Activi-tot!

I have finally, finally stopped procrastinating on Pinterest for long enough to write this post about some of the fun activities Junebug and I have been doing since Christmas. It’s not an extensive list, just a few of the stand out things we’ve made together or I’ve made for us to play with. Really, one of our favourite things is to go outside. We go to the park or the botanical gardens to explore, collect sticks or have a picnic. Now the weather is improving I am excitedly searching for inspiration for awesome things to do in our back garden.
The reason I am wanting to celebrate all the fun we’re having is that I am surprised by how much I love having a toddler! I knew I loved babies and I’ve worked with school-age children a lot but the toddler years were more of an unknown. I was aprehensive… but I love it!

So here we go:

Giant Threading Beads

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I cut up old kitchen and toilet paper tubes to make the beads and Junebug helped me paint them. Once they were dry they are great for threading onto pipe cleaners. This is good fine motor practise and a fun way to talk about colours and introduce patterns. Junebug enjoyed wearing it as a necklace too.

Lightbox with transparent shapes

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This was super easy to make and Junebug loves playing with it. It’s just an opaque box which I think I found at the supermarket with a battery powered led light string stuck inside. Then I found these cool coloured shapes on amazon which glow really nicely and make good patterns. We also use cut out pictures on here or magnetic letters, lots of fun! It’s best in the evening with the curtains drawn.

Butterfly Garland

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For Thanksgiving we made and autumn leaf garland to decorate the house so I thought it would be nice to have something for spring. This was a very simple craft. I cut out some butterfly shapes and covered them in glue then helped Junebug stick scrunched up tissue paper and coloured cellophane to the wings (more fine motor practise). I doubled a small pipe cleaner around the middle, twisted it  and shaped the ends to look like antennae. June bug helped me thread them onto a ribbon which now hangs in our front room.

Photo Jigsaws

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This is still a bit beyond Junebug to do herself but she enjoys making the pictures with me and talking about who is on them. It’s a good sorting activity too to mix them up and get her to help me find all the red sticks etc. Easy to make it’s just 5 large craft sticks, one colour for each photo, glued to the back of a photo, then cut with a craft knife.

Playdoh

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This is one of Junebug’s absolute favourite activities, I love it too as she can sit for ages playing with it independently. She gets the box out of the drawer and asks me for the little table and then sits on the kitchen stool, bless her. More fine motor skills practise, we like to poke things into our playdoh; large wooden beads, craft sticks or little coloured matchsticks.

Rabbit Tails

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Junebug loves ‘rab rabs’  so this seemed like a fun idea which also incorporated her love of pom poms and learning colours. I printed bunny shapes in all the colours of the pom poms we have then cut out and laminated them. To attach the tails I used self adhesive velcro on the tail of the bunny and the pom poms. Junebug loves counting (starting at 3) and talking about colours (especially pink and orange) so this game works well. We also make them go to sleep and sing ‘hop little bunnies’ with them.

Drawing in the big lightbox

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Self explanatory really, we put a length of lining paper in the bottom of her big lightbox and she sat inside to draw. Junebug loves it when we draw with her and requests endless cars, I’ve got quite good at drawing cars now. The lightbox itself I made nearly a year ago, it’s just a large box on its side with holes poked in to put battery powered light strings through. Then I covered up the wires on the outside with wrapping paper.

Large scale painting

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A happy recycling day opportunity arose and after speaking to some kind neighbours we scored a couple of massive boxes to play with. One I will save to make games for Junebug’s birthday party. This one we are in the middle of turning into a fold-a-way playhouse for outside. This was such a great time together getting covered in paint and creating something really fun. We used sponges to make the brick ‘house’ side, into which we will cut a window and door. then we used our hands to print flowers and butterflies on the ‘garden’ side. I have never seen a child get paint all over herself quite so much but her huge smile and giggles made it worth the mess. When it’s done we’ll be able to stand it up on the deck and play house, I’m so excited!

Other things Junebug enjoys are baking, reading, playing with her soft toys, collecting things in bags (especially my things), musical instruments and singing, jigsaws and dressing up. I love that she’s often quite happy to entertain herself while I try to keep up with the never-ending piles of washing up and laundry!

Remember: toddlers aren’t scary!

Spring has sprung!

Here in jolly England we are feeling much brighter and enjoying longer days as spring is finally here! As a family we celebrated this at the weekend by heading into the countryside for a gentle walk. We chose a gentle walk between a few villages, only 4 miles or so it should have taken a couple of hours at the most. However hubby let me bring the camera (add on 45 mins) and we let Junebug walk a bit (add on 20 mins) which meant not only were we going to finish a lot later than planned but we had to stop in the middle to have lunch. Best made plans…

It was a gloriously sunny morning and warm, especially when walking along with a toddler on your back. We really appreciated spending time together, away from all the jobs at home, and being able to show Junebug more trees and animals. She loved it!

I took advantage of the scenery and happy family to take some photos, you’d think we were never short of family photos but there aren’t that many of all three of us. This field of purple and green stood out to me, and I love the way the tracks run across the scene.

Luckily the tiny village halfway round had a great pub where we stopped for lunch. Junebug managed to entertain the entire clientele for a good hour playing peepo, grinning with her mouth full and jumping up to dance on her chair every time an upbeat song came on. “Dance Daddy, let’s dance Daddy!” She is such a little showoff and seems to know that people of the older generation will reward her cuteness with plenty of attention. It was hard to drag her away.

The final surprise on our trip was the appearance of this feller who just wanted to pose prettily in the sun for me – I had to oblige.

We are so thankful that we are heading into better weather and sunnier days, hopefully there will be many more family days out like this one. I’m so lucky to be part of this happy trio!

Advent and new traditions.

Wow it seems like such a long time since I last managed to write a post but I am very excited about this one. Now Junebug is a bit bigger I have been thinking of some Christmas traditions to start for our family. One I’ve seen floating around on Facebook and Pinterest is the Kindness Elves. They are cute little elves which appear on 1st December and suggest activities to do to make something or help someone out each day. What fun! I wanted something which would build the excitement of Christmas, especially as we aren’t ones for having the decorations up super early. These are perfect as they can be used to talk about the Christmas story as well as thinking about being kind and generous to others.

The trouble I’ve had is that Junebug, at 17 months, is still too young to join in a lot of the ideas I’ve seen suggested online for the Kindness Elves so I’ve had to try and think of simpler ones for us to do. Also she quite often would rather just play with the Elves than do the activity but I usually manage to get a bit of involvement from her.

Here are some pictures of the things we have been doing so far:

The Kindness Elves' first suggestion was for us to make decorations to send to Junebug's grandparents. We don't see them very often so we thought they would like a little surprise in the post.

The Kindness Elves’ first suggestion was for us to make decorations to send to Junebug’s grandparents. We don’t see them very often so we thought they would like a little surprise in the post.

Junebug trying to wander off with the elves to play.

Junebug trying to wander off with the elves to play.

Putting the elves in her pencil case so we could do some colouring.

Putting the elves in her pencil case so we could do some colouring.

Phoebe coloured the snowflakes (I helped) and then stuck shiny sequins onto dots of glue. I added a photo of her for the centre.

Junebug coloured the snowflakes (I helped) and then stuck shiny sequins onto dots of glue. I added a photo of her for the centre.

We lined the elves up on my knee to watch us finishing our craft.

We lined the elves up on my knee to watch us finishing our craft.

The finished product!

The finished product!

We put the little elves to bed in their basket. Junebug likes to make snoring noises while doing this and every time she spots the basket is on the mantelpiece.

We put the little elves to bed in their basket. Junebug likes to make snoring noises while doing this and every time she spots the basket on the mantelpiece.

The Christmas Elves found Junebug's instruments so we could practise the songs for her nativity with the childminder.

The Christmas Elves found Junebug’s instruments so we could practise the songs for her nativity with the childminder.

The Christmas Elves got some things out so we could make a tray of yummy and useful things for her babysitter while Daddy and I went to the cinema.

The Christmas Elves got some things out so we could make a tray of yummy and useful things for her babysitter while Daddy and I went to the cinema.

Junebug put the biscuits on the plate, found the remotes and drew on Mummy's letter.

Junebug put the biscuits on the plate, found the remotes and drew on Mummy’s l

The elves let Junebug have half a cookie for being so helpful putting the things on the tray.

The elves let Junebug have half a cookie for being so helpful putting the things on the tray.

Junebug was feeling rather poorly so dragged a blanket onto the sofa for a cuddle. The elves came too obviously.

Junebug was feeling rather poorly so dragged a blanket onto the sofa for a cuddle. The elves came too obviously.

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We are thoroughly enjoying the Kindness Elves and all their lovely Christmassy ideas. At the weekend we are going to make crispy cakes for the church stall and decorate our very own Christmas tree. Other ideas I’ve had for the coming days of advent are making cookies for all the children at the childminders, taking groceries and a treat round to one of her friends house and packing away some of the toys she is too grown up for (sob!) for a future sibling.

If you have any ideas which we could borrow we would be really grateful. Happy advent all!