Experimenting with play

I keep being so inspired by blogs and websites I’m reading about learning through play, invitations to play and open ended play. So I keep experimenting with new play ideas especially with the open ended play and invitations to play.

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I saw this idea on a website ages ago (can’t remember the site, sorry). We bought some plastic shot glasses and I wrote letters on the bottom. Now I know J is too young to learn his alphabet, but I think it’s handy to start showing him the letters. And I hoped these would be a long term toy (I was wrong). The website I saw this on also made a light box from an upturned plastic see through box with fairy lights in side, it was then fun to look at the shot glasses with light underneath them. But I didn’t do that. J found these shot glasses fascinating, but because he could crack them!! He did have fun for a little while stacking them and watching them spin.

I wonder if I’m just being a bit too advanced with trying out these ideas.

But we did have success with our tactile box.

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I filled a box with loads of different materials. We used bubble wrap, a mosquito net, wadding, cotton, pipe cleaners, and plastic bags, wrapping paper and cardboard.

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He loved playing with all the different materials. One of his favourite was some wallpaper folded over and over and we used it like the percussion instrument the guiro. He walked round our flat for ages with the mosquito net, putting it over his head and walking on it. I think he found it strange that it was so slippery.

I also tried out some invitations to play, using all the different blocks I had in the house.

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I used some left over wallpaper from J’s room which has a map on and put the bricks on it. I set it out whilst he was asleep and then he came and played with it when he woke up. I can’t say it was a roaring success, and I can’t say that he played for hours. But when he walked into the room he was stunned to see it. He was so intrigued so see it set out.

I’ve now bought some ball pool balls so I’m gonna try out some ideas with them.

A lot of open ended play seems to involve water play and sand play. But we live in a flat, so sand play I’m not sure we can do (any ideas?). I bought a step which means he can now play in the sink and he has wanted to do that every day since buying the step. I take him to stay and play groups so he gets to play with sand there, but would like him to have a go when he’s not being pushed out by older boys.

I’ll keep trying and I’ll keep thinking of and researching new ideas. I totally agree with these principles and I’m enjoying thinking of new things we can do together.

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Pipe cleaners and lining paper

I have been reading an amazing blog gooddayswithkids.com. The writer goes into so much detail about child development and how their brains grow and develop and how as we as parents can help them grow and develop. I have been so fascinated and once again it has challenged me as a parent and how I parent.

The main helpful message to me was I need to not have expectations of J that he isn’t capable of. Last week we had a tricky week, where I got frustrated because J was acting like a 1 year old (I know I’m silly), but I was expecting too much of him. J is growing and developing amazingly but he isn’t 5 he is just 1 and I need to remember this, so reading all about the brain development has been amazing.

What also was so interesting to read about is how children’s brains make connections every time they learn sometime new, see something new and experience something new. How incredible is that? And for me that meant every time I expose J to new things, I’m helping his brain develop and his understanding of the world develop.

J also showed me this week, that I might do something or show him something and it might not seem to make an impact at the time, but all of a sudden out of the blue he’ll reveal his new skill. I started counting the other day ‘one’ and then J pipes up ‘two – three’. Where did that come from?

So I want to be a parent that helps J develop as much as he can, I want to show him new things and help him learn through playing new games.

So we had fun this week, shopping in the Poundland. I bought a brilliant colouring book suitable for 12months+ but we also bought some pipe cleaners. O the fun…

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He had so much fun taking out the pipe cleaners and trying to put them back, but then he also loved walking around the room using them like a banner. We found them posted in all sorts of places.

We also played with lining paper, using it like a trumpet and looking at each through the tube.

I can’t help but think what connections did his brain make then?

Baking with a 1 year old!!!!

I had the crazy idea of baking with J today, I thought I would embrace the mess and try it out.

It taught me a lot about what not to do when baking with a 1 year old. I must confess the experiment was abandoned half way through! Mainly because my sugar bowl was being used as a cymbal. And that was lesson number 1…. Don’t sit him on the worktop, next to your pretty teapot sets. Next time (yes there will be a next time) I will sit him in his highchair, away from my valuables.

Lesson number 2…. Weigh out the ingredients first. I wanted him to have a go weighing things out, but it didn’t work, so if I had everything weighed out in little bowls, J could then pour the ingredients in the bowl.

Lesson number 3… Don’t try baking at 5pm, when he’s very hungry and wants to eat everything and is a little bit on edge! I think next time I will try after his morning nap.

I used a Be-ro rock buns recipe, which is really easy to do. There isn’t much sugar, so J can taste the fruits of his labor, and it can be mixed with your hands and a wooden spoon and they cook really quickly.

I certainly haven’t been put off baking with J. I’ve realised I have a recipe book about baking with tiny tots, so I shall have a read, before the next time.

Bubbly Fun!

Today I tried something I’ve never tried before and that was playing with bubbles with J. Now I’ve blown bubbles for J before and he gets really excited about them, but I’ve never let him have a go. And do you know what; we had so much fun and he played with the bubbles for about 20 mins. He loved putting the stick in the pot and putting the lid on.

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It was such a lovely time as we sat outside next to the river and watched the bubbles go pop.

It’s really nice to think that a few months ago, it wouldn’t have been possible to give him the pot it would have been a nightmare. But now we are experiencing new things because he’s growing up, and it’s really exciting.

J also drew his first master piece today (with a little help from me!)

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I’ve realised that stickers are now possible too, so yesterday he decorated my gruffalo calendar, with stickers and today his masterpiece.

Yay for Freecycle

Since finding out I was pregnant, freecycle has been a great source of baby things and on some occasions our saving grace!

Freecycle was set up to reduce the amount of unwanted goods going to landfill. The way it works is that you sign up for your local group and you can either check the site daily or just receive the daily emails. If there is anything that takes your fancy you reply to the post to see if it’s still available and if it is you arrange collection. It works on a first come first serve basis. No money can change hands and you just need to honour collection if you say you’re going to collect it.

I couldn’t buy everything brand new for J, but to be honest I have loved the challenge of finding everything we needed second hand. We’ve been given stuff, found it on freecycle or bid for things on eBay and I worked out that before J came along I had saved myself nearly £1000 by going second hand. Who knows how much I’ve saved since he’s been here. One of the best saves on freecycle, was a baby bjorn carrier. J didn’t like the one we were given and we were going on holiday so we thought we would give it a go and he loved it. I also got a smaller food processor to make his puree’s and his baby bath.

Today’s new freecycle acquisition was an Ikea Reindeer rocker for J. IMG_1962.JPG

He will love it!

So I guess it’s true what they say ‘one mans trash is another mans treasure.’

Postman J

I think I mentioned in my last blog post that I sat down and watched J play and thought about all the things that interest him. Posting stuff was one of those things. We have a house rabbit and I often find toys in the rabbits cage (poor thing).

We’ve been to a few stay and plays recently where they have had post boxes, which were great fun for us both.

I asked Grandpa if he would make us a postbox with his carpentry skills, then thought, why don’t I make one?

And I think I had more fun making it than J had playing with it.

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It was also very easy…

I had three boxes, one square ish, the others were cut up so doesn’t matter what shape or state they are in.

I then made sure that all the sides of the square box were taped shut.

I then cut the post slot at the front using a Stanley knife and a door at the back to collect the letters.

The box was painted using red acrylic paint mixed with PVA glue, this helps the paint stick to the box and the tape, meaning it shouldn’t flake off.

I used the other boxes to make the signs on the front and the letters.

It took an evening to make (I also made a cake in the same evening, so it didn’t take too long).

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I’m now thinking of the next exciting activity I can make for J.

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Trying to create fun!

J is into everything, he’s an explorer and doesn’t sit still for very long.

The older he gets the more he needs things to entertain him. We’re not really stay at home people, so we go out a lot, but there are time3473108_R_Z001A_UC1040029s when you need to be at home and toys just aren’t cutting it anymore. J’s favourite toys/household items to play with are the satnav wire or our old home hub, the hoover, the broom, his fisher price cookie Jar, his wooden lady bird and his new tent.

He has loads of toys (i’m a bit of a charity shop/car boot fan), but they don’t seem to entertain him for long.

I then listened to Radio 4 Women’s Hour about playful parenting, and it got me thinking. If you want to find out more about playful parenting you can read books about it, but it was a revelation to me about how I could do things differently to help him play and be more involved. I think my idea of play was to sit on the floor with him, whilst he played and sometimes we would play with the Duplo together, but then I would get frustrated that he wouldn’t play for long. I have so many ideas for fun, but assumed he would have to be older for me to try them out, but briefly looking into playful parenting and getting ideas from other websites, I realised that I could be more creative and get involved more.

I checked out a few websites by other mums, and tried out a few of their ideas, such as placing balls in the slots in a muffin tin. These mums suggested that this brought endless entertainment, so I had a go with J and he played for about 1 minute! Despair set in, so I got out all of my baking trays and filled them with random things, but no joy for me or J.

I then went back to the websites and tried other ideas but no endless fun was happening. I then sat down and watched J play for a bit and wrote down a list of things that he enjoys doing and considered going out and spending loads of money on toys, but then my husband pointed out that he probably wouldn’t play with them for long.

So back to the drawing board. We tried Play-Doh, which brought a lot of confusion to poor J: “but why can’t I eat it?” In the end he did seem to enjoy it.  But then I made a den for him in the front room, and he loved it and fun was had. We played for ages and I now need to up my den making skills. I also gave him a roll of left over wallpaper, and thought he might enjoy colouring, but he didn’t colour as much as enjoyed sitting under the paper, using it to make a loud noise and playing peekaboo. But a firm favourite so far is a massive plastic tub filled with shredded paper, I also put plastic spoons, pegs and other kitchen things in amongst the paper and he loved it. He loved using the paper as pom poms, playing with the individual pieces, taking it out and putting it back and using the spoons as if it was spaghetti he found it so fascinating.

Since re-thinking about J’s play time I have enjoyed playing with him so much more, I don’t get as bored and it means I have to be so much more creative and I am enjoying that too. It’s also great to see him develop more, playing with the tub of paper means he has to stand more and he stands without support, playing with in the den also helps with his standing. Playing with the paper helped him with holding and drawing with crayons (great crayons from Tiger). But most of all I am loving that J seems to be more involved in what he is doing and less likely to do things he shouldn’t because he isn’t as bored. I am also not as worried about staying at home as I use to.