The Cookie Monster

One blustery day in January cousin Paloma came over for the afternoon. I didn’t quite fancy heading out and about with two toddlers, so I set up an invitation to play with some gingerbread men.

Most supermarkets have a set like this, with some cookies, tubes of coloured icing and some decorative bits and pieces. I had some extra tubes of icing and toppings in the cupboard.

Here’s my “mum hack” – To set up the activity I used cupcake cases for each topping, and gave each of the kids a deep oven tray to try contain some of the mess – I set up on the Ikea Lack table so they had easy access.

Paloma is two and really got involved with the activity – squeezing her icing out carefully and choosing and placing her sweets nicely – before picking them off and eating them all.

Arlo on The other hand couldn’t wait to quality test the goods!

We had five cookies in our kit so we did save one for Paloma to give to mummy and Arlo for daddy. It was quite fun to see them both be so proud to gift their cookies and they certainly enjoyed the experience – learning to concentrate, talking about colours and textures and being creative.

I want to encourage Arlo to get involved with baking so this is the first step to building up trust and learning some basic kitchen rules with “real” food as opposed to his play kitchen.

Magic mess free painting

I can’t remember where I first saw this idea – probably a Pinterest board or another mum blog but it’s certainly one worth sharing!

We love mark making – I used to be happy with paint when we had laminate flooring and Arlo didn’t move quite so fast but with cream carpets and my little Usain Bolt on the loose this is the next best thing!

It’s a sheet of magic paper used to practice Chinese calligraphy. You use water instead of paint and it turns black on contact.

I gave Arlo and cousin Paloma sponge brushes and little pots of water and let them play – and it occupied them both for about 20 mins.

The paper clears once dry and you can re use it over and over again. It probably takes about 15 mins to dry completely so it’s something you can keep coming back to.

Paloma was quite delicate and happy making more intricate lines immediately whereas Arlo too a while but as soon as he figured out the water made the marks he started pouring it and splashing and patting with his hands

This magic paper is from eBay and cost me £5.50.

We have also tried the aqua doodle which is £15-20 from most high street retailers and creates colourful patterns but is often out of stock and also the Melissa and Doug “wow” books which are about £5 on Amazon which are great options for “on the go” (we’ve used them for travel and also at restaurants). They all share the same principle and I’ve noticed a definite improvement in the way Arlo does make marks and handle brushes and his utensils.

Ice Excavation

This is such an easy prep activity it’s worth storing in the memory bank for summer. All you need to do is add some small colourful items to a container, fill it with water and freeze it.

Add the frozen block to a washing up bowl or a Tuff Tray and provide some tools to experiment with.

In this block we added brightly coloured ribbons and pom poms, along with a hammer and a couple of cups of warm water to melt the ice. We have repeated this activity with various themes. I’ll share my favourite dinosaur themed excavation on another post as it requires a little more preperation.

Feeling Natural

  • Sensory baskets are such a good way to start encouraging independent play. Arlo was seven months when he got his first basket. I decided to create a natural themed basket as up until this stage he had mainly experienced plastic and brightly coloured toys.In this basket I chose to include:
    • Wooden spoons
      Cotton flannel
      Sponge
      Leather chamois
      Wooden curtain rings
      A pine cone
      A dolly peg
      A plait of wool
      A bath mit
      A couple of hair scrunchies.
  • I set the basket up in the middle of his play mat during a nap time and then let him loose when he was awake. He made a beeline for the basket immediately and reached over to spill the contents.
  • These were all things he’d never really played with before so he pulled things out one at a time, banging and waving around the spoons and putting the sponges to his mouth to explore the textures – this occupied him for at least half an hour.

    I made several different themed baskets and used to stash them away and bring them out in rotation so he retained a level of excitement. Sometimes I would add/remove things to see if he would notice. I’ll share more of our sensory activities on other blog posts.

    Rainbow ribbons

    Arlo is about three months old here and was such a smiley baby. I’m a strong advocate for sensory play and this project is such a nifty little idea.

    You will need:

    • A curtain ring (Wilko’s do a set of 5)
    • Ribbon

    Make sure you remove any hooks from the rings and check them for splinters. Then start to tie your ribbons – I used a simple pull through the loop.Then all you need to do is repeat this with a few more colours. It goes without saying to make sure that this is a supervised activity – waving the colours in front of Arlo caught his attention and then he liked being tickled too.

    I used to switch the colours and textures of the ribbons every so often to switch up the sensory experience