Play Prompts – Learning at Home – Dinosaurs and the Prehistoric World

Dinosaur Play Prompt

Each week at Yes Bebe we explore a different play prompt to help generate ideas from the the Yes Bebe community and team for you to enjoy at home. This week is Dinosaurs and the Prehistoric World. There are simple, quick set ups to more advanced science ideas; something for everyone and spanning so many ages. If you’d love to get inspiration on ways to play with your children then do keep up to date with the blog and join our friendly Yes Bébé Facebook group – Babble.

Last week saw an incredible week of play on the theme SPACE. If you’d love some inspiration then head to the blog post of ideas shared here. If you are sharing your ideas then use the hashtag #YesBebePlay so we can find your ideas. Our aim is to give you ideas anyone can do, they don’t need to be Pinterest worthy, inspiration not aspiration is our motto. We hope that whenever you need some ideas for a topic then you’ll be able to head to the blog and find lots.

You can find lots of book and toy dinosaur and prehistoric world resources on the site here. So let’s dive into some of the amazing ideas that have already been shared this week.

Dinosaur Play

How lovely is this play set up from Charlotte? We love the Holztiger dinosaurs teamed up with so many other loose parts play items. So inviting! When looking to buy toys it’s really useful to think about how many ways they can be used. This is how you can get real value for money from the toys you select.

Here’s a great set up from Simone. The use of fabrics are great for making a cosy play area for little ones to explore.

Look at this creative set up from Marie. Marie is incredibly crafty and a member of out Arts and Crafts Facebook group. Marie frequently posts her amazing crafts in the group. If you’re into crafts definitely worth joining for her inspiration and ideas.

Loose Parts Dinosaur Play

Freedom – that’s what loose parts gives to your children. Loose parts are items that can be moved, transported, ordered, lined up, split, combined. The play is limited to the imagination of the player. How roarsome does this cute little dinosaur from Sophie and family look? Grapat, Grimms and TickIT are great places to start your loose parts journey as well as natural treasure found outside. Here’s the loose parts section on the site if you’d like a closer look.

Dinosaur Saltdough

Dough is a great way to explore lots of topics. It’s brilliant for strengthening the muscles in the hand, fingers and arms as well as developing control and co-ordination. These skills are essential for being able to write. Heather and her family have used salt dough so they can keep their fossil creations. You could use playdough or clay too.

The Prehistoric World

At Yes Bebe HQ Charlotte and family have been transported back in time to the Stone Age with this great little invitation to play.

Thanks so much for all the lovely inspiration so far – we’ll be adding more of the wonderful ideas being shared with us through out the rest of the week so be sure to pop back and see what’s new.

Play Prompts – Learning at Home – Space

Space Play Prompt

We’ve been having a great time exploring Play Prompts over the last few weeks. This week sees the start of our theme SPACE. If you’d love to get inspiration on ways to play with your children then do keep up to date with the blog and join our friendly Yes Bébé Facebook group – Babble.

The wonderful Babble community have been sharing their brilliant ideas each week for their take on a specific play prompt. So far we’ve had the prompt colours, safari, food, minibeasts and oceans. You’ll be able to discover a plethora of ideas with the hashtag #YesBebePlay.

You can find lots of book and toy space resources on the site here.

Exploring Numbers through Space

We’ll be adding to this blog as the week goes on, but first up numbers. Space topics are a great way to explore number. If it’s for little ones then learning to count backwards from 5, 10 or 20 is so much more fun when you get to blast off your rocket at the end.

We love the nursery rhyme song Zoom Zoom Zoom we’re Going to the Moon and Five Little Men in a Flying Saucer to get young children joining in moving and counting. For slightly older children you could get them to write down the corresponding problems for Five Little Men in A Flying Saucer – 5-1=4 etc. SumBlox is a brilliant resource for using alongside songs to help visualise what is happening and the magnitude of each number. Giving your child the block 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 and then asking them to order them for a count down support them in understanding how a 6 for example is bigger than a 5.

For older children you can look at bigger numbers. How far away different planets are from the sun? Would it be quicker to get to Venus or Mars? How long would it take to get there? How many days does it take for a planet to orbit the sun?

Shape and Space

No photo description available.

Katy shared her glitter hand print rockets. Such a great idea to explore shape if you’re looking to get a little maths learning in too. We stock a range of eco glitter on the site here.

Image may contain: shoes

Are your Nins ready to take their maiden voyage into space?! Love this simple idea from Christine using junk modelling supplies.

Image may contain: drink, table and indoor

If you’re looking for a little 3D shape modelling Han shared their rocket making. You really need to make sure you are in the Babble Facebook group so you can see them launch their rocket using an empty milk bottle – looks so much fun. Not only that the family made an incredible stop motion rocket launch video and their own ‘powdered space meal’ (cocoa, icing sugar, custard powder…mix in milk!).

Sensory Space Play

No photo description available.

Here’s what Charlotte at Yes Bebe HQ and her daughter Emma have been exploring for space week. Sensory bins are a great way to let little ones explore the world around them. Helping hands fine motor tool kit and squeezy tweezers are a big hit for exploring and great for fine motor strength and co-ordination – very important precursor skills for mark making and writing.

Space Books

Book shelf full of books about space and the moon

Those of you who know me in Babble or on the Yes Bebe social media will know I’m a total bookworm. I couldn’t possibly explore a play prompt without books. What are your favourite space books?

Image may contain: indoor

What an amazing stash of space books Simone’s family have – I’m spotting some of my absolute favourites in this photo. You can find lots of the books here.

Space books Penguinaut

Christine shared their morning space set up with a couple of great space books. Charlotte, Yes Bebe owner, said – “Penguinaut is one of our absolute hands down favourite books.”

tuff tray with space themed invitation including number SUmBlox, space letters books and loose parts play items

Christie has gone out of this world with this fabulous little set up. You’ll find several of the resources she’s used here.

Discovering the Planets

Handmade planet mobile

Christie shared their planet making project with us. This one would be great idea for lots of different ages as older children could look to ensure the planet sizes are to scale. Victoria suggested making planets from play dough – something she’s done at home before.

Space Mark Making

I always love mark making activities and Laura and her children have been busy using chalks outside for their space play. We’re going to have a go at some space alien finger print painting later this week.

Mark making with chalk space style

If the weather is a little wet, it certainly has been by us, then you can use your chalks inside like Emma and family have.

No photo description available.

We’ve added some gorgeous new chalks by Moulin Roty to the site. You get all 20 in the set and they are a chunky size and come in a carry case – you can find them on the site here.

Moulin Roty Floor Chalks

Loose Parts Space Play

loose parts from Grapat and SumBlox to make a space rocket and moon scene

One of the many brilliant things about loose parts is how versatile they are. You don’t need specific ‘space’ items when you have them as they become anything your imagination can dream up. Look at this lovely space scene from Charlotte. What would your space rocket look like?

Galaxy in a Jar

No photo description available.

A brilliant sensory activity from Charlotte in our babble group. Here are her instructions to make your very own galaxy in a jar!

  • 1. Mix paint into water, as many colours as you’d like (I measured the water by pouring it into 3 from the jar).
  • 2. Pour in the first layer of water/paint and add glitter. Sequins etc could be used too for more detail.
  • 3. Pack with cotton wool balls to soak up water and stop all the colours running together. You could unravel cotton wool too for more detailed swirls.
  • 4. Repeat until complete.
No photo description available.

Space Walk

Marta and family turned their Dena people into astronauts and their houses into these cute little rockets. Kitpas crayons are great for using on lots of different surfaces and Marta says they wipe of really easily.

No photo description available.

If you haven’t discovered Dena before let me tell you a little more about these incredibly versatile toys. They’re suitable from 10 months plus so make ideal sensory baby toys to explore. They are made from platinum silicone which is ‘soft, strong, bacteria resistant, hypoallergenic and BPA-free material and 100% safe.’ You can put them in the freezer as they can cope with temperatures from minus 60º C to 220º C. This means you can use them in the oven for baking and are dishwasher safe too. Perfect for messy, outdoor and water play. Colours come in a rainbow of bright and pastel.

Upcoming Play Prompt Themes

If you’d like to join in and get prepared here are the themes for June and July 2020.

  • 15th June – Space
  • 22nd June – Dinosaurs and the Prehistoric World
  • 29th June – Weather
  • 6th July – Traditional Tales
  • 13th July – Flowers
  • 20th July – Jobs
  • 27th July – Magic and Mythical

Play Prompts – Inspiration for Learning at Home with Children – Colours

Play Prompt Inspiration

For those of you in our friendly Yes Bébé Facebook group – Babble you’ll be aware of our Play Prompts. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been sharing these with you to help give you ideas of what to do with your children during lockdown and beyond. We know lots of you have been enjoying joining in and we want to help share ideas to get more people involved whether you are in the Facebook group or not.

We will be running themed weeks, however our hope is that these Play Prompts will form a bank of resources that you can draw from at any time. They may support a theme your little one is interested in or a topic at nursery or school.

Play is the most wonderful form of learning and we’re strong believers that there are very few things children can’t learn from play, whether that be social skills, phonics, maths, science and more.

To make things simpler to join in, from this week we will have a play prompt for a whole week. Each day we’ll add some fresh ideas around the same theme and share the wonderful ideas you are sharing too.

Inspiration not Aspiration

Our hope is that these ideas will inspire you and not make you feel like they need to be social media perfect – inspirational not aspirational. I love an elaborate set up that might take me half an hour, but equally often need to pull something out of the bag in 30 seconds. Which let’s face it can be all the time we have!

We’ll be sharing all-sorts with you. We’ll also be looking at ideas for a range of ages, including how to support learning through play with children of varying ages in the same house!

Play Prompt Plan

We want to make sure you know themes in advance – for those of you who would like to do a little planning and gather resources. However, feel free to fly by the seat of your pants and just dip in on a day.

Each theme will start on a Monday through to Sunday

  • THIS WEEK – 11th May – Colours
  • 18th May – Safari – with a special Elmer Day on Saturday
  • 25th May – Food
  • 1st June – Minibeasts
  • 8th June – Oceans

Use the #YesBebePlayPrompts if you are posting, commenting or sharing on other social media platforms so we and others can find you and share your inspiration.

If you’re looking for toys, resources or books to accompany a theme we’ve set up a specific place on the site to give you some ideas – Play Prompts.

Play Prompt this week is COLOURS

This post will get updated throughout the week so be sure to pop back and see what else we’ve added. You are a very inspirational bunch!

Use #YesBebePlayPrompts when sharing on social media so everyone can find your ideas. Don’t forget we want to help give you inspiration, it doesn’t need to be social media perfect.

For toys, resources and books for Play Prompt Colours head here.

Play Prompt Simple Ideas

To start us off, here are two very simple ideas that are perfect if you are feeling a little under the weather or just want five minutes to have a cup of tea!

  • Colour hunt – You get to sit down! You say a colour and they have to go and find an object with that colour from around the house and bring it back to you. For older children challenge them to find trickier colours such as magenta/ dusky rose or look at materials too – find something with metal that is also red.
  • Colour sort – have you got a box of unsorted toys? Or maybe a collection of animals? Whatever it is it’s time to colour sort. Just pop the toys down and away they go. If there is more than one colour on a toy, which colour is most prevalent? Which colour do you have the most of/ least of/ fewer of? Count each group and add a SumBlox or other numeral to the set. For children who are just beginning to learn words and put them together if they have say a red car, when they pick up the car you can say ‘car’. If they are at the stage where they know and say ‘car’ you can then add ‘red car’.

Play Prompt Update

Wow wow wow – what an amazing start to the week sharing your colour play ideas and activities. Don’t forget to keep using the #YesBebePlayPrompts so we can all see your wonders. Here are some of your fabulous ideas and set ups below.

Next let’s think about artists – what artists scream colour to you?

I love Mondrian with his primary colour compositions, Kandinsky and his medley of colourful shapes, Yayoi Kusama and her amazing dots oh and the bold beautiful colours of Esther Mahlangu. Don’t forget you can do anything on any day for the prompt, the ideas of artists to look at are just a little inspiration for you and can be any day.

Check out this Jackson Pollock inspired creation from this little lovely.

Here’s another fabulous round up of your inspirational play for the Play Prompt Colour. You’ve gone all arty!

Experimenting with Colours

One of our Babblers, Rebecca, gave some instructions for a colour milk experiment that you can do at home. I’ve put her instructions below. Thank you Rebecca.

  • Check out this simple STEM activity. We call it Magic Milk. Mine love it. And the best part….it’s mess free.
  • Fill a shallow dish or plate with some milk (we used coconut as we are dairy free)
  • Add a few drops of food colouring.
  • Give child a cotton bud
  • Let child move the drops of food colouring around, mixing and swirling as they go. They will create a beautiful milk masterpiece.
  • Give child a straw and let them slurp up their creation.
  • Voila fun and a snack in one!

Colour and Number Play

There’s been some more lovely colour play today and lots of you have chosen to incorporate National Numeracy day into your play too. Here’s some ideas you’ve shared.

SumBlox has been popping up all over and works so well as a learning resource alongside loose parts such as the Grapat Mandala pieces.

Colour by Numbers Activity

You don’t need a special book for these. Either use a standard colouring book, or I just draw my own pictures. Then, depending upon your child’s maths needs, add suitable problems. So for my daughter we’ll be having the numerals 1-10 to match up with different colours. For older children you could use bigger numbers with a key to which colour they represent. If they are working on addition, subtraction, division or multiplication you could have one of those problems on a segment and then depending upon what the answer is they colour a specific colour eg. you have 3×5= and if your answer ends in a five you colour it red.

A Rainbow a Day

Rainbow Window

How magical is this beautiful chalk painted window of colour from one of out Babble mums – Sara. It certainly brightened up the Babble group this week.

Colour Experiments

Sophie and her gorgeous little one have been sharing so much inspiration this week. Take a look at these science themed ideas. How cool is this idea using coloured, transparent blocks and drawing objects of matching colours. So cool!

They also had great fun with rainbow clouds of colour using Learning Resources droppers, watered down paints and shaving foam. I hope Sophie has inspired you to have some science fun!

Emilie and her lovely daughter have been busy experimenting with colour mixing this week too.

Colour Book Inspiration

There’s been lots of book inspiration this week – do head over to Instagram and make sure you are following #YesBebePlayPrompts where you can find the wonderful accounts sharing their inspiration.

More Colour Inspiration

Yet more wonderful colour play inspiration from out lovely Babblers. We agree it’s totally acceptable to make a ginger bread house any time of the year! Thanks so much for everyone who has shared their inspiration this week.

What ideas will you be sharing next? #YesBebePlayPrompts

Next week the Play Prompt will be Safari – here’s our Safari section on the website.

Let us know what else you’d like to see – together we’ve got this lockdown and beyond play covered!

Gardening: Learning at Home with Children

This week marks National Gardening Week, the biggest annual celebration of gardening from Monday 27th April until Sunday 3rd May this year, 2020. Whatever the weather and even if you don’t have a garden you can still get children enjoying gardening. Young children love getting involved in the practical side of gardening. But also love as understanding how and why things happen. If you have an inquisitive little one there’s some lovely books to help you with their questions – you find them in our dedicated Gardening Week section on the website here.

Gardening – What We Eat

It’s a valuable skill to learn and have an understanding of the life cycle of plants. Knowing where our food comes from and what it takes to nurture and support its growth gives children a bigger appreciation of the food that they eat. Children who get involved in growing their own fruits and vegetables are often more likely to try these and other new foods.

Children love taking on responsibility. Tending to a plant and ensuring it has everything it needs to grow is an incredibly rewarding pastime. My daughter has been checking her bean plant daily. She likes to ensure it’s in a warm, sunny spot and always reminds me daily that we need to water it – it’s a good job she does! Beans have not been something she’s wanted to try eating. However, at the weekend, she actually tried a French bean as she wanted to see how her bean might taste when it’s fully grown!

Home Learning Garden Ideas

Are you looking for home learning opportunities for maths and literacy? Then growing can be a great way to incorporate these skills in a contextual way. Young children to keep a bean diary documenting either in pictures and/ or words and sentences the growth of the bean. Introducing new vocabulary to them such as root, leaf, stem, shoot etc. incorporates science too. To bring in a little maths you could count how many leaves are on a stem each day. How many more was that than yesterday? You could use blocks or a ruler to measure your plant and track its progress. Learning can very much be active and should definitely be fun.

Growth to children is like magic; especially if you choose the right sort of plants. You can quickly see the impact of your dedication and care. Planting a mixture of plants that will grow at different rates is very useful. This mixture of faster and longer growing times help to keep children interested and involved.

No Garden?

There’s an ever increasing range on the site of child friendly gardening tools, plants, and other resources. All designed to explore the world of the garden through real experiences or play. Even if your ‘garden’ is a pot on your kitchen window you can still enjoy the pleasure of growing with your child. Check out the range here.

Creating Memories

One way to keep the memories of your garden alive is to take clippings and press them. As a child I would press flowers and then make them into bookmarks for friends and family. A lovely creative little craft. You could make leaf and flower collages or check out our arts and crafts range and get journalling your gardening efforts together.

Please do come and join our friendly Yes Bebe Babble group on Facebook. We’d love to see what gardening you’ve been up to with your little ones.

Brilliant Screen-Free Play Ideas for being at Home

Whether you’re looking for some holiday entertainment or having to self isolate this Spring, here’s a little guide full of brilliant, screen-free play ideas to keep everyone busy.

Books

Curled up with a book or ten. Have you noticed that we’ve started to stock an incredible selection of books? There’s something for everyone on the site from birth to adults. Books are an amazing way to lose time, whether getting lost in an author and illustrator’s world of splendid fiction, digging in deep to non-fiction or getting busy with an activity book. There are just so many options. Snuggled up on the sofa, or sat in a tent in the garden, books are the perfect boredom busters.

If you’ve got a more reluctant reader then exploring a book alongside props is a great way to get them engaged. Lots of our small world play toys can be used as story props for your favourite tales.

Love books as much as we do? You’ll love our monthly book club subscription. From birth to 14 years + categories, with options for fiction, non-fiction, activity and Waldorf inspired. An exciting monthly surprise direct to your door. Now that’s something worth waiting in for!

Spring Box

We have some incredible Spring Boxes available right now, with everything you need to get in the Spring mood at home. You can choose what style of box you would like from under 3s, early years, Montessori or Waldorf inspired.

These are the perfect topic boxes to have hours of fun with this Spring. Each box will give you several play ideas to explore with your child.

Jigsaw Puzzles & Games

Does anyone else remember ‘wet playtime’ at school? Well in our school that meant the jigsaws came out, to great excitement from all. The perfect rainy day activity. There are so many skills being developed when children complete jigsaws. Check out this blog post from Usborne on the ways Jigsaws help child development. There’s a huge selection of jigsaw puzzles on the site for all ages.

Have you discovered Orchard Toys yet? We stock a brilliant range of Orchard Toy such as the classic Shopping List, to First Times Tables and Rainbow Unicorns. Fun is at the heart of their range, with a strong emphasis on learning through play. Each game and puzzle has a suggested age range, yet older children get lots of enjoyment out of guiding younger siblings in how to play. A great way for older children to be able to explain concepts such as their mathematical reasoning.

Arts and Crafts

Our selection of arts and craft media, materials and guides are ever increasing with kits available for complete beginners to resources for the experts. Why not try a new craft to pass the time? We have a vast choice of paper mache projects that are suitable for a wide age range, new in are these gorgeous eggs perfect for your creative little ones this Spring. Maybe you fancy having a go at crafting alongside your child and giving crochet, weaving or needle felting a go.

Gardening

As the saying goes, there’s no such things as bad weather, just wrong clothing. If it feels like you’ve been stuck inside then heading outside in your garden can be a welcome relief, especially as Spring is coming along and the weather more mild. If you don’t have a garden then bring the outside in with pots and window boxes.

Children love hands-on, real experiences; especially experiences that allow them to do what they consider ‘adult work’. If they’re at home, getting them involved in household jobs can be really rewarding. Helping out with cooking and baking are very popular, yet exploring the outside and gardening is often high on the list of favourites. We’ve got a lovely selection of child-friendly tools and other gardening resources.

Child sized tools are perfect for little hands and to get them as involved as possible. We’ve also got some lovely little kits such as grow your own carrots and sunflowers to botanist kits. If you are looking for some Spring gardening tools, plants and topical books make sure to check out our Spring Boxes which give you a carefully selected box of Spring time goodies just for your little nature lover.

While out tending to your garden you’re sure to spot some creepy crawlies. We love the new Usborne books Creepy Crawlies and Bug Homes. They’re the perfect companion to find out more about minibeasts. We’ve also got bug pots and explorer kits so you can carefully observe little creatures before returning them to their homes.

Outdoor Play Play Ideas

Our top choices for outdoor play this Spring include this superb little sand and water table that comes with a lid. There are two sections that sit within the table where you could choose to add sand, water, soil or leave empty for small world play or storing your craft supplies. The lid fits securely on to turn the sand and water area into a perfect little picnic table. We’ve also just introduced a range of scrunchable sand and water play tools. Not only does this mean they are light weight, but can be stored easily inside the table.

Budding artists will love this outdoor easel. The painting screen is easily washed so that it can be used over and over again. The ultimate way to explore messy play!

Loose Parts Play Ideas

Loose parts are an incredible open ended play resource. Whether using to make beautiful pictures and mandalas or using them to represent food, coins, magic objects the possibilities really are endless. You can collect natural resources from outside as well as there being wonderful toys made just for loose parts play. We love Grapat loose parts and these natural resources.

Home Gym

Need to burn off a little excess energy? Then balance and rocker boards are ideal. They come in a range of styles, sizes and colours with something everyone will love. Why not add a pillow for the perfect relaxing rock too!

Looking for a little more challenge then put together your own combination of climbing greatness with the stunning range from Sawdust and Rainbows. Supporting development of both fine and gross motor skills through active play.

We’d love to hear what your top recommendations are for staying at home play. Do leave a comment with your play ideas.

If you’re not already a member of our Yes Bebe Babble Group on Facebook, do come and join us. We’re a supportive, growing community who are happy to help out with play ideas and recommendations to keep you entertained through holiday and if you’re having to self isolate.

For the love of wood

 

An introduction to wooden toys (part 1)

Grimm’s, Grapat, Ostheimer, Black’s, Peepul, Lanka Kade, Sum Blox

The United Kingdom lost its roots with Wooden toy making during the plastic boom.  The General public was told plastic was better and more educational if a toy ‘did’ something.  This is changing a lot as more and more people look into wooden toys for both enviromental reasons and for educational theories such as the Waldorf/Steiner movement.  This sometimes means, as consumers, we don’t always know what to expect, especially with toys that are not only handmade but using plant based natural oils and finishes.

Wood is a natural and living substance. It can be easy to forget this when we are presented with packaged, shaped and brightly coloured toys. It is because of this that no two wooden toys will be identical, the wood’s  structure and fibres are different across species and even within the same tree. This means each item is truly unique whether handmade or machine made.

 

What’s this mark?

The most common wood markings are knots.  Thes are created as a tree with branches grows larger and the base of the branch becomes part of the tree. Knots come in all shapes and sizes and each knot tells the story of how that tree grew.

Some knots are purely aesthetic, they are just as solid as the surrounding timber, other knots can be loose and sometimes the wood can develop a hole where the knot has dried out. By the time timber is ready to shape into toys or furniture any changes in the wood have stabilised and knots that affect the structure of a product can be eliminated. Any that are left should be purely a visual reminder of the life of the tree that provided it.

Tiny knot in a Grimm’s rainbow

 

 

Of the countless markings that can be seen in wood, my personal favourite is spalting.  Spalted timber is in very high demand in furniture and musical instrument making due to the uniqueness, beauty and rarity of such markings.  Spalting is actually created by a fungus in the tree when it was living, but don’t worry it isn’t harmful.

Spalted Lime Wood

A second favourite is the mineral streak.  You guessed it, this is a line in the wood created as the tree absorbs and deposits minerals from the soil.  These lines run straight along the grain and can be dark and striking or very subtle. These are more common in lighter coloured woods especially in Birch, Maple and Lime.

Lanka Kade Rubberwood featuing mineral lines.

 

Even if the above are not present the grain of any wooden toy will vary.  The age of the tree and the section of the wood the toy was cut from will produce different grain patterns.  Each tree species has it’s own grain pattern and, like snowflakes or fingerprints, every pattern is unique.

center wood from lime

Hand made toys although all made of wood come in a variety of styles and variations.  To love or not to love?

Beech wood common markings

Ostheimer Squirel

Spalted Lime Wood

Hold Them Close

Hold Them Close – Big Feelings

Shockingly, there were 6,188 suicides in the UK in 2015. Men aged between 40-44 had the highest rate of suicides and female suicides were recorded as the highest in a decade in England. Male suicides are around 3 times higher than female in the UK (statistics from Samaritans 2017 report). Horrifyingly, 1 in 10 children have a clinically diagnosable mental health condition (Children’s Society, 2008).

Grapat Nins of the Forest big feelings

As a mum, the mental health and wellbeing of my little one, terrifies me. It feels like an invisible danger that could take hold of our little ones and steal them away, without us knowing. It’s a disease that we can’t see, we can only feel the impact that it has upon the ones we love. Mental health conditions do not discriminate, they can affect any one of us. Some people may be genetically predisposed or circumstances in life can impact on our mental health, but it is a personal struggle, unique to the individual. However, it doesn’t need to be a journey that someone travels alone – family, friends, health professionals and organisations can all be sources of support. It’s important we act now to help our children to recognise how they are feeling, learn coping mechanisms and know how to access support.

 

When teaching in the early years, before having my little one, three things were incredibly important to me to develop in my classroom. Firstly, a safe and secure environment where children felt comfortable to share their feelings and confident that they would be heard and listened to. Good modelling by adults within the setting to help children to understand emotions and develop strategies to overcome challenges. Secondly, the language to be able to express themselves – emotional literacy – to be able to recognise and say how they are feeling. Opportunity to role play situations and solutions, play feelings games, experiment with different expressions in a safe environment. Lastly, helping to develop strategies to be able to support children to help themselves when feelings get too big and to ensure children know who they can turn to for support when they feel overwhelmed.

big feelinsg playing with nins

Now a Mum to my almost two year old, my three important beliefs as a teacher are exactly what I do at home. A loving, sharing and caring environment where the language of emotions is used and encouraged and together we develop strategies to help boost our mental health and our ability to cope with challenges faced.

 

So, as parents, guardians, family and friends what can you do to help support the mental health of the children you love?

 

  • Let your little one know it is OK to show their emotions – yes even the boys! I do think that there is still a divide in what we think is socially acceptable for boys and girls when it comes to emotions – could that have any reflection in the suicide statistics?
  • Give your little one the language to express themselves. Use words to describe emotions and feelings for yourself, them and others.
  • Narrate to help them understand. I can see that you are angry because x took your toy. I can see you are upset…. etc. This emotions puzzle can help.Emotions Learning Puzzle big feelings
  • Calm spot – have a quiet spot where they can go to calm down. I don’t mean the ‘naughty spot’. I mean an area with cushions and blankets and soft toys that they can snuggle with and feel safe.
  • Relaxing toys – toys that support mindfulness. Toys that help role play such as dolls/ figures and houses.

    big feelings
    Hape All Seasons House – Fully Furnished
  • Hugs. Hugs. Then some more hugs! One way to have your baby/ little one close is to use a sling or carrier.lsing baby carrier feelings
  • Show your emotions to help them understand. Children know. Hiding emotions teaches them that they should hide theirs. Now I’m not saying if you are really angry that it’s appropriate to shout and throw things – I’m saying that your little one will know you are angry, so letting them know you’re angry and why (if appropriate) and what you’re going to do to help calm yourself down is teaching them how to cope with anger in future and that it’s OK to feel angry. I remember my Mum crying when our beloved, family cat died and telling me that she was upset because he was part of our family. I understood, I was upset and she taught me it was OK to show how I was feeling.
  • Certain situations can be helped by exploring them before hand through roleplay, stories and games such as the arrival of a new baby and a hospital visit for example.

My New Baby [NEW EXPERIENCES] book big feelings

Get further support from –

  • Samaritans – Call 116 123 – Email jo@samaritans.org
  • Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) for men – 0800 58 58 58 – they also have a webchat facility
  • Papyrus – for people under 35 – Call 0800 068 41 41 – Text 07786209697
  • Childline – for children and young people under 19 – Call 0800 1111 – the number doesn’t show up on your phone bill
  • The silver Line – for older people – Call 0800 4 70 80 90

Non-plastic = ocean fantastic

  • Between 5m and 13m tonnes of plastic leaks into the oceans each year
  • By 2050 the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight
  • Those who eat seafood ingest up to 11,000 pieces of microplastic a year

(Source: The Ellen MacArthur Foundation)

We all know plastics are bad for the oceans, and we all know that refusing a plastic bag at the checkout or a straw at the bar can help us do our bit for marine life. But what if we want to do more? Here are some simple swaps to help you save even more plastic from going to landfill…

Plastic-free bathroom:

plastic-free, deodorant

Deodorant

Organic Confidence deodorant shuts down odor causing bacteria with baking soda and organic coconut oil. It is gentle, effective and made using USDA-certified organic ingredients. But most importanty, it comes in a recycleable paper tube. No more plastic containers going to landfill, breaking down into microplastics and leaching into the water table, and eventually polluting our oceans.

Bamboo toothbrushes 

Did you know that every plastic toothbrush you have ever used still exists somewhere? It’s a horrible thought! Bamboo toothbrushes like those by Hydrophil are far better for everyone. For the little ones, these biodegradable and compostable Jack N Jill toothbrushes are a great alternative. For plastic-free floss, give Georganics a try.

plastic-free periodCloth Sanitary Protection 

Approximately 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million sanitary towels are flushed down the toilet in the UK every single day. (Statistics from in the Journal of the Institution of Environmental Sciences.) When you consider that each pad can take 500 years to break down – and by “break down” we mean disintegrate into microplastics – and the average woman will use 11,000 in her lifetime, you get an insight into just how big a problem this is. It’s now easy to have a plastic-free period by opting for eco-friendly alternatives.

Plastic-free nursery:

Cloth nappies and wipes

baba + boo tree frog nappyIt is true that the laundering of cloth nappies has a carbon footprint. But it is now widely acknowledged that this is a drop in the ocean when compared to the environmental costs of producing and disposing of disposables. The production of disposables alone uses 3.5 times more energy, 8.3 times more non-renewable resources, and 90 times more renewable resources than real nappies. The average nappy takes between 250 and 500 years to degrade, all the while seeping microplastics, bacteria and harmful chemicals into our earth and oceans. As for wipes – which also contain plastic, by the way – in 2017 they came in at #7 in the top ten items found by beach-cleaners. This is a very real problem.

All seem like good reasons to invest in real nappy alternatives!

plastic-free badger balm

Plastic-free nappy changes

Badger Balm Chamomile and Calendula balm contains no  harsh chemicals, synthetics, fragrance, parabens, GMOs, or anything else you wouldn’t want on a baby! AND it comes in a tiny tin with a cardboard sleeve – no plastics in sight!

Plastic-free toybox:

More and more of us are switching to choose open-ended wooden toys, and for good reason – they are better for our children’s development, encouraging imaginative play and discovery through exploration, building resilience and critical-thinking. But there are also environmental considerations at play here. In North America, 90% of toys are plastic and the majority are simply not recyclable, so destined for landfill. There are exceptions to these: Green Toys are made from 100% recycled plastics with replacement parts readily available to ensure your already-recycled toys will last as long as possible.

Wooden toys are often more costly than plastic toys, but in my experience, they also last longer on two levels: 1) As heirloom pieces, that can be boxed up and kept for future generations without any fear that the plastics will be degrading when they are next put to play; and 2) As cross-age, even cross-generational pieces that can be played with by, for example, my 1-year-old, my 5-year-olds, my teenaged niece and myself, alike! While I found our plastic toys were quickly boxed up and put away as soon as they were “no longer age-appropriate”, our Grimms, Grapat and Raduga Grez are permanently out and consistently played with. So many brands  – Ocamora, Black’s Toys, Gluckscafer to name a few – produce amazing open-ended toys that won’t lose their play value as long as your children have imagination. Even my autistic spectrum son, who has struggled in the past with “imaginative” play loves the order of creating a mandala with grapat pieces, or building with the rainbow pieces, and now creates whole playscapes with boundless imagination. SHOP TOYS

Plastic-free everywhere!

BYOB: Reusable drink bottles

The average person in the UK will use 150 single use water bottles every year – that’s 13 billion each year to be chucked away. But how do they end up in our oceans? Well, they are quite light, so often get blown into streams and rivers, which naturally lead to the sea. Our landfills are overflowing, increasing the potential for lighter plastics to “escape” this way. Much of our plastic used to be shipped to China to be recycled in poorly-organised recycling plants, providing opportunity for yet more “lost” bottles, either on the open oceans or into the waterways at the far end, where it is now thought much of the plastic sent to be recycled was, in fact, incinerated or dumped.

That’s where reusable drinks bottles can really make a difference. There’s one for every pocket and one for every style, and if you are looking for an entirely plastic-free option – there’s one for you too!

Toys to support your baby’s grasping skills

Today I want to share with you how your baby’s grasping skills develop the first year and what toys to choose to enhance those skills.

A new-born baby doesn’t really need toys yet. He will mostly sleep and feed. A warm place to rest, a sling to stay close and you!

The first 2 months, grasping is a reflex. Babies keep their hands into tight fist and grasp your finger automatically.

Toward 2 months of age, your baby may attempt to grasp. If you give a grasping toy with a thinner part directly to your baby, she might hold it tightly and release it only through a reflex.

 

Around 3 months, hand-eye coordination starts developing. Your child will enjoy gazing at baby mobiles. Within the Montessori community, we like to introduce babies to specific Mobiles that can be handmade easily. Check this article for more information .

Babies will also start to notice things and attempt to reach for them. It’s the time to provide an easy to grasp toy within reach. Help your child only if she is starting to be frustrated by her attempts. 

At 4 months, babies are able to grasp and hold large objects such as blocks, but they are still not able to grasp small things. A big beads grasper would be ideal.

From 4 to 8 months, it’s the mouthing period. Babies start picking up things and put them in their mouth. Any teething toy is great for this period.

They will also move objects between their hands so something like this, a double part grasping toy will encourage this skill.

Around 6 months of age, when they start to sit up by themselves, you can provide a treasure basket: a mixture of interesting toys and everyday objects. Start collecting!

From 9 to 12 months, babies will be able to pick up objects. The pincer grasp also develops by this age and your baby will start picking up small objects between her forefingers and thumb. The coordination is also increasing. You can now provide more intriguing baby toys such as the discovery balls

I hope you have found this article about babies interesting. To find more about what I offer to parents, read about me on my blog www.themontessorifamily.com

 

Yes Bébé Guide to First Birthday Presents

First birthdays are a truly special event. Naturally you want to buy something that is going to inspire and entertain your little one and will be something to remember. Here is our non-exhaustive list to help you choose the perfect gift, whether it be for your own child or another special little person.

Hape Pound and Tap
Hape Pound and Tap

 

The Hape Pound and Tap is the most recommended toy for a first birthday. Great for motor skills, colour matching and musical fun.

 

 

 

Utukutu Engraved Rockerboard
Utukutu Engraved Rockerboard

 

A balance board is the ultimate open ended toy where imagination is the limit. it encourages gross motor skills, imaginative play and so much more. We stock various brands to suit every budget and whim.

 

 

Le Toy Van Petilou Sensory Shapes
Le Toy Van Petilou Sensory Shapes

 

The Petilou sensory shapes offer fun and learning for all the senses. There are different textures, sounds, shapes and colours.

 

Tegu 42 Piece Jungle
Tegu 42 Piece Jungle

Tegu offers building blocks with a magnetic twist. They can be clicked and clacked, built with, stuck to things. Great for little hands to grasp.

 

 

 

 

Haba Doll Clara
Haba Doll Clara

Every girl and boy needs their first dolly. The Haba dolls are soft, cuddly and a perfect size to carry round.

 

Grimms Wankel
Grimms Wankel

 

 

The wankel is our most popular stacker. Traditional Grimms rainbow colours and smooth edges  make it appealing and tactile for your developing baby.

 

 

Lanka Kade Countryside Animals
Lanka Kade Countryside Animals

Lanka Kade animals are lovely and chunky. Just right for grasping hands. They are really hard wearing and stand up to being chucked and banged.

 

Grimms 3 in a Boat
Grimms 3 in a Boat

 

 

These fun men satisfy the urge to take things out and put back in. They can have a rocking time!

 

 

Grimms Large Stepped Pyramid

 

This pyramid offers the ideal introduction to building blocks. With the Stepped Pyramid magical palaces and castles arise, beautiful cities, towers and landscapes… one can create everything with these bright coloured blocks!

 

LTV Woodland Tree Puzzle

 

Peg puzzles are the recommended as a starting point as they encourage the pincer grasp. It also helps with shape discrimination and problem solving. We have a variety of puzzles to choose from.

 

 

Hape Pop Up Teddy Shower Buddy

Hape Happy Buckets Set

 

Our Hape bath toys make bath time the best time of the day.

 

Grimms 7 Rainbow Friends in Cups
Grimms 7 Rainbow Friends in Cups

 

7 Rainbow friends in cups are an essential for any 1 year old. your child will enjoy putting the people in and out of the pots, and will be able to turn it into colour matching as they develop.