Continuing the serialisation of Mighty-Girl’s picture book: pages four and five of The Lonely Bear.
Come back tomorrow for pages six and seven!
Continuing the serialisation of Mighty-Girl’s picture book: pages four and five of The Lonely Bear.
Come back tomorrow for pages six and seven!
I seem to have developed a fairly laissez-faire approach to parenting (quickly googles laissez-faire to make sure it means what I think it means… Yeah, that’ll do.) Or maybe it’s just that I’m a terrible parent who ignores her children! I’d like to lead by example and be a wonderfully perfect person with manners and a tidy, clean house but I’m not so I do try to explain right and wrong and we have all sorts of discussions about things in the world too. But sometimes I do just hide behind a screen and leave them to it.
Which results in things like MG’s book The Lonely Bear that I’m serialising this week. And a whole bunch of paper and felt tips soaking into clothes and covers as they (the felt tips) are left with lids off leaning on them (the clothes, bedsheets etc) that are also left lying around. Not to mention the mountains of paper and other art materials that appear to breed (see Clutter Creep).
I am neglecting DG in this description. There is a reason she is called Destructo-Girl but she is also incredibly creative and imaginative. She loves small world play and will make up stories for hours on end with all her favourite toys – mixing Sylvanians and Budkins, soft toys and dolls’ clothes, wooden food and trainsets… Until the entire house hasn’t any spare floor space from top to bottom. But if you look carefully, it’s not mess. You can see her creativity shining through:
Shame I have to tidy everything up, and all the teeny bits seem to get lost all over the house though!
Gloop is a fantastic substance. It feels solid but runs through fingers like liquid. On top of that, all it is made from is cornflour and water so is quick and easy to set up for
messy sensory play.
We currently have a ban on gloop after the mess caused by the last two sessions! One of the main problems being that I wasn’t sure on the cornflour to water ratio and when you give small children a jug of water they tend to empty the entire jug in one go so we ended up with very wet gloop.
MG and DG didn’t mind at all. They were far more interested in pretend playing cooking than feeling the sensory qualities! I added food colouring and scent to the water to make it more interesting. The trays are cat litter trays – they’ve never been used for that purpose though.
“Hugless Douglas Activities” is one of the biggest search terms to this blog, therefore I’ve been thinking about what to do for this post for a while. After several hours of often fruitless google searches, I eventually remembered Pinterest and added a whole host of eclectic ideas onto an HD springboard board A selection are included below with suggested themes.
I have included a linky at the bottom of this post for you to add any related activity posts, and please do comment to suggest themes you think should be added too.
A wonderfully simple craft that even very small children could manage (with help cutting out the circles) and added learning in the form of big/small and shapes.
No tutorial here, but I had to link to these fantastic bear arms made specifically for Hugless Douglas. Very crafty parents may be able to rustle up something similar!
A delicious looking snack to try for your little bears, look like it can be made by small children too so practical skills, cuteness and a fairly healthy snack or breakfast alternative.
I love the idea of actually using jam to make paw prints, but I don’t think I’d be able to go through with it. All small children love to make
a big mess pawprints
For older children:
Bears feature in many of David’s books. Look at the bears in the following books:
The Star-Faced Crocodile
The Kiss That Missed trilogy
Two by Two and a half
How they are different from each other and from Hugless Douglas? How are they similar? Are all the bears friendly?
Other book series bears to look out for:
Big Bear & Little Bear (Martin Waddell & Barbara Firth)
Bear (Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman)
The Bear (Jez Alborough)
The Bear with Sticky Paws (Clara Vulliamy)
George & Bartholemew (Virginia Miller)
Muffin (Clara Vulliamy)
Old Bear & Little Bear (Jane Hissey)
Paddington (Michael Bond & various)
Winnie the Pooh (A A Milne & E H Shepard)
Theme: Other Animals in the Hugless Douglas Books
For sheep, see Theme: Sheep, Wool, Knitting and Hats below
How much fun is this owl mask? Plus it’s made from leaves so can be preceeded by a nature walk in most seasons, except winter. How would it look with green leaves I wonder?
A fantastic treat for active youngsters. Krisproll, banana and chocolate buttons – who-ooo could resist? I think I must have had food on the brain when I was collecting links, but I love this owl sandwich too!
This finger puppet looks fantastic, and I’m sure the sewing parts could be replaced by glueing for very small children. For something with a template to cut round, there’s these lovely bunny tree decorations.
Theme: Hibernation (Hugless Douglas)
Why has Douglas woken up and forgotten his mum? Well, several months of sleep is enough to confuse anyone! What is hibernation, and what other animals hibernate in winter?
A complex papier-mâché and clay project to be attempted by children with a serious interest in hibernation (or making things!) and a fantastic result to be proud of when complete.
As well as this bear cave perfect for young children to make, the link also includes a hibernation song and finger play which would be lovely to do with small children. Lots of other ideas too!
Not free, but I think Montessori Print Shop’s materials are well worth the price. This downloadable pdf makes a sorting game of how different animals respond to winter: do they hibernate, migrate or adapt?
Theme: Trees, Leaves, Rocks and Seasons (Hugless Douglas)
The search for a perfect hug is also a lovely sensory experience. On a nature walk, try to collect some stones, leaves, bark (or twigs) and maybe some raw wool to feel while reading the story. Does your child think that these things are nice to hug or not?
This site has a leaf shape template to download and cut out leaf shapes for all sorts of crafts – the examples on this page are gorgeous. You could also cut out paper leaves to make a tree or animal shapes for example.
The Hugless Douglas books are full of trees and leaves, so this leaf print tree is a good expressive craft for small children to experiment with senses, colours and mess
Douglas wakes in the spring, so this fun craft project is another nice addition. When thinking about trees and leaves, the seasons come to mind as most trees change so visually throughout the seasons.
Great fun for small children – playing with stones and searching for small objects hidden in them. With added sensory feel of the rocks/pebbles – rough and smooth could be covered here too.
Theme: Sheep, Wool, Knitting & Hats (Don’t Worry Hugless Douglas)
Sheep feature throughout the Hugless Douglas books, and as an added learning link through Douglas’ hat is wooly. Conversations about how sheep are sheared for summer, how raw wool is processed and knitting and crochet can follow on from here.
Do you have any hats at home? What kind of hats are they: sun hats, winter hats, decorative hats? Why do we use hats? Can you design a hat? There are lots of hat crafts for small children, from a simple paper hat to pirate hats and beyond…
Making sheep from cotton wool is loads of fun. This is a Mary had a Little Lamb craft which in turn leads to thinking about rhymes and fairy tales that can be read after Hugless Douglas, for example Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
This cloud dough looks like wooly sheep and would be a nice sensory follow on from thinking about sheep. Compare the texture with wool too, to see how things that look similar can feel very different.
Another sensory experience, and could be combined with the sensory bin idea for trees, leaves and rocks plus roving shows the stage between raw wool and yarn wool.
I think this craft idea is really good for cementing the link between wool on sheep and the wool used for knitting etc. The link has lots of farmyard ideas which don’t quite follow for Hugless Douglas but would be fun for another day.
A fairly tenuous link here, but I thought this hat was so cute! I can’t knit or crochet but parents who can could probably make this together with children – the eyes might be good for children to make for instance. There’s some lovely hats on this site, including an owl hat.
Theme: Underground Homes (Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep)
Rabbit lives underground. What other animals can you think of that live underground? Ants, worms, moles? What are the similarities and differences between animals who make their homes under the ground?
Theme: Nocturnal and Diurnal (Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep)
Hugless Douglas goes to Rabbit’s for a sleepover. They are sleeping at night. Some animals sleep in the day. What does nocturnal mean? What does diurnal mean? What nocturnal and diurnal animals can you think of?
A simple, visual way of describing the difference between nocturnal and diurnal animals plus ideas for a sorting game to make using pictures found online and printed.
Not free, but another Montessori Print Shop sorting game perfect for Hugless Douglas follow-on and saves looking up animals and finding quality images yourself.
I couldn’t resist creating these silly songs (to the tune of well known nursery rhymes). I hope Mr Melling and Hachette Children’s Books will forgive me!
You can download the song sheet here.
Depending on the age and interest of the child, reading the Goblins books to them before or after Hugless Douglas could lead on to cross-over activities. Some questions to think about:
What would a Hug Goblin look like?
Where would it live?
What would it do?
What would happen if Hugless Douglas met a Hug Goblin? Can you write a story about this?
And now it’s your turn… Please comment or add a link below. Tomorrow I will be rounding up a selection of colouring sheets and other resources you can download.
Note: All images are © their respective websites.
There are a lot of obvious essentials for a craft box: paper, pencils, scissors, crayons, paints, glue… And less obvious but useful things like sponges, recycling for junk modelling, toothbrushes for painting… Here are a few more ideas of relatively cheap additions for craft and other play.
1p stamps are a very cheap alternative to stickers. Okay, they’re all the same but a sheet of 25 1p stamps costs 25p and can be used for pretend post-office play, patterning, badges… Much cheaper than most sticker sheets! For 50p you can get 25 dark green 2p stamps for variety. Sheets of 25 available at most post offices.
Paper plates & cups
Slightly more obvious for craft play, paper plates are great fun for painting, drawing, sticking on, using as wheels for junk model vehicles, making giant caterpillars with, for tea parties (pretend or real)… MG’s current favourite is to take a dinner order and draw what you’ve ordered on the plates – great for both writing and drawing practice. Reasonably cost effective at about £1 for 25-30 plates from pound shops & similar.
Paper cups seem less available than plastic, and plastic will do, but I prefer paper for easier crafting – making puppet legs and arms, as a base for hats and noses… But my favourite is the hole-in-the-bottom make-a-mess craft like cup painting. I also want to try out sand painting with coloured sand, if the play sand I’ve ordered ever comes back in stock and there’s some dry days! Again available in pound shops, about 20 for £1.
I never would have thought of a litter tray, but thanks to this excellent post from Two of Everything, it’s on my wish list to add to our cupboards for sensory play.
Shot glasses & sauce bowls
These are great for ‘experiments’ like mixing vinegar and baking soda, colour mixing with food dies (especially when using droppers for fine motor skills). You can get around 40 plastic shot glasses for £1 or invest in a set of glass ones for heavier use. MG & DG’s Montessori nursery used (glass) shot glasses for the babies/toddlers to drink from as they are the perfect size for small children.
Sauce/dip bowls are also good for mixing experiments if you invest in some glass ones from eBay or similar. The only ones I’ve found in a pound shop were metal ones at 6 for £1 which have been great fun for kitchen pretend play but not sure if they’re much good for ‘experiments’ being metal!
If you scour pound / cheap / charity stores you can get all sorts of different things for pretend kitchen play instead of buying a play set, and being ‘real’ they can be more fun. Milk pans are perfect as play saucepans, wooden spoons come in all sorts of sizes, silicone bakeware for mini loaves or chocolates fit with a pretend kitchen. Not to mention that a toddler will get hours of fun from a pan and wooden spoon for making noise Cutters can be used for play dough and fimo, and icing cutters give some lovely intricate craft results.
Lentils, beans, cous-cous, coffee, rice, pasta… All these dried foods are great for play kitchens and for filling trays with for sensory play. Value and own brand items can be very cheap, and in theory you can also wash and eat most of them afterwards too – they also vacuum up very easily!
What other “not-so-obvious” items do you use in craft and other play with children? Please let me know in the comments.
The Story Museum centre opens in Oxford in 2014 but before then they’ve starting putting on events in the building. Other Worlds is open for the whole of May and is a series of art installations in rooms in what was the post office and telephone exchange. It is somewhere that needs at least a couple of hours of exploring, which I certainly didn’t get with a 3 and 5 year old but here are the highlights of our little exploration.
We visited on Sunday 13th May in the morning because I knew Korky Paul would be there for a workshop. He will also be there Sat 19th May in the afternoon and Sun 20th May in the morning (check with The Story Museum for times).
Firstly, all the staff were absolutely wonderful. They greeted everyone enthusiastically, spent time chatting with the children and were completely approachable to talk to. They made the whole visit a delight (even with slightly clingy small children!) MG spent most of the time saying “can we go now?” until we left when she said “when are we going back?” Typical five year old?! DG explored, she likes exploring. We missed out at least half of the exhibits.
MG’s favourite was the Word Storm. We didn’t go in properly and read the walls but the room with its thunder and lightning was intriguing enough and the peephole in the wall to look through was great for the children.
The second favourite was A Crafty Fag, although I have no idea what was going on because I didn’t get to look for more than five seconds! But the girls climbed the ladder and looked through a periscope to see a video which seemed very curious. I think the ladder was of more interest to my children though!
Both of these were on the first floor, we didn’t go in any rooms on the ground floor but the main entrance had audio and paintings so you walk straight in to the experience. The portaloos (very important when you have small children, we had several visits!) were behind some bean poles with tags that looked interesting and I loved the notice in the courtyard about smoking!
The second floor housed Korky Paul’s PlessieOsaurus and the workshop, where the children were free to draw and paint an underwater scene on the walls and floor with Korky drawing outlines of Plessie and fish for everyone (not just the children) to colour plus giving impromptu advice on how to draw fish, how to make the paint more watery to look underwater etc. He spent the entire time engaging with the children and if I wasn’t totally shy I would have said hello as it was a very informal and intimate workshop. I think there were about 20-30 people there so it wasn’t overcrowded. There was a bit of drama when the Plessie fell over when the staff tried to move it to make space but no one (including Plessie) was hurt.
DG, being DG, happily painted the walls, looking for me when she wanted to change colours and when she wanted to stop. MG, being MG, clung to me at all times and didn’t do any drawing at all (which is a shame, because it is her favourite occupation usually). So MG and I kept out of the way and looked at the other exhibits in the huge room that we were in while DG happily painted, looking out for me on the odd occasion (I kept an eye on her at all times, in case she got stressed.)
There were tables with books spread around (which of course I couldn’t resist) and posters, postcards etc to support the museum. I bought a small handful It was a lovely trip and although the girls had their ‘bored’ moments while we were there, we did stay for about an hour and a half and they said they really enjoyed it afterwards and wanted to go again.
This review is a tiny taster of what Other Worlds has to offer, it really deserves a longer visit. Other Worlds is open until 27 May on Thursdays to Sundays (see website for details) and costs £3 per person, children under 2 are free.
During the Easter school break, I took MG and DG to Oxford Natural History and Pitt-Rivers museums, something I don’t do nearly as often as I should considering how easy they are to get to. This turned out to be a fairly short trip in terms of looking at anything in the museums, because we found the craft area and the girls spent most of their time there making Wellington Soldier hats, or Pirate hats as DG has it – Arrr, mateys!
I shall write about how awesome both the Natural History and Pitt-Rivers museums are in another post at some point, but in summary they are wonderful with supportive staff, lots of interesting things to see and regular family-friendly events. As MG and DG get older, we’ll go to more events as they’re still quite young.
These Wellington Soldier hats are so simple to make and look great.
Firstly, you need to cut the shape in the picture above from the two pieces of A3 card. It takes up most of the card length but a little less than the height. There were templates provided at Pitt Rivers for the children to draw round and cut. (I tried to create the template on my computer but I have zero artistic talent so failed miserably!)
Once the two sides of the hat have been cut, they need to be decorated however you wish. There were lots of beautiful parent-designs on the day, but I like to let my girls do their own crafts so they may not have perfect hats, but they’re theirs
Once each of the two hat pieces have been decorated (one side only), put them together with the decorated sides outwards and staple the top edges together. Take the long strip of card and measure the child’s head, stapling a circle that fits the child together, then staple the circle card into the bottom opening of the hat.
Such a simple and effective craft, MG and DG thoroughly enjoyed it. Huge thanks to Pitt-Rivers’ for an idea for an easy craft we can modify and do again and again!
Pirate Wellington Soldier (who didn’t want her picture taken!)
I’m linking this up to A Mummy’s View’s #ArtAttackTuesday.
When Merry from Patch of Puddles put out a Twitter call for reviewers for Manhattan Toy products, I jumped at the chance before remembering that actually I don’t have any children young enough any more… However Merry also offered products from the BigJigs Road and Rail series, which we love.
It is no secret that I adore wooden toys, and I do think that wooden rail sets are up there as one of the ‘must have’ toys for children (right up the top of the list with boxes, sticks and mud!) I’ve been fortunate to be sent the BigJigs Level Crossing Set to test for compatibility with other Road sets, and when I was looking at that I fell for the Zebra Crossing Set which Merry kindly sent to us for review.
The first lovely surprise on receiving the package was how the set was presented in its box. Often these sets are in closed boxes with only pictures on the outside but with this you can see what you’re actually getting, which was very exciting for DG as she helped me unwrap.
As a hit on its own, it worked as DG instantly tore the box open and started playing (and has selected it independently on many occasions since). However, we do have other road and rail pieces so these were soon added into play, along with other cars and trains. DG got the first play because MG was at school when the parcel arrived, but MG has also
stolen it from DG played with it regularly too.
This set includes a zebra crossing road piece, two other road pieces, one car, two orange beacons, a street lamp, a children crossing warning sign and two wooden children. The fact that the whole set is based on UK road signs is a huge bonus, and therefore can also be used in conversations to talk about how to cross safely. My children quite enjoyed running over the wooden people at this point, I don’t think that was quite what I meant to get across to them!
As a toy in isolation, this set probably isn’t quite enough to keep attention for too long. However, it doesn’t need a huge amount to give it longer play life. It would be great with one of the starter road sets, but the addition of the Level Crossing Set not only gives a connection to any existing rail sets you may have but also includes two slopes that make the transition from carpet road to wooden road easier for the cars, trains, trucks or whatever vehicles the children have chosen to use.
All in all, a definite hit with MG and DG, and a great addition to any wooden road and/or rail sets. I’m really grateful to Merry for giving me the opportunity to review this. If you don’t already read Merry’s blog then I also heartily recommend going to Patch of Puddles to catch up.
Both MG and DG love painting. I’m not a huge fan of clearing up the mess, and it’s never really possible for them to fully clean the mess on their own, especially as it usually descends into an emergency bath moment…
Today while MG was at school I realised that I had a perfect activity for DG (now 2 years 7 months). I’d been letting the readymix paint get used up in order to replace the bottles with mixed powder paint that I’d bought “to save money” and we now had 5 empty bottles to fill. This is an excellent activity, and if properly planned (which of course I didn’t!) covers spooning, measuring, counting, pouring, funnelling, shaking – lots of motor skills for small children plus maths and science activities for older children. In Chez Chaos, what you usually end up with is mess!
In theory the process involves:
Did I mention the mess? Whilst I was taking a picture of DG spooning, she accidentally knocked the bottle and funnel over (we should have got the powder in the bottle before measuring the next cupful) and the powder went everywhere…
An emergency bath was in order, but DG loves baths so was quite happy with that.
To commemorate over 1000 tweets and 250 followers on Twitter (wow!) I wanted to give something away. A physical something was never going to be an option, so I am sharing something I made for Mighty Girl’s “homework”.
Fortunately her school is not pushy with homework in Foundation Stage, and I’ve certainly not made her do anything but she has been getting small lists of ‘key words’ to learn by sight and sometimes she wants to move onto the next set of words so we work on them at home. She loves letter sounds and writing (see First Words) and I’d collected some Montessori materials from when I was planning to home ed so I combined the two to make a game to help cement the words in her head.
We have the small moveable alphabet, Sassoon font in red with blue vowels from Absorbent Minds Montessori and the key words from school were printed in Sassoon font too (it’s a good font for distinguishing b from d etc and easy to read). However, I expect that a wooden moveable alphabet isn’t something that most people own so I’ve modified the files slightly to include a printable moveable alphabet for the matching game. The size of the moveable alphabet and large word cards are to match the wooden small moveable alphabet (it’s not 100% accurate but very close.)
There are four files you can choose to download:
moveablealphabet.pdf – paper version of the moveable alphabet with red consonants and blue vowels. Usually there are 5 of each consonent and 10 of each vowel printed for a “complete” alphabet, to get this print the file 5 times (I’ve included y in red and blue as it can be both).
HFwords1.pdf – the first 22 high frequency “key words” that eldest has brought home from school to learn so far in large red and blue letters (can be flash cards, matching with moveable alphabet).
HFwords1wde.pdf – as above file, but the words are spaced out so that the paper moveable alphabet can be placed on top of the cards more easily.
HFwords1sml.pdf – the same 22 words in smaller black Sassoon font for more traditional “flash cards”, matching with the large word cards etc.
For durability, print onto card and laminate (and definitely don’t let your two year old drip water all over unlaminated paper copies :lol:) There are all sorts of games that can be played, the most obvious of which is probably matching the individual letters with the words. I usually set out three to five words and the exact letters needed for those words (to give “control of error” – there should be no letters left over when all are matched). MG knows almost all letter names and sounds so tries to read phonically for words she doesn’t know and can say the letter sounds as she matches.
The game MG made up that she likes to play is to have either the pile of small cards or big cards and give the other pile to whoever she’s playing with. We mix the cards up and see if we match. I add in questions like “What does yours say? What does mine say?” for words she knows or “You’ve got x and I’ve got y” if she’s not sure. If the “learning” bit is annoying her I stop it of course, it’s supposed to be fun! Seeing the words regularly, matching up different size word cards, creating words with the moveable alphabet and talking about the words (then recognising them in books when I’m reading to her) is cementing the words in her mind and she is happily memorising these words at her own pace.
For an idea of the Montessori method of introducing language, see Montessori Print Shop‘s Language Overview. MPS also offer lots of printables to support using the moveable alphabet, and their moveable alphabet file includes lesson plans, lower and upper case letters in three colour schemes and images of phonetic words to sound out. This file is also included in the MPS Montessori at Home materials bundle for an even more bargainous price, very useful if you want to follow some Montessori principles at home and get the Montessori At Home! book (which is fantastic!) No, I’m not on commission, I just like these