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Posts Tagged ‘activities’

Easter Art

Easter Art This Easter it’s been pouring with rain, so we have kept busy with some indoor activities. This morning we did some Easter art with cut up vegetables. Halved carrots dipped in yellow paint make some rather adorable Easter chicks. When the paint is dry, use some texta markers to add beaks, eyes and legs.Easter ArtHalved potatoes are the perfect shape for Easter eggs. Draw on some decorative effects when the paint has dried.

Easter ArtIt’s much more fun than paint brushes!Easter Art

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We all know kids do weird stuff. I try not to sweat it, just photograph it.

We had one of those blissful rare mornings last week when the kids played happily and unsupervised on a completely made up activity for over an hour. Let’s call it the game where you Use Masking Tape to Stick all your Stuffed Animals by their Tails/Heads to Different Surfaces in a House. There’s got to be a catchy name for that.

We’re big fans of sticky things in our house, but our favourite is masking tape. You can write on it, it’s easy to tear off, easy to apply, easy to remove and doesn’t leave a residue on polyester fur! Surely if there was a tape made for children, this is it.

This falls in the weird archives….but it’s gold.

Buy some masking tape today.

Kids and Masking Tape

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Surviving Road Trips with KidsBack in the day we did a lot of road trips across this beautiful, big continent. Australia is a large place and our Corolla has seen a lot of it. When the babies arrived, we started flying for most of our trips and experienced all the ups and downs associated with that! This past Christmas we agreed that the kids, aged 3 and 5, were the right age to undertake their first big car trip from Sydney to Adelaide and return. That’s approximately 3,000 kms there and back or 28 hours driving in total. We spent some time planning the trip, took our time and had a really enjoyable experience. Road trips are not for everyone, but if you’re considering a big journey with little kids I would love to offer these 10 tips:

1) Pack plenty of snacks

Pack SnacksMy children seem to be perpetually grazing. Pack a variety of healthy (and some not so healthy) snacks in advance. Have the esky accessible and distribute these as the need arises. With a little planning there’s no need to rely on petrol stations and roadhouses for your food fix.

2) Prepare meals in advance

Planning MealsOn the road we usually have lunch at a cafe and prepare the evening meals in advance. Pre-cook your meals at home, freeze them and then let them slowly defrost in the car esky on the way to your destination. This way I know that we’ll have at least one decent healthy meal a day and it also helps to maintain your regular night-time routine. Good meals to freeze are those that are sauce based eg bolognaise, curry etc. You can take the dry rice or pasta with you to cook fresh on the stove top, but most of the grunt work has already been done.

3) Stay in Caravan Parks

Caravan Park FunFor the same price as a motel, you can stay in a fully self-contained two bedroom cabin…usually with a playground and swimming pool at your doorstep. Unlike a motel room, you can put the children to bed early in their own bedroom and still enjoy your own time in the living area. We’ve stayed at many Big 4 Caravan Parks over the past five years (if only they offered loyalty cards!) and they’re renowned for being child-friendly. I can’t recommend them enough.

4) Prepare car activities

Car ActivitiesPrepare activities to be introduced at strategic points on the journey. These days there are so many little art/craft activities you can by at dollar stores which include all the items you need such as stickers/pencils/paper/glitter/glue etc. Buy some little portable clipboards that double as lap desks and make an event of it. Activities include colouring in, drawing, join the dots, mazes, crafts etc.

5) Create your own Spot It game

Spot It GameBefore your trip give some thought to they types of things you are likely to see out the car window such as road signs, animals, wind farms, trucks, roadworks, traffic lights etc. Put these images into an activity sheet that the children can mark off when they see them. My children loved this Spot It activity more than any other activity on the trip. They completed their two sheets on the first half day of driving and next time I will create a series of Spot It activity sheets for each leg of the journey.

6) Keep a travel diary

Travel DiariesGive the children a small scrapbook each so that they can keep a travel diary. Things you include in a travel diary are photographs, thoughts about the trip, drawings of things seen throughout the day, spellings of town names, the craft activities done on the trip etc. At the end of each day, the children can ‘complete’ pages of the diary. Interview them and record their responses.

Here’s what my son saw from his car window on day one:Travel Diary DrawingsThis is what my daughter saw from her car window:

Travel Diary Drawings

7) Travel music and car audio books

MusicPlay music that is fun to listen to, it doesn’t have to be children’s music, it can be Beatles, Abba etc. The sky’s the limit. Sing along and teach the children the lyrics or let the music be a backdrop to watching the world go by. I also discovered that Target stock a whole selection of 10-15 minute children’s audio books. Pop in a CD and the children can follow the storyline in the book and turn the pages when they hear a chime.

8) Create a map for the journey

Sydney to Adelaide MapInvolve your kids with a map of the journey. Maps give children a sense of where they’re going and they can circle or mark off towns that they pass through. Scan a map from your road atlas or download a good online map and put it in a child friendly format. Even if your children can’t read, maps are valuable in helping them appreciate geography and a sense of time and distance covered.

9) Bring an iPad stocked with kids’ programs

Shaun the SheepThis is not necessary but it’s a great tool when everyone needs an hour or two of down time on the road. Load up some good kids movies or programs beforehand. A favourite program in our house is Shaun the Sheep. It’s funny and suitable for all ages.

10) Plan each travel day

Plan It

Let’s face it…spontaneity with small children is overrated. Plan where you will be stopping in advance, research the playgrounds in the towns where you will stop. Prepare some running / stretching games to do on the grass to get them moving in the breaks. The last thing you want the kids to do is sit down during a entire rest stop.

Inside the car we structure the travel day with a mix of activities like this:

  • Looking out the window and watching the world
  • Craft Activities
  • Sleep
  • Snacks
  • Movie on the iPad
  • Music / singalong

In closing…

Happy New Year from Outback NSWI want to say how much fun it was to do this big journey with my children. We live in a great big world with so much to see and do and traversing it by car created some amazing memories and experiences that we would not have had in airports or on an airplane. On the way back home we went off road a little a stayed in a cattle station in the middle of the Hay Plains and saw so many wonderful things such as emus running along next to our car and a sunset to die for. It’s often not practical to travel like this on a regular basis, but it makes something pretty extraordinary out of the ordinary if you do.

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On the weekend we went bush walking…our first bush walk together as a family. The Wolli Creek Regional Park is one of the inner west’s best kept secrets. A little pocket of native vegetation in the middle of suburbia. It’s a special place to us, because it’s where we got married several years ago (in the time I recall fondly as “the before”). It was strange being back with two small children in tow…the incessant chatter and rumble of little toddler feet sending nervous Eastern Water Skinks scurrying for cover. We were amazed at how excited the children were to be in the bush. It’s nature’s playground…with so much to see, hear, smell and touch. Whisper thin dragon flies floating in the air, cockatoos squawking over head, interesting rocks and tree branches to navigate and scented wild flowers fragrancing the air. It was a great afternoon…and much more fun without a white frock on.

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Lego mon·key  [ˈlɛgəʊ ˈmʌŋkɪ]

n.

1.      A person who constructs Lego models at a child’s bidding.

The Lego revolution has started in our place. What our 2 year old son lacks in dexterity and concentration, he makes up for in dad-labour.

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Dioramas have a school project loveliness about them and are wonderfully tactile in this digital age.  I’ve been meaning to make a construction site for my son for some time now and was motivated again after organising his toys and seeing all his little yellow diggers together. This project is easy to make and came in at a grand total of $0.00 as I sourced all my materials from around the house and yard. Here’s a step by step guide:

Materials

  1. Large cardboard box
  2. Garbage bag
  3. Stanley knife / scissors
  4. Tape and glue
  5. Blue paint + brush
  6. Several printed sheets of rocks and other construction materials
  7. A sheet of white paper
  8. A couple kilos of slightly damp sand
  9. Small assortment of rocks, paddle-pop sticks, bark etc
  10. Building site accessories and signs
  11. Yellow diggers

Instructions

  1. Cut the box on each side diagonally from the top back corner to approximately 10 cm (4″) above the bottom front corner. Cut along the front and remove this portion of the box so that it resembles a stage.
  2. Paint the inside walls of the box a sky blue colour.
  3. Cut a plastic garbage bag to size and secure firmly to the base of the diorama with tape, making the bottom of the box water resistant.
  4. Cut out white clouds from a sheet of paper and glue to the blue sky.
  5. Glue the construction site imagery around the bottom inside wall of the diorama.
  6. Fill the box with a layer of slightly damp sand and pat smooth.
  7. Arrange accessories and diggers on sand.

This diorama was loads of fun to make and a big hit with my son. The possibilities are endless; zoo, farm, space station, jurassic…

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