Pre-Cutting Skills

Knives. Scissors… the very thought of our little ones using these, often fills parents with fear! Yet using knives and scissors safely, is an essential life skill. So when do we teach them? It all depends upon your own child and when they’re ready, but around the age of two is a good guide. However, teaching your child to use scissors doesn’t just stop when they can cut something. Find out what you can do to help your child use them safely and effectively…

As a teacher, I find that even many of the 8 and 9 year olds I teach each year, find using scissors accurately, quite challenging. A very common complaint amongst reception (otherwise known as kindergarten,) teachers is that children often lack the co-ordination, fine-motor skills and finger strength to be able to use scissors. So I have set up a ‘pre-cutting skills’ table for ‘Darth’ and will share this, along with the next few stages of knife and scissor skills through my ‘scissor skills series.’ The table has a mirror positioned behind it, and is just next to our set of glass doors to allow natural light in. This is in-keeping with the Reggio philosophy of light and space, along with reflections to help the child see their own actions from another perspective (for example, they might notice that the way they’re holding a knife doesn’t look quite right, when looking in a mirror, but when holding it, it can seem ‘normal.’) To see what’s on the table, keep reading…

Pre-Cutting Skills

Using a Knife

Before using scissors, comes using a knife. The Melissa and Doug wooden fruit chopping set is an excellent way to safely teach your child knife skills, before providing them with the real thing. Teach your child to hold the red handle and hold the knife the right way around. Even though it’s pretend, as they learn to hold the handle and ‘cut’ using the wooden ‘blade,’ teach them not to touch any part of the blade.

Next comes a play dough ‘sausage’ and a plastic children’s knife. This teaches more meaningful skills (I.e there isn’t a neat little pre-cut in food, like in the play food. These can be offered together, to teach both skills side by side and enable your little one to transfer their skills from one activity, to the other.

Preparing for Scissors – Strengthening Activities

Remember these finger puppets from our travelling with toddlers post? Finger puppets are a fantastic way to strengthen those fingers (as well as developing other important skills like language and social skills.) So a few finger puppets were added to the pre-cutting skills table and ‘Darth’ loved it!

Tearing Paper is another great way of getting your child to strengthen and co-ordinate their fingers. Tissue paper works well for this (and avoids those nasty paper cuts!) Combine it with a purposeful activity, such as ripping and sticking tissue paper to make a tree collage.

Preparing for Scissors – Developing Co-ordination and Fine-Motor Skills

Using these jumbo tweezers helps ‘Darth’ to use that squeezing and releasing motion that he will need, when he moves onto the next stage of preparing for scissors. This area of the table encourages him to pick up the pom poms (of differing size, to make it harder,) and also pick up and transfer the lolly sticks. Developing children’s fine-motor skills is an important skill anyway, but it is essential to be able to use scissors later on.

‘Darth’ also decided to use a lollipop stick to cut his wooden strawberry! Whilst developing his fine-motor skills, he was also talking about the colours of some of the items and trying to say ‘strawberry’ (which came out as ‘staw-bey’)

Building towers with duplo blocks, wooden building blocks and also stacking cups and stacking rainbows all help to develop vital hand-eye co-ordination, fine-motor skills and concentration!

What’s on this Table?

Tissue paper for tearing

Melissa & Doug Cutting Fruit
(Amazon Affiliate)

Learning Resources Jumbo Tweezers
(Amazon Affiliate)

100pk Fluffy Pom-Poms
(Amazon Affiliate)

Jumbo lolly or lollipop sticks Pack of 100 – mixed colours
(Amazon Affiliate)

LEGO 6176 DUPLO Basic Bricks
(Amazon Affiliate)

Stacking rainbow (the one shown is from Sainsburys, but take a look at this similar one we also have):
Grimm’s Toys Rainbow stacking toy-large
(Amazon affiliate)

Old MacDonald Farm Animals Finger Puppets
(Amazon Affiliate)

Home-made play dough

Creation Station Dough Tools
(Amazon Affiliate)

Ikea plastic knife

 

Enjoy!

Louise x

 

Rainbow Rummage Tub

“What is a rainbow rummage tub?” I hear you ask! Simple, really… it’s a tub full of different coloured age-appropriate items all thrown together, to encourage some rummaging! Fine-motor skills, colour identification, colour sorting, language skills, number skills and even social skills can all be developed through using a rainbow rummage tub!

This one was used next to the Rainbow Sticky Window Art, so that items from the rummage tub could be sorted onto the sticky rainbow. Older ones selected the items using child’s jumbo tweezers.

What’s in the rainbow rummage tub?

Coloured feathers, including these Exotic Spotty Funky Feathers
(Amazon affiliate)

Some pipe-cleaners from my pack of 700 Rainbow Coloured Pipe Cleaners 150mm x 4mm
(Amazon affiliate)

50 Coloured Standard Lolly Sticks
(Amazon affiliate)

Coloured bricks from LEGO DUPLO 6136: My First Zoo
(Amazon affiliate)

Shredded Tissue ‘Confetti’
(Amazon affiliate)

Ribbons (including curling ribbons from the balloons)

100pk Fluffy Pom-Poms
(Amazon affiliate)

Fabric scraps

Learning Resources Friendly Farm Animal Counters (Set of 72)

Coloured card (punched out into star shapes using this Fiskars Medium Lever Punch, Star
(Amazon affiliate)

Tumble dryer balls! (They have spaces in that are great for placing other items in, such as feathers)

Rainbow stacking cups – encourages counting and ordering, as well as providing more containers for colour sorting! These Baby Toddler Stacking Nesting Cups Stack Up Learning Tower Activity Toy Game are similar
(Amazon affiliate)

Happy rummaging! If you make a rummage tub, why not post a photo on our Facebook page?

Louise x

Rainbow Sticky Window Art

To have some mess-free rainbow arty fun, I created this rainbow sticky window art invitation to play. It was a huge hit with children of all ages at ‘Darth’s’ 2nd birthday party!

You will need:

Poster paint (test it on a small area first to make sure it doesn’t stain just in case, but I’ve never had any problems!)

A paint brush

A roll of contact paper

Scissors

Masking tape

A safe, locked window or door

Whiteboard pen

Rainbow coloured sticky materials; scraps of tissue paper, feathers, pipe cleaners, coloured lollipop sticks, pom poms, foam shapes, scraps of fabric, ribbons etc.

I used a whiteboard pen to draw the outlines of the rainbow (I just did it free hand but you could be more precise if you wanted to!)

Then, out came the poster paint! I started at the top with the red paint and gradually worked my way down. This is one to do with older kids, or when the little ones are out of the way!!! Fortunately for me, ‘Darth’ had a good long nap so that the paint could fully dry, but you never know… so choose your timing carefully to save getting little painty hands all over your house!

I left it painted like this until the day of the ‘rainbow arty party’ (just be careful not to do it TOO early… the paint can scratch off easily!)

Then came the contact paper… cut it to size, and place the contact paper sticky side facing you. Secure it to the window around the edges, using masking tape.

You may want to pre-sort the coloured craft items into different containers for younger ones, or create a ‘rainbow rummage tub’ with them all mixed together. This encourages fine-motor skills, colour identification and sorting. You could even make it more challenging for older children by encouraging them to use child-safe jumbo tweezers to pick out the items and stick them to the window!

 

Happy sticking!

Louise x

 

 

Paint with Nature

In preparation for ‘Darth’s ‘Rainbow Arty Party’ for his 2nd birthday, I thought I’d share with you this quick and easy way of incorporating nature into your child’s art.

It’s messy, it’s fun, it’s colourful and it promotes sensory learning. Another great thing about this activity is that you can do a little scavenger hunt beforehand to gather all of the materials, which is a fun thing to do with your little one in itself!

What you will need:

It’s simple really…

  • Paint
  • Paper
  • Safe, natural objects (we used herbs from the garden, for an extra sensory experience!) You could use autumn themed items such as leaves, conkers, acorns etc and paint using autumn/fall colours!

The little ones who did this, loved getting their hands covered in paint as they rolled the flowers and leaves around in the paint.

I’d put two different colours on the same painting plate, so that the little ones get to see the colours mix together and make a third colour, as they paint. This absolutely fascinated them and it was great to see everyone having fun doing lots of other colour themed activities!

Thanks to the parents and children who came to one of my ‘messy play’ sessions I ran earlier in the year, who gave their permission for these images to be used. Also thanks to Tom Sawyer Photography for the lovely photos and to The Cud Life for providing a venue!

Autumn / Fall Bucket List

Autumn (or ‘fall’ for my lovely American followers!) is upon us… so to celebrate, I’ve created a bucket list of things to do with your little one this season.

The list is divided up into outdoor activities, and activities more suited for indoors (perfect for those wet Autumn days!) There’s also space for you to add some of your own, personal ‘must-do’s’ for the season! Keep reading for the details on how to download your very own bucket list…

Make sure that you check out (and follow!) my Autumn/Fall inspiration board on pintrest… as I discover even more amazing and exciting ideas and activities, I’ll pop them on the board so don’t miss it!

Follow Building Blocks and Acorns Blog’s board Autumn/Fall Inspiration on Pinterest.

A taste of some activity ideas:

Some activities you may be a little unsure of… but don’t worry! Either they are future posts from Building Blocks and Acorns, or already existing posts from other fab bloggers! Check these ones out:

Autumn leaf mason jar candle holder

This activity is featured on our bucket list… can’t wait to try this out! Go and check it out, on Spark and Chemistry here.

Salt Dough Leaf Impressions

I first tried this out from the Imagination Tree website last year and it was a huge success! See it for yourself, here.

Make your own Bird Feeder

There are lots of gorgeous ideas for creating your own bird feeder this Autumn, but here’s one of my favourites from Happy Hooligans. Go and take a look here.

Also  make sure that you check out our own MOST POPULAR posts of the week, too!

The Bucket List

There are two versions of the bucket list. The ideas and activities are exactly the same; one is simply named ‘Autumn Bucket List’ and the other, ‘Fall Bucket List’ depending upon where abouts in the world you are and what you call this magical season!

Version 1: Autumn Bucket List. To download the bucket list below, simply right click and select ‘save picture as…’

Version 2: ‘Fall Bucket List’ To download the bucket list below, simply right click and select ‘save picture as…’

What would you love to do, this season? Let me know by commenting below, or sending me a message via our Facebook page!
 

Enjoy this season!

Louise x

Top 40 Roaring Dinosaur Activities, Crafts and Inspiration!

Well it seems that you just LOVE a round-up of fabulous ideas, like the Top 25 Space Crafts and Ideas!

So as ‘Darth’ gets more obsessed with dinosaurs by the day, it seemed only natural to enlist the help of other ‘KBN’ (kid blogger network) bloggers, who, as always, have some amazing ideas to share. So sit back, relax and prepare to be inspired as we take a look at the top 40 ROARING dinosaur activities and crafts!

 

Dinosaur Small World and Sensory Tubs

Building Blocks and Acorns

This is our very own dinosaur small world sensory tub, that Darth went crazy for! Come and take a look here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes

This ‘digging for dinosaurs’ activity will excite and engage little ones, as well as developing their imagination and fine-motor skills!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures of Adam

A brilliant dinosaur sensory tub, which uses a delicious sensory ingredient!! Can then be converted into a construction sensory tub, too… genius!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Playing School

This dinosaur small world with home-made volcanoes looks so much fun. The volcanoes are so effective, but easy to make!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another great idea from Still Playing School… dinosaurs and mud play dough! ‘Darth’ will LOVE playing with this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frog in a Pocket

I just LOVE this different take on a dinosaur sensory bin… it’s an ‘Ice Age Evening Sensory Bin’ that you just have to try!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

101 Things to Do with Kids

A great way to incorporate sensory play with water beads, into a dinosaur land!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

House of Burke

This dinosaur small world uses kinetic sand… I HAVE to get some of this, it looks amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mama Pea Pod

What a gorgeously colourful rainbow dinosaur sensory tub!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another inspirational activity from Mama Pea Pod… this ‘cool dinosaur world’ is so detailed and inviting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainy Day Mum (Guest Post by Adventures of Adam)

SPECIAL DELIVERY! Inspired by the book ‘Three Little Dinosaurs! Egg Rescue,’ this is an adorable sensory bin with a twist! A MUST read! Take a look here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artsy Momma

A beautifully simple and engaging dinosaur small world play activity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mini Excavation and Palaeontology

House of Burke

A fun project, where little ones get to use their fine-motor skills to excavate a dinosaur!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teach Beside Me

Make a giant dinosaur fossil!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multi-Crafting Mummy

A dinosaur dig in a giant ice-cube!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom

Make your own dinosaur fossil with this easy guide!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur Themed Party Ideas, Games and Dressing Up

Learn with Play at Home

An inspirational post, that is seriously BURSTING with dinosaur party ideas for everything from food to activities and decorations!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love this adorable dinosaur helmet, with some great tips to help along the way! This also comes from Learn with Play at Home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mama Pea Pod

A collection of gorgeous ideas for a dinosaur party for boys and girls!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another fabulous post from Mama Pea Pod – a DIY Dinosaur Costume!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mess for Less

Come and check out this dinosaur toss, which is great for developing gross motor skills (whilst having LOTS of fun!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craftulate

This Dinosaur obstacle course looks SO much fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Itsy Bitsy Fun

I love these free printable dinosaur masks – great for imaginative play!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur Party Food

Mama Pea Pod

A gorgeous variety of dinosaur party food!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mess for Less

These rice krispie treat dinosaur eggs look yummy and are great for little ones to help make!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinosaur Crafts

Let’s Play Music

A brilliant greedysaurus puppet tutorial, complete with a game to teach children music note values!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Ted Art

I love these paper mache piggy bank dinos, from one of my all-time favourite blogs, Red Ted Art!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst you’re there, be sure to take a look at this salt dough recipe and dinosaur activity for inspiration and this alphabet hand-print art… D is for Dinosaur!

Artsy Momma

Take a look at this beautifully simple dinosaur popsicle stick puzzle, to encourage learning numbers (whilst having fun!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Handprint Art

This cute handprint dinosaur is so simple to do – find out how, here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learn with Play at Home

Come and take a look at these amazing paper plate-a-sauruses… with free printable templates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craftulate

A gorgeous variety of dinosaur arts and crafts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Wonderful Dinosaur Ideas and Activities

Study at Home Mama

This Montessori inspired dinosaur unit, takes a look at what’s on Study at Home Mama’s shelves… this will really inspire you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom

Have LOTS of dinosaur detective fun, based around a storybook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craftulate

These dinosaur play dough mats are amazing – ‘Darth’ would LOVE these!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mama Pea Pod

Love this dinosaur art – see how it’s done here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playdough to Plato

This is such a fantastic idea of encouraging language skills, whilst having fun with a dino theme! Come and take a look at these alphabet fossils now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom

Check out these dinosaur science writing prompts.

Artsy Momma

This Ice Age movie play date is full of dinosaur craft and activity ideas… cute!!

hidden-ice-treasures-activity-300x171

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are your favourite activities? Know of any others? Comment below and make sure you’ve ‘liked’ our Facebook page (see the top left of this page!) Happy Dino hunting!

Louise x

25 Space Crafts and Ideas

5…4…3…2…1… BLAST OFF!!!

Space Roundup Main

‘Darth’ has developed a new obsession; Space! He just LOVES it when he spots the Moon in the sky, or a picture of it in one of his books. We’ve already had a go at a few space themed activities, so I just had to turn to my fellow ‘Kid Blogger Network’ friends for further inspiration. So here is your one-stop-shop for all things space related, from sensory tubs, to space themed lunch ideas! Enjoy :-)

Stars

Building Blocks and Acorns

Take a look at our recycled crayons idea, to turn those old, broken crayons into something that will make you starry-eyed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Play Dough Present Pack features our popular ‘starry sky’ play dough recipe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Playroom

This is a gorgeous idea for creating a starry sky scene, using mirror painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Playroom also bring you a beautiful collection of activities, based upon the picture book ‘How to Catch a Star.’ Click here to take a look!

They also have a wonderful round-up of star crafts and activities – you HAVE to go and check these out!

Things to Share and Remember

Things to Share and Remember have a beautifully simple idea for teaching your child about constellations.

 

The Moon

I just LOVE this idea for creating a moon with craters, which is also brought to you by Things to Share and Remember.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Playing School

Such a clever way of teaching little ones about the phases of the moon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Playroom

A great round-up of 14 Moon-themed crafts and activities!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sun

The Untrained Housewife

This Sun Catcher Plate craft is just gorgeous!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE this wonderful idea for a DIY Sun, Earth and Moon rotation model.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solar System and Outer Space

Building Blocks and Acorns

Take a look at our popular ‘Space in a Bowl’ idea – which is SO simple and easy to do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Over C’s

This free Solar System Printable is brilliant and would go perfectly with our space in a bowl! (Check out their idea of how to add extra starry-sparkle, too!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Playing School

This plastic lid solar system is GENIUS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crafts on Sea

Inspiring space themed lunch ideas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stir the Wonder

This Outer Space Sensory Bin looks SO much fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things to Share and Remember

This Painting a Galaxy idea is gorgeous – I love the books they recommend, too!

 

 

 

 

 

Things to Share and Remember also bring you this very clever space sensory discovery box, with lots of details!

The Pleasantest Thing

A simple and effective way to teach your child about asteroid belts, from The Pleasantest Thing.

Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes

One of my favourite blogs! A space sensory tub, perfect for developing those all important fine-motor skills!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Good Long Road

A wonderful round-up of different ‘things that go in space’ activities and crafts. I just LOVE the jet-pack!

The Eyes of a Boy

Some amazing ‘Outer Space Tot School Activities’ - wonderful sensory fun for tots!

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Space Rockets 

Lemon Lime Adventures

Wow! I am in awe of this amazing calm space rocket retreat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handmade Kids Art

Such a clever idea… you have to check it out, here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multi-crafting Mummy

I love these home-made Rockets!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Space-Themed Activities and Crafts

There are SO many out there, so as I come across great ideas, I’ll pop a link to them below:

Natural Beach Living have a lovely collection of Solar System activities. Be sure to check them out!

 

Which are YOUR favourite crafts or activities?  Let me know in the ‘comments’ section below, or ‘like’ us on Facebook (simply click the like button on the top left of this page!) Louise x

Nature’s Sensory Fine-Motor Play

This was an accidental ‘discovery’…

‘Darth’ was playing happily in the paddling pool in our back garden, whilst I sat in the chair watching him, shelling peas freshly picked from the allotment, ready for our evening meal. A carrier bag of fresh peas in the pods, a steamer pan and a bag for the empty shells. This sorting activity was too tempting for ‘Darth’ and he came toddling straight out of the paddling pool to investigate.

After watching me for a few minutes and babbling about ‘peeez,’ he decided to join in. But he wanted to sit down, so ‘Darth’ took me by the hand and led me to his chair at the dining table. I opened up the pods for him and he used his thumb and fore-finger to take each individual pea out, carefully placing it in the steamer ready to be cooked later on. Then, he checked that all of the peas had been taken out of the shell and placed it into the carrier bag with the others. I instantly thought ‘wow! fine-motor skills and a sorting activity that I didn’t even mean to give him!’

Then, he started smelling the peas… a strange image, I know, but the fresh peas smelt so amazing as they popped out of their pods, ‘Darth’ noticed and was using his senses to explore them further. I was surprised that it took him 30 more minutes until he put one in his mouth… but then it was hard to stop him nibbling at them! (too many raw peas = stomach ache and bad nappies!)

Eating Vegetables – A Few ‘Dos and Don’ts’ Suggestions

Earlier on, I was shocked to read online that some Mums put sugar on their children’s vegetables, or even peanut butter, to make them sweeter so that their kids will eat them.

There really is no need… not only are FRESH vegetables like peas and carrots sweet enough, covering them up with sugar can give them the message that ‘these are nasty.’

Instead, be brave… help your child develop savoury taste buds. You can use sweeter veg like peas, sweetcorn and carrots, but they can and will love other things, too, given the chance over time. Naturally, there are certain things we all like and dislike, but here are the rules we try to follow:

No ‘hiding’ vegetables in every meal – they are good enough to have their own place on the plate.

No ‘covering up’ the taste. This only makes the problem worse.

No ‘forcing’ your child to eat them. Often, a ‘you don’t have to eat it’ approach makes it seem like no big deal and instantly stops it being a battle.

DO keep putting a range of vegetables on your child’s plate.

If you have a baby, DO use vegetable puree and try to limit the amount of fruit puree.

DO involve your child in growing fresh vegetables (see my ‘V is for Vegetables’ post for the importance and benefits of growing vegetables with your child.

DO involve your child in preparing the vegetables.

DO let them play with pretend vegetables in a play kitchen (see this REALLY easy 10-step DIY Play Kitchen)

Finally, DO let your child see you eat your vegetables, with that ‘no big deal’ approach.

 

Happy pea-shelling!!!

Louise x

Printable List – Summer Bucket List

To go with the immense popularity of the DIY Summer Bucket List post, where you could create a visually stunning bucket of ideas (or stick them on your fridge,) here’s an even handier version… on one sheet, in list form for you to tick off! What are you most looking forward to doing? Comment below… I’d love to know!

Download the list below – simply rick click the image and select ‘save as,’ print off and enjoy!

Summer bucket list building blocks and acorns

V is for Vegetables

I’m so excited to be part of the ‘ABC Nature Series’ 26 bloggers (including me,) from “all corners of the web will be joining together to share a nature themed post beginning with a specific letter of the alphabet!” ‘School Time Snippets’ have hosted this wonderful series, so make sure that you go and check out their site!

I chose to write about vegetables, as it’s often seen as a ‘boring’ topic and can often be seen as too difficult, or too time consuming to even attempt to grow any vegetables. Well right from the start, let’s set a few things straight; growing vegetables is easy, quick and you don’t even need much space. Even a plant pot will do, for certain vegetables! We have an allotment and I was so inspired when we visited the Great Yorkshire Show, I had to share some tips with you all to get you started if you’ve yet to try ‘growing your own,’ or encourage you if you already are!

Growing veg is also something very close to my heart, as my late father taught me all there is to know about growing organic vegetables and instilled in me a strong belief in growing food organically. This means no chemicals of any kind, touching the soil, plants and ultimately food you want to end up on your plate and effectively eating those chemicals!

Why not just buy your veg?

Although we have our own allotment patch across the road, we still buy some vegetables locally. But growing your own (especially with your child,) means:

  • They will know where their food comes from! (and so will you!)
  • You have control over what goes in the soil (and what doesn’t, so you know it’s organic!)
  • Your child is far more likely to want to eat something that they have grown and nurtured; they will be so proud of even the tiniest of potatoes!
  • It’s cheaper to grow your own!
  • You get to spend time outdoors with your child, on a shared activity.
  • It promotes scientific questioning and understanding.
  • Your child gets to be closer to nature.
  • It’s natures own messy sensory play! It doesn’t get more sensory than getting your hands stuck in the soil, pulling out the most delicious smelling carrot!
  • It’s a REAL experience, that is meaningful to the child.
  • You can’t get food any fresher than when you grow your own. The fresher the vegetables, the higher the nutrition content.
  • For many vegetables, you can freeze them, so you can use them throughout the year.

Getting Started

It’s so easy to get started! Firstly, look at the space you have to grow vegetables with your little ones. Only grow what you would normally buy, to begin with.

If you’re nervous about growing plants from seed, then head over to your local garden centre and see what’s growing. Get yourself some vegetable plants that have just started growing.

Use good quality compost, where possible. The nutrition from your soil will ultimately end up in the vegetables you grow and that you and your child eat. The better the soil, the better the veg!

Keep the soil moist

Have fun! Don’t worry if something doesn’t quite work out the way you wanted it to. Your little one will have just enjoyed being outside with you!

Keeping Costs Down, but Style Up!

Be creative! Use hula-hoops as growing frames (ask your local toddler group or school to let you know when any break!) I saw this idea at the Great Yorkshire show and just HAD to use it on our allotment!

If you have plenty of space, you could use pallets to create a ‘bug hotel’ to encourage beneficial insects to help out at your allotment. Yes, really! This is one of the principals of organic vegetable growing. For smaller spaces, even something as simple as some cut lengths of bamboo tied together, can become a habitat for bees and ladybirds!

Another principle is ‘companion planting.’ Planting specific varieties that will draw insects towards them (and away from your prized vegetables!) Combining this with a habitat for mini-beasts such as ladybirds to feast on those pesky little aphids, will help to keep nature in balance!

You could use old pipes and guttering to assemble an individual raised area. Strawberries especially benefit from this, as the fruit can’t touch the ground, so doesn’t rot as easily! The downside: More watering, to keep the soil moist.

Tips for Growing Vegetables with Little Ones

  • Give your child a space of their own to grow a few fruit and vegetables. Try to combine some root vegetables, with others such as courgettes.
  • Read books about growing plants and about vegetables, with your child. See further down this post, for a book list!
  • Keep wet wipes handy! Don’t worry about the soil – just be sure that your child doesn’t touch their face, so watch them carefully, and just let them enjoy!
  • Protect plants and soil from harmful animal faeces by putting fruit netting over them. It will also prevent birds and other wildlife nibbling at your crops!
  • Plant a little more than you want, to begin with – to allow for a few crops being prematurely pulled up by your child!
  • Let them pick their crops, rinse them and eat them within minutes… carrots taste incredible when they are freshly picked and it’s such a great way of teaching children where their food comes from!
  • If you have an allotment space, try creating an outdoor play space for them to keep them occupied whilst you do the not so fun parts, like weeding (unless they’re a particularly good helper!)

Creating a Runner-Bean Tipi

This is so easy to do, but makes a fantastic play space!

All you need is some garden canes, some twine and runner bean plants!

Start by positioning the garden canes an equal distance apart, leaving space for the ‘entrance.’ Be sure to push them into the ground enough so that they are secure if knocked.

Then tie the top canes together with plenty of garden twine.

Before you plant the beans, it’s a good idea to weave twine lengths around the tipi (again, don’t forget to leave a space for the entrance!) This helps to support the plants as they grow. Do it all of the way up now, to save having to do it later (and risking trampling on your plants!)

Finally, plant your runner bean plants into the ground, so that the plant will grow onto the tipi frame.

Simply keep the ground moist (and as weed free as you can manage,) and enjoy!

Want to see a photo of the finished thing? I have a confession to make… shortly after planting up the young runner bean plants, our chickens managed to escape and decided to eat the majority of the plants! Oops! But Darth still loves playing inside the tipi frame and it should stay standing, ready for next year instead.

Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle

Use these principles when growing vegetables, no matter the scale of your space! These are such important environmentally friendly principles to teach our children and there is no better way for them to learn, than experience it for themselves. As they grow, they will be able to see inspiration in all sorts of every-day objects and apply it for how it could be used to help grow vegetables, whilst avoiding waste and unnecessary cost.

Books to Encourage a Love of Vegetables

There are some lovely books out there, which can complement what you are doing with your child! Check these favourites of ours out:

‘The Enormous Turnip’ by Cristina Cerretti

‘Rah rah radishes!’ a Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre

‘Carrots Grow Underground’ by Mari Schuh

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‘Insect Detective’ by Steve Voake

 

 

 

 

‘Oliver’s Vegetables’ by Vivian French

‘Yucky Worms’ by Vivian French

Enjoy teaching your child about a variety of vegetables! If you’ve enjoyed this post, you’ll love our Summer Bucket List Free Printable!

Louise x