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!