Just before Christmas we were learning all about castles, from jousting, sword fights, horses, royal treasure, noble people and of course dragons.
Bear loved castles, so he has absolutely loved this theme and Monkey likes making horse noises and growling at things, so he loved playing with the horse and the dragon figures.
Swords craft activity
We kicked off the theme by making some swords and having a sword fight. Bear is very creative and loves our little art projects, so he really enjoyed this one. You can read our ‘how to’ guide to this activity (here).
Bear is a bit of a magpie and loves all shiny things, so he loved this activity. We a dressing up rail in the living room, but he didn’t show a lot of interest until we popped a crown we had bought into the ‘treasure chest’. He spent most of the day pretending he was a king and now requests his crown on a regular basis. You can read our ‘how to’ guide for this activity (here).
Digging for treasure
This was one of the most popular activities we did during this theme and kept Oliver amused for hours. We will be redoing this activity during our pirate theme later in the year. For the full post for this activity, you can read all about it (here).
Sensory ice play
The idea behind this one was to build a castle using ice cubes, but Bear had other ideas and wanted to pretend the ice cubes were trains instead. I love open ended play activities like this one because it allows children to be in control of their own play and creativity. This was such an easy activity to clean up after as well, so I’d really recommend giving this one a try. You can read my post on this activity (here).
Stables sensory play
This was another hugely popular activity, which the boys really enjoyed playing with. Again it is very open ended play that means the boys can create whatever they like with it. We started by using it as a stables within a castle, but after a while Bear turned over the painted box and pretended a dragon was sitting on a rock and attacking the castle with fire. You can read more about this activity (here).
Castles small world sensory play
Small world play always goes down a storm in this house because it is such open ended play. Small world play has really helped the boys bond as it has encouraged them to play together. Now Bear is nearly three, his imagination is really developing and I find it fascinating watching him make up his little stories. Now Monkey is getting older, he has started taking part with our sensory activities and it is amazing watching him learning about the world around him and making sense of it with activities like this. You can read more about our castles small world sensory play (here).
Castles in the snow
Since our ‘castle’ theme, we have moved onto ‘winter’ and so I felt this was the perfect connecting activity. I split the tray into three parts so there was a range of textures and scatted some Duplo blocks on top so that the boys could build castles and towers in all of the different areas. This was such a fun activity and despite being really simple, opened up a lot of different conversations. You can read all about this activity (here).
*Note: All sensory play, messy play and arts and crafts activities should be supervised at all times. Neither I nor Our Fairytale Adventure hold any responsibility for any damage or injury cause when partaking in any of these activities.
As part of our castle theme we decided to have a medieval feast, which included our homemade bread. Baking bread is such an easy thing to do and tastes amazing when fresh from the oven. We turned it into a day long event, so set about baking the bread and cakes after lunch and then I made some rich food for our dinner, which included homemade beef pie, pork ribs and homemade toffee apples. It was really good fun spending the day as a family and then sitting down to our feast for dinner.
Conwy Castle & Cholmondeley Castle
I love visiting castles, whether they are old ruins or still lived in today. I used to visit Hadleigh Castle in Essex as a child with my family and we would play Frisbee and fly a kite in the ruins, climb the tower (my Dad had to rescue me once after climbing too high and getting stuck) and I was even lucky enough to see a beautiful meteor shower from it in my teens.
Having such fond memories of castles, it only seemed fitting that we visit some of our local Castles during our castle theme, so we took a trip to Conwy Castle in North Wales. Conwy is a stunning place, the views on their own are worth the trip but the castle itself is in such good condition, it is great for capturing little imaginations.
We took a day trip to Cholmondeley castle in the summer and I would really recommend a visit. The castle is absolutely stunning to look at and the gardens are incredible, we are hoping to return in the spring so we can see the castle during spring time bloom.
Castle themed books
We take a trip to the library once or twice a month, but whenever we start a new theme I always look to get out a few books that relate to that theme. We found some great ‘lift the flap’ and ‘sounds’ books from Usborne books in our local library which the boys really enjoyed, so I actually went out a bought one for them to add to their own bookcase.
We also borrowed Sir Scallywag and the golden underpants by Giles Andreae (you can read my interview with Giles here), which is a very humorous book about having courage no matter how small you are, the Extremely Greedy Dragon by Jessica Barrah, which is a story about a dragon who helps a village in exchange for food and The King of Space by Jonny Duddle, which we didn’t end up reading because neither of the boys’ were overly interested in it.
Castle themed toys
For Christmas 2015, my Dad bought Monkey some gorgeous sensory play blocks. They are really similar to ones at the boys’ nursery and are played with most days. They are such a great little toy for open ended play and really encourage little imaginations. We used them for our castle theme and Bear set about showing Monkey how to build a castle with them, which Monkey clearly took note of because he now builds his very own castles most days.
This year my Dad bought Bear a Le Toy Van Excalibur castle for Christmas. Both of the boys have already had so much fun playing with this castle. They love opening the drawbridge for the knights to walk over and lifting things with the crane. I’m a huge fan of Le Toy Van’s toys because I think they are really good quality and are the sort of toys that be kept for the next generation when the boys outgrow them.
We have a range of Schleich figures, but I added a few horses and a knight to the collection during our castle theme. The figures are great for sensory play activities but are also good for adding to other toys such as the Le Toy Van castle.