Monday, 16 May 2016

Rainbow ball stacker (or how to wow a YouTube-pro toddler)

So... I really hope I'm not alone here but D used to be addicted to those egg opening videos on YouTube. Don't know what I mean? Search "kinder eggs" on YouTube, show it to a nearby toddler and marvel at  just how fascinating they find it watching someone else open eggs to see what toys are inside...

Anyway, D used to love them. He still does but he doesn't watch them much anymore. They were definitely my guilty must-go-to though when I was stuck breastfeeding Iz and wanted a quick way to entertain D. He always used to ask me to make him a big bucket of eggs but the cost (accompanied by the thought of sugar-driven energy buzz that would follow) always acted as a pretty powerful dissuader... But I thought it might be fun to come up with some sort of surprise for him, so this is what I did:

Basically it's a very cheap to make, completely reusable ball of fun! The whole thing cost me less than £3 and it provides hours of entertainment.

What you need:
Plastic cups
Selection of small toys 
"Ball pool" balls

Toys I used - selection from previous Kinder eggs and anything small we had lying around!

How to make it:
1. Lay some cups on the floor and staple the sides together. Because the cups are tapered (ie cup shaped!) a circle will automatically form. The size/shape of your cups pretty much dictates the size of the final product. 
2. Then add a second layer - again the cups should naturally taper downwards at their bases due to their shape and so this layer will be smaller and slightly more vertical
3. Continue building layers, stapling each cup in place, until your dome is complete!

4. Next gather your collection of toys and put one in each cup. Don't worry if you don't think your toys are very exciting, or that they are things your toddler plays with every day. I ran low of items and even included some single Lego blocks which D still thought were the best thing ever! I only included 3 new toys in the whole thing - all Lego minifigures which D loves. You can also leave some cups empty so it's a surprise if there is anything need the ball or not. 

5. Put a ball in the mouth of each cup. If you don't have any balls you could use silver foil to cover each hole (although that would be pretty time consuming!) or a scrumpled up tissue. But we love our balls - perfect for so many things (yoghurt painting and outside coloured water fun to name just two) and you can get 100 for about £3 in most big stores.

I left the dome in the middle of the floor so D and Iz would see it when they woke up the next morning. Initially curious and slightly unsure whether they were allowed to touch it, once they realised they could and it was just for them they were so excited.

It was easily big enough for them to play together whilst having their own little area to explore.

Good fine motor practice removing the balls (my big adult fingers actually found it much harder than they did!) and using a pincer grip to remove the toys. Then language skills trying to describe what they found in each cup. Iz was so excited to play with all her "new" toys!

D played with it about 45 minutes the first day (he only stopped because it was nursery time) and in the evening he played with it as soon as he got home. Once he'd taken all the toys out, he then sorted them and then put them all back into the cups, replaced the balls and then started all over again!

They played with the dome every day for just over a week - until it succumbed to the general forces of play and the cups started to break. I suspect if I'd used plastic cups from somewhere other than Poundland it would've lasted a lot longer though!!

Definitely a very good make :)

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Rainbow bubbles

I first saw a similar idea on Fun At Home With Kids (an awesome blog) and just knew we had to try it. It basically combines my two most favourite things - bubbles and rainbows... And on top of that the kids get clean. What's not to love?! 

What you need:
Washing up liquid
Liquid watercolours (or food colouring but this might stain clothes so beware!)
An electric mixer (the faster the better!)

How to make it:
1. Mix 2 tablespoons of washing up liquid and about 50ml water in a bowl (might need to alter water punt depending on hardness of water)
2. Add a few drops of liquid watercolour
3. Mix on highest speed with electric mixer for a few minutes until all the liquid has become foam
4. Scoop out into container
5. Repeat with different colours as desired

Almost looks good enough to eat!
She was so excited when she first saw it
It probably took me about 20 minutes to make this and that's mainly because we have a rubbish mixer that does not mix very fast!!

Iz loved exploring the foam, clapping her hands in it, watching her fingers disappear, mixing the colours up with a spoon and then giving some of her animals a bath afterwards :)

We've also done a variation on it where I tilted the tray and left the bubbles for an hour to settle. This results in much finer bubbles (rather than foam) which I then scooped out and put in another tray. Iz then did bubble prints using kitchen roll and enjoyed feeling the different texture. 


Let me know if you try it - other variations you could try are just dark blue/purple bubbles with glitter (outer space/galaxy sensory bin) or green and blue bubbles with some plastic animals (Land and sea sensory bin) - super simple but super fun!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Rainbow pancakes

I shared a few of these pictures on my facebook page a few weeks ago but here's a quick "how to" guide if anyone wants a very simple way to brighten up teatime...

What you need:
Pancake mix (bottle or homemade)
Food colours - I used neon gels
Squeezy bottles
Frying pan
Pastry brush

What you do:
1. Make up the pancake mix as usual
2. Fill each squeezy bottle with mix and add a few drops of food colouring
3. Brush a thin layer of oil on the bottom of a pancake or frying pan
4. Warm the pan over a low heat
5. Make whatever pattern you like with your different coloured squeezy bottles
6. Gently turn the pancake over when ready and cook on the other side

The trick is to keep the heat low - then you have time to make a multi-coloured pancake and cook it evenly without browning the colours :)

See how much fun you can have - definitely worth the tiny bit of extra effort!

Taste test approved!

A novel way to teach them the alphabet?!

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Valentine's crafting

I'm pretty proud of myself that I'm managing to blog this one in the same month as the holiday ;) - unlike my New Year's Eve post!

We did a couple of crafty things for Valentine's Day. We were going to do a few more but time ran away from us. The kids had lots of fun with these though.

Heart pictures

Another loo roll craft :) (you can read about our loo roll fireworks here). This time I folded them into heart shapes and secured the shape with a bit of tape. I made 3 and put out 3 bowls of different coloured paint and away the kids went...

Izzy kept saying "more more" and she was like a painting machine! D had a lovely methodical approach whereas Iz (as usual!) embraced chaos :) 


Next year I might cut heart-shapes out if these pictures to make collage cards but for now I can't bear to cut into any of their artwork!!

Heart frame

Iz did this one in her own while D was away having a boys weekend). It was very simple but had a few different elements so she got to have fun with a couple of different crafting mediums.

What you need:
Paper plate
Red or pink paint
Fake petals (we got a large tub from Poundland)

1. Cut a heart-shapes hole out of the plate
2. Paint the plate with coloured paint and leave to dry
3. Using glue, stick on some petals
4. Once it's dry use it to pose cutely behind :)


Did you do anything special for Valentine's Day with your kids?

Thursday, 25 February 2016

New Year's Eve

So New Year's Eve is now pretty much a distant memory but I wanted to share how we celebrated it as they'd be pretty cool for any celebration - I'm definitely going to adopt some for birthdays in the future!


Instead of a martini, have a sprinkle-tini! These look really cute and the kids loved having their own "special drink". 

Propping up the bar...

All you need is a glass (we used plastic cocktail ones from Poundland), some honey and sprinkles. I wiped a bit of honey around the upper outer rim of the glass and then rolled it in a plate of sprinkles. Leave it to dry for an hour and then add the the drink of choice. Perfect!

I especially loved it when they cheers'd each other :) I initially saw the idea here - check out the link for other nice ideas for child-friendly NYE ideas.

Balloon drop

This was so much fun and will definitely be repeated!! 

All you need is:
2 large pieces of light material (I used tulle as I had some at home - planning to make some skirts for Iz but not quite found the time yet!)
Masking tape
Confetti (I used pompoms and foam shapes)
Balloons (lots of!)
A balloon pump (optional but very handy if you have one)

Then it is as simple as:
- lie the 2 pieces of fabric on the floor and tape them together, just on one side, long edge to long edge
- make a long "tail" of masking tape at one end by looping the tape over itself
- then tape the three sides of the "combined piece" to the ceiling, leaving the fourth side open so you can fill the pouch with balloons/confetti/pompoms
- once it is filled tape up the 4th side so only the tail is left hNging down
- gather your children underneath and instruct a willing volunteer to pull on the tape tail...

Ready for action...

Tada! Homemade balloon drop!! SO much fun and just using things you have around the house :)

Both kids had loads of fun playing with the balloons and pompoms all afternoon. And added bonus - all of it is reusable. Just peel off the masking tape and your fabric is good as new :)

Fireworks painting

What's not to love about loo rolls? They are free, you always have a supply and they are an awesome painting tool!

For this super simple fireworks painting I just cut into the top of a couple and put one in different bowls of paint.

Iz just went for a massive free-for-all whereas D really carefully did one colour and then put another one inside, colour co-ordinating each one so there were matching pairs.