Although the lockdown has finally started to ease up, we are still spending much more time indoors than before. If you are struggling to detach your children from their favourite online games and shows, Laura Brand has put together some of her favourite activities that she enjoys with her daughters both in the house and out in the garden to help minimise the time spent in front of screens. She shares them in her new book ‘The Joy Journal for Everyday Magical Play: Easy Activities & Creative Craft for Kids and their Grown-ups’, which includes a foreword by Fearne Cotton and is available for purchase here. Check out some of the activities included below, and enter our competition for your chance to win two copies of the book – one for you and a friend!
SENSORY WATER PLAY
You will need:
Large mixing bowl/ deep baking tray
1 litre of water
Loose parts (see below)
Endless amounts of time... this is one of my favourite activities when I am tired, when I haven’t got it in me to source materials; once you start putting a sensory table together it definitely sparks your creativity, even when you thought that it was a losing battle.
Potential for mess:
Water-mess, but so much joy to be had in the process. Have hand towels at the ready and take it outside if possible.
I love seeing my girls engaged in sensory water play. They absolutely love it and whether they are playing together or independently, it occupies a good chunk of TV-free time and feels good for everyone’s soul.
Both of our daughters adore sensory water play, which is exploration for their senses as well as a perfect quick fix for hot children in the summer months. Developmentally, playing with water is beneficial for coordination and creative thinking. It can also be calming or energizing depending on what style of play you go for. Water play is a chance to explore new sensations, so I have listed here a few ideas to start with that we have tried and tested and come back to over again. All three suggestions here require you to fill a mixing bowl or deep baking tray with cool water before adding your loose parts. If you are able to do this outside, obviously any spillages will dry up after you’ve finished playing; however, when we do this inside I put down a towel and get the girls to play on it in their designated areas.
You will need:
Small bag/piece of cloth
10–15 minutes pre-bed time.
Potential for mess:
This can be a wonderfully bonding activity. I understand it’s harder when you are managing two (or more) children of different ages at bedtime, so for us this works best when our littlest is already asleep and when we can focus on Mabel's cosy bedtime routine.
By the time it hits 7pm I am usually knackered and want to lie down on my bed, fully clothed, and go to sleep immediately . . . HOWEVER, our daughter’s bedtime routines can vary in length and time so even a glimpse of a 7pm relaxation time for me is a thing of the bygone era. Thankfully, my husband’s unbounded energy carries us through the majority of bathtimes and bedtime stories, but on the nights when it’s just me and when none of the usual books are quite cutting it, I have to delve into my imagination and attempt to pull out something magical and captivating (Mabel can be a harsh critic!). I had the idea, much like a dinner party game, to write words, sentences and names on pieces of paper and put them into a little cloth bag. As part of the wind-down, PJs and bedtime settling routine, we pick out three pieces of paper together and, using these as the three main points to the narrative, we string together our bedtime story. I promise you, minimal delving is required for the tired mind. If you write these when you are feeling like your creativity is flowing, it will make for a MUCH better and more interesting journey into the land of nod. ‘Peggy was holding a magic box and it was shimmering bright purple . . .’
Story bag ideas
Personalise the ideas below, to get started on your journey into story-land...
Answer the following question in the comments section below for your chance to win 2 copies of ‘The Joy Journal’.
How long does the story bag activity keep children entertained for?