Cold water play dough



Measuring cups


Two cups flour 

One cup salt 

tsp oil (cooking oil of any kind)

Colour of your choice/or no colour 

One cup of water from the tap (cold). 


Pour two cups of flour in a bowl, add one cup of salt and then mix with your hands together. Add oil (1tsp) and mix again, add colour (if you want colour) and then one cup of water. Mix all together. 

An easy recipe which is great for home, especially when it can be difficult to keep young children entertained on a wet day and it’s something different from technology! You can use utensils, baking equipment and items around the house for children to roll, make shapes and craft the play dough into different things. 

We find that our children love to help make the play dough here with the teachers, and often want to part take in every step of making the play dough. 

When making the play dough, if you find it’s too sticky just add a little more flour, and if too dry just add a little more water and your on your way!

Let us know your feedback on how you went if you made the play dough at home! We would love to see your photos. 

Tracing with leaves

Tracing leaves:

This is a fun art activity you can do with your toddler that doesn’t involve much mess!  All you need are some leaves, paper and crayons.


Collect leaves of various shapes and sizes. You can use fresh leaves or dried fallen ones.


Place a leaf with its bottom side facing up.


Put a sheet of paper, preferably thin or lightweight, over the leaf.


Rub the side of a crayon gently on the area over the leaf.   As you do this, you’ll see the coloured areas start to take the shape of the leaf.


Remove the leaf from under the paper. This completes the basic steps for making a leaf tracing.


Make more leaf tracings using other colours and different leaf shapes.

Celebrating Chinese Language Week with Young Children

New Zealand Chinese Language Week was being held in 2020 between 20 and 26 September. Here are some learning experiences that we engaged with our children in the celebration of Chinese Language Week.

Learning simple Mandarin phrases

Mandarin is the official language in China and also the most widely-spoken language in the world. Our tamariki in the preschool room are keen to learn some simple phrases that could be used in the daily conversations. These phrases are 你好 Nihao – Hello,  再见 Zaijian – Goodbye, 谢谢 Xiexie – Thanks, 不客气 Bukeqi – You are welcomed.

Experiencing paper cutting

Chinese paper-cutting, or jianzhi (剪纸), is a folk art that originated in China around the sixth century AD. Our tamariki love being able to fold the papers and then cut out any shapes they like. When they open up the papers, they become beautiful paper cutting artworks that could be used to decorate the windows. Kaiako are blown away by tamariki’s creativity.

Drawing Chinese zodiac animals

The Chinese zodiac, known as shengxiao (生肖), features 12 animal signs in this order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. The characteristics of the animals are said to influence the personalities and behaviour of the people born in the year that animal represents. Our tamariki learn about their zodiac animals which are Monkey(born in 2016) and Goat (born in 2015). They enjoyed drawing their zodiac animals and reading the  animals’ personalities.

What learning is happening here?

Our tamariki are fully engaged with the celebration of Chinese Language Week. It is a great opportunity for them to experience Chinese language, believe and cultural practices. It helps our tamariki to develop an understanding of cultural diversity and the appreciation for differences.

Fun with Cutting and Collage

Kia ora .
I would love to share an idea that is easy to set up at home and I have seen children enjoying this activity at the centre.

All you will need is old magazines, scissors, glue, paper or small boxes. Encourage your children to tear or cut pieces of images from the magazines and then glue them onto the paper or a small box.

Children can choose their favourite pictures from the magazines, cut them out and then paste them on a card. They will love to arrange the images to create a special pattern. This is called collage painting and children really like doing this. There is lots of learning happening with this activity,
where children are developing skills like cutting, gluing and sticking, being
creative and learning about design, pattern-making, dimension and
If you want to make this activity more challenging, draw a simple pattern like a heart shape, butterfly or a tree. We can make it look interesting by cutting out lots of small pieces and pasting them onto the paper. We need to be more patient for doing this, but it is great to be creative and practise on their attention span, as well as their fine motor skills, such as where to place their pieces of paper.

Don’t worry too much about the end product. It is more about the process and how they got to the end!

Keeping it simple

The lockdown period has been challenging for everyone.  Some because they are lonely and don’t have enough to keep them busy, and others because their household has never been so busy!  Most if not all of our families will fall into this second category, because besides work and many other responsibilities – parenting is a full-time job in itself.  Having little ones and keeping them entertained can seem completely overwhelming, but there are a few simple rules you can apply when spending time with your children.

The first and most important one is keep it simple!  Don’t over complicate play time.  The simplest activities are often the most enjoyable.  For instance last night I went ‘moon hunting’ with my two pre schoolers in the buggy before their bedtime.  It was the highlight of their day seeing the colours of the day sky meet the night sky and the big bright moon shining up above us.   It was a real sense of adventure for them heading out in their PJ’s after dinner and bath.  15 minutes of uninterrupted time for them to ask me all sorts of questions.  The fresh air also helped me a lot, and I forgot about all the tantrums they’d had throughout the day and the mess they’d made throughout the house.

Some other ideas:

  • Simple Eye Spy around the garden – I spy something that is red, I spy something with wheels, I spy something that needs water to grow….   This can be kept so simple but can entertain little ones for quite a while.
  • Hide and seek (inside and outside). This is always fun
  • Making a face with the garden leaves outside (all you need is a paper plate and some glue or cellotape). Children love collecting ‘treasure’ from the garden, this is all part of the fun.  Just encourage them to look for facial features (hair, nose, lips, eyes etc).
  • Relay exercises. Running to the wall and back, skipping to the wall and back, hopping to the wall and back, crab walk to the wall and back, star jump to the wall etc.    It wears them out and they love it.
  • Making a cubby house with any boxes you may have at home (nappy boxes are a good one).  You can also use chairs and put blankets over as a roof.  This can be fun to play in, and a nice area for little ones to have their lunch or morning tea.

The second rule is the importance of quality over quantity.  When your child is struggling to play on their own, is pulling at your ankles, or even throwing things on the floor and yelling and screaming– quite often they aren’t misbehaving, they’re just wanting some uninterrupted time with you. Sometimes stopping what you are doing (even if you are in the middle of dinner preparation or cleaning the bathroom!) and sitting down with your child for 5 minutes and playing with them will set your child on a different course for the rest of the day.  It’s the ‘time in’ principle.  So often when our kids misbehave, we send them to ‘time out’ when really what they need is ‘time in.’  5-10 minutes of play with you is the fix they need (that’s no phone, no sending emails or facebook, no folding washing at the same time!).  They have your attention and to them that is the most important thing in the world.  By engaging with your child without any other distractions around, they’ll often carry on playing by themselves quite happily as they have had their ‘fix’ of mum and dad that they were so desperately wanting.    And that allows you to get on with other important things.  Remember quality over quantity, 5-10 minutes goes a long way!


It’s important to be kind to yourself parents!  You are doing your very best, under very stressful circumstances and uncertain times.  You are not a trained teacher, and it’s perfectly normal if you feel that this whole parenting gig is not coming naturally.  It is hard work!  We can’t wait to lighten your load when we re open, and help you navigate your way through this new ‘normal.’  Until then – remember to keep it simple with your children, and that ‘time in’ goes a long way.


Three Fun Ideas with Loose Parts

Are your children bored of playing the same toys again and again? Do you want to buy some new toys but it is not possible at the moment because they are not classified as essential items? Let’s take a look at loose parts.

What are loose parts?

Loose parts can be natural or synthetic, such as stones, stumps, sand, gravel, fabric, twigs, wood, pallets, boxes, logs, stones, flowers, rope, tyres and shells. These materials can be moved, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken part and put back together in multiple ways. Unlike toy cars or puzzles, they are materials with no specific set of directions.

What I like about loose parts is that they are open-ended and they don’t have to be purchased at the store! Most items you already have lying around your house, like the boxes of your delivery or the leaves from your trees.

Being creative with recycled material


These are the examples of building with loose parts. They are the most common recycled materials we can find around the house.

Creating patterns with stones and seashells


My friend’s son is having fun arranging stones and seashells he collected from the beaches. He created a small dinosaur and a big dinosaur.

Imaginative play with leaves, sand and water

Children love to act out real life experiences using the real tools and natural resources like plants, leaves, flowers, water and sands.




What learning is happening here?

Because loose parts materials are open-ended, it encourages children use more creativity and imagination and develop more skill and competence than they would playing with most modern plastic toys. You may see children choose loose parts over expensive toys.

If you are not sure what kind of activities you can set up with loose parts, just simply offer children the materials. They will find their own way to play with them and you will be blown by their creativity and imagination!