Category Archives: Activity Tutorials

Activity Tutorials

Easter Eggs

I wanted to start by saying ‘on a lazy Saturday afternoon’ but this is me and my days are jam packed, crammed full to bursting so on said afternoon we’d already been to Rolls and Rems and then completed another errand elsewhere (must work on stuffing less into each day).

So, on one crazy, hectic, rushed yet pleasant day we finally sat down in the kitchen with a friend ready to decorate eggs.

Step 1 - Coloured Eggs

Step 2 - Coloured Eggs

Step 3 - Coloured Eggs

Step 4 - Coloured Eggs

Egg Colouring

Extra notes:

– For littlies don’t worry about aesthetics and make the holes in their eggs quite large as there is nothing more despondent than them blowing their hearts out to find no egg has even attempted to exit.

– If you want your egg to shine rub some oil on it post colouring.

– You can create patterns by putting stickers on the shell pre-colouring or by using permanent pens post-colouring.

Finally hang with ribbon or place in a little bowl as a centre piece.

Enjoy decorating & Happy Easter
naomi x

Transport Play – The easy peasy ‘game’ for a hour of entertainment

Today we had a lovely little friend come to play. I watched as both littlies shot around the house chasing the yoga (ogre) equipped with pan lids, twirling ribbon and a Sylvanian Family tree (which was used to paint where the ogre had been…?!) It was adorable. After several games of fun and excitement we calmed things down with a little ‘Transport Play’.

 

Transport Play 1

 

To join us you’ll need:

– Roll of paper (Ikea, WHSmith etc etc) or just some large sheets

– Cars, diggers, emergency services and any other mode of transportation your city wishes to encourage.

– Pens!

– That’s it, oh maybe just a drop of imagination or SIM City experience!

Draw and create your ideal city. I drew quickly without too much thought as I had two little people playing and weaving cars through my hands as soon as the first coloured mark was made. You could prepare the night before if you want to make it extra special. Be warned it can become quite intense. I am distressed by the lack of accessible parking near my play park, hence the hastily added bridges and there needs to be a better overall layout!

Have fun!

naomi x

Quiet Time Boxes

These quiet time boxes are great for exactly that-quiet time!

A lot of these activities were played with by my daughter when she was about 20 months old but to be honest she may have got more out of it at a younger age. Some of the activities could be used for real wee ones. You know your child, you’ll judge it. If they’re not interested just wait a month or two.

The idea is that you fill the box with fun exploratory items to entertain in a calm and quiet way. These were great on ‘no nap’ days [and there have been plenty of those] or for when you have to ring the car insurance people, wash up, have a coffee break…

These quiet time boxes are easy to make as a lot of the activities can be made from items from your cupboards.

Discovery Jars

Discovery Jars
Fill up an old jam jar with rice or pulses then hunt around your house for fun objects to hide in the rice. [Note. Do not put in a favourite toy. My minou was a little distraught to find one of her Sylvanian babies trapped behind glass].
You can make this look much cuter by dying the rice different colours. I made another that had layered rainbow colours. Just plop the rice into some food colouring and then leave to dry.

The other one is an old vitamin tub filled with rice for a soft rain sound.

The glass bottles were coffee syrups in their former life. Originally there were 3 but they have been loved and played with so I can only locate 2 after much rummaging.

1 → food colouring water with oil, from your food cupboards. When shaken it forms bubbles and globules.

2 → food colouring water with glitter and a little glycerine so that the glitter slowly tumbles down, snow globe style.

3 → food colouring water with washing up liquid. When shaken it gives a little foamy top.

These are great for learning cause and effect. Without a doubt these were worth the effort.  They are still regularly played with over a year on as medicine, food and many other things I can’t decipher whilst watching her imaginative play.

Remember to superglue the lids down! Otherwise disaster and mess will ensue.

Colour Matching

Colour Matching Pegs
Raid your nearest DIY shop for paint sample cards and over a glass of wine, cut and stick onto pegs. Great for fine motor skills. As you can see these have been used quite a bit and as our quiet time boxes have evolved into general play only a few pegs remain.

Fasteners

Quiet Time Boxes

Again go on a rummage and find any old make up bags etc that you have no use for. I bought one at a £ shop and the other came with a magazine with a nail set. These are great as they can proudly master zips, buttons and poppers all in their own time. Plus they get to stuff them full with favourite collections and bits of fluff [?!, yes, vacuuming is low on my list of priorities].

Pasta and Shoelaces
Buy penne pasta and a pair of shoe laces. Minou spent ages threading pasta onto laces [make sure you tie a big knot or button on the end so it won’t fall straight off]. She would be SO proud of herself. She really delighted in it. fantastic for hand eye coordination and fine motor skills. The Early Learning Centre sell pots of big buttons and thread.

Little People

Quiet Time Boxes 2

I added a selection of wooden people. Some with different facial expressions and others plain so she could decide and change their feelings as she played.

 

Paint Pots & Pompoms/Tubs & Pipe Cleaners

Can you tell we love pompoms here!
These are great as there is a little hole for pushing all the pompoms into the pot. Another variation we had was a Pringles tub with holes in the lid [made with a hole punch] with a selection of pipe cleaners. Bliss. She loved this too. She found it so satisfying to pop each pipe cleaner into the hole. I even colour coded the hole with permanent pen around the edge with corresponding pipe cleaners.

Other Items
→ the Minou went through a phase of loving a pocket sized A-Z of London.  She would pour over the pages and become a little sat nav. Turning to the back, finding a street name and confidently turning to any map page to locate said road. She would read out all sorts of facts and fiction from those pages. Darling to watch and listen to.

→ A magnifying glass.  Endless fun. [Except when your face is being inspected at such close proximity]. Again I think I picked up a ready good one at the £ shop.

→ A mirror. A little pocket sized one. Great for exploring their own little face and discovering its reflective capabilities.

Story pebbles.

→Matching cards. Tiger always seem to have a selection.  Great for foundation English and maths skills.

→ Stacking solider. Our was a little solider made up of wooden blocks that had to be stacked onto a pole. She loved this. There is the plastic ring alternative.

→ A selection of wooden blocks to build cities and homes.

→ zoo animals.

→ small pad and crayon.

→ Every box had a book.

Some of the boxes had a theme such as animals.

Note. Mirrors, story pebbles and small parts should be monitored as you don’t want trips to A&E during ‘quiet time’!

She loved these boxes and sometimes would ask if it was ‘quiet time, box time’. My tip is to only get them out for quiet time that way they get a little play and stay exciting and interesting. In addition I had several boxes so that I could alternate them each day ensuring novelty.

Have you made any? What are in your quiet time boxes?

♡naomi

Numbers ~ Games [with a Montessori Twist] for Littlies. Where Learning Numbers is the Most Fun. Ever.

Driving the streets of London we can end up being in the car a long while. On such days I crank open the ‘child entertainment toolbox’. Every mama, uncle, friend, older brother, grandmother has one. It’s that list of games and songs you have stashed away for when you hear the delightful ‘are we nearly there yet?’

We thought we’d share one of our favourites.  Number Hunts.

In the car she number hunts. Shouting out the numbers she spots. Sometimes we hunt for certain numbers, sometimes we hunt for any we can find.

We love numbers.

Once the Minou had could gleefully chant her 1, 2, 3s, to the point of it becoming a bad catchy pop hook, she then began to equate 1 with 1 object/toy/soggy raisin. And 2 with 2 objects/toys/soggy raisins etc.

I wanted to extend our number fun so I got some books from the library, trawled the glorious web and felt a little more confident.

We had a look at what numbers 1-3 look like and in true Montessori style made some number activities.

For a while we had a number table. This is where we have lots of number related things:

→ sandpaper numbers
→ counting books
→ foam numbers
→ tray filled with rice/coffee/grain/sand
→ pompoms, icecube trays & tweezers/pincers of different sizes
→ 2 bowls
→ crayons and paper

Sandpaper Numbers

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I crafted some sandpaper numbers. These are great for learning through touch, practicing how to write the number by tracing the finger over. [If you make your own, place the numbers a little to the right (left if they use their left hand) so that there is room for them to hold the board].

Sand Tray

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The tray is for another tactile experience for tracing the number, learning how the number is formed. We all learn differently, through different senses and we certainly learn better if its fun and interesting. 

Ice Cube Tray & Bowls

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The idea here is that they transfer pompoms/beads etc into the containers.
The act of transfering from one place to another helps them with their pincer grip/fine motor skills which is important for manipulating a pencil. The movement of transfering items left to right also begins the principle of reading left to right. Filling and emptying the spaces/bowls encourgages an understanding of less/more, founding principles in maths.

When I first got the activities together Minou was about 18 months old. She didn’t seem that interested when I showed her what to do so I left it out. A couple of days later she spent a good 30 minutes putting the pompoms in and out. She would regularly come back to these games. Over the past year the game has adapted and the icecube tray is now used for making her dollies food.

Number Hunt Grab

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Our latest bedtime game is hunting the numbers in a certain time limit. She loves it. We set a timer for 20 seconds. She turns over a number piece, counts the number and then hunt! She has to pick up the same number in the different ‘zones’. She finds it thrilling; beating the timer; satisfaction in pointing out the numbers to me on my turn; feeling confident in the numbers she can gather in one fast swoop. Probably a bit too exciting before bed to be honest!  We now set the timer at 15 seconds and have numbers 1-10 to make it more of a challenge.  To make this game just collect number cards, dice etc. Start with plenty of time on the timer. Success and confidence are key!

Have fun on your number hunts!

♡naomi

Improving your photography: Newborn Portraits.


So your new bundle has arrived and you want to record every moment of their existence, your camera is working over time. But the photos are not coming out as they appeared in your head. What’s a budding photographer to do? Read on for some hints.

1. Get the best lighting. At this stage it’s best to make sure the lighting is even. You can certainly play with light and shadows but the results can be a little less predictable.
– Take photos during the day when your house is well, lit. Find the best lit room in your house (even if it is the bathroom or kitchen), and create a little area you can lie your baby.
– Windows should be behind you, with no other windows appearing in the photo.
                                                                     Position the Light
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2. Remove objects from near your baby (that might appear in the photo) and have them wear clothes which free of logos and patterns. Even a simple baby-gro is a goo
d outfit. If your baby doesn’t mind being naked though, turn the heat up and take their clothes off for a more natural look.
                                                                   Remove Distractions
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3. Move your body! Go for different angles. Go in close (but not so close your camera can’t focus). Try photographing feet and toes, hands and fingers. Try and keep the baby in the background though otherwise you risk the disembodied hand look.
 
                                                                      Change Angles
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Pay Attention to Clothing
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4. There is a setting on you
r camera called the ISO, make that as low as possible for clear smooth images. If it is too dark then you will have to increase the no. but that means you will have more grainy images. Even my camera phone allows me to set the ISO (but precious little else) and then it will adjust the rest of the settings to deal with that.

5. Focus well. Bad focus can ruin an otherwise good picture. As previously mentioned, being too close to the model will make it hard for camera to focus, so make sure you are the correct distance.
Try and focus on nearest eye or eyelash. If you are photographing other parts of the body, it is usually easiest to focus on the nearest body part but you can play around with this for interesting effects.
The best thing that you can do is practice, practice, practice. Feel free to break the rules too! All the newborn photos above were from one photo shoot and they made it in to the final selection I gave the parents, even though they broke my rules occasionally – I still liked them. I still thought about them, there are memories in imperfections.

Thanks to fiftytwocreate for letting me guestblog here today, to my nieces for posing for the lighting photos (I hadn’t got a sufficient example from the newborn shoot) and also to baby Naomi, my newborn model and her family for letting me use these photos! 

And an even bigger thank you from me to the lovely Evie. She taught me all I know about photography and one of my fondest holidays was our ‘photography break’ getting up each day at 4am to catch the morning light. If you want to read more or fill your eyes with lovely photographs you can find her here at Got Passion?