Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas Books

When I started writing this blog, I did not think I would be sitting down to write a post about the books that we've been reading with the boys just a few months down the line.  Charlie has always had an interest in looking at books but it has always been on his terms and on his own.  Well we have reached a point where he enjoys looking at some books with us and is asking for them to be read again and again by signing please.  James is not quite so keen but will sit through the whole book and listen which is a great step forward too!  I will admit that I don't play by traditional rules here though - if sitting on the table means that Charlie will look at the book, he sits on the table!  A little unorthodox but I have learnt with my 2 that if they don't want to do something they won't and its better to take an activity to them in their way than making them conform to a strict idea of what is deemed polite and acceptable behaviour.  This is one of the great advantages of educating them at home.

 The book we are reading here is called 'Father Christmas Needs a Wee!'  Its basically a counting book, but I think the rhyming aspect of the text and the simple pictures of familiar items are what appeals to the boys.

Some other Christmas books that we have also enjoyed are the Christmas series of the Usbourne touchy-feely books and a sing-a-long Jingle Bells book with an interactive button to play the tune.

Conclusion? Again...its got to be the right books - musical/rhyming, the right type of pictures, cause and effect, and sensory feely books all appeal at the moment......and of course we are over the moon by all this!!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Advent Calender and Illuminated Pot Pourri Jars

I wanted to make an advent calender that we could use year after year and that the boys could actually do themselves.  I'm very sick of those chocolate things - too much waste, the boys can't open the doors themselves and they don't like the chocolate - all in all a waste of time! I cut out the numbers from old wrapping paper, stuck them onto coloured paper and sprinkled them with glitter and little stars before laminating them.  I then used a cheap red door mat to velcro them to.  It has to be kept in the cupboard because the numbers would go walkabout otherwise!! It worked better than I expected actually, with the boys happily sitting and placing the numbers on and counting across with us.

I found the idea for the illuminated jars on this website -
For ours we used battery powered lights which just sit behind the jar and I just topped them with a bit of red fabric and tied it up with tinsel.  Although I had to do the lights and the lids for James and Charlie, it did give them firstly some sensory play with the pot pourri and secondly they put it all in the jar!

Christmas Playdough Again - The Christmas Tree

Our Christmas playdough was pretty successful so I wanted to expand it a bit and made this green version.  Its a cream of tartar recipe as before, but to this one I added green glitter and pine oil along with the food colouring.  It smells a bit like cheap toilet cleaner!!

We did some cutting out as usual but as James often needs a purpose to his play e.g. the threading or putting things 'in' and 'on', I made him a Christmas Tree and decorations and got him to decorate the tree.  He did this all himself.

Father Christmas Magnets

I found these magnets in Lakeland on a last minute whiz around town before Christmas.  We've not really used them yet as the boys have been ill but I thought I could put them back for next year.  They are ideal for the magnetic board we painted in the playroom and will be great for constructing the small picture and saying the words for 'arms' and 'legs' etc as we do it.  Its also given me a few more ideas as to how I could make magnets for this board myself......I'm thinking a face, fruit bowl, aquarium?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Christmas Play Dough

This is a cream of tartar play dough recipe to which I added a lot of red food colouring, glitter and cinnamon.  Charlie enjoyed playing with it whilst it was still warm - it was really nice with the spicy cinnamon smell!

We make hand prints and cut out shapes with our Christmas cutters.

I printed and laminated these pictures and we are working on making little red baubles to put on the tree and a nose for Rudolph....

James doesn't want to spend very long on play dough, so as he is still really into threading, we encouraged him to make a sausage and thread the cutters onto that!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Christmas Sensory Box

This is supposed to be a Christmas sensory box - it does smell Christmassy but I think it looks autumnal! 

It contains :-

A bag of mixed nuts
Bag of walnuts
Cinnamon sticks
Dried orange slices
Christmas scented pine cones

James helped to make the orange slices.  He's quite into helping to do fruit and veg at the moment and its a great way to get him exploring different foods without the pressure of having to eat them.  He licked a few bits of orange doing this. I say, 'Mum cut, James put IN' and he puts the items in the baking tray!

With the sensory stuff, I tend to just encourage exploration of the textures and smells.....

 but my mum got James putting a nut in each section of a little plastic cake tray which worked really well!

Christmas Goo

We've been doing this with plain hair gel and food such as tinned spaghetti, custard etc for years.  I decided to make a Christmas version by adding glitter and Christmas confetti to the gel before putting it in the bag.  Its a great activity for children who don't like the feeling of gooey messy stuff on their hands as it is a 'safe' way to explore the textures.  We've progressed on from being quite so defensive but James did play with this 'bagged' for much longer than he would have done if he had actually had to touch it and anyway, it's fun!!

I usually use the sealable bags to do this and put the filled bag inside another one to minimise leakages.  This definitely needed 2 bags as the stars started to poke through the plastic.  You could tape the top but to honest, I never have.

Christmas Pudding Bathbombs -not just for baths!

Lush do great seasonal sensory stuff and the staff in our local shop are lovely with the boys so we go in there fairly regularly (maybe for mums stuff too!).  We got these Christmas Pudding Bathbombs to use in our water play.  They might look a bit murky but they smell good!!  The only one of the five basic senses this activity does not address is taste although they did do their best to try......