Hands down THE most challenging period as a Mum to four little people is that crazy window of time just before bed. That time slot where everyone has had enough, patience is low and tiredness is high.
After sooo many years of juggling the different needs of my newborns, babies, toddlers and big kids, for the first time since becoming a Mum, I feel like we've finally found an all encompassing 'this works!' bedtime routine instead of the 'this works right now' routine. And most importantly, instead of dreading that 6-7pm timeslot, it's my absolute favourite time of the day!
After dinner, showers and reading, I jump into my bed with my four little kiddos for 'the story of our day'. Pretty simple, but I recap exactly what we've done in our day, discuss any hurt feelings, celebrate successes, have giggles and generally reflect on the day that was. It always starts and ends the same - ending with 'and then they went straight to sleep, so we could do it allll again tomorrow.'
It sounds embarrassingly simple, but this has opened up avenues for discussing things I wouldn't otherwise hear about from my boys (6 and 5) and allows my daughters (3 and 18 months) the opportunity to be still and listen. It's been a game changer for us, loved by everyone!
What does your bedtime routine look like? I'd love to hear, pop a comment below! :) Happy hump day!
After seeing Lauren's @teacher_types AMAZING rainbow collage a little while ago, I've been hoarding leftover paintings from my Friday Crafty Kids' session to make our own! Finally got it up in the program room today
Who else knows someone a *little* bit obsessed with rainbows?! Tag them below!
Life with kids is NOT like a pinnable Pinterest image.
It's tantrums and mess, (endlessssss!!) laundry and dirty dishes.
It's giving your child paint and a paintbrush, and then they dive in hands first, smearing it everywhere (themselves included).
It's wanting the dark pink bowl - NOT the light pink bowl - and insisting on wearing a scarf when it's 35 degrees (Celsius ) Life with kids IS a crazy, messy, loud and happy ride, one that swells your heart and stretches your patience (simultaneously!!). Happy Monday! Hope it was filled with squishy, messy and colourful fun 🤦🏼♀️ 🏼#playfulmessyandreal #sensoryplay #aussieblogger
My 18 month old is always a stage 4 clinger right around dinner time, and insists I hold her...Luckily she's OBSESSED with 'amools' (animals), so we always have a little small world set up on the go, just like this one I shared a little while ago with our @oh.ivy animals. Making dinner two handed = amazing 🏼🏼🏼🏼
Over at @earlylearning101 this week, our theme is SMALL WORLDS. I'm stepping into the hot seat - it's been awhile! - and I'm on the hunt to share some amazing small world pics! Tag yours with #earlylearning101 if you'd like to share with our community. Check out some worlds I've set up for my kiddos here 🏽#playfullittlelearners_smallworldplay
Happy, happy Sunday!
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Messy house, floors need to be mopped, clothes need to be folded... time to get out some the messiest of our messy play items, rice + paint!! 🤦🏼♀️🤷🏼♀️ Classic housework aversion 🏼 (sorry hubby #worsthousewifeever)
Rainbow rice scooped into a chopped stocking leg, tied off into a handle and then bounced and splatted into paint and then onto paper!
My 3 year old scooped the rice into the stockings and trialled it with me before we let it loose on 20+ 2-4 year olds this morning! 🏼 Messy messy messy but AWESOME fun The colours of the rainbow rice started seeping through by the end too! See my stories for more :)
I've been a bit absent the last couple of months on here (= more present in 'real life'). Good ol' IG algorithms have taken lots of my faves from my feed, I'd love to know what mess you've been making - pop a comment to let me know!
Happy Friday! xx
Sometimes all you need for an hour (or more!!) of engagement is a GIANT tray of rainbow rice, cups, spoons, silicone cupcake holders and your favourite 2-4 year olds! 🏼
Happy Tuesday!! #happykids#kidsmakemess#latergram
Something that is really important to me as a teacher / Mum of 4 young kiddos is providing them with a space with accessible items they can use to create.
Of course, this means that 90% of the time it looks like this (messy, with creations/stuff everywhere - check out that washi tape box creation on the train table!! ), but for me personally, I can overlook* the mess for how much they get out of it.
*= I have a high tolerance to mess
One of the main things in our creating area is our 'Art Cart' aka @kmartaus $15 trolley with tubs of craft items, paper and containers of scissors / pencils / textas hanging off the side. This has always been available for my kids to use and is LOVED by all the little friends that visit my place - check out #playfullittlelearners_artcart and #playfullittlelearners_playroom for some of the different locations over the last 16 months!
What's your 'creative mess' tolerance level like? Happy Monday!! xx
PS I've been totally MIA this past month - it's been crazy busy and I've lost my Insta mojo a bit..!
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Rainbow Pom Pom Tray
It's a HUGE week for my three year old and 16 month old - they're coming with me to work this whole week as I run some pre-Kindy programs! 🏼🏼
After we had a giant Moana dance off after school (standard practice here at the mo ) this quiet time tray is one of the invitations on our play shelves (see my last pic) they've been enjoying. Kinder Surprise eggs and mini tongs are the gift that keep giving
I'll be a bit MIA this week, I'll get back to you ASAP if I haven't already! Happy Tuesday lovelies!! xxx
#4thingsilove this Sunday: .
How small IG makes the world - awesome to meet you Jen @apompomaday! (Loving your amazing rainbow watercolour print! )
. The Moana soundtrack. I may've had it CRANKING in the car driving around today. And yesterday...and the day before...Yes, I am THAT mum
. Setting up random play invitations for the kids. My 16 month old is loving her little 'anmal' (animal) shelf! Teaching is def my vocation but I'm so grateful for this time at home with my 4 little blondies.
. Studying - I've got a four day course next week (about a research based approach to teaching reading and spelling), I can't WAIT to start my @speechtoprintproject!! It's my jam - pop over and check it out if it's yours too
Every Sunday, @ohcreativeday and @hidden_egg share #4thingsilove! What have you been loving this week? Pop a comment below, would love to hear!
Happy Sunday! xx
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A BEAUTIFUL MESS Coloured water and medicine syringes = this!
Every Friday I run a play session at my local community centre. I plan a weekly theme and a set up a series of self-paced invitations for our 2-4 year kiddos! This little guy LOVED this simple water transfer invitation from this week's DOCTOR theme! (See my stories for the other activities!)
Love open ended explorations - especially when they lead to this level of engagement!
'Boogie Man' #smallworldinasink
Whenever my kids are tired or sick, I always whack some shaving cream in the bathroom sink. Something about looking at themselves in the mirror with their hands busy squishing and slopping automatically takes the grumps away! (Temporarily ) Check out this hashtag 🏼#smallworldinasink for more
This 'boogie man' was waiting for my three year old today...she's a bit congested at the moment so we had a good giggle at this!!! Hooray for contained mess chasing the grumps away
Happy Thursday, hope it was boogie free!
BABY DOLL PAPER HAIR CUTS
I posted about this a little while ago and my 3 year old requested it again today! Baby doll + sticky tape + paper strips = heaven for my little lady (not-so-much the doll)!
Scissors are a bit tricky, so I like providing many little playful opportunities to develop the skills needed. I pop washi tape on the handles as a visual prompt to help little people with the grip - two bits of tape means two fingers 🏼, one bit of tape for one thumb 🏼!
This week at my other account @earlylearning101, our theme is PAPER! Tag your paper pics with #earlylearning101 to share with our awesome community (if it tickles your fancy of course )
And before you ask the inevitable ... no, she hasn't given herself a haircut (yet..?)! The rule is we only cut paper, which is why we used PAPER hair!🏼
🏼#ourplayroomtour 🏼 Life with four young kiddos is INSANELY messy. As I've got a high mess tolerance (read: I'm a naturally messy person ), I find it easiest to manage life when the kids stuff is organised...so at the very best it's organised chaos!! Please do not think it's always like this - IT'S DEFINITELY NOT - it lasts like this for as long it takes me to type these words, but as everything has a home it's easy (ish!) to put everything away!
I've reshuffled everything around (again) but our room always consists of this in some way or another. Baskets filled with different toys (rotated from our clear tubs, depending on interest) and a writing area (an @ikea_australia stuva toy chest with the drawer removed - see #playfullittlelearners_areas for more). I've popped a pic of this in our last play space too- swipe across for more pics.
I've turned our @kmartaus peg board on the side and put washi tape and masking tape on a couple of the pegs for easy access, as well as stuff that I've been using with our @speechtoprintproject - pop on over to have a look if you're interested in playful ways of encouraging children on their reading and spelling journey, from speech (talking) to print (reading and spelling). I'll start sharing this project from July
We also have a @kmartaus $15(ish?) trolley aka an 'art cart' (swipe across for more pics) with whiteboards, paintbrushes, coloured pencils, (some of) our art stuff, feathers, collage, match sticks etc. I have put little white tubs on the side with scissors, whiteboard markers, glue and crayons so the older kids can access but my 16 month old can not
Every week I'll share some more insights into our playroom via the hashtag #ourplayroomtour! Feel free to share yours too, or pop a comment or question below - I'd love to hear the ways you organise your kids' stuff at home (or school)! Happy Monday!! xx
New week, new hashtag! Hands down, the topic I get asked about the most here at @playfullittlelearners is our playroom storage / organisation. So, starting later next week, I'll be sharing #ourplayroomtour: a series outlining what works for us - what's in our tubs, our homework corner, our after school 'control' station, Lego organisation and much, much more! .
While I am by no means an expert in storage (or housekeeping - my husband/friends will have a good chuckle at this ), I do have four young children and a space we are lucky enough to dedicate to their constantly evolving needs and interests, and this weekly series will share insights into how it works for us. If you have any friends that would be interested in this, feel free to tag them below, or tag your own spaces with #ourplayroomtour too if you'd like to share yours (With the changes made to Instagram lately, my pics aren't coming up in people's feeds so I truly appreciate you sharing the love! )
I'll also be starting our @speechtoprintproject soon - something that I am INSANELY passionate about, that lights the fire in my teacher-belly (and is something I'll be dedicating my career to when my kids are a little older). Check it out if it tickles your fancy!
Every few months (generally just before a birthday), I get in THAT mood. A rampaging-we've-got-WAAAAY-too-much-stuff kinda mood, where good Sammy's / friends get lots of donations of toys and items my kiddos haven't been playing with as much. I've reached that point again today and the kids and I are doing a clean out... 🏼 Here are some of the trains we have accumulated over the years (there are well over 100, not all could fit into our @thecreativetoyshop tray), and a little Thomas lover will be receiving over 3/4 of them plus over 20 Thomas books!! It's insane how much 'stuff' you accumulate!
I do love a good clean out. What are you up to in this fine Sunday? Happy weekend!
I've been stalking the #getcreativewith hashtag and absolutely loved these playdough ideas (tap for links): @anideaontuesday (incorporating learning into anything makes my heart siiiiiing, Niccola's feed is amazing!) @happykidsart (CHANGING COLOUR dough, with household ingredients! ) @blastasticday (rainbow dough rings!) @cara.raisingkinley (ice cream dough I wanted to eat!) @lineslovehomeschool (those dough 'sprinkles' ) Thanks again for having me ladies, there are so.many. AWESOME creative ideas on #getcreativewith - make sure you check it out!
Happy Hump day xx
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Making letters and words out of playdough is a favourite and hands on way of spelling at our place, and I incorporated it into my Literacy dedicated block daily when I was teaching. .
An awesome tip (inspired by the wonderful Colleen @theottoolbox) is to pop the letters in the freezer to make them easier to move around without breaking! The kids are fascinated by the fact that it doesn't completely freeze (due to the salt content) and it also adds an extra #finemotor workout when rolling and manipulating the dough.
Whenever my house is an epic need of a scrub, I always feel the need to add to the chaos (it needs cleaning anyway, right?!) 🙄 I popped a peek of this 'dough' in my stories a couple of weeks ago: snow powder + shaving cream!
My Frozen obsessed 3 year old and our 16 month old* LOVED this! Making 'snow' using powder is fascinating in itself (swipe for the vid!) and adding shaving cream was a fantastic bonus as we could mould the dough to make 'snowballs!' This week I'm over at @get.creative.with, asking people to get creative with PLAYDOUGH! Hop on over to @ohcreativeday and @littlebuttondiaries for more info, and tag any playdough pics with #getcreativewith to share yours! Happy Monday! xx
PS - common sense prevails when using these types of items for Sensory play - I'm always supervising as there's always going to be the inevitable attempt at tasting 🏼
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Sharing #4thingsilove on this awesome Sunday:
Camping adventures with special friends (and how it influences my kiddos play when we get home - this is my almost 5 year old playing with our camp lamp ) see our stories! . @earlylearning101's FIRST birthday!! We've arranged a big giveaway with some awesome educational brands - pop over and check it out!
Playdough! I'm over @get.creative.with this week checking out some awesome ideas
Phonemic Awareness - I'm starting a new little project with my 3 year old, recording her journey from speech to print! Hop on over to @speechtoprintproject if you're interested!
Every Sunday, @ohcreativeday and @hidden_egg share #4thingsilove - feel free to share yours too, if it tickles your fancy!
Happy Sunday! xx
One of my guys sees a specialist for a couple of things - form constancy is one of them. Here's one (of the many!) ways he's used playdough to help him in therapy sessions (with a focus on his letter formation)! The lowercase letters a, c, d, g and q are all formed starting the same way (by making a c, the starting letter of his name) so I've stamped out these focus letters into rolled out playdough, and popped a small ball / marble at the starting point. The idea is that he uses his fingertips to roll the ball using the correct formation 🏼 Great for #finemotorskills and good multi-sensory reinforcement of correct formation. Check out the vid of my 3 year old doing it (swipe!). We've also done this with kinetic sand, loose parts etc, have a squiz here for more 🏼#playfullittlelearners_playdough :) Tag your playdough pics with #getcreativewith if you'd like to join in!! Happy Thursday! xx #playfullittlelearners_literacy
So...I'm challenging you to #getcreativewith my family's absolute favourite play item: PLAYDOUGH!
Tag your playdough pics with #getcreativewith, and I'll be stalking the hashtag over the next week, sharing some creative ways to use PLAYDOUGH! I'll also share some of the ways we get creative with playdough. You can check out this hashtag 🏼#playfullittlelearners_playdough or pop over to the @babyhintsandtips website where I shared my first ever guest post about - you guessed it... PLAYDOUGH!
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Another simple sound sort, for our @earlylearning101 prompt this week! A simple, hands on and engaging way to develop phonemic awareness (ability to notice, think about and work with individual speech sounds). Animals: say the word (/t/iger)
Mirror: watch mouth movements - what does my mouth look like when I make the /t/ sound? Is it a voiced sound or breath sound?
'Phonics phone': hear the sounds (t eye g uh)
Starting Letters: what does the /t/ sound in tiger look like when written on paper? Can you match the animal with the letter it starts with?
Life is made of small happiness. Chubby fingers, endless questions, inquisitive minds and active bodies. The challenges also bring the greatest joys Hope you've had a fabulous Monday, with a tantrum or two less than ours xx
It's a scary prospect wanting the world for your kids, but knowing that above all else, the best way to give it to them is by helping them develop the confidence, resilience and skills to reach for the stars on their own.
I love books that help build this knowledge, offering innovative solutions to every day situations children may encounter. This amazing book, Nicholas and the Wild Ones by Niki Daly, does just this and is one of the awesome books on our rainbow shelves.
If you're after a book that encourages children to discuss problems (namely bullying) that arise when you're not around, and how thinking outside the box can solve problems and lead to new friendships - I highly recommend this one!
What books have you been enjoying recently? (I'm after some newbies for our colourful collection )
'Don't drive yourself nuts striving for perfection: perfect home, brilliant kids, on and on...Just enjoy the everyday and messiness of it. Laugh a lot, travel a lot, have F U N and make memories because childhood is so fleeting.' Michelle Kohanzo
I love everything about this quote! Perfection does not exist for us - it's just not practical or possible with so many little people navigating so many big emotions. Most of the day I walk around with my 1 year's lunch smeared on my shoulder, blue food colouring on my cheek plus I always look like I haven't slept in days... but to be perfectly and utterly honest, I'm happier for it!
So often we strive for 'perfect', but there's SO MUCH joy in the ordinary, in the mess and every day stuff, that sometimes I wonder how much we may miss if we are always reaching for the unattainable.
Happy, happy Thursday! Hope you found the magic in the ordinary!! #playfullittlelearners_playroom (Please note - this is NOT a picture of a messy room... this is as close to tidy as it gets around here xx)
This is one I used in my classroom over 10 years ago and is one of the ways my school-aged boys 'do' homework at our place.
(Check out the current FAVOURITE in our stories for my AFL obsessed little guys! )
This week our theme over at @earlylearning101 is TOYS! The lovely Molly @thekids_place is joining Nichole @youclevermonkey and I as co-host. Tag your pics with #earlylearning101 to share! Happy Tuesday!! PS @the.kindie.mumma has also made a similar game to this (another reason why I love her feed, great minds think alike! ), go check her out !! PPS - flying solo tonight..bedtime routine tonight was HARD...I'm now sitting back with a