Being a stay at home mum means I spend a lot of my day trying to keep my son entertained. Any parent of babies or toddlers will know how exhausting this can be. Ollie has plenty of toys, but like all kids he gets bored of playing with the same things all the time. So I created a set of home-made play resources we can use in different ways to keep them interesting.
Why I Make My Own Play Resources:
- It saves me money as they’re cheap to make and replace.
- I can make and adapt activities for Ollie’s interests and stage of development.
- I now have a cupboard full of resources that can be used to set up new, fun activities.
Sometimes I’ll spend a while coming up with a new game or activity, but mostly I do things that are quick and easy to set up. Because any parent knows sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. When Ollie says he’s bored or I want a few minutes to enjoy a hot drink, we’ll go to the cupboard and pull one of these resources out. I love the fact that they’re versatile and can be used to create completely different activities each time.
If you want to make your own, here are a few ideas to get your started:
This is fun way for little ones to practice mark making and is really easy to make. All you need is a bowl of salt and a few drops of food colouring. When you add the colour, the salt will absorb it so you’ll need to rub it in with your fingers until the colour spreads. When you have the colour you want, leave it to dry for an hour or two. Spread the salt out on a flat surface and let your little one make some marks!
We did this on a small tray, so when Ollie had finished, we just gave it a shake and started again. Once we finished with the salt, I stored it in an airtight tub. Since then it’s been used for scooping and pouring, and as a beach in a small world setup!
Rainbow rice is without a doubt my favourite home-made play resource. It’s so cheap and simple to make, and can be used over and over. The current batch we are using was made over a year ago and has been played with tons of times.
The bright colours and noise it makes means it’s great for sensory play, and it’s also really versatile. You could use it for scooping and pouring activities, as a sensory bin filler, add it to small world setups or even make your own musical shakers with it!
Magnetic Fishing Game
A few months ago, I made Ollie this magnetic fishing game which he absolutely loved. As he’s got older, he’s become really interested in numbers. He LOVES watching Numberblocks on CBeebies and is always pointing out different numbers he sees while we are out. So, I’ve adapted the game for him. Now each fish has a different number of spots, like dice. I tell him a number and he has to get the right fish. When he gets older I’ll adapt it again, I’m thinking about writing simple sums on our chalkboard, then he has to work out the answer and catch the corresponding fish. This is why I love home-made play resources. You can totally tailor them to your child’s interests, and adapt them as they develop.
Ollie loves playdough but I soon got bored of buying it and replacing it a few days later when he’d squashed all the colours together and turned it into a purpley brown blob. So, I started making my own. It’s actually really easy to make and the internet is full of recipes for all kinds of coloured, scented sensory play dough. If you store it in an air-tight container it will keep for weeks if not months. Ollie’s favourite is this gingerbread playdough recipe we found from Sweet Sugar Belle.
Lettered And Numbered Beans
Recently I found an old bag of butterbeans at the back of the cupboard. It seemed a waste to throw them away, so I grabbed a Sharpie and wrote a letter or number on each one. I’ve done uppercase and lowercase letters, and enough of the more common letters to be able to spell out common words and names. We’ve already used them for letter matching, as Ollie gets older and starts to read he’ll be able to use them for spelling activities. The numbered beans will be used for counting, making patterns and sequences and playing number games.
Of course it goes without saying to keep an eye on little ones around small parts and always ensure they are stored away safely at the end!