Saturday, 29 June 2013

Dino World

So as you may have seen we have already done digger land in the garden and as it got closer to summer those little plants at the edges kinda overtook so we turned it to dinoland but lil dude is going through a daft stage with bugs and those flowers attracted sooo many bugs. A rethink was in order!
Then I saw fun at home with kids dinosaur garden and inspiration hit she used blue gravel for a "water feature" and it looked so so amazing. I have to say have some serious green eyed monster of Asia's garden and home she has play areas that I could only dream of. If you get a chance take a look at her blog (but allow a couple of hours!) I loved the idea of adding a whole new level.
Well I'd already seen this volcano aquarium decoration and was itching to buy it but hadnt made up a reason yet (lil dude loves volcanoes almost as much as dinos) So here was the reason and also went to pick up the stones....they were nooooot cheap the blue ones came in a tiny bag and were expensive so rethink! I had brought some sea coloured marbles a while ago and not got round to using them as anything more than loose parts so improvised and used them instead and it looked pretty cool!

We have a gravelled edge to our patio which went perfect with the prehistoric theme also it is in clear vision to my kitchen window so I can wash up/make lunch while he plays and keep an eye on him.

Mr Pteranodon loves to perch on the old fence which adds a cool upper level to the area.

A few bigger rocks placed around the "lake" for the dinos to sunbathe on.

And the centre piece... a real volcano. Although it goes a bit against the natural play ideas I am leaning towards it adds a great dimension and lil dude loves filling it with stones and dinosaurs.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Ricetastic Airport...Budget Play Time Week One

This is Week One in our budget play time using toys around the house or cheap to source to create fun play concepts. This post cost me nothing as had the bits all round the house if you want to backdate the rice cost 40p and the play tray £1 but I must use the rice on average once a week and the tray more often than that!

You will need-
  • Some Cardboard from the recycling bin
  • Rainbow Rice- We made this a while ago using happy hooligans recipe.
  • Tray
  • Toy Planes (or if your feeling creative some laminated pictures of planes)
  • Sharpie
  • Few cones/barriers if you have any from other digger or race car sets etc

Lil dude got some little plastic planes free with a magazine recently and they are flavour of the month apparently they are a red and green arrow :-) twinned with a very well timed fly over by the real red arrows recently on route to an airshow lil dude is in plane mode soo what better than making an airport for him to play with.
Construction consisted of cutting a long strip of cardboard and drawing the lines then cutting to size. I made a small hanger to fit the plane in by folding the same cardboard and sticking down the edges with tape. A couple of squares with H's drawn on the and we were set.
Lil dude had been playing with his rainbow rice that day so I just stuck the bits in the rice added some random cones we have in the toy box and popped the planes and helicopter in. The box we use is a pound land kitty litter box as advised by Happy Hooligans and it gets used "a lot."

This may not be the most glam small world but I wanted this blog to be more about affordable play ideas than ones that look stunning but are currently out of my price range. One day I dream of owning every type of toob (yep that's the dream!) but until then budget play ideas is as far as we can get.

The Airport needed some work done apparenty so the diggers had to be brought in. I'm yet to create a small world that the dinos or diggers dont get involved in!

If you liked this take a look at Hidden Art Station for another budget crafting session.

Time to Cut Costs

So part of this blog was about saving money and saving my lil dude from iwant'titus (yes its a condition of course it is would i lie to you!) We haven't got as far as the cut backs yet so that's the next stage!
I'm gonna stick to two paid activities a week. Lil dude is not an active kiddywink he is much happier doing puzzles or sitting with his dinos. He is quite happy to follow the lead and run riot when with other kiddys so I am sticking with the gymnastics and soft play toddler group once a week. They shut these in the summer hols anyway and me and my bestie usually go to farms, parks or just chill in the garden with the kiddies so that should cut some costs there. We have no holiday booked this year except for a long weekend away which is so far unplanned but will be travel lodge or premier inn so low cost.
Shopping.... oh shopping a few months back I only shopped online and saved money soo gonna revert back to that and will avoid supermarkets like the plague. I have a problem I cannot walk into a supermarket and buy a carton of milk I enter one supermarket and spend £50 its bad and i don't know how i do it its like a trip out and freedom of walking the aisles goes to my head. What can I say I need help!
So mission avoid supermarket is in order!
Also I'm gonna start giving lil dude £5 pocket money a week. This may seem a lot but I spend so much on random bits of junk for him and even more on even more plastic dinosaurs. So he will be getting £5 if he wants to get a magazine, toy, car boot goodies etc that's his lot. I want him to start seeing that these things cost money and that he has a limit.
So that's it the life plan for now it may not seem much but if I try too much at once I will run out of enthusiasm a week in!
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Poorly Toddler

Oh the joys of being a mummy. My lil dude is currently asleep (I am fully aware I'm on borrowed time) his temp is up and he's flinching in his sleep after a rough night and a high maintenance day I've come to the realisation that this wont get any easier. The worry never relaxes the stress of watching listening and praying wont cease. I guess this is the long haul! Funny thing is they warn you of these times when you fall pregnant (bit late then hey!) and there's no way then you can ever imagine the worry the connection the all consuming love that you feel. We've had a couple of horrible nights in the hospital in the past and they haunt me every time hes so much as got a cold. I almost have a bag packed and shoes at the ready for the hospital run. Its crazy isn't it really. But hey I've realised ever since motherhood hit me that life will always be crazy from the crazy fun to the crazy worry. But in all reality would I change a thing....Nope.
From the happy tears to the sad I've never been happier!

Hidden Art Station

You will need-

Lining Paper,
Masking Tape &

This one is especially good if you have laminate or tiled floor as can just be left and pulled out when required. As you can see I have the perfect setting for it, I could just pull the sofa back then replace over the top but this can be done anywhere and is easily removed so dosn't have to be left out.

All you need to do is lay some lining paper down and use masking tape to secure the edges and let their imagination run riot. On its first day this was hand... and head prints. Lil dude had us all lying on our backs drawing round our heads.
I then pulled the sofa back over it and forgot it was there.
Untill today when lil dude was climbing the walls a bit so it turned into a train track with a road beside it.
I wont win any points for artistic talent but we had fun and its a great one to work together as he tells mummy what to draw while he gets the trains and helps colour.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Icy Dino Dig

Well a big thankyou to for todays activity it was fab and we had loads of fun recreating this one!!

A while back I filled an ice cream tub with water, mini dinos, fossils and stones and left it to freeze. It then stayed in my freezer for aaaaages as the temperature was certainly not ice play recently.

Looks cool doesn't it!

Well today the weather was strange humid warm but chilly winds. So we cooled of in the house with this. I put some normal salt, some garden salt, and warm water in containers mixing in a lil food colouring as I went. Poured a bit of warm water over the icecream tub and the block of ice just tipped out.

 I explained that we were going to have a Dino excavation and be paleontologist's. Well lil dude was sold as soon as he saw a Dino spike peaking out and after a quick explanation of how salt and warm water will melt the ice and free the trapped dino's he promptly started scooping salt on. Well he soon realised a spoon full wasn't cutting it so on went the entire cup of salt.
I really have to remind myself of his age sometimes my inner perfectionist wants it all to be done carefully while watching each reaction the realist part knows lil dudes limits and to enjoy it thoroughly I have to step back and embrace the chaos! Do you ever find yourself going to correct your kids and having to check yourself because in reality that's how they learn and why should they do it like that anyway because we say so?!? I try to give lil dude the freedom to do things his way to learn from chaos but like I said it goes against my upbringing and includes a fair bit of tongue biting!
So the poured on salt made some wicked cracking sounds and made a great mess to mix and get lil dudes hands into.

He then used the lil tools I provided to hammer saw and jab (In little hooligans she uses better tools to free but I could see younger lil dude loosing a finger or worse so we limited it to plastic toy tools and teaspoons) he realised the hot water was the best Dino freeing device and sent me running back and forth to the tap. He almost forgot about the poor trapped souls as pouring the water became priority number one!

Then back to the digging for a final burst and the were all free!!! This was a fab activity and will be recreated again I may do a smaller ice block next time as without the proper tools the mass of ice was a challenge to say the least! Minimal clean up and cheap as chips to create! Lil bit of advice if doing inside the garden salt is sharp on lil feet we learnt this the hard way after spilling a bunch on the laminate and as soon as lil dude walked he yelped at they spiked the souls of his little bare feet. There was no injury's but next time I'll keep this one for the garden or at least pop some shoes on him.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Why Blog??

So now I've bulked out the blog with a few play ideas time to start actually writing the thing!
 I guess the first one should be why...why do I feel the need to stick my life on the web?
I love spending my time dreaming up and researching over the top play ideas and games for my lil dude. I love seeing his face and hearing his reactions. I love taking pictures of the fun and chaos! I have a phone full of messy creative chaos and it feels so wasted.
I would love to have a database of it all to look back on to remember when my lil dude is all grown.

Also I need a vent my hubby has just embarked on a 7 year phd and that means a lot of work for him and a lot of me time for yours truly. Soooo I'll chatter on and maybe one day someone will read it but hey if not I will still have a great lot of memories and god willing a son who reaches his fullest potential as his mummy has done all she can to help him learn and become a kind honest man.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Freeplay Area

So I’ve filled a plant pot on the patio with sticks (cuttings from a hedge I massacred) and a pile of stones. That’s all I’ve collected so far I feel a trip to the forest is in order so that’s next on the outing list for a good old scavenger hunt. :-)
Our sticks have been there for two days and we have had houses built, towers, a one on one battle toddler verses wind in a crazy swirling almost sword fight ( for this you had to be there but i was crying with laughter at the seriousness the lol dude attacked the air with!) and the latest fun campfires. We are gonna camp in the garden this weekend and I have a camp obsessed lad on my hands!

Ocean Small World

This is a spin off from the water beads post but deserved its own post we had a great fun found these water creatures at a car boot and just had to create an ocean to let them swim free! It’s basically a few washed rocks and water beads so an easy make!
Ok ok I know they are very unproportioned and I’m sure that in the real world crabs, whales and starfish wouldn’t be sat next to each other buuuut it was still a great learning opportunity as we chatted about the whale spraying water, stingray hiding at the bottom and the crab scuttling. My lil dude is 2 so I’m not out to teach him Latin names or breeding patterns. He just picks up little facts and enjoys playing in water.

On this hot day the water beads didn’t quite cut it so we went on to add water and ice to the mix which was great fun.

Building Houses

We had the most perfect day today I just had to share. Started the day with a fab car boot where we found so many dinosaur books, a doctor’s kit and sea creatures I’d been on the hunt for all cheap as chips. Nice! We then headed home to enjoy the amazing weather yeahy sun!!! It’s been grotty for days so Mr sun you are oh so welcome.
At home hubby joined us in the garden where he and lil dude stumbled across my next project…. A free play area ok so so far it’s just a pile of sticks from a tree I hacked up last weekend, buuut it has fuelled my desire for the free play area as it worked a treat. Within seconds they were building a house on the lawn with sticks. Lil dude had a field day he was trying to put them in the ground and balancing sticks on the roof. It was such a simple concept and has worked really well. Will be adding stones shells and bark to the area soon. The day was completed with a family BBQ and lots of giggles and marshmallows. I imagined days like this when I was pregnant I’m so blessed to have them both!

Down On The Farm

So a great day on the farm a couple of souvenirs and a lil boy with farm animals on the brain led to the creation of another small world. While the lil dude had his nap I put together some lolly stick fences using a glue gun (adapted this from her small worlds are fab!

Left them out so lil man could see them when he came down and as predicted as soon as he woke up he started inspecting the new creations. Once explained what they are he dragged me out to “make a farm”. I had planned to do it on the grass but the good weather had made the grass pretty hard and tough to break with a blunt lolly stick. We had a change of plans and invaded the flower beds. I had planned to make a field and road for the tractor but about 10 seconds after this picture was taken he saw a few ants and the world ended. I guess my next project will be overcoming his myrmecophobia (oh yes I looked it up and there actually is a name for fear of ants, admit it your impressed) so the farm has been shelved till I find a cure but hey ho the pictures good :-)

Shelltastic Roadblock

This was an unplanned lil play session. We were playing diggers on his play mat and pretending to dig roads a favourite toy in our house when we spotted the tray of shells. You’ll see from my other posts that we have been collecting loose parts to play outside and so having just got my hands on a bunch of shells and the weather not permitting us to play in the garden they have been chucked in a tray on the front rug. They have been used in many a game of hide and seek the shells and generally poured, tipped and counted.
So with my handsome assistant we created road blocks on the mat roads and then set to clearing them. This kept him amused for ages and soon the tray was turned to the builders site/dump where all the shells were cleared to we dug and transferred to tippers then drove to site to tip. Its a great way of adding a new aspect to an old toy.
Will be keeping some loose parts in the house too :-)

Bewilderwood... A great back to nature day out.

So this place was fab just had to give it a mention…and show off the pics! It is a forest park which is based on the books of bewilderwood. Its a harry potter style magical kingdom and I couldn’t help but fall in love with the entire concept. This place is a wooden back to basics wonderland with not a Tele in site. The entire place is built around nature with treehouses built into the trees, wooden rope bridges and den building using huge sticks. Lil dude loved it and just ran free digging in sand climbing and everything a child should be doing in life. I must mention that this post is not sponsored I just wish there were more places like this in the world!IMG_0532
In the books you can read about the many mysterious creatures in the forest such as the crocklebog, the boggles and the twiggles (who built a lot of the attractions :-) Around the park you take a real boat past the crocklebog (a crocodile type creature called Mildred) and pass the boggles village into the main forest where you see evidence of various dwellings in the treetops some of which you can explore.
We have since brought the book and used it as inspiration for making a twiggles house in our garden (another post) and lil dude loves reading about it and keeps jabbering on about the crocklebog and twiggles.
I know days like this will form lifetime memories for my lil dude, memories I hope one day he’ll thank us for.

The Chalktastic Play Table

Hard night trying to get lil dude to sleep lead to pinterest overtime and me in high hopes of creating an upcycled masterpiece....Ta Daaaaaaa
Yes ladies and gentlemen I actually completed a project and yes it "worked"!!!
So this was a £5 coffee table of facebook sales pages and a can of blackboard paint. My hansome assistants joined me and sanded the tabletop lil dude was very impressed with this and this was an activity in itself. I'm a firm believer that the extra time and effort spent to let lil dude join in no matter how little the contribution are so worth the effort. His face lights up and he gets to be like mummy and daddy its such a boost to his little confidence. I the masked off the edges and sprayed the top a few times. All the while lil dude kept skipping to the end of the garden to see if "his" table was done.
This table has been in the house 2 days and has been used non stop we have had dinosaurs drawn repeatedly (the above is a diplodocus with an apatasaurus i'm told). Today I left him to lead the play and he asked for a zoo I gave him his animals and his Lincoln Logs (great great toy) we created cages for the animals once we used all the logs we had to add a road for his tractor which used the chalkboard a treat. The road then (after a lion with an attitude problem cleared the table very loudly lol) turned into a racetrack which then somehow got attacked by dinosaurs and ended in tricereatops racing bmw's and merc's! The day ended in me having to draw dinoland on the table with volcanos, sea and tar pits. I can see this table being a great base for the sensory ideas I have as can be adapted to so much I feel you'll see this one a lot in the future!!!


With the sun making a much needed appearance we are dusting off the cobwebs and hitting the garden ahhh my lovely garden it’s such a treat with patio, flower beds and pergola. Our old house had a square of lawn which was open to next door and had nooo play opportunities whatsoever. Well as soon as I saw those mud filled flower beds I started plotting. All over blog land I have seen beautiful fairy gardens and boy would I love one! My lil dude on the other hand nooot so much he really is a boy!! Pair that with my darling hubby who was highly unimpressed with the kitchen I purchased lil dude I thought a fairy garden really would push the limits! Lil dude loves his diggers so I rolled with that and we came up with digger land. I started off using a long flowerpot and filling with stones compost and diggers and if you have a restricted space this would be a great option (would recommend a play mat underneath). I found this was slightly restricting and there was compost all over the patio. So digger land was relocated to the flower bed and am so glad it was it’s a fab addition to the garden and encourages lots of Independent play. This idea then lead on to Dino land in another section of the flower bed which is a working progress but similar concept.

Our Rainbow Rice

Today’s entertainment has been the fantastic rainbow rice and boy was it a hit I have seen this all over blog land but the recipe came from one of my fav blogs happy hooligans. If you haven’t come across it yet it’s a must just fantastic!!!
The rice was sooooooo simple took a zip lock bag half filled with rice then put a tbs of vinegar and a few drops of food colouring. I mixed it well by shaking and mushing (wow can’t you tell I spend most of my time with a two year old lol). Some like the blue I had to add more colouring than the others too so would advise you to mix and then add more as required. I was heavy handed with the yellow and that took a long while to dry plus has a vinegar scent to it. It’s not off putting but would recommend you don’t copy that mistake. Once all mixed I popped onto a baking tray to dry and returned a few times to mix. They clumped a bit at first which worried me but after the first couple of stirs they were perfectly separated.
I placed the baking trays on a towel with a tray in the middle and gave him spoons, bottles, funnels, pans etc… He had a great time scooping crunching and pouring them mixing the colours as we went. This activity lead to so many play opportunities’ he was a fountain of ideas which made my day! The following he came up with in one morning:
Pouring colours in bottles through funnels making patterns (like coloured sand ones this looks amazing and I’m deffo on the lookout for an unusual vase that we can fill together in the future for the dining room!)

Making shakers by putting a few bits of rice in little plastic pots.
Dinoland he started sorting dinos at first green for herbivores blue for swimmers red for carnivores etc. which was great then it all got a bit chaotic (as it usually does with lil dude) and ended up in a dinosaur war zone resulting in several poor souls getting buried by the remaining colours being chucked in all together. The days entertainment ended up in him requesting we make a movie so I dug out the phone and recorded lil dude acting out a mini story I read aloud. The movie will win no awards but lil dude loves watching it over and over.
A quick tidy up later leading me to a piece of advice…. A towel is not big enough protection would advise a double duvet laid out or a messy mat. It wasn’t a big clean up but to save the hovering the mats are ace plus can scoop it and reuse.
I’ve kept the rice and will use again and again this is a cheap days activity for us and I’m sure will be used again and again

Our day at the beach.... well kinda!

So today was grotty outside the sort of rain which gets in your bones. As it’s the weekend I wanted to make it fun sooo the beach came to us! Now if you’re a house proud anti mess mama this isn’t for you. I laid down a duvet cover to offer some protection to the rug gave lil dude strict instructions to stay on the rug and all messy toys were to stay too. He thought it was great! Of course every dino he could find went in and were repeatedly buried and dug up. Super cute moment while digging he was saying (in his little 2 year old voice so proudly) I’m a palaeontologist I’m digging for dinosaurs!
Anything that makes him smile like this activity is well worth a bit of hovering! He actually played in this all day which amazed me! I had to reset it up after nap time. In the afternoon we removed most of the dinos and made sandcastles which mummy really enjoyed lol! I had so much fun with my little man today he was on top form and days like today make the bad ones melt away.
Top Advice….. I saw on TV recently that baby powder is great for getting off sand so tested the theory today and it worked wonders!!!! Just pour some on the sticky sandy hands feet etc. and it brushes right off! This tip will save so much effort at the real beach and daddy running back and forth with a bucket of water only for hooligan toddler to jump back into sand (we’ve all been there right lol!)

Car Painting

With the sun making a much needed appearance we are dusting off the cobwebs and hitting the garden ahhh my lovely garden it’s such a treat with patio, flower beds and pergola. Our old house had a square of lawn which was open to next door and had nooo play opportunities whatsoever. Well as soon as I saw those mud filled flower beds I started plotting. All over blog land I have seen beautiful fairy gardens and boy would I love one! My lil dude on the other hand nooot so much he really is a boy!! Pair that with my darling hubby who was highly unimpressed with the kitchen I purchased lil dude I thought a fairy garden really would push the limits! Lil dude loves his diggers so I rolled with that and we came up with digger land. I started off using a long flowerpot and filling with stones compost and diggers and if you have a restricted space this would be a great option (would recommend a play mat underneath). I found this was slightly restricting and there was compost all over the patio. So digger land was relocated to the flower bed and am so glad it was it’s a fab addition to the garden and encourages lots of Independent play. This idea then lead on to Dino land in another section of the flower bed which is a working progress but similar concept.

Pasta Dig Site


So this is one of my cheap and easy chuck in a tray and go activities.
I brought lil dude a baking tray from Asda for 80p I planned to use it for a magnetic play tray for his letters etc. Well we had a pretty hard day with a seriously grumpy teething toddler and desperation to get the dinner done drew me to the kitchen cupboard. Poured a bag of leftover dried pasta in the tray and chucked a few diggers in.
I was not sure this would hold his attention but he was fascinated by it and the tray was left in our front room for a few days with various toys added and some amazing scenarios played out. I was pulled in to assist with bulldozing and then building a playground followed by moving in the dinosaurs to drive the diggers. Ok so not very romantic an idea and yes I could have spent a lot more time developing a small world scene but I find sometimes in times of need these simple ideas are the best!!

If you liked this take a look at Digger Land