion and leek and cook for 2-3 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Add garlic and spices and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add pumpkin, potato and stock and bring to the boil. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then blend in batches.

  2. Return soup to pan, stir through cream and reheat gently. Season and add a little more nutmeg if desired.

Bone sandwiches

My girls are both very different when it comes to eating - Squeak will very enthusiastically eat anything and everything and often eats more than I do at every meal, whereas Bubble is very fussy and hard to get much food into at all. To encourage her to eat more lunch the other day we used cookie cutters to make her sandwiches into shapes. She is going through a dog-loving phase at the moment so we chose a bone shaped cutter and she very happily ate three big 'bones' for her lunch. Squeak very helpfully ate all of her bones as well as all of the offcuts! :-D

Banana bread

Banana bread is a morning tea favourite in our house, Bubble likes to help make it and both girls love to devour it hehe. I must admit, I partake in both of these things quite enthusiastically also!

I use a recipe my Mum gave me that always turns out perfect:

1 and 3/4 cup SR flour
1 tsp bi carb soda
125 g butter
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 ripe bananas
1 egg
2 tsp milk

* Sift flour and bicarb soda together in a mixing bowl,
combine and create a 'well' in the centre.
* Melt butter and sugar together in a saucepan,
and then add the remaining ingredients. Combine.
* Add to flour mix and combine well.
* Cook for 40 minutes (not sure what temperature sorry,
I didnt write that down! I usually bake at about 150'c I think).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Matching household words

We played a word recognition game today, for no other reason than Bubble really loves letters and words so I thought she'd enjoy it. I cut some peices of scrap paper to around A6 size and used a black marker to write words of household objects on them, making two labels for each. I backed them with a bit of blutack and then stuck one of each word onto the household object it corrosponded with (ie: the word 'oven' on the oven, the word 'fridge' on the fridge... you get the idea :-D). I gave Bubble the second set of words and she set off matcing them to the ones already spread around the house. As she placed them in their corrct places we sounded out the letters on each and said the name of the object (f-r-i-d-g-e, this is the fridge etc...).

P.S: please excuse the state of the oven door, it's very shiny and gets inspected by many small hands on a daily basis :-D

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Farm play

We played outside with the wooden farm set today, and incorporated the girls set of plastic cars and tractors as well. I filled a casserole dish with sand from the sand table and that became our 'paddock', where we planted crops and used the diggers and tractors to find treasures and rescue stuck animals.

Setting up the farm :-)

Our 'paddock' being graded and dug out.

Bubble doing some work of her own in the paddock hehe :-D

The digger looking for treasure.

Planting some crops and rescuing a horse that kept getting stuck under the sand :-)

Whew, all safe!