Valentine’s Sensory Tub

Messy play is always lots of fun, though the thought of it may fill you with dread. I’d say the easiest place to start is dried foods as they’re really easy to clean up. For this ‘Valentines Messy Play’ we used plain rolled oats and some coloured rice, to create a contrast in colours and textures.

I’ve tried a couple of ways to colour rice and by far the most successful way for us has been to put white rice into a tub with a squirt of hand sanitizer (alcohol based – making this non-edible) and a reasonable sized glug of food colouring. Give it a shake, then leave out on greaseproof paper to dry. In a warm room it’ll only take a couple of hours to dry out. If you’re just using the coloured rice you’ll be able to store and re-use it over and over.

Before starting the activity Squidge and I shared a story that links well to our Valentines theme, ‘Pig in Love’ by Vivian French and Tim Archbold. The story tells the tale of a Pig who falls in love with the lovely Piggie. In the beginning, he brings her lots and lots of roses, she is smitten, but Pig must prove his love to her Father before he’s allowed her hand in marriage. Will they end up together?

When setting up the messy play tray I added two pigs and some small bunches of paper craft roses so that Squidge could reenact the story if she wanted.


Once the tray was out, Boo was the first in swishing the red rice with a mini whisk. She spotted the buttons and kept pulling them out to show me “Look”. Squidge took a little longer considering which of the utensils she wanted to use. She chose to scoop and pour with the spoon. I initiated a conversation with the pigs, Squidge humored me and joined in playing Piggie. However she clearly wanted to explore the materials.

 After scooping and pouring for a while, Squidge began to fill the boat. She patted down the oats for her ‘boat cake’ each time. Boo joined her play, filling the chimney of the boat. They worked together happily until Boo upturned the boat to empty it again. Squidge didn’t protest too much and just begun filling and patting again.

It’s funny listening to Squidge trying to instruct Boo on how to play, her voice goes up an octave which makes me wonder if she’s picked that up from me. I’m glad that she’s encouraging rather than telling off. We’re currently working hard on ‘sharing’. Squidge can find it difficult if Boo wants to join her mid game, particularly in role play as Boo isn’t quite at the level to talk and follow her lead yet.

Boo, as ever, was first to climb into the tub. She grabbed handfuls of rice and oats and sprinkled them back into the tray. A few stray bits landed on the floor, making a kind of tinkly sound, cue Boo dropping handfuls straight to the floor instead of in the tray! Squidge was next in the tray, copying Boo and dropping handfuls, but letting them land on her outstretched foot and hand. Eventually both girls were in the tray

This play lasted for a good 25 minutes. It was everywhere when they’d finished, but Squidge was on hand for clean-up duty, helping me to sweep. The tray, though now mixed, is still full ready for another days’ play.

What activities have you got planned in the lead up to Valentines? Do you fancy giving messy play a try?

Lots of love Cat, Squidge and Boo

Mini Post – Valentine’s Water Resist Pictures

It’s still only January, but in true blogger spirit I’m thinking ahead to Valentine’s. Watercolour resist pictures can be used on any occasion really and my girls love an excuse to get the paints out. This activity is such a simple one but it’s always a hit.

What you’ll need:

  • Paint (We used watered down poster paint 1:2 parts approx)
  • Paper (We used the newspaper print type, to soak up the water)
  • A white wax crayon
  • Aprons
  • A trusty bucket of soapy water & towel

As this is the first time Squidge and Boo have tried this one, I added all the wax crayon doodles to the paper before they started. I wrote simple messages and love hearts  sticking to the Valentine theme.

Both girls got stuck straight in. Squidge managed to spot the white crayon marks glisten on her paper as she was next to the window – “Ou look Mummy, I can see letters”.

They both had completely different approaches to the activity, which is more indicative of the difference in their age than their personality. Boo splodged the paint on thick and fast, circling the middle of her paper until it had all but disintegrated. I gently encouraged her to fill the edges, but she wasn’t too fussed. Squidge was very careful and precise, filling the entire paper all the way to the edges. She was slow and steady. As ever with our messy sessions, Boo stuck around for 10-12 minutes, completing 5 pictures in total. Squidge spent a good 20 minutes (possibly a little longer) completing her 3 pictures. She was happy to wash up the mess afterwards too. 

The next time we do this activity I’ll be encouraging Squidge to do the white crayon drawings and letters. We’ll likely start with writing her name and drawing simple shapes. I’ll let her experiment with what works well so she can modify it as she explores.

This is a great activity for reluctant writers – ‘Secret messages’ are much more inviting to write than regular writing.

A little tip for this one – make sure you’re colours are watered down well, if your paint is too thick or dark, the wax crayon won’t show through (Our red paint was a little too thick).

Have you tried this activity before? Will you try secret messages this Valentines?

Lots of love, Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

Please leave us a comment <3 x


Don the Elf

Ahh the elf, the marmite of Christmas traditions. This year was our first round of elf on the shelf and I can honestly say we loved it! Squidge’s reactions each morning made it more than worth that bit of extra thought (and desperate Pinterest searches) the night before.

Our elf arrived a little way into December and I think this may have been a blessing as I’m sure we’d have run out of ideas otherwise. He brought with him a letter that explained why he was here and the no touching rule. He also said he needed a name. I was a little apprehensive about letting Squidge loose with the naming as lately every time she makes up names in pretend play they’re completely random and always end in an ‘ee’ sound e.g. Songee. Once mid play “Mummy, I’ll be Foogee and you be Mingee ok?”, erm, maybe not Squidge. We struck lucky as she chose to call the elf Don, phew!

I had read a few posts and watched a few Instagram pages featuring the elf, so I had a few ideas ready to go. I tried to ensure that each place we put him was out of reach to start with until the girls got into the swing of it. I also set up a Pinterest board, which was put to good use when it came time for bed and I suddenly remembered, THE ELF!

Every single morning Squidge couldn’t wait to find Don. She searched carefully, room by room, ‘Don are you in here, you cheeky little elf?”. It was so much fun to be a part of, something I’ll never forget as her parent and something I hope she’ll always remember fondly. I love this age where they believe in everything wholeheartedly. I’m hoping the magic lasts a few more years, though I know the influence other school children can have. It only takes one non-believer to pop that magic bubble, no matter how much you try to keep the magic alive, doubt kills it slowly. I filmed a couple of Squidge’s reactions and added them to Instagram if you’d like to see.

I think one of my favourite elf antics was the drawing on photos – Squidge’s reaction was hilarious! She was delighted and then furious! How could he have drawn her trumping? And she DID NOT want to have a mustache. She made me remove all disliked doodles immediately. The ones she liked were permitted to stay. Poor Don got the cold shoulder for the rest of the day!

The knickers on the tree was a really quick one, perfect for that moment you’re laid in bed and you remember that you’ve forgotten, THE BLOODY ELF! The large jar was also a really good way of letting the girls carry him around with them without breaking any rules. Squidge requested we put him back in after the first day, so we used the kitchen tongs to get him back in there.

I think we did well to stick to the no touching rule and I copied a few others in letting them play with him on Christmas Eve – the excuse being that Santa collects him so he no longer needs his magic to get back to the North Pole. On his final visit he left the girls a stocking each. He also left a letter on Christmas morning. Squidge has requested he visit for her birthday – I’m not sure yet whether he might be too busy making toys with Santa but may send her a little gift?

Christmas Eve goodbye pressie for the girls

All in all, I’m really glad we joined in with all the elf fun. I’ll definitely re-use a few of the antics we had this year but I will have to do extra Pinterest searching and thinking ahead to come up with some new ones. A friend from my old work once got his elf to eat all the chocolate from the kids selection boxes – brilliant, but a little brutal at this age, maybe I’ll save that for a couple of years!

Did you do elf on the shelf this year? What are your favourite elf antics? Which ones got the best reactions?

Lots of love, Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

Confessions of a (no longer newbie) blogger

Okay, okay you were right. All of those posts I read about the majority of blogs only lasting all of five minutes…. It was almost me. I say almost because here I am, confessing to my absence and vowing to start again with renewed enthusiasm.

The first few weeks of blogging were brilliant, I was on a roll, I couldn’t write the posts fast enough. I didn’t mind having 50 photos of every activity we did clogging up my phone – it’s for the blog, I’ll sort through the ‘good ones’ later. I’d spend the majority of time looking through the pile and deciding this one or that one? Which one showcases this activity best? When all in all they were the same photo, with a slight angle change?!

Then the activities starting to pile up on my ‘To blog about’ mental list. Hubby would sigh, ‘Are you blogging AGAIN?’ – he doesn’t really get this while blogging thing. Every time a famous blogger (any genre) is mentioned on the TV/Radio I have to point out – SEE, they’re bloggers, people read their stuff! I think this only adds to his bewilderment.

The truth is, I love blogging. I genuinely do. Putting together near perfect pictures of the girls and writing about what we do and why gives it an extra dimension of meaning and value. Not that being a stay at/work from home mum needs any added dimensions, it’s a tough role – some days are awesome you rejoice that you don’t have to join the masses in the traffic on their way to work, you play all day, your children learn and master something new, you get out and about. Other days not so much, you’re all still in pjs come 11am and your praying no one drops in on a surprise visit and catches sight of your kitchen?!

I love when people have read one of my posts and takes the time to comment, or better still gives one of the activities a go. I’ve also loved reading a lot of other blogs via the linkys. I’ve made some virtual friends doing this, I’ve found it much easier than talking to real life mums out there.

Now I’ve read a lot of tips on how to make your blog successful, it takes a lot of time, effort and organisation. I’ve never been the most organised person – don’t let the teacher thing fool you, I envy those who can pull this off continually. Effort – I’m willing to put a bucket load of that in. Time – a grey area. Yes, I have the evenings once the girls are in bed for the night but some days you just want to do nothing. Having a schedule doesn’t really help me with this. Hmmm….

So here is my plan. I’m going to aim for just one post a week. ONE. If I get more done at least I’ll feel good about it. I will not take so many photos to scrutinise so closely. It’ll be more of a what you see is what you get. Each post will not have to be as long as my current posts – I think a quick mini post about something simple but effective will be just as valuable to you.

I feel better already!

Apologies to anyone who missed us in our absence (we’re always around on Instagram) and extra kudos to those Mummy and Daddy bloggers out there smashing it. It’s really not as easy as it looks!

Feel free to add your own blogging confessions below. Words of encouragement also welcomed 🙂

Much love,

Cat, Squidge & Boo