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Creative play and learning in the early years!

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     We explored colour mixing with coloured water concoctions on kitchen towels! They learnt about colours and made beautiful tie-dye patterns on the papers as a by-product, which are little art works in their own right.
    We put about 1-2 cm of red, yellow and blue liquid food colouring into 3 separate jars, then filled to the top with water to dilute them. This turned them into our own version of liquid watercolours! [In the UK I have yet to find liquid watercolours that I see written about on US blogs. This seems to work well as an alternative!]

    I set the paints up outside on our outdoor chalkboard table, on top of some sheets of kitchen towel. I added 2 turkey basters (found in a local hardware shop) and left them to it!

    It took Pop a few attempts to work out how to squeeze the end to suck up the paint and when she mastered it she was really pleased with herself! First of all they spent a long time just sucking up the colours and splashing them out on the towels, enjoying the joy of that process.
     Slowly, Cakie started to notice that the colours changed when placed together, and then the fun and learning extended!
    Oh wow! The yellow and the blue mix to make green!
    The yellow and the red make orange!
    I found some extra jars and she tried combining the paints within them and loved guessing what might happen before she did it.
    Beautiful colours mid-transformation!
    Pop made copious amounts of purple, in a variety of shades! I had to keep replacing the kitchen towel every 5 minutes as it became so water logged, but they wanted to keep on going. I hung them out to dry and amazingly they didn't break (these are supermarket economy ones!)
    I absolutely love the effects of the mixed colours on the paper! This blue one above, with dandelions added by Cakie looks like a work of art to me.
    As they dried they resemble tie-dye and looked gorgeous with their range of cool and warm hues. It provided a nice opportunity to go back and talk about what we did and what colours they were able to create, by examining the finished "art work."
    Now if only we could think of something to do with them!
    Learning Links:

    • creativity: exploring colour mixing, talking about warm and cool colours, discussing shade and tone, creating art on a large scale
    • physical: using small hand muscles to squeeze and release, hand-eye coordination
    • knowledge & understanding of the world: making predictions about what colours would be made, combining liquids, dilution
    Cakie: 3 years 7 months
    Pop: 2 years 1 month
    Bean: 11 weeks

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    These are some fabulously hands-on, active and fun ways to explore letters and sounds that were linked up last week!

    Playdough to Plato has been digging for letters in sand!
    Growing a Jeweled Rose has been fishing for letters in water! 
    Think Magnet Kids has been making an ABC train!
    Were you featured today? Help yourself to a button from the sidebar.

    It's Playtime is a collaborative linky hosted by:

    Rachel and Holly : Kids Activities
    * Rachele : Messy Kids

    Have you got a playful or creative activity to link up? We'd love to see it!

    Please include a text link or a button (in the sidebar) so that others can find the linky easily! Thank You.

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  • 05/11/12--06:36: Indoor Chalkboard Table
  • Turn an old table into an indoor chalkboard to extend the opportunities for drawing, mark making and writing for your little ones! So simple and quick to do and provides a fun and quirky addition to the art area or play room!
    We have a couple of these £5 Ikea "Lack" side tables for the girls to play and create on. I painted one with the blackboard paint from when I made the outdoor chalkboard table last summer. It took just one coat all over, with one more on the top, and 24 hours later it was dry and ready to use! 
     Before and after shots!
     I put the coloured chalk in a little terracotta plant pot and gave them a dry-wipe eraser and they now LOVE drawing and colouring on the table then quickly wiping it all off again!
    Hello Sunshine!
     Drawing and mark making at this angle is very good for young children as they can stand up to do it and their arms move freely at this height. Instead of being cramped and uncomfortable, they can draw with large swooping movements directed from the shoulder and elbow, which is perfectly age and developmentally appropriate.

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    I created an invitation to play on the new chalkboard table using toy trains and wooden people!
    The fun of the new chalkboard table is that it can be used to extend play sessions or in imaginative ways to encourage learning! While the children were distracted I drew them a simple railway and landscape using coloured chalks, then added in some trains, telegraph poles, stop signs and people. 

    I labelled the key areas with "station", "park", "terminal" etc so that there would be plenty of words to point out and ask about during play. I also left the pot of chalks next to the table so that they could add any further elements to the scene with pictures or mark-making. 
    Simple and easy to set up and providing a spark of creativity for a long session of engaged, imaginative play and storytelling!

    We have lots more ideas for table top play and learning coming up soon! I'm loving the new indoor chalkboard table! What other ideas would you think of? Have you made one yet?!
     Learning Links:

    • literacy: beginning to recognise and name graphemes, be aware that print carries meaning, use marks and letter-like shapes to represent meaning, tell stories through play
    • creativity: draw and add to play scenes to create imaginative play, take on a character and remain in role, tell a story through imaginative play
    Cakie: 3 years 8 months
    Pop: 2 years 1 month
    Bean: 12 weeks

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    Create a beautiful collage inspired by the colourful work of artist Piet Mondrian!

    We are thrilled to be joining forces with Red Ted Art, Imagination Soup, Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas , Creative With Kids and Tinkerlab on a new, bi-monthly art activity celebration. Kids Get Arty will celebrate the work of real artists in all media, and each time we will choose a different artist to be inspired by with our children! 
    Mondrian collage art work for kids

    Red Ted ArtI'm particularly excited to begin this new series as before I studied education I did a degree in Art History so I have a special interest in art! I also devised an art curriculum for 4-11 year olds and taught art to primary aged children and I've been itching to begin again! Cakie is just about ready to be interested and able enough- wonderful!

    This month we have chosen the artist Piet Mondrian, a Dutch artist from the early 20th Century who is famous for his bold, grid like paintings in primary colours, on a white background. He termed these Neo-Plasticism and they became his "signature art". I though these would be a fun launch pad for exploring art with Cakie (now 3 and a half) as they present opportunities to discuss primary colours, shapes and pattern.

    Mondrian composition in red blue and yellow
    We looked at a range of his paintings on the internet and in some of my art books before deciding what we would try and make together.

    Cakie painted some thin pieces of cardboard using the primary colours red, yellow and blue, and left them to dry overnight. 
    Then I started to cut out some simple rectangular and square shapes for her and she was keen to have a go herself, which she managed surprisingly well.
    I gave her an A4 piece of white card and talked about the black grid pattern on Mondrian's work. I drew some lines using a thick black pen and a ruler and again, she was keen to try for herself and have a go.

    Then she arranged the pieces of painted cardboard over the grid, creating her own pattern and design. She noticed that Mondrian left some of his spaces white and did the same.

    We talked about the shapes that we used and how rectangles can be stretched long and thin or short and small. We also compared squares and rectangles and talked about the length of the 4 sides on each shape.

    The finished masterpiece! She has since gone back to it and added some more, smaller shapes and also a yellow ribbon bow that she found, right on top of one of the blue sections! It actually looks quite arty!

    Please take a moment to browse the other wonderful ideas linked up below and also feel free to link up any art work that has been inspired by the work of real artists! 

    Learning Links:
    • creativity: exploring the work of real artists and being inspired to create in a similar style and genre, learning about primary colours, exploring mixed media, learning the term "collage"
    • knoweldge & understanding of the world: learn about real figures from the past and present with some interesting facts about their life, home and work
    • maths: talk about rectangles and squares and compare the two by looking at lengths of sides, pattern making

    Cakie: 3 years 7 months 

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    Playing with sounds and being able to discriminate between them is a really essential early literacy skill.

    Here are some fun ideas for listening games and homemade instruments that were linked up to last week's It's Playtime! I hope you will check them all out and leave the authors a comment.

    Inspiration Laboratories shared a lovely idea for going on a sound hunt in the outdoor environment.

    Deceptively Educational made some wonderful homemade palm pipe instruments! 
     Make Do and Friend linked a Montessori inspired sound match game using plastic eggs.

    Were you featured today? Help yourself to a button from the sidebar.

    It's Playtime is a collaborative linky hosted by:

    Rachel and Holly : Kids Activities
    * Rachele : Messy Kids

    Have you got a playful or creative activity to link up? We'd love to see it!

    Please include a text link or a button (in the sidebar) so that others can find the linky easily! Thank You.

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    Create a wonderfully different sensory experience using old fashioned soap flakes and powder paints!

    coloured sensory soap play
    To make coloured sensory soap you need:
    • 1 box of soap flakes
    • 4-5 jugs of warm water
    • powder paint, water based paint or liquid food colouring in various colours
    • a variety of whisks 
    • a large, shallow tub

    soap flakes
    The girls tipped the large, waxy soap flakes into a large under-bed storage box (our favourite type for large sensory play.) The they poured in 4-5 jugs of warm water, which we discovered needed to be at least as hot as kiddie bath water in order to dissolve the flakes properly.
    Then the fun began! Using 3 different types of whisk, including an old-fashioned rotary whisk, they were instructed to "make some bubbles appear!" And they put their hearts into it for sure!
    It took a while to get all the flakes fully melted into the water, but when they had dissolved the bubbles were formed and it turned into the most wonderful gooey, squidgy, smooth and marvellous substance!
    Quite possibly this feels better than anything we have ever played with before, and we have explored a LOT of sensory materials! This really needs to be experienced to be properly appreciated!
    The rotary whisk in particular offered a fantastic opportunity for both gross and fine motor skill development, as well as needing co-ordination, hand strength and thinking skills. And all masked as fantastic good fun!
    "Look at how it drips off my hands! Take a photo of it Mummy!" It was wonderfully gloopy.
    Then, to add some more fun and learning we added some bright powder paints to the soapy base.
    They whisked and stirred in the colours and watched as they created beautiful marbled patterns and swirls like ice cream.

    As they continued to mix them they began to make new colours and they were delighted by the transformations they were creating.
    Glorious, coloured, soapy goodness!
    Cleaning up was relatively easy and it smelt lovely and fresh outside. This is definitely an activity we shall be returning to again, next time with feet!

    Learning Links:

    • sensory: exploring and investigating new materials and tactile experiences using all the senses, describing how things feel and smell and look based on first hand experience
    • knowledge and understanding: observe and predict how substances will change from dry to wet, predict colours that will be created when 2 or 3 are mixed together, use appropriate descriptive vocabulary such as squidgy, slimy, gloopy etc
    • physical development: gross motor skills: using the different actions of the whisks and circling the arms through the soap, fine motor skills: holding the implements in a tight baby grip, small circular movements of the wrist, squeezing with fingers and fists

    Cakie: 3 years 7 months
    Pop: 2 years 1 month
    Bean: 12 weeks

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    Create open-ended, heuristic play opportunities for toddlers and beyond using gorgeous, silky rainbow scarves and lots of imagination!

    It's been a while since we had a new Discovery Box to explore and enjoy! If you follow me on Facebook you will know that I've been posting daily Invitations to Play, which are little play prompts designed to encourage investigation, creativity and imagination. If you have not read about our Discovery Boxes before, they are designed along a very similar principle and are used as a way to introduce new play materials. 

    I've been making these for the girls since Cakie was 18 months old and had progressed from the heuristic play treasure baskets. I came up with the idea to extend the open-ended play opportunities for her by presenting her with everyday materials in a box or basket based loosely around a particular theme or motor skill (stacking, rolling,  posting, threading, weaving etc.) Then the idea is to step back and watch play unfold, without imposing adult expectations or designed outcomes and only step in to facilitate or extend play when invited to by the child.
    This latest Discovery Box was a basket full of beautiful rainbow coloured scarves. I've seen these in lots of gorgeous natural toy magazines and they feature strongly in Waldorf and Steiner education. However they were extremely pricey, so I did some research and found these scarves on eBay being sold as juggling scarves from a circus shop! And at an amazing price!

    After the initial "WOWs" from both girls, the first thing they did with them, of course, was to throw them around the room wildly! This apparently involved needing to stand on the sofa and jump off while throwing them overhead, then attempting to catch them. The scarves make a fantastic tool for practising throwing and catching (and therefore gross motor skills and hand:eye co-ordination) as they are so light that they take a long time to float back down, and are also large and easy to grab!
     After a while Cakie started to lay them over each other and asked me what colours I could see. She held them up to the window and tried hard to find new colours. After some discussion she agreed that red and blue made a purplish sheen and yellow and blue could be folded to look green.
     Next these were danced with around the room, trailing behind them or being flapped like birds wings. I am definitely taking these out in the garden for them to run and dance with in a larger space (the next time it actually stops raining here!)
    Then, from out of nowhere, Cakie grabbed them all and instructed me to tuck them in around her neck. She said "I'm going to get married now like Cinderella, and this is going to be my rainbow dress." I suggested she use the white one over her head for a veil and she ran to get some fake flowers to complete the look! Then plenty of independent imaginative play took place, with her as the central character and narrator, as well as lots more dancing and "floating" around the room. It was quite a gorgeous moment :-)
    At a later time these were pulled back out of the basket and added to their ever-extending imaginative play small world scenes, with the blue representing a lake, the yellow a beach, and green a forest.
    I can't wait to see where their imaginations will take them next with these scarves! They are going to be a staple addition to all independent play times in our home.

    Learning Links:

    • creativity: using imaginations to tell stories, dance, sing and take on a role, creating dressing up costumes
    • physical development: gross motor skills: dancing using arms and legs in co-ordinated movements, circling arms, throwing and catching, jumping and landing with controlled movements
    • literacy: oral storytelling
    • knowledge and understanding: using everyday objects to represent other things in play, exploring colour mixing
    Cakie: 3 years 7 months
    Pop: 2 years 1 month
    Bean: 12 weeks

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    Make a sensory tub filled with colours related to the Union Jack flag to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee!

     I just couldn't resist making this sensory tub with nit one but two great British events coming up soon in 2012! On June 4th we celebrate as a nation because our Queen has been on the throne for 60 years- a Diamond Jubilee! And soon it will be the Olympics being hosted in London and we will be waving the flag for our UK contestants. What a fun year to learn all about our own country!
    To make this box I dyed some cheap rice using red and blue food colouring. I kept some rice plain to represent the white and then arranged the colours in stripes in one of our sensory tub boxes.
     I managed to find all of the fun Union Jack items in the supermarket, including flag bunting, paper straws, flag hair clips and gorgeous sparkly crown napkin rings!
     We already had some sequins and pom poms and added each of those to the corresponding colour segment.
     With a couple of Union Jack paper cups for scooping and pouring, as well as paper plates to pour onto, they were ready to go!
     It was a great opportunity to talk to Cakie about our flag and what it means for countries to have them. They dug around for treasures and Pop started to fill one plate with red rice and items and the other with blue rice and matching items. Great for colour recognition and sorting!
     Ta da! (with some feathers added too!)
    Cakie did her usual favourite thing of making milkshakes and fruit juices! This one comes with a very regal topper.
     I love how she mixed the coloured rice in this jam jar- so pretty to see it layered up!
     And after an afternoon of play this is what it looked like!
    This could easily be adapted to match the flag from any country. Throw in some little toys that help represent that country and to aid conversation about its traditions!

    Learning Links:
    • knowledge & understanding of the world: flags, the Union Jack, our own country, Queens and Kings, crowns, Jubilee etc
    • physical development: explore materials using all the senses, pouring/scooping/tipping using cups and spoons
    • creativity: use materials in imaginative play, recognise name and match colours
    Cakie: 3 years 7 months
    Pop: 2 years 2 months
    Bean: 13 weeks

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    Welcome to It's Playtime!

    With the weather finally turning glorious I loved seeing these inspirational ideas for outdoor play and exploration that were linked up last week!

    The Golden Gleam went outdoors to make observations of flowers
    Familylicious linked a fabulous homemade water wall!

    Growing a Jeweled Rose painted the sky using a mirror!

    Were you featured today? Help yourself to a button from the sidebar.

    It's Playtime is a collaborative linky hosted by:

                                                            * Anna : The Imagination Tree
    Rachel and Holly : Kids Activities
    * Rachele : Messy Kids

    Have you got a playful or creative activity to link up? We'd love to see it!

    Please include a text link or a button (in the sidebar) so that others can find the linky easily! Thank You.

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    A collection of crafts, activities and recipes to help celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee!  With themes surrounding the Union Jack, Kings & Queens, Princesses and Castles, there's something for everyone!

    Union Jack Crafts 

    Union Jack Stained Glass and Patriotic Votive Candles

    Sun Hats and Wellie Boots   Patriotic Ribbon Wands

    Domestique Goddesque   Quick and Easy Jubilee Bunting

    The Fairy and the Frog Union Jack Sensory Tub


    LunchBoxWorld  Jelly Bean Union Jack Cake 


    The Imagination Tree DIY Castle from a Cardboard Box

    Red Ted Art Cardboard Castle

    The Chocolate Muffin Tree Fairy Tale Castle

    In Lieu of Preschool  Castle and Knights Sensory tub

    Craft to Art Castle Piñata

    Sun Hats and Wellie Boots Princess Carriage from a Cardboard Box!


    King, Queen and Princess Play Ideas


    Angelique Felix Kings and Queens play ideas

     Growing a Jeweled Rose Princess themed Sensory Bath

    Crowns and Princess Hats

    At Home with Ali Party hat princess crowns

    Having Fun at Home Acorn crown

    Creekside Learning Doll princess crowns 

     A Little Learning for Two Simple Cardboard Crown

    Mama Smiles Leaf Crowns

    Mum's the Word A Royal Crown

    Reading Confetti Origami Crowns

    I hope you've been inspired by many playful, creative ways to celebrate with the Queen! 
    Thanks to al the wonderful bloggers whose ideas are featured here. Please do click through and chef out the ideas.

    Even if you live in a different country, there are some wonderful regal play ideas here to keep little ones happy!

    How are you celebrating on the big day? Please share!

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    A fabulous article about an outdoor playful literacy activity by Malia from Playdough to Plato. Enjoy!


    I love making learning entertaining and this outdoor word scavenger hunt definitely does just that. As children race around tracing labels for common backyard objects, they don’t even notice that they are practicing reading and writing. It’s brilliantly sneaky!   
     To play, wander around your backyard labeling everything with chalk. The beauty of using chalk, of course, is that it washes off easily when you are finished. Be careful to write the labels when your children are out of sight so that they must search to find your writing.         Next, give your child a different coloured chalk and invite him to trace as many words as he can find. This photo is of my 2.5 year old “writing” the word {fence}. Although he’s not developmentally ready to play this game, I hope this action shot of my favorite little model helps capture the activity.     When your child plays the game and traces the words, it will look something like this:     This word scavenger hunt is a perfect activity to play with multiple children because they can run around with different colored chalks, trying to trace all of the labels before their competition.   And, of course, one of the best parts of this activity is the clean up. My son loved spraying the water to wash off the chalk. It's not often that I can promise clean up time will be as fun as the game itself.     

     Malia is a National Board Certified elementary teacher and the blogger behind Playdough to Plato, a site dedicated to helping parents teach their children to read and write in 20 fun-filled minutes a day. You can find more playful early literacy activities on her blog and Facebook page.  

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    A fun scientific investigation for kids on a hot day: freezing and then melting objects in blocks of ice!

    freezing and melting experiments and activities for kids
     We have had some wonderfully hot weather this week and our play has been mainly outside from breakfast to bedtime. To help cool down we had a go at the simplest of scientific experiments, turning water into ice and then back again to water!

    Using basic tupperware boxes half filled with water, the children went around to find things that they wanted to freeze and dropped them in. We did this many times, using various sized containers and all sorts of objects, from flowers to necklaces, sequins to dinosaurs! I love the beautiful flower tub that Cakie filled (even though she did pick the flowers, grrr!)

    A few hours later and they were desperate to see what had happened to the water and objects. "It's ice mummy!" "It's so hard!" "It's very cold" "I can't get them back out, they're stuck in it!"

    This block had Cakie's favourite play characters stuck in it! Poor Peter Pan and Wendy suspended together in the ice.

    Is that a nail I spy along with the toy dinosaur?!

    The next mission became "how are we going to get these things OUT?" I didn't offer any suggestions, I just watched and was interested to see what their strategy would be! First attempt involved garden canes and a lot of fruitless prodding.
     Then out came the forks and some ice was gradually chipped away from the edges, but not enough to reach the toys and flowers.
    Then Cakie had the idea to drop the ice blocks into the paddling pool! She noticed very quickly that the blocks began to melt at the edges. "It melts in water Mummy!" After a short while she was too impatient and pulled them back out to examine on the patio again.
    I gave her some rock salt to sprinkle over the top and it made the surface slushy and grainy, having an immediate effect, but not in any way melting the whole block.  She noticed the effects of the hot sun but said "it only makes it drip, not enough to come out!"
     But by now the toys were beginning to emerge and the fun began! Back to the forks and more chiselling around the edges. "They're coming out! Look!"
     She was thrilled to be able to reunite Wendy and Peter Pan (who she claims are deeply in love and about to get married!)

    They have loved this investigation so much that I've found Cakie freezing things all by herself the past few days! I found my gorgeous silver napkin ring suspended in ice in the freezer along with a whole host of favourite toys, feathers and tid bits!

    We have another ice post on the way because of this new obsession, this time linked to learning colours! Stay tuned :-)

    Learning Links:
    • knowledge and understanding:  investigating how water turns to ice and then melts again (changing materials from liquid to solid to liquid again), using thinking skills to try and solve problems, observations and predictions, cause and effect, combing materials to make a change e.g. salt and water added to ice
    • physical: gross and fine motor skills in chiselling, chipping and bashing at ice 

    Cakie: 3 years 7 months
    Pop: 2 years 2 months
    Bean: 13 weeks

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    Here are some lovely ideas for creating art and play in the beautiful outdoors, using natural elements. Be sure to click through and read about each activity and leave a comment for the authors!

    Beautiful nature collages from The Chocolate Muffin Tree!
     Painted rocks by Crafting Play
     Miniature Pond Gardens by Annie Cookie

    Were you featured today? Help yourself to a button from the sidebar.

    It's Playtime is a collaborative linky hosted by:

                                                            * Anna : The Imagination Tree
    Rachel and Holly : Kids Activities
    * Rachele : Messy Kids

    Have you got a playful or creative activity to link up? We'd love to see it!

    Please include a text link or a button (in the sidebar) so that others can find the linky easily! Thank You.

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    How to make a vegetable patch with children so that they can grow and harvest their own food!

    organic vegetable patch for children kids
    I've been wanting to make an area for growing vegetables with the girls ever since we made our play garden last Spring.  Giving children an opportunity to plant, tend and harvest their own food helps them learn first hand where vegetables come from and how to care for living things. There is a school of thought that says children who grow their one fruit and vegetables are more willing to try out new tastes and flavours too, which is always a huge bonus with picky eaters!

    Here's what we did:
    On the opposite side of the lawn to the play garden, my wonderful Dad and brother dug out a semi-circular patch from the grass and turned over the soil to loosen it up. We mixed in a whole bag of compost  enriched with natural nutrients and turned them over together to mix them.
     Next, the girls helped me to dig some little holes around the outside edge and we planted a border of box hedges. These will grow together to create a bushy, neat border if we keep them trimmed, and can even be shaped in a few years time! (Thanks to my wonderfully green-fingered friend Tineke for this lovely idea!)
     Then they helped dig some more holes and we planted some vegetable plants that we bought at the garden centre. We planted broad beans, runner beans, peas, gourds and wildflowers. They stuck some bamboo canes into the ground as future supports for the climbers and as they start to grow we will secure them.

    Right next to this patch we have a nectarine tree and a Cox's Orange Pippin apple tree, so those are being treated as part of the same area.
     Pop was very enthusiastic and managed to break one of the fragile plants, but she learned along the way and ended up being extremely careful after she realised what had happened. She patted the soil around the tops with a flattened hand and asked for "more, more!"
     Once in we set about giving hem a good drink of water. We have a hose pipe ban in the Southern UK at the moment, so we used the watering can instead. Great for problem solving and gross motor co-ordination!
     All planted and refreshed, waiting to start growing!
     We added some colourful pinwheels to help scare the birds away and also, just to look beautiful! Pop enjoyed blowing them to make them spin.
    Next we made some plant markers to help us remember what we planted! These flowers and peas were drawn by Pop (2 years 2 months!) I adore them. Cakie wasn't interested in making labels but it is a great way to promote mark making and giving meaningful opportunities for emergent writing in young children.
     I drew the other plants that we had planted, including some wild poppies, and we laminated all of the labels and stuck them onto green lolly sticks with tape.
     When they were done the girls them stuck them into the ground in the appropriate spots. They are watering their patch each day, taking it in turns to do each row, and patently waiting to see the first fruits of their labours!

    If these are successful we will talk about what they want to grow next and try something new!
    Have you made a garden with children? What did you plant?

    If you'd like more ideas, Sun Hats and Wellie Boots has a wonderful post about tips for gardening with young kids. Well worth a look!

    Learning Links:

    • knowledge and understanding of the world: growing plants, life cycles, what is needed to keep a plant alive, food comes from plants, edible and non-edible, seeds/roots/shoots/leaves/stem etc
    • literacy: use marks and letters to attribute meaning, understand what a label is for, recognise familiar words in the environment 
    • creativity: drawing from observation 
    • physical: gross motor skills and co-ordination through digging, watering, patting etc

    Cakie: 3 years 7 months
    Pop: 2 years 2 months
    Bean: 14 weeks

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  • 06/02/12--04:00: Glowing Activities for Kids!
  • Here is a wonderful guest post by one of my favourite, creative bloggers! I'm so thrilled that she is posting her ideas here today so that you can be inspired with some glow into dark activities for your children!

    Hello everyone! I am so excited to be guest posting here at The Imagination Tree! My name is Crystal, and I and I am the writer of Growing A Jeweled Rose, a play base blog where I share fun and educational activities for young children.  One of our favorite ways to play and explore is with the blacklight, so today I am sharing a few of our favorite glowing ideas and play times.

    Many of our glowing activities begin with glow water.  
    Glow water
    Have you explored with glow water before?   It is really easy to make, and can be used in a variety of traditional art recipes and play times to make them glow.  If you are unfamiliar, you can read all about glow water and how to make it here.

    Another one of our favorite ways to play is at bath, so making a glowing bath was bound to be a huge hit for my girls.  We used just a little glow water in the bath to create this Outer Space Themed Bath.
    Outer Space Themed Bath
    The glow water can be diluted A LOT, and still glow intensely.  For this bath ,we used just a little glow water, and then diluted it to fill the tub. You can read more on this bath, and check out all our other fun bath times here.

    The glow water was also a key ingredient in our Mad Science Lab.
    I set this play time up for Rosie, and she had great fun mixing concoctions and making some fun Science discoveries.  

    Glow water was used in a lot of the activities that were set up for our Blacklight Themed Messy Play Date.

    The glowing water beads were the party favorite!

    Be sure and check out all the other glowing activities we had set up for the little ones. 

    There are also many ways to explore with the black light that don't require glow water.  My girls had a blast with this Black Light Sticky Table
    DIY Blacklight Box

    Did you know that tonic water naturally glows in the black light?  It is another fun option to use with blacklight play.
    We used tonic in the bath to create a glowing water balloon bath.

    One of my girls favorite glowing activities is glowing homemade bath paint.
    We whip some of this up for the girls often, and it creates instant smiles! 
    For more on making glowing bath paint, click here.

    And these are just some of the fun ways we have explored and had fun with blacklight.  Have you explored with the blacklight with your little ones yet?  If you don't have a blacklight, don't let that stop you!  You can purchase one very cheaply, and there are endless ways to play.   We got ours at our local Walmart for only $10.  Making playtime glow is sure to be great fun!

    I would love for you to drop by Growing A Jeweled Rose and check out what other fun things we have been up to.  We especially love sensory play,  fun in the bath, and  getting messy!

    You can also follow the fun of Growing A Jeweled Rose via FacebookPinterest, and RSS!

    Lastly, I would like to thank Anna for the opportunity to share here today.  It has been such an honor x

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    Looking for ideas for baby play? Tired of everything being geared towards preschoolers? Here are 20 fantastic ways to play with your 6-18 month old baby, all rich in sensory exploration and promoting developing thinking skills!

    Why not try:

    I hope you have been inspired with some new ways to play with your baby!

    *Please remember to NEVER leave a baby unattended with any of these play items and to supervise them carefully during play. Common sense always needs to be applied! *

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    Come and join over 10,000 fans on The Imagination Tree Facebook page! and receive daily photos with "Invitations to Play"for more inspiration.

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    What have you been playing or creating this week? Please link up below!

    It's Playtime is a collaborative linky hosted by:

                                                            * Anna : The Imagination Tree

    Rachel and Holly : Kids Activities

    * Rachele : Messy Kids

    Have you got a playful or creative activity to link up? We'd love to see it!

    Please include a text link or a button (in the sidebar) so that others can find the linky easily! Thank You.

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  • 06/08/12--15:52: Making a Fairy Garden
  • Make a beautiful, magical fairy garden with your child to encourage imaginative play and story telling!

    make a fairy garden with kids
    This idea has been on our to-do list for a long time and finally, when the sun was still shining (remember that, UK folks?!) we had a go at making our own fairy garden for outdoor play times.

    I actually bought the supplies for this while Cakie had chicken pox, as a special surprise for us to do together. She was thrilled to have another patch of garden to call her own (to add to her Play Garden and Vegetable Patch) and was particularly excited to have flowers to care for.
    making a fairy garden

    To create this fairy garden we used:

    • a half barrel planter
    • flowers and shrubs
    • a piece of tree trunk (from our Christmas tree!)
    • pebbles
    • soil
    • a ceramic bird's house
    • toy fairies

    She filled the barrel with soil, then we planted the flowers and shrubs to create hiding places and shade for the fairies to play around! 

    We pushed the piece of our Christmas tree into the soil to make a pretend tree stump which can be used as a fairy meeting place.
    Cakie then made a path way amongst all the elements using some small pebbles and added a few flowers from the garden for decoration!
    Next we introduced some fairies to explore their new home!
    Cakie wanted to give them a real house to live in so we found one more bird house from her 3rd birthday fairy party and it made the perfect addition in amongst the flowers.
    Next stop, playing and storytelling! Cakie is very much into creative play at the moment and immediately set about making up a wonderful story about her fairy characters and the "evil queen" that they were hiding from. She has now told me that she's taking away the toy fairies so that the real fairies can arrive!

    The benefits of creating an outdoor small world play scene like this are that it encourages children to spend time outside, promotes imagination and creativity and leaves plenty of scope for adult/child co-operative storytelling.

    Learning Links:

    • creativity: imaginative play using props and real objects to represent familiar elements, create characters, take on a role
    • literacy: oral storytelling, using storybook language when inventing stories
    • knowledge and understanding of the world: planting and caring for plants, understanding what plants need to survive

    Cakie: 3 years 7 months
    Pop: 2 years 2 months
    Bean: 14 weeks

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    This week is an exciting week! I'm teaming up with NurtureStore and Sun Hats and Wellie Boots to bring you a week filled with new and fun ways to play, explore and learn with play dough! Will you join us?

    My first contribution to play dough week is a video tutorial of our easy, no-cook play dough recipe! You will need to turn your volume up a little as the sound quality is quite low. Please don't laugh at me- it's my first video attempt!

    Watch this (or read this popular recipe post) and then make some play dough ready for the ideas to follow this week!

    easy no cook play dough recipe

    Will you join us and take the "play dough pledge"? Follow our ideas that we will be publishing on our blogs and our Facebook pages each day this week and try some out at home or with the children you work with. We would love to see some photos of what you have tried out on our Facebook walls and you are invited to link any posts you may choose to write to our play dough ideas link up on Saturday! The more ideas and inspiration we receive the better!

    We can't wait to have you join in the fun!

    Here is where you can find us:

    The Imagination Tree blog and Facebook page (today I am posting a play dough video tutorial!)

    NurtureStore blog and Facebook page (today she is posting a link to her free play dough eBook!)

    Check back on all three blogs tomorrow for the first round of exciting play dough ideas to try! 

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