Thursday, April 29, 2010

If I had my child to raise over again...

My husband and I with the precious children God gave us.

"If I had my child to raise all over again
I'd finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
I'd be firm less often and affirm much more
I would build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd teach less about the love of power, and more about the power of love."

           - by Diane Loomans from 100 Ways to build self-esteem and teach values

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Storing your felt stories

When I found a felt board doll stuck to the baby's bottom the other day, and a few felt leaves from our seasons tree stored away in his cheeks, I knew I had to come up with a
storage solution
for our felt pieces - and fast!!  It's super easy and super effective:

1.Use a large self-sealing
Plastic Bag.
2. Slip in a sheet  of plain
3. Use a permanent marker to write the
of your felt set on the write-on strip on the bag.
4. Punch holes
through the side of the baggie.
5. Slip in your felt pieces,
et Voila!!
You're a super-organized mommy in 10 minutes flat!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Joyful Mama's Top Powder Paint Tips!

I am always a little
when I come to the end of the month and discover what the top sellers for the past month was.

During April
was a firm favourite!
 (See the end of this post for product information!)
 So to all the mothers of budding artists out there,
here are a few tips to enhance your child's creative endeavours this week!

Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid to the powder before adding the water. It will mix much better!

Make a nice thick finger paint by mixing water with about two tablespoons of cornflour to form a paste. Add one cup of water. Heat and stir until thick like custard. Spoon into containers and then mix in a little powder paint in the colours of your choice.

And here's an alternative recipe from my childhood - I remember my nursery school teacher making this for us during winter. It would still be slightly warm and it was lovely sticking our fingers into on cold, frosty mornings!
Dissolve one cup of laundry starch in cold water (slowly add the water until all the starch is dissolved). Add boiling water and cook until thick. Add some powder paint (or food colouring) to colour.

Another way to thicken powder paint is to add a little glue paste to the mixture. You can make your own paste by mixing1/2 cup of flour with 3/4 cup of water to make a thin paste. Boil over low heat until thick, stirring constantly. Adding a drop or two of oil of cloves will preserve the paste. You can thin it with cold water if you need to.

Add interesting textures to your paint by adding one of the following to each of your colours
wood shavings
(you can buy this at a pet shop)

Use your powder paint to make a thin paint that you can use like watercolour. Draw a picture with white wax crayons and then paint over it - the wax will resist the paint!

Use non-spill paint pots when working with paint to prevent spills - remember that the pigments in powder paints can stain clothing.

One of Dad's old T-shirts makes an excellent paint frock that will cover more than a plastic apron will. Still, it is best to make sure your little Picasso is wearing old clothes under the T-shirt. 

Save the shallow plastic and foam containers your mushrooms and other veg are packaged in. They are brilliant to use when doing stamping or printmaking projects with thicker paint.

I have three products that will make rainy day painting a lot more fun, so be sure to send me an e-mail to order!

Edupaints powder paints- 6 colours

Thick paint brushes (4 in a set)

Non-spill painting cups
with rubber stoppers and a steady base

Happy painting!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yummy, Mummy!

My good friend Gina attended last Friday's
Toys for Tots
and although I would like to believe that she left here
with all kinds of wonderful ideas for
her children's minds,
the highlight of the morning for her was clearly my
chocolate & almond
She made me promise to put the recipe on the blog, so here goes!
(I didn't get a chance to take a photo of mine, so I borrowed one here)

  • 125g butter
  • 200 ml (160g) sugar
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 2 ml vanila essence
  • 500 ml (280g) cake flour
  • 8 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml salt
  • 250 ml (100g) nuts (I used almonds, but use whichever kind you like best!)
  • 150g chocolate, roughly chopped (1 slab cadbury's works great)
  1. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla essence and whisk until light and frothy.
  2. Sift together the flour and salt. Add to the egg mixture. Stir in the nuts & chocolate and mix to a stiff dough. Divide the dough into two and cover with cling wrap. Chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
  3. Roll each piece of dough out on a floured surface. Shape into 2 sausages about 25cm long, and place on a greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes at 180 C until light brown.
  5. Let it cool and cut diagonally into 1cm slices. Bake these for another 5 minutes at 120 C.
  6. Lift onto a cooling rack.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tangram in the kitchen

Last week I wrote about the fun we had playing around with our
set over the long weekend.

(you can read that post by clicking here.)

I was researching something completely different today and came accross this great idea for getting the whole family to enjoy tangram everytime they head to the fridge for a snack!

Buy some self-stick magnets or magnetic tape from a craft shop, adhere it to the back of each tangram piece and stick them all on the fridge!
Put a magnet on a bull clip, too, and use this to hold on of the design cards.
You can swap the card around every day.

And for some competitive fun during the school holidays:
Let the younger children make a 'trophy' out of an empty, plastic cooldrink bottle,
fill it with treats,
and put a score card on the frigde next to your tangram magnets.
Whoever solved the most tangram puzzles by the end of the holidays,
get the trophy for
Tangram champion!

I got the idea for this here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Baby Einstein...or not!

A while ago I published a post about how you are the best gift you can give your child and the reaction I received, especially via e-mail and even telephone, was almost overwhelming! At around the same time I heard of a lady who is a staunch believer in the Baby Einstein DVD's - her toddlers spend up to four hours a day watching it. There is no way that a television and even the most professionally produced DVD's in the world can replace the learning that takes place as we spend time with our children.
They can't touch the colours on a TV screen, but they can when rolling play dough into little balls or snakes with mom.

They can't touch the fluffy little ducklings on the screen, but they can touch real ones on a weekend outing with Dad to the petting farm.

A DVD can show them an empty and full glass, but it won't register untill they are standing on a step stool by the kitchen sink while you wash the dishes, pouring the lovely warm rinsing water from cup to cup!

Anyway, back to Baby Einstein. I recently happened upon an article by Nikki Busch on her blog Bright Ideas Outfit. Nikki is considered one of South Africa's experts on educational toys and popular for her Toy Talk workshops.She cited a headline article from the New York Times that read No Genius in your crib? Get a Refund! It was about how Disney, the producers of the Baby Einstein series, is now offering refunds to parents who bought these DVD's as educational tools. You can read the article from the Times here - I highly recommend it. And for a brilliant example of how real-life, hands on education is benefitting one local family, check out my friend Linnie's blog post, The Learning Lifestyle.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Felt Board Shapes

felt board fever
 is still running high in this household, so I thought I'd share some more ideas about how to use the 
from the Suczezz range,
since that is such a favourite with moms who buy from me!

The first - and probably most obvious - activity is to let your child
identify a shape
and place it on the felt board. The set contains two of each shape - for this activity, set out only one of each to make it easier for a younger child. We like to sit on the carpet when we play with the felt board, and I lay out the pieces on a plastic tray in front of the board.

  • For the really little ones, put out only the very basic shapes, like a large circle, square and triangle.
  • Once they know a few more shapes, put out the rest of the set.
  • Make the game a little more interesting by saying "I Spy with my little eye...a large pink circle!" (only mention colours if your child can identify them easily.)
  • This is a great way to introduce the concept of small and large, since the set contains most of the shapes in two sizes. Ask: "Can you place a large circle and a small square on the board?"
  • And you can work on position and vocabulary by asking: "Place a small circle on top of the large one / next to the square / behind the rectangle / right at the bottom of the board."

The next time you take the felt pieces out, let your child
explore on his or her own.
It is a good idea to place the pieces with the black print lines facing down - I find that it is easier to see the creative possibilities that way! You can casually show your child how to put a few pieces together to make a 'picture', but be careful not to immediately build a house or other 'real' thing. I find that this inhibits my little girl - she cannot produce the same kinds of recognizable things yet, and then gives up.

A friend of mine came over recently and her seven year old son, on seeing the felt board out, immediately set about building a very interesting 'robot' with the shapes. Sweetpea, on the other hand, just likes stacking the pieces on top of each other in little piles resembling multi-coloured club sandwiches!

Once your child knows the basic shapes, introduce the more difficult ones, like the parralellogram, wedge and semi-circle, by getting out
both sets
and playing a
matching game.
If you have the large green felt board from the Suczezz range, just stand it on its side so the fold down the centre divides your board into two. If you have another kind of board, cut a long, thin strip of felt as a dividing line.
OK, back to the game: You place a shape on your side, your child places the match on her side! In our household, though, Sweetpea will probably be the one to start and I'll follow! If your son is playing with you, capitalize on his competitive nature and keep a score card with little gold stars!

Develop this game even further and use it to introduce your child to
Continue along the vein of the matching game, but encourage your child to mirror your arrangement on his/her side of the board. When they grasp the concept of symmetry, build a butterfly together!

And to think you can do
with a
that you can order from me for a mere

To place your order, please e-mail me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Joyful mama's favourite finds: Teddy Roller Ball Paints

Just a short little post to let you know that I love the Teddy Rolla Ball paint set I bought for Sweetpea recently! 

I was a little sceptical at first and thought it was going to be very messy, but I was pleasantly surprised! Sweetpea had great fun in covering her page in colourful squiggles and asked for a new page three times!

Always happy to do artsy things!

Cool, mamma!

Even the dad couldn't resist having a go with these nifty little paint pots!

You can buy your own set of Teddy Rolla Ball paint by clicking HERE

And order some more Teddy products by clicking on the LINKS below the pictures.

                                             Teddy Finger Paint

                                                 Teddy Slime

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Favourite Eric Carle books... and a felt board theme to match!

Before Sweetpea's birth I bought her two beautiful board books by renowned American children's book writer and illutrator, Eric Carle They are My very first book of shapes and My very first book of colours. The pages are split into two, with the top pages showing either the silhouette of a shape, or a block of
colour, to match to the pictures on the bottom set of pages.

We have read and read and re-read these two little books, and now ArrowBoy are starting to enjoy them, too!  You can click on the links below these pictures to order the books from!

                                                            My very first book of colors

                                                            My very first book of shapes

The next Carle-addition to our bookshelf was The Very Hungry Caterpillar, one of the most popular of all his books (he has sold over 88 million copies of his books around the world, and The very hungry caterpillar has been translated into 47 languages!) Sweetpea LOVES this book with the holes where the caterpillar had eaten his way trhough all the food! So, since we are so keen on felt boards around here these days, I had great fun creating a Caterpillar-themed felt board set for her!

And a little more detail...

As I was browsing around on the official Eric Carle website , I found a page called The Caterpillar Exchange under the Resource section. This is a bulletin board where parents and teachers share ideas about how they have used Carle's books in teaching their children anything from sequencing to healthy eating habits! One EXCELLENT idea that I will definitely do with Sweetpea tomorrow, is to make an actual little caterpillar that the child can push through the holes in the pages as he 'eats' his way through all the food! The lady who sent in that idea actually sewed a little stuffed caterpillar, but we have the board book with smaller holes, so I am thinking of using a piece of green pipe cleaner.

This is definitely a book that deserves a spot on your child's bookshelf. You can purchase it by clicking on the link below!

                                                             The Very hungry Caterpillar

STOP PRESS: As I was writing this post, my friend Georgia from Love and Lollipops sent me an e-mail to tell me about the Caterpillar post she has just published on her blog!! Go check it out  - her boys used a craft set she bought from me to make two super-cute caterpillars. Well done, boys!

We are now reading The Grouchy Ladybug which I found at our library last week. The daddy also read it to Sweetpea over the weekend and now we all go around asking each other: "Want to fight? No, you're not big enough!!" all day!

Felt Board Fun

I love felt boards! The whole idea just brings back so many pleasant childhood memories of Sunday school classes where we sat, mouths agape, as we watched the teacher smooth her hands over the beautiful pictures of Bible characters as she told us the stories. My mother eventually bought us our own felt board and books with press-out pictures that had little strips of felt on the back, and I spent hours telling myself the story of Jesus' birth while organizing the pictures just so!  And isn't there just something almost 'organic' about handling pieces of felt?

So, about a week ago I made a lovely, lightweight felt board for Sweetpea's room, using a piece of tan coloured felt I had sitting in my fabric cupboard for ages! I sell felt boards from the Suczezz range of educational toys, but I'm a bit of a pain about matching decor, and since theirs come in blue or green, it would clash with the creams and dusty pinks of her bedroom... Some of their felt board themes came in handy, though! As soon as the felt board was done, I gave Sweetpea the SHAPES pack to try out - it was an instant hit!

About half of the shapes from the SHAPES theme pack, here on the green Suczezz felt board.

But what had inspired me to make the felt board in the first place, was the WEATHER & DATES theme I had bought her a while ago. Since she's not reading yet, I thought I'd keep it in the cupboard for another year or so, but it did give me the idea to make a weather board using pictures. With the milder autumn days bringing a bit of a nip to the air around evening time, we've been talking a lot about winter clothes and summer clothes, and observing the weather every morning before choosing an outfit. So I took the clouds and rain pictures out of the pack, made a more cheery sun and had a ton of fun cutting out a tree onto which Sweetpea can stick leaves according to the season.  I've added the rest of the WEATHER & DATES theme to this picture so you can see what it looks like .

I was having way too much fun to quit then, so I visited for some templates to make a boy and girl to play under the tree! My friend Georgia over at Love and Lollipops recently posted on this great website, where you can download free paper dolls, as well as clothes, hairstyles, and accessories for your dolls!  I made a felt version in no time and will now be adding to the wardrobes so Sweetpea can dress her dolls according to the weather!

The tree in it's autumn outfit!

To see the rest of the felt board themes in the Suczezz range, visit the online catalogue by clicking here and here. If you would like to order any of the themes, or the felt boards, please e-mail me! And if you are feeling inspired and want to make your own felt pieces, you can now also order your felt from me!

Monday, April 5, 2010


There were outcries of frustration and the odd triumphant bellow emminating from our house this weekend as we faced the geometry giants that were hiding in our new Tangram game! Now, I LOVED high school...except for those geometry classes that had me break out in a cold sweat. Oh, had I but discovered tangrams when I was younger, it could have saved me hours of geometric grief!

Tangram is an ancient Chinese puzzle consisting of 7 shapes cut from a single square.

One must then organise these shapes to form pictures, the catch being that all seven shapes must be used for each picture, and no overlapping of shapes are allowed.

Working with tangrams develops a myriad of skills, including logic, visual discrmination and two-dimensional skills. For some very good ideas of how to play tangram games with your pre-school to grade eight child, click here.

Tangram is one of the games I have on special this month (If you are not yet receiving my monthly newsletter with special offers and news about new products and workshops, send me an e-mail.) So on Friday evening I thought I'd present it to the rest of the family in the hope that the children didn't inherit my geometry skills! (It's a wee bit soon to tell with ArrowBoy -he's still content just chewing the pieces) The dad struggled about just as much as I did initially, but then the lights came on and together we triumphed over quite a few of the puzzles. The star of the evening was Sweetpea.

Although she's obvioulsy way too young to be building the pictures yet, she immediately fitted together a square and a small triangle and proudly showed me the house she'd built. A little while later she announced: "Square" and showed me how she had used two of the large triangles to build a square. She then moved another square over and said; "big square, little square!" I was mightily impressed and think I'll leave the Tangram set out to encourage further exposure to shapes!

This set consits of two sets of tangram pieces and 80 puzzle cards with their solutions on the back. Game rules are included. By the way, one way to expose younger children to the wonders of tangram is to let them build the solutions first. At R55 (price for April 2010) this is a great birthday gift for chidren 6+ and any adult who loves brain teasers!

I found a lovely little story book about Tangrams, called Grandfather Tang's Story - A tale told in Tangrams - check it out by clicking here.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is risen!

Matthew 28:6: "He is not here, for He is risen!"

To see how we commemorated the death and glorious ressurection of Jesus Christ, please visit my personal blog by clicking here.


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