Peepo! Lift-the-Flap Activity

The other night, when Little Pea had gone to bed, I was feeling a bit frazzled and fed up. Little Pea had been really unwell with a virus which terrified me, and I’d missed a really important week at work which left me trapped in a cycle of guilt at missing work and feeling guilty for feeling that way when Little Pea was so ill… I decided that I needed something to focus on to take my mind off it, so I grabbed my craft knife, card and glue to set up an activity I’ve been meaning to do for a while now.

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Peepo! By Janet and Alan Ahlberg is one of those children’s books that everyone knows. Like their other books for young children, it is beautifully illustrated, with a wonderful rhyme scheme which encourages the little reader to look for and identify objects within the illustration. The thing that makes Peepo! really special is the circular holes cut out of each page that give you a glimpse of what the baby in the book is spying and allow you to peek at more and more and more of the scene as you turn the page, until you have the whole image laid out in front you. Little Pea has found this incredibly exciting since she was very small, and her copy of Peepo! is showing signs of having been vigorously loved by a toddler.

Given how much she loved peeking through the circles in the book, I wondered what she would make of a game of peepo which used the idea of spying an image through cut out shapes with pictures of objects that she is passionate about, like the baby in Peepo! who keeps coming back to his Teddy and his ball.

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Using some coloured card, a glue stick, a craft knife and some pictures, I made mini cardboard books to turn our wall into a lift-the-flap, Peepo experience. Inside the mini-books I stuck postcards of an old teddy bear and a stripey piglet,  photographs of our guinea pigs and Little Pea with her Daddy and cousin, and a picture of a dog that I had cut out of a magazine. She was very curious about it as soon as she spotted it, and was excited to lift and open the flaps in various directions. When she saw the photograph of her cousin and the photograph of the guinea pigs, she giggled and tried saying their names, which was something I hadn’t heard her do before so was definitely worth the set up.

It didn’t take her too long to pull the books off the wall as they were held on with masking tape (which she’s fascinated with) and she carried them around the house with her for the rest of the day. They were a little bent by the end of it all, but I’m planning to smooth them out and bring them back out to play with new images inside in the near future.

The Gruffalo’s Child Footprint Play

The Gruffalo's Child footprint play activity

Little Pea has started walking and it is exhausting. For me, not so much for her. She only stops running when she’s asleep, so is probably the fittest person I know.

I decided to earn myself some respite channel Little Pea’s new-found love of walking by helping her make tracks like the animals in one of her favourite stories, The Gruffalo’s Child. We have the sound book, and I always seem to accidentally lean on one of the buttons when I’m trying to sneak her into bed. But she loves it, does a wonderful snake impression and is fully on board with the lines, “Aha! Oho! A trail in the snow!” so was quite excited to be making her own footprints.

I started by sticking a large sheet of paper to the floor with masking tape so that it was secure enough for Little Pea to walk on without it slipping. In a plastic tray, I put a selection of paints, brushes and things that she could make prints with: a plastic snake, some sponges and some good old potatoes that I had carved mouse and owl footprints into.

We started after nap time by re-reading The Gruffalo’s Child while she had her snack, then hopped into some old clothes to get down to making art. At first, we walked back and forth across the paper without any paint on her feet so that she could see that there were no prints left. I then asked her to pick a colour and she chose the orange paint, which we put onto her feet with a tickly sponge. She loved looking down at her feet leaving prints on the white paper until the paint had worn off.

After that we chose an object at a time, with Little Pea selecting a colour and me saying the name and asking her about her choices until we had some red mouse paw prints, yellow owl claw prints and a green snake’s trail. As you can see, she thought it was great fun and has maybe gained a better understanding of what the Gruffalo’s child is following in her hunt for the Big Bad Mouse 🙂

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cress Planter

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Little Pea and I love The Very Hungry Caterpillar, though reading it has not been without risk. At ten months old her chubby little fingers were exactly the right size to get their little tips caught in the holes the caterpillar has nibbled through his five-a-day when she flicked through the book by herself.

Back in May, Little Pea was watching with fascination as I sowed seeds for our raised beds in seed trays and directly into the soil, and I thought it would be lovely for us to make her a little garden of her very own that would show fairly instant results. She probably won’t remember any of it when she’s older, but it was a lovely thing for us to do in the here and now and we can revisit it next year, and the year after, and the year after that… after all, who’s ever grown tired of the greedy little fiend?

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To make our planter we used an old egg box cut in half and some cornflour paint coloured with green Wilton food colouring. I usually use yogurt with food colouring mixed in, but wanted something with a bit more staying power since it would be getting watered regularly. The cornflour paint did the job, giving great coverage and drying to almost a plastic finish. As you can see, she loved smearing the paint everywhere with a variety of brushes and sponges. She seemed to love the slimy texture, and by the time she had finished she’d painted the egg box, the blanket, the grass, her baby grow, her hat and her Mammy. Amazingly none of this stained.

When the caterpillar’s body had dried, I cut a head out of red cardboard and drew a face on it. Little Pea was very excited to see the caterpillar had escaped from her book and watched in fascination as I filled him with cotton wool balls soaked in water (tip: I added green food colouring and this allows you to see if the cotton wool is drying out very easily) then sprinkled some cress seeds on each ball.

We inspected the caterpillar every morning watching the seeds germinate and grow into tiny cress plants. I’m not sure how much she understood what was going on but she seemed very enthusiastic about the ritual and she was delighted when the cress had grown enough for her to help (well, she was trying to be helpful) picking it.

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She then enjoyed the cress snipped up on her scrambled eggs. Great encouragement to try some new food.