Sitting down and reflecting on our year is one of my favourite activities to do. Last year, we saw small and bigger changes at home and in our life. My focus on Rainy Day Mum changed from featuring just crafts and activities to sharing ideas for Mums and Family Life - a transition that was reflected at home as well. Possibly the biggest change for us is that for 2 and a half days a week I am on my own at home, working and focusing on developing this site and my web design and tech support side of Rainy Day Mum.
We set goals at the beginning of 2014 to have a natural childhood, reducing our screen time and getting out and about as a family as often as possible, most of our getting out and about together is just a simple dog walk or a family walk in the park, however we did get to explore some new parts of the country and world with the kids, visiting a victorian mine, castles and beaches in the UK, as well as gorges, tunnels and caves in Mallorca.
Our Favourite Post of the year - 50 outdoor activities to do before you turn 11 and 3/4's
With that in mind, our best creative family fun idea of 2014 has to be the list of 50 activities to do as a family to get out and about before your children turn 11 and 3/4's. It's a bucket list of easy to do, natural outdoor adventures for kids to enjoy together as a family.
Many of these ideas and activities reflected our summer aim to slow it down and celebrate the summer. We switched off and took everything from arts and crafts to play outside, and felt better and healthier for the fresh air and fun that we had as a family over the summer months.
Of course we carried on with crafts and learning, adding in natural elements and progressing from toddler and preschool activities to Kindergarten and preschool activities as the kids got older. Although our Natural Childhood may be our favourite and best post of the year, here's our Top 10 Posts for Creative Family Fun from 2014 (posted in 2014 for the first time).
Top 10 posts for Creative Family Fun
1. Natural Ornaments for kids and you to make
Our top new post of the year and one of my favourites to put together this year was our top 10 natural ornaments for kids and you to make. I had planned this last year but time got away from me and this year, after spending a morning at our local radio station, I sat down and wrote the post and hit publish. With 3 and a half years of Rainy Day Mum, this post, after only a month on the site, is within the top 10 posts of all time for page views.
2. Take up time
This was a surprise for me. After teaching in challenging in schools for 7 years before having kids, it was something that I used daily with success. It wasn't until this year when my shouting and yelling was happening more and more that I put in Take up Time as a strategy to help in my parenting toolbox, and the results have been amazing.
3. Virtual Book Club for Kids
For the last 2 years we have co-hosted the Virtual Book Club for Kids with Kristina from Toddler Approved and Kim from The Educators' Spin On It. It's a year long book-based series, and we bring them alive with crafts and activities. It's one of my favourite posts of the month - I sit down and brain storm what we will do, then do the activity with the kids, and write it up. The fact that our introduction to this year's authors and books is in my top 10 of posts for 2014 is a real joy, and I really hope that many more of you will come and join in with us during 2015, sharing book-based activities with your kids along with us.
4. Salt Dough Dinosaur Fossils
With a dinosaur-mad J, he knows more about them than I ever could. Making fossils just had to be done, and using salt dough to create them was simple to do at home and very effective. The kids have loved showing friends and family their salt dough dinosaur fossils.
5. Shoe Box Snake Weaving
A favourite of my kids this year has been learning to weave, and we started with making a shoe box loom to weave paper snakes with. J had been on a IEP (individual education plan) to develop his fine motor skills, so weaving was great to get him to work on this whilst creating at the same time.
6. Preschool Calendar
With a background in science, getting the kids to observe and take notice of the world around them is one of the earliest aspects of science that we have introduced at home. Setting up a calendar that the kids can take note of the day of the week, date, season and weather was one way that we have done it. This forms part of our nature area at home that the kids add to and explore regularly.
7. Frogs Counting Game
If you have been reading Rainy Day Mum for more than a year you will know that J has a little obsession with frogs. This year T picked up on that obsession as well and we used it to create a quick and simple maths game counting frogs jumping off a log into a pond.
8. Phonics, Phonemes, Digraphs and Trigraphs
With J starting school last September, we delved into a whole new language of learning to read, I have a teaching certificate and yet to me the language used was confusing, and I didn't know what he was talking about when he came home, and I didn't think I was alone. Together with some experienced teachers, I put together a Parents' Guide to the language of phonics to help us understand what the schools are teaching children.
9. Ready for 5
Mornings are chaotic, and I was getting forgetful so this simple parenting hack was introduced and it works. Each child has 5 things that they need to do before breakfast, and it works wonders to get us all sitting down together for breakfast as a family.
10. How to dye sea shells
After a trip to the beach we decided to create some art with our sea shells but they were all the same colour and white, so we experiments and created some colourful sea shells with our easy kid-safe method of dyeing them.