Thursday, 27 October 2011

Sensory Play: Cloud Dough

Pinterest has done it again!  This is the pin I found to this fun alternative to play sand.
Cloud dough is easy (and cheap) to make and worked beautifully with our sand moulds.  The recipe calls for 8 cups of flour to 1 cup of baby oil, just mix together and that's it ready to use. I have to say that although the original post from Flights of Whimsy calls for baby oil I used cooking oil instead.  Baby oil is actually toxic.  If ingested it can cause vomiting and has been known to cause fatal asphyxiation when the vomit blocks the windpipe.  Of course in these quantities it is not very much oil and if the children you are preparing it for are old enough not to put everything in their mouths then it does smell nice  BUT for us it was a definite no-no.  A, being the autistic kid he is, insists on exploring everything with his mouth despite being an 8 yo so just in case we went with the safer option.  To make up for the lack of lovely smell we added some ground cinnamon to ours.  
B really loved the smell and thought it smelled "yummy like cookies".  The sand moulds went down well, then he decided that it was "snow" and went and got Bertie the Bus and drove him round and round into "snow-drifts" and pretended to rescue Bertie again and again.  We also made "snowballs" by squeezing the mixture together and then made it "snow" by sprinkling the mixture from a height into the bowl; good for fine motor skills.  It held his attention for over an hour and a half, something playdough has never done.
The clean-up was also easier than I expected since the mixture was not greasy or oily as I suspected it might be, a dustpan and brush followed by a damp cloth was all that was needed.  All in all something I would make again.

Fine Motor Skills: Paper Plate Weaving

Continuing on with our half term activities we discovered this post over at Pinterest for weaving using a paper plate.
Here is R's first attempt (she is eager to make more!)
Not bad eh? Especially if you read the sparse instructions on the original post for how to thread the warp threads.  
Here's how we did it.
First we chopped "spikes" into the rim of the paper plate.
Then we took a ball of wool for our warp threads (in this case we used white)
We tied one end of the wool to one of the spikes to secure it.
Next we took the wool across the front of the plate to the opposite spike.
Working clockwise we put the wool round the back of the spike then back across the plate to the next spike clockwise from where we started.
We continued going behind the spike and then across to the opposite one all round the plate.
We were left with a star shape of threads on the front of the plate and loops round the spikes (but no threads across the centre) on the back.
Next get your weaving thread - you could use a small ball of wool but we found a length threaded into a darning needle was much easier.  Tie the end of the thread to the warp threads where they cross in the middle of the plate to secure.
Weave away.
As an aside if you have an odd number of spikes (like we did) you may find that the normal over-one-under-one ends up with the same threads being on top or below on each round (if you look at the pink circle above you will see what I mean) either alternate as you add a new length to your needle, or plan it better than we did and use an even number of spikes!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Sewing Practice : Hair clips and bird feeders

R has started to really get into sewing.  This is a good thing but I am too often unavailable to help due to the boys.  These are some projects that we have managed to do together recently though.

First felt hair clips (barrettes?)- just some of the designs we have made.

These are dead easy to make.  First take your hair clip and place it on top of the felt you intend to use.  Cut a rectangle that is slightly larger than the clip.  Cut another that is the same size, you should now have one piece for the front and one for the back.  Take the front piece and decorate with cut out pieces of felt, beads, sequins, embroidery stitches, buttons, in fact anything you fancy.  The only thing that dictated what I used was that it had to be SEWN onto the piece of felt so that it would stand up to being worn more than once.  Take the piece of felt for the back and using the clip as a guide cut a slit in the felt for the back of the clip to slip through (using felt means that this won't fray).  Feed the "arm" of the clip through the slot and fasten as normal to hold it in place.  Match up the the front and back pieces so the edges match, the decoration should be on the top and the front of the original hairclip inside the "felt sandwich".  Sew the front and back together using a blanket stitch or running stitch.  Done!

The other needle and thread practice we have been doing is threading monkey nuts onto thread using a needle.  We also made a popcorn one (which was much easier, unroasted monkey nut shells are harder than I thought) but since it is also B's favourite snack it turned into a B feeder rather than a bird feeder!  Here is the feeder as hung on the tree and photographed by R.

Angry Birds colouring pages

Angry Birds addiction has struck!  B "sings" the game music whenever it is mentioned.  R, A and OH are in a battle to get the highest level (A is winning!) and I am in the process of working out how to make some Angry Birds toys and/or hats for A (by request) after seeing some HUGE ones in a local shop for an equally huge price.
Those things I can't manage, yet. But we did find some colouring pages via Pinterest (the link is here).
Here are some of the results by A, R and B respectively. Classic time filler when the weather is wet and windy for half-term.

So if you have your own Angry Birds fan click on the link for the 6 colouring pages from Nick Junior!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Free Planners

This week we used lists to plan our half-term holiday activities so we didn't look round on Saturday and say "What did we do all week other than watch DVD's?"  This must have struck a chord with a lot of people because I came across this link to loads of free planning pages over at Pinterest.  Whilst I love all these lists because they look so pretty I don't have the resources to print out a new sheet for every new week let alone day.  One of the comments however had a brilliant suggestion - use page protector pockets and a dry erase marker, I already have some of these to use with B when we are using the whiteboard for letters etc, and already use page protectors to recycle many of his tracer sheets- why didn't I think to carry this idea across to my own planning?
If you would like to download a new style of list for your own planning here is the link to the round-up that someone has kindly done.

Now all I need is the will-power to actually follow up the plans...he he he!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Letter A: a is for apple: file folder game

This is a simple lowercase/uppercase letter a match-up game using apples as the theme.  I have to own up, although I intended to finish the one I started myself for B with this idea I found this one already to download and go for free over at preschoolheaven a while ago. I had totally forgotten about it until it surfaced from the thousands of files stored on my computer during an unrelated search.  When I tried to find the file online so this post can link to it all the site content has disappeared.  It is owned by the same person who runs filefolder heaven so maybe it had moved...  Anyway to give credit where it is due the cute graphics are by someone called Tricia Clarke.
Here it is in all of its glory - I still think it would be simple to make yourself if the original is lost for good.

I had intended to use it with B this afternoon but this is what a morning at Nursery School does to you!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Pre-writing Cards and sandbox

I found this idea via Pinterest. For those of you who don't know Pinterest is a virtual pinboard where you can pin the ideas that interest you, as found on the web, to share with the rest of the world.  It has proven far too addictive for me as can be seen by my total number of blog posts of late!
Anyway, in this case the idea is a picture of a product from "Montessori n such".

"Montessori n such" is an online store and they were selling pattern cards for copying patterns in a sand box.  You can find them on sale here for $18.50.  Bear in mind this is just for the pattern cards - the sand box itself is sold separately.

 I know from past experience with A that many younger children who don't like using pencils and paper to make meaningful marks can often be tempted by different textured drawing materials so I decided to recycle an old baking tray in lieu of a no-expense-spared sand tray and used a standard word processing program (in my case the FREE Open Office) to produce some simple printouts that can be popped in page protectors or laminated.  Of course we can also add geometric shapes, numbers and letters to the ideas of patterns to copy as well.  The important thing to note is that the patterns are intended to be followed left to right (as in normal letter formation) so each pattern should have a start point marked as in the original product.
In place of play sand in the tray you can use salt, sugar or flour. A darker tray works better as it gives a better contrast.
Here is a picture of our cheap-skate version of the original in use.

All in all it was a great success.  Although B did follow the parallel lines in the pattern he did more than the two on the sheet, still this bodes well for the future.  Who needs to spend over $35 for a tray and pattern cards!

I Can Teach My Child

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Resources by Theme Master List: Pirates

In an attempt to organise my own bookmarks and to pick and choose from all the great FREE resources available to download and print I have started listing them in these master lists by type of resource and also by theme.  You can access these master lists by using the tabs at the top of the page.
This post is on the theme of pirates and will be updated periodically as I add resources to this blog or discover new sources.  If you know of any that you think should be included feel free to leave a comment. Enjoy!

Preschool Printables blog - pirate set here;
2Teachingmommies also has a pirate unit (click here);
Homeschool Creations has a pirate lapbook;
Pirate Boy printables from preschool printables;
Preschool Printables pirate girls set; 
play 2 learn printables  pirate section;