Kinetic Sand – What do you do with it?

I was asked this question last week, and I was slightly amazed at my shock and horror that someone wouldn’t know what to do with it.

We absolutely love Kinetic sand in our house. It’s one of J’s favourite things to play with and it’s one of the only things that really keeps him focused and spends more than 5 minutes playing with it. This is probably why I have a real love for Kinetic Sand (KS)!

We bought it mainly because J loves sand, and it’s a bit tricky to just have sand inside, so this is the perfect solution. It doesn’t go everywhere, and even if it is dropped on the floor, then it’s fairly easy to pick up in a clump.

There are lots of benefits to KS and Michaels Blog – The Glue String does a brilliant job of explaining those benefits. It can also be great for children (and adults with ADHD and ASD). Just having pot of it out all the time in their room or on their desk at school, can help them when feeling unsettled, or needing to focus or requiring that feeling of deep pressure. Just pouring the sand over your hand can really help with those who need that sensory feeling. The sand never dries up, so it can be left out.

There are all sorts of Kinetic Sand, and lots of different brands and I’ve tried out a few of them. But my favourite (Unfortunately because it is the more expensive) is the official Kinetic sand. It feels so much nicer than the cheaper brands.

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I know in our experience, it really does calm J, the feeling of the sand in his hands meets his sensory needs, but also creatively it can be almost anything.

So how can you play with Kinetic Sand?

We started off simply having having a scoop and some pots in but over time we’ve progressed in sand play.

  1. Get some little diggers and just have some scooping fun, especially if you have diggers and dump trucks.
  2. Carve the sand into roads and ravines for cars and diggers to travel along. Make it into a sand town and add houses and little people and cars.
  3. In a tuft tray or a roasting tin, add animals, sticks and maybe a safari vehicle if you have one, for a desert play scene.
  4. Add in a rocket, aliens and space men for walking on the moon play.
  5. Make pretend food out of it, it can be rolled, cut, prodded, made into chips, sausages, pies and ice-cream. Add some cups, spoons or some cupcake cases. (Hint don’t use silicone cases or chocolate moulds if you want to use them for food again, the sand doesn’t easily come out).
  6. J loved watching fall out of bottles…IMG_1765 2
  7. Use all different types of pots or vases or jugs.
  8. Roll it out and use cookie cutters.
  9. Roll it out and stamp different patterns into it.
  10. Roll it out and write in it, practice writing, learn shapes and letters and numbers.
  11. Make Skate Parks for mini BMX’s or Mini skate boards.
  12. Push Magnetic letters and numbers into it.

The more sand you have the better, we bought two 2lb packs of the sand and it definitely increases the fun.

Hopefully thats enough ideas to get you started!! And I also hope you have as much fun as we do!

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Activity Advent

I’ve thought a lot about what advent calendar to get J this year. I’ve done a few different ideas in previous years.

My favourite is this Melissa and Doug Christmas Tree Advent Calendar.

Even when J was really little, he loved adding on the little baubles. It’s very durable and stands up to being played with and knocked on the floor. It’s also really pretty and adds to the decoration!

Every year we’ve written out the nativity story and we get the next instalment every day.

Last year he got a present every day. I bought a train set and play dough set and gave a bit everyday. But that came to so much money in the end and that was a little frustrating for him because he couldn’t fully play with the train set until he’d got all the bits.

The year before that I did a present everyday but to save money it ended up just being pointless gifts that didn’t really get a look in. I also remember him being more interested in our chocolate one!

I love the Lego ones (my husband has had one of them) and the Play Mobil One’s, but it does all add up in the end. I’ve noticed this year that there are so many different types out there now.

So this year I’ve gone nice and simple and I’ve bought him a Kinder Advent Calendar, I think this will bring great joy, we’ll do our Melissa and Doug one and my husband is getting a nativity one. But what I’m excited about is J’s activity advent, which I’ve made for him.

I haven’t thought up 24 activities as I know life will take over and we won’t get to do them, and if you promise J something you have to do it. But we’ve come up with 12 Christmassy activities from Carol Services, making Sugar mice and making Christmas cards and Chocolates.

I’ve made each one into a scratch off panel so on each day that there is an activity he can scratch it off.

I drew each panel and wrote in the activity, I then coloured in each panel with white crayon. This helps you see the writing once you’ve scratched off the paint.

I then mixed some washing up liquid with some green (and red in the end – we needed two go’s.) Acrylic paint and painted over each panel. You probably need a few coats.

I originally tried this with clear hand soap and it didn’t work, so my finished article looks a bit different.

Each panel needed about 4 coats of paint and you can still read some of them especially with the red, but that won’t matter.

Tomorrow is making Christmas Chocolates. And I was right the kinder calendar did bring great joy!

Chalk board Numbers

We went on our regular day trip to Ikea yesterday! We love a trip to our local store. There’s so much to see and do and now J loves going to the play room, whilst I have a sneaky cuppa!

Whilst there I found a wooden numbers puzzle. It was £4, which I thought wasn’t too bad.

When we got home J had a great time painting the backs of them.


Yes he painted the back, because I have painted the front, with chalk board paint.

J has shown an interest in numbers recently. So we are trying all sorts of ways to help him identify the different numbers. Counting isn’t a problem, but number recognition is a little more tricky.


I did two coats of the blackboard paint. Hopefully that will be enough to withstand the pressures of being drawn on. I also find that with one coat, the chalk doesn’t rub off as well.

Once dried, J can enjoy writing on the letters.


I’m also hoping to use at the toddler groups I’m involved with. I might get some wooden letters too!

Fixing meal times

Meal times can be a wonderful time of day. I have so many happy memories of family dinners and this is what I assumed would happen when we had our own family…but oh no!

For the last few years, they had become my worst time of the day and I would dread it. It would start with J asking ‘whats for dinner?’ I would reply and then he would say ‘and what am I having?’ I didn’t make him a completely separate meal, but he would mainly only eat white things. Dinner time would then arrive, and it would be awful. There would be food in his hair because he wouldn’t wipe his hands on a cloth, he would get up 10 times in one meal time, I would be kicked over and over because J couldn’t sit still, he would refuse to eat and then to top it off there would be a drink knocked over at some point again due to him not sitting still.

I think one night something literally snapped in my head and I had to do something about it and I went into solution mode…

Step 1
I bought a larva lamp (I bet you weren’t expecting that!). Over Christmas we had a candle on the table and J loved it. It gave him an object to focus on so I wanted something a little more permanent (and not as flammable) and he particularly likes it because ‘it looks like jellyfish.’ This helped a little but there was still some work to do.

Step 2
We made it so if J got down then he couldn’t have any pudding. Now this is a bit of a score for us because J loves fruit, so we didn’t even need to bribe him with chocolate: the thought of missing out on a fruit smoothie was enough to make him sit there! It took about four days of reminding him A LOT. I think he had one day where he missed out, but mainly it worked with reminding. We also made sure there was always a cloth on the table to wipe his hands without making out he has to get down to get a towel or a tissue or clean himself on my sofa!!

Step 3
After a few days of a more settled meal time, we started to work on fussy eating. I hadn’t done anything about it before for a number of reasons (or should I say, excuses). For a long time we thought J was colour blind as it does run in my family. J would literally only eat white food, save the odd strawberry, and I put this down to foods looking a bit ‘strange’ to someone who is colour blind. Excuse number two was that I just wanted pleasant meal times and didn’t want the fight so I just gave in. Well, we ruled out the colour blind thing and meal times were horrible anyway so there was nothing to lose!

I made a ‘J tried new foods’ plate rewards chart.

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Every time J tried a new food he would get a sticker – that sticker in the picture was roast chicken. J has essentially been a vegetarian since he was 18 months old, so this was a big deal.

And as of tonight his sticker reward plate is almost full and he got his sticker for eating spaghetti bolognese! You cannot imagine how proud I am of him.

I have been putting veg in a food processor, and using that as a base for sauces so we are getting veg in him, but it’s not as daunting.

The last week, we’ve eaten the same food and have been able to have lovely family meal times together. We’ve talked about our day and had a laugh together, which is such a difference.

It’s made me realise that you can’t always assume that over night these issues will change. Sometimes you have to make a battle plan and put in the hard work. Work out what you want the end goal to be and then work out how to get there.

Burglar Alarms

I never for a moment thought I would spend a large majority of my day thinking about burglar alarms (ba). But that is exactly what I do now. We go on ba scavenger hunts and we watch videos about how they are made. 

We’ve even used them to learn our shapes and letters! 


Walking down the street one day and J shouts out ‘that’s a Yale’, ‘how do you know it’s a Yale?’ I say. ‘Because it starts with a Y!’ 

J has wanted to make a ba for ages, but as you can imagine, I haven’t quite felt I’ve had the skills for it. But yesterday I achieved his dream. 

I’d been wanting to do some simple electronics with him, so bought a 3v motor, a 3v battery pack AAA and some alligator clips from Amazon. They didn’t come from the UK so they took a while to arrive. But it was so worth the wait. 

I taped the motor onto the side of a paper cup at first so we could clearly see it move and I added a sticker onto the motor for a clearer viewing. 

We then made our circuit. It was great because the cup moved, so this was our first robot. I’d got the idea to add Pens to our robot from researchparent.com so I taped on 3 pens and off our drawing robot went. 


This was so much fun (my tablecloth might not think so). 

Then J had the idea to make a ba. So we added our motor to a box. 


The fun we’ve had with this! We’ve played cops and robbers and J has loved playing with a ‘real burglar alarm’. 

His latest request is for an ADT burglar alarm birthday cake. 

My fear is I’ve now used all of my electronic knowledge so I’m not quite sure where to go from here! 

Topsy and Tim and the 3 little pigs

We are big Topsy and Tim fans in our house (well I might not really include myself in that last statement!)

We watched the episode where they act out the story of the 3 little pigs last week (series 1 ep 19) and it really caught J’s imagination. 

So today when we came across two empty card board boxes he was away! 


J gave me very specific instructions on how to make the house costume that Tim wears in the episode. 


We came across issues such as how do we keep the chimneys on his head, so J decided it would be a good idea to use hair bands. I’m now 4 hair bands down. 

He was also insistent on smoke coming from the chimneys. So after a short hunt for the cotton wool we now have smoke. 

To say that craft isn’t J’s most favourite activity he did brilliantly. He had the chance to do some sticking and cutting and I was so impressed at his instructions. 


We all then had to act out the story of the 3 little pigs after. 

We had such a lovely time together! 

Tile Art

J goes to a great nursery that is the Emilio Reggio approach to learning. In their nursery setting they have a number of different artillier spaces, which encourage children to use materials to create and learn. The areas are so beautiful and use natural and lovely materials. 

The nursery helped me to set up my own at home. I loved doing it and after I wondered why I hadn’t done it earlier. 


It’s a simple space where J can initiate his own creations. I’ve slightly broken the rules by using play dough and not clay and I’ve used plastic cotton reels and not wooden, but I managed to create this all from bits I had at home. 

One thing I wish I could do is add a washing line somewhere near his play space (we’ve re named it at home) so I could hang up his works of art. 

The nursery gave me a few extra bits a few days after these photos were taken. And in the bits they gave me were some tiles. We’ve had a lot of fun with tiles. He’s made patterns, laid a floor and we bought some large ones to draw on. 


I bought some dry wipe pens, and it’s the perfect surface. J loved drawing – I’ve found that he prefers drawing on surfaces that aren’t paper!! We bought the white large one from Wickes for 99p. We also have different coloured tiles large and small. We’ve drawn round them, talked about the different colours and felt the different textures.

Who knew tiles could be so fun! 

 

Lifting Letters

I haven’t been around for a while on my blog! It’s a bit shocking that I haven’t written a thing since April!!! 

We’ve had the summer, and the only thing we got up to was to spend every minute outside. Then in September J started nursery and it’s been a bumpy ride, but after the first term we are starting to get there. Excuses now out of the way…

Today my husband went back to work after the Christmas Holidays so I had to remember how to do this parenting thing again. So at 7am I found myself putting out play stations to hopefully entertain J. 

We had tiles, which he made a great pattern with. 

We had some toys out and I made a cardboard surf board (after watching the ‘wot wots’), which we decorated. 

But I enjoyed adjusting an electronic crane we have, so we could lift up some magnetic letters. Now it wasn’t a great hit with J, but if you have a child with a little more focus, this might be fun. 


Now I am aware that not everyone has an electronic crane lying around, but some of you have manual ones or at least a digger. 

I taped a screw on the end so that the letter could attach to it. You can then talk about the letter names as you lift them. Try and make words too if you can. 


I was very excited about this idea! 

The dinosaur ate an icecream…

No I haven’t gone crazy, just getting creative. Now I know story stones are not a new thing and they certainly are not my idea but I wanted to try them out. On holiday we visited the Ilfracombe Tunnel Beach, which can I say has one of the best cafes and soft play I have visited yet. But on the beach they have lovely flat stones which inspired me to make some story stones. 

I kinda wish I had bought a load more home because there are so many uses for stones in our lives. Who knew… 

  

I bought some permanent pens from the pound shop (I was worried drawing on stones would ruin my best pens – it didn’t by the way). Originally I thought about drawing it and then painting with acrylic paint, but the pens came out brilliantly. The above picture is side one and here is side two…

  
I left them out for J to see when he woke up and all I could hear was ‘wow’ coming from the front room. 

I was a little bit dubious as to whether it would work with a 2.5 year old, but when I showed him how to do it he was away. 

‘The dinosaur ate an icecream and then a storm came and the boat went swish then the sun came.’ 

I would definitely recommend making some story stones and leaving them around and then you can see what amazing worlds they create. 

Octonauts and going shopping

We’ve just had a lovely Easter Holiday. We had a week away and a week at home, so we used our week at home to get sorting! J is growing up fast, so we have taken all things baby from his room!! 😢

I wanted to make his room a bit more of a fun place and not just a place where we store his toys. I’ve put away toys that have been out a while and have made more of a spectical of new toys and toys that he hasn’t played with for a while. 

Octonauts

I managed to pick up all of the Octonauts toys at a charity shop for £2! Massive bargain. So I wanted to make a bit of an under water world. Our holiday was in Devon so managed to pick up stones and shells which added to sea bed effect. I found some under the sea labels to add some more colour, but it’s been great for J to recognise letters and different animals. Speaking to a friend today, if I’d had some material I could have made a bit of a reading den with books about fish and the sea. But with no material and lack of space, that’s just a bit of a dream.

Going Shopping

We haven’t played with his till for ages. When we did play with it, I’m not really sure he knew what to do with it. So I made a little shop for him (you can see where I shop). He recognised the shop name straight away, which was great.

We had great fun playing today, we spotted different numbers and I told him what the different signs said, which he repeated this evening! His purse has money and cards in. I keep adding boxes as I use the contents in my kitchen. So he’s having fun recognising different food.

I had great fun making these little areas in his bedroom and have loads more ideas for when we swap them around with different toys. But it’s been lovely watching him play in such a different way and interact with pictures and words.

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Blog post update 

I noticed that the under water world and shop wasn’t being played with as much. So we’ve had a swap around. 

Farm


Our Farm has made an appearance. We bought this for his second birthday and it hasn’t really been played with. But placing out and leaving it out has meant that he’s found moments to go and build fences. He’s also enjoyed looking at the farm cards. 

Cafe

One of mine and J’s favourite things to do is to go to a cafe.  We don’t spend long in a cafe, but we do enjoy the idea. So we made J’s cafe. 

With open and close signs to help recognise numbers and a menu. 

J’s favourite food is chips, but I don’t have any play chips so I think I will have to make some from salt dough or something. 

Having these toys out is great, because he plays and can use his imagination in different play. But also today he realised he missed his octonauts so we started to play with that! Great!