Monday, 20 May 2013

Literacy and Writing Travel Workstation


A travel workstation, to keep all the pens and paper in one place and great for travelling too.  A free creative station to draw, scribble, write, create, log and record.  A great way to encourage writing practice too.  This is something that Chick suggested making, she's been really intrigued as to what Daddy does at work and has taking to playing going to work and requested to have a work station.

We used an old laptop box and I got her to find all the right stickers for her name and workstation, I then suggested an alphabet chart for reference which she made with all the capitals and small letters.


As we were going away to visit family I stocked it up as a surprise for her.

I included:
Pen sock and Pencil Sock
Pencil sharpener
Letter Stickers
Glue Stickers
Our Alphabet counters
Notebook
Envelopes
Post-it notes
Various sizes and coloured sheets of paper


All packed ready to go (obviously it doesn't look this neat now!)


I then glued on sheets of pretty paper, just to make it look pretty. 


Someone is very keen on it and the bonus is that with Baby Boo who is now on the move, it's great to be able to fold away the pens and bits of paper before he gets his little hands on them!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Bottle Top Alphabet


Simple to make, using old plastic bottle tops and foam letter stickers, these alphabet counters have been really useful as Chick learns her letters and their sounds. 


So far we've used them for finding the letter games, phonics games and matching up lower case letters and their corresponding capital.  They can also be used with printing inks as stamps, and I'm sure there are lots of other ideas you can use them for too.


A great set of reference letters and they cost very little.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Princess Crowns


We had a great time making Princess crowns as part of Chick's 5th birthday party.  Fun and easy, we made similar flower fairy crowns at Shoeshine's 2nd birthday party last year.


This time I stocked up on jewels, gems and stickers from the 99p store and also some left over fabric petals and some torn pieces of different coloured tissue paper.  We also had some coloured pens for any additional details.


I simply cut wavy strips of gold card and stuck two rows of double sided sticky tape and then they could decorate to their hearts content.  When they were finished I simply measured it on their heads and stapled the ends together.


The back as intensively decorated as the front! 


These will be sticking around our house for a good few months now as they get lots of outings for role play and dressing up games.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Kids Get Arty: Matisse Paper Cut Outs


Kid's Get Arty Link-up is a bi-monthly linky, all about exploring art and the great artists, having fun together and there are no right or wrongs - perfect!  It's hosted by some fabulous blogs Red Ted Art,and Mom 2 Posh Lil Divas,and we're very excited to be joining in. Do stop by some of these blogs and see some amazing and creative ideas linked up.

Shoeshine currently loves cutting with scissors so I thought it would be perfect for us to explore the 20th century artist Matisse and his technique of creating art with paper cutting, often described as "Drawing with scissors".  Although much of Matisse's great works were painting, his later life was marked by an enthusiasm for creating art with paper cut outs, instead of using a paintbrush or pencil he did his drawing with scissors.  He is also regarded as one of great artists of the twentieth century for his use of bold and vibrant colours.  He said; Instead of drawing the outline and putting the colour inside it... I draw straight into the colour'. The colours he used were so strong that he was advised by his doctor to wear dark glasses!


 Henri Matisse: Tristesse du Roi (Sorrow of the King), 1952

  

Matisse (top from left) La Gerbe (1953), The Sorrows of the King (1952).
(bottom from left) The The Snail (1953), Icarus (Jazz) (1947) and Snow Flowers (1951)

Together we had a look at some of his works of paper cutting, as Shoeshine is only 2 years 10 months we focussed on looking at mainly about different colours and shapes (currently we're working on not every colour being named pink!) Each picture he created was around a theme and interestingly Matisse usually worked with only 2 or 3 colours and used tints (white added) and shades (black added) of those colours to compose his pictures.  Also his use of both positive and negative shapes is notable, as Matisse often used both the cut out shape and the remaining scraps of paper for his collages.


I gave Shoeshine a selection of coloured paper, scissors and glue and she got busy creating a collage of cut outs.


Using scissors is a brilliant activity for developing their fine motor skills.


It's good to encourage them to put the glue on the back on the shapes rather than all over the paper.


Although I wasn't always listened too and sometimes!  We talked as she cut and glued about the colours and what other colours she might like to add. 


As Little Chick is older (4.5 years) we talked about using the same colours but different shades and tints and we looked at what some of his pictures were about, the snail and the snow flowers.  She found it really difficult to grasp that you could create a picture that didn't actually look like a real life version of what is was meant to be.  She also found it really hard to have a go at 'drawing with scissors', she wanted to draw with a pencil and then cut out, she also wanted to create exact copies of some of his works.  



To take a different angle I got our vase of tulips, as she particularly like Matisse's La Gerbe.   I don't usually go for still life stuff at this age, as they can freeze and feel that their picture doesn't look 'real' enough for them, so we mainly talked about the flowers, I encouraged her to look at their shapes and the colours and describe them to me to encourage her to create her own picture using her scissors.  I got some more shades of the colours she had chosen and sat with her doing a picture myself and talking as we did it together.  She started some cutting out some shapes but didn't really want to do it then, so we left it all out for her to come back to over the rest of the week.  Which she did and here's her picture of a vase with a tulip in a garden with butterflies and daffodils.  I left out the paper, glue and scissors on a small table so they could return to it any time they wanted and over the week there have also been numerous other paper and glue shapes and mini pictures produced as spin offs from this activity (and lots of bits of colured paper round the house!), as Chick and Shoeshine have incorporated some of the ideas into their play and art in their free play time.


And here is my attempt at paper cutting art of the tulips (after reading all about Matisse's art I couldn't resist having a go myself!)


Previously we've looked at Anthony Gormley, Kandinsky and Suerat and there are so many more great artist and works of art to explore!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Making a Weather Chart


With lots of sunshine, then rain, then wind, then sunshine, then clouds and more rain, our family is fascinated by the British weather, seeing both what it's doing and whether we can predict what it will do next.  The first part of learning about the weather with little ones is simply looking, observing, experiencing and describing, so we drew some weather charts to help us record what the weather was doing, encouraging us to look and see.


Shoshine got busy drawing her different weathers and Chick got busy writing the different sorts of weather from Kipper's book of weather and drawing pictures.


They then glued them onto a larger piece of cardboard to make their weather chart.


Along two sides were the different types of weather, with a movable clothes peg to mark the day's weather.


Another side was about how warm or cold it is and what clothes we might need to wear.


We added a spinning wheel for the four seasons in the middle.


And the finished weather charts, Shoeshine's (2yrs 10 months) on the left and Chick's (5 yrs) on the right.  As you can see Chick did most of the writing herself and the pictures are very detailed, whilst Shoeshine mainly enjoyed the glueing and sticking and drawing her own interpretations of things, which is what you'd expect at this age. 


We also did a science experiment forming rain clouds.  The ice on the top of the plate is for cooling the plate.  Boiling hot water is added to the glass jar and the plate put on top, then we watched to see the steam evaporate and then condense into droplets on the underside of the plate.


And a here at 14 story books about the wind and rain we've enjoyed previously, this book is probably our favourite weather book.  



Weather learning with little ones: 

Rain - Here's our rain gauge we made last autumn and simply getting out enjoying the rain with wellies and umbrellas
Temperature - we've just got a thermometer for the garden so are planning to read the temperature and write it down each day for the next week.
Wind - Again feeling the wind is the best way to learn.  Designing and making a wind sock is on our to do list.
Clouds - also on our to do list to explore more.
Snow and Ice - so many things to try - but the weather's got to be right!

And don't forget the humble pine cone weather station!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Telling the Time with a Shadow Sundial: Playful Science


This activity really did take us all day!  From 9am to 5pm on the hour every hour we drew round our shadows with chalk to create our own shadow sundial clock.  Something I've been wanting to try since we explored making shadows earlier in the year.  Great for the day that you have to wait in for a parcel and thankfully we were blessed with a day that didn't cloud over and were able to do the whole day and use it the next day as a clock.  A fun, active, hands on learning of some science and maths.


We used this book to explore what was happens to the sun and the earth during the day and night.  Looking at our shadows and observing how they not only moved round but changed shape too.


Our sundials began to grow and we had fun trying to guess where the shadow would fall at the next hour.


It was also a fun way of practicing reading the hour times on a normal clock as Chick had to look at the time on our kitchen clock to see if we needed to be drawing again.


3 o'clock.


Our finished sundial clocks, the girls did one each.  We used them the following day, so instead of looking at our wall clock first to see what time it was, we went outside to see if we could work out what the time was from our sundial and then checked back to the clock - we weren't very accurate but could usually get to the closest hour! The girls really enjoyed doing this and Chick particularly enjoyed observing what was happening and trying to work out why things were changing.  

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Sewing: Homemade Teepee Play Tent


With some lovely sunny weather this week we've been enjoygin lots of time in the garden and my finishing sewing this tee pee play tent last week was good timing.  Over the last 18 months I've had a go at sewing a few projects, having not sewn since school, and this is my latest one, a very girlie teepee play tent.  Great for imaginative play, pretend camping, hiding out, sheltering from the sun and relaxing in.


The pattern is from this brilliant book.  The pattern has lovely attention to detail and very clear instructions.  I love the way the tent is finished on the both the inside and outside as the seams are all hidden in the rod casings.  I've made a number of  things from this book and all have turned out well and I've learnt lots of good techniques from doing the various projects too.


I used some curtains I had picked up in the charity shop for £1.50 (butterfly fabric) and £1 (mauve and pink flower fabric).  The rod casings and one of the inside panels is from leftover fabric I already had.  I also used some pre-made bias binding for the door panel edges and round the top, although the instructions do tell you how to make your own.  This is fairly straight forward sewing with lots of straight lines, but I was grateful for the gingham check of my rod casing as it made it easy cutting the long thin straight sections.


Because my fabric wasn't very thick I decided to cut two panels for each side.  I also left out the window as cute as it was I could see it being used as a door and it all ending up in disaster!


The tent is already proving popular for play.  We still need to sort out the twine for the canes at the top, at the moment it's just looped with some garden wire so sometimes the poles slip down.


We've had a lovely couple of days weather wise, so lots of time in the garden.


Chilling out, doing a bit of writing


and hiding away.

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