You gotta roll with it!

Some days you can have activities planned out, but the small people have their own agenda. That’s the magic of free play. Like I’ve said at the top, you’ve just got to roll with it. It’s the same as an early years practitioner and as a Mummy. The moments where children discover something new for themselves is like magic. Those moments were the reason I loved my job and why I love watching my own children learn. If you can see them unfolding and sensitively intervene to extend their learning, you’re onto a winner.

This particular piece of magic had actually begun a couple of days before. If I’m completely honest, I’m not sure who started the fun. If you pressed me, I’d guess it was Boo due to her current trajectory interest, but we’ll never truly know. I found Squidge and Boo rolling stones down the slide. Squidge collecting them both from the bottom, giving one back to Boo and encouraging her to roll it again. They were playing together and sharing. Their friendship is really beginning to blossom and I love seeing it happen.

This play lasted around 10 minutes, but the idea must’ve stuck. A few days later, after our new lawn had been laid (it’s lovely, and oh so green!) Squidge returned to this activity. This time around she used the plastic balls from the ‘Pic ‘n’ Pop’ walker (you know the one that clicks incessantly as they push it around and refuses to actually pick up the balls, yeah that one). With the garden being on a gradient and the grass to run on to, the balls rolled so much further than the stones had. This delighted them both. Squidge rolled them over and over while Boo ran to collect them, returned them and watched them roll again. They were having a great time!

When intervening in play, timing is vital. Leave it too long and the moment passes, their interest wanes. Interrupt at the wrong moment or worse still, take over their play and you spoil the fun. At this point while they were heavily engrossed, I darted inside to collect a few other objects for them to roll.

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I chose a larger ball, a plastic egg, cars with different sized wheels (one being the pull back type) and some giant reels (these were from our local scrap store – magical treasure troves if you have one I urge you to go!). I introduced them with my favourite starter ‘I wonder what will happen if you try these’. ‘I wonder…’ statements are a great way to pose a question without actually looking for an answer. They leave the idea open for children to explore, but don’t put them under any pressure.

Squidge and Boo both got stuck straight in. Taking turns rolling, collecting and running back to try again. Boo had a few goes, then a few turns actually going down the slide herself before she moved on. Squidge stayed with it and got involved talking about the distances the objects were travelling “That one went really, really far!”. She was keen to predict which would travel furthest. She was utterly unimpressed when the blue car (the pull back type) got stuck half way down. Just look at her face…

The girls really enjoyed this activity. I’m pretty certain they will revisit it over and over. Hopefully next time Squidge will choose her own variety of objects to try. We could start to think about ways of measuring distance, ranking which object went furthest or what happens if we alter the ramp. I’ll wait and see which way their interest goes…

Thanks for reading.

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Lots of love Cat, Squidge and Boo Xxx

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A Cornish Mum
The Pramshed
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ inspired Fruit Printing

After finding caterpillars in the garden last week followed by reading ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle several times, I decided we’d do some fruit printing this morning. I hedged my bets with the weather and set it up outside. Any excuse to get out in the new garden!

For this activity you will need:

  • Paper – we used a large roll
  • Paints – we used poster paints and mixed a couple of our own colours
  • Fruits – To follow TVHC – Apple, pear, plum (I didn’t have a plum so cheated and used a new potato :)), strawberry and an orange
  • Plates for the paints
  • A bucket of soapy warm water at the ready
  • A fluffy towel

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Before we got started, we re-read the book. We have two different copies, the original board book and a finger puppet version. The finger puppet one is simplified and just gives the number, an adjective and the fruit. When Squidge retells the story herself, she merges the two together. Reading is a great way of building vocabulary.

I half expected Squidge to just dive in and go crazy, but she was keen to count how many of each fruit she needed. I didn’t ask her to put them in a row, she just did. Reading the story before we started certainly influenced both of these. I used the finger puppet book to support her throughout as the pictures are much larger and were easier for her to count as she was printing. You can see her double checking how many she needed in one of the photos.

For each fruit she counted aloud – an early years practitioners dream observation! Luckily as her Mummy I don’t have to fill in any paperwork, I can just enjoy the fun. Squidge printed all of the fruits in turn. Besides the counting, she was very quiet and focussed on the task.

After Squidge had finished counting all the fruits, I said she could print as many as she wanted. She continued with a few more oranges and then, as with any good painting activity if you ask me, she decided to really dive in…

I love her face in this series of pictures – you’d think she’d never printed with her hands before! We’re slowly building a hand and footprint alphabet so we have done it a lot. Clearly it still fascinates her every time though.

She then got her feet in the paints. One foot first, then both. She worked her way along the paper carefully, making sure she pressed her foot all the way from back to front, ensuring a clear print. Squidge was eager to wash her hands and feet between each set of prints, so having the warm soapy water and towel to hand was great. I’d definitely recommend this if you decide to get a messy activity out. You don’t want to have to leave it unattended, especially with a smaller sibling in tow!

I always encourage both girls to get involved in the clean up – they had all the fun making the mess after all. They are usually happy to do so, especially if it’s washing up. They don’t always get the clean up finished, but I’m happy that they show willing and want to help.

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Here’s our finished Hungry Caterpillar inspired print plus hands and feet. We hope you like it! 🙂

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If you enjoyed this post you’ll love our Marble Painting activity!

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MummascribblesMy Random Musings

The Pramshed

Caterpillars!

We moved to our ‘Family Home’ a little over a year ago now. We used to live in a chocolate box, 1900’s stone built cottage, wedged along a cobbled street. It was tiny. Beautiful, a perfect starter home but far too small for a family of four. So small in fact, that when people came to view it, we had to hide most of the kids toys in our cars and park them a street away, but shhh!

We’ve done various projects in the new house throughout the first year, but for the past couple of months we’ve been renovating the garden. The ‘before’ consisted mostly of low red brick walls, pebbles, paving slabs at varying levels with steps and corners everywhere. I’d say a toddler nightmare, but they were quite happy – it was me that was in a nightmare. I was following them around franticly saying “Careful”, “steady”, my arms outstretched ready to catch them. All the while envisaging hospital trips where they had chunks missing from their little heads where they’d inevitably fallen and hit a corner.

Our aim in the revamp was to have a level-ish garden, with no deadly corners or serious trip hazards. This has meant a lot of digging, three skips full worth of digging. I have regularly blasted out the Gnomes’ theme from Ben & Holly “Dig, dig, dig, in a garden blah blah blah” (Ok, so I don’t know ALL the words). The point to this whole tale is that with all the time and hard work it’s taken, I’m very proud of the each part of the garden as we finish it. So imagine my horror as I see one of the plants in my new flowerbed has been devoured almost overnight.

I was furious and began my hunt for the horrid little beasts that had been so greedy. Exactly how many slugs and snails was I going to have to get rid of?! My mood changed the minute I spotted them….

Squidge was almost as excited as me. She observed them closely for quite some time. She kept finding more and more and pointing them out to me. We talked about the story ‘The very hungry caterpillar’ and how these caterpillars definitely were very hungry because they’d eaten so many leaves and were still munching!

Eventually Squidge plucked up the courage to gently pick one from the plant. She put him in her palm and watched carefully as he crawled around. She didn’t want him to get hungry so she pulled off a leaf for him to eat. She wanted to go get him a drink from the kitchen, so I explained how they got everything they needed from the plant (I didn’t want a drowning on my hands, or caterpillars in my kitchen to be honest).

Squidge got more and more confident handling the caterpillars and before long she had several in her hands at once. We counted them carefully and this prompted Squidge to sing a new version of one of her favourite number rhymes “Five little caterpillars jumping on the bed….”.

At one point one of the caterpillars did indeed fall off (there are no confirmed reports as to whether he bumped his head). Squidge was very dramatic and exclaimed “The birds will eat him, I can’t watch”. This has sprung from previous conversations as to why worms might like to hide under the soil and why we should put them back in a safe place after we’ve handled them. They really do listen to everything we say – even when we think they’re not paying attention.

Squidge spent the majority of the afternoon playing with the caterpillars. It was wonderful to see her be so gentle and nurturing towards these tiny creatures. Her face in the pictures say it all. Before bed that night she chose to read both copies of ‘The very hungry caterpillar’ by Eric Carle. The original and the finger puppet book.

To follow up from this I’d like to do some fruit printing linked to Eric Carle’s book. I’ll definitely try get some counting out of it, but won’t let it dictate or distract from the fun of printing. If the weather stays nice we’ll go for the big roll of paper in the garden, or the new easel. We’ll also keep observing the caterpillars and see if we can see them making their cocoons. Exciting times at Squidge and Boo!

Thanks for reading,

Love Cat & Squidge xx

We linked up for this blog with #CountryKids and #SharetheBlogLove


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Dear Bear and Beany

Summer you say?

Ahh, British Summertime, my favourite! I’ve always been a fan of Summer, I’m not sure if it’s to do with being a Summer born baby myself but everything about it just makes me smile. Sun (well sometimes!), all the beautiful flowers, the buzz of people’s lawn mowers, putting washing on the line and being able to smell summer when you open your wardrobe in a morning, open windows, flip flops, light evenings, summer parties in the sun, paddling pools, I could go on and on!

The threatening dark clouds didn’t put us off playing out this morning, I had faith they would pass (and a trusty weather app to confirm my belief). With our new flower bed awash with fallen petals, today we were going to make Fairy Soup and a little drizzle wouldn’t stop us.

All you need for this activity is:

  • A jar
  • Some ribbon (optional but oh so pretty!)
  • A drop of food colouring
  • Fallen (preferably) petals and other bits from the garden
  • A big imagination
  • Oh and a spoon of course

I’d explained to Squidge that to get fairies to come to our garden we had to make them something to eat, and of course their favourite thing to eat is Fairy Soup. I handed her a jar filled with pink water and tied with a ribbon and asked her to put in as many different ingredients as she thought the fairies would like.

Off she set in search of delicious treats for the fairies, she filled the jar with a few purple and pink petals and then demanded a spoon to mix them up – how could I forget a spoon? She watched as the petals whizzed around the jar and floated back to the top.

She went about the garden adding more petals and whizzing them up each time. After this she decided to add some pebbles, we could hear them ‘plop’ as they went in the water and a ‘clink’ as they hit the bottom. An ideal opportunity to introduce the idea of floating and sinking. ‘I wonder what will happen when you stir it this time?’. She tried and watched the results.

This activity kept Squidge busy for around 15 minutes (and cleared some of the petals from the garden *Bonus). It then attracted another little lady….

More mixing and adding to the Fairy soup from Boo with a little pouring here and there!

My intention with this activity is to leave a fairy trail in the garden – glitter footprints and accompanying letter to thank Squidge for her delicious soup. In this letter the fairies will ask Squidge to build them a little garden of their own.

As the garden work is almost finished (Hooray!) there are finally bits and pieces the girls can help with. When digging out the flower beds and emptying my existing pots to be refilled, I’ve come across lots of large pebbles that I plan to re-home somewhere in the new garden. Last week we washed the first few and the girls enjoyed it immensely! As the weather brightened this afternoon, it was the perfect chance to get out some soapy water and give them all a scrub.

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My two girls got different things out of the same activity. While Squidge was focussed on her mission to scrub the rocks and make them clean, Boo was happy to hold them under the water and pull them out all wet. Squidge noted that the water had got dirty and wanted fresh half way through.

Water play would definitely rank highly (possibly top) on both my girls lists. I can see the attraction myself, Water play is just so versatile. I must admit, I much prefer it outdoors where they can splash and spill with true freedom. As much as I like to let them free play indoors, it’s hard not to rein it in when you know you have to mop it up and change them both after.

So the sun did eventually shine and it feels like the garden being finished is imminent. We also managed to get out our new painting Easel – but I’m saving that for a whole blog post of it’s own (I’m that excited about it!). I hope you’ve enjoyed your ‘first’ day of Summer as much as we did.

Lots of love Cat, Squidge & Boo xxx


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Farmyard fun

Squidge was off on a trip to the farm today. So not wanting to miss out on the fun, myself and Boo had our own little farmyard fun this morning.

This activity was really quick to set up, not so easy to snap in it’s ‘before’ state when the little one is desperate to play!

You will need:

  • Farmyard animals
  • Blocks or similar to partition
  • Junk such as tubes, reels, boxes
  • Dry foods (We had corn flakes, chick peas, quinoa and porridge oats)

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Time to dig in! Boo went straight for the chick pea pig sty. She had a good feel then took the opportunity to show off her pincer grip skills, picking up individual chick peas and dropping them through the cone over and over. For a few months now Boo has been interested in posting items and she is displaying many of the behaviours associated with the trajectory schema. Whenever she gets a chance she’s climbing, as high as she can go. She loves tipping water out of her sippy cup and is fascinated by the cups with holes we have in the bath.

As she moved round the box she discovered the quinoa hiding in the short tube. We’ve never had this in any of our sensory boxes before (I’ve only just discovered it myself in a culinary sense!). As you can imagine, her first instinct to explore this new found texture was to put it in her mouth. She wasn’t impressed and was quite happy to spit it out when asked. Scraping it off her tongue got her fingers all wet, making the quinoa stick. She decided to sprinkle some into the little mud pit on the farm, it made a lovely, quiet tinkling sound as it dropped. She repeated this several times and kept revisiting it throughout her play.

Her next stop was around the box to the porridge oat chicken coop. She continued sprinkling with the oats on top of the bricks, in turn picking these up and tipping it all off, back into the coop and into the quad bike. After around 20 minutes of play she finally climbed in (my money was on 2 minutes) and continued to pick up, post, drop and sprinkle the various bits around the tub.

The activity kept Boo busy for a good 30 minutes. I’m fairly certain she would have revisited it throughout the day given the chance and maybe I’d have been picking chickpeas up for the next week, but I cleared it away as we were out for the afternoon. As you can see, there wasn’t too much mess. When she’d finished she was ready to share the farm stories I’d got out just in time for nap.

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In this activity Boo practiced and developed her fine motor skills, particularly her pincer grip. Rehearsing fine motor skills in a variety of tasks helps children strengthen muscles that are needed to work other tools as they grow such as pencils, scissors and cutlery. She explored different textures (and tastes) and cause and effect ‘What happens if I drop the oats in here?’.

Next time we come to this type of activity I think I would take away the animals and add more containers, scoops and sieves so Boo can further explore cause and effect and trajectory processes.

If you’ve had a go at a sensory farm I’d love to see your pictures and hear what your little people made of them.

Lots of love Cat and Boo xx

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My first ever blog post…

Hello from Squidge and Boo!

These are the nicknames of my two delightful daughters. Squidge is the 3 year old, affectionate, imaginative big sister. Boo is the 18 month old, adventurous, happy go lucky little sister. Together they are my world, and I’d like to share a little bit of that with you.

Me? Well I’ve just stepped away from a 10 year teaching career to focus on my own two little people for a while. Play is my passion, it’s what I know and I believe t’s how children learn best. We spend the majority of our days in our Playroom or out in the garden (which we are currently renovating to make it more child friendly).

My aim for this blog is to share some of the activities we get up to. Many of them I have tried before in my teaching role, but I’d say the majority come from Pinterest…Ahh Pinterest, a wondrous place for inspiration and a black hole of time.

Cat x