Yeah, so this one woman’s been busy…
Busy learning, busy reading, busy studying…
Happily preoccupied, wondrously fixated, joyously enthralled…
She’s humbly reading into her own soul, then lifting her eyes up to heaven’s call,
Inspired, her soul’s enlarging…
The bliss of heaven’s snow falling on a fast life lived slow…
And in this season of both the amazing and the exhausting? – this humbling period of parenting little seedlings and nurturing young souls and creating a safe haven called “home”? — she’s dancing light in lovely grace covering the good and the less-than-perfect-days...and finding that as she makes her home, her home in turn, makes her.
So here again, for the love of this God-given institution called the ‘family’, *thank you, God*, this is more than what I’d signed up for—for merry days with toddlers that keep me on my toes, and delightful times with preschoolers playing random games, and serene moments with older kids cuddling into the night, and then up again for another round of flurry activities the next day – this too is a gift, a special privilege that comes with the title “Mum”—*so thank you again* .
So here’s our top pick of simple home-made activities that have kept this home going, these children playing, and this mother falling in love again with the pure pleasure of being at home, with them.
1. Water babies
These water beads, or more affectionately known as the water babies, are tiny water absorbent polymers. They are generally safe for play as they are non-toxic and biodegradable with colours that don’t ‘bleed’ – but do watch out for safety hazards when little hands are playing with them as they can choke on them.
What’s amazing about these water crystals is that they grow to 400x their original size when immersed in water.
They are great for sensory play as they can be squashed, caught, scooped up and bounced! There are so many different play ideas as you can use them for display or get artsy with them using playdough or shaving cream.
Our children have loved playing with them in water. They make great habitats for animal worlds and seeing those arctic animals ‘swim’ through those beads.
The tiny hands would love scooping them in water, catching them with nets/ladels and then squeezing, squashing and whooshing them real tight.
These water beads can be frozen as well. We’ve had good conversations about water in their different states with the older children while our toddler play colour sorting or exercises her muscle grips on the frozen ones in plastic bags.
These water babies are translucent and can be used for decorative purposes in vases and fish tanks!
To add to our play, we dropped food colouring and made up a story line for those poor animals trapped inside!
2. The playdough sensory table
Sensory play is wonderful as it encourages children to use their 5 senses to shape and mould and manipulate materials of different size, shape, smell, textures to sharpen their fine motor skills and coordination.
So a playdough table like this allows for an unstructured, open-ended play that enables children to explore and express their curiosity and imagination.
These little hands have been kept busy – making impressions, learning colours, making shapes, rolling and cutting, and spreading buttons.
It’s great for building and strengthening fine motor skills and improving hand-and-eye coordination and building their confidence in having a go at producing something.
Truth be told – we have miles to travel on in this department with our youngest. She is one lively little toddler whose curiosity often leads her to plays that stretches beyond her ability and capacity.
With a flexible routine and structure in place however, and some deliberate goals planned into our day, plus lots and lots of opportunities for joy infused into the home , we can hopefully see little Missy catching up, and enjoying sitting still and learning moral maturity, even at her tender age of 2.
So she’s done a variety of ‘painting’ – finger painting, ‘abstract’ painting, ‘face painting’, model painting and I find that I generally can do other activities with the other children, or finish my chores up to 15-30 mins at a time, and she gets such a kick out of this 🙂
5. Sensory animal habitations with beans and seeds
We had fun building this one. It took literally 5 mins of preps and then a whole good half hour of play. We created different scenes with farm animals and then with insects.
The exercise of rummaging their hands through the beans, and scooping tiny seeds into mini buckets, and cupping loose grains on their palms is important for their growth and development as they learn to engage with the world around them through their senses.
6. Science experiments with bubbles
This one was an old time favourite. We watched how to make bubbles, and then how to make a bubble inside a bubble inside another bubble.
And we also had fun trying to decipher the science behind blowing the bubbles that never pop!
7. 3D painting and construction
This one is a good time filler when you have a bunch of restless kids sitting around doing nothing. We pulled this one out when we were with families at a restaurant and 6 bored kids waiting for their food. When they finally got into it – the fun of painting and building these 3d models- we adults were smiling happy and breathing in the beautiful scenery around us.
8. Cooking with kinetic sand
9. Water play – building a giant aquarium tub!
We have been intentional on making the most out of our evenings to cultivate sibling unity . Plopping dirty, tired bodies after school into a warm bath tub filled with an invitation to play surely makes for a home atmosphere spelled L.O.V.E.
10. Garden camping (and bbq-ing marshmallows on the side! yum!)
We have a very tiny alfresco, and we are trying to make the best out of our space. When these kids are chatting away, this Mama is finding her space in God.
11. Sensory play with coloured rice beads
This idea was adopted from this kind lady and is a good starter to get toddlers learning their alphabets, practising their letter sounds, recognising colours and finding hidden treasures.
12. Magnetic tiles
We were given this beautiful set of magnetic tiles by our cousin (thank you!) and it was such a huge hit for a good number of weeks. All our kids love making different models and learning the way magnets work (I have further on read them books on magnetism and bought a different set of magnet toys to understand its properties).
13. Imaginative play with boxes
So – those styrofoam and cardboard boxes – can be turned into anything really! Cars? Trucks? Boats? Caravan homes? …the sky’s the limit…great for language development and building story plots.
So that’s it from us for now – many more coming in part 2 and 3! Thank you so much for reading and enjoying this journey with us!