Unique sensory experiences are some of my children’s favourite activities to explore. Not only are they guaranteed fun, but it is also exciting to prepare and experiment with home made paints, doughs, slimes or concoctions and use these to create art, as well as inspire meaningful open ended play. When it comes to exploring the world of sensory fun, Asia Citro, a former science teacher and mum to two children is the mastermind behind a whole host of ingenious and creative experiences which she shares on her blog, Fun at Home with Kids. As a long time follower of Asia Citro’s blog, I was thrilled to be asked to review her new book, 150+ Screen-Free Activities For Kids . (Amazon link mentioned here, however at the end of this post additional links for purchasing the book are also provided)
My children ooohed and aaahed their way through the book and were keen to spend a lot of time soaking in all of the ideas, possibilities and inspiring photos that the pages within the book have to offer. There are so many appealing ideas for each of my children in this book. The book has specifically been designed to encourage muti-age and sibling play.
Their interest was piqued with the mention and photos of the do-it-yourself toys to make, fizzing small worlds, bubbling swamp world and melting ice cream dough to name but a few. Their excitement turned to laughter as they discussed and imagined the play they would have inspired by these fun filled ideas (“We could make an ice cream shop!”)
There was some debate to work out which activity we should try first – decisions, decisions (we now have a long list of activities we will be doing from this book). But, it was hard to go past the melting ice cream dough. With the heat we have been experiencing and the summer holidays now in full swing, we have had a trip to the ice cream shop, so my children thought creating their own ice creams with dough, not just any dough, but melting dough, would be an enjoyable experience. They were not wrong!
All of the recipes and activities contained in 150+ Screen Free Activities for Kids are easy to prepare, take minimal time to set up and contain common household ingredients that are typically found in most homes. We did not need to go to the shops to buy anything to make this dough, however if you do need to purchase any ingredients, the majority of them can be found in the grocery store – no special trips to shops that are out of the way. This makes it very convenient. Asia has also gone to great lengths to include many allergen free activities as well as indicate which recipes and experiences are taste safe ( Asia states that although the recipes may be taste safe, “they are designed to be unpalatable (they are unflavoured, gritty, and/or bitter to taste … these safe taste recipes offer a safe way to explore, but don’t further encourage children to mouth or eat sensory materials”).
For each activity, Asia Citro has also included troubleshooting solutions which are very handy; variations to try as well as extended play ideas. These inclusions ensure the activities presented will inspire the imagination and ensure that the very youngest family member right through to the oldest can enjoy and benefit from the activities in this book. It is interesting to note that 72 of the activities in the book are for babies.
Miss Eight was keen to lead the charge when it came to reading the recipe for melting ice cream dough to her siblings. As Miss Eight said: “This is the best recipe book ever. It’s a recipe book for awesome play”. How right she is!
Once we were all clear on what was involved it was time to begin. The mixture had to be prepared and then left in the freezer overnight.
Everyone had a go at preparing the mixture. You can find the full instructions for making this melting ice cream dough in 150+ Screen Free Activities for Kids.
Next, it was time to “flavour” the dough – vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. The liquid mixture was placed in containers and then into the freezer. It is recommended to keep this in the freezer for at least six hours.
We thought we would go all out and make some fancy ice cream cups in preparation for our ice cream sundae’s we would be making the following day (as we left our mixture in the freezer overnight). The cups were purchased from the local cheap shop.
Glue was painted around the rim of the various cups and then the rim of each cup was placed in “confetti” (use hole punch and coloured paper to make confetti) or seed beads.
After the melting ice cream dough had been left overnight in the freezer, we were ready to start making some ice creams.
First things first, we gathered together some craft supplies for our “toppings” – we made some wafers from paper, we had part of a Christmas decoration on hand, some different shaped bead clips as well as an assortment of seed beads. There are so many possibilities for the toppings and it is only limited by your imagination.
Fancy cups ready to go:
Now let the fun begin – the creation of some special ice creams with melting ice cream dough.
The mixture had to be removed from the containers (we just needed to lightly tap the containers on the bench and that was enough to loosen the dough).
Time to let the creative juices flow as delicious looking ice creams were created and named. This cold dough was perfect to play with on a Summer’s day and it didn’t melt as fast as we all predicted it would. We had plenty of time to create before any hints of melting took place.
There was silence from my ice cream makers as visions for their ice creams were formulated and the creative designs then executed.
“Berries” (aka as Christmas decorations bought on sale for art) were added. A fun addition to any ice cream!
There were plenty of sprinkles used too (I feel the need to point out that that is not a dirty tissue, rather a baby wipe, as Master Six likes to clean his hands when they become too sticky).
The final creations. Without further ado, I present:
“Summer Delight” by Miss Eight
Bird’s eye view of Summer Delight
“Cup of Yum” by Master Six.
“Princess Fairy Dust Ice Cream” by Miss Four
A family collaboration we called “Ice cream Sensation”.
View from above of Ice Cream Sensation:
Some of the other activities in this book that my children are very excited about exploring include:
– Taste-safe glowing slime
– Fizzing ocean world
– Hatching egg bath bombs.
You can find this book here:
Book Depository (free delivery worldwide)
Not only is this book a wonderful addition to your personal collection of books, it also makes a unique and fun gift that can be enjoyed for years to come.
Whether you are a parent, a grandparent, or an educator, this book is an excellent resource to own and an investment in your child’s creativity. This book contains memorable activities which are fun, engaging, easy to follow, quick and simple to set up and enjoyable for babies, toddlers and older children.