How to schedule a less scheduled weekend – part 1

How to schedule a less scheduled weekend

Imagine a less scheduled weekend.

Sure there will be must attend and action events.

Instead of going out activities to here and there ,we schedule a less scheduled weekend.

Now this isn’t as easy as it sounds. We can’t just delete parts of our weekend and hope that the children will magically love all this time ( or us!)

Many times I found I was putting things off for the weekend and before long I had the great big to do list of activities. None of them were bad or took too much time. Most involved playing and doing things with the kids. The trouble was it was at my pace. It’s not like we suffered from a lack of things to do. We had too much on our plate and it leaked.

If this is your experience, I have a plan.

Scheduling a less scheduled weekend tips

  1. choose a  weekend and bagsy it as your less scheduled weekend. Mark it on your calendar. Guard its borders.
  2. identify the essential must go heres and must do these for your family.
  3. go back to step 2. Reduce a bit more just this week.
  4. in the lead up to this weekend as early as possible ( i.e. now) start listing games, activities you’ve been meaning to play, said that you would play, saw in the loft, know has been buried in the playroom. Keep it as a huge brainstorm not worrying too much about how much activity.

Choosing your activities

Let’s go a little deeper now.  Putting off the feelings of having to create something perfect and resisting the urge to create a weekend of delights to create the ultimate weekend extravaganza we can’t deny the biggest obstacle here. With a child centered weekend of play and fun is that we have these mantras going on inside our heads.

  • We all need to have fun all the time!
  • We’re the fun leaders and it’s up to us to keep this party going.

Uh! Uh!  It’s a common place we all find ourselves from time to time. But just not true. Don’t wear this hat this weekend.

We should be present, encourage and notice.

Just looking at those three areas will help us have a pleasant weekend AND our children have a playful time.


Next up I’ll share how to get the balance right of activities we can try during our scheduled less scheduled weekend. We’re keeping it simple and doable for the kids and us.


In the meantime, tell us about a dream weekend of yours in the comments below.




Easy Advent Activities

easy advent activities

We love our advent calendar.
Each year it has pride of place and the children eagerly wait to open a draw. With three children we have three different Advent calenders. To further complicate it the children rotate, their idea, of course, so no one advent calendar belongs to them.

[Read more…]

Letter sounds and letter recognition game

Letter sounds alphabet matching activities

We have a jar of letters. It’s really handy for alphabet activities like letter recognition and letter sound games. You should have one too. It’s really easy to make.

One rainy day we emptied the recycling bag and started cutting up letters. We were inspired by a Pinterest Pin.

Sitting around the table, all three boys were busy cutting out large and small letters and having conversations. We didn’t have to be competitive. No one would win or be better so for a change we could just enjoy having our hands do something while we chatted about this and that.

[Read more…]

Learning to win, lose and play with others when you are under 5

I’ve come to expect the 3 Ts when we play board games or turn taking games.

Yes we will have happiness, smiles, happy dances but we will also have tears, tantrums and teaching moments.

The first two options were never an incentive to start a board game especially if everything is running smoothly. However, it wasn’t until well into my second son that I realised that teachable moments happened all the way through.

I did like most and bought the games, lost some of the pieces and a fair bit of refereeing, coaching and consoling. It was hard work because I really came at it from the wrong angle.  Kids want to play together but we really need to teach them how which means the game will be longer, full of breaks, lots of repetition and stops.  When you realise this- game play takes on a whole new meaning, [Read more…]

Making service and giving easier for the under 5s

Holiday time is often the time we remember service and giving activities. Maybe it is the thought of all the incoming gifts into our full homes or the awareness of those who have little or are going without.

Overburdening our children with adult issues is something we’ve really struggled with as a family to come to some sort of agreement on what to talk about with service and charitable giving. So we’re not overburdening them.  We’ve enjoyed new iniatives like working with

We want them to be world aware but the news is often inappropriate for the under 5s or young children to understand without lots of talk.So MaryAnn’s question in our cross blog conversation really made me stop, think and begin to do more than see this as a problem.

How can we use charitable opportunities to encourage global understanding?

Here are four ways you can ease into charitable opportunities, servicing and giving activities with your under 5s with a global perspective

[Read more…]

Shaving cream numbers

Each child is singing a different song at home.

The LO’s current fun song of the numbers 1-10 at the top of his voice.

Plus, the LO is into Hide and seek with his own variation. When you go to find him and you are near he jumps out yelling, ” Surprise!” and scaring you out of your skin. Combining his present interests and some sensory fun his older brother (MO) and I started making a sensory number surprise bag.

First we cut out numbers from recycled cereal boxes. We wanted it to be the colourful parts.

Using a sandwich bag , we filled it with shaving foam and drop of food colouring.

Added a random number, squeezed out the air then taped down the bag to the table. ( No leaks!)

Who can resist not pushing on that bag? The MO who had to of course, making sure all the air was out.

[Read more…]

Using maps for big and small

Maps are fascinating.

I was excited to get the question :  How do you use maps in your home? from MaryAnne and our cross blog conversation. (See the bottom of this post for more information)

It’s never too young to start looking at a map together and just getting to know what’s there. We’re big fans of maps and include them in everyday things. Today we did an activity using maps.

We spent a good time just talking about the map. I started with the general question what can you see? It’s a fascinating opening question to see the baseline. The LO pointed out quite a few things. We have a US, World and Flag place mats in our rotation of place mats so he’s likely picked up information then as we’ve talked about places at dinner. It’s an easy way to map play and develop global knowledge.

Today we were focusing on the sizes: big and little using frames. The LO moved the frames around the map.

Keeping activities fun

I’d seen an activity about Pin punching around Africa. It looked like a really exciting way to combine a few things we’ve been working on. I loved the idea of the opportunity for focus, concentration. Plus, how exciting is it for a little boy to be using a pin and being able to poke!

My son is favouring his left hand and the added bonus of the fine motor skills, strength and persistence mean that this would be an exciting way to explore the idea of big and little.

We gathered together our materials and set about finding a small place and a large place on the map. I did mention that Africa was a continent and not a country. Having a political map helped with that as he could see the other lines of the countries. He also tried to pin down those lines, when he was distracted.

The spontaneous conversation with Australia was there too. He was quick to point out no lines and how it was fat but small. So he was able to compare the different sizes of land mass. I love the conversations that happen while we’re playing together.


Being a sensory seeker- the LO was keen to touchwhat he was doing. So he traced the map with his fingers first and was keen to do again on the other side where it was bumpy, quite a few times.

We started with Africa and worked together taking turns to pin around the land mass. We didn’t get all of Africa and didn’t follow it perfectly.

We did the big reveal at the end. He was impressed and was quick to compare both the new dotted map and the original map. He was very excited for me to set up Australia and keen to do it all alone.

He totally loved this activity and while I was making tea set himself up on the table to do another country. He was happy telling his older brothers about big and little places.

Cross blog conversation

I’m having a cross blog conversation with Mama Smiles about bringing global local to our homes without going anywhere. Plus integrating global ideas into our everyday interactions without it being a festival or special day.

A cross blog conversation involves two or more bloggers engaged in a back-and-forth dialogue across a series of blog posts. The goal is to ask – and answer – thought-provoking questions in order to share useful information with our readers.

Our first question: What global games do you play or have influenced you?    My response :: Mama Smiles

Our Second question:  How do you use maps in your home?

Come back and tell us what you do with maps. In the meantime, pop on over to Mama Smiles where MaryAnne will answer the question: How do you use maps in your home

Friday Finds {27.07.2012}

Nothing beats being able to carry things everywhere. The LO loves moving things in his trolley. He’d just rediscovered the long lost book, in the picture.

Summer is moving nicely with a trip to the farm and lots of unstructured playtime. How about you? What have you been up to?

On the eve of the Olympics we’re brushing up on the national anthems of a few countries. We know our own anthems but have you listened to national anthems from around the world? Now’s a great time to listen to Olympic teams anthems you’re keen on.

Listen to our list of national anthems and sing-a-long too.

Friday Finds is the place to unwind, grab yourself a comfy chair and reflect on your past week then plan for the upcoming one. With a little something to make you think, for them to do and for us to listen or watch……. We are putting ideas into action. Challenging ourselves to do a little differently. Be inspired.

Link up your posts  that fit one of these categories.

Enjoy your weekend!

Goodness for the mind: Boxed in, wanting out :: The Boston Globe

Activities for the body: Olympics for kids :: The Activity Mom

Goodness for the eyes and ears: Helping Children Listen :: Parenting Simply

This week on Raising Playful Tots podcast::  Emotional intelligence Emotional Literacy- Your baby can read

If you enjoyed this article, get the Play Activities Newsletter. ( It’s free!)

Developing your family game

When you visit a many houses.

After you’ve lived in a few different areas. You will start to see a variation in the games we play.

There are certain games that last in a family and become the ‘family game’. I often wonder if these games last because the pieces stay together or over time we find our ‘family’ game.

Photo credit

How do you find your game?

You’ll have to play a bunch of games to find the games that you like. It’s exciting to learn a game via grandparents or friends. When you’re at their house have a look at their games and perhaps swap or learn to play a new one.

Sometimes you see a game in the shop, via a market or given as a gift and you have no idea how to play. It’s easier now to find out how to play games without instructions.

It’s interesting watching the BG develop a love of dominos all because it’s what he plays when he’s with Grandad.

The MO is watching and will play well for a time then his is off playing elsewhere.

The LO happily plays around the games, lurking on the floor and checking in to see who’s winning, but is still part of the game play.

Watching them all cosy up they are building memories. The BG is keen on learning the skills of knowing what his opponent has in his hand. He finds it incredible that his grandparents can tell him which tile to play and yet they can’t see his dominos.

The domino game interest starts with them all watching the game play.

Chess is the new next game they’ve been dabbling with and because it was in the house they’ve tried it and friends have helped them when they visit.

Before the kids, my husband and I started playing Mancala. We bought a board. It’s funny how things change and come back with kids. With all the moving our box is somewhere but we recently started using what we had. I thought we’d introduce a little Mancala with what we had at home.

Setting up mancala, adding the 48 beads

After all this is a game played all around the world with many using holes in the ground and pieces of whatever they can find to use. Playing Mancala It’s truly a versatile game, portable and almost instant. The bonus is how easy it is to replace parts.

Mancala board

Photo credit

Cross blog conversation

I’m having a cross blog conversation with Mama Smiles about bringing global local to our homes without going anywhere. Plus integrating global ideas into our everyday interactions without it being a festival or special day.

A cross blog conversation involves two or more bloggers engaged in a back-and-forth dialogue across a series of blog posts. The goal is to ask – and answer – thought-provoking questions in order to share useful information with our readers. This is the first post and the question today: What global games do you play or have influenced you?

We’re trying out new games to develop our family game. We’re experimenting with games with a global twist. It’s an easy way to share a new area or country without leaving our home. Feel free to join in our cross blog conversation.

  • Share your games or activities that have a global feel
  • Find a few games from overseas to try with your child. It’s easier than you think.

Come back and tell us what you do. In the meantime, pop on over to Mama Smiles where MaryAnne will answer the question: What global games do you play or have influenced you? and poses the next question.

Learn more about Mancala

The Marble Game (aka Mancala):: A mom with a lesson plan

Make and Play the Ethiopian Game “Tegre”:: Kid World Citizen

Nature snap

Getting out into the garden with some structured activities this week was a whole lot of fun.

The LO did a lot of scissor work snipping at the weeds. Our aim was to find some leaves and flowers to snip but he loved snipping at the grass. His brothers are into Indiana Jones at the moment so everyone in our house is out exploring. So the weeds just add to their jungle exploring experience. Well that’s what I tell myself and seriously the boys are loving the experience.

Nature snap was a game I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  The LO is learning his colours and loves to classify and sort so this game seemed a natural fit. We could do all those things together.

Gather all your materials- doubles of flowers, petals and leaves, blank cards, glue

Stick on the leaf, flower or petal


Leave to dry.

We played variation of snap and patience. Watch the video below


Endless fun with bringing nature indoors. We played snap, patience, sorted and classified.

More nature activities

What nature activities have you done recently?

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