Friday, 9 May 2014

Creative play (1)

Now I'm back to working full-time I do miss those long lazy days of maternity leave when Doof and I had all day, every day to ourselves and could do whatever we liked, with seemingly endless time to fit everything in (FYI this is much easier if you have a baby who wakes at 6am every day... Hmmm). 

So when I have days off now I like to spend them with Doof, both just chilling out enjoying his company and also exploring new things together.

Recently I came across some amazing bloggers who have so many inventive ideas for creative/fun/sensory/messy play. After initially finding one, I then found more and more and more - and with them a whole host of lovely things for Doof and I to try together. There are way too many great ones to name them all but some of my favourites are:

Here are some of the activities we've had fun playing with in the last month:
(Some ideas came from me (but definitely not all as I seem to lack imagination!! Lol), some from a mix of lots of places/amalgamating a collection of thoughts etc and some from a specific blogger - who I always try and link to/credit if I can remember where I first saw the idea)


1. Couscous sandpit

There are hundreds of different things you can use in a "sensory bin". At the moment I try to only use edible materials as Doof is very capable to tucking into anything at any time! As a result I thought couscous was a pretty perfect substitute for sand (apart from the not-being-able-to-stick-together-to-make-sandcastles...). Doof doesn't have a sandpit at home and our garden is too small to house any sand/water pits/activity tables etc so I loved the idea of having a makeshift box we could bring out whenever the weather is nice and he feels like a play.

What we used:
- large cake tupperware
- 1kg bag of couscous
- selection of beach toys (e.g. rake, spade, small bucket)
- selection of toys (e.g. Plastic animals, cars)

So when we had a nice sunny day I put out the couscous tray and all the extra bits on the playmat outside. I showed Doofy what was there and then let him explore. Firstly he was very excited by the rake and spade. Then he tried to fill the bucket up using the spade (this was rather difficult due to the large size of the spade and small size of the bucket!). Next he had fun sprinkling the couscous between his fingers, making couscous rain and burying the animals.

In all he played in his couscous pit for about 10 minutes - which is quite a long time for his attention span!! Then when he had finished I just swept up any spilt couscous back into the tub and then poured it all into a ziplock bag so it's ready for use on another day - super easy :)

2. Rice crispie bin

I decided to try a bit of a variation of the sensory play above and so made a hide-and-seek version.

What we used:
- large box of rice crispies
- empty cardboard box (just happened to be the only thing that was roughly the right size)
- selection of animals/toys

First I got Doof to put all his animals into the box (a good excuse to practice animal noises and encourage tidying!). I then opened the cereal packet and helped D pour all the rice crispies into the box. I'm sure older children could easily do that on their own but Doof's aim is not perfect and I didn't fancy finding crispy bits all over the floor for the next week...

Doof really enjoyed fishing around for the animals, trying to find any that were buried and sampling a fair few rice crispies along the way! It may not have been the greatest idea to do this activity just before lunch when D was already hungry!! Once he had found them all, we reburied them and he found them all again J He happily played for 15 minutes until lunch was ready and I think he would have played for even longer if I’d given him a few more props like a spade or bucket. I thought I’d keep it quite simple though as we only had limited time before lunch.

At the end we had fun tidying up too - Doof took all the animals out and then used a big spoon (actually a vegetable drainer!) to shovel the rice crispies into a ziplock bag. This bit was quite messy with lots of spillage so I'd recommend doing it while still on the playmat/whatever surface is easy for you to sweep clean! We did the whole activity sitting on a sheet so when he was finished I could just pick the sheet up and tip the crumbs/crushed up crispies straight into the bin :)

3. Making Easter cards  

This idea came from Nuture Store - and Doof loved making these cards almost as much as his grandparents enjoyed receiving them :) I also loved the fact that making them involved a while range of different activities – painting, sticking, colouring etc – the variety kept Doof’s attention much longer than a single activity usually would.

What we used:
- coloured card
- rabbit picture (via link)
- chick and sheep cookie cutters
- paints and felt tips
- black/white wool

First I printed off a sheet with the rabbit templates and then let Doof loose with a selection of paints and brushes. He loved sitting at his new little table and painted 3 lovely multi-coloured rabbits. I then cut round the rabbits and Doof spread glue on the back of each and stuck one on the front of each card. Inside each card we traced around a chick cookie cutter on one side and a lamb cookie cutter on the other (D tried to help a bit with this but it was really far too fiddly for him). He then coloured in the chicks with felt tips – on one he even managed to accidentally draw a pretty realistic-looking wing! I then cut some long lengths of wool which he then stuck to the lambs (this bit was a bit messy as we had to use PVC glue to make it stick…). The finishing touch was adding a pompom as the rabbit’s tail and writing a message inside :)

We spread this activity out over a whole afternoon which was perfect for Doof as it meant he could spend as much time as he liked on each separate portion and we had little “play breaks” in between so he didn’t feel at any point that he was *having* to do a particular thing. Of course if your toddler if more focused or a bit older they could make these cards in a much shorter time period!!


If any of these have given you ideas for future play then we’d love to hear about what you get up to and if you have any other ideas for us to try then please leave a comment as I’m always happy to have new inspiration

Next month I’ll post about what new activities we’ve tried :)

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