Play and theme-based learning with our children

Friday, March 23, 2012

Small World Play

Tiny toy objects play big in the minds of kids. Small world play unleashes the potential of a kid's flexible imagination to both focus and expand moment-by-moment.

As a kid, I spent countless hours playing out animal figurine scenes. I craved those well-crafted German ones made to look like the real thing, but managed fine with the less accurate dime-store versions. (Of course, I had to buy the real deal for myself my little guy.)

Beyond doll houses and Legos, two mainstays of small world play, there's many great ideas from the crafting and kid play community. Check out my Pinterest board on small world play. I'm digging the fairy gardens, though we'll have to work up to the level of sophistication of the gardens I've pinned!

At preschool this winter (bye!!), my guy made a bear cave (pictured at top), and if he's lucky we'll make a winter wonderland this weekend using shaving cream!

For now, I'm happy to keep it easy. During a break in our rainy days, we played dinosaur outside by turning a planter into a terrarium.

Keep playing!

Markers + Paper = A Very Long Story

We were on Kiwi Crate this week!
I know what you’re thinking. I’m getting thin on ideas, right? Well, maybe. But consider this a twist on the usual. I wrote this one up because of how my son surprised me by what he did with such everyday ingredients.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day!

For Pi day, we made a camellia flower circle in our back yard in the rain. I attempted to explain pi to my preschooler.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Marshmallows + Toothpicks = Sculpture

It’s early on a Sunday, and I’m up with my 5 year-old son and infant while my hard-working husband sleeps in. The morning sun streams through the window, illuminating our marshmallow sculptures we made (an oldie but goodie inspired by a recent post from The Artful Parent).

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ice and Snow Melting Experiments

Old man winter finally woke up and puffed a nice blanket of powder up in the Sierra mountains last week. Luckily, we were able to make the trek over the weekend to play in the snow with friends. Skiing, sledding, snow ball fights – we did it all!

We often make a requisite snow man too, though this time we tried making sculptures by dripping water onto snow. We filled water bottles with water. I was thinking the kids would at least get a kick out of squirting water on the snow (if not on each other).

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Foil + Plastic Cup = Pirate Hook

This post first appeared on

Yo ho! It’s pirate month at Kiwi Crate! From the moment our green crate hit the doorstep, my wee pirate wasted no time plundering his monthly-delivered treasure.  He soon recruited fellow swashbucklers for a pirate play date.

Pirate Telescope Spotting Game

This post first appeared on I repost here to keep memories in one place!

For little explorers and pirates alike, the telescope is an essential play accessory. And kids certainly know how to convert a tube into a scope! For us it’s a weekly occurrence that I toss a spent paper tube to my 5 year-old son, who immediately puts it to his eye for spotting.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Freestyle Cardboard Painting Turned Castle (Saves the Day)

This post first appeared on

OK, I’ve got a crying, hungry baby in one arm and an antsy preschooler pulling on the other. As a quick fix, I grab a cardboard box from the garage, a handful of paint jars and paint brushes. I put it all outside on the deck, setting my almost 5 year-old son loose, unsupervised. I mention as I’m walking back inside that he has enough paint brushes so he can keep his colors separate if he wants. Ha!