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  • Five Fun Activities for Motor Skill Development

    Babies and toddlers learn and develop everyday through play by experiencing new textures, sounds, colours, patterns and tasks. You don’t need to buy expensive toys in order to encourage their development. There are tonnes of fun games and activities you can play with your little one, using items from around the home. Something as simple as a saucepan and wooden spoon makes an excellent drum kit or can be used for cooking roleplay!

    To help develop these skills through play, we’ve come up with five fun activities that will help to develop fine motor skills whilst playing at home.

    1. Colouring

    Colouring pictures and being creative with stickers or stamps are not only an essential part of arts and crafts, but they are key for your child’s fine motor development too! If you search ‘line drawings for children’ on the internet, there is a huge resource of free colouring-in designs to chose from, which you can print out at home.

    Keep broken crayons for slightly older toddler and pre-schoolers! Because colouring with small, broken crayons encourages your child to hold the crayon correctly i.e. in a pincer / tripod grip between thumb and forefingers rather than in a ‘palmer’ or fist grip. Small pieces of chalk and the pencils used on mini-golf courses also work well. No matter what you use, this activity is a fun way to challenge your child.

    2. Sticking

    Playing with stickers is another great activity for encouraging fine motor skill development, as it requires finger and thumb coordination to peel off the stickers.   Little ones can get creative by decorating a large piece of paper stuck to a wall, a scene quickly drawn by mum (see my recent attempt below!) or cut out shapes to decorate – stars work really well. For slightly older children drawing thick wiggly lines on a large sheet of paper and asking them to stick dots side by side along it, is a great activity that will keep them occupied whilst at the same time developing concentration and coordination.

    3. Stamping

    Stamping is another great way to open up the hand and develop finger strength and control. A great fun and cheap method is the good old potato stamp, where you cut a potato in half and carve out a pattern or shape on the flat, freshly cut surface, before letting your little one dip it in paint and stamp to their heart’s content. Alternatively, you can buy stamp sets for a few pounds online or from larger supermarkets, if you want a quick activity without mess of paint!

    4. Play Dough

    Play dough has been a childhood favourite for decades. Not only is it great fun, but handling play dough also develops some important skills. Squeezing, stretching, pulling and shaping all helps to strengthen finger muscles, and touching it is a valuable sensory experience. You can make play dough at home and follow the link for a great long lasting, homemade recipe: https://theimaginationtree.com/best-ever-no-cook-play-dough-recipe/

    5. Pasta Necklaces

    Stringing together necklaces is a great way for your child to be creative while working on their hand-eye coordination and developing ability to manipulate objects. The best way to start is with thick string and large pieces of tube-shaped dry pasta. Over time you can reduce the thickness of the string and use smaller pasta shapes to make it more complex. This is a great activity for both boys and girls.  Alternatively, you can swap string for pipe cleaners in order to create fun shapes. Another option is to paint the pasta and let it dry before assembling to make it more colourful.

     

    The clever and innovative design of Doddl cutlery helps develop children’s fine motor skills whilst they are learning to feed themselves. These skills are essential for a wide variety of tasks such as writing and drawing, using scissors, doing up buttons and any task that involves coordination and control between the thumb and fingers.

     

    Good luck and happy making!!

  • bubble fun Activities to entertain a toddler

    Help, I have a toddler!

    Did you wake up one morning and think…OMG where did this toddler come from?

    Were you caught up in the blur of feeding routines and nappy changes that before you knew it, a game-changing toddler appeared?

    We are not for a second trying to suggest that looking after a young baby is easy, just that they usually stay put. They can be relatively easily placated.

    A toddler? Well, let’s just say it’s little wonder parents of toddlers are in bed not long after their little ones. Or much later as they put their house back together!

    bubble funIf you thought the baby phase was tiring, the toddler phase will have you reminiscing of those days you used to just sit down. In silence.

    As toddlers discover their increasing independence, they will understand a lot of what they’re hearing but won’t always be able to communicate what they want. So when it comes to meal times, this can be particularly challenging!

    Talking, singing, reading exploring, eating, playing indoors and outdoors, napping, creating, getting messy, helping…these are all things that will help stimulate, educate and entertain your toddler. Everything you do is an experience.

    playdoh

    An essential tip – allow twice as long for everything! Everything takes longer than it ever did before.

    Here’s some ideas to help keep you going through the toddler years….

    • Chores can be fun. Don’t think of these things as chores to be done before you go and play. Chores are play! Helping strip beds (make time for bouncing, hiding in covers, playing superman with pillow cases, pillow fights, snuggles, cuddles and tickles).
    • Washing baskets make great cars. If it keeps your little one entertained for 5 minutes, embrace it!
    • They can join in with washing up. Once you’ve got the pots and pans cleaned, get you toddler to stand on a stool and wash their plastic plates and Doddl cutlery. Always have an old floor towel ready to wipe up inevitable spills quickly.
    • Creative play is fun. Playdoh, crayons, paints, spaghetti hoops and jelly in the bowl – all helps develop fine motor skills.
    • Play in the bath. Take up plastic tubs, pots, watering cans, sponges, plastic cars. Anything can be fun to play with!
    • Do something outside everyday. Plant something, go to the park, take a walk, play with ride-ons, kick a football, go to the beach, chalk on the patio or drive, play in a sandpit, wash the car, post a letter, walk to the shop, feed the ducks, kick a ball, rake the leaves, build a snowman, go for a picnic, go for a boat ride, a bike ride, blackberry picking, collect wild flowers, leaf collecting and make a collage, learn to cross the road safely, go for an ice cream!
    • Keep one of your kitchen cupboards child-friendly. They can open it, empty it and play with child-friendly utensils again and again.
    • A box of dress ups is always fun. Don’t throw away old hats and scarves – toddlers love dressing up in fun items. It really pushes their creativity and imagination.
    • Rotate their toys. It stops them and you getting bored. It’s always fun to rediscover long-forgotten toys.
    • Always have entertainment and food options in your handbag. A car, a doll, snacks, drinks, a notebook and pen.
    • Playdates are essential for toddlers and adults.  Invite friends over and any parents you get to know from nurseries or play groups. It will keep you sane and help your child to learn to share.

    As you can see, having a toddler means that you need to rethink situations and how you approach them!

  • Some tips for handling food and toddlers!

    As busy working parents ourselves, we know that unpredictable toddlers and their food habits can be, well, challenging to say the least.

    Just as you think they have them all figured out, they go and throw a spanner in the works and change their minds all over again! And usually, just as you’ve stocked up on whatever their ‘favourite’ thing was (this week).

    We thought we’d put our heads together and share with you a few hacks we’ve learned along this wild journey of parenting when it comes to getting toddlers to just eat their tea…

    • Master the three t’s – Taste, texture and temperature are all really important when it comes to fussy eaters. Anything slightly different can cause a meltdown, so make sure it’s all mixed thoroughly to help prevent fussiness.
    • Do add spices – Wse a hint of chilli, curry powder and other spices to your cooking to get them used to eating foods with flavour that’s just sugary sauces.
    • Go easy on the salt – In fact, avoid it completely if you can.
    • Leave food prejudices at the door – Don’t influence your kids by telling they will or won’t like something – let them try and see what they like.
    • Don’t mention healthy – Don’t focus on food being healthy. Present it. Enjoy it. Eat it.
    • There are no alternatives on the menu – Make sure they realise that this is dinner – there is no substitute. No child EVER deliberately starved themselves. Bring forward the next meal if they refuse. Remember sometimes they might simply not be hungry.
    • Tickle tastebuds by presenting food in fun ways –  Make food into a funny face, separate it by colour, provide pots of fruit or cheese, cut sandwiches into interesting shapes etc.
    • Make eating a game – Ask, “can you eat like a… dinosaur… a rabbit… a tortoise” etc.
    • Try and eat together at a table – No TV or screens for anyone. It’s a good habit and gives you time as a family to talk, to have fun, ask questions and more.
    • Try again with previously rejected foods – Keep putting it on the plate and encourage small tastes – they may end up actually enjoying it. Did anyone really like mushrooms when they were small?
    • Offer limited choices – Carrots or peas, broccoli or beans?
    • Be prepared – Fill the fruit bowl so there’s always a healthy choice at hand.
    • Get the kids involved in food prep – Kneed pizza dough and freeze in individual balls. Kids love making their own pizzas and can use our cutlery to help chop up the toppings too.
    • Keep them hydrated – Have a jug of water on the table at dinner times and offer water before juice!

    What hacks have you discovered over the years?