Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Our Weekly Wanderings - Ideas for Play Based Learning at Home!


Welcome to another Weekly Wanderings where I share some of the fun we get up to each week in my home based child care service and with my own 4 year old twins. The aim of this series is to provide a little inspiration and hopefully a few ideas for parents and also those working with children.

I am a huge believer in play based learning, outdoor exploration and letting kids be kids while they can. I also believe that play and learning does not need to be expensive nor time consuming to set up and pack away. Above all it should be fun for both you and the children.

Let's take a wander through our days last week.....



Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I picked up some little whiteboards calling to me from the clearance bin last week in our local Officeworks and the kids have been loving expressing themselves creatively on a different medium.




We went on an outdoor 'Bear Hunt' on a beautiful Winter morning....


There was the discovery of lavender flowers in the garden....


Which we collected and then added a little dried lavender to for a fairy tea party....


I set up a little fairy picnic invitation to play in the imagination circle outside for my 3 year old group of girls.....

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Some coloured gems and stones made perfect food for scooping and mixing and pouring. Lavender was added to pots and cups and we chatted about how it smelt and what it might be used for.

Fairy and gnome friends were found under rocks and in the flower beds...

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem




Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I decided to extend their interest in the lavender and added a bowl of dry and fresh lavender to the craft table.


Squeezing some coloured glue onto shapes cut from wading that was used as packaging. To make coloured glue I just added a little edicol powder dye to some glue squeeze bottles along with a little water and then gave them a good shake.

The 3 and 4 year olds always love using squeeze bottles to get creative as they can use them in so many different ways and they give their fine motor muscles a good workout at the same time!

Sticking lavender to their creations was very important work and took longer than you might think!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

The trucks are a huge interest area with the toddlers at the moment so I have been trying to find different ways to extend their interest and skills using them.

The corrugated plastic pipes proved popular to load their cargo into trays....

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Treasures in the quarry and vegetable patch to explore...

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Stones, sticks, more recycled treasures hidden on the path and 'boulders' all loaded into trucks and picked up with diggers....

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

And a little patch of dirt kept them busy all morning!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

There were roads made for cars inside with gems, squares of fake turf, sticks and tree blocks.

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Different ways of working and playing with wood...a step made an excellent 'workbench', gems and sticks were fun to post into cardboard cylinders and hammers held everything together!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

The passionfruit shop was very popular. Last week the kids helped me to pull the passionfruit vine off of the apple trees it was strangling. I brought down some of the pruned vine and weaved it onto a pallet leaning against the wall, added the cash register, a basket of fallen passionfruit and our outdoor scales then stood back to see what the children would do with it. 


I wasn't disappointed as the play evolved in so many different ways and they were so busy in the world of the passionfruit shop!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

There was weighing on the scales, a cauldron to add the passionfruit too, trucks to transport them in, baskets to fill at the shop and excavators to find and scoop the runaways!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I extended their interests by adding the tube placed on a chair so it was on a slant. We then began experimenting with what would roll down and what would get stuck. Why did the spoon get stuck but the passionfruit go through easily?

Lots of problem solving and experimenting with such a simple resource!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

To work those toddler fine motor skills I set up a tray with sand and added a few items randomly. I handed out spray bottles with water and edicol dye to make some bright colours and then encouraged them to point and spray at their target!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

This activity kept them busy for a long time and offered much scope for challenging their hand-eye and fine motor muscle skills.

We talked about trying to hit them from far away and then how it was easier to move closer to the target. They used the spray to knock over the little people, clean sand off the gems, paint wood blocks and plates and of course themselves!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

There was of course a fence to be spray painted too!


At the end of the week on my day off  I decided to rearrange the furniture in the main playrooms and rotate all the toys. I made some new spaces and blocked a few of the running areas that have been causing some concern!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

It's a little sad how much I enjoy rearranging furniture and playspaces...but I really do!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

The end of the week saw some much needed rain drop by....and my planned 20 loads of washing for the weekend had to be hung out downstairs. Ok I exaggerate, it was probably more like 15 loads. Shame I had all the daycare bedding and blankets to wash this week!!


But this is the vision that made the hard work of the whole week seem somehow worthwhile. Ruby showing such joy to be outside playing with Mummy and friends in her 'pretty playing dress'. 

And another week begins...


What fun did you get up to with the kids last week?


If this is your first visit to Mummy Musings and Mayhem and you like what you see you can follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for more inspiration, frugal fun, recipes and mayhem!



Warm Wishes...


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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Toddler Fine Motor Whisk and Sieve!


I love to offer simple activities to toddlers that are fun but also support their emerging interests and strengths.

Fine motor muscle strengthening and hand/eye coordination are skills that are important to focus on , especially for toddlers, but that doesn't mean that we as educators and parents need to provide detailed and expensive activities to target these skills...you can always do it through the magic of simple play based learning!

Here's one of the activities that is always very popular with the toddlers and is easily modified to make it a little harder for the preschoolers. Even Miss Teen has been known to have a play with this one but don't tell her I told you!


Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Here's what you need...



  • A few medium wash bowls/tubs or a large water play trough/tub
  • Different shaped and sized whisks
  • Dishwashing detergent or hand soap
  • Warm or cold water
  • Paint powder dyes or food colouring (optional)

Here's what you do.....


Half fill your tubs or trough with water, we used warm as it was a cool day and it added to the sensory experience.

Squirt in a little soap or dishwashing liquid

Hand the whisks out and first watch to see what they do. I like to ask a simple question like "How could we make bubbles in the water?" or "What can we do with the whisk?"


Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

There is usually a little experimenting but then bubbles start to appear as they stir faster and then begin whisking and they know what they need to do. It's great watching their eyes light up when they realise what they are achieving!

If you have a very young toddler you can model using the whisk or encourage them to splash and stir with their hands to begin making their bubbles. A little help from you to whisk a few first will keep their focus and interest in the activity.

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

When they have made some bubbles you can make it a little more interesting by sprinkling on some powder paint dye (I use edicol vegetable dye as it goes a long way and washes out easily!)

I ask the children to mix the colour in with their whisk or hands and watch as the water changes to a bright colour.

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Some of the toddlers enjoyed making patterns in their friends tub using the different colours. They were fascinated with the effects they made!

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

You shouldn't need to keep intervening in this activity, there is no wrong or right way, it's about the process and letting them experiment and problem solve to get the outcome they want. While they are having fun doing this they are of course working those hand and wrist muscles as well as practising their hand eye coordination.

You can talk about the colours they are making and how they could make other colours too.

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I find a few separate tubs for a small group works well and really allows them to explore their own creativity and purpose. It is a good exercise in turn taking though if using a larger trough.

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem


Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

When there is a bit of foam and bubble from the whisking I like to introduce a few small sieves to the play as well. 

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

The sieve is good for trying to catch the bubbles and for transferring one foam colour to another colourful tub. They encourage scooping, twisting, spatial awareness and hand control and balance.

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Some will also just prefer to use their hands...and this is perfectly fine, it is a wonderful sensory activity especially when you have warm or cold water!


Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem



Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Older children will enjoy trying to take prints of their bubble foam colours. They will need to first whisk up a good froth and then you can support them to lay a piece of white paper over the tub without immersing it. Give it a wiggle and this will take a "print" of their creativity to keep.




I always like to involve toddlers in the packing up/cleaning process as this is also an important skill to learn and one that they usually enjoy as they love to feel useful!

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

When we were nearly finished I gave them all some pieces of sponge I had cut into shapes from some packaging we received in a box.

We talked about the shapes and how to clean the paint colours from the table. They loved it and were so busy wiping down the tables and then finding the sponges in the bottom of their tubs after dropping them in there!

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

In reality they did of course make more mess than was originally there but look at that concentration and focus on getting the job done! When they went down for their rest I just came back and hosed the table and sponges and left everything in the sun to dry...easy!

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

And although the prints look just like water colours they were awfully proud of them and they acted as a conversation prompt when parents picked them up and asked them questions about their day.

What does a child experience with this simple activity?


  • A sense of pride and self worth as they explore a new skill.
  • They are practising their pre writing skills
  • They are expressing themselves creatively
  • They are strengthening their fine motor muscles, control and coordination.
  • They are learning about cause and effect
  • They are using their thinking and reasoning skills to problem solve.
  • They are communicating and using descriptive language.
  • They are recognising and naming colours
  • They are exploring with their senses
  • They are happy and HAVING FUN in their own way...but they are learning!

How does your toddler like to play with water?



If this is your first visit to Mummy Musings and Mayhem and you like what you see you can follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for more inspiration, frugal fun, recipes, educator tips and family mayhem!



Warm Wishes....




























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