Tag Archives: construction

A Very Duplo Christmas to You!

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We have a big tub of Duplo that gets played with everyday. On Christmas Eve Big L and A were entertaining the boys with the Duplo, building cars and houses. I challenged them to construct a Christmas tree, and then left them to it. After a while A came and found me to show me what they had built.

One large Christmas tree complete with star on the top, a couple of presents and a Santa, all made from Duplo! Merry Christmas!

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Digger Cake

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IMG_5941Digger! Digger! Digger! is all I hear as we drive past a building site in town. Both boys are completely obsessed with diggers at the moment, with trucks running a close second. T2 is having trouble with the ‘d’ sound, so he actually says Gigger! Gigger! which is super cute.

To make our toddler boys extra happy on the weekend, we made an excavation cake with little plastic digger toys on it. When I brought it to the table after dinner, they both started yelling excitedly and bouncing in their chairs!

Cake cut and ready for decorating.

Cake cut and ready for decorating.

This is a super easy cake to make, and really doesn’t take very long to decorate at all. Cooking the cake is the most time consuming part of this cake. I used two Betty Crocker Devil’s Food cake mixes because this is the boys’ favourite type of cake. We cooked the two mixes together in one rectangular baking pan. Once it was cool, I cut part of the cake out to form the space for the excavation. I re-used some of the spare cake to create a ramp and road along one side of the cake.

Frosting the cake.

Frosting the cake.

The cake mixes came with ready to spread chocolate frosting, which made icing the cake even quicker. I covered the whole cake with the frosting. L helped me to crush up several bars of Flake chocolate to create the dust and rocks at the excavation. We mixed this with some Coco Pops and spread it around the hole in the cake. We also used some finely crushed Flake chocolate along the path and ramp under the vehicles.

Cake from above.

Cake from above.

Then it was time to place the vehicles on top of the cake. The excavation toys I bought as a pack from Toys’R’Us. There were five CAT vehicles, including some diggers, dump truck and bulldozer. We put the diggers into the hole, added the bulldozer to the path, and had the excavator dumping its load into the dump truck. We placed some of the Flake and Coco Pops into the scoops and the back of the truck as if they were actually moving the dirt around.

Excavator dumping 'rocks' and 'dirt' into the dump truck.

Excavator dumping ‘rocks’ and ‘dirt’ into the dump truck.

Diggers digging out the ground.

Diggers digging out the ground.

 

Backyard Teepee

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IMG_8907Our simple teepee is just the right size for one child. L has been using it for some quiet time by herself, where she can read and eat a snack in peace.

IMG_8900We used a small plastic hoop (I think it was 50cm in diameter) at the top of the teepee. To this we attached a plastic shower curtain using plastic shower curtain rings. Last time I actually had a shower curtain the rings clipped together once they went through the curtain and around the curtain rod. These curtain rings didn’t clip, and the shower curtain kept popping off them. To solve this we taped the opening of the ring shut. I overlapped the shower curtain, placing the last ring through the first and last holes to  stop it from moving around the hoop so much.

At the base, we used a larger plastic hoop (this one was 75cm in diameter). L helped me to punch holes around the bottom edge of the shower curtain with the hole punch. Then we used the rest of the shower curtain rings to attach the bottom of the curtain to the bigger hoop, and taped up the gaps.

Placing the curtain rings.

Placing the curtain rings.

Punching holes in the shower curtain.

Punching holes in the shower curtain.

I tied the small hoop onto the branch of one of our trees, to hang at about the right height for the big hoop to rest on the ground, but without the curtain billowing out too much. We didn’t have enough rope, so I used some poly string as a temporary tie until I can get some more. We added a soft-fall mat under the teepee so that the kids didn’t have to sit on the ground while they were using the teepee.

The kids are very happy with this little teepee, and they have both been playing in it. A took some toys out and had a little tea party, while L has mostly been using it as a reading spot.

Lego School

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Playing with Lego is a lot of fun. Making up Lego kits is great for L because she has to follow the instructions to get the model right, and sometimes she finds that a little difficult. She loves to display the Lego she has built and play with it. Doing free building with the Lego promotes creativity and logic, as the kids have to design, and then build their creations in a way that works and reflects their ideas.

A has only just started to enjoy Lego, until recently she had been exclusively using Duplo, which she loves. Both kids still love building with Duplo, and because of its size I’m not worried about Baby T swallowing it.

A placing trees and flowers ready for demolition.

A placing trees and flowers ready for demolition.

I put out the tub of Lego, gave them each a green base board and asked them to build their ideal school. Between them they decided that L would build the playground, and A would build the school room. A placed trees and flowers on her board first, and then knocked them all down to make room for the school buildings… L’s first addition to the playground was a swimming pool. I helped A set out the base of her building, then she placed windows, a door, and a doggy door (a small opening window). From there she was able to build the walls up.

 

Making an equipment shed.

Making an equipment shed.

I helped by finding some of the pieces they were looking for, adding some bricks to A’s school room, and putting little flower heads on the flower stalks as requested by A. While we built, we discussed the kind of things their dream schools would have. They both wanted lots of animals at their school. A added a pony and stables to her Lego design, while L added several dogs to the playground. They wanted horses, dogs, bunnies and chickens at their school, as well as lots of trees, flowers and soft grass. A pool was very important to L, and having lots of outdoor equipment like bikes, scooters, hula hoops, climbing frames and a sand pit was desired by them both. They also decided the school should have a nurse with her own little medical area, as well as a swimming instructor by the pool.

Building up the school room.

Building up the school room.

This activity fired up their imaginations as they thought about want they wanted at their ideal schools. They are in a small public school at the moment, so they can’t really have all the elements they mentioned, but one thing they both agreed on was that their ideal school would have awesome teachers, just like the ones at their real school. Hearing that made me happy. While they might like to have some extra things, like a pool, at their perfect school, they are extremely happy with their actual school, and the teaches and staff there. They are also very happy to be back at school this year, and are very eager to learn!

The school and playground.

The school and playground.

Pop-stick Bookmark Holder

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Books are one of my family’s greatest loves. We have them packed into shelves, stacked around on tables, chairs, and on any available flat surface, and A has been known to sleep with a book or two under her pillow. We buy more books every year and we frequent the public library, which allows us to borrow an unlimited amount of items and they’ve done away with over-due fees! So you can imagine how many books we read every year between us, and many of them are too long to be read in one sitting, however much we might want to read them to the end. I will use just about anything on hand as a bookmark, scraps of paper, lolly wrappers, hair clips, business cards, pencils…. and I’ve found L using another book as a bookmark a few times. This is not due to lack of ownership of proper bookmarks, but we just never seem to be able to find one when we need it, or they are already in a book (I’m particularly bad at having multiple books on the run at the same time). Big L often shakes his head when he sees me using some unusual object as a bookmark. We really needed a place that was dedicated to storing bookmarks, somewhere that we could find a bookmark when we needed one, and replace it there when we were finished, all ready for the next book.

Bookmark holder full of bookmarks.

Bookmark holder full of bookmarks.

L built us a bookmark holder out of pop-sticks. She started with a base of pop-sticks, and then built it up from there. She used PVA glue to stick the pop-sticks together, working around in a square pattern. I helped a little with the glue and adding some of the pop-sticks, under L’s directions. When L was using the glue, she often added so much to the corners that it squished out the sides, so I don’t think it will ever come apart! L kept adding pop-sticks until the holder was a good height. To finish it off, she used some mini pop-sticks and match-sticks to decorate the top layer. I added a couple more pop-sticks to the bottom of the base to prevent any of the thin bookmarks slipping there the small gaps between the pop-sticks.

Creating a base.

Creating a base.

Adding glue.

Adding glue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building up the sides.

Building up the sides.

Drying.

Drying.

It took a long time to dry, but it’s very solid! We have put as many bookmarks as we could find into the holder, and placed it on one of L’s shelves. Hopefully we will manage to keep putting our bookmarks back in between uses 🙂

Box Construction City

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Over the last few months we have been collecting cardboard boxes instead of recycling them straight away. There were also a number of box construction items that had come home from school, and were added to the pile for re-purposing. The pile of boxes grew and grew, until it was taking up plenty of valuable decking real estate. There were a lot of cardboard boxes, of all shapes and sizes, from jelly crystal and bikkie boxes, through to nappy and big packing or freight boxes.

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And what would we do with so many boxes? Well, the answer to that is Boxtown! The end of our deck was transformed into a city this morning by L, A, Big L and myself. Baby T wanted to help, but it was nap time, so he flew off to dreamworld while the rest of us got our builders’ hats on.

Building the library.

Building the library.

The first large building to be built was a library (I think this must be a reflection of how much we like to read!). L made a lovely sign for the top of it, and both kids helped me tape the boxes together. A tried to attach a thin cracker box as a walkway to another building, but she never made the other building to attach it to, so it just stuck out at the side of the library. Well, at least it did until it fell off, and A didn’t notice, so I didn’t mention it.

 

 

Hospital with chopper on the heli-pad.

Hospital with chopper on the heli-pad.

There was also a hospital, complete with heli-pad and helicopter. The helicopter even had a red cross on its side and rotors that could spin. Besides the hospital was an airport and runway made out of painters tape. L made some planes out of cardboard rolls to live at the airport.

 

 

 

 

 

Airport and runway.

Airport and runway.

There were other small buildings too, including a dental clinic made from toothpaste boxes, a restaurant made from a yoghurt container, and a doctor’s surgery made from bandaid boxes. These were chosen and made entirely by L, who sorted through the boxes until she found the appropriate ones 🙂

Office tower.

Office tower.

The biggest building in Boxtown  was the office block. Big L helped the kids make it so big, it actually stood taller than L. It was a large skyscraper towering over the rest of Boxtown. A used markers to draw some windows and doors, and make it “pretty”, while L made a sign for it. She wrote the word ‘work’ all over the sign so we had no doubt what was supposed to occur inside the office block, though she made no suggestion as to what work her workers would be performing.

There were also a few houses. A decorated a shoe box, giving it some chimneys and windows, which I think was a house. L made a large dog house too.

This was several hours of building fun, and then some more fun playing in the city. And once the kids have finished playing with Boxtown we will recycle it and reclaim our deck 🙂

Marshmallow Sculptures

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Marshmallow and straw building.

Marshmallow and straw building.

We practiced our architectural skills using marshmallows, plastic straws and toothpicks. It was lots of fun, and the kids loved eating the marshmallows once they were finished 🙂

Marshmallow and toothpick house.

Marshmallow and toothpick house.

L discovered that the toothpicks worked better than the straws, as they were shorter and stronger. She also found that using triangles as her base shape created a stronger structure that could be built up much taller than those made with squares.

After the tower building was complete, both L and A made some original sculptures using the marshmallows.  I particularly liked L’s ‘Cat doing splits’.

Making crazy sculptures.

Making crazy sculptures.

Spiky echidna.

Spiky echidna.

Cat doing splits.

Cat doing splits.