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Surviving Life, Love & Babies..


Baby Play & Craft

Summer Fun with Little Ones..

Don’t know about where you live, but here, when the sun comes out, everyone suddenly comes to life. Not sure what it is about a sunny day that fills people with motivation.. but anyway, with little kids, there are so many fun options when you can get out and about. Our Summer bucket list goes a little bit like this:

  1. Water play! This comes in all varieties at our place on a hot day – a blow-up pool full of plastic balls, a sprinkler to run through, a hose on the trampoline, a hose in the garden to make lovely mud, buckets and pouring cups, buckets and bubbles, washing the car, washing the windows (mum washes, kids spread water), a water slide made of plastic sheeting and bubble bath, and a sand and water table with water wheels and bridges. Nothing like getting wet on a hot day to make the kiddies smile!
  2. The beach. We walk, explore rock pools and shells, build sand castles and water ways for the waves to fill, chase waves and throw balls, draw in the sand with big sticks to make patterns or play hangman and tic tac toe.
  3. Local parks. We like to find and explore new parks and nature reserves in our area – there are so many! Just a different playground can inject more fun into a quick play stop.
  4. Rock Hunts. Paint rocks and hide them in local parks.  See if you can find rocks others have left. Start a rock collection and join a rock hunting page on Facebook to see who has found your rocks.
  5. RAK – random acts of kindness.  Leave little gifts for other kids in the neighborhood, bake cookies for an old lady on your street, make cards of appreciation for people who have helped you, or help out with chores that need doing. 
  6. Hidey holes. Pitch a tent, make a cubby out of sheets or boxes, put curtains around the trampoline, or build a real cubby house, for a shady place to play and read. 
  7. Arts and crafts. So many options! Painting, drawing, making stamps from recycled rubbish or potatoes, paper crafts, marbling, making collages, string crafts, .. the list is endless. 
  8. Baking. Green pancakes, decorated muffins and cakes, cut and iced biscuits, gingerbread men or houses, pastries or bread.. the kids love helping and making a mess!
  9. Bath fun.  When cleaning up, we still like to have fun – bubbles, bath toys and water pipes, shaving foam, glow sticks in the dark, bath paints and coloured water!
  10. Picnics. There is something fun about eating outside, whether it’s on the trampoline, on a blanket or in the back of the car on a windy day. 
  11. Nature walks. We like to explore different walks and tracks in our area..there are waterfalls and quarries, boardwalks and Bush tracks. We bring something home – a rock, stick, feather – to paint or make art with!
  12. Rides and races.  We get out all our wheeled things, including improvised ones, and race around the house. When that gets old, a ride to the local park works great. 
  13. Music! We have a collection of instruments that only come out some days (when mum can handle the racket) and also like to make our own with pots and pans, glasses filled with water, cans and tins as drums, and elastic bands around baking tins. There are also great music programs near us for kids which are on one day a week, so much fun and no cleanup!
  14. The library. Most city libraries have great kids sections these days, with toys and activities, and a reading day one a week for the kids. 
  15. Animals.  We have an animal park and a bird park near us, as well as a zoo not too far away. Or we have neighbours who sometimes drop their dog to us when they go away. Lots of fun for the kids.. and hopefully the dog, too!
  16. City events.  We are always on the lookout for fun things happening in our city. Movies in the park, night markets, morning markets, open days at playgroups, opening events and sausage sizzles, christmas parades and school fetes, international food days.. if it fits in with our schedule, we try to get out there! Sign up to a local events page on Facebook and get notified when things are on. 
  17. Kids cafes. Or kid friendly cafes. All cafes are not equal in this regard! Find ones with playgrounds and play areas so everyone can enjoy an outing with a friend!
  18. Garden fun. Give the kids a section of veggie patch to call their own, and grow seeds and plants from cuttings. Improvise a little hothouse, build a plant tower, or create a strawberry patch. Make bird feeders and bird scarers. Make garden decor – painted rocks, fancy plant name signs, or beautiful outdoor art!
  19. Tiki tours. We love jumping in the car and seeing where we end up. We are lucky to live in an amazing place with heaps of options nearby.. beautiful beaches galore, cute country towns to explore, a nearby tourist town with cultural activities and a gondola, lakes for swimming and fishing, and hot pools.. all within an hour’s drive from home. Pack some snacks and a pillow each. Throw in some car games and toys.  Stop for an ice-cream somewhere. πŸ™‚ good times. Don’t forget the camera!
  20. Fun with friends! All of the above, but with friends or family to make things even more enjoyable! It only takes a little more planning to include others and intensify the fun. Take turns hosting in the yard or meet out there. And if mum is feeling brave, perhaps a sleepover;)

Rock Hunting!! The new craze getting us out and about!

Rock hunting is starting to go viral here in New Zealand ! Apparently it started in the States, but Kiwis catch on fast and we are taking it to a whole new level πŸ™‚

The idea is that you and the kids get onto Facebook and join a rock hunting page, and find out which local parks and reserves near you are rock-hunting hot spots. Then grab a bunch of promising-looking rocks from round the garden, neighbours flowerbeds, or landscaping shops, and paint them up with beautiful creations. Monsters, glittery rainbows, animals or messages – let the kids go crazy painting whatever they can think up. 

Rocks can be painted with acrylic paint or nail polish, and sealed at the end with clear lacquer or watered-down craft glue that dries clear, to protect artworks from the elements. In permanent marker on the back, write your town name, and the name of the Facebook group you are in, so that when people find the rock, they can upload a picture, and you can see who found it, and where!

If that’s not fun enough, now the real fun begins! Grab a snack and head down to a local park for a rock hunt! Hunt high and low, round trees and buildings, fountains and fences, and find as many rocks as you can!! You might find 3 or 30, but it’s the fun of the hunt that counts! πŸ™‚ 

Collect your treasure of painted rocks together, take a photo of them all, and then choose a favorite rock to keep for your own rock collection at home. Then re-hide all the rocks so that others coming later in the day can find some treasure too!! Or you might want to re-hide half of them, and take some with you to hide at a different park today or tomorrow. It’s fun to see how far the rocks can travel – some have gone across the country and even to other countries!!

When you get home, don’t forget to upload the picture of your treasures, and say where you found them, so that other kids can see their rocks online and enjoy knowing their rocks made your day fun. You can also watch to see if anyone finds the beautiful rocks that you worked so hard on:) 

Such a great way to pass a Summer day. Kids all over NZ are getting out and about to the different parks in their area, and parents are loving that the latest craze is good, wholesome, and almost free, fun πŸ™‚

Treasure Buckets.. I mean Baskets.. I mean Boxes.. ..Whatever.

So at the moment I’m into these exploration treasure basket things. And so is my little boy, big-time. He’s just learnt to sit, and he’s all over getting his hands on the latest challenge I have for him – which is pretty cool. And they keep him entertained for ages, big plus for mummy πŸ™‚

It’s all about Heuristic Play, which is a fancy way of saying, ‘kids get to explore things on their own.” There is lots of research and all to go with it, but the bottom line is, my little man enjoys looking at things at his own pace, on his own terms, in his own chosen order, for as long or as little time as he wants.

There are loads of treasure basket ideas out there – most mums seem to have a special basket, filled with items of different colour, material, texture, size and purpose.


Sometimes a treasure basket is filled with items that are similar – such as putting in a wooden spoon, a wooden toy, a wood cube, a block, a piece of driftwood, a pine cone, etc – and the baby can have a little think about the texture of wood. Or it might be a metal basket day, with all metal items like spoons, a whisk, a pot lid, a door knob, and a spanner from the toolbox. Or a fabric day, with ribbons, different squares of fabrics – light, heavy, soft, coarse, a felt toy, a woollen sock, a silk scarf, etc.

And sometimes a treasure basket is a big mix of all of these items, some of which get rotated in and out every few days so that there is always something new to discover for little fingers.

I think it’s nice to do all of these things at some point, but I also think the basket itself can change. I have put all of my boy’s items into a woven basket, a metal pot with big handles, a big plastic tub, a metal mixing bowl, and a plastic laundry basket. I still have a fabric storage box, a cardboard box, and a small suitcase up my sleeve, and I’m sure I can find plenty more interesting receptacles in the garage πŸ™‚

The changing ‘basket’ gives him more examples of large containers, and he loves banging the toys on the edge, pulling the containers around/over, and looking at whatever is new.IMG_5149

So don’t be afraid to get out those nasty old pots and pans, mum! It might be just what the baby ordered πŸ™‚ And if you have any cool ideas for keeping things fresh, let me know!

Some great ideas for fun (and beautiful) treasure baskets can be found at:

Prepare The Environment – beautiful sensory baskets

The Imagination TreeΒ – a great range of reflective, wooden and fabric baskets

Raising Sparks – good ideas for a metal and a ‘brushes’ basket!

It’s All About Stories – plastics and ribbons baskets, plus many more!

And a great idea for Sensory Bottles from Twin Talk πŸ™‚

treasure basket, baby play,

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