Alphabet Play Dough Mats – and the Weekly Kids Co-Op

Custom Alphabet Play Dough Mats | Octavia and Vicky

Pebble has been very keen on learning about letters and what they ‘say’, and often asks about sounds in words. To build on her interest in letters and sounds we made these alphabet play dough mats. They are a printable from Sparklebox…. with a twist. I customised our play dough mats so that they included pictures of people familiar to Pebble, as names seem to be one of her biggest interests.

I didn’t print the whole alphabet, only those letters that were most relevant for Pebble. She was not yet three when I first made these, and a whole alphabet is a bit overwhelming all at once.

Pebble helped me to find the right alphabet mat to stick the photos on to. I told her what sound each letter made and then held up a photo of the person. Then she would say their name and find the correct mat to put them on. The making of the mats was a game all on it’s own! These mats could even be used to make a matching game – read on for instructions.

After the mats were laminated Pebble used play dough to make the shapes of the letters on each mat, and we talked about the pictures and sounds that we could see and hear. Of course Pebble puts her own spin on it too – making play dough shapes of the pictures as well as the letters :)

This was a really simple way to build on Pebble’s current interest in letters and sounds and also enjoy some sensory play.

Custom Alphabet Play Dough Mats | Octavia and VickyCustom Alphabet Play Dough Mats | Octavia and VickyCustom Alphabet Play Dough Mats | Octavia and Vicky
Make your own customised alphabet play dough mats:

  1. Print the alphabet mats from Sparklebox (pdf).
  2. Print photos of family, friends or objects that most interest your child.
  3. Cut out and stick the photos onto the correct alphabet mats.
  4. Laminate the mats using laminating sheets or cover the mats in clear sticky paper (we call it ‘contact’ here in Australia).
  5. Play and learn by creating the letter shapes with play dough and naming all the people and objects on the mat.

Make your own customised alphabet matching game:

  1. Print the alphabet mats from Sparklebox (pdf).
  2. Print photos of family, friends or objects that most interest your child and cut them out.
  3. Laminate the alphabet mats and photos separately, either using laminating sheets or clear sticky paper.
  4. Play and learn by matching the photos of the people and objects to the correct mat.

Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky

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Grateful: Toddler Travel Edition

I am so grateful for our recent holiday to Brisbane. It was our first proper holiday as a family, and I learned a thing or two along the way. Here are a few the things that I was very grateful for when away from home with a 32 month old.

~ family! Seriously, what could be better than taking along grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins? The many extra pairs of hands is always welcome, as well as play mates on tap. Big cousins also teach little cousins lots of great new things – like brushing hair and teeth with no fuss, and eating your dinner! It was also lovely having family living nearby to visit. The kids loved hanging out with their new baby cousin and playing on the back lawn – complete with macadamia tree (!!) and plenty of lizards for entertainment.

Cousin love{Absorbed in the art of baby watching}

Big cousins are the best{Brushing teeth with her big cousin}

~ play grounds. Do yourself a favour and research local play grounds near your holiday destination before you go, especially if you have under five year olds. Sea World was awesome, but really didn’t compare to the playgrounds we visited in the eyes of our toddler. Is there anything that brings more joy to a little one than a swing and a slide?

New Farm Park{Playing in the tree top play ground at New Farm Park}

~ supermarkets. We frequented our local supermarket for basics, like toilet paper, weetbix, fruit and sandwich supplies. This really helped to cut down costs. We made breakfast and lunch for Pebble every day, usually only buying dinner and maybe a snack or two (hello ice cream!).

First ice cream{Pebble eating her first ever ice cream! She has been given it before, but never really eaten it. It took a loooong time, lick by lick, but she finished it – and a new love of ice cream was born}

~ public transport. Especially when that public transport is a smoothly gliding boat travelling along the banks of a river. We thoroughly enjoyed making the most of the Brisbane City Hopper and City Cat. The City Hopper is free and the City Cat is very reasonably priced.

grumpy toddler{Pebble on the City Cat. The sour puss face is directed at her Mummy taking yet another photo. The Cat ride was all good fun}

~ toys and books. I took advice from Aunty Julie – we packed three small favourite teddies and a small backpack full of little toys (ponies, boys, girls, babies, cars). These characters could become anything, anywhere, and took up hardly any luggage space. These, along with a mattress on the floor, a pile of pillows and an empty built in wardrobe made for play heaven for those short times that we were in the apartment. We took about ten favourite books, which were well worth their baggage weight at bed time.

Toddler on a plane {Using some of our art supplies on the plane. Pebble was a total pro at air travel, no probs at all}.

~ Art supplies. I packed a pencil case full of crayons, textas, pencils, stickers and paper. We also packed a small tub of Micador early stART First Dough and Micador Early StART Washable Oil Pastels. The dough and pastels came in easy to pack containers and were really, really washable. The dough is easy for little hands to mould, a little stickier than playdough, and comes in four vibrant colours that can be mixed together to make new colours. Any dough left on little hands rinsed right off in water. We played on plastic placemats for easy clean up. The oil pastels were perfect for creating that gorgeous smudging effect that kids love, but wash off SO easily. I fell in love with them. Micador kindly sent the dough and pastels to us to try out, no strings attached (as well as some other goodies that we’ll be playing with soon). Thank you!

Play dough rocks{Playing with Micador Early stART First Dough}

~ My husband. Worth his weight in gold. He pushed the pram up all the big hills (and down them), was the family navigator and our driver, our supermarket shopper and number one Daddy for the whole holiday. Love that man.

Swimming with Daddy{Swimming in the -freezing- hotel pool with Daddy}

What are you grateful for this week?

Play Dough Cup Cake Party

One cold and frosty morning Pebble and I stayed in our PJs (surprise, surprise!) and played play dough. That’s a pretty normal morning, but this time we made our own cup cake birthday party.

It all started with an invitation to play:




I had no plans for the direction this play would take, I just put out the craft materials and followed Pebble’s lead.

“Let’s make cup cakes!” she said. So we did.

Pebble made a few cup cakes, with different colours and decorations. She chatted away about the rainbow cup cakes that we made together recently, connecting her real life experience with her play.

I joined in, responding to her chatter, and making my own little critter while I was there (who can resist play dough!?).

Of course, if you’ve got cup cakes, you’ve got to sing happy birthday, right?

First we sang to Pebble, then we sang to Mummy, then we sang to the little critter that I had made.





This was a lovely little play scene that captured Pebble’s imagination and creativity.

I’m no expert on invitations to play, but if you’d like to learn more about how to do it yourself you can check out these super play peeps:

Creating Invitations to Play (The Imagination Tree)

Elements for Creating Play Scenes and Invitation’s to Play (Childhood 101)

Invitations to Play (Teach Preschool)

LOTS of examples of play invitations (Learn with Play at Home)

Have you played today?