Magic Watercolour painting – 28 months

I always like to look out for new activities with Monkey and a couple of weeks ago I saw a post (I’m really sorry I can’t remember where) of an activity I remember as a kid. Magic Watercolour Painting. The premise is simple you draw a picture on a white piece of paper, using a white wax crayon. When you paint over the picture using the watercolour paints, the wax repels the paint and your picture appears.

I thought this sounded simple and fun for Monkey. I thought I could draw something and I imagined him loving the images revealing themselves underneath. We haven’t really done watercolour painting before, sticking to poster paints generally, so I thought this would be nice to try.

I bought some uber cheap watercolour paints, found a white wax crayon and drew somethings on some paper. I kept it simple, drawing numbers (because he loves them) and I also wrote out a Happy Birthday message to his Great Grandpa, thinking it would be a nice picture to give him.

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Sadly we didn’t ever give him that picture, because, well it didn’t exactly work out. It’s not that it was a total disatser, because it wasn’t. Monkey very much enoyed the watercolour painting, although he did for some reason decide everything had to be black (cheerful colour) and sometimes randomly spent some time going from paint to water to paint to water without getting anything on paper, but it was a learning experience and he had fun.

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What was unfortunate though, is that the ‘magic’ side of the activity didn’t really happen. The images just didn’t really appear. Not in the way I remembered or thought they would. Occasionally you could see a bit of a number or letter, but then they seemed to disappear 🙁

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I wondered if maybe the crayon was a washable one or something, so I found a different brand of white crayon (a more basic one) and tried that, by drawing a clock. Not much of an improvement.


I then drew some numbers in really thick crayon, going over and over the image so get as much wax on the paper as possible. This gave the best result of the day, in that you can at least see the numbers… but it’s still not really the way I am remembering it!


Has anyone got any tips? Am I missing some crucial step? I would love to know where I am going wrong with what I thought would be such a simple and fun activity! Monkey enjoyed himself so I’m not too despondent about it but I was a bit gutted it didn’t go quite the way I had planned!

Mini Creations
Family Friday

Ten Easy Ideas for Outdoor Play

Regular readers may remember that at the start of the year we put a lot of time and effort into Operation Garden renovation. Turning our junk heap of a garden into a nice place to be. We hoped it would be ready in time for the summer, so that a lot of time could be spent outside enjoying it. With me being pregnant we were particularly keen on this idea as it would mean that there would be days where I could easily occupy Monkey outdoors, without having to go anywhere! The good news is that we managed this and have already been spending a lot of time out there, doing various activities (I will list some of our favourites below).

For Monkey’s birthday in May we bought a second hand climbing frame on ebay complete with swing and slide, to have in the garden. Unfortunately with all of the illness that surrounded his birthday weekend we never actually put it up, and with one thing and another we just hadn’t ever got around to putting it up! This all changed last weekend though and we finally have a lovely climbing frame in use in our garden!

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Ice Painting – 26 months

Ice Painting is a fantastic summer activity for so many reasons. It is a great form of sensory play with all of the learning experiences that go with it – talking about how temperature, texture, colours etc. It is also another way for a little one to express their creativity. Plus, the really obvious fact that it is cold, which makes it a perfect activity on a hot day!

Ice Painting

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Easter Fun 2014 – 23 Months old

Happy Easter!! Hope you have all had a lovely relaxed weekend so far and eaten lots of chocolate? No? Well there’s still time!

We’ve had lots of Easter fun so far this year!

We’ve made Easter Nests, Easter Cards and been on an Easter Hunt, and Monkey has loved every minute!

Easter Nests

There is obviously different ways of making easter nests but I like to use Shredded Wheat, as then they feel a bit more nest-y.

So we used:
1 pack of Shredded Wheat 16s
400g Belgian Milk Chocolate (we are a little in love with the Waitrose own brand Belgian Milk Chocolate at the mo – seriously, you should try it, yummy!!) We actually used a little less than this as I had scoffed some beforehand, but it would’ve been better if we had the whole bars!
Mini Eggs

Easter Nests

Basically you bash up the Shredded Wheat, Monkey helped with this, until it is really fine. I actually find using the end of a big rolling pin is the best bashing method! Lots of fun!!

Melt chocolate, we do it over the hob in a bowl over simmering water, but I hear microwaving is very easy too!

Mix, then scoop into cake cases, and add eggs.

Very simple, tasty chocolatey fun! 🙂

Easter Cards

After the success of Granny’s birthday card a couple of weeks ago, i thought we’d use a similar  method for Easter cards and involve monkey with some finger painting! The first time we tried unfortunately Monkey just mixed up the paint and we ended up with some murky brown splodges, he had fun, but not very attractive or easter themed!

We tried again at the weekend with some different colours and had much more success! Once the masterpieces had dried I cut them into egg shapes and stuck them onto some cards. Monkey finished them off with some lovely colouring! Easy peasy Easter cards!

Easter Cards

Easter Hunt

Because we would like to avoid too much of a sugar rush, we got some other bits in addition to eggs, to make this an Easter Hunt, rather than an Easter ‘Egg’ Hunt. I dotted the chicks and bunnies, signs and eggs around the front garden (the back garden still being mainly mud at the moment, with less places to hide them!) for Monkey to find. With the weather forecast for Easter Sunday a bit miserable we did the hunt on Saturday afternoon, in case it got rained off on Sunday!.

Monkey loved it, I mean it lasted about 5 minutes but he had lots of fun with all his bunnies and chicks, and putting them in his little basket. He obv loved eating the choccy eggs too!

Easter Hunt

I used to love Easter as a kid, Easter egg hunts, chocolate, but as an adult I didn’t really celebrate it much. Now we have a little man it is bringing the fun back again and I am loving all the Easter fun this year!

Have you had much fun over Easter?
Tasty Tuesdays on

The Reading Residence
Mumday Monday

Toddler Sunrise Painting – 21 months

I first saw this idea from Lucy at Baked Potato Mummy. Her little Potato isn’t much older than Monkey and I am always inspired by (and a little in awe of) the arts and crafts they get up to. The idea is that you fold a piece of card in half and your little one paints it oranges and reds for the sky. Then on a separate piece of folded card, they paint the bluey sea. Then when it is all dry you match the pieces together and have a lovely sunset picture!

It looks like such a simple way to have an actual picture at the end so I thought it was perfect for this week’s Creative Challenge.

I’d bought some new paints recently so I splodged some onto some paper plates as I figured that was the easiest way of doing it. For the sea part of the picture I chose purple, blue and green. For the sky I went for orange and yellow. (They didn’t have any red in stock the day I went to buy the paint).

A while ago, at the start of the Creative Challenge I had bought some sponge-brushes which I thought would be good for this so out they came.  Monkey got stuck in – we started with the orangy/yellow sky. WP_20140228_10_20_52_Pro WP_20140228_10_21_53_Pro WP_20140228_10_22_46_Pro WP_20140228_10_26_13_Pro

Then, when he had had enough, we had a clean and then did the sea.

WP_20140228_10_44_22_Pro WP_20140228_10_45_43_Pro WP_20140228_10_46_11_Pro WP_20140228_10_45_11_Pro Monkey had loads of fun and we ended up with this masterpiece!



Hurrah, a successful creative challenge!! 🙂 We’re getting better at containing the mess when it comes to painting. I have discovered that the key is preparation, having a bowl of soapy water, cloth and tea towels on standby – along with a large amount of baby wipes to quickly clean up any splashes!

Do you like being creative with your kids? Or are you good at being creative cooking on a budget? Join in with the Creative Challenge and link up with me

Creative Challenge
Mini Creations

Creative Challenge Linky #1

Hello and welcome to The Creative Challenge!!

This is a new weekly linky for you to link up any posts (new or old) about you challenging yourself to be more creative.

Please click here if you would like to find out more, but the basic premise is that you challenge yourself to be more creative. You could be trying to be more creative with playtime ideas or messy play, or with a new hobby for yourself. Push yourself to try something a bit more creative, then come back and let me know how you’ve got on. Even if things haven’t gone quite as well as you hoped!!! We can’t all do everything right all of the time,  but the important thing is to try something new and push ourselves. That’s what this is all about!

My creative challenge so far hasn’t been very successful at all!

You may have read about the disastrous attempt at cutting and sticking that was the Failed Valentine’s craft attempt, which basically resulted in this:

Created with Nokia Camera

Like I say, it didn’t go too well.

Not to be put off though I tried again, this time with glue sticks rather than gloopy glue. Once again though Monkey was obsessed with the lid , and trying to pick the glue out of the stick, but he was not so interested in doing any sticking. (We used foam shapes and googly eyes this time.)


A couple of times I thought he was getting interested in the sticking, but no, if anything he preferred picking off the bits that I had stuck down!! Once again it did not go the way I hoped.


So we resorted back to good old fashioned stickers, which he loves sticking down. Not sure why he likes those rather than sticking with glue but hey ho!

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He was quite happy so it wasn’t an all out fail I suppose, even if it didn’t go the way I hoped it would! The whole point though is that I challenged myself to be more creative – and I did  even if it’s with an activity he’s not really ready for yet!!

Right, now it’s your turn to link up your posts, and tell me all about your Creative Challenge!

Creative Challenge

Here’s how this works.

  1. Write a new post (or an old one if it fits the theme) all about your Creative Challenge.
  2. Grab the Creative Challenge badge (by copying the code above) and pop it at the bottom of your post (in the ‘text’ version).
  3. Link your post  by clicking on the ‘Add your link’ button and filling in the form.
  4. Linkys only work when we take the time to read each others posts and leave comments so please let’s support each other and read and comment on as many posts as you are able to.

The linky opens at 6.30am on Wednesday and will close at 11.00pm on Sunday so there is plenty of time to join in.

The Creative Challenge – Join in with me!

I recently posted about how I am challenging myself to be more Creative with Monkey.  My aim is to come up with some more arty crafty things to do with him over the next month, and then report back on my progress and how successful I have been! I have decided that this kind of challenge is more fun done as a team, so….

Do you think you could be more creative? Do you shy away from messy play? Is there are a craft/art/hobby you’ve wanted to try but never quite got round to it?

I CHALLENGE you to change all that and give something new a try!

It could be anything you like as long as it’s a bit creative, such as:

 Always fancied crochet/knitting? Now’s the time to try.

Do you shy away from sticky/messy play? It’s time to be brave!

Want to get more adventurous with cooking/baking? Do it.

Always fancied writing a short story? Why not start right now?


Then come back and let me know how you’ve got on.

I’m giving us a month to give time to prepare and have time to make a good start.

The linky will open on WEDNESDAY 26TH FEBRUARY for you to share your creative story.

Please grab my badge, and spread the word! #CreativeChallenge

If you think you are going to join in I would love it if you could comment below and tell me how you are going to challenge yourself


Creative Challenge

Painting with a paintbrush! 19 months old

Over the  Christmas break, whilst out having some lunch with some friends, Monkey picked up a chip and dipped it in some ketchup (not to eat of course, don’t be silly ;)) and had great fun using it to ‘paint’ with. We haven’t done finger painting for a while because he’s generally not a fan of having things on his hands (nothing to do with the mess it makes hehe ;)) and I didn’t think he was anywhere near ready for a paintbrush, but seeing him with the ketchup and chip gave me other ideas.

WP_20140103_11_31_14_ProSo I found some non toxic paints that are supposedly washable. I could have made the home-made paints again but to be honest I was feeling lazy and I’m not 100% keen on the consistency. It’s quite jelly like and well who am I kidding, I’ve just been feeling lazy! So I bought some non-toxic paints.

Anyway so we got monkey to wear one of his old coverall bibs, which he was ok with once it was on. We gave up the fight over bibs at mealtimes a loooong time ago so it is a teeny bit snug on him! The paints say they are washable but I don’t really trust them! He sat at his little table in the conservatory (definitely my preferred place for messy play) and he loved it.


We didn’t get him any water to rinse off the brush between colours, which maybe we should have done, but then I have a feeling it may just have ended up being a very very watery painting! The result of not doing it though is that all the paints are now a bit of a mix of colours, but hey ho, it’s only him that’s using them and so who cares.

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I tried to get him to do some hand prints when he inevitably got it on his hands, but he mainly just wiped it down his front – so thank goodness for the bib!

Daddy was around too to help with the clean up, which definitely helped! Will need to see how I manage the clean up on my own haha. The only problem with messiness in the conservatory is that we are a long way from a tap or basin, so I will need to be organised with a bowl of soapy water next time, to avoid any paint escaping into the rest of the house!

MumturnedMom introduced me to the idea of a ‘tuff spot‘ which looks genius to me and so one is on order! I am looking forward to trying out messy play in that when it arrived!

How do you contain the mess?

Containing the mess – finger painting in the bath – 15 months

We recently moved Monkey out of his highchair and onto a booster seat at the dining table for mealtimes. He is loving sitting at the table and meal times have been a bit better so it was definitely time to make the move. One of the problems with this though is when it comes to messy, creative, activities. While he was sat in his highchair, the mess was basically contained to him and his tray. At the table it gets spread all over the place. Plus he used to sit so comfortably in his high chair but now is such a fidget bum (one of the reasons we made the change to booster seat) and once he’s eaten, he wants to get down. He’s not really happy sitting anywhere for any length of time really!

So what to do? I don’t want to stop doing all the creative, messy things, but my heart flutters when I think what those little hands can do with a load of finger paints in our lovely house! So I have been trying to work out what best to do. Obviously there is outside. We play with his chalk outside, which he loves, and he is learning that it doesn’t get any further into the house than the conservatory. We also play with sand and water etc. outside. But finger paints add a whole other layer of mess don’t they? If I get a bit of sand or water on me while cleaning him, then no big deal, but I don’t really want to get covered in paint. Also, where do I clean him? The outside tap is on the front of the house so it would mean running round the front with him, but let’s face it, that water is pretty darn cold! Do I try and carry him in the house, hands under his arms, dangling him in front of me trying to avoid paint getting on everything?

It is these things that have led to the finger paints staying firmly shut away for a while! Then after getting a comment from Gill last week (I hope you’re reading Gill :)) I had an idea! The bathroom! If I set him up in the bath with the paints then he can make as much mess as he likes and then I can just hose it (and him) down afterwards with the shower! Definitely worth a go,

Note: I do this with homemade paints where the colour is food colouring and so washes off things easily. I can’t recommend doing it with bought paints unless you want to do a tiny patch test somewhere first to see if it comes off!

I set aside some time at home one day to give this a go. Unfortunately though, because the finger paints hadn’t been used in a while they had gone mouldy in the cupboard (yuk). So whilst Monkey ate his snack I quickly whipped up some more. The recipe is here, sooo easy.

Anyway, I have to say it really was a success, as you can see in the photos! He only lasted in there about 15-20 minutes, but that’s about as long as he does anything for, so not too bad. I know it’s a lot of effort to go to, both before and after, but it was definitely a lot of fun. He also hated being cleaned afterwards, but then he never likes to be cleaned so nothing new there.

Most importantly though, it came off the bathroom tiles with no problem. There are some ever so slight colour stains on the grout but nothing that concerns me or hubby too much. I’m sure it would probably come off if I bleached it anyway but you can’t even see it unless you really look. I used a load of old towels for the rest of the bathroom and had to wipe my hands on those a bit but basically the mess was contained! Woohoo! Here is our little artist having fun with his paints in the bath! He ended up a bit blue afterwards but again it’s only food colouring so I’m not too fussed 🙂






The realities of playtime with a tiny toddler

I wrote this post in the summer, when Monkey was 14 months old, but it seems apt for the theme of ‘Play’ for this week’s The Theme Game:

Right it is time to be honest here, keeping a little one entertained for longer than a few minutes at a time is practically impossible. I was going to say 5 minutes but hubby felt (and I agreed) that 5 mins was too ambitious, so a few minutes is more realistic. If you have read much of my blog you will know that I am trying out a lot of different play ideas with my monkey. He is constantly on the go and looking for things to do so I try really hard to find knew ways for him to learn through play.

I spend a lot of time (in short bursts between looking after monkey and trying to keep the house clean-ish) perusing the internet, via pinterest, other blogs and baby sites to get ideas. I read books and was even given a set of cards with things to do. Many of the ideas are common sense, such as ‘go outside’. Honestly I spend so much time outside as there is free entertainment out there in the form of oh, daisies, stones, mud … anything on the ground….. But these places do come up with some gems that I like to try out but really you have no idea if your little one will be ready for it developmentally, or will get bored uber quickly, or like it, until their attention is taken by something else.

P1030010Because, in reality, to fill a day of playing at home, you have to try out so many different things. In the space of an hour yesterday, we did some finger painting, played with play-doh, danced around to some music, played with the clothes pegs (basically spreading them around the room while I tried in vain to get him to “put them back” which I know he understands but complies with intermittently) played with his new kitchen, used mummy as a climbing frame, went in the garden (even though it was starting to rain, I was getting desperate) and played in the very wet sand pit, dug in the dirt, played in the sand and water a bit more, then as he was now filthy and it was nearly nap time, had a bit of a play sorting bottles out in the bath while I washed off the debris from playtime.


P1020801Whilst all this is happening I’m also trying to clean up the mess made my some of these activities, scrubbing a potential stain from the finger paints on our lovely dining table (I hadn’t realised he’d got paint on the bottom of his drink bottle until after it had sat on the table for a few mins – thankfully it came off though), trying to pick up all the teeny bits of play-doh off the floor as he likes too tear it up and spread it around the room (we confine this activity to the conservatory thankfully so it doesn’t get walked through the house), pull play-doh out of my hair and pick up the clothes pegs (until he sees they are back in the basket and decides to up-end it again -this was the point that we went outside). I’m sure this is all sounding very very familiar to the other mummies out there!

An hour or so of this I am ok with, but when faced with an entire day at home is it any wonder I go wibbly at the knees? It is fun, don’t get me wrong, but oh, so, tiring. Hence, this morning when my friend text me at 7:30am (I know if I get a text at this time of the morning that it will be another mummy) and suggested we go to the park for the day, I jumped at the chance! I had been sat contemplating my options for the day ahead and was relieved to be able to go and entertain him outside on the play area, in the sand pit and in the paddling pool there. Of course I also take stickers, a ball and other toys for when he is bored of those activities! 🙂 Plus it is nice to have a good natter with my friend and talk about our ups and downs, much more fun than taking the monkey on my own. He is making lots of word-like sounds at the moment but as yet he is not much of a conversationalist.

My point, ah yes, I don’t really have one, other than to any other mummy who puts in the effort of making homemade paints, play-doh etc, only to have the little one play for a couple of mins at a time, you are not alone! I have found lots of places to find the ideas of things to do, but very few people realistically saying, that this may entertain them for a max of 5 minutes. Who knows, maybe it is just my Monkey, maybe he is going to grow up to have ADHD or  something? Though I have read that a short attention span is normal so I hope not. Either way though I will continue to try things out as I know that eventually he will play longer by himself and be occupied by something for a slightly longer period. Bring on that day is all I can say 🙂

The Reading Residence