art materials no text

April 11, 2014
by Kylie Gardner
1 Comment

Family Holiday Planning: Toys, Games and Gear to Pack for Kids

Sponsored by Energizer

Family Holiday Planning: Toys, Games and Gear to Pack for Kids

It’s almost school holidays! The count down is officially on because WE’RE GOING ON A HOLIDAY! We’re staying at a lovely big beach house with my extended family. There will be plenty of cousins for Pebble and Rocky to play with (and lots of adults to help with all those kids!). There’s a nice deck out the back of the house and a large living area, plenty of space for playing and hanging out.

The weather is quite a bit cooler down south where we’re staying. This means that we’ll need some back up plans for when we’ve had enough of sand blowing in our faces on the beach. Here are some of the essentials that we’ll be packing for the kids, aged from five months to nine years old.

Family Holiday Planning: Toys, Games and Gear to Pack for Kids

Simple Art materials

I can just imagine the kids sprawled out on the deck with paper, watercolours, textas, pencils and stamps, creating memories from their beach house stay. Pebble and her cousins often enjoy creative time with Nana-ette when we visit and I’m sure this beach holiday will be no exception.

Family Holiday Planning: Toys, Games and Gear to Pack for Kids

Night lights

Pebble’s had a portable night light since birth and just won’t go to sleep without it. It’s kind of a pain to have to lug it around with us when we stay away, but at the same time it’s a lovely bit of familiar comfort for her – and easily replaceable if she loses it as they still sell them in the shops!

Can’t-Leave-Home-Without Toys

Pebble’s favourites lately are her dolls of all kinds. She plays with them in the garden, in the bath, at the kitchen sink, in her book nook. Everywhere! Her imagination takes them on lots of adventures. For Rocky we’ll be taking along his big box of cars – his current favourite is this light up, musical number that he got for his birthday (thanks Aunty Cass!). He keeps it close most of the day, carrying it, pulling it or pushing it with him. Cuteness!

Family Holiday Planning: Toys, Games and Gear to Pack for Kids


We’re planning a night time excursion to a penguin colony, which the kids are going to be so excited about. They’ll each need their own torch to light the way. I remember doing this when I was a kid, it was such an awesome experience.

Movies, Leap Pads and iPads

We’ll definitely be bringing along a few favourite DVDs for lazy afternoons spent on the couch. Pebble’s favourites at the moment are Tangled, The Croods and Despicable Me. Rocky is a huge fan of Ben and Holly and Peppa Pig, so those will be in the suitcase for sure. All the families have either Leap Pads or iPads and they’ll be put to good use when the time is right.


Because that light up car won’t run itself! Energizer sent me some Energizer Max batteries to get us through the holidays and way, way, way beyond. Did you know they hold power for up to 10 years. YEARS! And they will protect our toys and devices against leakage. I’ll only use quality batteries in our toys and other gear, it’s not worth it to have that night light breaking down on us or penguin spotting in the dark with a dead torch.

Family Holiday Planning: Toys, Games and Gear to Pack for Kids


We’ll pack balls of all shapes and size. All the kids love throwing, catching, rolling, chasing, bouncing and kicking balls. And second to cars, balls are Rocky’s very favourite thing in the world.

Buckets and Spades

Classic beach toys, you can’t go wrong. It doesn’t need to be summer time to enjoy a good sandcastle making session or some beach combing.

Our imaginations!

There’s nothing quite like seeing kids deeply engrossed in pretend play. This mix of kids will come up with some hilarious and memorable play scenarios, I’m sure.

What are your can’t-leave-home-without toys? 

Playing with Measurement {via Octavia and Vicky}

April 7, 2014
by Kylie Gardner
1 Comment

Three ways to play and learn with measurement

Playing with Measurement {via Octavia and Vicky}

Children love to measure things in their world. Pebble has often helped us with measuring furniture for a space in our house, or measuring ingredients for cooking. She also naturally measures objects in her play, choosing longer and shorter blocks for building, filling and pouring different sized cups of water in the bath or choosing which piece of furniture to put where in her doll house. 

Giving children the chance to play with measurement helps them learn how to compare objects and use words such as ‘tall’, ‘taller’, ‘heavy’, ‘heavier’, ‘full’, ‘empty’.

1. Block play

You will need:

  • blocks of different sizes

How to play

  • Build with the blocks.
  • Talk about the similarities and differences – colour, size, shape.
  • Hunt for blocks that are short and blocks that are tall.
  • Choose five blocks and put them in order from tallest to shortest.

Before starting this activity it’s important that your child knows what “long” and “short’ mean and how to compare two objects. If five objects is too overwhelming then start with a few less.

Pebble found this activity easy peasy. I asked her how she knew which one was the longest and she showed me how she lined them up along side each other to check. Rocky joined in alongside, playing with the blocks too.

We talked about how the size of the blocks changed depending on which way you turned them and ultimately Pebble chose which way she wanted the blocks to go.

Playing with Measurement {via Octavia and Vicky} Playing with Measurement {via Octavia and Vicky} Playing with Measurement {via Octavia and Vicky}

2. Lego Towers Race

You will need:

  • duplo/lego
  • stop watch/clock/timer

How to play:

  • Set the timer for 60 seconds.
  • Build a tower as tall as you can in that time.
  • Keep repeating the tower building race until you have three or four towers (or build one each if you are playing with three or four children).
  • Compare the towers to see which is the tallest and which is the shortest. Put them in order.

Playing with Measurement {via Octavia and Vicky} Playing with Measurement {via Octavia and Vicky}

3. Straw collage

You will need:

  • straws
  • scissors
  • paper
  • craft glue

How to play:

  • Cut straws into different lengths using the scissors.
  • Choose some straws of different lengths to stick on to your straw collage.
  • Stick the straws in order from tallest to shortest.

This looks very simple but can be quite tricky, especially with so many objects to compare. Pebble lined up each straw from one end, so that she was getting an accurate comparison. It takes children a little while to get the hang of doing this. Lots and lots of practice will help them get more confident and accurate.

Playing with Measurement {via Octavia and Vicky} Playing with Measurement {via Octavia and Vicky} Playing with Measurement {via Octavia and Vicky}

More ideas for playing with measurement:

More maths play on Octavia and Vicky:

Invitation to Play bottle top numbres

Learning about numbers - subitising and number recognition | Octavia and Vicky

Baking the Alphabet {via Octavia and Vicky}

April 1, 2014
by Kylie Gardner

Baking the Alphabet

Baking the Alphabet {via Octavia and Vicky}

The weather is turning cooler and I’m loving it. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the cold weather, the colder the better! I think perhaps I should have been born in a much cooler climate, Australia is too hot for me!

Cold weather means more comfort foods like casseroles, soups, dumplings, mash and PIES. I was inspired (yet again) by Beth’s yummy recipes and we made her chicken pot pies. They were DELISH and I’ll definitely be making those again.

Pebble was keen to help and loved placing the pastry on top of the pies and brushing them with milk. Each pie was lovingly topped with a pastry in the shape of our family member’s first initial, and Pebble thought that was the best bit ever. We had some pastry left over and made more letters, with me cutting out the shapes and Pebble painting them with milk.

I asked Pebble which letters she wanted to make as we went along and she delighted is seeing the shapes emerge from the pastry. She sprinkled a few with cheese to make them extra tasty. Then it was time to pop them in the oven and start baking the alphabet.

Baking the Alphabet {via Octavia and Vicky} Baking the Alphabet {via Octavia and Vicky} Baking the Alphabet {via Octavia and Vicky}

Where was Rocky while this was going on? He was kept busy with the age old toddler distractor – the plastics cupboard! It never fails :)

Baking the Alphabet {via Octavia and Vicky}

Eight more ideas for learning letters and sounds in the kitchen:

More literacy ideas from Octavia and Vicky:

Multisensory Activities for Learning Letters {via Octavia and Vicky}

Custom Alphabet Play Dough Mats

Make It Look Easy - Nat and Tatum

March 30, 2014
by Kylie Gardner

Finding my style – The Tuck

Are you one of those mamas that I’ve seen at kindergym, or the library, or the supermarket, who look effortlessly made up and put together? You know, one of those mamas that I’ve stared at in wonder as I try to spit-and-scrub the mashed banana stain from my jeans and tug on my second-day-wear t-shirt? How I envy you.

My everyday style usually revolves around:

  1. high waisted “hide the muffin top” jeans, cut off jean shorts or long “hide the leg hair” maxi dresses
  2. a baggy singlet/t-shirt/top
  3. a black or plain coloured waterfall cardi
  4. flats or thongs

Ditching the frumpy mama - doing the front tuck

Comfy. Easy. Presentable. YES.

Stylish? Flattering? Confidence boosting? NO.

Luckily for me there are people to help with this sort of rut. People who know clothes and body shapes and style and how to have FUN with fashion. People who can help you stop trying to hide your body and start celebrating it…. People like Nat and Tatum from Make It Look Easy. Come on, I’ll introduce you, they’re super awesome ladies, you’ll love them :)

Make It Look Easy - Nat and Tatum

Nat (on the right) is a Personal Stylist and will help you whip your wardrobe into shape in no time. Tatum (on the left)  is a Personal Health Coach and will make getting nutritious dinners onto the table a breeze while getting your fitness routine in order. Who doesn’t need these two ladies in their lives, really?

Nat and Tatum popped over to my house for a visit recently, as a part of their MILE High First Class Personal Package. Full disclosure: this session was a gift to me from Nat and Tatum – as always my opinions are honest and my own. And you know what? I can’t recommend it enough! The session involved four and a half hours dedicated to my style and health and I came away from it feeling excited, motivated and ready to ditch this frumpy mummy for good.

I’d love to share everything that I learned with you all but for now I’m just going to share one thing that I have embraced in my everyday style. The Tuck.

 The TuckI’d never usually tuck in any top of mine. Surely the point of the top is to try to cover up? But I love how tucking this big, voluminous top gives me more shape.

Now, I’ll be honest, these jeans are not the best for tucking, and with Nat and Tatum’s help I’ll be finding the perfect pair of jeans soon. These jeans are a little high and can give the illusion of a very large… um…. front lady bum? You get what I mean? It’s not a look that you want to achieve any time soon. But they’re what I have to work with for now.

I also learned that switching the dark flat for a light coloured shoe also helps the onlookers eye travel the full length of my body, making me appear leaner. Nifty, hey?

What do you think? Would you try the The Tuck? 

Simple science with kids - things that roll

March 27, 2014
by Kylie Gardner

Simple science with kids: things that roll

Simple science with kids - things that roll

Rocky loves anything that rolls – wheeled toys are his favourites from prams to trucks, balls and walkers. He will often find a wheeled toy and flip it on it’s back just for the pure pleasure of being able to spin those wheels. One day I thought we’d have some fun with all things roly poly asked Pebble the question:

What can we find in the house that rolls? 

Simple science with kids - things that roll

We found lots of things! Balls, trucks, cars, ride ons, cylinder blocks and rattles. Pebble pulled them all in to a pile and I asked the question:

How can we make these things move? 

Pebble, with Rocky joining in, pushed and pulled the toys and showed how they moved, brrrrming and beeping and  rolling. They rolled the ball to each other, Rocky is getting quite good at that. They played cars on the car mat.

Then Pebble had an idea! She made a little ramp with one of the couch cushions and sat with Rocky on the couch. Together they took turns (kind of) pushing toys down the hill and chasing them, then doing it all again. There was lots of giggling and only a little bit of fighting. Winning!

Simple science with kids - things that roll Simple science with kids - things that roll

What next? We might try these simple science ideas:

More simple science  with kids:

Rainbow Coloured RosesMake your own wizard's brew

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