Posts tagged - play

Letter learning fun

Have you started teaching letters to your toddler yet? If so, how do you go about it? Do you use books, flash cards, toys, or something else? What age did you start?

If you haven’t started yet, don’t panic! There is plenty of time. Even if your child has just started school and you haven’t done anything with them at home, it’s ok. You’ll be surprised how much they’ve picked up anyway, and their brains are little sponges at this age so they won’t take long to catch up.

If you’ve been thinking about teaching letters now but don’t know where to start, first of all… Relax. It doesn’t need to feel like work – for either of you! I’m over at Wriggly Rascals this week, talking about ways to make letter learning fun. Head over to the blog now, to find out what my three (yep, just three!) top tips are. While you’re there and your mind is on the subject, why not spend an extra minute or two answering this short survey to share your own top tips with mum Lynne, who wants start teaching three-year old Molly her letters but isn’t sure where to start.

If you’re still at the babyhood stage and not ready to think about letters yet but wondering what toys might help with your child’s development, you might also want to have a read of this post, which lists some great suggestions.

Wriggly Rascals was set up by Shona Motherwell, a frustrated mum of twins Mhairi and Archie, to get mums together to share pregnancy, baby and toddler advice via quick surveys to get the facts about what other mums do. If you would like read or share some advice, click on the image above.

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Transportable Toys for your Toddler’s Education

This is a guest post from Galt Toys.

Someone once said a child is like a sponge and never has it been truer. We plead with them to say just one new word, yet as soon as we let something slip that we would rather was never repeated, they are all over it and the word or phrase becomes their favourite.

No matter where you take a toddler, there is something for them to absorb. Even on bus or car journeys, there are things to learn, and you can maximise these opportunities by nabbing some educational toys to take along. Here are some fab ideas for transportable toys and activities to help your toddler learn on-the-go.

Interactive Books

Books are fabulous, but some books have little activities to help them get more involved with the book’s content, such as finger puppets, buttons to press when certain images occur in the story and more. Not only will they teach your child picture-sound recognition or co-ordination (depending on the activity), the story will feed their creative side. Most children’s books do have an educational theme or something to learn from them, so this lesson will hopefully be picked up along the way.

Peter Rabbit finger puppet book

Activities That Mimic What You Are Doing

Taking your tot in the car for a trip out? Why not get them a steering wheel to mount on the dashboard and get them to copy you. Talk them through what they are doing (turning left, turning right, approaching the roundabout etc.) so they can learn new words while doing exactly as you do.

Drawing Equipment

Pens and paper are always a hit (but make sure you take washable drawing paraphernalia if you want your clothes and their clothes and every surface in sight to remain in a respectable state) no matter where you go or what you do. Let them scribble all over, or encourage them to draw using a colour they can see. For example, if they can see a leaf, suggest they use green. If near water, get them colouring in blue. This will help them learn colours while creating artwork that will be stuck to the fridge for years to come.

Mushroom creating his latest masterpiece

Baby Puzzles

One of my favourite activities to take out and about for toddlers are Galt’s baby puzzles. They are simple jigsaws where you have to match one half to the other and there are a number of themes, including transport, farm and jungle. Tasks like this help them to develop co-ordination as well as problem-solving skills. They will also learn the names of different animals or items and where they can be found if you play along and talk to them about what they are doing. These types of puzzles are ideal to take on days out such as picnics or the beach, where your child may want to sit and rest for a little while.

About the Author

This article was written on behalf of Galt Toys. Galt Toys have been manufacturing toys for over 175 years, and know a thing or two about toys…and having fun!


The Babyhuddle Play carnival

Hello party people! Got your whistles and horns? Wearing short shorts and waving your flags? Then join the line, it’s carnival time! Rum punch in the bowl on your left, fill up your water bottle (What? That’s not water? Oh Ok, mixers on the right) and turn up the stereo ’cause it’s party time!

New here? Wondering what’s going on? No, we’re not serving alcohol to the kids – today I am hosting the Babyhuddle Play Carnival. Here’s where you can get some great ideas on how to entertain the kids, come rain or shine. I am very happy to be hosting this carnival, as I blogged recently about how outdoor play always trumps indoor activity for Mushroom and I. This is still true today, however, I now have some great ideas for the next time we’re stuck indoors – we’ll never be bored again.

So, let me introduce the real hosts of this party:

Filling up at the punch bowl we have Rachel McClary over at Right from the start. Rachel asks  Do children need toys? Her experience when she first arrived in the US reminded her of the importance of not only using household objects for play but also trusting children to use real things around the home rather than ‘child friendly’ versions. Rachel also blogs about messy play both indoors and out, explaining Why playing with mud is good for children and how she disovered that Making muddy footprints isn’t always easy. Indoor ideas include playing with shaving foam – an idea from her daughter! and playing with ice – a great idea, especially in the summer months when it can also cool down overheated toddlers (I will be trying this out if the weather ever improves!)

Over there on the danecfloor is Tami Anderson from Mummy of two who asks whether playing with your kids is boring or fun? If you’re leaning towards boring, perhaps a session of messy play with Rainbow spaghetti could change your mind…

To her left is Leyla Brooke from This day I love. Leyla has some great examples of proper messy messy play (be prepared for a big clean up but it’s worth it for the fun you’ll have!)… We’re loving play with  Sand (yes, indoors!), home-made strawberry scented Play dough (watch they don’t eat it) and she shows us how to make snow any time of year for Indoor snow fun. Less messy play includes a special Jewellery box (I have copied this idea already as Mushroom is always in my jewellery box – now he has his own!) and Playing outside before lunch.

Standing in the far corner waving at you (yes, you!) is Jessica McGlynn from Catch a single thought. Jessica shares some ideas for Spring play – water and bubbles are always winners in our house – and as for the ribbon, I want one of those! I’m sure there’s a Poundland near me… Jessica also writes about not so messy messy play (so suits me perfectly) with tissue paper. Simple but so much fun!

Behind Jessica is Emma Louise Garrett from The Mini Mes and Me. Emma talks about the importance of making time to play to help our children’s development and links up with some great ideas including rock pets, cellophane window decorations and more shaving foam – this time with colour! Also talking about making time to play is Eileen Teo from ET Speaks From Home, who shows us how to make some cute masks with a video starring her lovely kids.

Finally, if you head to the kitchen you’ll find Louise Fairweather brewing A Strong Coffee… Louise gives us an another alternative to snow that’s available all year round snow – crazy (foaming) soap!

So… Now that you’ve met everyone, why not join us? Fill that bottle with rum punch and hit the dancefloor, or head into the kitchen for tea/coffee and a chat? If you have any more ideas for keeping the little ones entertained when we all get home, do share them below! As we all know, it’s the guests who make the party so let’s keep this carnival going all week!


Indoor vs Outdoor play

I have a confession to make… I’m not keen on indoor play. Messy or otherwise. There, I said it. I know it’s as important for development as getting outside and getting plenty of exercise and fresh air but to be honest at the moment I am finding it kind of boring… Maybe it’s Mushroom’s age (and short attention span), or maybe it’s the fact that we’ve been stuck indoors quite a lot lately when it’s supposed to be spring – we were even forced home from the park last week due to hailstones. Hailstones! Neither Mushroom or I were happy about that.

I do try – we use indoor play time to work on learning colours, letters and numbers (here’s a handy list of toys to help with the numbers). We also play pretend with whatever we have to hand – and I am actually rather fond of playdoh as we can have fun ‘baking’ without the calories… (We used to bake a lot more. Then my clothes started to get a little tight. I am not good at baking without sampling the spoils!). We do a little messy play with different textures (pasta, jelly), colouring, drawing and quite a lot of sticking… The thing is, after about 20 minutes of any of these activities, I’m as bored as Mushroom is! The only thing that hold both our attention for longer is building lego/duplo towers, playing with cars and trucks (yes, I do really enjoy this!) baking an actual cake and dancing. But we’re getting a bit fed up with these activities on rotation…

Colouring with different coloured chalks

I think the problem really is that we’d both just rather be outside. As long as it’s not raining (or hailstone-ing – if that’s a word?), then it puts him in a better mood, makes me feel more awake and tires him out enough that we can actually kind of enjoy a quieter indoor activity in the evening. Today, for instance, we are heading to a local city farm, which we are both very excited about. It’s sunny, we’ll be outside, we get to see lots of animals and play in the park. You just can’t beat all that with any indoor activity (feel free to challenge this! I’d be interested in your comments!).

I’m pretty sure I just need to think of some new indoor activities to freshen things up a bit but here at Mushroom Mansions (no, not really. I wish!), just saying ‘ Let’s go outside,’ can stop a tantrum in it’s tracks. So when it comes to indoor vs. outdoor play for us? No competition.

We love a good climbing frame

What about you? Are you the outdoorsy types or do you prefer to chill out indoors? If indoor play is your thing, what kind of activities are always guaranteed to entertain?

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