National Play Day

Today marks National Play Day, a day to celebrate the importance of play in children’s lives. However, finding different ways to play with your children in the Summer Holidays can be a challenge for even the most imaginative and patient of parents, and it is tempting to over spend in order to achieve five minutes of peace, especially during those final few weeks, when the imagination bank (as well as the real one) has started to run dry!

To celebrate National Play Day, our head of childcare, Danielle Manton-Kelly, has created a fun packed 5-day play plan. Perfect for engaging those little minds, saving money, and giving you some much needed peace – though we can’t guarantee the quiet!

Day 1: That rainy day 

There is always at least one of these, so after you’ve spent the morning jumping up and down in muddy puddles with your little one, come in, dry off, and give some of these rainy day activities a go…

Play Dough – this is quick and easy to whip up and creates hours of imaginative fun and conversation for all age. Play dough is fantastic as a sensory activity, as the dough can easily be coloured and scented. You can try hiding things within the play dough for your child to uncover or you could provide a selection of household objects for your little ones to press and roll into the dough. Home-made dough is easy to wash off of surfaces however I recommend using a tuff tray to keep everything in one place and off of any carpets. *See below for play dough recipe details

Salt dough modelling – another incredibly cheap and easy activity. Salt dough can be used to model anything and is great for hand and foot print work. Once your dough is made, it can be used in the same way as play dough, however your child’s creations can be baked, painted, polished and kept forever, great for making hand-made gifts for family, or something cute to live on the shelf! *See below for salt dough recipe details

Treasure basket – for younger babies, a treasure basket can provide a huge amount of fun and engagement on a rainy day. Treasure baskets are filled with natural items from around the house for example rolling pins, paint brushes, feathers and whisks. Once filled, allow your child to explore the treasure basket at his/her own pace. We wouldn’t recommend leaving children unattended with these items though – so grab a coffee and relax close by, while your child explores and enjoys.

Day 2: Coffee Shop Role Play

A home-made shop sounds tricky to set up but can be as easy as placing a box in the middle of the room and calling it a till – your child will let their imagination do the rest and hours of play will follow. A makeshift coffee shop can be created in the garden or next to the book shelf. The first half of the day can be spent designing and building the shop, with boxes and objects found around the house. Older children often love the designing part, while the little ones will love to get things ready and move bits of the shop around. Lunchtime can be spent in the kitchen creating the items that will be sold in the shop, for example smoothies, sandwiches and cakes, which the children can serve and gobble up as part of their play!

Day 3: Nature Name Door Signs

Children love to write their names on things and there is nothing more important to label than their own bedroom doors. Get your children to write their names across a large piece of cardboard (you can help with this). Then, take these with you and set off on an adventure to find objects in nature that form the shape of each letter in their name. You can alter how strict the letter finding rules are depending on the age of your children and how long you’d like the search to take.Your children can then come home and decorate their name signs. For younger children, the objects found can be used in sensory play, before you help them to collage their name.

Day 4: Junk Modelling

Children love junk modelling, because they often love a challenge, and here you would be challenging them to create something epic out of junk. Save any boxes large and small, bottles, and clean junk throughout the holidays and place it all in a huge pile in the middle of the garden along with some roles of masking tape. Challenge your children to make a car, create a fashion show, build a den, a city or to think of their own project. As well as providing hours of fun, junk modelling is a great way to teach children about recycling and is also fantastic for fine and gross motor development.

Day 5: Holiday Memory Box and Scrap Book

This is a perfect way to spend a day at the end of the holidays, and that little box that comes with a new pair of school shoes can form the perfect memory box. If you don’t have a scrap book, one can easily be created with some folded paper and string.Both items can then be decorated with stickers, paint, pressed flowers and all sorts of lovely things. Your little ones can then go on a hunt for objects that remind them of the summer they have shared with you. Things like drawings, train tickets, photos, shells, special rocks and feathers can be gently placed into the box. These little items are wonderful to look back on when your little ones have grown.

Play Dough Recipe

Simply mix 2 cups of plain flour with 1/2 a cup of table salt and 2 tbsp of cream of tarter (found on the baking isle). Add 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil and mix everything together. Add a large mug of hot water bit by bit and mix until your dough is formed. Once cooled, you can mix with your hands. Add slightly more water if required and, for coloured/scented dough, add you choice of colouring and/or flavouring to the hot water. Gel colours work best, but for subtle colours, cheap colouring is just fine. Essential oils are great for scenting the dough.

Salt Dough Recipe & Cooking Instructions

Mix together 2 cups plain flour, 1 cup salt and 1 cup of water. Knead together and get creating. Air dry over night before putting your creations into the oven at 120 degrees for three hours. Allow to air dry for another day before painting.

By Danielle Manton-Kelly

@theweddingcrecherz / @enchantednanny