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:


Image from

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:

  1. sparrow-2069916_960_720

    Image from

    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!




Image from

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




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.

2017-06-28 11.04.50

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!


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!


Enjoying Autumn

Autumn is one of my favourite times of year! The cold, crisp and clear skies, the colours of the falling leaves, the cosy feeling of being snuggled up in wooly jumpers and scarves…

There are many lovely activities on an autumn theme – some of which I explored in a previous blog post (see Bonkers for conkers) and I feel like blogging a few more – particularly focusing on getting outdoors:

Nature walks (H&W, Social, Lit&Lang, Num, Creative, Science)

Oh yes, this one again! Never underestimate the learning that can take place on a walk! You can:

  • Look for changes that are happening around your area2015-10-21 14.03.12
  • Collect interesting leaves to be sorted and compared
  • Jump in the leaves or over the puddles
  • Listen to the crunching of the dry leaves
  • Look out for any animal homes
  • Explore the light at different times of day – what happens to your shadow? (Try standing in the same place and having someone draw around it with chalk!)

Leaf sorting (Science, Num)

When you return from your walk – or anywhere where you can collect lots of leaves; have the children sort them into categories of colour, size, shape or whatever else they are interested in (or skill that you’re working on). Then look at different ways that you can display the information, for example – make a pictograph by gluing the leaves onto the paper – making it easy to identify which category has the most/ least. What a wonderful, practical way to introduce some comparative, mathematical language!

Natural art (Creative, H&W, Science)

2015-10-21 14.08.35

  • Leaf or bark rubbings
  • Painting leaves/ twigs
  • Using glitter and glue to make some wonderfully sparkly autumn decorations
  • Explore autumn colours – mixing and experimenting
  • Use a hole punch on some sturdy leaves and then thread them to make leafy jewellery or even some fab autumn bunting

Cooking on the campfire

If you take part in forest school activities, or have a setting where this is possible – outdoor cooking is a favourite activity all year around. Just be sure to complete the correct risk assessments and ensure that you and your children are 100% confident with safety procedures

Pumpkins (H&W, Lit&Lang, Num, Tech)

No list of autumn activities would be complete without a mention of that halloween tradition: pumpkin carving! My preferred  method is to cut off the lid, then allow the children to get stuck in – scooping, scraping and picking out all of the insides. Don’t let it go to waste! The insides are great fun in your sensory tray as a squelchy, slimy experience, and the seeds can be roasted to make a tasty treat (see method here and perhaps add some literacy and numeracy by following a recipe).

Once the innards are well and truly gone, I allow the children to draw a face onto the pumpkin. This is often the job for just one child, so you might like to get the others involved by researching different designs and offering their own ideas.

Depending on the age of your children, you might allow them to do some of the cutting out of the face/design, but please be very careful (we don’t want any missing fingers!)

Finally, add a battery powered candle to complete the spooky effect!

More Halloween themed activities to follow in my next post. For now, wrap up warm, get outside and enjoy!


Riverside fun at Whitby

I was lucky enough to spend a wonderful week down in the beautiful area of Whitby (England) recently while on holiday with my family. We stayed in a house that was right next to the river, and me being me spotted so many opportunities for learning that I just couldn’t resist blogging about them!

There were no children with us on this holiday – so I roped the adults into playing with me – and we all had a blast!

So! Here are some of the ways that you could use the natural environment around a river to promote some learning and development within children:


Wildlife Spotting

This may seem like an obvious one to start with but there are so many different types of birds, fish, insects and other creatures to be found around the river. Why not introduce some wildlife books or spotter sheets for some literacy and language development.

Observing the tides

You can discuss how the tides change and the river moves. Is the tide always in at the same time of day? What does it look like when the tide is out?

Sounds and sights

Take some quiet time to listen to the water. What words can you use to describe that sound? Trickling? Wooshing? Swishing? Can you hear any birds or ducks? Also, what can you see? Look at the colours of the water and the reflections in it. Maybe even get creative and have a go at painting or drawing the wibbly wobbly reflections that you can see!

20150911_125356_5 20150911_125356_6 20150911_125356_8

Throwing stones

A very simple activity – throwing stones helps to develop a child’s physical co-ordination and control. You can also look at the way that the stones create splashes in the water, and the ripples that follow. Bring in some lovely ‘real life’ maths by looking at the size of the stones – does it make a different splash if we throw a big/ small one? What shape are the ripples? Watch as they grow larger and larger.


Stone Sculptures

Another fun way to use the pebbles and stones that you may find is to make stone sculptures. This involves creative thinking, problem solving, fine motor skills and co-ordination. It could also involve team work and co-operation if children decide to work together.

Shadow art

The sculptures that you create, or through using other materials can cast wonderful shadows! Why not try to trace them onto paper or using chalk onto the path/ surface. An interesting extension to this would be to observe the shadows at different times of day and see how they change (growing longer or shorter). This brings some maths and understanding of time into the activity.


Stone Measuring

Continue to use your stones and pebbles by using them for measuring. Here we compared the stones and decided to line them up from largest to smallest. This involved mathematical thinking and decision making. Another way to use the stones could be to create the longest line possible and then measure it in footsteps. Or to line them up against something/ someone to find out ‘how many stones long’ they are.


Climbing and Physical Play

We were lucky enough to find this wonderful heavy piece of driftwood by the river, but there are always wonderful banks or large stones which children can climb on/ over. Be sure to let them take some risks – but risk assess carefully (and don’t let them fall in the river!)



Natural Art

This is always a favourite of mine! Using anything and everything around, let the children create their own masterpieces. These could be actual pictures, or just patterns and arrangements. Let their imaginations run wild with different textures, colours and materials.

I’m sure that I’ve only scratched the surface of activities and experiences to be had down by the river! Please do comment or tweet to me at @EarlyYearsIdeas with any of your own – I’d love to read them!