Creative Play with Toddlers

As most of you may already know, I am the mother of an adorable (and incredibly active) ‘almost’ three year old. Little Penny is constantly full of energy and easily bored so I am forever looking for great ideas to keep her amused, stimulated and occupied!

I attend a local MOPS group (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) run once a fortnight at a church in the area. Our guest speaker this week was Laura, author of the ‘Happy Little Munchkins‘ blog. Laura has some wonderful and inspiring resources for parents to entertain a pre-schooler. I highly recommend you head on over to her blog and print off three fantastic resources that will seriously help when you don’t know what to do with your children!

I like to think of myself as a pretty hands-on parent and try to keep Penny busy with lots of art and craft, activities and outdoor play. She particularly loves making mud pies, blowing bubbles and playing with her Play-Doh. All these things are fun on a warm day, but harder to do when Melbourne’s gloomy winter weather consumes every day of the week! I think the resources listed above will be really helpful for the wet and cold days and hope you do to!

Here are some other tips I’ve learned on how to be a creative parent (some are my own and others are from ‘My Art Class’ by Nellie Shepherd)…

Organisation: It’s good to have all the things you need before you start. But if you haven’t got something, just improvise and use something else!

Inspiration: Look at all sorts of bits and bobs. What can you make them into? Challenge yourself and be inspired! I’m forever throwing things into the recycling bin thinking ‘should keep those toilet rolls for a rainy day!’ but never do. Perhaps a large plastic container from the $2 shop could store some essential items such as glue, pipe cleaners, jars, lids, trays etc.

Fun Factor: Think about inviting friends over to join in. Play music and have a story break. It makes such a difference. Try and not have plans around the activity. Time restraints can leave both you and little one feeling rushed and stressed.

It’s Bonding Time! Even though the activity is designed to keep your little one happy and occupied, it’s also a great time for you to sit down and help. Make your own play-doh animals and play alongside your child! Get your hands dirty in that mud pie and watch her smile as mummy makes a mess! These will be memories that will last a life time (and vacuuming the house can wait!)

Making Mess: Art is messy business! Just put down loads of newspaper, relax and create. It’s worth it! I also love to use an old sheet that I keep in the bottom of the linen press just for this purpose.

Positive Attitude: We’re positive! We never say we can’t do something because we simply can! If something is difficult show her how it’s done and be patient. Don’t forget to keep in mind your child’s age as you may have higher expectations that aren’t realistic.

Encouragement: Encouragement is great for building confidence and creativity: one hundred per cent encouragement equals one hundred per cent creativity!

Making Choices: Children’s concentration is greatest when they choose the things they want to make. They make their own decisions from the start and they see them through.

Displaying: Displaying as well as talking about children’s art shows it’s important. Go on, put it up on the wall or on the fridge! If this really stresses you out, why not take a digital photo and create a special art album so your child has a record of everything they’ve created. Or you could even get a few large frames with plastic ‘glass’ to hang in their bedroom or play area. Your child can choose what artwork can be displayed and rotate the work.

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