A sand table or sandpit will provide plenty of opportunity for sensory play. Sand is great to move around, build, draw, craft and it’s very soothing to touch. Children naturally love to explore and investigate.
Sand play is a great way to inspire and enhance learning. Sensory play expands the children’s creativity and imagination, stimulates their senses and introduces them to new textures.
Benefits of playing with sand:
Improves fine motor skills
Sensory play and calming experience
Provides creative and imaginative play
The fun never stops with sand play! Here are our top 6 ideas for sand play at home.
1. Treasure Hunt
Let’s go on a treasure hunt! This activity is great for a sand table or sandpit. Simply hide toys in the sand and let your children find them using their hands or spades.
Try different themes for your treasure hunt. You could hide shells and give children buckets to find them, like they are at the seaside. Another idea is to hide toy fish and collect them in small nets.
2. Building Site
Children love filling and emptying. Get your children to transport and tip the sand into different zones of the sand table or sandpit. Make roads using a toy truck and houses using buckets. Add a hard hat and fluorescent safety vest to play the part.
3. Beach Scene
Oh we do like to be beside the seaside. Make an outing to the garden more exciting with a beach scene. Perfect for encouraging your children to get digging, raking and making shapes in the sand. Provide a collection of resources for the beach scene. For example, shells, small pebbles, toy figures and buckets. Different themes are great for sand play. Create themes that your children love such as jungle animals or dinosaurs.
4. Sand Art: Decorative Jars
Let’s get crafty. For this activity, we would recommend using craft sand. Fill small jars or bottles with layers of different coloured sand. Add each layer carefully using a spoon or funnel. Decorate the jars or bottles before putting the sand in and screw the lid on top. Add a ribbon around the top of the lid as decoration.
5. Sand Art: Pictures
There are lots of exciting ways to make different patterns and pictures in the sand. Collect various shells and let your children design a pattern or picture in a sand table or sandpit. Use different objects to create the pictures. Your children could design a jungle animal or seaside picture in the sand.
6. Sand Shakers
Collect various containers from home and get your children to use their hands or spades to fill up the containers. Try glass jars, plastic bottles, small tins, sweet tubes and more to produce different sounds. You could even decorate the shakers as another activity to do at home.
Your children will love this hands-on activity! Have fun making easy cookie cutter bird feeders at home. Simply hang them up in a tree once finished and watch out for various birds in the garden.
Simply mix lard and birdseed before spooning the mixture into cookie cutters. Leave overnight before adding string and hanging up.
4. Minibeast Hunt
Let’s all go on a bug hunt! Explore the garden and look for exciting wildlife. Get your children to draw and write down what they see. How many can they spot?
5. Twig Rafts
Build a raft with the children using twigs and sticks! Use twigs, grass, fallen petals and leaves to build your raft in the garden.
Try the raft out on a puddle or pond. Does it float? You can add pebbles to the raft and see how many it can carry before it sinks. If you don’t have a puddle or pond, use a small paddling pool or washing up bowl.
6. Mud Pie
Why don’t you… take a small bowl out on their adventure. Look around for fallen flowers, twigs, leaves and other tiny treasures in the garden.
Add a splash of water and soil before finding a special stick for stirring. Your children could even throw a tea party for elves and fairies in the garden using the mud pie and other natural objects.
7. Mud Creatures
Magic up some muddy creatures! Grab a handful of mud and mould into marvellous muddy creatures. If you do not have mud to hand, use water and soil instead. What will they add to their creature?
8. Magic Fairy Doors
Invite fairies to visit the garden! Make magical fairy doors out of natural items, lolly sticks, buttons and beads. Once they have made a magic door, they can build a fairy garden for them to play in.
Line up lolly sticks in a door shape and use glue to stick two lolly sticks diagonally across the back of the door to hold it together. Make a letterbox or knocker from old beads or buttons. Place the door against a tree trunk or wall for fairies to visit.
Skidded knees, scabbed arms and bumped heads were all normal parts of our childhood; but did you know that we were engaging in something called ‘adventure play’. Adventure play, also known as risky play, is defined as challenging and thrilling forms of play that involve a risk of physical injury.
Through this form of play, children are able to develop confidence whilst creating an awareness of their limits and boundaries. In short, they’re learning how to be safe! In the modern world, there has been greater concerns with the outdoors being less child-friendly than ever before, however the risks significantly outweigh the benefits children could gain.
We’ve put together some adventure play ideas that you could do with your little ones!
1. Climbing to the highest heights
I’m sure we all remember the challenge and excitement of climbing trees! Pushing yourself to get to the highest point or swinging round to get to that difficult branch; the sense of confidence and accomplishment was unparalleled.
Tree climbing is an adventure play activity which has many benefits for a developing child. It’s able to help your little one’s physical strength, focus and concentration. Even better, it helps build their resilience levels and create a ‘I can do it’ attitude – which will help them in later life. It’s the best way to get your kids off the screens and help them reconnect with nature!
2. Crackling fires and marshmallows
With the nights finally starting to get warmer, why don’t you teach your little ones how to build a fire! Spark their curiosity in a safe environment and use this as the perfect opportunity to teach your kids a myriad of expertise. Whether it’s approaching the topic of fire safety or just teaching them basic survival and bush craft skills – it’s bound to be an exciting new experience.
It’s the perfect family experience where your little ones can gain a sense of accomplishment but learn how to efficiently handle risks. It’s also a brilliant activity for developing their motor skills and muscle memory! So, why don’t you use this as the perfect excuse to get the marshmallows out and teach them a fun new skill!
If you’re looking to learn more about the outdoors, then why don’t you sign the family up for a bush craft or survival course!
3. Playground adventures
It was always an exciting day when we were able to go to the local playground as kids. Whether it was whizzing down the slide or spinning as fast as possible on the merry-go-round – it was always exhilarating! But did you know that one of the most common forms of adventure play is playing at high speeds? This is could be either running, sliding, spinning or swinging.
Although there could be the possibility of the odd bump or scrape, this environment helps your little one establishes their boundaries and test their comfort levels. Playing at high speeds can also have an anti-phobic effect, helping your little one become less afraid in other scenarios in their life!
Here at Plum we believe that activity play is vital to a healthy and happy start in life! We have a selection of adventure play products which can provide bigger ventures and inspire more fun for your little ones. Whether it’s reaching the top of the mighty rock wall or swooping high into the sky on our swings – there’s so much to inspire your little ones and encourage safe adventure play!
Traditional teaching is often thought as being flashcards with letters, memorising and repeating the alphabet or even reading stories about everyday activities. However, children learn and understand the world better by using their senses. By touching, smelling, tasting, seeing, hearing and moving, they’re able to engage with their surroundings, which helps them make sense of their environment.
Incorporating sensory play driven activities into your child’s life can have a positive impact on all areas of their learning. This method of play can contribute to cognitive development by stimulating the brain to make connections. This is why many of our favourite memories are often associated with our senses!
We have put together some sensory play activity themes that your little one will love!
1. Splishy Spashy Water
When the sun is finally shining, water play is the perfect activity which can not only inspire splashy, active fun but can cool your little ones down! This can really help to develop your child’s fine and gross motor skills as they learn to pour, stir, squeeze and even paint with water!
Whether it’s filling your water table to the brim with bright coloured balloons or having the most chaotic duck race, there are many water-based activities that the kids can get involved with. Even something as simple as funnels and buckets, can give your child a great early start to learning through hands on play!
2. Messy Mud
Now, who doesn’t remember making massive mud pies in the garden! This is the perfect activity that helps your child connect with nature, engages their senses but best of all, creates memories! All you need are a few pieces of equipment like buckets, pans and stirring utensils, then voila, the mud kitchen is open! Don’t forget some flowers and stones for garnish!
If you’re not wanting to deal with all of that dirty washing after the kitchen is closed, why don’t you teach the kids some gardening? You could grow a full vegetable patch or even go as small as planting cress in egg cartons. Either way it’s the perfect activity to bring the family together and engage their sense of touch!
3. Sandy voyages
Do you fancy a day at the beach without the hassle? Then why don’t you look at having a sandy adventure in the comfort of your own garden! Getting the sandbox out helps to develop your child’s sense of texture, promotes creativity and endorses their social skills.
Maybe your little one is feeling creative and is inspired to build the biggest sandcastle kingdom; perhaps they’re feeling exploratory and want to find the buried treasure. Either way, this is a fun and encouraging activity to help engage your child with their senses.
4. Jelly and Slime
Who said that sensory play couldn’t be edible! Playing with jelly is a stimulating experience as they explore the wobbly, squishy texture in their hands but get to enjoy the yummy fruity taste on their tongues. If you want to encourage their curiosity, you could set toys in the mould to inspire more pretend play. If not, cutters and spoons are just as fun!
If your children are too old for jelly, why don’t you delve into the world of slime and putty? It’s an activity that fascinates children of all ages. The feel and consistency will captivate the younger ones; whereas, the older kids will enjoy the process of creating the slime itself. You can personalise it by adding glitter, food colouring or small Styrofoam balls. It’s an activity that’ll engage the whole family!
There are so many sensory based activities that you and the family can do together. If you fancy having a more permanent fixture for your little one, then our Plum Sensory Play range has been designed to encourage curious minds and energetic juniors to both learn and create during playtime. This exciting selection is perfect for hours of messy play by exploring new and intriguing textures.
Families up and down the country are pulling together to get through a third national lockdown. Juggling homeschooling, full-time jobs and parenting is the reality for families at this time. Amazingly everyone has stepped up to the plate, but how can you improve your families health and wellbeing when you are so busy? Here are 5 activities you can incorporate into your daily plans to encourage more feelings of wellbeing in your family life.
1. Eating meals together
Sitting down together at meal times without distractions is a great way for your family to catch up about the day. This environment helps your little ones get things off their chest as the group listens and offers advice. This can also be a great environment for both parents and children to unwind and relax into the evening.
Here is what the experts say…
‘Regular mealtimes which are shared provide a sense of rhythm and regularity in lives. They offer a sense of containment and familiarity, and can evoke deep feelings of contentment and security. Humans need structure and routine.’
-Mental Health Foundation 2021
2. Helping others
We all know that helping others feels good, but during these times it can feel more difficult due to social distancing and being advised to stay home, however there are still lots of ways you can lend a helping hand. Why not offer to do an elderly neighbours shopping or on your daily exercise you and your little ones could do some litter picking in the local community.
How does volunteering impact on our wellbeing?
‘Acts of kindness have the potential to make the world a happier place. An act of kindness can boost feelings of confidence, being in control, happiness and optimism.’
-Mental Health Foundation 2021
3. Holding on to family memories
Family memories are a part of our identity and help children to understand more about who they are and why they are here. Telling stories from the past and sharing photos with our families gives us a great sense of wellbeing. The stories you tell can be happy, informative and interesting; these stories help the past live on into the future.
What are the benefits of sharing family memories?
‘They can increase wellbeing, reduce anxiety and depression, reinforce feelings of closeness among family members, and build resilience for navigating life’s normal ups and downs.’
-Frances Lefkowitz 2013
4. Get active as a family
Getting active as a family does not have to involve relentless workouts or mountain climbing; a trip to the park or a little boogie to your favourite playlist is still getting active and let’s face it… a lot more fun! Take the pressure off of yourself to become a personal trainer or class instructor (parenting and teaching are enough!). Getting active as a family can be fun and a great way to get little ones outdoors.
How is being more active as a family good for your health and wellbeing?
‘Physical activity keeps the body strong and healthy and can improve mental health by decreasing symptoms of depression, anxiety, pain and loneliness. Physical activity can also improve focus, school performance, sleep and energy levels.’
-About Kids Health 2020
5. Creating positive relationships
We often tell little ones to treat others the way you would like to be treat. Maintaining positive friendships with family and friends helps your children to grow in confidence and self-esteem. Maintaining positive relationships is difficult, especially as we get older. Sharing the challenges of friendships with children helps them learn problem solving skills, which will help them throughout their lives.
How do positive relationships effect our wellbeing?
‘The benefits of social connections and good mental health are numerous. Proven links include lower rates of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem, greater empathy, and more trusting and cooperative relationships.’
-Better Health 2017
We put these few suggestions together, like volunteering or family meal times to inspire your family on their health and wellbeing journey. It is important to remember this is a challenging time for families; not every day will go smoothly. You won’t be able to get outside or get everyone around the dinner table every day. We just wanted to give you a little bit of inspiration, so that if you do have time one of the days you can do a small activity.
Our Plum Discovery range has been developed with family wellbeing at its heart. The collection encourages learning through play in your back garden (ideal for homeschooling). The fun range encourages your little ones into the fresh air for hours of messy play, helping them to burn off some energy and you to have a well-deserved rest.
This year outdoor spaces have become more valuable than ever before, making outdoor toys this year’s must-have products. We have put together our own gift guide, to help you find the best outdoor toys to surprise your little ones with this Christmas.
Our 12+ months picks will create magical first times for you and your baby, from their first swing, creating hours of laughter and play all the way to their brave first climb. You will watch your child grown and develop through active play, with our specialised items, ready for outdoor adventures.
The Plum Wooden Growing Swing Set grows with your child, the swing is supplied with a 3-in-1 animal themed swing seat, which can be adjusted to baby, toddler and child stages. From 12 months up this swing set is made with longevity in mind. You will see your baby develop into a toddler and build confidence to swing on their own.
The Plum My First Wooden Play centre is made for toddlers aged 18+ months. The Play Centre will encourage healthy active play, aid the development of gross and fine motor skills and unleash imaginations. Complete with a 4ft slide, underneath den area, colourful rock wall and cargo net the Play Centre encourages 360 play.
At 3+ years your little one is more energetic than ever before! We have selected two of our best products for your inquisitive adventurer, that will inspire their imagination and put their increasing energy into hours of playtime.
Perfect for little ones aged 3+ years, the Plum Boathouse playhouse will add a splash of colour to your garden, coming in a lively teal colour with a harmonising whitewash trim finish! A raised platform allows your children to freely climb the three-step ladder to their adventure on deck, and use the 1.2m slide to return to land.
The Plum Mandrill Wooden Climbing Frame provides little ones with hours of fun in the outdoors! The metal swing attachments encircle the pole so no drilling is required, maintaining strength and making your life easier when assembling. For when little legs grow, the height-adjustable rope allows the swings to be easily changed for comfortable active play!
At 6+ years your child is an independent explorer. They want to create their own world and set out on new adventures each day. Adventure play will build your little ones confidence as they push their boundaries and reach new heights while developing new skills.
The Plum 10ft Space Zone II Trampoline promises a safe, springy bounce. Our favourite features including the double galvanised steel frame, sturdy tramp klamp brackets and the 3G enclosure design which curves to maximise bounce space. Suitable for children aged 6+ years.
Starting at ages 3+ The Plum Wooden Lookout Tower with Monkey Bars (Colour Pop) is perfect for families with children of all ages, with exciting elements for 6+ year-olds. The climbing frame includes a ladder that leads up to the mighty wooden tower as well as a rock wall with multi-coloured hand and foot grips providing a more challenging route to the play deck. An 8ft wave slide will see them soar down and hideout in the sandpit that sits below deck.
Trampoline Top Picks
This years must have product is…you guessed it trampolines. We have a range of sizes too, for every garden and every age.
From 18+ months to big kids, Plum® trampolines are a present that cannot fail this year. The Plum® Junior Bouncers are suitable for 18+ months. Followed by the Plum® Minions® 4.5ft Minions Trampoline and Enclosure With Sounds, for 3+ years. Finally, for the big kids, we have the Colours By Plum® Springsafe® Trampoline- 10ft Limited Edition Gold, which is ideal for your 6+year-olds.
With something for everyone, Plum Products are a great choice to top your little ones Christmas list this year.
Bonfire night is an exciting time of year, however for a lot of families it can be an extremely difficult time also. We want to share an insight into these families lives and advise on simple ways to be more mindful during this period. We will also be giving tips on ways you can keep your family safe this bonfire night. We know our followers are some of the most caring and considerate parents, so we hope this blog can help you help each other.
Loud Noises – Share Your Plans
Bonfire night can often upset our little ones. With that said, it is important to be mindful of our neighbours and if you can, let them know your firework plans in advance, so they can prepare.
Here is what the experts say…
“We would recommend that you consider your neighbours and whether they have pets, or are elderly. You can buy a range of noiseless or low-noise fireworks that will still give a great display but without disturbing others.”
-Paul Howes, Group Manager for Prevention and Protection at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue
For those with sensory processing disorders, fireworks have the ability to cause stress, anxiety and discomfort due to their noise and unpredictability.
– Elysium 2020
If your child does find this time of year difficult, follow the link below for Elysium’s top 10 tips.
Loud bangs can be very confusing for our pets and we often witness strange behaviour because of them. It can make you feel helpless watching your pet struggle with confusion and anxiety at this time of year. So here are a few tricks and ideas you can use to try and ease their stress.
There are lots of simple things you can do to help your pet deal with fireworks. By preparing in advance before fireworks start your pet will be better able to cope with the noises.
– The RSPCA 2020
Give your pet somewhere safe to hide, like a quite corner or under furniture.
If you can, walk your pets in daylight hours and keep them indoors at night time.
Try to mask the sound of fireworks by closing doors and windows and playing the radio.
Don’t punish your pets for their reaction to the fireworks.
Anti-stress dog bands help sensitive and/or frightened dogs to calm down during certain stressful situations as it reduces noise and provides a feeling of tucking in. (You can buy these online or make them yourself)
Keeping your family safe
For those who do have firework plans, we know you are clued up on how to keep your family safe on bonfire night. Here’s a reminder of the latest tips from our local fire department ready for your family festivities…
Every year we buy the biggest and best fireworks for our home displays but the latest advice from the Lincolnshire fire department suggests you should check that you should only buy products that are suitable for your garden and neighbourhood. Surprisingly, category 3 fireworks are for sale to the public for outdoor use.
Category 2 fireworks are suitable for gardens where it is possible for spectators to keep at least a distance of 5m away for safety (often 8m – always check the safety information on the packaging).
Category 3 fireworks (‘display fireworks’) are usually only suitable for larger open spaces where people can stand at least 25 metres away. 25 metres is about the size of three fire engines end to end – so if you couldn’t fit that in your garden – it’s not big enough!
To read Lincolnshire fire departments full article follow the link below.
Autumn is here, every street, path and park is filled with a sea of autumnal bliss. It’s that cosy time of year where all the magic begins to happen and it all starts on the night of Halloween!
This year Halloween is on a Saturday, meaning there is a whole week of entertainment leading up to the big day. After a year of thinking outside the box to keep your little ones busy, this holiday can feel very daunting.
Worry not, here are some activities to keep your little ones entertained over this spooktacular period.
1. Spooky Cupcakes
After lock down, if there is anything families have mastered it is baking! Now is the time to put the skills you have mastered to the test and create some creepy cup cakes.
You can find 100’s of recipes, techniques and ideas from a quick online search! ! Here are some of our favourites:
After a day of entertaining your children, a well deserved rest is needed, why not try sticking on a classic Halloween movie to get you in to the festive spirit. Here’s a few of our favourites:
Halloween town 1 & 2
Toy story of terror
Wallace and Gromit : The Curse of the were-rabbit
3. Pumpkin Picking
Pumpkin picking is the hottest Halloween trend and if you can book yourself in, it is a great annual tradition to do with your family to capture some beautiful photos. However, if you cannot find an available pumpkin patch anywhere near you, fear not! There is nothing stopping you from picking your pumpkins up from your local shop and taking them out for a family activity and photo shoot. Find yourself a field with some hay bales and get creative.
Your local farm shop is the best place to go to find unique pumpkins.
4. Pumpkin Decorating
Carving pumpkins is becoming a thing of the past. Black, white and green is the new orange this year. With parents opting for a more creative approach, we are now seeing painted or even spray painted pumpkins on our Instagram feeds. So why not give it ago, this is a fun and creative activity to do with your little ones, although we can’t promise it will make any less of a mess!
5. Traditional Halloween Games
Traditional Halloween games are a great way for both you and your little ones to feel festive, we love:
Halloween musical statues – get the classic Halloween tunes on like monster mash!
Guess what’s in the spooky box. Fill individual boxes with fake spiders, skeletons and sweetie eye balls and blind fold your little ones so they can guess what is in the box.
6. Trick Or Treating
This year Halloween is going to be a little different. We wanted to inspire you to create an exciting trick or treat experience all around your home. By making every door in your house a new door to knock on, your little one can still have an authentic Halloween experience by collecting their sweets from each room. You can adopt the different styles and treats you get when you go trick or treating…Some people give fruit, others opt for money or there are the traditional sweet treats. Different treats behind each door adds to excitement!
If you have any of our outdoor toys, here’s how you can incorporate them into a creative Halloween at home…