Thursday, October 18, 2012

Small Potatoes Has Moved!

A loooong time ago, Small Potatoes became a dot com! I didn't want to mess up anyone's pins on Pinterest so I have left this original blog intact. But it occurred to me that my readers on blogspot are missing out on a WHOLE bunch of cool new posts over at our dotcom address. So come on over to the new blog and see how we've grown!

This blog has been imported over to our new address so everything is all in one place. I will keep this blog here so your pins won't be fussed with.

I sure hope you enjoy browsing through all our new posts at

See you there!

Thanks for stopping by,

Arlee, Small Potatoes

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In the Fairy's Night Garden...Small World Play.

We have a whole lot of "boy tailored" activities at my house, but not a lot of "girlie" ones. Now that the baby girls are growing up into little ladies, I thought it might be time to make a small world play bin JUST for them! And what's more girlie than a fairy garden? 
Well, I built this little garden with the girls in mind, but as it turns out...the boys play with it just as much as the girls!! This little fairy world has become our "most played with" bin in the entire dayhome. Ha! Just when you think you've got them all figured out!

"C" likes to play with it first thing in the morning...she gets here first when the sun is not all the way up, so she gets the benefit of the soft twinkly tea lights!

There is a little bed in the corner (we borrowed from our dollhouse) for the fairies to sleep...

A treasure box of "jewels" which the kids like to hide in the flowers so they are kept safe from the "baddies."

We added little terra cotta pots for the silk flowers, and a little fruit basket from the My Little Pony sets.

A little birthday cake (also from the My Little Ponies), and little plastic bugs from the dollar store, as party guests.
Everything is "moveable"...nothing is stuck anywhere. The kids can arrange and rearrange the basket as they please. The bottom of the basket has a folded towel on one end to give the garden another level. The floor is covered with squares of green felt.

The felt "flower vine" is from the scrapbook section of the dollar store. It can be picked up and moved around also. The flower fairies and battery operated tea lights are also from the dollar store.

*Note: the basket makes a perfect setting for the garden, as the stems of the silk flowers can be woven in and out of the basket weave. This makes a border of flowers all around the garden. You could use a plastic bin, but I think you'll find there are so many more possibilities if you use a basket.

Here is a visual list of all the items we used.
All of the supplies came from the dollar store and from toys we already had around the house.
I have no doubt the little ones in your life will appreciate this small world of fairies and twinkle lights...the hours of make-believe play will feed their souls, AND yours. Even our cat likes to visit the fairy garden once in awhile...we find him sleeping right in there with the flowers and night crawlers!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

BIG Builders...

There is nothing like the smell of coffee to wake me up in the morning. I love it. I also love chocolate. Like, really love it. Put the 2 of them together, and well...mmmmmm. Perfection. And just when you think things couldn't possibly get better, a few dump trucks come along and take it to a whole new level!

This activity was one of our most successful ones here at Small Potatoes. The boys took the play to places I would have never even thought of. What started out as a pile of coffee beans and a mound of chocolate playdough, (recipe from the lovely NurtureStore) turned into hours of creative building, dumping, sculpting, crushing, rolling, and most of all, IMAGINING!

I poured a large bag of cheap (Western Family brand) coffee beans into our process table. I added some plastic construction trucks (found at Toys R Us), and some wooden play tools. I made a double batch of the chocolate playdough and plopped it in alongside everything else. Then I let the kids have at 'er!

At first, they did exactly what I had expected. They poured and dumped the beans in and out of the diggers and dump trucks, and drove them up and over the playdough hill.

But not long into their play time, they began to take the activity up into a more complex level...
First, they cleared roadways and marked the centre line with individual beans.

Then they started hammering the beans into the playdough to make some sort of foundation. At this point, I wasn't quite sure what they were up to...

Then, they went to the toy bins and returned with handfuls of wooden blocks. They used the playdough as mortar between their wooden "bricks" and built a house on their foundation! Such smart little boys!!
And then, just when I thought they couldn't be any more clever, they began to crush and grind the beans with a wooden block to make "cement" for their sidewalks. God bless them! 

Little hands building a sidewalk up to the house.

So I was able to enjoy the smell of coffee and chocolate all through my house (seriously, it smelled like Starbucks), and the boys spent the afternoon immersed in imaginative, sensory play. Win win! I packed the playdough into a plastic container at the end of the play session and we kept the beans in the process table for a good week. I brought the playdough out for them each time they asked. They absolutely loved this activity. And so did I.  If you don't have a process table, don't fret...just use your table top, or a large plastic bin. You will be sweeping up beans, but it's a fair trade when you see how much fun your little ones are having!

Don't you want to just get in there and play, too? I did! What are you waiting for?

Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Big City...

I don't know about you, but I have quite a few boys around my house who have a real urge to build stuff. I think I own more different types of blocks than is necessary...but the boys think differently! They use the duplo blocks, the wooden blocks, foam blocks, mega blocks, bristle blocks, and the lego blocks and they will build for hours. Constructing big, elaborate buildings and ramps, bus lines, subways, houses, and roads.  But what I noticed their cities didn't have, was "bigger than life" skyscrapers! 

I have seen big fancy city building blocks made by Pottery Barn Kids, and I have seen a few versions floating around on Pinterest. I figured, "I could SO make those"...and make them out of materials I already had in my house. And so I did. And they are fabulous. And YOU can make them too. And you should. Your kids will love you for it. Even the babies like to play and stack these big buildings. Although, they mostly play the part of King Kong or Godzilla when the boys finish building up their cities! Hehehehe.

Start by collecting all your "family size" boxes of things. I used Cheerios, Goldfish, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch boxes, because we go thru one each of those in a week, easy. It didn't take me long to get enough boxes for a good sized city.

Fill your boxes with smunched-up newspaper to give the boxes a bit of weight. This will make them sturdier.
Tape the boxes closed, and then wrap with your choice of colored paper. I used brown paper because I figured it would wear the best. Smudges and dirt would show up too much on a white building! I found the rolls of heavy brown paper in the packaging aisle of Wal-Mart. You know the one that keeps the bubble wrap and packing tape and stuff?

Once your boxes are all stuffed and wrapped, you can paint all your windows and doors on. I have seen versions with coloured card stock windows and doors, but personally, I did not want to cut and paste a gazillion squares and rectangles. I am intrinsically a girl who likes to get from A to Z quickly. Paint just seemed quicker and just as cute!
And don't worry about being precise. I gave the windows all a bit of a tilt to create a whimsical look...whimsical is not exact. Whimsical is your friend. Trust me. 

Let your building boxes dry overnight, and if you want, you can paint the other side so they are double-sided. This part is up to you. My kids were so eager to play with them, that I have not yet got around to painting the back side.

Add little cars and people that you might already have at home. Remember this is supposed to be an inexpensive project!
Even Hot Wheels will do the trick. The kids just want something with wheels to race around their cities with!

Now let the building will start out small...

And then it will begin to grow...

And pretty soon, the other types of blocks, and props will start to find their way into the city. That's when the fun starts. I love, love, love watching the kids absorbed in the world of city makes me smile.

Now, get going!! Go build some buildings! 

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chalk n' Water Centre...

For a long time, I had wanted to add an easel painting space to my house. A place where the kids were free to go and paint on a whim. But the space in my little house is limited and the potential to have paint on my carpets and walls and furniture is at an all time high! I had already put a chalk centre on the outside of my kitchen island and my lovely, and brilliant cousin Krymsen suggested I let the kids paint with water and brushes on the chalkboard.

Well, didn't I love this idea? The children could paint as they pleased, my furniture and carpets would remain safe, AND my chalkboard would get a cleaning! And so I added one more bucket to the wall. The first one contains chalk and brushes. The second one contains brushes, and when the kids want to paint, I unhook it from the wall and fill it with a bit of water and put it on the floor in front of the board.

It is now the "go to" spot for my toddlers when I am preparing meals. They love it! And there are no rules, except for "no sucking the paint brushes!"

And there you have it...6 days of fun water water play activities that you can do inside your home...even on the coldest of days!

Happy painting!
Thanks for stoping by!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Little Scientists...Colour Mixing!

I know you've all seen it. Water, food colouring, colour mixing, blah blah blah. But don't underestimate the allure AND the benefits that this simple science experiment holds for children of all ages. The fine motor skills, the cause and effect, the predicting, the observing...oh the may wonders of colour and water!! So what are you waiting for??

Day #5

Supplies needed:
1. Food colouring
2. Jars or glasses, or see thru cups
3. Medicine droppers...I use these instead of turkey basters because it helps them master the prewriting "pencil grip".
4. Empty clear egg cartons. The clear ones help the children see their mixed colours better.

Fill your jars with coloured water...make the colours quite strong so they will mix in all kinds of pretty ways.

Let the children start mixing!
They get very serious about creating JUST the right colour. Abby wanted to make "medicine" colour, and she worked and worked at it until she was happy with her result.
Busy scientists!
Even the toddlers love to get involved!!

Have fun, and happy mixing!
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Small World Play...Building our own Aquarium!

Well, we've made it to day four of our Water Week, and we are all a bit wet around here. Today's activity was probably our favourite one of all. We built our own small world aquarium. 
We talked about habitats and how all living creatures have a habitat that they thrive in best of all. The ocean animals that we chose to have living in our aquarium were given a habitat that the children thought resembled most "authentic." 
This is how the morning went...

DAY #4

Supplies needed:
1. Empty salad or veggie containers, even the cake toppers from grocery store cakes, and jars work too!
2. Aquarium rocks, seashells, plastic plants, rocks, and any other materials you think might work in building habitats.
3.  Plastic ocean creatures.
4. Dollhouse "visitors"
5. Water and food colouring.
6. Paper, marker, and tape to make the habitat signs.

Now it's time to build your habitats. I let the children decide which animals to put in each container and they chose all the accessories...
They chose the large cake topper container for the whales, as they need more space!

They thought the sharks should have green water!

Our rays got the pretty seashells and clear water so they would be clearly visible.

They put the octopus in the jar so he could spread out his tentacles!

The whale shark has my favourite habitat...the colours the children chose just look so pretty!

And the alligator got a climbing rock so he could come out of the water sometimes.

And then the playing began in earnest! So many visitors to our aquarium!

The visitors even got to swim with our creatures and experience the habitats first hand!
And then the fun REALLY began! 

Enjoy this fun "habitat creating" activity with the small people in your life. It's guaranteed fun! Oh, the things they can learn as they play. And please don't fret about the all comes dry with towel or two! 
Thanks for stopping by!