He starts his journey tomorrow..

So tomorrow my baby, my 6lb 6oz tiny bundle of large feet and enormous thumbs and piercing blue eyes and soft blonde hair, my baby boy, starts nursery.

It’s Jan 2015, meaning he’ll be 3 in three months. He’ll be one of the youngest there (it’s a proper preschool), and I’m so excited. For him, for me, for everything it means for us. I’m also terrified.

My boy has words but let’s not beat about the bush, he doesn’t speak. Not in any kind of sense you’d understand. He has communication issues and while the nursery are fully aware of them and have some amazing sounding strategies in place to help him, the other children don’t know this. What if he doesn’t settle? What if he can’t make himself understood? What if this means his behaviour is less than desirable? What if? What if? What if my baby is sad?

I so want this to work, to be a time he can enjoy and learn from. I’m just a bit nervous I guess. For the first time ever I won’t be there to defend him, to understand him, to explain him. Anyone who knows me will know I’m not a neurotic mother but anyone who knows me will also understand why I’m so nervous. For him. For me.

Things they are a changing. Again.

Silky Smooth Dough

OK, I know this looks like I’m writing a crafting/messy play series and I promise this wasn’t the intention. If I’d been more organised I guess I could have done. Ahh well, next time!?

So next in the line of crafty activities I’ve been doing with Oscar involves a different kind of play dough, that had been recommended recently by several friends. This one was even easier to prepare that the Easy Playdough I made recently. This one has two ingredients: cornflour and hair conditioner. I know right!!?

I don’t use hair conditioner myself (what? I don’t regularly use moisturiser either – it’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just I never remember to), so bought the cheapest bottle I could find at our local supermarket. I plumped  for a pale green one, with a minty fragrance. I thought this would add a nice sensory touch to the dough. Which it did, although it did leave me with a craving for Soft Mints all day!

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I mixed one cup of conditioner with two cups of cornflour. I didn’t use colouring this time, but you could!                       Mix and knead. Simples!

This dough is quite a different texture to the flour based ones. Its a smoother consistency once kneaded but dries quickly. A quick knead though and you’re back to silky smoothness.

Smooth!

Smooth!

The best thing about this dough is the stretch you get from it! Due to the non-Newtonian properties of the cornflour (can you tell we have a nerd in the house?) it can be both soft and hard at the same time. The boy played with it for ages, burying Thomas the Tank Engine in it, then pulling the train back slowly to see how far he could stretch the dough.

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Poor old Thomas!

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Like I said, a craving for chewy soft mints!

A real sensory experience

A real sensory experience

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As far as it could stretch

It looks wet....

It looks wet….

... but it's really not

… but it’s crumbly at the same time

Despite it’s silky, smooth appearance, this dough is actually very crumbly, meaning it was also much more messy than regular dough. Had I realised this beforehand I would have let him play with this in the kitchen on the tiles, not in the lounge on the carpet! That said, it cleaned up with a damp cloth and a hoover, so it wasn’t all bad. The only thing I would say is I wouldn’t give this to babies or children with a penchant for putting everything in their mouths. Hair conditioner is really not something you’d want them to chow down on.

So , yes it was pretty messy, but clean up was easy enough. It wasn’t my fave, but the boy loved it and at the end of the day that’s what matters when it comes to messy play.

I need some more ideas of things to do now. Something less about the end product and more about the process. Any ideas would be greatly received. And before you ask I’m think I’m going to save Ooblek for the garden months! Well, wouldn’t you?

Shaving Foam Paint

So I’ve written before about my hitherto lack of both desire and nerve to get crafty with Oscar at home. We’ve avoided it for several reasons, one being his previous lack of interest and another being the mess it makes. My house is tiny. I’ve always figured I don’t have space for getting our painting freak on. Then recently I decided to throw caution to the wind and try out a couple of crafty/messy play ideas, all at home, all indoors. He’s that bit older now and anything that encourages him to concentrate is great for his development. I wrote recently about our success with homemade moon sand and playdoh and this week I decided to bite the bullet and let him try painting.

I wanted to try making my own paints, mostly to see if I could, and found this beginners paint post on learnplayimagine.com, a great resources for sensory and messy play ideas. It had two ingredients: shaving foam and some form of colouring. You could either use a squirt of paint, or as I did, food colouring. I have some tubs of Wilton Candy Colours, which meant I was able to mix up Blue, Red, Yellow, Green and Orange. I tried purple, but for some reason the red just wouldn’t mix in with the blue, so I gave up on that one.

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I mixed up the colouring first

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Then mixed in the shaving foam. I moved his small table into the kitchen and completely covered it in lining paper (I bought a huge roll for £3 from Wilkinson’s), stuck down at each end. This provided a non slip area for him to paint on.

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The paint stays ‘foamy’ which is great to touch!

It was super quick to set up. Probably longer than just squirting ready mixed paint into tubs, but I figured if I could start with this I might get the nerve to move up to that.

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I didn’t have any brushes, but used a mixture of sponges, a roller and toilet rolls. He soon started to get the hang of it.

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Making his presence felt on the paper

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He was so good at keeping the paint on the paper. I was worried he might try and paint the whole house, but I should have given him more credit I guess. Plus this shaving foam/food colouring combo came off his clothes really easily, so a bit here and there wasn’t the end of the world. It is after all just soap with colouring!

After he’d painted all the paper and mixed the colours I changed his paper and he went to get one of his trains. Clearly what he felt was missing from this art project was some train tracks! Not sure why poor James got a lump of green in the face. I think he was trying to feed him!

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Eat your greens James!

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Dynamic!

Because the base of this paint is foamed soap, it doesn’t quite dry like ready mixed paint. I read that if you want it to set better, you can add PVA glue to it, but we didn’t bother this time. I hung the pictures to dry and dabbed the excess foam off with a tissue. It’s dried pretty well. But really this wasn’t about creating a masterpiece. It was partly getting Oscar to engage with something and partly to grow my confidence with craft projects in the house.  And all in all I think this was a great place to start.

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A great place to start

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I love the energy in this one