Playful ideas

19 December 2018

Time to share some of the good stuff we have been up to at Expecting Something Wester Hailes, which could also inspire activities at home.

We all need a bit more genuine fun in our lives I reckon – and at Expecting Something we are constantly striving to find things which automatically inspire genuine fun for all ages. Fun is important – there’s science to back it up.

Why should we play together?

* Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them.

Play is not just essential for kids; it can be an important source of relaxation and stimulation for adults as well. Playing with children is a sure (and fun) way to fuel your imagination, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and emotional well-being.

Adult play is a time to forget about our worries and be social in an unstructured, creative way. It is good for us to focus our play on the actual experience, not on accomplishing any goal. By giving yourself permission to play with the joyful abandon of childhood, you can reap bundles of health benefits throughout life.

Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Playing together brings joy, vitality, and resilience to relationships. Play can also heal, disagreements, and hurts. Through regular play, we learn to trust one another and feel safe. The Benefits of Play for Adults, HelpGuide

I often choose books aimed at slightly older children because they tend to have a better story and it encourages the adult to
read with emotion and use some of their acting skills. Babies don’t need to understand all the words, they will just love to listen to your voice, look at the pictures and hold the books.A funny accent goes a long way and kids remember when stories are read with care.

There are a few books that we’ve read at Expecting Something which the group really enjoyed:

  • The group liked the book I am Bear by Ben Bailey Smith where you almost rap the story to your wee ones.
  • In this picture we are reading The Colour Monster by Anna Llenas about trying to name your feelings.
  • I Want my Hat Back by Jon Klassen which is good for accents
  • Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems – a good bit of tantrum acting involved for this one!
  • And Oi Dogby Kes and Clare Gray is funny.
  • During Book Week Scotland, we looked at a book that I made with Heather Fulton to accompany the show we created ‘Too Many Penguins’. We played with confetti snow, helium balloons and made lots of penguins. I chose this one because it is great for their age and they loved the little penguin that you can pop through the holes. You can have a look at our book here. 

One of the best presents my son has ever received was from fellow artist Hazel Darwin-Clements, who made him a book of night night photos of all his VIPS near and far. It is so lovely to have and we always read it together. I really really love a homemade present. If you are sending something to someone far away then you could record your family reading them a story.

Messy play

“Messy play is a sociable activity, so naturally, it will enrich relationships through social interaction
In today’s younger generation especially, children are losing the ability to be able to amuse themselves. With messy play, we can teach them that you can make your own entertainment! In an unrestricted play environment where there is no right or wrong way to do things, this is the perfect situation to allow your child to play how they want to.” (5 Reasons Why Messy Play Is Important and Benefits Children, Schoolhouse)

By using their own mind to plan, explore and problem-solve, they are building a self-confidence and self-esteem that will develop them as independent people.”

At Expecting Something we’ve loved foam – a session full of laughter!

And what about Greek Yoghurt! For mark making for little ones who like to put everything in their mouths we really enjoyed  making up pots of Greek yoghurt with some food colouring mixed in – the colours were beautiful.  As a present you can present them in jam
jars with labels and some little brushes or sponges.

For less mess, playcolor pens are also satisfying for children who like to make marks – it’s like drawing with bold lipstick in lots of colours and really isn’t that messy. Not as good as the Greek yoghurt paint for babies who still want to put everything in their
mouths but amazing for everyone else!  Everyone should get a go of these – it’s liberating making such bold marks.


Getting outside

They say the  natural world is a playground of textures, smells and sensations. On a crisp day, when as they say there’s “no wrong weather just wrong clothes” a small trowel and some seeds or a fruit tree to nurture (that could be indoors) will bring about lots of fun. At Expecting Something we make good use of WHALE’s community garden (open for all) and have been able to plant things and eat vegetables grown here. We’ve had some pretty dreamy times in that outdoor area this year.

I think a great present for a wee one is giving an experience (children under 2 are not materialtistic!)  You can get a voucher for a cuddle corner at Gorgie City farm (very handy for Westerhailes) Little ones can meet some furry friends, goats, pigs and little pets there. (Little Goat and Little Pig Cuddle Experiences, Gorgie Farm)

We love lights

A wind-up torch has got to be one of the best things you can give a kid, or a click on and off light that doesn’t heat up.
We also like playing with shadows and colours in the group. Not everyone has access to an old overhead projector but you can simply make shadows using your hands or with shapes cut out from paper.

Making music together is great way to inspire creativity! Even simple ideas like putting a song on that you love and dancing together. A Drum is one instrument in the Expecting Something group that the adults and kids can’t get enough of. I’ve personally always loved a ukulele too for little ones too. I think it always sounds quite gentle but satisfying to play and the children always respond well to it.

If you, or anyone you know, is under 25 with a bump or baby under 2 please drop into one of our Expecting Something session.  We’d love to meet you!