{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!


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.”

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?

Patty Pan Puppets


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

Patty Pan Puppets

You will need:

patty pans (cup cake wrappers)
bendy straws
sticky tape

To make a bird:

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


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!


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?

Tissue Box Traffic Lights

I was just flicking through some photos from the last few months and I stumbled across these shots of Pebble and our Tissue Box Traffic Lights. These were so easy to make and lots of fun to play with.

Tissue Box Traffic Lights

Please excuse our garden bed, we’re really hoping to get a veggie patch going in there one day, but don’t hold your breath! I don’t have any gardening posts just yet, but I’m sure you’ll have fun making these:

Tissue Box Traffic Lights

You will need:

An empty tissue box
Black cardboard (or black paint)
Green, orange and red paper
A glue stick
A pole/length of wood/old broom

To make the traffic lights:

1. Wrap your tissue box in black paper.

2. Cut out four large circles in each of the red, orange and green paper. Glue them onto your traffic light.

3. Cut a small hold in one end of the tissue box, large enough for your pole, and thread the pole through. I used a little blu-tak to make the end stick to the inside of the box.

4. Plant your traffic light into the garden. If you don’t have a garden you could stick your traffic light to a wall, stand it on a ledge or on prop it a chair.

5. Play!

This craft and play was initiated by Pebble’s growing interest in colours, as well as her understanding of traffic lights on the road. She had learned what each colour meant and she practiced that using her own traffic lights in the backyard. She rode up and down the veranda and shouted out to herself “GREEN GO!” and “RED STOP!”.

Tissue Box Traffic Lights

Doesn’t that sun shine look gorgeous? We haven’t had much sun in Adelaide lately. Is the sun shining where you are?

Post Office Play

Post office play is the stuff that many a childhood is made of. Kids of all ages can easily relate and join in. Pebble loves getting letters in the mail (who doesn’t?!) especially birthday party invitations. The little minx been known to pinch invitations from the fridge and hide them strategically around the house. This inspired me to organise some post office play.

Post office play
{Pebble posting some “letters”. Otherwise known as sticks and stones}

There are some are lots of fun and creative ideas out there for making a play post office or mail box. I am not a craft wizard, and like to make things simply with what we already have to hand. We used a nappy box, some wrapping paper, a bottle top, old cards, scissors, sticky tape, stickers, a few Australia post logos printed from Google Images, and some writing tools.

First, I used scissors to cut holes into the nappy box – one to post letters in, and one to get letters out.

Post office playPost office play

Then we wrapped the box in wrapping paper, making sure to stick it down really well (thanks to Pebble for all those extra pieces of tape!), before cutting through the paper were our mail slots were.

Post office playPost office play

We glued a handle to the back flap, so that the postie could easily get to the letters.

Post office play

Then it was time to write some letters. I have a big stack of cards, some used and some new (thanks Mel!). I sorted through them and picked out a few for Pebble to use in her letter box. She wrote letters to Daddy, Mummy, Rosie (her teddy) and herself. She then used stickers as postage stamps.Post office play

Then the best bit – posting the letters! We made a rookie error here – make sure that your post slot is wider than the paper or cards you intend to post.. whoops! We were only just able to squeeze Daddy’s letter in through the slot.

Post office play

“Mummy, I need my bike, I’m gonna be the postie!”, she said.

Post office play20120613_161017

She delivered all the cards to our beds, one on each pillow. “Let’s get in bed and read our cards Mummy”, she said. I had to have a laugh at that suggestion – it made me realise that we always open our birthday cards in bed, I guess it’s become our family tradition.

Post office play

Now I just need to keep some cards, small paper and envelopes in the craft corner so that new letters can be written and posted. I think the toys in this house are going to be inundated with fan mail.

Have you posted any letters to toys lately? Did they write back?