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

 

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Advent Activities (16th December)

The weekend has arrived, and here’s a fitting Advent Activity:

Watch a Christmas Movie

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What you’ll need:

 

A brilliant Christmas movie (my recommendations below)

Comfy clothes

OPTIONAL: Snacks

OPTIONAL: Blankets or the Duvet

 

When the weather outside is frightful, don’t bother going out! Make yourself comfy and cosy, and snuggle up with a feelgood movie. Here are the ones I watch every year (in no particular order):

  1. Elf This 2003 movie is silly fun. It’s  PG rated, with a couple of more adult jokes, but I’d say it’s pretty family friendly overall!
  2. Miracle on 34th Street This is a classic! Richard Attenborough plays a wrongly accused Santa who needs to prove that he’s the real thing – and along the way he fulfils the Christmas wishes of a sceptical little girl.
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    Polar Express A young boy who has started to doubt Christmas is taken on a magical adventure on the Polar express.

  4. The Snowman What would happen if your snowman came to life? Watch this classic and wonder no more!
  5. Nativity! A primary teacher accidentally tells everyone that he’s getting Hollywood to come to their Nativity play. Follow the madness and mayhem as they prepare for the big show.
  6. Muppet Christmas Carol Last but not least, my very favourite. This is a charming version of the famous story, with the added bonus of all of your favourite Muppet characters and fabulous songs.

 

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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

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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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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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 (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 (13th December)

Wednesday is #EYshare day! If you’re a twitter user, I hope you’ll pop along this evening at 8pm to join us for a friendly chat before we finish for Christmas.

And on that note – on to today’s Advent Activity:

Make some festive fun Playdough

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Playdough is wonderful fun. It allows children to be creative, making and modelling whatever their heart desires. It’s also fabulous for developing those fine motor skills that are so important for developing pencil grasp and those other really important abilities.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • splash of oil
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • food colourings (I suggest red and green as these are very Christmassy colours)
  • Peppermint essence OR Christmas spices (ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon…)
  • OPTIONAL: glitter
  • OPTIONAL: sequins
  • Playdough tools – cutters, rolling pins etc

What to do:

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    Mix together your flour and salt, and add your splash of oil

  2. Slowly add in your warm water as needed until the dough starts to come together
  3. Mix in your food colouring. If you want to make various doughs in different colours, just split the dough up into smaller balls and add the desired colour to each one.
  4. Mix in your seasonal smells.
  5. Keep kneeding until the dough feels fairly smooth, and it clings together but is not too sticky. You may need to add more water if it is crumbly, or more flour if it is sticky.
  6. OPTIONAL: sprinkle glitter all over the dough for added sparkle

 

This is a recipe that I have used before as it’s really simple and uses the least amount of ingredients – but I will admit now that I am not the best at making playdough! If you wish – there are tonnes of wonderful recipes online so feel free to take a look!

 

The sequins are fabulous for pressing into the dough (more fine motor and co-ordination skills here). If you roll your dough into a ball and then press your sequins into it, it can look like a festive bauble!

What else can you make? Send me your ideas or pictures on twitter @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

Advent Activities (12th December)

Yesterday completely got away from me! I had an assessment in the morning (Which did not go to plan), Christmas choir rehearsal in the afternoon, and then the in-laws over for dinner before heading out to take some really giggly pregnancy photos!

In amongst all of that – I completely forgot to post my advent activity for the day!! So here it is (better late than never right?)

Go for a wintery walk

As anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows, I love a good walk! And this time of year is fabulous for going out and noticing all of the changes that are happening in the environment. Remember to wrap up warm, and pop on those welly boots!

Here’s a few ideas for walking:

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    Look for any frozen over puddles OR splash in the non-frozen puddles

  2. Go on a scavenger hunt. Before you head out, make up a little list of things to find. These can be items that you could collect (pine cones, sticks, a shiny stone…), or just sights to spot (5 Christmas trees, a picture of Santa, a Christmas wreath…).
  3. Go for a torch walk in the dark! I wouldn’t recommend this with a large group of children – because you’ll need to keep an extra close eye on them. High-vis vests are also a good idea in the dark.
  4. Make footprints in the snow! That is – if you’re lucky enough to have some. I am so jealous of everyone who has been sharing pictures of the white fluffy stuff.

 

Remember, walking is great exercise, and it’s really important for children to get fresh air, even if the weather is not ‘nice’.

Have a great day!

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Previous Doors:

advent-calendar-1780949_960_720Day 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

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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    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!

Signature

 

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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