Friday, March 29, 2013

Tape Town: a quick, easy, cheap way to create roads for toy cars

My sons loves driving their cars round and round the room. One day I decided to use tape to give them some roads to drive on. B spends so much time making up stories that I wanted to give him a stage for his police vehicles, trucks and buses. It was a huge success and we all had lots of fun with it.

We started with just one road marked on the floor with masking tape. Then we created a ‘T’ junction and then just kept on building across the room. B enjoyed going around with his bus. He stopped in the same place every time for the bus stop - people got on, people got off. Eventually he asked for the tape to mark the stopping place.

We chose a place for a farm so that little R had a place to play too. He likes to drive cars but has no regard for the rules and regulations of the road. He often crawls across the whole set up. B has to wait for ‘the pedestrian crossing the road’ (not always an easy task). Sometimes we build a little train track at one end of our town.
Traffic lights, police stations, fire station, a house with a garden - the additions go on and on. We create different stories every time. The main characters are usually the bus or the police car. B seems to choose depending on his mood. When he has a lot of energy to use up, the police car zooms around with the siren on full blast. There can be a lot of destruction and the noise reaches real siren levels.

At other times the bus drives very carefully around the town. B brings the bus slowly to the stops making sure the tyres are right at the edge of the road. He talks about people getting on and off with prams and dogs. Somebody might be running for the bus so he waits for them - or not!

Monday, March 18, 2013

How can we be creative? Let me count the ways.

Well, it’s been a while since I posted. The winter has been a long one, and it’s not finished yet. We had yet another snowfall last weekend and the low temperatures create sheets of ice for the morning trip to nursery school. We’ve been spending a lot of time at home, playing with things with wheels and reading lots of books. We have built lots of train tracks and developed a few towns. What we haven’t done it a lot of craft activities. However, I started to realise, once again, that my ideas of creativity are not always the same as my childrens’ and that there are many many ways to use your imagination.
Two Boys with a Bus
Nursery school has been the biggest change for us recently. B’s first day was at the beginning of September last year and our schedule had to be worked around that. He was so tired every afternoon that he wasn’t really in the best mood for anything crafty. In addition, his main interest has been pretend play. He loves cars and trains and buses. He spends hours a week driving them around his room making up stories.

Little R is walking now and ready for anything! I have done some painting with him and we sometimes experiment with different materials, trying to build things with them. But I really haven’t done as much creative work with him as I did with B. Partly because he is one of two so there is always another little boy to look out for, who doesn’t like doing messy creative things, and partly because he is much more unpredictable than B. He sees his big 3 year old brother pushing the boundries and he copies everything. Not a great situation for experimenting with paint!

While I love to paint, cut and glue, B has been showing me how driving cars and building train tracks is also good for, if not better for, his creativity and imagination skills. Watching him work and helping him solve problems has been an education for me as he develops his language, refines his co-ordination and practices telling stories.

Introducing R to paint and glue is going to be on my list over the next few months. When he plays with his big brother he gets lots of practice pushing things around and making loud siren noises. I think we’ll add some colour to the playroom walls to reflect their big bright personalities.

So we have lots to do, and lots of opportunities to take photos and fill my blog posts with great pictures!

B with one of his favourite things - the Berlin U-Bahn

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Boats and crumbs on the kitchen table

*Dedicated  to a good friend and a couple of black olives.

Breakfast time at weekend has become fun and creative in comparison to the weekday rush to get out of the house since B started nursery. I love watching the boys play with their food and develop stories about all sorts. One morning there were some chocolate muffins on the table which I had forgotten to move the night before. They were a little dry and made a great material for crumbling all over the place. The muffin case became a boat and hey presto we had a whole scene for stories and songs. What a great way to start the day.

It made a mess. But eating with a three year old and a one year old always requires some cleaning afterwards. A few extra crumbs didn't add any time onto my usual sweep and wipe down. However it did add a few extra opportunities for the kids to practice telling stories, watch things change form and discover how things move through other materials. 

The boat made different lines and shapes in the 'water' and then went fishing to catch something for dinner. We counted the 'fish' it caught. Some juice spilt on the table too and we watched the transformation from dry crumbs to soggy mess. We made up a song to sing during sailing. So I think that covers English, Maths, Science, Music and Geography in one short morning. 

And then we tidied, together, without any argument or negativity. B is pretty good with a dustpan and brush now, as he uses it often. We had fun and were creative.

This is our song:

Row row row your boat, across the kitchen table.
Though the chocolate muffin crumbs,
crinchy, cranchy crunch.

It was inspired by this song:

Friday, January 4, 2013

Lots of fun with an Indoor Snow Storm

The snow arrived and we were all so excited. The first flakes look so lovely as they drift to the street. We couldn’t wait to get out in it. We played in it for a while, then got cold - too cold. All we wanted was to be wrapped up warmly with a hot chocolate. A few days later, I was really pleased with an impromptu indoor snow storm which we created with kitchen paper towels. I love snow, for about five minutes. Indoor snow play is a way to explore texture, create stories and be imaginative without the cold and the wet.

Rabbits in paper snow

It started in the kitchen when B decided, for no clear reason, to rip squares of kitchen paper towel from the roll. I don’t like to stunt his ideas before they develop, so I let him do a few, and then asked him what he was going to use them for. “Don’t know” he replied as he continued ripping. Hmm, I really didn’t want them all on the floor for no reason. I had to think fast: “we could paint on them, or cut some snowflakes, or drive over them -- it’s like snow” Ah ha! There it was. So we went to the boys’ room to drive cars over snow.

B with tube

We had about 10 sheets of kitchen paper towel, so after covering some of the floor and the train track we realised we needed a lot more. I lost my worry of using up one whole roll of paper in a game and asked B to bring the roll for us to use. We had fun ripping each sheet off. We covered lots of things with snow, then had a snowball fight, then filled a box with snow and of course B got in. Little R got involved too and had lots of fun rolling around in the drifts. I would have taken more pictures of the two of them playing so well together, except R refused to let go of my camera!

Box full of snow!

The snow storm started as soon as the kids were out of the box and I threw all the snow out on top of them. “Again, again” laughed B, and this went on for a while. The storm became silly when we mixed other items in with the snow. Soft toys, balls and little star stickers rained down on us all. We ended up throwing the snow all over and around to create a wonderful indoor blizzard.


Although we couldn’t sledge, ski or ice skate, our imaginations made a beautiful snow scape and we had lots of snow fun without the cold.