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?

 

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

One of the Best- Story Pictures!

To say my Paige LOVES reading is an understatement; she is absolutely mad for it, so as a mum I keep trying to find new ways to keep her passion growing. One of the ways, which she seems to enjoy the most, is creating a ‘Story Picture’ of the book. Now, this could possibly be because it incorporates art which happens to be her second favourite thing to do! So if you have a fan of art and reading at home, this activity is for you! Or maybe even a fan of art who isn’t too keen on reading!

The great thing I love about them is even at the age of 2, they really show the child’s reading comprehension skills and help to develop them too! They also develop their speaking and listening skills, creativity skills and their fine motor skills if your picture includes sticking things down or stamping- so as a learning activity they’re golden!

Now, we have a portfolio of Story Pictures and we create a new one every week. What’s even better is once we have created them we use them when reading the book again!

Who doesn’t love an activity which creates an already loved learning resource?!

So, what do I mean by a ‘Story Picture’?

We create our visual representation of the book plot and include key characters, places and objects.

Here are a couple we have made (and ones we love!).

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What you need totally depends on how you want to create it, because as you can see you can use almost anything from your craft box – you could even use natural resources like leaves for an Owl Babies inspired one.

How can you use them after they are created?

  • You can ask your tiny to explain the story using the picture.
  • You can play book inspired ‘Can you find…?’ as you read- this tends to be how Paige enjoys uses them the most.
  • You could place it in a plastic wallet and ask your tiny to put a sticker on everything beginning with a certain letter (if they are older and at this stage).
  • You could do a similar thing with words and have them label the picture, or if they aren’t confident readers you could just read the word to them.
  • When you have made a few you could place them on the floor and play ‘pairs’ matching the book to the Story Picture.

Will these be a hit in your home too?

Animal Madness, Creativity is Key, Fine Motor, Invitation to Play, The World Around Me, With a Splash of Colour

One of the best- Keepsake Crafty Sunshade!

Admittedly, it has taken me way too long to start actually writing this blog but I have finally found some time (and I’ll be honest some courage!).

As Paige is now 2, we have already done some amazing activities which occurred before the time of this blog, so I am going to start the blog by reminiscing some of our all time favourites which I think you all will love!

The first being my absolute favourite – The Keepsake Sunshade

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We created this at an arty tots class that we used to attend as a birthday present for Dad. Paige absolutely loved making it, giving it and using it. It is a fantastic ‘practical’ present which requires very little parental involvement and therefore gives the child a massive sense of achievement and ownership.

All you need is:

  • Washable Paint – Our teacher used non-toxic paint so we never worried about the children exploring with their mouths!
  • Tape – To keep the stencil(s) securely in place.
  • A blank sunshade.
  • Stencils – Any design of your choice, we chose dinosaurs because Paige and her dad are both Dino Mad!
  • And finally, a baby or child who is ready to get messy!

*TIP* Get the splat mat out and put their apron on so you can relax and let them enjoy creating.

How we made it…

Paige was 1 year old at the time, so the way it was presented was very simplified. Paige chose the stencils and I taped them down in place, then I let her ‘tap, tap ,tap’ the colour on! She layered the colours and when it looked covered, I removed the stencils and that’s it!

Isn’t it a really simple but lovely activity?

If I did this at home, I definitely would have spent some time exploring the colours with Paige during this activity. Although, as it stands, it’s a great activity to develop creativity!

The opportunities are endless with this activity, you could:

  • Write their dad’s name on the sunshade using letter stencils if your child is older and is at the spelling stage.
  • Take it one step further and make your own stencils if your child is older and confident with their scissor skills.
  • Make it an educational activity about colour and mix your own colours to use.
  • Use different stencils to introduce them to different things such as transport or animals.
  • Instead of using stencils, use foam stampers with the paint to help develop their fine motor skills.
  • Put a range of decorative options and present this activity as an ‘Invitation To Create’ activity.
  • Explore patterns instead of using stencils.

Think this is something you and your tiny will enjoy?