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!

Holidaying on a budget.

So the reason for the lack of posting recently is I have been away on our family summer holiday. We had a beautiful week in the Lake District staying in Ambleside. Before we set off, however, I had almost started resenting the holiday. You see we had been a bit rash and booked a cottage without checking our bank account. This wouldn’t usually be a problem but after a mix up with my maternity pay and a certain Junebug’s birthday we were not really in a position to be paying out for the holiday. In short we ended up with bank charges and now couldn’t actually afford to go on the holiday we’d already paid for. But my encouraging hubby bucked me up and off we went, determined to have the cheapest holiday ever. Luckily the Lakes is the place to do this.
We spent less than £100 over the week including food for all three of us. Praise God for good weather.
Lots of walking, paddling in lakes, playing in parks, board games and ham sandwiches kept us happily entertained and we were so blessed with the weather I even came home with a walking boot tan line – sexy.

So our recipe for limited spending money holiday is as follows:

1. Take food along and find the nearest supermarket. We didn’t eat out once but had plenty of yummy family meals. Pasta and sauce, microwaveable curry, and oven pizza, all requiring minimal effort so it still seems like a holiday.

2. Walking is free! We found walks on our smart phones and set off for a couple of hours with beautiful scenery and good exercise.

3. Parking charges. We found places which would provide a few hours of good fun and didn’t charge for entry. True we had to pay for parking but £3 for a day without needing to spend anymore was an easy choice. My favs: Brockhole  and  Grizedale Forest

4. Picnic. A pretty spot, a sandwich and a bag of popcorn = a perfect midday munch.

5. Treat’s a treat! The last day of the week we had chip shop takeaway and it seemed like such a treat. Also on one of our days out we had an ice cream and as it was such a one off I let Phoebe have some of mine. So we all enjoyed our treats.

6. Family. Simple, we just appreciated the chance we had to hang out as a family together without any of the usual hassles.

Here are some of my favourite photos from our week:

 

Little one's transport for a lot of the week.

Little one’s transport for a lot of the week.

Fun in the park.

Fun in the park.

Ice cream!

Ice cream!

My girl and her daddy.

My girl and her daddy.

A toddler sized house.

A toddler sized house.

Oh help! Oh no! It's the Gruffalo!

Oh help! Oh no! It’s the Gruffalo!

Paddling and finding rocks in Lake Windermere.

Paddling and finding rocks in Lake Windermere.