Meet Zara Demeris from Melbourne Australia. Primary School teacher Zara, is the founder of Play Tribe and an educator at Craftercise. We first bonded over our mutual love for turning everyday objects from around the house into play activities. In an Insta perfect world, Zara’s honesty is also really refreshing, so I wanted to find out more about the lady behind Play Tribe…
Zara! Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed for the Inspirational Educators series. I remember one of the first things we bonded over was the ‘DIY naptime challenge’ – that was so fun! What first made you decide to create DIY toys rather than buy everything from a store?
To put it simply money! The world of toys is massive, it’s gorgeous and it is expensive. As Aidan and Evie grew I realised I really didn’t have many toys in the house, ones that suited their specific needs at that exact time so I figured why not just make it! It became so addictive too, knowing that I created something that they love, engage with and supports their development is pretty cool!
Obviously, Instagram only shows us a snippet of people and their personalities. What three words would your friends use to describe you?
Does it ever! My friends would probably describe me as enthusiastic, creative and encouraging. In saying that they often use my name as verb, encouraging me to just keeping on Zaraing!
One of the things that I love the most about your feed is your honesty. You’ll always be straight up if you’re having a bad day or if an activity doesn’t work out as planned. Does this help you to connect with your followers? I know that I for one find it really refreshing.
Most definitely, I think my followers find it so relatable! It brings out that whole mums unite moment, yup I’ve been there!
I remember a while ago I had a message from a follower who said, I wish my kids were as well behaved as yours. The comparison shook me a bit, a split second photo and a 15 second video do not show the whole day so I started sharing, in words, the real behind it.
We are a normal family, Aidan is a normal 3 year old with all the emotions and energy, Lishy is just hitting that 18 month mark where she is asserting herself as an individual. Our days are full of big emotions, pasta on the floor and mum buns.
As well as being an Instagrammer, you are also on maternity leave from teaching. Was a career in teaching always the plan?
I won’t ever film or photograph the kids when they are struggling but I will continue to share it to show we are just like every other family trying to fumble our way through these wonderful early years!
Always! I always wanted to be a teacher, although briefly at age 8 toyed with the idea of being a park ranger.
My gran was a teacher and a principal and my mum was an amazing home educator and support so helping little people learn and grow was always going to be my future.
I got my first job straight out of University and I remember finishing the first term, falling in an exhausted heap but thinking how crazy lucky I was to wake up every morning and love going to work!
Everyone has a favourite teacher. Who was yours?
Mrs Wilkey, she was my prep teacher and just amazing. Her kindness, her calmness, her ways to make everything a learning experience (without her students realising) was truly something magical.
I tried to track her down a few years ago, to just tell her what she meant to me but she had retired and moved on. I truly hope she knows how special she is!
It can take quite a bit of work to always be creating new activities. What is your favourite ‘go to’ activity for those days when you are exhausted?
Being outdoors is my usual go to, I can lay on the grass why the kids run around, bringing me worms and other treasures. It always works as a good reset for us BUT it is so cold in Melbourne at the moment so we are stuck indoors a lot of the time.
A new sensory base from the pantry is always a winner. Grab something out, throw it in the FLISAT table and let the kids go for it! I wrote a free e-book about all the different taste-safe sensory bases we use because most days sensory play is the heart of our play.
You are really creative with play hacks. What 5 everyday items do you always keep for DIY play?
Good question and surprisingly hard, I keep a lot of stuff!
My top 5 would have to be cardboard, paint pens, hot glue gun, tape and paper. I bought a set of rainbow paint pens on eBay and they have been great to help me transform things, they dry quickly and its mess free painting for me.
There seems to be big plans on the horizon for the Play Tribe, can you give us some insight into what’s in store?
Play Tribe is such an exciting ‘place’ to be part of! I am so excited by the wonderful friendships I have formed through the blog!
Over the coming months there will be some small and big changes coming. When I launched the blog I promised that we, as the play tribe community, would build it together and make it something that we all get a lot out of.
I have received a lot of feedback and ideas about how to make it the most user friendly, content rich and informative space possible.
Think professional guest speakers/bloggers, more free e-books and a community hub!
Finally, how can we find out more about the Play Tribe?
To become a PLAY TRIBE member, which is totally free, just head to the website and enter your email address. Our member’s area is only getting better so there are lots of benefits in there! I am launching some pretty amazing things, starting mid July.
Also head over to my Instagram page, @zaras_play_tribe , to check out how we play and daily insights into our crazy wonderful home!