Decorate a Play Dough Christmas Tree Play Kit | Mama Papa Bubba

Okay, so I admit it – we’re a bit play dough kit obsessed over here.  We can’t help it.  Play dough is something that we play with on a daily basis and having pre-made kits filled with dough and interesting loose parts makes it really easy to delve into the fun – everything that’s needed is right there in a container waiting to be taken out!  It also means that Grae can easily help herself to a kit and have a fun activity pre-prepared for independent play times, which I love.

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While we recently put together a rainbow play dough kit and a Frozen-themed play dough kit, our latest creation is a ‘decorate a play dough Christmas tree’ play kit.  We actually came up with the idea last winter while playing with our button ornament Christmas tree fine motor activity, but it didn’t get turned into a proper kit until just recently.

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Here’s what it looks like…  First off, we started with a GLIS box from Ikea (Canada | US | Kuwait) and added two batches of green play dough – the lighter one scented with tea tree essential oil, and the darker one scented with peppermint essential oil, which gives off a very Christmassy smell the moment the container is opened.

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To make the play dough, we made 2 half batches of our favourite no-cook play dough {but skipped the Kool-Aid and used liquid food colouring}, then added 4 or 5 drops of essential oil to each.  You could of course make one full batch of the dough and then work the colours and essential oils in afterwards, but I just find it easier to do it the other way.

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Next, we added a styrofoam cone we already had on hand, though if I had the choice, it would be a wooden cone from one of those geometric solids kits, or something else not styrofoam.  For decorations we added beaded garland in silver, gold, and red, some tear-shaped gems {this value pack would be amazing}, some star-shaped gems, and a handful of small jingle bells.  We also included two larger star-shaped gems that we’d previously glued together to act as our tree topper.

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Then, with our kit ready, it was time to play!

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After covering the tree form with play dough, Miss G wrapped it with the beaded garland…

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Added our star to the top…

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And then began decorating it with gems.

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Pretty, right?

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The lovely part is that the beads, gems, and bells can be removed from the dough just as easily as they can be pushed in, and the dough comes off of the styrofoam cone in one clean swoop, which means endless play {YAY!}

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I’m pretty sure that this little kit has been pulled out and played with at least once every day since we put it together, and as long as we continue to make sure that it’s closed properly after each play session, it’s sure to last until well passed Christmas.  Also, while it’s a ton of fun, all of that putting on and taking off is really great fine motor practice, and when clean-up time rolls around, sorting skills come into play too.

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We’ve already put together a mini-version for Grae to give to her friends just before the holidays {very similar to last year’s ‘build a snowman’ kits}, and we’ll be sure to share those soon, but in the meantime, check out some of the fun Christmas-themed busy bags / boxes / kits our online friends have been enjoying recently…


15 Awesome Holiday Busy Bags for Kids.


Gingerbread Man Shape Matching Busy Bag // Powerful Mothering

Christmas Activities for Kids Printable Busy Bag // LalyMom

Christmas Counting Busy Bag // Coffee Cups and Crayons

Gingerbread Button Counting Busy Bag // Wildflower Ramblings

Snowman Busy Bag // Frogs, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Reusable Christmas Sticker Busy Bag // Still Playing School

Christmas Posting Busy Bag // Adventures of Adam

Christmas Tree Busy Bag // The Pleasantest Thing

Christmas Jingle Bells Fine Motor Busy Bag // Sugar Aunts

Printable Mix and Match Christmas Puzzles // Itsy Bitsy Fun

Christmas Chocolate Maker Busy Bag // Best Toys 4 Toddlers

Printable Q-tip Snowflakes // Playdough to Plato

Candy Cane Stripe Counting // Preschool Inspirations

An Early Reader Christmas Busy Bag // The Educators’ Spin on It


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When you live in Kuwait and you have photos like these, you know it’s been a very, very good day.


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Colour Theory Ornaments | Mama Papa Bubba

Oh my goodness…  It feels like Gracen and I have been waiting for this week’s instalment of our preschool book club forever!  Shortly after sharing our magnetic polka dot sensory bag inspired by Press Here {one of our favourites}, Herve Tullet’s publicist contacted us and asked if we’d be interested in checking out his newest book, Mix It Up!  Ummm.. YES?!  {And stay tuned until the end of the post, because we’re also giving away a copy to one of our lovely readers!}

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Well, Mix It Up! finally made it to us here in the desert a couple of days ago, and let me tell you, it’s FUN.  Just like Press Here, it’s interactive and requires the reader to complete some sort of action on most pages, but this book is all about colour mixing!  Since both Grae and I love exploring colours, I decided that we’d combine that with the fact that Christmas is quickly nearing and create colour theory ornaments to go on our rainbow-coloured tree.

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To get us started, I did a little bit of light prep work late one night and created several circular ornaments using our favourite DAS Air Dry Clay and a glass from the kitchen cupboard.  I placed the ornaments on the inside portion of our salad spinner overnight {this is what happens when you don’t have proper cooling racks}, and they were pretty much dry in the morning.

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Before doing our book activity, I set out the ornaments, our copy of Mix It Up!, and tempera paints in blue, yellow, and red for Miss G to discover.

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After reading the book through twice, I asked Miss G if she wanted to create some ornaments using the same colour mixing / finger painting techniques we’d seen in the book.  Of course she did.

Grae chose to start with red and yellow, and we designated one pointer finger to each colour.  The goal was to dab fingerprints of colour on each side of the circular ornament until they mostly covered.  Of course, as she made her way to the centre, the colours began touching one another and blending…  So magical – orange appeared!

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Once she’d explored red and yellow to her heart’s content, Miss G washed her hands and chose two new colours – this time, yellow and blue.  She followed the same process as the time before, and once again, something amazing happened as she reached the centre – green started forming!

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We repeated the process one more time with blue and red, and before long, her favourite colour – PURPLE! – appeared.

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With our three ornaments complete, Grae wanted to take a minute to talk about what had happened.  She went through each colour combination and enthusiastically explained to me which colour was made in the process of mixing.

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There’s no doubt she enjoyed the process and learned something along the way too.

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After letting our colour theory ornaments dry, we strung some embroidery floss through the holes to match the secondary colours we’d created in the mixing process.

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Afterwards, I quickly wrote Gracen’s name, the year, and ‘Mix It Up!’ on the backs of the ornaments so we’ll remember our inspiration in years to come.  Now to get the tree up so we can properly display them! ☺

Ready to see the fun things our friends did with this book?  Take a peek…

Mix It Up Book Club

  fingerprint candle holder | fingerprint hand art | create & name colours activity | painted salt dough handprints

Now for the best part!   Hervé Tullet is very kindly giving away a copy of his newest book, Mix It Up! to one lucky Mama.Papa.Bubba. reader.  This contest is open to residents of North America and will run from November 18th until November 26, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. PST.  The winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected.  

In addition, be sure to visit each of our preschool book club friends’ posts above for another 4 chances to win. Once our 5 winners have been declared, one of them will also be chosen to receive an original piece of artwork from Hervé himself!  

Please enter using the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Want to try a little preschool book club of your own?  See the entire series here.



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Little Chef s Baking Kit | Mama Papa Bubba

When Gracen gets invited to a birthday party, she’s usually excited about two things – actually going to the party of course, and coming up with a fun gift to bring along!  This gift was for a friend who was celebrating her 7th birthday this time around, so Miss G knew she wanted something ‘big girlish’.  We brainstormed ideas throughout the week {a hair dressing kit and a card making kit were other options in the running – two of G’s favourite things}, but in the end we decided on a little chef’s baking kit since our friend enjoys baking with her mama just as Grae and I enjoy baking together.

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With our gift idea decided upon, we came up with a list of items Gracen wanted to include in the kit…  Included was a ‘cute apron’, some recipes, some kitchen tools, and some ingredients, so with that, we headed out to do some shopping.  We were quite successful and managed to find all of the items we were looking for, save a nice set of measuring cups, which isn’t bad when you’re used to coming home without 1/3 of your shopping list due to unavailability.  Things we managed to find included a cute kid-sized apron, a set of silicon baking cups, a pink spatula, a metal whisk, a couple of wooden spoons, a large mixing bowl, some dark chocolate, and a couple bags of specialty flour for the gluten-free birthday girl.

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With our items collected, Miss G and I got to work personalizing our wooden spoons.  To do so, we simply used painter’s tape to mark off the handle area of the spoons, then painted them using a foam brush and a few coats of acrylic paint.  Afterwards, we set them to dry in a couple of mason jars {and realized how crazy crooked one of the handles was}.

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Of course, if you fancify your wooden spoons, your whisk must be fancified too, so we settled on a couple of washi tape stripes to add a little pop of colour.  Luckily, the already-pink spatula passed inspection as is. ☺

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Next, I worked on rounding up some fairly easy Gracen-approved recipes that I thought the birthday girl would enjoy.  Included in my collection was our no-bake chocolate oat cookies, our 3-ingredient flourless pancakes, our favourite peanut butter banana smoothie, and recipes for banana oat muffins and avocado chocolate chunk cookies we’ve experimented with lately.  And because the birthday girl is not only gluten-free, but dairy-free and almond-free too, all of these recipes fit those requirements.  I typed up the recipes, formatted them in large rectangular text boxes, printed them out, and laminated them.

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Next, I created a simple recipe book template, printed off several copies, and placed them in a clear book file for the birthday girl to use as she experiments with some of her family’s favourite recipes and begins creating her own.

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With the addition of a label on the front of the book and a title page just inside, our recipe collection book was complete.

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With that, Miss G helped me neatly place everything inside the mixing bowl…

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And that was that.  A birthday baking kit that will hopefully inspired loads of fun in the kitchen!


Interested in creating a baking kit of your own?  We’re happy to share our printables for personal use {only}.

Recipe cards:  No-Bake Chocolate Drop Cookies | Avocado Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie | 3 Ingredient Pancakes | Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Personal Cookbook:  Label | Cover | Recipe Template

Also, you can see the rest of our fun gift kits here.


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While living in Kuwait certainly comes with its challenges, the perks are undeniable…  Today, thanks to very generous friends, Miss G and I spent our day out at a private villa in Khiran soaking up Kuwait’s gorgeous fall sun.  The company was fabulous, the food was delicious as always, and the kids happily played all morning.  It’s easy to forget the challenges on days like these…

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While everyone else may have stopped visiting weeks ago, I think fall may be the Hilton’s very best season…  The season of playground play and beach exploring!  Both are pretty much out of the question during the hot spring and summer months, so Miss G and I are taking full advantage now that we can bear to be outdoors without being in a pool.  This morning we had all kinds of fun on the beach digging for creatures, collecting treasures, and writing and reading words in the sand, and next week we’ll try doing a little playground tour with Miss G’s bike. ☺

Here’s our morning in photos…

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Frozen themed Play Dough Kit | Mama Papa Bubba

I’m pretty sure Gracen’s obsession with Frozen has reached an all-time high recently.  She’s always really enjoyed the movie, but since removing the YouTube app from her iPad a while back, I’m fairly certain she’s spent at least a portion of her allotted screen time watching it every single day.  Of course, when your start your day with a dose of Frozen, it translates into into a whole lot of Elsa dress-up, many Anna hairdo requests, non-stop ‘Let It Go’, and daily reenactments of the ‘do you want to build a snowman?’ scene {accompanied by plenty of door knocking}.  Welcome to our world.   (more…)


While at the aquarium today…


Gracen:  ‘Mama, you know… I speak penguin language.  I really do.’

Me: ‘You do?  What is this penguin saying to you?’

Gracen: ‘Oh, he said, “Gracen, are you really a princess?”

Me: ‘And how did you respond?

Gracen: I said yes – OF COURSE! (more…)