emilia keriene

creating in captured moments



Christmas Activities

We have been enjoying lots of Christmas activities and using them to to talk about Jesus as the joy, hope, peace, saviour, light, king and judge of the world (see here).


– tape resist Christmas tree paintings


– shadow puppet nativity


– decorating play dough Christmas tree


– decorating cardboard Christmas tree

– target practice (aiming for stars with the descriptions of Jesus written on them)

– bell maze (inspired by this one)

– trees from paintings with the descriptions of Jesus on them

We hope you are enjoying preparing for Christmas too. xo



Christmas Detectives {part 2}

We have had a great week as Christmas Detectives with the mission of finding out the truth about Christmas, that being the birth of Jesus and his fulfilment of God’s promises. We’ve used these activities as an opportunity to talk about Jesus, his birth and its implications for us and to read passages in the Bible and Christmas stories.


– Mini explosions. We made wise men bon bons (crackers) and talked about worshipping Jesus, even when he was a baby.

We make bon bons each year and usually include the snap, a toy, a chocolate, a bauble and a joke. Simply wrap a cardboard tube in some paper, place or tape the snap inside and tie up one end with some ribbon. Fill the tube with the rest of your treasures and tie the other end. Add details with cut up paper and a pen to make them resemble wise men.



– laser maze (inspired by this spider web). The little men used tweezers to remove the stars without touching the string. We also collected larger stars using a life-size laser maze made of string. The stars gave us a chance to talk about following Jesus just as the wise men followed a star to find him.


– bauble eye spy. The little men looked for the item(s) inside each bauble and then matched them to a meaning/reminder:

  • a candle for Jesus as the light of the world
  • a gold coin to remind us to worship Jesus
  • stars to remind us to follow Jesus
  • a bell to remind us to share the news about Jesus
  • a tree to celebrate Jesus



– footprint analysis. We matched footprints to the type of animal that may have left them (and that may have possibly been near the manger). Then the little men made footprints with plastic animals.

We read two books along with this activity: Lloyd-Jones, S & Jay, A. (2011). Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz. and Wiersum, G & Morgan, A. (2007). The Animals’ Christmas Eve. New York: Golden Books.


– bauble target practice


– matching Christmas shapes


– detective kits (read more here)

– painting with combs

– chocolate angel spoons

– decoding Christmas words (reading while looking for certain words and then defining those words). We read passages in Luke and Matthew and also Poole, S. (2014). A Christmas Journey. Nashville, TN: B&H Kids.

– fingerprint match and disguise. We lifted fingerprints using these instructions and then we stamped our own fingerprints and disguised them as angels, shepherds, sheep and wise men.

– candy cone search and decode. We had a hunt for the candy canes and then put them in order to make the verse from Matthew 1:21: “[Mary] will have a son, and you will name him Jesus – because he will save his people from their sins.”

– Christmas secret messages. The little men wrote messages and pictures about Christmas using invisible inks (baking soda and water; lemon juice).

– traditions of Christmas investigation. Matching up traditions with their origins.

– carol clues. Listening to sections of songs and guessing which carol it is.




We have been busy building recently, inspired by the little men singing about wise and foolish builders, and talking about listening and obeying Jesus’ words as the foundation of our lives.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

~ Matthew 7:24-27


– construction site small world


– measuring tape rhyming words and addition

– padlock and key match and size ordering

– truck tracks with foam, cardboard tubes and cocoa (inspired by this)

– sandpaper and crayon art


– building bridges with blocks and cardboard. We tested the strength of different designs with a cup of lentils (inspired by this)


– building towers


– painting safety masks

– pretend play and dressing up


Advent Activities #3

Here are the final four of our advent activities, the first four are here, the next seven are here and the full list is here.

All four themes are about all the celebrations we have at Christmastime because it is such an important time.




– Birthday party for Jesus with bunting, streamers, balloons, blowers, hats and we will bake a cake together

– Making bon bons/crackers (we chose to use a wind-up toy for each bon bon so we can race them on Christmas day. Jokes from here)

– Learning fractions with cardboard cakes




– Colour matching

– Guess and count contents of baubles

– Bell and pipe cleaner wreath (idea from here)

– Decorations sensory tub

– Jar to fill with snow and trees




– Threading Christmas tree (idea from here)

– Wooden Christmas trees to decorate

– Finding and counting decorations on a tree

– Filling Christmas tree ornaments

– Velcro ornaments for a Christmas tree (idea from here)




– Pretend Christmas lunch (idea from here)

– Matching gingerbread word families

– Felt cookie and icing set

– Building gingerbread houses

– Gingerbread playdough (not pictured)

– Baking cookies (not pictured)



The little man and I have spoken a lot lately about real and pretend things and of course aliens came up often while we were busy with space activities recently. So this week we celebrated the pretend with monsters.


– making monster snacks

– skip counting with monsters (counting by 1 – monsters; counting by 2s – legs; counting by 5s – eyes; counting by 10s – spots)

– playdough, slime and goop monsters (we used some of the recipes from here. These are possibly my favourite playdough monsters – so cute!)


– monster word squash (inspired by this game)

– monsters from bags, boxes and bits and pieces

– sock puppet monsters



Playdough {Part 3}


We have had a lot of fun with playdough over the past few weeks and I have used more cream of tartar than cumulatively across the rest of my life. I use the recipe my mum handed down to me which is very similar to the first of these recipes. I have used gel food colourings to get bright colours, and some of the playdough in these posts was store-bought. The little man and I have experimented with the slightly different textures of the three types of dough we used, some are easier to work with, some are smoother.

Nurture Store and The Imagination Tree have great playdough inspiration and recipes if you are looking for ideas. Here’s what has filled our weeks lately. Part 1 {here} and Part 2 {here}.

kerieneplaydoughpost1 kerieneplaydoughpost2



– Sesame Street. We experimented with different ways to make the characters look furry – pinching, rolling then attaching small pieces, scraping with a fork, piping and pushing the playdough through items with small holes (like a garlic press, lemon juicer or sieve). The sieve gave the best fur.




– Squashing phonics. We found and squashed different letter sounds, and used some of them to make a few words. Inspired by this shaving cream version. The little man enjoyed sticking the alphabet letters onto the playdough balls as much as he did squashing them.




– Movie Theatre. The little man loved this one (again, one of his own ideas). He declared himself the only person who works at the movies, making the popcorn, selling the tickets, putting the DVD in and pressing play, turning off the lights and so on. I included scissors, tongs and a scoop for different fine motor skills and some numbers for him to count out popcorn or corn kernels. To my surprise, this was the tray that had the most use of them all.




– Builder. Inspired by this and this.




– Ramps. The little man has been interested in cylinders lately so we used this tray to explore which shapes and sizes would roll down the ramps or through a tube and whether they needed to be rotated a particular way. Inspired by this.




– Doctor. I love how, if you look carefully in the bottom right picture below, the little man gave his patient a Band-Aid.




– Polar. This was one of my favourite trays. Inspired by this.








Playdough {Part 2}


Playdough is great for open-ended play. I have tried to use a variety of role play, small world play, reading and speech and maths when making up these trays for the little man, and of course it is also good for fine motor skills. There are lots of sites that explain more about the benefits of playdough, including here and here. I’ve enjoyed watching the little man come up with ideas, both of types of trays we could do and also what to do with the things on the trays.

Nurture Store and The Imagination Tree have great playdough inspiration and recipes if you are looking for ideas. Here’s what has filled our weeks lately. Part 1 {here} and Part 3 {here}.

kerieneplaydoughpost1 kerieneplaydoughpost2



– Florist




– Dinosaur. The little man enjoyed the volcano we made recently so we happily made another (we used these instructions). He quite liked dunking the dinosaurs into it, then walking them along the playdough. Here is an elaborate playdough dinosaur world.




– Colour mixing, which is great for fine motor skills and concentration as getting the colours to completely mix is hard work.



– Bus, which I used to focus on rolling, using cookie cutters, shapes, colours and words so the bus itself could be easily substituted with anything you like. I used cardboard to make the bus and shapes but there are plenty of printable playdough mats you could use instead, some are available here.




– Craft box. This is not all that different from what we generally use when we play with playdough – a mix of things from Play-Doh sets and anything we find in the craft box. Advice on setting up a playdough tool box can be found here and here.




– Ocean. (Excuse the lighting in these photos – the little man was so keen for more playdough that we did this tray after dinner one evening). There are gorgeous printable sea creatures that can be added to playdough available here.




– Construction site, using edible peanut butter and chocolate playdoughs. We did a similar tray almost a year ago, which was inspired by this, and it is certainly fun (I am surprised I haven’t recreated it sooner). The playdough recipes I used are from here and here.



Playdough {Part 1}


The little man has always liked playdough and, after receiving a Play-Doh package from some overseas friends, has been asking for it incessantly. So I had planned to make a few special trays for him rather than just getting out our standard materials. He had greater plans suggesting, ‘How about Sesame Street playdough now? How about doctor playdough and fireman playdough? Bus playdough? …’ turning my one week concept into almost a month of ideas, most of which were his own. I have loved how he has built on and repurposed the items on the trays, doing far more than I had in mind.

Nurture Store and The Imagination Tree have great playdough inspiration and recipes if you are looking for ideas. Here’s what has filled our weeks lately. Part 2 {here} and Part 3 {here}.

kerieneplaydoughpost2 kerieneplaydoughpost2



– A forest. The little man soon turned this into a retelling of Donaldson and Scheffler, The Gruffalo.  Dial Books for Young Readers, 1999.




– Space (I added black food colouring gel and glitter to my usual playdough recipe). Inspired by this.




– Colour matching. The little man alternated colour matching with colour mixing. Inspired by this.




– Sensory playdough. We had aromatic playdough (lavender, mint, peanut, gingerbread, coconut, chocolate and orange), edible (peanut butter and chocolate) and tactile (polenta, corn kernels, rice and pasta pieces). Inspired by some of these.



– Bakery, baking bread and cupcakes. I also used this tray to look at the different patterns that utensils leave in playdough. Inspired by this.




– Firemen. The little man suggested that we add a cat up a tree for the firemen to rescue.



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