Thursday, 18 December 2014

Wetland Explorers

Living in Darwin means there are a few things on which you can (usually) rely. 

1. It's going to be hot and steamy. This is why I wear sunscreen every day and take a hat and water bottle with me wherever I go.

2. At this time of year it's going to be wet. Especially at school pick up time (why is that?!). This is why I keep umbrellas and shoes that can get wet in my car. 

Every year we've lived here, however, we've had a lot of variety in terms of the amount of rain in the wet season. (You can learn a bit about our seasons here.)  
So far, this year has seemed a bit drier than "normal", though we have had a couple of big storms to cool things off a bit. 
And it's not just me who likes the rain. Bird species from all over the world fly here at this time of year to revel in the wetlands that form as a result of all this precipitation. 

Just down the track a bit from Darwin on the road to Kakadu National Park is Window on the Wetlands- an interactive information centre with almost 360' views out over the wetlands.  Hence the name.

As part of our mission to introduce some fun, family, quality time on weekends we have taken a few trips out to the Window on "Adventure Sunday". 

We admire the views. 
We always dress the part of intrepid explorers (how little is he here?!?)
We compare the amount of water from our last visit - and try to spot buffalo wallowing in the mud
Then we drive over Fogg Dam in order to get a closer look at some of the bird life. 

We spot egrets and kites...
Snake-necked darts sunning themselves... ducks cruising...

lapwings and more egrets...
The water lilies are stunning too...

There's a viewing platform at the end where you can hop out of the car. We were lucky enough to spot this beauty too.

And we always keep our eyes peeled for those elusive saltwater crocodiles. 
The Territory sure has it's moments.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Ten for Tuesday - An Elf on the Shelf Special Edition

Our special little elf visitor has been having a lot of fun at our house so far this month, so today's Ten for Tuesday is an Elf on the Shelf Special Edition...

1. Camping and toasting marshmallows in a sock sleeping bag. | 2. The amazing Hot Chocolate Station he made for us! | 3. Quietly reading his favourite Christmas story. | 4. Reindeer riding.
5. He brought the boys some Christmas pyjamas. | 6. Hamish loves his!
7. Scout likes the Woolies animal cards too. | 8. He found the letters for our Typo Lightbox. | 9. Hanging around waiting for big bro to come home for Christmas! | 10. Playing Noughts and Crosses North Pole style.

Do you have an elf? I'd love to see what yours has been up too! You can follow Scout's adventures on Instagram - #sahtelf

Monday, 15 December 2014

Chrsitmas Craft Ideas

We've been doing a few simple Christmas crafts as part of our Advent Activities Calendar and I thought I'd share in case you're on school holidays too and looking for something to keep your monkeys busy.

SALT DOUGH ORNAMENTS
These were super easy and able to be done by the kids. We made our salt dough using 1/2 cup of salt, 1/2 cup warm water and 1 cup of plain flour. After rolling and cutting the shapes we used some Christmas stamps to leave imprints and a straw to put a hole in each one. Then we baked them at 120'C for just over two hours (this will depending on the size of your shape and the thickness of the dough - you may need three hours).

We used a cute little paw print to make a special ornament for the newest member of our family too!

CINNAMON STICK ORNAMENTS
Cinnamon stick ornaments look and smell amazing and were really easy to make. Just cut your sticks to graduated lengths, hot glue together, then hot glue a long stick along the back. We also glued on a star anise and some red ribbon for a festive touch and to hang on the tree.

Depending on the age of your kids they might need to watch this one.  I cut and hot glued, they helped me line up the sticks and told me where to position the stars.

CHRISTMAS TREE STAINED GLASS ART
Christmas tree stained glass pictures were fun too.

I folded and cut out trees using the template here, then cut a piece of clear Contact paper to size and placed the tree shape on it- sticky side up, obviously!

I then gave the kids a variety of pre-cut tissue paper, ribbon, foam shapes and sequins and let them stick away. It was fun to watch how each kid approached this task differently - one had a plan, one got bored and the other had to be told he'd probably run out of room to stick any more!  
Then we lifted them carefully and stuck them on the windows.

PLAYDOUGH CHRISTMAS TREES
We made these cute little kits for Rohan's kindy friends and the spare ones have been a real hit here at home!

Whip up a batch of green playdough and gather together little stars, sequins, tinsel and garlands to decorate your tree. We've been having hours of fun with the dough everyday.

Here's the link to the dough and printable labels.


How do you entertain your kids over the festive holidays?

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Ten for Tuesday

1. Super proud of this guy who got two awards from school this year - for Science & Physical Education. | 2. This guy is (mostly) the most delightful creature. I adore spending my days teaching and learning with him. | 3. Award ceremony selfie that actually turned out alright! | 4. Between storm trampolining with Daddy. | 5. We've been doing heaps of festive crafts - might have to do a post on them. | 6. Pizza movie nights are now all about Christmas films. We've introduced a couple of new ones this year.
7. Rohan & I made little presents for our Kindy friends. (You can get full instructions and the printable here.) | 8. Don't you love it when you find a great series to read devour! | 9. Fox in Flats Style Dare is back for #DAREcember - having lots of fun 'playing dress-ups'. | 10. In the final planning stages for Rohan's birthday party. The invites have turned out so great!
 How's your week been?

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Ten for Tuesday

1. New animals in the school playground are making it twelve times more difficult to get him to want to leave | 2. Some afternoons we arrive early to have extra time to play and enjoy being together. | 3. Some afternoons we fall asleep because we refuse to have a nap at home! | 4. Mango and coconut milk - blend and freeze - yum! | 5. Wet season celebrations have begun!
6. Liam played his viola on stage at the Darwin Entertainment Centre. | 7. A rare moment where all three are playing together nicely. | 8. Christmas lights on the teepee means three kids who want to sleep there! | 9. The tree is up! Special ornaments with special memories - and he takes his star duties very seriously. | 10. Festive freak has been unleashed - no surface is safe!

How's your week been?

Monday, 1 December 2014

The 3 Toys All Boys Should Have

When I talk about "essential" toys for young children what do you think about?

A ball? Wooden blocks? Stacking toys? Duplo Lego? 

I think that answer depends a lot upon our knowledge of educational theory and our own experiences.

There are a lot of educational toys out there that would probably top the list of "Must Haves" for all children. Those items that will assist your child with the development of early language, math and practical skills.

When it comes to little boys, however, I think there are three main toys that all boys should have - any they're probably not what you'd expect.

In the Montessori philosophy, the most important category of learning for young children is Practical Life. In this area, children learn the skills required to care for themselves, for others and for their environment. 

Ideally, this means giving children the opportunity to perform real, everyday activities with child-sized equipment. Such activities might include washing dishes, cleaning windows, sweeping and chopping food.

Sometimes, we are unable to give children the opportunity to engage with "real" experiences and I believe, in such instances, the pretend version can be just as good. (There are also choices you can make to enable their pretend experience to be as close to real as possible).

The toys that I think my boys benefit most from playing with fall into this category and these are the toys that - for wildly outdated, stereotypical reasons - are still sold in that gaudy pink aisle of the toy section.

1. A Baby Doll
My boys have all played with my former Cabbage Patch babies - often as preparation for a new sibling's arrival. 

Baby dolls will encourage your son to be gentle and loving and prepare them for a potential future role as a great Dad. 
Obviously, the more realistic looking your doll, the more realistic your experience. Though, personally I draw the line at dolls that wet themselves. An effective Montessori Practical Life activity is washing babies - for which you'd need a plastic doll and small washing tub. 

Baby dolls should also come with the appropriate accessories to encourage care - a change of clothes, a blanket and a bottle.


2. A Pram

Like all toddlers, little boys love to push things- especially when they are novices at the walking thing. 

Toy prams are the perfect thing to push around. We love collecting stuffed toys, dinosaurs and cars and taking them for a walk. Even if you're not pushing a baby doll, a pram also helps to get in some practice with the good parenting skills we were talking about above.

Like the real version, there are a huge variety of different styles of toy prams available. You could get one to match yours. Colour shouldn't matter, but I chose ours because it was the only one not entirely hot pink.


3. A Kitchen Play Set OR Tea Set


We do a fair amount of real cooking together. My boys like to pour, measure, mix and, of course, taste-test.

There are times, however, when I need the kitchen to myself or that they'd like to cook while I'm busy elsewhere. I'm yet to build up the courage to let them cook on their own (but when I do I'll be modelling this set up from Sara at Happiness is Here). So, a play kitchen is the answer.

You don't have to go all out and have a play kitchen like we do. A simple tea set or some of your proper - but perhaps smaller - kitchen utensils will do the job too. 

We love this Ikea Kitchen because of it's oven, sink, and light-up stove. (I'm planning on picking up the top section next time I'm at an Ikea).

Using real, and some breakable kitchen equipment gives children a sense of care and responsibility. We love the pots and pans, plates and bowls, baking set and tea set from Ikea too.

This is not a sponsored post, by the way! An apron is also an important tool in Montessori. It signifies the beginning of the child's "work" which is - and should be viewed as - a valuable contribution to home life. The matching Chef's hat and oven mitt are optional, but adorable.

So, mother's of boys - do you agree? Any other items you'd add to the essential list?

Friday, 28 November 2014

Easy Ways to Makeover a Children's Bedroom

Remember when I did this bedroom makeover for my two middle boys who share a room?

One of the things I wanted to achieve was a room that could easily adapt to suit their changing interests. And, having just given it an easy makeover, I think I've done just that!

While dinosaurs are still cool, the bedding and canvases we had were getting a little too babyish. I also felt that there was just a bit too much colour and clutter going on in the room. 

So, I've made three simple changes and it's made a world of difference.
Firstly, I got rid of the dark blue curtains and replaced them with the same white timber venetian blinds that we are slowly putting throughout the house.

Instant facelift!

The bedside tables were already in our house and the lamp I saw at Target and just fell in love!

Secondly, I took advantage of a 30% off Cotton On sale to pick up some new bedding. I think the black and white is much more soothing.

...the super-cute alphabet bunting is from Cotton on too.


Finally, the gallery wall got a quick makeover by removing the dinosaurs and adding the cute superhero alphabet print, a Captain America image we printed out and the Typo arrow. I also gave their names a quick spray-paint to match the black, red and white we've now got going on.

I'm keeping the hints of green and navy blue for now, but I'm not convinced. What do you think?

And those drawers I wanted to ombre? Broken! So, all we need now is a new chest of drawers next time I hit Ikea and we are sorted. (I've decided that new carpet is something that will have to wait until there's nobody left to toilet train! Or until they've all moved out!)