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The Creative Play A-Z

Are you looking for a more creative approach to playtime?

Play doesn’t have to mean expensive wooden toys or elaborate set ups. Playtime should mean spending quality time together. Quit trawling Pinterest and Instagram for creative activities to do with your little ones and let me be your guide instead!

Featuring over 40 activities and recipes, The Creative Play A-Z is the ultimate starter guide for parents and carers who want to introduce a creative approach to play – all for the price of a couple of coffees!

For each letter of the alphabet, a new theme is introduced along with an activity idea and how to make or create it. The activities featured are intended for children aged between 2-4.  You can test out the free sample here.

Why Creative Play?

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Every day the kids and I are engaged in some element of creative play. We paint, get messy, draw, play make-believe games and generally have a lot of fun!

Each time we play, I see developmental leaps –  speech gets clearer,  imagination blossoms and motor skills get a little sharper with every activity. This isn’t me showing off my children’s’ abilities; this is simply what happens by engaging in play together.

We love bonding over play activities or creating a huge arty mess. It makes the days a lot more fun for all of us and I know that the same can be true for you too. Continue reading The Creative Play A-Z

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10 sensory bottles to try

Sensory bottles are an absolute winner in our house. They are engaging, easy to make and perhaps most importantly, don’t cause a huge mess like other forms of sensory play.

The bottles featured in this post are all plastic Voss bottles. We personally prefer this brand because they are pretty versatile: you can see clearly through them.

With the exception of the bottle filled with water, it’s important to note that the lids are glued in place. This is because these bottles are intended for babies and toddlers.*

Here are ten sensory bottles to try at home. In most cases, you probably already have most of the materials at home already. All of them are suitable as a tummy time activity (from when your baby is old enough to reach and grab) or as an educational tool for slightly older children. Continue reading 10 sensory bottles to try

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5 ideas for tummy time

The very early days and months with baby are HARD. You’re tired and your bub will probably sleep a lot but almost definitely not at night. The midwives and healthcare visitors will encourage you to do ‘tummy time’ but that’s sometimes easier said than done.

Tummy time helps babies to strengthen their head and neck although initially, they won’t be able to lift their head at all. That comes with time. So if you’re reading this and your baby is very new, try very short intervals of tummy time a few times a day.

Once your baby begins to show interest in the world around them, here are some ideas to try that will make tummy time more engaging. Continue reading 5 ideas for tummy time

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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…

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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.