If your child is interested in games and computers, there are plenty of free sites you can go to. This is the place where we usually go to find the links to old favourites and new games, but I'll be adding a few separately as well.
Craymachine is a web toy created by Orange, it isn't really designed for kids, but Emily here likes it. Basically, every letter key makes a funny sound and a little animation/shape, like falling raingdrops, cheeping birds, drums etc. Press Ctrl and + (on number pad) together to make the square bigger (and Ctrl and - afterwards), before you click on it.
Paint like Jackson Pollock is a Flash animation created by Miltos Manetas, and it's incredibly fun and easy. All you have to do is move the mouse around the screen to see different splats appear (the faster you move the smaller they are). Click the left mouse button to change colour, and press Enter to refresh to a clear page. Also, press F11 to get rid of all the toolbars and have a full screen of "canvas" to paint on. Pressing F11 again brings toolbars back.
Few days ago we discovered a new page with games, the Fungooms. It's full of little simple games, but they do require mouse. There are 5 characters, each of them have their own "room" which has about 5 games in it. You can plant, water and pick tomatoes, play a big trombone-like instrument, tickle babies with a duster etc. Emily's favourite is the singing frogs one. Every time you complete a special action (click on all the water lily leaves) or finish the game (pick a basket full of tomatoes), you get a star. The music is nice and not annoying even after quite a long time, IMO. I really like this page. After just a few days, I have noticed that Emily's mouse skills have gone up quite a lot, and she has learnt to deal with frustration. Previously, if she couldn't get or do something straight away, she would start crying and run away, and sulk in a corner. Now she whines a few seconds and tries again. Definitely check this site out. :)
If your kid is very good with a mouse, or a bit older, you could try Octonauts games (they have a few printable colour-in pictures too) or Orisinal, full of beautiful, gentle, mouse-controlled games.
If you have a bit of money to spend, you could try I Spy or Can You See What I See? games. These are based on the book series, and are HOGs, hidden object games, where you have to find a list of items on beautifully set up photo scenes. Every time you click on an item, it will move and make a fun sound. You can get them from Big Fish Games, for example, where you can also download a trial and play free for an hour to see whether you like it. (If you decide to buy, don't forget to join the Game Club, which means you get 30% off every game you buy, plus daily deals etc. When you join, you get billed for one credit straight away, but you can cancel any time - straight after buying the game with your credit, if you wish. Honestly I'm not advertising them here for the sake of it. :)
We have lots of gem dice in a little basket since DH used to play RPGs. Emily thinks they are simply some nice things to pick up and put in a box or bowl and sometimes she calls them with their colour names too. Anyway, a bit of matching fun to have here: I cut out circles of coloured card (I used her breakfast bowl as stencil) and one of white paper, so she could match all the dice with the right circles. Not hours of fun, but she did it several times and was very proud to have put them all in correct places. :)
I did it! I did it! (she really sais that :)
I'm sure it'll work with other little colourful things, like blocks or buttons etc.
I can't believe it's actually been that long since I last posted here!
We've had quite nice summer, went to DHs paren't caravan near Bridport and had a lovely time. Also, went to Abbotsbury swannery, and now Emily calls all the lakes around here "swannewy". :) Some pics:
Went to see the donkeys and fed them some carrots. Of course, Emily had to have one herself!
The caravan park is a bunny paradise! There's loads of them around any time of day.
After an especially tiring day...
Abbotsbury swannery. It was absolutely massive place. (Then again, why did I think it wouldn't be?) Also featuring Chesil Beach on the backround.
A cheeky blackbird in the swannery cafe.
And - guess where - in Weymouth.
Seagull posing in hope of getting some crisps from the people next to us.
Emily and Gran having some ice cream.
Oh, and Dalek dip? I made battered cauliflower few days ago (just with batter mix from shop) and since cauliflower doesn't taste of much, I also made a dip with soured cream, mayonnaise, some herbs and garlic (dalek :D). Emily loves garlic dip. She always eats loads whenever there is some. :)
Well, it was a few days ago actually. I got some silicone muffin moulds - I've been wanting some for ages now, a muffin tin really, but when I saw these, it was even better - and made some simple muffins with this recipe. I did replace on cup of flour with porridge oats. :)
And then we went into the garden to have a little picnic with Teddy.
Emily, cup-a-teas (as she calls them), muffins and squash. :)
Hooray! The muffin moulds have different colours! :)
It's nearly Easter, a holiday that is connected to the spring. And spring to me means butterflies. Now, I know butterflies aren't strictly Easter decorations, but I like them and I thought it would make a nice change from the snowflakes. :P
I believe it would be great make for kids about 4 years onwards (Yes, even teenagers. It amazed me - I was a teacher for a year - how they, despite trying to act and look like adults, enjoyed simple makes.)
So, to make some butterflies you will need: *Printer (well, in the end you can draw your own, or even copy them from the computer screen :P *Some printer paper or thin card, either coloured or white *Some coloured paper (especially if your printer paper is white) *Pencils, crayons or felt-tip pens *Scissors *Hole punch *A tub, like Vanish one or the ones they sell nuts in, or a bowl *Glue stick *Thread *Some sticky tape and masking tape *This template: (Click on it, let it load to its full size, then Right click -> Save Image As)
I printed the butterflies out to every coloured card we had here, so I had 10 sheets! :O
Colour some in and cut them all out.
Keep the left-over paper. It will be used very soon. Now you need your hole punch and your bowl. Take some bigger bits of the paper, fold them two or three times and punch holes into them. Put the little circles in your tub and keep them.
Use the little circles and other bits of left-over paper to decorate your other butterflies. It would be a good idea to turn some of them round, so the side you decorate will be clear.
Fold your butterflies gently in half, decorated side out, so that they look a bit V-shaped. Cut bits of thread, about 30 cm (12 in) or more long and tape one to each top wing of your butterflies. That makes them hang nicely so that all the decorating can be seen. I tried it with one piece of thread in the middle, but the butterflies didn't stand "up" properly. Even with two threads it's less fiddly. :)
Now use the masking tape to stick them onto your ceiling.
P.S. My litte girl here forces us to lie down on the floor and blow on the "byes" (or "futterbyes") several times a day! ;)
P.P.S. I didn't design the butterflies, I just found them though Google and put them together. Thanks goes to: *http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/monarch/TemplateMonarchPaintedLady.html *http://lovebutterflies.org/templates.htm *http://www.nfty.org/Photos/index.cfm?id=4867&pge_prg_id=11304&pge_id=2730 Sorry, but I can't find the page for the last one any more!
I happened to read someone's blog a few days ago, I got there through Totally Tutorials, and this lady had made little felt fish to "catch" for her 2 & 1/2 year old son. They were really cute. I read a few more of her posts and I found out that she was using Montessori method (I think she was also training to become a Montessori teacher) for all kinds of activities. It struck me how interesting and nice it was - even for myself, especially all the sensory games, so I will find out more about it and try it out.
I have started with something already, something I thought would be simple, yet interesting to my little daughter: play rice.
You will need: * Some rice. I had open pack with about 150g of rice in it, which is absolutely enough to make a complete mess of the floor, if you let them! :D * 4 cups (I used little glasses, but if your child is old enough, he or she might want to help with the mixing) * Food colouring (Mine came from Tesco, as usual, cost about 80p a bottle, and it does last quite a long time. And you only need three colours: red, yellow and blue.) * Some containers to play with - like plastic bowls, ice cream boxes, a funnel, a little beaker, empty yoghurt pots (in West Country we have Yeo Valley Organic yoghurt, which has cardboard sleeve around transparent plastic pot, you can take the sleeve off easily and have a see-through pot to play with) * A wooden spoon (And a metal or plastic one for yourself to pick everything up :) * Playmat or blanket (optional, but I found it easier to slide the spoon around the mat, collecting all the dropped pieces of rice)
How to: * Divide your rice into 4 roughtly the same sized amounts into the cups * Add a drop or two from each bottle to the first three cups - yellow, red and blue. Mix. Add a drop of yellow and tiny drop of blue into the fourth. Mix. Now you have all 4 primary colours. Alternatively, you could make 2 more colours, 6 altogether, if you wish, to maybe teach your kids how complementary colours can be made - orange from yellow and red and purple from red and blue. * Let the rice dry for about 10-15 minutes, then stir with your finger to see whether it has dried completely. * Pour the different colours into different plastic pots (mixing them up is added fun!), add 1-2 empty bowls and a wooden spoon. * Give to your child and enjoy!
Emily was occupied for ages. 40 minutes from when I checked the time, and I am pretty sure we had been playing for at least 15 minutes already. She was pouring the rice from one youghurt pot to the other and to the bowl and spooning it into different pots. And she kept saying "mix mix!", laughing and stirring it in the red bowl. She was so busy that I couldn't even put her tights on and fasten her dungarees properly after changing the nappy! My job, of course, was to "drive" the spoon around the mat and collect all the pieces that had fallen out, and there were LOADS of them. It was kind of fun, but my lazy innter voice kept moaning "Why oh why oh why couldn't you be a bit more careful?!" She did say "Oh dear" in her little voice every time she dropped some, though. :O She should enjoy being messy! :D
We have played with it several times now and she is still really interested. I think she has started being deliberately messy and pouring the rice on the floor now. :P
Other ideas for the same type of play: *Buttons *Pebbles *Pasta shapes (they dye quite well, too, only it makes a bit fiddlier mixing)
I've been listening to the news about government cutting the spending on public services. Surely, the biggest public service is the government itself? When are we going to hear about discussions to reduce their own salaries and fat bonuses? They have f-d up massively, so why are we paying for them?
Everyone, vote for little parties and for none of the biggest ones.
Government should be like jury duty - random selection out of all citizens and NEVER EVER for the people who want to rule.
I love compote (kissell in estonian), it's quite a common dessert back there. Trouble is, it costs an arm and a leg to buy some here, so I make my own. It's not very hard anyway. (By the way, the word compote is a bit confusing to me, since "kompott" means kind of preservative, whole berries or fruit or slices of fruit preserved in their own juice/syrup, as opposed to jam, where all is mushed up.)
But back to our task: how to make some.
What you will need: * A medium-sized saucepan or pot (Mine holds about 2+ litres) * 2 glasses (about 500ml) of transparent not very overpowering juice, like apple or cranberry as opposed to for example orange * Fresh fruit and/or berries and/or * Dried fruit and/or berries and/or * Tinned fruit and/or berries * Some water * Some sugar, app 2 tbsp (one tablespoon - tbsp = app 3 teaspoons -tsp) * Spices, if you wish: 2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of ground cloves * 2-3 tbsp of thickening agent, like cornflour, starch or ground arrowroot * Some milk, whipped cream, toast, biscuits or creamy roly-poly for serving
How to make it: * Add your juice to the pan
* Add chopped up fresh fruit (cut apples or pears in quarters, remove core, don't bother with the peeling, then cut in quarters again - to get about bite size pieces), berries, washed dried fruit/berries - about half a handful each. No need to soak. Don't forget raisins or sultanas, they're essential! :) I also love tinned plums in my compote, but I couldn't find any this week. In one sentence, add whatever you like and whatever you have. :) I had apples, dried apricots and prunes and some raisins. So, in they all went.
*Also, add your spices and sugar. Top up with water until it's 3-5 cm from the edge.
* Bring to boil (on the scale of 6 points like my hob has, I use 4) then simmer gently (on 1,5-2) under the lid until all the ingredients are soft and plump. That should take about an hour. * Put 2-3 tbsp of corn flour/starch/ground arrowroot into a cup, add a bit cold water and mix until everything is dissolved, keep adding water until your mix looks like milk.
* Pour your mix into the pot while stirring, so that it blends well, then keep stirring slowly until you notice your compote thickening. It doesn't take long, just a few minutes.
* Take your pan off the hotplate, stir some more and let it cool down. * Serve cold with milk, whipped cream, pieces of toast, plain soft vanilla biscuits or creamy roly-poly. Whatever you fancy, really!
Serves about 4
When I think about variations, I guess more spices would be nice around Christmas. Orange zest maybe? And eat it with gingerbread? I've never made compote with orange juice, but maybe it will be allright. Any brave experimenters? :)
Why is it that during the day you get great thoughts and ideas to write about in your blog, and then, in the evening when your baby goes to sleep you are too tired to remember or even turn the computer on? :)
I made 2 pairs of earrings recently, kind of new wave in my creations. They are with paper beads and feature some extra twirls. Base shapes were made with peg board, I bought it long time ago, but only got round to using it now.
Haven't made up my mind about the names yet.
Oh, I also bought a tripod finally. You can look forward to decent non-blurry photos in the future. Hopefully I will feel more motivated to manage my shop as well. Maybe not though. I am waiting for the spring and summer to go out to the garden and to the park with Emily. Happy times ahead! *touches wood not to jinx it*
Have you ever thought what to do woth used wrapping paper? I feel terribly guilty when I throw them away, especially when some of them have great pictures on and sometimes the paper is thick and of good quality. Now I have found one use for them: Make a memory game for your kids. If they are babies, then this is a great way of teaching them some words, and they can help, if they are old enough (at least 4, I would think), and get more fun out of it! :)
You will need: *Used piece of wrapping paper that has pattern with little recurring motives on it. It can be christmas one, or birthday one. You can even use several different ones to get more pairs. Try to choose bits that doesn't have many creases on them, but I don't think most kids care. (If you are planning covering the back as well, get another - different - wrapping paper) *Scissors *Some glue, PVA is the best, but some glue sticks work quite well too. * Bits of light cardboard. I usually keep some empty cereal boxes etc in my kitchen in case I need some.
Let's make it! *Cut out your motives. You can make as many pairs as you like (or as you can). I made 8 pairs - 16 pieces.
*Take your cardboard and put one of your motives on it, if the motives are of different sizes, then the biggest one. Draw a square round it, cut it out and use it as a template for other ones. My squares came from lasagne pasta and fish cake box.
* Glue your motives on your squares and let them dry. If you want to cover the backs to make a "proper" memory game, then this is the time to do it. Glue your squares loosely on a bit thicker wrapping paper, let it dry and then cut them out. Since my little girl is 20 months old, I didn't bother yet. It is a challenge enough for her to match all the pictures when they are the picture side up.
I have always loved making things with my hands. I do like mad jewellery, corduroy, colourful things and board games. And recycling. And sometimes I have little animals in my head that need to come out...