Thursday, 3 November 2011

Pumpkin Seed Play: Lightbox and Owls

Earlier in the week we carved a HUGE pumpkin. I kept all the 'innards', making various recipes with the pumpkin flesh, and drying out the seeds for Eden and I to play with and to use for craft.

Today we did some mixing and pouring of the pumpkin seeds on top of the lightbox:

Then we made a Pumpkin Seed Owl. I drew the outline of an owl on some card and cut it out, and left the rest to Eden (with a bit of guidance from me)... she was as delighted as usual to be let loose on the glue!

Eden then wanted to listen to our 'Owl Babies' CD, and dance around the living room with blankets as capes or 'wings' pretending to be Mummy Owl and Baby Owl. Of course I joined in the merry fun, cape and all, although it's probably for the best I didn't take a photo....!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Quick Christmas Craft this evening...

After sewing fatigue from making Eden's Advent Calendar Bunting a few weeks ago, I got the sewing machine out for the first time this evening to make this Christmas Tree decoration for her. Every year we buy her a special decoration for the tree (actually she has a few each year as friends very kindly have given one to her one in previous years too). This is her third Christmas, and so I thought I'd make my own for her this year. I'm pleased with the results - it's a little big, but better too big than too small for a sewing novice like me :)

Today I also ordered the materials for my next Christmas Project....

Friday, 21 October 2011

Encouraging better behaviour

Over the past few weeks I've been attending a parenting course which has given me some great tips on how to guide Eden in a positive way that builds up her self esteem and confidence and achieves good behaviour. Many of the tips I was sort of doing already to a certain extent, but the course has helped me name and identify these techniques and therefore improve my awareness of what works. Here's a few of my faves:

I've always tried to praise Eden, to be encouraging over good behaviour, to be enthusiastic when she perseveres and achieves something difficult (like stacking beakers when she was younger), or for example, when she holds it together when frustrated and we avoid a tantrum. I'm sure when I praise her this makes her feel good and that her efforts have been noticed, making her more likely to repeat it again next time.

I especially like to praise and encourage her when I know she overcomes something really difficult for her - like sharing when she'd sooner not, or when she steps out of her comfort zone and does something new and fun for the first time despite being understandably apprehensive initially. I think this has contributed to the fun little girl we have, who is open to new experiences and not easily phased by change.

Eden loves her stickers at the moment. A couple of weeks ago, we were struggling to stop her throwing her food on the floor when she'd finished her meal, something she's done regularly since sitting at the table for meals. Toast wasn't a huge issue to clean up, but a plate of rice was a different story! By introducing a sticker every time she kept her plate on the table when she'd finished, we resolved the behaviour quickly within a couple of days.

Phrasing Positively
I love this! If I say to you 'Don't think of kangaroos' what are you thinking of? In the same way, rather than saying 'Don't run' I say 'Can you walk please'. It works for lots of different situations:

  • 'Don't pull the cat's tail' becomes 'Be gentle with the cat please'
  • 'Don't ignore me' becomes 'Can you listen when I'm talking to you'
All of these I've found are 'tools in the box' for me when it comes to being a parent and encouraging good behaviour.   

Monday, 17 October 2011

Wow Toys Review and Giveaway

Wow toys have a fantastic selection of bright and eye-catching toys for preschoolers, made to the highest safety standards. Importantly for us grown-ups, they're all PVC-free and battery-free! Many of their toys offer a sensory appeal for the early years as well as attention to detail for the older child to discover - offering great play-value.

Eden was very excited to receive Casey the Camper Van to review. It's captured her imagination and for the past week since we received it, it's been a permanent feature in the middle of our living room floor that she just keeps coming back to. 

What we love about Casey Camper Van
  • Casey is bright and colourful, with lots of extra features for preschoolers to explore. 
  • The attention to detail makes it fun for kids (and grown ups) to play with
  • The Camper Van has a realistic engine sound when driven along the floor
  • There's plenty of opportunity to encourage imaginative play and motor skill development through the features and extra props that come with the Camper Van
  • Eden loves setting up the table for a picnic, swapping round the boy and girl in the driving seat, and putting the dog to bed in the camper van  

Competition Time

Wow Toys have generously provided a Motorbike Max to giveaway to one of my blog followers. All you have to do to enter is visit their website and pop back over here to tell me what your favourite toy is from there. 

Extra Additional Entries (optional)
If you'd like extra entries you can do one or all of the following. Leave me a separate comment below for each that you do
  1. Follow me on Facebook
  2. Follow Wow Toys on Facebook
  3. Follow me on Google Friends Connect (link on the right of this page)
  4. Follow me on twitter and tweet the following - 'I'd like to #win a Wow Toy with @Pondering_Kate. Enter here   
Terms and Conditions
  • Competition closes on Sunday 30th October 8pm
  • Winner will be picked randomly using number generator
  • UK entrants only please
  • No cash alternative



Congratulations Natalie! Please get in touch to claim your prize, and thanks to all who entered!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

DIY Lightbox

As the nights draw in, this is a fun activity to do in the dark! I've been meaning to make Eden a lightbox for a while now, I just couldn't figure out how I'd do it. Lightboxes can be really expensive to buy, and I've seen them for sale at £80-£100. The lightbox I've made for Eden cost just £3.50 - bargain fun! Today we experimented with various objects I found in Eden's bedroom, but I've got lots of plans for explorative play with it, particularly over these forthcoming dark winter months where more time is spent indoors.

Setting up the lightbox: plastic shoebox and battery-powered LED light

Testing out various objects

"I wonder if I glow too?"

Plastic milk bottle tops
Check out more play ideas here:

Autumn Finger Painting

Following on from our Autumn Screech in the woods the other day, Eden and I created our own leafy autumn pictures, using finger paints and tissue paper. The pictures took a couple of days to complete, as we had to let the paint dry in-between stages.

The first step was to paint on our trees using brown paint. We tried various ways of making the trees - Eden used her hands to make branches on one, we tried blow-painting using straws on another, and we also painted freehand trees using the traditional paintbrush! We then left the trees to dry.

The next session was a finger-painting session to create orange, red and yellow leaves on the trees. Eden (at 22 months) did brilliantly dotting her fingers on the paper to create leaves.

The final step was to add some tissue paper grass. We tore up green tissue paper, before scrunching it up and gluing onto the pictures.

Our finished leafy autumn scenes:

Proudly displayed on the wall in Eden's craft corner. Whenever we finish any artwork now Eden always holds it up and says 'Wall' - she knows the drill!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Tried and Tested: Vital Baby Unbelievabowl

Over the last few weeks we’ve been trialling the Vital Baby Unbelievabowl. It’s a child suction bowl, and I was keen to test out its suction power having tried a few previously with Eden with little success.

The Unbelievabowl is available in fun and bright colours that are appealing to the eye. To Eden’s delight we were sent the bright pink bowl! It is BPA free and latex free, and spare bowls are available to interchange with the suction pad.  The bowl has high sides and I've found this works great in assisting Eden’s progress in using cutlery, as she’s able to use the sides as an aid to scoop food up onto her spoon and fork.

The bowl itself twists and clicks into place onto the suction pad. It definitely requires an adult to do this and so tampering little fingers won’t get very far in attempting to untwist it.

As for the suction, I tested out the Unbelievabowl on a few different surfaces and was genuinely surprised at its suction power. It works really well on smooth plastic surfaces such as high chairs, and it’s important to make sure the surface is clean, dry and grease-free to aid sticking power.  I also tested it on our wooden dining table – it did have suction, but quickly unstuck from the surface, in all fairness I don’t think any suction bowl would stick well to wooden surfaces, I’m yet to find one. It’s more suited to highchair surfaces, but is therefore perfect for the early stages of weaning – a particularly messy time when anything that cuts down on spillages is a parent’s new best friend.   

The Unbelievabowl retails at £4.99, which is I think is reasonable value for a suction bowl that works and makes life easier for us parents at mealtimes. Additional bowls for the suction pad are sold in sets of 2 for £3.99. The Unbelievabowl is available to buy from the Vital Baby website as well as being stocked in Boots, John Lewis, Mothercare and Toys R Us. 

Vital Baby products are bright and fun and thoughtfully designed. For more information and to view their varied selection of products visit their website, or follow them on Facebook by clicking here.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Autumn Screech

When my husband was growing up, he and his siblings were often taken for a Sunday afternoon walk to the local woods. The walk was referred to by his family as a 'screech' - a chance for fresh air, to let off steam, for some family time and a good-old run around.

Last Sunday we took Eden for an autumn day 'screech' around Cannock Chase. Having relocated back to the Midlands 6 months ago, we're keen to explore the local countryside. Cannock Chase reminded us a lot of the New Forest, which is near to where we moved from, minus the ponies.

We ran through the leaves, climbed trees, collected pine cones and had a great family time together! Autumn's a lovely time of year to have fun exploring the great outdoors. 

Monday, 3 October 2011

Easy Peasy Autumn Leaf Suncatcher

I loved doing this autumn activity with Eden this morning! It's great if you have a young preschooler (like Eden, who's 22 months) as they can do a lot of it themselves. 

1. I started by cutting out 6 squares (approximately 13cm wide) of sticky back plastic that I found hidden in a box in our spare room - the type you use to cover school books with. I used masking tape to secure 3 of the squares loosely to Eden's craft table, sticky side up.

2. We picked some leaves to use out of the autumn sensory box that we made last week, and placed them on the sticky squares. Eden added some sparkly flower and butterfly confetti as well.

3. Eden experimented and tore up little bits off one of the leaves to stick on too - it looks really good.

4. Once we'd finished our masterpiece, we stuck down the other 3 squares to seal the leaves inside. I trimmed the edges to tidy them up, as Eden had helped me stick. Then we hole-punched some holes, added some ribbon, and taped to the window.

The sunlight shines through the leaves, intensifying the red, orange and golden colours.

It really brightens the room up!

You could take it a step further by decorating and adding a cardboard frame border, or cutting the suncatchers into leaf shapes. 

Find loads more play ideas here:

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Our Autumn Sensory Box

The weather this week is just amazing! So warm and sunny and such a great excuse to get outside and make the most of what's probably the last of the 'Indian Summer' weather that we're having.

At the bottom of our road there's 4 or 5 large conker trees (I know they have a proper name, I just had to google it and they are in fact horse chestnut trees - I should know that really - I blame my pregnancy brain).

Yesterday Eden and I took a stroll down to fill a lidded box with lots of leaves, seeds, twigs and conkers for an autumn-themed sensory box. We took it home and had a good explore of all the textures and colours. I have a few autumn crafts planned that we'll be using some of the things in the box for, but will be saving those for a rainy day, in the meantime let's enjoy the sunshine!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Advent Calendar Bunting

I'm not very talented when it comes to 'crafty' things - I just don't have the patience for perfection. The pragmatist in me just likes to get on with it and give it a go, and hope for the best when it comes to the results. I really do like attempting to make things for Eden though, and I hope in years to come when she's older she can look back at all the things I 'made with love' for, despite them being far from perfect.

My latest make for Eden is an advent calendar in the form of bunting. I did a google search typing in 'DIY Advent Calendar' to get ideas, and I based my bunting on a similiar idea from Pickles

I'm really chuffed with the results! The fabric cones aren't too difficult to make for a complete novice like me. I picked up my sewing machine a month ago from a car boot sale for £4 - it's very basic and only just coped with some of the thinner materials that I used. Thankfully, because the cones are all lined inside, all of the stitching and hems are on the inside too so it's a very forgiving pattern for mistakes!  I didn't fancy attempting to stitch numbers onto each cone, so instead hung some number beads off the bottom of each one.

Here's some photos of the finished bunting - shame it's another 2 months before we'll be using it. I plan to put a chocolate coin and a Christmas activity/preparation for the day inside each cone.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Hanging out with Eden

I'm loving Eden's age at the moment! She's just such a fun little person to be around and I feel very privileged to be in the position that I'm in, where I spend pretty much 24/7 with her, bar the odd day here and there when I take off my Mummy hat and put on my Dietitian hat.

Eden's 21 months old now, she's always been a social little person, but as she grows up and her language develops I'm so enjoying the new interactive conversations and experiences that we have. Yesterday is a good example. After the usual morning wake-up routine and breakfast, Eden pulled out her music box and we had a fun half an hour singing songs and banging drums. Eden now 'marches' to the Grand Old Duke of York (the cutest thing ever), does a lot of the actions (with an abundance of enthusiasm) to many nursery rhymes and songs, and fills in the last word of each line in our fave drumming book 'Skunka Tanka'.

We popped to the shops yesterday morning, not a tear or tantrum in sight. We chatted away about what we were buying - a few last minute things for Daddy's birthday, and shared a lovely girlie shopping trip together.

After her lunch and nap, we got the paints out. Eden helped with the preparation, insisting on carrying the paintbrushes and painting shower curtain/floor covering into the lounge. We had such a fun time painting together, with no frustrations from the little person arising - something I've learnt through practice. Filling a small trug with warm soapy water was a great way to draw the activity to a close - Eden washed the paintbrushes, while I washed her legs and hands, and then we both carried the trug into the kitchen to empty. Allowing Eden to help with preparations and clearing up really helps avoid her getting frustrated and upset.

The funniest moment of the day was when Daddy arrived home from work. We'd bought a chocolate cake earlier in the day to celebrate, and as it was only little I though Eden would love to be the one to carry it in to him (candle unlit of course). She proudly and carefully carried it with 2 hands the short walk from the kitchen to lounge. Unfortunately, she tripped just in the doorway, and cake, candle and 'Happy Birthday' decoration ended up on the floor. It was so difficult to keep a straight face, especially as Eden very seriously and unfazed tried to stick the candle back onto the cake before continuing her walk, bless her. 2 minutes later we were all tucking into a slice each, and with me sitting on the floor, Eden was giving me a side hug, hand on my shoulder, so grown-up!

Throw in a few proud mummy moments yesterday too - Eden through her colouring and toy kitchen play now knows the colours orange, green, pink, red and (nearly) blue. She also told us on 3 occasions that she needed to use her potty. Up until now we've been sitting her on regularly which has been working fine, but we've been looking forward to this next step.

As always with little ones, every day brings new developments, and I love hanging out with my own little lady.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

5 A Day Books - Holidays

We were away camping last week, so I took along 5 holiday-themed books for the 5 A Day challenge. Eden loved the beach-related books, and brought them over to us several times a day to read in the tent with her. It was great to have themed books to tie in with our own trips to the beach, and to observe Eden linking what was in the books to her own experiences at the sea side, for example placing stones and shells on the side of the sandcastles, just like Wendy does in one of the books.

Usborne Look and Say 'Beach'
A simple picture book showing various items you find at the beach. No 'story' to read, so I enjoyed talking through what the people figures on each page were doing.

Maisy Goes on Holiday by Lucy Cousins

Eden's favourite book of the week. Bright colourful pictures on each page telling the story of Maisy's first day on holiday.

Cheeky Monkey on Holiday by Anne Cassidy and Lisa Smith

A playful enthusiastic monkey ends up spoiling little girl Wendy's activities on the beach, but Wendy has the last laugh...  

Kipper's Sunny Day by Mick Inkpen

Lift the flap books are always a winner with Eden. Another book focussing on the sea side, with a question at the end of each page it encourages conversation and memory skills. 

Boris Goes Camping by Carrie Weston and Tim Warnes

A loveable bear and his classmates go camping, and find themselves in  trouble. This book was a bit too long for our 21-month old's attention span but Luke (my husband) informed me he enjoyed it!

Read more 5 A Day Challenges this week here