Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Sibling Play

Who else finds this hard to achieve when it comes to play? My girls are 21 months apart so very soon will be able to do lots of activities together but right now at 7 months and just over 2 years the difference in their abilities and interests feels big.
Before Christmas on my Instagram page I did a series of posts sharing ideas for sibling play,  #12daysofsiblingplay. This is a summary of these ideas as well as few tried and tested favourites. 

·         Messy or Sensory Play
Please remember, when doing messy or sensory play with a baby remember to consider that everything that is made available could be put in their mouth so make sure it’s not a choking risk or unsuitable to possibly ingest. 

I put together this tray of tissue paper circles/confetti, some containers and utensils. My youngest, 7 months at the time, did try to shove some confetti in her mouth, I was closely supervising throughout so just distracted her and took it out her hand. It’s a nice party or celebration activity. 
More of a festive one but could be adapted to make edible moon sand, baby safe fake snow. I really wanted to do fake snow in the run up to Christmas with the girls but didn't feel comfortable using anything that wasn't truly taste safe. So, in the end I made this.... baby rice and coconut oil! I did 1 cup of baby rice to 1/4 of a cup of melted coconut oil but I think next time I'll add a bit more so it holds a shape a little better. Needless to say, they both loved this and it was very messy although a quick hoover got the worst it does get everywhere!! 

Rice play. We love coloured rice; the girls spend ages playing with it and it's so nice to see them enjoying something like this together. Coloured rice keeps for ages in a sealed container, I dye mine with paint and it takes 5 minutes, and is a great resource to have for play. You can use it in lots of different ways, the tray below is a festive themed set up but you could add a tea set, pots, pans, utensils, funnels, different size containers, cupcake cases- there are almost endless possibilities!
Lights. I have a stash of glow sticks that I get out not too often so the excitement doesn’t wear off but its excellent for dark winter afternoons! You can play games by making them into hoops, pop them into a clear bottle or small box to act as a do-it-yourself light box or just get some music on and do some dancing!

·         Cars or Trains
Using washi tape set up you can make a road/runway for the cars using washi tape and extend play by making cardboard box garages or adding bridges or tunnels.  

·         Nursery Rhymes
Grab some prompts for nursery rhymes and musical instruments, to add a bit of interest for toddlers with a short attention span! As they get older, they can guess the song from the prompt too. For babies, there is lots to explore and singing can be enjoyed by even the tiniest of babies. Prompts could be things like; a star for twinkle twinkle little star, a sheep for baa baa black sheep, a rabbit for sleeping bunnies, farm animals for Old MacDonald etc. 
·         Blocks
Wooden blocks to build towers, duplo or mega blocks can all be safely enjoyed by babies as well as providing enough interest and stimulation for toddlers. 
·         Reading
We love reading stories together and it’s a really lovely way for children to share an activity right from day 1. I tend to have a mixture of books with lift the flap, noisy books and we also visit our local library regularly to try some different books. Story sacks, are also a great way to bring a book to life for a baby or toddler. I have done a few now and they’ve all been a big hit and take only a couple of minutes to put together. I put all the items linked to the story in a small cloth bag and then ask my toddler to pick out the items as they appear in the story. Some easy books to replicate this with are Oh Dear, The Gruffalo and We’re going on a Bear hunt. But you could adapt it to lots of children’s books. 

·         Teddy Bears Picnic
My two love this and the littlest gets served her own (pretend) food to eat at the picnic which she dutifully gnaws at.

·         Treasure baskets/trays
I love these as they can both explore as they wish. Choose a theme and remember if its for a baby everything will go in their mouth! They are also super quick to set up and tidy away. Colour based treasure baskets are quick and easy to put together, The example below is red and green, as it was December, add in a pair of jumbo tweezers for some fine motor skill practice for toddlers. I also added the muffin tin to give an opportunity for sorting and playing with sizes and space. 
They both enjoy treasure baskets and play in different ways which you expect given their ages. Baby was exploring, looking at things, putting them in her mouth, trying to pick things up etc. My 2-year-old had a go with the tweezers and then recognised some parts of a wooden caterpillar puzzle we had and went off to find the other bits. She then brought all the wooden blocks over and started picking out green ones. This could be adapted for different themes e.g. Other colours, different balls, different animals whatever you want to go with or follow your child(rens) interests.

What are your favourite easy sibling play ideas?

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Toddler art and craft essential supplies

With Christmas only a couple of weeks away and the weather getting increasingly cold and wet inevitably families will be spending more time indoors and whilst scouring the internet for ideas to keep your little ones busy you may stumble across a range of ideas for arts and crafts. These ideas can vary from inspired to inspirational and the list of items needed to complete the later can be enough to put you off. 
However, a well stocked arts and crafts box needn't be expensive or intimidating and can hopefully open up a wide range of easy and fun activities for your toddler. 
Arts and crafts materials make ideal stocking fillers and are relatively cheap but will provide hours of entertainment in a multitude of different ways. My essentials are 

  • Pom poms
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Paint- I have washable crayola paints (touch wood they've kept their promise!) and paint sticks (Little Brian ones are amazing!)   
  • Feathers
  • Googly eyes
  • Tissue paper
  • Sticky back plastic 
  • Glue- glue stick and a pot of PVA 
  • Foam and felt sheets 
  • Craft sticks
  • Stamps- self inking or with an ink pads
  • Stickers- we have lots but basic coloured ones as well as themed or character ones are always in my craft box 
  • Paper- I get a big roll of white paper for colouring, ikea or b&m both have these for a very reasonable price, and packs of coloured paper and card in both A3 and A4 size
  • Play dough- we have ready made play doh and also the ingredients to make play dough- I like the no cook play dough from the Imagination Tree and colour with gel food colouring 
  • Tools for playdough- we have a selection of rolling pins, stamps, wheel cutters and biscuit cutters
  • Tools for painting – we have a bag of foam rollers, sponge dappers and brushes for painting but also use a range of items including cotton buds, biscuit cutters and potatoes
  • Craft kits- I usually have a couple of craft kits that have everything in you need to make the project Baker Ross do a lovely selection and I recently got a few with a Toucan box
  • Paper plates- there are so many things you can make with paper plates!
  • Loose parts- we currently have conkers, buttons, seashells, party streamers, a few small stones.  All the little treasures you find when out and about can be repurposed. With little ones, under 3, I'd be very cautious about small items such as beads because of choking but once you are confident they are not putting things in their mouth then there's loads of possibilities- water beads look brilliant and of course sequins, plastic or wooden beads and charms. The list is almost endless! 
Most of these items can be picked up very cheaply in wilko, home bargains, the works, pound shops, bigger supermarkets or on Amazon. if you want to order in bigger quanities Baker Ross has a huge selection of items for reasonable prices. 

Don't forget to utlitise items you already have around the house for arts and crafts activities too. 

Kitchen; utensils especially potato mashers and forks are great for painting and mark making in playdough, straws can be used for a variety of crafts and cut up are good as an addition to a playdough set up, tin foil is fun to paint on as an alternative to paper or card, fruit and vegetables are good for painting with as an alternative tool or stamp, the recycling box contains lots of potentially useful items for arts and crafts activities keep a few egg boxes, toilet roll tubes, small plastic pots so you have some available when you want them.
Bathroom; cotton buds make a nice tool for painting, shaving foam can be used to make 'puffy' paint which is a bit different, sponges can be cut for stamping with paint 
Bedroom; old clothes can provide a good coverup or you could even personalise a t shirt if you get some fabric paint sticks 
Garden; sticks, leaves, flowers and small stones are all great for painting and playdough and add an extra element for toddlers. 

Things to do with 2 under 2 - A guest blog post

I was fortunate enough to do a blog post for the fabulous Claire at play hooray. You can read it here: