Not too long ago I received a very special book in the post, 'The Story of The Kindness Elves'. It is a beautiful story about Sparkle and Pop, two elves who help children to spread kindness to people around them. From the minute we sat down my children were drawn into this magical story. The illustrations compliment the words perfectly and I had little fingers pointing out all the gorgeous details. From the houses in the clouds to the teddy in the attic, the colourful rainbows to the sad faces to the stars and the smiles and of course the Kindness Elves themselves. As we read the story we were able to talk about people's feeling and how it is nice to make others feel happy. My children are 1 and 3 years old and are a great age to start talking about kindness. Anna Ranson and Benjamin Byrne, the authors, have written a story that can be enjoyed by both younger and older children. While my children enjoyed the illustrations and the idea of making others happy, older children will be able to talk more deeply about experiences they have had and ideas they could do to spread acts of kindness.
The best activities are the ones that take you very little time to set up. I like to think that it's because a simple set up means lots of space for the child's imagination to fill in the gaps. You give them a starting point if you like and they do all the rest. This masking tape spiral car track is one of our latest quick to set up activities. It took me less than 5 minutes - and that included thinking up the idea!
The high chair can be a great place to pop baby for times when you need to know where they are to keep them safe. I never owned a play pen (though I do see the benefits of them) and so the high chair was often the place I would put Missy when I needed to shower (in the bathroom with me) and also when I had to pack or unpack the dishwasher as she loved nothing better than pulling out all the dishes, clean or dirty, and also climbing up and sitting on the door itself!
We love playdough around here! It has very quickly become a daily staple in our house and Mr 3 is at that great stage where he is experimenting with all the different ways that it can be rolled and squished and shaped. He is also a big fan of rocks and being outside, so we threw them all together and came up with playdough and rock towers!
"How tall can we make the tower?" I challenged him.
And oh boy was that challenge accepted!
"How tall can we make the tower?" I challenged him.
And oh boy was that challenge accepted!
I'd be very surprised if you said to me that you have never made a paper boat before. They are a play staple from our own childhood and go back much further than that. How much further? I'm not sure - Google it and let me know!
This post isn't going to be about how to make them (Red Ted Art have a great video for that) or even why to make them. My aim in this post is to show you how simple changes to your play set-up can influence a child's interest and therefore the length of time they spend on the activity. Now saying that, there are always going to be days and times when a child is not interested and that's OK. It's not our job to dictate their play and they should be free to pick and choose as they please. But I do believe it is our job to intrigue and entice them with new ideas and concepts and follow their lead from there.
Painting on a mirror certainly isn't a new idea but it is one that we had been wanting to try for a while. It appealed to me for many reasons. I like the extra visual element it adds to a normal painting and how it allows for more experimentation in terms of watching your brush strokes and using fingers to pull back the paint and reveal mirror underneath. I think my favourite reason I wanted to try it though was because it is a lovely way to paint without going through a lot of paper. The paint can be washed off of the mirror when the child is finished with the art work. This may be straight after the experience or they may want to let it dry and display it for a couple of days or weeks. Either way, wet or dry, poster paint is very easily washed off simply using water.
I am a huge fan of treasure baskets for babies. They are so simple to put together and they are free as you simply use things from your house that you already have. This makes them great for two reasons; they are a great last minute activity when baby needs a distraction and they introduce babies to objects that they will come across in their everyday life.
This shiny treasure basket took a little bit longer than normal to put together as I added the zip-lock bags but the rest was just a matter of walking from room to room and popping in anything shiny that caught my eye.
If you are looking for a super easy gift idea that a young child can make with little to no adult help then look no further!
This beautiful photo frame is what Mr R and I created for his Dad for Father's Day last year (he did the painting, I did the buying!). I simply bought a new photo frame, printed a cute picture and took out the mat for Mr R to paint. Older children may like to be more precise with their painting, but what I love about this idea the best is that very young children can finger paint the mat and the recipient can have a genuine hand made present from them that was actually 100% made by the child.
Large scale drawings are so much fun! There is something so special to a child to be given so much space and freedom to draw and I know most get very excited to be given large pieces of paper.
We have the long rolls of paper from IKEA at our house but we are somewhat limited as to where we can roll them out. Across our dining table has been the first choice as it is long and flat, but it is not as special as spreading out and drawing on the floor. We have tried rolling it out across our tiles but this gives us two issues. The first issue is the grout lines, we find that they get in the way of a smooth drawing and often lead to tears in the paper. The second issue is that the tiles get so cold in Winter, Mr R doesn't seem to mind, but I don't like the idea of him sitting on them for too long.
So we came up with this idea and it had been fabulous. We brought inside a left over piece of mdf from the shed. It's approximately 1m long and 40cm wide and it fits the IKEA paper perfectly. I use sticky tape to secure the paper to the back of the board and it is ready to go. The mdf provides a smooth surface for drawing, it keeps little bottoms warm as they sit on the carpet and it can be moved around easily and kept for however many days necessary for the masterpiece to be completed.
Most people will usually tell you 'third time is the charm' or 'third time lucky' but for us the third time was a wake up call.
Our 2 year old had been showing interest in helping in the kitchen for a while now and we had been getting him to help by standing on one of our dining chairs. This was working well but we wanted something that he could access more independently and so we purchased a step stool from IKEA. Mr R loved it and happily climbed up and down it while helping to make his breakfast or bake. We were very happy with it too, it's strong and well balanced and a great height for him.
But then he slipped and fell. The first time it just scared him and we thought he would learn not to lean too far to the side again. The second time came a few days later and again we thought it would be OK and he would learn not to lean. And then the third fall happened.
My head was in the pantry when I heard the bang. I turned around and he was flat on his back, the stool was on the other side of the floor and he was screaming. It's the kind of moment when your heart skips a beat and adrenaline floods your system. Some cuddles helped and he showed me where his ouch was so I could kiss it better. His ouch was on his wrist and I gave it a kiss but then he asked for another kiss and another and I realised that this wasn't some little ouch that was fixed with a magic kiss but a real life this really-truly-hurts type ouch. I got him to wiggle his fingers and gently moved his wrist which he could do. I couldn't see any swelling or physical changes so I gave him an ice pack and thought he might have sprained it. After a while he started playing and seemed to have forgotten about it and so I thought it was all good.
That was until his Dad got home from work and Mr R decided to run and hide in his cubby to initiate a hide and seek game. When he went from a run to his knees to a crawling position and put his weight onto his wrist he started screaming again, just like he did when he fell. That's when alarm bells started ringing and we went straight to the doctor and subsequently had an X-ray. I am so thankful to say that his little wrist wasn't fractured but for us that third fall was enough. The stool got taken out to the shed and my very clever husband built this learning tower frame for it following the instructions from this blog post (scroll down to the comments for the measurements). We built it to perfectly match the height of our bench (not shown in the pictures).
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