Thursday, 23 April 2015

Spring Discovery Basket

We are loving that it is spring time and we can play outside as much as possible, but sometimes we do need to play inside so it's nice to bring a little of that spring fun into the house.  Today we brought some lovely things together to create our Spring Discovery Basket!  When Ethan was small we had our first Heuristic Play Treasure Basket and have been playing with it ever since, so many of the bits from there were our starting point today.


I added a few springtime bits such as the metal bucket, wooden worm toy, windmill toy, wooden duck toy, pieces of flowery fabric and a wooden frog toy.  The other objects were a variety of wooden and metal pieces that I thought Ivy would find intriguing and would work well with the other materials.


Ivy delved in straight away, picking things up and having a look at them.  She plays in a very unique way, in that she likes to pick something up and walk around the house with it.  So the first item that she liked was a string of wooden beads, which she held in her hand, put in her mouth and then put around her wrist and walked all around the kitchen with.


When she returned to the basket she then started picking up items and trying to combine them and use them together.  There was a particular wooden egg and metal strainer that she was determined to use and did eventually manage to balance and lift up the two together.  The pride on her face was fantastic and gave her the confidence to explore the other items further and put them together in different ways.


These types of treasure baskets are very popular in our house, Ivy can sit for ages playing with all of the different items as she goes through them one by one.  Even Ethan still finds them interesting, often coming to sit with Ivy for a little while and play with her.  He plays in a more structured way now, making up little scenarios and stories by using the different props.  It's lovely to watch them playing side by side.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Family Days Out in Cape Town

We had so much fun taking the kids to so many fantastic places on our recent visit to Cape Town!  There are so many places to go and almost everywhere that we went was completely child friendly and had everything that we needed for the kids. At 3 years old (Ethan) and just under 1 (Ivy) we were specifically looking for activities that young children can enjoy and take part in, I'm sure that next time that we visit we will do a lot more adventurous days out!



Boulders Beach

You absolutely have to go to Boulders Beach if you're in Cape Town, whether you have children or not!  It is just the most incredible experience to spend the day at the beach swimming alongside penguins and watching them sun bathing on the rocks beside you.  Ethan was so excited to spot penguins along the path to the beach and couldn't believe that he could see them swimming in the same water that he was.  Ivy just loved watching the penguins up on the rocks (although I think she did want to touch one!)



Scratch Patch

South Africa is famous for it's gemstones and crystals, and what better way for kids to learn about them than to walk around in a huge area filled with colourful rocks!  This time we didn't take Ivy in with us (she still puts everything in her mouth so it wouldn't be safe) but Ethan and I each bought a little bag and went into the scratch patch to choose the nicest crystals that we could find to take back home with us.




Beaches

There are so many fantastic beaches in Cape Town which are all fantastic for kids, what more do you need than sand and sea?  We explored many beaches, but we do love St James Beach with its colourful beach huts and shallow lagoon to play in.



Wine Farms 

Another great family activity is to go to a wine farm.  It may not seem like the most obvious choice for children, but many do have a lot of family friendly activities.  We really liked the Spice Route because it's like a little village.  There are restaurants, a chocolate shop, an ice cream shop and a great kids play area.



Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

We absolutely love going to Kirstenbosch, it's such a fantastic place to bring a picnic (or buy a picnic from the cafe there) and just have a walk around.  There are beautiful flowers, trees to climb, lakes and streams to walk along and a fantastic tree canopy walkway that gives you a great view of the whole place.




Woods

Cape Town also has a few different forests and wooded areas to explore.  We really like the Arboretum for a nice walk around.  Especially on very hot days there are nice shaded areas, Ethan loved discovering all of the different trees, especially the ones with big leaves!



Green Point Park

Near the Green Point Stadium you will find a huge park that oddly I don't think that a lot of people know about.  It has a little stream that goes through it with a fun bridge to walk over, discovery areas and a fantastic playground!  There's actually two separate playgrounds for younger and older children.  It's all very natural wooden equipment, and there's these great tunnels with rock mosaics along them.  The kids had so much fun exploring this park, we could have spent the whole day there!




V&A Waterfront

One of our favourite places in Cape Town has always been the Waterfront for all the great shops and restaurants.  But it is also a great place for kids as there are two different climbing frame areas with really fun equipment to climb on, as well as a water play area!  This is where we spend most of our time as Ethan and Ivy both love to play in the water.  It's just a big fountain basically, with water spurting out of different rocks and coming through pipes in the wall.  Make sure you bring the kids a change of clothes!




Two Oceans Aquarium


It is no surprise that Cape Town has a fantastic aquarium as it's surrounded by water!  The Two Oceans Aquarium does not disappoint right from the start with it's 'Nemo' tank that you can crawl underneath to get a view of them from the inside!  Throughout the aquarium you'll find plenty of fascinating fish as well as an area for the kids to play and to do crafts.




Noordhoek Farm

Throughout Cape Town you will also find places like Noordhoek Farm Village with a few choices of places to eat, shop and play!  It's so different to anywhere here in the UK, that you are able to sit down for a nice lunch with a perfect view of the climbing frame for the children to play on.  It was perfect for Ethan as he wasn't bored waiting for food while he played, then we called him back when his calamari arrived (his favourite Cape Town meal) then he could go back to play afterwards.


There are so many fantastic places to play in Cape Town, these 10 are really just to get you started.  Please share any other places that you've gone with your family in Cape Town and we'll add it to our list for next time!

Have a look at our travel board on Pinterest for more fun travel tips!

Follow Play & Learn Everyday's board Travel with Children on Pinterest.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Our Sunday Storybook - The Dry-ventures of Ellie and Eddie - Happy Skin Holiday

This week we've been reading a book that we were sent from Aveeno.  It's the second in a trilogy about Ellie and Eddie, (see our review of the first here) about a little girl and her gecko with dry skin.  This one focuses on taking care of your skin whilst on holiday and is called Happy Skin Holiday, you can download it for free from their website here.



Ethan really enjoys the story (unfortunately Ivy still doesn't really sit still for proper stories, at least she does sit still when I put her cream on though!)  The family go camping and Ellie is worried about not remembering to put on her cream while they are away, but they have a little song that they sing and a way to remember when it's time to put it on.


It's a cute story, Ethan loves trying to find Eddie on every page and it helps to encourage him to put his cream on his dry skin.  We sometimes have a bit of a battle at bedtime when he's just too tired to put it on, but when we remind him of Ellie and Eddie he co-operates.  This book comes at a great time for anyone who went on holidays over Easter, we have a holiday coming up in a few weeks and we'll definitely be bringing it along with us to remind Ethan about his cream.  And we'll definitely remember to bring enough of their cream with us, unlike our recent trip to South Africa when we just assumed that we could buy Aveeno and couldn't find it anywhere.  Next time I will be better prepared!

What have you been reading this week?

Friday, 17 April 2015

Play Dough Bugs

We are still loving learning about bugs and talking about bugs while we're playing outside, so we brought it inside today to make some play dough bugs!  Ethan loves playing with play dough, and he had loads of ideas of all the different bugs that he could make with all of the items in the tray.



I set out two different colours of play dough (which he didn't mix together at all, I was so surprised!) as well as some pipe cleaners, straws, googly eyes, popsicle sticks, pom poms and foam pieces.  I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get in some scissor work as well, so I gave Ethan some foam sheets to cut into wings.  The foam was quite tricky for Ethan to cut with children's scissors, but he was really determined.  He did enjoy cutting through the play dough with his scissors and happily cut it up into hundreds of little pieces!




After all that cutting Ethan was straight to work making bugs!  I was so impressed that he just got straight to work making a shape of a bug body and then forming the play dough into small pieces for eyes and legs, he had such a vision for what his bug should look like that he almost forgot about all the fun accessories that he could use.



His first bug was just a random creation, but next he decided to make a spider.  He cut up loads of pieces of play dough then put them all together to look like a big furry spider.  Then we cut up some straws and pipe cleaners to be the spiders legs and Ethan counted out 8 of them as he put them in.  Then he added some eyes (3 for some reason, but I wasn't going to correct that one) and there was his spider!


Of course I couldn't let Ethan have all the fun, so I may have made an ant...


Then I showed Ethan how to make a snail by rolling the play dough into a long piece, then curling it up into a spiral.  He really enjoyed doing that and I think that it helped him to understand how to roll out the play dough as he hadn't seemed to be able to do it previously.


Lastly we made a fly, again working on Ethan's rolling (this time into a round shape) and then adding some eyes and wings.


Ethan enjoyed this activity immensely and worked on so many different skills without even realising it.  He was using his creativity by inventing different types of bugs, he was learning about the features of real bugs, he was counting out body parts, cutting different materials and following instructions.  This is why we love play dough so much!


If you're looking for more fun bug and spring time ideas, please take a peek at our Pinterest board:

Follow Play & Learn Everyday's board Spring on Pinterest.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

WOW Toys Ronnie Rocket - Review

Ethan is going through a real space loving phase at the moment.  When I went to pick him up from nursery one day last week his teacher told me that he was telling her all about the planets and the stars and that she was very impressed (proud Mommy moment!) So of course we were excited to try out Ronnie Rocket from WOW Toys to review (available to buy from Amazon.)


We are big fans of WOW Toys because they are sturdy, fun, don't need batteries and always have cute little people or animals to go along with their vehicles.  They also always have some fun features that Ethan and Ivy love to play with.  This rocket is no exception!  It's very unique and includes a cord to pull to start a countdown to take off.  When the handle (large and easy for small hands to use) is pulled the numbers count down on the small screen in the middle from 5 to 1, which the rocket shakes.  It's fantastic and Ethan kept doing it over and over again, pulling the cord, counting down along with the numbers and then having the rocket blast off!


We also love the boxes that WOW Toys come in as they often have a little scene on them that we play with our toys in front of.  Of course Ronnie Rocket has it's own special space scene which we opened up to play with.  Ethan was able to blast off from Earth and land on a picture of the moon!  There's also an alien in a UFO and the planet Saturn.  


He loved it so much I think that we'll have to make larger versions of all the planets for the rocket to land on and to reinforce Ethan's knowledge of the names and features of the planets.  There is definitely a lot more fun to be had with Ronnie Rocket!


* This is a review post, we were given Ronnie Rocket from WOW Toys so that we could play with it and write an honest review.*

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Bugs in the Play Tray

We are so lucky to be having such beautiful weather this week, but unfortunately Ethan and Ivy have terrible colds and hardly want to do anything.  So I have to lure them outside with simple but fun activities to take their minds off their snuffly noses.


I set up our play tray outside (we have this builders tray / tuff spot) with a few simple things that I knew were bound to draw the kids in.  First, some sticks that Ethan had collected on our walk home from nursery one day last week.  Also his bug set (similar to this one) that he's been absolutely obsessed with!  I also added some big tweezers, buckets and spades and of course the bugs!


Both Ethan and Ivy were excited to see the tray and went straight for the bugs. I love when there's an activity that's so simple and that they can both enjoy together.  It didn't require any explanation, they just starting using the shovels to scoop up the bugs and the tweezers to pick them up and to collect them in the buckets.  


Ivy tried picking up as many sticks as possible in her hands and carried them around the garden.  Ethan decided to sort the bugs, putting all the yellow ones in the yellow bucket and the green ones in the green bucket (with no prompting at all from me!) I think that we'll be having a lot more of these simple play tray set ups in our future!

* This post contains affiliate links if you are interested in purchasing some of the items to create your own bug play tray! *

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Imaginative Play is Better with Cake

Spring has arrived and we've had a lovely time over the Easter holidays spending as much time as possible outside running around, as well as playing all sorts of games at home. Then when we were asked to try these yummy Mr Kipling cakes and write about how 'Life is better with cake' we just couldn't resist.  After all, there isn't really much that isn't 'better with cake' as far as I'm concerned, so it would be a fun challenge to come up with a creative answer!


As it turned out the kiddies have ended up with a terrible cold and we have had to spend some days at home, and that meant getting creative with activities to keep them busy.  But thankfully I had some ideas for play, and a few boxes of cakes!  So, if we couldn't get out to a cafe, we would just have to settle for playing cafe at home.  I made myself a tea, Ethan a hot chocolate and Ivy a babyccino and put out a plate of yummy Mr Kipling cakes (we have cherry bakewells - Ethan's favourite, Viennese whirls and French fancies!)  We sat down at the table and Ethan "ordered" what he wanted to have from the cafe and pretended to pay for his cake and drink.  Then I had to order from him, and we had fun making up different prices and silly names for the cakes based on what they looked like (since Ethan couldn't remember what any of them were actually called!)


Then it was time to eat our cakes and chat, just like we do when we go to a real cafe.  Ethan loved his cherry bakewell, made a mess of crumbs everywhere and even offered to share with Ivy and I, which was really sweet.  I even let Ivy have a little taste of cake, a real treat for a 14 month old!


Because Ethan enjoyed playing cafe so much, what better next step than to play shop with our boxes of Mr Kipling cakes?  So I emptied out the boxes (saving a few cakes in a safe place for when the kids are napping!) then taped the boxes shut.  I made some price tags for each box (because Ethan is just 3 1/2 years old, I made each box £1, but for older children it could be made trickier.)  I also made some £1 notes using green card.  Then I asked Ethan to collect some other food items from our play food collection.


Then it was time to play!  We took turns being shopkeeper and customer, a great opportunity for Ethan to count out the money for the different items that he was buying.  Of course his first choice was to buy a box of cakes!  He picked up the cakes and knew right away that he had to give me £1 for it.  Then we made things trickier, I bought all 3 boxes of cakes from him (why not?) and asked him how much money I had to give him, and he was able to count out 3 pounds for me.  I made the other items cost different amounts of money, and Ethan got really good at counting out the money.  


It was a really easy activity to leave out on the table, and Ethan came back to it later, even trying to get Ivy involved in buying cakes from his shop!  He loved that these were the same cakes that we had eaten for our 'cafe' snack and told Ivy all about the different cakes just like I had to him earlier, it was really sweet!  Our imaginative play activities on a day stuck at home were definitely made better with cake!

* This post is an entry for the #betterwithcake Linky challenge (http://www.britmums.com/2015/03/the-easter-school-holidays-are-betterwithcake/) sponsored by Mr Kipling.  Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/mrkiplingcakes *