Monday, January 20, 2014

Learning the alphabet: The letter C

The letter C

Here is a list of activities we did this week involving the letter C:

- We watched some more alphabet videos. Ladybug has the song down pat now (well aside from the "elemenohpee" part, hehe) but she still enjoys watching the videos and singing along. There are so many out there on Youtube, we watch different ones every time.

- Big C stencil, which Ladybug actually tried tracing around in big circles. Big C and little C tracing along dotted lines.

- We learnt the Auslan finger spelling for C, which is all fingers of your left hand into a firm C shape (as if you were holding a cup. You can see a demonstration on the Auslan website, here

- The girls made cards for someon special. Ladybug made one for her Nan's birthday and Petal made one for her Opa's birthday 

- C stamping with the Kikki K alphabet stamps.

- We made some Pinterest inspired rainbow crayons. I broke up an assortment of coloured crayons and the girls piled them into a muffin tin. Bake in the oven for 10mins at 180 degrees. Easy peasy. 

- The girls made a paper plate clown.

- Ladybug painted some cats. We also spoke about and played with our own cat, Rufus (he really is as quirky as he looks) 

- The girls made some egg carton caterpillars by painting a segment of egg carton then attaching some pipe cleaner antennas and pom poms. We also had a look at the Case Moth cocoon which has taken up residence on our front steps. We talked about how caterpillars build cocoons and turn into butterflies or moths 

- Chalk drawings on the driveway.

- Ladybug and Petal took some spray bottles and washers outside and spent time cleaning the car together. 

- We went to the circus! This part wasn't actually planned. We were very kindly given some tickets by a friend and it just so happened to be during our C week 😜

Some other ideas for the letter C:

- Baking cupcakes or a cake
- Crowns (wearing or making)
- Cutting 
- Clay activities 
- Crackers, cheese, cucumber, celery
- Cooking 
- Camera 
- Chasing 

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

DIY 'soft serve ice cream'

It's summer here in Australia and its getting HOT! Being a sugar-free family means we are always on the lookout for healthy alternatives to our old favourites. Mr Ladybug always loved ice cream, so when I discovered this simple recipe, we were all smiles.  

DIY soft serve ice cream:

The website for a popular fast food chain lists the ingredients for their soft serve ice cream as: milk, milk solids, sugar, cream, glucose (contains preservative sulphur dioxide), emulsifiers (433, 471), vegetable gums (407, 407a, 412, 466), flavour.

How about one that has 2 ingredients and both of those ingredients are fresh, whole foods (no science experiment creations or freaky numbers!) AND it is healthy with NO added sugar, in fact it only has the naturally occurring sugar from fruit ...??? 

Ingredients: banana, strawberries 

...yes, that's it! 

Here's how: 

- Slice up some fresh banana's and strawberries (one large banana and a punnet of strawberries equals one serving each for Ladybug, Mr Ladybug and I) 

Here we used 4 banana's and a large tray of strawberries and this served 4 kids, myself and a small amount of leftovers to keep for another day) 

- Place into ziplock bags an freeze (containers or jars will work fine too, but I find it's best if the sliced fruit is spread out as much as possible - you don't want to end up with a frozen solid chunk!)

- Go outside and play for a few hours! Once the fruit has frozen, place it in a blender/food processor and whizz it up. First it will go grainy, keep whizzing and eventually it will turn into a creamy soft serve consistency 

- Scoop into ice cream bowls, ice cream cones, open mouths, whatever! If you have any leftovers they can be frozen in an airtight container for later use, however the fruit will continue to freeze more solidly and won't have the same creamy consistency. It's still yummy though and still passes the kid test! 

Easy and delicious!

For more flavour ideas, click here

If you're interested in some more alternatives to unhealthy food check out some of these posts by The Sustainable Living Bloggers Community:

Healthy Smoothies and Ice Cream from Just for Daisy 

Homemade Happy Meal from Down to Earth Mother

Healthy Homemade French Fries from All Done Monkey

Healthy Homemade Takeaway Chicken from Kids' Play Space

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Monday, January 6, 2014

14 things about Ladybug RIGHT NOW!

I saw this on my friends blog and thought it fitting to do the same, being the start of the New Year and all. Here are 14 things about Ladybug right now:

1. We have just had a very busy 2 weeks at home for Xmas break - You have not seen Petal since before Christmas and have been talking about her lots lately. Tomorrow I am back at work so you will get to play with her again, but only for a few weeks until I go on maternity leave. 

2. Your language skills are amazing for your age, every day you say something that impresses me. Lately you have also began using some Farsi words (much to your Baba's pride!) your most common Farsi words at the moment are "Sag" (dog) and "kofta" (fall over) which you use in the correct context - apologies for any Farsi spelling errors! 

3. You have 3 months left of being an only child, at the end of March your baby brother or sister is due and we will become a family of 4! You are very excited about this and seem to understand that there is a baby growing inside me and when it's big and strong enough it will be born. Yesterday you chose some bedding for the bed in the baby's room and love snuggling up in it. Throughout the whole pregnancy you have insisted that you will be getting a baby brother but lately have began saying you're getting a baby brother AND baby sister! 

4. Your favourite food is meat. You so confidently announced at a BBQ the other day "Mummy I don't like vegetables, I only like meat, just give me meat!" Which made everyone laugh. Your favourites would have to be lamb, pork and duck and your least favourite being chicken. You do eat veggies, but only after you've cleaned up all the meat! You also love your fruit, which you now climb up onto the kitchen table and help yourself too! Your favourite meal would have to be salmon sushi.

5. You love animals, especially our cat, Rufus. You love playing with him and are intrigued by most other animals you spot. You love asking Dad to watch "funny cat videos" or "dinosaurs eating each other" 

6. Your favourite toys at the moment are your dinosaurs, which you have a whole basket full of. There is usually a dinosaur with you wherever you go and all of them with you when you have a bath! Other favourites would be your play kitchen and your inflatable dinosaur pool, both of which you got for your 2nd birthday.

7. You still love books, always have and I hope you always will. Everyday you go through your book collection and there is always some point during the day I will find you in your room reading your books  out loud. Your favourite at the moment is Roald Dhal's The Twits which Dad reads with you at night, you love telling me about it during the day. We go to the library every week to get new books for you to read but haven't been over the Xmas break.

8. You are now a few months in to toilet training and finally have begun doing all your poo's on the toilet. You are very proud of yourself and so are me and Dad.

9. You love the water: going to the beach, playing in your inflatable pool, swimming lessons, even having a bath and playing with the hose. This year you are going up to the next level swimming class and will be going in the pool without Mum or Dad! I'm a little nervous about this and Dad is a bit disappointed he won't get to swim with you anymore, he loved spending that time with you, but we are both happy to see you progress. 

10. You love learning new things and currently you're part way through learning the alphabet. You can sing the song and recognise most letters by sight and sound. You also love learning about the moon, animals, dinosaurs and your body.

11. Recently you have began telling us about your dreams when you wake up in the morning. Two that really stood out for you were the one when you touched a black Tawny Owl (we've tried explaining to you that it's called a Tawny Frogmouth but you won't believe us!) and another about a jungle. You spoke a lot about those dreams. 

12. With the New Year we started a 'family piggy bank' in hopes that we can make it to the snow mid year for your 3rd birthday/mine and Dad's wedding anniversary. We were married in the snow and would love to take you for a visit, you've never seen snow before. You are all over the task of emptying out the change from our wallets each night to add to the piggy bank.  

13. This month we are going to see the Hairy Maclarey show at the Sydney Opera House with one of your good friends Lucas. You love reading Hairy Maclarey books so I think you will really enjoy the show too. 

14. This year you will become a big sister and will be getting two new cousins! I can't wait to see you take on this role and how you deal with the triumphs and challenges that come with it. Lots is going to change for you but I think you are ready for it. 

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Learning the alphabet: The letter B

Yikes time can pass by quickly! This week in the Ladybug household we are actually focusing on the letter E, but have not updated the blog since we first began, at the letter A (sorry about that!) 
The whole 'alphabet book' part is going really well, not only is the folder somewhere to store all of Ladybug and Petals craft items, but it also gives them something to look at on their own. A few times now I have found Ladybug sat looking through her folder naming all the letters and assorted things we made or did during that week. She also loves showing off her folder to her Dad and Nanna each week. 

The letter B:

 Here is a list of the B activities we did this week: 

- We looked at some more alphabet songs on YouTube:

- The girls did some bending (I cut off the top off some bendy straws and let them bend it I to an L shape) and glued them onto a big B stencil (I just drew it freehand - our printer still isn't working!) 

- Some B tracing on dotted letters. This part is more for Petal (4) than Ladybug (2) but Ladybug still asks to do her tracing too. 

- We went through some old sticker sheets of letters and found the B stickers. 

- The girls made some plastic badges. I found these ones in our craft drawers so am not sure where exactly they are from, but I think I originally bought them in a $2 shop. The girls loved wearing their badges all day too. 

- On the weekend we went to the beach.

- The girls decorated a drawing of a bird with coloured feathers. While doing these activities we talk about how it relates to the letter we are focusing on that week. 

- We blew bubbles at the park - this one was definitely a fave! The girls also had a fun bubble bath together. 

- The girls learnt the Auslan sign for B. This sign is made by touching your thumb and pointer finger together on each hand and bringing them together as if making an eye mask with your hands. Click here to see a demonstration. 

- We made some balloon men. These were really easy, the girls drew funny faces on some inflated balloons while I cut out some feet from cardboard, threaded the knotted end through a slit in the cardboard a sticky taped the bottom to keep it secure. They loved them! 

- We ate bananas and blueberries for morning tea. Yum, yum 

- Ladybug and Petal painted some cardboard cut out butterflies which we later glued on to paper with some foam butterfly stickers. They also did some butterfly paintings (where you paint one side of the paper, then fold in half to create an identical print on the other half of the paper) 

- And on one of those hot Sydney days the girls helped to make some banana and strawberry ice cream, mmm

- We did also do some beading, but this activity turned out to be a bit of a disaster. The beads were too small and it was too hard for Ladybug (2) to thread them onto the elastic. Even with my help she quicky got frustrated and we ended up with teeny little beads EVERYWHERE which took a long time to clean up! 

Some other ideas for the letter B:

- Banana cake 
- Balloon play 
- Books 
- Boats 
- Balls 
- Brontosaurus 
- Mix and mess with dried beans 
- Balancing 
- Brain 
- Bowling 

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

When did parents become so discredited for the education of their children?

So, I have something on my mind and it's been on my mind for a while. There have been a few incidents lately involving both strangers and family/friends which have completely discredited and undervalued myself and my husband as my daughters educator.

Ladybug turned 2 in August and she doesn't attend preschool or daycare. As a mother I am fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with her. No, we are not made of money. No, my husband doesn't make a killing. No, we don't have a huge savings account. This is just important to us. Both of us feel that it is important for a child to have a caregiver, preferably a parent, to stay at home and teach the child. More important than money, more important than fancy cars and more important than designer clothes. I know that this thinking is not for everyone and I know that some families simply cannot afford or do not enjoy staying at home with the kids and I am not disregarding what they do, that is what preschools and daycares are designed for! I do see a place for them and understand their need. But whether the parents stay home with their kids or not, they are teaching their child. 

The other day I was told (by a stranger) that my daughter must be so clever because she watches a lot of TV ... When did TV become the teacher? I should add that first they asked if she went to preschool: No. So it must be TV right? When (and why) did we stop valuing the parent as an educator? 

Every moment a parent is with their child has the potential to be a teaching moment. No, they don't have to be crafty with Pinterest boards filled to the brim. When they're talking to their child they're giving them language skills and teaching them how to interact with others. When they're bathing their child they're teaching them about their body and how to care for it. When they're feeding their child, they're teaching them how to listen to their body and nourish themselves. Everything they do is teaching their child something: How to regulate their emotions, how to feed the cat, how to cook pancakes. Children learn naturally from their surroundings and parents are there, always setting an example by what they do. The way a parent acts teaches their child how to love others and how to love themselves. And no parents are perfect, sometimes they teach their children undesirable things, but generally parents will acknowledge that and correct it and by doing this they are teaching their children respect, honesty and human nature.

Being a stay at home mum means I am Ladybugs' primary educator and I take that role very seriously. Despite what society has somehow come to think, I do not spend that time watching day time TV or spending all my husbands earnings. At the moment Ladybug has been doing some pre-reading activities and we are currently focusing on the letter E, size ordering of objects, toilet training and gardening. Being a stay at home mum does not mean that I am lazy, that I am stupid or that I am a succubus draining the fun out of my husband. Furthermore, the fact that I am a stay at home mum doesn't mean that I am alienating my husband from being a parent too. We're in this together and those 'big decisions' are not made lightly! We talk often and keep one another informed. I am not the 'one who calls the shots' because I am the one at home, just as he is not the 'worker' because he's the one with a wage. 

By the way, I'm not trying to take the credit for my daughter 'being clever', I believe this is attributed to her personality and love of learning. She picks things up quickly and her curiosity knows no bounds. These traits are merely complimented by the fact that I am at home with her and enjoy helping her learn. 

So, the next time you see a child write their name or recite the alphabet or tie their shoelaces, how about saying "Nice work mama/dad" because parenting isn't easy and it deserves some recognition. Whether they are a stay at home parent or a working parent, they are always a teaching parent!! 

This is Ladybug and we are her teachers

(And for the record, Ladybug rarely watches TV!)

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Learning the alphabet: The letter A

Ladybug seems to have the alphabet song down pat now and can recognise and point to some letters. She has always loved reading and enjoys 'writing' in notebooks, so now that she is 2 I want to focus on this area and encourage further learning for her so I have decided to go through the alphabet, focusing on one letter per week (or however long it takes, I'm easy, the learning is paced by her) Petal (who we see 2 days a week only) can also come along for the ride. She is 4 so the activities involved may vary with age appropriateness!

First up I bought the girls a folder each and filled it with plastic sleeves. This will be to store all their activities and will eventually create their own little alphabet book.

Lets start at the very beginning! 

The letter A 

During this week we completed several activities involving the alphabet and the letter A. Here is a list of what we did: 

- We played with letters on the light box, identifying jumbled letters as well as laying out the alphabet and writing our names. This activity is always a fave as Ladybug loves the light box 

- We ate apples for morning tea! 

- The girls used animal stickers to decorate a stencil (our printer isn't working so I drew the A freehand, so no links, sorry!) while doing this we talked about word 'animal' beginning with the letter A. We drew the letter A with our finger inside the stencil and we talked about capitals and lower case letters.

- We sung the alphabet song and listened/watched it on Youtube 

- I drew out some letter tracing stencils for the girls (again, freehand, no links!) Ladybug is only 2 so this was a bit out of her scope right now, but I held my hand over hers and helped her to trace the first few so she could get a feel for it. She then did her own 'tracing' on top. In the pic below you can see Petal doing her lovely tracing. She actually asked to do this one as soon as she saw it. 

- We read some of Ladybug's favourite books and identified the A's along the way. I noticed that Ladybug finds it much easier to identify capital A's rather than small a's so we talked a bit about capitals and small letters (it must be so confusing for kids sometimes!)

- The girls learnt the Auslan sign for A which is made by holding the fingers of one hand splayed and using your other hand to point to your thumb - Auslan sign for A

- The girls did some apple printing using a halved apple, paint and paper. So easy and pretty! 

- We took the magnifying glass outside and looked at some ants. We couldn't find any at first so we left some food out on the pavers and kept checking back til we found some. I mentioned that ant starts with A and then we talked a bit about ants and watched how they communicated about the food.

- We talked about other words that start with A including apes, art, animal, achoo (the girls then had fun pretending to sneeze), arms, ankles and armpits (which we pointed out as we named them)

- The girls made an alien using a paper plate, paint, a pipe cleaner and some facial feature cut outs (Ladybug was particularly taken by the 'poking out tongue' mouth, hehe)

- We did some A stamping on paper (the alphabet stamps we have are actually from a Swedish stationary store (Kikki K) so included 3 different A's including ones with umlauts) so we used all 3 A stamps and spoke about the different ones being from another language.

- A is for aeroplane too! I found these cardboard aeroplane cutouts in the craft drawers. Both girls are good at spotting aeroplanes in the sky. In fact 'aeroplane' was one of the first ever signs Ladybug did when she was an infant. You can make the Auslan sign for aeroplane by making a fist and holding your thumb and pinky out to the sides, then fly your hand above your head like an aeroplane zooming past. 

Some other ideas for the letter A:

- Astronaut
- Ape
- Doing some apple cooking (mmm, apple crumble comes to mind!)
- Baking an A shaped cake 
- Studying a country beginning with A (Australia!!!)
- Visiting the airport to do some aeroplane spotting
- Almonds
- Finding some fruit and vege at the shops to cook and eat (asparagus, apple, artichoke, etc)

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ladybug's 2nd birthday present: TV unit to kitchen conversion!

Soooo how better to launch myself back into the blogging world than to tell you about our very cute TV unit to kids play kitchen conversion! 

...Yes, yes, I know, you can buy these things at the shop without all the effort BUT where is the fun in that? 

We decided to do an upcycle for several reasons: 
-To recycle some furniture which lets face it, will never be used again (hello flat screen TV's)
-To not support supermarket giants and mass production of plastic toys
-To create something unique and from the heart for my daughters birthday
-To save money (in total we spent $60 on bits and pieces) and to create something of more neutral colours which will blend in well with our lounge room (considering it will probably sit here for the next few years!) 
-To utilise some of this creativity inside me which I love using 

So, to kick things off I put out a plea on Facebook for an unused TV unit and we ended up with this

 Perfect! It was exactly what I was after and the colour meant that we didn't need to sand/polish/paint anything :-) it was even on wheels which made moving it around much easier! 

Next I gathered all the items I needed and organised for my daughter to be looked after one Sunday so  Mr Ladybug and I could do the project all in one go without her seeing (thanks Uncle Ben!) 

Mr Ladybug removed the glass door on the left and began sizing the laminate chipboard for the fridge 

I painted the wooden coasters and knobs for the cooktop 

After that I painted the oven 

And my husband started on the sink 

Mr Ladybug attached the hinges and the door handles

Meanwhile I covered the backing in wrapping paper and then clear contact. Sorry no pics here as it was very fiddly to try to make sure there were no bubbles or creases, but I'm sure you get the idea. Just like contacting books, only bigger! 

We then nailed the backing to the kitchen and were ready for the finishing touches! As finishing decorations I created a little window with curtains by putting a scenery photo in a wooden frame and then adding some curtains (a cut up blue $2 shirt, bunched together with ribbons) which I secured to the backing with some Velcro strips, stuck some animal wall decal stickers on the front and right hand side and used foam alphabet stickers on the fridge to make it look more 'fridgey' I decided on 'Yum', 'Bah bah', 'Oishii' and 'Delisciouso' which all mean yum in assorted languages (English, Farsi, Japanese and Spanish) 

Want to see the finished product?

Ladybug loves it! :-)

What I bought extra: 
- 1 piece of MDF board for backing
- 1 piece of white laminate chipboard for the fridge door 
- 2 door handles for oven and fridge
- 4 wooden coasters for cooktops 
- 4 wooden knobs for cooktop 
- 2 magnetic clips for door closure on oven and fridge 
- 4 new hinges for fridge and oven doors
- Wrapping paper for backing 
- Photo frame for the window
- Cheap t shirt for curtains (fabric would be cheap too but I wasn't near any fabric stores!) 
- Wall decal stickers to decorate 

What I already had at home or was given to us: 
- Unused TV unit! (thank you Mr & Mrs W) 
- Silver spray paint for the oven 
- Black paint for the oven and cooktop
- Silver salad bowl for the sink
- Silver tap (thank you Mr H) 
- Pretty photo for the scenery (thanks Mum & Dad) 
- Wooden placemat used for cooktop 
- Clear contact to protect the backing 
- Ribbon to tie the curtains 
- Foam letters to decorate the fridge 

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