Saturday, 29 January 2011

Chinese fortune cookies and Wontons

Well it's Chinese New Year on Wednesday, so I've set to work making some felt chinese food. We do have a chinese food play set but as with all occasions it's always nice to add to it. The fortune cookies were made using these instructions on Youtube by lillybeanplayfood, except I hand sewed rather than using a machine. There are lots of now sew instructions if you google "felt fortune cookies".
For the felt I used felt cleaning cloth from a pack of 12 from poundland. For the stuffing I simply used the scraps from cutting the felt into the required shapes. These wontons were made using the same fabric, by simply cutting a circle (I used a roll of tape as my template). I then tied a piece of green floss about a cm from end, then sewed a running stitch approx 4 cm from the perimeter of the circle. Stuffed then pulled floss tight and tying working end to the knotted end, creating a tie imitating the seaweed used to tie wontons.

I'll probably make some more food tomorrow and may break habit and post results on a Sunday! I think I will start with dumplings from with instructions from Burnt Muffin

Friday, 28 January 2011

Marvellous marble machine

A while back I was discussing a school challenge of making a marble run out of junk that would last for 20 seconds release to finish. One would think this would be an easy task, but really it isn't- honestly! So Mr Inventor set to work on a new design, which actually ended up lasting even longer than 20 secs!!
Any way the task is not simple and in this presentation certainly not suitable for preschoolers, however for older children it is certainly a great problem solving challenge. For younger ones, perhaps shorten the time, and use larger junk e.g. cardboard tubes stuck together and leant against blocks or a climbing frame, extend and adapt where needed.
Remember the important part is the children's own thinking it is so easy to step in and help but doing so prematurely is not productive, instead prompt and scaffold with questions or simple statements to encourage a line of thinking.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Ten in the Bed

Fed up with seeing the vast array of expensive ten in the bed resources, which usually incorporate ten teddies I set off on a search to find ten similar looking bears. I didn't wait long before I came across these teddy key rings in a clearance sale, 50p each so a total of £5. Bed was made using an old GHD box and sticking a piece of fleece for a blanket onto the box and coloured scourers for pillows. The head board was made using a plastic folder of the same colour as the box cut to size and then velcroed to the back. I also made coloured tabards and matching hats for each of the teddies, two of each so we could look at colours, matching and the concept of the same. All teddies live inside.

Intently counting to those tired teddies!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Felt butterflies

It's late car broke down so quick post. I may have already posted this but found these pics while looking through photos, and reminded my how lovely this activity was and how we must do it again.
This was such a simple activity to create, using coloured scoring pads as the base although felt would work just as well. Butterflies created by felt cutouts I provided at least two of each coloured shape to ensure they could create symmetrical butterflies.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Tall and small

David was small, Goliath was tall. What better way to explore that concept with the ever popular stacking toys. Additionally we could think about (particularly with the ikea gift boxes they are the coloured circles) the concept of it's what's inside that matters to God. We had the russian dolls out too. So here endith the posts on David, for now at least.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Playdough sheep

To accompany the David Bible story (and just for fun) I made white and whitish playdough to create sheep. The white playdough was made contained only cornflour (cornstarch), using recipe 1 from the Gluten free playdough . The whitish playdough was made using a traditional playdough recipe but substituting plain flour for half self raising and half cornflour. I simply did this as I was running out of cornflour and thought it was interesting to have two types of dough.

The dough was supplemented with short lengths of pipe cleaner, buttons and rubber mats for fields (and water). The pipe cleaners were used as legs and... caterpillar spines, claws, hedgehog bristles (sorry no pics). But the buttons were used as faces and flowers on bushes (in field of sheep) and then we progressed to fish and they become fins and spines on fish!!Oh how creative.
The mats which are viewed on this page are from a twister scram set which I find useful for so many other activities far from thier intended purpose. The mats added a new dimension to the dough play both structuring and extending creative play. I think these will be availible freely for children to access from now on. You can use; table mats, coloured chopping boards or laminated card to the same use.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Making dolls AKA "Bible Dolls"

So here goes an attempt at demonstrating the very simple process of making the dolls without confusing or making it seem complicated...You need: 2 pipe cleaners, 1 bead, cotton/ thread, felt, scissors and needle (a hot glue gun would also be very useful)
Fold both pipe cleaners in half, choose the one that will be the legs/ body and push bead on top.
Slide other pipe cleaner and over the body and position just below head.
Bring ends of pipe cleaner to meet in the middle.
Twist arms to secure and create hands (if you hold the "hand" between your fingers and twist it usually creates a good shape) squeeze to secure further.
Bend the end of the legs up (about 1cm) and then do so again (to create a rounded end and no sharp bits) and bend to a right angle to create feet.

The basic doll is now made, below is a simple costume. You of course can be creative with your costumes (I would love to see finished creations)
Cut felt into this shape by folding and then cutting so you have a perfect tabard. Cut a little slit (0.5 cm) on the crease. Remove the head and poke neck through the slit.
Sew up edges, I usually use a blanket stitch, but if short of time a running stitch or even a glue gun.
For simple head dress cut a T shape out, ensuring the top of the T is the same width "ish" as the bead.
Sew the right angles of the stick of the T to the top along the right angle >T. (Hope that makes sense can't make it sound obvious)
This is what the head dress should look like?
At this point you need PVA or a glue gun (defiantly preferable). Squeeze glue into the top of the head inside until a little ooses out of the hole, this will hold head in place. Then stick on the head dress, you may need to use a bit more glue on the sides of head but if using a glue gun the prior should suffice.

If you are not wishing to use glue I suggest you sew the head on several times to the clothes/ neck by sewing in and out of the bead hole. Then sew the head dress to the top of the clothes along the bottom of the head dress.

I hope you found this useful and not too confusing, feel free to contact me for questions. I'm sorry the picture quality is not brilliant. Happy making

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Colour sheep and shepherds

I had promised a doll making how to today, but have been at church all eve and not enough time now to write it. So... What to post today? More dolls... Shepherd colour matching dolls to compliment the David story. Just an idea I had when I was sorting out the sheep from the other sorting animals.

The dolls were made in exactly the same way as the bible dolls, (which I will show how to make tomorrow) and in fact I think the blue one will make a perfect Mary

Monday, 17 January 2011

Godly Play (David and Goliath dolls)

As I said in my previous post I would add different characters as and when I needed them. Here's the first one- Goliath, simply using a larger bead and longer pipe cleaners, and a few embellishments.
Goliath here pictured against another doll to show the hight difference.
David and some sheep- which were incredibly easy to make simply rolling up to woolen fleece sewing together, poking pipe cleaners through fabric underside and sewing on a face.

I am advocate of the concept of Godly play when "sharing" bible stories with children, which is based upon Montessori's principles and ideas. But I am not purist and simply love the opportunity for children to engage and explore stories and concepts at their level. Having resources available for children to explore at their own leisure (including in the home) feels to me comparable to an adult pondering the greatest theological questions. There are a couple of good links that explore this in greater depth Godly Play at Home and Watkins Every Flavour Bean, I particularly agree with "watkins..." views on Godly play.

"Religious ideas and stories are given tangible form that encourages the child to 'handle' and work out the ideas and their feelings for themselves. This helps the children to really get 'in' to the story in reflective and 'playful' frame of mind - the mode in which they do their deepest 'work', engaging with their whole selves - mind body and spirit.
Every story or 'lesson' has its own handcrafted set of figures or objects, made from wood or fabric wherever possible. The children are encouraged to handle these things (just as the ideas they symbolize) with great care - as things of beauty, meaning and which will last. There is nothing plastic, disposable or broken. The quality of the materials is matched by an attempt to strive for simplicity of design. Figures do not have detailed features or colorful clothes, for example, to allow children to project imaginatively their own feelings and ideas about the narrative." (

David and Goliath play scene ready for children to play with.
David's seven brothers "chillin" before Samuel visits and David in the background.
David minding his sheep, I could have added a staff but I ran out of brown pipe cleaners (hence why david has black arms).
Saul and Samuel, with Goliath in the background.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Bible dolls

Pipe cleaner dolls are so simple to make, yet produce pleasingly simple results making them ideal props for stories. I've created a set of "generic" bible story people which are useful for many stories, with additions made as and when. I was in a bit of a quandary about the skin tone to use but opted in the end for a bit of a mixture. I have purposefully not added facial features so that they can illicit a range of emotions and the character is illicited through the story or play rather than the facial features/ expression.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Ribbon Sticks

I have coveted these ribbon sticks called carnival sticks fromJabadao national centre for movement, learning and health, the most wonderful organisation dedicated to creative movement opportunities.

In a moment of creative inspiration with only a short time on my hands and a need for something extra for a gift for a baby I made a couple of similar sticks. All I used were a pair of old think stripy tights, craft ribbon/ braid (non fray) and pencils with the end blunted (I didn't have any dowel).

Having a bit more time that originally thought I made a little container to put them in, and to work on fine motor skills too. I think I'll be making a rather large set of these.

Friday, 14 January 2011

3d object fitting

Sorry no post yesterday, not broken new years yes before the month is out. Suddenly my broken IPhoto worked and so I have found a wonderful bunch of lost photos and been able to upload lots that I couldn't perviously, I am very happy indeed!!!!! So here starts my first post with found photos, I chose this as it was a lovely activity that I had not thought about for a while.

A lovely infant activity which simply involves putting the shape into the correct (or not as the case maybe) in and out of the matching container. Great for children going through a joining or enclosure schema. I got the inspiration from nienhuis but think my version is just as wonderful at a fraction of the price (I am however in the hunt for a nice wooden box for this activity but at the time the cube and box were real favourites)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning

I just have to take a moment to draw all readers to THE most amazing and inspirational blog Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning! And it is simply all irresistible. You will never ceased to be amazed and inspired by their creative ideas. Now the bloggers responsible for this are going "on the road" and will be visiting other early years settings for more inspirational ideas, with assurances that the blogging gloves have not been hung up. So all the best Sherry and Donna and bloggers everywhere check this blog out!!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

More great apps

Smoky the Train
I have been reliably informed that this is the current favourite app, really simple concept but seemingly very rewarding if you love trains. Child has to copy the track on the left by dragging the track from the bottom of the screen. Lots of opportunity to talk about positions and direction, and not forgetting the amazing way smoky goes around corners.

Addition Under the Sea

A great app, for those interested in addition or currently working on that skill area. Simple and adaptable by adult. Combining the right degree of reward and visual display alongside simplicity. Great for those who also love puzzles as each "sum" is completed a picture is formed.

Addition Under the Sea