Tag Archives: simple play

{Simple Fun} Sink Play

Simple Fun Sink Play | Mama Papa BubbaI forgot how trying and time consuming this whole Kuwait documentation process is… We’re currently in the throws of police clearances, medical tests,  notarizations, and phone calls, which isn’t all that fun.  Add in a very busy, wanting-to-be-on-the-go toddler, and it’s that much more difficult.   Today, between Embassy calls and trips to the police station and medical lab, I pulled out one of my favourite tried and true ways to keep Miss G happily engaged while we got a few things done – a sink full of water.  It’s a super simple invitation to play and is a hit every single time.  Today it involved a couple of drops of blue/green food colouring, a couple of rocks, some glass gems, and a bowl of plastic creepy crawlies.  That’s it.  We set it up together, she pulled her little Ikea stool up to the bathroom sink, and the play began.  

IMG 0262The best part is that it’s not at all limited to a bug swamp.  In fact, the possibilities are endless!  Here are a few of our favourite sink play ideas…

1.  Baby bath – Grab a plastic doll, a wash cloth and/or sponge, some watered down shampoo or bubble bath,and a small towel and the baby doll will be cleaner than ever.  For extra fun, add in a toothbrush and hairbrush for when bath time is done.

2. Ocean – Add a couple of drops of blue food colouring to the water, then add some rocks, seashells, driftwood pieces and plastic ocean creatures.  Instant fun!

3. Floating building station – Place several pool noodle pieces (sliced about an inch thick) in the sink and let your little one experiment with building floating structures – towers, pyramids, ‘trains’ – anything goes!


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iPhoneography // Simple Rice Tray Play

Simple Rice Tray Play | Mama Papa BubbaThis morning I had a little bit of housework to do and Miss G suggested that she’d play with some freshly coloured rice I’d made while I got my clean on.  It’d been a quite a while since she’d last opted to play with a rice bin or tray, so I was happy to hear that she was still excited about such a simple sensory activity.  While I put the rice into small containers, she picked out items she wanted to use while playing with it.  She gathered up a divided plate,  heart-shaped ice cube tray,  cup, scoop, bowl, and funnel and we laid everything down on a large blanket in the living room.

Photo copy 2She got to playing right away and immediately mixed the different colours in the bowl while using the funnel.  Watching the individual colours mix into speckled sea of rainbow colours is always so much fun (and so is crazy bed head ☺).

Photo copyThere was a lot of mixing, dumping, and pouring, but the favourite of the morning was definitely this little scoop paired with the funnel.  She quickly learned that using the two together was a great way to fill the little heart-shaped ice moulds and we later on we even experimented with extending our funnel using a bubble tea straw.  

After she was through playing, we scooped up the rice, added it to the bin of coloured rice we keep in the solarium, and shook the remaining grains off of the blanket outside.  Easy, simple fun.   

To see how we make our coloured rice, click here.


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Simple Outdoor Fun: Painting Sidewalk Chalk Shapes With Water

Painting Sidewalk Chalk Shapes With Water | Mama Papa BubbaWhile we’ve done plenty of regular mess-free painting on our sidewalks and fence, today Gracen asked if I’d draw her something to paint.  While maybe not as open-ended as I’d usually aim for, I do find that sometimes she prefers having a jumping off point, so I drew an assortment of shapes on the ground using sidewalk chalk.  The activity was actually perfect for her new found interest of colouring in the lines, and when the water dried, it left our cement pad covered in beautiful, watercolour-esque shapes.  So simple, but she enjoyed so much that she’s already asked to do it again.


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Bubble Wrap Exploration

Bubble Wrap Exploration | Mama Papa BubbaSometimes, or better yet, many times, it’s the simple things.  This afternoon, my freshly napped bubba woke up to discover a new package by our door.  She excitedly asked to open it, not caring about which actual item may be inside, but rather which packing material was surrounding the item (both bubble wrap and packing peanuts are huge in our house).  To her satisfaction, she found a fresh new sheet of bubble wrap inside, just waiting to be enjoyed.

IMG 8090After a good long time poking at it with her little fingers, I asked, “Are there any other ways we could pop the bubbles?”  This is what she came up with…

Elbows and blocksFirst came stomping on it with her feet, then she moved to digging her elbows into it and stabbing it with a wooden block…

Bead and TwistingNext she tried rolling beads on it (which actually worked fabulously when a good amount of pressure was applied) and twisting it forcefully.

IMG 8102Lastly was placing a borrowed book (sorry library!) on top of the bubble wrap and standing on it.  The good news is that this didn’t work very well at all, so it was short-lived.  

This much fun from a piece of bubble wrap is a wonderful thing.  ☺


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Indoor Balloon Badminton

Indoor Balloon BadmintonThis may very well be the easiest activity to throw together ever, but Gracen thoroughly enjoyed it.  All you need is a couple of paper plates (ours are made of styrofoam, which I absolutely despise, but they, along with many other party supplies, were in the cupboard when we moved into this house, so I don’t feel quite as badly about using them), 2 large popsicle sticks, some masking tape, and a balloon.  To create simple racquets, all you have to do is tape popsicle stick handles onto the bottom sides of the plates… Then you’re ready to play!  Partner pass, keep it up, and distance contests are all fun.

IMG 7731This is a perfect activity for a rainy day and great for helping your toddler burn off some energy if getting outside isn’t an option.  The other perk is that it is relatively quiet (especially when played independently), so it could make a good quiet activity for an older sibling whose little brother or sister is napping.

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Impromptu Drum Circle

Household Object Drum CircleToday as I was organizing the mess of mason jars in our hallway catchall closet, my curious Miss G spied some old wine gift tubes in the bottom.  Naturally, she yanked them out and began drumming on them.

IMG 5665Before long, we’d yanked out all kinds of pots, containers, and bowls out and created an impromptu drum circle for the budding musician in our family.

IMG 5669Maracas, rhythm sticks, wooden spoons, a xylophone, and background music were added in along the way too.

IMG 5667Perhaps not the most neighbour-friendly activity if you live in a small apartment or have basement tenants below you (ours weren’t home), but great fun for a rainy day.

Here’s our little musician jamming out…


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Painter’s Tape Jump Boxes

Painter s Tape Jump BoxesWhile we had our painter’s tape out for our indoor roadway, we also lined our hallway with this… A little series of jump boxes.  Grae adores the jump mats they have at our Strong Start program, so she’s very pleased to be able to jump her way down our hallway now too.

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Simple Play: Pillow Pass

This is the SIMPLEST little game ever, but Miss G loves it.  And we’re talking loves it so much that she squeals and shrieks the entire time we play and shouts “More pillow pass, Mama!” whenever she thinks the game is going to end.

IMG 2440IMG 2442IMG 2444IMG 2446Basically, all we do is toss a pillow back and forth.  Seriously, that’s it. A pillow is easier to catch than a ball, it’s as soft as can be (even when you get whacked in the head repeatedly), and apparently throwing a pillow around is  hilarious.  

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Pomegranate Play

Pomegranate Play for Toddlers

It’s no secret that I pretty much love Jackie of Happy Hooligans and all of her awesome play ideas.  So last week, when she posted “Guess what we ripped into and investigated at lunch today! Yum!” along with a photo of a pomegranate on her Facebook page,  the first thing that came to mind was ‘Why have I never thought of that?’  I’ve always been a huge fan of pomegranates (I still remember what a treat it was to curl up on our black leather couch as a little girl with a giant bowl, a dark towel, and half a pomegranate) and Gracen loves them too, but I’ve never thought to let her play with one before eating it… Silly me! Knowing how much fun she had with our recent pumpkin seed sorting tray (which can be done with almost any squash, by the way), I knew she’d love it. 

IMG 1904IMG 1907IMG 1909IMG 1914To set up a simple pomegranate play station for her, I sliced the pomegranate in half, cut a cross about an inch deep on the flat surface of one of the halves, and popped it in a big bowl of cool water for her.  (Removing the seeds of a pomegranate in water is by far the best way to do it.  Keeping the fruit submerged in water seems to loosen everything up a little, plus it prevents nasty pomegranate stains from occurring. )

IMG 1911I also set out a little tray of “tools” which included a small bowl, a teaspoon, and a large slotted spoon.

IMG 1915IMG 1916IMG 1920Without any direction or modelling, I asked her, “Do you want to play?”  She of course let out an immediate “YES!” and jumped right in.

IMG 1929Right away, she began pulling apart the peel and pulp, digging out the seeds (which are actually called ‘arils’, but who says that?) by scraping her finger along the membranes, and adding them to the small yellow bowl. (Keep in mind that she has watched me do this before.)

IMG 1921IMG 1935And before long, she requested another small bowl for the “white yucky parts”. 

IMG 1940The other neat thing about taking apart pomegranates while they’re in water is that the seeds sink down to the bottom and the white membrane bits float to the top, making sorting the two very easy.

IMG 1941After she’d realized this, Grae worked on removing the white bits with her slotted spoon for quite some time, but eventually retired the spoon and went straight to using her hands.

Gracen absolutely loved this very simple sorting activity and it kept her happily engaged for about 40 to 45 minutes before it was time for dinner.

IMG 1934And in the end, not only did we have a very happy {and speckled} little lady, but we also had a big bowl of pomegranate seeds just waiting to be eaten up. ☺

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Water Pouring Station

Water Pouring Station

After our most recent tea party with a pot filled with “tea”, I realized that I haven’t really given Gracen many opportunities to practice her pouring skills (with the exception of cooking and sensory bin/bath tub play, I guess).  So tonight, just before I began making dinner, I set up a little water pouring station for her.  All it took was a towel on the floor, a plastic serving tray, some measuring cups/jars/pitchers, and some coloured water. Gracen was thrilled, of course.

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IMG 1039IMG 1040IMG 1043IMG 1046IMG 1048She transferred water from one container to another, watching the colours change and muddle for the better part of an hour, which was the perfect amount of time for me to prep dinner, clean the kitchen and wash a big load of dishes. Doesn’t get much better than that. Afterwards, clean up was a breeze.  The towel went into the wash, the dishes got rinsed, and that was that… Another ‘Mama needs to make dinner’ activity to add to my {mental} list. ☺

If you don’t feel comfortable letting your little one handle glass jars and measuring cups, you could always replace them with plastic ones instead.  Switching out the water for dry goods like lentils, beans, and popping corn would be fun too!

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