Having a safe Halloween

Last year I wrote a blog post about Having a green Halloween, how to enjoy Halloween and keep waste to a minimum.

This year we will be doing the same, but also mostly staying at home to keep safe. I’ve said before that Halloween isn’t a favourite celebration of ours, but this year we’re definitely making the most of anything we can to keep Euan entertained and give us ideas of things to do.

Here’s how we will be marking the occasion;

Parties

This year parties aren’t really an option, which is a shame because its the first year Euan might understand better what is happening.

Instead we will have a party at home, we’ll get dressed up and have some party food, perhaps with a spooky theme and have a themed treasure hunt.

This might be similar to what we did for Easter in the garden, only we’ll probably stay inside. I have some chalkboard wooden circles that I’ll draw spooky things on (any pictures would suffice) and hide them around the house for Euan to look for. We might just hide some sweet treats to find too.

Last year we made stuffed peppers that looked like pumpkins.

If the weather allows we will have a fire in the garden and toast some marshmallows, yum!

Trick or treat

Again, this would have been the first year that Euan could have got involved in Trick or treating. I think it will be frowned upon this year but we might arrange to pop by some friends and family for a distanced drop by.

Crafts and decorations

We’ve started early and made pumpkins from paper plates, we’ve also made monsters. I’d like to try apple printing, but I’m yet to get Euan to agree to that.

We’ll be putting Euan’s pictures up in the window at the front of the house so that other families can look out and spot them, like lots of people did with Rainbows earlier in the year.

If you have any good Halloween themed craft ideas, suitable for a 2 year old, please share!

We’ll of course be carving a pumpkin too (and then making some soup from it) which Euan will be able to get more involved in this year.

Special activities

Last year we went pumpkin picking with our friends at Farmer Copleys, near Pontefract. Its open again this year with social distancing measures in place and I think we’ll have to get over there.

I’ve noticed a few local places that are organising Scarecrow Festivals, which are like scarecrow festivals, but with a spooky theme.

There’s one in Calverley and Oakenshaw that I’ve seen on Facebook, and I’m sure there will be others planned.

We’d also like to have a look at the Pumpkin Trail in the centre of Bradford.

Keeping it green

Like last year, we will be trying to keep the whole affair as waste free as possible. The main way we’re doing this is by reusing decorations and Euan’s pumpkin costume from last year (which still fits) . I don’t know whether he will agree to wear it though!

It would be great to hear how you are celebrating Halloween with your little ones this year, share your ideas!

Top spots for a lakeside walk

This autumn and winter we are going to be struggling for indoor places to visit due to Covid-19 so it’s time to compile a list of places we can visit outdoors.

Here is a list of parks we’ll be visiting, I’ll list some other places to well be visiting, including outdoor attractions and nature reserves. Here is a list of places that are great for a lakeside walk…

Ogden Reservoir, Halifax

We love a walk around Ogden, it’s a good length walk for little legs and flat if you have a pram (although it can be muddy).

Chellow Dene, Bradford

We’ve headed here a few times over the year and it’s a lovely spot for a walk, with woodland trails and stepping stones to enjoy.

Pugneys Country Park, Wakefield

We’ve not been back here recently as is a popular spot and we’ve been doing our best to avoid busy places. It’s got a lot to offer though, we’ll pick a day to visit when the train is running for extra fun.

Newmillerdam, Wakefield

We visited here during restrictions and it was busy in the car park but once we got going walking around it was quiet. The paths are good for bikes which helped get Euan around. We missed them on our visit, but there is a Gnome trail that we will be returning for to explore properly.

Anglers Country Park, Wakefield

Another great spot in Wakefield, this one is a little further afield but does offer a Room on the Broom sculpture trail which we are yet to follow fully.

There’s a small playground which is good for under 5’s and a cafe (I’m not sure if it’s open at the moment).

Hollingworth Lake, Rochdale

We’ve not been here this year as we’ve been avoiding busy places and this is a popular spot. I’m sure we’ll head here over the winter though for a drive over the pennines and somewhere different to visit.

We have the following recommendations for places to try that we haven’t been to yet;

  • Yeadon Tarn
  • Esholt Reservoir
  • Swinsty Reservoir, Harrogate

Do you have any favourite lakeside walks that are good for little ones? Please share you’re recommendations ๐Ÿ‘

Our favourite parks

Parks are fab places for families to enjoy and whenever possible we will head out to a local park to pass a bit of time or to have a bit of a day out. Under current circumstances I think we will be making quite a few days out in parks whatever the weather. We will dress up warm with spare clothes and bring a flask with hot chocolate to warm up after exploring.

Parks have so much to offer for us a big benefit is time to get outside having fun for free!

I’ve been inspired by 50 Things to do Before You’re 5 to visit parks as the benefits are simply explained in the app;

Number 27:Little People Park Keeper. Adventures in the park. Happy hearts and happy faces. Happy play in grassy places. Time to get the children out for some real life fun and enjoy the open spaces of your local park. 

Changes in how we live are affecting childhood experiences. Time for outdoor play is decreasing, contributing to less active lifestyles which are often disconnected from the natural world. The benefits of outdoor play for young childrenโ€™s healthy growth is widely recognised. 

A visit to the park provides an inexpensive stimulus that captures childrenโ€™s attention and interest and offers countless opportunities to learn through play. Research shows that outdoor free play gives children many valuable benefits, including the development of physical, emotional and cognitive skills.

Here is a list of our favorite parks close to us in Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield. You can have a great time in any park, but some have more to offer such as a great playground and a variety of features such as water and bridges to explore and sometimes other visitor attractions too.

I’d love to hear your favourite parks to give us some inspiration of other places to visit over the winter and through continued restrictions. Get in touch!

Here’s our list of favourite parks (and a few on the list to visit);

Wellholme Park, Brighouse

This is our most local big park and we pop here to pass some time. There’s a lovely playground, a stream with bridges, scatepark we use for bike riding practice and a big loop walk to stretch your legs.

Shibden Park, Halifax

This is a lovely park, we don’t visit more often because there are parking charges and I’m too much of a tight Yorkshire lass to pay for parking. It is worth it though, the park is beautiful!

We’ve recently enjoyed an explore and a highlight was being able to see trains passing the playground for Euan! The playground is good to explore, there’s a lake to feed the ducks, a nice cafe, minature railway and heritage dry stone wall area which Euan liked to explore and climb around.

Manor Heath Park, Halifax

This is another firm favourite to pop along to for a morning or afternoon. The playgrounds are great (but can get busy) and it’s a good size to go around with a toddler on a bike.

We usually like to visit the Jungle Experience too, but I’m not sure if it’s open at the moment.

Norman Park, Huddersfield

I’ve driven past this park and although it looks small, it looks lovely. There is a Friends of Norman Park Facebook page which shares events and news (less at the moment due to Covid) but it looks like the park has plenty of conker trees which we’ll be looking for!

Greenhead Park, Huddersfield

Greenhead Park is lovely, a little oasis close to Huddersfield Town centre. The playgrounds are great, they are well maintained and have great variety. The park also has a good range of features like ponds, bridges and wildlife.

Beaumont Park, Huddersfield

This is a lovely park that we enjoy visiting, there are lots of different paths and it’s taken a few visits to work out the best ways around, there are lots of winding paths with intersting walls and tunnels aswell as a waterfall, so plenty to explore.

Recently the Friends of Beaumont Park group installed a Woodland Story Trail with wooden sculptures, so we look forward to visiting for that.

Bowling Park, Bradford

We often head to Bowling Park when we are in the area, the playground is well suited to little ones but also has things that will entertain older ones. The top playground has been revamped and it’s good for exploring. Bowling Park has a lot to offer with the Lodge Cafe and Bolling Hall museum just nearby, you can easily pass a good few hours.

It’s a big park and quite hilly so hard for little legs still to manage much but we love to pop here, especially with the bike and have an explore.

Peel Park, Bradford

We’ve headed here a few times during lockdown. The park is very big with great marked cycle routes that are well used, a bit long for a toddler at the moment but great for older kids and adults.

The park has an active Friends of Group who run a cafe on a weekend and use profits to improve the park. They have a totem trail and have helped fund the development of a new playground which has recently opened.

Northcliffe Park, Shipley

This park has lots of conker trees so we will head here soon to do some collecting. The playground is a lovely natural one which isn’t common.

Oakwell Hall Country Park, Birstall

Oakwell Hall is a firm favourite for many families in the area, it’s great for a wild walk as well as a woodland adventure playground to spend some time in. We’ll head here on drizzly days as the trees provide good cover.

Wilton Park, Batley

This is an unusual park and lovely to explore. The playground is nice and we’ve watched motorised boats on the lake before which is fun.

On our last visit we found a disused railway path which was great for Euan on his bike.

A bit further afield….

Temple Newsam, Leeds

I remember Temple Newsam as a child and we really must get here soon. I’ve heard there’s a great playground and remember a lake to walk around.

Home Farm is also open and is free for children under 5, ยฃ4.10 for adults so would be an affordable addition to the visit. Booking in advance is recommended from what it says on the website here.

Roundhay Park, Leeds

We’ve not been here yet but this post from Yorkshire Tots gives 10 reasons to visit Roundhay Park, so we’ll give it a go!

Middleton Park, Leeds

We’ve been to Middleton Park once before and enjoyed the playground, community cafe and woodland to explore. It’s very big! You could spend a good while here exploring.

Wakefield

Here’s a map with parks in Wakefield to visit, we’ll be using this for inspiration when we’re looking for somewhere new…

Let us know you’re park recommendations to help us keep busy this winter ๐Ÿ‘

Let’s get creative with lockdown!

We are something like 7 weeks into lockdown…I’m not actually sure how long it’s been to be honest. The days are blurring together but I do feel we are getting used to lockdown life and are getting into a bit of a rhythm.

We’ve been playing outside lots with water, playdough and bikes mostly, making the most of the nice weather we’ve been having.

But the last few weeks the weather has been more intermittent with colder days and rain, its got me thinking what we can do inside to keep entertained. I’m also aware that Euan seems to be a bit fed up with some of his toys, we’re not usually at home so much so the novelty of them is wearing off. It’s got me thinking about what else we can use from around the house to play…

I’ve started looking around the house for things we can use for play, trying to think outside the box.

Here are my ideas;

The kitchen

There’s lots in the kitchen that can be used for play

  • Metal plans and wooden spoons for mega loud music, this is always popular with all ages and can be done quite spontaneously.
  • Upturned metal plans made into ‘stepping stones’ is popular with Euan. He has a bit of a thing about stepping stones and balancing so it ticks his boxes so to say.
  • Steaming pans (the ones with holes) to use to poke through pipe cleaners or straws. I saw something like this somewhere and thought I would I would give it a try, it worked well.
  • Coloured bowls and serving tongs for sorting items such as pom poms into colours, was a big hit!
  • Food for play, all sorts of dry food can be used for play. I’d be happy to have a tray of dried pasta, rice or pulses out in the living room for play… It won’t take too much to tidy up, provided it’s kept reasonably contained in a large tray or on a floor covering. See my post about Tray Based Play for ideas, but using these food items with toys like tractors, cars, farm animals or dinosaurs will spark some play.
  • We’ve also used penne pasta (the tube ones) for threading with string but Euan wasn’t particularly interested, but maybe some children would enjoy that.

The recycling bin

What we throw away on a daily basis could be used for play and crafts and add something new to what you usually do.

  • Egg box trays for colour sorting is something I’ve meant to do, not quite managed it yet but I think I’ll do it for finding natural items in the garden or for walks.
  • Making collages doesn’t need lots of craft materials, I’ve cut out pictures from Easter eggs and other good packaging that has pictures on. I’ve used corrugated card, to stick on because it’s nice and sturdy (and free). You do just need some glue.
  • A spot of junk modelling, grab some cellotape and get sticking. Toddlers have short attention spans so go with the flow and don’t expect a masterpiece at the end!
  • Cardboard boxes, the possibilities are endless!
  • Save bottles and tubs for water play, we’ve saved things and they’ve added something new to play to mix things up a bit.
  • Use bottles to make sensory bottles, look up sensory bottles online and you’ll see lots of ideas.
  • Make junk instruments, some ideas are in this Making Music blog post.

The wardrobe

Raid your wardrobe for items that can be used for dressing up; scarves and hats can be used for fun fancy dress.

We found a rainbow dress of mine which made Euan happy after seeing so many Rainbows in people’s windows.

The living room

When not outside in the garden or on a walk, we spend most of our time in the living room.

Euan loves jumping and climbing so we’re pretty much resigned that our sofa is now a climbing frame. It’s also quite fun to have a bouncing session throwing Euan in the air (only do this if youre child likes it, haha!)

Sofa cushions and blankets can be used to make dens, a reading corner or calming down space and change the space. I thought it would be a good idea to set up a space ready for the morning which will be exciting to come downstairs to.

We’ve recently enjoyed playing with my button collection which is in jars in the living room. I let Euan pick out some large ones for his own collection to put in a fancy chocolate box.

The bathroom

The obvious choice in the bathroom is some water play. Bathtime is what we usually think of and we have had an earlier and longer bath on fractious evenings and it does help entertain Euan for a while, mostly when he’s splashing the entire bathroom.

Lately we’ve had a bit of spontaneous water play in the sink which has been nice. I’ve just had to remember to put a towel on the floor!

Raid the shed, loft or garage

Who knows what you might find!

We’ve used stored wood offcuts for making ramps for cars and on a larger scale, the bike. Plastic crates have been useful to build the ramps on.

I hope this post has helped you with some ideas of things you already have to keep your little one entertained and given you some inspiration to get creative under lockdown.

When thinking of ideas, expand on what your little one is already interested in, for us it’s tractors, trains and dinosaurs, it will be different for you.

Tray based play

To entertain the toddlers at home, why not try some tray based play ideas.

Trays are really useful to set up themed toys or an activity on to set the scene for some imaginative play.

We have some long trays that are supposed to be for grow bags, we got them from a garden centre. But smaller kitchen trays work well too. Or underbed storage boxes that are quite shallow are especially good for water play.

Basically the idea is just to put out some things on the tray and see how the play evolves.

Here are some ideas that are great for a toddler about 2 years but they could be adapted for younger or older children;

Cornflakes and tractors

I’m a bit reluctant to use too much food for play at the moment with all the food shortages in supermarkets, so I was sparing with these cornflakes that were bought for crispy buns and not used.

Euan loves his tractors so I knew that would be a hit, but any toys will work such as dinosaurs, farm animals or cups and spoons for scooping and pouring.

The tray helps contain the play, handy for indoors but we’re making the most of the weather by being outside.

You could use other cereals or porridge oats instead, depending what you have at home.

Colour themed trays

I tried this with Euan and was surprised how much he enjoyed it. I taped down some coloured paper on one of our large trays and found some toys in the same colours.

I popped the things in a tub and asked Euan to sort the colours. He got on with it and did great.

I’ve not done this activity since, I’m waiting for rainy days when we need to rely on inside activities.

Older children will be able to find the toys in the right colour to sort.

Ice play

We don’t have any ice cube trays so needed to improvise here. We have some bun trays that have worked to make circular ice cubes. We tried freezing dinosaurs in tubs as an experiment to break them free.

It worked well and entertained Euan for quite a while. It’s a good chance for experimenting and to explore what cold feels like.

The play can then evolve into water play, I leave a bucket of water for Euan and he can scoop out what he wants with his various utensils.

Free the frozen dinosaurs!

Playdough

Euan really likes playdough but it’s a bit of a nightmare with a carpeted living room. Getting it on a big tray to try to contain it is useful, preferably outside.

For an easy recipe, try the one in my other blog The rough and the smooth. If you don’t have playdough tools, don’t worry, just use what you have. Bits from the kitchen or natural items from walks.

Playdough is working well to entertain Euan, he likes rolling it out and using shaped cutters to make ‘biscuits’. Also using it to make hand and footprints.

Cutting out playdough stars!

Moonsand

I’d love to have some sort of sand play for Euan at the moment, but going out for play sand seems unnecessary. (We have some builders sand in the shed but after checking, it’s not suitable for children.) So what can we do?

Make moonsand or cloud dough which have similar properties to sand. The simple recipes are in my previous blog post, The rough and the smooth.

I’ve made a few batches of cloud dough which is just flour and some oil, really easy, popped it on a tray and left Euan to it.

He does all sorts with the ‘sand’ using his toys like tractors to drive through and dig. He also just likes to rub it in his hands and get in with his bare feet, doing some scooping too.

A note to add is that its near impossible contain the cloud dough, we had it all over outside and in but it does sweep or vacuum up, I waited to the end of the day to clean up. So save this one for a day you are prepared to deal with mess!

Gloop

Gloop is made by mixing cornflour and water. It’s really easy but also messy!

It’s actually not that bad…if it gets in clothing or furnishings, it will brush off when it drys. Better than playdough that can cake in and is harder to clean.

Gloop is a non-Newtonian liquid which means it hardens with pressure and is liquid too. It’s fascinating! Euan was interested in the gloop but preferred to use spoons and scoops to explore rather than getting his hands stuck in, either way it will keep little ones entertained.

Paint

Trays are great to contain painting mess, but here we used a plastic mat and put the paint on a paper plate.

A good use of a tray is to pop the paint straight in and just let the mess happen, Euan isn’t so keen on getting messy so I’m waiting till he’s in the right mood to try this one.

We did paint a rainbow for our window which worked great!

A rainbow for NHS and Key Workers, thank you!

Jelly

I made some jelly with dinosaurs inside for Euan to rescue. This never made it to a tray, we ate it instead and it was great fun.

Next time I’ll get the jelly on a tray so that Euan can get really stuck into it and have a sensory experience. I just know he will eat it all so will have to split it so he doesn’t get a whole bowl in one go!

Water play

Perfect for a warm day but good for any day really. We are lucky to have had lovely fine weather recently to enjoy water play lots.

For water play outside, just some containers for the water is needed. I fill a bucket or washing up bowl with water, leave it by the tray with some things that can be used as scoops and for pouring such as spoons, cups, bowls, funnels etc… If you don’t have a tray, an under bed storage box which is quite shallow works well. Anything you have in your kitchen can be used for water play, don’t worry about having special toys or equipment.

If you have any calpol syringes, these are great for water play. Euan can’t quite use them himself but has great fun playing with us.

DIY mud kitchen

Mud kitchens are all the rage at the moment, we’ve had plans to make our own from an old bed site cabinet…it’s still in the shed 18months later, it’s not likely to happen!

A while back I bought some metal teapots and dishes for our mud kitchen. I found them a few weeks back and thought we might aswell use them.

I got it all out with a tray, bucket of water and a pile of compost and left Euan to it. He loved it, a good chance for mixing, pouring, scooping and experimenting. We collected some leaves and flowers to add in too.

Don’t worry about having all the kit, use what you have and see what happens!

I hope these ideas are useful for keeping your toddler entertained at home during lockdown, let me know your tray play successes!

We’re going on an Egg Hunt…

And other ideas to entertain a toddler at Easter!

So our usual Easter would be a bit different to this year. On Good Friday we would head yo our local Environmental Education Centre who run an Egg Hunt event. We would then head to Coventry to have Easter with Granny and Grandpa, and the cousins having a bit Egg Hunt. We would also organise our own Egg Hunt with Euan’s friends which was a lovely gathering last year.

We all know this stuff can’t happen this year, so what can we do?

Well, plenty!

A garden based Egg Hunt

We’ve had a few trial runs during the week and today we had a lovely Egg Hunt with Euan.

I found some wooden discs in the shed which I drew eggs on and we had some plastic eggs to fill with treats. Euan was happy to find both types off eggs and collect them in his bag.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised how Euan enjoys a hunt around the garden and will do it more in the coming weeks with different themes. (If you don’t have a garden, have a hunt in the house.)

Get creative and use what you have, this could be;

  • Plastic eggs filled with chocolate, sweets, little toys, pictures or notes. In the past I’ve used ball pool balls, cut open at one side so things can be popped inside.
  • Foil covered chocolate eggs or wrapped chocolates.
  • Something to draw pictures on, we have wooden discs, but corrugated cardboard could work well, or laminated drawings (if you have a laminator).
  • Small toys, whatever your child is interested in such as cars, trains, dinosaurs, animals etc…

Easter themed crafting

We made some Easter cards to send to relatives earlier in the week. Euan isn’t much of a crafter, so I kept it simple, letting Euan do his own thing decorating some Easter pictures. It worked pretty well.

I’ve also seen these cardboard decorated eggs which look nice and easy. In the next few days I’ll let Euan decorate some egg shapes. Depending what mood he’s in I’ll let him colour or paint or do some sticking with bits of paper and crafty bits.

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A bit of Easter crafting


Read some Easter books

You might not think you have any Easter themed books, but anything with a rabbit, chick, duck or lamb can have an Easter theme. I had a quick look through Euans books and found these, plenty to have a read of!

We have a lovely Easter book that we read all the time and is great to read alongside or before you’re own Egg Hunt. We love the illustrations and the interactive flaps. If you can get hold of it, Do!

If you don’t have any suitable books you could make your own small book with some simple pictures.

Easter themed baking

We decided to make some biscuits using our tried and tested basic biscuit recipe. These aren’t particularly Eastery, but Euan doesn’t mind too much. For egg themed biscuits, cut them to an egg shape.

Here’s the recipe that we use;

https://recipes.sainsburys.co.uk/recipes/baking/easy-biscuits

Another easy Easter bake is to make chocolate nests. Here’s a recipe;

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/shredded-wheat-nests%3famp

You can use shredded wheat, cornflakes or rice krispies to make the nests (whatever you have) use mini eggs or chocolate buttons to fill the nests. We opted for buttons as these are less of a choking hazard for little ones than mini eggs.

Sing some Easter themed songs

There are a few popular rhymes and songs that can be adapted to Easter time.

Sleeping bunnies doesn’t need changing, it’s a nice interactive one.

http://www.wordsforlife.org.uk/songs/sleeping-bunnies

Change Five Little Monkeys, to Five Little Rabbits.

http://www.wordsforlife.org.uk/songs/five-little-monkeys

Change Five Currant Buns to Five Chocolate Eggs.

http://www.wordsforlife.org.uk/songs/five-currant-buns

What other popular songs can be adapted, share you’re ideas!

I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration for the next few days. I like to keep ideas simple, especially at the moment when we shouldn’t be going out to pick up extra play supplies. Please share your Easter activities!

How to keep a toddler entertained?

We are both working from home during lockdown, this is whilst we have a toddler running around wanting attention!

Nightmare!

I don’t have any solutions for keeping a toddler entertained so that we can get work done. Mostly it’s a juggling act between putting zoom chats on mute, taking turns to work and hiding in rooms to make calls and send emails.

It’s far from ideal, but lots of us are in the same position.

So what can we do? I’ve been trying some new ideas in the hope that they are novel and might just spark some interest for a little while.

Here’s what we have tried, I hope these ideas might help you out, any ideas are welcome, please share….

Most of these ideas are inspired from the 50 Things to do Before You’re 5 app, which has some great ideas to help at any time but especially at the moment.

Dens and tents

Number 32 of 50 Things to do Before You’re 5 is Home from Home, making Dens and tents.

We dug out a play tent that I played with as a child, forgetting how large it is! It took over the living room but the novelty did entertain Euan for a while. After a day of it taking over the living room, I’ve put it away and will try to make our own den with some bamboo canes and light fabric.

Before we took the tent down, Euan did enjoy a book reading session with Daddy inside the tent which was very sweet.

A spot of bug hunting

Number 9 of 50 Things to do Before You’re 5 is Mini beasts and bug hunting, get spotting!

It’s great to explore the world around us, tricky at the mo, but we can explore the minibeast world on our doorstep.

Euan is fascinated by bugs, especially after regularly reading ‘Superworm’ which is full of bugs. He can identify a variety of bugs so when we come across anything we can have a close up look and a chat.

Some jelly play

Number 42 of 50 Things to do Before You’re 5 is The rough and the smooth, exploring a variety of textures in play.

I had a spark of inspiration after doing some googling for ideas and even though this idea only entertained us for minutes, it was great fun!

On an evening I made some jelly and popped in some clean plastic dinosaurs to set. We then showed Euan the dinosaurs that were stuck in a jelly swamp and armed with spoons we ‘rescued’ the dinosaurs. We then as a family ate the jelly for pudding.

This isn’t something to do too often, but it was great fun and cheered us all up, something we all need right now!

Paper planes and boats

Number 46 of 50 Things to do Before You’re 5 is Fantastic Paper Folding, a bit of origami.

Inspired by the app, I thought I would fold a paper plane and see how Euan liked it? It intrigued him and he liked trying to fly it. We looked up how to fold a paper boat and had a litre experimenting with floating in the washing up bowl. It was good fun and only needed some paper and water.

Post a letter

Number 38 of 50 Things to do Before You’re 5 is Posty, posting letters.

When we heard Euan’s cousins were in lockdown with corona virus symptoms (they are fine), we sent them a letter to keep them entertained. We’re eagerly awaiting a reply. We’ll be posting Easter cards to family this week.

Start a collection

Number 22 of 50 Things to do Before You’re 5 is My Secret Treasures, collecting things.

I was browsing the app and read this article link and it resonated with me, give it a read.

It gave me the idea to get collecting natural items with Euan out on walks, to then be able to play with the things later at home.

We have since used sticks, feathers, cones and conkers in some messy play with playdough and water.

Big art

Number 20 of 50 Things to do Before You’re 5 is Mini Artist, making marks on a big scale.

I found some chalks and showed Euan how he could draw on our paving in the garden. He preferred me to draw but with time trying it a few more times, I think he will get into it.

I’m also going to try painting with water on paving and walls which I think Euan might like.

Ramp it up

Euan is very active and loves his balance bike, I got the idea from a friend to make a ramp for toy cars, Euan wanted something bigger and we found a crate and wood in the shed to make a bike ramp. This idea might not be ideal for your little one, but use what they like and expand on it to keep them entertained. It takes a bit of creativity, and raiding your cupboard, shed, garage and lofts to see what you have that can be used in different ways. We can’t go to the shops to buy more toys… But maybe we don’t need to!

I hope this collection of ideas has inspired you with some simple things you can do at home with your toddler that doesn’t cost much and uses what you already have at home.

Please share your ideas!

Baking with a toddler

Last year I wrote about cooking with Euan in Get Cooking, it’s not something we’ve done much since but seen as we are all home in lock down I thought it was worth trying again.

We started this with biscuits which is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

I found a basic biscuit recipe online and made it up myself. It was quite hard to mix the ingredients, Euan doesn’t have the dexterity for this yet. But enjoyed rolling the dough and using his selection of cutters. It went well till he realised the dough was tasty! We managed to get some biscuits in the oven and they worked well. I’d recommend trying biscuits as they are pretty simple and the dough has a good texture to make the biscuits.

We then moved onto making buns, I was in need of a chocolate fix so we made some chocolate buns. I looked up an easy bun recipe and we got making.

At times, trying to bake with a toddler is a nightmare but there are moments of lovely concentration which is wonderful. Euan seems to do well with decorating more than mixing as he just wants to eat the raw mixture.

These buns have been a great treat for us, they haven’t lasted long but we will definitely be doing more baking, it passes some time nicely.

I found a cupcake kit in the back of the cupboard last week and I thought it would be perfect for some easy baking one afternoon.

I wouldn’t normally use baking kits, but at the moment I think they are a good choice. Everything you need is there and they are simple to follow.

Again the decorating went down well with Euan and it kept him busy for a little while whilst we got tea ready.

Another recipe that we might revisit is Lemon Shortbread. The recipe is in the photo in the tweet. It’s a low sugar recipe so a bit healthier, if that’s possible.

We are going to continue our baking ideas during lockdown, it’s a nice activity for us. It gives us a bit of focus and a nice treat.

I’ll be looking out for more recipes (simple ones), please share any recommendations!

Surviving social isolation with a toddler

When I was pregnant the best advice I was given was to go out everyday with baby. Whatever the reason, get out of the house and it will do you a world of good.

Well I took this advice and ran with it, since Euan’s first few weeks we have tried lots of groups and activities and get out to lots of places on a daily basis. So now, we are encoraged to stay home! Argh, how will we survive this?

Euan is a very active boy and isn’t one for seated activities like crafting and colouring, he barely sits still to read a book or watch the TV. We get stir crazy at home in a few hours and head out.

So far we have survived ok, I’ve been dragging out reading and playing at home and then when we have had enough, head out for a walk. I’m used to being busy and a slower change in pace has been tough on me.

I feel like I am getting used to it now, the days arent dragging as much but thank goodness the weather is nice and getting out in the garden and for walks is a pleasure.

At the moment it looks like we are still allowed to go out for walks once a day and we will continue to make the most of this whatever the weather, but what will we do at home?

Well, my plan is to be inspired by the 50 Things to Do Before You’re 5 app which is full of lots of ideas and inspiration.

I’ll share some new ideas that we will be trying soon but here are some links for some ideas we already have;

Treasure Time, some ideas for things babies can play with.

The rough and the smooth, some recipes for playdoh and messy play.

Making Music, household items that can be used for making noise at home.

Other ideas that we will be trying and writing about are;

  • Baking with a toddler
  • Drawing and painting including chalk pictures outside
  • Bubbles
  • Bug Hunting
  • Growing seeds
  • Making dens
  • Potions and messy play
  • Toddler friendly crafts
  • Collecting things on walks to use at home
  • What can we do with a cardboard box?

Please share your ideas, whether inspired by 50 Things or elsewhere, we need all the ideas we can get!

Most importantly, keep safe and stay home as much as you can!

A day in the life of a 50 Things toddler

Over a year ago I wrote a blog post A day in the life of a 50 Things baby. That day I realised that on a pretty normal day we had tried lots of the 50 Things and it just showed how easy it is to integrate the 50 Things into your day to day life to give your child varied and interesting experiences.

Today is another day when I’ve realised the same. We’ve had a busy day and lots of the 50 Things have been tried. Here’s what we were up to;

Euan got up early and straight away wanted to play. He had his usual jump around our bed, jumping off us and practising his different jumps #31Biong. We soon had had enough of this though and got downstairs and had breakfast and then the toys came out.

We had a go at some 3 piece jigsaws #11MakingConnections and did some colouring #04MakeYourMark. The play continued at home till we went to Saturdays Abi Ukelele music group.

Here we sang songs and nursery rhymes #06RhymeTime and played instruments #07MakingMusic. One song involved blowing bubbles #08Bubbles and there’s always chance to boogie along to the songs #18Dance.

We then headed in the car to Leeds to visit Thwaite Mills Watermill #40HappyHistory. This isn’t a free museum, but there are plenty to visit that are free! (We are trying to visit lots of local museums to give reviews for another blog post so that’s why we headed here today.)

Thwaite Mills Watermill was great fun, we explored the machinery and did some crafting including trying out a chalk board #20MiniArtists.

We found a spot for a picnic and enjoyed our lunch together #30YummyPicnic

We still had plenty of time to explore to headed to nearby Middleton Woods Park #27ParkKeeper. We had a drink in the community cafe and played at the very good playground, a great chance to get active #24HopSkipAndJump. There was a lake to watch ducks and swans (we weren’t organised enough to have something with us to feed them). #41WaterFeature

We then explored the woodland next to the park #34WoodlandWandering where we had a lovely walk. We found bridges to do pooh sticks #35TripTrap which Euan loved and a den made of sticks that we explored #33HomeFromHome. Euan also had a lay on the grass looking up at the sky #49GrassGazing.

By now we had had a busy day and were ready to head home. Even walking from the car to our house, Euan fitted in some puddle splashing getting splashes up his trousers #29PitterPatter. Luckily we could get home to dry off.

We put some Mr Tumble on the TV to entertain Euan whilst I cooked tea. Euan practiced some Makaton signing, this episode was about animals and he enjoyed signing pig. #39TalkingSigns

It was then time for bed, we always read a book at bedtime, even if it’s a short one. Today Euan chose Clip Clop which is a Books Trust freebie. #10SharingBooks It also worked well for practicing some more animal signs.

Daddy also always has a bit of bonding time at bedtime and this often leads to lots of tickling and giggles #21Gigglebox.

Some other things that we are always doing is #01GetToKnowYou by playing and doing activities together and #02WhereAmI? by chatting about Euan, Mummy, Daddy and Grandparents and all the things we have done to help him develop an understanding of what we are doing.

Here are some photos of our day! Happy memories.

If my calculations are correct, that’s 23 out of the 50 Things that we have tried today. Some not for long, some naturally part of our day, others are places we specifically visited today, but they come together to provide a wide range of experiences for Euan to help him develop. We also had lots of fun and all these things can be done without spending much money!

I hope this post has been an inspiration to show how easy it is to integrate lots of the 50 Things into day to day life.

Get familiar with the app and it will hopefully help inspire you to try lots of different activities in day to day life with your under 5.