outdoor play giveaway!

Woo hoo! It’s giveaway time! We’re giving away some of our very favourite outdoor play items that kids love getting outside with. The package has a set of 3 beanbags, sidewalk chalk, an optic wonder, a cheery bee skipping rope and quoits (a fun game similar to ring toss).

All you have to do is tell us: Where’s your favourite place to play outside? Everyone who comments on the blog, Facebook or Twitter will be entered in a draw to win our outdoor toy package. The winner will be drawn on Friday, July 22nd. So where do you love to get outside and play?

more silly food art that you can do too!

Everyone had so much fun with our post on super silly food art that we had to share this with you as well. One of our newest books at Dilly Dally is this hilarious picture book, “Food for Thought” by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers. It’s full of amazing photographs of food come to life. All it takes is a good eye for interesting faces lurking in your everyday fruits and veggies, a little imagination, a small knife and some black eyed peas (they make perfect eyes!).

We love this book – it’s funny and so creative. We also love that it’s art we can all try out, much like carving a pumpkin at Halloween. It’s also a great way to get kids more in tune with food and all its natural variations as they look closely for interesting shapes to work with. Looking for an odd shaped pepper is a neat activity to try out at your local farmers market or grocery store. Fun!

First two photos are taken from “Food for Thought” by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers. The last two photos are via The Family Kitchen

go exploring: two fantastic outdoor toys

Something about summertime makes it the perfect time for exploring your local forest (or park down the street). Looking at all the leaves, bugs and flowers is such a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon. Some of the best aids in outdoor exploration that we have come across is this line of awesome made in Italy optic toys.

Their “World’s Best Bug Viewer” is a great addition to the urban adventurer’s knapsack. Made out of sturdy clear plastic with small air holes, bug (or plants) are placed inside the jar for examination. Look through the lid’s built in magnifying glass to get an up close look at nature’s little creatures. The bottom of the jar even has millimeters marked out on it to aid in the accurate scientific record-keeping of who found the biggest bug outside!

Another great optic toy no inquisitive traveler should leave home without is the Optic Wonder. It can be used as a magnifying glass, binoculars and a compass making it a great tool for outdoor adventures. There’s also a mirror for signaling with light or for use as an observation plate. It all folds up into a compact unit that is small enough to slip into a pocket or hung around the neck with a bit of string.

So set out and discover something new in your backyard or favourite outdoor haunt. These fun optic toys will have you fully prepared for all kinds of adventures. Happy exploring!

the benefits of outdoor play

I think we all know intuitively how important it is to spend time outdoors. You don’t really need a bunch of scientific research to tell you what you already know: being outside is important to physical and mental health at every age.

There are so many sensations and discoveries to be had – the feel of the breeze on your skin, the tickly feeling of a ladybug walking across your palm, the fragrance of dozens of different flowers, the delight of dewy grass under your toes.

Kids are naturally enchanted by the outdoors. You just have to visit your local beach or park to see countless examples of children fascinated by the natural world. Spending time outside is one of those perfect things where it’s so good for a child’s development but you don’t have to convince them to engage in it. They want to!

Thank goodness, because playing outdoors is as good for a child’s body and mind as it is fun. Playing outside boasts a huge range of benefits. It helps a child develop dexterity and physical strength from all that running, climbing and jumping. It encourages kids to engage and interact with the world and all the people, plants and animals that inhabit it. Playing outdoors is great for developing imagination (that stick is suddenly a magic wand full of possibilities) and cognitive skills (just what do you have to do to make the tallest sandcastle ever?). Kids who play outside are often more confident and laugh more than children who don’t.

But most of all, interacting with nature is one of the great joys in life!

So take advantage of summer and get outside with the kids at every opportunity! Fly a kite, go on a nature scavenger hunt, build a sandcastle, do somersaults in the park, blow bubbles, skip rocks into the ocean, walk in the woods and marvel at the light spilling through the leaves – whatever you fancy!

Happy Summer everyone!

Photo 2 and 3 from ashleyannphotography.com, photo 4 from travelpod.com photo 5 from kiteland.ca

super silly food art

Wow – now this is playing with your food! Photographer Carl Kleiner created these delightful creatures out of eggplants, avocados and all kinds of other edibles. What a fun way to fall in love with a new fruit or veggie!

Via Petit Eco Kids

arrr! DIY pirate treasure

Shiver me timbers! Feast your eyes on shiny, do it yourself pirate treasure. Captain Hullabaloo was, as usual, looking for treasure when he happened upon a large pile of pennies. He was so excited he spilled his grog all over himself, but he didn’t much mind since he is a pirate after all.

He is a picky pirate when it comes to treasure, and though he was elated about his find, he couldn’t help but notice the coins were not very shiny. Not so impressive looking!

So, he employed an age old coin shining technique to shiny up those pennies. He washed the coins and then soaked them overnight in white vinegar and a bit of salt. In the morning, he rinsed the coins, rubbing them as he rinsed. And lo and behold! Did his booty ever gleam!

He’s much happier with his shiny treasure. If you have a little pirate in your life, use Captain Hullabaloo’s secret recipe to make shiny pirate treasure to use at playtime.

Yo ho ho!

beach time!

Sunny days are (finally!) here. It’s definitely time to hit the beach and soak in the good weather.

A trip to the beach (or local sandbox) is certainly a lot of fun with some great sand toys. These bright and cheery ones here are made by a hundred-year-old, family run German company that makes some of the coolest outdoor toys around. Their toys are designed with kids in mind and contain no PVC, phthalates or BPA. They are also extremely durable toys and are guaranteed for three years.

We have all the beach and sandbox necessities like buckets, shovels, watering cans and sand sieves. We’ve also got some fun brick molds and geometric sand shapers as well as a cute little builders set. This set comes with a trowel, level and sand spreader – perfect for the budding architect or builder!

A few of our toy friends took the sand toys out for a spin and were quite pleased with their handiwork at the local sandbox. They’re already planning their next sand adventure!

Top photo is from wikipedia

book love: yucky worms

Squiggly, wriggly worms are the focus of this great book that introduces young ones to the importance of our underground squirmy friends. This is an informative but fun look at how worms contribute to a healthy garden. Written by Vivian French and illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg, “Yucky Worms” is the perfect book for this time of year.

In the story, Grandma is an avid gardener and lovingly guides her grandson to wonder and marvel at all worms do for us. She teaches him all about the wonderful world of worms – from how their poop fertilizes our soil to how their worm tunnels help loosen up the soil for eager plant roots to move through. She also demonstrates all kinds of fun little experiments to observe worm behaviour – such as watering the soil to mimic rain and watching the worms come to the surface. The boy’s opinion of worms goes through quite a transformation. At first, he just thinks worms are yucky. But after Grandma’s sweet lessons, he realizes that worms are really everybody’s friend.

There are little side panels which explain worm life in more detail – like how a worm moves its body through the soil. The end of the book has a little guide, “How To Be a Wormologist”, which outlines ways to learn more about these little wrigglers. There are several ideas in this section, such as what to look for when seeking out worms and how to handle worms properly to learn about them without hurting them.

“Yucky Worms” is a great introduction to the world of worms and just how important they are to us. It’s a wonderful way to start or fuel an interest in soil health and nature as well as encourage a healthy respect for all living creatures.

Happy Canada Day!

Oh Canada! Today we happened upon this fine group of handsome Canadians celebrating our lovely country. To all the wonderful people who make up this great and diverse land: Happy Canada Day!

Bubble Craft

Bubbles are one of the best things about sunny days! Blowing soap bubbles has been a pastime for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until the 1940s, when bottles of bubble solution were first sold as a toy, that it took off as a childhood pastime. One of the great things about bubbles are the multitudes of things laying around the house that can be adapted into excellent bubble-blowing devices. Here are some of our favorite ideas for creating bubble wands that you can make yourself!

Chenille pipe cleaners make great bubble wands. Simply bend the wire stems into any shape you can think of, then dip them into some bubble solution. The chenille absorbs the soap, making nice, big bubbles.

If you are interested in making large bubbles, then this next one is the bubble wand for you. You’ll need a few supplies: two 2 ft/60 cm long wooden dowels, a ball or two of bright yarn, and white glue. (You might need to cut down a larger dowel, to get it to be the right size.)

Tie the yarn about 1/3 of the length down from the top of the dowel, and wrap the yarn around the dowel until you reach the top. You can spread glue over the dowel as you wrap it, to make the yarn extra-secure. Once you reach the top, tie the yarn off and repeat with the second dowel.

Tie a piece of yarn, about 1 1/2 feet long, across the top of the two dowels. Tie a second piece, about 3 feet long, just below the first string. When you are holding the bubble wand out, the strings should form a “D” shape.

Dip your new bubble wand into some bubble solution, hold one dowel in each hand, and go! The wand can be a bit tricky at first, but just experiment- you’ll be making giant bubbles in no time.

Lots of things around the house can be used as creative bubble wands- try using house keys, rubber bands, and even hula hoops! What’s your favorite way to blow bubbles?

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