November 27, 2018 Jo (@activity_mama)
Hands up whose expectation of parenthood was sitting with a drink and watching your child play beautifully on the carpet…yep, yep, everyone! Well, we all know that was an ideal!! Hands up who has had to clean crayon off the wall or change your child because they got covered in paint or had to dress up as the baddie in a game or go back and forth to the sink to fill up your daughters Aquadoodle pen with water for the 50 millionth time… everyone again!!! BUT was your child having fun? Isn’t that the most important thing!
I'm Jo, aka @activity_mama. I’ve worked with children for about 14 years in Holiday and After School Clubs, then in Nurseries and also as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant in a School. I LOVE and am a massive enthusiast about Early Years. What a great stage of development? Every day the children are learning all the skills that we as adults just take for granted. How something feels, what it tastes like, what the colour red is, or how to walk and balance and run. I joke with my friends that I get on with children so well because I have the same mental age, but really it’s because I love Play. I love creating activities for children and help them to explore and I love being silly with them.
My daughter, Eliza, is 21 months old and a ball of cheeky feistiness, with a dash of craziness like her Mum! I love her with all my heart but Motherhood was a lot different to what I expected. I thought that because I had experience in childcare and “knew” children, it would be a breeze, but I had a few low points that I wasn’t ready for. Also in those early weeks and months, I didn’t know how to play with my baby. I think I was craving the play I would get when she would be a bit older.
Now the fun is beginning! We moved house in April and this house is soooooo much better for play. When moving we had in mind that I was becoming a Childminder and our new house is great for play. During the Summer we would spend time in the garden but also could move freely in and out of the house. It was fantastic! Friends would, and still do, come round with their kids for “Messy Play at JoJo’s”. I was getting such good feedback that I started posting on my private page. So I then created @activity_mama, which is a way for me to share my activities with anyone and everyone who wants to see, and inspire them to create something fun for their little ones.
Creating activities for your child to play with doesn’t need to be a massive well thought out operation. It can simply be just getting a few things out of your cupboard to them to explore and investigate.
Cornflour – mix some cornflour and water in a plastic bowl (you could even add some food colouring) and get out a baking try and some spoons. Your little one will love feeling it going from firm to gloopy
Sauce pans with dried pasta and kitchen utensils for grabbing and mixing.
If you had a bag of top soil and flower pots in your garden, you child could pretend to plant some seeds
Use your bed linen to make a den. Have a Teddy Bears Picnic or read your child’s favourite book.
Collect a few bits of recycling before you chuck them in the bin and create a shop
I tend to pick up some of these little bits as I go,anything that I think Eliza would love to play with goes in the basket, much to my husband’s annoyance! I haven’t bought many big items in a while because you can make great play out of small bits. E.g. wind-up toys, shaving foam, lentils, paint, etc. But my favourite big purchase so far has been the Tuff Tray with a stand!! We use it every day as with the stand it is the perfect height for her. Plus its adjustable so will grow with her, big thumbs up! I’ve used it for shaving foam, pumpkin carving, water play, diggers and bark, making dens, coloured rice, and the small world toys are often on there.
An activity I used the tuff tray for the other day was using tweezers to transfer pompoms from bowls to egg cartons. At her age she doesn’t quite have to control to be able to pick up the pompoms properly but she gave it a good go which was all I could ask for. When I worked in the school just before having Eliza, I went on a course about Nurturing Boys, which was fantastic. One bit of information which has stuck with me is that boys fine motor skills and hand strength can develop almost a year after girls. Obviously this isn’t true for all children but it did make a lot of sense. In the Reception class we had a lot of those boys that would rather jab their eyes out than sit and do a bit of writing. In many cases the boys didn’t want to write because it could of hurt their hands. There was also a chance that they probably didn’t want to write because they wanted to be playing in the mud kitchen outside!! However it was still something really interesting to know. So doing these fine motor activities can be a great way to help your child to build their muscles in their hands, e.g. pinching play-dough, threading, colouring, using a paint brush with water outside.
Please come, follow me and check out my activities at @activity_mama if you have any questions or just want a chat, I would love to hear from you.
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