Monday, February 25, 2013

Tiny Treasure (Magnifier Treasure Hunt)

Both Bubble and Squeak love their magnifying glasses and we do a lot of activities based around them. At the moment I am trying to expand Squeak's descriptive vocabulary and encourage her to use descriptive words in reference to things she sees. This activity was fun but also built on these skills at the same time.


* Tiny treasure Hunt Checklist 
(document is at the end of this post if you'd like to use ours)
* whiteboard markers 
(or normal marker/pencils if your checklist isn't laminated)
* magnifying glasses
* access to tiny things!

I made up a checklist of 'tiny things' and printed out one for each of the girls. I laminated ours so we could use whiteboard markers and then reuse them, you don't need to do this step though if you don't have a laminator. 

The girls had fun traipsing around the house and outside finding the things on the checklist. 

When we found something we would check it off the list and then come up with three descriptive words for what we could see through the magnifying glass.
Bubble said the grass was 'long, green and juicy' and Squeak said it was 'green, bendy (it's a bit windy today) and tickly'.

The girls enjoyed looking at the sand in the sand pit, we've had torrential rains recently and there were a lot of different patterns in the surface as well as debris.

Some things were tricky to find, like ants and feathers, and others were a lot easier!

As we went along the girls checked off their list to keep track of what they had seen.

Other activities using magnifying glasses:

Tiny Treasure Hunt List
(right click to open and print at full size)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Play Room Tour - Shop Corner

Since moving from our apartment to our house over a year ago we have a lot more space to spread out in. One area we wanted to make as big as possible was a play room for the girls which would also double as a therapy room for us to work in. The house itself isn't big but the front section is a combined lounge and dining room and since we eat in the kitchen and don't watch much TV we decided to make the whole area one large play space.
Creating the play room has been a long process as we were working with a (very!) tight budget and everything had to be sourced through auctions/garage sales or made by hand. Finally though it is starting to come together and the girls spend a majority of their time in here when we are at home.
There are a few different 'play zones' within the play room so I thought I would do a post on each area rather than the room as a whole. This corner has been made into a pretend 'Corner Shop' where the girls can explore all kinds of imaginary play. It is one of their favourite areas, especially when they have friends over.

The kitchen and shop play corner.
See THIS POST for how to make a play oven.

The shop canopy is a MYSIG bed canopy from IKEA, $15.
The shopping trollies and drawer storage unit were from Ebay.
The small benches are RAST bedside tables from IKEA, $15. 

The girls like to change the type of shop it is regularly, and often it becomes a doctors office or school!

The sign board is just a cheap canvas painted with blackboard paint.
The scales were re-purposed from our kitchen as they weren't in use, and the wooden microwave was bought from a closing down Kindy sale (it came free with the wooden play sink).

Playing shops has taught them so many skills, not only building on their imaginary play but also important living skills (shopping, using lists, paying for things at a shop) as well as currency denominations and turn taking. We've had to work hard on turn taking! :D

Play Oven/Stove Project

The girls have been 'needing' an oven for the play room for awhile, and it's been on my list of things to do. We scored a second hand wooden play sink from a closing down Kindy last year and have been searching for an oven to go with it ever since.
I have seen so many wonderful bedside table to play oven conversions on Pinterest and decided to give it a go this week. I'm not sure where this idea originally came from, but if anyone knows I would love to provide a link because I think it's brilliant.
It was relatively easy to do and I'll list where we got all of our little parts from for any Aussie readers who would like to give it a go! The oven has been massively popular with the girls so far and ended up costing a grand total of $17.50 to make, so we're all pretty happy with it.


* old bedside table with door
(we got ours very cheaply from Ebay)
* paint, primer and brushes
* round cork coasters
(ours were $1.50 for a pack of 4 from Hot Dollar)
* blackboard paint
* piano hinges
(around $3/pack of 2 from Bunnings)
* magnetic closure fittings
(we were able to reuse the ones that were originally attached)
* handle for oven
(we already had one but they are under $10 at Bunnings)
* replacement pot lid handles
(pictured below in case like me you had never heard of them! They were $1.50 for a pack of 2 from Hot Dollar)
* plywood/chipboard
* fabric
* drill and screws if not included with your hardware.
* glue adhesive
(we used Liquid Nails)

We bought our bedside table cheaply on Ebay, you want one with a cupboard style door that you can convert into an oven.
First I removed the drawer and door then primed the entire unit. I didn't bother sanding it first because I didn't mind any little imperfections in the wood. After the primer was dry I did three coats of Dulux 'Class Blue' grey paint, which we had leftover.

I searched for a long time to find something to use as oven dials. These pot lid handles were perfect; they look the part, actually turn and were super cheap at $1.50/2 pack.

Our door had external hinges so I removed those and used some piano hinges from Bunnings to reattach it from the bottom instead of the side, so it opened like an oven door.

The magnetic closure catch I just unscrewed and then reattached to the top instead of the side and moved the metal base plate on the door to match up so the door would hold closed.
I was going to build a shelf for the inside of the oven but then realised an unused IKEA shelf insert I had fit perfectly.

Before attaching the door I painted the middle part with blackboard paint and attached a cupboard handle on it's side to act as the oven door handle. The coasters I also painted with blackboard paint and then attached to the top with adhesive glue to act as the 'hotplates'.
Once the door had been reattached it was a bit higher and the drawer no longer fit, so I cut a thin panel of chipboard to fit the space, drilled some holes for the pot lid handles to be attached and covered it with fabric to pretty it up a little. It tacked easily to the front of the unit after I had screwed the 'dials' on.

Finally ready to be played with! Now all we need is a fridge :)

It has been getting a very good work out so far.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Simple Drawing Table

Just off our kitchen we have a little area where the girls can draw and paint. The table they use was bought last year from a closing down preschool and is very well loved, the top is covered in texta and other marks so I had been considering covering the surface with something. 
I didn't want it to be anything too fussy (it's an art table after all!) and this solution has worked really well so far providing a nice workable surface that doesn't get in the way of their activities.

* large bulldog clips
* roll of paper
(we buy ours from the stationary section in Coles for around $2 or $3 a roll)

It's as simple as cutting the paper roll to the length of the table and then securing each end to the table top with the clips.

Our table isn't very wide so we just used two at each end.

The girls love their drawing table and add creations to it constantly. When it gets a bit full we just unclip it and change the paper over for a new length.

Play Dough Echidnas - Fine Motor Practice

Squeak has low muscle tone so finds most fine motor activities tiring and a bit tricky. Cutting with scissors and holding a pencil in particular are things she tries to avoid, so finding activities that interest her and build these skills is high on our list at the moment.
Both of the girls have a new interest in echidnas since our Australian Animal Silhouette Game a few weeks ago, so this activity builds on that and adds in some scissor and pincer skill building as well.

* play dough
* drinking straws
* scissors
* googly eyes (optional)

I always put out a selection of different types of scissors during craft and activity time and encourage Squeak to try out different pairs. They all use slightly different actions depending on the style of scissor and it's all good practice to build up her hand muscles.

First the girls shaped their play dough into an echidna body shape. We looked at all the different body parts and talked about the echidnas long snout (or beak). The girls also added some googly eyes.

Then they cut their straws into shorter lengths to make spines for their echidnas.

Not only are the shaping and cutting skills great for fine motor strength but the pushing action is a good workout as well. The girls cut their straws whatever length they liked and then added them to their play dough echidnas.

Two little play dough echidnas, great job girls :)