Children like playing together, but also love playing with adults who are fun. Play also forms an important part of their learning and development – they learn to cooperate, listen, be creative and make things. Further reading: Safe toys
• Make prints with paint – use bits of potato, corks, sponges, lids and anything else you can think of. Set out bowls of toxin-free paints, paint the objects and press onto the paper.
• Make a collage – set up the dining table with glue, paint, paper, felt-tip pens, newspapers for cutting out pictures and other interesting bits and bobs. If your child is too young, they can point and you can cut.
• Decorate large sheets of paper with stripes, dots and other shapes to build up a store of cheap wrapping paper. Wrap presents with it so your kid understands that they've made something useful.
• Read a story and illustrate it or create figures out of modelling clay or play-doh.
• Do some baking together. Mix dough and make sponge cake – maybe shaped like toys? Or make some bread dough and bake together. Feel free to invite your friends or family for coffee and juice afterwards.
• Bring in a tree branch, pretty little items or things you've found in the forest, and help your child make a cool mobile: treasure hanging from the branch. It'll look lovely in a window or in your child's room – or as a present for a loved one.
• Get out all the toy cars if you have any. Build a garage, roads, petrol stations, restaurants – or any other buildings that your child wants to include in this miniature world – and drive around in the cars. Use objects you already have in the home like bowls, cushions and plant plots. Let your child use their imagination.
• Go out and enjoy the forest. You could have a little picnic. Pick up some moss, stones, cones...whatever you find, and build a miniature world when you get home on a large tray. Maybe you have some little animal toys that can live there?
• How long is it since you climbed a tree? Climb up a low, safe branch with your child and read a story, make up a story or tell them about the trees and the birds.
• Play with water in the bathroom. Fill up lots of plastic containers and bath-safe toys, if you have any. If you can't think of a game, your child probably will. Hang in there.
• Pick up pretty leaves – you can do this between spring and autumn. Paste them onto paper and make pretty drawings. It's fine to paint both on and around the leaves on the drawing. You can even add glitter!
• Once you've pottered for a while, why not put on some cool music and dance? It's good exercise for both you and your child.
Finger painting – paint recipe
Here's the recipe for finger paints. And yeah, it gets everywhere at this age. But maybe you could play outside?
2 tbsp sugar
75 ml cornstarch
300 ml water
• Stir gently over a low heat until the mixture starts to thicken, and then leave to cool.
• Add food colouring.
• Now put your child in a high chair and allow their creativity free reign.
• Make sure you get a hand impression from your child and add the date to it. It's lovely to keep.
Recipe for play-doh
1 tsp oil
100 ml flour
100 ml water
50 ml salt
• Mix all the ingredients in a pan and cook over a low heat until it sticks together.
• Knead on a floured board.
• Cut the dough into pieces and colour them with different food colouring.
• Shape the dough into cakes or other shapes and leave to dry. They can be painted afterwards if you like.
Creative games for children – game ideas
12 tips and recipes for finger painting and play-doh for creative kids who love making things.