Though I love letting my kids get stuck in to some messy play, I sometimes find the thought of the inevitable cleanup just too daunting. On days like that, I often resort to our tried and tested fallback -the cleanest messy play imaginable - bubble play!
Our kids love playing with their toy kitchen (yes, it is the ubiquitous Ikea Duktig play kitchen; and no, it has not, alas, been pimped). Over the years we've amassed a fair few bits of play food to go with it - some inherited, some gifted, a few picked up in the sales. But if we could do it all again, these eleven sets are the ones I'd make sure to get!
Handling scissors correctly is a difficult skill to master, and so we try to practice every chance we get. In the house, we have a "snip box" full of different scraps to cut up, following patterns and lines or just snipping away. But sometimes we like to take our scissors outside, to try our hand at cutting things we find around us while exploring in the sunshine. Creating a Nature Snip box takes absolutely no effort at all - in fact, the kids do pretty much all of the work!
There is magic in puddles that seems to call to all children. In the rain, or after, it's a rare child who can resist the urge to stomp, splash, swish and splatter through them, regardless of whether or not they're wearing their wellies. It's a well known kid fact that it's really not a successful puddle jump if you don't come out of it with soaking socks.
Playing in puddles is one of those great activities that requires little or no preparation - other than pulling on those wellies and a rain mac - and most of the time my kids are happy to play in them without interference from me. Should puddle ennui set in, though, we can always find further fun with these simple alternate games.
What are treasure baskets, and how do they benefit our children? In my own experience, treasure baskets are one of the most valuable experiences we can offer our babies, so here is a brief explanation to help you get to grips with these ideas, and some practical tips on getting started!
Serving up Conker Soup and Pinecone Stew
Autumn is my favourite time of year, but even so there can be times when the days are grey and gloomy. At times like that, I often set up a pretend picnic for T-Bird and her toys that I put together from colourful finds we pick up on the school run. She loves it so much, she calls it a party!
I'm not a lover of keeping our toddler confined to her highchair during the day (though I'd absolutely LOVE it if she would last a whole night in her cot), but there are times when I need to keep our little trouble-magnet in her chair just for a short while. Meal times, for example, or when everything is going crazy and I just need ten minutes where I know she's in a safe place while I keep stirring that risotto....
Posting things is a very common schema/urge in young children, as is transporting, so our postal play session satisfied both needs - T-Bird could collect up our "letters" in her postman satchel, and then pop them through the slot in the postbox. Simple stuff, but she took it very seriously and was kept engrossed for a good old while.
Revamping a DIY Sorting and Counting Toy
As T-Bird is getting older and has now thoroughly mastered the challenges of the Hoop Tree, I wanted to spice things up a bit by injecting some colour and adding a colour matching/sorting game element. I considered painting the hoops and branches, but that would have been far to much work. Being lazy, I went for a quick 'n' dirty fix instead. We already have some larger wooden rings decorated with trailing ribbons, so, to make these a little different, this time I went with washi tape
Instant Homemade Toy for Toddlers and Babies
Toys are great. We love toys in my house and I'll freely admit we spend far too much time and money buying far too many toys for our kids. That said, when it comes to inspiring engaging play, I've found the tried and tested simple play opportunities provided by everyday household objects will keep our youngest sproglet absorbed just as long as any toy, and often even longer.