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?

 

 

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?

 

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?