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.

 

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

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 (9th December)

What are you up to on this cold Saturday? Might I suggest:

Do a Christmas Puzzle

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There are so many options out there of lovely themed Christmas jigsaws and puzzles. If you already have one, great! Pull it out, maybe pop on some relaxing music, and spend some time with you child(ren) working together. Puzzles are brilliant for problem solving, fine motor skills, co-ordination, concentration, and team work!

If you don’t already have a puzzle, here’s a super easy activity for you to try:

  1. Find some old Christmas cards (ones with a clear picture on the front are best, and the bigger the better!)
  2. Chop them into a few pieces (so that they become like a jigsaw puzzle) – if you’re chopping more than 1 card, it might be helpful to number the pieces on the reverse of the picture, for example all pieces from card 1 have a number 1 on them.
  3. Hide the pieces around the house or garden.
  4. OPTIONAL: Split your children into teams and make this a competitive game.
  5. GO!! Hunt around the house to find the pieces and complete your mini puzzles.

 

I hope you have a wonderful weekend in whatever you are up to!

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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

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!

Signature

 

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 (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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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!

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

Advent Activities (6th December)

Halfway through the first full week in December! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (my final assessment for the year is on Tuesday).

Looking for something to try today? Pop on your favourite Christmas tunes and get creative with some:

Seasonal Scented Pictures

Very simply, this involves ‘painting’ with spices. When I last did this activity, I cut out some gingerbread-man shapes out of paper, but you don’t need to do that as any piece of paper will do! Alternately, any Christmas shape will do!

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To create your ‘paints’ just mix whatever spice you fancy, with some slightly watered down PVA glue. My spice suggestions include: ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves, and cinnamon, but you can use whatever you like (or whatever you have in your cupboards!)

 

 

I also usually allow my children to sniff the spice jar, so that they can tell me if they like it or not. It’s also a great opportunity for some lovely language.

Mix a good helping of the spice into the glue mixture, and start painting! The added bonus is that this special paint has a really interesting grainy texture.

 

If you do try out any of my ideas – or have any wonderful ideas of your own that you’d like to share – please tweet to me @EarlyYearsIdeas

Signature

 

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Previous Doors:

Day 1: Paper Chains

Day 2: Reindeer Cam

Day 3: Salt-dough Ornaments

Day 4: Letters to Santa

Day 5: Christmas Role Play

 

Advent Activities (3rd December)

Today’s activity:

Making salt-dough ornaments for your tree

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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!

Signature

 

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Previous Doors:

Day 1: Paper Chains

Day 2: Reindeer Cam