Easy Playdough Recipe

Playdough is one of the most requested activities in our setting so we make it a lot.We have tried a few different recipes of playdough but found this one to be the easiest so I thought I’ll share it with everyone.

Three reasons I love homemade playdough: is made of edible ingredients so no danger if any of the children decide to have a taste(which you know they will no matter how many times you tell them not to). It’s easy to make because it’s a no cook recipe and you can get the children involved in the process which means you’re offering them more learning opportunities.

Ingredients

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  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cup of boiled water
  • food colouring

How to make it

First, put the dry ingredients and the oil in a bowl. Next, you have to add the water and the food colouring. I find it easier to put the food colouring in the water so it spreads evenly. Start mixing everything together with a spoon, then use your hands to knead the dough. Add flour if it’s sticky. Be careful, it will be very warm to hot because of the boiled water.

And that is it!

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I make one batch per colour and the playdough lasts a few months if properly stored in a zip lock bag. After a while, it starts to smell funny so a few drops of essential oils should solve the problem.

Let the fun begin.

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Chinese New Year- Dee’s Childcare Style

At Dee’s Childcare we go big on Chinese New Year.

For two weeks (end of January- beginning of February) we focused our activities on the Chinese New Year and included the school children who come in the afternoon alongside the younger children who are here the whole day.

Here are some of the most enjoyed activities:

Trip to the farm

2017 is the Year of the Rooster. And to start off, we visited the farm to see some roosters and introduce the Chinese New Year story to the children.

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Book Club

First, we read the Chinese New Year story and then we did an arts & crafts activity and painted a rooster. We’ve simplified the story for the younger children and used puppets, also the globe to locate China to give the children an idea of its location and size.

The painting was great as a sensory experience as we encouraged finger painting but also a mark making opportunity for the younger children.

The pre-schoolers showed control in painting inside the lines and technique when changing colours, using the water pots appropriately and not soaking their sheets with the water.

Shopping at the Chinese Supermarket

We took the after-schoolers to the local Chinese Supermarket in preparation for our Chinese New Year celebrations.One of the store staff gave a talk to the children about the traditional foods and customs, showed us around the store and presented us with a gift of a Chinese calendar for the setting.

Rice play

This was a messy one. Be prepared for the mess because we were not. However, it was worth it, having seen the children so invested in the activity: filling and emptying cups and bowls, imaginative play, using mathematical language when talking about quantities, comparing and making predictions of who has more/less.20170130_100432

Lunch at the Chinese restaurant

To further enhance the children’s understanding of the differences and similarities between cultures, traditions, foods, we took them to the Chinese restaurant for lunch. One of the children said “Oooh spaghetti” when the food came and it was the best time to talk to them about how noodles are similar to spaghetti but at the same time a bit different in shape and taste. Having tried the chopsticks and the fork, most of them finished their food using…fingers. And the prawn crackers were by far the most enjoyed.

Chinese New Year Party

To finish the two weeks of learning about Chinese New Year, we organised a party. The school children prepared a little performance, dressing up in Chinese clothes and dancing to Chinese music. I would say that was the highlight of the party but the children might think different when presented to an array of Chinese foods and sweets. When they left, they received a fortune cookie and a selection of Chinese sweets in a money envelope which I’m sure they appreciated more than they would have if they were to get money.

We did lots more but these were the most enjoyed activities. Hope this post inspires you and gives you some ideas to build on for next year’s Chinese New Year Celebrations.

Book Club- Handa’s Surprise

Over the past two weeks, we have been focusing our activities around the story of Handa’s Surprise. It’s a short story, based in Africa, where Handa wants to take a basket of fruits to her friend Akeyo. On the way to Akeyo’s village, animals hiding in the savannah steal the fruits from Handa’s basket which she carries on her head. Just before she arrives, a goat headbutts into a tangerine tree just as Handa passes underneath and her basket gets filled up with them. The surprise is as much Akeyo’s as it’s Handa’s.

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The story is quite short, few sentences, describing the seven delicious fruits Handa puts in her basket. The animals are not mentioned in words just in illustrations, beautiful colourful images that fascinate the children every time.

Now you know a bit about the story you might have guessed this book club session was a very special one as we decided to act it out.

First we dressed up. We are lucky enough to have quite a selection of gorgeous African traditional costumes. Ahh, I just love the lively colours, beautiful patterns, sequins and tailoring. The children looked beyond cute.

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Being set in Africa was a very good incentive to talk to the children about the different aspects of life between countries in Europe and Africa. On a map, we located where we live opposite to where Handa and Akeyo live.

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The previous day we went shopping and bought all the fruits Handa put in her basket so we had that ready. And lastly, we looked for the animals in the toy box -zebra, elephant, giraffe, goat…

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Everything set we went in the garden and sat in a circle around the fruit basket, book and animals to remind ourselves of the story. Having read it so many times in these two weeks, the children know it very well. We decided who is going to be Handa and Akeyo, and who will play the animal parts.

Our Handa even tried to carry the basket on her head and walked past the animals that stole her fruits before getting to Akeyo with a basket full of tangerines.

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The children enjoyed themselves very much, especially handling the fruits and tasting them after. Some of the fruits, such as the passion fruit or the guava were unknown to them but I’m very proud to say they were very open about trying them, some even declared that those are their new favourites. The avocado was the least popular and the tangerines were most loved.

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The session finished with a colouring and sorting fruits activity.

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This story is perfect for introducing awareness of different lifestyles between cultures from surroundings to clothes wear, food, climate, vegetation, fauna. Learning new words means developing a child’s vocabulary, talking about new places sparks imagination and the beautiful imagery brings to life such a simple but lovable story.

 

 

Messy play

Messy play must be one of the most loved activities in our setting. And for this we went all out. To set the premises we did it in the garden and we dressed the children in waterproof suits so they basically had the freedom to get as messy as they wanted.

Our messy morning involved painting. For this we set up a painting table with paper, pots of paint and different types of paintbrushes and sponges.

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Then we had the tuff tray with different coloured paints and added some salt to it to make it less slippery when the children stepped in. Next to the tuff tray we put a long white plastic board where they could make feet stamps.

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Also had a few smaller trays with paints and objects that leave traces-cars, balls etc.

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And last was a water station where they could wash their hands and feet or use the water to add to the paints.

It was amazing to watch the children concentrate and be creative.They held conversations between them while painting, shared the pots and the paint brushes, mixed the colours and explored what happened when they did so, imagined and named their paintings.

In the tuff tray they explored the sensory feeling of the paint on their feet, the mix of paint with the salt and how the paint changed texture when they added water.

It was a messy morning but very successful. This was the array of their beautiful paintings at the end of the session.

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Water play

Summer means water play, right?

Well, we have done them all: you name it-we did it. Paddling pool, ocean small world, funnels, measuring jugs, we even went to our local park paddling pool and did a trip to the sea side. And today we bought a water slide for the garden so more water fun coming.

Water play is simply fun.It is a free basic resource which offers so much, children can experiment with it, feeding their curiosity and imagination.

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Children find water fascinating, it’s appropriate for all developmental stages and ages.It’s a good resource for developing skills such as communication, making relationships, experimenting, problem-solving, learning how things work, being inquisitive. And the best of all, it’s so much fun and all for free.

Here are a few pictures to prove it.

Measuring, filling and emptying containers, learning about the mechanics of a funnel.

Imaginative play, learning about water animals, being inquisitive about their habitat, sensory play with water, pebbles, sand, shells.

Finally, splashing, paddling and having fun

And the ultimate experience, trip to the seaside, but more about this on a separate post.

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Our week in photos

What a great week. I finally feel that summer has begun hence the summery activities.

We’ve had so many sunny days and we do take full advantage of those. When sunny days are sparse you do learn to appreciate and enjoy them.

We did a lot this week from water play to allotment, to library, walk in the woods and messy play.

Words cannot describe how much fun we had so I won’t even try, just have a look at the pictures and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

Monday- Water Play

Tuesday-Walk in the woods& picnic in the park

Wednesday-Allotment day

Thursday-Visit to the library

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Friday- Messy play: painting

Allotment day

We go to the allotment at least once a week and today was allotment day. And what a great day it was- playing in the sand pit, mud kitchen, swings, helping around and looking for minibeasts are a few of the children’s favourite activities. Today they did all of them.

First things first, let me tell you how nice our vegetables are doing. Even better, let me show you :

We are growing the peppers and the tomatoes in pots in the greenhouse, to be planted out later. The salads are very plentiful, we harvested some today, the courgette has flowered and we have our first ripe strawberry.

It feels like this month’s most important job has been weeding, especially with all the rain, the weeds grow very fast.Also trying to protect the smaller plants from slugs is proving to be difficult. Aside the slug pellets we also tried eggshells but it didn’t work as the kale and the rocket salads have been totally eaten.

Now, the fun part. I told you we have so much fun at the allotment. And the best part is the learning that’s happening while having all this fun.

Cooking a chocolate cake in the mud kitchen or  making coffee are the most loved recipes. Ha ha even the children know our coffee addiction as they keep offering us coffee. Joke aside, is lovely to see the children emulate what they see at home- mixing ingredients together, adding a bit of seasoning, washing up the dishes, they even help clean the whole kitchen before we go. And the language going on is the best- from telling each other what they are making to problem-solving when a difficult situation arises.

The swings are very popular. And let me tell you how uninspired we were when we bought two plastic swings from the shop. Lucky someone stole them(didn’t think that way when it happened) and we were forced to find an alternative which was to make swings using tyres. The children either sit or stand on these, they now learnt how to go on them and swing without any help. One of the boys actually used the swing as a climbing frame and climbed on and off the apple tree. Yes it was a bit scary letting him do that but taking risks safely brings so much satisfaction. You should have seen his happy face when he first did it.

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The sand pit- building sand castles and volcanoes, filling and emptying buckets, making pies…the play is endless, so imaginative, such a perfect place for practising teamwork, sharing and taking turns…

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Looking for minibeasts has become one of the children’s favourite activities. Snails and lady birds are definitely the best ones and today was a good day.

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Observing little creatures in their natural environment, being able to touch, feel and play with is the easiest way to understand and learn about animals.Telling the children that snails are slimy will never compare to them touching and actually feeling.

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Today we found three snails and the children got leaves to feed them, put them to sleep under the leaves and even named them.

Helping around the allotment is very rewarding for the children. They come and ask what they can help us with and take pride in doing a good job. Today they watered the plants, moved the weeds in the compost bin and helped clean the pond. And a lot of the “why” questions are answered while helping-why do we need to water the plants, why do we need to take the weeds out, why do we need to clean the pond, why why why…

So yes another great day at the allotment.