Thursday, May 31, 2012

Baby Play: Pouring Station

Coming up with creative play prompts for your baby or young toddler can be challenging at times. You have to be mindful of what they're likely to put in their mouths, make sure it is stimulating but not so challenging that they lose interest, and at that age they develop so fast that it can be tricky for play opportunities to keep pace.
With that in mind, I thought a sensory tub centred on pouring would be appropriate for my little Ava. She enjoys pouring and drizzling water when she is in the bath (that is, the water left in the tub that miraculously didn't end up on the blinds, the floor or me), and I thought this new interest may translate well into her playtime.
I was wrong; she had a better idea.
I had pulled out an underbed storage container, and supplied coloured rice (see here for the how-to), pearl barley and chickpeas to pour, and play teapots and cups, eggcups, a plastic jug, a sieve, a play saucepan, a coffee pot and funnels to pour with.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Free Printables: Looking For Things To Do With Your Kids?

I am a bit excited.
I have been invited to share with some wonderful women at a MOPS group (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) in Skye tomorrow! In preparation for this, I have compiled lists of ideas of games and activities* you could do with your children - especially for those times when you draw a mental blank.
There are 50 ideas for indoor play, given that it is heading into Winter here in Australia, 50 ideas to do for free, and 20 ideas for baby play (under 18 months).

Friday, May 25, 2012

Baby Play: On and Off Bag

Ever since my littlest munchkin turned one, I have been run off my feet trying to keep up with her. She's getting into everything much faster and more persistently than ever before, and I'm left reeling! She's pulling washing off the indoor clothes line, changing the settings on my phone, climbing into drawers and then standing up and dancing in them the second I look elsewhere, and she somehow gets the remote control and has figured out how to get the batteries out!!! Don't fret, she's not unsupervised or anything, but she is a little whirlwind and sometimes I honestly cannot figure out how she gets the remote, or how she manages to reach shelves that should be too high for her! The only thing I have found which curbs Ava-mania for a while is open-ended activities which she can engage in, direct and explore.
Enter, the On-Off Bag.

Hmmm, now how do I get this...
....through there?
 Much like the Open-Close Baby basket I posted about here, this bag piggy-backed on another one of Ava's favourite concepts at the moment – On and Off. Not as in things that turn on and off like light switches (although she loves that too), but as in things which can be placed onto a pole and then taken off., almost like a homemade version of those stackable rings which little tots love.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Painting on a Grand Scale

I am hoping to make BIG paintings a regular part of my daughter's lives, partly for the memories they create, partly because they make for some great art, but mostly because they are so darn FUN!
As it is, painting is always encouraged in our home; Ava (1) is happy to paint with whatever on whatever at any time, but I think that Eden (3) was getting frustrated with painting on a small-ish scale, or otherwise painting on paper. We had done some canvas painting before, and painting on hardboards, but I thought it was time to change it up.

Buying pre-framed and primed canvas can be pricey, especially large ones, so I was super excited when I found ours at the Reject Shop for $18 for a 75cm x 100cm canvas. We got three (one for each set of grandparents and one to keep).
We used a bit of watered down poster paint/tempera paint in the three colours she chose: I only watered it down so that it was a more runny consistency which makes it easier for little artists to spread across big areas.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Eden the Grocer

To my surprise, a little play scenario which I recently set out for my daughters to keep them busy during cooking-time, ended up being such a success that it was hard to tear them away to have dinner!
Take one kiddie desk and chair, add a cash register toy, calculator, and paper bags and you have a shop. Lay out a cloth with some play fruit and veggies, and you have a greengrocer! Add two little girls, and you have a tonne of fun!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Baby Play: Cotton Wool Balls

Ava (my one year old) is so much fun to watch when she plays. She's such a little explorer! Everything is new and exciting to her and she has no preconceived ideas about how to play. A simple stimulus - such as cotton wool balls and some supplies from around the house - and she's all set.

When I set out a few bowls, a mini sieve, a spoon and cotton wool balls for her, she got so excited! Her little face lit up, and I swear it was as if she was thinking "I know what to do here!"

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stuffed Jacket Potatoes: yummy yummy!

We are in the throes of Autumn here in Australia, and the air is getting chill. It's the perfect time of year to make Stuffed Jacket Potatoes to keep you warm!


This recipe is a fave in our household 'cause it ticks all the right boxes: Tasty? Check. Simple? Check. Kids love it? Check!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Nature Collages

We're loving the beautiful Autumnal weather around here! Where we live, there are lots of Oaks, Maples and Elm trees shedding their glorious golden leaves and we can't help but bring some home.
On a recent picnic with my girls to a local park...

... Miss Eden collected various bits and pieces: leaves, of course, but also clovers, flowers, tree bark, gumnuts and twigs. What to do with them? We made a collage!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

To all the Wonderful, Splendid, Fantastic, Incredible, Amazing Mums/Moms out there, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!! (For tomorrow...)

In honour of Mother's Day, here's a freebie for you!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Chef or Pharmacist?

Eden loves to cook, in both the real sense and the play sense. The other day she asked if I could make her a kitchen outside so that she could cook like Mummy. Five minutes later and she was all set up!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Open Ended Baby Basket

Many of the posts here at HLM are directed at toddlers from about 2 years old and up. It's not that I lack for ideas for my littlest Munchkin Ava (just turned ONE!), it's just that she is far too busy exploring her world without my help (but with plenty of supervision) to give Mummy's ideas the time of day. You know what? That's fine by me! Actually, I'm usually jazzed that she gets into everything and mouths everything: she's my whirlwind bub or as hubby calls her, our little 2-stroke girl (motorbike joke) - plenty of energy, goes fast and makes lots of noise! On those rare occassions when she seems to want something different, I actually get to dip into my reservoir of baby play ideas and give it a go.
In theory.
In practice, she often 'wants something different' when her sister is having a meltdown (and yes, we have those at our house too!), when I'm trying to cook dinner and get on top of the cleaning (hahaha, like that's ever actually going to happen!), the phone's ringing, the bath's running, and Loki is trying to take over the Earth!!! Ok, not that last one. I saw the movie 'The Avengers' the other day. Ahem.
So what can we do to offer our tots some stimulation when our attention is elsewhere and we cannot sit and give them the time that we'd like to?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mother's Day Roundup

With Mother's Day fast approaching and time at a premium (as it always is for us parents!) here is a roundup of some fantastic ideas for your incredible Mum - or perhaps for the kiddies to do for you?

Head on over to Paper and Pigtails Party for this gorgeous free printable, and bonus: the site also has versions for grandmothers! Your Munchkin completes the questionnaire about you (with a little help, of course) and you get a sweet little keepsake...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sticky Marshy Fun!

If you're a frequent flyer here at HLM, you may have heard me wax lyrical about open-ended activities. If not, here's a quick recap: open-ended activities are those with no set purpose in mind which offer your child the opportunity to create their own play/learning experience. For example, giving your child a stack of boxes, tennis balls and rubber bands and seeing what they do with them is an open-ended activity. As is painting, or playing with wooden blocks, or a dress-up box, etc. Crafts are not open-ended. They're great - but just not open-ended.
I am always amazed by what my daughters come up with when I give them these opportunities! I once gave Eden a pile of empty tissue boxes, and she put them on her hands and feet and declared herself Princess Tissue-Box Robot!
In this vein, I set out a tray with a bowl of marshmallows and a handful of toothpicks for Eden, and this is what she did with them:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lego Rubbings

Do you remember discovering crayon rubbings as a kid? I remember being in Primary School when my teacher gave us all licence to take crayons and paper and do rubbings of whatever we wanted, inside and outside. We loved exploring textures and discovering that some things made interesting rubbings (leaves, concrete, etc) and others... not so much (tabletops, vinyl floor, etc).
With a view to introducing Eden to this same type of texture exploration, I thought I'd introduce her to the world of crayon rubbings with a Lego board.
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