Tag Archives: water play

Floating Flowers… Fun for Pools, Baths, & Sensory Bins

Floating Flowers for Water PlayWhen we went to pick up a pool noodle for Gracen’s marble run water slide, she originally fell in love with a flower-shaped noodle.  While I knew it wouldn’t be the best fit for our marble run, at $1.25, I knew we would eventually figure out a way to put it to good use.  

IMG 0351It was my first time seeing this sort of pool noodle, and all I knew was that I wanted to slice it up to create tons of little individual flower shapes.  

IMG 0349So that’s just what I did.  Just like when slicing a pool noodle in half vertically, I found that using a sharp, serrated knife and a sawing motion worked best.  I sliced ours about an inch thick, but you could do them any thickness you like – even varying thicknesses would be fun!

IMG 0353As I chopped, Miss G ran the ready flowers over to her blow up pool and tossed them in!  

IMG 0375It’s such a simple thing, but they looked so pretty and inviting dancing around on the water’s surface.  (I’m already picturing them in bath tubs and sensory bins too!)

IMG 0367I think Miss G agreed, because she immediately jumped in {despite the freezing cold water} and started splashing around like mad!

IMG 0361When the splashing had subsided a little bit, Grandma Charlotte showed Grae how the flowers could be used as building blocks.  

IMG 0458It’s definitely easier in still-ish water, but it’s equally fun when in or out of the pool.  Towers can be built…

IMG 0460Pyramids can be built…

IMG 0466And ‘trains’ can be built too!  Of course, the possibilities are really endless when it comes to building structures – even when they’re floating ones. 

IMG 0358Now the only question is how I’m going to convince Brad that heaps of pool noodle flowers are a Kuwait necessity…  I mean with the heat and the amount of time we spend in and around water there, they are, aren’t they? ☺ 

Building Structures With Floating Flowers | Mama Papa Bubba


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{Simple Fun} Sink Play

Simple Fun Sink Play | Mama Papa BubbaI forgot how trying and time consuming this whole Kuwait documentation process is… We’re currently in the throws of police clearances, medical tests,  notarizations, and phone calls, which isn’t all that fun.  Add in a very busy, wanting-to-be-on-the-go toddler, and it’s that much more difficult.   Today, between Embassy calls and trips to the police station and medical lab, I pulled out one of my favourite tried and true ways to keep Miss G happily engaged while we got a few things done – a sink full of water.  It’s a super simple invitation to play and is a hit every single time.  Today it involved a couple of drops of blue/green food colouring, a couple of rocks, some glass gems, and a bowl of plastic creepy crawlies.  That’s it.  We set it up together, she pulled her little Ikea stool up to the bathroom sink, and the play began.  

IMG 0262The best part is that it’s not at all limited to a bug swamp.  In fact, the possibilities are endless!  Here are a few of our favourite sink play ideas…

1.  Baby bath – Grab a plastic doll, a wash cloth and/or sponge, some watered down shampoo or bubble bath,and a small towel and the baby doll will be cleaner than ever.  For extra fun, add in a toothbrush and hairbrush for when bath time is done.

2. Ocean – Add a couple of drops of blue food colouring to the water, then add some rocks, seashells, driftwood pieces and plastic ocean creatures.  Instant fun!

3. Floating building station – Place several pool noodle pieces (sliced about an inch thick) in the sink and let your little one experiment with building floating structures – towers, pyramids, ‘trains’ – anything goes!


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Cork Sail Boats {With Sparkly Sails}

Cork Sailboats With Sparkly Sails | Mama Papa BubbaOh my goodness.  Miss G and I had so much fun with this little project this afternoon.  The best part is that it was completely impromptu. She wanted ‘to craft’ as she always says, and when digging through our craft supply drawer, came across a little bag of corks we scored at our last trip to Urban Source.  I had boat building in mind ever since we picked them out, and when I suggested it to her, she was fully game.  Together, we did a little Pinterest search, and Grae selected the images from these three posts for inspiration.  

IMG 9388With an idea in mind, it was time to gather up some materials.  The corks were a given, the elastics would hold the actual boat together, the toothpicks or dowels would hold up our sails (we went with the mini dowels in the end), and the nail would help us poke our holes.  The last thing we needed was something to make our sails out of…  We thought of patterned scrapbook paper, but knew that would eventually just get wet.  We also thought of the plastic sheets we used to make our window clings, but Grae wasn’t overly excited about the colours we had left.  Then we thought of foam sheets – being waterproof and super lightweight, they’d be perfect.  And even more perfect? Finding sparkly ones!  Gracen was sold.

IMG 9391To get started, Gracen lined up 3 corks and held them together while I secured them with 2 thick elastic bands – one on each side.

IMG 9392Then, using our nail and “our big, big muscles” in the words of Grae, we created a little hole in the very centre of the cork wharf.

IMG 9394Together we pushed our mini wooden dowel down into the hole (a food pick or bamboo skewer could work too).

IMG 9397Using another mini dowel for reference, sketched a quick sail outline on the back of our sparkly foam.

IMG 9398Because our foam was of the adhesive variety, we made our sail double-sided, but this would be unnecessary if we had just regular foam sheets.

IMG 9399After making a couple of teeny little slits in our sail, one at the top and one at the bottom, we slid it onto our dowel post.

Cork Boat FlagThe finishing touch was adding a little flag above our sail.  To do this, Gracen selected a roll of washi tape and folded a piece in half around the top of our dowel.  Then I cut it to form a flag shape.

IMG 9404With our first boat complete, it was time for the big moment – to see whether or not it would float.  It did!

IMG 9406And this little lady was very pleased about that.

IMG 9414We made one more boat, and the play begun immediately.  Bobbing, blowing, and swooshing ensued throughout the afternoon and I’m sure it’ll continue for the next several days.  

And while the boats have been fun in a bowl of water, I have a couple of other ideas to make them even more fun to play with.  Now where to find more corks…


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{Pretend Play} Bubble Tea Shop

Pretend Play Bubble Tea Shop | Mama Papa BubbaEver since the very first time we played with water beads, I’ve had a pretend play bubble tea station on my mind.  I just can’t help it…  It may be that we live in a city that has a bubble tea shop every couple of blocks, but the squishy, shiny beads make me think of tapioca pearls every time I see them.  

Finally, almost a year after dreaming up the idea, my wee one and I put together our first pretend bubble tea shop. And it couldn’t have been better timing as Miss G is really into pretend play (in particular, store games where an exchange of some sort takes place) right now. 

Bubble Tea Station Set up | Mama Papa BubbaWhile I often set up invitations to play or create while she’s sleeping, this time around Gracen helped me.  Together, we gathered up a few things we had around the house and a couple of inexpensive things we purchased especially for this activity.  Included in the set-up were some tall plastic cups, a few containers of water beads with small scoops (our tapioca pearls), a couple of small pitchers of coloured water (our tea / fruit juice), a small spouted container of water coloured white with cornstarch (our condensed milk), and a jar full of colourful bubble tea straws (purchased at our local Japanese dollar store).  Though I really don’t mind a mess in the name of great play, I also included tray on the pouring area of the table to catch little spills and prevent a slippery wooden floor.  

Bubble Tea Sign | Mama Papa BubbaTo complete the set-up, we popped over to the computer to create a quick shop sign.  I told her how to spell ‘bubble tea’ and Miss G carefully located and pressed each key, which was a fun activity in itself.  Afterwards, I selected a good, bold outline font and she chose the image and the drink price.  We printed it off, coloured it together, and used some washi tape to hang it on the wall.  

Bubble Tea Station | Mama Papa BubbaWith our shop complete, it was time to get down to business and Gracen couldn’t have been more excited.  While she’s never tried bubble tea herself, she’s seen people walking down the street with it plenty, so she had a very good idea of what she wanted to do.

At this point I should say that Miss G is well out of the putting things in her mouth stage and because she is such a rule follower, I was not worried in the least that she would attempt to drink her creations (she wouldn’t even consider it).  Of course, if you suspect that your little one would be tempted to drink the pretend bubble tea or if you’re unable to supervise the play the entire time, this activity is not for you as water beads are {obviously} not edible.

Making Bubble Tea | Mama Papa BubbaI invited her to get started without giving her any instructions (as I usually do), and this is how she put together her creation… Pearls first, then juice, then a straw and some milk – a pretty solid method I’d say!

Making Pretend Bubble Tea | Mama Papa BubbaShe made drink after drink, each time talking about the person she was making for.  This particular one was for Grandma Sue because Grandma Sue loves pink and therefore she’d pick pink pearls and pink juice.  The process went on and on until she could no longer think of another person she knew.  Then it was on to making them for people’s pets!

IMG 8774Here are a few of her bubble tea creations.  Pretty, aren’t they?

IMG 8744Because the station was such a hit, I set up a bowl with a strainer in it so she could pour out her drinks and refill her containers when she’d run out of supplies (well, she was in charge of refilling her water bead containers and I poured the water from the bowl back into the pitchers).  This allowed the fun to continue on and on without having to waste water or make trips back and forth to the kitchen.

Bubble Tea Pretend Play | Mama Papa BubbaGracen enjoyed this activity so much that it stayed out for nearly a week, getting lots of action each day.  We’ll definitely be doing it again in the near future, and while it was great inside, I can’t wait to set it up outside in the backyard on a warm day too!

Again, water beads are not edible and should never be consumed.  This activity should always be supervised and is not intended for munchkins prone to tasting play materials or putting things in their mouths.


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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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Duck Pond Sensory Bin

Duck Pond Sensory Bin | Mama Papa BubbaOn the way home with a photo shoot with Amy of The Connection We Share (photos to come soon!) today, Gracen asked if we could build a duck pond.  I’m not sure where how or why this request came about, but I was as game as she was.

IMG 7960It’s been a while since we’ve put together a new sensory bin and what I loved this time around was that instead of me putting something together for her to explore and investigate, we created this one together.  Very similar to a frog pond sensory bin we’ve played with before, this one included glass beads in blues and greens, rocks, driftwood, some flowered branches from the yard, and a couple of toy ducks we already had on hand.

IMG 7962In order to make it outdoor-friendly, the pond’s water was nice and warm.

IMG 7970So warm apparently that Miss G didn’t mind getting her entire body soaking wet.

IMG 7966Grae played for a little while before moving onto more exciting things with Grandma Charlotte, but I know she’ll get lots more play out of it once the excitement level gets back to normal around here.

You can see Gracen’s oceanicerainbow rice, beach, watergardeningmoon doughconstructionand bird-themed bins by clicking on the links.


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Animal Sink Bath

IMG 4828Since returning home from a long vacation 2 weeks ago, playing independently has been  a lot more difficult for Grae.  Instead of playing on her own, she wants to be right beside Mama {if not right on top of me} all. of. the. time.  When I explain that I need a little bit of personal space to get something done or encourage her to play, she responds with, “But Mama is the best…” or “But I just want to watch what you’re doing” or “But I LOOOOVE you!”  Oy.  It’s not easy.  

The one time she seems to be happy to play on her own right now is while I make dinner (thank goodness for that).  She often does puzzles, reads, or plays dress up, but tonight she set up one of her long time favourite games…  A sink bath for her animal friends.  She pulls up a stool, collects her sea creatures (sometimes it’s a baby or rubber ducks), and grabs a wash cloth while I fill up the sink with warm water, get out a squirt bottle or a sponge, and retrieve some soap or a little chunk of FUN.  Together we add a drop or two of food colouring to the water, and that’s it.  She plays and splashes and washes her animals in there for a good long time, and by the time she’s done, I usually have dinner on the table.  

A sink full of water… Who knew?  Works like magic every time.


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Water Pouring Station

Water Pouring Station

After our most recent tea party with a pot filled with “tea”, I realized that I haven’t really given Gracen many opportunities to practice her pouring skills (with the exception of cooking and sensory bin/bath tub play, I guess).  So tonight, just before I began making dinner, I set up a little water pouring station for her.  All it took was a towel on the floor, a plastic serving tray, some measuring cups/jars/pitchers, and some coloured water. Gracen was thrilled, of course.

IMG 1030IMG 1032IMG 1034IMG 1035IMG 1036
IMG 1039IMG 1040IMG 1043IMG 1046IMG 1048She transferred water from one container to another, watching the colours change and muddle for the better part of an hour, which was the perfect amount of time for me to prep dinner, clean the kitchen and wash a big load of dishes. Doesn’t get much better than that. Afterwards, clean up was a breeze.  The towel went into the wash, the dishes got rinsed, and that was that… Another ‘Mama needs to make dinner’ activity to add to my {mental} list. ☺

If you don’t feel comfortable letting your little one handle glass jars and measuring cups, you could always replace them with plastic ones instead.  Switching out the water for dry goods like lentils, beans, and popping corn would be fun too!

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Outdoor Dishwashing Station

Outdoor Dishwashing Station | Mama Papa BubbaGracen loves “helping” wash dishes so much, I decided to turn it into a little afternoon activity today.  While having a toddler standing on a chair beside you splashing in a sink of bubbles as you power through a load as fast as humanly possible isn’t always super convenient, this activity was easy and fun for everyone involved.

IMG 7747We got started by collecting some supplies we had around the house – a bin filled with warm soapy water, a dish drying rack, some plastic dishes, cups, and spoons, a nearly empty dish soap container topped up with water, some scrubber pads, steel wool, a dish brush, and a dish towel.

IMG 7755I asked Grae if she wanted to play, and she got going without hesitation. All dishes in the sink!

IMG 7757IMG 7761Without a doubt, squeezing the soap into the bin was her favourite part.

IMG 7777She scrubbed and washed each dish one at a time…

IMG 7773And when they met her expectations, they were added to the drying rack.

IMG 7791Though she was down to business for part of the activity, things got silly and wet too!

IMG 7796This station was a total hit and I can definitely see it becoming a regular in our play rotation. After all, what’s not to love about bubbles, water, splashing, scrubbing, and getting soaking wet on a warm day?


You can see Gracen’s oceanicerainbow rice, beach, watergardeningmoon doughconstructionand bird-themed
bins by clicking on the links.


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Ocean Sensory Bin

Summer has finally arrived in the Lower Mainland and it’s getting h.o.t. (no complaining here – we love it).   Being that we like to be outside for the majority of the day (and our little old house heats up like an oven), there needs to be some sort of relief so that Miss G doesn’t overheat.  So, when we’re not at a pool, beach, or water park, we’re most likely in the backyard playing with water, ice, or a combination of both.  Today, we gathered a few things and put together an ocean sensory box to splash around in. 

IMG 6618Some rocks, a handful of seashells, a few pieces of driftwood, a fistful of greens plucked from the garden, a few floating sea creatures, and a couple drops of food colouring, and you’ve got yourself a mini ocean in your backyard. 

IMG 6621IMG 6623IMG 6625These ocean creatures are so neat. We found them for $1.25 each and they have the coolest squishy / stretchy / rubbery texture to them. They feel eerily realistic. 

IMG 6629Gracen dove in, and thought it was pretty hilarious that I’d set the crocodile up on a piece of driftwood. She experimented with taking him off and balancing him back on again, and once she’d pretty much mastered it, she moved on to balancing the dolphin and whale atop driftwood islands of their own.

IMG 6632Of course, there was plenty of swimming involved too.

IMG 6633She was just getting started on emptying the ocean out onto the towel when we heard a clattering coming around the side of the house… Grandma Charlotte and her friend, Judy, had arrived for an afternoon visit!  And with all kinds of special gifts for Miss G, no less.  Needless to say, our ocean fun came to a halt. Presents to open and and Manmaws to visit take priority, obviously. As they should. ☺

You can see Gracen’s icerainbow rice, beachoceangardeningmoon doughconstructionand bird-themed
bins by clicking on the links.
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