It has been a LONG time since I last wrote about our play activities. The last year has been difficult for me in lots of ways; being so ill during pregnancy and the challenges of adjusting to life as a family of 6 has meant that some things have taken the back burner. And the children play differently now too. The Preschooler is now the School Boy and The Toddler is now The Preschooler. And the things that we used to do at home aren’t received as well any more. It might be me. I need to get back into the swing of life. And that’s why I am SO glad the lovely Emma at Adventures of Adam asked me to take part in her wonderful Tuff Spot A-Z.
And we got A! A is for Aquarium!
Bella and I have taken this challenge to heart. I wanted to focus her learning on days out that we’ve enjoyed together, and after our trip to the Sealife Centre Manchester, we were both feeling inspired!
The Preschooler loved the turtles and was fascinated to listen to the talk about how the temperature of the eggs determined the gender of the baby turtles; we had fun pressing our hands onto the large eggs and ‘making turtle babies’ once inside. The actual turtles themselves turned out to be a little scary for some reason; perhaps they were nothing like the mutant ninja turtles she was expecting!
The baby LOVED all the sensory elements of the Sealife Centre and the dimmed lights and brightly coloured tanks kept her attention for the entire visit- so that The Preschooler and I were able to really enjoy our time together.
She enjoyed ducking under the tanks and popping up again to say hello! She loved giving names to all the fish and was over the moon to see clown fish “just like Nemo!” too. We love that the Sealife Centre in Manchester is fairly small too, because we can get around it in an hour without anyone growing tired or impatient- and on other days we can stay all day! The soft play was a welcome break too, so that I could feed The Baby and The Preschooler could burn some energy.
Once home, we spent time talking about our day in the lead up to our Tuff Spot activity. We read The Rainbow Fish. We watched The Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo. We talked about the fish we’d seen and decided to make our own aquarium in the tuff spot.
We started slowly, making the aquarium gravel first.
- Food coloruing (gels work best)
- rock salt
- sandwich bags
- PVA glue
We mixed the rock salt with a spoonful of food colour in a sandwich bag and rubbed it well so that the salt was completely covered in colour. Then we spread the mix onto a foil tray to dry. This took a couple of days. When dry, we squeezed generous amounts of PVA glue into the salt crystals and mixed with plastic spoons. Then we used our fingers to make lumps, and set them to one side. The Preschooler talked about how lumpy the mixture was, and how sticky the glue felt. After another couple of days the glue had dried so that we had lumps and rocks ready for our aquarium.
For the rest of the aquarium we used photos from our day to remember the things we’d seen at the Sealife Centre. We made tropical fish tanks from Nutella jars (the smallest ones, which are essentially a glass with a pop on and off plastic lid). These were so easy to make- the Preschooler helped me to lay aquarium rocks on the bottom of the lid, with plastic plants and colourful fish resting on top. The glass fit neatly over the top to make the tank!
We make a turtle island from rainbow rice and small shells. We counted the turtles and talked about how they lay their eggs.
We used the rest of the aquarium gravel to make a ‘frog land’.
We used star shaped cutters to make starfish- The Preschooler decided that bread was the best material to use for this, and decorated them with rainbow rice!
And our aquarium was complete!
A gentle re-introduction to the Tuff Spot, but this has been wonderful for imaginative play. The Preschooler loves small world and has had such fun playing with her own Sealife Centre. And as the materials are all dry, we’ve been able to leave this out in the play room for her to play with whenever she likes. We’ve been counting turtles, writing letters in the rice, talking about habitats and recounting our visit to the Sealife Centre. And as for the Rainbow Fish…
Our final activity is our work in progress Rainbow Fish collage. The Preschooler has discovered scissors! We’ll post photos when it’s finished!
If you’d like to join in with the Tuff Spot A-Z challenge, you can find out more here. Do let us know what activities you choose for each letter!
The starfish at the Manchester Sealife Centre are currently making their way to Birmingham! A new exhibit, CLAWS is set to open at Easter and already we are excited to visit to see what it’s all about! We are Sealife Centre ambassadors and gain free entry to the attraction.