We don't like to have Cbeebies on too much, and as Jack-Jack's only just turned one his attention span for most toys and activities is well under ten minutes which makes the day feel very long sometimes. I've spent quite a few evenings on various blogs and websites gathering ideas and inspiration for things to keep him (and me!) stimulated and busy.
I'm looking forward to a time when he's stopped putting everything straight into his mouth (he's definitely getting better at exploring with his hands and feet, but everything eventually has to pass the taste test) and we can have messy/sensory fun without it having to be technically edible!
Successes so far have been:
The great outdoors - we go out to a park most days and in most weathers, and Jack-Jack spends time exploring the textures of grass, mud and pavement, and picking up flowers, sticks and stones. He loves it, and requires very little input from me beyond narrating what he's doing, naming plants and animals and heading him off from patches of nettles.
Rice - this was the first time I've actively discouraged Jack-Jack from mouthing whatever he's playing with, and he got rather cross and bit me!
Cornflour and water - this was amazing and kept his attention on and off for about an hour - he kept exploring something else in the garden and then returning to the tray. Clean up was easy too as we were outside - just hose everything off and pop the baby in the bath!
Painting in a ziplock bag - I'll be trying this one again as the paint I used was a bit too sticky for the job.
Water - always a winner in any form - we've done warm/cold, scented, rainwater, bubbles, and the paddling pool.
Popcorn - a bit of a cheat on a rainy day, but foods are textures too and he enjoyed putting his hands in the bowl up to his elbows and watching all the popcorn spill over the sides.
Jelly - Jack-Jack looked absolutely disgusted the first time he touched jelly, but soon realised that digging both hands in and squishing it all over the highchair tray is good fun, and eating it is even better!
Cooked spaghetti - always a hit - the first time he saw cooked spaghetti it made Jack-Jack laugh, and he still loves it.
Ice - this doesn't hold his interest for long yet, but does give me a guaranteed few minutes peace to make tea.
Cotton wool balls and water - We did this today - I was impressed how quickly Jack-Jack realised that after they'd been in the water the cotton could be sucked or squeezed to get the water out again, and did this over and over.
It's definitely nice just having one child to focus on at the moment, as all activities can be aimed at Jack-Jack's skill level and attention span, but I hope that we can carry on doing this when we have two (or three, or four...)