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Valentines Day hearts

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We don’t really ‘do’ Valentines Day, especially since we have had the kids. I don’t really understand why anybody needs one particular day each year to show how much you love someone – what about the other 364 days? However, it is an excuse to make some really lovely things, so this week we are having a ‘love week’.  Harrison has just started to understand love and tells us, Alex, his nanny and grandad, and Bobby (the cat!) that he loves us. We have a little joke where we argue who loves who more, a bit like in the  ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ books:

Mummy: I love you Harrison
Harrison: I love you more
Mummy: No I love you more
Harrison: no I love you more
Mummy: I love you to the moon
Harrison: (looks blankly at me) I want fresh milk please

On the wall in our dining room/playroom I have written each letter of their names in hearts, a bit like we did for our Hungry Caterpillar week. It’s on the wall directly opposite where they both sit at the table so they see it all the time, and Harrison loves pointing out the letters he recognises.

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Anyway, today we did some little hear decorations which in love because Harrison had a go at ‘sewing’.
I cut out a heart shape from some fairly thick cardboard (toy packaging is great stuff, and a way of recycling!) and used a thick needle to poke hearts all the way round.

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The kids had great fun painting them red. Harrison painted his beautifully and took lots of care over making sure there was no cardboard showing through, before knocking the pot of water all over it!! Alex, who is fifteen months old, used a foam paintbrush to dab paint on.

Once the paint had dried we started to ‘sew’ around the edges. We used a fairly large needle (don’t ask what type, I have no idea!) that wasn’t too sharp – although I obviously supervised very closely. We threaded some red wool through the eye and I tied a knot in it. I poked the needle through the first hole and knotted the wool at the back and then demonstrated to Harrison what he needed to do, which he picked up really quickly. I knew he had pretty good fine motor skills but it surprised me just how quickly and well he did it! I know now to make up some more complicated lacing boards, which he could use needle and thread to complete, and adapt it by making holes closer or smaller. It could also be made simpler, by making bigger holes with a hole puncher and using shoe laces. It’s a brilliant activity for fine motor skills development and hand/eye coordination, as well as teaching a really valuable life skill.

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Once he had finished the sewing, we got on with decorating it. I had made up a box with ‘love’ themed embellishments in to use this week, rather than digging it out our rather overfilled craft cupboard each time! In the box I’d put (all red, pink and white!) glitter, pompoms, feathers, sequins, buttons, foam shapes, felt, tissue paper, crepe paper, cellophane, pipe cleaners and paper. I wanted them to choose whatever materials they wanted to decorate their hearts. Because Harrison’s painted heart was ruined by the water, he decorated the cardboard one he sewed, and Alex decorated a paper heart. This is how they turned out!

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In The Playroom
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The Very Hungry Caterpillar: feeding the caterpillar

‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle is one of those kids books that will be read for many generations to come. I’m 28 and remember reading and enjoying it when I was little. I bought the book for Harrison when I was about five months pregnant, and we have read it many times!
We weren’t going to start this theme until Monday, but the kids spotted the bits for it and I’m not going to discourage them!!

First of all we decorated the wall in the dining room with some Very Hungry Caterpillar things. This wall is opposite where the kids sit to eat so they will see it a lot, and over the week we will add our bits to it.
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We made a caterpillar spelling out their names. This was simple to make. On green paper I cut out circles for each letter and a red circle for the head. On the red circle I drew a friendly face and on the body we wrote the letters. This is great for teaching letters and name recognition. Harrison points excitedly every time he sees it!!

I also printed out and laminated (yes, I love laminating. Stand still long enough and I will laminate you!) these days of the week cards from Making Learning Fun. These are also on the wall and when we finish the theme, we will put these in a story sack.

As well as this, I printed off some cute little number cards showing what the caterpillar ate each day, which will also be laminated for the story sack! These can be downloaded here.

They loved playing ‘feed the caterpillar’ which was a great start and hook into the theme. This had taken a bit of prior preparation one night last week, when everyone had gone to bed. I used up all my odds and ends of felt but it could easily be done with paper – you could print these fab printables off from Twinkl

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I covered a tube (Pringles type) with green paper and used a craft knife to cut a ‘mouth’ in the plastic lid.  I used a glue gun to stick on pipe cleaners for antannae. I then used the scraps of felt to create all the food from the story. This was fiddly but fun!!

We sat and read the story together and ‘fed’ the caterpillar the food as we went through it. They loved this!! It was perfect for numeracy skills as they counted them, speaking skills as they told me what each item was, and great for fine motor skill development as the had to push the food into a small slit – perfect for Alex!!!

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Long after finishing the story, they were still having fun with it, and even wanted to play with it whilst watching their new ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ DVD that nanny bought them (from The Works, £2.99!).

A great start to our themed week!

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Kiddycharts Blog
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Invitation to Play: Playdough and Pasta

I was looking through the pictures on our Facebook page (link( and found photos of our very first ‘invitation to play’.
When we did this activity back in January there was absolutely no planning involved. I just remember there being thick snow outside, Gray was working 12 hour shifts, I had a 9 week old baby and 19 month old toddler to amuse! This was a spur of the moment activity before I’d ever heard of Pintrest or anything like that, and it kept Harrison amused for ages!

The set up was really easy and quick. On his little table I gave him a pot of play dough, and a tub with dried pasta tubes and dried spaghetti and left him to it. Within minutes he was making balls of dough and sticking the spaghetti strands in, and then threading the dried pasta onto the stands. It was a perfect activity for developing fine motor skills!

Now he’s a year older I’m going to do this again,and let Alex have a go. I will challenge him more this time by asking him to count the pasta tubes. I’m going to provide a bowl of cheerio-type cereal for threading as well, and see if we can thread x amount of cereal on the strands of spaghetti.

A brilliantly simple and quick activity that kids will love!

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