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Rachel from @immy_plays_and_learns brings some unique 🙌 play ideas to us!

Rachel from @immy_plays_and_learns brings some unique  🙌 play ideas to us!

 

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This week we've had a chat to the lovely Rachel from @immy_plays_and_learns. We really love her insta and know you will love it too. While many of us continue to struggle through the loooong lockdown weeks, we wanted to bring you some unique play ideas to help bring more joy to your kids play. Check out the fun below for more details....

 

 

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Question: Tell us about yourself, where you live and your family? You are a Primary School Teacher extraordinaire, right? And a Digital Creator for @immy_plays_and_learns. What’s involved in being a Teacher, Mum & Digital Creator these days and looking after Imogen who was born with a rare craniofacial difference? I bet your days are busy!

Answer: Like any Mum, my days sure are busy! I currently balance working part-time as a Primary School Teacher with being Mama to Imogen who is 4 years old. Imogen was born with a rare cranio-facial condition and has undergone several surgeries. She is the bravest person I know! Imogen enjoys attending kindergarten, but I know that days spent with family are her favourite. We spend our spare time going to ballet class, playing at the playground and enjoying the nearby Melbourne bayside beaches. We also love to indulge in a bit of Melbourne café culture! I am passionate about open-ended play and learning and love creating digital content for @Immy_plays_and_learns. The Instagram play community is a joyful, inspiring and fun space and I love being a part of it!

 

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Set Up 1 - Rainbows & Aussie Cars using a Table Top & Wooden Toys

 

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image by @immy_plays_and_learns

Tip 1: Rainbows belong everywhere! They’re bright and colourful and invite little eyes and hands to play and explore! Having a collection of small world objects, such as trees, people, cars etc. helps children to create their own play scenes where they can re-create everyday situations and develop social and emotional skills.

 

 

image by @immy_plays_and_learns

Question: Tell us about your Instagram @immy_plays_and_learns and how you are creating & designing the most wonderful open ended play and learning set-ups for Imogen?

Answer: The teacher in me has always been passionate about learning through play and nurturing the interests of the child. When I had Imogen, I couldn’t wait to start our own collection of wooden toys and open ended resources. @Immy_plays_and_learns started as a creative outlet for me in early 2020. Our account has slowly grown and we have had opportunities to collaborate with some beautiful small businesses and amazing brands, such as Make Me Iconic! Our account has also enabled us to make connections with other families with like-minded interests.

 

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Question: How do you balance your work, creativity and motherhood?

Answer: To be honest, I think I am still trying to work this thing called balance out! Managing career and motherhood is certainly a juggling act. I am a planner and list maker, so I guess that helps in some ways. I have lists for everything! I also rely pretty heavily on my day planner, I haven’t gone digital yet. I love to write with pen and paper and have my schedule laid out in front of me. I am a big believer in self-care and trying to squeeze in moments for yourself where you can. I enjoy taking time for quiet walks, coffees with friends and I’ve just begun a meditation course.

 

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image by @immy_plays_and_learns

Set Up 2 – Aussie Food using Books and Wooden Toys

Tip 2: We love linking familiar stories to our play which has really helped to engage Imogen with reading. Bookish play also helps children to retell stories and fosters their imagination, as well as increasing their vocabulary. Non-fiction books are amazing for exposing children to the wonderful world around them!

 

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Set Up 3 – Aussie Cars using Sand and Plastic Tubs

Tip 3: We love sensory play at our house and enjoy using water, rice, playdough, kinetic sand and more! I know that some parents worry about the mess that can happen with sensory play. You could try having a dedicated ‘messy zone’ in your house or taking your sensory play outside! Outdoor play at a park or beach gives children the opportunity to engage their 5 senses, think ocean sounds, the feel of crunchy autumn leaves and the colours of a beautiful sunset.

 

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Question: We love how you have gathered so many interesting things for each of your creative play set-ups. Where do you find all these things?

Answer: I am always keeping my eyes out for new resources and trying to see the play value in everyday objects. I have a few favourite stores that I buy from regularly, as I love to support small businesses. We have our favourite brands that are often releasing new and exciting products, such as Make Me Iconic, Let Them Play Toys, Ostheimer, Connetix, Wilddough Co, Grimms and Grapat to name a few! We also love to collect nature play items on our walks and visits to the beach, such as sea glass, stones, gumnuts, leaves etc. So many exciting sensory play bases can be made from ingredients you have at home, such as playdough, sensory rice, coloured chickpeas and more!

Set Up 4 – Space theme using Sensory Rice in a round Tray

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Tip 4: Developing children’s fine motor skills is very important. Sensory activities like this one where children are required to scoop, pour and use tongs helps to develop strong hand muscles which supports them as they learn to write. Using a theme such as ‘space play’ that links to your child’s interests will help to engage them in the invitations to play that you create. Older children love to be involved in setting up their own sensory play!

 

 

Question: Where do you get your inspiration from for your creative projects?

Answer: Most of my ideas are inspired by Imogen’s current interests and passions, but I love following so many inspirational accounts on Instagram too!

 

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Question: What is next for you?

Answer: I hope to continue growing @Immy_plays_and_learns, nurturing my daughter’s interests and supporting her learning and being the best educator that I can be for my students!

 

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