Superhero Party

19 03 2012

LBM has reached the grand old Big Boy age of 4. That makes him capable of so many more things (so he tells me!). For a while he didn’t want to to turn four and decided being 3 was better so we had to make sure his birthday party made turning four a good thing. About a week before his party he decided he wanted a superhero theme and I’d been working towards a Cars theme. I suddenly felt like a fairy godmother and his wish came true (and we were in France for the two days before his party so that added to the pressure before his party!)

Food was nice and simple with each plate of party food being given a superhero status. I managed to find some ghost shape crisps in France which children were encouraged to destroy which they gladly did. Each child was sent on three missions instead of standard party games and had them printed out. The first mission involved finding small superheroes in a dark den (no photo’s because they just don’t come out properly.) For some of our party guests this was their first experience of the dark den and they loved it and wouldn’t get out. Glowsticks are currently a £1 for 20 in Poundland.

The second mission was to disarm a bomb. It was a more active version of pass the parcel with less mess. They had to throw the bomb from child to child until an adult shouted bang. Whoever was holding it at the time had to sit down and were out (softened by being given a Milky Way to eat). I liked this game because 8 under 5 year olds had a great time and practised their catching and throwing skills and there was no paper to clear up!

The final mission was the messiest one though as it involved throwing sponges at aliens while the bubble machine blew asteroids. This was one of those games where no-one was a winner or a loser and everyone had fun. One guest enjoyed the game so much he was there for about 10 minutes just throwing his sponges into the bath!

After all the party games we had cake and I’d been given some candles that burnt with different coloured flames. An excellent superhero touch to the mini cupcakes. And almost immediately after LBM decided to hand out his party bag superhero kits which included sweets, superhero disguise masks, a packet of Kool Aid each to make rocket fuel (parents. you’re welcome!) and a glowstick to act as a Positronic Laser (name courtesy of The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man which is LBM’s favourite birthday present book). I think everyone enjoyed themselves – especially me but I’m glad all my kids birthday parties are now out of the way until January next year. They’re so stressful!!



Octonauts Alphabet

19 02 2012

LBM seems to be like every other child who’s three and really likes the Octonauts. I’m all for building on this interest because it’s one of the best TV programmes for his age group and means he can identify exactly what kind of sea creature it is – “No mummy it’s not a shark. It’s a Lemon Shark”. Admittedly none of us can pronounce Humuhumunukunukuapua’a but we’re working on it! A long time ago I started to develop picture and word alphabets that were linked to a theme and things that children are interested in. A personalised alphabet helps with letter recognition, vocabulary and makes learning relevant. I’ve made alphabets in the past for other children including a Star Wars and a Cars one. I love how films frequently have characters with names that begin with the tricky letters – searching around to find characters beginning with V, Q X and Z are so easy it’s almost as if the creative team behind every film approach character naming by going through the alphabet. Handy!

Anyway – I have created an Octonauts alphabet for LBM to help develop his vocabulary and learn his letters. Some of them aren’t strictly linked to the letter (like the Gups but he wanted to include all of the Gups and I couldn’t fit them all in the box for G.) So far we’ve just used them to talk about the pictures and link the sounds to letters i.e.” B is for…? Barnacles. Can you hear the B at the beginning? “kind of thing. I’ve hopefully attached the links here so you can print them off yourself and share them with any Octonauts fans. If anyone also knows which episodes have Peso playing his xylophone please let me know so I can get a screen shot of it. Finding the image in one of the original books was the best I could get!

3D Chalk – you have to see it to believe it!

12 02 2012

I didn’t really believe this could be true until we tried it this morning. I bought a Crayola outdoor chalk set with 3D  glasses. It’s half price in the Early Learning Centre and I admit even paying half price for some 3D chalks seemed expensive. I had planned on going outside and drawing on the car park and it’s lovely clean tarmac but it was raining (and cold). Apparently that’s more helpful for when you want to clear away any drawings! Black paper works just as well though. We drew some pictures using the chalk and following the instructions to make 3D shapes that worked and it was a great lesson in understanding depth perception. LBM had been wearing the glasses whilst I got dressed this morning (helpfully commenting that my skin looked funny. Mmm maybe I’ll lock the door next time). He spent a while looking at different things around the house like lights which become rainbow rimmed and a pair of scissors that really did become strange looking and as if they were floating.

The chalk pictures were amazing though. A red centre with a blue border really jumped out when you put the 3D glasses on and LBM reached out and tried to pick it up. We did something similar with a circle with a yellow border and a green centre and the frame looked as if it was jumping out. On both occasions it tested both our powers of understanding! We ended up drawing a rocket (well I did) but LBM added the window and then shooting starts which criss crossed through the rocket. Watching him draw whilst wearing the 3D glasses was interesting too because the stars  and rocket overlapped each other. I have to admit to needing to do a bit of research now into the differences between 2D and 3D so I can explain why. That’s the best bit about kids though – they ask you why and sometimes you just don’t know. I’d recommend these chalks though because they have scientific as well as creative value and there’s loads of colours to use. Can’t wait for it to stop raining and warm up now.

Ice Sculpture

10 02 2012

This rather cold winter weather that has arrived has given LBM so many opportunities to explore on a big scale. Even though the first dump of snow was fairly short lived, LBM asked to make some more snow ice cream. I went out onto the roof terrace to see what snow was left and discovered very little, mainly icy snow. But I also discovered the large lump of ice which had formed in a trug. That had more potential for exploring something interesting on a bigger scale than an ice cube so I changed his plan! We spent a while exploring the shape of it and looking at the thin piece round the edge that had lots of cracks in it. It was a lovely sunny day too so the ice really sparkled and picked up the light. I’d made some coloured ice cubes the morning it had first snowed using food colouring but they didn’t freeze in time so this was a good opportunity to use them.

LBM added the ice using tongs (and his winter Olympics mittens because this was serious winter sport!) and began mixing salt in. We used a combination of rock salt used to keep the path clear and table salt which was easier for him to pour. When you first add it the ice crackles and starts to melt almost immediately. If you’re very lucky you create steaming reactions. The tongs and spades were used to hack and smash the ice but he soon realised that there was effort involved in that and resorted to pouring more salt. The addition of the pipettes and liquid water colours made it an even more exciting exploration. I find pipettes are highly intriguing to small children and they love collecting colour and squeezing it out. Squeezing the paint down the gullies and cracks created by the salt melting the ice is just as intriguing. LBM spent nearly a full hour engrossed in pouring, smashing, digging, hacking, squeezing and we revisited the ice again and again over the course of the day. The table salt also froze so we discussed what else we could add to melt the ice and used some hot water. By the time LBM went to bed we still had a largish lump of ice but holes had appeared in it all the way through to the bottom. Some of the melting gullies had collected pools of paint so there were little coloured lakes in it too.

Both LBM and I enjoyed this and it really helped that we’d watched an episode of Frozen Planet with David Attenborough the weekend before. They’d explored ice caves and melting ice bergs so this brought the whole thing to life. Now I’m going to have to go and fill the trug up so we can do it again. Let’s hope it stays cold because I don’t have space in the freezer to make another one without the weather’s support!

Snow Ice Cream

5 02 2012

Snow Ice Cream is something that doesn’t sound risk free – no one likes to eat coloured snow. However, I found a recipe for it on the internet this morning and as LBM was licking snow off his mittens it didn’t seem to be much different to what he was doing anyway. Admittedly we decided to use snow off our roof terrace which was highly unlikely to have met with any animal’s feet or excrete! We collected a small bowl of snow and then added spoonfuls of sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla essence and a teaspoon of almond essence because the vanilla wasn’t strong enough to overcome the fresh water taste of the snow. LBM stirred it all together with some milk and we had made snow ice cream. It didn’t actually taste as bad as I feared and once LBM had added his choice of sprinkles on top it actually tasted quite nice. LBM had a great time stirring it, commenting that it was melting, changing colour and tasting lovely. There’s science involved in this kind of experiment and it was really nice to end our morning of snow activities with something to eat. I would maybe have preferred hot chocolate though seeing as I was so cold by then.

Snow Sculptures

5 02 2012

After struggling to get LBM out of the house to get into the snow, I then had to struggle to get him back in. After we had emptied all of our coloured water over the snow we started making snow sculptures. The easiest one was the faces in the car. I did some last night on the windscreens of cars opposite or in the car park so LBM could see them when he woke up. They look great – even now the one opposite is still there looking at us! As we went for a walk following fox footprints I started making small snowmen, all of which were destroyed by a small boy with dragon boots that needed to attack anything they saw! I ended up making an upside down snowman in the hope he would leave this one alone as it was up high – but he used his mittens instead to smash it down!! It’s all part of the fun of being 3 I guess. You  might not be able to see the dinosaur fossil in the last picture so well but I also took the sand pit moulds outside and made a few snow dinosaur fossils. These too were no match for the dragon boots and were promptly smashed. After nearly an hour in the snow and getting covered in it we started to head back indoors with LBM licking snow off his mittens. Quite a fitting end to our snow play as the final thing we did was to make Snow Ice Cream.

It’s Snowing!

5 02 2012

It’s finally started snowing in the UK – and now LBM thinks it snows every year. It has done since he was born and he’s going to have memories of snow filled winters and wonder why it’s not the same when he grows up. I struggled to get him out of the house this morning as he told me it was going to be too cold. Great knowledge and understanding of snow but it made no difference to me! After layering him into lots of clothes and getting him into his new dragon boots (with flashing lights – bought because Grandma thought converse were inappropriate footwear for the forecast snow) we finally left the house. Two squeezy bottles filled with green food colouring and water were our first mark making tools. Green is the colour du jour and we squeezed it everywhere. LBM walked up and down trailing it,  he squeezed it over the snow, he flicked it and spun round holding the bottle. For a child who had decided it was all too cold I couldn’t get him to stop once he started. The only reason he stopped was because both bottles were used up.

We then moved on to throwing our water balloons – again filled with food colouring and water. They were soooo hard to fill this morning that I almost didn’t want to smash them into the snow! I’d recommend getting water balloons that understand their purpose and actually fill up with water. Mine didn’t like the idea but we got there in the end with me getting splashed several times with the occasional broken one. They didn’t smash straight away either and bounced and rolled about which was just as much fun as they kept slipping out of mittened hands. Eventually we resorted to throwing them on the floor and jumping on them until they popped. The snow looks lovely with bright colours all over it and makes an excellent canvas for making big messy art. Let’s hope the neighbours like it too because it’s all over their snow…