Tag Archives: exploration

Spirulina Ice & Chisel


ice and chisel

After our fun with spirulina playdough, I had been thinking about something I had pinned awhile back and how perfect it would suit this hot weather. The pin was frozen ice with dinosaurs and the hours of fun using a chisel to get them out. Since we do not have any dinosaurs, I debated about using his animals. I did not want to ruin them in the water, and I wasn’t sure if it was a great idea to be freezing animals since this kind of goes against what I believe. I mean, in no other circumstance would I be freezing animals, but then I thought about how much Zaedyn loves his animals and how it would be a great way for him to help save them.

I decided to freeze the animals in water, and add some colour on top after it was frozen. I was a little bit impatient letting it freeze for long enough though. I mixed a bit of spirulina into water, poured it on top, and placed the container back in the freezer. Since I did not wait long enough, the top layer mixed with the layer beneath. It actually worked out perfect to create more of a blue ocean, and the spirulina did not stain the animals.

The next day, we found the animals frozen in the freezer and brought them outside with Zaedyn’s hammer and chisel. He was very curious and uncertain about what we were doing, but he was also very interested. After showing Zaedyn what to do, he had a bit of fun, but also wanted Mummy’s help. We made sure to be very careful not to hurt our animals while trying to save them. Zaedyn loves to hold the hammer around the other way for some reason. No matter how many times you help him turn it, he makes sure to show you that is not the way he likes to do it. It was great to see him exploring with this new activity. He loved seeing the ice crack, and he had the biggest smiles on his face when the animals were free.

This is a great exploration activity for hand/eye coordination, understanding properties of water, perseverance, and having a bit of fun. Of course there are always more learning opportunities that arise with each child! I would love to keep doing this with Zaedyn and see how different or similar things go. Let me know if you do this with your children, or if you end up trying it. It is such a simple, yet fun learning opportunity that is great for warm weather (or even cold) and as an alternative to using hammers at a workbench.

Gluten-Free Spirulina Playdough


gluten-free playdough

Ever wondered about gluten-free playdough with no food colouring? It is definitely possible! Some of you might be wondering if there is any point, but for some children even playdough is a huge concern. If a child cannot consume gluten, playing with playdough is still entering their skin and you never know what might end up in their mouth. I have never stopped Zaedyn from playing with white flour playdough as that is what we used at the centre, but seeing as we only buy gluten-free flour that is what we make at our house.

Another big concern for me in playdough is food colouring. There is a lot of controversy about the dangers and effects of food colouring, but an even bigger concern for me is the fact that they can be tested on animals or contain crushed insects.

Rather than use food dye, we opted to use some spirulina powder to make our playdough green. There are a number of ways to create your own natural dyes from juicing a variety of fruits and vegetables, herbs, spices, or even tea bags. Check out this gluten-free pink playdough simply from using raspberry tea! I would love to hear any of your favourite playdough recipes or clever ways to make your own colours.

Spirulina Playdough
Zaedyn was pretty excited to play with the playdough as we have not made any for awhile now. After exploring the texture with his hands, the animals needed to come and join the fun.

Spirulina Playdough

Spirulina Playdough

He loved making lots of animal footprints in the playdough. This really sparked lots of imaginative play as Zaedyn was chatting away and setting the scene with his animal friends.

Spirulina Playdough

Of course this including feeding his lamb….

Spirulina Playdough

as well as Lamby and Kai giving kisses. Even through his play, you can really tell how much Zaedyn loves and cares for animals. It always makes me smile to see his compassion for animals shine through in every aspect of his life.

I am also always amazed at how something as simple as playdough can create endless amounts of fun and allow for different creative play whenever it is used. Playdough involves sensory play, imaginative play, and inspires lots of dispositions.

Do you remember playing with playdough as a child? Do your children have favourite materials they like to use while playing with playdough? Some ideas include kitchen toy sets, rolling pins and cookie cutters, golf tees and hammers, popsicle sticks or matchsticks, animals, natural resources, pompoms or pipe cleaners, etc. There are endless materials to provide, and I am sure your children will be creative and find their own materials to use through this open-ended exploration.

Regrowing Mint: Water or Soil?


Ever wonder if this actually works? I have never tried to regrow mint as it does seem to grow in abundance on its own, but I wanted to regrow some cuttings for the tamariki at the centre. With summer coming, the teachers are sorting out the garden with intentions of building a sensory area including herbs.

Mint is a hardy plant that can be easily grown by children. It makes a great addition and aromatic aspect to playdough or clay by adding hot water to fresh mint leaves and using as an essence. Add mint to water in ice cube trays and freeze. This adds a twist of a natural sensory aspect to the understanding of the physical properties of water leading to curiosity, contribution, and exploration. I am sure that the tamariki will love picking mint from their garden and knowing that they helped it to grow. This also adds to their sense of responsibility and sustainability as they develop an appreciation for the environment. There are even more learning opportunities through science concepts, collaboration, patience, and observation. The list goes on.

Gardening provides children with a real sense of purpose and a meaningful way to explore nature.

I may have cut the mint a bit longer than I should have, but I was very surprised and excited as I walked past and saw the roots. I did not know if the cuttings would regrow and was uncertain as to whether or not they should be in water or soil, but it looks like this was a success. We will continue to watch the roots grow before planting them.

Anyone else need mint? Would love to hear if anyone else has tried this, or can share successful or unsuccessful experiences regrowing plants from cuttings.

***tamariki means children