Tag Archives: indoor fun

Simple Straw Bead Necklaces

Simple Straw Bead Necklaces | Mama Papa BubbaAs the chaos continues, so do the super simple, created-on-a-whim activities for Miss G.  Because the days are passing by so quickly and we still have a ridiculous amount of stuff to be done before the big move, I’ve basically been throwing together activities with whatever is nearby at the moment, and hoping that they’ll keep Gracen happily engaged for a good long time so that Brad and I can throw some more stuff into boxes (sad, but true).

IMG 2567Today, as I was sorting through our big catchall closet, I came across the bubble tea straws we used for Grae’s beloved bubble tea shop we did recently.  I knew I had seen yarn on a shelf somewhere, so I created a really basic beading station for the little lady to enjoy.

IMG 2568Using some big scissors, I chopped up the straws to form beads.  They leapt up from my scissors as they were cut and Gracen thought it was quite funny.  Her job was to collect all of the beads and pop them into this bowl.

IMG 2569Because the straws are so large, Brad created a cardboard stopper at the end of a piece of yarn instead of a giant knot.  This can be done as he did it (by feeding the yarn through a small hole and knotting it on the other side), or it can be done by wrapping the yarn through a couple of slits made in the cardboard square.

IMG 2570Though we actually have several large, unsharp sewing needles from Grae’s ‘sewing kit‘, I had seen this creative alternative on Happy Hooligans, and decided to give it a shot.

IMG 2572Grae started beading right away.  The beauty of this activity is that not only is it simple and fun, but it also is great for fine motor skill development and hand-eye coordination.  Plus it lends itself very easily to patterning if your child decides to take it that way (Miss G did not).

IMG 2576Grae worked on this project for a good long time and finally finished off a giant, brightly-coloured  necklace that she was very proud of.  

I realize that not everyone keeps bubble tea straws on hand, but this same activity would work great with regular small straws (just use a dull knitting needle instead of the straw needle, or put a bit of masking tape on the needle end of the yarn), or better yet – if you’re a Slurpee-loving family, wash out those big Slurpee straws and repurpose them for this project.

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A {Pretend Play} Popcorn Shop

Pretend Play Popcorn Shop | Mama Papa BubbaOur makeshift puppet theatre got LOTs of play and it was {well past} time to switch things up in our little Ikea SKYLTA Market Stand.  Because we’re amidst our 5 days dedicated to packing our entire house, it had to be something super quick and easy to set-up, but highly engaging in order to keep Miss G happily {and independently} playing for as long as possible.

IMG 0406To get things started, I made a little ‘Popcorn Shop’ sign that took less than a minute to make, and popped it into the structure’s sign slot.

IMG 0407Then Grae and I made a big bowl of plain stove-top popcorn (in coconut oil of course) and she grabbed a measuring cup to act as her scoop while I grabbed an old salt shaker that works terribly (it barely lets anything out, and in this case that’s perfect) and put a little sea salt inside.

IMG 0409While I’ve seen really cute old-fashioned popcorn bags at our local dollar store, I’m a big fan of using what you have on hand if you can, so I grabbed some paper bags I’d used at a recent craft market and quickly wrote ‘POPCORN’ across the front of each one.  Together we decided that the small white ones would be the shop’s personal size and the bigger brown ones would be family-sized.  

IMG 0412After retrieving an apron, Miss G opened her popcorn shop for business.

IMG 0405She took orders, asking us about our size and salt preferences, and carefully scooped popcorn into bags.  When an order was ready, she’d deliver it to us wherever we were working in the house, then check back in a few minutes later to see if we needed a free refill… Now that’s what I call service!

IMG 0404Our popcorn shop was a total hit with Grae and my guess is that she’d continue dishing out bags of popcorn as long as I’d continue filling the bowl.  

This inexpensive cardboard contraption has brought us a ton of fun already and I fully plan to take advantage of it for the last few weeks before we move.  ☺

To see the other ways we’ve used our cardboard market stand, click here.

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{Pretend Play} Fruit and Veggie Market

Pretend Play Fruit  Veggie Market with Ikea s SKYLTA Children s Market Stand | Mama Papa BubbaSeveral weeks ago, while slowly making our way through the children’s section of Ikea, I spotted this cardboard play market.  Now it’s not like me to purchase play things on a whim (we sort of operate on a minimal toys basis in our house), but with all of the all of the possibilities and a $12.99 price tag ($14.99 in the US), I couldn’t pass it up.  

IMG 8640For the last little while, it’s been Grae’s Fruit & Veggie Market, where she sells all sort of {felt} fruits and vegetables for ridiculously low prices (and she even throws in a free reusable bag with your purchase!)

IMG 8663One of Gracen’s very favourite pretend play games is ‘store’, so it goes without saying that this has been a total hit, plus I love the fact that it encourages all kinds of communication, manners, and role play.

Next up, our cardboard market is being put to use as a puppet theatre! 

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iPhoneography // Simple Rice Tray Play

Simple Rice Tray Play | Mama Papa BubbaThis morning I had a little bit of housework to do and Miss G suggested that she’d play with some freshly coloured rice I’d made while I got my clean on.  It’d been a quite a while since she’d last opted to play with a rice bin or tray, so I was happy to hear that she was still excited about such a simple sensory activity.  While I put the rice into small containers, she picked out items she wanted to use while playing with it.  She gathered up a divided plate,  heart-shaped ice cube tray,  cup, scoop, bowl, and funnel and we laid everything down on a large blanket in the living room.

Photo copy 2She got to playing right away and immediately mixed the different colours in the bowl while using the funnel.  Watching the individual colours mix into speckled sea of rainbow colours is always so much fun (and so is crazy bed head ☺).

Photo copyThere was a lot of mixing, dumping, and pouring, but the favourite of the morning was definitely this little scoop paired with the funnel.  She quickly learned that using the two together was a great way to fill the little heart-shaped ice moulds and we later on we even experimented with extending our funnel using a bubble tea straw.  

After she was through playing, we scooped up the rice, added it to the bin of coloured rice we keep in the solarium, and shook the remaining grains off of the blanket outside.  Easy, simple fun.   

To see how we make our coloured rice, click here.


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Kerrisdale Play Palace is Back!

IMG 9843IMG 9844IMG 9845IMG 9858IMG 9861IMG 9854One of our very favourite rainy day spots, the Kerrisdale Play Palace, recently opened for another spring/summer season.  It seems to be a bit of a hidden gem because although it does get busy, it never seems busy enough for what it is – a very reasonably priced GIANT indoor play space filled with fun inflatables.  Miss G and I went this morning for the first time this season and whoa – did she ever have a blast.  While she absolutely loved it last year, this year was even better.  A little bit braver and a little bit bigger, she is now able to make her way to the top of all of the inflatables and down all of the slides – even the huge ones.  She ran, climbed, and jumped the morning away until her hair was literally wet with sweat and it was time to go home for lunch and a nap.  It was a good morning.

The Kerrisdale Play Palace is located at the corner of 41st Avenue and East Boulevard, in the arena directly behind the McDonald’s. When visiting, keep in mind that both you and your little one(s) will need socks and that weekday admission is divided by age groups.  For the 2013 schedule and admission fees, click here.


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An Afternoon of Indoor Fishing

Indoor Fishing Pond | Mama Papa BubbaIMG 8890This afternoon while walking along the river, Gracen noticed a man sitting down on the rocks fishing and was fascinated.  The questions started rolling in and once we’d lost sight of him, all she wanted to know was when we’d see him again.  Luckily, on our way back we found him just where we’d left him.  Phew.  

With a new interest in fishing and a stick worthy of taking home found along the way, this post from Mini-Eco immediately came to mind.  I asked Miss G if she was interested in doing some indoor fishing when we got home, and she was more than game.

IMG 8881Grae and I rounded up a few things…  Some plasticky sheets purchased on our last trip to Urban Source, a hole punch, and a handful of paperclips.

IMG 8882I cut out the fish shapes, and Grae helped punch holes and feed the paper clips through.

IMG 8887Next, Grae chose some baker’s twine from my collection.  We tied one end to her beloved stick, and used a dab of hot glue to attach the other end to a round magnet (though if you had a u-shaped magnet, you could just tie it on).

IMG 8886Next, we got out a big bowl, filled it with water, added a drop of blue food colouring just for fun.  Gently, we set the fish on the surface of the water.

IMG 8898Then it was time to fish!

IMG 8891Gracen held her rod steady, gently lowered into the bowl overtop of the fish of her choosing, and proudly lifted up fish after fish. 

IMG 8900She was pretty pleased with herself.

IMG 8917And after a whole lot of fishing, some messy water play was inevitable. ☺


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Fruit & Veggie Sorting {Using Flyer Clippings}

Fruit  Veggie Sorting Using Flyer Clippings | Mama Papa BubbaEvery few days, a newspaper bound in a long rubber band makes its way onto our porch.  If it’s not already soaked through with early morning rain, I half-heartedly flip through the stories and flyers {that make up the majority of the paper} so I feel a tiny bit less guilty about recycling it almost immediately.  This morning, however, when we found a bone dry paper on our porch, we decided to put it to use.

Fruit and Vegetable Sorting | Mama Papa BubbaGracen’s been helping me wash our produce and sort it into the different refrigerator sections for a long while now and often asks if things are fruits or vegetables, so I decided we’d use our grocery store flyers to play a little fruit and veggie sorting game.  

We gathered up a small piece of poster board, a ruler, some glue, and some scissors to start.  I drew a quick T chart while explaining that one ‘box’ would be for all the fruit pictures we found and the other would be for the veggies.  Grae shared with me one thing that she was certain was a fruit (an apple) and one thing she was certain was a vegetable (a potato) and we added little picture clues at the top next to the column headings.

IMG 8190Next we had a little chat about how we know if something is a fruit or vegetable…  While it’s kind of a complex subject filled with talk of flowers, ovaries, and plant accessory parts, I subscribe to the fruits have seeds theory when teaching kids (true story – avocados, peppers, and cucumbers are all fruits!)  It’s not a perfect rule because wee ones often don’t realize that things like bananas and blueberries have seeds, but it works for most things.

IMG 8196After adding a few little seeds next to our fruit heading, I began cutting pictures out of the flyers.  I’d pass one to Grae, ask her what it was, whether or not it had seeds, and if she thought it was a fruit or veggie, and she’d paste it in the correct box.

IMG 8197After a couple of times, she took things into her own hands… I’d pass her a picture and she’d say, “Dis is lettuce.  It no have seeds, so it’s a vegetable!”

IMG 8201When we’d used up all of the flyer photos, she took a minute to admire her project.  She was a very proud girl and immediately went to hang her poster on the fridge.

IMG 8213Later on in the day, after a big produce shop, Grae was helping me lay all of the freshly washed produce on the butcher block to dry.  Right away, I could see that she was putting all of the fruits on one side and the veggies on the other, so I grabbed a wooden spoon to act as a divider {and she grabbed her poster to add to the display}.  Instantly we had a real life sorting game.

Fruits vs Veggies | Mama Papa BubbaThese are her piles when she decided she was done playing.  The Chinese eggplant on the right is what she chose this time for our weekly fruit/veggie investigation, and though she’s not sure, her prediction is that it is a vegetable.  We’ll have to see when we open it up!  ☺


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Under the Table Fort

Under the Table Fort | Mama Papa BubbaMany days, Miss G wakes up from her nap (though it escaped us again today) with a clear plan for our afternoon.  Today’s request involved building an indoor tent.  No big deal, right?  With limited space, a non-existent wood stash to build a frame with, and an un-napped, slightly impatient toddler on my hands, I opted for the simplest option possible… An under the table fort.  Close enough, right? ☺

IMG 8066While a basic rectangular table with four corner legs would have probably lent itself more graciously to the project, our centre stand table provided an unexpected perk – two separate rooms.  As soon as I mentioned this to Grae, she immediately deemed one of them a reading room and the other a music room.  

IMG 8073Setting up our fort couldn’t have been easier.  We simply moved the chairs into the kitchen, threw a king-sized sheet on top, and moved in a few pillows and blankets to give it a cozy feel.  In the reading room, we added a couple stacks of small books, and in the music room, we added a xylophone, a microphone, and Grae’s ‘DJ headphones’ (actually noise-cancelling headphones from when we went to the Patriots game).  It could have been more simple to set up, but G was pleased as punch with her new hideout.  It was the perfect project for an afternoon like today’s, and we’ll definitely be remembering this for our next string of rainy days. 


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Stacking Felt Board Rainbow

Stacking Rainbow Felt Board GameToday as it poured rain outside, Miss G and I got out some crafting supplies and put together a quick and easy stacking rainbow for her felt board.

IMG 7946Truth be told, while I cut out the rainbow pieces, she did this…  Created a “porh-ple porkee-pine” with our felt stack and some pins.  Hey, whatever floats your boat, right? 

IMG 7942Because you have to be fairly precise with this project, I opted to find a rainbow image online and print it off to use as a pattern, but you could draw your own too.  I made sure to pick one that had 7 stripes so that we could include both indigo and violet, and gathered some coordinating felt pieces plus some pins and some very sharp scissors.

RainbowI chose to work from the bottom up, so I pinned the pattern down on the violet felt sheet and cut the entire rainbow out.  

IMG 7947Before pinning the pattern onto the next felt sheet, I cut off the bottom stripe off of the paper in order to make the next crescent slightly smaller.

IMG 7950I continued these steps until all of the colours had been cut out.

IMG 7952At the end, I cut out a couple of freehand clouds to finish off the edges.  Voila – a game that involves fine motor skill development, size comparisons, colour recognition, and rainbow order. 

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To learn how to make your own easy felt board and to see our other felt board games, click here.


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Wooden Spoon Puppet People

Wooden Spoon Puppet PeopleLast spring, I bought a multi-pack of wooden spoons in order to make a bird feeder similar to this one.  While we don’t buy bottled water (or any kind of individually bottled beverage for that matter), I thought a plastic bottle of some sort would eventually make its way into our recycling bin… Well, it hasn’t.  Not yet at least.  And while I could go digging through my neighbours’ bins on trash day, I decided we’d switch things up a little and finally put our wooden spoons to good use with this fun little project.

IMG 7737To get us started, I put out some coloured Sharpies, some felt strips, ribbon pieces, pieces of yarn, googly eyes, sequins, buttons, gems, some glitter glue, and some craft glue.

IMG 7741We started off by attaching some googly eyes to the back of our spoons with craft glue, and then I encouraged Gracen to add the other details as she pleased.

Wooden Spoon Puppet PeopleHere’s her first puppet person.

IMG 7747IMG 7753After creating a few girls, it was time to create a boy.  She asked me to cut out some ‘Papa hair’, a moustache, and tie for him, and then put him together, adding buttons down his front because ‘that’s how Papa’s shirts are for work’.

IMG 7756Here’s our completed wooden spoon puppet people family…  From left to right, Daddy, Dah-fat, Fadeen, and my personal favourite, Fafee Cacus. (Oh, the names things are given right now…)

Puppet talkLater on, once dry, Gracen disappeared into her room with the puppets and I found her acting out a playground scene and making the mommy and daddy puppets kiss. ☺

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