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

“Biscuit Bear” by Mini Grey (or Use The Gingerbread man)

biscuitbearChoosing this book is a bit odd really, as there’s no reason why you wouldn’t do this activity with the Gingerbread man. However, this is the book we used, so it seemed dishonest to write it up as the Gingerbread man.

The story is about a boy who makes a bear shaped biscuit and decorates it, every time he tries to eat it his Mum stops him (it’s too hot, it’s nearly dinner time, he’s just cleaned his teeth). So instead of eating it he goes to sleep with it on his pillow. Then Biscuit Bear gets up while he’s sleeping and has adventures.

Blogging this is a bit silly really, because it’s just such an obvious activity. However, I was quite excited that Jumbles actually asked to do baking, he normally refuses, but we’d read this book earlier in the day and he wanted to make some biscuit bears himself. Plus I thought it’d be a chance to share my favourite easy biscuit recipe. I love this recipe for a few reasons:

1) Unlike gingerbread, you don’t need an egg – I’m not too worried about the kids eating raw egg anymore, but often we are unprepared and have accidentally used all of the eggs when we decide to bake.

2) These biscuits don’t spread when you bake them, so they keep the shape that you were aiming for. We use cutters, but we also love using chocolate moulds, I have a collection of interesting shaped ones, our favourites being the lego man moulds. We do make gingerbread a lot, but it does spread quite a bit.

3)There is nothing complicated to do, you just mix everything together

Easy non spreading biscuits:
150g plain flour
50g caster sugar (or whatever sugar I can find at the time)
100g marg (butter tastes nicer, but it’s much easier for kids to rub marg in)
Optional flavouring, this time we used a big squirt of butterscotch flavoured syrup, but you can add vanilla, cocoa, choc drops, raisins, nuts etc.

1. Rub the main ingredients togetherduckmuck 005
Yes, that really is it, you can then just roll it into a ball and break bits off to bake if you like.

2. Add optional flavours

3. Squash into a ball. Then roll out flat.

4. Use cutters or chocolate moulds. If using moulds, just push the dough into the moulds, then either bake in the mould, or turn out onto a baking tray, they should stay intact.

5. Bake at 170/Gas mark 3 for 15-20 mins

6. Cool

7. Decorate – the method used in this house is to make a few bowls of coloured icing and spoon it over the biscuits, while not very secretly also eating lots, then pour an entire packet of sprinkles on topduckmuck 008. I also tried this time with a couple of cocktail sticks, for adding detail, this didn’t really work, but Bean liked poking the icing with hers.

You may note in the photos that Bean was not involved in the baking, I did feel a bit guilty about this and did baking with both of them a few days later to make up for it, at the time Mr Monkey Juggling and I had decided to take a child each for an hour. She rejoined us for the icing. I have to say though, baking with one child is much less stressful than having both of them, I am not very good at baking with them both, it all tends to get a bit hectic.

After you’ve made your biscuits, you might like to do some imaginary play with them, we just ate them though.

External Links:
Borrow “Biscuit Bear” from your local library
Buy “Biscuit Bear”

“Duck in the Truck” by Jez Alborough (Rainbow muck)

ducktruck This book has been a firm favourite in our house for the last couple of years. It’s actually grown on me, simply based on how much the rest of the family love it. It’s just this book everyone loves, not the rest of the Duck series though. The story is that a duck is driving home in a truck, the truck gets stuck in the muck, various other animals come along and try to help. The book is a very simple rhyme, with vivid illustrations and good use of humour.

This was a bit of a spur of the moment activity, we had just read the book and had a bit of time to kill before dinner, then I remembered that I had some rainbow smash in the fridge which I made as edible paint for a toddler group a couple of days ago and I figured it would work as muck.

Rainbow Smash:

For reasons I don’t quite understand, duckmuck 014whenever we go camping I buy a packet of emergency Smash (instant mashed potato), we never actually eat it, as we don’t really like Smash and can cope without having mashed potato while living in a tent. So anyway, I often have a packet sitting in the back of the cupboard going out of date, and periodically find a sensory play use for it.

You can play with the dry powder, with scoops and water, this is great fun as the kids can see the changes. However, this time we didn’t do that, as I already had batches made up. Either leave it as it is, or add a few drops of food colouring, it colours up really nicely and can then be used simply for exploring texture etc. Or can be used to do paintings.

On this occasion we did one of Jumbles’s favourite activities. Driving cars through something mucky. Now of course, you could just use real mud, or compost, for a more realistic muck to get the toy cars stuck in, but coloured muck adds a bit of interest and has the advantage of being edible, I don’t really like Bean eating too much mud (duckmuck 023she sneaks quite a bit in).

Jumbles was retelling the story without prompting as he played with the car in the muck. I also laid out some paper so that they could paint with the cars on the paper if they wanted, they didn’t really use it though.

Carwash:duckmuck 027
After playing with the cars in muck like this, you might simply clear everything away, but you’d be missing out on possibly one of the best and simplest activities. Simply bring a bowl with a small amount of soapy water and a couple of cloths or brushes (old toothbrushes work well) out and let the kids wash the cars. It saves on clean up for you later and they have fun, Jumbles asks to do car washes quite often, even if we haven’t got his cars dirty.

 External Links:
Buy “Duck in the Truck”
Borrow “Duck in the Truck” from your local library

“Each Peach Pear Plum” By Janet and Allan Ahlberg

imageA well loved classic, this simple rhyming book focuses on spotting fairy tale characters on each page. So we did a simple character hunt. I made cards for each character, then hid them around the house for the kids to find. peachJumbles loves doing treasure hunts and Bean was excited to find cards, Jumbles even passed her some (that’s what’s happening in the picture). If doing this for a larger group or older children, you could put letters or words on the cards to spell out a word or sentence and ask the kids to write down the letters/words they find instead of removing the cards when they find them, this way slower children still get to join in and not have all of the cards found. This is how we used to do treasure hunts when I used to work in libraries.

imageHere are the cards I made for the treasure hunt, simply print off, cut out and hide around. Sorry that I haven’t made better use of the page, I was rushing as always, as I suddenly came up with this activity while Bean was napping, so had to get it done in the few minutes that they were both quiet.

I then printed out several extra copies of 4 of the cards (as I thought all 10 was a bit many) and taught Jumbles to play snap, he enjoyed it, though he didn’t understand why he had to turn the top card over instead of looking through to find a pair. We also played matching pairs with the cards. Now I’ve got the cards I’m planning to use them for other games, like “Go Fish/Happy Families”. Admittedly buying a pack of cards is pretty cheap and less hassle, but we did this while we were still quarantined after the sick bug and I couldn’t find any full packs of cards in the house (mainly because Jumbles loved flicking through cards when a bit younger, sorting them etc, so a lot got damaged), plus I like them being related to stories.

I’m hoping to get the kids to decorate the backs of the cards with stamps or something, to extend the activity even further and to give them ownership of the cards.

External Links:

Buy Each Peach Pear Plum
Borrow Each Peach Pear Plum

Light box continued – “The Little Red Hen” by Paul Galdone

redhenOk, I’ll be honest here, I didn’t use a book for this one, but then I felt guilty and thought I should do and with today’s activity being about flour, The Little Red Hen sprang to mind. Then I started thinking I should probably get hold of a copy before bedtime, so I can read it to them later and remind them about the flour we played with, but the chances of finding it on this short notice seemed slim, so I did some googling and found a youtube reading of it, hooray, so maybe we’ll have some screen time later: Little Red Hen read aloud

Continuing  from the last post, as we hadDSCN2463 the lightbox out still, I decided to experiment with other things on it. I’ve done salt before, for emergent writing, but with Bean still mouthing, I wasn’t ready for her to play with salt. I thought I’d try flour, they loved it. Jumbles started writing numbers, then moved on to drawing pictures and making handprints. Bean just enjoyed patting it and, annoyingly, flourlightbox 008throwing handfuls at me. She also grabbed a pom pom from the easter posting box that we’ve had out again while ill. She pushed it around making roads. Jumbles got a bit bored, till I suggested he got some cars, then he spent ages running them around roads,flourlightbox 002 delivering flour in a truck etc This does make a mess, obviously, but on a laminate floor it cleans easily.  I’ve included a photo to show how the flour does spread, but it really wasn’t too bad. It brushed off everything quite quickly. If I’d thought about it, I could have used an extension cable to move the lightbox away from the sofas, but then I’m still feeling a bit ill after getting the sick bug the kids had, so sitting on a sofa joining in was kind of part of the plan.

I’m not sure how necessary the light box is, but it’s nice revealing light when you draw and just makes a change from having the flour just in a tray. As an experiment, I turned the light box off, big mistake, it immediately ended Jumbles’s play, turning it back on did not regain his interest.

External Links

Buy “The Little Red Hen”

Borrow “The Little Red Hen”

Listen to “The Little Red Hen” read aloud

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”