Sometimes the best things in life are unplanned. This is certainly true of the best opportunities to play. This afternoon it started with the arrival of our second tuff spot – one just wasn’t enough for four children (and all their visiting friends!) As soon as it arrived, the children were very keen to unwrap it and take it into the garden. We put it next to the other one and started to discuss what we might play with, but it was time for the big three to go to Dramabuds so I told them they would have to wait until after supper. While they were out, Tiddler wanted to sit in it, but the plastic had got too hot so I put some water in. He really enjoyed sitting in it and just splashing with his legs, and for a while he didn’t really need anything else. When he seemed to have had enough of that, I suggested he added some rocks from our collection, and he split them between the two tuff spots to make two beaches. We collected some boats from the bath and I gave him some pots and bowls for tipping and pouring. He played with them for a while, then went inside to look for something else to add. He returned with a bowl of lettuce which he had found in the fridge, which was rather cheeky, but funny, so I let him have it and we decided it was seaweed!
When he had finished playing with his beaches, we combined the two into one tuff spot, and he and Supergirl played with playdough in the other one while I got the supper ready. When the others came back from Dramabuds we had supper, then I gave them a big bowl of strawberry angel delight in one of the tuff spots, with lots of spoons and other kitchen utensils. They had fun playing with it, making patterns, writing letters, drawing pictures and eating it! I think the big boys may have eaten most of it, so I gave them all a yoghurt afterwards to make sure they had enough pudding. Anyway, angel delight is a big hit and I’m sure we’ll be playing with it – and eating it again. I just won’t look too closely at the list of ingredients. After years of serving up organic fruit and yoghurt for pudding, with the occasional home-made apple crumble, it is a bit of a U-turn to be giving them angel delight. But they love it, and it certainly makes a good satisfying mess!
Yesterday our friends from The Adequate Parent and 3 Kids and a Gluestick came over and I decided it would be a good opportunity to get going on our Farm topic with some more messy play in the Tuff Spot. Owl spent a long time carefully setting up the farm animals and fences, and then I added two large bags of oats, and a few shredded wheat. Some of the children helped to crumble the shredded wheat up; Tiddler particularly enjoyed this, and was happily occupied eating it for quite a while.
I set out some farm-themed books on the table to provide an alternative activity. I knew we had rather a lot of farm books, as it is something we all love, but even I was a little surprised at the size of our collection. In fact I think we probably have even more, as I only spent about 5 minutes looking and we have books in nearly every room of our house. It was fun to gather them all together anyway, and we will be using them for inspiration over the next few weeks. Monkey and Rabbit rediscovered some rather nice little stencil books and drew pictures of horses and farm animals. Rabbit also drew a rather lovely picture of a horse for one of her friends.
The children played with the farm scene nicely for a while, and then a few of them decided it would be more fun to throw the oats. So we moved the Tuff Spot outside! This meant that the children spread out a bit and found other things to do. They decided to fill up the play sink with water, and then inevitably decided to add some oats. They made a lovely mess and it kept them busy all afternoon. You can read another version of events here.
On Sunday it was so sunny and warm that we spent the whole afternoon in the garden. I was probably most excited about being able to hang the washing outside, but the children enjoyed the chance to play with all their garden toys, and to swing, climb and ride their bikes and scooters. It was also a good opportunity to take our messy play outside, using the Tuff Spot and our empty plastic sand pit.
I started by filling the sand pit with the leftover rice and split peas which I had been saving since before we went on holiday. I added playmobil people and some stones and shells which the children had been using to set up a miniature camp. In the Tuff Spot I placed a tray of flour, also saved from a previous play session, and surrounded it with shaving foam. The children had fun helping me to spray the foam, and enjoyed watching the shapes it made as it came out. Rabbit, Monkey and I had a go at writing in the foam, which was fun, but we couldn’t do it for very long because Tiddler was impatient to get stuck in.
Soon the three of them had taken all their clothes off and were in and out of the Tuff Spot and the sand pit, and covered in an interesting mixture of shaving foam and rice. Owl didn’t want to get right in but enjoyed playing with the rice from the edge and then standing in it. What he really wanted to do was get into the paddling pool, but the others were so messy that I decided we needed an intermediate stage of washing first. I got out the three flexible plastic tubs I recently bought for messy play (I wish we had four, but there were only three in the shop at the time) and filled them with warm water. Tiddler easily got right inside his tub, and Rabbit squeezed into hers. Not to be outdone, Monkey just about managed to get into his, but it was rather a tight fit. Owl was quite jealous – I really must find another one – but was pleased to be able to play in the rice quietly without the others, and asked me to help him bury his feet in it.
The children then had fun pretending the three tubs were the carriages of a train, and Owl was the driver. We soon added our train-shaped paddling pool and filled it up, and they spent the rest of the afternoon splashing in and out of it in the sunshine. They also enjoyed mixing the rice, split peas, flour and shaving foam into one big sticky mess, though I was glad that they didn’t actually get in it as by this point it was rather late in the day. It was a really good fun afternoon of play, and we’ll definitely be getting the shaving foam out again, especially now we can do it in the garden.
This week I have been
getting excited about our new Tuff Spot and its potential for messy play. I think I am enjoying it as much as the children are.
watching the big three perform in their Dramabuds play (as Peter Pan, Wendy and the crocodile) and feeling very proud – and pleased that Tiddler was allowed to get away with escaping from the audience and joining in towards the end of the show. That’s the kind of laid-back flexibility I love about Dramabuds!
excercising more – a Pilates class and a run, not much maybe but better than in recent weeks.
celebrating Easter with my family, at my parents’ house, and feeling lucky to have them all.
eating chocolate, hot cross buns, a Middle Eastern banquet cooked by Suburban Dad, more chocolate, Roast Lamb cooked by my mum, chocolate nests, chocolate brownies, simnel cake and a bit more chocolate. (Note to self: might need to run more than once a week for the next few weeks.)
reading Sealed with a Kiss by Rachael Lucas and A Funny Kind of Education by Ross Mountney (and loving both so far – will review when I’ve finished them.)
We got the Tuff Spot out again for Home Education Group on Wednesday afternoon, and the children really enjoyed sharing it with their friends. I told them we would be playing with rice, and helped them to choose some suitable toys to put in and around the Tuff Spot. I then turned my back for a minute, and found that they had added rather a lot more, just as the other families were arriving! Once we had removed some toys to make space for 11 children to play in and around the Tuff Spot (we really need two!) I added the rice. With some help from Monkey and one of his friends, I had hidden 22 foil-wrapped chocolate eggs in a flexible tub containing 5 kilos of rice, and I invited the children to come and see what buried treasure they could find. This had the effect of drawing them into the activity pretty quickly, and once they got stuck in they continued to play quite happily with the rice for the next couple of hours.
It was quite hard to fit 11 children around the Tuff Spot, so I encouraged some of them to play at the table as well. I gave them some split peas and the remains of the flour from Monday’s messy play, and they added some Playmobil figures, our rock collection and some grass, twigs and blossom from the garden. Monkey spent a long time constructing a mini camp scene with Playmobil figures in the split peas. I think it is not quite finished – he is planning to make a tent to add to the scene. Rabbit made a garden which is also not finished. I think we will have to start again when we have more time together, to make it a more satisfying activity for her.
Next time we play with rice, I think I will introduce some equipment for weighing and measuring, to extend the play and learning. I am also planning to experiment with dyeing rice for some more colourful fun. Do you have any more ideas for playing with rice? I’d love to hear them! And watch this space for a Tuff Spot/ Messy Play linky hosted by Jennie at Edspire coming soon…
In common with quite a few other bloggers, I have been inspired by Jennie at Edspire to buy a Tuff Spot, or cement mixing tray, to add a new dimension to our messy play. It arrived last weekend, and on Monday the children couldn’t wait to get started. I asked them what they wanted to play with, and they suggested flour. I had set aside an hour before bathtime for the activity, but they were so engrossed that I let them carry on for an hour and a half, and it would have kept them busy for much longer if we had had time.
These are some of our ideas for playing with flour.
- play the flour cake game: make a flour cake (like a sandcastle), place a sweet on top (we used some raisins wrapped in foil instead), take turns to cut a slice off the cake until it collapses, the last person to slice the cake can use their mouth to pick the sweet out of the flour – in our house the last bit is optional and if they don’t want to do it they still get the sweet!
- set up a village scene with wooden houses, using the flour as snow; drive cars down the road between the houses (Owl and Monkey took turns to do this, and both spent a long time getting the scene just right.)
- add split peas, and mix to make a cake; Rabbit turned hers out onto a plate and stuck a feather in top; Tiddler found it was easier to turn it over and just use the bowl as a cake, decorating the top with his small Postman Pat van and some more flour!
- drive cars, trains and Postman Pat’s vans (we have a big one and a small one) through the flour, and sprinkle flour and split peas on top.
- spread out some of the flour and split pea mixture on a plate, make a hole in to plant a seed (another split pea), then add a feather to be the plant that grows up.
- write words and draw pictures in it: I wrote some words for Rabbit that I knew she would recognise, and she enjoyed reading them to me.
- pat down the flour and walk in it to make footprints.
Have a look at these lovely blogs for more Tuff Spot inspiration:
Moon sand dinosaur world
Painting with trains
Oats so simple sensory play
I was already a little behind on blogging when my laptop finally broke beyond repair last week (it was around 7 years old.) I have now borrowed a temporary replacement, so I can catch up a bit. There are so many things that I would like to blog properly, but it is probably not going to happen. So anyway, these are some of the things we did in the week beginning 11th March. Having enjoyed experimenting with finger paint, we continued on our theme of writing and drawing with our fingers in a variety of materials. At the beginning of the week we played with flour, and later in the week repeated the activity with cornflour mixed with water, which was very messy but great fun.
After the success of the daffodil pictures, I decided that we would do some more Spring drawings while we were on a roll. Our garden has been full of beautiful crocuses for a while, and I brought some of them inside for the children to draw when we had Home Education group at our house. I’m glad now that we got round to doing it before the snow returned.
We also had fun drawing the blossom tree in our front garden – a lovely springtime activity, though we did need to wrap up warm! The children sat on a picnic blanket and observed the tree very carefully, taking their time over their drawings. I think the passers-by were quite amused, by the looks we got, but the children took it very seriously and were proud of the results. I haven’t taken photos of the drawings yet, so will have to add them later. I was hoping to draw some more Spring flowers and create another display, but now that everything has been covered in snow again I think we will have to wait a while.
This week I have been
playing with the children and trying not to rush onto the next thing too quickly
making a mess with fingerpaint, flour and cornflour
enjoying simple things like going to post a letter or to the shops with one child at a time
talking to friends and making time to catch up with them, spinning out the birthday celebrations for as long as possible
learning a lot at the Big Bang Science Fair (mainly that Owl knows more than I do about certain aspects of Science)
relaxing with my lovely husband on an overnight stay in a pub hotel, which really felt like getting away from it all, even though it is walking distance from our house!
feeling proud of Owl for singing beautifully in his choir concert, and Monkey for behaving well in the audience
remembering Matilda Mae x