Tag Archives: kids activities

Pretend play

pretend play

Pretend play – What is it? How do I do it? Why is it important?

“Here Mum, I made you a coffee?” PJ announced proudly as he shoved a bucket full of sand in my face. The pretend play is strong at the moment in that one, and clearly I drink waaaay too much coffee. But it got me thinking about what pretend play is and why I should encourage it… as I pretend to sip my coffee while slowly pouring it back into the sandpit.

sand pit coffee

Why Is Pretend Play Important?

For some kids it comes naturally, their make believe skills are intuitive, while for others they need some encouragement. The good news (or bad news, depending on your ability to drink phony tea, or sit at mini table and be taught by your little one) is that pretend play is extremely important for children.

The growth of a child’s mental, emotional, and cognitive skills is focused on their imaginative and creative play. Children learn to socially connect, relate, and align personal feelings with the emotions of others through creative, open-ended play with both friends and family.

When a parent and child participate in safe, creative play together, there are several benefits. Early pretend play increases a child’s attention span and focus as they immerse themselves in the game. Pretend or imaginative play can also improve a child’s emotional intelligence, ability to negotiate social interactions and language development. Finally pretend play gives children an opportunity to explore and replicate interactions they have with others around them in a safe, fictional environment.

What is pretend play? 

Pretend play is known by several different names. These names include imaginative play, artistic play, make-believe play, and fantasy play.

pretend play

Simply put, it’s role-playing. It is acting out different roles and creating story lines. It is the expression of positive and negative emotions, the discovery of options, and the experience of the outcomes of various decisions in a stable, regulated setting.

Examples to get you started

Have you ever seen your kid pick up a stone and imagine it’s a speeding car or jump a Lego around the table pretending it’s a robot or ballerina? Imaginative play can also include things like: dressing up as superheroes and pretending to be mummies and daddies. Or it could be pretending to go shopping, dressing up, pretending to fly to the moon, tea parties, pretending to drive trucks in the sandpit, and pretending to play with dolls etc. Or in the case of my children it is creating a cafe from the sandpit and feeding each other or me coffees, dinners and cakes.

dress up

How to encourage pretend play? 

Children begin to play pretend between the ages of 14 and 18 months. Fortunately, they often do this on their own and don’t need anything to get started. At this stage, parents should promote pretend play by keeping a variety of fun things on hand to facilitate imagination and ingenuity, such as cardboard boxes, blocks, dolls, figurines or sandpits etc. You can prompt this imaginative play by reading books (such as Bruno’s Box), telling stories or having conversations to get them started. Then watch their little imaginations run wild.

cardboard fort

As your little ones get older, allow them to create and lead their own imaginative play. Open ended toys, dress up items and everyday household items hold the key. Items like pots, pans and utensils can provide inspiration for play time. Therefore, there may be some chaos and clutter during the game as your child takes on the role.  At the end of the day that is all part of their fun. And really, they were probably going to make the mess anyway.

Finally, don’t forget children observe what we do and pick up skills from our nonverbal signals. Let’s support their development by drinking that pretend coffee and joining in the fun!

 

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Free the Babies – When should babies start floor time? It’s important babies start floor time from an early age. Babies are raised in a world full of capsules, prams, swings, bouncers, hammocks, docks… the list is endless. More and more parents look for items to support, hold, and comfort children that it is preventing […]

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How to get your play mat to settle? When your play mat first arrives you may find that you unroll it, and it re curls at the ends. This is totally normal as our play mats are stored in the rolled position in their boxes throughout the warehouse and shipping process. Play mats can take […]

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Preparing for childcare

It’s in the preparation… preparing for Childcare Is your child about to start childcare? Babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, it doesn’t matter the age starting daycare or type of childcare, the first time can be hard on both kids and parents. Preparing for childcare can help you and your little one make a smooth transition. Preparing […]

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Mother’s Day craft: A gift Mum will cherish

Mother’s Day craft ideas

Mother’s day is just around the corner and we believe that most mums would prefer to receive a gift that has been handmade by the kids rather than a costly, generic store-bought gift. That means it’s time for Dads, partners and carers to get into the crafting spirit and assist the children with making a unique, homemade gift for mum using our Mother’s Day craft ideas.

We know that may not come easily for some and so we have compiled a list of ideas to help you on your way. There are simple craft ideas that the little ones can make to more detailed craft ideas for the older kids.

MUMMA BEAR CRAFT CARD

Do your kids love to call Mum ‘Mumma Bear’? If yes, this bear card is simple to make and will fit perfectly with the name.

What you need:

1 x coloured cardboard – to form the base of your card

1 x white piece of paper

Craft supplies, googly eyes, pom poms etc.

Textas, pencils, crayons or paint

Glue and scissors

Directions:

Design and draw a bear or print one like this on your white paper.

Colour your bear in with textas, crayons, pencils or paint.

Cut your bear out and stick it to the front of the coloured cardboard.

Decorate your bear with googly eyes, pom poms or any other craft supplies on hand.

Finally, add your message to the inside of the card.

CANDLE MADE OF CRAYONS

This is a two-in-one  project: it creates an adorable candle for Mum while also using crayon nubs that are too tiny to colour with. Make sure to include Mum’s favourite colours.

What you need:

Wax (candlewax, beeswax or paraffin)

Wicks (make sure the wick is right length for your bottle/jar)

Double sided adhesive sticker (for attaching the wick)

Old Crayons (paper removed)

Glass jar / old jam bottle

Directions:

Using the double sided adhesive, attach a wick to the inside base of your jar.

Separate your crayons into similar colours.

Follow the instructions on your wax to melt it in small batches adding a crayon colour to each batch. E.g. blues to the first batch.

Once the wax/crayon mix has melted, holding on to one end of the wick, gently pour the wax into the jar.

Once you’ve poured a layer, place it in the refrigerator to set.

When the layer is cool and firm, repeat with the next crayon/wax colour and layer.

Continue until there is no more room for layers.

MOTHER’S DAY MASON JAR VASE

Decorate some old mason jars with paint and children’s imprints.

What you need:

Old jars of various sizes

Paint (not water based)

Ribbon/string etc

Small card

Directions:

Add some paint into the inside of the mason jar. Swirl it around until the entire inside of the jar is covered.

Pour out any excess and allow to dry over night.

Once the base coat is dry, allow the kids to paint their hands with another contrasting colour and place their hands on the outside of the jar. Allow the jar to sit while drying.

Create a card with the children, adding their message to mum. Using a nice ribbon or hessian string, tie the card to the neck of the jar.

Add some flowers for a nice finishing touch.

Picture Coasters

These picture coasters are always a winner with mum and grandma.

What you need:

Glazed white tile or pre-made coasters.

Felt furniture adhesive pads (if using tiles)

Children’s pictures printed smaller than tile

clear glue

Clear varnish or clear enamel paint

Process:

Print the children’s photos and trim to size

Glue photo to the center of the tile and sit to dry

Once the photo is in place the glue has dried paint a thin layer of enamel across the top to seal

Whatever craft option you decide to make, we are sure Mum or Grandma will love their Mother’s day craft creation.

Make sure you share your creations with us by tagging us @freddy.and.co on Instagram or Facebook.

When should babies start floor time?

Free the Babies – When should babies start floor time? It’s important babies start floor time from an early age. Babies are raised in a world full of capsules, prams, swings, bouncers, hammocks, docks… the list is endless. More and more parents look for items to support, hold, and comfort children that it is preventing […]

Read more

Getting your play mat to settle

How to get your play mat to settle? When your play mat first arrives you may find that you unroll it, and it re curls at the ends. This is totally normal as our play mats are stored in the rolled position in their boxes throughout the warehouse and shipping process. Play mats can take […]

Read more

Preparing for childcare

It’s in the preparation… preparing for Childcare Is your child about to start childcare? Babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, it doesn’t matter the age starting daycare or type of childcare, the first time can be hard on both kids and parents. Preparing for childcare can help you and your little one make a smooth transition. Preparing […]

Read more

Activity ideas for preschoolers

preschooler activities

Ever been stuck for activity ideas for preschoolers?

Have you attended a community event that has really captured your child’s interests? It may have been a day at the local show, an aquarium visit, a bush-walk or even something so simple as a bus ride. We are constantly exposing our children to different experiences. Why not build upon these experiences using simple activities to encourage deeper learning?

We scored tickets to the NASA exhibition in Brisbane.

Foil space boots

Homemade foil space boots

home made astronaut suit

When your mum is super crafty.. or you could use an ice bucket on your head.

Mr 3 was most excited to attend with his cousin. In the lead up, I presented a range of activities to identify the boys’ prior knowledge, stimulate their curiosity and get them excited for the big outing.  I borrowed a range of fiction and non-fiction books from our local library. We watched the moon landing which the boys recreated using dress-ups I had made (an ice-cream container helmet and foil boots will do the trick). They used play dough to represent what they thought the moon looked like (purchase here – also check out their freebies too). Bath time was fun with planet bath bombs. The night was topped off by star gazing using the SkyView Lite App and some astronaut freeze-dried ice-cream. We use the outing as inspiration for all our activity ideas for preschoolers.

activity ideas preschoolers

Using the play dough boards to create moon landing scenes (with our Australian Alphabet play mat below)

The boys had been exposed to lovely rich language and terminology through each of these activities and therefore, developed questions that were answered during the visit to the exhibition. Furthermore, the NASA exhibition had so much more relevance for them now. They had a blast!

After the NASA visit, the boys created their own spacecrafts for their toys using a range of recyclable materials we had collected. Only minimal adult input was required as interest levels were high. Discussions related to Space continued for weeks.

You can use everyday experiences as rich learning opportunities. The possibilities are limitless. Just keep it simple and let your child run with it. Child-led learning at its best!

Looking for some adventure to get you started?

Check out your local councils events page to stay on top of free events in your area. If you’ve already exhausted your local museums and exhibitions, here are some other ideas for outings in your nearest city: Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth

Even the smallest idea can create lots of activities and play inspo for the coming weeks….

box construction space ship

The boys made a space ship but you could make a bus, train or boat depending on your little ones interest.

Farm visit- Create a pig washing station using toothbrushes and soap. Bake using items from a farm, learn about where different produce comes from. Make a farm using blocks and items found in nature.

Bus ride– Design your own bus (why not a flying bus?). Furthermore, you could make up a story about the day in the life of a bus, make a bus from a box for your toys.

Aquarium visit– Make your own aquarium out of boxes. Also try water play, hide sea creatures in the bath (add a little blue food colouring and bubbles), imaginative play under the sea, collage.

Bush-walk– Use items from nature to create a collage. Also hunt for items in nature or create a list of things to spot. Pack a backpack to take on a bush walk, research animals you might see in the area. There may even be some guided walks in your area such as this one from Brisbane City Council.

Beach visit– Sing songs about the ocean. Sand and water play, create a jellyfish using a shower cap and cellophane tentacles. Finally, discuss the importance of sun safety and dress a toy accordingly, discuss beach safety and role play where it is safe to swim.

 

When should babies start floor time?

Free the Babies – When should babies start floor time? It’s important babies start floor time from an early age. Babies are raised in a world full of capsules, prams, swings, bouncers, hammocks, docks… the list is endless. More and more parents look for items to support, hold, and comfort children that it is preventing […]

Read more

Getting your play mat to settle

How to get your play mat to settle? When your play mat first arrives you may find that you unroll it, and it re curls at the ends. This is totally normal as our play mats are stored in the rolled position in their boxes throughout the warehouse and shipping process. Play mats can take […]

Read more

Preparing for childcare

It’s in the preparation… preparing for Childcare Is your child about to start childcare? Babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, it doesn’t matter the age starting daycare or type of childcare, the first time can be hard on both kids and parents. Preparing for childcare can help you and your little one make a smooth transition. Preparing […]

Read more

Toddler Sorting Activities – 5 Quick and Easy Activities to try

toddler sorting activity lego

5 Quick toddler sorting activities to keep your little one busy

Toddler sorting activities give us so many opportunities. As children grow they start to explore and try to make sense of the world. Part of that is trying to organise and control the things around them. Sorting activities allow children to match and categorise objects to show what they know and understand. Identifying colours, shapes and even textures helps children recognise similarities and differences between objects. These early skills form the basis of organisation and reasoning essential to early Maths, Science and Musical understanding.

So enough about the why, lets dive in with 5 Easy toddler sorting activities that don’t require any special equipment… and only take 30 seconds to set up. We use these when PJ is napping so I’m trying to keep the noise down, or while I’m cooking dinner to keep Freddy busy and once I started looking for sorting activities I realised they are everywhere.

1.Sorting cutlery

Cutlery sorting for toddlers

Freddy’s efforts at sorting the party cutlery…

I have a confession. I have a party draw full of all the leftovers from different parties over the years… plates, napkins, disposable cutlery. It’s not environmentally friendly which is why I’m hanging on to them, so I never need to buy again. What it does mean is I have a big mixed bag of different knives, forks, spoons, in a variety of sizes and colours. So, this one was simple to set up… I emptied the bag on to the dining room table so Freddy could see them all and we talked about what we noticed. He could already identify knives, forks and spoons so we started off with sorting to this. Once we had this sorted, we started to divide the spoons into different types etc… All in all this one took about 30 seconds to set up and kept Freddy busy for a long time as he happily chatted about what he saw.

2. Toddler sorting activities: Lego sort

toddler sorting activity lego

Sorting Lego on coloured plates on his alphabet and blue play mat.

I knew all my Ikea plates would come in handy. All those colours have so much potential. Another 30 second set up with no prep or organisation needed. I handed Freddy his box of lego and surrounded him with the plates. We then looked at what colours the plates came in. I asked him to find one piece of lego to match each plate. Once I saw he could do this I left him to it.  When I came back, I noticed when it came to the people he has a little more challenged. Some he sorted by hair colour and others by shirt colour. It came down to what stood out most with each piece, so consistency is now something we are talking about. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of this earlier. It’s the perfect toddler sorting activity to get you started.

 

3. Sorting  mixed vegetables – Carrot, corn and peas.

This one came up when I was late to serve dinner. I could tell Freddy was getting restless and hungry so I gave him his Vegies in a bowl and handed him Orange, Yellow and Green cups – again, thank you Ikea… We talked about the lego sorting we had done a few days earlier and he cottoned on how to sort them very quickly and was very keen to eat his handywork at the end.

 

4. Toddler Sorting Activities: a deck of cards (either by colour or suit)

Toddler sorting activity deck of cards

Freddy was pumped after he sorted out the cards on his round road and grey play mat.

For this one all you need is a set of cards. It doesn’t even have to be a full deck so the old one with cards missing is perfect. I sat with Freddy and looked at the cards and talked about them first as this was the first time he had seen them. Then we talked about what they had in common. Initially we sorted them in to Red and Black. Then we looked closely and noticed there was two shapes for red : Heart and Diamond. Also Club and Spades in black. Freddy then sorted these out. I also removed the K,Q, J cards from the deck as well because the images all had both black and red. Though, next time I’ll probably leave them in to see what he does with them.

5. Food sort…. fruit loops.

I haven’t tried this one yet with the fruit loops but I’m planning to give it a go this weekend after we do the weekly grocery shop. Instead I was inspired by a post  I saw on Pinterest. Not only can you sort by colour but also thread them on to a pipe cleaner. Sorting and motor control skills in one. Winning!! A more simplified version of this could also be done with other foods like mixed dried lentils, coloured dry pasta if you have it, or even just mixed varieties of pasta. Any little leftover dried foods you have sitting in your pantry can be all put into a container to become a sorting activity.

So there you have it, here are 5 easy sorting activities that require no prep or organisation to help you keep your toddler entertained.

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When should babies start floor time?

Free the Babies – When should babies start floor time? It’s important babies start floor time from an early age. Babies are raised in a world full of capsules, prams, swings, bouncers, hammocks, docks… the list is endless. More and more parents look for items to support, hold, and comfort children that it is preventing […]

Read more

Getting your play mat to settle

How to get your play mat to settle? When your play mat first arrives you may find that you unroll it, and it re curls at the ends. This is totally normal as our play mats are stored in the rolled position in their boxes throughout the warehouse and shipping process. Play mats can take […]

Read more

Preparing for childcare

It’s in the preparation… preparing for Childcare Is your child about to start childcare? Babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, it doesn’t matter the age starting daycare or type of childcare, the first time can be hard on both kids and parents. Preparing for childcare can help you and your little one make a smooth transition. Preparing […]

Read more

7 crafty uses for your toilet paper rolls.

Unicorn toilet roll craft

7 crafty uses for your toilet paper rolls

So here is why we needed some toilet paper roll craft ideas…  Toilet training toddlers is a really super fun time – said no parent ever! Thankfully Freddy was pretty quick with his training and accidents were minimal. But with his new found toileting independence has come the desire to go it alone when it comes to using the bathroom.

This is great in theory but has on many occasions ended in giant messes. I’m not talking the disgusting bodily fluid type. I’m talking rolls and rolls of toilet paper spread over the room, usually when I’m feeding PJ his lunch or putting him down for a nap. Yes, I try to move them and put them down but he isn’t the only one in the house using the bathroom and they often get put back on the holder by people trying to be helpful… Needless to say, I have plenty of extra toilet rolls coming my way and am on the hunt to find crafty uses for them.

Just to recap I am not naturally arty or crafty at all. In fact I rely heavily on family members and friends to make sure my kids are getting their artistic fixes in life. But, in my defence I’m trying to up my game. Yesterday Freddy came out of the bathroom with two toilet rolls in hand. He placed them up to his eyes and told me he had to go outside to do some bird watching (WTF! where did he learn this??). So I put my trusty (read rusty) skills to work, got out the sticky tape and made a very quick and easy set of binoculars for him to play with. And so the hunt for toilet paper roll craft continues.

Binocular toilet roll craft:

Our binoculars consisted of toilet rolls and sticky tape, but if you want to get fancy check out these instructions… Love the suggestion from kinder art for adding a coat of paint. We might do this tomorrow to up our game.

binocular toilet roll craft

The boys using their binoculars at our local cafe… kept them busy long enough for us to have a coffee.

Toilet roll snake:

We live next to the bush, so snakes feature pretty heavily in our discussions. We know there are plenty of carpet pythons around as we spot them regularly. As Freddy is a play outside kind of kid and he loves digging through the gardens and exploring we have had to talk to him about what to do when he sees a snake (get Mum – not Dad).  

So here is a nice and fun and friendly snake that we are going to make (and maybe even scare Daddy with).  

Easy Peasy and Fun toilet roll craft:

toilet roll craft pencil organiser

Toilet roll pencil organiser – cannot wait to try it. From Easy Peasy and Fun.

We haven’t tried any of these yet but we are obsessed with the activities we found on Easy, Peasy and Fun’s website. Cannot recommend it enough and we will be checking in regularly. First on the list for us to try is the caterpillar pencil organiser. I’m going to save the unicorn craft for our next play date. The wind sock idea also sounds great. We often discuss the weather in the mornings and this can become part of our discussion. We can use it to talk about wind speed and direction but mostly it’s fun and looks pretty.  Finally, the flower craft is a great opener for some free creative art. I like the idea of showing Freddy how to bend the circles to create other shapes. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with.

Colouring toilet roll templates for bowling:

colour in toilet craft

More animals to colour to make our bowling alley

Finally some colouring in craft. This one looks like the easiest of the lot and we are working our way through it as we speak. We decided to choose 6 animals to colour in (this means it will take us a week or so to finish). By choosing six animals we will then be able to play bowling with our finished creations. Yep, what a great use for toilet rolls… to play bowling. This is right up Freddy’s alley. We are going to turn our play mat in to a bowling alley for a quick game.

colouring in for toilet roll craft

He couldn’t leave the parrot alone long enough to colour the other animals playing on our blue geo play mat

If you have any other suggestions of activities, we would love to hear them. We are always looking for fun and easy craft activities that we can do.

When should babies start floor time?

Free the Babies – When should babies start floor time? It’s important babies start floor time from an early age. Babies are raised in a world full of capsules, prams, swings, bouncers, hammocks, docks… the list is endless. More and more parents look for items to support, hold, and comfort children that it is preventing […]

Read more

Getting your play mat to settle

How to get your play mat to settle? When your play mat first arrives you may find that you unroll it, and it re curls at the ends. This is totally normal as our play mats are stored in the rolled position in their boxes throughout the warehouse and shipping process. Play mats can take […]

Read more

Preparing for childcare

It’s in the preparation… preparing for Childcare Is your child about to start childcare? Babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, it doesn’t matter the age starting daycare or type of childcare, the first time can be hard on both kids and parents. Preparing for childcare can help you and your little one make a smooth transition. Preparing […]

Read more