Painting the Rain

After nearly two long hot months of glorious sunshine, we have been so happy to see some rain to soak our parched garden! It did, however, leave me feeling a little bit stumped as to where to go today, after spending pretty much every day outside somewhere recently!

After deciding to stay at home, I thought I would make the most of the weather and set up an art provocation for the boys to explore. Rocco (aged 2) had genuinely forgotten what rain was, which was slightly hilarious yesterday when the heavens opened. He just kept staring at the sky and saying “What? What?” in between little squeals of delight!

So, just in case you have a rainy day at home, here is a now tried and tested art project for you to try with your kiddiewinks.

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Set Up

The set up itself is pretty simple. All you need is a shiny surface to catch the raindrops on, some blue watercolour paints, a paintbrush and some thick white paper or card. We had planned to use real rain water, but by this point, the rain had stopped, so I included a cup of water and a pipette in our set up, to create our own rain. We also used a mirror surface placed inside a tray for extra intrigue and sensory exploration.

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Catching Raindrops

The next step is to catch the rain on your shiny surface, until you have enough raindrops for your artwork. As it had stopped raining, we plopped our pretend raindrops out from our pipette. This is actually great for fine motor control and general self control when trying not to squeeze too much water out at once!

Once you are happy with your collection of raindrops, which should collect nicely onto the shiny surface, it’s time to add some colour. We recently found some brilliant watercolours in Aldi that you can take out individually, so we had all of the blues out and ready to go! You need to get plenty of blue watercolour paint onto your brush and then dip it into each individual raindrop to add the colour. Once the boys had got the hang of it, they started experimenting with mixing the different shades of blue together.

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Creating Your Art

Now you have created lots of lovely blue raindrops, it is time to create your artwork! Take your thick paper or card and lay it very gently on top of your blue raindrops for a couple of seconds. Lift it off and voila! Some lovely rain inspired artwork! Rocco enjoyed exploring the watercolours so much, that he decided to add extra raindrops to his artwork by painting them straight on with a paintbrush.

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The Finished Artwork

The possibilities to explore further are also there for this activity. We will definitely be trying it again with real raindrops and may even make some watercolour clouds this way too. This activity just came from a little idea I had this morning and I had no idea how it would work out, but I think it has turned out to be Rocco’s favourite way of painting ever!

If you give it a go at home, let me know how it goes! Get in touch on here, or over on @thelifeschoolers on Instagram. Tag us into any posts, so we can see your beautiful artwork too, it is really great to hear from you!

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Exploring Shades of Blue

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The Butterfly Bath

A few days ago, I was tagged in a post about a beautiful butterfly watering station. I’d really love to make one with the boys for our garden, as we have been seeing a few butterflies fluttering around whilst we have been out playing in the sunny weather.

I was telling Archie about it and trying to suggest that we make a ‘butterfly bath’ for our garden, but Archie got the wrong end of the stick and excitedly started talking about a butterfly bath that he was going to have… so we ran with it.

I remembered that I had popped some water beads away in the cupboard a while back, waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them, so I soaked them for a few hours, before adding a colander, slotted spoons, shiny beads, a magnifying glass and of course some foam butterflies.

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The boys love any messy, sensory or water play activities and I have mentioned before that 95% of the time they end up fully in the tray, generally naked, so bath play is a total winner!

The boys hopped straight in and started exploring the different items in the bath. Archie started to scoop water beads into the colander and soon discovered that he needed to lift it out of the water if he didn’t want the beads to float away again. When he lifted the colander out of the water, he noticed that he could make a brilliant shower as the water fell through the holes!

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Rocco spent some time picking up individual water beads and squishing them in between his thumb and fore finger…super fine motor development! He also discovered half way through the bath that the foam shape butterflies that I had popped into the bath would actually stick like stickers to the flat surface of the bath and tiles. This was a bit of a fluke on my part, but he spent a long time sticking them on, taking them off and sticking them on again somewhere else!

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We recently bought a colour changing light bulb, so I took the lamp into the bathroom (keep it away from the water folks!) This added something extra to the bath time, as I was able to change the colour of the bulb in order to show the boys which colour butterflies they should scoop and rescue next. This was great for consolidating Rocco’s colours, which he is pretty clued up on now, but they also loved the game regardless!

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The boys also enjoyed having the magnifying glass in the tub with them and explored the shiny stones, water beads and butterflies through it.

They discovered that the water beads were pretty bouncy and had lots of fun bouncing the beads off each other’s heads, whizzing them around in the colander before they all bounced out…all over the bathroom, throwing them at the side of the bath to make them bounce off and dropping them from a height to see if they could make them splash!

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All in all this was a great success and I would recommend the activity to anyone who has children that enjoy water play, but be warned…lots of water beads got squished in the bath, between fingers and under bottoms, so it was a pretty lengthy clean up with trying to scoop out the broken bits whilst not letting any down the drain!

What are your go to water play activities? I’d love to hear from you!

Lucy x

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Our favourite Minibeast activities so far…

If you are a follower of my Instagram page (@thelifeschoolers for anyone who isn’t yet, but would like to), you will have noticed that we have been doing lots of activities and play based learning around the theme of Minibeasts! We took a little break for some farm fun over Easter, but have picked it back up again, so I thought I would do a summary of some of our super simple bug activities so far. Funnily enough, the stomach bug Archie picked up did NOT make it onto the list!

I have been trying to set up a few invitations to play each evening before I go to bed, so there is something to capture the boys’ interests when they first come downstairs and we are caught up in the business of breakfast etc. This means that this list of activities so far is a real mix of independent play activities and ones that I have facilitated a bit more to extend the play further.

So here they are…Our favourite bug activities so far…

1. LADYBIRD SPOTS

Archie (age 4) really loves any activity involving number, so I set up this little number bond challenge for him. He successfully completed all of the ladybird number bonds to 10 and then decided to do his own sums too (40 + 65 for example!) In the photograph, there are a few which he did not draw the spots on. This is because he decided to use some mini counting cubes to place on the ladybirds instead.

Rocco (age 2) enjoyed exploring dots and spots and how to make them with his felt tip pens. He experimented with pressure and speed and noticed the difference between the spots that he had made on the ladybirds.

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2. INDOOR BUG HUNT

I have discovered that any little hunt lists are a really good way to encourage reluctant readers. Archie stopped reading to me a few months ago when he was still at school. I think he really felt the pressure to get it right, even though we never piled the pressure on him and I am sure school didn’t either. However, with reading, it can be very obvious to a child whether they are getting it right or not! We have been finding new ways to use words in our day to day lives to encourage him with his reading, but without the pressure that a book can bring. This list worked a treat, as I was able to differentiate the activity for both of the boys to enjoy.

Rocco had to hunt for the matching picture and Archie read the word, in order to work out which minibeast he had to hunt for. This was such a simple activity to set up and one that they both enjoyed together.

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3. CATERPILLAR/BUTTERFLY LIFE CYCLE

This is one of the few activities that we have sat down together to ‘learn’, but the boys, particularly Rocco, did enjoy creating their life cycles together. We looked the the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and watched a YouTube video showing a hyper lapse of the life of a caterpillar from egg to butterfly to learn more before completing this activity. We then discussed what we had noticed, learned the big word ‘metamorphosis’ and created some lovely life cycle pictures together during our discussion. The boys are really proud of the life cycles displayed on the wall in our Family Room!

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4. DESIGN A BUG

The boys both really love drawing and colouring at the moment, so I left this super simple activity on their drawing table, with some key vocabulary to encourage Archie’s reading and a book for inspiration. Archie absolutely loved this activity and had designed all of his bugs before I had even made it downstairs!

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5. BUTTERPLY COLLAGE

This was supposed to be an activity for the boys to complete together, but Rocco enjoyed it so much that he ended up doing lots of it with Daddy. Archie asked to do a black and red ladybird after, as he was a bit miffed about the butterfly. This is another simple activity, that kept Rocco focused for an extended period of time and encouraged lots of talk about colour, shape, position and butterflies. The finished result is so pretty and Rocco was really chuffed to see it up on the wall when he had finished.

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6. PLAY DOUGH BUGS

The scented play dough that I made at Easter was such a hit and was still going strong, so I set up a little bug making invitation to play. The boys loved making all sorts of bugs, including worms, spiders, caterpillars and some of their very own designs. We love play dough activities, as so much learning goes on and yet the boys are having so much fun together!

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7. THREADING CATERPILLARS

This lovely little fine motor activity was so quick to set up, but the boys loved it! Threading cheerios onto their caterpillars and then sneakily eating them all off again. This activity encouraged fine motor development, hand eye coordination and lots of discussion and talk around length and quantity.

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Of course we have spent lots of time outside finding lots of real minibeasts – particularly worms, centipedes, milipedes, bees and wasps, but this is a list of invitations to play that will hopefully be helpful to others! What are your favourite minibeast activities?

COMING SOON –

We will be designing and building a Minibeast Hotel (Watch this space!)

I will also be publishing a full list of minibeast inspired activities, songs and books on this blog after a poll on my Instagram received a 100% positive feedback saying you would love to see my lists of theme related activities!

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