INTRODUCING MUSIC TO

I’ve talked before about the immense benefits that come from learning music (and some of the myths). Here are a few simple tips to bring music into your tots world.

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Firstly let me acknowledge that each and every child approaches music from a different perspective, thus it is important to follow the childs lead. Continue reading

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NO TOY TRAVEL TIPS (SURVIVING TRANSIT)

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Traveling on a budget usually means waiting in less than fun situations. It’s tempting to bring an entire bag of toys to keep the kids entertained, but if you are traveling cheep, you will probably be lugging all those extra toys from train to bus to plane and it’s much easier to care for your overtired little one if your luggage isn’t cumbersome or heavy.

Here are my tips to travel light, keep the kids engaged, and stay a little more sane on your next budget trip:

Continue reading

ONLY 1 MORE DAY IN HOBART! I Think I Can – Free interactive event in Elizabeth St Mall.

Does your kid love trains or make believe? This is non invasive interactive theatre that the kids will delight in (and indeed, your tot will probably get this little world even more than you do as it awakens a sense of child’s play in all of us.)

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Go to the centre of Elisabeth St Mall between 2PM – 5PM. (Big white tent, you can’t miss it). First you will be asked to fill in a short digital questionnaire (don’t worry, for the young non readers there is someone to read it out to them and help them in this task.) I found listening to my children’s answers very rewarding. Do they act based on their head, or their heart – do they listen more, or talk more? … their own self perception was surprisingly close to my own thoughts of them, and I delighted in watching them consider their answers.

Then comes the big question – do they want to be someone like themselves, or someone different? Both my children chose someone different and I ended up with a Public Relations Officer and a University Student.

Elka (4yo) was the University Sutdent, and we’ll follow her journey from here. She went with her little passport to the puppeteer who found her person and then talked to Elka about what she would like the Student to do. “Milk a Cow” was Elka’s unexpected answer, so the minture puppet was walked to the field (while this action was transmitted live to a screen to show the miniature world in full scale) and then a photo was taken to go in the local paper.

Elka left with her passport (that also has a link to show her how to view the news article when it is published) and here is that very article inspired by her story!

You can see more about the process by watching this video:

P – IS FOR PATRICK HALL (at TMAG until August 30)

Gallery experience, free workbooks for kids, tour by the artist, and our own little post gallery makers session with friends. How could you hope for a better way to spend the morning?!

One of my first jobs was at Arts Tasmania (who were then located in a large government building). In the entry to level 8 (where I worked) there was a sculpture by Patrick Hall. It was a tractor driving through a field of nails, where the wheels had driven the nails where pushed in, the others were still ‘growing tall’ over the rolling mettle hills. It has stayed in my memory ever since, and is one of my favourite works. (Radically different from the works I usually tend towards, but I love it nevertheless!)

So when I found out that Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery were doing a retrospective of Patrick Halls works I couldn’t help but get excited about sharing this artists work with the little people in my life.

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We entered the gallery at opening time (10am) and spent our first round exploring the works through the 3 rooms, following the kids direction and pace. There truly is so much for kids to enjoy in this exhibition; hidden images in larger work, identifiable and playful expression of recognisable objects, questions to ask, answers to find.

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A favourite for our small group were the phones that gallery goers could use to listen to the audio of the works, the kids spent a long time ‘on the phone’ listening to these works (even our youngest member delighted in listening to these phones from his pram).

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The other big draw for us was the interactive wall where each child could open a draw to hear a different voice. People who frequent Mona will know this work well, but my own children are always so taken by the physical space at Mona that they often miss a lot of the work (anica saying ‘the walls’ are her favourite artwork at Mona!) This was the perfect opportunity for my kids to see this work in a new context and give it the time to capture their hearts. Interestingly their favourite voice was that of a child.

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As you may have noticed, the works given the most attention by my children on this first round were all the works that were interactive. We then went back to the beginning and picked up a free booklet designed for children to use as they work their way through the gallery.

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This booklet was designed as somewhat of a ‘quest’ for the young gallery goers to find certain objects and answer various questions (about the work, and indeed their own thoughts and opinions). This book was enjoyed immensely by my older child who loves a bit of structure and some instructions to follow, but the younger (who is less interested in instructions!) did not have the desire to spend as much time completing the book as her older sister. Nevertheless the younger still enjoyed her extended time in the gallery, finding pirate ships (as a particular point of interest to my young explorers at the moment!) among many other adventures and invented stories.

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We were also fortunate enough to have been at the gallery on the day that the artist came to give a guided tour of the works, as one of the many similar events happening during Tasmanian International Arts Festival. Watching him casually explain the works, opening draws and parts (that as a gallery go-er you are unable to touch and don’t know existed!) held the attention of the children very well. As we moved around the space they moved ahead to ensure that they were always at the front in the sea of adults that surrounded them (and the adult gallery visitors were very welcoming to their presence!)

After this additional insight (and extended period of remaining quite!) the kids were ready for a snack and some free making of their own. We headed for the wide open space of the museum courtyard and unpacked our ‘treasures’ (various objects collected from around the house).

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The creations quickly began to form as the kids each took their own approach to creating a robot. (The instruction was simply to make something, not specifically a robot, but it seems the group was collectively determined to all make robots after seeing a very impressive little fellow in the gallery moments before.)

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As you can see, each child’s creation feed off their creative environment (as they observed the others making around them) but each was unique and every child was incredibly proud of their creation.

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We had superglue and a glue stick on hand to assist with their creations, but the superglue did not prove very successful so the only method of attaching was a glue stick and their own imagination. This proved to be far more rewarding than if the glue had been more easily available.

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To my surprise no child expressed any frustration at the lack of a strong glue to work with – they simply worked around it and built according to their materials. As any adult I was hesitant to put this challenge in their way (expecting it would prevent them from making) but the process of problem solving was far better for their overall development and creativity than any stick and paste experience could be.

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So, when you head to see the amazingly child friendly art of Patrick Hall (open at TMAG until August 30, 2015) bring a collection of objects from your junk draw to give them new live and harness your tots creative determination to make something after visiting the gallery. It really is a great way to spend the morning.

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P – IS FOR POLAR BEAR

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We were lucky enough to see a polar bear at the Singapore Zoo on our recent adventures. This guy was stunning, seemed rather content in his fairly spacious (and highly air-conditioned!) enclosure (though it was no where near as spacious as the territory that the wild bears inhabit!) and we were fortunate enough to see the large animal dive in for a swim (or ‘float’ as I’ll explain in a little while!)

However a quick afternoon trip to Singapore isn’t always on the cards, here are a few of the things we learnt about polar bears, and tomorrow I’ll shot you an activity that you can do at home (without any flying needed!)

With your own Polar Bear at hand (book, google, or toy) ask your tot the following:


What colour skin do you think a polar bear has? (hint, look at the paws and nose)

Polar bears have black skin and this helps them absorb heat from the sun (you can test this by sitting a black and white object in the hot sun and seeing which is the warmest to touch!)


What colour fur does a polar bear have? (most will answer white here!)

Polar bear fur looks white to us because we see the sunlight bouncing off it, but each strand of fur is actually clear so the sunlight can reach that black skin!


If the sun needs to get to the skin, why is there a big fluffy coat?

The big fluffy coat traps warm air near the animals body, and keeps the cold air away from his skin!


Why does a polar bear float? (bet you didn’t even know he did!)

He floats because each hair on his body is hollow and filled with air, this helps him stay warm (as above) but it also means that he floats in the water when he is swimming!

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An adult polar bear can weigh unto 720kg, and grow to about 2m high (that’s about the weight of 10 grown ups (based on average Australian weights) and almost as high as your ceiling (assuming average ceiling height!) … how big do you think a baby Polar Bear is?

Around 3.5kg (That’s smaller than both my babies when they were born, and that blew their minds as they stared at the giant creature towering above them – it’s a nice little relatable fact that such a large creature is born as such a human scale – you might like to weigh your young tot at this point and see how many of them it would take to be as big and heavy as a Polar Bear!)

This is Elka being a Polar Bear:

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Hello, we’re home.

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Apologies for the delay in posts, there was a degree of travel involved, and then a little recovery before we were back into the real world again. But we’re here and (other than a few too many references to our travel experiences to come in upcoming activities!) things are back to normal.


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While we were away we continued our investigations into the world (learning how to plant rice, where rubber comes from, how to say ‘happy new year’ in Chinese, what Elephants like to eat, how big sharks really are, and what to do when you encounter wild monkeys…)

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Needless to say we came back all the wiser, and there is no point in me talking endlessly about the benefits of traveling with children as often as is possible… However our focus on planned activities took a back seat during our travels. We still did meet pilots (and even had a chance to be one for the afternoon!) and we did see our feature creatures (penguins) up close and personal – but largely our program was forgotten as we adventured (and even more so forgetting to write any posts about it!).

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We’re now back in the saddle and back into happily working our way though P, with a little E coming up just in time for Easter. I hope you can stay with us.

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NOW SHOWING – STAND BACK (at Moonah arts centre until April 4)

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A world class exhibition of Tasmanian contemporary art curated with children in mind. Seriously an opportunity not to be missed.

Anyone who’s been following the ‘Life at…’ Series on ABC (based on the more involved research of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children) knows how critical creativity is to our children’s overall success.

This creativity is not talking about their ability to draw a nice picture of Nan for us to display on the fridge, but rather their ability to think creatively and apply that to all aspects of their life.

This is what Moonah Arts Centre is doing so well in their current exhibition; STAND BACK curated by Josie Hurst. (As well as introducing the young tots to a contemporary art gallery – and every creative growing mind should get a good dose of the pure creative thinking applied in contemporary art!)

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The joy of this exhibition is that it talks to the child, but doesn’t ‘talk down’ at them. The art is exquisite, and accessible, and it is a joy to watch as the children navigate the space with their program investigating the art that is hung for them, at a child’s eye level.

The gallery catalogues are what impressed me most, perfectly considered for the young viewers. These beautifully presented little books come apart to form a series of cards (one for each artwork). On the back of each artwork there is simple accessible information about that work, what the artist was trying to achieve – and even additional information about something the child might like to try themselves.

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Upon entering the gallery we laid out our cards in the corner of the gallery. The children each chose one, and then set out to find the work they had chosen. We then read the card, talked about the work, how it was made, what the artist was saying in the work… And then ran back excitedly to get the next card for what they wanted to explore next.

Now, encouraging children to run in a gallery is not necessarily the best model, and this ‘cards in the corner’ method is only one way of approaching the gallery. But for my children this was the perfect gallery experience and they can’t wait to go to more galleries! (For active 4 and 5 year olds, this impressed me!)

Questions on the cards such as ‘what do you think this work sounds like’ sparked conversations about the work that I never would have anticipated. Anicas favourite work was of the inside of a beating heart (according to her), Anne Morrisons Camouflage, 2015. Elkas favourite work she told us was of the 3 little pigs houses (and one more) – Paul Gundrys Suburban Bushland, 2011.

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As an adult (with an honours degree in fine art under my belt) I was not disappointed at what the gallery had to offer adults either. There is no sense that the work has been ‘dumbed down for the kids.’ I enjoyed my time there as much as the kids, and had plenty to keep myself occupied with as the kids enjoyed adding their own creations to Janine Morris’s Mater, 2015.

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Over all we spent a good solid 30min engrossed in the gallery (right up until closing time), we’ve spent a good deal of time with the gallery cards afterwards, and we’ll head back again with friends to see more another day soon. I can’t recommend the experience highly enough!

Opening times
March 6 – April 4 2015

Monday to Friday: 10am – 5pm
Saturday: 10am – 2pm

Moonah Arts Centre
65 Hopkins Street, Moonah TAS

Free entry.

INTRODUCING THE LETTER P

The letters in focus are not usually in alphabetical – rather associated with things that happen though the year (ie E near Easter etc) in such a way that the associated activities are appropriate (ie playing with ice is more fun in summer, growing beans will work better in spring etc!) …but this time we have some alphabetical order O is followed by P!

Letter: P

Creature: Penguin

Country: Puru (think Inca civilisation!)

Focus learning areas: Planes and Passports

(we are travelling during this time so there may be some delay in posts as we move between internet friendly destinations.)

In the following posts I will detail more activities surrounding each of these areas, but for now simply pop your P printables (from earlier, find them here) in your mail box ready for your little one to discover their new letter!

INTRODUCING THE LETTER O

Keeping with our watery theme we’re moving onto Octopuses in the Ocean. We’re also getting a bit of a taste for the concept of an omnivore, and getting our big history in check as we come to terms with that long period of ‘the olden days’ (Dinosaurs to daddy’s childhood!)

Letter: O

Creature: Octopus

Country: Oman

Focus learning areas: Oceans and the “olden days” (big history concepts)

In the following posts I will detail more activities surrounding each of these areas, but for now simply pop your O printables (from earlier, find them here) in your mail box ready for your little one to discover their new letter!

INTRODUCING THE LETTER W

Keeping with our watery theme we’re moving from Seahorses to Whales (with some wild wind and water thrown in for good measure) Above the waves we sail to Wallis and Futuna (The two island groups in the South Pacific between Fiji and Samoa) for a little volcanic experiment. We’ll also be looking at a little wind and water power, and seeing what makes the weather.

Letter: W

Creature: Whale

Country: Wallis and Futuna

Focus learning areas: Water and Weather.

In the following posts I will detail more activities surrounding each of these areas, but for now simply pop your W printables (from earlier, find them here) in your mail box ready for your little one to discover their new letter!