Our kids love cooking up meals in their play kitchen, and one of their greatest pleasures is mixing up the ingredients. We’ve had great fun stocking their kitchen with all sorts of little bits and pieces that can be stirred in a mini cooking pan with a handful of other things; pompoms for meatballs; soy sauce fish containers for, er, fish; strands of wool for spaghetti, and so on. I’m always on the lookout for new things to include! The other day I had an absolute brainwave, and came up with this easy-peasy, quick, and essentially FREE way to make these fabulous play-food sliced mushrooms. Want to make some DIY play food too? Read on!
There is magic in puddles that seems to call to all children. In the rain, or after, it’s a rare child who can resist the urge to stomp, splash, swish and splatter through them, regardless of whether or not they’re wearing their wellies. It’s a well known kid fact that it’s really not a successful puddle jump if you don’t come out of it with soaking socks.
Playing in puddles is one of those great activities that requires little or no preparation – other than pulling on those wellies and a rain mac – and most of the time my kids are happy to play in them without interference from me. Should puddle ennui set in, though, we can always find further fun with these simple alternate games.
After the rain has stopped and the pavement starts to dry out, try making wet footprints from puddle water. We love making footprint trails to follow, patterns and even letters and words using puddle water as paint.
We are big fans of ‘Singing in the Rain’, and twirling our umbrellas in a Gene Kelly homage. There are a ton of other rain related songs and nursery rhymes to try if 50’s musicals aren’t your thing – classics such as ‘it’s raining, it’s pouring’, ‘raindrops keep falling on my head’ and ‘I Hear Thunder’; but don’t forget the many pop songs too – the chorus to Rihanna’s Umbrella song, for example, is one of our favourites and another good one for umbrella dancing.
Both our kids were awed by the admittedly awesome video for Kate Bush’s song ‘Cloud Busting’, and since watching that, another favourite game of ours is to play with making the weather. We catch reflections of clouds in puddles, and smash them to pieces with big, splashy jumps. We’ll also twirl them into tornados by spinning round and round, or make the rain fall with a rain dance. G-Man likes to raid the kitchen to borrow the hand whisk, which he insists is his very own cloud making machine.
Not got rain shoes on? Play another of our favourites, the Puddle Vaulting game. Jump over each puddle, making sure not to make a splash. Amp up the peril by filling the puddles with sharks, piranhas, water goblins, or lava. Whatever you do, don’t get wet!
We sometimes use the boules set, or pebbles if we’re out and about, and then stand back to toss them into the puddles. We like to see who can get their pebble closest to the target, or who can make the biggest splash! We also love trying to count the ripples as they spread, and tossing several at the same time to make beautiful overlapping patterns.
When the puddles are in the garden, we turn them into landscapes by drawing around them with chalk and adding props like mini dinosaurs or farm animals. Draw a red chalk border, and the puddle becomes a Martian lake; yellow or white can be a tropical beach or a desert oasis. Natural elements like rocks, twigs and leaves make great scenery. Muddy puddles are perfect for Peppa Pig and friends.
Who can play with water without floating something on it? Not my kids! Leaves, sticks, feathers and flowers – all sorts of found-things have been set adrift on puddles by my guys. We’ve even made paper boats, twig rafts and cork ships to try out on the bigger puddles.
These are just some of the things that we’ve done on wet days, and every rainy day excursion with the kids leads to them creating new games and imaginative play – I’m constantly amazed at their inventiveness. So don’t let grey days trap you in the house and get you down; get on your wellies, wrap up warm, and go have some fun!
What are treasure baskets, and how do they benefit our children? In my own experience, treasure baskets are one of the most valuable experiences we can offer our babies, so here is a brief explanation to help you get to grips with these ideas, and some practical tips on getting started!
Inspired by Fun-A-Day’s ‘Rescue Han Solo Lego science experiment’, we had to include the iconic rescue scene as part of our party activities. A dozen or so little Star Wars Galactic Heroes figures were duly frozen in carbonite (baking soda and water, with a squirt or two of paint and washing-up liquid), for our intrepid freedom-fighters to thaw out.
One of the many wonderful community events run in our local neighbourhood is the annual scarecrow parade that takes place every September. This year, I really wanted to get involved and so corralled some of my friends and neighbours on our street into doing our scarecrows on the same theme. In honour of this year’s 150th anniversary of the publication of the book, we themed our scarecrows around Alice in Wonderland.
Serving up Conker Soup and Pinecone Stew
Autumn is my favourite time of year, but even so there can be times when the days are grey and gloomy. At times like that, I often set up a pretend picnic for T-Bird and her toys that I put together from colourful finds we pick up on the school run. She loves it so much, she calls it a party!
I’m not a lover of keeping our toddler confined to her highchair during the day (though I’d absolutely LOVE it if she would last a whole night in her cot), but there are times when I need to keep our little trouble-magnet in her chair just for a short while. Meal times, for example, or when everything is going crazy and I just need ten minutes where I know she’s in a safe place while I keep stirring that risotto….
T-Bird is currently unable to resist posting things at the moment, and so it seemed only fitting that I dug out G-Man’s old, handmade and now-slightly-tatty, play postbox for her to play with.
Revamping a DIY Sorting and Counting Toy
As T-Bird is getting older and has now thoroughly mastered the challenges of our DIY baby toy, the Hoop Tree, I wanted to spice things up a bit by injecting some colour and adding a colour matching/sorting game element. I considered painting the hoops and branches, but that would have been far to much work. Being lazy, I went for a quick ‘n’ dirty fix instead. We already have some larger wooden rings decorated with trailing ribbons, so, to make these a little different, this time I went with washi tape