Homemade Easter Cards

easter chick

This year, I thought it would be lovely for my toddler to create some Easter cards to send to her relatives. As she is not yet two years old, I wanted to create cards she could decorate by herself. The instructions for each of the three designs are written below, so please feel free to try them out with your toddler. All are simple to set up and quick to make.

Potato Print Easter Eggs

Cut two potatoes in half. Turn them over and carve little handles to make them easier for your toddler to pick up and hold.

Create different designs for each ‘egg’. To make the lines thicker, I first cut them with a knife, then went over them with the point of a potato peeler.

Once you have made your potato Easter egg designs, pour four different colours of paint onto paper plates, one for each different design. Fold a piece of A4 white card in half and let your toddler print the egg designs onto the card.

Tissue Paper Collage Easter Egg

This card is super simple to create. Begin by folding a piece of A4 paper in half and then draw an oval shape along the fold.

Cut it out and then unfold the paper to reveal your egg shape. We made two of these.

Next, tear various colours of tissue paper into little pieces and put into a paper bowl.

Allow your toddler to cover the egg shape in glue and then stick the multicolour tissue paper onto the egg.

Fold an A4 piece of white card in half and stick your Easter egg collage onto the front.

Baby Chick Easter Card

This card is very quick to make. Begin by folding a piece of yellow card in half. Take a large glass or a bowl and draw around it, ensuring that part of it overlaps the fold.

Cut out around the shape to create a circular card.

If your toddler is old enough (mine isn’t!) give them a pair of toddler scissors and allow them to make small cuts around the outside of the card to give the illusion of feathers. You may wish to do this step yourself.

Finally, your toddler can stick goggly eyes and an orange beak in the middle of the yellow circle. Alternatively, these could be drawn or painted. We used an orange piece of sticky foam for the beak.

my toddler managed to make these cards while her three-week-old brother was peacefully napping!

We hope you enjoy making these designs and would love to hear how you got on. Wishing you all a happy and restful Easter!

Toddler Art and Craft Activities for Valentine’s Day

toddler hands heart

Valentine’s Day is an important event in our house. This year, I decided to create some toddler-friendly Valentine’s Day art and craft activities for my toddler. All of these would make fantastic homemade Valentine’s Day cards.

Tissue Paper Heart

First, cut a heart shape out of A4 paper or card. The easiest way to do this is to fold the paper in half, draw half a heart and then cut it out.

This ensures that both sides of the heart are even. Next, tear some red and pink tissue paper into small pieces and put into a paper bowl.

You may wish to cut each piece of tissue paper into a heart shape, but we found torn up bits worked well. Finally, hand your toddler the paper heart, the Pritt Stick and the bowl and watch as they have lots of fun sticking the tissue paper onto the heart.

my toddler loves using glue so she thoroughly enjoyed this activity.

You could stick this heart onto a piece of A4 card folded in half to create a beautiful handmade Valentine’s Day card, or you could keep it as it is.

Foil Painted Heart

For this activity, give your child a piece of foil about the size of a piece of A4 paper and allow them to paint it with pink and red paints.

When it is dry, cut out a heart shape using the method described for the Tissue Paper Heart activity.

Carefully stick it onto a piece of A4 card folded in half to create a pretty and original Valentine’s card.

Painted Letters

Give your toddler a piece of A4 paper, some pink and red paint, paint brushes, stamps and any other painting utensils you have, and allow them to create their own special piece of artwork.

my toddler loved doing this so much that she covered about 5 sheets of A4 paper.

However, she did get quite messy in the process!

When the paintings are dry, choose one and cut out the letters ‘LOVE’ (or another appropriate word) from your child’s painting. Finally, stick the letters onto a piece of A4 card folded in half to create a personalised Valentine’s Day card for a loved one.

Alternatively, you could get your toddler to paint straight onto a folded up piece of card. This was my favourite of my toddler’s paintings and we have kept it to pin up as we thought it was so lovely:

Love Heart Cookie Cutter Printing

This is a simple and fun activity for your toddler. You will need heart-shaped cookie cutters.

If you do not have these you could always cut some potatoes into heart shapes to print onto the page. Pour pink and red paint onto paper plates, then your toddler can dip the cookie cutters into the paint and print onto the page.

We hope you all have a Happy Valentine’s Day this year, however you may be celebrating. Please let me know how you got on if you made any of these for your nearest and dearest.

Amazon Baby Box Review

Amazon baby box

I was very excited to discover an offer for expectant parents run by Amazon. My husband and I use Amazon all the time and we have Prime membership, which brings all sorts of benefits, not least same or next day delivery.

The Amazon Baby Box seems too good to be true: a completely free gift box for Amazon Prime members worth over £45. All you have to do is create a baby wish list on Amazon and then order your box. You do not have to spend any money to do this.

We ordered ours yesterday and it arrived today in a beautiful gift box, tied with a yellow ribbon:

Upon opening the box, we were greeted with an array of exciting-looking baby products:

There was a booklet which explained about each product and contained some discount vouchers. It also included a new baby checklist and a ‘how big is your bump’ chart:

Our gift box contained the following products:

A MAM Anti-Colic Self-Sterilising Bottle:

In the product information it says that this allows the baby to switch easily between breast and bottle. The booklet contains two customer reviews which support this claim.

A SwaddleDesign Muslin Swaddle:

I did not swaddle my baby and had not planned to swaddle my son either, but the reviews for this product look excellent so I may well give it a try.

A set of two Angelcare Travel Nappy Bag Refills:

These fit the Angelcare On-The-Go Travel Nappy Bag Dispenser. We did think it a little odd that you cannot buy this dispenser on Amazon and it was not included in the gift box. We already have the Angelcare Nappy Disposal System and would recommend this as a cheap and efficient way to dispose of dirty nappies.

A Lamaze Giggle Bunny Ball:

We are huge fans of Lamaze toys and are sure that this one will be no exception. It is a little ball that can be gripped easily by tiny fingers. Once turned on, the ball ‘giggles’ when moved. I have a feeling this toy will not only be a hit with our son, but also with his big sister!

A Winnie the Pooh Teething Rattle:

I have a friend who also ordered the Amazon Baby Box and received a Winnie the Pooh Protect’n’Play I-Case instead of the teething rattle.

Organix Organic Baby Rice:

Although weaning feels an age away, I am sure the next 6 months will fly by, so it’s good to have this product all ready for when the time comes.

Medela PureLan Nipple Cream:

This is a handy size to pop into your hospital bag.

Weleda Baby Derma White Mallow Nappy Cream:

We have not tried this particular nappy cream before but I have heard good things about the brand so I am looking forward to trying it out.

Overall, we are delighted with our Amazon Baby Box. It was a particularly timely find and we are sure that all the different products will be put to good use. Everything within the box is unisex – suitable for a boy or a girl. Thank you, Amazon Prime, for such a fantastic offer!

Let It Snow!

snow scene

My toddler and I were so excited to wake up on Sunday morning to a good covering of snow on the ground. My husband and I couldn’t wait to show my toddler the snow out of her bedroom window and she was enthralled to see it.

After breakfast we wrapped up warm and headed out into the garden. At first, my toddler was a little hesitant, as the snow practically came up to her knees. However, she was soon very excited by it and couldn’t wait to explore the snow-covered garden.

Snowman

Together we all built a snowman, using my toddler’s bucket to scoop up the snow and pile it high to create the body of the snowman.

We used a carrot for the snowman’s nose, stones for his eyes and raisins for his buttons.

My toddler loved scooping the snow into her bucket using her spade. She also enjoyed dragging her plastic rake through the snow.

Child on sledge

However, her favourite moment of the morning was when we got the sledge out of the shed and pulled her round the garden on it.

Overall, my toddler loved her first experience of playing in the snow. We would love to hear how your little ones enjoyed the snow and we hope you had lots of fun!

Cat walking on snow

Simple Snow Art Activities For Toddlers

snow angel

Everyone keeps telling me that we should expect snow in the next few weeks. There was some snow last year but I doubt my toddler would remember it: she was about 7 months old and only experienced it whilst being pushed around in her pushchair, wrapped up warmly. This time I am sure that she would love running around and making snowballs! I decided to create some simple activities based around the idea of snow and snowflakes.

Pipe Cleaner Snowflakes

To set up this activity, take 3-4 pipe cleaners, fold them in half and then twist to secure in place. Fan the ends out into a star shape.

Pour paint onto a paper plate. We used black and blue pieces of sugar paper. I prepared two pipe cleaner snowflakes and gave my toddler both white and glittery silver paint.

She thoroughly enjoyed this activity and the snowflakes showed up beautifully on the coloured paper.

Cotton Wool Snowflakes

This was a fun and simple activity, which was well suited to my toddler’s skill level. First, I put some PVA glue in a pot and gave her a paintbrush. my toddler painted the glue on the paper where she wanted to put her snowflakes, and then stuck the cotton wool on top of the glue to create snow!

We used blue paper to create the illusion of the sky; however, darker blue would have also worked well and allowed the white to stand out.

Snow Blizzard

For this activity, I gave my toddler two circular foam paintbrushes and three circular prints, each with a different design.

She had lots of fun dipping the various utensils in white and sparkly silver paint and creating her very own snow blizzard.

my toddler ended up filling several sheets of A4 paper with her efforts; if we were doing this activity again it would be good to use a larger sheet of paper.

If you do not have foam brushes or prints, you could easily create your own utensils – you could use cotton wool dipped in paint and/or potato prints with little designs on.

Snow sensory bottle

This was very easy to assemble. Pour equal quantities of water and vegetable/sunflower/rapeseed oil into a bottle. Add some silver glitter and your toddler has their very own snow globe!

my toddler enjoyed playing with this and shaking it up so the glitter moved around in the bottle.

  1. The perfect music to accompany our activities is Elgar’s The Snow, Op. 26 No. 1:

This is a beautiful song and a lovely way to introduce your child to the music of Elgar. The text is as follows:
O snow, which sinks so light,
Brown earth is hid from sight
O soul, be thou as white as snow,
O snow, which falls so slow,
Dear earth quite warm below;
O heart, so keep thy glow
Beneath the snow.

O snow, in thy soft grave
Sad flow’rs the winter brave;
O heart, so sooth and save, as does the snow.
The snow must melt, must go,
Fast, fast as water flow.
Not thus, my soul, O sow
Thy gifts to fade like snow.

O snow, thou’rt white no more,
Thy sparkling too, is o’er;
O soul, be as before,
Was bright the snow.
Then as the snow all pure,
O heart be, but endure;
Through all the years full sure,
Not as the snow.

my toddler loved creating snowflakes in these simple ways. We are both hoping for some snow in the coming weeks so that she can experience it in real life! We hope you have fun trying out these activities and would love to hear how you got on.

Create Your Own Reindeers

raindeer

Reindeers are a fun and exciting Christmas decoration for your children to make.

You will need:

One toilet roll tube per reindeer
White card
Pencil
Sellotape
Scissors
Brown paint
Black marker pen

Begin by marking out in pencil where you want the 4 feet to go at the bottom of your toilet roll tube. Once you have done that, cut out an arch shape between the feet. Use this arch shape as a template to cut out the other legs.

Cut approximately the top third off the toilet roll, keeping a longer neck for your reindeer.

Draw an oval shape for the reindeer’s head onto your piece of white card. Draw two fairly large ear shapes about a third of the way down. Eventually you will want to fold the head along the ears in order to attach the antlers so bear this in mind when drawing your head. If you are making more than one reindeer, then use the first head shape as a template.

Paint the toilet roll tube and head with brown paint. Leave to dry.

To make the antlers, fold the piece of white card as below:

Draw half an antler shape along the fold.

Cut it out, then unfold the card to reveal the complete antler. Use this as a template for the second antler.

Add the eyes and nose using a black marker pen.

Fold the head shape along the line of the ears and cut two small slits for the antlers.

Slot the antlers into the slits and sellotape in place.

Using the sellotape, stick the head onto the reindeer’s neck.

my toddler and I had a lot of fun making our reindeers and they make fantastic festive decorations. If we were making them again, I would use a lighter brown paint, as then the eyes and mouth would show up better. We hope you enjoy making these with your children. You could put them up around the house, or make a small hole in them, add a pretty ribbon and hang them on your Christmas tree.

Chiddlers’ Hour at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre

Exterior of Museum

We went to Chiddlers’ Hour at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Bucks. It was an hour-long session based around the story of the BFG. The class was for 0-3 year olds and consisted of 30 minutes of storytelling followed by 30 minutes of craft and play.

Lots of cushions and rugs were laid out on the floor to ensure that everyone was comfortable. The parents and children sat in a large circle. In the middle of the circle were lots of toys and stuffed animals: plenty of exciting things to keep little ones entertained.

Cover of BFG Book

There was a very friendly atmosphere. At the start of the session, we went around the circle and each child was introduced by name and welcomed. Isy, the leader of the session, introduced us to the BFG and produced a large, laminated and colourful version of the story.

She read it aloud, making sure that everyone could see the pictures and text.

The session was imaginatively planned, and the story was interspersed with topical songs, which were often well-known nursery rhymes with the words changed to suit the story. For example, we sang ’10 dream bottles’ to the tune of 10 Green Bottles. At this point, Isy produced empty little plastic pots and trays of pom poms, tissue paper and other treasures, and the children were given the task of filling up their ‘dream jars’ (the plastic pots).

Later in the story, the children were given little cardboard rectangles, each filled with a sheet of coloured plastic to look through, which recreated the dream world of the story.

Chiddlers’ Hour takes place weekly at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre and covers a different Roald Dahl story each session. To find out more, click on this link: http://www.roalddahl.com/museum.

When the story ended, there were several different activities on offer: children could colour in their own dream jars, play with a selection of musical instruments or choose to continue playing with the dream rectangles or other toys on offer.

Happy Toddlebike2 Launch Day!

toddlerbike2

This morning the Toddlebike2 is officially launching in the UK. Several toddlers were chosen to take part in the launch event and we are thrilled that my toddler is one of them! She was given the important task of testing out the Toddlebike2 in advance of the launch and we are excited to have the opportunity to review it.

Two weeks ago, a huge parcel arrived in the post for my toddler.

She couldn’t wait to open it …

… and get her hands on her brand new Toddlebike2!

The Toddlebike2 is suitable for toddlers aged 18-36 months and is a pre-balance bike. It is available in three colours: Racing Red, Midnight Blue and Pinky Pink. We opted for Racing Red.

my toddler took to her Toddlebike2 straight away and immediately got the hang of moving forwards on the bike.

It is easy to steer and she was able to manoeuvre easily around the room. Initially, she preferred to sit on the cross-bar but soon learned that she could still grip the handlebars while sitting back in the seat.

She found it tricky to get on and off the bike by herself, but her confidence in her ability to do this has really improved.

One of the appealing features of the bike is that it is super lightweight, weighing approximately 0.8kg – around four times lighter than most balance bikes. my toddler immediately set about testing out this claim for herself and found that she could lift it with ease.

This means that the bike is easily transportable, and it was simple to pop it under the buggy/clip it on with a buggy hook to take to the park, although since the temperatures have dropped we have not been able to use the bike outside as much as we would have liked. my toddler toppled over a couple of times while getting used to it, but the bike is so light that she was able to get back up easily and lift the bike into an upright position by herself.

The Toddlebike2 is very hard-wearing and can be ridden on a range of terrains from mud and grass to carpets. We’ve taken ours out into the garden and my toddler has enjoyed steering it around.

Even better for mummies, it is also very easy to clean!

The Toddlebike2 has quickly become one of my toddler’s favourite toys. It has really helped to develop her confidence on a bike, and she can move quite quickly on it, so it is great to take out on short trips. It’s helping to build up her independence, as she can use it at times when she would usually go in the buggy.

The Toddlebike2 comes with a three year guarantee and can be bought at John Lewis or on Amazon.

We would highly recommend the Toddlebike2 to anyone looking for a sturdy, safe and fun first bike for their little ones. It would make a perfect Christmas present for your toddler!

Thank you to the wonderful Jo Hockley for letting us try out this fantastic product and we wish you every success with the launch!

Homemade Christmas Tree Decorations

christmas tree

Well we’re now into the last week of November and that can only mean one thing… Christmas is coming! This will be my toddler’s second Christmas.I love getting things ready for Christmas and what better way to start than with some homemade Christmas tree ornaments?

We made four salt dough ornaments. These are great mementos to keep year after year. Last year I made some with friends from my post-natal group to mark our babies’ first Christmas and it was a lovely thing to do together.
Making the salt dough

The first thing we needed to do was make the salt dough. We used the following recipe:

1 cup salt
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup water

Mix the ingredients together and knead. Then sprinkle some plain flour on your work surface and roll the dough out. You should have enough to make 4 ornaments. my toddler and I made two snowman fingerprint ornaments, a Father Christmas handprint ornament & a snowman footprint ornament. Once you have created the shapes of the ornaments, bake them in the oven at 180-200 degrees for 2-3 hours.

Snowman Fingerprint Ornament

Roll the dough out and cut it in a circle using a circular cookie cutter or the rim of a glass. Your toddler can then poke their finger in 3 vertical spots to create the shape of a snowman (see photo above). Use a pencil or straw to poke out a hole at the top. Bake as described above and leave to cool. Paint the whole ornament with blue acrylic paint. I needed two coats of this.

Once dry, paint the snowman, ground and snow white. Choose another colour of paint for the scarf. Use brown paint for the arms and hands, and paint on the snowman’s nose, or use an orange marker pen. Finally, use black paint and a fine brush, or a permanent marker, for the eyes, smile and coal buttons. Paint the ornament with a layer of Mod Podge using a foam brush to add a nice shine. Finish by tying a pretty ribbon through the hole and hang on your Christmas tree!

Father Christmas Handprint Ornament

Roll the dough out and let your toddler press their hand into the dough to leave a clear handprint. Cut around the handprint and use a pencil or straw to poke out a hole at the top. Bake as described above and leave to cool. Paint the whole ornament with white acrylic paint. I needed two coats of this.

Once dry, paint Father Christmas’ hat red and his face light pink.

Use a permanent black marker or fine brush and black paint to outline the bottom of the hat and his beard. Draw or paint his eyes, nose and moustache and you have a lovely Father Christmas ornament! Paint the ornament with a layer of Mod Podge using a foam brush to add a nice shine. Finish by tying a pretty ribbon through the hole and hang on your Christmas tree!

Snowman Footprint Ornament

Roll the dough out, pop it on the floor (in a container/on a large chopping board) and let your toddler press their bare foot into the dough to leave a clear footprint. Cut around the footprint and use a pencil or straw to poke out a hole just underneath their heel. Bake as described above and leave to cool. Paint the whole ornament with white acrylic paint. I needed two coats of this.

Once dry, use blue paint to paint around the shape of the foot and toes. Choose another colour and paint your snowman’s scarf, then paint in the brown arms and hands. Use a permanent black marker or fine brush and black paint for the eyes, smile and coal buttons, and use an orange marker or paint for the nose. Paint the ornament with a layer of Mod Podge using a foam brush to add a nice shine. Finish by tying a pretty ribbon through the hole and hang on your Christmas tree!

These ornaments are so special, as each year they will evoke memories of my daughter at this age (18 months). I hope you enjoy making some Christmas ornaments with your children, too. Older children could have lots of fun decorating these themselves.

Right From The Start

child playing recorder

The Importance of Singing

From the moment they begin to hear in utero, babies respond to sound. One of the very first sounds they learn to recognise is their mother’s voice. It has been proved that a newborn baby will recognise and show a preference for his mother’s voice over any other.

Nursery rhymes, lullabies and action songs are passed down through the generations in every culture. Singing to your child benefits them in so many different ways, and musically speaking, will teach them the basics of pitch, rhythm and harmony. Music is a vital part of communication and aids a baby’s speech and language development. It doesn’t matter if you hate your singing voice; to your baby, there is no nicer sound!

my toddler loves being sung to and has recently started to sing back a simple melody. She enjoys trying to replicate action songs. Her favourite nursery rhyme at the moment is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and she likes to hold her hands high above her head opening and shutting her palms to replicate the stars!

First Tuned Instrument Recommendation

Babies and toddlers love creating sounds. There are a host of tuned first instruments for toddlers on the market. I would highly recommend the Studio 49 Orff Schulwerk Glockenspiels or Xylophones. These instruments are all made to a very high standard, beautifully tuned and have a lovely tone. They are specifically designed to help children to develop their musical skills and are often used in schools.

Homemade Instruments

Of course, it is also great fun to create your own instruments, so my toddler and I decided to spend an afternoon making three different ones.

Sensory Shaker

This is simple to make and my toddler absolutely loves it. Take an empty water bottle. You can fill it with dried rice/pasta/beans: something that will make a satisfying noise when the bottle is shaken. I also added some coloured pom poms so the bottle looked exciting when shaken. I added some ribbons to the lid so that these would fly around when the bottle was shaken, adding more of a visual element to the shaker. To do this, pierce a hole in the lid using a skewer/drill/corkscrew. You will need some thin ribbons in whatever colours you like. I threaded them through the hole and then tied them in a knot. You may find it easier to sellotape the ends of the ribbons together and thread them through like that.

Firmly attach the lid to the bottle, and your toddler can have lots of fun playing with their sensory shaker!

my toddler has been playing with hers at every opportunity and she loves shaking the bottle so it makes a really loud sound and the ribbons fly everywhere.

Paper Plate Tambourine

Turn two paper plates over and let your toddler decorate them. They could use paint, crayons or stickers. Use some foam stickers to stick on her paper plates.

Once your toddler has finished decorating the plates, turn them over and put some dried rice or beans onto one of the plates.

Then staple or sew the plates together around the edges so that they are secure. I also added some wool around the edges for a more visual effect. To do this, simply make a hole in the plates, thread the wool through the hole and double knot it. You could use ribbons instead of wool if you prefer.

Rattle-drum

This takes a little more effort to make, as you have to do it in several stages. I have written the instructions in bullet points to make them easier to follow.

To make this instrument you will need:

  • Some cardboard
  • Two pretty beads, or conkers would do
  • Glue
  • An unsharpened pencil/ stick/piece of wood of a similar size to a pencil
  • Paints and paint brushes
  • String
Firstly, take a large piece of cardboard and draw around a bowl twice to create two even circles.

Cut out the circles and then you and your toddler can enjoy painting them however you like. We chose to paint a star on a blue background, and used a star-shaped cookie cutter for the star template.

Once the paint has dried, tape a long piece of string along the middle of the back of one of the circles. Ensure there are equal lengths of string left on each side for you to eventually attach the beads.
Next, cut out 14 1-inch cardboard squares.
Take 2 of your cardboard squares. Tear the top layer of cardboard off of each square. Glue one of these squares right in the middle of your circle so the ridges are perpendicular to the string.

Glue the pencil onto this square, then glue the other square that you prepared earlier on top of the pencil.

Glue cardboard squares along the line until you get to the edge. These need to be layered 2-3 on top of each other so they are approximately the same height as the pencil.

Glue your other cardboard circle on top so that the circles are aligned. Wait for the glue to dry.
Securely attach your beads to each end of the string. I used a reef knot. You can also put a little glue on the knot to ensure it is secure. Make sure that the beads are an even length apart, and are able to hit the sides of the drum but not each other!

Once all the glue is dry, pass the rattle-drum to your toddler!

These suggestions are just a starting point. There is so much that you and your toddler can enjoy doing with music, and I would love to hear more about how you make music together at home!