Preparation | Days 19 & 20 – 30DaysTYP

We are two thirds of the way through the exciting 30 days to transform your play series.

Kate and I are busy organising something incredible for you all to finish this series off with a bang! I promise you will know more soon.

We have two explorations planned for you for next week; observational drawing on Monday and sand on Friday.

These will be our last two explorations for the series. We have some other lovely posts planned though; deepening pretend play, exploring the natural world and incorporating mirrors into play and a couple of others to finish the series.

30 days to transform your play
To re-cap, here are each of the posts in the 30 Days to Transform Your Play series thus far:

Day 1 | Introduction

Day 2 | Culling Toys

Day 3 | Setting Up a Play Space

Day 4 | Identifying an Interest

Day 5 | Preparation

Day 6 | Our Creative Space

Day 7 | Exploring Playdough

Day 8 | Rethinking Art for Children

Day 9 | Constructing

Day 10 | Selecting Materials

Day 11 | Exploring Clay

Days 12 & 13 | Preparation

Day 14 | Want Nothing Time

Day 15 | Working with Paint

Day 16 | Real Tools

Day 17 | Exploring Light

Day 18 | Using Books to Enhance Materials

Make sure you’re following An Everyday Story’s posts too!

I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Using Books to Enhance Materials | Day 18 – 30DaysTYP

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30 Days to Transform Your Play series

Books have the ability to transform play into a rich educational experience. If you’re anything like me, you have tons of lovely books but many get overlooked for bedtime story favourites and are only brought out if we deliberately seek out something we don’t know amidst our play.

Using Books to Enhance Art and Play Materials

Thankfully, in the past week, we have changed this and you should too! Today is simple: display 1-3 books beside relevant art and/or play materials. Watch, as I did, as your child rediscovers books that are often overlooked. Watch as they thumb through books, discover and question further.

books materials play

Books (both non-fiction and fiction) add life and learning to play materials and transform an art experience.

While adding non-fiction books is definitely the more informative option, the odd fictional book certainly can enhance play and exploration just as much. Remember to include both, as well as relevant open-ended materials, to really amp up your child’s playtime.

For non-fiction books, we love Steve Parish kids guides and DK books (those outside of the US can purchase from Book Depository).

Non-fiction book + Fiction book + Relevant play materials + Open-ended play materials

For example, adding a relevant field guide, a story book about animals, some figurines and loose parts on a shelf together.

Just as you and I love browsing blogs for information and search Pinterest for ideas and inspiration, so do your children if given the chance. If books are made a priority and simply part of the play and discovery process, it will become second nature.

Not all books are created equal. When I go op shop shopping (thrifting), books are the single most significant thing I have to hold back from buying tons of! A selection of rich texts and beautiful books with inspiring photography is better than a giant library of sub-par books that are less likely to inspire and inform.

I’d love for you to share your child’s favourite books which can be used to enhance play and art materials!


  • Sort through your child’s books,
  • Select any that relate to your child’s current interests,
  • Place them on the shelf with related toys and materials,
  • Observe and document their play and learning with the books and materials – reflect,
  • When you next rotate your children’s toys, create an exploration and/or art experience and include a related book!


Feel free to share your photos (no matter what day!) on Instagram with the hashtag #30daystyp and/or on my Lovable Learning Facebook group. I’m truly loving every single experience and question that is being shared. Thank you so very much for being involved!

30 Days to Transform Your Play series

Here is the rest of the 30 Days to Transform Your Play series and make sure you’re following An Everyday Story’s posts too!

Exploring Light | Day 17 – 30DaysTYP

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The rest of the 30 Days to Transform Your Play series

exploring light natural artificial

Natural Light

Explorations with sunlight are often overlooked. From simply observing shadows to discovering the reflective qualities of a watch, disco ball, CD, or mirrors outdoors can fascinate, engage and ultimately teach a child a lot about the word around them.

shadow learning

Exploring sculpture with coloured transparent materials is a unique and beautiful way to learn about light refraction and coloured shadows. We love these size and colour cubes which are gorgeous, strong, vibrant and open-ended resources.

light refraction sculptures cubes transparent

Similarly, our transparent 3d geometric solids are incredible both in natural sunlight and on the light table. These are lovely, high quality, fill-able educational resources. We love them as an educational sensory material. They are the perfect introduction to the concept of volume relationships. These see-through coloured geometric solids are a great hands-on learning tool to explore 3 dimensional geometry.

transparent 3d geometric solids sun light

A simple exploration of colour and light is to fill clear containers with coloured water on a white surface near a window:

coloured water light refraction


Artificial Light

A reader asked me in my Lovable Learning Facebook group what the big deal is with light tables? For me, it’s primarily about sensory exploration and adding another dimension to play & learning. My favourite element being that they can sometimes see through the art/experiment/play materials which allows for further exploration and engagement.

I was lucky enough to find our light table second hand. There are some budget DIY versions detailed on Pinterest. I know several friends and readers who have the gorgeous panel from Modern Teaching Aids and adore it.

I got our light table when Cameron was a toddler. It would be impossible to show you all of the great opportunities and experiences we have had with light, so bare with me while I let the photos do most of the talking:

Shapes on the translucent geoboard (or Amazon US)
Constructing with coloured plastic shot glasses from the dollar store
Water colour painting
Blowing bubbles in coloured soap mixture
Spraying coloured vinegar on baking soda
Building with transparent Magnetix

xrays lightWe love exploring x-rays on our light panel (tuck in the table legs and place upright).
This is perfect for both pretend doctor play and for learning about anatomy.
You can purchase these here in Australia, or on Amazon:

light, shadow, reflection, reggio, light table, ipswich art museum

The most popular post I have written on light is Exploring Light, Shadow & Reflection and has many inspiring ideas for light exploration and discovery based learning with artificial light.

It’s great to remember that artificial light exploration doesn’t have to include light panels or tables, or overhead projectors. Add reflective materials (disco balls, CDs, mirrors, etc) to a basket with a torch and you have an invitation for an engaging and meaningful learning experience.

ohp, play, learn, overhead projector

Speaking of overhead projectors, you have to read or re-read my post on OHP play & learning. I wrote that soon after our Light Play gallery experience and still get inspired by the ideas myself. Exploring nature with light is a beautiful learning experience and one I can’t emphasize enough.

I love that the overhead projector super-sizes the light experience and can even transform an entire play area into a new ‘world’ with projected backdrops or a large shadow puppet theatre.


  • Considering your child’s interests and how they like to play, what kind of light exploration could you create for your child?
  • Gather together some reflective materials, some small mirrors if you have some to create an exploration using natural light.

Feel free to share your photos (no matter what day!) on Instagram with the hashtag #30daystyp and/or on my Lovable Learning Facebook group.

30 Days to Transform Your Play series

Here is the rest of the 30 Days to Transform Your Play series and make sure you’re following An Everyday Story’s posts too!

Real Tools | Day 16 – 30DaysTYP


Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7
Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 & 13 | Day 14 | Day 15

real tools

Welcome to Day 16 (a bit late! Sorry!) of the 30 Days to Transform Your Play series! Today we’re discussing something I love – real tools for children! I have discussed the benefits of using real tools for children before.

children's sized real tools, Montessori kids

Real tools have many uses – for pretend play, for exploration, for learning and for creating. I love Kate’s division of the examples (Play | Kitchen | Garden | Art | Creation).

Real tools provide interest, give children a sense of pride, and help them grow self-awareness and self-control. It is empowering for children to be given this level of responsibility. Giving them real tools, rather than pretend toys, honours the child’s abilities and intelligence and sends the message that they are capable and competent learners and experimenters. – Learn & Play with Real Tools for Kids

real tools kids examples

Some reading you may enjoy:

DIY Microscope Kit Real Tools Montessori
DIY Microscope Slide Kit | How we Montessori

Tinkering School Power Tools and Children
Tinkering School Blog & TED Talk

Teaching Photography to Children
Teaching Photography to Children


  • Consider which tools would be beneficial to nurture your child’s interests
    (e.g. a telescope for an interest in space, a camera to document a project, binoculars to observe animals, etc)
  • Create an exploration basket of related items (tools, books, toys, etc) relating to your child’s interest – particularly if they don’t have experience with the tools involved,
  • Encourage exploration of real tools and work alongside them to make meaning with them.

Feel free to share your photos (no matter what day!) on Instagram with the hashtag #30daystyp and/or on my Lovable Learning Facebook group.

30 Days to Transform Your Play series

Here is the rest of the 30 Days to Transform Your Play series and make sure you’re following An Everyday Story’s posts too!

Paint | Day 15 – 30DaysTYP

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7
Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 & 13 | Day 14

sensory painting reggioExpressive Painting from the Exploring Reggio series

I have wrote about exploring paint previously. Here’s some of what I said:

Cameron adored being free to add paint and work with the paint however he wanted. He mixed, described colours and changes, described the feel of the paint and talked about painting hard and soft, slow and fast. While he slipped and slid and felt the paint, he continued to play and create.

While Cameron gets many opportunities to explore art materials, this time Lucy was asleep and he had limitless paper. It was great to see what that freedom did to his creative expression.

painting with bodies reggio process art
This kind of messy exploratory painting is a beautiful tactile opportunity. Process art is the best way to introduce art materials, including paint, and creates the perfect foundation for future artistic expression.


These experiences with art of all forms provide a multitude of ways for the child to express, explore, and develop their learning and thinking. This isn’t just centered around academics either, this notion can apply to emotional intelligence, physical development, and understanding of abstract concepts.

These artistic expressions make the learning experience visible. Kids can use these artistic representations to share with others what they are thinking, doing, feeling, learning, and experiencing. Art is the medium through which we can ‘listen’ to our little ones- Expressive Painting | Racheous – Lovable Learning

Expect mess. & furthermore Embrace the mess! As I have wrote previously about messy creativity: Watch the magic unfold when you let go of your concern of mess and the limitations it holds.

toddler creativity finger painting messy

Paint is one art material that I will purchase cheaply. We have many different types (poster paint, finger paint, homemade paint, water colour paints, tempera paint, acrylic paints, dabbers, glitter paint, foam paint, natural paints, etc) but we mostly use the washable non-toxic bottles.


  • choose two complimenting paint colours along with some white and a small amount of black,
  • present them in some clear open containers,
  • include a container (Kate suggests an ice-cube tray) for paint mixing and some small spoons or a chopstick,
  • offer a selection of brushes,
  • place a mirror underneath the clear containers of paint to further emphasise the colours,
  • if you like, include some still life objects (something of interest to your child) – something you found on a nature walk, a favourite toy, a collection of beautiful treasures for a provocation,
  • have lots of paper ready,
  • sit back and enjoy the creative mess that follows!

Feel free to share your photos (no matter what day!) on Instagram with the hashtag #30daystyp and/or on my Lovable Learning Facebook group.

30 Days to Transform Your Play series

Here is the rest of the 30 Days to Transform Your Play series and make sure you’re following An Everyday Story’s posts too!

working with paint