Play Play PlayA unique collection of resources to inspire your child’s imagination

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I don’t know about you but Easter is really sneaky up on me this year, but never fear, I am here to offer you some eco friendly, chocolate free gifts for the littlest people in your lives.

I have only selected 6 items because I want what we offer to be purposefully and to be used. Plus too much choice can really be overwhelming if you’re anything like me.

So lets dive straight in.

  1. Inspire My Play Tray – truly one of the best play investments you can make – this can be used with any sensory bases, add water or messy play to it or use it for crafts – the play possibilities are endless and we use ours every single week without fail. Plus you can just pop the lid on and the tidying is done!

    Little ones: inspire my play tray

  2. Wooden Construction Kit – got a budding engineer or someone who loves to build – this is the gift for them. And because it’s made off wood it will last for ages. I love how this fosters the love of creating rather than the end result. There are no instructions so its perfect for free play for 6 years +.

    Little Ones: large trigonos

  3.  Super soft sensory dough and unique wooden tools – I know my small people would adore this Easter gift, plus i’ts great for keeping them entertained over family meals too. Our tools are really quite unique, a star maker, scraper and wooden hammers with different patterns.

    Little Ones: Doubled headed wooden dough stamps: all Little ones: spring sensory dough activity kit blue

  4. Books – I always like to add a book at any opportunity and our collection are unique, inspiring and  different.

    Little Ones: All the ways to be smart  Little Ones: All the ways to be smart

  5. Giant Den Clips – these make den building even better – use them outside or inside (weather depending, come on rain please stop!) – I promise you’ll have so much FUN!

    Little Ones: giant den clips Little ones: giant den clip

  6. Wooden Hen Eggs – use these to hide around for a chocolate free egg hunt or decorate them – use dried flowers, paint or glitter. This makes a lovely Easter family activity too.

    Little Ones: loose part wooden eggs Little Ones: wooden egg being painted

I hope you found something to inspire you in our sustainable Easter Gift Guide, if we you still need some inspiration head on over to our website for loads more ideas.

Here at Little Ones we very carefully select our suppliers We’re super proud of who we choose to stock and we wanted to share with you why we they fit into Little Ones ethos to be kind to the planet, its people and resources. So lets shine a spot light on Curiosity Corner Sensory Dough. This is one of our best sellers and for good reason.

5 reasons why Curiosity Corner Sensory Dough is one of our favourite suppliers.

  1. The colours and the smells- I mean they are so beautiful and each scent is delicious, they range from blackcurrant, to butterscotch to aniseed. My fave is Fresh Meadow Green the mint smell is divine.
    Little ones: spring sensory dough activity kit, green
  2. Curiosity Corner Sensory Dough is a fellow UK small business and we love that.
    Little Ones: sensory dough ice cream
  3. Each 300g tin of dough will easily last for 6 months – this means 1/2 a year of play for less than £6!
    Little ones: bee sensory dough kit
  4. The dough is so super soft making it perfect for little hands – it squishes through fingers in an oh so satisfying way, it’s great with stampers and our dough accessories or brilliant for moulding and modelling for those older children.
    Little Ones: Sensory dough colour mixing
  5.  Each dough come in its own metal tin which is brilliant for play on the go – make it into a dough box and use when you want your littles ones entertained or do like the 5 minute mum says and simply take the tin with you on a plane journey. 
    Little Ones: sensory dough travel box


The Evolution of a Montessori Transferring Tray

These super simple transferring trays are a great activity for toddlers through to school aged children. These activities help with fine motor skills, maths, patterning building, become independent and self-motivated and learning to think creatively.

Tray 1 – transferring activity with tongs for 2 year old

Simply transfer the felt hearts from one sorting tray to the other using the wooden tongs

Little Ones Play: Montessori Transferring tray for 2 year olds

Skills – fine motor, pincer skills, independent thinking,

Tray 2 – colour sorting for 2-3 year olds

Try sorting each shape by colour

Little Ones Play: Montessori Transferring tray for 2 to 3 year olds

Skills – brain development, making connection between the real world and words (e.g. colours), fine motor skills, concentration, language and speech

Tray 3 – shape sorting for 2-3 year olds

Same as above but try and sort by shape. Add different shapes such as felt balls when your little one is comfortable sorting 2 shapes. Once your little one is able to sort multiple shapes practice transferring and sorting by shape and colour.

Little Ones Play: Montessori Transferring tray for 2 to 3 year olds

Skills – shape recognition, brain development, fine motor skills, communication, early maths and science

Tray 4 – foundation stage maths for 4-6 years olds

Use this activity to enhance what they are learning at school. For example, use for number bonds to ten, one more or one less, doubling, taking away – ask you child a math question such as “I have 2 hearts here, please can you double it” or “can you put 7 hearts in one sorting tray and 3 hearts in the other sorting tray

Little Ones Play: Montessori Transferring tray for 2 to 3 year olds

Skills: fundamental maths, communication, understanding technical terms, fine motor skills

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Fed up of pumpkins and Halloween as the only play ideas during Autumn?

Little Ones: bodies are cool       Little Ones: felt stars         Little Ones: nature inspired open ended play kit          Little Ones: knitting fork     

Try these 10 play prompt suggestions

  1. National space week – ok so we know we have missed the date for this one but still a great play theme. Plus when the clocks change get outside and do a bit of star gazing.
  2. Learn a new skill – grab a hot chocolate and snuggle by a cosy fire and try our new knitting forks or braiding stars
  3. Harvest festival  – get that play food out and create harvest baskets
  4. 21st October is national apple day – eat them, draw them, practice life skill by cutting them up or maybe hammering golf tees into them
  5. 24th October – United National Day – celebrate diversity with a new book or colour me crayons. 
  6. 13th November – Diwali try using out Kitpas crayons to celebrate the festival of light by drawing on the windows or making a tea light holder using a jam jar.
  7. 13th November – World Kindness Day – what lovely thing can you do today?
  8. 20th November – Universal Children’s Day, could you find out about what children do in different countries, this years theme is inclusion.
  9. An oldie but a goodie – head out for a nature walk and collect natural loose parts, maybe sticks or pinecones. Then you can add them to a sensory base and do some counting or maybe you could add them to sensory dough to create an autumn inspire model.
  10. Decorate some leaves or conkers – paint or Kitpas crayons work really well for this.

Childhood is a magical time filled with wonder, curiosity and a rollercoaster of emotions. As the new school year begins its completely normal for children’s emotions to become heighted – I am currently experiencing this with my four year old, so when I say I get it, I really do. This led me to think it would be useful to share some practical tips and ideas to help navigate these potentially tricky times.

Firstly if we take a moment to step back and really think about what our tiny people’s brains are going through and the potentially massive changes they are experiencing we can start to discover what emotions are driving behaviour.

So let me share some of my top play ideas to help with childhood emotions.


Books, books and more books

One of the best places to start exploring emotions and feelings with little ones is though books – by reading about feeling it shows them that it’s ok to feel the way they feel, this validates them and allows them to explore these ideas in a safe space.

Some of the books I recommend are:

Invisible – Tom Percival

Ruby’s Worry, Ravi’s Roar, Tilda Tries again, Meesha Makes friends – Tom Percival

Tough guys have feelings too – Keith Negley

The Colour Monster and The Colour Monster goes to school – Anna Llenas

Big Feeling – Alexandra Penfold


Emotion Charades: Express and Guess

Start a fun game of game of emotion charades where you and your child make various facial expressions based of different emotions and then you try and guess which one you are acting out. Imagine stamping around with a really cross face, hello anger.

This can always lead onto a deeper conversation about when you or your child have felt those emotions and what you did (good or bad) to deal with that feeling.


Daily Emotions Face

Draw a face on your little one’s bedroom window or a mirror using our Kitpas crayons and ask them each morning to filling in the features, sharing how they are feeling. You could then check back in before bedtime and see if their feeling and emotions are different come the end of the day.

A lovely consequence of this activity is that the kitpas crayons wash off with water, so after a bad day you can simple wipe away that feeling knowing you get to start tomorrow fresh.


Emotion Yoga Adventure

Getting your little one to move their bodies really helps them to deal with the big feelings when they come. Gross motor skills, like climbing, jumping, yoga, dancing fire up sensors in our body which sends signals to the brain which have a calming effect, helping your child to self-regulate.

You could introduce your little one to yoga poses that reflect various emotions. For example, the “joy” pose could involve reaching for the sky, while the “calm” pose could be a seated meditation. Guide them through a yoga adventure where they mimic different emotions through poses, promoting body awareness and relaxation techniques. I know mine love to copy to poses from ABC of yoga book.


Emotion Treasure Hunt

Hide different objects or images representing different emotions around the house. Perhaps it could be something red for anger or a picture of a green monster for jealousy. You could either provide children with a list of emotions and have them search for the hidden items or simply ask them to find something that makes them think of a certain emotion. As they find each item, encourage them to discuss times they felt that emotion and why.


Small World Play

Create a small world scene using your child’s favourite things whether that’s peg dolls, TV characters or vehicles and encouraging them to play out any times they have felt a strong emotion will allow a child to process their feeling in a safe way. For example, you could say ‘Mr Skelton is feeling really angry right now, he wants to hit something, what do you think we should say to him?” This role-playing activity helps children process their own feelings and learn about different ways to cope.

Feeling-Focused Art

Set up an art station, using either sensory dough and loose part or draw some face shapes and allow your child to fill in the emotion. You could ask questions like “draw how you feel when you’re excited” or “Mould a face that shows happiness”


Play is the most natural form of learning therefore it’s the perfect way for children to learn about feelings and emotions. By offering the opportunity to explore these through play we are providing a nurturing environment where children can feel supported and safe, plus they get to have fun too.

6 top tips for imaginative, creative and curious play at home

Perhaps you’ve read our previous blog ‘what is open ended play’ or just want to elevate your at home play sessions, we’re here to help. We have complied a tried and tested list of our top tips for creating the conditions to help your child play creatively, independently and learn loads in the process. But before we give you the top tips I want  to say well done to you – you are doing a great job already, simply by reading this blog you are making positive changes in your playful journey. Take it at your pace and try and enjoy it.

                                                                                                      Two children playing with wooden cubes and balls                 Little girl stacking wooden shapes          Giant den clip being used with wooden balls

Our 6 top tips for great play

  1. There will probably be mess, that’s natural and normal, so make sure you choose a time and location which works for your. Setting up soil and water in a cream living room before you’re about to go out probably isn’t going to be the best conditions for a great open ended play session. It’s ok to choose a time and place that works for you.

    Little ones: open ended play example

  2. That sort of leads onto tip number two, try not to interfere. Once the little one is into the flow of playing take a step back, have a cup of tea (but do stay close, see point 3), read a book. By not offering suggestions of what might happen next, or adding new items into the play we let the child take the lead and follow their own thought processes. I have on occasion found myself sitting without saying anything for 15 minutes or so whilst my littlies are absorbed in their own worlds – it’s magic!
  3. Open ended play often works best when the child starts the play themselves, By this I mean, you may have set some bits up (perhaps playdough and loose parts, or  cars and some planks of wood) but let the child find this invitation to play in their own time. I have rarely found a great open ended play session come about if I have suggested what my two could play with.

    Little Ones: open ended play, play set up Little Ones: open ended farm play

  4. Open ended play does not mean ‘alone play’. Children need us to be present during this play but not necessarily involved. Although if invited to join in go for it and enjoy but still let the child lead the play.
  5. Sometimes it doesn’t work and that is absolutely fine. We all have off days and children are no exception, maybe today they want a fixed goal (completing a puzzle for example). Or the invitation to play doesn’t spark their interest at the time. Try not to worry, move on and try again another day.
  6. Get outside. Simply by its nature the great outdoors offers so many open ended play opportunities, think forests (how many different things can the humble stick be), sand or your garden.

                                             Little Ones: example of outside play     Little Ones: example of outside play on a beach
A few of our favourite toys and resources for open ended play

  • Sand, soil , waterLittle Ones: den being made with
  • Carboard boxes
  • Cubes, bricks and balls
  • bowls, containers (plant pots, plastic of wooden dishes, sorting trays)
  • Small world  items- trees, fences, sticks, vehicles
  • Sensory dough and sensory bases
  • Loose parts (wooden shapes, straws, leaves, flowers, bottle tops – the list is endless)
  • Peg people and animals
  • Real life objects – clean nappies, water spray bottles, teapots, old laptops, phone

Hopefully you are now bursting with ideas, a willingness to play and are ready to dive into the truly magic world of open ended play.

What I’m buying for a more playful summer?

When choosing my new resources for the holidays I always try and select new bits and bobs from different areas of play. Theis helps so we don’t end up with loads of the same types of toys, leading to the inevitable “i’m bored” comments.

Picture of brightly coloured sensory bases, including sensory dough, rice and chickpeas

Brightly coloured sensory bases

Areas of play

Creativity and sensory – stock up on art supplies and look for new ways to use them. Who doesn’t love a new pen or sensory dough.  I also like to add different base resources into the mix, so you could try adding a mirror and using Kitpas crayons or paint on that or use a big plastic sheet and decorate that instead of paper. Perhaps you could save up old recycling for decorating and junk modelling.

Small world play – add a few new bits to your little ones favourite type of small world play. This might be a few new animals, cars, people or maybe its furniture for a dolls house.

Imaginary or dramatic play- I love the wondercloths which can be used in so many new ways – think capes, or small world scene background. How about a new costume or a wooden ice cream set to play ice cream shops.


Wooden ice cream set with felt balls    Sensory dough set including treasure bags of loose part and rolling pins     Wooden heart and star wands with paint pots   Inspire my play tray with a child using kitpas bath crayons to draw on   Octopus peg doll   Little girl stacking up different shaped wooden cubes

Puzzles, games or kits – could you have a summer challenge of an epic puzzle for over the summer holidays or maybe a new sensory play kit is what your little one would love. For slightly older children a resource such as the knitting fork or braiding star offers a great ‘puzzle’ for creating wonderful braids and threads. I am also a big fan of orchard toys and their games – they offer so many different options to suit your little ones preferences.

Building – If your little one is into building could add a few new blocks into their existing collection? Maybe its a few smaller cubes or a stacking stone in a different shape, making the build a bit more challenging.

A final word

You don’t need to buy everything, you know your little one and what they like best so lean into – trust yourself.

Remember to check out your local charity shop or Facebook Marketplace for some of these items – they will be loads cheaper and better for the planet to buy second hand. If you are buying new please try and support small and independent businesses – it means the world to us.

How about a toy swap – If your little ones are anything like mine they love other children’s toys so why not capitalise on that and meet up with friends with children a similar age and do a toy swap over the summer.

I also recommend spreading out the newness – perhaps each week or at peak points  of tensions it could be a great way to help the calm return.

Wooden dog figures - Labrador, poodle, sausage dog and westie

Wishing your the most playful summer yet.

Do you ever find yourself sat on cold hard floor not really knowing the rules to some made up role play game?

If the answer is yes let me say well done, you are doing amazing things for your child’s imagination, creativity and play. You are helping to facilitate open ended play. And this is so wonderful because “unstructured, open ended play is where the magic of childhood happens” Alana Pace. Its for those precious moments when you catch a child totally absorbed in their play.  And that is why all children need open ended play opportunities. This blog will guide you in what open ended play is and what the benefits of open ended play are

What is open ended play?

Little ones: sensory dough

Open ended play is the most natural form of childhood play and is led by the child. Open ended play has no strict rules, no instructions and no desired outcomes. By removing these barriers children are free to discover, explore and learn in their own way and at their own pace. An overriding principle of open ended play is that its all about the process not the end result.

For example it’s putting some sensory dough, some wooden loose parts, sticks and leaves from the garden and letting your little one explore it for themselves, without any agenda as to what they ‘should’ create.

Or it could be setting up some different wooden shapes such as rings, cubes, hexagons and letting your little one explore or build or add to another play scene they have got going on. Little ones: open ended play baby

Ok, so what are the benefits of open ended play?

Little ones: giant den clip

When a child is engrossed in open ended play they are in their most natural form of play and therefore most natural form of learning. We all know we learn things

more easily if we work out an issue or problem ourselves rather than simply being told the right answer.

So imagine you’re a child and a collections of different shaped blocks and balls have been la

id out with a ramp and you (by yourself) discover that the ball rolls down the ramp but the cube just slides or doesn’t move. Now you’re really curious so you start exploring the other objects around you, like a car or a stone or perhaps a peg doll. This play allows a little one to start investigating, making new neural pathways and sparking a curiosity in the world around them.

Other benefits to your little one include:

  • Creating new neural pathways in their brain
  • Nurturing their imagination and developing creativity and curiosity in the world around them
  • Having a safe outlet for dealing with their emotions
  • Gaining a sense of control
  • Supporting their independence
  • Building social confidence and communication skills
  • Developing their vocabulary
  • Learning how to solve real life problems
  • Processing topics they find too hard to talk about
  • Having fun on the child’s terms

So now your know what open ended play is and what the benefits are its time to start putting it all into practice.

How about starting really simply by putting some rice, oats or cereal, a bowl, a scoop or a spoon in a tray and letting your little one explore. Try not to interrupt the play and just let them go for it and see the magic of childhood, learning and play.

Little ones: inspire my play tray

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