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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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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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

 

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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Image from pixabay.com

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 (5th December)

Christmas Role Play!

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I’ve actually got 2 ideas for you today (aren’t I good to you!?) Both are ideas for a bit of role-play fun this December.

Turn your role play area into Santa’s Workshop!

Who doesn’t like to think about those little elves getting everything ready for the big day? Why not let your children help with making and wrapping some ‘gifts’? This kid of play is great for fine-motor, co-ordination, and concentration skills, not to mention of course, wonderful imaginative play!

Items you can add:

  • Wrapping paper
  • Old gift tags, ribbons, bows…
  • Sticky tape
  • Scissors (safety scissors will work!)
  • Cardboard boxes (or anything the children can wrap and unwrap)
  • Tools (pretend OR real – depending on the age and stage of your children and how brave you are)
  • Pieces of wood
  • Junk modelling items

Don’t forget to make the whole area really Christmassy with plenty of tinsel! I’m sure your children will help you to decorate. You could even add those wonderful paper chains that you made on December 1st!

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Turn your role play area or writing table into a Christmas Post-Office!

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This is a time of year where we write and send lots of letters and cards! That means it’s a great opportunity to allow your children to practice their writing and mark making skills.

Don’t forget to make your own little post box! All you need is a large box painted red and decorated however you like. Add a slot for posting and voila! Added bonus if you make a door for taking the letters out again – I always forget!

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Items you can add:

  • Envelopes
  • Paper
  • Pens and pencils – the more different kinds the better! Chunky/thin, coloured/ black and white, long/ short…
  • Stampers
  • Stickers
  • Old Christmas cards & gift tags
  • Stamps – you can cut these off old envelopes

 

 

Have a great day!

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Previous Doors:

Day 1: Paper Chains

Day 2: Reindeer Cam

Day 3: Salt-dough Ornaments

Day 4: Letters to Santa

 

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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    Image from pixabay.com

    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!

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Image from pixabay.com

Previous Doors:

Day 1: Paper Chains

Day 2: Reindeer Cam

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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  • 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)

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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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