Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Teaching Numbers, Shapes & Colors

It is such a fun role as a parent to teach our children all about the exciting world of numbers, shapes and colors.

I love teaching Annabelle & Scarlett new things and seeing the excitement and enjoyment they get as they grasp something or learn something new.

And one of the tools I use to show them about numbers, shapes and colors is the learning train on YouTube which reinforces the everyday learning we do such as counting the light poles on our walks, naming colors of the clothes as I fold the washing or reading the Sesame Street shapes book.

I have embedded the numbers, shapes and colors video below for you to review and show your youngster if you choose as part of their learning.

Happy Play Times :-)



NUMBERS TRAIN



SHAPES TRAIN


COLORS TRAIN


Monday, August 26, 2013

Doctor, Doctor - Childhood Imaginary Play

Cough, Cough goes Annabelle & Scarlett as we jokingly say to them 'oh that's a terrible cough do you need to see Dr Wong' who is our family pediatrician they giggle and tell me yes - I swear these children love the doctor :-)

But one of the reasons why is from the age of one onwards our doctor said to buy them a doctors kit and doctor dress up. The reason for this is it made them more positive about seeing the doctor because it becomes a normal part of their play which in turn is also great for setting up the imaginary play skills children need to develop.

And then just this recent weekend I saw a little boy at the playground who was 4 wearing a full doctors scrub outfit trying to play doctor with all the kids around and proudly declared to me he WOULD BE a doctor when he got big :-) 

Playing doctors, policeman, fireman etc... really is wonderful for little ones as it is something they see in their everyday life and can relate to and it is also important to remember it is never to early to encourage this type of play and to make tools accessible to them to get lost in another role and world.

What are your thoughts? What do your little ones love imagining they are and at what ages? 

Happy Play Times :-)


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Weekend Watching - How To Make a Paper Plate Fish

This weekend's watching clip is a fun simple craft project for your youngster to make their own fish.

And as I am learning fish are a great favorite of toddlers!

If your children are old enough let them practice with kid safe scissors (a skill from the kindergarten readiness list we posted about earlier in the week) for the mouth and then let their creativity run wild making the scales. 

We have everything in the house needed to do this so I for one am going to try this out during the week with the girls.

Happy Play Times :-)



Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Fun Facts - Polar Bears

This week's Friday Fun Facts is inspired by our recent visit to the Singapore Zoo. 

It is the first zoo trip we have made where the girls were really old enough to enjoy it and pick out familiar animals from books.

One of their favorite animals and displays was the new frozen tundra where they watched a polar bear show and frolicked in a real Igloo!






So this week we want to explore the interesting and fun fact filled world of the polar bear!
  • So a polar bear is white right? Actually no they appear white but have translucent skin that when light is reflected off it gives the appearance of white.
  • And that so called transparent coat is kept meticulously clean with 15-20 minutes post meals a polar bear will clean itself.
  • A male polar bear weighs between 775 to 1200 pounds (351 to 544kg)
  • A female polar bear weighs between 330 to 650 pounds (50 to 295kg)
  • The polar bear has no natural prey only humans.
  • Polar bears are found in Russia, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Norway's Svalbard archipelago.
  • Polar Bears are determined they are only successful in 2% of their hunting efforts
We hope you learnt something new like we did through this week's fun facts and we wish you all a lovely weekend.

Happy Play Times :-)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Learning New Words

A quick post today about toddlers and pre schooler's learning new words.

And it is to have a copy of books such as 'My First 100 Words' or a 'Big Book of First Words' truly they are a must in any home of toddlers and pre schoolers.

We use this version and it is a well loved, favorite activity for the girls to go through - if we ask them for a book they drag this out currently nine times out of ten.



Children love to pick out familiar pictures, name objects and pointing out objects they don't know for you to name so they can learn new words all important components of developing speech and learning to read.

Does your house have a similar book? Did your little ones benefit from them?

Happy Play Times :-)

Similar One Hundred Word Books From Amazon That Your Little One May Love

Monday, August 19, 2013

Free Style Drawing with some Learning Included for Pre Schooler's

My children love to draw it is actually something that at just 21 months of age they will participate in for almost 30 minutes amazing!

And pre schoolers need to draw to hone their fine motor skills and eventually as a form of communication through drawing pictures to tell a story as was listed in our previous post about kindergarten readiness.

So getting your children into drawing is great pre school development and it is important to give little ones ample opportunity to get scribbling.

Here is a creation by my girls during our freestyle drawing and Mummy's efforts as they near the end of it where I get involved and we have some additional fun learning by showing them things such as their name, letters of the alphabet, the first letter of the crayon colors and shapes.



I like to use large sheets of butchers paper I pick them up at a local stationary store and get 5 large pieces for 50 cents my favorite crayons are the washable easy grip my first Crayola set.

We encourage you to let your young ones have several opportunities a week to get lost in the world of drawing it is great for them and great for you to share this together.

Happy Play Times :-)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

What Your Pre Schooler Needs to Know before Starting Kindergarten

I read an interesting article over at I Can Teach My Child on "71 Things My Child Needs to Know Before Kindergarten"

They broad key areas for development are based around:-
  • Personal & Social Development
  • Language & Literacy
  • Mathematical Thinking
  • Physical Development
  • The Arts
As a parent of toddlers soon pre school age children the list seemed somewhat comprehensive. And whilst we have a couple of years to go it made me think about how we can play with fun and purpose to help prepare our children for this milestone while they are pre school age.

I thought it would be great to develop a series around activities that are fun, develop a love of play and learning in your pre schooler that will benefit these key development milestones.

We have even begun to map out the start of a book of play ideas for pre schoolers so stay tuned for that in the future.

Keep your eyes posted Monday when we launch our first in the pre schooler play series.

Happy Play Times :-)





Sunday, August 11, 2013

Yoga for Kids

At Happy Play Happy Children we were very privileged to recently be invited by CBeebies Asia to attend their CBeebies Club Yoga in the Park morning at our local Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The girls had a wonderful time learning about Yoga which is a big part of one of their favorite shows The Waybuloo's on CBeebies - so you can imagine my delight at being invited to attend this event with them!

I was amazed to learn all about how much fun and health benefits children can derive from participating in Yoga such as:-

  • It gets them moving and helps with their flexibility and bone development so important to their young little bodies.
  • Improves concentration those little minds have to work hard in getting those poses down. They also have to focus on the task at hand and be in the moment.
  • A children's yoga class integrates many aspects of learning such as storytelling and music in our class we worked through a story taking place in the forest with various animals.

And whilst Annabelle & Scarlett could not get all the moves you can see them in action below and how happy they were and us as Mum & Dad in spending this fun quality time together....









Perhaps you may want to introduce your child to the fun of Yoga to do this I have included a video from our friendly Waybuloo's to show you and your little ones how to do it!



For more you can visit the Waybuloo's channel on You Tube here.

And if you would like a copy of the sheet that outlines three pages of Yoga moves for your little ones that I received please send me an email to laurambrookesmith@gmail.com or leave your details in the comment sections below and I would be happy to send along.

Happy Play Times :-)

Happy Play Happy Children publisher Laura Brooke-Smith was not financially remunerated for this post but did receive a morning of Yoga and CBeebies goodies for her two children all opinions and sharing are her own.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Let's Jump like Little Bunnies!

Do you know one of my favorite things I love seeing my daughters trying to master currently?

Jumping! It is more a bounce but gosh they love to do it and they practice with such diligence :-)

One of the games I am playing with them at the moment to help them jump but also to help them listen to instructions is 'Hop Little Bunny'

The premise is they lay down on the ground and pretend they are sleeping while I sing...

See the little bunnies sleeping till it’s nearly noon
Come and let us gently wake them with a merry tune
Oh how still, are they ill, wake up soon


Then we start with a great gusto in waking up to ...

Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop
Hop little bunnies, hop, hop, hop 

There are other actions to this song such as birds and alligators but we currently just do bunny however all the words can be found at Bus Songs.

And believe me this is also great exercise for the little ones another added bonus.

What are some of your favorite action songs to do with your children. We would love to hear!

Happy Play Times :-)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Get Your Groove On

Who doesn't love a good dance off?
I can tell you your little ones certainly do.
We have had a lot of dance-a-thons in this house recently!



Children have a natural urge to move and dance so it is a great way for you to spend some fun playtime together by putting on a favorite playlist and grooving away together keeping you both fit and moving.

Did you also know that dancing helps your child with body control, creativity and mood enhancements all great reasons to participate in this form of play. 

And because we couldn't resist check out this little cutie pie doing the Paso Doble to his adoring crowd look at how much joy dancing brings him.



Happy Play Times :-)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Thankful for Play Cafe's

We wrote a post a while back about Play Cafe's and how they benefit children and parents!

Well this weekend during the Singapore Haze I was even more thankful for such venues and so to were Annabelle and Scarlett at being let loose from the apartment.

So I just wanted to show you the happiness and fun it bought them and encourage you to go back and look at our play cafe post here... 

(Scarlett enjoying a swim in the ball pit)

(Annabelle is just hanging around!)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Weekend Watching - 5 fun activities for toddlers

As you may know from our Friday Fun Facts post we are stuck indoors a bit at the moment!

So we have dedicated this weekend's watching clip to this great video we found on YouTube of 5 fun activities you can do with your toddler inside.




We will be trying some of these out this week :-)

Happy Play Times :-)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Fun Facts - Haze Edition

Welcome to this week's Friday Fun Facts!

Haze edition what do you mean haze???

Well as many of our readers know I live in the usually beautiful tropical Singapore - if you read our BLOG and are from Singapore you will well know the weather phenomena we are experiencing of hazy conditions from the Sumatran burn offs and for our friends from other parts of the world you may not know but currently Singapore is experiencing the worst air pollution from these fires in the history of the country.

Basically the fires are creating a smoky and smelly haze over the country and to see what we mean check out the view from our apartment at 9am this morning!

(The Haze covers the many apartment blocks and buildings that can usually be seen this shot only shows us visibility of one apartment complex over)
It means we are currently relegated to inside activities and boy do I have a lot to share with getting creative in keeping twin toddlers engaged and active in play who are used to spending days swimming and playing in the playground outside! The good news is it seems to be clearing fingers crossed.

Anyway that is the background now to the Friday Fun Facts which we will be dedicating to the 'Singapore Haze' certainly something new to share with your family.

  • In 1997 the highest pollution reading recorded from fires such as these was 226 in September on June 21st 2013 the next highest recorded reading was 401 (It was not much fun but hey we can all say we were part of history that is fun for the kids when they grow up!)
  • The reading used to measure this pollution is called a PSI which stands for Pollution Standards Index - bet you didn't know that well at least I didn't until this week then I became glued to that little number on a website :-)
  • The USA used to use PSI as a standard until 1999 when it was replaced by the Air Quality Index.
  • Heavy rains help to dissipate the haze let's hope for a tropical downpour!
So there you have it a few random facts about something you may or may not have ever known about!

We hope everyone enjoys a wonderful weekend be it indoors or outdoors.

Happy Play Times :-) 


Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Fun Facts - Art

We have just returned from our art class which we now go to on a Friday and while the girls are soundly napping I will take the opportunity to put together this week's Friday Fun Facts on Art.

How creative of me especially since just returning from an art class :-) but in fairness I have been getting ready to participate in a group garage sale this weekend and after finishing at midnight last night putting everything together the girls decided to do something very unusual and wake up every 30 minutes until 6am just as my head touched the pillow. So my mind is not quite creative today lol

Without further ado... here are our fun facts!

  • There is an actual brainwave pattern that has been seen with people that are creative.
  • Do you think your a perfectionist? How about Leonardo Da Vinci who took 12 years to paint the lips of Mona Lisa - I have simply no words...
  • When was the first illustrated children's book published? In 1658 and where was it published? Germany
  • Michelangelo was left handed.
  • Those ready made mixed paints we all know and love today were not created until 1880. 

We hope you enjoyed these facts and wish you and your families a lovely weekend.

Happy Play Times :-)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Green Light Red Light Playtime Fun

A fun game to play with your older toddler or pre schooler is the traffic light game.



My girls are a little young to understand the concept fully but we did this the other week at one of our playgroups and they understood the older children moved and stopped so if you have younger ones it can still work if they have an example to follow.

Essentially the concept is you stand at a point in a room where your children have space to move so a lounge room, hallway or entrance is probably good - or better yet get them outside to play it!

You call green light they move forward, when you say red light they must freeze in the spot, then again call green light etc... until they reach you and then you chase them back to the beginning and start all over again.

It is a great energy burner and a fun way to help listening skills and learn instructions.

We hope you have fun with this one.

Happy Play Times :-)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Weekend Watching - Water Safety

With summer time and water fun upon the northern hemisphere we thought we should share this video on water safety featuring the 'Despicable Me' characters to help get some tips on keeping your little ones safe this summer.


Happy Play Times :-)


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Friday Fun Facts - Water

Annabelle & Scarlett LOVE the water!! I have in fact just put two very tired girls down to bed after taking them to a water spray park at a local mall.

So it made me think about what to write for this week's fun facts and what came to mind? Water especially with summer just around the corner in the northern hemisphere! And our fun filled water day.

So here are some fun, random facts about water for you to share and enjoy with your family!
  • Want to know where you use the most water in the home? 63% of it is from the kitchen and toilet.
  • Is it hot? or cold? where you are right now? Did you know either way it is water that regulates the Earth's temperature!
  • 90% of the worlds fresh water supply is located in Antarctica.
  • Pure water has no smell or taste.
  • Liquid, solid and gas are the three types of water states. 
  • That cotton short your little one wears - has 25 liters of water embedded into it.
Well there you have it hope you found something of use or fun in amongst those facts.

Wishing you all a happy Friday and wonderful weekend.

Happy Play Times :-)



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Playing "ROCKS"

We play outside a lot in our household!! I believe outdoor play is essential in a healthy active lifestyle that I want the girls to have.

I will be posting a lot about the types of activities we are participating in at the moment outside which will be great in time for Summer in the northern hemisphere.

But today I just wanted to post this picture of my daughter Scarlett enjoying her rock garden - like mother like daughter apparently I was obsessed with a rock garden I had as a child, that my parents even got me a garden gnome so I had company :-)


(Scarlett Loves to Play & Explore with Rocks)
Playing with rocks is great for exploring different sizes and textures and it is a fun way to develop fine motor skills as the children tend to pick up and move the rocks around into an intricate toddler pattern. I also teach them cleaning up skills as we use the broom to sweep the rocks back into the garden.

Happy Play Times :-)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Our Favorite Old MacDonald Clip

So we are currently in the throws of loving animals, learning their sounds and imitating them.

I searched through You Tube trying to find an appropriate Old MacDonald clip but they were either to cartoony, to boring and the kids wouldn't be interested.

Then I cam across the Fox Pail version and it has everything you could want, cartoons, but real life animals on the farm and realistic sounds they also love Jack the dog who makes an appearance.

They are giggling, clapping and mimicking along with it and I feel it has helped their understanding and development in addition to the other animal activities we do.

We have embedded it here if you want to check it out and show your little ones.



Happy Play Times :-)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Friday Fun Facts - Weekend Edition

Our fun facts were delayed this week due to my little bunny Scarlett having her first ever knock her down illness (which we are very lucky has taken 18 months) in the form of tonsillitis and an ear infection. Here the poor poppet is below :-(



She is thankfully on the mend now though and both the girls have gone to the store with Daddy so I can get caught up on things.

So I thought we would do our Fun Facts on those little critters called tonsils!

  • For 30 minutes after tonsils are removed they actually can bounce high like a little rubber ball - now how cool is that I wonder of doctors do that :-)
  • Tonsils are shaped like half moons.
  • Infected tonsils make you snore (yes this was true for Scarlett we could actually here her!)
  • A baby has small tonsils that grow then between ages 3-7 they are large and from 7 onwards shrink.
  • 1 in every 10,000 children have their tonsils removed.

I hope you learnt something new in amongst those facts. I did and I bet your children will think the bouncing tonsil ball fact to be pretty cool.

Happy Play Times :-)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Our 18 Month Old's Top Five Play Activities

Well as we are soon hitting the big 18 month milestone I am in awe of how far these tiny babies have come in such a short time!

So I thought I would do a list of the five activities in no particular order that they are currently loving to be used as a guide for people looking at play ideas in this age group.

Play Grounds and Play Equipment
Whether it is inside (such as a play cafe) or outside in the park or the small play set we have at home they can not get enough of the climbing, sliding, swinging and all round fun play equipment provides! It is great for there physical capabilities but also social as they start to interact and play with other children at the playground.
(Getting our Playground Play On)
Water, Water Everywhere
Whether it is swimming (and luckily we can do that everyday in Singapore as the tropics are always hot and the condo has a pool) through to their water table, water parks or simply playing with the hose and taps. They can get enough of this wet and wild fun.
(Water Play Time)
Simulated Real Life Play
As they are growing older and becoming much more aware they are little mimics and they to love playing house. They make Mummy a cup of coffee at their kitchen or a sandwich for her lunch and serve it up to me. They love to be given a broom and sweep the floors or dust the tables with a cloth. Push their baby in the pram, feed the baby, brush the babies teeth. They are Mummy's best little helpers. And it makes you realize how much they pick up on with the everyday when they incorporate it into their own playtime.
(Helping Mommy with Chores is Fun)
Reading, Reading oh and did I mention Reading
This one makes me very happy I have always tried to instill a love of books into our girls since they were born. When Scarlett was in NICU every night I would go and read her stories  and we have read everyday since.
Now they will want some quiet time and sit in their chairs with a book looking through it, they bring me books to read (they know Mommy stops almost anything for story time!) and they can not go to bed without picking a book they want to take into their cot.   
(Annabelle loving her books)
Build it Up - Bring it Down
They are now understanding how to put blocks together or stack things on top of each other with enough competence to build something themselves so that they can squeal in delight as they knock it over and start again. So our Duplo (LEGO) set gets a big work out in this house and I swear no matter how well I tidy up we are always stepping on a LEGO piece.
(Serious building going on here)
What were your 18 month old's favorite activities?
Please share in the comments section would love to hear from you.

Happy Play Times :-)

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Book of the Moment

Who remembers "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle from their childhood? I recently learnt it has been around for over 40 years!

My children were given it for Christmas (2012) and it is one of their favorites just like it was mine. And as of May 2013 we read it everyday and I am not yet sick of it, now that is saying something for a children's book because I am sure all parents can relate to getting SICK and tired of the same book :-)

The story follows this little hungry caterpillar from his days as an egg, to his journey to eat through everything to become large enough to cocoon himself up and emerge a beautiful butterfly. The kids love the holes the caterpillar has eaten into the book as he goes about his food search and turning the pages using these finger holes (a gimmick I know but it adds to the fun for them!) 

We are also not the only family that loves it as Amazon give it a 4.6 out of 5 star user rating with 587 people giving it the full ***** 5 stars*****

Have you read it? Do you own it? If your interested you can see more by clicking on the little caterpillar below (And if you purchase it on Amazon - By clicking here you will be taken to a link with our affiliate ID embedded if you make a purchase you will be supporting our BLOG :-) 



Happy Play Times :-)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Weekend Watching - Science Edition

This weekend watching clip is on at home science experiments you can do with your kids!

It is inspired as I took my 18 month old daughter on a one on one Mommy date to the science centre this weekend (check back later in the week for the benefits of science centre's for kids of all ages)

Enjoy the video and do let us know if you try these at home!


Happy Play Times :-)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Friday Fun Facts - Twins

This week I am going to dedicate our fun facts to the beautiful and awe inspiring (well that's what I believe being a twin Mommy :-) TWINS!

So did you know....

  • 22% of twins are left handed (One of my girls Annabelle is showing a left handed tendency)
  • Fraternal & Identical are not the only types of twins there are in fact 7 categorizations.
  • Every year in Twinsburgh Ohio a festival celebrating twins occurs.
  • Mothers of twins live a longer life a 2011 study found.
  • Identical twins DO NOT have identical finger prints.
  • Twins become aware of each other at 14 weeks in the womb - I used to love this fact and thinking of them playing together when I was pregnant.

Well that is all for this edition - wishing you a wonderful weekend with your families.

Happy Play Times :-)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Piles of Pipe Cleaner Fun

This is an activity I did with the kids on a rainy day.

I call it Piles of Pipe Cleaner Fun.




It was essentially getting a bag of pipe cleaners in my bag was 100 (hence the piles) which I picked up at a dollar store and then used various shaped bottles.

The aim of the game was to pick up pipe cleaners and fill the bottles up with them - while of course they were exploring all the other wonderful things about pipe cleaners.



For the children it is a fantastic activity for fine motor skill development, concentration and they were fascinated by the colors, textures and bendy shapes they could make with the humble pipe cleaner.

The activity is inexpensive as you already have the bottles lying around home and the pipe cleaners are only a $1 if you search.

The age range is probably 1 year old to 2.5 year old would enjoy the fun 

Would love to hear how your children find it if you try this idea out. 

Happy Play Times :-)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Delayed Weekend Watching Clip - Kids Crafts : Simple Art Projects for Children

We hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day this past weekend.

I certainly did and I also put down the technology to focus on family activities.

So hence our weekend watching clip was delayed but we still wanted to share something with you and hope you enjoy these great art project ideas you can try with your kid's this week.



Happy Play Times :-)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Fun Facts - All About the Month of May

We are so excited to have our Friday Fun Facts section back!

We share some interesting, random facts that you can then pass on around the dinner table or a drive somewhere with your little ones.

With it being the month of May we thought we would do a fun facts on May :-)
  • The birth flower of May is 'Lilly of the Valley' and does anyone else find this random because I didn't even know each month had a birth flower!
  • No other month ever begins on the same day as May.
  • Christopher Columbus discovered Jamaica in May.
  • The 33rd US President Harry Truman was born in May.
  • No US President has ever died in the month of May.
  • The month of May was named after the greek goddess of fertility Maia.
We hope you enjoyed this random trivia and we look forward to having you stop by next Friday for more fun facts.

Wishing you a great weekend.

Happy Play Times :-)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Taking the Time to 'Just Be' in Play

I am a big one for giving my children the time to enjoy the simple things.

Children need stimulation and engagement but sometimes they just need to stop and watch the world go by.

So this is a just a quick post to remind us of taking things back to basics with children's play.

One of our favorite quiet play times is to just sit and look out the window and see what is happening below us. I point out interesting sights or name objects but we are taking the time to just be...



What simple quiet activities do you like to do with your children?

Happy Play Times :-)


Monday, May 6, 2013

Little Artists...

We have recently begun to explore the fun and creative past time of art creation.

Starting with a recommendation from a friend who was taking her children to an art class called Mucky Pups at around 14 months of age we decided to give it a go!

Below you will see the girls very first art class project - which I think this Mommy will proudly displayed on my fridge forever!


We now also brave getting down and arty (or should that be dirty!) at home.



Some of the projects we undertake with our toddlers are:-

  • Hand Prints - We make a cut out of my hand and then dip their hands into it and make hand print patterns on my hand shapes.
  • Finger Painting Fun.
  • Bubble painting - This one can be a bit messy but you get dishwashing detergent add your non toxic child friendly paint (Crayola do a great line of this) to a plastic cup then Mommy's or Daddy's blow through a straw until it is bubbling over and then the kids take the bubbles and make patterns on their paper.
  • Using different objects to create patterns and textures - Items such as toy cars, spatulas, paper towel rolls, straws, sponges etc...
Painting is a great way for kids to learn important skills such as:-
  • Exploring Creativity
  • Development of fine motor skills.
  • Improvement of Self Esteem through accomplishment of task.
  • Having FUN!!
It really is a great bonding activity for you to do with your kids and from my personal experience their attention level is captured longer than with other activities.

Do other people have ideas they wish to share with us on their kids painting activities and things we could all try? As always we would love to hear your feedback.

Happy Play Times :-)