Tag Archives: Tuff Spot

Painting in the garden

Following on from Thursday when we painted handprint caterpillars at Twins Club, today we got the paints out at home to create some more animals, flowers and general art work.

I wanted each of the kids to have their own art space so I got the easel out for Thomas and Jasmine, and used the tuff spot for Ben. This was important because I wanted to see what the big two would do and they were keen to actually paint something, whereas Ben is still in the “paint everything one colour then smear round with hands” stage, and he usually does this all over their work.

I set out the paints and a selection of brushes, sponges and old toothbrushes to paint with. The kids loved the idea of painting with toothbrushes and a lot of the first paintings were done using these. Ben had a wonderful time with the orange and black paint and some toothbrushes! Thomas painted a sunflower growing in a garden and Jasmine painted some flowers and a person.Painting 1aOnce they had all filled one piece of paper I mentioned painting with their hands. Ben got stuck right in and was soon covered in black paint! He did lots of handprints in different colours. Thomas added a handprint spider to his sunflower painting and then painted more bugs on a new sheet. I showed him how to paint a handprint butterfly and he also did some worms and another spider. Jasmine created lots of multicoloured hand-angels and she did her own butterfly, which I was very impressed with as she did it with no help from me.Painting 2When they started painting with their hands I had filled the sandpit lid with water so the could rinse the paint off when they wanted to use different colours. Both boys, but especially Ben, had just as much fun washing their hands as they did painting!

Finally, for their last painting of the day I added shaving foam as an option. I gave them all a tupperware container with some in and showed them how to mix some paint into it. None of the kids have ever been keen on using shaving foam in their messy play so I was interested to see how they would work with it. Having already had paint on their hands I was hoping this would encourage them to get the foam on their hands as well.

They all started off using the brushes and sponges to paint it on to the paper but Ben soon got his hands involved and was happily hand printing with the foamy painty mixture. This encouraged Thomas and he joined in, creating some wonderful “fireworks” on his paper.Painting 3Then, just as I was getting the boys clean and starting to tidy bits away, I turned round and Jasmine had covered her hands in the shaving foamy paint as well! This is a big thing for Jasmine and she always takes a long time to come round to getting her hands really messy (which is strange because she is quite happy to play in mud all day!)Painting 4All in all, we had a very successful painting session today. Now, I just need to find somewhere to display all the pictures!
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Lots of water play

This afternoon we had our home education group meeting at our house. Being so hot (again) I put out lots of water for the kids to play in and with. We still had the paddling pool out and I put some water beads in the tuff spot. I also put out a large bowl of water and the water table. 18.07.13Jasmine spent a long time playing with the water beads while the boys found the water pistols in the shed and a water fight began! Actually mostly what it looked like was the kids against Gordon! They also squirted the slide and enjoyed sliding down a little faster on the “water slide”

We ended the day having dinner with Caterpillar Tales. Hot Dogs and Lego Star Wars on DVD. The perfect end to a great day!


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Keeping busy in the garden

We have spent the majority of the last couple of days in the garden. The kids love being outside and can happily play out from breakfast to dinner. As long as they have the sand, mud, some bugs and their bikes they are happy!

On Monday I got the tuff spot out for some messy play. We haven’t done any messy play for a while so I knew the kids would enjoy it. I gave them a selection of breakfast cereals and some plastic animals. They have been playing with their animals for a few days now so I thought they’d be a good choice. Of course, inevitably the kids added cars and diggers into the play as well! Cereal playThe kids did also enjoy eating the cereal! I had used granola, corn flakes, oats and Fruit Loops. Thomas loves granola so he was very excited about having that and he ate quite a lot of it! Jasmine chose the oats and although she mostly played, she did eat some. Ben had a bit of everything I think!

Eating cerealThey also invented a treasure hunt game. Jasmine got a yoghurt pot and added some oats and a Fruit Loop. The boys took it in turns to pour out the cereal until they found the Fruit Loop. Once they found it they had won and they were allowed to eat it!Cereal treasure huntWe also did some bird watching on Monday, and whilst we were playing in the garden a robin, a starling, a wood pigeon and some blue tits came to visit us.Birds in the gardenYesterday I went shopping in the morning and the kids stayed at home with Gordon. When I got back they were already playing in the sand and were very happy to tell me they had found a woodlouse spider! I was also told I didn’t need to worry because it was in a bowl and they’d given it some sand and grass!Woodlouse spiderThe rest of the day was spent in the sand and mud; boys in the sand and Jasmine in the mud. I also harvested our first few peas and we enjoyed eating them as an afternoon snack.Playing and peas

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Flour Fight in the Garden

After we had blown our bubbles to the sky for Matilda Mae this afternoon I got the Tuff Spot out and gave the kids some cornflour and water to play with. It seemed fitting today to do some messy play in the Tuff Spot.

Last time we did cornflour and water I mixed it into gloop for them to play with but this time I simply gave them the ingredients and let them experiment.

Thomas immediately knew what it would make and set about making himself some gloop.  Ben copied his brother and also mixed all his ingredients together, although he told me he was making slime!

At first they didn’t have enough water so the mixture was far too hard for them to do anything with. They asked for more water so I got some and suggested that if they did want to make gloop they might want to add the water a little at a time to get the right consistency. Boys will be boys however and they both poured in all the additional water straight away!

They soon had bowls and a Tuff Spot full of runny gloopy slime!

GloopJasmine wasn’t so sure about the “messy” bit of the play so I gave her a gravel tray to put some cornflour in with no water. She was happy with this and spent time sprinkling the cornflour from a bowl to the tray, writing letters in the flour and burying things under flour in the bowl.

CornflourAs it got close to the time I needed to start tidying everything away for dinner I nipped in to the kitchen to turn the oven on and when I looked back outside the play had moved on.. to all 3 kids having a flour fight!Flour Fight

They looked like they were having so much fun I left them to it for a while longer than I had planned and the last photo you can see is of Thomas getting a face full of flour, including in his eyes.. oops. So play ended quite quickly after that as they all came inside to be cleaned (they were covered from head to foot in flour!) and put into pyjamas for dinner.

Despite the flour in eyes incident the flour fight was a huge success and was messy play at its best.. child initiated and filled with giggles! Watching them have so much fun was the highlight of my week so far!

Edspire  Messy Play

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Clean Messy Play in the Garden

Today we have been in the garden again.  

The kids can’t get enough of being outdoors at the moment. Its not like we never went out in the cold months, because we did. But I have to admit the sun does make it more likely!

My kids are definitely outdoors kids. The more they can play outside the better. They love running. They love digging. They love bugs (we found some huge worms today!). But I think most of all they love water and we have done a lot of water play since the warm weather has arrived. 

So today we started the day with … water play!

I got some large bowls from a local shop recently and I used these this morning. I filled them about a third full and left a selection of bottles, beakers, scoops and funnels nearby. The kids also found some paintbrushes and sieves that they wanted to use. They spent a long time pouring and scooping water from one vessel to another, especially Ben. Ben loves pouring and will sit and do this for ages! Jasmine and Thomas did some water drawing on the patio using the paintbrushes, and Jasmine “cleaned” some plant pots!

After a while Thomas asked if he could make a boat so I suggested plasticine, and he spent a long time making floating and sinking plasticine boats.Water Bowl PlayAfter lunch I had set up the Tuff Spot with “messy pudding.” I got the idea from Caterpillar Tales, but instead of doing Angel Delight I thought I’d put in all the ingredients of trifle!

I used jelly, custard, dream topping, rainbow sprinkles, frozen raspberries and I also added some Rainbow Drops (sugar coated puffed rice sweets) for added texture. I did also buy a sponge cake to slice up and put in, but then forgot about it so it is still in the cupboard.. oops!

I told the kids that “messy pudding” was in the garden. I was very careful not to say the word “trifle” because I wanted to see what they did with the ingredients. Well, the first thing Thomas said was “ooo, trifle”.. typical!

They all enjoyed eating the food and mixing different ingredients together. They made Raspberry Pie, Custard Sprinkes and Jelly Sprinkles. Jasmine ate a little of each ingredient separately but then started mixing things together and feeding the boys! Ben ate a lot of jelly and raspberries, but not much of anything else. Thomas made several versions of trifle with a bit of everything in!  

I was quite surprised by how clean they all were with the food though. Once they had eaten enough they didn’t want to do anything else with it. I suggested that they could tip the food onto the Tuff Spot, or make pictures with the Rainbow Drops but they didn’t want to. They seemed to enjoy eating pudding that way though so I think we will try it again.

Tuff Spot TrifleAfter we’d cleared the food away I put some more water in the large bowls and some in the Tuff Spot and the kids spent a bit of time playing with water again and riding their bikes while I did some more planting and Gordon did some more work on the pond and started building a “mud kitchen”  for the kids.Pond and Mud KitchenI have been thinking about making an area in the garden where the kids can dig and make mud pies, and have even bought a few things for this recently in the hope that I can actually make it happen. Then out of the blue today Jasmine started talking about wanting to mix mud and water, and Gordon remembered he had some suitable wood in the garage. So our mud kitchen was born! We are going to add a trellis along the back and side for hanging pans and utensils on, but hopefully it should be finished by the end of the week. I think the kids will love it! 





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Playing Here and There

Today we have done a lot of playing.

We started the day in the garden with Rainbow Rice in the Tuff Spot. I gave the kids a selection of diggers, plastic containers, jars, scoops and funnels and they created shakers, drum kits, rain storms and roads. Jasmine, as usual, collected her own pile of toys!

While we were in the garden I released our last Speckled Wood Butterfly. It was a little reluctant to leave so I gently lifted it out of the net to try and encourage it. It sat on my finger for a few minutes before flying off!

This afternoon we went to a local park where I had arranged to meet a couple of other twin mums. I had a lovely chat while the kids climbed and slid and climbed some more.In the park

And finally, the other thing that is worth noting about today is that our pond arrived! Gordon has started digging it into the garden already and will hopefully have it finished by the end of the week.

The pond

I can’t wait to get it filled and start creating our own little pond habitat!

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A Butterfly, Messy Play and Rainbows

We had a lovely surprise waiting for us when we came downstairs this morning. One of our butterflies had emerged! It was already flying around as well, so had obviously come out very early in the morning.

We then had an even bigger surprise when we saw its wings. It wasn’t any of the butterflies we were expecting it to be!

We were expecting to see either a Small or Large White butterfly, as these are what we had a lot of last year after growing broccoli in the garden. However the one that emerged this morning was a Speckled Wood butterfly.

We still have 5 more chrysalises to open, 2 of which we now think are Speckled Wood Butterflies. One seems to be changing colour this evening so hopefully tomorrow we’ll have another new butterfly to release!

After releasing the butterfly, the kids spent the rest of the morning playing in the garden (again!) and then after lunch we went to our Home Education Group, which was at Caterpillar Tales house again this week.

For the group, they had set up 2 Tuff Spots for messy play; one had Strawberry Angel Delight in and the other had water and cornflour. There was also the water table out for play. You can read their blog post about the afternoon here

The kids spent the whole afternoon playing, moving from one messy activity to the next! They did a lot of mixing, pouring, making puddings and cakes, and had a great water fight at the end of the afternoon! They all ended up soaked, and they loved it!

Finally, today was a special day for Jasmine. Today she started at Rainbows!

She loved it and can’t wait to go back next week. Well she actually wants to go back tomorrow, but she will have to wait until next week!

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Paint-balling with water beads (and other balls)

Today we used the last of the water beads from last week. We used them to paint in the Tuff Spot.

I set it up by lining the Tuff Spot with paper and blotting paint of different colours in it. In a large bowl I put the water beads, along with some plastic play balls and a tennis ball. I gave the kids a straw and a wooden stirrer each.

They blew the balls through the straws, pushed with the stirrers, rolled with their hands and bounced the water beads on to the paper.

The kids didn’t spend a long time on the activity because they had also discovered the play sand was dry enough to play with this morning, so sand won over painting! But the time they did spend they did enjoy and we are all agreed that the finished painting looks really good!

Edspire  Messy Play

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Moon Sand & Water Beads – possibly not a good idea

Today has been difficult.

Actually that is not entirely true because this morning we had a great time at a local park, running and exploring.

This afternoon however, was not quite as good as it could have been.

The plan was to play with the moon sand and water beads. Jasmine had asked for a beach scene so I set her up in one of the gravel trays. In the tuff spot I also set up a beach scene for the boys and then I placed some more water beads in a separate tray with a little bit of shaving foam at one end so they could mix them together if they chose to.

Jasmine started by creating her beach scene with a playmobil boy, some pebbles and a twig we’d collected this morning, a toy car, a couple of pine cones and a toy tree. She made up stories, adding bits and pieces to the scene as she needed.

Thomas began by playing in the tray with the water beads and shaving foam. He asked me if he could mix them together and I said yes, he could do if he wanted. He spent a few minutes picking beads and foam up in a small pot and mixing them in a larger bowl, before deciding that actually he didn’t want them “dirty”, and he needed them cleaned NOW. I should have realised at that moment how the rest of the afternoon was going to go! After a few minutes of temper, he calmed down and I agreed to rinse the beads as long as he realised that I would only do it once and if he didn’t want foam on the beads, he shouldn’t put foam on the beads! He then did actually play calmly with them for a while, counting them and lining them up on a duplo baseboard again and transferring them from one container to another using a spoon.

Ben played with the sand and water beads in the gravel tray. He started by driving his diggers round in the beads, then moved to the sand and drove some vehicles in there. He spent a lot of time watching Jasmine and copying what she was doing, so when she got playmobil motorbike out, he wanted one as well (lucky we have 2!). When Jasmine got a “house” for her person, Ben wanted one as well.

After a while, Thomas moved over to the Tuff Spot and the boys started making ramps and hills out of sand for the playmobil bikes to race up and down (and smash into pieces!) Thomas also started burying some of the water beads in the sand.

As it was getting close to the time I needed to start tidying everything away for dinner, and everyone was finally playing nicely together, I decided to begin taking out some of the water beads that weren’t being played with as the boys were playing with the bikes and ramps.

I had already made a couple of trips to the kitchen when I came back into the living room again to find the boys throwing moon sand across the room 😦

I’m afraid to say the play was stopped there and then. I took them upstairs to clean them up and suggested they stay there while I tidied up – although perhaps “strongly suggested” would be a better description!

I was so disappointed. Obviously when we do messy play I expect mess.. in fact I plan for it and put loads of towels down on the floor so they can pour, tip and mix to their hearts content. But I won’t have throwing, and the kids all know this.

What made it worse for me is that, usually, the kids are really good when we do messy play. They really enjoy it and are so engrossed in what they are doing that doing something that they know is wrong just wouldn’t happen.

I don’t know what was different today. They love the water beads. They love the moon sand. Maybe I gave them too many choices of things to play with this afternoon? Maybe it was just destined to happen today?

So the afternoon ended on a pretty negative note for me.

But tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow we’ll try something else.. probably in the garden though 😉

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Oats, Water and Water Beads.

This morning was another morning of reading Star Wars books for Thomas followed by watching our newest DVD – Lego Star Wars The Empire Strikes Out. I have to admit, its a good DVD!

Jasmine was busy writing. She added more items to her Christmas list. I probably shouldn’t encourage her to keep thinking about more and more things she wants for Christmas , but it does get her writing and I like that!


This afternoon we went to visit our friends, Caterpillar Tales, again. In preparation for an afternoon of messy play they had set up their Tuff Spot with oats, Shreddies and farm animals. My kids loved it (both playing with it and eating it!) It started off indoors, but as it was so lovely outside (and my boys were getting quite, um, enthusiastic shall we say!), we moved outdoors.

Of course, as soon as we moved outdoors the boys lost interest in the farm play. But they found water to play with instead!

After another lovely afternoon playing outdoors, we came home and had a quick play with some water beads before dinner.

The water beads only arrived with us this morning and I had only prepared one small bag as a test, but we’ve never used them before so the kids were all enthralled with them. We had been looking at them throughout the day and watching them grow and grow from tiny little beads to marble sized balls.

I gave the kids a small bowl each, and the first thing Thomas said was that they looked like molecules! He demonstrated molecules in a solid, by filling the bowl so full that the water beads couldn’t move, then he took some out so the remaining beads could move a little and told me he’d made it a liquid! Honestly, my kids never fail to amaze me!

They got some Octonauts toys out and played with them in their bowls for a bit, they asked for containers so they could pour the beads and Thomas spent a lot of time counting his. Whilst they were playing I spent a bit of time on google looking for other ideas on water bead play and found this post, which includes an excellent fine motor practice game using water beads and a duplo base board.  I showed the kids and they were keen to have a go themselves. Thomas lined all his beads up, Ben scattered his around and Jasmine drew a picture with hers!

I know we are going to have fun with our water beads and I have lots of ideas of things we can do with them. Tomorrow however I am hoping to use an idea that Jasmine had and make a beach scene using some of the moon sand we have left and some water beads as the sea. I’m fairly certain I’ll have to set this scene up twice though; one scene for Jasmine to play with and one for the boys. Its a good job I have plenty of large trays!

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