Bug Hotel

Welcome to Rainbow Towers! Our bug hotel was an amazon find, the basic wooden box arrived flat pack and had to be glued together which didn’t take too long at all. Then is was just a case of doing a little bit of interior design. I set up a nature tuff tray and we set to work.

The straw, pine cones and bamboo sticks all got the rainbow treatment before being wedges firmly in to the bug hotel and we nestled it in one of the borders of the garden amongst some leaves.

Arlo is absolutely obsessed with bugs and mini beasts after our mini beast scavenger hunt activities and has been delighted to check the hotel and find little creepy crawlies have already taken up residence behind the bamboo straws.

I’ll come back and update with pictures when I dare to get closer!

Nature printing Tuff Tray

After the success of our previous nature themed tuff tray I decided to set this one up again.

Last time I covered the whole tray in brown paper but we didn’t end up using it to full effect, but I’m glad I provided some sheets of craft paper alongside paints squeezed in to paper plates and some bamboo sticks, pine cones and straw.

As you can imagine, on a warm and sunny day Arlo didn’t take too long to get stuck in – feet first! We sat around this tray exploring all the different materials – using the bamboo straws as stamps on the craft paper actually worked out even better than expected, we have some lovely prints on our craft paper which I have saved for a rainy day.

The paint on the bamboo sticks also became a happy accident and we decided to give our bug hotel the rainbow treatment!

So I set to work painting the cones, we all enjoyed painting in rainbow colours too. This is actually quite a good activity for little ones, Arlo had to concentrate and really work the brush and paint in between the spaces for full coverage.

Check out our finished bug hotel here

Nature painting tuff tray

A really simple painting invitation to play.

You will need:

  • Paper plates
  • Brushes
  • Paint
  • Collected materials – pinecones and leaves etc.

We have been collecting all sorts of random bits and bobs on our nature walks, from pebbles, to pinecones and leaves because Arlo takes his scavenger hunting very seriously.

So finally putting all of the bits and bobs to good use I covered Arlo’s tuff tray in brown paper (it’s bright blue and I wanted a neutral canvas) and I then gave him a box with all the materials he needed.

I helped him squeeze out all the colours on to paper plates

Mum tip: I always split the paint colours up like this to help avoid the almost inevitable brown splodge effect when complimentary colours get mixed up.

Then Arlo dived right in with a brush and a pinecone. Painting pine cones is actually really hard work as you have to get the brush in to all the little books and crannies. So this kept him busy for quite some time.

We also moved on to painting other found materials – these giant leaves made a beautiful canvas and we all got involved, sitting around the tray and painting with all of our colours.

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon in the garden!

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.

Plants and flower hunt

Another scavenger hunt activity inspired by the success of our recent Mini Beast hunt and chase the rainbow treasure collecting activities.

We used the Twinkl Plants and Flowers Hunt sheet.

I printed this one twice and condensed it down to one page of A4.

This worksheet is fabulous as it has all sorts of really common flowers that you can find on a walk outdoors – especially now that spring is in full bloom.

I laminated one worksheet whole and the second I cut in to small cards before laminating. My intention was that this would give us an indoor matching activity worksheet we can use on rainy days.

I put Arlo an egg box for collecting in his little backpack and he set off on his little mission. He’s used to the scavenger hunt style task now and always ready for the challenge – daily exercise is the highlight of our day.

The little cards came in really handy when discussing our small bunch of collected plants – I laid the real flowers down and then we used the small flash cards to match – I hadn’t planned this but it’s another child led learning and discussion opportunity.

The only draw back with this is that you might not be able to find and tick off all of the flowers on the list which can be tough to explain to little ones. None the less, it’s a great activity and works well alongside all of the gardening activities we have been doing at home.

Chase the rainbow Scavenger hunt

This is another super simple scavenger hunt, printed from the amazing Twinkle

Arlo really enjoyed hunting for bugs the first time we tried this on our daily exercise. I don’t have many bugs indoors but our home is full of random little objects so I needed a new idea.

Scavenger hunts help develop observational skills and build problem solving skills too. Along side looking for objects this is helping reinforce his knowledge of colours.

This time I laminated the colours work sheet to tick off and then I also created a treasure box – using an old egg carton – dabbing the colours in to the compartments so that any found objects could be saved and then discussed.

We have used this at home with random bits and bobs including buttons and Lego pieces, and also in the garden with flower petals which then inspired another variation to this simple idea.

Arlo always says that his favourite colour is “rainbows” and so we are going to use our daily exercise to chase rainbows and our task is to find something in every colour to bring home.

Mini Beast Scavenger Hunt

You will need:

  • A list of things to find

It’s as simple as that really. I used another twinkl printable resource but you could easily create your own list without a printer.

I laminated our list so we can use it with a dry wipe pen during our daily exercise walks but we practised first at home – Arlo went hunting for all his little toy creepy crawlers to match the pictures.

He is always ready to take his clipboard out on his daily exercise – let’s just hope that he doesn’t want to bring all his bugs back home!

I’m going to create more of these to use around the house with different themes – starting with colours – “find me something blue” and then shapes “find me something in the shape of a square”

Planting seeds

We have been spending a huge amount of time in the garden. Grandad is obsessed with his lawn and has lots of random bits and bobs lying around, and naturally Arlo likes to follow him as he potters around.

To include Arlo we bought a children’s gardening set from amazon but this isn’t essential.

You will need:

  • Seeds
  • Compost
  • Pots (recycled yoghurt pots are great)
  • labels

All of these things are available to order online from Wilko and also in most large supermarkets too.

Seed packets come with instructions as to how they need to be planted. And there’s a lot of preparation which goes into this which can keep toddlers very busy.

We like to add gravel / stones to the bottom of plant pots and then add compost as it helps with drainage.

Filling up the pots with compost is hard work for little ones and it’s great to get hands dirty and scoop/dig etc.

When it comes to planting, it’s simple enough to poke a finger or a lollipop stick into the soil, pop a seed in and then cover it back up again.

Of course at two years old Arlo can’t yet write, but he wanted to imitate us as we labelled all of the different seed trays and so he was content to sit in the garden on a Sunday afternoon and again dish out orders whilst we all did the dirty work.

Sometimes activities don’t go to plan, but I have found it’s good to follow the lead and turn something they are interested in, into an activity rather than take the pens away and cause a tantrum which is no fun for anyone when there’s nowhere to escape!

After planting the seeds a couple of weeks ago, Arlo now knows it’s his job to take care of them all. It’s become part of his routine to water the plants and check up on them all. Which takes him quite a while every day.

Mum Tip – if you have never done this before then start with cress, you get quick results which helps develop interest.