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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Image from pixabay.com

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 (22nd December)

For many of us, this is the last working day before the Christmas holidays! I hope you’re having a great one! Here’s today’s fun activity:

Design a Christmas Tree

What you’ll need:

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    A Christmas tree template printed on A4 paper (There are loads of these on google, or you can click to download my super simple Tree template )

  • Pompoms/ sequins/ any other little decorative items you may have

What to do:

Basically, let this activity is about allowing the children to explore patterns by arranging the items on the tree. They can look at different colours and shapes – all important numeracy skills. The wonderful thing about this activity is that it isn’t permanent so children can create a design, clear it off, and start again!

 

Have a brilliant Friday and Christmas weekend!

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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

Advent Activities (15th December)

It’s Friiiiiday!! We made it to the end of another week! Have you been following my advent activities? If so, I hope you’ve come across a few ideas you like. Today we’re getting crafty while we:

Make some paper snowflakes

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Image from pixabay.com

These paper decorations are wonderful for developing those fine motor skills, co-ordination, concentration, shape skills, and creativity. And of course, you can link it with your learning about the weather, the seasons, symmetry, and the science of the states of water! But mostly, it is wonderful fun!

What you’ll need:

White paper

Something circular to draw around (a small plate will do)

A pencil

Scissors

OPTIONAL: Glue, Glitter, Sequins etc

 

What to do:

Draw around your circular object (plate?) and cut out so that you have a circle of white paper.

Fold in half, half again, and half again (it should look like a slice of pizza).

Snip into the edges – triangle snips work the best, but you can experiment with all kinds of shapes. Your child might need a little help with snipping – especially if your paper is slightly thicker.

When you’ve made all of the cuts you like, unfold the snowflake and marvel at the wonderful designs!

OPTIONAL: Spread a little glue over your snowflake and sprinkle with glitter, or add sequins.

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Image from pixabay.com

No 2 snowflakes are the same, so enjoy experimenting with all kinds of weird and wonderful shapes and designs. Once they’re finished (and dried if you were using glue), why not hang them up so that they look like real snowflakes falling?

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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

Day 14: Read a Christmas Story

 

Advent Activities (11th December)

2017-12-10 17.37.10Happy Monday! As I mentioned – yesterday I put up my Christmas tree! It’s a special one because this is the last Christmas that the husband and I will be spending as a couple (before baby comes along!), so in celebration, he actually relented and allowed me to get a real tree!

 

 

Moving on – it’s time to open Door 11 on our advent calendar! And today’s activity is:

Feeding the Birds

This is a great time to attract some birds to your garden, as they’re having more trouble finding food and will be glad of a little help from you and your children.

Here are a couple of super easy bird feeders you can make

Cereal hangers

What you’ll need:

  • Cereal that’s in the shape of loops (for example Cheerios)
  • Pipe cleaners

What to do:

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Image from pixabay.com

1.Thread the cereal onto a pipe cleaner until it is mostly covered. Remember the leave enough at the top to create a loop for hanging. Do this as many times as you like to make as many feeders as you like.

Bonus: Threading is great for fine-motor skills and co-ordination. You can also link in some pattern work if you have a cereal with different colours.

2.Hang your pipe cleaners in the trees!

 

Bread Hangers

What you’ll need:

  • Some stale sliced bread
  • OPTIONAL: Cookie cutter(s)
  • Some bird-seed
  • Butter (and a knife for spreading)
  • A pencil
  • Some string/ ribbon

What to do:

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    Take a slice of stale bread and spread the butter all over. Spread it fairly thick as this is what will help the seeds to stick.

  2. OPTIONAL: Use your cookie cutter to make the slice of bread into an interesting shape.
  3. Press your bird seed into the bread and butter until the whole slice is covered.
  4. Use your pencil to make a small hole, and thread the string or ribbon through for hanging.
  5. Hang your bread feeder out for the birds!

 

Don’t forget to keep an eye on your feeders to see if you can spot any birds. And check back here tomorrow for another Advent 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

 

 

 

Advent Activities (7th December)

Bake some Yummy treats

This is no time to go on a diet! And baking is a brilliant way to practice some simple maths skills (weighing and measuring), literacy skills (following instructions), and even learn about science (changing states).

Gingerbread People

A classic Christmas biscuit! Here’s what you need:

350g Flour

100g Butter

175g Light Brown Sugar

1 Egg (beaten)

1tsp Bicarbonate of soda

1tsp Ground ginger

1/2tsp Cinnamon

4tbsp Golden Syrup

Gingerbread person cutters

Icing sugar/ piping icing

 

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Mix together the flour, spices, and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and rub in the butter. Next add your sugar to the mixture, before stirring in the golden syrup and the beaten egg.

Stir until your dough comes together. Chill in the fridge (wrapped in clingfilm) for around an hour. Roll out your dough on a slightly floured surface, and use your cutters to make your gingerbread shapes.

Place your gingerbread people onto a baking tray (on baking paper) and cook in the oven at around 190 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden.

Once cooked, let your gingerbread people cool completely before decorating with icing.

 

Top-hats (dipped marshmallows)

This is super easy and only involves melting chocolate so you don’t need to put the oven on!

Marshmallows

Chocolate chips/ chunks/ bars that you can melt (I find that milk chocolate is best)

 

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Melt your chocolate – you can do this in a variety of ways. Either pop it in a microwave safe bowl and heat (CAREFULLY) in short bursts, stirring in between, or place in a bowl over a pot of steaming hot water. Either way, be aware of your health and safety procedures and ensure that no little fingers go touching hot apparatus.

Next, dip your marshmallows into the melted chocolate until they are half covered.

Then pop your marshmallows onto a sheet of baking paper and allow to set. OPTIONAL – add a smartie or other sweetie to the top of your marshmallow (the side with the melted chocolate).

 

Shortbread biscuits

Here’s one of my favourites. I LOVE shortbread 🙂 All you need is:

60g Flour

40g Butter

20g Caster sugar

Splash Vanilla extract

Biscuit cutters

 

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Image from pixabay.com

Mix together the flour and butter by rubbing them through your fingertips until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

Add in the splash of vanilla and sugar, then begin to squeeze the mixture together until it becomes like a dough. You may want to add a tsp or so of water if your mixture is too dry and crumbly.

Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface and use the cutters to make your biscuit shapes.

Place your biscuits onto a baking tray with baking paper, and cook at around 180 degrees for around 15 minutes or until golden.

 

 

There are SO many more ideas online, so get into that kitchen a cook up a storm!

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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

Advent Activities (3rd December)

Today’s activity:

Making salt-dough ornaments for your tree

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Image from pixabay.com

I love making personalised tree ornaments, and these are so easy! There are also loads of links to learning that you can make here – such as the maths of weighing and measuring ingredients, the literacy of reading and following instructions, and the expressive arts as the children get creative with their designs!

What you’ll need:

For the dough

  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of warm water (you may not need it all)

To decorate

  • Paint (I like to use poster paint mixed with PVA glue for added shine)
  • Glitter
  • Sequins

Misc

  • Rolling pin
  • Christmas cutters
  • A pencil
  • Ribbon/ string
  • Optional – PVA glue/ clear varnish/ hairspray

Method

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    Mix the flour and salt together, and slowly add in the water until the dough comes together (be careful not too add too much as it will get too sticky! If this does happen just add more flour).

  2. Flour your work surface and roll out the dough. Then use your Christmas cutters to make the shapes of your ornaments.
  3. Use your pencil to make a small hole at the top of your ornament. This is so you can add the ribbon or string later!
  4. Pop your shapes onto a baking tray
  5. Cook in the oven on a really low heat. I’m not kidding here – you want it around 100/150 degrees!
  6. Leave to cook for around an hour before checking – it may need longer (I also recommend flipping your ornaments over to help them to cook on both sides).
  7. Allow your ornaments to cool completely before decorating.
  8. Now for the fun bit – decorate with your paints, sparkles, and anything else you like!
  9. Allow to dry before adding a final layer of PVA glue/ clear varnish/ spray with hairspray to help the glitter and sparkles stay in place.
  10. Thread the ribbon / string through the hole at the top and hang your beautiful ornaments on the tree!

 

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See what I mean? This couldn’t be easier! They also make really cute home-made gifts, or little items for a Christmas fete. If you have a go at making your own, I’d love to see some of the finished results! Tweet to me @EarlyYearsIdeas 🙂

And don’t forget to come back tomorrow for another advent idea!

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Previous Doors:

Day 1: Paper Chains

Day 2: Reindeer Cam

We’re going on a Maths Hunt!

During one of my university inputs, I was asked to look at a picture book and to consider how it could be used to develop children’s early mathematical skills.

The picture book that I chose was ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt‘ by Michael Rosen. I chose this book because it’s one of my favourites, and one which (in my experience) never fails to capture children’s imagination.

I have used this story to explore language, and for various dramatic and creative play experiences, but I have never before taken a particular focus on the mathematical element. That being said, it is obvious that there is plenty of mathematical language and concepts throughout. Here are some of the ones that I spotted:

  • language of measurement and size: “we’re going to catch a BIG one” and “long, wavy grass”
  • positional language – over/ under/ through
  • counting – “one shiny, wet nose, 2 big furry ears…”
  • rhythm and repetition

If I were to use this story with my class, there are various activities which I may use to focus in on some of these concepts. I would always begin by reading the story with my class. I love the actions which Michael Rosen uses in his reading and would use the same, or my own variation of these to engage the children.

I have chosen 2 mathematical concepts to explore further: measurement and counting.

Measurement

To continue with the concept of measurement and size, I would encourage the children to explore tape-measures, rulers, measuring sticks and even non conventional measurement resources like lego blocks. I would then provide opportunities for the children to begin to sort items that they had measured into groups of big/ medium/ small etc. I would model and encourage the different words and language which can be used to describe these measurements: large, tiny, huge, little…

Another fun activity could be to have the children arrange themselves in a long line from biggest to smallest or visa versa. This activity could be done as a transition (for example when lining up for lunch) and would help to secure the children’s understanding.

Counting

163568_460302010707036_766482142_nOne way to continue learning about counting and labelling, in the way that the story does, could be to use the same method to describe something else. I would provide playdough with a variety of materials such as googly eyes, straws, sequins, string, etc and allow the children to create their own creature. I would encourage them to make their creature as weird and wacky as they liked, because when they are finished I would ask them to describe it to their friend. This activity could be linked to learning about description, or could simply be about how many eyes/ ears/ noses etc that their creature has.

 

Do you have any other ideas as to how we could use this book to develop maths skills? Please drop me a comment!