I do think one of my very favourite parts of motherhood is playing alongside my little boy, or rather, facilitating, onlooking and often accompanying him as he makes sense of the world! As he gets older so does the amount of time he can spend on solitary play and exploration - also as his motor skills develop, his ability to play with different materials in different environments. I am a firm believer that activities and toys need not be overly complicated or expensive - especially as variety and change are so key to holding little ones' attention spans.
And what with all the rainy weather this week holding us up indoors - there has been an especially big need for fun, easy to prepare, low-cost, varietous activities for Reu... I don't think its necessary to be constantly setting up activities for your toddler - but in between time with toys, meals, walks, sleep, book-reading, baths, roaring around the house and breastfeeding; some planned activities are so helpful.
A few of our favourites lately:
1. Play-dough - there are SO many recipes for play-dough on the web and I guess you just need to find one that you like. I'm still experimenting - but the dough pictured above was a very simple olive oil, flour and water combination - it only keeps for two-days in the fridge as there are no preservatives (like salt for instance). I like the natural un-dyed state because it resembles the dough I make and knead for cooking, and actually could be cooked afterwards as crackers. You can dye it naturally with beetroot juice, blueberry juice or turmeric!
2. Drawing - sheets of butcher's paper are wonderful for little hands to draw on because they are so big and end up protecting whatever's underneath too.
3. Feathers + sponge - I think I bough both the sponge and the packet of feathers for $2 from a dollar shop and they make a wonderful game for practicing fine motor skills as you push the pointed ends of the feathers into the soft sponge. Pull them out and repeat.
4. Bright animal cards - another dollor store purchase (about $1.50) for a packet of colourful foam animal stickers. I saw them and immediately thought they would make wonderful play cards - I stuck the animals onto bright coloured paper and cardboard and hand wrote the names of the animals in big bold letters on the back. I put them out on the floor one by one saying the name of the animal and making a bit noise for the sound they make (though was a bit stuck on turtle and giraffe!)
5. Discovery box - I know its a bit hard to tell from these pictures; but this is a small packing box which I transformed (in about 10 minutes with scissors, tape & crayons) into a discovery box! Each of the sides has a different shape cut out for Reu's hands to poke through... with the shapes cut out I coloured them with crayons and traced their shapes on the top of the box for matching. this was quite a hit for a few days and cost me nothing since we already had the box. I prepared for him while he had his midday nap and I filled the box with unusual feeling/shaped items like a ball of wool, silk flower brooch, blocks and ball for his hands to discover.
6. Chalk drawing - when the weather lets you drawing with chalk on cement or tile surfaces is really fun... for mama and pappa too. Not to mention non-toxic if the wee ones try to eat them! To clean off, just brush away with a damp cloth.