Tag Archives: pretend play

My Adventure Island by Timothy Knapman and Sarah Warburton

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adventureislandcoverMy Adventure Island by Timothy Knapman and Sarah Warburton, paperback picture book, published by Scholastic Chidlren’s Books in 2012.

“Here on my island I do what I like.” A young boy tells of all the things he gets to do on his adventure island.

My Adventure Island is a beautiful story of imagination and creativity. With gorgeous, bright illustrations on every page, you can get lost in this world where anything can happen. You can play and climb and eat ice-cream, never go to bed or shower and you can even pick your nose! The picture of the boy and his friends picking their noses while poking our their tongues is one of our favourites! I love that there are robots, dinosaurs, and sock seaweed, but I like it best when the cat becomes a tiger for a knight.

The story is lyrical and the text clear. It is wonderful to share aloud, and my kids like it. They play games like this, pretending to be and do all sorts of things. The ending is very sweet too.

My Adventure Island is suitable for toddlers through to lower primary school children, and it is a very nice book to read aloud.

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Car Track

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Simple items for lots of fun!

Simple items for lots of fun!

Duct tape is a very useful thing to have about the house. This time it came in handy to transfigure our rug into a roadway for the boys to drive their little cars all over.

Duct tape car-park

Duct tape car-park

I rolled out long strips of duct tape and stuck them to the rug to make a circuit with some cross roads and a car-park at one end. I used a permanent marker to add details to the road, such as marking out the car spaces and placing dashes for the centre lines. L made the boys a car-wash and joined it to the road with another piece of tape.

The car-wash.

The car-wash.

We used Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, small CAT diggers and some other small vehicles we found in the toy-box. There were even a few wooden trains riding the roads! T1 particularly liked parking the cars, while T2 made many of them crash. He also used a small bulldozer to move some of the cars off the road. L and A enjoyed using the car track too, and spent a lot of time “washing” cars in the car-wash.

Once we were finished playing, I pulled up the tape and threw it out. There was no sticky residue left on the rug, and we’d had a great time playing cars!

Driving cars.

Driving cars.

Parking cars.

Parking cars.

Crashing cars.

Crashing cars.

Washing cars.

Washing cars.

Flower Lei

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IMG_5633Summer is coming! Warm weather, sun, sand, surf… The thought of the beach put me in the mood to make flower leis with the kids.

Fabric flowers.

Fabric flowers.

This is a very simple lacing activity using fabric flowers and cut up plastic drinking straws. I bought the flowers from Educational Experience, an online educational supply store. These flowers have little holes in the centre of each one, perfect for threading. You could also make your own fabric flowers from fabric scraps, or use paper/tissue paper for the flowers.

Threading flowers and straws.

Threading flowers and straws.

We cut pieces of yarn roughly a metre long, and tied a big knot in one end to prevent the flowers from slipping off. The kids alternated flowers and straws until they had filled their yarn up. I helped them tie the ends together to form a loop, and the leis were ready to wear.

The younger kids had some trouble keeping the plastic yarn needle on the yarn, so I tied the needle on for them. This allowed them to focus on the threading without the frustration of needing to re-thread the needle all the time. Once they were finished, we just cut the needle off and tied the ends together. The boys (who are only two) did very well with this activity, carefully threading their flowers and straws on. This is a great activity for fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and concentration. And it makes some lovely, bright leis for dressing up with!

 

Green Sensory Tub

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After gathering some green items together, we sat down to our green sensory tub. We had some ribbons, pipe cleaners, bowls, spoons, a toy train and a toy truck, muffin case, wooden and plastic trees and some green toy bugs and snakes. The boys were both very interested in the toy train and toy truck, rolling them all over the tub and the floor. They touched the fuzzy pipe cleaner, and used the spoons to scoop up the bugs. T1 tried to wear one of the bowls as a hat. T2 crinkled the muffin case, and fluttered the ribbon about his head.

Scooping from the bowl.

Scooping from the bowl.

T2 had a lot of fun moving the snakes and bugs about, and using the spoons. He pretended to scoop food out of the bowls and eat it off the spoon. After a bit, T1 tossed all of our green items out of the tub and sat in the tub himself! We talked about the colour of his clothes, but he wasn’t wearing anything green! He liked repeating the word “green” after me, and finding things about the house that were also green.

Making the snake ride the truck.

Making the snake ride the truck.

 

Snowman Costume

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IMG_2845Most people with younger kids have probably heard of a little Disney flick called “Frozen”… At some point your child may have been invited to a “Frozen” themed birthday party, or insisted on having one themselves. For most young girls this is a small matter of putting on a store-bought Queen Elsa or Princess Anna dress and popping along to the party.

When our family was invited along to a recent “Frozen” party, A was set, as she already had costumes. L thought about going as Olaf the snowman (whom she loves) or perhaps as Sven the reindeer, but settled on me finding her an Anna or Elsa dress. Thus, on the morning of the party, I had two little girls going as Princess Anna. About an hour before the party was supposed to start, L suddenly decided she didn’t want to go as Anna, she would much prefer to be Olaf!

Couldn’t she have mentioned this the week before? Or even the night before? Of course not, and now with an hour to go, if she doesn’t go as Olaf, it will be the worst day ever…sigh… Can I just take a moment to curse the merchandisers for not producing Olaf (or Sven) costumes? A last minute dash to the store might have been manageable, but instead I was faced with a likely meltdown from a child suffering from generalised anxiety, which could lead to a late arrival or complete failure to attend the party, as well as many tears and screams, and much patient coaching of relaxation and calming techniques masking irritation for the tantrum, and a deep sadness for my child. Averting the crisis is always easier than settling her, so I quickly put on my creative solutions hat and dashed off to the craft drawers for supplies.

A carrot nose.

A carrot nose.

The easiest and most obvious place to start to turn my child into Olaf, was to give her a nice carrot nose. She wanted to strap a real carrot to her face, but quickly realised that it would be too heavy. Instead, I used a square of orange paper rolled around to form a cone, and tape to secure it. We added a piece of white paper to the carrot nose to simulate Olaf’s big front teeth.

A tooth and some air holes.

A tooth and some air holes.

Elastic was used to keep the little mask on L’s face, and a couple of breathing holes were made on the underside of the nose for a more comfortable wear.

Black buttons.

Black buttons.

While I formed some coal buttons out of black tissue paper circles, L went to her room to find some white clothes. She came back with some long white shorts and a plain white singlet. These clothes were perfect. I attached the buttons to the front of her singlet with double-sided tape.

Tissue paper folded back on itself and taped to form a button.

Tissue paper folded back on itself and taped to form a button.

Olaf has big black eyebrows and twig hair. I thought I could do something with black pipe cleaners (chenille sticks), but wasn’t sure what to attach them to. L suggested using a swimming cap, which was a great idea, except that all our swimming caps are blue. After wracking my brain for several minutes I went to search through the drawers looking for inspiration. I found a soft knit belly band from when I was pregnant with Baby T. I fastened this around L’s head, scrunching the excess band into a hairband, and then smoothing the front back over her head. To this I attached two small pieces of pipe cleaners above her eyes as eyebrows with double-sided tape. We used several pieces of pipe cleaner to fashion his twiggy hair, as close to the picture of Olaf as we could get. Taping this to the top of L’s head in a way that stuck up was the hardest piece of the costume, and if I’d had more time, I would have liked to stitch it down, but we were plumb out. Luckily L really liked the costume and we got off to the party in time, and had plenty of fun.

My little Olaf ready for the party.

My little Olaf ready for the party.

Shaving Cream Play

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Shaving cream in a tray.

Shaving cream in a tray.

A very easy activity for kids is letting them play with shaving foam. It’s easy to clean up with water and is lots of fun. It’s not good to eat though, so I prefer not to let Baby T near it, but L and A love squishing their hands into it.

Squishing and squashing.

Squishing and squashing.

Whisking.

Whisking.

We used a couple of plastic trays on top of a muck mat, in an attempt to contain the shaving foam. It’s nice to do this outside if the weather permits, where we can just hose the area down. L and A each had a tray with shaving cream in it. They used various utensils to mix and scoop it, but mostly they just liked to feel it, squish it and squeeze in through their fingers.

Mixing and spreading.

Mixing and spreading.

L pretended the shaving cream was part of her cafe and she made me a smoothie. A whipped her shaving cream up with a whisk, and somehow managed to get shaving cream all the way up her arms and on her face.

We have previously used shaving cream to practice writing spelling words in too. We just smooth a layer of shaving cream in the bottom of a tray, and then write the words using a finger to form the letters.

Messy fun!

Messy fun!

 

Sailboat

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A few weeks back Big L brought home some Mexican take away, and the quesadillas came in these wonderful cardboard containers, lined with foil, so no food had touched the cardboard. I immediately saw a boat in these containers, and put them away in the craft box for another day.

The base of the take away container.

The base of the take away container.

A and I pulled them out during the week and removed the lid from one of the containers and turned the base into a sailboat.

Placing the mast.

Placing the mast.

A joined two pop-sticks together end to end to form a mast. I made a small hole in the base of the cardboard boat to insert the mast. A then used tape to secure the mast to the base. She cut out some pink paper for her sail and taped it to the mast. I had been thinking we would just cut one of the paper squares in half diagonally to make a triangular sail, but A had other ideas, and made her own unique sail from two pieces of pink paper.

Adding the sail.

Adding the sail.

Taping on some water.

Taping on some water.

Around the outside of the base we added a layer of blue tissue paper as water for the boat to sail on.

Once her boat was finished, A put one of her dolls and a small teddy into the sailboat and took them for a ride.

Teddy and dolly ready for sailing.

Teddy and dolly ready for sailing.

Hand Shadow Show

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One night last week we had a blackout after dinner. The kids were a little frightened to start with, but then we pulled out torches and candles. This led to the kids putting on a shadow puppet show to pass the time.

A shadow bunny.

A shadow bunny.

We set up one of the big torches aimed at a clear space on the lounge room wall. The kids stood off to one side and used their hands and arms to make different shadow shapes on the wall. They mostly made animals, adding sound effects, and telling some short stories. Big L made some shadows too. They had lots of fun performing their shadow show, and sooner than they would have liked the lights came back on.

A making a shadow dog.

A making a shadow dog.

L making a shadow animal.

L making a shadow animal.

Playing Eskimos

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It’s mid-winter and the weather is cold, especially at night. Unfortunately we get quite cold with lots of wind, which brings down the apparent temperature, but it doesn’t often snow 😦

Last week, Big L had told off A for something or other minor, so in reaction, she told us that she was going to move onto the deck, and that’s where she would sleep. Our deck is covered, but not enclosed, so it was really cold out there, and windy. The temperature was probably hovering around freezing, but she insisted. We decided to let it play out to see what would happen next.

A pulled out an old cot mattress and blankets and set them up as a bed. At this point I insisted that she put more clothing on. L also got involved then, as they decided to play Eskimos. I helped to dress them both, with tights, track pants, two pairs of socks and slippers, singlet, long sleeve shirt, jumper and parka, as well as a beanie and mittens. A couldn’t find her mittens (she has three pairs, yet none could be found….), so she put an extra pair of socks on her hands. They were complaining that they were too hot while they were still inside, but I explained that they would need it outside.

Ready to play.

Ready to play.

They took some toys with them and headed out to the deck. Big L and I could see our breath billowing out as we helped get them set up in their bed, snuggled together and piled up with blankets. They were using a giant white bunny toy as a pillow. We pulled their hoods up over their beanies, and tucked them in. I was feeling very glad I wasn’t camping out in that cold.

Snuggled in their bed.

Snuggled in their bed.

Big L and I went back inside and waited. We could hear them talking and playing on the deck, but after about ten minutes they both came in and said they didn’t want to be Eskimos any more. They would really much rather sleep in their own beds in the warm house! They might not have lasted long, but they had fun while they were playing out there, despite the cold. They are both so imaginative, and they love pretend play.

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.