Easter Ideas

2018-03-20 12.44.54-1Hooray! I love Easter! Being a massive chocoholic helps, but it’s also great to see Spring underway and things coming to life after the long winter. My daffodils have started popping up and I’ve even been lucky enough to see some sunshine this last week!

Here are a few fun Easter themed activities that you might be interested in for the long weekend:

Easter Egg Rolling (Science/ Maths) 

This activity really does what it says on the tin. You can use chocolate eggs, hard-boiled eggs, or plastic eggs. Even better if you have a combination and they’re different shapes and sizes.

WARNING: BE AWARE OF ANY ALLERGIES BEFORE USING REAL EGGS

So what do you do? First you’ll need a ramp of some sort. You could use a slide, a plank of wood, or a large piece of cardboard (easy!) Fix it into place and then – you guessed it – roll those eggs! The science and/or maths comes into it if you decide to look at the distance that the eggs might travel after they leave the ramp. You could measure this using a ruler or tape measure, and this brings in some important measuring skills. The science element could be to look at the reasons why some eggs travel further/ faster than others. You could also try sticking a rug/some felt/ bubble wrap/ any other material with an interesting texture, onto your ramp to see if it changes the distance that your eggs travel.

Easter Egg Hunt (Social Studies)

Everyone knows about the good old Easter Egg hunt! But why not add in some extra fun and learning by using a map to find your eggs?

The first thing to do is to create a map of your garden or room (wherever the eggs are going to be hidden). This doesn’t need to be complicated, and is best created together with the child(ren) so that they have a good understanding of what it means. See my example below:

Map

Once you have your map, it’s time to hide those eggs! Don’t forget to mark on the map where you’ve hidden them. This is also a great opportunity to practice some positional and directional language.

Now let the fun begin! You could even repeat the activity by letting your child/ children hide am egg and mark it on the map for you to find!

Easter Baking (Health and Wellbeing/ Maths/ Literacy/ Science)

I love baking cakes almost as much as I love eating them! I wont bore you with any recipes on here because there are so many online for you to find, but if I was going to suggest a couple for you to try I would say – Nest Cakes or Rock Cakes. Both are super simple and really yummy!

Maths comes into baking when you measure out your ingredients. You can use scales or count scoops, either way this is great maths practice! Literacy is involved when you and your child follow a recipe together. The science aspect is a little more complicated, but can be simplified through a simple conversation about how things change – for example melting chocolate (solid to liquid, and back again), or baking the mixture so that it changes from a sticky gloopy mess, to solid cakes. Finally, Health and Wellbeing is important with baking, particularly when you think about hygiene, such as washing our hands before touching food. You should also be talking to your child(ren) about safety, particularly if you are using the oven, or anything like boiling water.

You may also want to talk to your child(ren) about different foods and which are healthy or unhealthy. This is really relevant at Easter when the focus is very much on chocolate and sweeties!

Decorating Eggs (Art/ Maths)

You can approach this activity in a few different ways:

  • Paper templates
  • Polystyrene eggs
  • Real (hard boiled) eggs

WARNING: BE AWARE OF ALLERGIES BEFORE USING REAL EGGS

With a paper egg (you can find these online, they can either be a simple egg-shaped outline, or can have patterns drawn onto them for colouring), you can explore colour, shape, pattern, and design. Use crayons, felt-tips, paints, stickers, or anything else to make the eggs look fantastic.

Polystyrene eggs can easily be decorated using stickers or felt tips. These are a little more tricky to work with because they are 3D and require some hand-eye co ordination.

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Real eggs can be decorated with felt pens or paints. I recommend poster paints mixed with PVA glue for those bright, shiny colours that look fab. Again, some co ordination is needed to manage this activity. Best to cook a few spares as there are bound to be breakages!

When you’re decorating eggs, you can encourage your child to think about pattern by asking them to think about what might come next, for example if you’re painting spots: red, blue, yellow, red, blue, yellow, red… You can also introduce them to the fun language of shapes and patterns, such as zig-zag, or criss-cross!

 

 

What do you have planned this Easter weekend? Pop me a comment below or tweet to me @EarlyYearsIdeas to let me know!

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Advent Activities (23rd December)

We made it to the weekend! And what’s even more exciting is that it’s Christmas Eve Eve! Today’s activity is all about description, so using loads of wonderful language.

Feely stocking game

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This game is really simple! All you need to do is find some items or toys that have an interesting feel. These can be anything: a spoon, a candy cane, a toy car…

Pop one item into a stocking (in secret) and allow the child to reach inside and feel it. They mustn’t take it out or peek!! Encourage them to talk about what they can feel – is it hard or soft? Is it bumpy or smooth? Is it round or flat?

At the end of the game the child needs to have a guess as to what the item is, and then they can take it out and see if they were right!

Then you simply put a new item into the stocking and let the next child (or the same one if you’re playing with just one) have a feel!

 

Have fun!!

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Previous Doors:

Day 1: Paper Chains

Day 2: Reindeer Cam

Day 3: Salt-Dough Ornaments

Day 4: Letter to Santa

Day 5: Christmas Role Play

Day 6: Scented Pictures

Day 7: Christmas Baking

Day 8: Home-made Christmas Cards

Day 9: Christmas Puzzles

Day 10: Do Something Kind

Day 11: Feed the Birds

Day 12: Go for a Walk

Day 13: Festive Playdough

Day 14: Read a Christmas Story

Day 15: Paper Snowflakes

Day 16: Christmas Movie

Day 17: Ice Play

Day 18: Christmas Around the World

Day 19: Christmas Colouring

Day 20: Sensory Bottles

Day 21: Singing

Day 22: Design a Christmas Tree

Advent Activities (17th December)

A slightly messy one for today – but don’t panic – it’s only water! Today’s activity is:

Ice Play

Sensory play (named because it stimulates the senses!) is great fun for children. It also allows children to develop problem solving and cognitive skills, while exploring various materials. Sensory play can include sand/ water/ gloop/ shaving foam/ cooked spaghetti… basically anything that looks, feels, smells, (tastes/ sounds) really interesting.

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Today we are thinking about Ice Play – because if your weather has been anything like mine, there’s loads of ice around and it’s really interesting, slippery, cold fun.

 

 

 

There are a few different things you can do with ice in your sensory tray:

  • Fill the tray with ice cubes.
  • Freeze small toys/ other items (maybe glitter or something else really exciting) into the ice. Children love chipping away at the ice or trying to melt it to get the toys out!
  • Create some large Ice Balloons – water is frozen inside a balloon, and then the balloon is cut away. This can be fabulous as you see the air bubbles as they freeze inside the ice ball! You could also experiment with freezing different liquids.
  • Add food colouring to the water before freezing to create coloured ice. Wonderful fun when the ice melts – especially if you have more than one colour and they mix together.
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It can be great to explore the melting process with children, and why not explore whether we can make the ice melt more slowly or quickly? What effect will some salt have on the ice?  This is actually the very beginnings of scientific enquiry skills – the kind that children will be using at school and beyond! Never underestimate the power of play!

This kind of play is also a great opportunity to introduce lots of language about temperature!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for another activity!

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Previous Doors:

Day 1: Paper Chains

Day 2: Reindeer Cam

Day 3: Salt-Dough Ornaments

Day 4: Letter to Santa

Day 5: Christmas Role Play

Day 6: Scented Pictures

Day 7: Christmas Baking

Day 8: Home-made Christmas Cards

Day 9: Christmas Puzzles

Day 10: Do Something Kind

Day 11: Feed the Birds

Day 12: Go for a Walk

Day 13: Festive Playdough

Day 14: Read a Christmas Story

Day 15: Paper Snowflakes

Day 16: Christmas Movie

 

Advent Activities (14th December)

With all of the chaos and noise that surrounds this time of year, here’s a nice relaxed activity for the day:

Read a Christmas Story

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Reading with children has a whole bunch of benefits, from building relationships, to developing those important reading skills, so take some time this Christmas to settle in with a good book. Here are a few of my suggestions (NOTE – I have included links to amazon.co.uk but I am not saying that you need to buy the books, or if you do, I’m not saying you should necessarily buy from amazon!):

The Jolly Christmas Postman – Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Follow the postman as he delivers Christmas greetings to the characters from many well known fairy-tales! This book has the added appeal of ‘extra pieces’ that your child can pull out of the envelopes and look at/ play with (such as little cards and even a jigsaw puzzle!)

Mog’s Christmas – Judith Kerr

Mog the cat is unsettled by all of the strangeness and hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations! She tries to escape, but ends up in amongst it all again!

The Snowman – Raymond Briggs

This is a book version of the classic film (singing ‘Walking in the Air’ is optional but encouraged!) I love this book because it is all pictures and no words, allowing children at all levels of language and reading development to access and enjoy it. It’s also a lovely story of friendship and magic at Christmas.

The Christmas Eve Tree – Delia Huddy

An ugly little tree arrives in the city, but no-one wants him! That is until a homeless boy asks if he can take the tree with him, and this is the start of a magical Christmas eve for them both. A lovely story from a slightly different angle to some of the other books you might come across.

Dear Santa – Rod Campbell

This book is more suited to younger children. It’s a beautiful flap book where your children can discover a new present on every page!

The Night Before Christmas – Clement C. Moore

No Christmas is complete without this classic poem, and there are lots of beautifully illustrated versions for you to read!

The Nativity Story

If you want to read about the meaning of Christmas, there are so many books with the Nativity story – and these are written in ways that are suited to different age groups -so take a look and pick one that suits you best!

 

Do you have a favourite Christmas story book? Let me know @EarlyYearsIdeas

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Previous Doors:

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Day 1: Paper Chains

Day 2: Reindeer Cam

Day 3: Salt-Dough Ornaments

Day 4: Letter to Santa

Day 5: Christmas Role Play

Day 6: Scented Pictures

Day 7: Christmas Baking

Day 8: Home-made Christmas Cards

Day 9: Christmas Puzzles

Day 10: Do Something Kind

Day 11: Feed the Birds

Day 12: Go for a Walk

Day 13: Festive Playdough

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advent Activities (8th December)

It’s Friday! The weekend is almost here! What will you be doing? Well here’s one idea:

Make and send some home-made Christmas Cards

There are so many lovely ideas for making your own Christmas cards. Here are 2 really simple and completely lovely ones:

1.Hand Print Angels

What you’ll need:

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Coloured card

White paint

A paint brush

Glue (PVA or glue-stick)

Cream// yellow/ shiny paper (cut into a triangle)

A circle of skin coloured/ white paper

Glitter – gold or silver (if desired)

Pens/ pencils

Method:

  1. Fold your card in half to make a Christmas card shape.
  2. Paint both of your child’s hands using the white paint, and press them down onto the card – thumbs together and facing upwards. It should look like 2 Angel wings.
  3. Sprinkle a little glitter over the wet paint if you fancy a bit of extra sparkle.
  4. Stick the triangle into the middle of the handprints, with the point at the top. This is to be the Angel’s dress.
  5. Allow your child to draw a face onto the circle of paper, before sticking it at the top of the triangle.
  6. Once the paint and glue are dried, write inside your card!

 

2.Potato print baubles

What you will need:

Coloured card

A variety of differently sized potatoes

A sharp knife (obviously only to be used by an adult)

Some brightly coloured poster paints

A paint brush

Glitter (if desired)

Black felt tip

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Method:

  1. Fold your card in half to create a Christmas card shape.
  2. Cut your potatoes in half – leaving a flat, round(ish) surface for printing.
  3. OPTIONAL: carve out some details onto the flat side of the potato – stripes/spots/etc
  4. Spread some of the paint onto the flat side of the potato, and press it down onto the card.
  5. When you lift off the potato you should see the print left on the card. Sprinkle a little glitter over the wet paint if you’d like to add some sparkle!
  6. Continue with this method until you have as many bauble shapes as you’d like on your card.
  7. Experiment with adding paints of different colours onto the same potato for interesting patterns and designs.
  8. Use your black felt tip to draw a small square at the top of the bauble shape and the loop for hanging.
  9. Once the paint is completely dried, write inside your card.

 

I’m sure friends and family will love these home-made designs! Enjoy!

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Previous Doors:

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Day 1: Paper Chains

Day 2: Reindeer Cam

Day 3: Salt-Dough Ornaments

Day 4: Letter to Santa

Day 5: Christmas Role Play

Day 6: Scented Pictures

Day 7: Christmas Baking

Advent Activities (5th December)

Christmas Role Play!

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I’ve actually got 2 ideas for you today (aren’t I good to you!?) Both are ideas for a bit of role-play fun this December.

Turn your role play area into Santa’s Workshop!

Who doesn’t like to think about those little elves getting everything ready for the big day? Why not let your children help with making and wrapping some ‘gifts’? This kid of play is great for fine-motor, co-ordination, and concentration skills, not to mention of course, wonderful imaginative play!

Items you can add:

  • Wrapping paper
  • Old gift tags, ribbons, bows…
  • Sticky tape
  • Scissors (safety scissors will work!)
  • Cardboard boxes (or anything the children can wrap and unwrap)
  • Tools (pretend OR real – depending on the age and stage of your children and how brave you are)
  • Pieces of wood
  • Junk modelling items

Don’t forget to make the whole area really Christmassy with plenty of tinsel! I’m sure your children will help you to decorate. You could even add those wonderful paper chains that you made on December 1st!

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Turn your role play area or writing table into a Christmas Post-Office!

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This is a time of year where we write and send lots of letters and cards! That means it’s a great opportunity to allow your children to practice their writing and mark making skills.

Don’t forget to make your own little post box! All you need is a large box painted red and decorated however you like. Add a slot for posting and voila! Added bonus if you make a door for taking the letters out again – I always forget!

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Items you can add:

  • Envelopes
  • Paper
  • Pens and pencils – the more different kinds the better! Chunky/thin, coloured/ black and white, long/ short…
  • Stampers
  • Stickers
  • Old Christmas cards & gift tags
  • Stamps – you can cut these off old envelopes

 

 

Have a great day!

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Previous Doors:

Day 1: Paper Chains

Day 2: Reindeer Cam

Day 3: Salt-dough Ornaments

Day 4: Letters to Santa

 

Advent Activities (4th December)

Behind door number 4… a very important Christmas tradition!

Write a Letter to Santa

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Have you sent your wish list to Santa yet? Or maybe you’d just like to send him a note to let him know how good you’ve been through the year! Now is the perfect time to get scribbling!

Did you know that The Royal Mail are doing a system this year where you can write to Santa and he’ll write back! But you need to be quick – the deadline is on the 8th!!

The address is:

Father Christmas, Santa’s Grotto, Reindeer Land, XM4 5HQ

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There are also some lovely template letters online (check out Pinterest for LOADS of ideas).

I personally love the idea of organising your list into the categories: “something I want, something I need, something to wear, and something to read” (DISCLAIMER – this is not my idea. I’ve seen it used it lots of other places).

 

Have fun!

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Previous Doors:

Day 1: Paper Chains

Day 2: Reindeer Cam

Day 3: Salt-Dough Ornaments