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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…

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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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Before you throw that away…

Before you throw that carton away, what could you make with it? In celebration of Earth Day, here’s our invitation to make and play with the stuff you’d usually just throw away.

There are so many items that we humans must recycle or bin on a daily basis. Instead, put your creative caps on and get crafty.  We’re lucky enough to have a whole kitchen cupboard dedicated to coffee cups, egg cartons and plastic bottles.

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The recycling cupboard on one of its more organised days!

Here are a few suggestions on what you can make.

Carton Castle

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Materials used for the carton castle 

Made entirely from cardboard packaging, this castle is still going strong a few months later. The seven year old is obsessed with all things knights and castles so when I saw this packaging (in my mind it resembles a portcullis), I knew that it would make an ideal castle. Sometimes you just need to be a little bit creative with the way you view the raw materials!

We painted it with grey and brown acrylic, along with some glue and glitter. All the parts are loose, which means that the seven year old can redesign his castle whenever he wants.

Sensory Bottles

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We made these sensory bottles for Valentine’s Day.

These are one of my favourite things to make for grisly toddlers. Otherwise known as ‘calm down’ bottles, they certainly do the trick when other toys fail.

All you need is a plastic bottle (pictured is a plastic Voss bottle), a couple of tablespoons of glycerine, water and glitter.

Fill the bottle up half way with water, then add the glycerine and glitter into the mix. Add more water to just below the top and screw on the lid. Give the bottle a little test to see if you like what you’ve made before gluing the lid shut. Simple!

 

Food Pouch Flowers

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Daffodils made from lids for Saint David’s Day

If you’re anything like us, you’ll probably have billions of food pouch lids from baby food. We’ve kept them all and they’re great for making pictures, fine motor skills (threading) and counting too. In fact, this has just given me material for another post!

 

Paper Plate Masks

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A bear mask made entirely from recyclables

We usually have way too many paper plates left over from birthday parties – we discovered that they make really cute masks. This bear mask was made from a coffee cup lid and scraps of card. All we did was dab a mix of various brown acrylics onto the mask and stick everything together with craft glue.

We had great fun running around The National Arboretum one sunny Sunday afternoon, pretending we were going on our own Bear Hunt!

Octo-cups

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Happy little octo-cups!

 

When I forget my Keep Cup (naughty!) I try to make myself feel better by holding on to the coffee cups. One of the activities we tried during an ‘Under the Sea’ themed week was to paint and craft the coffee cups into octopus – or octo-cups as we decided to call them.

These cute little octo-cups are a great way of developing fine motor skills (using scissors and glue) with a little bit of creativity thrown into the mix!

Shoe-box Studio

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A collaborative animation filmed inside an old shoe box

If you’re feeling completely ambitious, try making a shoe-box animation studio. We’ve made a few mini films now, which despite their short duration, have taken entire days to make (great for rainy days). We’re new to YouTube, but you can check out one of our films here  There’s plenty of free apps that you can download to make a stop-motion animation – no expensive equipment needed at this level!

 

I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about our suggested ideas. Parenting is an expensive business, so we love to save money by reusing household items wherever possible. Check out our Instagram feed for daily updates on what we do at home – there’s often a recycling element to our activities!

Please comment below to let me know what you think of our ideas or even send me photos of what you’ve tried yourself! 

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Nature Walk Activity Guide 

Nature walks are one of our absolute favourite things to do as a family: they boost well being, provide an easy way to spend time together as a family and as an added bonus, are completely free!

Continue reading Nature Walk Activity Guide 

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Simple Play Dough Recipe

Play dough is a brilliantly versatile play tool that suits a variety of ages. We’ve done a whole heap of activities using our homemade dough, from ‘baking’ cookies to aiding spelling practice.

It’s so simple to make that you won’t even need to bother with the shop bought version again. What’s more, you can adapt the recipe to suit your theme.

You will need:

– 2 cups of plain white flour

– ½ cup of salt

– 2tbsp cream tartar

– 2 tbsp olive oil

– 2 cups of water (to be added gradually)

Method

  • Add all of the ingredients to a food processor, with the exception of the water. At first the mixture will almost look like breadcrumbs.
  • Pour water into the mix as the final part of the process.
  • Add up to 2 cups of water GRADUALLY.
  • Store in an airtight container.

This recipe will make a very basic play dough recipe, but to jazz it up add food colouring, food essence, glitter or even glycerine. Just be mindful to adjust the water quantity accordingly.

Themes to try:

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Valentine’s dough made with rose petals, rosewater and pink food colouring
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Mix colours together to form a marble dough.
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Ginger cookies made this dough smell delicious! We used the dough as part of a re-telling of ‘The Gingerbread Man.’
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Match your dough to the season. We made chocolate and lemon dough for Easter. 

 

Activities to try:

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Manipulate the play dough to spell words. This is also great for developing fine motor skills. 
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Use dough stampers for initial phonics sounds or spellings
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Rolling dough to make ‘cakes’ is another way to develop fine motor skills.
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Dough can be used for role play. Here we made ‘cookies’ to sell in our Easter themed bakery. 

 

I hope that you will try some (or all!) of these dough themes at home with your children. Please comment below if you have any other suggestions for themes. Don’t forget to check in with our Instagram feed for daily updates.