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Lego City

Rayes has been obsessed with lego recently after watching the famous Lego Movie in the cinema last month and ever since, he has been asking me to build Briskburg for him.So I decided to surprise him with our very own Lego City !!! This is supposed to be our school holiday project (next week) but since we are going to be travelling, so he got the Lego City Surprise much earlier!! L1000709

This is  a perfect indoor activity to keep kids engaged for hours!

It is pretty simple really, even though it took a bit of time. All you need is a roll of tape (I used blue masking tape), lego bricks, some blocks or things to build with.

I started off by taping down double lines for roads and made a grid on the floor in his playroom. Then I cut out the places where the roads intersected. This made squares that I turned into city blocks.

I then filled one block with a train station

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 a construction site

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a police station

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a farm

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a fire station

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a flat/hotel

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he helped me to build a bank and a pretzel shop

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there is also an airport (it is not really an airport. he just wanted to place his B-Wing star wars lego in the city so we decided to have one block for his B-Wing)

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and… there is also Lord Business’ Evil Lair. My husband took one whole day to build this one last month! So i finally got to move this set from my leaving room (which previously  looked like a Lego Museum!!) 

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he added a few more buildings, a school and a house with a garden which. He calls it “Mummy’s house”

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L1000687In the end, we had quite the city.

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We spent most of the morning building and the rest of the afternoon and the whole next day playing in the city.

I don’t usually do really big activities unless I know that they will have big results. It took so much time to get this thing set up, but considering he enjoys playing  with it  that half day  was totally worth it. !!!

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Pretend Play – Doctor’s Clinic/Surgery

Pretend play is a great way to build kids’ imagination, vocabulary, cooperation skills and so much more. My son loves to make up his own imaginary and role play games and I have set up lots of little scenarios to support this in the past, from a role play organic market, a play dough ice cream shop shop and a garden centre.

I set up up a pretend play hospital for him last year (October), to overcome doctor fears. After liking his previous doctor visits early last year, he was suddenly terrified when we took him to see his pediatrician for the last injection which was due in October last year. He screamed and cried the whole way through. So I began to come up with Doctor Play  to help with Rayes’s sudden fear of the doctor.

Playing doctors and patients can also be a hugely helpful way for ill children to play through some of their experiences of medical experiences and make sense of them in a familiar context at home.

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I printed some simple signs that might be seen in a real doctor’s surgery and placed those around the room.

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Then I found some blankets, doctor’s outfit (from ELC), dollies and teddies and a doctor’s pretend play kit to finish off the scene.

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I also added in a box of plasters, some super-cheap stretchy bandages, a medicine spoon, a box for herbal medicine and a medicine syringe. I think REAL materials are far superior to toys, as so much more learning takes place.

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We talked about needing each patient to come and check in at the desk and how they must write their names down in the forms. This is to introduce some purposeful writing opportunities and for understanding why and when adults might use writing in these scenarios. Rayes was very keen to give all his little patients names and to have a go at writing the names, spelt phonetically or using invented letter combinations.

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He checked them out using their medical instruments and we talked about what each one was used for and what it could tell us about the patient’s medical conditions. He was particularly keen on the stethoscope and listening out for any funny noises from all parts of the bodies!

First patient was Teddy who was VERY hot, until he became “warmer” and was then, thankfully, much better!

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Then the casualties just rolled into the surgery, one after another, all with some fairly bizarre and/or catastrophic injuries! Most seemed to have fallen and hurt their knees or legs, and about 95% of all complaints were solved with the aid of a plaster.

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Ernie  had a temperature and needed some medicine and a lie down. Soon, he was joined by a literal heap of fellow patients all clamouring for Doctor Rayes’s s attention.

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And daddy needed to have a stethoscope applied to his chest to “listen for things that are wrong” inside it. He was diagnosed with a “broken heart”, which was pretty tragic, but just a few drops of medicine later and he made a complete and dramatic recovery!
 
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Later on there was a patient with “broken eyebrows” and “hurting hair”, which both sounded pretty serious! It reminds me how little experience with real illness or injury he has encountered so far, thankfully, so for now we can be thrilled that these are the worst things that could happen!

I provided my little doctor with a microscope.  I spent a fair bit of time researching microscopes before settling on the Edu Science M640x Microscope – Blue that comes together with a set of child-friendly slides and glass slides for creating our own specimens. I did not expect my three year old to enjoy using the microscope, but I was wrong. He liked it very much!!

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He also enjoyed working with his human torso (National Geographic). This human torso is safe and fun to be used by children. It contains eight removable organs (oesophagus, stomach, liver, large intestines, small intestines, bowel). After having this human torso in our pretend play doctor’s surgery, Rayes knew all of the organs and he could  put them in order. Hoorayyy !!

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What they are learning as they play:

Literacy: emergent reading of signs and labels in a role play environment, purposeful pre-writing about real life contexts, mark making and emergent writing, list making, new medical vocabulary

Knowledge and Understanding of the world: understanding what doctors do, learning about medical equipment and its purpose, talking about illness and treatment

Creativity: imaginative role play and dramatic play, taking on a role and remaining in character

Vocabulary: there was lots of new vocabulary introduced and worked into the play, including patient, stethoscope, organ, thermometer, bandage, temperature, and recover. Great for language and literacy development!

 

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Geography

The Montessori Geography curriculum is two-fold: physical and cultural. Physical geography discusses the formation of the universe, the creation of the earth, and all its physical properties. Cultural geography is the study of human society and culture. The two together show the child that we are all members of the human race who must co-exist peacefully in order to survive.

There are many ways to teach young children Geography. Start by introducing  the seven continents to your child. The most effective way to do this is by using a world map, a globe or a puzzle map. I invested on Montessori Apparatus – Globe of the Continents and Continents Puzzle Map for our Geography Studies.

Globe of the Continents

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It is a  wooden base globe that holds the globe at a 23 degree angle, the same as the Earth’s axis, in relation to the sun. With this globe the concept of the continents is presented to the child, which leads to work with the puzzle maps.

Continents Puzzle Map

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The wooden Montessori continent puzzle is beautiful, but they aren’t very practical for a homeschool. Still, it’s very helpful…. I am very impressed with the quality of this puzzle. It is very well-constructed, all the pieces fit in perfectly, and the colors are vibrant. If you can’t find an inexpensive world/continent puzzle, you can always print out an inexpensive but attractive control map like the ones from Montessori Print Shop.

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My little one took few days to recognise the seven continents and he is an expert now.. !

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 CONTINENT BOXES

Montessori encourages the use of objects when studying geography (hand-on) experiences. They stimulate a child’s interest and imagination and I think continent boxes  are a great way to organise geography materials, and make it fun and easy to study each continent. I have had “create continent boxes” on my to-do list for over a year! Finally I managed to get the project started!! i have no real plan with this project, it is just a fun way to expose my son to cultures, countries, and world geography in general. The continent boxes are works in progress, I even have a wishlist of books and things I want to add to this and other boxes! This is really exciting as I know my son is going to really thrive with his exploration. We will use these boxes for years and years!

Some of our boxes have more items then others. I am just putting stuff in as I come across it, adding a bit at a time hoping that the boxes will grow bigger and bigger. I will continue to add items and crafts as we study the continents. For now, I have my continent boxes set up like this :-

ASIA

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EUROPE

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AFRICA

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SOUTH AMERICA

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NORTH AMERICA

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AUSTRALIA

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ANTARTICA

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Antarctica is a tough continent because there is so little that lives there.

Some Tips for your Continent Boxes:-

  • I recommend starting with your own continent. 
  • Find a creative way to demonstrate land mass size to your kids. I use measuring cups !!

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  • Use Google images to print images/cards. I have made all the cards by using Google images. It was very time consuming, but a little more budget friendly.

  • You could choose to study each continent for a week or a month, depending on how many materials you have and how in-depth you want to take the study. We took about two months to study the seven continents.This is something that can be repeated as your child grows older, so you don’t need to have an extensive amount of materials to begin with, especially for a young child. You could just start with a simple introduction of a few materials for each continent this year.

I love the Continent Boxes so much and I really think it is a special part of my Montessori Classroom! I hope you feel inspired to bring the world to the kids in your life!

I think that the boxes look pretty good, but I do view them all as an on going project. I figure that we can add to them as we go. However, finding things from each continent can be difficult !! so GOOD LUCK!

BOOKS

If you make regular trips to the library, you should plan ahead and get books that supplement the curriculum. The books don’t have to be aimed at preschoolers. You can get books aimed at elementary age children. Read only portions you think your child will understand and discuss the pictures. Buying a childrens’ first atlas, such as the Collins First World Atlas may also be helpful.

Books that we use :-

  • Collin My First Atlas
  • Collins My First Book of Flags
  • World Atlas for Children
  • Mini Atlas/A Unique Table Mat

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Asian Geographic Junior

We also subscribed to Asian Geographic Junior (This magazine subscription was a gift by his beloved grandfather….)This is the only magazine that features Asia, the worlds largest continent. It is very good for children especially aged 4 and above as they will be exposed to a colorful and specific culture, exciting wildlife endemic to the region and also changing trends that are shaping Asia.

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Art – Shaving Cream Earth

This is a very quick and easy shaving cream activity to do with your kids.

First, spread shaving cream all over a paper plate. Next, squirt some poster paint or food colouring on the shaving cream. My boy decided to use only one colour (Green).

Use a spoon, pospsicles stick or toothpick to swirl (but not too much) to create a marbled effect. We did not use any of these since I preferred him to use his hands to encourage sensory play. Your earth shaving cream is ready!!

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ANIMALS OF THE CONTINENTS

I introduced the animals of each continent to Rayes using Montessori 3-part cards. Once he was pretty familiar with the animals of each continent, I brought out the Montessori 3-part cards.  I printed out two sets of each card and cut out the animals and word labels and challenged him  to match them to the picture.

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We also brought out all our plastic animals and he enjoyed sorting those onto the continents map as well

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SONGS

Sing the Countries of the world song with your children…

The Counties of the World Song – ASIA

The Countries of the World Song – EUROPE

The Countries of the World Song- Africa

The Countries of the World Song – The Americas

The Countries of the World Song – Oceania

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Pretend Play – Organic Market

Imaginative play is my favorite mainly because it’s what I would do if I was 3, but seriously who doesn’t love to play pretend?

Young children learn by imagining and doing. Have you ever watched your child pick up a stone and pretend it is a zooming car, or hop a Lego across the table as if it were a person or a bunny? Your child is using an object to represent something else while giving it action and motion. But this pretend play is not as simple as it may seem. The process of pretending builds skills in many essential developmental areas.

  • Social and Emotional Skills
  • Language Skills
  • Thinking Skills

With pretend play, it is really important to continue to give children new experiences and setups for them to role play and experience. In early childhood classrooms, these new setups are usually done in the dramatic play center. And at home, parents can suggest the ideas/scenarios and provide a few unique props to stimulate children’s dramatic play.

Organic Market

There’s one thing we know about kids, it’s their love to play store. Seriously, they can entertain themselves for hours upon hours buying and selling goods.

You can start your pretend play market by choosing a name for your market and together make a sign to post in this dramatic play area. We decided to go for RAYES ORGANIC MARKET and I printed the sign to display at the stall.

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With older kids, you can also use newspaper ads to cut pictures of food products and have the children glue these pictures to squares of construction paper. You can even put a price on each product if you wish. Attach these signs at each type product on the shelves.

I had known for a while that I wanted to make the pretend play market so a few weeks ago, I bought Ikea Skyltas Children’s market stand.

Shelves  in the play area which used to  display  our activity trays were also used to make the pretend play market. Using cloths found in our art supply boxes to cover the shelves, they  made the perfect market accessory to store the fruits and vegetables.

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The pretend play market was a breeze  to put together, and was ready to open for business in a couple of hours.  What took the longest was stocking up the newly created organic market.  Initially, I didn’t really want any cheap plastic stuff in there and i thought of  making some fruits and veggies out of felt but due to busy schedule, i ended up using plastic veggies and fruits. I am still working on the felt veggies and fruits and this is still a work in progress.

I added our old collection of Hape Toys in our market:-

Hape Toys Garden Vegetables which includes a toddler-safe knife, a carrot, an onion, a bell pepper, and a tomato and a corn.

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Hape Toys Healthy Basics which includes Eggs, milk, cheese, juices, jam and yogurt.

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Hape Toys use sustainable woods certified non-toxic and water-based paints. So I don’t have to worry about him putting “cheese and carrot ” into his mouth.

On a table, place a toy cash register or even an old adding machine or calculator will do. You can also help your child make a till using cardboard and some paper money. Preschool children cannot truly absorb the concept of money exchange, but the pretend play is the important learning skill. Speaking of money, you can use play money or make your own from cut index cards or construction paper. Coins can be made from cardboard circles covered in aluminum foil.

I bought Hape Toys checkout register with abacus, bar-code scanner, card chip and pin block, cash and credit card.I really like this checkout register!! My little farmer/shopkeeper could count money , use the abacus for counting and basic math, put coins in the correct slots, and open the top of the cash register. A wooden credit card and card swipe is a nod to how parents really pay these days. !!!

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Introduce the concept of weight to your child by placing a weighing scale in your market. I got one from my kitchen!

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Make sure you have a shopping cart too!! Child-size grocery cart is an excellent toy to use or a wicker basket with handles could be used as an alternative.

Now that the market is ready, give them a shopping list and get ready to Shop !!!

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Here are some more images of my pretend play supermarket:-

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organic fruits

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homemade bread

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organic veggies

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organic veggies

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Support your Local Farmers !!

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shopping

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Daddy – farmer/shopkeeper

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Busy farmer/shopkeeper

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Selling organic eggs, juices, milk and yogurt.

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Our Organic Market

More tips for your pretend play market :-

  • You can even go one step further and create your own brand of shop food.
  • Once your shop is ready your child can decide who is to be shopkeeper and who will go shopping. You can swap the roles around and make it fun by pretending to be different characters in the shop.
  • You can brush up on language skills by pointing out a few signs in your market.
  • Make match games for the children to play.

What other “pretend play” toys do your kids have? I unfortunately don’t have any doll houses, doll beds, cute tiny ironing boards or washing machines, I’m the only girl here remember.

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Fine Motor skills – Marble Transferring activity

One of our favourite activities is this simple marble transferring activity which helps develop hand eye coordination, concentration, fine motor control, and the ability to be persistent when presented with a difficult task.

This activity helps to build the following skills:

  • focus/concentration
  • hand-eye coordination
  • working from left to right (like when we read)
  • doing things in order
  • one-to-one counting
 
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First, set up your activity.  Place marbles  in a dish that is easy for your child to get his hand in and out of.
Make sure the dish with the marbles in it is on the left and the ice cube tray is on the right.   (Remember, we’re working on working from left to right. My little one eventually moved the dish to the right and nothing much i could do about it.!)

 
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Choose one marble and place it in the hole at the top left corner.

Sometimes Rayes tries to sneak two or three marbles in his hand but I don’t let him do that because it usually causes him to lose his concentration and he forgets where the next one goes.

Place the next marble in the hole just to the right of the first marble. The third marble goes in the top right hole.

The fourth marble will go in the second hole down on the left (just under where you put the first marble).

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Continue placing marbles in the holes, one at a time, left to right, until the ice cube tray is full!!

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Then, starting at the top left hole, place the marbles back in the dish, one at a time.  Work in the same pattern  (left to right) as you did when you put the marbles in the holes.

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It is also fun for your kid to count each object as he places it in/takes it out to get in some good one-to-one counting practice.

You can also try this activity with:

  • different ice cube trays
  • different objects (beads, coins, cheerios, small erasers, pom poms etc.)
  • an egg carton instead of an ice cube tray
It may seem a little stingy to have a “right” way to put the objects in the holes, but I’m of the opinion that kids do better when there’s a “right” way to complete an activity. 

Kids (even little kids) know when they’re doing something “right” and they will be more proud of themselves upon completion of the activity and more focused during the activity when following specific guidelines (i.e. left to right, one at a time, etc.). 

I thought Rayes would have a much harder time with this at first but he caught on right away and he was pretty proud of himself when he finally got all the marbles into the trays. !!

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Under the Sea

Learning about the ocean is nothing but fun! It doesn’t have to be a preachy-teachy experience.  Just have a good time while getting your kids pondering about what the world’s oceans mean to all of us.

Our theme for last month was  “Under the Sea”! My son absolutely loved it!! We studied different sea animals everyday and extended the learning by adding a new work to our shelf and by making  corresponding crafts or art projects. Now he is able to identify which animals live in the sea. !!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here are some ideas that are worth trying in teaching your kids about life under the sea.

1. Discuss what an ocean looks like and talk/ read to them about animals that live in the sea. Our library includes the following titles :-

Diving colours in Hawaii, One Fish Two Fish by Dr Seuss, The Wish Fish Usbone First Reading.

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Dive Olly Dive –  Olly’s World books :- Turtle Beach, The Treasure Cave and Olly and The Whale Calf.

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2. Prepare a Sensory box – This is our Sea Life Sensory Box that has sea life creatures, plastic ocean life animals and colourful marbles.

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Whale…

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Sea turtle…

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Underwater sea plants…

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Shark…

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Lobster…

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Sea life creatures…

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3. Watch an ocean themed documentary. . Netflix has several to choose from. OK, so it’s not a documentary, but Finding Nemo is a favorite with children of all ages. We went to watch Under the Sea 3-D documentary at National Science Centre

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4. Teach your children to spell sea-themed words such as Sharks, Water, Octopus, etc. I taught him to spell “FISH” using Melissa & Doug See and Spell Puzzle/Board.

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5. I also added Fix Colours Mix n Match Peg Puzzle by Melissa & Doug to our shelf. This puzzle is just perfect for  toddlers. Small hands can easily remove each piece revealing a matching full color illustration underneath. The puzzle encourages memory, hand-eye, fine motor and creative expression skills.
 
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Under the Sea Craft

Fun Jellyfish toy using a Paper bowl and crepe paper strip

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Materials:

  • Paper bowl
  • crepe paper
  • Poster paint or watercolor
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors
  • White glue
  • Thin string
  • Paper clip or button
  • Wiggle eyes

Directions :

1. Punch a small hole at the center of a paper bowl using a pencil.

2. Get your kids to Paint the outside of the paper bowl with poster paint or watercolor.

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3. Allow the painted bowl to dry completely.

4. Cut string to a length of about 6 inches or more and insert the string through the hole on your paper bowl.

5. Tape the lower end of the string from inside your paper bowl. It would be even better if you can tie the end of the string onto a small object such as a paper clip or button. Glue the paper clip or button onto the bowl.

6. Cut at least 8 tissue paper or crepe paper strips to make the jellyfish tentacles.

7. Get your kids to Glue the end of a tissue paper strip onto the center of your paper bowl.

8. Let them Continue gluing the tissue paper strips from the center of your bowl to form a radial pattern.

9. Once the glue has dried, unveil your jellyfish by gently turning your paper bowl upside down and holding your jellyfish by the string.

10. Don’t forget to give markers or paint to your kids to draw a funny face and  get them to  glue on a pair of wiggle eyes.

11. Go jelly fishing by tying the string to drinking straw.

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Paper cup Shark

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Materials:

  • 2 big Styrofoam or paper cups
  • blue paint
  • Blue and white craft foam or construction paper
  • fins and teeth templates
  • scissors
  • glue
  • google eyes

Directions:

  1. Get your kids  to paint the outside of 2 Styrofoam or paper cups blue. Allow to dry.

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  1. Glue the 2 cups together mouth to mouth to make the shark’s body.
  2. Trace and cut out blue tail and dorsal fins and white shark teeth from paper or foam.
  3.  Give them glue and brush and let them glue pieces onto the body and don’t forget to glue two google eyes

Rainbow Fish

We made Rainbow fish using foam craft kit that i purchased at a flea market long time ago.

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he enjoyed sticking the colourful foam stickers.!!

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Sing a Song !!

Slippery Fish….
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If you have not heard the song before, visit this this link  :-

Hopefully these ideas will give you some inspiration to introduce life under the sea to your kids!
 
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Little chef – Crepes

One of my favourite activities that I love with my son is cooking. This has been an amazing way for him to increase his vocabulary as he learns new words, use some basic math and learns about helping and cleaning.

Toddlers can have fun with cooking activities. For toddlers, it’s the doing that counts, or the the process of the cooking activity. Toddlers learn through doing, so cooking and kitchen activities are great ideas for toddler learning experiences.

Cooking with toddlers isn’t easy and requires patience but the activity is extremely rewarding for children as they use their hands, learn new words and work together with their parents. To get started, think simple by creating one basic recipe.

We made crepes for breakfast this morning and my little chef truly enjoyed his first crepe experience!

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Ingredients

2 eggs , 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup sugar (I did not use sugar since my son does not take anything sweet), 2 cups milk, 2 cups flour, butter, lemon and sugar to eat with crepes and nonstick crepe pan.

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Preparations

1. In a large bowl, add the flour and milk. Beat/whisk for 5 minutes. Add eggs and continue beating 2 more minutes with a mixer/whisk. Add the salt and sugar, and mix/whisk to combine.

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2. Heat a nonstick crepe pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add about 1/2 teaspoon of butter, and follow with 1/3 cup of batter. Swirl the pan to encourage the batter to coat the entire surface of the pan. Cook 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the crepe has set and browned slightly on the bottom side. Flip the crepe carefully and cook another 30 seconds or so. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding a small amount of butter to grease the pan after every few crepes, and place finished crepes on a plate.

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3. cut lemon into slices

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4. serve the yummy crepes with lemon and sugar.

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Here are some tips to start cooking with your toddler:-

1. Shop Together – Before the actual cooking starts, begin your cooking experience in the grocery store. Talk to you toddler while in the grocery store on your shopping list and what you will be preparing with it at home. Get him to help you to pick up the groceries! This is a great way for your toddler to identify certain items in the grocery store

2. Start Basic. – The initial cooking experience with a toddler will most likely be very short – so try not to get frustrated when your tot loses interest.

4. Talk Through it – While my son is helping I talked to him about what was happening. “Let’s add one more egg” etc.

5. Make it Fun and Expect a Mess – Cooking with toddlers will be messy and although the experience is fun it also means that flour will end up everywhere. Through the mess I also taught him about cleaning up to emphasize that it is a part of the process.

6. Don’t force – if something seems hard for your toddler, don’t force it, just let him do what he’s comfortable with and not easily frustrated by.