Experimental Rainbows

I decided to try out a little science experiment with Arlo after seeing the idea float around Pinterest and this captured his attention for an hour – a parenting win!

You will need:

  • Food colouring
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Vinegar
  • Baking tray
  • Pipettes

To prepare all you need to do is add a few drops of colouring to each section of the baking tray and then cover with powder. I provided three pipettes with vinegar in a little bowl and only had to demonstrate what to do once.

First of all Arlo was happy to see the bubbles begin to emerge as soon as the vinegar touched the baking soda. I wasn’t quite sure how much I would need so used rather a lot and the colours didn’t appear at first.

As soon as the colours began to emerge Arlo’s interest peaked and this offered a new aspect to the activity – Arlo was using two pipettes at a time to make bigger explosions and find more colours.

It didn’t take too long for Arlo to figure out that the colours could be mixed and this bought us even more time to play with this tray of magic!

I consider this activity as a success HOWEVER … next time we will be doing this outdoors because the smell was extremely overpowering but we need more vinegar to make bigger bubbles! I’ve also heard that adding washing up liquid might create a better effect so we’ll be trying this out too!

John Adams Play Stuff Review

I was given products free of charge to review on Instagram.

It’s been a challenge trying to get hold of flour to make my own dough during this lockdown – and to be honest once I’ve added in food colouring and other ingredients it all adds up, which is why I was delighted when I was asked to review some “play stuff” which is currently available to order from Amazon.

I love using this kind of toy with Arlo, I think it’s really great to develop manual dexterity and enhance those all important fine motor skills.

We received two sets in the post, each of which comes in really unusual packaging. The box has a small yellow clip which once released drops down the two sides to make a little play surface.

Both kits were designed in the same way, with hidden images within the bright illustrations. The Pizza and pasta set had lots of little peas to find and the picnic set had lots of creepy crawlies.

This helped inspire play – we opened up the picnic set first. The dough and tools are neatly stored away in the middle section. I was pleasantly surprised with how bright each colour was and also with the scent of the dough as it wasn’t over-powering at all.

Both kits contained the same five colours but had their own unique tools and moulds relevant to the theme of the play mat – having the illustrations and themes helped us be more exciting than usual – I’ve never made cheese and salad from dough before!

We spent a while playing with both sets and the texture of the dough itself was firm but extremely malleable. We found that if small pieces touched it was easy to separate the colours, but also when working together some blue and red we were able to make a lovely purple.

Arlo got stuck in and was sitting on a handmade crochet blanket but there was no residue left behind or any colour transfer of the products to his clothing. We played for over an hour and the dough didn’t dry out or change in texture. We really enjoyed these sets.

Arlo was also very happy to help put all the stuff back – choosing the right coloured lids for the dough and then popping them all back in the centre storage space before closing up the sides. I helped him snap the clip back on and he made sure to pick up the set and run to put it away too.

Sugar Cookie Solar System

After commencing our salt dough solar system project Arlo seemed disappointed that the planets were not edible and so whilst waiting for our paint to dry we set about making a batch of sugar cookies. This is an extremely simple recipe and one which can be adapted with all sorts.

You will need:

150g plain flour

100g butter

50g caster sugar

A few drops of vanilla essence to taste

(You can add chocolate chips, nuts, berries, fudge pieces – pretty much anything you want to this basic dough!)

This is a baking project which Arlo also very much likes to participate and I created a short tiktok video as we went along.

Simply combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and then bake at a medium heat for approx 12 mins – this can vary based on the size and thickness of shapes you cut out.

If you do not have cookie cutters then use things you have in the kitchen – a tumbler makes perfect circles and a pizza cutter is always great fun.

Whilst these are in the oven get your decorations prepped. Follow the instructions on the icing sugar box to mix it up, use squeezey tubes – melted chocolate is always nice too.

Mum tip: use an ice cube tray to put a small selection of sprinkles out. I give Arlo a few cookies on a baking tray with a bowl of icing and then leave him to it…. if I gave him the whole lot there would be none left!

By the time out cookies were finished, the paint on our salt dough solar system was set too and we had two versions of our solar system.

Salt Dough Solar System

Go big or go home is how the saying goes…. so when I decided to whip up some salt dough for Arlo we had to make the entire solar system.

It’s not quite as challenging or daunting as you might imagine – all the pieces are circular shaped! We love salt dough and to make sure our pieces get to have a decent display time the easiest thing to do is poke holes in them to turn them in to mobiles – choose a theme which suits the cutters you already have!

For the dough you will need:

2 cups plain flour

1 cup salt

1/2 cup of room temp water

A straw

Tissue paper or grease proof paper

Then to decorate :

Paints

Glitter

Plus various bits of string and ribbon to hang.

So all you do is combine the ingredients in a bowl – this bit is half the fun so you can let the kids join in and get as messy and involved as you like. I made a tik tok video which explains the entire process

Mum tip: once your dough is ready leave it to rest for at least half an hour in the fridge. I don’t know why this works but it does.

I chose to microwave our pieces because I’m impatient. If you do this use kitchen roll and switch it out every so often. For a smoother finish if you’re making ornaments etc then you will need to bake low and slow, on grease proof paper – for our planets I didn’t mind the odd lump and bump. Make sure you poke holes before baking!!

Once they’re thoroughly dry they are ready to paint and decorate. I left ours overnight and set Arlo up with all his materials first thing in the morning. He was convinced that we were baking biscuits so was slightly disappointed he couldn’t eat them, and this led to us also baking the entire solar system.

We used poster paints, and then PVA glue with glitter, and left everything to dry for quite a while.

You can’t be too ambitious with salt dough – it can be quite fickle and delicate as it dries heavy – we made our sun – the biggest thing in our solar system from painted paper plates.

We went out for a walk on our daily exercise and made sure to find a big branch to hang our planets from. I strung the whole thing up using fishing wire which is transparent whilst Arlo napped. My mom pulled out a solar system poster and some fairy lights and we took down all of our Easter crafts from the notice board to start fresh with our new space theme.

I used some garden twine to create a loop which meant the whole thing could be hung from the underneath of our shelving…. the fairy lights were added after this for Arlo’s big switch on.

Floral Sun Catchers

We are still playing with collected flowers from our daily exercise (and also from the garden). Arlo loves the colours and the smell and is starting to recognise specific flowers and learn their names.

For this activity you will need:

  • Laminator
  • Laminated flowers
  • Scissors
  • Collected flowers
  • Hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Circular template

We collected flowers for this in our own garden one evening – grandad has a huge variety of pansies in full bloom.

Arlo chose the colours carefully using his scavenger hunt egg box and I let him hold the scissors to get a clean cut on the stems.

We sat down to look at all the flowers we had collected and I demonstrated to Arlo the activity with one run through and he immediately understood and began to place flowers on the laminating sheet.

Then it’s simple enough to load a laminating sheet – take care to not overload the machine thickness wise and to leave plenty of space to trim.

We used a tin lid as a circular template. Next time we try this out I will have more variety of shapes to hand to add in another aspect of learning.

I trimmed the shapes carefully – Arlo is a bit too little to follow the exact shape carefully but he did have fun trying. Older children can take responsibility for this aspect of the craft.

Then it came to hole punching and for some reason this is Arlo’s favourite thing to do – I think he thinks it’s some sort of big robot.

We raided the ribbon jar together to find some scraps of thread and coloured ribbon for a bow before gifting these to nanny and grandad for immediate display in the garden.

I love the way these are perfectly imperfect – the colours catch the light beautifully and brighten up a little corner of our garden – but they would look beautiful in any space.

Frozen flowers

During our flower themed scavenger hunt we collected some beautiful flowers, and so we have been putting them to good use.

For this activity you will need:

  • Small collection of flowers
  • Ice cube tray
  • Tupperware container
  • Calpol syringe
  • Paint brush
  • Tooth brush
  • Cup of warm water

All you need to do is place a flower or two in each compartment with water and freeze overnight. Carefully wash all of your flowers first to make sure you don’t have any hidden creepy crawlies.

I set this up at the breakfast table so that I could get five minutes peace but it kept Arlo occupied for quite a while. He enjoyed dipping the calpol syringe in the warm water and squirting it all over the place.

He also had some other tools to hand which he tried to used to tease the flowers out of the ice, great for problem solving and dexterity.

Such a simple little idea and very minimal effort to prep. We will definitely be doing this one again on a bigger scale when I have more freezer space.

Mum tip: use a variety of different coloured flowers to also reinforce learning about colours and talk about the differences between the flowers – big/little opposites etc.

FireMan Tuff Tray

This is the most simple idea which I have seen doing the rounds lately….. and requires minimal set up compared to our recent tuff tray set ups like our car wash, construction and dinosaur swamp so worth trying out:

You will need:

  • Water based paint
  • Paint brush
  • Tuff tray
  • Hose pipe
  • Water spray
  • Fire characters

So here’s a time lapse of me creating the set up – I literally squeezed paint straight from the bottles on to the tray and then spread it around with a brush – it didn’t take too much artistic ability to get a flame.

Then I propped the tray up vertically and also balanced some little characters on the top of the tray for target practice.

Then that’s it…. I let Arlo loose with the hose pipe and he knew immediately what to do.

It didn’t take long for him to put out the fire once he figured out how to control the hose pipe, he also reached for his squidgy bottle to complete the job – great for his dexterity and building muscles in the hands.

He then used the stream of water from the hose pipe to blast the characters off the top – it took him a while to get his aim but once he figured it out this was highly amusing for him.

Mom Tip: wait for the paint to dry before starting to make this last a little while longer

If you don’t have a tuff tray then try this out by using chalk, water based paints or anything that you can think of that will wash off on a fence, wall or pavement.

Tuff Tray – Car Wash

This article features a product I was given free of charge in exchange for social media content. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

I put all Arlo’s favourite toys in to slime last week and we ended up having to set up a washing activity because he wasn’t too impressed with all of his dinosaurs getting the Tuff Tray experience.

I decided to combine the need to clean his favourite paw patrol cars with a play activity and this was the result.

You will need:

  • Silly string
  • Washing up bowl
  • Fairy liquid
  • Sponge
  • Flannel
  • Nail brush
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Foaming Play soap
  • (The purple foaming play soap pictured was given to us by Kids Stuff Crazy).
  • Along side the tuff tray I set up one of Arlo’s toot toot sets and so the task I set him was to clean all the toys so that they could go to play in the garage….. and he had great fun dunking all the toys in water.

    He quickly discovered the spray bottle. These are available in most supermarkets and places like Wilko in the gardening section, and we often use these in play activities. Pressing the nozzle helps develop finger strength and requires some co-ordination.

    This was a particularly successful activity and kept Arlo occupied in the garden for a long time. Using his paw patrol toys sparked some imaginary play as he was essentially on a little mission of his own and quite happy to play independently.

    The best bit is that after all of this is that we had a sparkly clean set of paw patrol toys and the clean up was super swift – We rinsed all of the materials in the washing up bowl and then Arlo put the hosepipe on the Tray before we stashed it away for the next play activity.

    Mum tip: check all the cars you’re using and make sure they aren’t battery powered because they all ended up submerged in water!

    Glueing and sticking

    You will need:

    • Tissue paper
    • Safety scissors
    • PVA glue
    • Printable colouring sheets (from twinkl)
    • Glue spreaders
    (Our plastic bowls and plates are from Ikea, all other items available in home bargains)

    First of all – a huge thank you to Twinkl because they have provided free access to a wealth of resources for parents.

    For this activity Arlo was around when I was setting up and so of course he wanted to join in with the cutting of the tissue paper. I’m quite happy to let him get on with this because he is very careful and it helps develop manual dexterity.

    We spoke about the colours and shapes he was cutting and then he chose his egg from a selection I had printed.

    He was more than happy to continue with his cutting rather than do any actual sticking himself. He simply sat and gave me orders about which colours I could use and where exactly to stick them.

    You can scrunch your little pieces to get more of a 3D effect.

    This was intended to be an Easter themed activity however Arlo was very insistent that these were in fact dinosaur eggs. This activity can be done with any simple colouring sheets. I’ve saved up our tissue scraps and other materials – foil wrappers are excellent for space, fish and robot themes.

    The finished results were proudly pinned to our notice board which is becoming a bit of an art gallery.

    Mum tip – print on to A4 card rather than paper for sticking activities to avoid getting in a crumpled mess.