Home made Light box activity – “Can’t you sleep Little Bear?” or other scared of the dark book

can'tyousleepThis isn’t really the right season for a light box activity, as you need it to be pretty dark. However, Jumbles is off preschool with a sick bug for the 3rd day running, and today it’s raining, so with the curtains shut we were able to get it dark enough to use the light box effectively, and I needed something that would keep him busy, as he doesn’t feel ill at all, so is just going a bit stir crazy. The book we used was “Can’t you sleep, Little Bear” which is a nice book about being afraid of the dark. However, you could use any book on the same subject, for example “The Owl who was afraid of the dark” (for older children really, though we do listen to an audiobook of it at bedtime) or no book at all if you just want to do the activity, to be honest, this is one of those where I wanted to do the acitivity anyway and then just looked for a book to link it to. We do have another book on the subject: “I want my light on” one of the “Little Princess” books. However, sadly that book has actually made Jumbles afraid of the dark and worried that ghosts are in his room! Step 1 – Make a lightbox, or buy one, but they are very expensive:lightbox I adapted these instructions from: The Imagination Tree. – Get a plastic box with a clear flat lid, ideally one with a slight lip on the edge to stop things sliding off. I used a “Really Useful” box which I had already, these are quite expensive unfortunately. – Stick greaseproof paper to the underside of the lid (this avoided me having to piece together sheets of tracing paper). – Line the sides with foil, to direct all of the light up and out of the top. – Inside the box place a set of christmas lights, you want white ones which are continually on, happily, these are generally the really cheap ones you can buy. I found that the cable was thin enough that it fitted out under the lid, without needing to drill any holes. Making the box hardly took any time at all, and I was fortunate enough to have everything I needed in the house already. I made it about a year ago (hence the slightly battered state of the foil inside, I store all of our “light play toys” in it (we have a few, light up windmills, an old “UFO” from my student days,  flashing wristbands etc) plus our emergency blanket and some sparkly material.lightbox 002 You can see, when I set up the lightbox, I always end up having to put the UFO out too, as Jumbles sees it and asks for it. Step 2 – Visit Poundland or similar Last week I was in there and spotted a set of plastic shotglasses in different colours and a set of coloured resuable “icecubes” – little cubes of soft plastic, filled with liquid, you stick them in the freezer and use in place of ice cubes in drinks. I knew these would be great for the lightbox. I wish I’d bought more cubes though. Hopefully they’ll still be in there if I go back, though I’ve noticed people selling them on ebay for £2. Basically collect things which are transparent coloured plastic. e.g. counters, magnetic letters etc. lightbox 017I kept it simple, giving them just the shot glasses and cubes, they spent nearly an hour, making towers, creating patterns, putting cubes in shot glasses etc. I did add our magnetic letters after a bit and a few pieces of coloured cellophane, but they just got in the way and weren’t being used, so I took them away again. Challenge for adults How big a cup pyramid can you make before your toddler knocks it down? I couldn’t get past the second storey. Though I did manage to make all of the cubes into a pyramid. There is something about building on the lightbox which is quite fun for kids and adults. I was also making Tetris patterns with the cubes. External links: Pictoral instructions for making Light box Buy “Can’t you sleep little Bear?” Borrow “Can’t you sleep little Bear?”

God knows all about me by Kate Toms

image

This rhyming text is a great read aloud book for preschoolers. I did this for the under 5s at church after being very disorganised and realising an hour before I had to leave for church that it was me on the rota. Thankfully, I remembered this book and realised it was an activity in itself and I could easily come up with other linked ideas. The book talks about how God knows every part of us in every situation.

Read the book as an action rhyme, pointing at the correct body parts as they come up, jumping, spinning or pretending it’s raining etc, for snow we pretended to throw a snowball.

20150419_201533We then played with salt dough, letting the kids make what they wanted for a while, keeping a very close eye on the children, as the salt levels are dangerously high, in theory it should taste foul and your child should spit it out, but children are odd things, so you can never be sure. Anyway, after they’d played enough I rolled it out thin and made handprints in a heart shape to remind them that God loves them. My apologies for the terrible photo quality. I’ll try to replace it when I’ve found the camera.

Salt dough recipe:

2 parts flour
1 part salt
1 part cold water
Mix dry materials, add water in small amounts, mixing after each addition. Do not let the mixture get soggy, stop when it’s clumping. You probably won’t need all of the water. Start kneading it into a dough. Thankfully this is ridiculously quick recipe, handy if you’ve forgotten to prepare a craft like me.

I find very thin salt dough creations are the best as thick ones never seem to dry out in the middle. To dry them bake in the oven on as low a temperature as possible for 3 or 4 hours, or you can air dry them for several days. If you cook on too high a temperature they will bubble up. Some people have success in the microwave, but I never have, if you do try microwaving, do it in very short bursts.

If you’re not keen on salt dough, a great alternative, which I would have done today, had I not run out of bicarb, is white clay. Check The Imagination Tree, for the recipe.

External links:
 Borrow “God knows all about me” from your local library
Buy “God knows all about me”

“Oliver’s Fruit Salad” by Vivian French & Alison Bartlett (or use any fruit book, e.g. Handa’s surprise or very Hungry Caterpillar)

oliverThis is a less well known book, I’ve picked it as Jumbles really likes it, and it makes a great springboard for fruit activities. However, if you can’t get a copy, really any book about fruit could be substituted. The most obvious would be The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but I wanted some variety.

Begin by reading the story, the book is a story about a boy who keeps telling his Mum about the fruit he picked in his Grandpa’s garden when he stayed there, and how Grandpa didn’t have tinned  or packet fruit. Oliver is a picky eater, but in the end eats fruit salad. I’m not going to say this book will help your picky eaters, but it’s a helpful springboard for playing with fruit.

After reading the story, head to a somewhere that you can buy fruit. Allow your children to choose some fruit to buy.

Activity 1: fruit printing – much like potato printing, but more edible

wildthingsandoliver 045Mix up some paint. We used homemade edible paint, mainly because I figured that Bean would eat the fruit whether it had paint on or not. There are a variety of edible paint recipes. Unfortunately, my favourite involves Kool Aid, which you can’t get in this country (or  if you can it’d be crazily overpriced). Fortunately for me, my parents live in The US, so when they visit I get them to bring sachets over. If you have Kool aid or similar, then mix it with water and flour until you have a thick, vibrant paint. The reason I love this paint is it takes seconds to mix and smells and looks great, plus it is of course totally edible.

If you don’t have kool aid, simply mix flour and water with food colouring (gel colours are best for vibrant tones).

This craft is really process art, that means it’s about the process, or activity itself, not about creating a finished product to keep. These paints have no preservatives in, so I don’t know how long they would last, so wouldn’t recommend if you are planning to keep the art for months.

Cut up the harder fruits (apple, pear, pineapple) into large pieces, suitable for your childwildthingsandoliver 046 to grasp.

Depending on the age of your children, they may be able to help cut some of the fruit. Jumbles (3) cut the apples using an apple slicer. Sometimes when printing, my more artistic husband will carve intricate designs into the ends of the potatoes, carrots etc for them to print with, but today we were happy just using the whole fruits.

I tried to demonstrate how you could make flowers by using the apple slice to print petals. However, smooshing down the top of the pineapple proved to be the most popular with both children, closely followed by swirling the paint around using the fruit.

wildthingsandoliver 067Whilst they were busy painting, Daddy cut up the rest of the fruit ready for the fruit salad, ensuring that he let Jumbles slice the banana and put all of the bits into the big bowl. Then let them help dish it up and enjoy, add yoghurt if you wish. I must admit, both of mine love fruit, so I can’t comment on whether doing this will improve fruit eating levels.

External Links:
Borrow “Oliver’s Fruit Salad” from your local Library
Buy “Oliver’s Fruit Salad”

The very first Easter (part 2)

firsteasterSorry for the delay in posting, we’ve had tonsillitis, flu and a sick bug in the last 2 weeks, plus we’re trying to sell the house, so we’re trying to declutter (something I find very hard as junk is so useful) so I’ve been falling back on just dragging out the Easter sensory boxes and cloud dough, instead of making up new activities. Though we did make racing cars out of cardboard boxes, but it wasn’t really bloggable. Anyway, moving on, I wanted to do something else Eastery, but focusing more on the story this time. I don’t actually have this book pictured, so for mine I read selected bits out of “The Beginner’s Bible” again, but I found this version of just the Easter Story, so I thought for people who don’t have The Beginner’s Bible, and want to pick up a copy of the Easter story this seems great, and only 99p. I have read reviews of it, people seem to like it and I am assuming it would contain all of the relevant bits of the Easter story.

Today’s activity is story sequencing. If you want to do this activity and it’s not around Easter, you can use any story with an obvious sequence. Bible stories or traditional tales work well, e.g. Daniel and The Lion’s den, Jonah, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella. You just need to be sure that the elements in the story really only make sense in one order. For example I wouldn’t do this for a story such as “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” as there’s not really any reason for the ordering of grass, mud, water, the idea of the activity is for them to work on following the logical progression. Or in the case of Bible stories, to be learning what happened.

Preparation:

Draw pictures for each of the key points of the story, depending on the age/ability of your children, include some or all of the following (I did 7), I cannot draw, but your kids won’t mind. Just do your best. You will need several copies of each picture, so either photocopy, or redraw them:eastermaze 003

Donkey
Palm leaves
Bread and wine (Last supper)
Garden or Jesus praying (I just drew flowers)
Soldiers
Leaders condemning Jesus
Cross
Empty Tomb
Jesus with his friends (or with holes in his hands)
Jesus ascending to heaven.

eastermaze 011Set up a maze, this will take a long time, I did it the night before while the kids were sleeping, otherwise make sure they’re at preschool, napping etc. I used megablocks as I thought it would make it more fun, brightly coloured and more engaging. The big drawback of it is that it’s easily knocked apart, if you have more bricks you could make it a bit stronger. A more robust way to build a maze would be using masking tape, I’ll try this another time to see if they enjoy it as much.

At each decision point in the maze put a picture, the correct one leading you towards the centre of the maze (where I put chocolate rabbits), the incorrect one taking you the wrong way.

Ensure that you have a full set of the pictures left over (i.e. not in the maze) for retelling the story.

As usual, read the story first. If you’re using the full bible, skip the bits that aren’t relevant to the Easter story. As you are telling the story, show the pictures that you have drawn, to ensure that they understand what each of your pictures represents.eastermaze 012

Take them to the maze, explain that they have to find their way to the chocolate by retelling the story. I gave the option of Jumbles  walking through, or pushing a car through, he chose to walk, if doing with masking tape I’d probably encourage him to drive a car round the maze. This activity was beyond Bean, she got a bit cross when we tried to lead her through the maze, but Jumbles loved it and redid it 6 more times (hiding different things at the end of the maze so that he could find them again) before deciding to destroy the maze, given his love of destroying block constructions, I was amazed it lasted as long as it did. I found that the first couple of times through, he went wrong a few times and was confusing events. However, by the 3rd time he was accurately retelling the story, using the pictures as memory cues.

External Links:

Buy “The Very First Easter”