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?

 

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?

 

 

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?

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?

 

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?