Sunday, 19 December 2010

Falling back on an old standby

I haven't blogged for a few days as Riley is sick.  He's spent several days crying, drifting in and out of sleep on the sofa and doing very little else poor kid.  But by today Freya was bored, big time.  And I didn't have much time to do anything fancy with her as I was so busy looking after Riley.  So I fell back on an old standby - sensory play with our bag of Tesco's broth mix (a combination of pearl barley, red lentils, split peas and a few other bits). 

She spent a happy 15 minutes mixing and pouring them while Riley slept.  And the best part - minimal clean up.  Just pour them back into the packet!!!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Dot Markers

I've been reading a lot on the web recently about do-a-dot markers, so I thought I'd try them with Riley, particularly after his dotty picture the other day.  I couldn't find the ones I'd seen online so I just bought bingo dabbers.  Riley thinks they're great.  He did a lovely dotty picture again (with more counting - the kid's obsessed with numbers!).

It started out with nice, neat dots, but then he discovered that as they were very full of ink, if he 'dotted' with more force it created a lovely splat shape.  Here it is:

I have no idea if its supposed to be something!  Afterwards we did some sensory play with Crazy Soap.  They both loved it (to the point I had to stop them redecorating the house with it!)  For those of you that don't know, Crazy Soap is a less messy, more interesting version of shaving foam!  Its the strangest stuff - it holds it's foaminess and sticks to itself, so you can model it into vague shapes, and its kind of floaty and light, not gloopy.  Best of all, it doesn't stick to you!  We had so much fun with it I forgot to take many photos, and the ones I did take aren't very good.  Here's the best of a bad bunch!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Riley does not like chalk!!!!!

So, I've kind of given up on the 12 days of Christmas thing - Riley just didn't want to know.  I'm hoping I can get a few vaguely festive art ideas in over the next 2 weeks, but nothing like I had planned.  Today (in the interests of vague festivity) I gave him some chalks and dark paper so he could draw 'snowflakes'.  However he got really cross as the chalk wouldn't go on smoothly.  I don't know if we've just got awful quality chalks or if there's some trick we don't know, but he gave up after 2 minutes as it wouldn't do what he wanted.  So I gave him some markers and used a trick I saw on the Artful Parent ages ago where you cut a shape out of the paper to encourage creativity.  He did one weird face (the photos came out all blurry - don't know why), and this dot creation:

He counted each dot as he did it - right up to 114!  While he was doing this I gave Freya some paper and crayons, though at the moment she's obsessed with taking the crayons out of the pouch and then putting them back in.  The few marks she made she was very impressed with though!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Christmas Sensory Play

Uh-oh.  Our 12 Days of Christmas Arts and Crafts isn't going as planned - Riley is in a funk and doesn't want to do any of it (he can get a bit like this towards the end of term).  Today I decided to change tack.  If art is out, we'll do some sensory play.  It didn't work.  He took one look at it and walked off without a word.  Never mind - Freya and I had a lovely time!

I got a couple of 50p packs of angel hair from Tesco (I absolutely hate it on Christmas trees, but its lovely to play with!) and added a few mini paper chains seeing as she was so fascinated with them yesterday, and that was it!

Its so twinkly and fluttery!  As you can see, she was impressed.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Paper Chains

To be honest, these weren't really part of my plans for the '12 Days of Christmas Art and Crafts' that we're doing, but when I was in Ryman's yesterday they had kits for 49p which is cheaper than getting the paper and cutting it out yourself, so I thought we'd give it a go.  (To be honest, I can't believe they make kits, but hey ho!)  In some respects, I should have gone with my original plan - Riley could not have cared less!  With a whole lot of help and encouragement he managed to string 5 or 6 loops together, then tutted at me and wandered off.

Freya on the other hand loved them.  Obviously she's not at the stage where she was making them herself, but I gave her 3 looped together to play with and she was fascinated! 

She fiddled for ages, wearing them as bracelets and just working out how they looped together.  So it wasn't quite the disaster it could have been.  I'll have to store the rest of the strips for next year and let Freya go at it again then!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Christmas Tree Cakes

So here's the '12 Days of Christmas Arts and Crafts' Day 2!  Sadly the wreath still isn't finished - when I asked Riley if he wanted to do art this afternoon he looked at me like I was crazy and just said 'no'.  Oh well.  But he did want to bake, so we made Christmas tree cakes.  They're a great alternative to Christmas Cookies - I knew Riley wouldn't have the patience to cut out dozens of fancy shapes carefully.  They're really simple.

We made a basic sponge cake mix (4oz sugar, 4oz marg, 4oz s/r flour, 2 eggs) and baked it in a square cake pan, traybake style.  Then when it was cool, I cut it into 3 strips, then cut each strip into triangles and let Riley loose with some thick, bright green glace icing (just the icing sugar, a tiny bit of water and some green food colouring) and some silver balls.  He thought it was great!

The recipe that I got the idea from (Practical Parenting and Pregnancy, Jan '11 - though I did tweak it slightly) said to stick marshmallows on the base of the triangles for trunks, but our cake wasn't deep enough, so unless you're in the know, they just look like weird green triangles!!!!  I was really pleased with how well they came out - Riley did a really good job with them (and Freya did a very good job of eating all the offcuts!!!!)  Here's his finished plateful.....

Saturday, 4 December 2010

12 Days of Christmas Arts and Crafts - Day 1

So here is our 1st Christmas art project from our '12 Days of Christmas Arts and Crafts' thing we're doing.  Its sadly unfinished as Riley wasn't that keen on doing art today so he gave up pretty quickly.  Fortunately its a fairly quick project. 

Its a paper wreath.

I simply cut a ring out of sticky-backed plastic (using two different sized plates as a guide) and masking taped it down, then I gave Riley paper triangles (for that pointy 'fir' looks) in as many different green papers as I could find.  There's 2 different shades of green printer paper, 2 different tissue papers, some green foil sweetie wrappers and bits of a plastic nappy packet!  I wished I'd had some green fabric too, but my stash is lacking in the green department.  He stuck them down randomly - I just told him to cover the sticky!

After he gave up I added a few extra triangles to fill in the gaps (I'm sure he won't mind!) and stuck the whole thing to a matching cardboard ring cut from a cereal packet to give it some rigidity.  Hopefully tomorrow we'll stick a few red sequins on for 'berries' and then its going on our living room door.  Watch this space for the finished pics!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Jack Frost

I have a new favourite winter book.  I've been looking for wintery books as I like the idea of having a seasonal library (a la Soulemama) and I've also been looking for books with more arty illustrations, and this fits the bill on both counts.  I stumbled across it quite by accident - but I'm sure its going to become a family favourite.

Its so beautiful.  Its a very simple story about a little boy living in the woods who comes across Jack Frost one day, and plays with him until the spring.  I just love the pictures - they're fantastic.  Here's the Amazon link if anyone's interested:

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Snowflake Collage

I was going to start our '12 Days of Christmas Art' project today, but our snowy weather was too good an opportunity to miss to do some snow art.  I printed the outline of a snowflake and then gave it to Riley to stick bits on - he had pale blue tissue paper, pale blue printer paper, silver foil, cotton wool and squares cut from a white plastic bag.

I was going to cut it out to make a hanging decoration out of it, but he didn't really get that he should stay inside the lines!  Never mind - the finished picture is beautiful, and is hanging on our kitchen door instead.

He then went on to do a snowy scene with the bits he hadn't used on his snowflake.  It was quite short lived though - he gave up after a couple of minutes.

I did give Freya the same snowflake outline with some crayons while Riley was gluing.  She tipped all the crayons out then decided to eat a bread roll!!!  I guess she wasn't in a creative mood!  However she did get her first ever experience of snow today.  I think she was impressed!!!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

More Snow!!

Its still not the huge amount that half our country is under, but its certainly enough for a small boy to mess about in!  (Freya is poorly, so she was inside with Daddy - she so wanted to get out in it though.)

Unfortunately the snow was reluctant to stick together, so still no snowmen (even tiny ones!), but I'm holding out hope as our cold snap is supposed to last a few more days.  Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Rainbow Arches

Aren't they beautiful?  They are by far my favourite toy we have at the moment.  Riley is going through a bit of an arty stage with them - he keeps arranging them in patterns on the floor.

They're so versatile - you can stack them, nest them, use them as fences, use them as caves or houses, make patterns or art with them......  I just love them!!!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

First Snowfall of the Year

The title says it all really!  We got about half an inch, which was a bit pathetic but Riley declared it was "amazing!"  He couldn't wait to get out in it.

There's more snow forecast in the coming days, so hopefully I'll be posting pictures of snowmen soon!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Sensory Play

Today we did some sensory play with beans.  I love our beans - they're so smooth and shiny.  Not to mention they were £1 for the whole lot from Asda!  I gave them a pan, a spoon and a ladle to mess about with alongside the beans.  A good time was had by all!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A Busy Day

We've done an awful lot today, so I've got two snippets of our lives to show you.  First of all, we made crispie cakes.

As with all our cooking, Riley was very pleased with himself!  And like most pre-schoolers, a good few spoonfuls never made it into the cases and went straight into his mouth!!!

Our second project of the day turned into a bit of an epic, particularly when you consider Riley's normal concentration span.  I decided to let him loose with the glitter glue again after he had so much fun a couple of weeks ago - totally open ended, no finished result in mind.  Well he squirted until the tubes were empty, then mixed it all up with a glue spreader.

Then he started asking for collagey bits - pretty much everything in the box!  Craft foam flowers, pom-poms, sequin confetti stars, foam shapes, little bits of shiny paper and foil, chocolate coin foils - he kept asking for more and more, and they all got squished into the glitter glue until you could hardly see it anymore.  He was at it for ages and thought it was absolutely wonderful.  Here's the finished piece:

And I was very happy to be informed that Mickey Mouse is in the centre of the page!  He's purple and a bit wonky, but once you know he's there you can spot him.  I'm so pleased that Riley's starting to create 'things' under his own steam finally.  I can't wait to see what he'll make next.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Sunday, 21 November 2010


There's something I haven't mentioned until now - Riley is Autistic (well, we think - we're still going through the long process to get the official diagnosis, but we're virtually certain).  Fortunately, he's high-functioning, but because of the Autism, he does have a number of developmental delays.  One of these is that he never draws or paints anything.  He's very happy scribbling away and splatting paint about, but if you ever try to ask him what he's drawn/painted he looks at you like you're absolutely crazy.  Until today.

I'd bought some new markers last week, so I decided to get them out today as we don't use pens very often.  I set him up and went to stick some paper down for Freya as she was joining us and within seconds he'd drawn a face.  When I asked him who it was, he laughed and said 'Daddy.'  So I wrote 'Daddy' on the bottom of the paper and gave him some more, and he promptly drew me!  It was wonderful.  He did loads of faces.  He even tried to write a title on one - how cute is that?!  I'm so pleased, I can't tell you.  So here, in celebration, is Riley drawing and several of his 'faces'.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Old-fashioned Potato Printing

Riley was back to doing arty stuff today, and as Freya had a nice long nap we did some good old fashioned potato printing!  I cut one potato in half so it was a circle and trimmed 3 more into a triangle, a square and a star.  He chose the paint colours and off we went!

Of course, after the other day, his hands went straight into the paint!

The star was his favourite - he ended up printing for well over half an hour.  He asked for more paper numerous times, and even told me he wanted different paper at one point.  I love that he's started making these conscious decisions when he's creating something!  Finished piece:

On a completely different note, our Portage worker left us the most beautiful building blocks to play with this week. 

They're wonderful - the centres are made from coloured acrylic, and coloured sand, beads and coloured liquid (with added glitter!) trapped between clear acrylic.  We spent ages building bridges for Riley's car to go under.  And these were some Star Trek style sliding doors Riley created for his car to go through!

I can see we're going to have fun with them all week.  Aren't they great?!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Drawing with Freya

Riley is still not wanting to do any art - though he's been really poorly for the last couple of days, so I don't blame him.  So today I took the opportunity to do some drawing with Freya.  She's really gotten into our magna-doodle in the last week or so and I thought she'd love doing some scribbles with crayons, but she was far more interested in taking the crayons out of their little pouch and then putting them back in!!!

I have ascertained from some rather enthusiastic squeals and pointing that the yellow ones are her favourite!  Who knew?!?!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Making Music

When I asked Riley if he wanted to do the art project I had planned for today he simply said no.  Oh well - I guess everyone has days when they're just not in the mood.  We did have a brief music session this afternoon though, so I thought I'd show you that. 

These are our instruments - well, most of them.  A certain someone wouldn't let me photograph the castanets(!) and there was an incident with the sleigh bells a couple of weeks ago and I still haven't fixed them, but you get the picture.  We inherited most of them when someone was having a clear out and then we bought the little ukulele for Riley when he decided he liked guitars.  Its so nice to have real instruments, not just plastic-y kiddified ones (though to be honest, we do have a toy electric guitar for when Riley is performing concerts of nursery rhymes and songs from the tv!)  Anyway, our session didn't last long, but it was long enough for me to take a couple of slightly blurry action shots.....

Friday, 12 November 2010

Sewing Plans

You know those Christmas projects I mentioned I was working on yesterday?  Well I took a trip to my favourite haberdashery with Freya to stock up on some essentials.  Its such a funny little place - a little booth set off the marketplace and only open 3 days a week, but stocked from floor to ceiling with buttons, ribbons, braiding and embellishments.  I love it!  I got such a good haul - all ready to go on stockings and decorations and other Christmassy projects.  So pretty!!!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Autumn Leaf Stained Glass

We're in arty-crafty no man's land!!  Halloween and Bonfire Night are well and truly over, and I'm not about to start on Christmassy projects with the kids yet (though I'm already working on a few myself!), so today we returned to the Autumn theme we were using before Halloween and did an autumn leaf tissue paper stained glass window.  It was simple enough - I cut some leaf shapes out of autumnal coloured tissue paper and Riley stuck them to some sticky-backed plastic that I had masking taped to our patio doors.  We only did a small one as I wasn't sure how Riley's concentration was going last.

Freya was more than happy to just run around scrunching up tiny bits of tisssue paper, bless her!  I'm quite pleased with the final result though - he's really got the hang of overlapping the bits and not leaving too many gaps.  Its just a shame its such a miserable day here - there's no sun to shine through it.