Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Upcycled Bee and Ladybug Crafts

We love to make crafts from anything and everything that we can find around the house! It's impossible not to create a lot of waste when you have a family of 4 and go through so much food, and we do a lot of recycling, but sometimes I do keep some things for the children to play with (we love tubes!) and all sorts of boxes and pots to craft with!



I'm writing this post as a part of ALLterNATIVE Learning's 'Natural Parenting and Earth Month' Blog Hop.  Loads of different bloggers from around the world are taking part, sharing all sorts of ideas for being more natural and kinder to the environment in the lead up to Earth Day.  Take a look at ALLterNATIVE Learning to learn more and to enter the giveaway! You can also take a look at In The Playroom's post about Crafting with Sticks!



Today we made a bee and a ladybug shaker, perfect for welcoming spring and making a bit of noise while we're at it!  We really wanted to embrace the upcycling philosophy, so we used as many things that would otherwise be thrown away as we could.

Materials:

  • yogurt pots
  • lentils (rice, pasta, beans or similar would do as well)
  • scrap paper
  • glue
  • tape
  • black paint
  • pipe cleaners




We started by looking in the cupboards for a filler for our shakers, and happened to find loads of red lentils that are soon to expire, so that was the perfect place to start!  We have quite the selection of yogurt pots to choose from, so we chose 2 larger pots for the bee and 2 smaller pots for the ladybug.  Ethan filled one large pot and one small pot with lentils.


The next step is to secure the yogurt pots together so the the lentils can't escape with all that shaking!  First we used white glue along the edges of the pots, once that dried I also wrapped tape around the whole thing just to be safe.


Next comes the fun part, collecting up all of our scrap paper and sorting it by colour!  We pulled out all of the yellow and red that we could find, we have tissue paper, construction / sugar paper, and even some foam and felt.  I then cut up the scraps into small pieces and Ethan glued as many yellow pieces as he could onto the bee and red pieces onto the ladybug.  We then left the glue to dry so that the pieces of paper were securely in place.


Once the glue was dry I found some pipe cleaners that we had been playing with in a sensory bin and tied them around each of our bugs for the antennas.  I thought that might make it easier for Ethan to have something to hold onto as he painted (he is often quite resistant to getting messy).  



The next step was to paint some spots on our ladybug and some stripes on our bee.  I wasn't sure how much help Ethan might need with this step, but he did it all on his own, even their little faces, so I was very proud of him.


Another little while to wait for our bugs to dry, but as soon as the paint was set it was time to shake, shake, shake!  Ethan loves playing with his bug shakers, and I love that we reused and upcycled as many things as we could, and that he really did make these almost completely by himself!

We love to upcycle, have a look at our Earth Day board on Pinterest to see what else we've made and played with from our recycling bin!

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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Easter Eggs for Nursery Friends

We like to give a little something to all of the children at Ethan's nursery for every holiday.  I think that it's nice for him as it encourages giving and starts conversations about all of his nursery friends so that I can learn a little bit more about what's going on at school.  However, Ethan goes to a very big nursery, so we need really simple ideas that we can reproduce for a lot of children and that Ethan can be involved with as much as possible (we did simple candy canes on cards for Christmas and these for Valentine's Day).



So our idea for Easter was to use the little plastic eggs, put a few treats inside and finish them off with some Easter washi tape.  Super quick and easy, but great for Ethan's development and nice for the kiddies to get a little treat.



We collected all of our materials and Ethan opened up the first egg (great for his fine motor control) then we put in one chocolate egg and counted how many mini eggs would fit along with it.  We found that 4 would fit, but then we couldn't quite close the egg, so if we took 1 out it was perfect (great problem solving!) Then Ethan continued opening eggs, counting out 1 chocolate and 3 mini eggs to put in, then closing the eggs.  


Finally, we finished off each egg with some lovely Easter washi tape, carefully placing it along the seam of the egg (fine motor development again) and just making them look extra special!  This will also keep them sealed when Ethan hands them out at the end of the day, so that the children have to wait for their parents to let them open their eggs!

We love Easter and have been preparing in lots of different ways, have a look at our Pinterest board to see what else we've been up to:

Follow Play & Learn Everyday's board Easter on Pinterest.

* This post contains affiliate links. *

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Ivy's Easter Basket

After showing you Ethan’s Easter Basket yesterday, it’s time to take a peek at Ivy’s Easter Basket today!  She is going to love it!



Inside Ivy’s basket we’re covering most of the same categories as Ethan’s, but a few things are different as she’s quite a bit younger.  She won’t be getting any chocolate for Easter at all, but hopefully with all of these fantastic pressies she won’t even notice!

Someone to cuddle

A Care Bear, Ivy is getting her very first Care Bear!  I am so excited about this one because I loved Care Bears when I was little, so it’s really fun to be sharing the joy with my own children.  I chose Fun Shine Bear as I love that he’s a bright yellow colour, perfect for spring!  Ivy will definitely be cuddling this cutie this Easter.

A book to read

For Ivy I’ve chosen a cute book about a rabbit called Lettice, there appears to be a whole series of books about this little bunny, so we’ll have to see how we like this one then maybe try a few more!

Something with her name on it

Well maybe Ivy can’t read yet, but I love the fact that this adorable little Bunny from Born Gifted has her name on its tshirt.  It’s lovely because it’s something that she will have as a keepsake and will look cute on a shelf in her bedroom as well as being fun and cuddly to play with!

An egg with a toy in it

Of course Ivy can’t miss out on the fun of opening up and egg to find a toy inside (after all she did really love her Peekaboo Eggs) so she is going to love this Chirpy Chick Egg from Wow Toys.  The cute yellow egg opens up to reveal a little yellow chick that makes a chirping sound when you press down on it, and can be taken in and out, which I’m sure that Ivy will do over and over again!

Healthy treats

So that Ivy doesn’t feel left out of all of the yummy treats that we’ll be eating on Easter, she will get to have some delicious and healthybars from Organix.  I don’t think that she’ll know the difference.

Something to wear


A last minute addition of these cute Zippy Bibs with bunnies on them arrived today, so they will definitely go into Ivy's basket as well!




* This post contains affiliate links as well as review items.  We were sent the Care Bear, Personalised Bunny, Wow Egg and Organix bars to try out and to write our honest opinions about. *

For more Easter inspiration, have a look at my Pinterest board:

Follow Play & Learn Everyday's board Easter on Pinterest.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Ethan's Easter Basket

I love to fill up an Easter basket with fun little presents for the kids to open on Easter, and not just chocolate!  For his previous 3 Easters Ethan hasn't really eaten chocolate, but now that he is old enough (he's almost 3 1/2) to have some I think that it's really important to emphasize healthy eating and to show him that there are plenty of other fun things to receive at Easter!



There are a few different categories that I like to cover in Easter basket gifts, so in Ethan's basket he has:

Someone to cuddle

Ethan is going to absolutely love this cuddly Benjamin Bunny from the Peter Rabbit stories from Vivid Toys.  A few weeks ago he dressed up as Peter Rabbit for World Book Day, and since then he's had a real connection to the books and the show, so he'll be very excited to have his very own Benjamin Bunny to take on adventures with him!

A book to read

We have quite the collection of Easter books already, so I just went with a bunny theme this year and chose him a book called The Bunny of Bluebell Hill.  

Something with his name on it

Who doesn't love to have something personalised especially for them? Ethan can recognise his name now, so he's going to love his special Easter mug from Born Gifted that is just for him.  It says 'Happy Easter Ethan' on the front and I was able to put a message on the back as well ('Love Mommy and Daddy xxxx')  And if the weather continues to be as cold and rainy as it has been, it will be perfect for a nice hot chocolate on Easter morning!

A game to play

I think it's a really good idea to give Ethan something to keep him busy on Easter after the excitement of the Easter egg hunt is over.  So a game is the perfect choice, and we love Hoppy Floppy's Happy Hunt, we reviewed it earlier in the week and Ethan keeps asking to play it again!

An egg with a toy in it

You've got to have some sort of egg with a surprise inside for Easter (that isn't chocolate!) and we found such a cute one from WOW Toys, with a dinosaur inside!  My Dinky Dino Egg is a cute egg that's easy for little hands to open up and find the dinosaur inside, the dinosaur can be removed and placed back in the egg, which makes a sort of chirping sound when you push down on him.  Ethan is going to love it!

Healthy treats


And just to ensure that Ethan does get some nice treats but doesn't eat too much chocolate, I'm including these Apple and Date bars from Organix, he loves them and they are a sweet treat but won't have him bouncing off the walls all day!


* This post contains affiliate links and review items.  We were sent the Benjamin Bunny, personalised mug, Hoppy Floppy game, Wow Egg and Organix bars to review and write our honest opinion about. *

Tomorrow I'll give you a peek at Ivy's Easter basket!  For some more Easter inspiration, have a look at my Pinterest board:

Follow Play & Learn Everyday's board Easter on Pinterest.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Salt Dough Hand Print Easter Decorations

We've been making lots of different Easter decorations, but these have to be my absolute favourites so far!  I love salt dough and have seen some great ideas for painting salt dough Easter eggs, but as my kids are too young to really paint details we went for a different approach and used our hands to imprint the dough and then paint in a solid colour.



First we made the salt dough using a very basic recipe of 2 parts flour, 2 parts salt and 1 part water.  Ethan poured all of the ingredients into the bowl and stirred it around.  We worked together to knead the dough into a ball, then we rolled it out nice and flat.  We have some great little Easter cookie cutters that we used to cut out most of the shapes (except for the large eggs which I just shaped by hand.)




Once we had cut out all of our shapes it was time to make our prints and decorate them!  We did the smaller eggs in a sort of polka dot design using Ethan and Ivy's fingerprints (I helped Ivy to do hers).  Ethan really enjoyed doing this himself and having the ability and freedom to do it as he wished (I just had to watch that he didn't press too hard and go right through the egg!)


We also used their fingers to make faces for the bunnies, and tried using tools to make  'feathers' for the chick.  I then made a large egg shape with all the leftover dough for each of the children and helped them to make a hand print into it, these are my favourite eggs of all!  When we finished, I used a straw to make a hole at the top of each decoration to put a string through to hang them up.


I then baked them in the oven at 200 degrees for 2 hours, and left them overnight just to be sure that they were fully dried.  The next day they were dry and ready to be painted!  We mixed up some nice pastel colours (just by adding white paint to our bright colours, which Ethan really enjoyed watching happen) and they were ready to paint.


Ethan did a really good job of painting, he happily chose a different colour to paint each decoration and tried very hard to cover the whole thing with an even layer of paint.  Even Ivy got in on the fun and painted a few of the decorations.  I won't lie to you though...she did taste the paint, I just can't stop that girl from eating everything!


When the paint was dry I used a sharpie to write the childrens names and the date on the back of their handprint eggs and fingerprint eggs, those are definitely keepsakes! 


In the end the Easter decorations look fantastic and we had so much fun making them.  It was great to do a project with Ethan that took a few days, yet still kept his interest, and that he was just so excited to finish.  Of course it was also great to involve Ivy as much as we could as she's getting a bit more capable, if she would just stop trying to eat all of our craft supplies it would be a lot easier!


Now our whole house is decorated for Easter the excitement is mounting, I just have to teach Ethan to read a calendar so that he doesn't keep asking me everyday if the Easter Bunny is coming today!

Have a look at our other Easter activities on Pinterest:

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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Peekaboo Easter Eggs

Ivy is at an age when she just likes to get into everything to explore and examine it in every way possible!  So a basket full of eggs to open up with surprises inside is a perfect activity for her!



It was so simple to set up, I just used a sturdy Easter basket (you could use a sand bucket like the ones that we decorated the other day) and some plastic Easter eggs in a variety of colours and sizes.  I may have a bit of a thing for Easter eggs, so we have quite a few from last year, but you can find lots of different ones on Amazon (all of which I now want to order as well!)


I then found as many small toys as possible to put in the eggs, this was tricky as I needed to find toys that were small enough but that Ivy wouldn't attempt to eat!  (She still puts everything in her mouth, so if your little one is like this as well I highly recommend using large Easter eggs!)


Ivy sat playing with the eggs for ages, opening them all up at first and emptying out all of the toys.  Then playing with individual eggs that caught her eye, trying to close them back up again, putting them inside each other.  Then finally she started trying to put the toys back into the eggs and close them up.  At one point she chose one egg and little toy sheep that she particularly liked and just walked around the house with them.  She absolutely loves this basket of eggs, she goes back to it more than any other toy lately!


Then of course Ethan had to join in on the fun too!  He saw Ivy playing with the eggs and left his own game to see what she was up to.  He helped her to put the toys back into the eggs so that she could open them up again.  He also took the whole bucket and shook it so the eggs went flying everywhere, which Ivy really thought was hilarious!!!


* This post contains an affiliate link. *


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Monday, 23 March 2015

Hoppy Floppy's Happy Hunt Game - Review

We got a fun new game from Learning Resources called Hoppy Floppy's Happy Hunt Game, just in time for Easter!  It's the perfect gift to give your little one in their Easter basket, and will keep them busy for ages.  Ethan and I sat and played it over and over again today, he loved it!



It was easy to set up and start playing straight away, we each got a little basket and the goal is to collect a carrot of each colour for your basket.  The first player spins the spinner to see which colour carrot they need to pick up.  So right away they are identifying colours and following instructions.


Next they use the bunny (Hoppy Floppy) to pick up the carrot that they need.  The bunny is a sort of tweezers, and by squeezing the ears the paws come together to pick up the object.  It took a couple of tries for Ethan to get the hang of it, but was soon picking up the carrots without any trouble.  And it's great for his fine motor control and concentration to use tweezers to pick up and put down in a desired location.


There are other possibilities that the spinner can land on, so your little one needs to learn to identify these as well.  Ethan's absolute favourite had to be when he landed on the picture of the little bunny thief, and he got to steal a carrot from my basket, he thought that was hilarious!  


There's also the possibility of landing on the tipped over basket, which mean that all of your carrots get spilled out and you need to start again.  This happened to me a lot!  Again this gave Ethan great joy, and it made our game last longer which was fun.  I think we're going to be playing this game a lot!

* This is a review post, we were given the Hoppy Floppy's Happy Hunt Game from Learning Resources to play with and to write an honest review.*


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