Bringing Books to Life, Creativity is Key, Little Ones Literacy, Small Worlds

Read and Sculpt

I recently discovered a brilliant combination – Play Dough and Books! My overall aim was to bring the stories to life for Paige and in the process create a story inspired small play area that Paige could enjoy after the story was over. This activity did exactly that!

Basically, we read the story and as we encountered new characters we made them with the play dough! Paige was so giddy to make the animals that I had to read the text once the animal was made!

All you need is:

  • Play dough.
  • Other embellishments (if you want) such as googly eyes and feathers.
  • A story to read.

The final result was….IMG_0469

Do I need to say how much she loved this!? Her little face says it all!

Once the story had finished I just let her enjoy playing with the play dough animals and she sat re-enacting the plot and reciting lines! This was the best part for me, it really showed me how much of the story she had understood.

Not only does this activity work on their reading comprehension skills and their literacy skills, it develops their imagination and creativity – it’s a perfect opportunity to have some learning fun!

Other ways you could do this:

  • You could read and sculpt another book.
  • You could sculpt a story scene and picture it to make your own book.
  • Instead of using play dough you could create the characters or set with building blocks.
  • Rather than creating the characters, you could sculpt the landscape of the story and play with plastic figures in the landscape.

Would this make reading even more magical for your toddler too?

 

Fine Motor, Mad About Maths

Roll, Count, Choose and Build!

So I am sure every parent of a toddler has a home full of different blocks and bricks to build with – is it just me who rarely has them all out at once?

One afternoon I dared to do so and we had so much fun!

It was a really simple activity…

Paige rolled the dice, she counted the dots and then chose which item she wanted to build with and built her tower. I don’t know whether it was the free choice involved or fact that she was setting her own challenges but she went crazy for this!

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All you need is…

Dice and different building blocks!

As you can see, Paige had a choice from Easter eggs, star links, standard wooden bricks and plastic squeezy blocks. You can obviously build with whatever you think your tiny would love.

What are they learning?

This activity really gave Paige a purpose to count and I have never seen her more engaged at doing so! It is also fantastic at developing their fine motor skills whilst building the towers.

As well as these educational aspects, this is a great opportunity for them to be their own boss and develop their independence.

What could you use to build with?

  • Easter eggs
  • Wooden blocks
  • Building blocks
  • Gears
  • Ice cubes
  • Star links
  • Bristle blocks
  • Magnetic blocks
  • Marshmallows
  • Plastic squeezy blocks

Or many many more…

Would your toddler love to set their own challenges too?

 

 

Creativity is Key, Fine Motor, Invitation to Play, Tis the Season to...

Make Your Own Easter Basket!

Pre-made or Homemade – there’s never a competition for me! I love making something special and unique – something memorable!

Yesterday we spent the afternoon making our own Easter basket. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out and Paige loves it too! She enjoyed every second creating it and proudly walked around the house with it after practising for the big days egg hunt!

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All you need is:

  • A box – Choose a good size to collect those eggs.
  • Washable paint – If you have a little one I’d definitely suggest non-toxic paint so you don’t have to worry about them exploring!
  • Paint rollers or brushes to use to colour the box.
  • Decorative items –  We used paint stampers, foam stickers and foam letter stickers which spelt Easter.
  • Tissue paper to dress the inside of the box.
  • Something to make holes in the sides of the box for the handle.
  • String or ribbon –  For the handle, we used string and beads to include some fine motor play!
  • A Hairdryer – I  know it sounds odd, but we used this to dry the paint on the box so we didn’t have to break from making it.

*TIP* Do this in an area you wont worry about getting messy in, or put an apron on your tiny and a splat mat down. The last thing you want is to be worrying about mess rather than enjoying it!

*TIP* Gather all the things you intend to use before starting so you have everything you need at arms length.

How did we make ours?

Stage 1 – The Painting

We first painted our box using the paints and big paint brushes. I made sure we used light and bright colours for this so that the stampers and stickers would still stand out. Once the base colour was finished, Paige then chose some sponge stampers to decorate the box. We used darker colours and stamped on the box with the sponge stampers. She loved this and all I was really doing was rotating the box for her and making sure she could get to everything she needed. It was lovely too see her being so independent.

Stage 2 – The Handle

I had already prepared her beading set so after wiping the area down and taking Paige’s apron off I put the beads in front of her and let her bead while I tidied away the painting things and dried the box. Once the box was dry I made holes in the sides ready for the handles. Paige really enjoyed beading but it did get a bit tricky for her towards the end as the string needed to be longer than she was used to.

Stage 3 – The Stickers

There’s countless ways you could decorate the box but Paige, like so many other little people, loves stickers so we chose these. I first let her pick out lots of different stickers that she wanted to use and we chose the letters of ‘Easter’ spelling it out as we found them. Then, as before, I rotated the box whilst Paige decorated it with stickers (I did help her with the letters though).

We finished the box off by dressing it with tissue paper and then, before I knew it, Paige was off walking around the house and swaying it from side to side.

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This activity was fabulous at allowing them to be creative and practising their fine motor skills.

There are endless ways of decorating these:

  • For a special touch, you could personalise it with your tiny’s name using letter stickers.
  • If you don’t want to paint it, you could wrap the box in Easter paper (you could even make this yourself too).
  • For an ever bigger activity, you could decorate Easter egg shapes to stick instead.
  • If you don’t want to dress it with tissue paper, you could use shredded paper for a ‘nest’ feel.
  • Have a little budding artist? They could paint or colour their own design on the box.
  • Fancy making this more of an invitation to play exercise? You could just wrap the box in plain paper and set up an area of decorative items for them to be creative.

Will you be using a homemade basket tomorrow too?

 

 

All About Me, Fine Motor, Keeping them Busy, Life Skills

Locks, Latches and Fastenings Hands-on Learning!

There’s some things that a child can only learn practically; locks, latches and fastenings are definitely that!

My Paige is lucky to have an amazing set of grandparents that care about her so much they made her a busy board to help her develop these skills. Don’t you just love handmade presents!? This is definitely one I will always treasure!

So, for once on my blog, because I didn’t make it, I am not going to talk about what you need and how to create it. I did still think though, that it deserved to be shown, because it’s such a fantastic board which incorporates so many different fastenings! You can even button up the shirt attached around it to close it when you aren’t using it!

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These boards are amazing for developing their life skills and fine motor skills and they are definitely worth having!

Has it inspired you to make one?

Creativity is Key, Fine Motor, Gross Motor, Little Ones Literacy, Mad About Maths, Something Sensory

Letter of the Week- Phonics Tub!

Have you ever noticed toddlers love to empty things? This activity is perfect for the toddlers who just can’t help themselves – and for once you will be happy for them to empty to their hearts content!

To accompany our letter of the week activities, I fill a tub with items all beginning with that letter. I place it within Paige’s reach for her to explore and play with whenever she chooses. She has loved this and it has been a time saving, ready-made and versatile activity pot for me too!

It takes less than 5 minutes to put together and once it has been organised there’s so much you can do with it to enhance the letter of the week learning.

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So how can you use it?

  • To get them active, you can hide all the items from the tub for them to find, this is probably Paige’s favourite use for it!
  • To link it to literacy, you could tell stories using the items from the tub.
  • As a gross motor activity, you could place a mix of items from the tub with other items beginning with different letters and play a relay game. When we do this I place the objects at the end of Paige’s tunnel and she crawls through to collect the correct items and return them to me. To make it exciting I set her the target of completing this in the time of her chosen song, which I play whilst she is relaying!
  • As a fine motor activity, you could use a scarf, ribbon or string to draw a large letter on the floor and invite your toddler to trace the letter with the items.
  • To test their memory skills, you could hide all the items in a non-transparent bag and see how many your toddler can remember – you might be surprised with how good they are – I was!
  • To develop their language skills, you could place an item in a non-transparent bag and ask them to describe how it feels to you. This could also be presented as a guessing game!
  • To develop their vocabulary, you could place a few of the items on the floor in a line opposite a line of their names and give your toddler string or ribbon to match up the name to the item.
  • For a sensory activity, you could hide some of items in rice, stones or sand and invite your toddler to find them.
  • To get creative you could invite your toddler to draw around some of the items and create a jigsaw for them to complete later.

Or there’s simply drawing, measuring or counting them!

When any of my planned letter of the week activities have been linked to an item in the tub, I have used that item to introduce the activity and reinforce the connection.

As you can see planning this simple tub provides you with endless preparation free activities and so many learning opportunities – your toddler is sure to have a favourite here!

Which activity will you start with?

Fine Motor, Let's Explore Outside, Mad About Maths, Tis the Season to...

Spoonfuls of Sand

Admittedly, I get over-excited sometimes and, after 2 days of sunshine for the first time this year, I just couldn’t help myself with this activity.

It’s a great measurement introductory activity which also develops their fine motor skills, counting and number recognition.

But, is it fun?

Yes, Paige adored this! I can guarantee you will not have any difficulties enticing your tiny to do this!

Basically, you count how many spoons of sand it takes to fill shells and match the shell to the number.

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Simple, fun and educational! Better still, it requires no prep but gathering the materials!

So, what will I need?

  • Sand – It’s your choice whether you use motion sand like we did or play sand. The motion sand held the shells shapes really well and Paige enjoyed creating a beach scene with these.
  • Shells – Varying Sizes.
  • Numbers.
  • A spoon.

You could do this activity indoors, outdoors or even at the beach to keep them entertained.

Other ways of doing this…

  • You could fill building blocks instead – It might actually be fun to try build with motion sand!
  • You could fill sand moulds instead of shells.
  • If you don’t have sand, you could fill them with water or rice instead.
  • To make it more challenging you could put the shells in order of biggest to smallest capacity at the end.

Can you wait until Summer?

Dramatic Play

5 Fun Ways to Re-Invent a Play Shop!

A play shop doesn’t have to just be a shop, generally the structure of these toys are very versatile – so why not have a change?

A few month ago, whilst scanning a tin of beans for the 50th time that week, I decided our shop needs a change and I have never looked back. I now spend my Sunday nights dressing up the shop as something new to surprise Paige on a Monday morning – she absolutely loves it!

I have to be honest as well, I haven’t bought new decorative items specifically for these purposes or spent hours at the printer making signs. I have only used items we already had and it has never taken more than 15 minutes to set up! If you wanted to invest more, these could look 10 times better but for play purposes they have always been great for us!

I wanted to share with you 5 of our best. Here, in order, are our top 5.

5th Place – A Puppet Theatre 

I basically put all her hand puppets and fingers puppets on the shelves and let her be a ‘puppet master’ for the week.

4th Place – A Launderette 

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3rd Place – A Hospital

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2nd Place – A Pet Shop (it was a close call)

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But the winner was …. a Library!

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**TOP TIP – Only use empty bottles, tubes and cartons, its much safer and much less messy – it is imaginative play after all!

This type of imaginative play is fantastic at developing children’s creativity but also helping them understand these places and the people’s roles who work there!

Are you yet to explore one of these places?

Animal Madness, Bringing Books to Life, Creativity is Key, Fine Motor, Invitation to Play, Small Worlds, The World Around Me

One of the Best- Playdough Playmats!

I have to be completely honest – this is my new addiction! If you have a child that loves playdough and animals – they will ADORE these activities! It involves next to no prep, hours of fun and lots of learning opportunities!

Basically,we use the playdough as a landscape to play with our plastic animals and/or decorative objects and we love it! The playdough acts as the best playmat, especially for toddlers, because it holds the items in place- it eliminates those frustrating moments where nothing stays stood up for them.

So all you need is…

  • Playdough.
  • Animals.
  • Decorative Items.
  • A playdough friendly area.
  • A Tiny ready to have fun.

What animals and decorative items you use completely depend on what habitat you want to explore, here are a few we have enjoyed;

A Farm – We used our mini farm play set, our small tractor, a fish shape cutter and googly eyes.

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A Rainforest – We used our plastic trees, a plastic log and lots of animals.

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A Beach – We used some shells, stones, plastic seaweed, plastic trees and lots of plastic sea creatures.

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What are they learning?

These activities educate the child about the habitat they are creating and the animals that live there, whilst developing their fine motor skills and their creativity.

What else could you create?

  • Others you could create are a forest, polar, desert, glasslands, wetlands, or ocean habitat.
  • You could use smaller buildings (if you have any) and create a city.
  • To make it magical, you could use an array of objects and fairies to create a fairy world.
  • For something competitive you could use various vehicles and create an off road racing course.
  • To link it in with history, using plastic army men you could create a battlefield area.
  • Using dinosaurs and stones you could create a prehistoric world.
  • To link it into literacy, you could create the scene of a story and re-enact it.

THE OPPORTUNITIES ARE ENDLESS!

Do you love it too?

 

All About Me, Little Ones Literacy

One of the Best- Labelling Me!

It’s sad isn’t it that we can’t display every piece of art work our tinies create? So most of the time the art work we display are items that really showcase our children’s talents or items that are useful for recapping the subject- this is just that!

When learning about body parts we created a simple poster labelling them, ours was different because it was labelling an actual photograph of Paige. She was so excited to see herself on the poster, I really didn’t need to encourage her to get involved. She couldn’t stop pointing at herself and telling me ‘Paige, Mama it’s Paige’!

All you need is..

  • A full height picture of your tiny.
  • Glue.
  • Scissors.
  • Alphabet stickers.
  • Felt tip pens (to add a splash of colour).

It’s definitely a team effort task!

This is how we did it;

Me-

I cut up the picture, as it needed precision, and wrote all the labels.

My tiny-

Paige stuck down the sections of the picture, she identified the body parts on her ‘picture self’ and she placed the letter stickers on the poster. If she struggled to identify the body part I used the beginning letter sticker, as a prompt, to help.

The Result

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Was it a success?

Well, I can honestly say (and I am proud to say), Paige now knows all the body parts on this picture! So this activity mainly helped develop her vocabulary and speech. Following the method I used it also explored some of the alphabet, by using the letter stickers, and she practised her fine motor skills when sticking them down.

There’s so many ways you could do it…

  • To make it easier, you could use pre-written labels that you could read to your tiny to stick down.
  • For more of a challenge, your tiny could spell the body parts using letter stickers.
  • If you didn’t want to look at body parts you could label their faces showing different emotions (this would be a good thing to pull out on a 16th birthday)!
  • You could label the clothing instead of the body parts and learn something new.

Will this be your next team task?

Creativity is Key, Little Ones Literacy, The World Around Me

A is for Airport!

There is nothing I love more than making something that could be boring instantly captivating. I love planning activities that draw on Paige’s interests and hobbies to help her engage with new topics.

My little Paige loves Planes, so it was like we had hit the jackpot when we had ‘A’ as our letter of the week. I, whilst planning late on Sunday night, had a bit of a mummy light bulb moment when I thought of building an airport she could play with her beloved plane on. It was one of those activities that you as a parent are more excited to present to them just to see the excitement on their face!

It requires no prep apart from gathering the materials and is sure (if you have a plane fanatic too) to provide a substantial amount of playtime! This might even mean you can enjoy that much needed cup of tea!

I gathered some building blocks, her plane and wait for it…. FAIRY LIGHTS and we built this. Paige absolutely adored it!

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Would your tiny love this too?