Mash potato sensory play

mash potato sensory playThis is another simple and edible messy play that I put together for Poppet. The idea came from an open day at her nursery where there was edible paint which was basically mashed potato and food colouring. I’d forgotten all about it until I found myself with left over mash one night. I put it in a Tupperware and put it in the fridge over night. The following day I divided the mash in to two (since I only have 2 food colourings in at present, must buy more colours soon) and add some food colouring to each. There was no measuring, I just added and mixed until I was happy with the colour.

IMG_9056 IMG_9047After nap time one afternoon, I put Poppet in her highchair wearing a wipe clean, long sleeve bib and gave her the two tubs of mash. She seemed puzzled and made no attempt to touch it. So I tipped the mash on to the high chair tray and started playing with it myself to encourage her. Still she didn’t seem interested in touching it. Eventually she started to very carefully touch the edges of the pile. I kept playing with it and rolled a small ball together and handed it to her. She started playing with it a bit more and as expected she tasted a few bits. Eventually after a lot of encouragement she really got interested and started squashing the mash enthusiastically. She seemed to really enjoy it for a short time & then just stopped altogether.IMG_9057 IMG_9084

This is a great sensory play idea for older babies and toddlers who still put everything in their mouths and one that I will be repeating again soon.


Outdoor play – water tables

IMG_0062Poppet’s first birthday was at the end of April so she got a number of outdoor toys which I am really looking forward to using over the summer. I wrote about her smartrike for country kids last week and this week is all about the fun we had with her water table. She also got a ball, a ride on and some foam matting. We don’t have a big garden (in fact it’s more of a yard really and there is no grass) but I am determined to make the most of what we do have. We are very lucky to have two nice parks in walking distance of our house but it is also nice to have a bit of outdoor space that we can use as well. We are lucky that Poppet will only be in nursery two days a week so I know that the garden will get plenty of use by her.

IMG_0060After three days back at work, I woke up on Thursday excited to spend the day with Poppet. I was also pleased to see that the weather was gorgeous. I took her to the park on her trike after breakfast where she enjoyed the swings, then we popped in to the supermarket on the way home to pick up some fresh fruit and other bits and bobs. After lunch but before her nap I decided to put together her water table for the first time. I put water in one side and put all the toys in for her and then brought her out. I wish you could see her face, she loved it. There was lots of smiles, giggles and splashing too. She loved playing with the various toys and I used the scoop to fill the funnels so she could watch the water wheels move around. Yes her clothes were soaked after just 15 minutes but we had fun. So much fun that I let her play in it again yesterday morning too and we’ll probably get it out later today to show daddy how much fun it is.

waterplayI hope we will use this table lots over the summer. It is a sand and water table but for the moment we don’t have any plans to put any sand in. Right now Poppet is happy enough with just water but when she is a little older I hope to put things like cloud dough and other sensory materials in it for her. It’s lovely to see her so happy and excited as she plays with the water toys or just splashes in the water (and rides on her smartrike). I have to be honest, all the toys she has inside rarely get played with, they just don’t seem to hold her attention and she prefers to crawl or cruise around the furniture. These outdoor toys however really make her smile, laugh and hold her attention.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


Easter sensory bag

Easter sensory bagI’ve seen a lot of sensory or discovery bags as ideas for sensory play for babies. Since Poppet is still at the stage where everything goes in the mouth, these seem like the ideal way to play with inedible messy substances and small objects. For this Easter themed bag I simply added a tub of hair gel (I bought supermarket own basics brand for about 50p) into a zip lock freezer bag and added a small packet of bunny table confetti (pack of 4 from a £1 shop). In order to ensure the bag did not leak (or Poppet didn’t figure out how the zip worked), I sealed the top with duct tape. As an extra safety measure (as Poppet has 6 teeth so she could potentially burst the bag if she chewed on it) I taped the bag down to her high chair tray.

IMG_8715Poppet prodded and poked the bag for a little bit and seemed to enjoy the activity. I think she is still a little young for this yet as it didn’t take long for her to start trying to bite the bag and also peel it off the high chair. Even so I have saved the bag and give it her to play with, supervised, for short periods every so often. I think this is a great activity for older babies and there are so many variations around on the internet that I can’t wait to try in the future.IMG_8707

The Diary of a Frugal Family


Sensory play for babies – jelly

IMG_8606aI’ve been doing bits of sensory play with my daughter for a while now but water play is about as messy as it has got at home. At christmas we took her to a messy play christmas party. We had so much fun and one of the activities she seemed to really enjoy was jelly in a tuff spot. I’ve been meaning to recreate this activity at home for her for some time but never quiet got round to it (I even had the jelly in the cupboard). Then last week Ghostwritter mummy shared a really useful blog post about messy play for under 2’s. I also had a bit of a chat with her on twitter about messy play for babies and came away really inspirded to start doing more with my daughter.  IMG_8605IMG_8606 We don’t have a tuff spot but I bought a clear plastic underbed storage box which I planned to use for sensory play. I tested it out with water play thinking Poppet would sit next to the box and reach in to play with the contents. However as you can see in this photo my daughter wasn’t happy to sit next to the box and instead climbed straight in to the tub of water, fully clothed! IMG_8608IMG_8609

This time I thought I’d try messy play with jelly in the bath with Poppet stripped to her vest. Simple clean up I thought (which was true) but what I hadn’t expected was for Poppet to pull herself up to standing using the side of the bath. Jelly makes the bath very slippy! Not quiet the stress free messy play I was hoping for as I constantly faught to stop her falling over in the jelly! How I wish we had a tuff spot. Sat in the middle of that with nothing with in reach to pull herself up on would be great. Although she’d probably crawl off leaving a trail of jelly behing her. IMG_8614

She did spend a short time sat squishing the jelly in her hand which she seemed to enjoy. Surprisingly she didn’t try to eat any of it, very unusual as everything goes in the mouth (and she did eat it at the christmas party but perhaps that was the sand that had been transferred form another activity that she enjoyed!). Excuse her messy hair. We did this activity straight after our swimming lesson.IMG_8618I’m not sure the standing up was her way of saying she’d had enough or more just that she could stand up. She’s never still you see. She loves to crawl, pull herself to standing and most recently climb on to things. Back to the drawing board, we’ve not done any messy play this week. I need to pick something else to try with her soon.


Musical play

musical playMuch has been written about the importance of music for babies and children’s development and apart from that, they all seem to love music. My baby is no different; she responds instantly to singing or music and has done for many months.

There are certain songs that seem to calm her and allow her to drift off to sleep. Her current favorite seems to be The Seekers, Morningtown ride that my mother-in-law sang to my husband as a baby and now we all sing it to her. Within seconds she smiles and relaxes with the familiar tune and words. Sometimes she will even start to drift off to sleep.

Whenever there is music playing (no matter whether it is nursery rhymes or any type of music playing on the radio) she will either be clapping along, kicking one or both legs, bouncing her whole body or if she is in a crawling position, rocking backwards and forwards.

music play 2Since September, when she was around 4 months old, I have been taking her to our local library’s rhyme time session when ever I can and we also went to a weekly music class until just before Christmas. Through the music class, I learnt the importance of babies and children learning to tap a steady beat and also that under supervision they can play with real instruments. I’ve also learnt a few different music activities that we still do at home along with building upon them myself.

As well as a plastic shaker and toy drum which are aimed at her age range, I have bought her a wooded shaker and a set of bells. Both these toys are supposed to be for children over three, so she only plays with them under my supervision. These are just the start and I plan to add to her collection of instruments. I think I’d like to add a xylophone or similar for her first birthday. I’ve also made her a couple of noisy sensory bottles. These are simply small water bottles that I have put dried beans in one and quinoa in the other (but you could use anything that makes a noise, rice would be another nice option). I used quinoa and dried beans as we had them in the kitchen and they made very different sounds to each other.IMG_8041One wet and windy day when we were staying home since we are both recovering from chesty coughs and colds. I decided to get all our instruments out, as well as a few household items and our homemade sensory bottles. I included a wooden spoon and metal colander, a plastic box.

I sat Poppet down with this collection of noisy items and let her explore them. I showed her how she could use some of them to make noise and talked to her about what she was doing/hearing. She is very good at shaking things such as her bells and shakers so she didn’t need much help. I sat back and watched her explore the different noises she could make with these items and talked her through some of the differences between them.

Once she had explored all the items and seemed to be resorting to only chewing them I decided to add in some of the activities we do at music classes/rhyme time. I sang ‘play your music really loud’ and then ‘play your music really soft’ whilst using the bells or shakers loudly or quietly. I also found a selection of nice nursery rhyme videos on you tube (Super simple songs, our favorites so far are row row row your boat and old McDonald) that we watched whilst playing our instruments along with them and/or singing along. Where possible I encouraged her to shake an instrument or helped her to hold an instrument and tap out a steady beat to the music.

We have been repeating this activity and she always loves it. Edspire is currently featuring a series on musical play if you want further ideas and I have started a pinterest board of musical play ideas which I will be adding to. I’d love to hear if any of you have any more ideas or resources (e.g. websites/you tube channels) to share with me, please leave me a comment.

Valentine’s day for babies

I know it’s a bit late but I thought I would share some ideas for valentine’s day with a baby.

IMG_8202Yesterday at play group we made these super sweet but most importantly super simple valentines cards. We used paint pads to do hand and foot prints on to white paper hearts (which had been cut before the session). We then used glue sticks to stick the hearts to pink or red card and decorated them further with felt tip pens and foam hearts. I really enjoyed making these and I hope my husband will love it when he sees them tonight. We’ve been going to this particular toddler group for about a month now and the crafts are usually unsuitable for the babies so it was lovely to be able to join in this week. I’ve been meaning to do hand and foot prints for some time now as well. This would work well for babies of any age, just make sure you have a supply of baby wipes handy. A second person to help you is also beneficial especially for feet.

red treasure basketThis morning I set up a simple red treasure basket using lots of red toys and some red items I could find around the house. I have a lot of red in my kitchen so I included a whisk, spatula, measuring spoons and my keys are on a red ribbon so I included these. There were also toys such as a red ball, red piece of fabric from a toy, stacking cup, fabric stacking cube with a red textured side, a red lid from a set of foam bath letters and finally her happy apple toy which makes a lovely noise.

IMG_7927She sat for some time, happily taking items out of the basket and examining them before moving on to another item. Of course some of them went straight to her mouth. I used my judgement and removed the ones I was not happy with her chewing (keys fo example). Treasure baskets are lovely for babies to explore and themed ones can be so much fun. They are really simple to put together so you can put one together when you have time. As with all activities that use items that are not toys or not designed to be played with by babies, use your judgement and supervise your baby at all times.

IMG_7937Of course we have been reading some valentines related books as well. We’ve been enjoying guess how much I love you, (read what we thought of it here) a kiss like this and Babylit’s Romeo and Juliet this week.

IMG_8207Not strictly speaking an activity for babies but this morning I used her nap time to make some chocolates for my husband. These were really simple to make and older children could be involved with decorating them.

IMG_8194IMG_8200I started by melting some dark chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water. I then poured the chocolate in to this heart shaped silicone mold (the round ones are silicone cupcake cases as I had too much chocolate for the mold) and finally decorated them with dried fruits and pistachio nuts. There are many options for decorating your chocolates other than dried fruit and nuts. You could use any number of the cake decorating sprinkles that you can pick up in all supermarkets or perhaps add a different type of chocolate on top of the first layer once it is set.IMG_8212The Diary of a Frugal Family

Christmas sensory basket

IMG_7399Inspired by The imagination tree’s Christmas Sensory tub, I decided to put together something similar for my baby. My baby is 7 months old and is able to sit up and grab things, however everything goes in the mouth so I avoided small items such as rice.  I wanted to include a variety of textures, Christmas colours and items that made a noise or lit up.

IMG_7390Here’s what I included:

* Tinsel

* shiny baubles

* Bells

* Christmas sensory LED/snow globe ball (read more about this in yesterday’s post, here)

* Red and gold ribbon

* silver gift bow

* crochet star

* Zip along robin (pull a cord and he moves around on a flat surface)

* Christmas board book – Snowtime fun (read more about this book, here)

IMG_7107 IMG_7260 We’ve spent a significant amount of time this month sat examining the contents of the basket. She really seems to enjoy exploring the contents and it keeps her attention well. Sometimes I sing Christmas songs whilst we are exploring this basket, such as jingle bells (she’s very good at shaking these bells). I also tell her about the item she is examining such as what colour it is, the texture etc. I’m really happy with this as a first sensory basket and I look forward to creating more of them for her.IMG_7274

You can find more ideas for Christmas activities for all ages on my Christmas pinterest board or for more sensory play ideas suitable for all year round have a look at my sensory play board where I have been pinning my favorite ideas from around the web.

Please note, I am not trained in child development or early years education. I am just an enthusiastic parent who has picked up a thing or two from other blogs, books and various baby classes. Since none of these items are intended as toys for babies, they are stored out of her reach (i.e. not in her toy box) and only played with under adult supervision. I also spend 80% of the time preventing her from putting inappropriate bits in her mouth e.g. the tinsel which sheds easily.