Wow hasn’t it been a hot one this week? My social media feeds have been full of sunny scenes; blue skies, paddling pools, ice creams and lots of smiles. There has also been plenty of moaning about the heat which amuses me given that a week ago many of us were moaning about our lack of summer. But hey, we’re British and moaning about the weather is just what we do. Plus it has been seriously hot!
So what else to do than to try and find ways of keeping cool. Fans in bedrooms, ice on temples, ice lollies, oh and of course playing with water in the garden. I love our garden, we’ve put in a tonne of effort to get to this point and now it just such a lovely place to be. I also really love our gazebo as it provides us with some much needed shade on these hot hot days. Because pictures speak louder than words, instead of rambling on, I will show you how much fun we’ve been having outside this week.
So at the end of a summers day this is what my garden should like. Covered in abandoned toys, with sand and water everywhere. Miscellaneous items of clothing and towels strewn across chairs to dry and just general detritus left about. Evidence of a lot of fun had outside, and evidence that I have enjoyed it as much as my kids have rather than constantly cleaning up after them.
Sometimes Monkey announces he wants to make something with me and after much head scratching I either a) give it a go and fail massively, producing something really rubbish, or b) persuade him that doing something else would actually much more fun and seriously hope he forgets his idea.
Other times, he says he wants to make something, and a flash of inspiration strikes. Thankfully this is what happened when Monkey announced last week that he wanted to make a Go-jetters Jet Pack last week. Becuase the feedback on social media and here has been so positive about said jet-pack I thought I would share the very simple method of making it.
1. Raid your recycling bin/junk modelling supplies to find the following.
A large cereal box,
2 empty pop bottles (2ltr) and lids
2 toilet rolls
2. Cut the tops off the bottles and the bottom from the cereal box. Insert into cereal box and affix as best you can with Duck tape. (Try not to get too annoyed with tape sticking everywhere but where you want it to).
3. Mix Paint with PVA glue to make it stick to the glossy cereal box and help your preschooler paint everything.
4.While the paint it still wet stick the toilet rolls onto the front of the box.
5.When the paint is dry stick stickers and the pop bottle lids on to the front as buttons.
6. Try and make some kind of straps. I did this using another random bit of cardboard and loads of duck tape to widen the back as the cereal box was a bit narrow. Attach to this some long bits of paper and find something else in your to use to do up the straps. I randoml had some little velcro fasteners which work quite well. (I haven’t made too much about the straps as they are possibly the worst thought out part of our creation and advise you to try and find your own way of making the straps.)
7. Stuff some strips of red yellow and orange tissue paper inside the toilet rolls to be fire.
8. Watch your child blast around the garden so happy to be alive and wearing a jet pack and chuckle at their poses while they model it to perfection.
I wrote recently about how I felt like I babied my Little Miss a little. I seem to forget that she is growing all of the time and I realised that I have held back from doing certain activities as I have felt she is “too young” when she isn’t really. So I have been doing what I can to remedy that and trying to be more creative and braver with what I do with her – including, dun dun dun, letting her loose with the paints. We did some water painting in the garden a few days previously and she was great with the brush so I knew she was ready to have a go with the real thing too.
We started off simple, just one or two colours – I went for blue and purple as I thought the least food-like colours would be the best idea to prevent any paint from ending up in her mouth! It was so cute seeing her dabbing the paintbrush in the paint and on the paper, she really is growing up!
She started to explore the paint with her fingers, obviously, and I added a few more colours. There was a moment where a pink paint covered finger started to make its way towards her mouth but A quick but stern “no” thankfully stopped it in it’s tracks!
She soon ended up with full on hand prints but she was loving every minute and I have to admit I loved watching her, despite the inevitable mess!
She kept wanting more and more paint and seemed to be getting overwhelmed and frustrated so unfortunately we had to call time and head to the kitchen for the clean up operation so it didn’t end amazingly happily, but I know it was a good learning experience for her and lets face it, the first of many, many, many painting sessions to come!
Just because I think she is incredibly cute, here is a little clip of her enjoying her painting session
This is an activity I have wanted to do with Monkey for a long time but have wanted to make sure he was ready for it. I remember doing it as a kid and thinking it was brilliant, and we’ll let’s face it what kid doesn’t like blowing bubbles in their drink when using a straw?
I wanted to make sure Monkey fully understood the difference between sucking and blowing though so that he didn’t swallow a shed load of paint… As I’m sure that would not be good for him! After a bit of practice blowing into a cup of water it was clear he was ready and we set to it.
You don’t need much in the cup, just a couple of squirts of paint, a squirt of washing up liquid and a splash of water and you’re off. Bubble blowing time!
I had the feeling this activity was going to get a bit messy so we moved onto a waterproof mat. Normally this would be a tuff spot activity but ahem I may have been a lazy mummy and the tuff spot may be in the garden full of sand and um rain water. Ahem. So thank goodness for a waterproof mat. It is safe to say that Monkey absolutely loved this activity. He thought the bubble blowing was brilliant.
I love the effect you get when you print the bubbles onto the paper.
In truth though it was mainly me which liked actually making pictures with the bubbles… Monkey was content just blowing bubbles and then rubbing his hands in the bubbles haha. He looks so happy though don’t you think?
We did have one sucking incident which was my fault, I was trying to explain that he should take a deep breath and then do a big blow, but didn’t quite understand and ended up with a bit of a yellow mouth! Bless him we got it out straight away but he said it didn’t taste very nice!
Other than that though it was very successful and the most fun Monkey and I have had the two of us in ages. Lovely to see him so happy.
Messy play. For many of us parents it’s a love/hate thing. Either you enjoy doing it with your kids or you point blank refuse to deal with the mess. I do like doing messy play but it doesn’t always (or even very often) go the way I hope. I have in fact had some disastrous messy play experiences over the last week or so, so I feel suitably qualified to share with you a guide to ensuring that messy play goes very badly indeed and stresses you out enormously.
1. Do zero preparation.
Tell your kids about a fantastic idea before you have even thought about how possible it is, whether you even have the right ingredients or considered how long it takes to prepare. Cue kids whining and clinging while you try and gather ingredients and get it all ready. This does not get messy play off to a good start and you are stressed before you even begin. Brilliant.
2. Don’t think about your child and whether it is right for them.
Even if you know your child doesn’t like getting sticky or wet, set then up with some jelly messy play and see how it goes. Why not eh? Of course there’s no chance they will act true to form and refuse to participate because “I don’t like it” or will try their best before yelling “my hands are all yucky” while screaming and throwing themselves at you with said yucky hands.
3. Believe what you see on pinterest and social media.
Of course there is no chance that those smily faces you see are merely a snapshot and the one happy moment of messy play before the whining started. As for those picture perfect results and amazing creations as a result… Yup zip chance a parent has contributed at all and of course your children will also create similar masterpieces. No doubt about that whatsoever…a picture tells a thousand words? Or a thousand LIES!?
I posted this picture on Instagram.. looks idylic huh? Nicely glosses over the fact that within seconds Monkey was demanding to get out kicking off an uber tantrum and LM wanted to get out shortly after… Don’t believe everything you see folks!
4. Expect it to last more than 5 minutes.
Because of course they will enjoy it so much that they will still be engrossed in half an hour or an hour allowing you to have a cup of tea or write a blog post. There’s no chance that they will prod it for a few mins then announce “I’ve had enough now. ” Or if they are too little to talk then of course they won’t suddenly make a break for freedom trailing spaghetti/jelly/paint throughout the house the second you have turned away because you think they are happily playing. If they have previously enjoyed an activity then you can guarantee that they will like it again… Yup absolutely zero chance they will be a contrary little so and so and refuse to join in…. ahem.
5. Underestimate the clean up operation.
Can you say uh oh?
Got a pack of wipes. Yeah that’ll do. Until you see both you and child are up to your arms in black goo which is dripping all over the floor which you haven’t put any protective covering down on… Cue holding a child at arms length as you run through the house to the nearest sink, screaming “don’t touch anything” while you hope nothing drops anywhere that it can’t be removed by vanish or bleach!
See, failing at Messy Play is very very easy!
If for some reason you don’t want to fail at Messy Play, perhaps take care to avoid all of the above faux pas… And yes I have done all of them more than once…
Because it is worth it. Sometimes, just sometimes, you are rewarded with scenes like these and that makes it all worthwhile even if the smiles are very shortlived. Even when there is a ginormous clean up operation to come. As long as you don’t expect too much from them or yourself it will be fine.
Someone recently shared a great idea on social media for using toilet rolls to do some shape printing. I was having a look thinking what a great idea it was, when Monkey appeared over my shoulder and was dead impressed. He was so excited at the prospect of having a go so how could I resist? As luck would have it we always have a pile of old toilet rolls available so the next Mummy & Monkey time we got cracking.
He started off wanting to recreate exactly what he had seen in the picture, blue and pink hearts and he absolutely loved it.
I experimented to see what other shapes I could get from a toilet roll, obviously circle, square and a sort of odd bow shape and again he enjoyed printing the shapes.
Then, imaginative little monkey that he is he decided that the bow shape looked a bit like monster eyes… and the heart a bit like a smily mouth, so together we created some monsters. Most of this came from him and I just made the odd suggestion here and there…the hair was mine though hehe.
As with any painting though it soon descended into chaos with mixing of all the paint,and Monkey making gorgeous comments like “I’m good at making brown” and “That looks like indigo.”
Then the inevitable “Let’s do hand painting!”
He had so much fun I can’t exactly mind. Lovehow happy he is squishing paint in his hands! I also love his imagination.”Look it’s a bird now with wings!” What a cutie.
I do love crafting and painting with him at this age as he is so imaginative and full of fun it’s just lovely.
I have really been struggling to do any arts and crafts with Monkey lately. Now LM is on the move she wants to be involved with everything we are doing and I struggle to come up with activities that both a 1 yr old and a 3 1/2 yr old can enjoy (if you have any, please share them!). She only naps once a day now too and I am generally shattered by that point so not much crafting happens then. We do do things occasionally but I rarely blog about them now and I try not to feel too guilty as Monkey is doing plenty at preschool (he now does 1 full day plus 2 mornings a week) but have really been wanting to do something new and fun with him. Tuesday mornings my parents take LM to a rhyme time group and that has become Mummy & Monkey time so today we have been making a glittery firework picture.
Monkey has never seen real fireworks, and has only seen them on cartoons so to start with we watched a youtube clip of a fireworks display and talked about how noisy they are. I also explained about bonfires briefly so we decided to make a picture of a big fire with fireworks around. Monkey helped me tear and cut some red, orange and yellow tissue paper which we then glued to the paper to make the bonfire.
Then came the really messy bit. Glitter doesn’t come out in our house too often because it gets everywhere… but you can’t have fireworks without a bit of sparkle now can you? I showed monkey how to glue some lines and shapes on the paper and he chose the colour glitter to use. He loved pouring the glitter on and then tipping it off to reveal the picture underneath, gasping and proclaiming it was “magic!”
I tried to keep the mess to a minimum and tip the remaining glitter back into each container but there’s only so much you can do with glitter really. For the most part Monkey wanted me to do the gluing for some reason, but I actually preferred his shapes as they were more random so I really encouraged him to do the gluing. Because he enjoyed it so much we made a couple of other pictures just with fireworks on and I really loved his firework shapes.
Monkey loved touching the glitter and wiped it all over his face, saying “look, I’m all lovely and sparkly now!” haha love him.
So there we have it, a very simple fireworks picture. I’ve always loved fireworks and adored making pictures like this when I was a kid so look forward to making many more with Monkey and LM as they grow.
Monkey loves painting and given a choice it is often a go to activity for him. Most of the time I am happy to let his imagination take the lead but a few weeks ago I thought I would spice some things up and introduce him to the idea of painting with some new textures.
We had fun with bubble wrap..
cotton wool balls..
scrunched up tin foil..
It was great fun and such a simple activity. Monkey loved seeing the different results for each of the textures and we talked about what they felt like.
After the recent success of the Tuff Spot play with water, I was keen to see what other easy activity I could come up with for Monkey that didn’t involve much prep but would keep him entertained. Ages ago a post from Loving Life with Little Ones reminded me how much fun could be had with lentils and I had wanted to get some out for Monkey to play with for a while.
Much as I love doing more structured activities with Monkey, to make cards, or pictures or baking, some of my favourite activities are a lot more free play based. Activities I can set up pretty simply and then leave him to it. Watching where his imagination takes me always cracks me up and it’s also great to literally watch him learning as he plays.
Since LM was born and with all of the illness we have struggled with this year, I have gotten a bit lazy with regards to setting up activities, mainly out of fear. Fear of the mess I have to clean up. Fear of how stressed I am going to get dealing with him and the baby at the same time. I have pulled myself together a little though and one day decided to get a job done that has needed to be done for ages, and involve Monkey in a bit of free play at the same time.