Thursday, January 24, 2013

Montessori Inspired: Clothesline

 Attempting the 'pinch'

Last year, I was putting together all things Montessori, but without the high costs. We bought some nuts, bolts, screws, locks, keys, ping pong balls, ladle's, cotton balls, tweezers, tongs, chopsticks and anything else that was low cost that could provide a few minutes of quiet, concentrated play.

Hubby and I were trying to concoct a wooden, free-standing clothesline, but it was a cumbersome ordeal.
Then we chanced upon a dollar-store item that fit the bill; a cheap, magazine caddy. The wooden frame was already there, all we had to do was snip off the material pocket which would have held magazines.

Then we added a looping string, some wooden clothespegs and voila! 
Montessori-style clothesline.

O is just starting to be able to pinch the clothespegs enough to open them.
She still needs some help guiding her opposite hand to take the clothes down.

Most of her dolls are nude, by her doing, so she is quite enthralled with having a place to hang their belongings since they aren't being used anyways!

We don't happen to have an Ayi, but O likes to call herself one when she is doing chores!

Feeding the Birds

Trial taste-test on behalf of our feathered friends!

Endless times we have attemted to lure wildlife to our city balcony in Shanghai.
This act seems in vain, but we have not given up.

We had a bowl of stale popcorn waiting to be made into feeder strings.
Needless to say, it was a good time-user and nice thought, but we have yet to see any fowl!

At least O has enjoyed the snack!

Snowman in Shanghai

 Skewer "tree's"
After making some snowman playdough, I set out a few supplies for creative play. O immediately took the wooden skewers, poked them in a blob of dough and called it a 'tree'.

 Then she used the skewers to feed the budding snowman his 'food' (which turned out to be more dough!)

 I disappeared for a minute, after telling her I would come back with some 'eyes' and 'buttons', but when I returned, she had already formed eyes and nose with her poking device!

 Then came his very long and useful arms!

Finally, all on her own, she placed some beads where she thought his features should go.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lida's TV Set

 O opening her "music box"...
...turned television set!

Not a lot of TV gets attention in our house. 
We definitely don't exempt it, but it may be on for a total of an hour a week.
The few opportunities O has had the chance to tube veg, involves Snoopy courtesy of Dabby.

The other day we had been playing for a while when O told me she was going to watch TV. She knew exactly what she had in mind (as if she has done this before?) and went straight for her Olivia the Pig music box. She opened it up, pressed a 'button' with her favourite sound effect, "Doop!" and proceeded to watch the telly (in the mirror provided.)

I love the entertainment value I get from a two-year old!

Cupcakes & Crabbies

  Cupcakes & Crabbies

Honestly, I am horrible at making playdough. I have attempted the cooked kind and the no-cook kind, so I finally resorted to making ornament dough. The results were still not that great (this dough seems to crumble, making it hard for a toddler to keep focused as her treats keep falling apart!)

  Always a party!

In our house, wherever there is (failed) dough, there are (successful) cupcakes! O never misses the chance to make a cupcake complete with candles for a few rounds of Happy Birthday.

Thanks again, IKEA & Domi

Our friend Domi lent us his cookie cutter set from IKEA, which we use regularly. The larger pieces serve as costume jewellery (bracelets and such!), while the smaller shapes make imprints and cut-outs.

Variety of Recipes. If you are like me and just cannot get a dough break, keep trying. The recipes out there are vast! Mama's add sparkles, sprinkles and scents to heighten the experience. We're trying this one out today No cook and seasonal!

Lasting Impressions. Lots of dough recipes can be air or oven-dried. You can imprint baby's handprints for Christmas ornaments, or your school-agers signature. You can make a set of gingerbread peeps for Grandma's Christmas tree. Roll dough into small beads, poke a hole through and paint when dried to make your own jewelery.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

2-in-1 Game from Recycleable Tubes

 Alternative to the Kleenex Box

A dear friend introduced us to homemade sensory tubes before our daughters turned one. These work great for the baby that loves taking Kleenex, every last one, out of the box. We used an Apple Chip container with removable lid, cut a hole in the top and put in several scraps of material. They only trail out after one another if the material is tied end-to-end. Otherwise, the lid can be left off for tiny hands to find the next scrap. 
* A bonus is adding material with different textures.

 Pom Pom Push

This version of the sensory tube was by far the favourite. A hold big enough for a small pom pom is cut. Place several colour pom poms inside for baby to dump out and then push them in the top, one-by-one. 
*Bonus; Use pom poms with a variety of colours.

 Ping Pong Push

This version provided the biggest challenge (likely since I cut the hole slightly too small!) It requires a good strong push to help the ping pong ball through.

Three Pin

Now that O is a little older, the sensory tubes are not that interesting. However, when they became pins for a game of bowling, she was "in".
O was surprisingly hesitant to knock them down with the ball. 
She preferred using her hands;) It was a more accurate way to strike;)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Parenting Picks: Nurture Store

What to do with the day?

Big old kudo's to Nurture Store UK!
Once a week, an email comes directly to my inbox with a weeks worth of activities to try!
When I am sapped of creative juices and have no time to browse Pinterest, these boredom busters are the weeks best friend.

You can sign up for your weekly email here
Or just browse their site for a load of lovely idea's.

Colour Wheel: Parachute Play

Colour Wheel

O eats up parachute playtime.
In fact she obsesses so much about the parachute, she has substituted the word 'parachute' for 'bathing suit'!

Really it is best when friends come over to have the extra hands and body's for some game time. However O is quite easily entertained by using it as a tunnel or shouting out the colours we have to jump to.

Waves. Mushrooms & More. My memory of parachute games was mostly the Colour Swap and the Mushroom. Check out the Kids Activities page for a giant list of games
Hint: Read right to the bottom for poems and songs that combine with parachute play.

Toddler Tales: Package Party

 Starting with stickers
 Peeling all by herself

Add a footprint to the mix
Ready for the post office

O and I take regular field trips to the Post Office.
There were a bunch of random packages I had yet to pull together for mailing, so we brought out some stickers and O aided the process of prettying up the parcels for take-off.
She was particularly fond of Fram and Framps package, since it happened to be the largest.

I thought this would be a great post Chirstmas/Birthday project since we did a lot of receiving, it might be a good time to practice giving back.
When I told her Fram and Framps would love her work, she replied,
'Lida love it. Lida have it okay!"


Monday, January 7, 2013

Frog & Toad

Frog & Toad & O Together

Last night I left O playing with her dolls to throw together something for dinner.
After a few minutes I noticed things had been awfully quiet where I left them in the living room. Like any toddlers mother, I rushed back to survey the situation, holding my breath on the way.

As it turns out she was reading the pictures of her new favourite series; Frog & Toad Together.
A big sigh of relief and dash for the camera;)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Vegan Bites: Bliss Balls

Little Timbits for Canadian Vegans!

Warning issued by carnivorous husband: "These do not taste like chocolate."

Our first encounter with Bliss Balls was during a visit to my sister and brother-in-law's local health food store in Newmarket Ontario. The beautiful Nature's Emporium, where you can be healthy and spend all your money at the same time.

Nature's Emporium has an amazing pre-made food counter that would put any veggie-naysayer to shame. I headed straight for the Bliss Balls! As soon as we returned to China I searched the internet for a similar recipe. Surprisingly, raw and vegan websites were teeming with variations of Bliss Balls, otherwise known as Energy Balls.

After a mix-match of recipes, we came up with a keeper. 
Recipe below.

If you have not tried carob, it is worth a visit to the health food store.
Thankfully our families loaded us up for Christmas. We use carob nearly every day in shakes and goodies.
This recipe is ridiculously easy, fast, 100% vegan, 100% raw, full of iron, calcium and protein.

Bliss Balls-Homemade Version
Mix together...
~3T carob powder (be generous)
~1/4 c sesame seeds
~1/4 c coconut (toasted is fab)
~1/4 c mixed dried fruit (goji berries, figs, cranberries, raisins)
Mix separately...
~1T blackstrap molasses (table molasses does not have the same nutrients)
~1T applesauce
~2-4T tahini
~grated orange rind

Mix both wet and dry ingredients together. 
Roll in carob or coconut (fun job for kiddies!)
Keep cold glass of milk nearby!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Puzzle Play

Purple Puzzle Pieces

Santa brought O a great set of puzzles. 
The other day I found her working with the "difficult" alphabet one.
I noticed she had removed all the purple letters!
Then she took the "I" and called it a "dog bone"!

"Same. Same!"

 Adam found her examining the "M" and "W" after which she told him, "Same. Same!"

Letter Tower (Sheep on Top!)

O was very clear that the alphabet puzzle is definitely "difficult", but we were fascinated with her variations on how to use it. Today, her and I built a Letter Tower using the pieces and "Sheep" climbed on top.


The insect and animal puzzles are simple for her.
She takes a turn and then announces it is my turn.
She loves correcting me when I put them in the wrong place!


The last two puzzles present a few more challenges for her than the animals and insects. She has yet to rate these one's "difficult" but she asks several times for help. The colour coding really guides her along when she cannot figure out the shape match.

 C is for Crocodile
 L is for Lion
My favourite photographer

Make Your Own. An easy peasy Busy Bag idea; take a photo or magazine picture and cut it into several pieces. The smaller the child, the simpler the picture and fewer the pieces. Toss a few in separate bags and take it to the doctors appointment or airplane ride. If your child is older, toss several into the same bag for an added challenge!