Welcome to our special week on NurtureStore where we’re focusing on all things toddlers! The ‘terrible twos’ has such a bad reputation but really toddlers are at a wonderful stage of childhood. It’s a time when they are on their feet and ready to explore the world. They’re beginning to chat and to enjoy imaginary play and it’s such a lovely time to see your child’s personality developing. The ideas in our Just Right For Toddlers series are all based on learning through play and cover maths games, early reading and writing, arts and crafts and more. Today, to start our series, here are our favourite ideas for sensory play.
We took our favourite play dough recipe and transformed it into some fun messy play, making jam tarts for the Queen of Hearts in our Valentine bakery.
Jam tart play dough recipe [Read more…]
Exciting news to start the month :: you can now download one of the NurtureStore free kids apps, which means you can use all our ideas, straight from your phone, any time you need them!
If you’re wondering what to do with the kids tomorrow, you’re planning a playdate, you need some ideas to help your kids with their spellings or you’re stuck in on a rainy day in need of a rescue idea – NurtureStore is here!
Follow these easy-peasy instructions and you can have a nice little NurtureStore app on your iPhone or iPod Touch, which with one click brings you straight here, to see our latest ideas and to dive into our huge archive of kids activities.
How to get the free kids apps
Show your babies and toddlers some love this Valentines day with some sensory play that’s adaptable to include even the youngest children. These love hearts are oh so touchy feely! A wonderful creative project for kids to make and explore.
Valentine sensory play touchy feely hearts [Read more…]
Here’s a simple sensory pay idea for toddlers using potatoes.
Yesterday we were printing with potatoes but there are lots of other ways you can play with them too. How about some cooking and mashing fun?
We set up a low table with lots of kitchen equipment and just explored.
We had no plan other than to investigate the potatoes and see what we could do with them.
We used some toy pans from our kitchen set and lots of ‘real’ cooking equipment too.
You can see from the photo that L loved squishing to potato with the masher.
After they’d enjoyed the sensory experience of the play the game then turned into role play, as they served the potatoes in their cafe.
This is just the kind of play we love: everyday materials, inexpensive, new things to explore, and an inviting play space set up where the children can just get stuck in and play their own way.
What I noticed from this play session was that things that we take for granted are fascinating to children. They felt very grown up chopping and peeling the potatoes, and watching the texture of the potatoes transform as we boiled them was like magic. (A good bit of science for them too looking at how a substance changes.)
Are you happy to let your children play with food?
I understand some people don’t like to include food in play because they think it’s a precious resource which shouldn’t be wasted.
My approach to all our toys and resources is to re-use and recycle as much as we can and I try not to buy something that only has a short play time span. Some food items, such as uncooked pasta, rice and lentils can be stored and used several times but obviously when you’re using cooked food this isn’t an option.
Washing off the potatoes we used to make our rabbit pictures and using them for a different kind of play is a good way to recycle them though.
Warm, sunny weather gives a great opportunity to take your play outside. How about some outdoor painting? Even if you’re usually reluctant to let the kids do messy play indoors, when you’re outside you can relax a little and let them get creative.
We used a wipe-able tablecloth to give the floor some protection and used washable paint. It was too hot to get wrapped up in coveralls so we wore old clothes. The plant pots did a great job holding our big roll of parcel paper in place. We had a washing up bowl full of water and a tea towel handy – good for washing off our feet!
We experimented with big brushes, washing-up scrubbers and the rake from the sandpit.
This was an ‘open-ended’ craft session where the kids had the opportunity to use the paint their way, rather than us making anything in particular. Little especially enjoyed using her hands and feet to paint with and Big experimented with some splatter painting.
Why not try this with your children and see what they create?
Happily shared with…
How do you feel about mess? Do you let your children have free rein around the house to play with what they like? To pull all the cushions of the sofa to make a boat? To use all their bedsheets to build a den? To take pasta from the kitchen cupboards to use in their pretend kitchen?
And how do you feel about them playing in the garden? Do you let them dig? Make mud pies? Pick up worms? Fill the watering cans to make a swamp? Pick leaves and flowers to ‘bake’ with?
Do you give them messy materials to play with? Play dough? Paint? Felt tip pens? Sand? Glitter?
Someone told me recently that they’d never let their children play with playdough. And someone else commented that they spend so much time cleaning already that they don’t want to encourage their kids to make even more mess. This got me wondering how everyone else views messy play. I wonder if you encourage this kind of play at home or do you keep it just for pre-school? Do you let babies and toddlers get stuck in or do you reserve it for your older children? Do you think messy play is beneficial or educational or just for fun? And what do your children think about messy play – do they love it or loathe it?
I’m not looking to criticise anyone’s approach, I’m just genuinely interested to see what the opinion is on messy play. Will you share your thoughts and tell me what you think?