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      JOURNAL — Montessori

      | 5 Instagram Accounts to Follow for Inspiring Play Activities for Babies and Toddlers |

      Short on play ideas for your baby or toddler? Check out these 5 great Instagram accounts with simple yet inspiring activities, you'll both love.


      Play is so integral to babies and children’s development and intellectual growth. It stimulates all of their senses - movement, touch, sight, sound and taste(!), captures and builds their imagination and enhances their social and emotional intelligence. If you’re seeking new ways to both entertain and engage with your growing baby or toddler through play, then you need look no further, here are 5 great Instagram accounts to follow to inspire both you and your child. I’ve had the chance to connect with each person responsible for the different pages and below I, not only 
      share some of our favourite activities from their accounts but, also give insight into these wonderful individuals.

      *Please remember that all activities should always be done under adult supervision.

       

      1. @thebebestylist 

      When she’s not dressing the likes of Daniel Radcliffe, Natalie Dormer or Lara Stone, to name but a few, London-based celebrity stylist Aimee Croysdil is creating crafts with her young daughter.  The aim of her children focused Instagram, @thebebestylist, is to help others find ways of playing sustainably with style. Often using household and foraged materials, or reusing materials from a previous activity for another, Aimee shares an abundance of sensory play, suitable for babies and toddlers (6 months + depending on the activity), and children’s craft ideas (18 months +). You’ll also find a mix of kids fashion and homeware inspiration on her page, which also has a focus on sustainable brands.

      I can’t remember how I first came across @thebebestylist, but I’m very happy I did, as the account continues to inspire. A favourite activity of ours is the ‘Ice Paint’ (image below). To prepare this activity, put blobs of paint (why not use the edible paint recipe in 5. below) in each section of an ice cube tray and add water whilst stirring the paint in. Add sticks (we like using foraged ones) as little handles and place in the freezer overnight. This is a real hit, for those 12 months +, particularly in the warmer weather.

       

       

      2. @adventuresof_adajoyce

      Ada, now 14 months old, was involved in the last photoshoot we held for LOMIE earlier this year, and since then I now often refer to her Instagram account @adventuresof_adajoyce - run by her wonderful mum Hannah - for inspiration for open-ended play ideas. Hannah has a background in early childhood and special needs education. Her passion for play has been built through her experience working in children’s hospices and orphanages, seeing how play played such a significant role in both children's development and wellbeing. ‘Play can be really powerful and I have seen how it can also help children to heal and work through emotional trauma,’ she says. 

      Hannah is an advocate, in particular, for open-ended play. With open-ended play, there are no instructions, rules, or expectations for the children. Children have the ability to make their own decisions and fully engage their creativity and imagination with the materials around them. Hannah loves watching Ada learn and practice new skills during play with activities she sets up for her. ‘Seeing her make new connections and figure out the world around her fascinates me,’ Hannah says. ‘Instagram is full of creative people sharing their ideas and as I have so many inspiring activity ideas myself, I thought I would give it a go and share some of Ada's adventures in play myself.’

      From loose parts, to water play there are many simple but wonderful activities to do with @adventuresof_adajoyce. We tried ‘Foam Play’ today (image of Ada below) with great success. I had some kitchen utensils for Max to explore with, and also hid some of his toy animals in the foam. Max was entertained for a good 40 minutes. It's super easy to prepare, takes less than 5 minutes, and makes for a simple clean up if you do it in the bath, as we did. To make the foam, add 2-3 tbsp of tear-free / taste-safe baby body wash, and a couple of drops of food colouring, to 1 cup of water, and whizz up in a food processor or with an egg beater. Suitable from 6 months +. 

       

      3. @little_wild_wonders

      ‘Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed’ - Maria Montessori. 

      Hayley, an early years primary school teacher and mum of two, runs the account @little_wild_wonders which promotes Montessori-inspired learning through play. The Montessori approach inspires confidence, nurtures children's desire for learning, discovery, and social interaction.  It’s skill based with the ultimate goal being the child becoming independent in their own right, at their own pace, following their own interests.

      Hayley creates play environments at home for her children to engage with. ‘I’m making sure I put into practice what I did with Wilfred (2y) for Florrie (4m) as well, especially with what toys she interacts with. I highly recommend you observe your child and follow their interests, you’ll get so much more interaction and engagement in their play,’ she says. 'It also needn’t be expensive. Many parents make DIY Montessori materials which work just as well as those bought. The magic is in following their lead…’. 

      Amongst many others, we were inspired by a post by @little_wild_wonders to make ‘Flower Soup’ (image below), where you explore petals and leaves from flowers from the garden, as well as filling and pouring water from pots and pans. Another great activity for the warmer months. Recommended for 12 months +, and if your child has a tendency to pop things in their mouth, please be sure to use edible flowers.

       

      4. @madeitwithmama

      London mum of two young boys (2y & 4m), and head of a secondary school Biology department, Kimberley, is the creative behind the account @madeitwithmama. The account was set up a couple of months ago, whilst on maternity leave and under lockdown, to inspire other mums to get creative with their little ones.  We love how Kimberly uses a lot of household, recycled or foraged materials for her crafts and DIY toys. ‘The process of crafting is as important, if not more so, than the finished product so it’s important that children are able to get involved and have some freedom with the creative process. Why buy toys when you can enjoy making them and then enjoy playing with them? Double the fun!’, she says. 

      But @madeitwithmama is not only limited to children’s craft and play, you’ll also find recipes and creative food ideas, and for those art and design inclined amongst us, you’ll love the artistic pieces posted for inspiration. Kimberley also dabbles in a bit of art and illustration herself, with some of her artwork found online at Evermade.

      We love this great sensory activity using ‘DIY Water Beads’ (image below). It's made from tapioca, and so is 100% edible! To prepare, simply bring some water to the boil, add a cup of dried tapioca and let it simmer until it has formed jelly-like balls. Drain and rinse with cold water. Add a few drops of food colouring, mix, leave a few minutes and they are ready to use. You can add some toys and / or utensils and your baby or toddler will have a ball. 

       

      5. @louisa.penfold

      Dr Louisa Penfold has a PhD in children’s art education and works in early childhood at Harvard University. Her account @louisa.penfold has long been a fav of ours! Lou runs the blog Art Play Children Learning which is all about making art fun and meaningful for kids. The blog not only shares different art activities for kids but also gives evidence-based tips on how parents can cultivate children’s creativity at home. We found this post on using questions to support young children’s creative thinking particularly helpful. 

      Regarding play, we love the ‘Edible Paint Recipe for Babies & Toddlers’ below, that we’ve previously shared on our grid and is suitable for 6 months +. I would also recommend checking out the hashtag Lou created, #quarantineplayideas, which has a trove of amazing play activities for kids. To make the edible paint, put ½ c flour and 1 Tbs salt in a saucepan. Pour ¾ c cold water in the saucepan and whisk until smooth. Add ¾ c hot water and whisk. Heat on the stove, stirring continuously, until it starts to boil. As soon as it does, take it off the heat. Add in food colouring (5-6 drops), stir, and wait to cool before using.

       

      We hope you love these accounts as much as we do. What are your favourite baby or toddler play activities? And where do you tend to get your inspiration from? Do you have some favourite accounts that you can recommend? 

      Please add to the comments below! Xx