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Letter to Santa

I thought I would share this activity with everyone as Christmas is on its way and writing a letter to Santa is something my girls look forward to this time of year.  You can send your letter and use the service provided by Australia Post (details below) or you can reply to your children’s letter pretending to be Santa 🙂

I sit individually with both girls and write our letters. Lara tells me what she would like to write and I write it for her then she draws pictures for Santa. Olivia who is learning to write, writes some words herself and adds her pictures.  Once the letters are written the girls decorate them using pens, pencils, textas or paint.

Australia Post provides for Australian residents where you can post your letter in a red post box and Santa will reply. You can also down load Santa letter templates either coloured or black and white.  For more information see http://auspost.com.au/personal/letters-to-santa.html

Once your letters are written, addressed and stamped we walk down to the local letter box and post them. It is not long before Santa sends a letter back which is a very exciting day at our house!!

This is a great activity to do with children as it promotes language and literacy, creativity and imagination.

Ocean Playdough

 We have been talking a lot about recycling as Olivia has been talking about it at Preschool. With world’s Ocean day coming up on the 8th of June I thought we could explore the ocean.

We have talked about swimming in the ocean and what we can do to take care of the ocean. To further this discussion we have made some playdough and added some sea creatures to make it more ocean like.

This was my first attempt at making cooked playdough and I am really happy with how it worked out. It is a much smoother dough than the uncooked recipe I usually use. If you haven’t made your own playdough before this is defiantly something you should try.  The only problem I had was I didn’t have any blue food colouring so we have a green ocean.

 

What you need:

A batch of playdough(recipe below)

Sea creatures (I got a bag of about 8 creatures for $1 from Big W)

How to make the dough:

2 C Flour

1 C Salt

2 tbsp Oil

4 tsp Cream of Tatar

1 1/5 – 2 C Water

Food colouring

Mix the food colouring in with the water.  Add all the ingredients , but the water, to a large sauce pan and stir.

Over low heat slowly add the water until all combined.

The mixture may be sticky at this stage but as you continue to stir it will firm up.

Once the dough is coming away from the pot turn out on to the bench and lightly knead.

The dough should be stored in plastic wrap or a plastic container in the fridge.

  

The girls enjoyed this activity they made sand castles big waves and made patterns with the star fish.

We will do this activity again tomorrow and I will add some rocks from the garden and some blue crape paper.

Once the playdough is getting old and drying out a little I will add sand to if add another texture and to continue on with the ocean theme.

Worms!

About 6 weeks ago we set up our own worm farm in our back garden. My husband laughs at how excited I was and continue to be with the process he especially laughs at the thought of me handling the worms as I am not big on creepy crawlies.  I think  the overall idea started when the girls were helping in the garden and were excited to see the earth worms. I did a bit of internet surfing and found information about to setting up and caring for a worm farm.

I loved that not only is it an educational experience for the kids but a great way to recycle food scraps that would otherwise end up as land fill. In return you get worm wiz (worm wee!) which can be used as a liquid fertiliser on the garden. You can also use the worm poo (castings) as manure mixed with potting mix in potted plants or sprinkled around you existing plants. It takes about 3-6 months for the worm farm to be up and running so you can start collecting the castings. Saying that we have learnt a lot from our little wriggly friends in the short time we have had them.

The girls love peeking into the farm and seeing what the worms are up to. We have spoken about what the worms eat and the girls put left over scraps into our worm food container.   They are both keen to hold the worms and enjoy having their hands tickled by the wriggly wet creatures (Liv’s exact words) we have carefully pulled a worm out and put it on a piece of paper and watched how it has wriggled and dances around the page. We talked about his shape, colour, whether he is a boy of a girl and talked about where worms like to live. You don’t need to have a worm farm to do this activity as it can be done with earthworms found in every garden.

So to take this interest a step further we have done some worm painting today. This activity uses string to paint with rather painting worms as my sister Louise thought.   🙂

What you need:

Paper

String or wool

Poster paint

Water

Put some paint in a container and mix in a little water to make the paint the consistency of thickened cream. Wet the string and place it in the paint. I used gardening string and once it was wet it frayed a little this added to the effect but next time I think I will try it with wool.  Keep one end of the string out of the paint to use as a handle. Once the end of the string is wet with paint you can wriggle it along the paper to make wriggly worm lines and patterns.

             

During this activity we had lots of conversations about the colours mixing together, the patterns the string was making and the way that worms move.  Not only does this activity encourage communication, language and colour awareness , it develops fine motor control by using different methods and materials to paint with.

Coloured Pasta

Pasta of all different shapes and sizes can be used in craft activities especially at Christmas so I thought I would add a post about how to colour it.

You will need:

Green and red food colouring(These are good Christmas colours but you can really use any colour you like)

Pasta

Zip lock bags

Water

Paper towel

Foil

Add about a tablespoon  of water to the zip lock bag and a few drops of the food colouring. The more food colouring in you add the more intense the colour will be. Add a few handfuls of pasta and close the bag. Move the water around in the bag to make sure all the pasta is coloured. You can add more pasta at this stage if you find there is a lot of liquid still in the bag.

Leave the pasta in the bag flat for a minute then turn it over and leave it for another minute.  After a few minutes the pasta will absorb the colour, if you leave it for too long the pasta will go soggy.

Pour the mixture out onto a plate with paper towel and allow it to absorb the extra colouring mixture. Then tip the pasta onto a plate covered in foil and put into the sun to dry.  If you leave it on the paper towel it will stick.

The finished pasta:

I will post some craft ideas for the coloured pasta in over the next few weeks.

Group Drawing

After a big morning of pizza making with a few friends and their kids (8 kids 4 years old and under!!)  I had my girls and my nice Emily to entertain for the afternoon. We needed an easy activity to do that they could all do and meant that I wasn’t run off my feet so painting wasn’t an option!!  So we got out some big paper, covered the table and the girls got creative.

What you need:

Paper – I have big sheets that you can get from art shops and newsagents. Or in you have a local newspaper printers nearby (we do!) you can buy rolls of newspaper that hasn’t been printed on, (kind of like butchers paper) Or you can tape together A4 sheets to make one big sheet

Tape – Masking tape

Crayons, pencils, chalk or textas

Tape the paper on to the table and put the crayons in the middle and get creative!

Today this activity kept the girls occupied for about 30 minutes. Then after my girls left the table Emily continued to fill the page with colour.

This is a great activity for not only the benefits of drawing but also allowing children to share a common space, learn about personal boundaries and sharing materials.

Bubble Painting

Kids love bubbles and this is a creative and fun way to turn them in to a work of art.

What you need:

  • High sided bowl
  • ½ C water
  • A splash of washing up liquid
  • 10 drops of food colouring (you may need more to make the colour stronger)
  • Paper
  • Straw

Firstly you put the water, washing up liquid and food colouring in the bowl. Then the child blows through the straw to blow the bubble up just above the rim of the bowl. It’s important to ensure the child doesn’t drink the mixture so this activity is best done with older children.

Then place the paper over the top of the bowl to take an image from the bubble. We did two colours to make an effective pattern.