Tag Archives: oats

Messy Play: Oat Cuisine

Apologies for the terrible pun but we play with oats so much that it is getting hard to think of a different title for each post.   For our latest messy play session, I started off with the idea of creating a messy kitchen.  I wanted to keep it fairly simple but as always the children had other ideas!

oat cuisine 1

oat cuisine 2

I gave them some measuring jugs, spoons, scoops and funnels and Rabbit added a cake tin and cases and a lot of cardboard tubes. She started off by making cakes, which included pouring the oats down a tube.  Tiddler had fun experimenting with the funnels and discovered it was much easier to get the oats to go through the big one.

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Monkey took the play in a totally different direction when he added two Lego Minifigures, the Dark Knight and the Conquistador, who had a battle over some gold in the oats.  After that he played with the last spare pack of rolling icing left over from the Birthday season, and of course he needed some flour to go with it.

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While Monkey rolled and cut out lots of different shapes, Rabbit and Tiddler made some circles to put on their cakes.

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Rabbit and Tiddler decorated their cakes with foam hearts and candles.

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Owl experimented with the flour and discovered that if you pack it tightly enough into a plastic cup you can hold it upside down for ages.  I’m glad it worked!   And then he made castles with the flour.  Rabbit made a hedgehog using yellow icing and straws, and Monkey went back to playing with the minifigures.  The Conquistador defeated the Dark Knight convincingly by knocking him into a yoghurt pot and covering him with oats!

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Then a lot of things happened at once.  Rabbit poured some oats through a funnel and down a tube, somebody (Owl?) made a Hello Kitty bow out of icing and Tiddler made a – thing – out of icing and flour.  And Owl and Monkey played together with the oats and the Lego minifigures.  There was some complex engineering going on with straws and wool but I’m not sure exactly what they did!

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The thing acquired a flag, and Monkey did some tipping and pouring.

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The Dark Knight emerged from the flour, and suddenly a lot of other minifigures got involved and there was a scene of devastation left at the end.  (Guess who cleared it up?!)

Messy Play: from Oats to Moon Sand

Looking back through my photos of the Summer holidays so far, it is clear that of the many posts I wrote in my head, the majority never made it to the blog.  A couple of weeks ago, we decided to play with oats which is one of our favourite messy play materials.  I knew that the little ones would want to add water and get into a lovely sticky mess, but Monkey would not enjoy it.  So I divided the oats between two Tuff Spots and made it clear that one was to remain dry.  They managed to keep them separate, so all the children had a wonderful time playing in the way they wanted.

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In the dry Tuff Spot, Monkey spent a long time setting up a farm with some help from Owl.  They really enjoyed their intricate, careful play while the two younger children were happily occupied with their messy kitchen.  With help from Supergirl, Rabbit and Tiddler stirred and poured, made porridge and enjoyed the texture of the wet oaty mess.  They also collected apples from the garden and rolled out some pink icing to make cakes.  I love seeing the different ways my children play and the way it reflects their personalities.

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oats 4

We haven’t done quite as much of this type of play recently as we usually do, but looking through the photos from this activity reminded me how much we love it so we need to get back into the habit.  We have saved the dry oats, so we’ll be playing with them again soon.  And yesterday the children played with moon sand, which they haven’t done for ages.  I was about to put it in a Tuff Spot in the garden when it started to rain, so we came inside and played with it at the table.  They were having such a lovely time that I let them (the younger three) climb on the table and feel the sand between their toes.  It was fun, but without the Tuff Spot to contain it, a lot ended up on the floor so they really haven’t got much left.  I think it will be on the Christmas list, but before then I need to get round to making some because I’m sure it’s not that difficult.

moon sand

I’m linking up with Jennie’s Messy Play for Matilda Mae, a great place to look for ideas and inspiration.

Edspire  Messy Play

Porridge and Stories

On Friday afternoon we combined two of our favourite things – stories and messy play.

A few weeks ago, the children asked if they could have a book day.  Since then we have revisited the idea several times, often on a Friday afternoon, including our story picnic the week before last.  So we have decided to make it a regular weekly event.

On previous occasions, the children have made lots of collections of books and the toys that go with them, but I was aware that they spent more time collecting than concentrating on the stories!  This time I suggested reading just two stories and basing our play around them.  We read Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Magic Porridge Pot and then the children gathered the toys they wanted to play with while I made some porridge.

I recently wrote this post, touching on the ethics of messy play with food.  It has been shared again on twitter over the weekend (thank you BritMums) and discussed in relation to the BigIF London event and the campaign to end world hunger.  I think I need to write another post on the subject to respond to some of the comments on twitter properly, but I wanted to mention it here too.  We are still playing with food, and I believe the benefits for the children are important enough to justify it.  However, I have taken some steps to reduce waste.

When making the porridge, I tried to cook the amount the children would actually eat, and I got it about right.  We did the activity at snack time, and of course some of it got smeared around the Tuff Spot (and on their bodies!) but they did eat most of it.

I am mostly trying to let the children play with food in such a way that it can be eaten as well, rather than mixing edible and inedible ingredients.  However we do still play with flour and cornflour, which I do not encourage the children to eat!

When we play with dry food ingredients, I try to reuse them as many times as possible.  We currently have a mixture of rice and lentils which has been used a lot, and now contains a bit of flour and some sand too!  On this occasion I was not able to save the dry oats that we played with as they became mixed with the porridge.  This was probably because it was raining so we had to play indoors with the Tuff Spots next to each other.  If we had been in the garden, I would have put them further apart so that they were two separate activities.

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For this activity, I made some traditional porridge, and also some instant hot oats.  I used water instead of milk to try to reduce food waste.  Then I started to think about the amount of water we generally play with and whether we need to think about that issue too.  At this point my brain started to hurt from overthinking!

In addition to the two kinds of cooked porridge, I gave the children some dry oats and instant oats to play with, and some sugar, raisins and cinnamon to add to their porridge.

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The children had a lovely time making mixtures of the various ingredients, using a Lego Duplo truck to deliver them (with a Playmobil 123 driver!) and eating rather a lot of very sugary porridge.  They also discovered that cinnamon was very good for making marks in.

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Monkey made a scene from the Three Bears story with our Maths bears (normally used for counting, colour sorting and comparing ) but it wasn’t long before the bears were swimming in the porridge.

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One of the Fisher Price farm people also went for a dive in a cup of porridge, which Rabbit thought was very funny.  We then did some mark-making and I was very pleased to see that Rabbit can now spell quite a few three-letter (CVC) words, and has definitely moved on to sounding them out rather than just learning each word separately.  I am finding it very interesting to observe the different ways in which each of my children has learnt/ is learning to read.  I think that subject merits a post of its own (I have such a long list of posts I want to write.)

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Monkey and Rabbit are both so good at reading, writing and spelling that I don’t often focus on them quite so much when we are mark-making.  However, Monkey did learn to spell the word “porridge” during this activity!

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We had so much fun with our messy play this week, as always remembering Matilda Mae and her lovely mummy Jennie who has given us so much inspiration for our play and learning.  We are joining up again with the Messy Play for Matilda Mae linky, and also wondering if we are brave enough to start a linky of our own about activities based on books and stories.  So what do you think?  If there was a children’s book- themed linky, would you join in?  If you say yes, then I will have to do it!

Edspire  Messy Play

Playing with oats

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.