Smurf House and Village

 

Smurf house and village is a fun toy to make from things you may already have at home.

It was inspired by Meemoo and Pook’s current interest, from watching it in German, plus seeing them on a recent trip to Brussels. This is not at all what I had thought we would do for week 4, see the plan!

The Smurf houses were fun, if a  little involved to make, but even Meemoo had a go. The best bit has to be that we are still playing with them a week later and have played with them everyday.

To make a Smurf House you will need:

Flower pots

Paint

PVA Glue

Hot Glue Gun

Foam Sheets

The first step is to turn the plant pot upside down,  cut out the door and window.  I used a craft knife to do this. Next  paint the pots your chosen colours. Mix the paint with a little PVA glue, this make the paint thicker and helps it to stick to the pot. Leave the pots to dry.  Then apply a thin coat of PVA, and leave to dry overnight.

Smurf House Decoration Time

Pook sat and helped me design the decoration and details for the Smurf Houses. All of the pieces were cut of of foam, I did not use a template the shapes were cut  by eye.

Pook was able to cut many of the simple shapes. Firstly we added foam around the doorways and the windows. Attach the foam using the hot glue gun. (Hot Glue guns are not suitable for children to use.)  Next we added flower pots  to the sides. The roof was attached last.

Making the Roof

First draw a circle on a piece of foam which is slightly bigger than the flower pot.  Add decoration spots to make it look like a Smurf house. It was easier to attach one edge of the roof, then the opposite side. This then leaves you with the slight rounded shape when the next 2 sides are folded in.

The roof took a bit of fiddling, I did have a few goes trying to get it to look right.

Making a Smurf village 

The Smurf Village was very simple to set up.  I found a large piece of green material and arranged the houses on it. Next I added small stones to make pathways,the inspiration came from seeing the shop windows displays in Brussels.

I made a small lake out of larger stones and small blue beads from a broken toy necklace!

Meemoo and Pook, have thoroughly enjoyed playing with it. Meemoo added all the small cakes from My Little Pony castle and then obviously the ponies came to live in the Smurf Village!

Stomp Dinosaur Stomp

We have stomped dinosaur stomped our way through week four of our Summer of Fun!

Here’s a quick reminder of what we’ve been up to this week:
reminder of what we’ve been up to this week:

Making Mondays Trip out Tuesdays Wacky Wednesdays Thinking Thursdays Foodie

Fridays

Make your own dinosaur bones out of salt dough. Take a trip to a natural history museum Do you remember the bones you made on Monday?  Dig for them today in your own dinosaur excavation! Make some frozen dinosaur eggs.  How do we get the dinosaurs out? Make dinosaur footprint biscuits.

This week required a little bit of planning, as some of our activities were done over a couple of days.

 Making Monday,

We began the week making a basic salt dough recipe (equal volumes of plain flour and salt, mixed with approximately half the volume of cold water until they form a soft, but not sticky dough). Miss N was tasked with using her salt dough to make dinosaur bones. I then baked these at 100C (fan oven) for 3 hours.

I used up the leftover salt dough in the evening to make some footprint tiles. After baking and cooling, I painted the footprints and left them out with the matching dinosaurs for the children to explore.

Trip Out Tuesday

We are becoming dinosaur experts after our trip to the National History Museum in London – an amazing trip out Tuesday! Meemoo Pook and I took the opportunity on Tuesday to visit to refurbished Natural History Museum in Luxembourg. While small in comparison to London we still had a great time.

 Wacky Wednesday

I buried Miss N’s salt dough skeleton in the sandpit, and set out scraping tools and brushes for the children to excavate the skeleton. Add an explorer’s hat, and Miss N looked every bit the expert archaeologist!

Gemma had less space, but still was able to do this brilliantly on a smaller scale too.

Throw in a little dinosaur movement (flap like a pterodactyl, stomp like a stegosaurus or run like a velociraptor) and you have a truly Wacky Wednesday!

Thinking Thursday 

We had so much fun playing and exploring with our Dinosaur Swamp with frozen eggs.

 Foodie Friday

We put Mr Z’s excellent mark-making skills to good use by making a basic shortbread biscuit, and pressing the toy dinosaurs into the dough before baking. We added a little icing to the imprints when the biscuits were cool, to make them pop! Yummy! I think Foodie Friday is a perfect end to the week!

 

Please share your dinosaur adventures on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram.

Next week we are exploring fairy tales and imaginary worlds – where will you travel to? Come and join us for our summer of fun, just sign up in the pop box on the right to receive your exclusive and free play ideas for next week straight to your email inbox.

Dinosaur swamp with frozen eggs

Dinosaur swamp with frozen eggs

 

It’s time that Thinking Thursday’s fun got a proper airing. This is one to get thoroughly stuck into!  It’s a couple of ideas merged into one great play experience. It can easily be adapted to suit a wide age range.

 

To make the frozen dinosaur eggs, you need:

Small round balloons

Small plastic dinosaurs

 

Squeeze a dinosaur into an un-inflated balloon.  (Whilst it’s fiddlier, I found using the smaller balloons gave a more rounded egg-like shape).  Fill the balloon with water, tie. Then place in the freezer until hard.  If you can, make sure the eggs are flat in the freezer and have space, so they keep their shape.  If you can turn them over after a couple of hours, the air bubble is less noticeable and the dinosaur is more likely to be in the middle of the egg!

 

Once frozen solid, cut the neck of the balloon and tear off the rubber.  Your eggs are ready to go!  I tend to spray the surface with a little bit of water and sprinkle on some glitter for extra sparkle!

 

 

Dinosaur Swamp play ideas for older children (4+)

So, you could just play with the eggs.  In fact, Miss N did an experiment to find out whether hot water, salt or using a hammer would release the dinosaurs from their eggs the quickest.

We had lots of discussion around how to make it as fair as we could, and how to measure our results.  This was good practise for organising her ideas, recognising and comparing outcomes. it was perfect as preparation for her undertaking independent investigations in future.

If you have a go at this experiment, then let us know your results in the comments on this post.  I’ll put ours up later next week.

Dinosaur Swamp play ideas for younger children (18 months +)

For Mr Z, I decided to make this into a small world play set up, with the dinosaur eggs in a swamp!

 

To make the swamp, you will need:

A large tray or container

Sand

Water

Natural materials to create habitats – we used logs, leaves, grass, flowers and stones

Washing up liquid (optional, but it added some bubbles and gave an extra dimension to the watery parts of the scene)

Large plastic dinosaurs

I used wet sand to create mounds on the tray, including a large nest for the dinosaur eggs, which I lined with leaves (we wanted the baby dinosaurs to be comfy when they hatched!).  I filled the rest of the tray with water, added the natural materials to create different areas of habitat, then put the large dinosaurs around the play set up and the frozen eggs into the nest. 

Mr Z was then let loose to explore and play as he wanted.  He loved getting the dinosaurs to walk along the logs and jump into the water, and getting them to stomp and sink in the sand mountains.  It’s an excellent introduction to imaginative play and storytelling, and increases his vocabulary when we talk about how we’re making the dinosaurs play.

We only stopped playing when it started raining heavily, and Mr Z was so upset at leaving his dinosaurs that we had to bring them in, and he kept playing with them in the sink!

Dinosaur Bath Eggs

Dinosaur Bath Eggs

I’ve been cheeky this week!  We’ve had so much dinosaur-based fun, that I’ve written an extra blog post so I can give you detailed information so you can have a go yourselves.  Trust me, it’s worth it – these are fantastic!

 

To make one dinosaur bath egg, you will need:

½ cup bicarbonate of soda

10 drops liquid watercolour

2 tablespoons citric acid (in granular form)

3-4 teaspoons vegetable oil

A small, plastic dinosaur

Baking paper

 

In a dry bowl, drop the liquid watercolour into the bicarbonate of soda. Next rub it with your fingers until the colour is mixed through.  Add the citric acid and stir.  Add the oil and rub it all together.  You should have a powdery substance that will hold together in a lump if you squeeze it hard!

In a cupped hand, put some of the powder and press it down.  Put the dinosaur on top, then keep adding the powder in small amounts and pressing hard. You need to do this until you have totally covered the dinosaur.  You will  have an egg-like shape.  Place very carefully onto a tray lined with baking paper, and leave to harden overnight.

We made several eggs in different colours, mixing the leftovers together to make multi-coloured eggs (which I think were my favourite!).  Miss N was able to make these with supervision. There were lots of problem solving skills used to find out the best amount of oil and how to handle the egg without it falling apart!

Now the fun really begins! 

We turned our bath into a dinosaur swamp, by adding a few drops of green liquid watercolour and some cut grass.  Both children loved watching the eggs fizz as they went into the water, and the force of the fizz made the water rise a fair bit.  We scooped up all of the grass at the end of the bath and made a nest in the corner for our newly hatched dinosaurs.

The older your children, the more detail you can go into about the chemical reaction taking place between the alkaline bicarbonate of soda, and the acidic citric acid.  It would be interesting to think about why adding the oil as a liquid when making the eggs doesn’t trigger a chemical reaction, but adding water does!

A note of caution: the oil does make the children and the bath a little slippery!  If you want a little less mess, then the children would have just as much fun putting the eggs into a deep bowl of water and watching them fizz away in there.

 

Great Artists Week – Summer of Fun

Week three of our Summer of Fun we explored the world of Great Artists!   We created with paints, pens, by building and with food!

Here’s a quick reminder of what we’ve been up to this week:

Making Mondays Trip out Tuesdays Wacky Wednesdays Thinking Thursdays Foodie

Fridays

Get inspired by a famous Artist.

Create your own versions of their masterpeices

Take a trip to a local Art gallery  Who will you be today?

Spend the day dressing up and taking photos of all the characters you have been 

Let Sculpture inspire you

What can you build with?

 

 Make your own sensory food paints.

 

Here are the highlights of our Great Artisits week…

Making Monday

We made cut out art in the style of Henri Matisse. Pook enjoyed cutting out shapes and using them to create a picture.   Meemoo just enjoyed cutting the paper up, but it was good scissor skills practice.

Miss N made some beautiful Renoir inspired umbrellas by drawing on foil with sharpies.

Wacky Wednesday

We had great fun playing dressing up all day. Meemoo and Pook kept their costumes on all day, even wearing them out on the bus to the city centre.

Sarah made an amazing photo booth, then in the afternoon Miss N made some amazing Picasso inspired art with her photo printouts.

Thinking Thursday

It was an open ended challenge with toilet rolls and straws.  I quickly cut some straws in half, and made some very basic holes in the tubes. I then left it for Meemoo and Pook to discover what they could make.

Pook was inspired by the recent art installation we have in the city centre, using the toilet rolls and straws to make her own version.

Mr Z had some wooden bricks with velcro on to build with.

Foodie Friday

Finally on our Great Artists week, it was time to create art with food. It was messy fun, getting to paint with yogurt, which was dyed using fruits. It started out as natural yogurt to which, fruit was added. The best results where from fruits which have lots of colour, especially berries. Sarah added jelly crystals to her making it thicker to paint with and it looks a lot smoother.  Fun was had by all and it was a great way to encourage healthy eating.

Please share your animal adventures on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram.

Next week we are being dinosaur explorers. You can still join us in our summer of fun, just sign up in the pop box on the right to receive your exclusive and free play ideas for next week straight to your email inbox.

If you have missed out on weeks one and two, take a quick look

Summer of Fun; Ocean Activities

Summer of Fun; Animal Activities

Art Gallery with Under 7s

An Art Gallery is not a obvious choice for under 7s  when planing a trip , but this is where Meemoo, Pook and I found ourselves last Tuesday. I decided to visit Villa Vauban in Luxembourg City Centre for the opportunity to see some Art to tie in with our Great Artists theme of the week.

It was a surprising trip, in that it went better than expected. Meemoo and Pook are still talking about the trip a week later and asking when we can go back. It must of made an impression!

So if you are considering a trip to an Art Gallery with under 7s here are some top tips

  • A little preparation paves the way

Before our visit to the Art Gallery we had talked about artists, what they did and we had the previous day explored the story of Henri Matisse for our Making Monday. We had a go at making some art in his style.  Meemoo and Pook were aware what an Art Gallery was and how to behave, mainly DO NOT TOUCH !

 

  • Check out the Museum online

    Before your visit it is worth checking to see if there were any activities for children. I had had a brief look and it appeared that most of the activities were pre book and for those above 6 years old.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were so many child friendly activities to engage us as we went round one of the exhibitions.  Meemoo and Pook had a blast dressing up to match the portraits.

     

     

    They enjoyed getting to touch the ‘feely’ pictures.

 

  • Simple games to play at an Art Gallery

The first exhibitions that we encountered in the museum where not child friendly and Meemoo was finding it difficult to interact with the art. We started playing find your favourite picture, tell my why? It really is as simple as it states!

  • You don’t have to stay all day

Or that long at all.  It is a huge experience for young children to just see lots of Art, be it paintings, photos, sculpture or installations.  Do not expect a massive reaction like you would at the park.

The real surprise for me having taken the girls there is their reaction to it now. It is still talked about, Meemoo calls the story about Henri Matisse the “art gallery” book. Pook enjoys telling people about her trip. Both of them ask when we can go again!

So thinking of a trip you would not normally take young children too,  my advice is  with a little prep be brave. It may just inspire them!

Summer of Fun – Animal Activities

Week two of our Summer of Fun… animals, animals everywhere!   We have stomped, roared and laughed our way through the week!

 

Here’s a quick reminder of what we’ve been up to this week:

Making Mondays Trip out Tuesdays Wacky Wednesdays Thinking Thursdays Foodie

Fridays

What’s your favourite animal?  Can you make a picture of it? Take a trip to a farm or zoo Elephants stomp, snakes wiggle and kangaroos jump!  Can you move like an animal? How do penguins stay dry?  Let’s find out with wax crayons and water!

 

Make a slice of toast into an animal using fruity toppings!

 

Here are the highlights of our Summer of Fun animals week…

We made button animals on Making Monday.  Mr Z explored sticking his buttons onto sticky back plastic over a picture of a snake, and Miss N used a butterfly outline to create her button masterpiece.

 

I also sneaked in an extra make, with this gorgeous elephant handprint keepsake.

 

Gemma had an inspired spot for her animal movement game on Wacky Wednesday – the airport departure lounge!  A fantastic example of having fun and helping to pass the time!  I wonder how many other passengers fancied joining in with the game?  Can you beat her idea for a strange location?

 

Mr Z’s imagination was encouraged with a Dear Zoo storytelling basket.  We even learnt the BSL sign for camel, so we can now sign all the animals in the story and have a go at making their sounds – ROAR!

 

Thinking Thursday was a little gentler this week!  Miss N carefully coloured in this penguin using wax crayons (the fewer gaps the better).  We gently sprayed it, and a blank penguin with coloured water, and compared the results!  We extended our experiment by putting on waterproofs and using an umbrella, and spraying each other with the hose.  Never say science is boring!

Another delicious end to the week, with fruit turtles and animal toast on Foodie Friday!

 

Please share your animal adventures on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram.

Next week we are being artists. You can still join us in our summer of fun, just sign up in the pop box on the right to receive your exclusive and free play ideas for next week straight to your email inbox.

 

Playdough Jungle

Here is our first guest blog from Sarah, who has been mad enough to help me plan this Summer of Fun. It sounds like they had a fab time making their Playdough Jungle.

Playdough Jungle

We have been enjoying the animals theme this week, and what better way to combine this with our love of playdough than to make a playdough jungle?!

 

You will need

Playdough ingredients

2 cups plain flour

½ cup salt

2 tablespoons cream of tartar

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Glycerine (optional)

1½ cups boiling water

Green food colouring

Plus…

Small plastic jungle animals

Brocolli

A selection of small natural materials (we used stones, slate, bark and a mix of different leaves and branches)

Playdough tools, such as rolling pins (optional)

 

I made the playdough by mixing together the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil.  I added the food colouring to the water, then gradually added this into the mix.  You may not need all the water, so go steadily with it.  Stir with a spoon until it clumps together.  When it’s cool enough for you to be able to touch, add a few drops of glycerine and knead until it becomes smooth and soft.  If it’s too dry, add a touch more water; if it’s too wet, add a bit more flour.

 

Once the playdough was completely cool, I set up an invitation to play for Miss N to create her own jungle.

 

She chose tools she wanted from our playdough box, and used lots of problem solving skills to get the trees and branches to stay upright in her jungle.  Her preferred solution was to use the broccoli as a base for the thinner twigs and stems to be stuck into.  I’m always particularly impressed when she comes up with solutions that I would never have thought of!

 

For Mr Z, I made a small playdough jungle for him to explore initially.

 

I then added extra animals and loose materials to his tray to further his play and exploration.  He enjoyed making marks in the playdough with the lion’s feet and the bark, and squishing lumps of playdough with his fingers.  It was a good opportunity to explore cause and effect, as well as give those little finger muscles some extra exercise.

 

If you want to keep your playdough for another time, it keeps for several months in an airtight container.  Let us know how you get on!

Summer of Fun – Ocean Activities

Week one of our Summer of Fun….phew what a fun filled week have just had full of Ocean activities.

In case you missed the newsletter this is what we have been up to

Ocean Week Activity Plan

Making Mondays Trip out Tuesdays Wacky Wednesdays Thinking Thursdays Foodie

Fridays

Sea themed salt Art

 

 

 

Take a trip to an aquarium or a local pet shop to see the fish. Can you make a raft for Moana to sail across the Ocean?

For under 3s

Coloured water play

What floats and what sinks?

Experiment with salty water.

 

Make Fishy Cupcakes

Here are a pictures of best bits of the Ocean activity week. We began our week with Making Monday, exploring the process of Salt Art.

Exploring coloured water in the bath.

Our Wacky Wednesday was a real challenge this week. It was tricky to figure out how to make a raft and it took lots of perseverance, but eventually with a little help there was success! 

Our Thinking Thursday was great fun, exploring floating and sinking, but then taking it too the next level by experimenting with salt water. All of this was aided by watching a quick bit of Go Jetters, when they visited the Dead Sea.

Foodie Friday ended the week with a yummy sweet fish cupcake!

 

Please share yours on Facebook or new find us on Instagram.

Next week we are off on an  Animal Adventure. Its not too late to join in the fun, sign up in the pop box to the left of you to receive your exclusive and free play ideas for next week.

Salt Art – Heart of Tifiti

Salt art was a new experience in our house. It was perfect opportunity to use a new art process to explore the story of Moana, which is still a firm favourite in this house.

You will need

A3 white paper

Water colour paints

PVA glue

Salt

Food colouring

Pippettes

Paint brushes

Salt Art Process

We began by painting our sheet of paper in various shades of greens and yellows.  It was a lovely opportunity to explore mixing paints to make different shades of greens.

After this was dry we began the salt art. The first step was to create the spiral shapes using PVA glue. Our glue was in a squeezy bottle which gave Meemoo and Pook a workout for their hands. it is quiet a skill to squeeze the bottle and to get the glue to make the shape you desire when you are only little.

Next we gave our paper a liberal coating of salt and after shook off the excess. Now it was ready to add the colour. I had mixed a few drops of yellow  and green food colouring with some water.  Meemoo and Pook used a syringe to suck up some water and drop it onto the salt.  They enjoyed watching the colour travel along the salt. It was difficult to be precise and some off the ink leaked into the paper.

Our guest blogger, Sarah,  used the same process to make Salt Art sea animals.

It is a really fun process and an interesting way for children to make pictures.