Impromptu cardboard house

Sunday was the end of a very long Olympic weekend.  We were happy and tired and not really expecting to achieve anything…until Mr H remembered that Homebase had a special 15% off deal.  Ah Homebase, how we love thee!  We’ve practically lived there since we moved into our house two years ago and this Sunday was no different.  Forty minutes of considering options (whilst trying to prevent a toddler escaping) and we had selected some garden furniture.

Wee man was instantly excited by the very large boxes and for quite a while we pretended they were boats, wee man allocating us each a separate one and squealing excitedly as Mr H pretended to be a crocodile.  We were just starting to tire of boats when I came up with the idea of building a little house.  The boxes were all the same length and fitted snuggly together to create an impromptu tape-free house.  Even Mr H (an architect by trade) was impressed with my modular construction, although he couldn’t resist fiddling and the final product was a joint effort.

Wee man was delighted.  ‘Come Mummy, come!’ he said, dragging me around the house and showing me the ‘kitchen’ and the ‘bedroom’, where he curled up in a little sleepy ball.  Later we got out a pot of crayons and he spent ages decorating, even fetching a little step from the bathroom so he could reach the ceiling.  It was all much more exciting than the lovely new garden table waiting for a sunny barbecue evening.


Paper boats

Since the toddler olympics wee man and I have been slowly working our way through the games we never really played.  This afternoon’s activity was sailing.  I filled a plastic box with an inch or so of water and a few drops of blue food colouring and presented the wee man with a stack of paper boats.  He quickly had the whole lot in the water and was running back asking for more.  I made a few bigger ones and experimented with thicker paper to see if it would hold the water out for longer (it did).

It was a windy afternoon and it was quite exciting watching the boats blow back and forth.  Wee man and I had a go at blowing them too, which he enjoyed, particularly since we’ve been reading The Three Little Pigs recently and doing a lot of huffing and puffing.  He was quite interested when some of the smaller boats started to sink.  ‘Help!  Sinking!’ he shouted and quickly emptied the water out, only to watch the sodden paper vessel fill up again.

After a while I introduced a couple of felt people shapes and a little pirate finger puppet too.  The pirate sailed around quite happily until he was (deliberately) ship-wrecked by some little hands.  It was a good activity for learning about floating and sinking and the power of the wind.  No olympic victories though – after a good afternoon of playing, all the boats had sunk.

Toddler Olympics!

This week we invited some friends over for a toddler olympics and oh what fun we had!  Wee man slept for an hour over lunch which gave me a chance to run around the garden setting things up quickly and doing a little sun dance.  I might have got slightly over excited at the thought of thinking up some olympic-inspired games and by the time I heard a sleepy little voice calling out for me we had beanbag throwing and balancing, javelin (some foam sausage floats), pirate skittles, a parachute, sailing (paper boats and a storage box for water) and some homemade flags to scribble on.  A friend brought a tunnel too and some great little plastic cones.

I never really expected four nearly two-year-olds and a baby to play along with my little Olympic fantasy but the chaos that descended somehow took me by surprise.  Wee man suddenly felt distinctly territorial about his garden and I struggled to help him through.  The blank flags were instantly popular as soon as A reluctantly surrendered a few crayons to his friends and everything else was put to good and creative use.  The two little boys quickly commandeered the monster boxes I’d set aside for beanbag throwing and ran around the garden with them roaring.  The plastic cones became hats, the parachute was a bed and the container I’d planned to fill with water for the paper boats became a boat in its own right.

I suspect with a little more encouraging enthusiasm I could have got everyone interested in one or two of the games but we were having fun and that was the whole point.  The creativity of toddlers is remarkable and lovely to see.  Towards the end we did have a (kind of) running race and the children were delighted to be presented with shiny little medals.  They even posed for photos and looked very cute indeed.  Champions, the lot of them!


Painting faces

We did more outdoor painting today.  It’s my favourite kind of painting.  There’s no need to worry about mess, you can paint huge boxes and if it’s warm enough and you time things right they can do it naked and then you can just throw them (maybe not literally) in the bath.

Anyway, after thirty minutes or so I realised that the wee man’s artwork was following a similar path to last time, which was to attempt to colour in all surfaces of the box, inside and out.  I started thinking about it and I realised that the only time he’s ever seen Mr H or I paint is when we’ve been painting walls or fences so I thought I’d borrow one of his paint brushes and do a little doodling to show him some other possibilities.  I painted a yellow sun and he copied, swirling the paint in a circular motion but interestingly saying ‘wheel’.  Then I drew a basic face (top left of the picture) and the wee man watched intently before making four very deliberate marks and saying ‘eyes’, ‘nose’ and ‘mouth’ (bottom right in the picture).


I’m not going to go all pushy parent on you and say it’s a great work of art but even without my proud Mummy blinkers on, it does seem to bear some resemblance to a face.


Animal hunt

The sun finally appeared today and we were in the garden from breakfast till bed.  There was plenty of splashing in the paddling pool and a bit of gardening too but whilst the wee man had a nap I also set up a little animal hunt.  When he woke up we headed out into the garden and he spotted the fence and the tractor straight away.


He pushed the tractor around quite happily for a couple of minutes and then I asked him where the animals were.  ‘Gone!’ he said, with his comic arms up gesture.  ‘Shall we look for them?’ I suggested.  So we did.  I helped him find a sheep among some little white flowers and then I let him lead the way.  Each animal was carried carefully back to the ‘field’ and stood up in the grass.  He was so delighted everytime he found one, it was lovely. 


Little farm

When we were on holiday some friends we hadn’t seen for ages gave the wee man a most unexpected and rather lovely present: a big green tractor with trailer, two little Friesian cows, a highland ‘coo’ and some fencing.  Since we’ve been home he’s very keen to play with it and point out all the little details he’s noticed: ‘ladder…man goes there…seat in there’ etc.  So yesterday morning, when he was busy pushing it around the floor, I quickly set up a little farm scene for him.  I had some felt left over from the giant fuzzy felt we did a while ago so that formed fields, then I added the little cardboard box house and a jam jar lid of seeds and dried fruit for the animals to nibble.

Wee man seemed delighted to discover this new little world waiting for him.  The tractor was quickly lifted up and a battle to fit the big cow into the trailer ensued.  The animal food bowl was very exciting and the animals made all kinds of happy eating noises until eventually the seeds went in A’s mouth too.  We eat a lot of seeded bread but for some reason I’ve never thought to give the wee man seeds on their own so it was a good opportunity for him to try something new in the context of play.

Later he discovered some little fish and rubber ducks hiding in the box the animals had come from and was insistent that they should join in.  He even asked for a pond for them and was very happy when we found some blue felt.  The ducks were made to swim around their little pond, to drink from it and to quack noisily.

We’ve left it out ready to play and will no doubt add to it over the weekend.


Cardboard boxes and imagination

Time has flown by recently, what with ten days in Scotland, a weekend in York and various other activities.  Wee man is changing and is increasingly interested in imaginative play which is fun because I usually enjoy it too.  He amazed us on holiday with a hat game that was mostly his invention.  We’d bought a knight’s helmet from Edinburgh Castle, which he was wearing and I asked him if there was a hat Daddy could wear.  There wasn’t one of course but he went off, looked on some imaginary shelves and came back with a pretend hat for Daddy.  The game continued for about an hour with all sorts of different hats being tried on, getting stuck and going back on the shelf.

Back at home we’ve been doing some small world play, with a little house that I made from a box and which wee man has since added to with his crayons.  I found a duplo man to live inside but wee man was insistent that a motorbike was to go in there.  It reminded me a lot of Christmas one year when I was about four and my toddler brother insisted on parking his train in the bathroom of my new dollshouse.  It’s so strange to see how much of his interests are already fairly stereotypical boy things.

Another very popular activity was a giant box which I cut some flaps and slots in and which wee man painted.  He was painting for about 40 minutes and was absolutely determined that the whole thing was to be covered in paint.  After a while he decided that the paint brush was small and not very effective and started using his hands instead.  I do love it when he happily gets his hands messy, even now he has a preference for avoiding such activities when all the other toddlers are happily covered head to toe.  Once the paint was dry we played post offices.  Wee man was ‘Patman Pat’ (his pronunciation) and I had to post the letters which he then put into his post-bag.  He was very keen to tell me exactly what I was to do.  ‘Mummy sit there.  Letter!…  ‘nother letter!’