DIY CHRISTMAS PLAYDOUGH KIT

December is a period of numerous celebrations - my mom's birthday, my son's birthday, my nephew's birthday and the most important of all - the birth of our Lord Jesus. I guess it's good 'stress' as we party almost every week!

Here's a DIY Christmas gift idea for children of preschool age - A Make Your Own Playdough Christmas Tree. It should be good as it has been done by a lot of mommies. It's an inexpensive arty gift. We made these kits as the birthday goodie bags for Nat's classmates when he celebrated his birthday in school. Since his birthday is so near Christmas, we thought why not have a Christmas theme to it this year.

If you're intending to make more than 10, I recommend you make the playdough with a food processor. If you're a crazy mom like me, you can get your children involve in making the playdough and assembling the whole kit. Only attempt this if you don't mind the mess. I had green food colouring split all over the kitchen floor, hot water splashed onto myself, t-shirt turning into green, a toddler eating the green playdough, etc.

But when I saw Nat's excitement in sticking the labels, writing the first letter of his friends' names on the labels, sorting the sequins and playdough into the various boxes, counting and making sure they were correct - all the mess was totally worth it. And of course the birthday boy got his own goodie box too and when he reached home, he immediately made a Christmas tree for himself with the whole family sitting around it.

diy christmas play dough kit

Since Christmas is just 7 days away, if you've no time to make your own labels, you can click here to download a copy of the label on the left.

Here's the link to The Best Ever No-Cook Playdough Recipe that lasts for 6 months

Also do check out DIY Christmas Playdough Gift Bags for a different feel to the kit if you want to put the playdough in ziplog bags rather than boxes.

 

SENSORY BOTTLE MUSICAL SHAKER

We just can't get enough of sensory bottles. Why? Because I've absolutely no idea why we always have so many empty bottles lying around. This time, the big brother has been enlisted to make this toy for his little sister. It is another wonderful learning time for him. When he was young, it's just a one track mind. Now, I love to see him troubleshoot: should I use a spoon, or my fingers or a funnel, to pour the beans into the bottle? How much should I add?

Other things we added to the bottle were bells and straw pieces. He also decided how long he wanted the ribbons to be. Then I poked a hole into the bottle cap, tied the ribbons through the hole and secured the cap with duct tape.

sensory bottle musical shaker

And just look at the delight on the sister's face when she received the bottle. It's a safe toy to play in the cot. Since babies get bored of toys easily, this is an inexpensive and easy to make toy. She has played with it until the bottle is all squashed. As for the big brother, he asked to make one for himself the next day :)

sensory bottle musical shaker

Read more about the musical shakers at My Little Me and 3. The blogger shares about colour learning, counting and sorting through this activity.

HEADGEAR OF THE DAY: THE FLASH

My son is currently loving superheroes. I've no idea how he can be so immersed in his superhero roles, how he catches on this whole 'superhero' concept so fast even though he doesn't watch any of the superhero cartoons nor read any superhero comics. Somehow everyone just loves or are attracted superheroes, not just children. Perhaps inside all of us, we are longing for a saviour and I'm glad we do have one. 

PLAYFUL PLAYING

Did you remember playing a lot during your childhood? I mean like random playing around. Not playing during enrichment classes, playing with a planned outcome in mind or playing games with top down instructions. I remember playing ping pong on the coffee table, on the walls and of course playing dress up because I got caught cutting my sister's hair with a real pair of scissors.

But I don't understand why for the life of me, I don't remember such playtime when I had my first child. I was so enthusiastic about incorporating structured play, like having organised playtime with objectives, so much so I got too overwhelmed and sensitive over little things. For example, he couldn't play this way because it seemed meaningless or he will just mess up the kitchen if he hung around me when I cooked or he might hurt himself unnecessarily if I let him wander around the house (which is absolutely ridiculous because I live in a 70sqm house). 

It ended up in a disaster (not total disaster) because he didn't learn to play and explore by himself, which I think is very key to a child's development. When a child plays and explores independently, I don't mean that the parent just leaves the child to his/her own devices and ignores the play. But I feel that as the child self explores and plays independently, the parent can observe more and understand the child's pace of development as well, instead of enforcing without understanding whatever he/she feels is good for the child to learn.

When my second child came along, I still didn't really learn. But because of circumstances, there was more washing, cleaning and cooking, my daughter was left on her own to play and explore much more than my son. When I'm washing the dishes, I have to leave her at the highchair after meals for a longer period so I would just put some toys on her table. And one day, without me giving her any instructions, at 12 months old, she suddenly started stacking a number of mini blocks I set on her high chair. I was astonished! My son couldn't stack blocks at 12 months even after countless prompting and instructing. Maybe it's the gender, maybe it's the personality or even IQ level but whatever the case is, she DID explore and play the blocks on her own, I didn't interfere with her at all.

And so from then on, I've been less strung up on planning activities for my children. I used to think I was a lazy SAHM if I didn't plan a 'lesson', like I wasn't making use of my time at home and if I was just playing around with them, it would seem so meaningless. Perhaps it's because of our result-oriented culture. Everything must have an outcome, a product or a grade. We tend to forget about the learning and development that comes from the process - the exploring, the making of mistakes, the hits and misses, the brainstorming, the problem solving, the creating, and even the random crazy actions, all contribute to our growth. And this is so critical for our children during their formative years.

This week set aside time for the children to play playfully and of course play with them as well. Here are the 2 kiddos just being playfully silly during playtime :)

DINOSAUR PLAY

This is by far my most intensive prep play, compared to other projects. This dinosaur themed play lasted for a month. A very kind soul gave me a huge box of dinosaurs, of different sizes and types. I knew these kind of toys are expensive and I just had to make the best of them. Also, I was really getting bored of playing cars with him like all the time. If you are considering to buy such toys and have the budget to do so, please do, the kids learn a lot with this kind of imaginary role play. Other than the initial investment that goes into the dinosaurs, everything else needed for the activities are things you can just get from home. And for Nat, it has helped him greatly to gain independence in playing by himself. Read ahead and be inspired but do note that the preparation and planning is not for the fainthearted!

WEEK 1 - DINOSAUR EXCAVATION

I froze the baby dinosaurs into a giant ice cube and provided some 'excavation' tools. Then I talked about how dinosaurs were extinct and how people excavated the dinosaur bones. He was at it for close to 45 minutes. I never knew that in our hot climate, the ice block could be so tough to break. He asked to do it again and so the next time, I will give him different things like sand/salt/flour to pour on the ice and it can be a science experiment.

WEEK 2 - DINOSAUR LAND

Then I made a mat by connecting different foam sheets to be his 'dinosaur land'. I kind of surprised him with a whole lot more of dinosaurs besides the baby ones he dug up previously. He was so happy! It was up to him to interpret what kind of 'land' the different colours represented. He also cut up some foam sheets into different shapes to be the water, logs, lava, grass, food. He set up his dinosaur land and from then it was a point of no return of non-stop play.

WEEK 3 - DINOSAUR OBSERVATION

We tried to learn about the names of the different dinosaurs. WX was much better than me at this, I was almost clueless. We matched the dinosaur babies with their dinosaur mothers. He also took the initiative to categorise the dinosaurs into different colours according to the mats. We watched an episode of SUPER WHY- Baby Dino's Big Discovery and learned about how to observe the dinosaurs carefully in order to differentiate them.

WEEK 4 - DINOSAURS AND VOLCANOES

Then I had a random idea to learn about volcanoes, just for crazy fun with his dinosaurs. We watched videos about volcanoes from The Kids Should See This, read the book 'Volcano Rising' and then did a volcano experiment - the good ol' baking soda with vinegar explosion. At the beginning he was rather upset that his dinosaurs got all dirty by the lava. But then he loved seeing the explosion so much he kept doing it again and again until we used up a giant bottle of vinegar and baking soda. In the end, he was very diligent in cleaning up his dinosaurs all by himself.

WEEK 5 - DINOSAUR EGGS

WX and I made dinosaur bath bombs the night before, because they needed at least 8 hours to dry. We told Nat that these were dinosaur eggs which will hatch when you add water. We ran this activitiy 3 times! He liked it a lot and we had a lot of dinosaur babies but it's also because I kept getting the consistency wrong each time so the first 2 tries, the bath bombs didn't fizzle at all. It was only truly successful on the 3rd try! My advice to you is that just add 3 times the amount of citric acid (pin shown at the end).

 

And last but not least. We can't do without the dinosaur stickers yeah? :)

Check out all the pins below for more details on how to prep each activity. I don't rewrite them because I want to give due credit to these awesome mommies who take time to come up with them by themselves :)

Dinsosaur excavation

Dinsosaur excavation

Playdough recipe for making volcano

Playdough recipe for making volcano

Instructions for volcano explosion with baking soda and vinegar

Instructions for volcano explosion with baking soda and vinegar

Instructions for making dinosaur bath bomb eggs

Instructions for making dinosaur bath bomb eggs