Advent Calendars You Can Make Tomorrow!

I only have three more days to get organised, but I really, really want to make a Christmas advent calendar this year. I blame a chat today with my neighbour for reminding me of this burning desire. Thanks Katrina! At this late stage I am looking for quick and easy ideas. I’d love to fill our advent calendar with ideas for family experiences, rather than little trinkets or sweets. Which is doubly awesome because I won’t need to go and buy said trinkets and sweets! I’ll get back to you on how that plan works out. Here are some of my favourite ideas for advent calendars that you can whip up in a jiffy.

Advent Calendars You Can Make Tomorrow!

{Pink Pistachio}

{All Things Beautiful}

{Mr Printables}

{Little Lucy Lu}

{My Little Bookcase}

Do you use an advent calendar? Tell me about it, please!

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Gum Nut Babies Play

When I was a kid my mum used to read us the adventures of ‘gum nut babies’ Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, by May Gibbs. My sister and I loved the stories, but more than that, we loved collecting gum nuts in shoe boxes and making our own little gum nut baby homes.

I couldn’t resist sharing this joy with Pebble, and one late afternoon we ‘read’ some stories (looked at pictures and made up stories) then headed out into the garden and neighbourhood on a gum nut hunt. Pebble loved trying to find the gum nuts (and rocks – that kid loves herself some good rocks). She especially loved some little gum nut tops and declared them to be perfect hats for her babies.

The next morning we looked at the books again and checked out the collection of gum nuts and other bits and pieces. Pebble arranged bark and leaves to make slides and beds… then looked around in dismay. “Mummy, where are the babies?”. I showed her the gum nuts and explained that they were the babies. Well, that went down like a lead balloon. They did not look like babies to Pebble. “We need to make some, Mummy. Here’s the hats!”. Right. So I needed to come up with plan B.

I rummaged around the craft cupboard and came up with some pink felt, rubber bands, sharpies and dried beans. I fiddled around a bit and came up with this:

Cute, huh? I made a little gum nut family, and Pebble was happy to start play gum nut babies again. Pebble played with them for a few weeks, until the blossoms had completely disintegrated. We’ll definitely be making more gum nut babies and homes in the future, I’m sure that Pebble can make a few gum nut babies of her own soon.

Check out more cute gum nut babies at My Little Bookcase.

What’s your favourite childhood story book? Did you every play with gum nut babies?

{Guest Post} Afternoon Tea with Charlie and Lola

I’m away on holidays and have invited some of my blogging buddies to share one of their all time favourite posts from their blogs with Octavia and Vicky readers. Our guest today is Jackie Small from My Little Bookcase. Please make her feel welcome!

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The Little Book Adventure projects are designed to engage our children in books in interesting and wonderful ways. Project #4, Dining with a Book Character, most certainly encourages that.

Undertaking this project has honestly been the most wonderful activity my daughter and I have shared together. I won’t lie though; the project required lots of time, effort, planning and patience. I think the following post will prove that the time and effort involved was well worth it.

Getting started and helping a pre-schooler understand the task was probably the most difficult part of the project. As my daughter is already an avid little chef, I asked her if she’d like to create a special meal for someone from a book. I mentioned that we would choose a character at the end of the week from one of the books we’d read.

We didn’t even make it until the end of the week though. We were reading a Charlie and Lola book which Cam had personally chosen from the local library. As soon as we finished reading the book she announced that she’d like to invite Charlie and Lola to our house for afternoon tea.

From that point the project just flowed and so did Cam’s ideas for the afternoon tea. The rich and real-life learning that took place during the activity was absolutely phenomenal. Most importantly though, we had an amazing amount of fun in the process.

Writing and communicating: We wrote a letter to Charlie and Lola inviting them to our house for an afternoon tea. [The use of images (symbols) to replace words was used so that Cam could read the letter back to her dad. After all, that’s what alphabet letters are: symbols. Understanding that we gain information from symbols is one precursor to learning to read.]

Communication and understanding the postal system: We posted the letter in the mailbox. (Cam was quite upset and confused that she had to wait for Charlie and Lola to receive their letter. She wanted the afternoon tea NOW and didn’t want to prepare, shop and bake for the afternoon tea.)

Reading, comprehending and evaluating: We read through the book numerous times trying to find clues that would help us work out what Charlie and Lola would enjoy eating.

Reading and understanding different text types: We looked through our collection of children’s cookbooks for suitable recipes.

Writing and planning: Once we’d decided on the recipes, we wrote a shopping list. I created a shopping list with symbols for my daughter to use when searching for the ingredients in the supermarket. [See notes about symbols above]

Reading and shopping: We went shopping, keeping a record of our purchases.

Art, creativity and fine motor skills: We made personalised placemats for Charlie, Lola and ourselves. Lauren Childs uses collage-style illustrations in her books, which made this activity perfect for our Charlie and Lola afternoon tea.

Art, creativity and construction: We created our own life-size Charlie and Lola paper dolls. So eager was Cam for Charlie and Lola to come to our house, we needed to make them look as real as possible. I was thankful they worked. Cam was smitten with her new friends and couldn’t stop giving them cuddles.

Reading, measuring and cooking: We were busy in the kitchen, making Almond Crescent Biscuits (Little Kitchen –Around the World), Gingerbread Biscuits (Look and Cook) and Strawberry Smoothies (Women’s Weekly Healthy Babies)

Spatial awareness: We set the table

Imagination: We sat down at the table. I thought I had ‘fooled’ Cam with the paper-dolls. But, she quickly declared, “We can’t start yet. We have to wait for the real Charlie and Lola to come. These ones are just pretend. ” We had a long talk about books, characters and pretending. Thankfully, she was satisfied.

Dining etiquette, imagination, conversation and socialising: We thoroughly enjoyed afternoon tea.

Helping others: Cam helped Lola to eat her gingerbread biscuit because, “she can’t lift her own hand.”

Three Easy Paper Plate Crafts

Easy Paper Plate Crafts

One day, while still in my extremely tired and sick pregnancy phase, Pebble was in the mood for making. Needless to say, I wasn’t. I rifled through the craft cupboard and pulled out some paper plates, a stapler, foam stickers, ribbon and dot stickers. Super easy craft: sorted.

Paper Plate Craft #1: Handbag

easy paper plate craft

You will need:

2 paper plates

stapler

decorations, eg. dot stickers, foam stickers and markers

Start making:

Cut a semi circle out of one half of each paper plate, leaving the rim intact.

Line them up and staple together around the edge, with each plate facing inwards, to create a small hollow in the centre.

Decorate with stickers and textas. Done!

Paper Plate Craft #2: Puppet

easy paper plate craft

You will need:

2 paper plates
1 piece of ribbon or coloured paper
markers or dot stickers for eyes
sticky tape

Start making:

Fold one paper plate in half.
Cut the other paper plate in half.
Staple one of the cut halves on top of the top half of the folded paper plate and staple.
Repeat with the second cut half on the bottom half of the folded paper plate.
You should end up with an oven mit kind of puppet, with little pockets to slide your hands into.
Whack on a couple of eyes on top of one half, using the dot stickers (or draw on using markers).
Sticky tape a piece of ribbon inside the fold, as a tongue (or cut a tongue out of coloured paper). Done!

Paper Plate Craft #3: Music shaker/Octopus

easy paper plate craft

You will need:

2 paper plates
stapler
dot stickers or foam stickers
markers
ribbon
sticky tape
rice or dried lentils

Start making:

Decorate the back of each paper plate using the markers and stickers.

Sticky tape or staple some lengths of ribbon on the front edge of the bottom of each plate.

Sandwich the paper plates together so that they create a little hollow in the middle, and staple together, leaving about a two inch gap in one section.

Pour the lentils or rice into the hollow and staple closed. Done!

I called this a shaker, but Pebble thought it was an octopus!

Note: we didn’t have any trouble with the staples, but always be careful when using these for craft with very young children. You can use glue or tape instead, or cover the staples with tape after making.

easy paper plate craft

What’s your favourite craft to make with a paper plate?

Patty Pan Puppets

P1180761

Easy to make puppets from the pantry? Here you go!

Patty Pan Puppets

You will need:

patty pans (cup cake wrappers)
bendy straws
textas
scissors
sticky tape

To make a bird:

1. Take a cup cake wrapper and cut it to create wings, a tail and a beak.

P1180824P1180825

2. Use a texta to draw on eyes and a beak.

3. Stick that sucker to the bendy top of a bendy straw, and BAM, you got yourself a bird puppet.

We also made a turtle, a bee and a ladybird. The options are only limited by your imagination!

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We totes ripped this idea of the fantastical Mister Maker. He is a wizard with the crafty stuff.

The real beauty of this idea is what comes after the making. These puppets have been having a lovely time at our house. They’ve joined in with lots of dramatic play with blocks, shopping, dress ups and even gone on trips to the supermarket with us.

Have you done anything interesting with a bendy straw lately?