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Baby Play at Christmas Time

Baby Elliott is absolutely fascinated with Christmas! He gravitates towards the Christmas tree almost every minute that he’s awake in an attempt to pull at tinsel and explore the shiny baubles.

To help him explore the wonder of Christmas safely, i’ve set up a number of activities for him recently and thought that you might like to try them too…

1. Christmas Basket

I put together this baby safe basket with a green, red and white theme. Included are:

  • Happyland advent calendar toys
  • A crochet snowflake
  • Grimm’s teether with ribbon attached (just make sure you double knot a tie securely)
  • A knitted Santa – made by my wonderful nanna when I was a baby.
  • An eye-spy bottle with dyed rice and pompoms.

Sensory baskets mean that Baby can explore a small range of items with an element of choice. I find that when loads of toys are out, Baby E gets overwhelmed so these little baskets are a winner.

Best for: babies who can sit up

2. Sensory Bottles

Christmas means lots of small, shiny things which can be problematic with a mobile baby around.

Help baby explore safely by putting mini baubles, beads, jingle bells and ribbon into clear bottles. These are from Innocent smoothies but Voss bottles work really well too.

Best for: babies with strong head control – this makes for a great tummy time activity.

3. Christmas Lights

Pop battery operated, LED fairy lights into a Tupperware box and you’ll have yourself an activity that will keep baby occupied for ages!

These lights are low-heat but do just check your own to make sure they don’t get too hot. You don’t necessarily have to use Tupperware either. Clear bottles and takeaway containers make good alternatives.

Best for: younger babies as a tummy time activity or for older babies who are comfortable in the seated position.

4. Bow stick

If your baby is confident in a seated position, try the ribbon stick!

Simply stick ribbons onto a door (or even a cardboard box) for baby to pull off. Aim to use the larger ribbons and supervise constantly to avoid baby putting items in their mouth.

Best for: mobile babies who can sit or stand.

5. Bauble exploration

The clear baubles that are available in craft shops are just brilliant for exploring small materials safely. Even better is the fact you can add them to the tree afterwards!

My three-year-old helped me make these so they couldn’t be easier. Simply place baubles, buttons and jingle bells into one half, then close it up. I’d also advise that you glue the halves together too.

Best for: babies who can sit comfortably.

Safety first!

As always, please don’t do these activities without constant supervision. Check items for loose parts and don’t let baby put any of the pieces in their mouths.

Need more?

Check out the Christmas section of the website for more ideas!

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Easy Peasy Rainbow Rice


Rainbow rice is a wonderful way to introduce sensory play to your toddler. It’s both cheap and easy to make, yet will provide hours of fun. We first started making this with Zoey when she turned one and we felt confident that she wouldn’t just eat the rice! Continue reading Easy Peasy Rainbow Rice

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10 Activities with Playdough

Playdough is our absolute favourite play resource. Its a fantastic sensory tool but without the mess associated with other sensory forms of play.

Now that I’m a mama of three, the playdough is out on a daily basis. So here are 10 invitations to play that all involve playdough… Continue reading 10 Activities with Playdough

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Three Ideas for Winter Themed Play

If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know that we love, love, LOVE messy play. Zoey has reached the stage where toddler tantrums are on the rise and the calming effect messy (or sensory) play has on her is instantaneous. If you’re in a similar boat to me, give these ideas a try…

Winter Wonderland 

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Using our trusty tuff spot tray, we recreated a beautiful winter village complete with a family of reindeer. For the snow we used a combination of:

  • uncooked rice
  • flour
  • white tinsel confetti
  • cotton balls
  • pompoms

It was messy and it was wonderful because it occupied both children for ages! Definitely check out your local craft store for accessories such as the trees and wooden houses (which are actually tree decorations). We usually wait until the seasonal stuff goes on sale, so there’s a pro tip for you!

Shaving Foam Snow

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This is such an easy option! Not only is it relatively quick to clean up (especially if you were to set it up in the sink) you don’t need a heap of resources either. For our version, we used:

  • Sensitive shaving foam (better for young skin)
  • Peppermint essence for a nice Christmassy feel.
  • Silver stars
  • An assortment of toy animals that would be at home in the snow and ice!

Not only does this set up have a calming effect, but it also smells so lovely too!

Polar Bear Rescue

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So this option might depend on where in the world you live! As we’re in Australia and dealing with 30c days (it’s still officially Spring), this play idea comes as a welcome relief! To recreate this at home, simply put some miniature polar bears, or  animal of your choice, into a bowl of water and leave to freeze overnight.

Prior to play, leave the bowl to thaw out a little to remove the icy dome. This will take between 30 minutes and an hour so a little patience is needed!

This actually turned into a nice little STEAM based activity for my eldest too. He loved trying to figure out what would make the ice melt quickest. It’s always such a major win for me when activities can bridge the 6.5 year age gap!

Happy playing!

Sian x

As always, I love seeing your versions of these ideas so please tag me in on either Facebook or Instagram! 

For more reasons on why you should embrace the mess, check out the blog post ‘Why Mess is Best.’

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One Pumpkin: two invitations…

Okay so pumpkin carving isn’t exactly new, but it is an immense amount of fun! If you’re on Pinterest, and lets face it, who isn’t? You’ll see a myriad of pumpkin ideas ranging from easy peasy to super skillful. When you’ve got kids, you just have to go for the options that are accessible and fun so here are two activities you can try with just the one pumpkin – i’m sure you’ll all agree that this is a money saving win too! 😉

An invitation to play…

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In the beginning, I wasn’t going to carve the pumpkin at all, but then I started to think of all the wastage which made me a little sad! After I lopped the top off of the pumpkin (definitely an adult job!), I set the kids to work scooping out the flesh. They used scoops, spoons and their hands to remove all of the pumpkins innards for a real bit of sensory fun!

Great for:

  • Fine motor skills: using fingers to grasp at the pumpkin
  • Hand grasp: using the spoons/ scoops
  • Language: describing the texture of the pumpkin, what it sounds like etc.
  • Sensory development: everything from smell, taste, touch, sight and sound is covered in this one activity!

Side note: younger children should be under constant supervision due to the size of the pumpkin seeds.

 

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If you do a lot of sensory play, a tuff tray like this is a good investment. Ours is from Invitation to Play 

 

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Zoey really loved the texture of the pumpkin seeds and flesh.

 

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All of the seeds were ‘sorted’ into a pan – you could get older kids to sort the seeds from the flesh too!
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Once the kids had finished, I scooped out the extra flesh myself to avoid any mould.

An invitation to create…

pauline the pumpkin
This is Pauline – Isn’t she beautiful?

Have you ever tried to carve a pumpkin? It’s not that easy and certainly not a job i’d entrust to the kids. There’s way too much margin for error but compromises can be made if you want to get your creative on as a family. Like I said above, I was loathed to waste the flesh, so Pauline is a halfway house between a no-carve and carved creation. Here’s how she was made:

 

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1. Scoop out all the flesh! Just in case you missed the bit above – getting out every last bit of flesh is important so that the pumpkin lasts longer. Any extra pumpkin flesh tends to get moldy pretty quickly!
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2. We used a binder/ sealant from Riot  as a base.
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3. After the binder had dried, we set to work on the white acrylic. We used approximately 3 coats, but you might need more of less depending on the brand of paint!
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4. Once the white paint was dry, the kids set to work splodging neon paint all over the pumpkin – so much fun!
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5. We left the pumpkin a few days before I carved the eyes with a craft knife (in hindsight, this would’ve been best done prior to painting) Then we added in ‘Day of the Dead’ style drawings using Posca pens. The flowers have been recycled from a previous craft – you can find out how to make them here.

This activity is great for:

  • Expression: the kids went crazy with the neon paint.
  • Fine motor skills: drawing on the features.
  • Creative thinking: how could we all join in with the activity?
  • Teamwork: sharing out the tasks.
  • Historical research: with older kids, you can explore the background of the Dia de los Muertos festival for the ‘why’ behind the decoration.

 

Side notes:

  • Carving should really be done by an adult.
  • Be aware of the paint you are using if you want to light up your pumpkin with tealights. Although we used water-based acrylics (which are considered safe), we avoided any dilemma altogether by placing a mini torch inside Pauline.  Definitely do not use oil based paints!!!
  • And FINALLY, although Pauline was very beautiful on the outside, by the 5th day her insides were a totally different story. I suspect the paint caused her to get moldy quicker so if you want a longer lasting decoration, I would go for the no-carve option. As it happens, it turned into a fascinating STEAM experiment! 🙂

 

Have you got an accessible pumpkin idea you’d like to share? Either comment below or tag me in on Facebook / Instagram.