Monday 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas!

Lots of love to all our lovely visitors. Thanks for all you comments and support this year. We'll be back soon with some more exciting projects and play actvivites. Have a wonderful Christmas xxx

Sunday 23 December 2012

Wrapping paper sensory box

It's a well know fact the small people often spend time playing with the wrapping paper and boxes their presents come in than the presents themselves. Why not save some of your wrapping paper this year and make a wrapping paper sensory box? We did and had lots of fun.
sensory box

We added some used wrapping paper, shiny bits and a bow. The Frog thought it was so great that he jumped in!

The paper makes a great crinkly sound.

We will be posting some more recycling wrapping paper ideas after Christmas so don't recycle all of you paper - keep some for creating and playing. You might like to check out some of other sensory boxes/ bins too, just click on the link. Polar, SpringRoyal, and Nativity.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Christmas the Spanish way (well Spain-glish)

Welcome to today's Christmas around the world post. This is part of a series of post on different blogs organised by Living Life Intentionally.  Click on the logo to take her introduction of the series plus links to all the other blogs (there's also a free e book of activities).

Today we're visiting Spain. As regular readers of the blog know we're a bilingual and bicultural family as The Papa is Spanish. Here is some of the ways we add a Spanish element to our Christmas (so it's more Span-glish!)

The Nativity scene or Belen (literally 'Bethlehem'). In Spain the traditional nativity includes a lot more than just Mary, Joseph, Jesus, shepherds, angel and kings. The whole town is included - craftsmen, bakers, washer women, children... the lot. We've got several Belenes in our house, two which we got when we got married and one which I made for the children to play with earlier this year. See how I made it. Perhaps I need to add more characters to our new Belen! 

homemade nativity

The giving of presents doesn't happen on the 25th Dec as in the UK. Instead 'Los Reyes' (The 3 Kings) bring presents on the 6th Jan. Children leave their slippers under the tree. If they have been good that year in the morning they are filled with presents  (if not they wake up to coal!) In our family we give the children their big presents at Christmas and have a few more stocking fillers on Reyes.

roscon de reyes

At Reyes a special crown shaped sweet bread is eaten. We based our recipe on the one from the Spanish food blog La Manzana dulche de Eva. Here's how we made ours

Monday 17 December 2012

Twinkl: a review

As a speech therapist (and a mum) I'm always on the look out for things to save me time and good resources to use at work and in the home. Twinkl is an online education resource that does exactly that. The web site provides handrawn, bright, attractive pictures aimed at Early Years, Key Stage 1 and 2. The resources are well organised in subject and topic areas.  As well as over 60,000 free resources there are 10,000 more which you can access for a subscription of only £29.99. There's even a special area for parents - with star charts, educational guides and ideas for school preparation.

There's a specific area for speech and language located in the additional needs section. Lots of the other resources could also be used for developing language. I especially like the 'topic word cards', which as well as having the spelling of the word have pictures - a great for older kids learning new words.

I choose some of the Christmas resources to print off (as we are very into Christmas currently .... can't think why!) There's a great story board. I used it with 'The Fairy' to make up a story together, but it would be equally fun to use one for writing.

We also played with the Christmas size ordering pictures. These would be great for a 2 key word level activity ('find the big present') or superlatives and comparatives (which ones the bigger, which ones the biggest). We talked about what might be in the presents The Fairy thinks the big present has a doll's pram in (fortunately that's what will be wrapped up under the tree for her on Christmas morning!)

It's a great site and one I'm definitely going to 'bookmark'

I was given a premium subscription in return for this review. All opinions in this review are my own.

Friday 7 December 2012

How to make Fimo Nativity figures

Its really important for us as a family that our kids know that Christmas isn't just about Father Christmas (Santa) and presents.

Like story boxes, using small world people to tell a story helps children to engage, interact and remember it. As well as using figures as story props you can let your child play with the figures and re-intact the story (great for developing communication skills). As out main nativity set is very breakable I thought I'd make some chunky nativity figures out of Fimo (polymer clay).

Here's how I made them...

The figures are based on a really simple ball for the head, with additions.

Mary, Joseph and the shepherd have head dresses.

The Kings have crowns and a little present.

The angel, wings and a halo.

Baby Jesus is wrapped in cloth and in a manger.

I wanted to keep the figures as simple as possible, partly to be practical (i.e. less bits means less bits to break off) but also to encourage imagination.

This post is part of a blog hop. Do you have a blog and a nativity themed post? If so link up below. Why don't you check out some of the other hosts on the hop.
The Imagination Tree
<div align="center"><a href="" title="The Imagination Tree" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="The Imagination Tree" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
The Imagination Tree Living Montessori Now Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers My Nearest And Dearest Life At The Zoo Creative Connection for Kids This Reading Mama Adventures in Mommydom Train up A Child Rainy Day Mum 3 Dinosaurs Crafty Mom Share The Magic Of Play Sun Hats and Wellieboots The Fairy and The Frog Housing a Forest The Iowa Farmers Wife Preschool Book Club Craft To Art The Golden Gleam Here Come The Girls Mamas Like Me In Lieu Of Preschool Kids Creative Chaos My Small Potatoes Love Play And Learn Kids World Citizen

Wednesday 5 December 2012

How to create a Christmas writing area

This post should really be entitled 'how to make a writing area'  as I've not yet blogged about how we've made an 'all year' round mark making/ writing area yet. The reason for this is our area hasn't quite been finalised and is more 'a work in progress'! I know from working in different educational settings how important it is to give children free access to writing materials but I keep finding reason not to at home. We've had a few challenges the biggest one being it needs to be baby safe as The Frog wants to do everything his big sister does. We also live in a have a small flat so we don't have the space for a dedicated 'mark making table' with all items beautifully displayed. (I have spent far too much time on pintrest drooloing over researching other people's beautiful areas in their play rooms/ class rooms!)

Over the last couple of weeks I had noticed her interest in writing growing and wanted to provide opportunities to extend this. I came to the realisation that my desire for her to have a beautiful well organised area was stopping me get on and doing something. So I stopped dreaming and 'did'. I gathered all of the mark making stuff we normally play with and put it in one place and let her know the 'rules' for playing with it (i.e. what her brother was and wasn't allowed to touch). Having our equipment more organised and giving her freer access to it has meant an explosion in creations at home and has been great for her interdependence she is definitely asking to watch TV less which is fab!

To add festive cheer to our area we've taken our usual bits and upped the 'bling' by adding shiny, sparkly and christmasy versions into the mix. We went to a party of a very lovely friend at the weekend and many of the bits from the party bag (party favours) were perfect for adding in.

Punching holes

A letter with a stamp (this ones for a friend, but I'm sure there will be one for Father Christmas!)

More decorations for our tree

More decorations (I'm not sure where these are destined for yet!)

I love how all of these creations have been independent.

Monday 3 December 2012

Poppy Cat book review and pirate play

The lovely people at Macmillan books sent us a copy of 'All Aboard' their latest Poppy Cat book to review.  'All Aboard' is one of their two newly released titles (the other being 'Blast off').

'All Aboard' tells the adventure of Poppy Cat and her friends when they set sail to find some buried treasure. Whilst it is not my favourite of the Poppy Cat titles (we have a few!) The Fairy loves it. I think this book would appeal most to either firm Poppy Cat fans or pirate lovers. I think The Fairy liked it best because of her current love of buried treasure and maps (I sometimes think she expects to find treasure digging in the sand pit).

All the talk of treasure and maps led us to a bit of pirate play (fortunately we had some gold coins on hand from our nativity story box to act as treasure).

Thursday 29 November 2012

Sensory nativity story box

How to make a nativity story box.

I love story boxes and story sacks, they are great for helping children concentrate on and  interact with the story. I also love the play opportunities playing with the prompts provides after reading the story. Making a Christmas story sack is a great way to engage your child with the nativity story.

In our nativity story box we had blue blanket (for the expectant mother), a green tea towel (compulsory head gear for Joseph)

Tinsel (or garland for those in the US) for an angel and a left over crown (from the Jubilee celebrations) - which seemed very fitting for a wise man. We also had and a shiny star to mark for the men to follow.

The presents from the wise men added a sensory element myrrh and frankincense were represented by spices (as they are smelly)- cinnamon sticks and ground spice. For gold we used chocolate (later replaced by some gold coins after we had eaten them).

A toy lamb represented a shepherd.

And most importantly baby Jesus was our doll wrapped in one of the Frog's old muslins. The Fairy decided the empty box made a perfect crib.

As I told the Christmas story I took the relevant prop out of the box and we took turns either wearing it or playing with it.

After the story was finished I removed the non safe elements and let the children play with the story. The Fairy retold the story whilst the Frog (who is currently very into hats) had great fun experimenting with which hat he liked best and finding the most tasty prop.

We played follow the star ( a version of hide and seek). The Fairy and I took turns to take the star and hold it some where in the room. The other person then found it.

The Fairy wanted to make sure we knew what was in the box so the next day we decorated a piece of card with star prints to use as the back ground for a label.

Language Links:
Vocabulary: Names (Jesus, Mary, Joseph, King , Angel etc), baby, star, sheep. lamb, shiny, smell, find
Other skills: concentration, re telling a story (narrative)

This week some other fab bloggers are getting together to share their nativity ideas. Why not check them out

or add your own ideas too our linky:

Thursday 15 November 2012

How to make 3 easy handmade christmas tree decorations

Making handmade Christmas tree decorations with the kids is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. Homemade decorations are a fun way to create memories through shared experience and get creative at the same time.

Before I had kids I was a bit of Christmas decoration snob - I like things to be coordinated and tasteful (although I've always been rather fond of sparkle and a bit of bling- but instigated in a coordinated fashion!) Post kids we've gone for the riotous look. Fantastically making you own decorations doesn't have to be hard. Check out 3 of our ideas below, which can be easily be tailored to your taste/ colour scheme.

Everyone needs a bit of sparkle. How about this simple pipe cleaner heart. The Fairy twisted the ends of the pipe cleaners together (under my watchful eye). Then I helped to bend them round to form a heart shape. Ta da, in less than a minute you have a heart.

If you regularly read our blog you'll know were fans of dough/ clay in all its forms. Salt dough and clay make great modelling materials for kids. The Fairy made this heart. I helped her make the hole (using a straw). When it was dry she painted it. We used pearlised paint which gives a lovely shiny finish.

The last one needed a bit more adult help as we used big scissors. The Fairy selected buttons. I helped her to arrange them in a heart pattern on some felt (we used sticky buttons so they were easy to attach). I then cut the heart out and attached the ribbon.

Obviously we hadn't used enough sparkle as when I was out of the room putting the Frog to bed, The Fairy added a few more pipe cleaners. 'Its finished now mummy! she announced as I walked back into the room.

Language Links:
Vocabulary: heart, paint, twist, shiny, sparkle
Other skills: matching (buttons)

On the run up to Christmas I'm joining in with a group of fabulous kids bloggers to get into the Christmas spirit. Why don't you check out some of their ideas or link your ideas to the blog hop below.

Jennifer's Little World -
Mummy..Mummy..MUM!! -
Life At The Zoo -