The great British summer is finally here and it looks like it’s sticking around for a while (for a change). As much as I’m loving the sun, it makes parenting a toddler a bit more challenging. Not only is Ollie waking up a lot earlier than normal – 4.30am yesterday argh! – but he’s also a bit more grumpy and has a lot less energy than normal. It doesn’t help that the sun shines directly into our living room in the afternoon and it basically becomes a sauna. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking of ways we can cool down and have fun without spending any money.
This week I took some inspiration from my childhood and made a magnetic fishing game for Ollie. It’s really simple and cheap to prepare, but it will last a long time and it’s something I can bring out on a rainy day.
Not only is it fun but it’s a great chance for children to learn about magnets by watching them at work. It’s also good for hand-eye coordination, developing gross motor skills and social skills such as taking turns. We are all about learning through play in our house, and this activity definitely ticks that box!
Painting is one of my favourite activities to do with Ollie. It’s so simple, but keeps him entertained for ages, and it’s perfect for rainy days when we’re trapped inside. Having said that, it can get a little boring when you do it ALL the time. So, I’m always looking for ways to make it a bit different and more interesting.
Here are my favourite ways to paint with kids that don’t just involve paintbrushes:
I used to do this all the time when I was little, and it’s so simple but makes really pretty and unusual pictures. Get some paper and tape it down – preferably in something with sides like a tray or box lid. Then drop some paint on it and use a straw to blow patterns on the page. Watercolours work better than poster paints as they’re easier to blow, but I’ve also used food colouring which worked perfectly. I’ve also been told that if you poke a little hole at the top of the straw, it prevents the child being able to suck the paint back up the straw.
In our house there is no such thing as junk or rubbish. Since I became a Mum, I’m constantly looking for ways to reuse our rubbish and things destined for the bin to entertain my toddler. I’m a stay at home Mum which means money can be tight, and the days can be long! Don’t get me wrong, I love being home with my little boy but keeping him entertained without the use of Paw Patrol can be easier said than done. I like to do lots of new activities and games with him, and I’m a firm believer that that doesn’t need to cost a ton of money. So, here are just a few ways you can reuse things you already have around the house to entertain your little ones.
As far as family days out go, you can’t get much more frugal than a walk in the woods. Last week we decided to follow the Forestry Commission’s Highway Rat Activity Trail. We had a lovely day out, got some fresh air and exercise, and Ollie even learnt some new skills.
For those of you who don’t know, The Highway Rat is a brilliant Julia Donaldson book about a mean rat who steals all the food from the local animals. Ollie loved the animated version that was on TV over Christmas, so when I saw there was a Highway Rat activity trail, we had to give it a go! The trails are in forests and woods all over the country, and you can find your closest one on the Forestry Commission website.
Making your own bird feeders is a lovely way to introduce some birds into your garden, teach children about nature and it’s even a great sensory activity for little ones.
Ollie loves animals and really likes watching birds but recently we haven’t had many in the garden. At this time of year, the trees and bushes are bare, and it’s so cold that the ground is pretty hard too so there isn’t much food around for the birds. I bought some bird seed to try and invite them in, but rather than just sprinkling it on the ground or buying a container, I thought we’d make our own feeders as a way to keep Ollie entertained for the afternoon.
Christmas might be over but winter is definitely here to stay a bit longer! I’m already longing for summer and Ollie has started climbing the walls after being trapped in the house all week thanks to bad weather and illness. Keeping him entertained without hours of CBeebies has been a challenge!
One of our resolutions as a family is to reduce screen time this year. While I don’t mind the kids watching TV or playing on consoles some of the time I don’t want them to be glued to their screens every second of the day. But, on cold and wet wintery evenings, it can be hard to think of ways to keep them entertained. So, I asked some fellow parenting bloggers for their favourite family activities:
Christmas is my favourite time of year. I love getting in the festive spirit as early as possible, so over the past few weeks Ollie and I have been doing lots of Christmas activities and crafts. When you’ve got a toddler at home, it can be hard to think of ways to entertain them. Especially if you get snowed in like we did last week and they start climbing the walls! All these activities are easy to prepare and can be done with things you already have around the house.
Salt Dough Ornaments
I love making salt dough for Ollie because you can use ingredients from the kitchen and it only takes a few minutes to prepare. We printed his hands into the salt dough and used cookie cutters to make ornaments for the tree. It’s a great sensory activity for toddlers and you get a keepsake at the end.
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Making salt dough ornaments is a great Christmas activity for kids of all ages. It’s easy to prepare using just a few ingredients from your kitchen, so it’s very frugal too. I also love the fact that it only uses natural ingredients, so it won’t be a problem if your little one decides to taste it!
How To Make Salt Dough
1 Cup Of Plain Flour
1/2 Cup Of Salt
1/3 Cup of Water
Just mix the ingredients together in a bowl, and knead it for a few minutes. I’ve found it works best if you use lukewarm water and mix it in slowly. You want it to be firm enough to work with and not crack when you roll it out. If it’s too sticky just add a bit more flour, or more water if it’s too dry. You can also add a few drops of food colouring if you like to colour the dough.
Christmas is only a few weeks away and lots of us are already feeling the pressure to buy our children lots of new (often expensive) toys. But do we really need to?
I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard people say kids love playing with cardboard boxes more than the presents inside. And since I’ve had Ollie I’ve realised how true this is!
I’m not going to lie, Ollie has a LOT of toys – especially as he’s just had his second birthday. He picked a couple of favourites out then spent the rest of the day playing with the wrapping paper, balloons and birthday cards! He regularly spends lots of time playing with things that aren’t really toys – his favourites are the laundry ball from the washing machine and plastic tubs! In fact we’ve played loads of games with items from the kitchen.