Eight Excellent Christmas Tree Arts, Crafts & Activities

~It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas~

The tree is going up tonight!! Our normal family tradition is the first of December, but Miss M and I are off to the Christmas concert at school tomorrow night so we are doing it one night early! I am so looking forward to getting into the Christmas spirit this year with our two little ones. To keep the tree safe from Little Man's inquisitive clutches we plan to pop it in the play pen (which wasn't being used for it's intended purpose anyway). This is quite a popular idea for households with toddlers and babies on the move I've heard.

So today I've got some fun and festive Christmas tree themed art, craft and activity ideas for you and your kids to enjoy in the lead up to the special day!

Felt Christmas Tree Decorating



A perfect activity for toddlers (but preschooler's will love it too) is this felt Christmas tree. Stick the tree to a wall using command strips, and the felt decorations stick to the tree. Your little one can decorate and re-decorate the felt tree to their hearts content. Get them from Charlie Robin Designs (but make sure you order before the 12th of December).

Kindly gifted for the purpose of this post.

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EPIC Water Play Ideas for Summer in Adelaide!

It's heating up here in Adelaide and the official start of Summer is just days away, so I've put together an EPIC list of water play ideas thanks to some of my kid blogger friends from all across the globe! There are some really great activities here that I hadn't thought of before and can't wait to try them out.

Kids Craft Room wrote this fantastic post about the benefits of water play; it's a sensory experience, it's clean, it will keep them cool while playing outside on a hot day, it allows them to experiment and explore simple scientific concepts as you'll see in some of the other posts.


(Click the image to go to the full post - all images + links were used with permission from the blogger). 


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2016 Christmas Gift Guide! {Educational Christmas Gift Ideas}

November means... Christmas gift guide time! I've got an epic collection of ideas here for you today that I have spent weeks gathering. Many of these products are on Miss M's wish list that she'll be asking Santa for this year. As ever the focus is on education and encouraging a child's development in all areas.

This year, more people than ever are shopping from their lounge rooms rather than hitting the shops - and why wouldn't you? (I saw a meme today - that said "Instagram is like the biggest store in the world"). So true!


Disclaimer: some (not all) of the products in this guide have been gifted to me, or I have had a previous collaboration with the brand. I received no payment for any brands to appear in this gift guide. All opinions are my own :)


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10 Ways to Use Your Honey and Co Club Canvas Bag

You may have already heard of Honey and Co Club subscription kits - I've featured them here on the blog and Instagram from time to time, and they've made a great gift to give some of my friend's kids this year. I love how every month is a different theme and all the little goodies come in the loveliest canvas bags which can be used over and over again for so many things (and every month is a different funky pattern too - we've got a collection of 4 already!).


Today's post is giving you TEN ways to reuse your Honey and Co Club canvas bag. They come in so handy as you'll see...

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Why I Think EVERY Classroom Needs This Rainbow

If you asked me to choose my ONE FAVOURITE toy for kids - it would be the Grimm's wooden rainbow stacker. I just adore them for so many reasons (possibly all stemming from my childhood obsession with rainbows).

Another way to order the arcs from biggest to smallest

Did you know Grimm's is a German based company, and one question I'm always asked is "Where can you get them here in Australia??". Well you need look no further that one of my fave Instagrammer Brianna's (Notes from a Home Educator) new shop The Creative Toy Shop (*affiliate link). Brianna is a professional nanny + special ed teacher who is (like me) passionate about play based learning and she has so so SO many brilliant ideas on her Instagram page (here's some ways the boys she educates use their rainbow).

Image credit - Notes from a Home Educator

As you all (probably) know I'm still on maternity leave, so today on the blog I get to pretend that I'm back in a classroom and share all the brilliant ways I could use this rainbow stacker with my class, and why I think EVERY junior primary classroom (preschool, kindy, early years classroom, homeschool playroom) should have one. There are many possibilities for learning in various curriculum areas.

*Kindly gifted for the purpose of this review. 

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Just Like Riding a Bike {FirstBIKE Feature}

Traditional tricycle vs balance bike??
That's what we're talking about today!

Promise you won't laugh, but I have a confession to make... I actually can't ride a bike...
Did you laugh??
It's ok if you did.

I also know nothing about modes of transportation. So I've called in my expert husband James to answer my questions after his hours upon hours of research into getting the right bike for Miss M (which he secretly enjoys - it's like his hobby. Blogging is mine and research is his). I was a bit worried at first as I'm sure lots of mums would be about how their little ones would go on a balance bike - but James is going to ease those worries and explain it all to us!

*Balance bike kindly gifted by FirstBIKE for the purpose of this review.


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It Really Does Take a Village {Tree Hut Village Feature}

This post is brought to you by Tree Hut Village. 

It really does take a village to raise a child.

That village may look different to you and I. Everyone's village is different - some have their parents, in-laws, aunties and uncles, grandparents, friends, mother's group, neighbours but there are also lots of 'virtual' villages out there to help parents as well. Via my Jan 2016 birth club + the Mums With Hustle biz club on Facebook I met Eva and learnt about her brand new biz the Tree Hut Village so I'm helping her out by being a member of her village and trying to spread the word. 

Meet Eva!

Eva shared with me a bit about how the biz came about...

We have lived in Melbourne for over six years and are loving it. The food and the people are amazing and it was an easy decision to start our family here. We have welcomed our little man in January this year and love being parents. My husband I have wanted to start a business for a long time now. We've been busy with work and one day, when my brother visited with his little girl and we had to get so much stuff for her, we thought: "Wouldn't it be great to just get it from a mum down the road?". A bit of time went by and once I was on maternity leave and I had no more money coming in,  I felt that not only would it be great to not have to take a bunch of stuff when you travel but that bit of extra money really does help as well. The experience of being a mum myself and knowing how hard and nerve wrecking it is to travel with a little one and the feeling of not having any of your "own" money all of a sudden really motivated me to start Tree Hut Village.  

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Tailor Made Tales {Personalised Books for Kids}

There are so many nifty little products for kids out there these days, you just need to know where to FIND THEM! That's where I (and lots of other bloggers) come in. We love to discover unique and personalised items for your kids that you won't find in shops, try them out, and share them with you. We also love helping out small biz mums to get their awesome products seen by more eyes!

So today's product review is a pretty special one. It's a personalised story book, made by Kim from Tailor Made Tales. It's not just an ordinary photo book though, Kim will actually write a unique story especially for your child based on the photos you send her. I just love this idea, and I was so happy with what she came up with for Miss M (kindly gifted for the purpose of this review).


"The Big Adventures of a Big Sister"

I even love the title!


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Encouraging Kids to Colour, Draw and Write

It all begins with toddler scribble, then comes more purposeful colouring, shapes become recognisable pictures, letters start to appear and it all falls into place!

Well, in theory!

Some of Miss M's art work #soproud

Children come to their first year of school with a wide variety of pre-existing skills. Some have never really held a pencil before, and others can write their name and colour in neatly. It really varies from child to child. Just quietly I think it's super cute when kids first start to draw pictures of people and its just a circle head with sticks coming out of it lol! I always say to them - "Do your arms come out of your ears?" 

If you want to encourage your preschooler to colour, draw and write before starting school (or if your school kid needs a bit more help in this area) I have some ideas for you!

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Helping Kids Learn about Emergencies & Triple Zero

It's something that we hope our kids will never have to do - dial triple zero in an emergency. But it's important that they do know how to should they ever be in that situation. It's also important that they can differentiate between different 'emergencies' and identify 'is it really an emergency?'.

I was recently sent a fantastic book which gently introduces this concept to young children in a not-at-all scary way.


Meet Toby the Teddy...


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Play is Play {+ A History Lesson}

Something a little different, but something close to my heart.

On the weekend we attended the 50th birthday of the Kathleen Mellor Kindergarten in Tea Tree Gully (Kathleen was my great great aunt, and my maiden name is Mellor, so that's where the significance lies). You can read more about my visit to the kindy back in 2014 here. When I re-read that post, and at the time the director Anne was talking to me about the 50th birthday celebration planned for 2016, it sounded so far away, and I can't believe it's been and gone!

Anyway, my Aunty Sue had unearthed some treasures and memorabilia from Kathleen's life that we were eager to share at the celebration. The one thing that really stood out to me was the photos of PLAY. And how the children 50 years ago were playing, not far different to today. Play is play. Play will always be PLAY.

Reading

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Dear LUSH - Thank You For Making Me Feel Human Again

Ok, so before you say "What do Lush cosmetics have anything to do with early learning and parenting? Hold on Lauren you are not a beauty blogger no matter how many times you dress up and pretend to be!"... I couldn't not share and write about my awesome night out at the special sneak peak opening of the new Lush store in Rundle Mall.

L is for Lush

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Our Play Space for a Crawler and a Preschooler to Co-exist

He's 10 months old and well and truly on the move!


Crawling that is.

And that means it's a whole new ball game.

We suddenly seem to have this extra presence in our house and have to be aware of where he is and what he's doing all the time. No more plonking him down on the mat with a basket of toys to occupy him. Cupboards, drawers and doors are now hazards we have to be even more careful of Miss M's teeny tiny bits and pieces.

So, as we've gathered more and more "STUFF" our play area has evolved over the years, from this...

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I didn't plan on baby wearing... but here I am {and I love my Ergo}

It really fascinates me how two children raised by the same parents in the same home in the same way can be so different. This is when you really understand what they by 'nature vs nurture'. As Little Man is growing and developing and we are learning more about his personality and how he is so different to Miss M.


Long story short, he likes to be held...

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