Some mornings it is completely bonkers in our house. So bonkers that I feel like if I don’t get myself and the children outside immediately then I will completely lose my sanity. Ever feel like that?
Wednesday was one of those mornings and thankfully it did not coincide with a torrential downpour type of morning. So by 9am (it was a no playgroup day) the kids and I were wrapped up warm and out on a walk in the cold foggy morning. And you know what, it was mainly lovely.
LM was being really grizzly but she loves getting out (often presenting me with shoes and coats when to illustrate her point) and Monkey jumped at the chance to go out too. He said he wanted to find conkers. I did point out that it’s not really the time of year for conkers but said we could go to a good conker spot and see what we could find.
It wasn’t too far away and when we got there I let LM out of the buggy for a wander while Monkey and I searched. We found lots of conker shells and half a conker that had been half-eaten presumably by squirrels. No pictures of it though as at this point I wasn’t planning a blog post (bad blogger). Then Monkey found a stick who he decided was “stick man” of course. The kids were very cute wandering round and exploring and it was lovely.
Then LM got grizzly (I did say it was mainly lovely) so it was back in the buggy and on we went. I decided to continue the nature hunt theme though and Monkey and I looked at all the different colour berries and were talking about why the trees were bare etc. It was lovely and LM was enjoying looking at the berries and bits too.
There was the obligatory bit of hide and seek (Monkey loves hiding…. All the time) and LM got out a couple of times too to explore the bushes etc.
It was freezing but lovely and just nice to get out and escape the insanity that being indoors a lot can result in at this time of year!
￼Little Miss turned 14mths a couple of weeks ago but with Christmas and everything I never got round to writing an update. So I thought for a change I would write about what playtime we have been up to instead. One of the things I love most about being a stay at home mum is being able to watch my children learn and grow in front of my eyes. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the drudgery of day to day life, laundry, cleaning etc. and I forget to stop and really pay attention to the way my littlies play and the way they are learning in their playtime.
Little Miss is at such a lovely age, she is so inquisitive and so full of fun, it has it’s challenges of course but I love this stage of development and watching her learn all of the time. Here are a few of the simple playtime ideas I have been using lately to encourage her learning.
At this age toddlers love posting things and sorting things. Monkey was the same at this age so the first few activities are a variation on the same theme really.
Posting in a pringles tube
We rarely have pringles but at Christmas we did and I have kept the tube as it really does make for perfect toddler playtime. LM adores putting things in the tube then either tipping it out to start all over again, or reaching in and taking them out one by one. She can spend ages playing like this, look at the concentration on her little face. It is fascinating to watch her and the things she is learning when she picks up the various objects. For example this gray bit of duplo, instead of grabbing it in one she was fiated on picking it up on the smallest part of it using her pincer grip, and only did it that way which I thought was very cute.
Then when we played it a few days later she was insistent on picking up two objects in her hand at once. It was lovely watching her work out how she needed to change her grip in order to be able to pick up both items at once and she did really well.
Plastic cutlery sorting
LM is randomly a little obsessed with our dishwasher, she always has been and she especially loves the cutlery holder. Now obviously we don’t let her play with it when it has dirty or sharp things in there, but occasionally I will get it out with some of our plastic cutlery as she loves putting the cutlery in and taking it out again.
Also in the kitchen, LM still loves playing in the sink and quite often ‘helps’ with the washing up, splashing about in the sink while I clean up. She does like sorting here though too and likes putting things on the drianing board when she has finished with them.
The good old Tuff Spot comes out for this one as it helps contain the pasta but it’s not essential. Basically I give LM some dried pasta and a few kitchen bits like a measuring jugs, some measuring spoons etc and let her have an explore. She has great fun taking things out of one container and putting them into another, and pouring them out all over the place and again it is lovely to see the concentration on her face. I also thought it was so cute when she started stirring an empty jug with a spoon and then brought it to her face to eat!
Early pretend play
Though obviously she is very young LM does like to get involved with her big brother’s pretend play. She has started to pretend to feed her baby a bottle of milk and when we have teddy bear tea parties she likes giving food and things to her teddies to play with. It’s funny though as she also loves feeding people, whether you want to eat the food she is giving you or not haha!
I also adore it when she is playing with cars, pushing them along the ground and when she makes planes fly through the air copying us doing the same. Adorable.
Hide and seek
One of LM’s absolute favourite games is hide and seek. She loves peeping out at me or me peeping out at her and it is lovely to see her playing with her brother too. It is good for little ones too, teaching them about object permanence, and when we are playing it with a toy I love seeing her trying to work out where it is going to jump out from next.
LM loves books and learns so much from them. She is getting really good at turning the pages herself but she is also learning a lot from the books themselves. Some of her favourites have a lovely rhythm to them and many contain little hidden learning. I really love a peepo book called “Where’s baby’s belly button” where the babies in the storie are hiding certian things, eyes, mouth and belly button. I point out each part of their body on her too and she has now started copying and pointing at her belly button, feet etc. along with the story which I love.
The “That’s not my…” series are so lovely too as they are so touchy feely and she is learning about all sorts of different textures through these stories. Another favourite is Rainbow Rob which as well as being touchy feely also talks a lot about colours and has a great message about being yourself – which is a good lesson in life I think!
Our little lady is well and truly at a climbing age. She gives me heart failure at times but I do think it is important to let her explore, to a certain extent. She is getting really good at climbiing onto the little Ikea chairs we have in the conservatory, and she has been loving climbing ladders at the playpark to reach a slide. She does stumble at times but she tries so hard and like I say, I think it is important for her to learn.
One area I need to be braver with is messy play. By this age Monkey had been exploring in sensory activities like homemade finger painting and playdough etc. but I haven’t been brave enough with LM. I am determined to rectify this soon though so there will be a second instalment of ideas when I do!
The last couple of days the weather has been more what I expect at this time of year, after such a wet and miserable Christmas. We are lucky, I know, that we don’t live somewhere that has been remotely affected by the extreme rainfall and flooding and I am so very grateful for that. Nevertheless the weather has been weird this year, warm and wet! So I have enjoyed the colder turn the last couple of days.
The air has been crisp and fresh and though very cold at times it has been the perfect weather to get out and have some fun with kiddies on a couple of wintry walks.
The first was just us as a family. It didn’t get off to the best start as Hubs asked me to pick up his flask of tea and, not realising it was open, I managed to spill it all very me. Cue one very painful scalded hand. Ouch. But after some cold water and aloe vera we carried on and walked to a nearby shopping centre and then stopped at a park on the way home.
The kids loved being out and about running round like loonies and especially enjoyed the play area.
On New Years day we were out again. My parents popped over and we went for a lovely walk to a park at the local school. There was lots of fun and smiles and larking around before heading home to warm up with some yummy hot soup.
Nice to get out and about and burn off some energy in the fresh wintery air.
So I tried making homemade finger paints about 5 months ago (wow) when monkey was 9 months old and I wasn’t hugely successful. I’m not sure where I went wrong but the paint was a bit too solid and in all honesty, Monkey wasn’t really ready for it anyway. I decided to wait until he was a bit older and give it another go. After the way he was looking at his hands and putting his hands on the sheet during Ice Cube Painting I decided that perhaps the time was now!
I found another recipe on a different blog, here. According to her page, it could have been too gloopy last time because there was too much cornflour in it. Anyway here is the recipe I tried this time, converted into English. (By the way found a great conversion page for translating from cups to metric, here :))
3 tbsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Cornflour (65g)
2 cups water (480ml)
Put all the ingredients into a saucepan, warm until it thickens. Cool and pour into containers (I used empty baby food jars that I have been saving for ages till I was ready to try this again). Add food colouring. I used mainly gel food colouring this time to get stronger colours so we’ll see how much it stains hands and clothing etc!
The mixture seemed a bit better this time although when I opened the jars a day or two later it had solidified and I had to give it a good star to mush it into more paint like consistency. I used an old wooden chopstick for this rather than a spoon in the tiny jars.
I tried him with just three colours at first, and just on his highchair tray, rather than with paper, to see how he got on. He really enjoyed it! Smooshing the colours all around, making patterns by hitting the tray and he was really interested in the paint on his hands. It did stain his hands purple for a few hours but after some playtime in sand water outside it was gone. It also came off the highchair, and even our nice wooden table when a little bit got on to there, so I was very pleased about that!
The next time I gave him some paper too so he could do handprints but honestly I don’t think he was bothered whether there was paper there or not! He still had fun though so great activity at this age, even if it does make a fair bit of mess!
I wrote this post in the summer, when Monkey was 14 months old, but it seems apt for the theme of ‘Play’ for this week’s The Theme Game:
Right it is time to be honest here, keeping a little one entertained for longer than a few minutes at a time is practically impossible. I was going to say 5 minutes but hubby felt (and I agreed) that 5 mins was too ambitious, so a few minutes is more realistic. If you have read much of my blog you will know that I am trying out a lot of different play ideas with my monkey. He is constantly on the go and looking for things to do so I try really hard to find knew ways for him to learn through play.
I spend a lot of time (in short bursts between looking after monkey and trying to keep the house clean-ish) perusing the internet, via pinterest, other blogs and baby sites to get ideas. I read books and was even given a set of cards with things to do. Many of the ideas are common sense, such as ‘go outside’. Honestly I spend so much time outside as there is free entertainment out there in the form of oh, daisies, stones, mud … anything on the ground….. But these places do come up with some gems that I like to try out but really you have no idea if your little one will be ready for it developmentally, or will get bored uber quickly, or like it, until their attention is taken by something else.
Because, in reality, to fill a day of playing at home, you have to try out so many different things. In the space of an hour yesterday, we did some finger painting, played with play-doh, danced around to some music, played with the clothes pegs (basically spreading them around the room while I tried in vain to get him to “put them back” which I know he understands but complies with intermittently) played with his new kitchen, used mummy as a climbing frame, went in the garden (even though it was starting to rain, I was getting desperate) and played in the very wet sand pit, dug in the dirt, played in the sand and water a bit more, then as he was now filthy and it was nearly nap time, had a bit of a play sorting bottles out in the bath while I washed off the debris from playtime.
Whilst all this is happening I’m also trying to clean up the mess made my some of these activities, scrubbing a potential stain from the finger paints on our lovely dining table (I hadn’t realised he’d got paint on the bottom of his drink bottle until after it had sat on the table for a few mins – thankfully it came off though), trying to pick up all the teeny bits of play-doh off the floor as he likes too tear it up and spread it around the room (we confine this activity to the conservatory thankfully so it doesn’t get walked through the house), pull play-doh out of my hair and pick up the clothes pegs (until he sees they are back in the basket and decides to up-end it again -this was the point that we went outside). I’m sure this is all sounding very very familiar to the other mummies out there!
An hour or so of this I am ok with, but when faced with an entire day at home is it any wonder I go wibbly at the knees? It is fun, don’t get me wrong, but oh, so, tiring. Hence, this morning when my friend text me at 7:30am (I know if I get a text at this time of the morning that it will be another mummy) and suggested we go to the park for the day, I jumped at the chance! I had been sat contemplating my options for the day ahead and was relieved to be able to go and entertain him outside on the play area, in the sand pit and in the paddling pool there. Of course I also take stickers, a ball and other toys for when he is bored of those activities! Plus it is nice to have a good natter with my friend and talk about our ups and downs, much more fun than taking the monkey on my own. He is making lots of word-like sounds at the moment but as yet he is not much of a conversationalist.
My point, ah yes, I don’t really have one, other than to any other mummy who puts in the effort of making homemade paints, play-doh etc, only to have the little one play for a couple of mins at a time, you are not alone! I have found lots of places to find the ideas of things to do, but very few people realistically saying, that this may entertain them for a max of 5 minutes. Who knows, maybe it is just my Monkey, maybe he is going to grow up to have ADHD or something? Though I have read that a short attention span is normal so I hope not. Either way though I will continue to try things out as I know that eventually he will play longer by himself and be occupied by something for a slightly longer period. Bring on that day is all I can say
Some time ago when browsing Pinterest for things to do with the Monkey (thanks Jocelyn for suggesting it, there are so many ideas on there) I cam across a picture of people Ice cube painting. Now when I said that to hubby he thought I meant painting onto ice cubes, which, lets face it, would be a bit ridiculous and pointless. Nope, ice cube painting is painting with ice cubes. The blog I read talked about mixing some paint with water and freezing it. I thought that food colouring would work just as well, and be safe for monkey, and have been waiting to have a go.
Now it is the summer holidays and none of our baby classes are running for a couple of months we do have a bit more spare time to feel so I set about making up some coloured ice. I used a mixture of gel and liquid food colouring as I wasn’t sure how they would turn out. I used a bit too much of the pink gel one to start with (see the really dark coloured ones!) and learnt as I went along, anyway, I think they turned out ok in the end.
Before being frozen
Ice cube paints, ready to go
I have seen recently pictures where people have frozen them with lollipop sticks in so you can have a handle, and I can see how that would work, but I didn’t have any, and I also am not sure if Monkey would then think it was an Ice lolly!
As it was so hot today and we were at a bit of a loose end this morning I decided this would be the perfect time to give it a go. I just got a few ice cubes out in case he hated it, as he does take a few tries at some things, and decided to use an old sheet to paint on, as I guess paper would go soggy pretty quickly!
Monkey actually took to it pretty quickly. He finds ice lollies quite amusing and I think he had the same kind of feeling with the ice cubes. One of them turned his hands a bit blue which he found really interesting, and he then pressed his hands onto the sheet (makes me think it’s time to try finger paints again).
He played with it a bit and then wandered off to do something else, and then came back again. Let’s face it, at this age, attention spans of more than a few minutes at a time is good going and he did definitely enjoy it so we shall be doing it again I am sure.