Easy Rainy Day Artwork

Summer is beginning! You know what that means right… rain! Well that has certainly been the case around here recently. But we wont let the rain dampen our spirits. Here is a really quick and easy way to make some rain drop artwork:

 

What you need:

  • Sugar paper (as big or small as you like, but preferably a light colour)
  • Felt tip pens/ crayons/ chalks in a variety of colours and sizes (thick/ thin)
  • Rain

What to do:

1. Hold your piece of sugar paper outside in the rain for a short time, until it is covered in rain spots.

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2. Use those multi-coloured felt-tips or whatever you have chosen to draw around the spots. This can really be done however the children like, they could draw around each dot just once, or many times, making the circles bigger each time. They could create a pattern of colours, or just be totally random.

There is also a nice link to be made here with grouping. You could ask the children to circle the dots in groups of 2’s, 3’s etc!

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OK, I’m not going to lie – this isn’t the best version of what this wonderfully creative activity can produce. That’s because it’s my own example (and I have a serious lack of fun pens) but you get the idea.

 

What other pieces of art can we use the weather to create? Comment below or tweet to me @EarlyYearsIdeas – I’d love to hear from you!

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10 fantastic ways to have fun in the rain

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Living in the UK, there’s no escaping the rain – even during the summer!

But does that mean we need to stay cooped up indoors? NO! Unless it is torrential or in some way dangerous, there is no reason that we can’t go out to play. Here are some simple play ideas for a rainy day:

  1. Puddle Splashing: 

    Take a leaf from Peppa Pig’s book and jump in those muddle puddles. After getting nice and soggy, try stomping on some large paper to see the footprint patterns. Don’t forget wellies and wet suits!

  2. Making potions: 

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    Rain water can used to make some exciting potions – add leaves, petals, mud, grass, anything else that can be found in the garden. This activity can be great for learning about measurement – using measuring jugs, containers and funnels to scoop and pour the liquid; counting – how many leaves/ petals shall we add?; and motor skills – as the children chop up the ingredients and use a spoon to mix them all together.

  3. Listening to sounds: 

    There’s something soothing about the sound of rain falling. Why not find a quiet spot and encourage the children to listen? In our busy lives, it’s an important skill to be able to take time to be quiet.

  4. Making sounds: 

    On the other hand, children love to be noisy! Baking trays and metal pots and pans outside can make a brilliant sound as the rain hits them.

  5. Collecting water:

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    Image from pixabay.com

    Ask the children to decide which containers they think will catch the rain. Will a cardboard box work? Why? Teach the children about volume by using different sizes and shapes of containers. It might also be interesting to put the containers in different places (under a tree, on top of the shed roof…) to find out if one place collects more water than another.

  6. Rainy art:

    Playground chalk looks great on a wet surface! Another way to create art is to use powder-paint and allow the raindrops to mix.

  7. Finding shelter: 

    Are there any places in the garden that have stayed dry? Maybe we can build a dry den? What materials should we use? Den building can develop lots of important skills such as team-work, and problem solving.

  8. Bike wash:

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    Image from pixabay.com

     Are those bikes looking a bit muddy? Use the rain as an opportunity to get out the sponges and cloths, and make your own bike-wash!

  9. Make some ripples: 

    Allow the children to see how the rain drops create ripples in the puddles and then explore making your own – using pebbles. What happens when we throw a big/ small pebble? Can we throw more than one at a time? What shapes and patterns can we see?

  10. Small world play: 

    Bring out some toy cars and trucks/ plastic animals/ dolls and let the children enjoy some imaginative play.

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Image from pixabay.com

 

As you can see, there are loads of way to have fun outside in the rain! If you have any more ideas, share them in the comments or tweet to me @EarlyYearsIdeas!

Have a great week!

 

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Wonderful Walks

I know, I know! Anyone who has read previous posts will be sick to death of me talking about nature walks – but they are brilliant!!

Today, I had a long overdue day off. I’ve been on teaching placement for the last 4 weeks which has kept me more than busy – getting up at 6:30, working until 4 and then coming home and planning/ evaluating until midnight. But now it’s all finished (I passed first year WOOHOO!) and my summer holidays have well and truly started.

So… how did I spend my day off? I went for a lovely walk in the sunshine!

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Feeling inspired; I thought I would blog about some of the learning opportunities that I stumbled across:

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The first thing I noticed were that there are lots and lots of Dandelion clocks! I have many fond childhood memories of picking these and using them to ‘tell the time’.

There is a very obvious connection to simple counting here (count how many puffs to blow away all of the seeds). You could also use them to spark children’s curiosity in telling the time – do the dandelion clocks really work? What time is it now?

A different way to explore these would be to think about simple seed dispersion. Why did these dandelions grow here? What will happen to the seeds when you blow them away?

Blowing the dandelion clocks has the added bonus of developing some of the muscles in the mouth. These types of experiences can have benefits for speech and language.

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Of course, it wasn’t just dandelion clocks that I saw. There were all sorts of flowers and plants!

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The next part of my walk involved sitting in the shade and looking up at the trees.  It’s important to take a break and sit in the shade – particularly if it’s a really sunny day.  Encourage your children to look at the patterns that appear as the trees move and sway. Can you move your body in the same way?  Children can also see how the sunlight sneaks through the gaps to create speckled patterns on the ground. Can we sketch any of these patterns? Could we make a similar pattern using paint/ collage?

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Speaking of light and shadow, how much fun would it be to trace the shape of these shadows with chalk onto the pavement? You could also have the children explore their own shadow shapes using their bodies or loose parts. Come back to the chalk outlines later in the day/ the next day. Are the shadows in the same place? Why do you think this is?

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Time to look up at the trees again! At this time of year you’re bound to find all kinds of beautiful blossom! What colours can you see?

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Consider using colour match cards or some kind of chart to note down the different colours that you spot while walking. I’ve seen some great examples of this using paint cards e.g. Dulux (with the various shades).

Again, this is a great link to some fabulous art – you could use tissue paper to imitate the soft, delicate blossom petals.

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As I was heading back towards home, this tree caught my eye. Firstly, the bark looks perfect for some fantastic rubbings, but also the bottom looks like a fairy door! If you have any trees like this near you, why not work with the children to turn the tree into a fairy house, and create a little fairy garden at the bottom? There are LOADS of great ideas for fairy gardens to be found on pinterest.

2016-05-17 15.12.54 Here are some of the bits and pieces that I collected while I was out walking.

Be sure to explain to the children that we mustn’t pick too many plants/ leaves (especially not from people’s gardens if you pass by).

When you bring these items back home/ back to nursery, you could display them on a nature table for the children to investigate wtih magnifying glasses or mirrors. You could also add your natural materials into the sand/ water table, into playdough or into potions. On the other hand, they could be used for measuring and weighing, painting, or printing… the possibilities are endless.

 

I hope this post has given you a few ideas for your next nature walk!

Don’t forget – you don’t need the sunshine to get outside, puddles and mud are just as much fun!

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“Now that the weather’s turning cold…”

Permit me to have a little moan.

It’s becoming a commonly accepted idea that outdoor play is hugely beneficial for children in so many different ways. With the growth of forest schools and nature based learning; one of my favourite quotes is always “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” (Of course, I’m not suggesting you take the children outside in flash floods or hurricane winds but you get the idea!)

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Despite this, while scrolling through my twitter feed, I keep coming across tweets and blogs with messages along the lines of “Now that the weather’s turning cold, here are some indoor activities.” Now don’t get me wrong here; there’s nothing wrong with indoor learning and play, but I can’t help but feel that the theme of these posts is that children should completely avoid the ‘cold’ and stay wrapped up warm inside.

If the children are kept indoors during the Autumn and Winter months, then they are missing out of so much fantastic learning; from the increasing knowledge of the way that nature changes through the seasons, to the wonder and magic of sparkling frost on a spiderweb. Among other things, getting outside also allows children to burn off that excess energy which prevents them from being able to settle and focus on other activities.

And so, here is my plea:

By all means, post your lovely learning ideas (indoors or out) but please don’t spread the message that cold weather means that children should be kept inside!

Let’s allow all of our children to embrace the outdoors, whatever the weather! Remember, lead by example here – if the children see you being enthusiastic and leading the fun, they will likely follow.

Here are my Autumn/Winter outdoor play tips:

  • Wrap up warm – This means children AND adults! Jumpers, coats, waterproof suits, wellies, gloves, scarfs and hats are all necessary for the colder months. I find it’s always a good idea to have spares as some children at nursery inevitably forget their coat…
  • Promote physical/energetic play – If it is cold, a good run around is the best way to warm up! Why not play some sports or get out the bikes – any physical activity will keep away the cold!
  • Short bursts – if the weather is particularly cold/wet/brutal, take the children out in short bursts. This means that they can still benefit from outdoor time but do not get too uncomfortable.
  • Have a change of clothes – if you’re outside in the wet weather, ensure that the children have a warm, dry set of clothes to change into when they come indoors. There’s nothing worse than squelching in wet socks!

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Can you think of any more? Please comment or tweet to me @EarlyYearsIdeas

Have a great week everyone and please – spend some quality time outdoors!

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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)

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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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