Ice Excavating with Monkey, age 4

Like many children his age, Monkey is constantly on the go and really interested in the world around him. The questions are endless and I am always trying to find new fun things to do with him, that he will be interested in. After seeing some programme about fossils on the tv I decided to have a go at an activity that has been on my to do list for ages, ice excavating!

It’s a dead simple activity and while I think most people excavate dinosaur toys out of the ice, we don’t actually have any so I just found some other rubbery toys that I thought would survive freezing, and a few jewels and set to work. In a big tupperware I popped a few toys in a bit of water and froze it for a few hours. Once that layer had frozen I added more water and more toys and then left the whole thing in the freezer overnight ready for Mummy & Monkey time.

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The next day Monkey and I set to work. We set up in the tuff spot inside as the weather outside wasn’t great, popped the ice block into a big roasting tin and set to work trying to melt the ice and free the toys using some jugs of water, a couple of teaspoons and some table salt.PhotoGrid_1468231854163

As you can see Monkey absolutely loved every minute. There was so much to talk about too which was great for his vocabulary.PhotoGrid_1468232031232

Definitely a lot of fun and will repeat it over the holidays if we have a warm day I think as then the ice will melt even faster! As it was this kept us going for about an hour and there was still ice left afterwards.

Have you tried ice excavating before?

#ToddlerApprovedTuesday

Monkey’s first day at playgroup!

This week was a big day for us as it was Monkey’s first day at playgroup! Looking after Monkey, raising him and teaching him about the world has been my job since he was born. It is why I wanted to be a SAHM and I feel privileged that I have been able to do so for this long. However there are many reasons why we think it will be good for him to go to playgroup. One day he will have to go to school and we want to be able to ease him into it, first of all with a couple of days of playgroup, then preschool before he starts school. The local playgroup generally feeds into the local school so our hope is that he will make friends at playgroup and pre-school and that they will move up together to school one day.

Making friends is the biggest reason we have been keen for him to go to playgroup as although he sees my friends’ children, with jobs and other commitments he doesn’t see them quite so often anymore and it would be nice for him to have more time playing with other children. But he has never been left without me, hubs or his grandparents before so we knew it would be a big change for him, and for us, for him to be in someone else’s care.

He was originally due to start in November, when he was 2 1/2, but with LM being born we didn’t want to make such a big change at that time, as we didn’t want him to feel that he was being taken there because  she was here. So we delayed his start date until after Christmas as we felt that would be the best time for a new start to the routine, and Friday afternoon was his first day.

WP_20150109_18_57_43_ProWe had been trying to prepare him and help him feel enthusiastic and excited about starting playgroup in the run up to the big day. We were recommended a lovely book by a friend who had used it with her son to help him prepare for playgroup, “Lulu Loves Nursery.”* We substituted the word nursery for playgroup but it is a really lovely book and talks about how Lulu is worried about being without her mummy, and feels shy at first, but then decides to be brave and she really loves her day at nursery. It is a great book and also comes with a certificate you can fill out and give to them at the end of their first day.

Monkey absolutely adores this book and we have been reading it over and over since we gave it to him, it has definitely helped Monkey with the concept of me leaving him there but coming back again afterwards. It has also helped that our playgroup provided a little leaflet, which reads like a story, about all of the things you can do there.

The big day dawned and we had a fairly quiet morning at home to make sure he was well rested. Daddy didn’t want to miss it so he came home and we all went off to playgroup together. Monkey had his little backpack on and was dead excited, running basically all the way there and dragging Daddy along! We got there much quicker than I thought we would have actually so had to wait outside for a little while!

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When it was time to go in, Monkey was straight in there, playing with puzzles, he didn’t seem bothered about us at all. We decided not to hang about too long so said our goodbyes after a few minutes and headed out. He only gave us cursory hugs and goodbyes, but as we were leaving we did see a bit of a sad fac, though we heard no cries and saw no tears.

We were both a bit on edge that afternoon, though I think because I still had LM to deal with I was a little less anxious than hubs who was back at work, unable to focus! I did keep an eye on my phone though in case they called but we heard nothing. When we went to collect him the staff said that he had been a little upset, and cried a few times, but that they had been able to distract him with books and toys each time and he had got over his tears.

At the end of the session they have all the children sat together to wait for their parents and then call them out one by one to us parents who are waiting in the foyer, though they can’t see us. I didn’t really know how they did it and if I had I would have asked if he could come out first, but I didn’t so they called out 4 or 5 other children before calling him out, so by the time he came out to us he was very unhappy again. I can understand it as from his perspective, sitting there waiting for mummy and daddy, watching other children go out to their parents, wondering if we were coming for him, it must have been pretty scary.

WP_20150111_11_11_05_ProWe had big cuddles though and he said he enjoyed himself. He showed us the fab picture he made and was excited about the fact he had been using glue.He was telling us about the books he had read and the friend he had played with (I’m not sure he actually did play with this little boy or just said it because we had talked about him beforehand) and within a few yards he said “I love playgroup” which we took as a very positive sign. In fact he even asked me if he could go playgroup again the next day, which is another very good sign. We stopped for an ice cream on the way home (as they do in “Lulu Loves Nursery“*) and he very pleased with his certificate from his  book :)

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I am expecting more tears on Monday, potentially even when I drop him off, and probably for a few more times, but hopefully he is off to a good start and it well get easier and easier the more he gets used to the playgroup, the staff and the other children. Fingers crossed anyway! But for now I am just a proud mama and think he did so so well for his first day!

Linking up to:

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We're going on an adventure
#ToddlerApprovedTuesday
Ethans Escapades

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Mini Creations

with his first ever picture from playgroup :)

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Educational TV for Toddlers

Guidelines recommend that children under 2 watch no TV at all and toddlers watch no more than 2 hours of TV a day, but how realistic is this really? I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with a bit of telly. I’m not about to dump Monkey in front of the TV all day every day, and to be honest he is so full of energy he would get bored with it anyway. We get out and about a lot, read books, do crafts and all sorts of things, but there are times of the day when the TV is very useful as it keeps him entertained while I get on with some other things. This is especially true since Little Miss arrived!

Am I wrong though? Am I neglecting my child or being a bad mum because he watches a few hours of TV spread throughout the day? In an article I read a while ago, Dr Trina Hinckley said TV viewing can be ‘harmful to children’s physical and mental health’ speaking specifically about children under 4. She said that although parents think that TV programmes help children with learning language etc, that this is not true according to research.
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