Normally our Halloween crafting doesn’t start for another couple of weeks yet, but when I was invited to check out the amazing range of yarn at our local Spotlight store on the weekend, I accidentally fell in love with this beautiful, orange, Moda Vera Roulotte 100% cotton yarn, and I had an itch to make a yarn-wrapped paper plate Jack-o-Lantern craft with it straight away. Ha!Continue readingYarn-Wrapped Paper Plate Jack-o-Lantern Craft for Halloween
I’m a big believer in fun and healthy food for kids. I just love being able to offer fun healthy snacks where I can, showcasing that ‘healthier’ food doesn’t have to equal ‘boring’ food. It makes me feel like I’m encouraging positive food habits, which will hopefully last a lifetime. Maybe I’m deluding myself… but it feels good being deluded in the right way sometimes. 🙂
I was asked recently by DAIRYLEA if I had any fun food MUMMY HACK ideas – ideas that help make a Mum’s life easier. “No, but I’d love to hear of some,” was my first thought. Haha!
But then, when I really thought about it, I realised that actually I do have a few “MUMMY HACKS” of my own that I could share. So here are my top four “MUMMY HACKS” for making fun and healthy food that kids will love. If you have any, I’d love to hear of them too!
But first, some background. Did you know there’s a new IKEA coming to town? IKEA is opening a brand new store in Sydney West’s Marsden Park on 28th May 2015. (And that’s not very far away people…)
IKEA want this new store to be the world’s first Customer Built IKEA store. It’s inviting fans and neighbours to come together and take on some quirky roles to help prepare for the grand opening. Ever wanted to be an IKEA Meatball Taster? What about a Ball Pit Tester? A Comfort Coordinator? Or an Ultimate IKEA Assembler? Now’s your chance! Go to the IKEA Australia Facebook page, and go to the Customer Built Store tab (just under the header) before 13th May 2015 to enter.
But here’s what I reckon is the really cool bit. IKEA is reserving two of these fun ‘Customer Built’ roles specifically for 10-16 year olds, and I think it could be a great way to ignite an interest in design or the environment, and possibly fuel a passion or future career. IKEA is looking for teens and tweens that would be perfect for either of these two roles:
IKEA Junior Sustainability Manager
Do you know any kids passionate about recycling, energy efficiency and waste reduction? If your kids care about our planet and want to look at ways to lead a more sustainable life at home, they might wish to apply to be an IKEA Junior Sustainability Manager for the day.
IKEA Junior Interior Designers
IKEA have long been known for distinctive, stylish and functional design, and they are keen to team up with tweenagers who share their passion. Is your child an expert at building the ultimate bedroom den? Do you know someone with a better-designed bedroom than his or her parents? If you know a youngster keen on interior design, then they may be interested in this opportunity.
To apply for these (or indeed for any of their other quirky roles), check out IKEA’s Facebook page, and click on the Customer Built Store tab before 13th May 2015 to enter.
The hand picked helpers will attend a fun-filled day at IKEA Marsden Park on Saturday 23rd May, helping the IKEA co-workers get it all ready. Each helper will be given a special reward for both them and their local community to say thank you for lending a hand. And of course you’re all invited to attend the grand opening on Thursday 28th May.
(This is a sponsored post for IKEA Marsden Park and Nuffnang.)
The kids had (and are still having) loads of fun with this Easter-themed sensory bin that I put together almost entirely with items you can find at The Reject Shop, who is the sponsor of this post today.
Have you been into The Reject Shop lately? They have all sorts of crafty knickknacks at great prices – just perfect for putting together an Easter sensory tub for kids (or a sensory tub to go with any theme really).
Almost all the items we used in our Easter sensory bin were bought from The Reject Shop, including:
plastic Easter eggs
small Easter-themed erasers (that handily fit inside the plastic Easter eggs)
mini fluffy chicks (that also fit inside the plastic eggs – my kids loved it when they ‘hatched’)
a fluffy ‘mummy’ hen who clucks
a plastic hen who clucks and lays eggs! The kids think it is hilarious! (Technically it comes with jellybean eggs, which I may have accidentally eaten, but FYI small gumnuts work just as well.)
a plush Easter Bunny, who is so soft and cuddly
bunches of artificial flowers (which I turned into individual stems by cutting the bottom of the bunches off with secateurs)
speckled egg decorations (that come with handy ties to hang the eggs up on the flowers)
adorable metal buckets in pink, blue and green and a yellow metal tub (from the gardening section)
even more adorable colourful mini ice cream scoops with handles that are small enough for little hands
an egg timer to add a playful maths element to their play
We also used a couple of our own items, just because we had them at home already. You can buy the same (or very similar) at The Reject Shop if you don’t already have these:
a standing mirror (because I’ve found mirrors are great for these sorts of activities)
an under-bed storage tub with nice low sides so the kids can reach in easily.
a plastic tablecloth to act as a spill mat – it makes it easier to sweep up any loose rice and pop back in
a little dustpan and broom, for said sweeping
And lastly we also used some old foam packaging (that I’d saved from the rubbish bin) to poke the flower stems into, and of course, the green rice that we made earlier in the week. (Doesn’t it look like grass!)
I set up our Easter Sensory Bin while JJ (4.5 years old) was at school and Bee (2.5 years old) was having a nap, so it was one of those rare moments where I was able to have everything just so.
The flowers added height and colour, and I (ahem, I mean the Easter Bunny) hid eggs underneath. Some of the eggs had Easter-themed erasers hiding inside, which added an element of surprise.
The kids soon discovered that you can use the plastic eggs in all sorts of ways. The little chicks can hide inside, and then hatch to join the rest of their family. You can scoop rice inside the plastic eggs, and turn them into little egg shakers. The little speckled eggs even fit inside them!
The kids scooped, poured and role-played for the rest of the afternoon, and then begged to play again the next day. Everything fits back into the plastic tub, so it’s easy to pack up and bring back out again.
I love that sensory play, like this Easter sensory bin (and our earlier ocean-themed sensory tub), encourages the kids to play calmly and collaboratively outdoors, in an area of our backyard that often misses out on the action. It even gave me a chance to hang the clothes on the line. 🙂
The Reject Shop has everything you need for Easter (have I even mentioned the aisles of chocolate??), and a huge range of crafty products at savvy prices. You don’t have to stick to the craft sections either – there’s lots of ‘real life toys’ that your kids will love to play with. (And if they are playing, they are learning – it’s just hidden under squeals of laughter.)
****The below giveaway has now ended. Congratulations to Cass who was the lucky winner (as announced here).***
I have a $100 Reject Shop gift card to giveaway to one of my readers. To enter, please answer the following question in the comments below:
What Easter presents would you purchase for your friends and family with a $100 Reject Shop voucher?
I have fond memories of playing with LEGO when I was a kid. My brother and I used to build lots of houses, most probably because we had some awesome roof tile pieces. (Mental note: must check my folks’ place to see if these are stashed somewhere…)
When I was a teenager, one of my first weekend jobs was as a LEGO lady at a local toy store in the lead up to Christmas. I had a small table set up with an opened LEGO DUPLO kit on it. I played all day with the kids (while their parents ducked off to find presents from Santa). Dream job!
Now that I have little kids of my own, I have the joy of watching them discover LEGO for themselves. That’s one of the coolest things about being a parent – witnessing your child discover something for the very first time. It’s like having a mirror held up where you get to see the emotions that you remember feeling yourself when you were a child.
Everyone bangs on about first smiles, first steps, first words – sure these are all awesome, but what about the other ones? The sparkle in her eye when your child first learns to skip. The laugh after sitting on her first whoopie cushion (or as JJ calls it, the “fart machine”). The first time she completes a jigsaw puzzle all on her own.
Or indeed the sense of accomplishment when she makes her first LEGO creation.
My kids have been playing with LEGO DUPLO (and loving it) for a few years now. They build rocket ships, practice counting and create patterns. They use the bricks to make imprints in playdough, as paint stampers and play with them in the bath.
But JJ’s now ready for her first go at the smaller sized LEGO bricks. She’s got fine motor skills to be able to put these little pieces together. She has the concentration span to be able to work on a project for a significant amount of time. And she has logic and comprehension skills to be able to follow a set of sequential visual instructions.
LEGO Juniors is a new range that is especially designed for kids making the transition from LEGO DUPLO. Each set has several small, fun and age-appropriate building tasks that kids should be able to do (perhaps with some guidance) all by themselves. Then by combining a few of these constructions together, they are able to create a little ‘scene’ – that they can then use for roleplaying.
It helps if kids can ‘read’ numbers 1-4. It also helps if they understand that 2x refers to quantity. But other than that, no actual reading skills are required. The instruction manual visually shows kids, step by step, what and how to build.
The bricks look the same as those in the more advanced sets, except that they’ve simplified some of the more complex pieces, so that young kids can enjoy building with a sense of confidence and accomplishment, without too much frustration.
I especially like how each LEGO Juniors set includes an additional instruction manual with another set of building tasks – that require kids to pull apart their original constructions in order to rebuild a new scene. It encourages kids to see building and rebuilding as part of the play, instead of as a one-off event.
I warn you though – if you give a LEGO Juniors set to your child, be prepared for them to play with nothing else for a few days afterwards.
We were gifted a LEGO Juniors The Princess Play Castle set, and we also have the LEGO Juniors Construction set. JJ loves them! She can put together all the building tasks by herself. My role as a parent is more of an encourager “What piece do you think we need next?” or “Where do you think that piece goes?“, and occasionally as a troubleshooter, “Let’s have a look at the instructions again” or “Maybe see if the piece you are looking for has fallen onto the floor“.
And of course, as with all LEGO sets, you don’t have to follow the set instructions. Kids can come up with their own creations, combine different sets, and roleplay their own scenarios.
When JJ finishes one of her creations, she proudly proclaims, “Look what I builded!” (LOL.)
Would you like to win a LEGO Juniors set? Well, good news! I have a LEGO Juniors The Princess Play Castle set to give away!!
To enter, all you need to do is tell me in the comments below:
“What ‘first’ are you witnessing in your child right now?”
And, good luck!!
(Sorry international readers, this competition is open to Australian residents only. One entry per person. Please include a valid email address. Ends Tuesday 18th November 2014 at 5pm (AEDST). The winner will be chosen based on the creativity of their answer. For full terms and conditions, please click here.)
*** Congratulations to AustMummyLisa, who was the lucky winner of this competition. This giveaway is now closed. ***
This is a sponsored post for Lego via Nuffnang. All opinions presented are my (or my kids’) own.
She can be sweet, defiant, innocent, mischievous, cute, challenging, independent, stubborn, inquisitive, bossy, confident, self-centred, curious, considerate, kind and adorable all in the span of a few minutes.
Most of all, she wants to feel like she has some control over aspects of her life. She has definite ideas about what she wants, and what she doesn’t, and is testing boundaries. Couple this with a two year old’s immature emotional control and you have the propensity for delight to turn despair in seconds, microseconds even.
I know that, with respect and patience, in a few months time we’ll come out of this tricky period with our strong mother-daughter bond intact. In the meantime, I’m doing my best to choose my battles, make age appropriate compromises, and take a few deep breaths every now and again. Some things are of course non-negotiable but here are 8 battles that I’m letting Bee win for now.
Bed hair. Some days she let’s me brush it, but some days she doesn’t. So be it.
Shoes are optional. Except for situations where there may be glass. It’s better for her growing feet anyway. And she’s much easier to reason with when she actually feels that the pavement is hot, or the grass has bindies, or that gumnuts hurt the soles of little feet.
Breaking the fashion rules. Yup, she can wear polka dot leggings with that floral top and this stripy beret. Wings too? Why not! The more clashing the outfit, the more sweet comments we get from passer-bys about how adorable she looks. 🙂
Nappies for the vertically inclined. Getting Bee to lie down for a nappy change is sometimes nigh on impossible. Switching to BabyLove nappy pants means I can follow her around the house during her after-the-bath-nudie-run, and ask her to step into her nappy instead of submissively lying down. The stretchy sides make them easy to slip on. A few extra cents per nappy is well worth the price for a happy end-of-day routine.
The blue cup. If I serve milk in a yellow cup and Bee actually wanted it in the blue one, then washing up an extra cup is less effort than trying to reason with her about why I don’t want to wash up the extra said cup. Yes, catering to her fickle demands all day long is emotionally exhausting, but on the bright side she are learning to identify colours.
Eliminating the dinner-time battle. I want mealtimes to be pleasant social experiences. Providing lots of yummy healthy choices throughout the day takes the pressure off dinner time. As long as Bee tries (which for us means to have a small lick) of everything on her plate, I don’t mind how much she actually eats.
Big emotions. It’s OK for toddlers to be angry sometimes. Or sad sometimes. Or jealous sometimes. Distracting or trying to cheer Bee up just makes matters worse, as she feels misunderstood. So instead we’re working on identifying, naming, talking about and having a suitable outlet or strategy for these emotions. It’s great for her emotional intelligence, and it makes for less tantrums. Speaking of which…
Chuck a tantrum. They do sometimes happen, and once we’ve gotten to the point of no return, trying to stop one actually makes it worse. So yes I give my toddler permission to have a tantie in the middle of the shopping centre aisle if she needs to, with affirming words such as “Let me help you down so you don’t hit your head. I can see you’re feeling very upset. Take your time, I’m not rushing you. Let me know if you need a cuddle because sometimes a cuddle helps.”
Do you have a nudie run loving toddler too? Maybe some nappy pants might help? Guess what, I have some to giveaway! But before we get on to that, let me tell you what happened last night…
After their bath, the girls madly dashed into Bee’s room and closed the door. I heard a few giggles, so I thought I would let them be. Then, about a minute later, Bee emerged with her BabyLove nappy pants already on! JJ had managed to put them on for her. So if a four year old can put them on a squirmy two year old, then you know they must be easy to pull up. 🙂
Actually Bee has become quite fond of her BabyLove nappy pants of late. She likes the little Baby Bud cartoon character that is on the front of them. (There’s a little video of his birth story here, in case you want to check it out…)
Would you like to try some too? BabyLove have offered to give away two months’ supply of BabyLove Nappy Pants and BabyLove Wipes (worth over $250!) to one lucky Danya Banya reader. To enter, all you need to do is answer the following question in the comments below. Good luck!
“Tell us about the funny moments you face with an overly zealous toddler struggling to get away during nappy change times?”
(Competition open to Australian residents only. Please include a valid email address. Ends Monday 3rd November 2014, at 5pm (AEDST). The winner will be chosen based on the creativity of their answer. For full terms and conditions, click here.)
***Congratulations to Amy who won this competition! This giveaway is now closed.***
[EDIT: A year and a bit on, I’m rereading this post and marvelling that most of these challenges have sorted themselves out. It’s reaffirmed, for me, that time old parenting phrase, “This too, shall pass.” We have new challenges now. I think I’ll once again choose which ones are worth tackling head on, and which ones can go through to the keeper, for now at least.]
For more gentle parenting, you might also like these posts below (click on the photo to go to the full post). Or pop over to my parenting page to see more.
This is a sponsored post for BabyLove, however the opinions presented are my (or my kids’) own. BabyLove Nappy Pants are available in major retailers, pharmacies and specialty baby stores in Toddler (9-14kg), Walker (12-18kg) and Junior (15-25kg) sizes. RRP: $16.99 for Bulk pack and $29.99 for Jumbo packs.
Brought to you by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
Have you ever watched Gaspard and Lisa? JJ first watched it when she was transitioning from a toddler to a preschooler, and she still enjoys watching it today.
From a parents point of view, I love that the story is set in France, exposing JJ to glimpses of French culture. I love that Gaspard and Lisa both model consideration, manners, respect, creativity, resourcefulness, determination, and most of all, playfulness. I love that the story is of friendship between a boy and a girl, and that their gender difference doesn’t alter their relationship. And I also love Georg Hallensleben’s beautiful illustrations.
When ABC asked if we would like to receive some Gaspard and Lisa products to try, we were so excited!
So excited in fact, that we decided to make some Gaspard and Lisa puppets of our own while we waited for the parcel to arrive. And guess what we used to paint Lisa? Liquid paper! (Or white out, correction fluid, etc). Does anyone use that stuff legitimately any more? Seriously, I found a ton in the long-forgotten stationery drawers of Mr Banya’s computer desk. We’re fairly paperless these days, so I thought we could help him move some of that old stock…
I started out by sketching Gaspard and Lisa onto some recycled thick corrugated cardboard.
JJ really loved using the new liquid paper ‘paint’. She loved the feeling of dip dip dipping the brush into the bottle, and kept closing it to give it a little shake. I noticed that the tiny brush made her very deliberate with her brush strokes and she took a long time making sure to paint right to the edges, which is great fine motor skill practise.
She kept saying things like “sorry Mum, I can’t talk right now, I’m concentrating”. You can tell how hard she was working, because she started out painting whilst standing, then whilst kneeling up on the table, then lying down, then sitting up on the table again! Goodness preschoolers can jiggle while they work. 🙂
We reverted back to normal paint and brush for Gaspard, and I noticed immediately that the attention to detail decreased with the increased brush size again. (I think that we’ll be doing some more fine motor liquid paper painting soon as the difference was quite dramatic…)
When Gaspard’s fur was mostly all black, JJ’s attention was diverted by the call of the trampoline, and so I finished off painting Gaspard & Lisa’s eyes, nose, scarves etc. (This was a bit of a blessing as Gaspard’s eye in particular is quite tricky).
There were lots of spots on Lisa’s nose and scarf where the liquid paper had ‘strayed’, but these were easy to cover up with the black and red paint. You can still see my initial sketch under some parts, which adds a bit of definition. I adore the mottled effect that JJ achieved with the liquid paper. Textural!
Once they were dry, I cut them out and stuck some matching red and blue chopsticks on the back with masking tape. And then the next day….
…we discovered that some furry friends had arrived! Our Gaspard and Lisa puppets really enjoyed meeting the ‘real’ Gaspard and Lisa toys, and they quickly became one big happy family.
We were also sent this super cute summer dress – that JJ has worn every day since. (She even sneaks it on after her bath and I have to pry it off her at bedtime).
Another favourite product is this adorable double jigsaw puzzle each with a classic French scene. I love the Eiffel Tower shaped box – it stands easily, and I can see it becoming a roleplaying prop whenever we pretend to be in Paris…
JJ loves puzzles, which is fantastic as they are such a brain workout. Jigsaw puzzles work on fine motor skills, problem solving, spatial awareness and persistence, just to name a few. These particular puzzles are quite tricky, just the challenge that she needs. Right now, I need to sit with her and help her out with a few gentle prompts, such as “I think we might need a piece that has a green line through this part, can you see one like that?”. As she becomes more familiar with the scenes, she’ll soon be doing them on her own.
We received a few other Gaspard and Lisa products, including a ‘best friends forever!’ DVD, red t-shirt, striped cotton backpack and two greeting cards, all in keeping with the Gaspard and Lisa classic style. JJ hasn’t had a chance to play with these just yet, but I’ll put them aside for a rainy day.
This month, ABC Shops will stock an exclusive range of Gaspard and Lisa products. The great new range of specially designed toys, puzzles, clothing, accessories and the “Best Friends Forever!” DVD are now available, only at ABC Shops. For more information visit: https://shop.abc.net.au/t/brands/gaspard-and-lisa.
Oh and I almost forgot that I have a little announcement to make! I’m pleased to advise that Rachel is the lucky winner of the recent The Very Busy Spider competition with her comment
“Our favourite Eric Carle book is Little Cloud. We love trying to find shapes in the clouds because of that story! We would love the Girl’s Pink Stripe Pyjamas (size 2-3) and the Albert Skinny Pyjamas (size 4-5).”
Congratulations Rachel, I hope your kids enjoy their new Hickory Hill pyjamas. 🙂
(This is a sponsored post for ABC. I was not paid to write this post, however I received the above products to trial, review and keep. With the exception of the boxed promotional paragraph above, all opinions are my own unless stated otherwise.)
Day and night spider web craft idea to go along Eric Carle’s book The Very Busy Spider, plus a chance to win two pairs of Hickory Hill pyjamas!
Bee and I read The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle at bedtime the other night, and I brought it downstairs to add it to our “downstairs books” rotation (sophisticated system we have here…) This morning I caught JJ and Bee reading it together.
I adore their love of books! Bee is getting to the age where she is understanding the plot of stories more and more. The simple repetitive storyline of this book makes it easy for JJ to ‘read’ the story from the pictures as well.
Since it happened to be a wet miserable Sunday morning, I thought we might be able to do some craft inside while Mr Banya had a sleep in.
“Would you like to make a spider web girls? Maybe we could use some aluminium foil to make one? Let’s give it a try and see if it works…”
I cut strips of aluminium foil and scrunched along the strips until we had scrunched up silvery strands. A couple of twists made it possible to attach two strands together. After I’d done a couple of strands, JJ decided it was her turn. Bee just tinkered with the aluminium foil, exploring this new material in her own way.
When our silver web was declared ‘finished’, we sat down to read the book again. We sorted through out animal collection, pulling out the cow, the horse, the cockerel and various other animals that matched those in the book. Bee is getting very good at making the animal sounds. She can neigh, moo and cock-a-doodle-doo like a pro.
We ‘noticed’ this time that the spider went about making her web in a very specific fashion. First she made a basic frame and spokes (which I’ve since found out are called radials), and then she adds the spiral bringing the whole structure together. I asked JJ if she wanted to try making a web in this way too.
JJ found it quite challenging twisting the pipecleaners, but with persistence she started to get the hang of it. She helped me work on the frame and radials, and started on the spiral before getting distracted by what Bee was making with the spare pipecleaners and aluminium foil. I continued on with making the rest of the spiral (this part was a bit fiddly for four year old fingers anyway), while JJ and Bee made their own headset and microphone props, roleplaying some sort of radio tranmission. Very cute.
“Reggit, Reggit. Can you hear me? Reggit, Reggit. Over and Out.”
After a while, JJ’s attention returned to the spider web structure that was gradually evolving in my hands.
“Can I touch it? Can I help?”
As the spiral grew, the web become an amazingly strong structure – spiders know what they are doing! We decided to also make some fence posts and spiders to go along with the webs. Brown paint on white paper created the day time scene, and the same paint on dark grey construction paper for the night time scene. I hot glued the edges of each webs to their respective fence, leaving the middle of the web unglued so it can ‘hang’ in the air like a real web would. (You could cut the paper inside the fence posts to extend this effect as well if you wished.)
To make the spiders, we gathered some black rocks from our backyard and painted them red and green. (I’m not sure why JJ is wearing Bee’s raincoat and hat here, but that sort of randomness is fairly common at our place, so I’m not at all surprised either…)
I cut some pipe cleaners in half, and glued four halves to the bottom of the rock so that each end stuck out to make eight legs. I folded the nighttime spider’s legs underneath, to be similar to how she appears in the book. And at JJ’s insistence request, I hot glued on googly eyes for the daytime spider so that she could see.
And that was how we spent our rainy Sunday morning!
And to thank you for reading all the way to the bottom, I have a little give-away for you! Did you notice the pyjamas that the girls are wearing above? They’re from Hickory Hill, who have kindly offered to give-away two pairs of pyjamas to one lucky (Aussie) reader. (So sorry international readers, this give-away is for Australian residents only).
For your chance to win, all you have to do is:
a) tell me (in the comments below) which Eric Carle book is your favourite, and why?
b) include in your comment which two pairs of kids PJs you’d choose if you won. (You can choose multiples of the same style, or two different styles – whichever you prefer).
Competition Terms & Conditions 1. One entry per person. 2. Giveaway open to Australian residents only. 3. Please include a link to your profile or supply a valid email address. Entries can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. No valid email = no entry. I need to have a way of contacting you to tell you if you’ve won! Don’t worry, I won’t spam you. 4. Closing date for entries is Monday 30th June 2014. 5. The prize is two pairs of Hickory Hill kids pyjamas of the winners choice. Total prize valued at up to AU$79.90. 6. The competition is a game of skill and the response Mr Banya deems most interesting or unusual wins. His decision is final. 7. The winners will be published on www.danyabanya.com and notified by email and will have one week to reply. If no response is received, the prize will automatically be forfeit and a new winner chosen. 8. Prizes will be distributed by Hickory Hill. Danya Banya takes no responsibility for loss or damage of the items. 9. Good luck!
(Commercial disclosure: We were provided with the promoted two pairs of pyjamas to keep as well as a small administration fee. All views are, as always, my own.)
Edit: This competition has now closed. The lucky winner was announced here. Thank you to everyone who entered.