Fun in the sun

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.PhotoGrid_1468993911685PhotoGrid_1468995883162PhotoGrid_1468994909082PhotoGrid_1468995676426

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.


Are you enjoying our little heatwave?

Best of Worst
Monkey and Mouse

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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.


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?


Little Miss’s First Paintings – 17 mths old

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!PhotoGrid_1460986196257

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!PhotoGrid_1460986287817

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!PhotoGrid_1460986377973

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!PhotoGrid_1460986437184

Just because I think she is incredibly cute, here is a little clip of her enjoying her painting session 🙂

Ethans EscapadesBest of Worst

Bubble Painting – 3yrs 10mths

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!PhotoGrid_1459933958055

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.PhotoGrid_1459934009852

I love the effect you get when you print the bubbles onto the paper.PhotoGrid_1460122103905

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?PhotoGrid_1460376305705

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.


Water Bead Play – 35 mths old

About a year ago I tried some water bead play with Monkey as I had seen so many great examples from other bloggers, but he just wasn’t that interested in it. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when we tried again, and he had a whale of a time playing with them. Just goes to show that just because they aren’t ready or don’t enjoy something once, it is always worth trying again. I set up the Tuff Spot with the water beads and a few other bits and bobs from the kitchen.

So, what did Monkey get up to with them?

He started by scooping them  and pouring them.

water bead play 1

At which point we discovered they bounce! They are funny and plasticky but also wet and slippery feeling which makes it great as sensory play. He had great fun picking them up and dropping them to watch them bounce!


He then decided a car needed to drive through them (?)


Before having more fun bouncing them again!

water bead play 2

Then Monkey decided it was great fun to squish them, first with his fingers, then using a rolling pin,

water bead play 3

Then with his fingers again. Check out the glee on his face?!

water bead play 4

I’m not sure how to describe what he did next, he poured the beads back into the muffin tray and started wiggling his fingers around to make the beads bounce around all over the place! Which he really enjoyed 🙂

water bead play 5

Whatever makes you happy Monkey!

As you can see, Monkey absolutely loved our free play session with water beads in the good old Tuff Spot 🙂

Do your kids like playing with water beads?

#ToddlerApprovedTuesdayplayathometuesdaysMy Bored Toddler

Conker Crafts and Activities for Toddlers

After our lovely walk a couple of weeks ago I said I would let you know what we had got up to with our massive conker haul, and well here it is! We have been conker crazy in our house lately! Some activities have been more successful than others but we’ve had fun trying lots of things.

conker crafts and activities for toddlers

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Encouraging independence

With Great Auntie Maggie

With Great Auntie Maggie

I wrote last week that Monkey’s independence has been growing of late and that he is happier to spend less time with Mummy and Daddy these days, and is happy to be with family and friends. This is still very true and in fact he abandoned Mummy and Daddy at the weekend and took his Great Auntie Maggie off for a walk without us!

What may come (and has indeed come) as a surprise to some, is that we actually love this development, and have been encouraging it for a while. I understand that for many this stage can be bittersweet, as it is a sign that Monkey is growing up. That he needs us less. I completely understand why lots of mummies and daddies feel like this, but honestly, I just don’t. I love it!

I am a very independent person myself, and always have been. Maybe it is a sign of me being selfish but I really like that little added freedom that this step of independence brings. For a start it is still only a very small step and he still needs, and wants Mummy or Daddy a lot of the time, but as someone rightly said, it means for the first time in a long time, I can actually use the toilet in peace. Not every time but more than before!

It also comes at the perfect time as at 7 months pregnant I am less and less able to do all of the things that Monkey wants me to do, so if he is happy for other relatives to step in and do those things with him, then phew, is all I can say! As the next few months go by we are going to need to ask family to help more and more, even if just to take him to the park for half an hour or something so he gets a run around while I rest. The same will be true when the baby comes, especially as it is increasingly likely that I will need a c-section and will have the recovery time that comes with it. The more he is happy to do this of his own free will, the better really as hopefully I will fell less guilty about the things that I just can’t manage to do with him.

It isn’t just my pregnancy that makes us appreciate Monkey’s new found independence though, as we have been encouraging him to play a bit more independently for some time, and I do think this is important. I read an interesting article recently about structured play vs child led lay. The article suggested that many of us parents these days feel the pressure to engage in structured play with our little ones, to help them learn, rather than leave them to their own devices. The result of this according to the article, is actually detrimental to our children.

Simple Colour Matching GameNow with many articles like this I think you have to take them with a pinch of salt and actually I like to think the best approach is a bit of everything. I do want to encourage Monkey to learn, as he is a little sponge at the moment, so we do have structured play. Things like the colour matching game and we also do things like threading pasta on a string or some of our counting games. But we have been encouraging him to play a bit more independently for some time.


As he is getting older, it is easier for him to have more independent playtime, where he potters and does things himself. Where he will push postman pat around in his pushchair, or drive a car up and down the arms of the sofa, or play with the plastic food in his mini kitchen and present me with pies and stews. This is my favourite kind of play, as it is all about his imagination and he is also learning at the same time. I guess it is the definition of child-led play. It is great, but, as any parent knows, kids aren’t always so obliging and  get bored easily, so they sometimes need a bit of prompting to fire up their imaginations.

rp_Rainy-Day-Play-400x400.jpgBecause of this a lot of our time involves me setting up an activity and then actually sitting back and seeing where his imagination takes him. He likes me to be involved but I try to encourage him to play on his own as much as possible. So once I have built him a train track, or have drawn a road for him, I then back off and leave him to it a bit. I guess it is independent play within a semi-structured framework?

Messy play and sensory play work on a similar basis, as while it means a bit of structure in that I am giving him the activity and the tools, I actually try and encourage him to use his imagination and see where it takes him. It generally involves a lot of mess but he has fun. And actually many of the craft activities I have tried to structure, with a result in mind, actually wind up being a bit of a disaster so I have learnt to have less of a goal in mind with messy or crafty play!

Maybe we are a bit cruel? Do we expect too much of our little two year old in asking him to be independent? I hope that it is good for him as we are teaching him life skills. In many ways he is incredibly lucky that he has our undivided attention. As a SAHM he has my attention all of the time, and I have worried in the past that that that may be detrimental in itself. Children at a nursery or childminder have to learn to be less dependent on their parents don’t they? If you are working then you cannot be there with them all of the time. Is my being at home with him encouraging him to be more reliant on me? Perhaps that is why I am enjoying the new-found independence so much.

As with many things parenting I am sure you can argue it from all sides and no-one really knows what the best thing is for any child, and I am sure the best thing is in fact different for different children! All we can do is what we think is best, and for us, for now, we will continue to encourage this growing independence and hope that it is the right thing to do!

Ethans Escapades

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The Reading Residence

When Messy Play goes wrong…

I love a bit of messy play with Monkey, it is usually great fun and also a great way for him to learn. It is one of my favourite things, as a SAHM to be able to do these things with him. Sometimes though…. it really doesn’t go as well as I would hope. Last week is a good example of this.

I read a great post a couple of weeks ago about playing with coloured foam. It wasn’t something I had seen before so we definitely hadn’t tried it. It looked great, the blogger’s little one loved it and all went well. So, one afternoon last week I decided we should give it a go. It did not go quite so well for us.

coloured foam

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Ice Painting – 26 months

Ice Painting is a fantastic summer activity for so many reasons. It is a great form of sensory play with all of the learning experiences that go with it – talking about how temperature, texture, colours etc. It is also another way for a little one to express their creativity. Plus, the really obvious fact that it is cold, which makes it a perfect activity on a hot day!

Ice Painting

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Outdoor Painting on Cardboard

outdoor painting this one

With the weather getting warmer there has been one activity I have been really keen to have a go at with Monkey – outdoor painting! Obviously with it being outdoors, the idea is that kiddies can be a bit freer to get really messy, but in all honesty I was still a bit worried about the mess! With all of the hard work that has gone into making our garden a much nicer place to be, I wasn’t particularly keen on paint going all over our lovely new patio. Even though the paint is supposedly washable, I was concerned about stains – as I know some of Monkey’s clothes have ended up a little stained from them!

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