Natural Lavender Playdough

Reggio Activities - Natural Lavender Playdough

Soothing calming lavender, picked fresh from Nanna’s garden and left to dry. The aroma has filled our house. A batch of plain playdough, some sprigs of lavender and some loose dried flowers made for a wonderful morning activity. I like … Continue reading

What’s in a Gift? – Homemade Lemon Sparkle Playdough

Hubby: ‘You’re not honestly giving her that are you?

Me: ‘Yeah, I think she’ll love it.’

Hubby: ‘But it’s playdough. Don’t you think that’s a little cheap?’


We went to a birthday party on the weekend. The special girl was turning two. And what do two-year olds love? Playdough! So I made her up a batch of playdough, added some lemon essence and some glitter, attached a star cutter and was done. I was really happy with the gift. But then my husband got me thinking. Is it cheap to give someone something which cost next to nothing? Will the gift be accepted and appreciated?

We have certain expectations towards gift-giving, don’t we? And particularly with Christmas coming up, it is easy to get caught up in obligatory gift giving – I need to get something for Aunt May and the kids next door and the teachers at school and the neighbours and everyone whose coming to lunch…. and then there is the expectation that you’ll (or your kids will) get something from each person. And so, so much stuff is bought and wrapped. It’s all too much. And I don’t think that is what gift-giving, at birthdays or at Christmas, should be about.

Last Christmas I asked my mum to collect a basket of pinecones for the kids for Christmas. She couldn’t do it. Not that she couldn’t physically do it, she lives opposite a park filled with pinecones, she couldn’t bring herself to give them only pinecones that she had collected ‘off the ground’. ‘Oh Kate, that’s not a good enough present!’  

Why wasn’t that a good enough present? Because she didn’t spend any money? What about thought, and love and effort? Or what about relieving ourselves of the sense of obligation in the first place? What’s wrong with a hug or a letter or spending deep quality time together?

This is what gift-giving should be about. Not about the stuff, or how much money was spent, or not spent, but the thought and the effort and love behind the gift. And that gift may not be something you unwrap, it may be something you do together, or something you write or something you say. Or it may just be a hug which says, I am so glad you are here with me today. 

I know my friend appreciated the gift. And I sure hope her little daughter enjoys playing with it.

I just hope as Christmas draws ever closer, that my children receive less presents and more phone calls, more hugs, more kisses and more time spent together, surrounded by those who love them. That is a gift. And that is enough.

Pink Peppermint Playdough

Time for some new playdough. While our Eucalyptus water playdough is still smelling divine, Jack decided to make a window mural out of it and then colour it in pink, soooo some new playdough was needed. He seems to have a fascination with pink at the moment. So no surprise what colour he chose for this new batch. I prefer cooked playdough, I’ve tried the no-cook version and I must be doing something wrong because it is either too oily or too crumbly. The cooked recipe has never failed me; always smooth and never sticky. Plus wonderfully warm for an added sensory experience.

This time I added a few drops of natural peppermint essence. Mmmmmm….soooo delicious! Can you smell it? Peppermint would have to be my favourite flavour. I thought it might be nice to make some peppermint cupcakes since Jack loves cooking so much, but he decided that his dinosaurs would prefer a new suit; including gloves and shoes. Classic.

One of my friends gave me this great tip; put the food colouring in the water before you make the playdough! Genius! Am I the only person on the planet that didn’t know this? It came out so vibrant and beautiful.

Here’s the recipe:

2 cups of plain (all-purpose) flour

4 tablespoons of Cream of Tartar

2 tablespoons of cooking oil

1 cup of salt

2 cups of water – with the food colouring already added!

a couple drops of peppermint essence.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then get those arm muscles working for about the next 3-5 minutes while you cook it over a medium heat. Enjoy.

Eucalyptus Water Playdough

One of my absolute, never-fail, go to activities is play dough. Homemade playdough. If Jack is feeling a little frustrated or cranky, I always know that squeezing a freshly made batch of playdough between his fingers will calm him. Playdough focusses him; he is still.

I love the warmth of cooked playdough. It rolls so smoothly between your fingers. Add a little essential oil and it is pure sensory heaven.

Over Easter, Jack and I dyed some eggs using boiled Eucalyptus leaves. The smell that came from that pot was amazing. What great playdough that water would make; natural Eucalyptus playdough.

On our most recent trip over the back fence we collected some gum leaves for our playdough. I’m not sure how long I boiled those leaves for; until the kitchen was full of the smell of the bush. Then using the beautifully infused water, made up a batch of warm playdough.

It smells so amazing. Not like Eucalyptus oil. It smells like the bush. Add a few natural treasures and I had one happy and calm little boy. Free to explore as he wishes.


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This Week…22/52

Firstly, I wanted to share these from last week…

Equine Assisted Therapy - An Everyday StoryDrawing - An Everyday Story Archery - An Everyday Storydrawing bows and arrows - An Everyday Storydrawing bows and arrows - An Everyday Story

This week…

Playing with light - An Everyday Story Window blocks - An Everyday Story light panel - An Everyday Story Weighing - An Everyday Story Mashing banana - An Everyday StoryMashing banana - An Everyday Story Playdough - An Everyday Story washing bikes - An Everyday Story Making dinner - An Everyday Story moveable alphabet - An Everyday Story Collage - An Everyday StoryCollage - An Everyday Story Hot Air Balloon - An Everyday StoryHot Air Balloon - An Everyday Story

A snapshot of our week, our everyday story


If you feel inspired to share a moment from your week please leave a comment with your link below or pop over to Instragram and use the hashtag #p52thisweek. I’m kate_aneverydaystory. Hope to see you there.

Project 52 This Week from An Everyday Story

Explorations for 2 Year Olds – Playful Learning

Reggio inspired investigations for toddlers and two year olds - An Everyday Story

Explorations for 2 Years Olds – Playful Learning

Today I’m sharing some of the explorations I have out for Sarah at the moment over on Playful Learning. I’m going to be a regular contributor on Playful Learning. So I hope you will drop by often.

And if you’ve just popped over for the first time, hi. I’m Kate and I mostly write about life with my two little ones, Jack (almost 4) and Sarah (23months). We started homeschooling this year; preschool homeschool.

Here’s a few of my favourite posts if you wanted to take a peek around:

How to set up a Reggio playroom - An Everyday StoryOur Reggio-inspired Playroom

I love having natural materials for the kids to play with and explore. Here’s a couple of my favourite posts using natural materials:

Nature Table in a Reggio playroom - An Everyday Story

Our Nature Table

Montessori Nature Discovery Bakset: Sensory Exploration for Babies

A First Nature Discovery Basket 

The kids also love painting and all kinds of open-ended, messy art.

Reggio Emilia activities - bubble wrap painting {An Everyday Story}Large Bubble Wrap Painting

Painting with Toddlers {An Everyday Story}Painting with Toddlers: It’s only mess in our eyes

Reggio Activities - Natural Lavender PlaydoughNatural Lavender Playdough

Just a snippet of our story. Hope you’ll pop by again soon.


An Everyday Story - Reggio and Montessori inspired living and learningAn Everyday Story - Reggio and Montessori inspired living and learning


Reggio math activities - Learning to measure from An Everyday Story

In 2013 we started preschool homeschool

There are many reasons for why we decided to home educate Jack and Sarah. But mostly we wanted them to have the opportunity to explore their own passions at a pace which suits their individual needs. We also wanted them to have authentic relationships and experiences with our community and with nature.

We have only just started though and are still finding our feet, our rhythm. Mostly are days are rather relaxed with a lot of play. At 4 and 2 years old, play is enough.

As time goes on though I am thinking about how our learning will evolve. I remember when I was teaching there was one educational theorist who really inspired me, Howard Gardner.

His theory of Multiple Intelligences changed the way I taught completely. The theory that we all learn in unique ways, have different learning styles, really opened my eyes to how we learn.

Since then I have read and been inspired by many other educational thinkers and theorists. I know that what I have taken from their writings will influence our homeschooling.

Inspirational Educational Thinkers and Theories

Educational Theories and Homeschooling Books

In addition to the books I listed on the Reggio-Inspired Books page, there are some other books I have bought to help guide me through home-education:

  1. John Holt: How Children Learn
  2. John Holt: Learning All The Time
  3. The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation

Fire project - Drawing - An Everyday StoryOur Homeschooling Rhythm

You can read about our homeschooling rhythm here. We have a large focus on free play as well as project work. Project work is child-initiated and child-led learning based on a topic of their interest. Here are some of our projects so far:

  1. The Volcano Project
  2. The Autumn Leaves Project: Observational Art, Exploring Leaves
  3. The Fire Project: The Blue Fire Extinguisher, Playing with Fire
  4. The Bugs Project

Art with Children: Wool Block PrintingAfter morning tea (snack) we often do an art or Reggio-inspired activity together. Here are some of our favourites:

  1. Natural Lavender Playdough
  2. Self Portraits
  3. Finding Art in Nature: Starry Night
  4. Observing Snails

Reggio Math - hands on learningAfter quiet time, Jack and I have time together to work on some focussed learning. We do mostly literacy and numeracy during this time. Jack is learning to read as well as basic numeracy; counting, quantifying, working with shapes and pattern work. Here are some of the things we do during this time:

  1. Learning to Add
  2. Learning to Measure
  3. Working with Shapes on the Light Panel

spending time in nature free unscheduled unstructured play 6 natural teepeeAfter afternoon tea (snack) we spend the remainder of the day outside. This is a nice way for the children to end the day. Sometimes we go on an outing, other times a bush walk, or just play in the yard.

  1. Behind the Camera – Photography with Children
  2. Out in Nature – Bushwalking
  3. Geocaching

Reggio playroom shelves {An Everyday Story}At our house we are fortunate enough to have space for a playroom and an art space. Here’s a little more on our playroom: Our Reggio-inspired Playroom


So far our year is going well. I like the rhythm of our days, they are slow and calm. The children have lots of time to play and lots of time to explore, all the time learning as they go.