Monday, January 31, 2011


Painting is a wonderful expressive medium for children to explore. It is different to drawing as it shows less detail, but children can explore colour, texture, and movement (as their whole body is used). It is another way to develop observation of their surroundings, and interpretation. 
Try to limit their colour range so they don't turn everything into a muddy brown

Comment on how colours change when mixed

Encourage children to look at what is happening in their painting- whether shapes or representations are forming. Suggest what things may look like (e.g. a fish in a pond) to spark further ideas and get them to understand the idea of image making. 

Cherish and celebrate their finished artwork. Display it on the fridge, or in a special folder. This will boost self esteem and pride.


Finn loves building and constructing with his wooden blocks (these are a cheap set from Toys R Us), and I got thinking about the many skills they have for children including: developing fine motor skills, hand-eye co-ordination, spacial awareness, creative problem solving, language, mathematical and social skills.

I put Finn in a playpen so his 8 month old sister doesn't knock everything down.  

As well as building, encourage your child to sort the blocks into sets (by colour or shape), incorporate other toys into the play - such as a toy dump-truck which can be used in transporting the blocks to a 'construction site'.

You can also use smooth sticks, small logs and branches to create fences, roads and bridges.

I love these beautiful hand crafted blocks from etsy:

Finn has also been building on a larger scale: 

a fort out of sticks and bark for outdoor play,

mountain ranges and cubby-houses out of cushions, sofas, and sheets for indoor play. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Knitted Rabbit

I made this little rabbit from a hand knitted square, with the sides sewn in to create the shape and filled with carded wool. If you are not a knitter, or have limited time, you could cut a square out of a an old woollen blanket or jumper and hem in the sides. I was thinking I might be able to make other animals from the basic shape. 

Finn created a little burrow for it out of pillows and blankets.

Here is a link to similar instructions. 

Finn's Fruit Barn

Pretend play has many social, emotional and educational benifits for children - it can improve language and literacy skills, simple maths and enhance imagination. I found that the pretend food you buy in shops is often really small- so I wanted to make some 'to scale' food for Finn's shop out of paper mache. Instead of painting some of the items (pears and apples), I used coloured tissue paper for the top layer which saved time and fuss. 

We set up a little shop with a toy cash register (or you could use a calculator), a stack of old receipts, and some paper bags. To display the items in the shop we used some styrofoam boxes from a real fruit shop, and because the paper mache fruit was a real size we could use other empty fruit containers to package them, as well as other packaging from the recycling bin (chocolate boxes, egg cartons etc). 

We left the shop running for a few weeks, so he kept going back to play any time he felt bored. He also took great pride in displaying his 'wares' and keeping his shop tidy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Standing Puppets

I made these little standing puppets following the simple instructions from a wonderful book called 'Creative play for toddlers' (Christopher Clouder & Janni Nicol), changing the characters to represent my two children Finn and Evie. 

Finn loved his so much that I made a version of himself to take to bed (without the cardboard tube in the center). 

With some help toddler's could make your own version with toilet roll covered with felt (using glue instead of sewing) and a little styrofoam ball, or wooden bead for a head.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Finger Painting

Finger Paint Recipe:  

in a saucepan mix 1/2 cup cornflour with 
1/2 cup of cold water
Add 1 cup of boiling water.
Bring to the boil on stove
Remove from heat when thick and clear. You can add a few drops of food dye to this mixture, or give your child the opportunity to add the colours in themselves.

Finger painting is a soothing and has creative benefits for children, although it doesn't offer as much opportunity for detail as using a paint brush. 

Finn has been getting fussy about getting his hands dirty, so I wanted to encourage a bit of messy play with him. 

I did this on a large kitchen bench, but you could do it on a tabletop covered with plastic, or use a 'messy mat' on the floor.  

You can also easily make prints by laying a large sheet of paper over the top of the finished design and with clean dry hands rub over the back of the paper. Slowly lift paper of the table and hang to dry. 

Printmaking is a satisfying activity for children- they can produce multiple reproductions with out too much effort. Print making is a magical experience for them. 

I used edicol dye powder mixed with a little water- Finn added it to the clear finger paint with a spoon.

 I encouraged him to explore what his little fingers could do with the paint.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Go Fish

This activity was a bit time consuming to make, but well worth the effort.

Materials: coloured felt, buttons, needle and thread, string, a smooth stick, magnets, washers, polyfill, and decorations (sequins, feathers). 

I made little felt fish out of coloured felt stuffed with polyfill. I then attached a washer to each mouth. I added different shapes and decorations to each fish. 

For the fishing rod a magnet was attached to a piece of string tied to a stick. 

We used a silk scarf as the 'pond', and used a little pan to put the fish in (although you could use a small bucket or basket). 

It is great activity for teaching children about colours, developing counting skills and coordination. 

I made a couple of extra rods so Finn can play with his friends. 

A simpler version would be to make one dimensional fish out of felt, or even cardboard. A  paperclip could be attached to the mouth area instead of a washer. 

Butterfly mobile

We made this simple mobile from tissue paper and pipe cleaners, and hung with sewing thread. It looked so pretty fluttering in the breeze.  

Sleeping Bunnies

My children love this sweet action song. 

Sleeping Bunnies

See the little bunnies sleeping 'til it's nearly noon.
Come and let us gently wake them
With this happy tune
Oh, so still.. Are they ill ?
No… (wake up soon)
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, Stop !

Here is a gorgeous clip to get an idea of action and tune

This clip has some ideas for extra verses