Sandcastle messy play :: homemade cloud dough recipe

Sandcastle messy play with a homemade cloud dough recipe is perfect for summer days when you can’t get to the real beach – or when you want a relaxing sensory playtime in the shade of your own home. Here’s the recipe:sandcastle messy play cloud dough recipe

Sandcastle messy play :: homemade cloud dough recipe [Read more…]

Sand pit fairy garden :: small worlds play

Do your children like to create and play with small worlds? My girls always have one or two landscapes on the go at any one time. Today B made a fairy garden in the sand pit which she declared ‘the sweetest thing I’ve ever made’ – so I had to show it to you. It’s lovely, and also a good reminder that the simplest of ‘loose parts’ and a child’s imagination can combine to create great things.

Fairy garden in sand pit :: make a magical small world!

Sand pit fairy garden for small world play [Read more…]

Free play with loose parts :: what, why, how

We’ve been chatting over on NurtureStore’s Facebook page recently about free play with loose parts. I know many of you are working to include more and more bits-and-bobs and open-ended resources in your play spaces, and switching from plastic and commercial toys to more natural materials. So today I’m talking about why I love to encourage lots of free play in our home, and I have a super, printable list of loose parts you might like to try out.

A printable list of loose parts to encourage creative free play

What are loose parts? [Read more…]

Sand pictures

Do you have a witching hour around 4pm when children are tired and grumpy after a busy day? One thing that works really well at this time of day is some sensory play – play dough, clay, sand, water. Sensory play is really good when you have a mix of different ages involved as everyone can play how they want to. There’s no ‘right’ way to do it, so it avoids children getting frustrated because the activity is too tricky or doesn’t work out how they planned. And the very nature of touchy-feely play has a therapeutic effect.


Last night after school B was playing with sand, water and pebbles and created some Sand Pictures. All her own idea, she was keen to show them off – hope you like them. Here’s the technique she discovered: first draw a design on a pebble or other surface using a little water. She used a teapot of water and a teaspoon but a paintbrush would be good too.


Then sprinkle sand over the wet drawing.


Shake off the excess and watch your masterpiece appear. B liked the temporary nature of the pictures and was happy to keep creating more designs. (We also got to chat about evaporation – never harms to sneak in a little science ;))


You might think getting out some messy play towards the end of the day is too much hassle but try it outside or start with something not too messy and see if it helps with the witching hour.

happily shared with Tot Tuesdays and Childhood 101 and mama smiles’ Learning Laboratory