Very Hungry Caterpillar

A new week, means a new topic. Teddy’s number one book is: the Very Hungry Caterpillar so I thought it was time to do a week on this! We had a lot of fun, probably the best themed week yet. Below are six caterpillar themed activities you could do with your monsters.

1. Buy and observe real caterpillars

Insectlore is a website where you can actually order caterpillars online to be delivered to your doorstep! I bought a kit which included the livestock, butterfly house and food. I’ve done this at school in the past as well and it is a great activity for kids of a variety of ages. You watch the caterpillars grow, form into chrysalises and eventually transform into butterflies. Ours are currently tiny, fluffy caterpillars.

2. Grow your own cress caterpillar

You will need:

– An egg box

– Cress seeds

– Cotton wool balls

– Decorative bits to turn your egg box into a caterpillar

What we did:

– First I cut the egg box in half, and we decorated it to make a caterpillar. I had some foam circles so we added eyes and a nose and feelers.

– Next we popped moist cotton wool balls into each egg hole and added seeds.

– Now to watch them grow.

3. Caterpillar pom pom drop

I was lazy with this activity and printed off a hungry caterpillar image. I stuck it to a cereal box, punched through some holes in and gave Teddy a bowl of pom poms. He loved it and spent ages posting pom poms through the holes.

4. Feed the caterpillar

Another easy activity. I drew the foods the caterpillar eats in the story, laminated them and cut them out. I then stuck an image of the caterpillar’s face onto an old formula box and cut a hole for a mouth. Another post activity!

5. Food drop

This was a spur of the moment activity, when it was too rainy to go to the park. You will need a bucket, an image of a caterpillar and a lot of plastic food. I hid the food in obvious places around the house and got Teddy to find it and throw it into the bucket to feed the caterpillar. This game got very exciting with lots of running, squealing. One you can do again and again.

6. Butterfly feet

Paint your monster’s feet and print on paper. Turn into butterflies!

I hope you can have as much fun as we did with these activities!


Fun on the Farm

A delay in writing this as I am finding it difficult to carry out activities, look after 2 under 2 and keep the house tidy. Writing about it after, is therefore taking a back seat. I am updating my Instagram account regularly though.

After train week, we moved into farm fun. Firstly, I grabbed any books off the shelf which were farm related. I think by reading the books related, it can help immerse the child in the topic. By the end of the week, Teddy had learnt all the animal names and sounds.

I popped these books into a box in the living room so Teddy could dip into them as and when he wanted. Now for the themed activities! There are soo many things you can do with toddlers on the topic of farms. Here are a few ideas:

1. Tuff Tray world on a farm.

The messier, the better. I found lots of cereal and animals and then created it. It was fun to create as well as play! I set this up during Teddy’s nap. When he woke up, the first thing he saw was this small world and he was very excited. He enjoyed dumping materials in different sections, moving the animals about and driving the tractors.

2. Pigs in Mud

Hands up who has a toddler who loves getting messy? Me! I get through about 3 outfits a day at the moment so I thought this would be a great activity to do. You will need:

– 1 sachet of chocolate angel delight

– plastic pigs

– container

– A willing child

Make up the angel delight according to the instructions and then place your pigs in. Let your child explore the texture, smell and taste. I then gave Teddy a small bowl of water to wash the pigs after.

3. Cotton wool sheep.

For a quick activity this is a good one. You will need:

– Cotton wool balls

-Paper or cardboard

– Pva glue

Draw a sheep and then add glue to inside of shape. Show toddler how to stick cotton wool on.

4. Feed the animals

This activity is great for getting children to practice their fine motor skills. You will need:

– Cut outs of farm animal heads (I drew them but I’m sure you could find them easily online)

-Cereal (cherrios worked well)

-Toilet roll tubes

Cut out mouths which are big enough to fit cereal, but not too big so it gives your toddler a challenge. Stick heads to the tubes, add cereal and show your little monster how to feed the animals. We made the animal sounds too to show which one needed feeding next.

5. A Squash and a Squeeze

A book to recommend when doing farm animals is this one. It has a nice number of farm animals in so it a great one for introducing basic animals. It repeats and so toddlers enjoy listening to it and the pictures are fab. I decided to make a small world based on this book. I made a cardboard house and we had fun cramming all the animals in and taking them out again. A great one for counting and learning names.

6. Music

Lots of these activities are based on the senses of touch, smell and if they are like my toddler then taste. I wanted to introduce the sense of sound too so we had a musical session. We got out all the instruments and sung lots of farm songs.

Some good ones include:

– Old McDonald had a farm

– 5 little ducks

– Mary had a little lamb

– Baa baa black sheep

– The farmer in the Dell


-Little Bo Peep

As well as these activities, we visited a farm near us, did puzzles of farm animals, watched some farm related programmes on cbeebies, set up a farmer’s market in the house and went on a drive to spot other farms. You could do chick collages, animal masks, visit a farmer’s market and so on. The list is endless.

We had a lot of fun with this topic and will revisit it in a few months.

Toot Toot Train fun

Last week’s books featured lots of train books so it made sense for our topic to be ‘All about trains’.

Teddy adores those noisy, lumps of metal. Whenever we go to our local station, he squeals with excitement. He points and waves at the train, beaming from ear to ear. I was therefore very excited to introduce this topic. Below are five activities we carried out in the week (we did more than this, see my instagram for details):

1. Play with a traditional wooden train set.

We were lucky enough to have been given our first set by my cousin and our collection has quickly grown. We’ve picked up a station from our local free site and various bits from charity shops. It doesn’t have to break the bank.

I had set this up for Teddy whilst he was taking a nap. I set it up in the tuff tray with a white background so he could decorate it himself with felt tips.

2. Paint tracks with trains

This was so much fun! I lay down some big sheets of paper in the tuff tray, added some trains and paint and away we went. You drive the train through the paint and onto the paper. As the train drives forward, it leaves a painted track. We made train sounds as we drove across the paper and mixed paints.

3. Using trains as props for teaching

My mother in law had given me some foam trains for our craft box and I had been waiting for an activity to use them. They are brightly coloured and so I decided to use them to teach Teddy colours and basic counting. We sorted them into colours and then I counted them out aloud, making various noises each time I moved a train.

(Foam trains can be found in Wilkinsons)

4. Build our own train

I didn’t have a lot of time to build a train so it isn’t the most sophistocated to look at but it still provided lots of fun. Stick open boxes together, add a chimney and features and a pulley string. You then pack with Teddies and embark on a thrilling journey around the house. We took Peppa pig and her friends on a journey. We had read ‘Peppa and the big train’ just before so were in the train mood. We chugged down the corridor, picking up various passengers and dropping others off. The role play you could do with this could develop at the child gets older.

5. Take a train ride

As I said before, Teddy adores trains and visiting the station. A train journey was therefore a must for one of our activities. When we got there we watched some trains then bought a ticket to our local town. I talked about the different parts of the train and mimicked the sounds the train makes. I think it is really important when learning about a subject to visit the real thing if possible. The learning opportunities are endless.

That was my whistle stop tour (excuse the pun) of some of the train themed activities we did over the week. Others included puzzles, junk modelling, watching Thomas the Tank engine, reading our themed books and visiting a park with a fake train. I really enjoyed planning our activities and can’t wait for this week!

Our next topic is ‘on the farm’.

Books Inspire Children

My husband and I love books. We get excited when we go into shops and often leave with a bagful. We regularly take Teddy to bookshops and he will always come home with a book. We seem to come home with a book from all sorts of places… the supermarket, the garage, even the garden centre. In fact, the garden centre is a popular book buying place. Who knew?

I was looking at Teddy’s hoards of books the other day and realised he has so many he is overwhelmed. I normally have them all on a bottom shelf for him to choose throughout the day. The trouble is, there are so many he just flits through them then moves onto the next one. This means he isn’t focusing on one in particular and ends up leaving a huge mess on the floor! He always seems to choose the same few books for bed too.

In a bid to encourage him to focus on other books, I have put them all on a shelf in his bedroom and will select a few each week to focus on. These books will have a similar theme to them and I will create activities inspired by these books. It’s my hope that he will immerse himself in the topic so will learn more and enjoy the book more.

This week we looked at trains (see next post). It was fantastic and I had great fun linking the ideas to books. Watch this space for lots of book related activities!

5 Cheap Activities with Rice

So as a stay at home mum, I have found routine is hugely important. I have also found that keeping busy is a must or those clock hands will start to drag. I therefore ensure we go to a group in the mornings, have a nap and then do an activity (or we go over my fab mum’s house). As I’m sure lots of you know, some of these toddler activities can be pricey and if you’re doing a minimum of five a week then it will start to add up. As a teacher, I have always had to be resourceful with materials due to tight budgets and now I’m doing the same as a mum. One cheap material I have found is rice. It is fantastic! It can be bought anywhere and can be glued, shaken and dyed. Below are 5 quick and easy activities you can do with rice:

1) Dye the rice and pop it into a sensory bin for endless entertainment.

All you need is:

– A few drops of food dye

– 1 tbsp vinegar

– 1 cup of rice (white works best)

– Food bag (Zip works best)

You put 1 tablespoon of vinegar into a food bag with a few drops of food dye. Add a cup of rice. Mix it well by scrunching it up then leave it on a baking tray to dry overnight. You now have colourful rice! Pop it into a sensory bin with a few containers and you have a fun activity.

2) Use the rice to bury treasure.

I did this the other day with Teddy as a Christmas treat. I hid loads of chocolate coins in the rice and pasta and Teddy had to dig to find the coins. He loved playing with the rice and got excited everytime he saw something shiney.

3) Add rice to an empty pringle tub to make your own rain maker.

You can then decorate the tub with is an activity in itself.

4) Dye rice and then glue it to card to make pictures with texture.

As a Christmas activity today, I dyed the rice green. Painted a Christmas tree shape into the card and got Teddy to sprinkle green rice on it to stick into a christmas tree. We then decorated with glitter glue and felt tips.

5) Use dyed blue rice as rain in small worlds

I love creating small worlds in tuff trays and one I did recently was Noah’s Ark. As part of our play, I added blue dyed rice and made it rain on the animals. This was a great sensory activity because not only could Teddy feel the rice, but when it rained the rice made a super rain sound when it hit the tuff tray.

I’m sure there are millions more activities with rice out there, these are just five that we have done recently.

I’m back

So I took a break from posting whilst coming towards the end of pregnancy. Although I did carry on doing daily activities with Teddy (see my instagram account: growing_happy_monsters) I stopped writing. The reason for the break was because I am awful at being pregnant and turned into a moany, miserable bitch. I don’t know how Phil could bare to stay in the same room with me to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my actual bump and the flutterings and kicks but that was about it.

Why was I so bad? I think the main reason was my really bad pelvic pain. It got to the point where I couldn’t walk to the end of my road or pick up Teddy. Every time I turned in bed, my whole pelvic area clicked and yes I found out ‘fanny daggers’ are a real thing. I had bad morning sickness at the beginning and the end and I felt exhausted all the time. Add a one and a half year old who never sleeps and I could no longer string a sentence together let alone write a paragraph.

6 weeks later and I’m ready to start blogging again. I absolutely adore my new baby boy. He is called Henry and is such a chilled and content baby. He sleeps and eats well (touch wood) and rarely cries. I am sure this will change.

Teddy still struggles to sleep and wakes up 4 or 5 times a night. He has also discovered tantrums which are fun…. throwing himself on the floor dramatically and screaming very loudly for a very long time. I can’t complain too much though as Teddy is so grown up most of the time.

In the last two months of pregnancy, I couldn’t push the buggy due to pain. Teddy and I had a strict routine where we did a toddler group in the morning and focused activity in the afternoon. I don’t drive so when I stopped pushing the buggy our only option was for Teddy to walk. He did so without complaint and I know how lucky I am. He’d happily hold my hand and walk to each of our groups, run around and then walk home even though he was exhausted by that point.

Another way he has shown us what a big boy he is, is the way he treats Henry. He loves him! He helps me feed him, helps me change his nappy. He kisses Henry when he leaves the room and sits next to him and holds his hand when Henry is in the bouncer. My heart melts everytime he does this and now Henry has started to smile at him. I couls go on forever about how lovely this is to watch….but I should stop. I just wanted to say I am back and ready to share more ideas about what I get up to with my little monsters.

That Little Thing Called Sleep

Teddy has always been a night owl. He frequently wakes in the night and will often be in our bed before morning. I do enjoy my morning snuggles with him- especially now I’m off work but it is tough.

I tried different sleeping strategies but hadn’t found one I got on with. I even tried the cry out one but gave up very quickly as both me and Teddy ended up crying! So we kept him in with us longer than lots of people would. It was getting to the point that Teddy would start off in our bed and we were properly co-sleeping. Phil (my husband) often ended up at the bottom of the bed because Teddy likes to sleep in a starfish fashion. We kept saying we will change it when he turned one, then when I was on half term and so on. We ‘sleep trained’ a dozen times but in the end gave up.

Then came the day when we had him in the cot for most of the night. Result. He wasn’t in his own room but he was in his own bed and that was something. Then Teddy broke the cot. He had started trying to climb out, throwing himself around and stamping.

So when he was 15 months, we bought him a toddler bed. Phil chose a fancy Thomas the Tank one and Teddy loved it. We kept it in our room for one week to monitor Teddy in case he fell out etc. He didn’t. Then we moved him into his own room and the little monster started to sleep. I mean actually sleep. Like he would go down at 8am, wake at 12 for a drink then sleep until 5am. No training. No fuss. Just a ridiculous bed and a new environment. He goes to his bed when I say bedtime now and sits and waits for his book. Three blissful weeks then the teeth came…

I’m not kidding. Every single tooth seems to be coming through at once. Now every hour he wakes up needing to be resettled and yes…. often ends up in our bed. The second baby is due in November and at this rate I think we will end up with two in the bed.

It is strange how little sleep, humans actually need. I used to get 7-8 hours sleep (undisturbed). Now I get about 4-5 broken hours and am alive still. I can’t even drink copious amounts of coffee at the moment.