Guess How Much I Love You in the Spring by Sam McBratney

‘Guess How Much I Love You’ has to be one of the sweetest books you’ll ever read to your child. I’d decided long before the girls arrived that it would be a favourite bedtime story and I wasn’t wrong. Along with the classic original, Sam McBratney has written this seasonal series which continues the tales of Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare.

The ‘In the Spring’ book is a perfect introduction into this wonderful season as Big Nutbrown and Little Nutbrown spot plants, caterpillars, tadpoles and birds eggs. Big Nutbrown gently intiates conversation about each living thing they come across. Little Nutbrown, as inquisitive as ever, wants to know more.

Guess How Much I Love You in the Spring Inside Pages. Book review and Spring Activity.

Squidge says: “It’s about bunnies and tadpoles that turn into frogs!”

Suitability: Ages 2 – 5 years

Length:  5 minutes

Related topics: Seasons, changes, growing, love and relationships

Published by Walker Books

ISBN 978 1 4063 0452 7

Spring Activity

There are so many activities that could be inspired by this book and the season of Spring. Squidge, Boo and I have already been out in the garden planting our Spring bulbs after they’d sprouted in the shed! Today we went on a walk to spot some of the flowers already growing. Squidge spotted Snowdrops and Crocuses, but we couldn’t see any Daffodils blooming yet.

For our follow up activity, we dug out our transient art tree. If you’re an avid reader you’ll remember the tree from our Noticing the changes in Autumn post. It’s been safely stashed away ready to be used in each new season. We used pink and pale green buttons to symbolise the new leaves and blossom. The tree itself is drawn with felt tip onto the back of a place mat, a paper version would work just as well though. Both girls enjoyed this activity, Boo enjoyed it so much I couldn’t get a picture without her little hands coming back into the frame!

I suggested in the Autumn that you could try using different media to complete your tree if you were worried about buttons going into mouths. This time round we also tried ribbon, knotted for a better effect, and felt leaves. I think it looks just as pretty!

 

This activity is great for working that pincer grip, perfect when working towards writing with a good pencil hold.

What activities have you got planned this Spring? and which are your favourite Spring themed books?

Happy reading!

Love Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

(This is not a sponsored post)

If you enjoyed this review and activity you might like My First Book of Dinosaurs 

Squidge flipping her pancake in the Pancake Cafe Role Play

Pancake Cafe Role Play

With Pancake Day just around the corner and Pancakes being one of our favourite treats at any time of year, a Pancake Cafe was an easy option to introduce some role play into Squidge & Boo’s kitchen. Role play is something children develop quite naturally in their play. During pretend play you’ll hear them imitate what they see around them at home or on television. They can mimic actions, mannerisms, voices with intonation and phrases with near perfect accuracy. Sometimes with hilarious results!

There are a couple of key ways you can help your child to develop language through role play at home. The first is to play with them. Involving your child in a two-way conversation where you are both in role is very powerful. By being in role they have the freedom to try words and phrases they wouldn’t usually use. They can be whoever they want to be and often show more confidence than they would in real life situations. Involving yourself in their play, giving them responses, developing scenarios through interaction, encourages their thinking. They also have opportunities to empathise with different characters.  Another way to enhance role play and the language opportunities they create is to add props to create specific scenes and settings.

We have had a play kitchen since Squidge’s first birthday, Knowing the value in imitation play for a long time it was on my must-have toys list early on. Our original little kitchen was moved out to the Wendy House during it’s summer makeover. Luckily, Santa brought us our new kitchen and lots of wooden accessories this Christmas. Our play kitchen seems to get played with in bursts, it’s either in constant use or gathering dust. As it’s lustre seemed to have lulled a little now it’s no longer new, I decided that adding some extra bits was a good way to entice the girls back to it.

Pancake Cafe Role Play set up and ready to play.For our Pancake Cafe I added:

  • Empty kinder eggs – they are fantastic when pretending to crack them open.
  • Milk – Water and white paint mix in an old vanilla essence bottle (glued shut!)
  • Bluberries and Strawberries – simple shapes cut from felt
  • Sprinkles – fancy paper straws, cut into small pieces all in an empty oil bottle
  • Pancakes and syrup – also cut from felt, inside an empty tea bag box
  • Squidge’s apron & hat
  • A sign ‘Squidge & Boo’s Pancake Cafe’
  • A menu – one on the window and a paper one on the table. The menu included really simple prices so Squidge could ask for the right amount.

 

As soon as I started putting together the bits and pieces Squidge was excited and wanted to play. I like to make the bits while she’s there to see, as that way she can see the effort that’s been put in so she’s more likely to look after it. She also gets to see how simple it can be to make your own things to pretend with.

Once everything was in place, Squidge decided she would be a customer first and I could be the chef. I donned the hat (as best as I could, it isn’t very big!), took her order and like any good waitress, I up sold the drinks. I modelled how to use all the things I’d added to her kitchen, cracking the kinder eggs, pouring in milk and flour before twirling the whisk. I fried the felt pancakes and topped them with her choices. I brought her and Boo fresh tea and then served their delicious fake pancakes.

Squidge and Boo enjoying their pancakes in the Pancake Cafe Role Play

Squidge was certainly on board with the whole charade and tipped the contents of her plate down her jumper – into her tummy of course! I had already totted up her bill and charged her appropriately, or not, as the prices are a little extortionate with everything increasing by £1 for simplicity!

Once the plates were cleared Squidge couldn’t wait to get started as the chef. She took mine and Boo’s orders and set to work in the kitchen. She cooked up a storm and narrated her actions as she did so. I love watching this type of play unfold. I caught a few bits on film and put them on my Insta stories. She really was entertaining. ‘Oh no, why won’t my eggs crack?!’, ‘Do you want strawberries and blueberries too, it’ll be super yummy’.

Squidge showing off her pancake and toppings in the Pancake Cafe Role Play
Showing off her ‘Super yummy’ creation!

When asking how much things were from the menu, Squidge was carefully looking down the list to try give me the right price. We added simple pictures so she could find the right items herself.

Having words on objects wherever possible is a great way to introduce and encourage early ‘reading’. By that I mean, Squidge can see that the object is milk, therefore she knows the word on the side says ‘Milk’. She can play at reading this word, but it’s also going to become more recognisable as she sees it more often. Soon she’ll spot the same word on an actual milk bottle, then in the supermarket. She may also pick out the initial letter and sound and transfer this to other things. We’ve been playing with initial sounds a lot lately – but that could be a whole post in itself.

Squidge loved this game and insisted Daddy play with her when he got home from work. He happily obliged, parking himself on the tiny chair and pouring himself a pretend tea while she put sprinkles on his pancake. A memory I’ll certainly treasure. We’ve played again today after having real pancakes for breakfast. I’m certain we’ll keep up the momentum for a few more days. I may add a notepad next so Squidge can write down her orders.

We did do a little bit of addition together to add up prices. This and the writing are certainly ways you can develop this play for slightly older children. Another idea you could try would be to write recipes for the chef to follow, including the steps to make the pancakes and specific numbers for the toppings. This would lead nicely into following real recipes and creating their own versions.

What types of role play do your children enjoy? Have you got into character with them? How did it go, I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading, love Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

If you liked this post you might also enjoy Squidge and Boo’s self-chosen investigation ‘You gotta roll with it’

 

My first book of dinosaurs front cover

My First Book of Dinosaurs by Mike Unwin

This book is on loan from the local library, we go on a fairly regular basis. Our library does a free weekly craft session that we’ve attended a few times and enjoyed. If you have a local library and you haven’t been with your littles yet, I must insist you go!

We decided to borrow this book as Squidge and I didn’t really know many of the names for our collection of dinosaurs. We knew the more obvious ones like Tyrannosaurus Rex and Diplodocus but after that we were struggling. Rather than searching the glorious internet I thought we had the perfect opportunity for some good old fashioned style research.

There were a few dinosaur books to choose from, but this one seemed to be the best choice for us as it has a really simple layout, with just enough information for Squidge to digest and a really handy phonetic spelling of each dinosaur name for me.

The illustrations prompted Squidge to go get her dinosaurs from the shelf to match up to some of the ones in the book. After we’d read it, I could see she’d retained some of what she’d found out while watching her play, she kept using the T-Rex to eat all the small her small dinosaurs!

I think we’ll definitely borrow some more dinosaur books on our next library visit to see what else we can find out.

Squidge says: “It’s good, it tells me about Dinosaurs”.

Suitability: Ages 3-10 years

Length: 10 minutes

Related topics: History, Animals, Living things, Food chains

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

ISBN 978 1 4729 0545 1

 

 

Dinosaur Activity

In the introduction to the book the author explains that Scientists know what dinosaurs looked like from looking at fossils. As Squidge has never heard of or seen a fossil before I thought a good activity would be to make some of our own.

To make our Dinosaur Fossils we used salt dough, which is really simple to make. All you need is one cup of flour, half a cup of salt and splashes of water until it forms a dough (just over half a cup). We rolled out the dough and cut circles ready to imprint with our dinosaurs. Once we had a tray full we baked them in the oven on the lowest setting for around an hour, turning them half way through. Both Squidge and Boo enjoyed this activity. As a follow on, I plan to bury them outside in the sandpit, then we can go searching for them with paintbrushes like real Archaeologists!

Before reading this book we’ve played Dinosaur Land many, many times and the photos have featured on our Instagram page. If you’re not following us there yet, I’ve included a photo here. You can have a peep at our Instagram feed in the sidebar and find us at @squidgeandboo.

Squidge playing dinosaur land

It’s really simple to set up as a small world activity. We used storage tubs stacked up and covered over with material for our mountains, shiny material for a lake and the rocks and trees that came in our tub of dinosaurs. Our Ikea rug already looks like grass which is very handy for lots of different types of play. Small world play is always a sure fire way to promote lots of language.

Happy reading!

Love Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

(This is not a sponsored post)

Squidge making her second playdough love bug

Love Bugs – A playdough invitation to play

As it’s the last post in our Valentine’s series this year, I thought we’d go for a playdough activity. Playdough is always a favourite in our house. Though we occasionally have the official stuff, I usually make our own playdough as its really simple and cheap to do so. You can make a large batch and add any colours/smells/sensory bits that suit your planned activity. I’ve added a simple no bake playdough recipe to the bottom of this post.

As it’s approaching Valentine’s I decided we’d go for some pink and purple playdough to make our Love Bugs. We usually use Morrison’s liquid food colours to colour our playdough. They are only £1 each andMorrisons gel food colours in pink and purple a bottle will usually last us 2/3 lots of playdough. (I also like to throw it in the bath occasionally for a bit of extra fun! Except the red one, that turns the water a murky brown – ick). The liquid colouring seems to have had an upgrade lately and I’ve been really impressed, it certainly goes further. However, they don’t tend to have a large range of colours available, so this time I decided to give their gel colours a go instead. They are also only £1 and they had more exciting colours on offer. For each batch of playdough we squirted in an entire tube of colour. I was really impressed with the pink, but the purple is a little bland. So I think I’ll stick to the liquid in future.

With our two colours of playdough ready to roll I put Pink and purple balls of playdough and craft pieces to make love bugstogether a tray of bits and pieces to help create some exciting little Love Bugs. I included buttons which Squidge helped me sort into red, pink and purple. We had foam wing shapes, two kinds of straws and some of the pieces from Mr & Mrs Potato Head. We’re fresh out of googly eyes or they’d have featured!

Squidge got stuck straight into the playdough, squeezing and rolling it, but watched carefully as I made my first Love Bug. Once she’d seen me make one she decided she was going to make herself a spider.

Squidge was really good at counting out how many legs she needed for her spider. We talked about how many would need to go on each side and she shared them out carefully on the table before pushing them into her ball of playdough. She initially chose some red button eyes, but then asked if she could swap for the Mrs Potato eyes that I’d used. She was very proud of her girl spider and decided to make a boy one to match!

In the meantime, Boo was happy exploring by twisting off chucks of her playdough until she had a large pile on the table. She kept leaving to play with other toys, but would return intermittently to explore something else. Her next mission was to empty all the buttons out of the tray, she enjoyed the noise they made as they bounced onto the table. Later she came back and took her time carefully putting straws into the top of her playdough, like birthday candles. All these activities worked her little fingers, so though it wasn’t planned, it was still very valuable fine motor work and exploratory play.

Squidge made her second spider much like her first, adding Mr Potato features, pulling them out to readjust them to the right position. She added eight legs, four to each side like before. Once she’d finished she made them talk to one another, the conversation was highly entertaining and resulted in both spiders being squished. Ouch!

I’d been busy making a playdough caterpillar, attempting to show Squidge how to use antenna, before Boo came and de-legged my poor creature. She did give him a new smile though so it wasn’t all bad.

Boo giving the playdough caterpillar a new button smileThis activity kept the girls busy for around 30 minutes and has been brought back out this morning to keep them entertained as I write this… Boo has tipped the entire contents of the tray on the floor though, so closer supervision needed if you’d like it to be a tidy activity! 😉 I can always turn it into a sorting activity.

Playdough Recipe

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar (we don’t always have this in, you can use vinegar as alternative, but I prefer to just leave it out. It just means your playdough won’t last as long).
  • Food colour – optional
  • Glitter – optional

(Cup here = 1 child sized mug almost full!)

  1. Add the flour, salt & cream of tartar to a bowl & mix.
  2. Add the oil, mix.
  3. Add your colouring to the cup of warm water.
  4. Add the coloured water to your bowl gradually, you don’t always need the full cup.
  5. Once it’s formed a dough, take it out of the bowl and knead it well.
  6. If your dough is sticky add more flour/salt – I go for 1 spoon of salt to 3 spoons of flour.

If you keep your playdough in an airtight container it will last a couple of weeks. For the activity above I made two full batches.

Lots of Valentine’s love,

Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

We hope you’ve enjoyed our Valentine’s activities. If you’ve missed any the links are just here…

Valentine’s water resist painting

Valentine’s Sensory Tub

Valentine’s Biscuits 

*This is not a sponsored post* 

 

Front cover of Stick Man by Julia Donaldson

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson

Julia Donaldson is my all time favourite children’s author. Her books never fail to entertain. I’d already built up quite a collection, throughout my teaching before Squidge arrived. Be warned, this fabulous author will keep popping up on the Squidge and Boo Bookshelf!

Stick Man was one of the books we bought for the girls this Christmas, which turned out to be good timing as the animated version (which they both love) was released. We got a copy with an Audio CD. The CD features the story read by Imelda Staunton, an action game, The Stick Man song & an instrumental version, plus a read-along version of the story.

The story goes that Stick Man gets picked up and used by various characters, taking him further and further away from the family tree and his beloved Stick family. It includes a repeated refrain as Stick Man tries to explain he’s not just a stick. This gives children a great opportunity to join in the retelling of the story. It’s a good hook if you choose to recreate the story through role play too.

Donaldson’s rhythm and rhyme throughout the story keep it upbeat and lively (even when poor Stick Man is in dire straights laid on top of a fire grate!). Her way with words combined with Axel Sheffler’s beautiful cartoon like drawings make the story one that Squidge reaches for time and again.

Stick Man inside pages

Squidge says: “I like the bit with the Swan. It’s exciting”.

Suitability: Ages 4 – 8 years

Length: 10 minutes

Related topics: Being lost, family, nature, imagination, Christmas

Published by Alison Green Books

ISBN 978 1 407117 29 4

 

Stick Man Activity

Now I can’t really claim credit for this one as it was a self-chosen activity from Squidge. We had the paints out and she decided she wanted to paint the stick man. We’d already begun a collaborative painting (inspired by one of the awesome Instagrammers – I really need to start taking notes on names of where I get these ideas!). I’d shown Squidge how to do a wash for the background of her picture. She painted the grass while I did the sky.

This is when she decided her picture was going to be of the Stick Man. We had a look in the book and she chose to paint the family tree. We continued to work together, Squidge giving directions on which parts I should paint and completing the bits she wanted to do herself. Squidge painting her Stick Man picture

This way of creating a picture was really good, both Squidge and I enjoyed it. It naturally encouraged a lot of language use. It also meant that Squidge ended up with a picture similar to the one she had planned out in her head, avoiding any frustration with bits she ‘couldn’t’ do. It’s definitely something we’ll do again in future. I hope it will help her build confidence in her art skills.

Another activity you might like to try is going on a Stick Man hunt. We’ve searched several times on our walks for a near perfectly shaped stick, but we’re yet to find one. When we have come home without one, Squidge is happy that he must be hiding safely in the family tree.

There’s also a nod to Pooh sticks in the book – this one be another good one to try!

What’s your favourite Julia Donaldson story?

Love Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

(This is not a sponsored post)

Have you read our review of ‘Penguin’ by Polly Dunbar?

Valentine’s Biscuits

Now I’ll be the first to admit I’m no baker! My Mum, she’s got the gift, she can throw anything into a bowl and as if by magic a tall, delicious sponge cake appears, elegantly decorated with fruit and the lightest dusting of icing sugar. Turns out this is not a hereditary trait or if it is, it passed me by.

The first time I ever enjoyed baking (after many failed attempts) was working in school. My friend and colleague in Reception at the time, put me on the rota to bake. I protested explaining of my curse and inability to make even the simplest of cakes, she was having none of it. She put it in simple terms, it’s not about what comes out of the oven, it’s about the process, all the maths, following instructions, motor skills – the baked goods at the end are just an added bonus. Plus who is going to complain if the kids have made it?!

Well, she was right. When I stopped worrying about what it would turn out like I, along with the Reception children enjoyed the process. What we came out with also ended up being edible, win win!

With this in mind, Squidge and I bake fairly regularly at home. Not quite once a week, but pretty close. We stick to simple biscuits and fairy cakes mostly. Her favourite thing we’ve ever made has been gingerbread men, and one of her favourite things to eat is Strawberry jam. This sparked my Valentine’s Biscuit idea.

We adapted a simple recipe, I’ll add ours to the bottom of this post. As this was my own grand plan, there was some learning to be done about the best method along the way.

When we had cut out our biscuit people, we tried cutting the love heart out of the middle and then transferring them to the tray, but they were far too flimsy and ended up being a funny shape or getting broken. Instead we tried cutting out the biscuit people, transferring them to the tray then cutting out the heart shapes. This worked much better – though they still weren’t perfect. If you were doing this alone as an adult you could keep cooling your dough. However with children, once they’re stuck in, their warm little fingers aren’t going to want to wait.

We baked our Valentines people in batches and paired up the tops and bottoms that were closest in shape – the last couple were way off and sadly missed out on the photo opportunity – but were just as tasty.

Squidge spread the strawberry jam carefully on the bottom halves and sandwiched them together. Once we were finished both her and Boo couldn’t wait to dig in. Admittedly these biscuits were HUGE, with them paired up and stacked, they would equate to a meal on their own! But, just look how pretty they are. They would make a lovely gift for Grandparents (if you don’t eat them all yourselves!).

Our Valentine’s Buscuit recipe…

Ingredients

  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 350g caster sugar (plus some for decorating)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 400g plain flour (plus some for dusting and rolling)
  • Strawberry jam to fill

Method

  1. Cream butter and sugar together in a bowl.
  2. Add the two eggs and cinnamon and beat together.
  3. Add the flour in small doses, mixing thoroughly.
  4. Once mixed put the dough into the fridge to cool and stiffen for 15 minutes.
  5. Cut out biscuit person, add to baking sheet on the tray.
  6. Cut out a heart shape from the centre of half of your biscuits (the tops).
  7. Return to the fridge to cool and stiffen for another 10-15 minutes.
  8. Pre-heat oven 180*C (Ours is a fan).
  9. Cook the biscuits for around 12 minutes – sprinkling them with caster sugar about half way in (so it doesn’t brown, but still sticks).
  10. Once cooled, spread strawberry jam on bottom biscuit people and place tops on top.

This recipe made us 6 complete biscuits (6 tops and 6 bottoms with our largest gingerbread man cutter), plus some small heart shaped biscuits out of the leftovers.

Are you making any treats this Valentine’s or do you have any recipes we can try? Please share in the comments below.

Lots of love (and a bit extra as it’s Valentine’s),

Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

Another Valentine’s themed activity you might like is our Sensory Tub.

Penguin by Polly Dunbar

Hello and welcome to the first in my new series for ‘The Bookshelf’. It will be filled with quick reviews and a simple follow up activity you might like to try with your little people. Hope you enjoy!

A personal favourite of mine, whigh has spent some time on the ‘every night’ list for Squidge and Daddy likes because it’s nice and short! Penguin is a brilliant book. It is all about a little boy, Ben, who tries everything to get his toy Penguin to talk to him. He gets more annoyed as his attempts fail until along comes a lion and gobbles him up for being too noisy. Penguin steps up and saves the day. There’s a nice opportunity to shout on one page – which can gaurantee a laugh from Squidge.

The illustrations in this book are simple and delightful. There’s enough within the picture to introduce talking points with your little one. How do you think Ben feels here? (pointing to his face) Why might he feel that way? 

I recommend this as a class story for anyone with a particularly shy or elective mute child in their class. It is a great way of indirectly talking about how someone will talk when they are ready to, no tricks or attempts to force them will work!

Squidge says: ‘It’s really, really funny when he does the dancing and this (raspberry blowing)”

Suitability: Ages 3-8 years

Length: 5-7 minutes

Related topics: Shyness, bravery, friendship, feelings

Published by Walker Books

ISBN 978 1 4063 1246 1

Happy reading!

Love Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

(This is not a sponsored post)

 

 

Penguin Activity

Aa a follow-up activity for Penguin we did a simple sticking activity. I pre-cut pieces to make up 3 penguins, each one a different size. Three bodies, three white bellies, three pairs of eyes and three beaks. Having three different sizes meant Squidge had to complete some simple size ordering. Using PVA glue and a paint brush meant we also got some fine motor in there.

I did set one up for Boo, but she wasn’t really interested – she’s still a bit little. Once Squidge had finished sticking her Penguins together, we got out some white paint and she used a finger to splot on lots of falling snow.

This activity took around 5-10 minutes to set up and 35 minutes for Squidge to complete (she was incredibly thorough with her gluing!).

I really like the lettering for the title of Penguin, another activity you could try  with this idea would be to collage the letters of their name with lots of different medias.

Have you read this one? Will you give our Penguin activity a try? Let us know in the comments below 🙂 C, S & B xxx

If you enjoyed this post check out this activity inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar 🙂

This post has been linked up with #KLTR, a great linky where you can find lots of other posts which encourage children to read

Laura's Lovely Blog

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

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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?

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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