City Farms

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I’ve always thought they were an amazing idea, but I have a whole new appreciation for my local city farms now that I have a child. Even the smallest, most chaotic of them is still a lovely half-day out for a toddler enchanted by animals (or ride-on tractors) – and Mudchute almost feels like getting out into the countryside for the adults, too. Continue reading “City Farms”

Turning a chore into fun

This is a skill I admire in other people and am determined to master, because it makes it possible to actually get things done during the days I spend with my toddler.

So far, we’ve had success with putting things in the washing machine and helping mummy to hang out the clothes. It’s an opportunity for her to 1. Press buttons. 2. Hand things to mummy. 3. Identify everyone’s clothes.

Last week, I cleared the leaves from the backyard while she watched – delighted by the sight of mummy at work – from a window with daddy. This time, daddy was out. And I was determined to get her to help me – or at least not stop me – clearing all the leaves that had fallen in the meantime (we get loads from a line of plane trees in the nearby park). Continue reading “Turning a chore into fun”

We need to talk about fancy dress

No one warned me. No one.

No one warned me that having a toddler means producing a succession of fancy dress outfits with little or no warning.

I’m not a last minute person, so Halloween worked out fine. I knew it was coming. And I knew we had not one, not two, but three occasions when Halloween fancy dress was called for. I’d thought maybe I’d buy something because I like the idea of building up a dressing up box and so far we have, er, nothing. But then I floated the idea of dressing my toddler as the incey wincey spider and it seemed like fun to assemble our own costume.

Continue reading “We need to talk about fancy dress”

Painting and printing with objects

You need:
Ready mixed paint
Aprons or old clothes
Paper
Masking tape
Tray, pallette or plastic plate to spread paint on
Chunky paint brush
Objects to print or paint with – see ideas below
Newspaper or other table covering
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This is a really simple idea but it makes a fun change from brush painting.
1. Cover surfaces and clothes that you care about.
2. Get a sheet of paper. We had a wonderful gift of an enormous pack of sugar paper from an uncle and my boy really enjoys choosing a colour at start of an activity. Dark colours are good if your child likes bright or pale paints… Tape the paper down to the table at the corners (unless you have an easle or some other hi-tech solution to the frustrating way paper moves around for small artists).
3. Use your selected objects and a tray or pallette of paint to print.

You can use anything you have to hand, but here are some things we’ve tried:

Cookie-cutter printing

Put paint into a shallow dish of some kind. Dip cookie cutters in and stamp onto paper. We liked stars!

Leaf printing
Put interesting shaped leaves down on some newspaper, paint them with a chunky brush and then press onto your paper. My toddler enjoyed patting them down and then watching as I helped him peel them back to reveal the coloured print.
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Hand printing

Of course! You could use a tray to ink up your hands, but currently my boy enjoys painting his hands with the brush almost more than the printing itself.

Monster truck (or any other toy car!) painting
This was super fun and played to my boy’s love of squirting a big pile of paint on one part of his paper. This is how you do it:
1. Squirt quite a bit of paint in one area of the paper.
2. Get your chosen toy car and run it through the paint, then drive it all over the paper. Repeat.
3. You can add a second colour and use your driving skills to do some colour mixing.
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The monster truck was good because it has textured wheels – but you could try this with a range of cars, or lego bricks, or a mix of any toys you have to hand.
Monoprinting
This works really well if your toddler loves to use LOTS of paint, squirts it directly onto the paper etc. It’s an enjoyable way for them to experience a painting they’ve done from a new perspective. Show them how to take a print of their painting using another sheet of paper. Lay it down over the top of the original artwork while it’s still wet, smooth and pat the paper all over, then carefully peel it off.

Mixed media playdough

2015-10-07 17.24.33It turns out playdough really is easy to make. People have been saying this to me for years (well, whenever playdough came up in conversation, which is more frequent since becoming a parent, really). But I hadn’t tried to make it until we went to a holiday play session at the Ragged School Museum (fantastic play room for toddlers with lots of activities set up but hardly anyone around when we visited) and a lovely volunteer gave us some perfect playdough to take home with us.

He also gave us his secret recipe, which is that you don’t need a secret recipe, just flour and water and some paint for colour.

Playdough recipe

  • plain or self-raising flour*
  • ready mixed coloured paints (whatever “washable” water-based ones you have)
  • water

1. Put as much flour in a mixing bowl as you want

2. Squirt in lots of your chosen colour paint and combine it as much as you can with a spoon. I find for a strong coloured dough you need to make this ‘dry’ mix a good strong pastel colour. You can mix with your hands at this stage if you or your toddler wants brightly coloured hands as an added bonus.

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The end of naps is not the end of the world

A few months ago, my toddler stopped sleeping in the day. I wasn’t prepared for it at all. I’d read somewhere that they continue napping until they’re three or older.

On her days with me, she’d previously had a lunchtime nap of 45 minutes or an hour in her pushchair. But then it stopped working.

At nursery, she was still having a sleep. Bedtimes on those days though became a right old pain. She was climbing out of her cot, taking her pyjamas off, claiming she’d done or needed a poo, calling for milk – anything to stay entertained until she was ready to go off to sleep around 9pm.

Continue reading “The end of naps is not the end of the world”

Toddlers’ World

We’ve been to Toddlers’ World at Mile End Leisure Centre three times. The equipment has varied slightly but you can expect:

  • Trampolines (My toddler now loves the trampoline, but I find it a little hair-raising and tend to watch her very, very closely on it. She’s one of the youngest and the smallest and I fear for clashes of heads)
  • Bouncy castle
  • Ball pit
  • Goalposts and football
  • Giant Connect Four
  • Mats, springboard and bench to jump off
  • Hoops
  • Selection of other soft play equipment
  • Parachute

Continue reading “Toddlers’ World”