Almost two weeks ago Rabbit and Tiddler had a lovely time playing with paint in the Tuff Spot. It was worthy of a separate blog post, but instead it got rather lost in a round up of a busy and somewhat stressful week. We squirted blobs of paint around the Tuff Spot, and then made marks in the paint with cardboard tubes, cars and balls, and our hands too . It was a lot of fun, and I would like to do it again soon. We need to use heavier balls, such as marbles so that we can roll them around the Tuff Spot, and I’m sure we can think of lots of other toys to use for mark-making as well. I will also experiment with putting paper in the Tuff Spot first, or laying paper on top of the patterns to take prints of them, although I think the process is a lot more important than the product.
After the painting session, we had lunch then headed out for a walk in the woods. When we returned home, Rabbit and Tiddler decided they would like to wash the cars and balls. I think if anything this was even more fun than the original activity. I placed a bowl of soapy water in the middle of the Tuff Spot, gave them each a cloth and let them get on with it. They had a wonderful time!
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!
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