Sometimes, you just want to break free - do something different, try something new, break the rules! It's the same if you're a child. So often we insist that the children follow a routine, do things in a certain order, and follow various rules. However, just occasionally, its fun and exciting to do things in a different way. Here are just a few ideas to suggest to the children to shake things up a bit. You could ask their ideas and see what they come up with. Make sure they understand though, that this is a special, unusual kind of day and not the norm...just in case they get any ideas!
- Have a picnic breakfast: pack breakfast and go to the park or countryside and have a lovely picnic.
- Paint the leaves: take a paintbrush and some poster paints and get the children to paint some leaves on low branches in the garden. It's great fun!
- Spread a rug in the living room for a picnic lunch if it's raining. Wrap the food as if you were going on a real picnic!
- Get the children to choose dinner. Show them what you have in your fridge and get their suggestions for what to make with it. You may need to pop out to get more ingredients.
- Blend a breakfast cereal. Take handfuls of different cereals you have in the cupboard and make a new special brand.
- Have frothy hot chocolate (warmed very slightly in the microwave) rather than milk, just for a change.
- Make a robot out of cardboard boxes and cartons... any recyclable rubbish you find at home. Be as creative or zany as you like and decorate the robot in a crazy way then invite him for tea! Set a place at the table and serve up dinner!
- Get paintbrushes and paint the outside of the house with water.
- Eat something you have never eaten before. Go to the supermarket together and choose your menu.
Children love water and if its in a paddling pool on a summers day it's even more exciting! There are some great games and activities you can get the children to enjoy which are fun and also promote learning through playing.
Listed below are a few ideas:
- Coloured water: how about adding a few drops of food colouring to your paddling pool and floating boats on the blue sea or turn it green and hide some underwater sea creatures under the waves.
- Weights and measures: Find a few plastic containers (yogurt pots, empty milk containers, plastic cups etc) and fill and empty them with the water. See who can pour from one container to another; see how many little pots fill a bog pot etc.
- Flower pot fun: clean out some old flower pots and use them to play in the water. Find big ones and small ones. Put them inside each other; make a tower and fill them with water to see how it pours out through the holes. It's like a shower!
- Witches Cauldron: get some bits and piece that are waterproof and make a special witches brew! Add some plastic play food, plastic flip flops... anything crazy that the children think of!
- Texture play: add some smooth spoons, rough pine cones, squishy sponges, watery flannels and look at how they feel and look different in and our of the bath.
- Sink or float: find some bits and pieces round the house and see whether they sink or swim. Gently place them onto the top of the water and see what happens. Try a coin, a straw, a crayon, a bead, a leaf etc.
- Bubbles in the garden: add some bubble bath to the paddling pool and see how many bubbles you can splash in the pool. Try blowing bubbles too and have lots of bubbly fun.
- Wash the babies: get some dolls and give them a good bubbly wash in the the pool. Wash their clothes too. Chat about needing to wash each day to keep healthy and clean.
- Big balls: get a selection of balls and play with them in the pool. Which makes a big splash? Show sinks? Which spins on the water or is most slippery? Try playing catch with wet balls... a bit more tricky!
- Blocks in the pool: bring some toys into the pool that don't normally get wet. It will be a great novelty. How about building blocks or bricks. Watch how the children play or do things differently with the toys in the water rather than out of the water.
Get some fun into your every day routine with these sparky ideas to perk up the most mundane activities...
Bathtime fun: If bathtime ever begins to get tiresome, why not play hair dressers and use the suds from the baby shampoo to make fun hairstyles with your baby's hair! Show what they look like with a plastic mirror and see their reaction to looking like an alien!
Changing roles: why not encourage your little one to look after you for a while. Get them to cuddle you, wrap you in a blanket on a comfy chair, stroke your hand or forehead etc. Or, see if they will tuck you into bed for a pretend nap and sing you a bedtime song. They will love it!
Picture book: Look through old pictures and choose some to make a big family book full of family photos. You could add a collage and stick the pictures onto card and mount them with glue. Frame the collage and see how much fun you have naming all the relations and seeing how they are related to each other! You could set it out like a family tree!
Dinner time: Pretend you are in a restaurant and set out the table with a table cloth or a bunch of flowers. Pretend to take orders and bring in the food like a waitress. Don't forget the bill at the end!
As your little one approaches their special day of the year, it is very easy to get carried away by throwing extravagant parties at play barns or hiring lavish halls. Then comes helium play balloons, piles of food, prizes, party bags, decorations and all the other bits and pieces that go with it. However, you can still have a great party without it costing a fortune and with a bit of thinking, the kids will still have a fabulous time! Here are a few party themes to get you in the party mood.
- Fairy Party - feature flowers, fairy wings, fluffy clouds, sunshine
- Pirate Party - feature pirates, treasure, ships, islands
- Under the Sea Party - features fish, mermaids, sharks, dolphins
- Circus Party - tight rope walking, clowns, juggling
- Dance Party - make up a dance and teach it to the children
- Princess Party - features princes and princesses, crowns, jewels, thrones
- Superheros - Star Wars, Spiderman, High School Musical and any superheros
- Traditional fancy dress party - with musical statues, musical bumps, Oranges And Lemons, Duck, Duck, Goose, and lots of fancy dress
Ideas you can adapt to make the party really unique!
- Invites: Try and theme your invite to match your party. Make fairy party invites into the shape of flowers, or pirate party in the shape of a ship.
- Decorate: the simplest shapes like stars or flowers or car shapes in bright paper and stuck to a dull church hall wall can really bring the room alive. Try making bunting or hanging glittery curtains to make it feel special. Try hanging cut out shapes or pictures from the ceiling or by the window so they blow in the wind.
- Have a colouring session as the children arrive. Prepare colouring pictures and lots of crayons on a big table and invite the children to colour a picture while you wait for everyone to arrive.
- Balloons are great to play with and look fun hung about the place. Tie one balloon to each end of some ribbon or wool and hang over any pictures on the wall. Give each child one to take home. You could also place a piece of jewelery or sweets inside each balloon so there is a treat inside when the children get home!
- Make something like an edible necklace out of cheerios or popcorn and thread with string or wool.
- Throw a tiny bit of glitter over each child as they arrive: magic dust to make them have a great time!
If you are looking for inspiration to tempt your little ones at lunch time, here are a few ideas to make lunch time less boring! Whether lunch is normally at home, or at nursery or school, there are lots of easy ways you can make lunch more exciting and tasty than the same on sarnies!
Different bread: try little rolls, neatly cut in half or different types of rolls such as brioche, twisted rolls or bagels. Tortilla wraps or pitta is another good and cheap idea.
Go French: try filling croissants with some ham and cheese for a continental lunch treat.
Pasta: cooled pasta with some chopped vegetables and cubes of ham is easy and tasty to eat.
Dippy: try cutting cucumber, carrot, celery into sticks and include a pot of hummus in the lunch box for some dippy treats. Add some pitta bread to dip too!
Finger food: cubes cheese, ham, vegetables and fruit need to be eaten with fingers. They can be a tasty and healthy lunch option.
Couscous salad: couscous is the easiest food to prepare. Make a portion the night before and cool. Cut some cherry tomatoes, cucumber, hams and peppers into tiny pieces and mix well. Pop into a lunch box with a fork for a great lunchtime snack.
Crackers: get hold of some cheese biscuits or crackers for another option. Wrap tightly so they stay fresh and serve alongside cheese slices and apples.
Whether a Grandparent or Aunty, or even a parent, babysitting a new born baby can be boring! Here are a few tips to make it fun for both of you!
- Cuddle up with a good book: It could be a kiddie book and you can read in a nice, quiet voice to the little bundle and enjoy a nice cuddle. It could be your own novel! Try reading aloud and seeing how happy baby is just to be warm and safe and listening to your voice.
- Watch TV together and chat about what you see. They will love the moving pictures, the sound and comfort of your voice and the attention! A little bit of television is fine!
- Have a gentle massage. Lie them down safely and tickle their toes, stroke their hands and gently give a massage.
- Count fingers and toes and get their hands moving. Sing Round And Round the Garden and watch their delight!
- Have a sing: singing, and music, are a great comfort to a baby. Listen to all sorts of music together, it needn't just be soft, baby music - as longs as it's not too loud.
- Get down on the floor and encourage crawling or playing depending on the age. They will love the attention and to have someone new spending time with them.
- Carry on as usual: you can still get on with your regular tasks and jobs when babysitting. If you make sure the baby is safe, you can leave their side. Perhaps chatter as you do things and talk through what you are doing.
- Go for a stroll: it's nice to get some fresh air even in winter, so wrap up baby and go for a walk whenever you can to get you out. As long as baby is warm you will be fine!
- Have a nap: babies do get tired, so if you think they are getting sleepy, put them down for a nap. Watching them when they sleep is just magical!
Walking to pre-school or nursery in the bad, autumnal weather can be a real bore for little ones, especially those who are only just out of the buggy. Here are a few ideas to perk up your walk together and do a bit of fun learning on the way!
Weathery Walk - walk the way you might in different types of weather.
- Trudge through snow
- Battle against raging rain
- Fan yourself in the heat of the hot sun
- Keep upright in the blowy wind
Colour-Spy - spot things that are certain colours. Find 3 red things (traffic light, post box, car) etc.
Letter Think - think of things that begin with certain letters. Name 4 things beginning with "d". Even little ones can do this with come help. Give a clue to help them get to a "d" word.
Wonkey Walks - Walk in different ways between the trees you pass. So, walk like a frog to the next tree. Then walk like a monkey to the next tree.
Tree Races - If you live on a quiet road you could race to the next tree. See who gets there first.
Count the Steps - estimate how may steps you need to get to the next landmark (tree/traffic lights) and simply count how many steps you actually take. How close were you?
Car Count - name a colour and count how many cars you see on the way of that colour.
Walking to school or nursery is a great, healthy way to start the day; these ideas will make it fun too! Have a good day!
It may look like scribbles, but from a very early age, the marks that children make on a page are an important step towards learning to write and communicate. Through their marks children are communicating their ideas, showing us how they feel and developing their own imagination. They are also being creative no matter how messy or scribbly their picture or words look to us when they have finished.
Give your child regular opportunities to make marks, draw, scribble, make lines and create pictures - at home, in the garden, in the park, at the restaurant, in the car. There are lots of times you can settle them down to draw and write and keep themselves entertained at the same time!
From the moment a baby holds a crayon and makes their very first mark on a page, their journey towards writing had begun. It may not be a conventional pencil used to write on a clean sheet of paper, but there are all sorts of other ways to get babies and toddlers used to the idea of mark making. Here are a few ideas to begin with:
- Salt Tray: Sprinkle salt into a tray and let your child make swirls and lines and marks. Put some tools in there too so they can use those.
- Cornflakes: A tray of cornflakes makes a crunchy media to play with and make marks in. Listen to the noise as you crunch them and let them fall between your fingers.
- Flour: A tray of flour is great for mark making as the lines remain. When they want a clean tray to write in, just shake it flat. Or add water making it gooey and slimy. Great fun!
- Textured messy play: Add lentils, beads, pasta to wet flour and make it more textured.
- Finger paint: Draw pictures and make marks with finger paints.
- Sky write: Get children to make letters in the sky.
- Back writing: Draw shapes on a child's back and see if they can make it out.
- Sand tray: Draw a shape or letter in a tray of sand and get your child to trace over it. Shake the sand flat to start again.
- Chalk: Draw letters and patterns on a chalk board or pavement
- Pencils and crayons: Get lots of different and fun crayons and pencils for your child to experiment with. Each feels different and makes different marks.
- Paper: Get different types of paper, colours, textured, lined etc and have fun working with each sort.