Spring time means baby animals and last weekend we had our yearly visit to Gaston Farm. This was the 3rd year we have been and we love it. Gaston Farm is a working farm which runs two events a year. Open Lambing (over waster) and Open sheering (end of may) and proceeds go to charity work in Nepal and Africa. So not only can you have a great time visiting the farm you also know its supporting a good cause. We are yet to visit Open Shearing but Open Lambing is great. There’s orphan lambs to cuddle, ducks and chicks to hold, tractor rides to see the beautiful countryside and if you lucky you may get to see a lamb being born.
You may remember my Yachts Tuff Spot blog post a couple of weeks ago as part of Adventures of Adam’s A-Z Tuff Spot Challenge. We did not own a tuff spot at the beginning of the challenge and so we didn’t follow the challenge right through. However we now are the proud owners of a tuff spot so I’ve decided I will over time build up and A-Z of tuff spot activities which I set up for the girls. I intend for these to link into our daily lives so here is my next one a Shadows and Reflection tuff spot in follow up to Bella’s question on the nursery run yesterday.
This morning as we walked to nursery Bella piped up ‘Is that my afelction (reflection) or shadow mummy’ referring to the shadow of herself on the ground in front of her. I replied saying it was her shadow before pausing for a second. We then went on to talk about what a shadow is and what a reflection is. I explained a shadow is where something blocks the sun and a reflection is when you can she your self in a mirror or other shiny objects. It was a relativitily short conversation no more that 5 minutes but upon getting home and reflecting on it I realised it so much more that just a brief 5 minute conversation while walking.
After participating in the Five Senses Play Challenge hosted by Adventures of Adam I was excited when they announced the Tuff Spot A-Z Challenge and needed bloggers to part take in the blog hop. By the time I got round to choosing my letter it was only the harder letters left so I really had to get my thinking cap on and came up with yachts!
This week was the 5th and final week of the five sense play challenge that’s been hosted on the Adventures of Adam blog and we were focusing on the sense of sight. I was glad this sense had finally come around. I had been meaning to make a d.i.y light box for several months and had already bought the bits and pieces but finding the time was the problem but now I had the kick up the bum I needed to just make time!
It’s week 4 of the #fivesenseplaychallenge and we are on the sense of sound. We have had a very musical week so far. We sing nursery rhymes and dance around to the radio daily that’s not new but this week I’ve added new musical creativity in. We had borrowed some wrist and ankle bells form the children’s centre toy library which down a treat. Bella enjoyed dancing around and jumping to make lots of noise.
Bella understands so much so when playing with the bells I explained we were focusing on sound this week. The next day she was creating her own music with paint brushes on the clothes airer. I do love that sensory play doesn’t have to be pre-planned but can be spontaneous and self initiated.
Today after diner we had a while till daddy was going to be home and the kids needed something to pass the time so on my toes I decided to get out pots and pans with wooden spoons. An old favourite which happens quite frequently in the kitchen when I am cooking!
Elleah really enjoyed banging and making lots of noise as well as chewing the wooden spoons (she is currently cutting a couple of teeth). Bella also enjoyed this as she had asked to watch nursery rhymes so was doing that too. She experimented a lot with sounds. Hitting the saucepans in size order to hear the difference in sound, placing the sieve on top of saucepans and finally holding the saucepan up then hitting it.
Although this started as a ‘sound’ based activity our pots and pans session was most definitely open ended play. They got used as hats. Bella was also stacking them in size order.
They were also used as stepping stones!
I loved that this week we were able to link our sense of taste activities with things that were happening this week. Chinese new year was celebrated with a day full of themed play. We spent the morning at the children and family centre where they has lantern painting, Chinese letter painting and snack including prawn crackers which both girls loved.
After lunch we explored the sensory box. Elleah was not keen on the texture of the noodles and did not really like to touch them although she did a few times she much preferred to use the utensils. Bella on the other hand loves to get stuck in and was straight in playing, making me ‘dinner’ and of course putting them on her head! We have only just got rid of the glitter she put on her head before Christmas.
They also made the most of the edible factor. Lots of carrots got eaten and some noodles. Elleah tried some of the spring onion and it was safe to say that she did not enjoy it by the faces she pulled.
We ended the day with a Chinese New Year inspired dinner. We had chicken satay skewers with vegetable stir-fry and noodles. I thought it was delicious however the girls at the chicken and left the rest. Maybe they had eaten enough noodles that afternoon.
Our first sense of taste activity was pancake day themed! Finding activities that are suited to a 3 year old and a 1 year old can be hard especially as the 1 year old likes to eat everything but this week has opened my eyes to lots of new suitable ideas!
First we made our pretend pancakes with pictures of different toppings. Bella cut out her own toppings and I realised her cutting skills have improved greatly. She stick hacks rather than smooth cutting but can cut out set things rather that chopping it all up like she did not so long ago.
I prepared a plate with all the different toppings which we had images of. At this point the activity was varied to account for both ages, Elleah just tasted the toppings and then I drew a smiley face or sad face depending on whether she seemed to enjoy it. To make it more challenging and interesting for Bella I blindfolded her before giving her each spoonful and got her to guess which topping it was.
Bella enjoyed all the topping which I thought she would and she barely pulled a face at the lemon. On the other hand elleah hated the lemon!
Finally after diner they go to have some pancakes and tried a variety of toppings. Bella told me that she loved the sugar and lemon. Elleah kept pointing to nutella so I think that was her favourite. Mummy enjoyed a banoffee pancake (nutella, banana and homemade salted caramel sauce. Although I did have to have a few of the good old sugar and lemon!
So last week was the sense of smell but we actually ran out of time to do our second activity so we did it yesterday instead. Bella has a very keen interest in helping me cook so I though it would be a good idea to explore herbs. We had a selection of herbs and we talked about their names and what we would use them for. Elleah was napping when we did this activity which was nice as it meant we could really get stuck is talking about the herbs and it felt like Bella was really absorbing the information.
Bella then had great fun cutting and grinding the herbs one at a time. She was amazed at how much stronger the smells became as before when we sniffed the plants she said she could not really smell them. We used the ground herbs to make herb pods which Elleah could sniff and that could be used in the play kitchen.
These were very easy to make. The herbs were stuck onto card and covered with sticky back plastic. I then used a sharp knife to pierce the stick back plastic so we were able to still smell the herbs. The sticky back plastic is not essential but will make them a lot more durable.
So it’s half term this week which means no pre-school for Bella so hopefully more time for sensory play!! It’s also pancake day and Chinese new year so I am excited this weeks sense is taste as I have some great ideas.
Starting with pancake day tomorrow I am going to do a topping testing play with the girls. I have found images of several toppings which we will cut out and stick onto a pretend pancake on a paper plate. For Bella I will then have her blindfold and taste each topping and guess what it is. Elleah is younger so I will just let her try then and see if she likes them or not. Lemon will be interesting!
Here is a pdf with topping images if you would like to have a go.
pancake topping tasting
Chinese new year is on thursday and I am going to repeat the sensory bin I made last year. Bella loved it last year and elleah will be old enough to have a play this year. It just had cooked noodles with different veg and utensils in from the toy kitchen.
Ive also had a quick google to find some other potential ideas if we have time to fit them in as we already have a messy play session at the children centre on Tuesday, a girl morning at the ice cream parlour on Wednesday, play and learn session on Thursday and work on Friday!
I like the idea of some kind of jelly play. Possibly these jelly worms which would work really well in this edible mud