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


Image from

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 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



Previous Doors:


Image from

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







It’s Story Time!


Image from iStock. Credit Romolo Tavani

As you probably know, on the 2nd March it will be World Book Day. Not only that, but it is in fact the 20th year of World Book Day! So, in preparation for the big day, I have been thinking of some story and book based activities and experiences.

Create a Reading-Nook

There’s nothing better than a little cosy space to get lost in a book. Why not move some furniture, lay a blanket, build a pillow fort, or just grab loads of cushions to make a really appealing space for the children to read?  You could even try making it dark, adding a few fairy lights for that magical touch! Just remember – you don’t want the children to strain their eyes, so try providing some torches or small (safe) lamps for them to use.

Read Together

This may sound obvious but it’s SO valuable and important to children. I wrote about some ideas for making story time engaging in THIS previous post – take a look!

Get Creative

Do your children have a favourite book? Why not help them to make a new book cover? You can approach this in lots of different ways (draw it/ paint it/ use ICT/ act it out and take photos…) and can use these activities to develop plenty of skills. This can also spark discussion about the key features of a book cover (title, author, picture) as well as about the story itself.


Image from iStock. Credit: Orensila

Take a Trip

Why not go for a walk over to the local library or even the local bookshop? Choosing a new book can be so exciting for children, and it can even help to encourage those reluctant readers. Some libraries offer story sessions and other activities, it might be worth your while doing a little research!


I hope you have a brilliant Book Day! I look forward to seeing some fabulous activities and inspired costumes – please share! Tweet me: @EarlyYearsIdeas



We’re going on a Maths Hunt!

During one of my university inputs, I was asked to look at a picture book and to consider how it could be used to develop children’s early mathematical skills.

The picture book that I chose was ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt‘ by Michael Rosen. I chose this book because it’s one of my favourites, and one which (in my experience) never fails to capture children’s imagination.

I have used this story to explore language, and for various dramatic and creative play experiences, but I have never before taken a particular focus on the mathematical element. That being said, it is obvious that there is plenty of mathematical language and concepts throughout. Here are some of the ones that I spotted:

  • language of measurement and size: “we’re going to catch a BIG one” and “long, wavy grass”
  • positional language – over/ under/ through
  • counting – “one shiny, wet nose, 2 big furry ears…”
  • rhythm and repetition

If I were to use this story with my class, there are various activities which I may use to focus in on some of these concepts. I would always begin by reading the story with my class. I love the actions which Michael Rosen uses in his reading and would use the same, or my own variation of these to engage the children.

I have chosen 2 mathematical concepts to explore further: measurement and counting.


To continue with the concept of measurement and size, I would encourage the children to explore tape-measures, rulers, measuring sticks and even non conventional measurement resources like lego blocks. I would then provide opportunities for the children to begin to sort items that they had measured into groups of big/ medium/ small etc. I would model and encourage the different words and language which can be used to describe these measurements: large, tiny, huge, little…

Another fun activity could be to have the children arrange themselves in a long line from biggest to smallest or visa versa. This activity could be done as a transition (for example when lining up for lunch) and would help to secure the children’s understanding.


163568_460302010707036_766482142_nOne way to continue learning about counting and labelling, in the way that the story does, could be to use the same method to describe something else. I would provide playdough with a variety of materials such as googly eyes, straws, sequins, string, etc and allow the children to create their own creature. I would encourage them to make their creature as weird and wacky as they liked, because when they are finished I would ask them to describe it to their friend. This activity could be linked to learning about description, or could simply be about how many eyes/ ears/ noses etc that their creature has.


Do you have any other ideas as to how we could use this book to develop maths skills? Please drop me a comment!