Continuing our theme “Women Who Did” for this year, our second amazing woman from history is Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter who suffered and survived not only childhood Polio, but also a bus accident that left her in a full body cast and bed ridden for two years. Despite spending the rest of her life in constant pain, Frida lived that life abundantly, boldly, and with an enviable strength.
Last year my children had watched most of the Roald Dahl movies available on the market, but we hadn’t read any of the books, so our Roald Dahl inspired arts and crafts were varied and mixed. Over the last few weeks we’ve been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, however, so all our activities the last few weeks have been around that.
Next week we’ll be working on Matilda, so check back in if you love that book too!
PIN THIS: There are two versions of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie:
And there is the book, famously illustrated by Quentin Blake
While we like having fun with our ‘themes’ as we call them, I do try to bring elements of learning into them too. Remembering that my children are 5 & 3, I do keep things pretty simple, but I’m quite excited about the possibilities of redoing all these themes in years to come, and seeing how much they have grown in their understanding, and how much ‘deeper’ we can go on each topic.
Having watched the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie and read the book, I decided to do a reading comprehension ‘test’. I designed a comparison chart, so Ameli could compare what happens in the book with what happens in the movie, and also make a note of major things that happen in a similar fashion. For example, in the book, Mr Bucket tells them about the golden ticket competition, in the movie, Charlie sees the posters going up.
Sticking with the loose ‘English’ or ‘Language Learning topic, we decided to make up words, something Roald Dahl is incredibly good at! This little making up words activity went down a charm, and made an amazing platform for telling our own stories.
I use the word math very lightly here, but since we’re starting out, we used measuring a bag of candies as an introduction to units of measurement.
It’s Charlie and the CHOCOLATE factory, so we had to get some inventing with chocolate going – I went for the easy option and made Jazzies, with DIY decorations for my little inventors. Not all the creative activities this weeks should include tons of sugar, so we decided to make our own party decor. We made giant lollipops, giant boiled sweets, and giant lollipop swirls. This was a great afternoon’s paper sweet crafting.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a great theme for introducing some science too – see what happens with popping candy when you pour water, coke and then vinegar into three different bowls and top them with popping candy. Measure jelly babies and put them in a bowl over night – how much did they grow? Put boiled sweets (the kind with stripes on them) into a bowl with a few drops of water. What happens to the sweets? How do the colours disperse? Could you do it on paper and see what happens with the colours? Does the paper remain in tact? Put boiled sweets in mould and put them into the oven. When they melt, do the colours mix? Do they retain their shape? Do they re-set into their new shapes? There are loads of candy experiments you can try!
At the end of a long and exciting week of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, everyone needs a good, long, relaxing bath, so this Chocolate Bath Salt recipe smells delicious, and helps induce a deep sleep too.
Printable Unit Plan
Click on this image for a downloadable, printable study unit plan.
What have other Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fans been up to?
- Wayfair has a fab roundup of Roald Dahl activities (I know it’s fab, because our post from last year is in there too 😉 )
- Verily Victoria Vocalises actually went to see the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory show in London. She tells us all about what looks like a fantastic performance here. Also, if you’re able to make it to London soon, Amazon Local has a fantastic offer on the tickets right now*!
- Treading on Lego has a great recipe for Chocolate Play Dough which would be a great alternative to DIY Jazzies too – or just another activity to do!
- Gramma Luvlee has an amazing list of party games for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – super imaginative!
My life over the last year has not been ‘my life’. It’s been a crazy attempt at keeping my head above the water as both a mother and an employee. My job is winding up this week, and while I’m panicked to the hilt about how on earth I’m going to stay afloat, there’s also a part of me that feels a huge amount of energy returning to my day to day. I feel excited about spending time in home education again, and not like my little girls are just another thing on my to do list every day. We’ll see how the next months go, but I’m excited about getting back to being a mother first, even if the government is trying to push mothers back into work – even those that don’t want it. But that’s a post for another day.
Today I decided that it was time to start at the beginning again. Ameli is reading beautifully and mostly confidently, when she can be bothered to. Aviya is slowly starting to recognise letters, and I think it’s time we start focusing on our play-learning themes again. At least for Aviya it’s a formal start to alphabet learning.
I thought a fun introduction for us all would be something crafty, so I went with the Little Cooks Collection alphabet letters. I gave them all to Ameli to sort out for me, “so that we can see if we have them all”. I was really pleased that she got it right as far as I expected her to – that is, she still confuses “j” and “g”, but we’ll work on it.
Salt Dough Recipe
The salt dough I used is probably the best recipe I’ve used to date. I’ve often found that making salt dough is fine, till you try to dry it, then it tries to rise and cracks and breaks. This one didn’t do that. For this recipe I used 270g flour, 160g fine salt and about 170g water (2/3 cup). Mix it all together, so that it’s properly combined, then knead the dough. I have a Thermomix so I did a quick three minutes in that, but a 10 minute knead by hand should produce a similar result. You want it pliable, and not crumbly. It should also not stick to surfaces.
Roll the dough out, and cut out your shapes. We transferred ours to a pizza stone (two, actually) and put them in the oven for 2 hours at 135C. This may vary from oven to oven, so keep an eye on it. It needs to be dry, but not browned.
Leave the shapes to cool completely, then paint and decorate as you wish. I let the girls run with it, but they had to make sure the sides were painted too, which is pretty good fine motor skill training. We used a water-based paint, which I wasn’t initially sure would work, but it did work beautifully.
For other literacy themed ideas, click here.
It’s been a rainy day here on the Isle of Wight, and we’ve been spoiled by some of the good weather we’ve had recently. With the children up from before 6 this morning, we’d already had a fairy tea party and watched a movie by 11am and I didn’t feel I had the strength to keep them indoors all day. Instead we pulled on the wellies and rain gear and went painting in the rain.
We took a variety of paints and materials: we took paper, watercolour paint, poster paint and chalks as well as paintbrushes and cotton wool.
It was a fun, if soggy experiment and the girls had a fantastic time:
Painting with watercolours
We fished the watercolour discs out of the box, and used them without brushes, just moving them around on the paper with our hands – then with brushes too.
Painting with poster paints
Blobs of poster paints spread over the paper using cotton wool and brushes – it was a great lesson for the girls in being gentle, since the wet paper easily tears. We also added blobs of paint, then stuck the pictures to the wall, letting the paint run down in a free-style of patterns.
Painting with chalks
The wet chalks didn’t transfer too well on to wet paper, so we decided to change the canvas to the floor, where I drew pictures for the girls to colour in.
And finally, playing in the rain, drawing on the floors? You have to include a bit of hopscotch.
This is a great way for little ones to learn shapes too, as I had my 3 year old call out the names of the shapes she was standing in. Adjust the ‘tasks’ to their ages – so my 5 year old was counting jumps, how many sides each shape has and so on. And in the end, just let them have fun, jump, and play, burn off energy and enjoy the fact that the rain this time of year isn’t entirely freezing!
Try different paints and see how they react in the water!
I was curious to see how dinosaurweek would go down in our home, as my daughters are just over one, and not yet four – not the target age or gender for dinosaurs, normally. Turns out, however, that they absolutely loved it. We had two dinosaur books that we focused on this week:
- Mini House: The Land of Dinosaurs a brilliant shaped mini book, a lot of fun for visual learners, as it’s a 3D book.
- Things You Never Knew About Dinosaurs, a colourful, bright and silly book that will give giggles and culminate in a ‘BOO’ moment at the end.
Ameli chose a dinosaur she liked out of ‘Things You Never Knew About Dinosaurs‘ and she made her interpretation of the dinosaurs that ride around on bikes. Another day another dinosaur, so we made some quick and easy salt dough:
- 1/2 cup of salt
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1 cup of flour
Of course, no conversation about dinosaurs can be complete without excavation. I put some toys, pompoms and water beads into blocks of ice, and the girls had a lovely, cooling, time ‘excavating’. I would say keep the blocks small for younger children, as they lost interest half way through. Smaller blocks would give them the pleasure of completion in the small attention span time frame.
I’ve seen these dinosaur eggs floating around Pinterest for ages now, and thought we’d try it for the dinosaur week.
I boiled a few eggs – the Thermomix makes amazing boiled eggs! – and then Ameli cracked them gently. We then poured some food colouring over them and left them for a few hours.
Later, Ameli peeled the eggs, which is great fine motor skill practice, and equally great for learning how to work really gently.
The peeled eggs looked fantastic, really! The blue egg only had a couple of cracks in, so didn’t have the same pattern. It was a fun experiment, and a yummy lunch.
The finished dinosaur eggs:
This week’s Summer Camp at Home theme was to do with Arts and studying different art styles. I very quickly found Ameli just wasn’t interested in that kind of, or level of, learning, just yet, so I had to adjust what were were doing pretty much on the fly.
I was a little concerned initially about what we’d do for the week, but it all came together quite nicely in the end. I decided to take it right back to basics, and Ameli really did well, I thought.
Ameli has been drawing for a while now, and it’s been such fun watching her go from random squiggles and lines, to colouring in all over a page, to bringing it within the lines, and now, this week, her very first ever family picture. It’s remarkably lifelike and I’m pleased to say we all seem relatively normal in her mind’s eye.
Inspired by Summer Camp At Home’s plan for the week, we made window paint. I tried to get Ameli to make the circles, but she wasn’t interested and in the end, I just let her paint. She had fun, and that was the aim of it, after all. Mix equal quantities of paint with dishwashing liquid, and it makes a really easy to apply, easy to wash off window paint. It looks quite light in the application, but dries in a darker, bolder colour.
Art instillations and sculptures:
There’s a big Rhino sculpture exhibit in Southampton at the moment, so a friend and I packed the kids into the car and went off in search of some Rhinos. It was a lovely day out, and we saw loads of Rhinos. The kids loved spotting them, and where appropriate, I had very basic discussions with Ameli about the art ‘techniques’ employed – like circles, shades, and so on.
(Reverse) Ice Sculpting
It’s been unbelievably hot around these parts this last week, so I thought the ice sculptures that have been floating around Pinterest for some time might be a great idea. I don’t know who first came up with this, but it’s been a hit on the web. My girls do seem a bit young, really, because they enjoyed it at first, looking at how fast the salt melted it, and whether being in the sun or shade made a difference, but they lost interest about halfway through. Never mind, we’ll try again another time. They used butter knives, front and back, to see which ‘chiselled’ better too.
I enjoyed it though, and look forward to them trying it another day again.
We had a birthday party to go to on Saturday, so making the birthday card seemed like a great activity to go with a week about different art (and craft) forms. A while ago I bought a pack of A5 card stock on Amazon*, and that’s been really useful. Every time we have a birthday party coming up, I grab a card and get Ameli crafting. Another fabulous idea here is making cards using water beads.
An art form that is oft’ used here, is photography, and Ameli has had her own camera* for a while now, but it’s fair to say she’s still learning and we’re certainly not pressuring her on any part of it. Here she was taking photos of anything and everything, including funny pictures of her own face. When I have a chance to link up to the printer, I’ll print a few out for her to hang up in her art box.
That’s been our week of exploring different art forms. I don’t know how much she’s ‘learned’ as such, but she’s had fun, she’s asked questions and she’s been involved. She’s happy, I’m happy. We do love playlearning.
What arts do you practice with your children?
*affiliate link. if you buy through this link, I will receive a percentage as commission. You do not pay any more than going through a non-affiliate link. The only difference is how much Amazon keeps. Thank you in advance for supporting us and helping me pay to keep the blog going!
From time to time we make giant strides forward in our desire to home school our children, and I reach the end of the day feeling like we may just be able to pull it off. Today was one of those days. I know it’s not really ‘schooling’ when your oldest child is three years old, but I think it sets a nice tone for what’s to come, and the way I’d be happy to teach the girls – through play, and engagement.
We’re planning on following along with the Summer Camp at Home schedule as set by Tiana at Two Cheeky Monkeys, who chooses a theme and posts her suggested activities that she will be following with her own sons every week. I loved doing it last year, because I found having a ‘theme’ to work with made it so much easier to keep busy and keep the children entertained, even if we didn’t follow everything, and often have to swap days around to make it work with our schedules.
So, today we started with week one:
- Theme: Reptiles
- Colours: Brown and Green
- Shapes: Triangle and Circle
- Letter: R
We started with some letters, and while I wasn’t watching Ameli copied more than just the letter ‘r’. I was so impressed – more so that she actually knew what the letters were. I guess all that reading is paying off.
We decorating a paper snake, which we later hung up under the light fitting, so the ‘diamonds’ glitter.
Did you know that snakes don’t have ears, but hearing holes?
Did you know reptiles can have four or no legs?
Did you know they have scales, not fur?
Well, these were the talking points for our discussions today.
I also used the scraps from the triangle and circle cutouts (which I’ll use later on for Aviya’s colour and shape learning) for a DIY mosaic, which I thought is great for a bit of fine motor skill practice.
This is a huge favourite busy bag for
me Ameli. There are just days where nothing works and we just need some water to restore our balance and the peace in our home. I love running a bath – normally themed – and letting one or both girls just play. If you don’t want to confuse bath time with play-in-the-bath time, let them wear swimming costumes for play.
You will need:
- A muffin tray or ice trays
- Foaming shaving cream
- Food colouring – we use cheap and cheerful variety, since we’re not eating the shaving cream!
- Paint brushes
Drop a different colour of your food colouring into the ice trays. I have four colours, so I use one drop for lights, two or three drops for darker, or mix colours like red and blue for purple.
Spray your foaming shaving cream into the compartments, and mix it up.
Add a paintbrush or two.
Let loose in the bath.
If I’m using the opportunity to do something else, like hang up the laundry, I leave the bath empty and just let the girl(s) paint. If I’m sitting in the bathroom with them, I’ll put some water in.
So, what do children learn from this busy bag activity?
Well, there’s colour mixing, there’s creative and imaginative play, there’s fascination at the gel-turned-foam, but most of all, this is an awesome mood saver activity for us, perfect for resetting the stress levels in our home and refocusing us. It’s easy to set up, easy to clean up and can seriously last for ages.
This is also a really good activity for rainy days – take it outside, and let everyone get a little wet!
Next week we look at books for busy bags, in celebration of International Literacy Day
Part three in a series on busy bags, this post brings you the first of our hand made busy bags. For more information on what busy bags are, and for some ideas on bought contents for easy busy bags, read past posts in the series.
I love this peg game. It is so simple, and Ameli loves it too. It’s also great for changeability – it starts off as one game, and can go on to others later on.
To start off with, I’ve written the name of the colour in the colour, and coloured the tip of the peg in the same colour. You can use the other side of the peg to write the colours all in one neutral colour, like black. That way you can teach colours and word recognition initially, and later on can use it for learning the letters when learning to read too. A game with longevity. Bonus.
This game as is teaches problem solving skills, colours and fine motor skills get a workout too.
You will need:
- Pegs – mini pegs (US link) are great but normal ones are fine too.
- Paper – the back of a cereal carton will suffice.
- Colouring pens – whatever you fancy
How to make it:
Cut a strip of paper in a rectangle and colour the squares in equal sizes, then use the same colour on the tip of the peg on one side and write the name of the colour on the other end.
Flip the peg around and write the name on the other side, using a neutral colour, like black.
I like to keep the pegs in the right place when the ‘game’ is put away, so that so that it is a ‘finished’ game whenever we take it down. That way I can be sure all the bits are there, and Ameli gets to refresh her memory about what goes where before starting.
Check back next week for another busy bag. To make it, you’ll need card, a hole punch and some string.
This is the second in a series of posts on Busy Bags, toddler activity bags. In The Low Down On Busy Bags, I share what they are, how they work and how we store them.
Most of my busy bags are made up from scratch, but there have been a few that we were better suited to bought items.
You can find really cheap children’s board books (US link here) if you look in the right places. These are small sized so they can fit into a Busy Bag. I have thought to put one book in a bag with props that go with the story, but haven’t gotten that far yet. A story about a red balloon that goes up, up, up and away – My Red Balloon* (US link here) could include a red balloon ( or a few for reuse!) that can be inflated for the story and played with for a while after. You can go a step further and include a bear, rabbit, polar bear, penguin and giraffe toys in the bag to help bring the story to life. The child can then act out the story after you’ve read, or simply play with the items. Remember to return it all after play and before opening the next bag though!
2. Sidewalk Chalk
Sidewalk chalk (US link) is great fun, because it simply washes off. It’s probably still best used outdoors, and provides a great excuse to get outside and soak up some winter sun. It works on blackboards too, but I think it’s a thicker chalk otherwise it’ll run out on the ground faster. Remember if you buy a big tub of it not to give all the pieces in one go. Three or four to a busy bag work just fine. Save the rest for gifted busy bags, a busy bag swap or just to replace used up ones later.
3. Construction Games
We used ItsiBitsi construction rubbers – circles with cut out bits that you slot in to each other to build designs. I cannot find these online anywhere, but it’s a similar concept to the Galt First Octons (US link to loads of different fabulous looking construction kits). These can provide hours of entertainment in 10 – 15 minute slots. Once again you can buy one large set, but you don’t have to put them all in one bag, they can be split between bags.
4. Play Foam
Play Foam (US Link) is an alternative to Play Doh. It is less messy and doesn’t smoosh into your carpets. It’s not the most ‘natural’ of products, but at least it’s non toxic. You can make and mould and play with it more or less like dough. The kids like it, and yes, I do sometimes find some in Aviya’s nappy, but she’s survived it. As you can see, I only included two colours in the busy bag because this is a bag for when I’m busy and need something that occupies the girls – I do not want to spend hours cleaning up once they’re done!
5. Colour Sorting
There are so many different colour sorting activities you can do with your toddler, but I particularly like this one, because when you’re done with colour sorting, you can use the stacking cups for water play, in the bath, in the sand pit, colour mixing (using food colouring) and all sorts of things. You can also use the stacking cups (US link) as intended and pass them down to your baby for stacking. In this game, you need to provide pompoms (US link) in the same colours as the stacking cups and laying them all out in front of the little one, you get them to sort the colours. As they get older, you can also use this number for counting, or you could use both the pompoms or the cups themselves for a lesson in size.
The main thing with these busy bags is to buy stuff on sale, buy them when you see them cheap and split the contents into different bags so you can mix it up from time to time. Or if you can, join a busy bag swap, or start one with your friends. It works out a lot cheaper if you buy in bulk, and make a bunch of bags, then swap with someone else who’s done the same.
What have you bought to make up ‘bought’ busy bags?