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Author Archives: cookwithkids

Sight Word Bathtub Basketball

My son started school this year. A huge milestone for us all. It has been an emotional few weeks settling in to this new routine and for the most part it has been quite stressful. He comes home from school in very bad moods and is absolutely starving. I’m sure most children are very similar so to add homework into the mix this week has been interesting to say the least.

I know lots of people disagree with homework in Kindergarten especially and I can see where they are coming from but really, the homework that is coming home is a home reader and sight words. It’s not pages of worksheets and projects. It’s a little book and some words to look at.

As parents, we should all be reading to our children every day anyway. Mem Fox recommends that children be read a minimum of 3 books every day. Obviously some days that’s not going to be possible but it’s really not a lot of time out of your day.

The sight words on the other hand I thought might be an interesting challenge. So I decided to make a little bit of fun out of it. Enter Sight Word Bathtub Basketball… Bit of a mouthful I know!

Bathtub Basketball

I have been getting into the routine of getting Mr 5 into the bath pretty much as soon as he gets home (after he’s had something to eat). I find that it relaxes him for the afternoon and gets rid of any pent up stress from the day. I put into the bath some epsom salts and lavender oil. These things help with his relaxation and also are supposed to help with sleeping (I’m not convinced but I’m not prepared to give it up either!). Bath time is a fun time in our house. We like to put food colouring into the water for an added sensory experience.

On Monday I pulled out some ping pong balls that I had put away and wrote each of the sight words that Mr 5 had brought home that day on a ball and put them in the bath with the bath basketball hoop that we’ve had for a long time. He loved saying the words on the ball as he threw them into the hoop. I didn’t pressure him at all but made it into a fun game! Best part… Homework and bath done! You could mix it up with some different coloured ping pong balls as well…

Get creative with your kids homework and it won’t be a chore for them. Yes it’s hard at the end of a long day but with our help it doesn’t have to be boring and repetitive!

By the way, we had coloured the water yellow on this particular day. It doesn’t look good in the photo but it’s not what you’re thinking… 😉


Playdough Roadway

We have all been quite sick of late. Thomas is on his second bout of the flu and we are all suffering complete cabin fever. So in the interests of staying sane just one more day I thought we would make some playdough and have some fun this afternoon.

I have recently come across The Imagination Tree’s 4 minute no cook playdough and am loving it. I’ve never been very good at making playdough but this one is a winner (that’s also where the inspiration for this activity came from).

My little man who does not love playdough spent nearly an hour playing with this activity. Not bad for someone who isn’t feeling very well. Worth noting also is how quickly Daddy came over to play! My hubby usually steers clear of any playdough or painting but today he was right in there. Together they were creating traffic jams and putting holes in the road that the cement mixer had to come and repair… Was really gorgeous to be watching.

If you click on the link, you will be taken to a wonderful post about the Benefits of Playdough from The Imagination Tree shared during their “Playdough Pledge Week”. There’s also some wonderful suggestions of things you can add to playdough to enhance creativity and learning. Take a minute to have a look. I’m sure you’ll be inspired!

City Map/Drawing

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I saw this idea over at The Imagination Tree as one of their “invitations to play”. It definitely looked like something that would go well in our house.

My little man is not very interested in arty/crafty activities and while that doesn’t stop me doing them with him, it does make it difficult to maintain his attention for any great length of time. Do you have trouble engaging your boys in drawing/painting activities? It’s quite common but it is still important that boys get exposure to these sorts of fine motor activities in order to develop their pencil grip and literacy skills.

Which is why this activity is great. For us, it combined Thomas’ interest in cars as well as his imagination at the same time as developing his fine motor skills. Win/win. We also did this as a family which was even nicer. It’s not often that Daddy gets involved in our craft activities.

This is what we started with

Really easy to do…

All you need is:

A large sheet of paper (as big as you like)

Textas (or any drawing implement)

Floor space (preferably floor that can be scribbled upon and cleaned easily because inevitably it will happen as we discovered!)



What you do:

Draw a road on to the paper and put the cars and textas on and let your child create their own little city…

This is our end product

Let you child guide the play and play alongside them. Thomas decided he wanted to draw a park with a swing and his preschool. He needed to put a speed bump outside the preschool so we cut a toilet roll in half and taped it on.

This is the preschool. We had to put in a car park and Thomas ‘wrote’ a ‘P’ for parking in each parking spot. I love this emerging literacy. When children begin to learn that a mark represents a word or a letter – such an exciting time! We also had to put in a pedestrian crossing and a fence around the preschool to “keep the children safe”. 

We added to this for days. I left it on the floor for about a week and it evolved. it started to get a bit ripped and tatty so I pulled it up so we can play with it again.

After a couple of days we added some little people to the play map as well. We had a lot of fun with the children going to preschool and to the park!

Flower Card

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It’s Thomas’ Nana’s birthday today so yesterday we made this very special card for him to give her. It’s really easy and fairly quick to make and looks really sweet.

What you need:

Cardboard cut into a rectangle and folded to make card

Cardboard or paper to do prints on

Green, yellow and other coloured paints of your choice (depends what colour flowers you would like)

What you do:

Paint child’s hand and make handprint. Be sure to lightly push each finger down to ensure print is made.

Dip fingers in paint to do finger print flowers making a yellow finger print in the middle of each flower.

Allow to dry and write your message on.

We did this in a bit of a hurry and I didn’t leave the handprint to dry before doing the flowers. If I did this again, I would let the hand print dry as we got a couple of smudges when we did the finger prints.

This would make a great mothers day card too.

Happy mothers day to all the mum’s out there!

The Benefits of Bubble Blowing

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We all love bubbles. They are pretty amazing aren’t they. The way they start as just some liquid and form a wonderful colourful floating sphere that floats away and pops in mid air. Just watching bubbles is both rewarding and relaxing and something all children seem to love.

Did you know that blowing bubbles can have a calming effect on children?

The exercise of blowing the bubble encourages children to practice deep breathing which has calming effects on the body. So next time your kids are having a bad day, are tired or irritable (they all have them). Instead of fighting a losing battle, get out the bubble mixture, get them blowing bubbles and have some fun. You’ll both feel better, more relaxed and able to face the day.

There are plenty of store bought bubble mixtures that don’t cost a great deal but if you prefer to make your own, here is a recipe from the Questacon website in Canberra.

  • 3 parts dishwashing liquid (Morning Fresh works well)
  • 7 parts hotwater
  • 1 part glycerol (or sugar)

The glycerol helps the bubble to last longer, by preventing them from drying out. Glycerol is available from pharmacies and some supermarkets. If you cannot get any glycerol, use sugar instead.

Mix the ingredients very thoroughly. The batch used by the Maths Squad was mixed for around half an hour. If you are making a large amount, try an electric drill with a paint-stirrer attachment, or even a bent piece of coathanger wire. Otherwise a flat stick works fine.

Some other benefits of blowing bubbles:

  • Blowing bubbles is a great turn taking activity for children who have trouble taking turns
  • Great for encouraging language in children. Before you blow the bubbles, encourage your child to say “go” when the bubbles pop, model the word “pop”
  • The activity of blowing bubbles is also good for strengthening muscles in the mouth. Children who have delayed speech may benefit from this.

ANZAC Day Poppies

ANZAC Day is a tricky one to talk about with young children. Talking about war and people dying is not something that we really want to expose to the very young too early and yet ANZAC Day is such an important day in Australia and one that children should have some concept of.

Finding activities that introduce children to the concept of ANZAC Day is a great way to open it up for discussion in an age appropriate way. Last year we made ANZAC biscuits using my Nan’s recipe. That was pretty special and we will probably do this again this year but I wanted to do a little more than just make biscuits.

I saw these poppies on a blog called  A Little Delightful. You can download and print the poppies from here which I did but I wanted to do something that was a little bit more hands on so drew some of my own (based on the template) and Thomas and his little friend painted them with red paint.

We talked beforehand about ANZAC Day and I told Thomas that ANZAC Day was about remembering the soldiers. We looked up ‘soldiers’ in our children’s dictionary. There are some lovely children’s books around about ANZAC Day. You can see a comprehensive list at My Little Bookcase.

What you need:

White cardboard

Red poster paint and paint brush

Black paper cut into small circles

Green pipe cleaners

Sticky tape

Glue stick

What you do:

Trace and cut out poppies. Depending on the age of your children, they may or may not be able to help with this process. Thomas at 3 is a little bit too young to be able to cut out a flower. We are still working on snipping :-).

Have you child paint the poppies with the red paint.

When the poppies are dry, place some glue in the middle and stick on one black circle. Attach a pipe cleaner to the back of the poppy with sticky tape.

Create your own display for ANZAC Day :-).

How do you discuss this important day in our history with your children?

Stained Glass Window

We were in the mood for a bit of craft this afternoon but I was in the mood to not make a lot of mess! This activity was perfect. Thomas got to do some cutting and sticking and there was barely any clean up afterwards.

What you’ll need:

Some cellophane of different colours


Coloured paper


What you do:

Using a piece of coloured paper (ours was square but you could do any shape you like), cut out the middle leaving a border around the edge. I left a border of about 2cm.

Cut a piece of contact slightly bigger than the coloured paper and place the coloured side down onto the contact.

Cut cellophane into strips.

If your child is old enough, they can use child sized scissors to snip small pieces of cellophane to stick onto the window, otherwise you can do this step.

Then all you do is stick the coloured cellophane onto the contact. When you are finished, fold over the excess contact around the border and stick onto a window.

This activity is great for colour recognition, fine motor skills and scissor development.

I love to introduce and cement children’s understanding about different concepts using books. Children’s books can help children learn in so many different ways. If you would like to extend your child’s understanding or interest in colour, here are some examples of great books that explore colour:

“Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See” by Bill Martin and illustrated by Eric Carle,

“Nana’s Colours” by Pamela Allen,

“Rainbow Peekaboo” by DK books

“Wow said the Owl” by Tim Hopgood

and for something a little different,

“The Black Book of Colours” by Menena Cottin.

These are just a few books with colour as the central theme. I’m sure there are many more. Do you have any favourites?