Painting is a great activity for young children. It’s a fantastic work-out for their imagination, and helps them practice their fine motor skills, as well as helping to develop their understanding of colour, shape, texture and viscosity (yes, wet paint WILL drip onto the floor/your clothes/the dog’s dinner…). We do a lot of painting in our house, and love finding different things to paint - after all, flat paper can be SO last earlier-this-morning. We try to bring natural materials into our play at every opportunity, and painting is the perfect thing for this as its easy to find natural objects to decorate. Stones, sticks, pinecones, shells… you name it, we’ve painted it. Painting leaves is an absolute favourite, though, and something that we do all the time - read on to find out why!
There are images of some amazing mud kitchens out there on the web, and it's very easy to fall down a rabbit hole of great ideas without actually ever making one for your child. I was certainly guilty of it, until one day my sister stopped by and interrupted my description of the great mud kitchen I was going to make (one day), by pulling together a few things lying around in the garden and making one in about thirty seconds! My kids have been playing with it ever since (we're talking for years now!), and though I still dream and plan of a more beautiful and robust solution, they're out there having fun today - and they really couldn't care less that it's not perfect.
So read on to see what you need to make a mud kitchen right now, and I guarantee that you'll have enough stuff already to get your kids playing today!
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.