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!
Our kids love cooking up meals in their play kitchen, and one of their greatest pleasures is mixing up the ingredients. We've had great fun stocking their kitchen with all sorts of little bits and pieces that can be stirred in a mini cooking pan with a handful of other things; pompoms for meatballs; soy sauce fish containers for, er, fish; strands of wool for spaghetti, and so on. I'm always on the lookout for new things to include! The other day I had an absolute brainwave, and came up with this easy-peasy, quick, and essentially FREE way to make these fabulous play-food sliced mushrooms. Want to make some too? Read on!
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!
The kids were divided into two teams, handed blasters loaded up with white vinegar and given strict instructions on where and where not to fire them; then they set to work!
One of the many wonderful community events run in our local neighbourhood is the annual scarecrow parade that takes place every September. This year, I really wanted to get involved and so corralled some of my friends and neighbours on our street into doing our scarecrows on the same theme. In honour of this year's 150th anniversary of the publication of the book, we themed our scarecrows around Alice in Wonderland.
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!
One of our family favourites is a Nigella Lawson recipe for a Spring Chicken casserole, from her book 'Kitchen'. It's simple to make, chock full of vegetables and goes down a storm with both our kids. Visitors can't get enough of it either!
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....