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 (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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Image from pixabay.com

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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Image from pixabay.com

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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Image from pixabay.com

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 (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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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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    Image from pixabay.com

    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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Image from pixabay.com

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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Image from pixabay.com

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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Image from pixabay.com

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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Image from pixabay.com

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

5…4…3…2…1…Blast Off!

Following the absolutely amazing experiences of the British astronaut; Tim Peak (if you haven’t watched the video of his space walk yet, check it out here), my fascination with space and our solar system has been renewed!

If I’m feeling this way, I’m willing to bet that others are feeling the same, therefore this is a brilliant opportunity to do some space themed learning with our children!

The curriculum for excellence includes a line of discovery which is directly related to space:

I have experienced the wonder of looking at the vastness of the sky, and can recognise the sun, moon and stars and link them to daily patterns of life. SCN 0-06a

That being said, as always, the experiences and activities which you offer to your children will cross into many of the curricular areas. Below are some of the ideas which I’ve come up with and how they may link to the curriculum:

Language & Literacy

  • Make a ‘Word Wall’ display with the fantastic new language that you’ll be using, for example “rocket”, “planet”, “moon”…
  • Stock up your story corner with Space books – both information and story

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    Image from morguefile.com

  • Make up stories together about the man in the moon, astronauts or friendly aliens.
  • Decorate paper plates to look like the different planets and add their names. Display these around the room.
  • Add glitter/ coloured sand to your light box (and let the children know that it’s moon dust), then allow the children to mark make. Perhaps add ‘astronaut gloves’ for an extra challenge.
  • Singling space songs (this also links in with expressive arts):
    • Twinkle twinkle little star
    • Mr moon, Mr moon, you’re out too soon
    • 5 little men in a flying saucer

Numeracy

  • Countdown (5,4,3,2,1, blast off!)
  • Building up rocket pictures using shapes and colours (for example; can you make a rocket shape out of 3 squares, 2 semi circles and a triangle?)
  • Comparing sizes, and using mathematical language – Jupiter is the biggest planet, the Earth is smaller.

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    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA from morguefile.com

  • Add a sundial to your garden or outdoor area and observe with the children how the shadow moves. You may want to use chalk to draw around the shadow at different times so that the children can clearly see the movement. Link these observations with the idea of time. Perhaps take photos of the different shadows and display them around your clock.
  • Connect the stars (like connect the dots) to make simple constellations – you can do this on paper with a pencil, or can bring in some fine motor skills by having the children thread wool through card, making a small hole at the point of each star so that the constellation becomes clear.

Expressive Arts

  • Work together to create a fabulous cardboard space rocket or turn your role play area into mission control! Don’t forget to add space suits, helmets and space boots. There are loads of wonderful role play ideas on pinterest – I would encourage you to take a look! Simply search ‘Space role play.’
  • Bored of paper? Paint space scenes onto tin foil for an interesting effect.
  • Planet stamping (use sponge stampers or potato halves to stamp colourful circles onto black paper – add glitter/ sequins for a shimmery space result.)

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    Image from morguefile.com

  • Build your own junk model rockets. As well as being creative, this activity also involves children thinking about which materials they are going to use (“should I use the square box or the cylinder tube?”) and problem solving (“how can I get this tube to stick on?”)
  • Make some papier mache planets for the added bonus of sticky, sensory fun.
  • Get dancing with some music and movement (why not have the children pretend to be rockets blasting off, or experiment with taking great big ‘moon steps’)
  • Listen to some space themed music (why not try Holst’s Planets or Bowie’s Space Oddity)
  • Try using musical instruments to imitate Sounds of a rocket (experiment with playing them loud/quiet/fast/slow)

Science

  • Build your own vinegar and baking soda rocket! Tutorial here
  • Explore light and darkness with torches and lights in a Dark den
  • Go out and look at the stars. If you have a real telescope then fantastic! If not, make some pretend ones with cardboard tubes – you can still go star gazing on a clear night!

Technology

  • There are many wonderful websites which can be used for finding information and also for games and activities. Take a look at:
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    Let the children see the ISS live feed

  • Watch videos of rocket launches, space walks and life in space. YouTube is a wonderful resource for this, but please always check the videos before you show your children and ensure that the ‘related videos’ bar is not showing anything inappropriate!
  • Use the bee-bot or other programmable toys to learn about the space rover and remote control robots in space.

 

 

Blog Hopping

While writing this post, I also came across some other wonderful ideas which I would like to share!

Galaxy Oobleck from Twodaloo

Loads of space themed ideas here from Fun in Pre K-1 and Kinder (I particularly like the sounds of the ‘squishy sun’)

Moon Maths from Stir the Wonder

A lovely, visual activity to introduce children to the concept of planets orbiting the sun here from Gift of Curiosity.

 

I hope that I’ve given you a few ideas to inspire you when broaching this wonderful topic with your children! If you have any further ideas that you’d like to share, please comment, or tweet to me at @EarlyYearsIdeas. I’d love to hear from you!

Have a brilliant week everyone! Don’t forget to join us on Wednesday at 8pm for our weekly #childcarehour chat.

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Happy Halloween

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Halloween is a wonderful excuse for some silly, spooky fun! I’ve been having a think and here are some of my favourite Halloween themed activity ideas:

  • Spiderweb threading – using a paper plate with holes punched around the outside, encourage the children to thread wool across as many times as they like to make a wonderfully tangled web. For added fun, try drizzling some glue over the top and sprinkling with silvery glitter (Health and Wellbeing, Creative, Science)Spider
  • Spiderweb on floor – Using masking tape, map out a large spiderweb on the floor, then add colours/ numbers or shapes and turn it into a fun game by shouting out one (colour/number/shape) and having the child jump on it/stretch to it (Health and Wellbeing, Numeracy, Science)
  • Pumpkin carving – for more on this see Enjoying Autumn
  • Dancing – play some spooky music and get involved in some dance and movement! Think about the different ways that different Halloween characters might move – a stiff skeleton, a floaty ghost, a slimy monster… (Creative, Health and Welllbeing) One of my favourite pieces of music for this activity is Greig’s Hall of the Mountain King (I love how it builds up to an exciting climax!)

  • Haunted castle bingo – use an outline of a spooky castle (plenty to be found on google), then add numbers – using either computer skills or by hand. Numbers can be hidden in windows or could just be added onto the castle using clear white circles/stickers. Remember to blank out a few so that not everyone has the exact same sheet! Then practice number recognition either by matching the number to the one you hold up, or identifying it by name alone. (Numeracy) 302589_10150902988750374_423956221_n
  • Spooky slime – Halloween is the perfect opportunity for some gloopy fun! Why not experiment with adding hair conditioner or even soap flakes for an exciting sensory experience!
  • Darkness and Shadows – set up a dark den or create an area which is as dark as possible, then let the children explore with torches, glow sticks and other light up toys. Develop this further by shining a light on the wall/ floor and experimenting with creating weird and wonderful shadow shapes. You could even try telling a story using shadows as your pictures. (Language and Literacy, Science)
  • Go for a torch walk – everything looks different in the dark, and now that the dark evenings are closing in we have more time to enjoy it! Take the torches outside and use them to look at the trees, buildings, landmarks etc. My favourite time to do this would be at dusk, however ff the light levels are really low when you go out, please make sure to use an enclosed garden or very safe space. (Health and Wellbeing, Science)

Skeleton

Other people’s ideas that I love:

These fruity treats from One Little Project

This super cute masking tape mummy from No Time for Flash Cards

Cotton bud skeletons from All Free Crafts

Pumpkin potato prints from Roaming rose

Have a great week everyone!

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