Saturday, October 11, 2014

What we're doing this week

This week, Little Bean was delighted when his new wooden trolley that I ordered from Win Win Toys arrived. It's shaped like a dog and has ears that swing as he pushes it along. He spent lots of time just swinging the ears round and round. It came at the perfect time as it helped to distract him from his new favourite pastime of pushing the furniture around his room.

He filled the trolley with his new wooden cars and plastic balls. I quickly learnt that he had very particular ideas about what could and could not go in the trolley. I tried to put his little bear in there and it was unceremoniously tossed across the room.

Little Bean decided that it would also be fun to sit in his trolley. It was a tight squeeze so he soon found a more comfortable place to sit. My washing basket. He didn't even let me finish taking the washing out first. It still had some spare cloth nappies in it, so I decided they could stay put as it would give him some cushioning. He has spent many hours just sitting in it and playing with the handles, putting things in and out of it, and trying to get it to move along. He loves it when I push him around the room in it.

Little Beans's new wooden cars are also from Win Win Toys. These inspired this week's discovery basket theme of Push & Roll. Visit here to see the discovery basket. He's really got the hang of pushing them along now and can make them zoom across the room at crazy speeds. Every now and then, he gets a little too enthusiastic and they just fly through the air before smashing into a wall. I guess he's still working out the levels of his strength.

We have also been playing with his new plastic balls. They each have a small bell filled ball in the centre. I have discovered that this makes them really good for spinning. The little ball inside seems to make them spin for longer and if you spin them a little off centre, they spin for ages whilst travelling across the room.

This week's discovery basket

This discovery basket is actually from last week. I just realised that I forgot to post it. The theme was  Push & Roll. It was inspired by his new wooden cars and plastic balls.

The balls included in this basket were a set of small wooden balls, plastic balls with bells inside, a velvet ball and a red rubber sensory ball.  There were also some wooden cars, a plastic truck, a plastic rattle and some plastic cylinders with bells inside.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

This week's discovery basket

 At the moment, Little Bean is into wearing hats and mimicking what I do, so this week's discovery basket is all about hats. I got all of his hats out and a few of my own too. I didn't realise just how many hats he had until now. He's got over a dozen. We've been playing a game where I put my hat on or take it off, and he copies me. He loves putting hats on my head too. The brim on my big white hat is so wide that we can play peekaboo under it.

How to make a discovery basket

A discovery basket is a basket, box or tub filled with carefully selected items that your child can play with and explore. I've also heard them called treasure baskets. Items can be tactile, interesting or thematic. I usually choose a theme based on Little Bean's current interests and go from there. They are a great way to stimulate the senses, introduce new concepts and to practice skills.

I have a big box filled with loads of interesting items for discovery baskets. It's actually getting a little crazy. I have so many ideas that I'm going to have to get a bigger box soon. Maybe even a room.

Recently we've had discovery baskets for the following themes:
Things that roll or can be pushed along
Sound sensory bottles - go here for instructions on how to make them

Round - metal sieve, metal baby food jar lid, sauce dipping bowls,
plastic lid with embossed stars, flexible clear plastic lid,
plastic jar lid with grooved edges.
Sound sensory bottles containing plastic straws, rice, chickpeas,
mung beans & lentils, kidney beans and bells.
Roll or push - sensory ball, plastic balls with bells inside,
velvet ball, small wooden balls, plastic rattle, plastic cylinders
with bells inside, plastic truck and lots of wooden cars.
Some other themes I'd like to try in the near future are:
Shiny and smooth
Spin or turn
Kitchen tools
Opening and closing
Rough or smooth

Here are some of the items I have put aside for future use:

Beautiful sea shells
Wooden chopsticks and
bamboo placemat
Metal sieve, silicon cupcake pans, plastic juicer, metal beaters,
metal ladle, textured plastic rice spoon, plastic curry puff press.
Sometime you can make the basket itself an interesting
feature. I like using plastic sieves and baskets
with different textures.
Texture - vinyl coin purse, shower loofah, woven handbag,
scrubbing brush.
A variety of scarves and shawls

How to make sound sensory bottles

I made some sound sensory bottles for Little Bean using cheap items that I already had around the house. I wanted a range of tones so I used dried foods in various sizes, ranging from grains of rice up to dried chickpeas, plus some other items that made interesting sounds.

There are a lot of activities that you can do with these bottles. For babies, you could just let them play with the bottles on their own. They can explore the tactile feel of the bottles, develop their movement and co-ordination, and be stimulated by the different sizes, shapes, colours and sounds of the bottle contents. For toddlers and older children, you could do sorting activities. You could sort them in order from lowest tone to highest tone, quietest to loudest, least liked sound to favourite sound, or by the size of the contents.

You'll need:
6 x small plastic bottles (I used 375ml soft drink bottles)
6 x plastic drinking straws
2 x small bells (I used bells for cat collars as they fit through the bottle neck)
1/4 cup each of 4 dried foods (I used rice, chickpeas, kidney beans & lentil/mung bean)
Super glue
Plastic funnel with a wide spout

If you wanted to use non-food contents for your bottles, you could try wooden or plastic beads, buttons, nuts and bolts, metal washers, small shells, fish tank pebbles, etc. The list is only limited by your imagination.

Cut the straws into 2 cm lengths and put into one bottle.
Put the bells in the next bottle.
Use the funnel to pour the dried food into the remaining four bottles.
Doing one bottle and lid at a time, put super glue on the inside edges of the bottle lids.
Make sure you get it into the lid grooves and quickly screw it on to the bottle.
Repeat for the rest of the bottles.
Leave them overnight so that the glue can fully cure and reach maximum strength.
Give the bottles to your child and be prepared for lots of noisy fun.

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Good Day

At the various stages of our life, our idea of a good day can change drastically. 

At 20, my idea of a good day was sleeping in until noon, going to work as a barmaid in the evening, drinking after work with my friends, going fishing at the beach, then staggering home as the sun came up. 

At 25, it was going to work at a nice hotel, heading home to my trendy inner city apartment and eating at a different restaurant every week on my night off. 

At 30, it was going to my 9-5 job, cooking something delicious from a gourmet recipe book for dinner and having a few quiet drinks at home while watching a movie. 

At 35, all those days are long gone. I barely drink anymore, hardly ever go for a night out and a movie is rarely watched in peace. These days, it’s not so much about what I do with my day, but rather about three essential things that will make my life easier. 

Now, I consider it a good day if:

1.  I open a can of baby formula and the scoop is on top. I hate having to dig for it. No matter how careful you are, you always spill some and it’s a pain to clean up. If you're not cleaning up a fine powder, you're cleaning up a sticky mess. 
2.  My baby doesn’t sneeze on me with a mouthful of food. It is harder than you think to get chucks of half chewed carrot out of your hair. If it’s pureed food, you’ll be finding specks of it around the room for weeks.

3.  All the poo stays inside the nappy. Enough said.

Other non-essential but highly desirable things are:

4.  I remember to brush my hair before I go out. I’m usually so busy getting Little Bean ready that I forget about myself.
5.  I realise that I have baby dribble/vomit/food/unidentified substance on my shirt before I leave the house, not halfway to my destination.
6.  I get to eat my meals while they’re still hot. Even warm would be great. Little Bean has a knack for waking up/hurting himself/pooping his nappy just as I’m about to get that first bite in. By the time I get back to my food, it’s cold and I’m too hungry to care about reheating it. Besides, reheating it would probably just invite further drama.
7.  I get to go to the toilet by myself and read a few pages of my book in peace, without the Beans or their Daddy harassing me.

What makes a day good for you?