Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Homemade Toys: Glitter Goo Bag

This is another cheap, quick, and easy homemade toy.

The cast of characters: zip or snaplock bag, hair gel, glitter.
I later added green food colouring, not pictured.

Prepare bag.

Open pot of hair gel, try to ignore the desperate smell of teenage
boy hair and hope the likes never enter my house.

Scrape gel into your snaplock bag.

Add glitter, I use about half of a tiny pot.

Squish the gel and glitter to mix, spread the mixture out,
working from the bottom of the bag so you get rid of the air.
Close up the bag and preferably tape it too, just in case!

Have fun before your toddler wakes up from his nap.

Flattening out the bag.

Squishing the bag.

And there's the look of devilment, he's enjoying this.

While Felix did enjoy the Glitter Goo Bag for a time, it wasn't a hit. I think it will be better received in a few months when he is a bit more interested in drawing shapes etc. Right now, he has little interest in actually drawing with his finger, he prefers to just squish the bag.

I'm planning a few things when I pull this back out. One idea is to tape it to a window so the light shining through makes it easier to see the shapes drawn on the bag. Another idea is to just tape it to some white card for the same benefit.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Homemade Toys: Rice Sensory Bin

Felix turned two on 11 July and as part of his birthday present I made him a rice flavoured sensory bin. A sensory bin is a whole lot of fun. This rice version is our first foray into sensory bins and I'm definitely planning more.
I started with a 10kg bag of rice. I divided it evenly between
5 snaplock bags.
Next I added a bunch of food colouring. I used most of a bottle
of cheap colouring as I wanted strong colours.

Add enough white vinegar to spread the food colouring
without making the rice too wet. I used about 1/3 cup.

Expel most of the air from the bag, seal and mix it all up.

Leave it sit for about an hour so the colour can soak in.
I forgot to photograph the next bit but once the colour is soaked
in you should spread the rice out on trays to dry.

Once it's dry you can empty it into your chosen tub.  I picked
this one up at The Warehouse. It's an under bed storage tub.

So pretty and enticing. I recommend putting a mat down.
Even with the most careful child, rice will spill and it's easy
to empty the rice back in off the mat and hoover the rest up.

I organised some accessories for scooping and pouring.

Felix was quite tentative to begin. He didn't want to mix the colours.

He warmed up quickly and started to really enjoy it.

Dexter got in on the action. He was fascinated.

Lots and lots of pouring.

Felix really started to enjoy the texture of the rice.

He decided Dexter had the right idea and wanted to feel the
rice on his toes too.

He wasn't sure about it getting stuck between his toes.

But he loved sticking his feet in anyway.

Scooping the rice up with his feet.

He had a friend over later that day to join in the fun.

More friends and Grandparents joined in the fun on the weekend.

The Rice Sensory Bin was a huge hit with everyone. Felix played with it non-stop for over three hours on the first day which is phenomenal for a just turned two year old. Dexter at 6 months loved it, I love it and his Grandparents loved it too. There's just something so soothing about the sound of the rice being poured, the feel of it in your hands and the bright colours. It does what it says on the tin and just appeals to all the senses. Well, except smell maybe, the vinegar smell does linger somewhat!

We have had the sensory bin out regularly since then. Felix will bring the big mat to me when he wants to play with it. Since the initial novelty wore off we probably get a good hour of playtime before he wants to put it away. This is definitely the most expensive of our homemade toys since neither the rice nor the bin can be bought cheaply anywhere round here but it has been worth every penny.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Homemade Toy: Using Tongs

After an extended hiatus, due to an unfortunate meeting between my laptop and a cup of tea, I'm back! I have a beautiful new iMac to blog from and I am head over heels in love.

We're all about cheap and cheerful toys in this household. We don't have the space or inclination to buy a whole bunch of stuff. We strongly dislike plastic & battery operated toys and a lot of wooden toys are just out of our price range. So I focus on making toys when and where possible.

This is one of the simplest "toys" I have made. All you need is a tray, a basket, some pom-poms and a pair of tongs. I set the invitation up with the pom-poms in the basket and the tongs alongside. Felix empties the pom-poms onto the tray and then uses the tongs to pick them up and pop them back into the basket.

Examining the tongs and figuring out the best way to hold them

Getting better control of opening and closing the tongs

Noticing all the clicks of the camera shutter

Obviously the camera is hilarious and I'm very distracting

Moved the basket off the tray to pick up errant pom-poms.
He's reaching pro status now, picking up two pom-poms at once.

Placing the basket back on the tray.

Placing the tongs back on the tray

All tidied away, now he's coming for the camera!

We first tried this activity a few months ago. Felix couldn't quite get the hang of the tongs, though he did try. I think his hands were just a little small! I packed it away and forgot about it for a while. At 24 months, after a minute or two of experimenting, he easily got the hang of it. He really enjoyed it and has repeated this activity a few times since.

I'm planning to put this into our regular rotation of toys but I'll switch out the pom-poms next time for a bit of difference. I'm planning to try coloured ice cubes for a different texture, and as Felix gets better we'll progress to smaller items like pasta shapes or broad beans. Eventually we can use a smaller tongs and then a tweezers.

I'd love to hear if you try this activity. Was it a hit? What other objects do you use?