Easter is a lovely time of year: spring has generally arrived and, as well as the religious aspects, it is a time to celebrate new growth and life. These are interesting concepts to introduce to younger children and the holiday offers lots of scope for creativity and crafting to explore this in a fun way.
Here is a round up of fourteen simple Easter activities and crafts for toddlers. The first list are all activities that ToddlerGirl and I did last year and the second is a list of ideas that are on my ‘to try’ list for this year.
1. Read Easter books together
We really need no excuse to read a book together in this house but I do find that reading is a great way to introduce different ideas to ToddlerGirl that I may find hard to explain otherwise. Here are five suggestions for some Easter reading:
- The Easter Story (Usborne Bible Tales) – introduce young children to the meaning of Easter with this simple version of the story
- Easter Story (Candle Bible) – another telling of the Easter story, this version is suitable for younger toddlers. We have the Candle Bible Christmas story and it is very accessible.
- Duck and Goose: Here Comes the Easter Bunny! – sweet, bright and colourful, Duck and Goose are looking for the perfect place to hide to watch the Easter bunny arrive.
- Easter Bunny Flap Book – An Easter egg hunt in a book! ToddlerGirl really enjoyed finding the eggs hidden under the flaps in this book last year.
- Six Little Chicks – this looks a lot of fun for older toddlers and is on my list for this year. Five chicks have hatched and want to go out to play but the Mother Hen has to stay with the sixth egg. Nosy Mr Fox is lurking, can the chicks foil him?
Why not create a spring-themed book nook to go with your Easter books?
2. Make some chocolate Easter nests
Last Easter was the first time I braved a cooking activity with ToddlerGirl and it was a huge success! Although perhaps I use the term ‘cooking’ lightly… Our first project was the classic Easter nests, which I remember doing as a child myself! You don’t really need a recipe for this but I did follow the quantities on Rainy Day Mum to give myself a guideline. This was so easy and ToddlerGirl LOVED it. She took it very seriously and I was most impressed with how she carefully scooped spoonfuls of the mixture into the cases and decorated with the mini eggs. Of course, there was some tasting involved…! But that’s half the fun anyway.
3. Go on an egg hunt
This is, of course, the classic Easter activity for children, usually involving chocolate eggs! Last year, I decided to skip the chocolate as ToddlerGirl was still quite young and used some plastic play eggs instead. I hid the eggs around our living and dining rooms, in very obvious places, and then helped her to find them by giving her some simple prompts to guide where she looked. She was really pleased with herself when she found the eggs. A year makes a big difference in a toddler’s life and her understanding has developed hugely, so I will make the hunt a little more difficult this year – and I may include a few chocolate eggs this time too!
4. Decorate a playdough Easter egg
Playdough is always a winning activity – simple to set up and completely open ended. To give an Easter twist, I made a few (very rough!) egg shapes out of some brightly coloured playdough and laid these out with lots of different loose parts for decorating, including dried pasta, pom poms, sequins and pipecleaners. ToddlerGirl loved squishing the pieces into the playdough and made a good stab at decorating a couple of the eggs, although the egg shapes were soon squashed into balls and she then just had fun poking the pieces in to make playdough sculptures! We’ll definitely do this one again this year as she is loving playdough right now.
5. Make an Easter egg collage
This was a really easy activity to organise but provided ToddlerGirl with lots of entertainment as she was just discovering the wonder of glue last year! I cut a few large egg shapes out of coloured paper and provided a pot of glue, a brush and various bits and pieces to stick onto the eggs, including feathers, pom poms, sequins and torn pieces of paper. The finished eggs looked lovely and we turned them into hanging decorations by sticking them onto card (this time, I will use card for the eggs to start with!) and then threading some ribbon through the top.
6. Play an Easter egg matching game
I created a very simple puzzle for ToddlerGirl, with six pairs of colourful eggs for her to match up. This was still fairly challenging last year so I laid one set of eggs out only and then held up a picture from the matching set so we could compare each one and see which one it paired with. This year, I will mix the pairs up amongst each other and let ToddlerGirl pick them out herself. You can download our Easter egg matching puzzle for toddlers (pdf) here.
7. Do some colouring in
I had an Easter sticker book for ToddlerGirl last year that we had a lot of fun with. It included some colouring in pages, such as eggs for decorating and a couple of Easter scenes. ToddlerGirl is really enjoying colouring in at the moment, particularly if there is a printed picture for her to fill in, so I’ll be printing out a number of different colouring sheets to leave out for some independent activity time. These websites all have a great selection of free printables:
- Easter colouring pages at Crayola
- A huge collection of Easter colouring pages at Activity Village
- Blank egg templates for decorating
Toddler Easter activities for us to try this year
As always, Pinterest provides almost too much pinspiration for all sorts of creative Easter activities. I’ve picked some of my favourites below and ToddlerGirl and I will try to do some, if not all, of these in the week or two leading up to Easter.
8. Decorate foam eggs on the window
The Imagination Tree suggests this lovely Easter activity using craft foam pieces cut into egg shapes and stuck onto a window using water. Decorate the eggs with other pieces of foam in a variety of shapes and sizes, using the water to help them stick onto the foam. Water and toddlers tend to be a good mix so this is sure to be a winner!
9. Make an Easter basket
Mummy Musings and Mayhem suggests several simple Easter crafts, perfect for toddlers. I want to try them all but the Easter baskets with little chicks really caught my eye as I think this would appeal to ToddlerGirl in lots of ways! They decorated egg cartons as the base for the basket, then added some shredded paper and a card handle before popping the chicks inside. This would also be good for collecting eggs on a hunt.
10. Make a papier mache Easter bunny
I love this cute papier mache Easter bunny from Hands On As We Grow. It looks fairly simple to make, using a balloon as the support, and I’m sure ToddlerGirl will enjoy getting a little bit messy doing the papier Mache part! Definitely on my list of Easter activities for this year :)
11. Make an Easter card
These cute little cards from Red Ted Art are easy enough for toddlers to help with. Simply let them have fun making thumbprints and then add a few details to turn these into chicks!
12. Do an Easter egg puzzle
Toddler Approved has this simple Easter egg puzzle that you can use to introduce learning about shapes and numbers (or you could even use letters or words). Cut egg shapes out of coloured paper and cut them in half as if they are cracking. Write numbers on one side (Toddler Approved does these in sequence but I might try matching numbers to begin with) and then shapes on the other and lay out to play.
13. Make some hatching chicks
There are quite a few activity ideas on the Little Foundations Hub page but this hatching chicks craft is just too cute. Cut some egg shapes out of coloured card, let your little one decorate and then cut them in half with jagged lines, as if the eggs have cracked. Make a yellow chick and stick this onto the bottom half of the egg, then fix the two egg halves together using a paper fastener. Hey presto, a sweet little chick that appears to hatch out of its egg! This is a great activity as you have the craft element and then can play with the hatching egg afterwards. I think ToddlerGirl would be fascinated by it
14. Get messy with a shaving foam Easter eggs craft!
I’ve saved the messiest activity for last, shaving foam egg decorating from In Lieu of Preschool. There’s no doubt about it, this will require some cleaning up afterwards but it definitely looks worth it: take a tub of shaving foam, add some food colouring to swirl into the goop and then place some craft foam egg shapes into the mix to colour (or you could use card). The foam shapes are great, though, as they were used as window decorations once they had dried. The pictures of this activity are wonderfully inviting – I want to dive right in myself, so I’m fairly sure ToddlerGirl would adore this. I will be taking a leaf out of In Lieu of Preschool’s book and doing this in the bath, or perhaps outdoors if the weather is good enough.
That’s my bumper Easter activity roundup for toddlers! Do you have any Easter crafts or traditions that you will be doing with your little one?
Do you celebrate Earth Day? An annual event, it takes place on 22nd April with countries all over the world joining in to mark the occasion. Although the day has its detractors, I think the idea behind it is worthy: a focus on celebrating our natural world and its resources, and raising awareness of the importance of looking after this.
These are big concepts for a toddler. I didn’t even acknowledge Earth Day with ToddlerGirl last year. Now she is nearly three, it seems like a good starting point to help her develop her growing understanding of the world around her. With that in mind, I’ve come up with some easy ideas for introducing the ideas behind Earth Day to toddlers. These could all be expanded on and talked about in more detail with older children. And obviously we don’t need a dedicated Earth Day for any of these – they would work on any day of the year!
Read a book with an Earth Day theme
Two books we’ve been enjoying for our spring Little Bookclub are perfect for Earth Day:
- Eddie’s Garden – all about a little boy, Eddie, who plans, plants and tends to his very own garden, growing all sorts of flowers and vegetables. This is great for introducing children to gardening and inspiring them to look after their own plants.
- Grow Your Own – the boy in this book lives in a city, doesn’t have a garden of his own and hates vegetables. A trip to his grandmother’s house changes all that as he realises the joy of being outdoors, learns about growing vegetables and finds out that they are actually very tasty!
Delightful Children’s Books has some great suggestions for Earth Day reading for little ones, grouped by related activities.
Learn about recycling
- Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to introduce the idea of recycling. We talk about recycling in very simple terms with ToddlerGirl, who knows that we have two bins in our kitchen, one for recycling and one for other rubbish.
- Create a collage out of recycled materials. Old magazines or paper that has already been used for pictures can be cut into different shaped pieces and add bits of cardboard and packaging for a variety of textures.
- Collect items from your recycling for some junk modelling. Again, anything goes – egg cartons, cardboard food packets, kitchen/toilet rolls, tin cans (although be careful of sharp edges…). This is blog post from Mums Make Lists has a good round up of ideas from across the web if you need some inspiration!
Take a nature walk
- You don’t need to go far – your local park or around the block will provide plenty to talk about as you go. Take in the sights, sounds and smells on the way; point out the trees, flowers and any wildlife that you come across. Use this leaf spotter sheet from the Forestry Commission for activity ideas.
- Turn the walk into a game by using this great scavenger hunt printable, or make your own version.
- Collect any interesting items you find on the way, such as sticks, leaves, flowers, and display them when you get home for further investigation. This is a lovely spring nature exploration table from The Imagination Tree.
Create some natural art
Use your scavenged items to create some natural art:
- Turn your sticks into a stick man, nature wand (Sun Hats and Wellie Boots) or a picture frame (The Boy and Me). For more inspiration see 10 beautiful stick crafts for kids on Two-daloo.
- Make a tree collage using real sticks and leaves. I love these trees through the seasons from Red Ted Art.
- Create these beautiful magic trees from My Nearest and Dearest.
- Make butterfly finger puppets using leaves, flowers and twigs.
There are so many possibilities! See my Outdoor Play Pinterest board for more inspiration.
Go on an outing
- If you normally drive everywhere, plan a day out using public transport. Or if you use public transport, go somewhere you can walk to.
- Visit a local farm.
- Go beachcombing – and take something to put any rubbish you find in.
Stay at home and explore your garden!
- We recently took a garden tour at my parents’ house and found lots of interesting things to look at and talk about. Head out with a magnifying glass and see what you can discover…
- Try this brilliant sticky scavenger hunt from Blog Me Mom.
- ToddlerGirl loves to watch the birds in our garden and has been enjoying flicking through my bird guide as part of our spring book basket. Buggy and Buddy has this lovely free printable book for birding with kids, which is a great way for introducing birdwatching.
- Get the birds into your garden with a DIY birdfeeder – this is a great round up of ideas from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails.
- Set up a bug hotel, like this one from Red Ted Art.
- Make a butterfly feeder – this is a really pretty one from Cbeebies’ Mr Bloom!
Do some planet earth-themed crafts
I’m pretty sure ToddlerGirl doesn’t know anything about the fact that we live on a planet called earth! Introducing some themed crafts is a good way to plant the seed of this idea, talking a little about the earth as you create.
- I love this beautiful earth suncatcher from Learn Create Love
- Amazing papier mache light up globes on Housing a Forest – messy but they look so lovely!
- Or print (on recycled paper…?!) some earth colouring sheets, such as these ones on Kids Activities Blog.
Get gardening and growing
ToddlerGirl definitely enjoys getting hands on in our garden! We’ve got a small square planter that we set up for her last year, which she absolutely loved to dig around in. This year, I’m planning to actually get growing with her. Nothing too complicated, just some herbs in plant pots and maybe a sunflower or two.
- She Lives Free has five tips for getting ready to garden with kids.
- Rainy Day Mum runs through ten gardening activities for tots.
- The Imagination Tree has a lovely play garden for kids.
- For an indoor project, how about growing cress; toddlers will love these cress eggheads from Nuturestore!
Will you be doing any activities to celebrate Earth Day? I’d love to hear what you’re doing if you are!
ToddlerGirl and I have been learning a lot about spring this year, looking at the first flowers growing in the garden and in our park, reading several spring books together and talking about what flowers we might plant in our garden. With this focus on flowers, I thought it would be fun to do a simple flower craft with her. I turned to Pinterest for inspiration and found this lovely handprint flower bouquet idea on Terrell Family Fun.
ToddlerGirl enjoyed this a lot – of course, because it involved getting stuck right into the painting with her hands!
For our first picture, I laid out a sheet of white paper and we painted some green grass on the bottom with a sponge and I added some stalks. Then I let ToddlerGirl choose a colour and she had fun painting her hand (very, very thoroughly) before placing it onto the paper above the stalks with a SPLAT!
She liked this so much, I could see we were going to need some more paper! For the next couple of pictures, I let her do the handprints first and we then painted the stalks on afterwards. And after that, I just let her have fun painting her hands different colours and making handprints over another couple of sheets of paper!
This was a really easy activity to do and definitely a hit with my messy, paint loving girl, with the added bonus that it produced some lovely flower pictures as an end result. We pinned one up on our wall and I sent the others to family members as a sort of ‘happy spring’ gift!
Thank you Terrell Family Fun for our Playtime Pinspiration :)
Hmm, I’ve noticed a definite theme running through many of my posts since the new year: longing for spring, planning spring activities, celebrating the arrival of spring. I guess it would be fair to say I am just ever so slightly spring obsessed…
This made it a pretty obvious choice of topic for our March Little Bookclub – that, and the fact that I had already been hunting down any spring-related book I could find for ToddlerGirl!
I always have a little ‘cosy corner’ in our living room for ToddlerGirl to read her books, or just sit quietly (yes, it does happen occasionally!). I like to mix this up every now and then, though, to introduce a themed book nook or an inviting den/camp for her, to subtly reinforce the ideas in the books we are reading, to encourage her to pick up a book to read by herself, or simply to provide an interesting and inviting new space for play.
I decided to create a spring-themed book nook to tie together the various books I’ve found for her on the subject. We’ve got a great cardboard box at the moment that provided the perfect starting point. I positioned this in her cosy corner space, added a cushion inside to sit on, draped it with a yellow blanket and then added some props:
- a tweeting robin soft toy perched on the top, along with an owl cushion
- our two fluttery pipecleaner butterflies dangling down
- a flower garland picked up at a festival last year
- a ladybird nightlight inside, along with a little rabbit soft toy
- a soft toy treehouse, with it’s soft toy animal occupants
- a pull along buzzy bee toy
- a frog musical instrument
- a basket of books, with a magnifying glass
ToddlerGirl was very impressed with her new book nook and has been playing with all the toys set out over the last week or so, and is very particular about hanging the flower garland just so over the entrance to the cardboard den! She’s also been enjoying the books set out for her.
So, what books do we have in our spring selection?
(NB: List contains affiliate links.)
This is a National Geographic Kids book and has some lovely photographs of all things spring, including the first flowers poking out of the ground, trees in bud with leaves and blossom, cute little animals and rainy days. The text is very simple but has a poetic quality and matches the photographs perfectly. We had this book last year and ToddlerGirl really enjoys looking at all the pictures. I think it will last a good few years, as it can be suitable for a younger toddler upwards.
We love this series of seasonal picture books. They have no words, which make them great for very young toddlers as well as older children. ToddlerGirl will often choose this one out of the basket herself and study the pictures, which are beautifully drawn and depict various spring scenes. It is lovely to hear her making up her own stories to match the pictures this year.
This Usborne Beginners book is a new addition to our home library. It gives lots of facts about birds and eggs, showing nest building, egg laying, hatching, looking after young chicks and different types of eggs. This is all told through clear photographs, with simple text to accompany. ToddlerGirl has been very interested in all the pictures but doesn’t want to sit and listen to all the words just yet. It’s been a good one for us to dip into and have a chat about one particular aspect, and I’m sure we’ll be reading it for a good few years to come.
This is a brilliant picture book, telling the story of Eddie setting up his own garden with the help of his mum. The illustrations are lovely and, while the text is quite long, it is very engaging so ToddlerGirl will sit and listen to the whole thing and immediately want to read it again! I think it helps that Eddie has a little sister, Lily, who is more in ToddlerGirl’s age range and who ‘helps’ create the garden in the way all toddlers would do – attempting to eat worms, digging huge holes and wanting to be watered with the watering can! There is also some good information at the end on growing your own garden. In fact, the whole book is great for inspiring little ones to get involved in gardening. ToddlerGirl and I have been making plans to grow our own sunflowers and maybe even attempt a bean den, which we agree looks brilliant!
This is another gardening-themed book, perfect for the spring. Sidney lives in the city and doesn’t have much to do with gardens – or vegetables, picking even the mushroom off his pizza! A visit to his Granny’s house changes that, however, when she subtly involves him in the growing and maintaining of her vegetable garden. This is a great book to show toddlers where some of our food comes from and introduce the idea of growing our own food. It could also be useful for any fussy eaters! ToddlerGirl has been enjoying it and we’ve been able to talk about the fact that our vegetables come from the ground.
Ferdie the fox is learning all about the seasons in this series of books. He is excited that spring has arrived but, when he heads into xx, is dismayed to see what he thinks is snow everywhere. He hurries to warn his animal friends that they need to go back into winter mode but they soon all discover that the snow is actually blossom! The illustrations are gorgeous, in the yellows and greens of spring, and the story of the sweet little fox and his friends is a winner for ToddlerGirl.
I also popped in a farm picture book and one of my garden bird books. Surprisingly, ToddlerGirl has been really taken by this, flicking through to look at all the pictures of the birds. It’s led us to talk about the birds we get in our garden and to find the pictures of them in the book (and examine them with the magnifying glass!).
What books would you include on a spring reading list?
For some lovely activity ideas to do to celebrate the new season, see my post Spring things!
We are very much about all things spring in our house at the moment. ToddlerGirl and I have been enjoying spending a little time in the garden, digging in the sandpit and looking out for whatever creatures we may find. It is always particularly exciting to spot a butterfly fluttering by. I love to see them and ToddlerGirl must have picked up on this as she appears to be fascinated by them to!
For my #fiveforfriday links this week, I have found some beautiful butterfly crafts for us to try over the spring and summer. They all have the added bonus of being incredibly simple to do – so very little preparation needed and they are simple enough that even younger toddlers can join in.
1. Paper plate butterflies
This is a sweet craft to create paper plate butterflies from No Time For Flashcards. Cut a triangle shape from the top and bottom of a paper plate to create a butterfly shape, then let your little one decorate the ‘wings’ with beads, buttons, sequins, whatever shapes you have to hand. Wrap a pipecleaner around the middle for the antennae and you’re done!
2. Toilet roll butterflies
These toilet roll butterflies from Bo Bunny are so cute and equally easy to make! Take an empty toilet roll and cut two wing shapes to stick either side. Bo Bunny decorate theirs with their (beautiful) card and ribbon but to make this more toddler-friendly, you could just let your little one loose – with paint, colouring pencils, collage materials, glitter – whatever you and they fancy! Add two googly eyes and some ribbon or pipecleaners for antennae and your toilet roll butterfly is complete.
3. Paper towel butterflies
These paper towel butterflies from Happy Hooligans are great way to make colourful butterflies that even younger toddlers can do. Spread out a few sheets of kitchen roll and provide coloured water, along with various tools for transferring the water onto the kitchen roll, such as droppers or paintbrushes. The roll will absorb the water and the colours; leave to dry and then scrunch up and tie around the middle with a pipecleaner, which creates the wings effect plus the antennae. Add some googly eyes to finish. Happy Hooligans also gives two alternative ways to make the finished butterfly. I love the fact that this is a craft activity and a mini science lesson in one, as you can talk about the paper towel absorbing the water, what happens when the towel becomes saturated and, if you are using multiple colours, about colour mixing.
4. Butterfly suncatcher
I love suncatchers and these beautiful butterfly suncatcher mosaics from Smile Play and Learn would look lovely on a sunny window. Cut out a simple butterfly frame and lay onto clear, sticky contact paper (I use sticky book cover film, as contact paper doesn’t seem to be a term used in the UK!). Then let your little one decorate with pieces of colourful tissue paper. When they are finished, add another layer of contact paper over the top to seal and stick onto a window to let the light shine through.
5. Butterfly mobile
The basis for this butterfly mobile from Nuturestore is the classic butterfly craft of painting on one half of the paper and folding this over to create the same pattern on the other side. Nuturestore does this on a pre-cut butterfly template and then uses two of the finished butterflies to make a hanging mobile. This would look lovely fluttering in the breeze next to an open window…
There are so many more butterfly craft ideas out there but these are a good place to start! Why not read a few butterfly books alongside the crafting? Some suggestions include:
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (of course!)
- Butterfly Butterfly: A Book of Colours by Petr Horacek
- Caterpillar Dreams by Jeanne Willis
- Mad About Minibeasts by Giles Andrae (which is a collection of poems on various insects, featuring both the caterpillar and the butterfly)
(NB: List above contains affiliate links.)
Dark, cosy evenings; pretty, coloured lights. The winter months have been the perfect time to explore the topic of light and dark as a very loose theme for my activities with ToddlerGirl. Of course, ToddlerGirl is only two, so this has not been a proper study by any means. Rather an excuse to group together some activity ideas around these two areas and give her a vague idea of the concepts.
I found that a lot of my activity ideas for the autumn and winter were naturally incorporating light and dark anyway, so it was easy to tweak these to emphasise the two concepts more than maybe I would have done if I wasn’t consciously thinking about the theme. It’s also inspired a few additional activity ideas, which is always helpful!
This is what we have been doing, with links to any activities that I have written separate blog posts on. Of course, this topic doesn’t have to be confined to the dark winter months, many of the ideas could be used all year round!
Here’s how we have been thinking about DARK
1. Creating indoor dens and forts
We love making dens and they are perfect for getting cosy in and exploring the dark in a fun way. I made sure we shut out any residue light and brought down torches and various different nightlights to shine inside!
2. Turning off the lights in the living room
This was a simple activity that ToddlerGirl really enjoyed. We explored the darkness with a number of different lighting options: by shining torches, projecting nightlights onto the ceiling, watching my (very retro!) lava lamp. See my blog post Turning off the lights for more details.
3. Looking at glow in the dark objects
We’ve been experimenting (with varying success!) with using glow in the dark paint in our art time. ToddlerGirl was fascinated that we could see our creations glowing when we turned the lights off! This tied in really well with reading the Shark in the Dark book (see below).
4. Talking about night time and the fact that it is getting darker outside
This has been a good activity during dinner, as ToddlerGirl has been able to notice that it is getting dark outside. We’ve talked about how it gets dark at night and that is when everything goes to sleep, including the little birdies outside!
5. Wrapping up warmly and going outside after teatime to look at the night sky
This was particularly exciting for ToddlerGirl, as she doesn’t normally get to be outdoors after dark. We pointed out the stars and the moon in our backgarden and enjoyed fireworks on Bonfire Night.
6. Playing in the dark
We played a few games of hide and seek in the dark with torches, with the aim of creating an interesting sensory game and also to help alleviate any fears of nighttime and the dark.
Here’s how we’ve been thinking about LIGHT:
1. Looking at the way light shines through different objects
We’ve done this in a few different ways: our autumn leaves sticky window collage was perfect for talking about how the sunshine was shining through the leaves and the effect this had. We’ve also shined torchlight through some transparent coloured blocks we have and other interesting objects, commenting on what effect this has on the colour of the light.
2. Creating a DIY light box
This was very easy to put together and a great tool for showing how the light shines through some things but not others. See my post on Making a homemade lightbox for more details.
3. Looking at shadows
There have been lots of ways to explore shadows: our own shadows (e.g. at the park in the late afternoon sunshine); using torches to create shadow finger puppets on our living room walls; making a shadow box with stick puppets to play with. See my post on Making shadow puppets for more.
Our light and dark booklist
Alongside our activities, we’ve been reading a few different books that fit the light and dark theme, including:
1. Shark in the Dark
This is a great fun book to read aloud. We were already familiar with Shark in the Park and this second installment carries on the theme. Timothy Pope is examining the world through his telescope and keeps on mistaking various objects for a great white shark. The humour in the text is simple enough for a toddler to understand and ToddlerGirl enjoys both books hugely. This one moves the action to the nighttime, with glow in the dark items on the pages adding an additional point of interest. We did some glow in the dark painting to go along with this book.
2. Night Monkey, Day Monkey
Julia Donaldson and Lucy Richards
Day Monkey stays awake one night to play with her friend and finds that the world after dark is a whole different place, with new sights to explore and animals to meet. Night Monkey returns the favour the next day and is amazed at the brightly coloured parrots and butterflies she sees and confused by her shadow. In the end, the monkeys overcome their different worlds by arranging to meet at sunrise and share bananas – an early breakfast for one, a late tea for the other! This is a sweet story which introduces aspects of night and day effectively for little ones, providing a good starting point to talk about the topic.
3. Wow, Said the Owl
This is a beautiful book, exploring our colourful world through the eyes of a little owl who is usually asleep through the day and awake at night. One day, he decides to stay up to see what happens during the day and is rewarded by amazing bursts of colour: the dawn sky, a field of flowers, fluttering butterflies, a rainbow after a storm. Just as he is thinking that he is missing out, he catches sight of the night sky above him, filled with hundreds of twinkling stars, and realises how beautiful the night time is too. This is a lovely way to introduce colours and we have also been using it to talk about the differences between day time and night time for our light and dark topic.
4. The Gruffalo’s Child
Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
This story follows on from the Gruffalo, introducing us to his little girl. Like so many children, she wants to head off and explore, so the Gruffalo tells her about the Big Bad Mouse to keep her close. Instead, this fires her imagination and she heads off to find it, meeting the familiar characters from The Gruffalo along the way. The end of the book provides a good introduction to the concept of shadows, as the little mouse uses his huge shadow to convince the Gruffalo’s Child that the Big Bad Mouse really does exist and is just around the corner.
We’ve had a lot of fun with this topic and focusing on the concepts deliberately has definitely helped ToddlerGirl’s understanding of light and dark, day and night.
(NB: This post contains affiliate links.)
There is a very easy equation to remember when it comes to entertaining a toddler: Mess + Toddler = Hours of Fun. During the winter months, we spent a fair amount of time splashing in puddles and squelching in the mud. Now that the weather is improving and we are able to get outside more regularly and for longer chunks of time, we have rediscovered the joy of sand.
As messy, sensory play experiences go, sand is actually very manageable. There is something so wonderfully inviting about the stuff: the feeling of sand between fingers; the almost irresistible urge to wiggle toes and feet underneath the surface; the difference in sensation of wet and dry sand. No wonder ToddlerGirl is in love with it, I am myself!
The sandpit in our garden, which has been sealed up all winter, has been opened, much to the delight of ToddlerGirl. We have spent a few lovely afternoons this week in the warm spring sunshine with her digging around and making (and squashing) sandcastles. I’ve got a collection of shells and stones from last summer for decorating and burying and lining up, alongside the usual buckets, spades and sand moulds.
I love watching ToddlerGirl immerse herself in the play. The socks and leggings have to come off and she ends up with sand everywhere! But she is being very good about following our Sandpit Rules: there is no throwing of sand and the sand stays in the sandpit (as far as possible; I am relaxed about the odd spillage but we stop play if she starts bringing spade fulls out into the garden or into the house).
I am already having visions of a long, hot summer ahead with my huge and pregnant self sitting in the shade sipping ice-cold drinks while she is happily occupied…!
We also have access to a few good sandpits at parks in our local area. I try to remember to take a bucket and spade with us but actually she just loves to have a couple of sticks to poke around with. This is great for mark making. She is very impressed when I write her name in the sand and squiggles away herself, making lines and patterns and pictures.
Sometimes, it is a whole body experience…
Of course, the very best place to enjoy the sand is at the beach! We are lucky enough to live near to the coast so it is easy to take ToddlerGirl. Our most recent trip was on a shiningly beautiful day, when the sea was at its sparkling best and it was warm enough to spend a while playing.
ToddlerGirl built a giant sandcastle with her Daddy, scouring the beach for shells, seaweed and sticks to decorate it with. She buried her and my feet and fingers underneath the soft sand and then spent some time scrambling up and running down the dunes.
After spying some older children flinging themselves down the dunes, our adventurous little ToddlerGirl just had to copy! She rolled down and climbed up many, many, many times, before deciding to go headfirst, like some sort of toddler commando. We had to grab her as she attempted a forward roll down the dunes but, apart from that, stood back and let her experiment, laughing at the sheer joy on her face.
We’ve been having so much fun with just some simple sand play over the last couple of weeks – I’m sure it’s going to be a big part of our spring and summer outdoor activities!