Pretend Play Construction Site {via Octavia and Vicky}

September 15, 2014
by Kylie Gardner

Pretend Play: Construction Site

Sponsored by Kidspot for Hasbro

Pretend Play Construction Site {via Octavia and Vicky}
I am just in love with seeing my two kids play together. I feel like they’ve grown up so much, especially since spending four days away from them to attend the Problogger conference recently. The day that I got home I noticed how they were chatting to each other (or Pebble, aged 4.5, was chatting and Rocky, aged 18 months, was listening and occassionally babbling back). They shared toys and experiences together, drawing with chalk or building a cubby and clamboring in and out of it. For Pebble these experiences are definitely all about pretend play, she’s constantly narrating a play scene. For Rocky I think this play is about joining in with his sister and figuring out how things work.

Of course these play scenes aren’t always a carefree, whimsical love fest – they are siblings after all! They have their fair share of fights about who sat where first, who gets to play with which toy and who punched who in the nose. Unfortunately for Rocky he’s not able to tell us his side of the story yet, so he doesn’t really get a fair trial! With practice they will get better at sharing each others space. Right?

I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce a pretend play scene for them to share. I collected a few bits and pieces from around the house and put them together with an awesome new toy sent to me by Hasbro, and this is what I came up with.

Pretend Play Construction Site

You will need a collection of items that can be used to represent a construction site, eg:

  • rocks
  • roads (either a play mat or create your own roads using masking tape)
  • toy cars and trucks (we used the Hasbro Diggin’ Rigs Buzz Saw)
  • cardboard boxes to represent buildings
  • tin cans to represent barrels
  • dolly pegs dressed in fluro paper ‘jackets’ to represent construction workers
  • Play-Doh for making boulders, walls, work helmets…. whatever you need!
  • popsticks to represent levers, scaffolding, ramps, etc

To create the scene (there really are no rules to making a play scene, but this is how we did it):

  • Pebble and I used masking tape to create roads on the floor.
  • We placed the rocks inside a cardboard box with two sides removed, giving that play space a boundary and also making it easy to pack up.
  • Pebble and Rocky helped me to get the other bits and pieces on the scene and it was soon clear that I needed to get out of their way so that they could PLAY!

Pretend Play Construction Site {via Octavia and Vicky} 5 Pretend Play Construction Site {via Octavia and Vicky} Pretend Play Construction Site {via Octavia and Vicky}

Rocky was most fascinated with the Diggin Rigs Buzz Saw and spent a good deal of time just pushing it around on the roads. Which was perfect for Pebble, it gave her the space to begin her intricate narrative and set up the characters of the play. Soon they were working together, building Play-Doh walls, trucking rocks from once place to another, and ‘sawing’ objects in half.

Pretend Play Construction Site {via Octavia and Vicky} Pretend Play Construction Site {via Octavia and Vicky} Pretend Play Construction Site {via Octavia and Vicky} Pretend Play Construction Site {via Octavia and Vicky}

Extend the play:

  • Children bring their own real world experiences to their play. Drive by or visit a real construction site and talk about what you can see.
  • If there are no construction sites near you then try searching YouTube for videos of construction sites or tools in action. I found some cool videos when I searched for “buzz saw truck”. Who knew?!
  • Add paper and pencils for children to make their own signs to add to the construction site.


Pretend Play Construction Site {via Octavia and Vicky}

Thanks to the awesome people at Hasbro I have three Diggin Rigs Buzz Saw toys to giveaway to three lucky Octavia and Vicky readers. The Diggin Rigs Buzz Saw playset includes a detachable arm, two plastic blades, an excruder rail and four cans of Play-Doh.

Open to Australian residents only. Entries close midnight AEST 22/9/14.

Hasbro Play-Doh Diggin’ Rigs Buzzsaw Playset

30 Ways to Play with Shadows {via Octavia and Vicky} Header Image

September 8, 2014
by Kylie Gardner

30 Ways to Play and Learn with Shadows

Play and Learn with Shadows {via Octavia and Vicky}

Rocky (18 months) loves to play with his shadow. It’s his latest obsession. He will chase it across the lawn or along the wall and walk slowly backwards and spin in circles, trying to figure out how that patch of darkness keeps following him. It’s highly entertaining – who needs TV?  Are you ready to watch some super cuteness (ok, I may be biased…)? Here’s a little pyjama clad Rocky chasing his shadow before bed time.

I know! Right? Too cute! This interest in shadows inspired me to hunt for more ways to play and learn with shadows. I’ve collected the best shadow ideas that the internet has to offer and rounded them up into this one spot. Your one stop shadow play spot! What are you waiting for? Get in there and play.

30 Ways to Play and Learn with Shadows

Silhouette and shadow play (Just for Daisy)

Halloween shadow puppets with free printable (One Perfect Day)

Capturing shadows with charcoal (My Little Bookcase)

Sea creatures shadow theatre (Montessori Nature)

Shadow drawings (Creative Play Central)

Create your own shadow puppets (Creative Play Central)

Build your own puppet theatre (Inner Child Fun)

Explore reflections and shadows using old CDs (Mid Pacific Institute)

More free printable Halloween puppets (Chez Beeper Bebe)

Drawing and writing with shadow and light (Teach Preschool)

Cereal box shadow theatre (Minieco)

Create and play with a shadow screen (Reggio Kids)

Building and tracing shadows (How We Learn)

Take your shadow for a walk (Childhood 101)

Investigate shadows and light: are shadows always black? (Reggio Kids)

Moving shadows (Reggio Kids)

Make coloured shadows at home (Octavia and Vicky)

Explore light and shadow with an overhead projector (Racheous Loveable Learning)

Literacy and maths play using shadows (Racheous Loveable Learning)

Shadow bath play (The Outlaw Mom)

How to create coloured shadows (Inner Child Learning)

How do shadows change? (The Pleasantest Thing)

Create a puzzle using shadows (Kids Activities Blog)

Make a shadow sundial (Create with Your Hands)

Make a shadow book (Small Types)

Step-by-step sundial instructions (How Stuff Works)

Interactive online game for playing with shadows (Science Kids NZ)

More shadow puppet ideas (Where Imagination Grows)

Chalk shadows on a trampoline (Learning to Play and Playing to Learn)

Make your own over head project for light play (Instructables)

Do your children like to play with shadows?

September 1, 2014
by Kylie Gardner

A Gentle Approach to Toddlers and Food

A Gentle Approach to Toddlers and Food {via Octavia and Vicky}

Just recently, I felt like three to five times a day I was going into battle. The Toddler Food Battle. A battle of wills over the dining table. It started with forced smiles and over exaggerated excitement about delicious morsels of carefully prepared kid friendly food. It moved on to games and songs and tricks. It disintegrated into frustration and, yes, sometimes tears, as the food inevitably ended up on the floor. More often than not, it ended with one toddler waving his trophy above his head – the much coveted banana.

I have to confess during that time I was so busy with the DOING (the planning, buying, cooking serving, cleaning up) that before I knew it Rocky was almost exclusively eating two foods: banana and yoghurt. I was so concerned with filling his tummy before bed time or naps that I just gave him whatever he wanted. Of course this never actually helped him to sleep!

I could write about how I felt like a failure of a parent, but you know what? I’m not buying into that crap anymore. I was doing my best at the time. But it wasn’t working and it was time to reevaluate. I turned to my one of my favourite sources of advice – the child health nurse hotline.

I was a bit overwhelmed by the advice from the child health nurse that answered the phone that day (bless her, they are all angels, I love them dearly). She suggested good old fashioned grit:

  1. Offer the food.
  2. If rejected, offer the food again.
  3. If rejected, too bad, so sad, no food for you. Repeat at each meal.

Apparently it wouldn’t take long for the toddler to get the idea and start eating what he was offered the first time.

The only thing was that this advice pushed my freak-out-o-meter off the chart. It’s just not my style. I didn’t want to fight anymore, I wanted our dinner table and attitude towards food to be relaxed, for meal times to be happy. So I turned to my old friend, the internet. Other parenting bloggers and Octavia and Vicky readers on Facebook and Instagram had lots of advice for me that was so valuable. Above all the one thing that I heard loud and clear was ME TOO! I’VE BEEN THERE TOO! YOU’RE NOT ALONE! And that was like a big warm hug.

Advice for A Gentle Approach to Toddlers and Food

  • Let go of the guilt. If they’re eating healthy food, don’t worry so much about what that food is. Build meals based on what they do like to eat – Kate from Picklebums
  • Don’t let others push you into something you’re not comfortable doing. Keep offering a variety and don’t make a big deal out of food – Sarah from We Live We Learn
  • Keep offering a range of foods, ones they like as well new foods, never worry about what they do or don’t eat – Kate from Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids
  • If one child is a tricky eater and will only eat certain foods, offer those same foods to the whole family, so it doesn’t seem like they’re getting a special meal – Kate from An Everyday Story
  • Do what you’re comfortable with, try it for a few days or a week and if it’s not working think it over again. Smoothies, veggie muffins and frittatas are great ways to get veggies into kids – Bekka from Just for Daisy
  • Don’t blame yourself, many children are picky eaters. Don’t expect things to change overnight and find the small wins every day – Kate from Laughing Kids Learn
  • Eat dinners as a family, serving everyone the same foods and ask only that they try each food – a try might just mean ‘lick’. Make sure they have enough foods that they enjoy eating on the plate too. Encourage them to describe the taste and texture, rather than focusing on how much they’ve eaten. I often strategically serve the veggies first as they taste better when they’re hot, then serve the meat/carbs after a minute or two – Danya from Danya Banya 
  • If something doesn’t feel right try visiting a naturopath or chiropractor for advice and support – Chelsea from Moments A Day
  • Consider whether your child may have some sensory issues that might be impacting on meal times. Check out these strategies for encouraging sensory processing disorder toddlers to eat – Jodie from Mummy Musings and Mayhem
  • Try talking with a dietician, just for your own peace of mind. In some areas this service is offered for free – Nichole from you clever monkey
  • Focus on lunch instead of dinner – if they eat a good lunch don’t stress so much about what they eat at dinner time. Kids are often tired at dinner time and less likely to want to eat – Jackie from My Little Bookcase
  •  It’s your job to provide healthy food for your child. It’s their job to eat it. i.e. try not to stress, don’t argue with them or make it a battle, provide them with the food at mealtimes and let them eat it or not. They won’t starve themselves – Sara from Happiness is Here
  • We follow a gentle approach with our son. We make sure he’s getting a balanced diet and ask that he tries all the foods put in front of him, but he doesn’t have to eat it all if he doesn’t like it. It’s has been a slow and sometimes stressful road but mealtimes are now pleasant instead of battles, he calmly tries new foods and his tastes are broadening – Ness from One Perfect Day

Advice for Toddler Mealtimes Advice for Toddler Mealtimes Advice for Toddler Mealtimes Advice for Toddler Mealtimes Advice for Toddler Mealtimes Advice for Toddler Mealtimes Advice for Toddler Mealtimes Advice for Toddler Mealtimes Advice for Toddler Mealtimes Advice for Toddler Mealtimes Advice for Toddler Mealtimes Advice for Toddler MealtimesAdvice for Toddler Mealtimes Advice for Toddler Mealtimes

Making small, slow changes – and relaxing about food

So where are we at now with Rocky’s eating? We offer him a range of foods that he likes, alongside some new foods. I don’t make a big deal out of whether he eats or not. If he stops eating or starts throwing his food then that’s the end of the meal time and we try again next time. We feed him small, regular meals, to keep him hungry. Now he’s eating toast! He’s eating crackers! He’s eating meat! He’s eating lasagna! And yes, he’s still eating his favourite bananas and yoghurt. Just a lot less of them.

More on toddlers and food

These articles and blogs were also really helpful to me and recommended by readers and friends. I hope you find them helpful too.

Is your toddler a fussy eater? What has worked for you?

August 26, 2014
by Kylie Gardner

Finding My Style: Conference Confidence

In two days I’m going to be on my way to the Gold Coast for my second Problogger conference and I. Can’t. Wait! Last year I came away feeling so inspired and it was just the best feeling ever to give my blogging mates a hug in the flesh. There are even more of my blogging buddies going this year, it’s going to be a lot of fun – and I’m going solo! No kids! Last year I was still breast feeding, so Rocky came along for the ride with Grandma in tow (thank goodness!!!!).

This year I’ll have time and space to really talk to people, I’ll be able to go to the networking events before and after the conference and I’ll get some SLEEP! I’m also feeling really excited about this year because I’ve been putting some time in to ME and finding my own style again, with the help of Nat and Tatum from Make it Look Easy.

I look back at pics from last year and remember how I was lacking in confidence and felt really… mumsy. Of course I felt mumsy – I’m a mum! At the time a breast feeding mum who had to dress to get easy access to her breasts all day and night. I was also carrying a little more baby weight than I am now (let’s just call it baby weight, cos that sounds better than block-of-chocolate-for-lunch weight, mmmmkay?).

Finding My Style: Conference Confidence

Meeting Nat and Tatum has helped me focus on positive self talk, feeding myself nourishing foods and, of course, dressing with confidence. Since my wardrobe makeover it’s never been easier for me to get dressed every day. I’m not going to say I don’t have those days where everything in the wardrobe ends up on the floor – I still do. But maybe one or two in the last four months. Not one or two every single week! I’m also learning that it’s not the clothes that are the problem, it’s my mindset. They’re still the same clothes I wore last week, so what’s changed?

Today Nat and Tatum came over to play dress ups with me and pull together some kick arse outfits for Problogger. How cool is that? Packing for Problogger is a bit different to packing for a family holiday. I need outfits to go from day to night and can afford to put a few extras in my suitcase because I’m only packing for me. If you want to read more about how to maximise your wardrobe and minimise what you need to pack then get yourself the ‘How to Pack for New York (in summer)’ ebook. It’s mind blowing. Seriously! I’ll never have a ridiculously full suitcase again.

Here are the outfits that I’m wearing for Problogger this year. I’ll be keeping cool, comfortable and stylish. I just love seeing how Nat and Tatum pull together outfits from my wardrobe. I’m getting so much better at it but I still have a lot to learn (psssst…. have you seen the ‘Be the boss in your own wardrobe’ ecourse?).

Finding My Style: Conference Confidence

1. Big W Street sneakers, Katies harm pants, Sportsgirl grey tshirt, Rockman’s jacket (second hand), Serafina necklace.
2. Just Jeans Skinny Crop Ankle Jean, Just Jeans paisley top, Big W sandals, necklace (thanks to Nat for this amazing gift! xxxxxx), assorted bracelets

Finding My Style: Conference Confidence

3. Just Jeans boyfriend shorts in rich blue, Jo Mercer booties, Sportsgirl grey-T (yep, I have two!)
4. Katies Blazer,  The Iconic feather print tunic, Betts booties

Finding My Style: Conference Confidence

5. Freez Miami shrug, JAG tee, Serafina necklace, Target sandals, Just Jeans skinny crop ankle jean
6. Target blouse, Just Jeans skinny crop ankle jean, Bett’s booties

You can catch up on my previous ‘Finding My Style’ posts here:

Want more inspiration to Make It Look Easy? Sign up for the Make It Look Easy newsletter for a fortnightly dose of awesomeness. 

August 18, 2014
by Kylie Gardner

Last Minute Book Week Costume Ideas

Last Minute Book Week Costumes

Book Week is here! This year will be Pebble’s first official Book Week parade. She’ll be visiting her local primary school along with her kindergarten and joining in the Book Week fun. I’m very much a last minute person, and I struggle to sew a button on to a shirt, so making an elaborate costume is off the cards. Pebble is quite determined to be a “Super Hero Fairy” at the moment, which means that she’ll likely end up wearing her cape and wings from our dress ups box. Easy peasy! I’m sure there’s a super hero fairy in a book somewhere.

Perhaps, like me, you’re doing a last minute panic over Book Week costumes. I’ve seen some fab ones over the years as I’ve celebrated Book Week with the children in my class. I think on of my favourites (not that teachers have favourites, of course) was Mr Strong. It looked so cool! And it’s not too tricky to make at all. You will need to get organised a little bit, to get find a box large enough and paint it, but otherwise it’s very easy to do.

Last minute book week costume ideas

Here are a few other ideas that you can throw together without staying up for hours the night before the parade:

Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

If you happen to have a red dress in the cupboard then this one is super easy.

Last minute book week costume ideas

Peter Pan and Mr Smee from Peter and Wendy by JM Barrie

 Mr Smee is especially easy, I’d love to see a cubby little tummy sticking out too.

Last minute book week costume ideas

Max and the Wild Thing from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Check out the tutorials for these paper costumes over at Red Ted Art

Last minute book week costume ideas

Sam I Am from Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss

If this was my kid I’d take it even simpler (cos I can’t sew!). I’d grab a yellow t-shirt and hat from the cupboard, or cheapies from the shops, and make paper eggs and ham. If you search Google Images for ‘green eggs and ham’ I’m sure you’d find plenty of examples to print.

Last minute book week costume ideas

Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss

Take a look at the video tutorial for this simple costume over at Kidspot.

Last minute book week costume ideas

The Lorax from The Lorax by Dr Seuss

Gotta love a printable costume!

Last minute book week costume ideas

Fern from Charlotte’s Web by EB White

We have everything in the cupboard or Pebble to wear this costume.
I might even try and convince her that it’s a good idea. Mwahahahaha.

Last minute book week costume ideas

Arthur from the Arthur series by Marc Brown

Super cute, super easy.

Last minute book week costume ideas

Gum Nut Baby from Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs

Kat from The Organised Housewife made this cute gum nut baby outfit for her daughter. Don’t fret! The skirt can be no sew!

Last minute book week costume ideas

Angelina Ballerina from the Angelina series by Katharine Holabird

We already have the ballet gear, all I’d need for this one is some foam and ribbon from the craft shop to make the Angelina face. I’d probably cheat and make some little cardboard ears and stick them on a headband, like the Arthur costume.

Last minute book week costume ideas

Have you got book week costumes sorted yet? What are your kids dressing as?

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