Monkey Puzzle (DIY scratch cards)

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This activity is so much fun and has so much scope for doing different things. Basically you’re making homemade scratch cards, so you can cover up whatever you want to.
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Monkey puzzle is a fun rhyming book about a butterfly helping a monkey looking for his Mum. She keeps taking him to the wrong animal based on his descriptions (e.g. when he says her tail coils round trees, she leads him to a snake). The end has him happily reunited with his Mum.

You need:

This sheet of characters from the book
Shire seal (aka contact paper/sticky backed plastic)
Liquid soap
Acrylic or poster paint

Directions:

Mix a small amount of liquid soap (washing up liquid or hand wash works) with about twice as much acrylic paint (according to US websites, tempera works too, but I tried with homemade tempera – egg yolk and food colouring- and it didn’t work, I think commercial Tempera might be the same as what we call poster paint).
Paint your mixture onto shire seal (aka contact paper aka sticky back plastic)
Allow to dry
Add more layers until it is totally opaque
Cut into small squares, each one just large enough to cover one of the characters.
Peel off the backing of each piece and stick one over each piece, paint side up.

Alternative method:

You could also stick the shire seal to the sheet first, then paint squares directly over the pictures.

Activity:
Give your child(ren) a coin and ask them to scratch the paint off one square at a time to see if they can find the monkey’s Mum. The set up is a lot more time consuming than the activity, but it was so much fun scratching off to see what they’d uncovered.dscn5003.jpg

The only point I’d make is that there’s a lot of set up, it took 3 or 4 layers to make it thick enough, and you have to be gentle or you can accidentally scrape the layers off when taking backing off.. So, set it up somewhere it can easily be added to through the day.

fb_img_1466886871250.jpgI’m not usually a fan of worksheets, but decided to try out some much more fun ones than normal for numeracy or literacy, with the answers covered up: I did a reading one, where the picture of the word is covered, alphabet, where initial letters are covered and counting one with the numbers covered, scratch to reveal if you’ve worked it out right or not.

Links

Buy monkey puzzle from Wordery (affiliate link)

monkey puzzle character sheet

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Oi Frog (Kes Gray & Jim Field)

oifrogThis book has captured our whole family’s hearts. It’s a very funny book, in which a cat tells a frog that he must sit on a log, because he’s a frog. He can’t sit on a chair as hares sit on chairs. The cat goes on to explain all of the different, ridiculous pairings of where animals sit. I realised how much everyone loved this book, a little too late; we returned our bag of library books just before Christmas, and neither child asked to renew any of them, then at bedtime, Bean excitedly asked for “Oi, Frog” and collapsed in tears when I said it was one that had gone back to the library. She’d obviously thought it was one of our own. We’ll have to buy a copy soon.

Anyway, the activity for this has evolved naturally, and been very much child led. We’ll be wandering around and suddenly one of us will shout “Oi frog, sit on a log” and we’ll all start calling out animals and things for them to sit on. Bean (2) doesn’t get the rhyming, but has memorised couplets from the book and throws these out. Jumbles (4) is getting good at coming up with his own rhyming pairs, and trying to catch us out with things that are very hard to rhyme.

So for today’s activity, simply read the book and play the verbal rhyming game. Or print out the cards I’ve made.

oi frog cards

There are 2 ways to use them…

1) Just use the animal cards, go on a family hunt sticking them on things around the house which they rhyme with
2) Play matching pairs with the cards, turn them all upside down and on your turn, turn 2 of them over. If they rhyme, you’ve won that pair. Note there are a few which have more than one matching possibility.

I added names to my set, with photo’s of the children, as Bean’s real name rhymes with something. Jumbles’s doesn’t, so I called him Jumbles (and rhymed with apple crumbles) if your child’s name rhymes, add it in.

 

Links

Buy “Oi Frog” from Wordery (affiliate link)

Borrow “Oi frog” from your local library

Ketchup on your cornflakes (Nick Sharratt)

ketchuponcornflakesWow, sorry that it’s been 3 months since I last blogged, no excuses, I just haven’t got round to it. Anyway, I thought after a long break I’d do a nice easy activity, based on one of our favourite books.

This book is a split page book, where you turn either the top half of the page, or the bottom half, to create different funny combinations. e.g.octnov2015 043

“Do you like ketchup on your apple pie?” “Do you like a duck on your head?”

The set up for this activity is simple, just select as many of the “ingredients” from the book as you are comfortable with, put them out in bowls, cups etc. Then give your children a container for mixing.

Read further down for the boring bit of what I actually put out, but now, here’s the more interesting discoveries:octnov2015 054

Do you like ketchup on your cornflakes?

Yes. Yes they do, very much apparently.

Do you like ice cubes and milk on your toast?

Yes, that too, soggy toast is apparently delicious.

Do you like jam on your chips?

Yes, again, this is a tasty choice.

Do you regularly turn your noses up at a lovely nutritious homecooked meal, only picking at bits of it, then when you got to mix random disgusting combinations together in a messy play tray, eat loads of them as if you had been starved?octnov2015 066

Yes, that is precisely what they did.

Naively, I believed that by doing this activity straight after dinner and pudding, they would not eat the foods. So ensure you use clean containers and only things you’re happy for them to eat. I’m so glad I didn’t let them have the salt or toothpaste, which I intentionally left out.

What I added:

Cornflakes
Ketchup
Ice cubes
Water (as my kids don’t drink lemonade, we generally say “water” or “drink” on the lemonade page
Milk
Chips
Toast
Jam
Old toothbrush

Things I didn’t add, but could have:

Apple Pie
Custard
A wooly hat
Rubber duck

This activity was planned and set up in about 2 minutes, when the kids were quite hyper and I thought they needed an activity after dinner. These were the things I just had available.
You could also add new things, that aren’t in the book.

This was really fun for them, Jumbles (just turned 4) loved mixing the things together to make a weird mush, plus taste testing everything. He was quite careful in picking what he would add next to the mix. Bean (2) mainly liked crushing the cornflakes and dripping ketchup on them. I think next I’ll let them choose weird things from the cupboard to add into their odd combinations.

If you like this book, you’ll also like “Accidentally on purpose” another split page book by Nick Sharratt.

Links:
Borrow “Ketchup on your cornflakes” from your library
Buy “Ketchup on your cornflakes” (Wordery affiliate link)

Diggers (Fiona Watt, Rachel Wells)

diggersAny building site book will do for this one, so if your kids are a bit old for a board book, why not try a non fiction book about diggers?

Basically for this activity you’re making something that your kids can use as mortar.

Mix wet play sand (we used orange sand as this is what we had) with cornflour in a 2:1 ratioish cement 017(I didn’t measure, but about twice as much sand as cornflour, just keep adding sand till it seems right). The mixing is great fun and you find that you go through various stages, all of which are fun to play with. My favourite is when it’s a lot more cornflour than sand and is very gloopy. Once it’s all mixed, if your sand was a bit wet, like mine was, you may find you have a layer of whitish water on top, just pour it off. You then have a very mouldable fun to work with substance, much like moon sand, which you can use to build sandcastles, or as we did as mortar to hold bricks together.  cement 024Put it in your sandpit, or play bin, add trowels, bricks and toy diggers. Jumbles enjoyed making a tower, though it would have been more satisfying if we’d had play bricks that weren’t interlocking. I tried giving him flat stones, but that didn’t inspire him. Bean wasn’t particularly interested in this activity and took her trowel off to dig in the garden instead.cement

We also experimented with making bricks using our lego brick mould. This was a bit tricky, they broke apart easily, but was still fun.

Links:
Borrow “Diggers” from the library
Buy “Diggers”
Buy lego moulds from Amazon
Buy mini toy diggers

The Teeny Weeny Tadpole (Sheridan Cain & Jack Tickle)

987495I have been wanting to try water beads for quite a while now, but was too concerned about Bean putting them in her mouth. I have seen that other people use tapioca pearls as an edible alternative, but they are still a choking hazard. Then I saw basil seeds suggested as an alternative on Fun at home with kids and decided to try it out. The idea is that you soak them in coloured water for 5 minutes, at the end of which you have tiny brightly coloured balls.DSCN2639 However, after soaking my basil seeds, they did not look anything like they were supposed to, they were very faintly coloured, with black blobs in the middle:  they looked exactly like frog spawn, certainly not beautiful vibrant jewel-like balls as in her example. Basically,  the colour didn’t really take, I don’t know if I didn’t use enough, or if the quality wasn’t good enough (I used gel food colouring). DSCN2646For a minute I was disappointed, but then I realised I could work with that. Instead of doing a random activity, I rushed off to find a frog life cycle book, read it with the kids (ok, not true, to my shame, I didn’t have one, we had to watch it on youtube) and then pulled out the tray of “frogspawn”. The activity was a bit slow to start, neither of them wanted to get stuck in at first, but after a few minutes they started loving it. DSCN2652As we haven’t played with water beads, I can’t compare the two, but these are remarkably sticky. They clump together and stick to skin, clothes or whatever, they are quite snotlike. If you do this activity, be warned, they are impossible to remove without washing, they stick to everything. We had them all over our clothes, hair, skin, when we walked inside they got on the carpet and curtains. I expect I’ll be finding them for weeks to come.DSCN2664

We enjoyed mark making in them, sticking them to our arms, drawing with them, flicking them around, dropping big blobs of them. I did of course make it clear to them that this wasn’t really frogspawn and that you wouldn’t play with frogspawn. Jumbles was fascinated with what they were and how I’d made them, so next time I’ll get him involved in soaking them, and I think there will be a next time, it was messy and fun, best done outdoors. I think potentially these would make a great ingredient in some sort of gunk tank, Jumbles is very into the Cbeebies show “Swashbuckle” at the moment and likes the pirates going into the Ship’s mess, I might try to create our own ship’s mess using some of these seeds.

Update: I have now played with water beads (I know, you’re thinking “that was quick, she hadn’t yesterday”, I scheduled this post a week ago, then spent this week running crafts and messy play for the 5-7 year olds group at our church’s summer club, one of which was water beads) anyway, I would say basil seeds are a totally different experience, as pretty if you have better dyes, but water beads bounce and roll, whereas the seeds mainly gloop together and stick to things.

 

Links:

Youtube video of “The Teeny Weeny Tadpole” being read
Borrow “The Teeny Weeny Tadpole”
Buy “The Teeny Weeny Tadpole”
How the mini water bead activity was meant to work if you want to not have it look like frog spawn
Buy basil seeds online (you can also buy them at Asian supermarkets very cheaply)

Shark in the Park (Nick Sharratt)

sharkparkNot to be confused with the inferior Usborne phonics book of the same title (apologies to that book, but this one is outstanding); This is one of my favourite books for reading with young children, it works well both with individual child and with groups.

The basis of the story is that a little boy is in the park looking through his telescope, he keeps thinking he sees a shark through it, but it always turns out to be something else, not a shark’s fin. This is done through holes in the pages, so first you just see a small part of the picture, which looks like a shark’s fin, then you turn the page to reveal the big picture. The book works for quite a wide age range, from toddlers who just love putting fingers in the holes in the pages, to primary school kids, who get what’s going on and love spotting the shark that Timothy misses at the end.

When telling the story, I always get the children to use their hands to make a telescope over one eye, then as we do the “He looks at the sky, he looks at the ground, he looks left and right, he looks all around” bit, I get them all looking in the right directions.

As kids get to know the book, they will start to join in on the “Shark in the Park” bit. Encourage this, pause slightly and make it obvious when it’s time to say it.

The book has bold illustrations, it’s funny and has a great rhyme, which flows well, though children will chime in shouting “bird” instead of crow if they aren’t old enough to understand that it has to rhyme (and quite long after that actually).

I have done an activity for this in the past, when I used to work in libraries which was a simple character hunt in the park, I photocopied pages of the book, with the peephole page covered over them, so children run around the park searching for “sharks” they can only see if they are sharks or other things (crow, Dad’s hair, cat etc) once they lift up the top cover to reveal the full picture. Hiding sharks in the park is a great fun thing to do and should probably be the activity you take from this blog entry, unless you want to spend a lot of time struggling over bits of plastic and tubes and producing something that is not overly impressive and only keeps the kids busy for 10 minutes. If that sounds your cup of tea, then read on!

This time, I decided to make telescopes as our first activity. Now, it’s very easy to make a telescope for a young child, you get a kitchen roll, or the inner from cling film or wrapping paper or something, you tell them it’s a telescope, you get them to decorate it, they’re completely happy. For some reason though, I didn’t do that, I decided to try and be clever and make a telescope that actually folds the way a telescope does. This took ages, both kids got very bored and I ended up making it entirely by myself and it resulted in something that looks, not that much like a telescope, but Jumbles was pleased with it (though completely unimpressed by the fact that it closes up, and in fact being no more pleased with it than if I’d handed him a cardboard tube). I have decided to blog anyway, and maybe someone out there will be impressed with my effort, if not the result.

I used 3 different diameter tubes, cut to around the length of a toilet roll. Then I cut circles about a cm wider than each tube from a plastic milk bottle.sharkinpark (4) sharkinpark (5)I fringed the outside and the inside of the circles, being careful not to cut through. Then stuck the circles onto the ends of the tubes, the fringing on the outside just helps it to bend round and stick onto the tube, the fringing on the inside is to help it to grip the tube that slides inside it. This is the really fiddly bit, trying to get the circles stuck on and ensuring that the middles are fringed enough that the next tube can slide through it. I am sure there are countless easier ways to make the tubes slide within each other, but this was the only way I could think of. When it’s actually finished, the sliding mechanism is really satisfying.

Once all three tubes had the plastic on, I used parcel tape to properly secure it. sharkinpark (6)The plastic actually helps to add dimension to the telescope in the areas where Timothy’s telescope is coloured yellow. You will note I’ve also added some string. I did this so that the telescope couldn’t be over extended, I taped string through the inside, securing it at the end, so that you couldn’t pull the 3 parts apart. sharkinpark (16)It didn’t work very well, the tape is not strong enough to stop someone doing that and so it ended up with the string flopping down inside blocking vision after it had been pulled wrongly, so I wouldn’t bother with the string again. Just put it back together every time it gets pulled out too far.

After the telescope was complete, I covered it with white paper, so that Jumbles could decorate it, he never did. I’m not sure why I’m surprised by that, it was clearly my craft, not his! He did enjoy playing with it though. I think maybe it looked better before I put the white paper on.

sharkinpark (11)Just to prove that it does indeed telescope in and out, here is a pic of it closed:

I’m convinced that this method for creating a telescope could create a fairly realistic looking toy if executed by someone with more patience and better crafting skills. If anyone wants to have a go I’d really love to see your results. However, I am now rethinking using this as a craft activity for the 4-6s that I’m leading in our church’s summer club, which is why I was making this prototype.

Anyway, once I’d made the telescope, the idea was to look through the telescope at things and try to guess what they are from just a small part of them. This is quite tricky, because obviously your child will just use his other eye, unless you cover it up, but that is often disliked, your other option is to utilise the method of the book and obscure most of the item using a piece of paper or such like. In the end, I had taken so long to make the telescope, I couldn’t really be bothered to come up with an inventive way to view small parts of things, so we just ran round with the telescope looking at things and pretending to see sharks. If you want to do a bit more. Why not prepare a few pictures of just a small section of a well known object and get them to guess what it is, enlarged is even better. I’m thinking something like this: Extreme close up quiz

There is a sequel to this book “Shark in the dark” which is the same premise, but Timothy is looking out of his bedroom window at night time and sees things that he thinks are shark fins, sadly as is often the case, the sequel is not as good as the original, the rhyme doesn’t flow as easily. However, that is partly made up for by the fact that it is glow in the dark.

External Links:
Buy “Shark in the Park”
Borrow “Shark in the Park”

Carlo Likes Reading (Jessica Spanyol)

carloI wasn’t too sure about this book, but Jumbles really liked getting me to read all of the labels and then I thought the logical extension would be to label things in the house. Jumbles loves asking what things say and pointing out words when we see them. He’s not reading yet, but has a love of the written word, so it makes sense to surround him with words as much as possible.

So, I thought of simple words that would be good to make labels of, you could then just label everything yourself, but I think getting the kids to put the labels on the right things makes more sense. luggage tag page1luggage tag page2You can do as many labels as you like and might choose different things than we did.  I was thinking of every day items, some of his favourite toys etc. you could also do labels for children’s names and Mummy and Daddy.

luggage tag3If you just want to use the same ones as me, I did them as pictures so you can just print and cut them out (they are set to print 9 labels on an A4 page, I apologise if you’re in the US, I believe your paper size is slightly different, so you may have to adjust).

carlo 001Warning, if you ask your child what to label, you may find s/he suggests quite complicated things to be labelled, so I’d definitely recommend that you do a few simple ones first, all of Jumbles’s suggestions were specific lego models e.g “flying bad cop car” I managed to get him to choose single word items eventually, the third set of labels are his choices.

Once you’ve printed, simply cut them out, punch a hole in and thread string through, then run about the house with your kids, labelling things. I’m not sure how necessary the string is, with a 1 and 3 year old, they weren’t going to tie the string themselves, Bean mostly wanted to eat the labels. Jumbles just balanced them on things, or sometimes tucked the string in.

External links:
Borrow “Carlo likes reading”
Buy “Carlo likes reading”