Comprehensive list of the best places to take children around Gauteng and Johannesburg.
Category: Activities for Kids
Sensory Play – Easy DIY Dinosaur Eggs
Undersea Coral Reef
Why we should start embracing messy play
A whopping 49% of parents in South Africa, according to the latest LEGO Play Well report – aren’t quite on board with the muddy, sticky play that most children love. Most parents shudder at the thought of cleaning up all the mess, but I want to give you a few reasons WHY you need to start embracing messy play, in all its glory, and why it is so essential for our children. If you ask me to picture my childhood, it was running around outside in the dusty Botswana sand, barefoot, making forts under trees. It was happy, it was carefree. Life has changed a lot in the last 30 years, and in today’s world, a large majority of children don’t get to play outside like I did. This is one of the reasons messy play is so important.
Messy play incorporates all of the senses and allows children to explore, the benefits of messy play are huge and totally worth the minimal inconvenience.
By using different materials to explore various textures, children get used to different sensations using their hands and fingers or even toes and feet! Some children are more sensitive to different sensations, and messy play is a great way to ease them into new experiences without overwhelming them.
Messy play fosters creativity and imagination, encourages language and communication skills, practices concentration, and promotes physical development. Ive watched my 15 month old daughter play on her own for hours, exploring the concepts of pouring sand out of a container and filling another with water. Watching them mix and create mud, its early science and it is so exciting for them! These are all brilliant occupational therapy skills and are crucial for physical development.
Here are a few ideas for messy play:
1) “Jelly Cubes” – Make these up either with real Jelly or with a Gelatine and food colouring mixture, as I did here (that way there is no added sugar). Cut up the Jelly into ice cube sizes and let your children go wild! Some will mix, some will squish, others may choose to “bake”, whatever they do let them have fun and go wild. It washes out easily 🙂
2) Rainbow Spaghetti – One of the best “first play” ingredients to give to baby – Rainbow spaghetti is colourful, sticky, and tons of fun to play with. The more that ends up in the hair the better 🙂
3) Edible “Beach Sand” – If you don’t live by the coast – bring the coast to you! Place some flour on a baking tray and bake in the oven on low. Mix in a little oil when it’s done and crumble up to resemble beach sand. Place into a large tray with a few utensils like a fork, cup and watch baby feel the sand sensation and play.
4) Edible “mud” – the next best thing if you don’t have access to the real deal – you can do this two ways; either mix up a little chocolate pudding with some water and flour, or you could mix cornflour, water and cocoa powder together. Incorporate some learning into it by setting up a farmyard scene or throwing in some diggers and delight in the squishy sensation!
5) Baby safe slime/ Oobleck – My ultimate “go to” activity if the kids are whiny around dinner time. With just two ingredients, cornflour and water – this is the basis of a lot of our messy play. Let the kids mix and bake away and watch in amazement how this “magical” fluid can turn from a solid into a liquid in seconds!
6) Chickpea foam / Aquafaba – One of the best discoveries I have ever made. Using an electric beater, blend up the brine left over from chickpeas. Add in some colour if you like, but blend up until it forms a meringue like consistency. The kids will love playing with this. If you don’t have any chickpeas on hand you can do the same with a little dishwashing liquid and water, it just won’t be as stiff.
7) Rescuing objects from the Ice – You can do this with anything including toy cars, animal figurines, but we have chosen lego, of course. Place your selected objects into a large container, or choose to freeze them individually into ice cubes. Once frozen place them on a tray and let your children try to “release” them. I give the kids plastic syringes, spray bottles and containers to pour water over the ice to see if they can melt it.
8) Painting with lego – using your lego or duplo blocks, let the kids dip them into some paint and create paintings with the different shapes. Remember with messy play, there is no end goal in mind, so whatever they choose to paint or create, that is up to them! Some children are more structured, and others are completely abstract, let them have fun, explore the different shapes and get messy.
9) Lego and shaving foam – Shaving foam is another essential in our messy play cupboard. With just a few sprays you can turn anything to an adventure. I literally chucked in some Duplo blocks for my 1 year old, adding in some shaving cream and let her explore. I keep a bucket of clean water by her side, so she can cover the blocks and then rinse them again, but it was fun to watch her explore.
10) Create Sensory Worlds – This is fun for slightly older kids. I choose a theme and then we create a world around it with messy play items. Rainbow coloured rice, salt sand or cornflour and water. We then chuck in figurines like fish, or space themed objects and create a world to explore and play in. It incorporates structured learning with messy fun and they love it. Their top 3 worlds have been a crocodile swamp, the lifecycle of a frog with squishy water beads and a space themed tray with black rice and different substances for the planets.
This article was written in partnership with Lego South Africa, for the full article and more detail click here.
Sensory play with Disney Pixar’s Luca
I’ve spoken about my love of Italy before, so when I heard about Disney Pixar’s new release “Luca”, I knew it would be a movie we’d be setting our reminders for. Set in the unmistakeable beauty of the Italian Riviera, Luca is the coming-of-age story about one young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. Follow along as Luca and Alberto experience adventure with their newfound best friend, but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: Luca is a sea monster from another world just below the water’s surface. Together the two embark on a summer filled with the magic of youth and friendship as they brave the water’s surface to venture to the human town of Portorosso.
We wanted to tap in on some of these seaside moments with a little unique Italian flair. A coral reef mini world made out of pasta! Unlock your child’s imagination with some sensory play to celebrate this fun family movie which hits Cinemas on 18 June 2021 and we can’t wait to follow along on his seaside adventures.
To make your “Underwater Coral Reef” Small World is super easy.
Create a base out of “edible sand”. This is super easy to make with flour, water and food colouring baked at short intervals in the oven. I then crushed up some cereal to add in some depth to the colour.
Dye your Pasta – Take a large Ziplock bag, put about ¼ cup vinegar (or rubbing alcohol) and food colouring. The more food colouring you use, the more vibrant your colours will be. Massage the colours around until mixed and then add in about 2 cups of dry pasta. Dry in the sun. Another option for slightly older children would be to just mix the dry pasta up with some acrylic paint.
Add in a few sea creatures, I used my little Toobs characters, as well as a few small pebbles and shells. Let your kids explore the magical “undersea” wonderland and use the opportunity to teach them about the ocean and the beauty of the reef.
Please note: All activities should be supervised, even though this activity may be “taste safe”, small pasta pieces can still be a choking hazard.
I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the beautiful movie then to play with pasta. You could also get stuck into some play safe “Ice Cream Dough” to resemble the glorious flavours of gelato. You can see that recipe here.
Whatever you choose to make, take the time to create beautiful memories and have fun celebrating the rich history of Italy. Directed by Academy Award nominee Enrico Casarosa and produced by Andrea Warren “Luca” hits cinemas across Africa from June 18, 2021 and you can bet we will be first in line to watch it !
KELLOGG’S SERVES UP A CREATIVE FEAST!
One of South Africa’s favourite food company, Kellogg’s is on a mission to inspire and evoke a renewed sense of creativity in the kids of Mzansi by transforming ordinary family moments into extraordinary bursts of fun and inspiration.
To do this, the Coco Pops & Rice Krispies vanilla brands have joined forces with art supplies company, Crayola as they seek to nourish the creative juices within each child. The iconic brands have come together in a campaign that serves as a vehicle to bring families together by transforming the lives of kids as they give away educational prizes worth R250 000.
All South Africans have to do is get their hands on the unique, hard-to-miss Coco Pops and Rice Krispies vanilla packs, enter via USSD and if you colour it in, you get an extra entry to stand a chance to win educational prizes including school bursaries, tablets, stationary and more.
The Kellogg’s kids’ brands want to promote joy in having families spend time together and reconnecting through the fun on-pack activities. Breakfast can now be a great opportunity for parents to, not only nourish the growth and development of their kids through a great breakfast choice, but they can also help to unleash their creativity and have fun together.
It is Kellogg’s belief that creativity resides not only within the artistically-inclined child, but in all children and it need only be nourished. They aim to show parents and all children that with just a little creative imagination, anything is truly possible.
Kellogg’s will also be sharing some beautiful content pieces of children exploring their wildest imaginations as they respond to the question of how they would make the world a more colourful place and the kind of society they wish to grow up in.
Make sure to stay up to date with the latest fun and creative exploits of South Africa’s future stars by following Kellogg’s South Africa on Facebook and Instagram.
**Disclaimer – This article is a paid for advert by Kellogg’s South Africa**
Top Festive Finds With Game
Game Stores invokes Christmas memories, actually, it brings back memories of any toy shopping. Growing up in Botswana, for a while, Game was one of the only stores to shop for Christmas presents at. It has something for everyone; from your new baby’s first Christmas, to your tween’s music selection; presents for your gardening parent or your “DIY DAD”, end to end Game has you covered!
Here are our top 5 picks from Game’s diverse range of Christmas gifts this year. (I may or may not be forwarding this list onto grandparents 🙂 )
- Extreme Guardian Bot – For the longest time my youngest son has wanted his own “Robot”, and I have been searching high and low for one for ages! This was immediately, the first thing that caught my eye in the Game Festive Catalogue because I knew it would be a winner! This little Robot Built in motion detectors, recognizes hand gestures and has different functions & actions. Available in both “Spy Bot” and “Guardian Bot”, retails from R699.99
- Furreal Friends – Mama Josie and her Joeys – When I was browsing the catalogue with my daughter, she took one look at Mama Josie and said “ahhhh Kitty… Mwaaah”. We also don’t have a “real life” pet yet and this interactive “Pet toy”, responds to touch. R1,999
- I-Play Electro Blocks – You know by now that anything STEM related is a firm feature on my blog. At R99.90 these colourful interlocking blocks and interchangeable gears can be used over and over again and encourage creative thinking.
- I-Play Drifter Twister – Another Winner from Verimark. My mum bought an older version of this when the boys were younger and it was one of their most played with toys, the way the car twists and can climb up ramps and walls will be sure to entertain your kids for hours. It also “dances” to music with its own built in speaker. R899.99
- Drizzy Ice-Cream Play Set – Mmmmmm, who doesn’t love ice cream? Especially pretend ice-cream made by your kids 🙂 This unique Play-Doh set comes with magical Play-Doh drizzle topping, you can drizzle a crazy candy coating onto your creations with pretend chocolate and silly strawberry topping. It’s a different way to decorate! It comes with 1 Play-Doh Drizzle bottles with a Play-Doh drizzle compound, a pretend syrup that instantly turns hard when you squeeze it on top of Play-Doh. Ill have a vanilla and chocolate please! R499.99
I also MUST mention that Game stocks a full range of the STEM kits I love so much. From candle making, wind chime making to at home Slime Kits. Such affordable options starting from as low as R65.00, depending on what you choose.
So, there you have it, our top “Wishlist”, this festive season, save time and do all your Christmas Shopping under one roof 🙂 Go to Game and “Ungrump” your Christmas!
Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with Game Stores but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Sight Word Flash Cards For Grade 1
As we enter our 9th week of homeschooling, which is not really “homeschooling” but more “crises management” to be honest, I have been getting more and more frustrated with not having everything I need “in one place”. I’ve been making my own flashcards based on the sight words the school sends every week and I noticed there wasn’t one site that had them all and I have had to jump back and forth between a few.
A few of you asked after seeing my flash cards on my instagram stories the other day where I got my resources from, and inspired by “Just a Mamma” with her number flash cards I thought I would share my sight words.
Before you jump in, I am not a teacher, though I have a massive passion for early childhood development. I have verified this list with the school and they are a combination of both Dolce and Fry’s Sight Words.
Sight words are words that appear frequently in most of the text that our children read, but can’t easily be sounded out. Learning to recognize sight words is the easiest and quickest way for early readers to progress and become confident.
Use them as is or cut them out, stick them onto card and laminate them for easy use. Here’s a tip, if you don’t have access to a laminate machine, stick them between two sheets of contact paper. Keep an eye on my Instagram page for a few fun ways we have learnt to play with sight words, trying my hardest to make learning fun here 🙂 Click here to download your free Grade One Sight Words.
I hope these help you in some way, please tag me or comment if you find them useful or if there are any other resources you are struggling with. We are all in this together and if this helps just one other parent I’ll be happy !
Ramadan Activity Pack For Children
It’s that time of year again, the holy month of Ramadan. We are pulling out our Ramadan Calendar and creating a special corner for all things festive.
Ramadan is a chance for us to improve ourselves, to be thankful for what we’ve been given and to show generosity and kindness to others. This year it’s certainly taking a new course, with the majority of South African’s spending it in lock-down, Taraweeh will be spent at home due to Corona virus.
In previous years we have created a little Ramadan corner, where we keep all our books, arts and crafts and activities for the boys. While we craft, alot, it’s not always possible to sit down with the boys to do something with them and seeing as thought this year we will be home bound a bit more, I wanted an activity pack to keep them busy. You can find a list here with some of our favourite activities to teach children about Ramadan as well as the values so important to us.
You can find out more about some of our favourite Ramadan Traditions here, as well as a list of our favourite books here.
I’ve been working on a printable activity pack for you. It’s an ever growing resource and i’ll add to it as the years and months go by, but it’s a starting point, and I hope that it can bring joy to children around the world. There are 10 easy to do activities for children up to the age of about 7.
Download your Free Ramadan Activity Pack here.
Ramadan Mubarak Everyone! I hope you find this pack useful. If you print it out and use it please feel free to share amongst the community, and tag me in your pictures!
Easter Craft Ideas
Easter is around the corner and I think we all have a little more time on our hands to do some arts and crafts with the kiddos.
I have 5 simple art and craft ideas to create some Easter themed artwork to brighten up your days. The key thing you will need in all of them are recyclable items. Egg cartons, toilet rolls etc. From paper crafts to egg decorating ideas, these Easter crafts for kids make excellent art projects for toddlers, preschoolers, and children of all ages. Some of my favourite Easter memories growing up was sitting around the table painting and dying eggs with my mum, so I want to recreate those memories with my children. Making things special, with everyday items from around the house.
I also have a wide range of non sugar alternatives for Easterto have a read through, with some cute activity and gift ideas.
Egg Carton Easter Bunnies
We first made these about 2 years ago and they have proved a hit ever since. Simply glue two egg cartons together with some hot glue at one end (or tape), and paint. Grab some googly eyes and pom poms for a nose and you have an Easter bunny! Fill the cavity with your favourite mini eggs. You can also make mini chicks by swapping out those bunny ears for feathers.
Make up a batch of homemade playdough, and fill up small icing bags to get a carrot shape. These are perfect treats for the Easter table, or to give away to class mates.
Make your own “Hatch Animals”
These were so much fun to make! Save all your plastic egg shells, they really are invaluable with kids around. I filled a few with mini finger puppets or any collectable style toy, wrap it in some air dry clay, leave to dry and paint/decorate as you wish. The kids aren’t allowed to peak inside the egg before they finish!
Toilet Paper Crafts
Would it be an activity list without these? Last year we made some little bunnies and chicks out of toilet paper rolls, which recently the boys actually asked me to make again. So whip out those pipe cleaners and empty toilet rolls and get crafting.
Toilet Roll Stamps
These were an absolute winner! So easy to make and we had such fun stamping and decorating. Cut up some toilet roll and attach “ears” or “wings” with some glue. Stamp away 🙂
What are some of your favourite Easter themed crafts? I’d love to have a look and get some inspiration ! Drop a comment below .
For more fun idea’s and some great Easter themed printable activities, check out Momsartelier .