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Two Can Learn Better than One!

Tags: messy play

Messy Play for Toddlers

Permalink 21/07/12 07:39, by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Toys and Games , Tags: jelly, messy play, mousse, pasta, pulses, spaghetti, wallpaper, wizard of oz, yellow brick road

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Don't be horrified by the idea of messy play, it gives young children the opportunity to explore materials in a unique way and reaches out to all their senses. Buy a 'messy tray' that you can use for messy play and carry out these fun activities outdoors or on a tiled floor in the kitchen or a conservatory:-

Yellow Brick Road
Buy a cheap roll of wallpaper or lining paper from a DIY store and roll it into a long 'road' in the garden. Roll up trousers and prepare plastic plates of finger plates. Have your little ones step in the paint and then walk down the road creating a footprint collage.  Use sticks and other implements to make other marks.

Creepy Jelly
Buy some plastic creepy crawlies and make up a jelly, inserting the creepy crawlies while it is still setting. Give the bowl to your little ones and have them look at the creepy crawlies and dig in with their hands to pull them out. If your little ones won't like creepy crawlies then use other small plastic toys.

Tactile Mousse
Repeat the jelly game but using a packet mousse instead. This time your little ones won't see the toys hidden inside so they must do everything purely by touch. Help them squidge the mousse through their fingers and even let them taste the mousse so that they use all their senses.

On the Pulses
If sloppy is too messy for you, encourage playing with pulses and pasta. Mix together dried beans, lentils, pasta and rice and encourage tactile play. Sort the foods into shapes, types and colours. Make a collage by gluing the dried foods to paper.

Spaghetti Tangle
Cook up some spaghetti and add a small amount of cooking oil to it to prevent it from sticking. This makes a great treat to play with - try combing the spaghetti like hair, separate strands out, or bend them into pictures.

Making Potions in the Garden

Permalink 28/05/12 06:59, by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Make Believe, Kids Activities , Tags: daisies, dandelions, imagination, messy play, mixing, potion, pretend play, textures

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Children love a bit of messy play and this spell of fine weather gives the perfect opportunity to make potions in the garden!  Give your little ones a selection of little pots and a large mixing bowl and encourage them to find different ingredients to make a potion.  Stir together sand, water, leaves, some small stones, perhaps some flowers such as daisies or dandelions.  Look for small items around the garden that can all be mixed together.

Talk with your little one about what the different ingredients do?  Perhaps the flowers make it taste sweeter, perhaps grass cuttings and leaves help to turn the drinkers skin a green colour?  Pebbles might be to help make the potion more digestible, strips of bark from trees and a few twigs may give you strength.

Of course, stress that this is only pretend and that your little one shouldn't really drink it, but at the same time, fire up their imagination and see what they can pretend this potion is for.  Describe the different textures of the ingredients and discuss whether they make the potion easier to stir, or lumpy, or change colour and so on.  Observe the changes as more ingredients are added.  Above all, have fun!

Learning About Size!

Permalink 12/07/11 06:07, by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Preschool Children, Kids Activities, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: books, dressing up, goldilocks, maths games, messy play, order, size, sorting, teddies, wellies

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Learning the concept of big and small may seem quite simple, but in fact, learning about size is a part of mathematical concepts.  Here are a few activities for the children to try out to help them learn sizes:-

Teddies and Wellies - Line up some wellie boots or shoes and grab a few different sizes bears and dolls. Try putting the dolls and teddies in each of the pairs of shoes. Predict whether the toys are too big or too small to fit in!

Dress-up time - Take a selection of hats, shoes and coats that belong to different members of the family. Try them on and decide if they are too big or too small!

Messy time - Make some hand prints with other children or do some yourself. Look at the prints together and say which are bigger and which are smaller. Measure them with a tape measure if you have older children or cut them out to compare them.

Story time - Read Goldilocks and the Three Bears and act out the story using chairs, different sized bowls etc.

Tubs and pots - Take a few tubs and pots of different sizes. Look at them and compare them. Fill some with water. Transfer the water between them to see which hold more and which are bigger than the others.

Books - Go to a bookshelf and look at all the books. Compare the sizes of the books and sort them in size order. You'll end up with a tidy books shelf too!

Start Mark Making with Messy Play

Permalink 13/01/11 07:29, by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Kids Activities , Tags: flour, fun, jelly, mark making, messy play, pasta, sand, water

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Messy Play is a fun and important part of play - babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers are always delighted to get their hands stuck in to some messy play.  They get to feel and touch items and substances they wouldn't normally handle.  But, it is also useful for the beginnings of mark-making and ideal for observing their world and how different ingredients change when mixed up.  Most importantly - it is fun!

Get a large tray such as a baking tray with fairly deep sides to use when doing messy play. Add some ingredients to the tray and encourage the little ones to mix and feel and play with the substances.

  • Flour: Place some flour on the tray.  Get some small toys to drive through the flour to make tracks.  Mix with spoons and sprinkle with glitter to make it sparkly.
  • Flour and water: Add some water to make it slushy and really messy!  Great fun!
  • Oats: Add three spoon and bowls and some washable teddies and act out the tree bears story!
  • Shaving foam: A cheap can of shaving foam can be sprayed on the tray and used to make patterns and marks with spoons and tools etc.
  • Jelly: Make up some different colours and cut them up with blunt knives, mix them and squelch them together.
  • Pasta: Different shaped pasta and rice can be mixed, sorted and sprinkled.  Let the children use their imagination. Make  necklace by threading onto string if you have time.
  • Cornflour: Mix cornflour and water to make a heavenly gloopy, sticky messy substance to play with. 
  • Sand: Make a beach, add water in a bowl for sea and mix it all together.  Make letter shapes and patterns in the sand or drive through some favourite toys or cars.
  • Water play: Put some water in a sink or old baby bath and use it to play!  Fill containers, make showers, sprinkle with glitter, use spoons and ladles and have fun!  Add ducks or some dolls to wash.

Remember to protect clothing, floor, tables and keep any valuables away from the mess.  Have fun!

Mark Making Ideas

Permalink 04/07/10 07:53, by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Learning Play, Child Development, Preschool Children, Kids Activities , Tags: chalk, crayons, drawing, finger paint, ideas, mark making, messy play, paper, pencils, sand, writing

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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.

Craft for Babies

Permalink 05/09/09 08:21, by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Learning Play, ToucanLearn, Kids Art and Craft , Tags: baby craft, edible glue, edible paint, messy play, sensory play

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You may think that babies are too young to participate in craft projects, but there are plenty of craft ideas you can do with them.  Most ideas revolve around sensory stimulation - letting babies experience touch and textures of different materials.  As babies can be prone to putting things in their mouths, it makes sense that you use edible food for early craft, such as jelly, squirty cream, ice cream, pasta or rice.  Babies will enjoy the feel of foods, put them on newspaper on the floor and they will start to make their own art!  You don't want to introduce glue at this stage, but again you can improvise with edible glues.  A mix of flour and water will make an adequate glue for sticking pasta onto paper, you can also make edible glue from CMC powder used for cake decorating.  Of course babies won't be creating amazing pictures but they can play with layers of paper or foods that they can move around paper coated with an edible glue.

You can also do hand and foot painting, or create impressions in clays, with your baby, to create a lovely keepsake.  Again there are plenty of ways to make edible paints and clays - log into ToucanLearn and look under 'Fun Stuff' for recipes for both.  If you have a baby, register them in ToucanLearn and you'll be able to see plenty of other craft ideas and actvities to follow with them.

Baby craft sounds messy, and yes it is!  ...but your baby will enjoy sensory craft play and will begin to learn textures and develop their fine motor skills.



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Hi! I'm Tikal the Toucan, the mascot for ToucanLearn. Follow my blog to find out interesting things relating to babies, toddlers and preschool children!

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