Posted in motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting, Play, product review, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Story Props – Developing Storytelling

Storytelling, reading stories and acting out known stories has quickly become one of our favourite pastimes as a family since Ellie arrived. Her love for books, nursery rhymes and everything literature has brought out a passion in me I haven’t had since I stopped reading a few years back.

Every night Ellie asks for a minimum of 3 stories, one read by me and two read by her Dad. She seems to obsess over certain ones for a while before going back to others but she listens intently until she is able to join in and pretty much tell the story herself. Recently we have been encouraging her to “read” books to herself, I know this is something a lot of EYFS children (reception/aged 4-5) can struggle with when learning to read and I want her to be able to use the pictures and tell the story in whatever way works for her. She has started reading stories to her favourite soft toys and loves flicking through the pages.

More recently she has been obsessed with acting out the traditional tale “The 3 Little Pigs”, she runs around building each house and waiting for the big bad wold (usually me ¬_¬) to come blow the house down. Her imagination is incredible and she will use whatever is around her to pretend. I recently aquired some masks from a teacher at work who doesn’t need them and it made me wonder what else was available to really help Ellie’s imagination and storytelling develop through her love of stories and play.

I came across a lovely lady called Sian who runs her own small business StoryProps.

Sian is an EYFS teacher and has used her knowledge and passion for learning to create props that children can use when reading or telling stories.
StoryProps provides handpainted items that help to ” develop a young child’s communication, language & literacy skills, and creative & imaginative development whilst increasing a love for stories, rhymes, characters and books ” (taken from the StoryProp website) and I completely agree.
Each item is beautifully handpainted to a great standard. My favourite is the Story Spoons which are perfect for enabling Ellie to create her own story around the characters. I can’t wait to order a set!

Follow StoryProps on Instagram and Facebook
To purchase your own set of wonderful StoryProps whether they are spoons, stones or cubes then head on over to their Etsy Shop 🙂

Posted in Gifted, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting, product review, Rainbow Mummy, Sensory Play, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Timber.Tots – 5 Advantages of Wooden Toys

For as long as I’ve been buying toys for Ellie I’ve been aware of the discussion between parents as to what is better for babies/toddlers/children wooden or plastic toys. Now I’ve always been on the fence I suppose because honestly, Ellie has her fair share of plastic and wooden toys. I have always tried to make a conscious effort to buy wooden toys where possible but found they are usually more expensive than plastic and in Ellie’s eyes they aren’t as colourful/exciting/playable as the plastic toys are advertised to be which has made it difficult to be as wood friendly as I’d like. We are two parents who are both on a Teaching Assistant wage (which I have to tell you really isn’t great…) and living penny to penny each month. Sometimes you just have to accept that what you want isn’t always achievable and that’s okay. I’m not here to judge, every parent does what they can to get through each day right?

Here are my 5 advantages to choosing wooden toys from my own personal experiences!

  1. They are DURABLE. Ellie is a tough cookie and she likes to play rough, as do most toddlers I would assume. Wooden toys are long-lasting and they don’t break easily meaning no little sharp bits on the floor. Ellie loves being outside so having her wooden toys means I can clean them easily too.
  2. They are SAFE. Plastic toys usually carry toxins and chemicals that you wouldn’t want near your babies/children. Wooden toys are safe to play with, don’t have chemicals and are usually painted with non-toxic paint which makes them perfectly safe to be gummed, licked etc by those playing with them. Wooden toys are designed not to break easily so there won’t be able broken pieces lying around with sharp edges.
  3. They encourage OPEN PLAY – whether this is imaginative play or real-life skills, the possibilities with wooden toys are endless. Without the constant electronics and noise, the wooden toys encourage children to use their imagination to build on the play. The toy might be a dinosaur but the child must know how to make a noise like a dinosaur or stomp like a dinosaur themselves. As the child’s imagination builds so does their play. They start to include real-life experiences and scenarios in to whatever they are playing with.
  4. They develop KEY SKILLS such as hand eye co-ordination, problem solving, reasoning skills and fine motor skills. Wooden toys can be made in all shapes and sizes making them perfect to develop the skills children need to hold a pencil. Poor development in these key skills at an early age can cause issues in later life.
  5. They are BEAUTIFUL. Their natural colour means they can be transformed in to any colour and anything a child dreams of. They can be monochrome to support babies development or bright and colouful to grab toddlers/childrens attention. They are timeless!

In the past few months I have treated Ellie to a few toys that I know she would get a lot out of. We became brand reps for a fantastic small business; Timber Tots who create and hand paint wooden animals. With so many different animals to choose from I found it so difficult choosing which Ellie would like most of all. I decided to show Ellie and let her decide…which she didn’t. She wanted the bear and the lion and the elephant and the giraffe and the dinosaur and the unicorn….and she continued until I took the phone away!

I decided that as she loves singing and nursery rhymes I would order her the 5 little ducks set and a green “Rex” dinosaur to start with. She has had so much fun singing, counting, matching the numbers and re-enacting Gigantosaurus. The possibilities have been endless, they have made me think more about encouraging her to learn through her play and let her explore things I wouldn’t have usually thought of. It’s far too easy to put the TV on and give myself 5 minutes to sit and enjoy the peace…that turns in to an hour because I just need to get these jobs done…and then before I know it she hasn’t played much at all.

I love how colourful and sturdy the timber tots toys are and I was impressed with how big they actually were. Although I am only a brand rep for three months I know I will be making regular purchases and building Ellie’s animal collection up as these are toys she will play with for years.

We’ve used our wooden toys in so many different ways and I am loving trying out things we’ve never done before too. We’ve used them when reading stories, playing outside, with small tuff trays and I have some amazing new ideas for our new order when it arrives.

We’ve even had fun singing nursery rhymes, Ellie loves singing and whenever she sees her 5 Little Ducks set she starts singing and playing with them.

5 Little Ducks set up with sensory rice and blue beads.

You can follow/contact Timber Tots on their Instagram and Facebook pages or their Website.

Disclosure: I am a brand rep for Timber Tots but have not been asked to review or post about our items other than share pictures on Instagram. All views and opinions are my own.
I have paid for all the toys we have (except the 5 little ducks which was a gift from the owner for joining their brand rep team!) HOWEVER I do have a fantastic 10% off code for anyone wanting to purchase their own. Just use RAINBOW10 at checkout…You’re welcome!!

Posted in Ellie, Gifted, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting, Play, product review, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Nursery Rhyme Play

For a while now I’ve been trying to figure out a way to bring Ellie’s love of nursery rhymes in to her play. She sings all day long and knows so many nursery rhymes, more than I know and verses I’ve never even heard of. I’ve always been envious of those parents who have the time to pre-plan activities for their babies and toddlers because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do with Ellie. Being a teaching assistant and working in a school based nursery during my pregnancy with Jason makes me even more aware of all the things that will give Ellie an advantage when she starts nursery and I am always surprised by the amount of children who grow up not knowing their basic nursery rhymes! I asked a child in my class the other day (year 2) about one of Ellie’s favourites and they didn’t know it. I find it really sad that children aren’t given the opportunities to learn them (I’m not judging or criticising…just makes me a bit sad).

I got in touch with Dee who runs The Little Sensory Box about one of her subscription boxes that will be released soon; I loved one of the items (I loved them all but one in particular) and wanted to know where she got it from and whether I could purchase one from her for Ellie. She very kindly offered to send us one to test out for her and I jumped at the chance to work with such a wonderful small business again that I definitely said yes please!

**FYI – Our review of The Percussion Box is available to read here**

This is where I finally let my creative juices flow. I wanted to build a themed activity around one product and I am so pleased with the outcome that I wanted to share it with you all. Please be nice as this is the first themed activity I’ve ever really done but I would love more ideas if people want to share!

I based the activities around the nursery rhyme 5 Currant Buns and focused on the different activities Ellie would enjoy doing. I tried to make it fun and create something we could revisit too. I had planned so many different things that I decided to run with this over the weekend as Ellie’s attention span isn’t very long and I didn’t want to force her to take part for too long as I knew she’d never come back to it otherwise.

Again, working in a school has encouraged me to fit in some type of learning and 5 Currant Buns is a great rhyme for counting forwards and backwards and we have even looked at matching numbers and missing numbers while messing around too. The first thing we did was explore the glove we were gifted from The Little Sensory Box Ellie already knew the song so she was keen to sing it as soon as I introduced the glove to her. She counted the numbers, pretended to eat the buns off my fingers and joined in with singing. We used the puppet alongside some pictures I printed off Twinkl and laminated so that I could write the numbers on to help with Ellie’s number recognition.

Ellie is confident in recognising numbers to 10 so I knew she would find this easy however I know that constant repetition in mathematics is a good thing so I decided to do this anyway. Eventually my aim is to use the cards but have Ellie write the numbers.

We also used the puppet and the laminated bun cards to role play the rhyme. I laminated a penny coin that I also printed off the internet and everytime someone pays with a penny Ellie would role play it and take her bun away. We later developed this again and used playdough to make the currant buns for her to take away too. She loved adding the playdough and cupcake cases as it gave her something else and encouraged her play to last longer.

Another activity I printed off was some colouring sheets that linked to the rhyme; Ellie loves colouring so I knew this would be a hit for her. She recognised the currant buns and the penny and started singing it again, asking for me to sit with the glove while she coloured. It was a lovely, calm activity before her bedtime that really helped settle her (and wasn’t messy which was a win for me too!)

We came back to the rhyme the next day and did some baking. I had planned on making actual currant buns but as I don’t like them I decided on biscuits instead. It would have been a waste and I found a Paw Patrol Biscuit kit for 85p in our local Home Bargains which persuaded me and we all love chocolate biscuits in this house. Ellie really enjoys baking but it feels really stressful while she is still so little so it’s something I tend to try and do as little as possible which I hate as I love baking too. I hope that it will be one of our mummy-daughter things when she gets a bit older that we enjoy doing together as I’ve dreamt of baking with my children for so long. I found the biscuit kit was probably aimed at just the right timing for Ellie as she was engaged right up until the end where she almost launched herself off the worktop giving me a heart attack and never wanting to bake again! LOL! All was fine and Ellie helped mix, pour and squish the biscuits. Double bonus points for the fact that they have Paw Patrol on them and she couldn’t wait to put the edible stickers on the top and eat them.

We’ve had such a lovely weekend and I know it is something I definitely want to do again. Having a plan has helped us all this weekend and I’ve felt that Ellie has enjoyed playing more. We have also dodged our Saturday meltdown sessions YAY!!

The Nursery Rhyme Glove will be available in The Birthday Box (available soon!!) and can be added to the Subscription Boxes which are already available to purchase. The baby’s first year subscription boxes focuses on key development stages and will arrive in four boxes throughout the first year and the Birthday Box can be added to finish the years subscription off perfectly!

To find out more about the subscription boxes and The Birthday Box, subscribe to The Little Sensory Box or follow them on Instagram 💖

If anyone has any other ideas for nursery rhymes/story play that doesn’t cost the earth please share them!! All my ideas would cost me more than I get paid unfortunately.

Disclaimer - I was gifted the 5 Currant Bun hand glove from The Little Sensory Box but was in no obligation to promote. All views and opinions are my own.

Posted in days out, ironbridge, ironbridge gorge, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, museum, parenting, telford, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Blists Hill – Telford

Place yourself in the year 1900. Queen Victoria is on the throne and Shropshire was at the heart of the industrial revolution.

One of our trips this half term was to Blists Hill in Ironbridge (Telford, Shropshire) another one of the fantastic museums in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site. Blists Hill is an open air museum that recreates the sights and sounds of a typical Shropshire Victorian Town.

Walking through the doors to the town you instantly feel like you’ve gone back in time. No cars, no TV;s but a lot of fun awaiting! With 52 acres of land to explore there was so much to see and do throughout our visit. This recreation makes you feel like you are actually walking in a Victorian town; the shops, the houses, the bank where you can change your money to “old money” and the townspeople who truly make your visit feel authentic.

Each house had a different story, whether we were in an old doctors surgery or a typical families house with their shared, cramped bedrooms and bedpans under the bed! Whether it’s walking in to the chemist with their traditional remedies, or to the bakery where you can buy freshly made bread, rolls to either eat straight away or take home there really is something for everyone. If you aren’t interested in those there is a traditional sweet shop or the amazing chip shop selling authentic fish and chips cooked in beef dripping. (Spoiler…they are to die for!!)

Ellie loved having the freedom to run around and explore but didn’t stray too far away. All the townspeople were fantastic with her, not pushing her to interact but all with friendly faces and a world of knowledge of their “character” and the way they would have lived in the Victorian era.

Blists Hill is also home to a section of the Shropshire Canal, which going back 100 years or so would have transported boats up and down the 207ft incline to coalport and back. Wherever there is water, Ellie asks to see the ducks. She loves ducks and walked carefully down the canal side watching the ducks in the water. Along with pigs and Shire Horses (with demonstrations throughout the day and horse and cart rides!) there are many chickens…this was possibly the highlight of Ellie’s entire day!

As I have said in a previous post; we purchased the Annual Passport for all 10 museums which gives us unlimited entry for an entire year. We paid £53 for two Adult annual passports as under 5’s are free to all museums. Entry to Blists Hill alone for 2 adults would have been £20 just to go for the day. Although this isn’t expensive for a trip where we stayed nearly 3 hours and only left because E needed a nap and would have screamed the entire place down we live a 5/10 minute drive away from all of them we will make the most of the year-round entry especially in the Spring/Autumn months – a family of ginger-haired beauty’s don’t do well in too much sunshine so we tend to hide away in the Summer months.

Posted in days out, enginuity, ironbridge, ironbridge gorge, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, museum, parenting, parenting after loss, telford, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Enginuity – Telford

We visited Enginuity, which is a science museum in Ironbridge, (Telford, Shropshire) during this half term and is one of ten museums in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site. We are incredibly lucky to have these museums on our doorstep and since Ellie is now a fully grown toddler we thought she might enjoy some of the aspects of these museums.

Enginuity

Ellie is a very curious toddler and loves learning, whether it be through videos or active learning she is always keen to be doing something. Enginuity is perfect for anyone who is curious about science, design and technology and provides a range of stimulating activities for children of all ages. I would say that for a small toddler Ellie found it tricky accessing all the different parts but was able to with a little bit of help.

Looking around there wasn’t a single child who didn’t look like they were having fun and enjoying themselves. I mean who wouldn’t love pulling a real 10-tonne locomotive with their own hands? Actually…there were quite a few adults who seemed to be having quite a lot of fun testing themselves too!

Ellie’s favourite part was the machine that made balls float in the air (can you tell i’m not very sciencey?) and with Daddy’s help she was able to make enough wind power to get the balls floating in the air.

During this half term, we were fortunate enough to take part in the Pop-Up Planetarium they have, which was absolutely out of this world! We managed to get tickets for the first showing of the day and it didn’t disappoint. We were asked to crawl inside a big black dome and sit on the floor and then the dome went very dark. I wasn’t sure how Ellie would cope but the two people delivering the talk were great and accepting of anyone who needed to leave before the show was over. The show was called “Our Earth, Our Sun, Our Solar System and Our Place In Space” and featured a hands-on demonstration. I learnt so much about the stars and how to spot constellations in the night sky and how people in other time periods would spot them. There was so much to take in. Of cause Ellie didn’t learn a thing…it was never about that but she is genuinely interested in the sky and the stars that she loved just looking at the stars surrounding the dome and I guess I felt a little bit closer to Jason by learning something too.

There was also a drop-in workshop where you could make a space-themed pop up card (or anything really!). We tried Ellie with scissors for the first time as they were on the table and she was VERY keen to grab them. She actually did quite well seeing as she’s never held scissors before and my hair is still in tact (she won’t be using them any time soon though.)

The drop-in workshops, planetarium and everything else going on was all included in the admission price which I thought was great. We decided to purchase the Annual Passport tickets which gives us unlimited access to all 10 museums for an entire year (not during evening or special events) as we had already planned to go again and wanted to take Ellie to Blists Hill too (blog post up if anyone wants a read.)

For anyone thinking of taking toddlers and young children, Enginuity has a soft play area too! The colourful space is a fair size and has lots of soft play blocks to build and climb over. Ellie loved building with the soft lego shaped bricks, I think her Dad’s passion for Lego has passed down to her. The soft play was clean and suitable for young children and perfect to get a 5 minute breather from all the stimulation Enginuity offers.

You can visit their website here to find out more or to buy tickets!

Posted in 2 years old, Gifted, Instrument Play, Instruments, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, Music, parenting, Play, product review, Sensory, Sensory Play, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

The Percussion Box – Review (Gifted)

Recently I have been so excited for the launch of a new small business on Instagram, The Little Sensory Box, a sensory box designed mainly for babies up to the age of 12 months. Or I was excited until I realised Ellie was quite a bit older than 12 months! I love supporting small businesses though, it is something I have wanted to do for some time and never had the confidence to even think about setting up. I am a firm believer in sensory play and that it gives babies (toddlers and those with additional needs!) a fantastic way to boost their own development which has meant I have been keen to support Dee and her new business.

Ellie (and Mummy!) was so excited when our box arrived!

Dee, the creator of The Little Sensory Box, contacted me as she was hoping to make these boxes as toddler-friendly as possible, offering parents of toddlers the option to still create the magic of sensory play at home and so sent us one of her Percussion Boxes to test out and review. 

Before I continue I must tell you this was a gifted collaboration
with the Little Sensory Box however this 
review is completely my own thoughts and opinions based on 
Ellie’s play/enjoyment.

The Percussion Box (which is specified as being suitable for up to 18 months however Ellie is 27 months old and loves it!) has a variety of items which dominantly develops hand-eye coordination, sense of rhythm and listening skills. For Ellie, this was definitely true, she loved dancing around and making her own music with the large Handbell and even recreated her favourite songs from our local Hartbeeps class with the Egg Shaker.

We experimented with different sounds, the handbell is much louder than the maracas which meant we could play around and encourage/teach Ellie the idea of loud and quiet using the instruments. Of cause she much preferred the louder sounds but focused so well on listening for the quietness of the maracas.

Baby Shark is much more exciting when you are dancing along with maracas!

Ellie is keen to make music and is always running around with her flute (which is loud, plastic, blue and REALLY annoying!) so I loved that these were beautifully decorated with bright colours and I can control the volume by encouraging quiet play which I can’t do with the flute. I also liked that each instrument was wooden and not plastic, they are robust so I know Ellie isn’t going to break them easily.



The Percussion Box is just £8.99 which in my opinion is a great price for the items we received and will continue to entertain Ellie for a long time.

You can purchase The Percussion Box from here
Or you could have a look at the other two boxes available to buy, although we haven’t tested out The Ultimate Box or The Look and Feel Sensory Box, I am sure both have items that would still be suitable for toddlers too

The Little Sensory Box is also on Instagramand Facebook