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Creative play and learning in the early years!

older | 1 | .... | 7 | 8 | (Page 9)

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    Set up a little Invitation to Play for toddlers and preschoolers using coloured pipe cleaners and matching coloured beads, for a great fine motor and siring and matching activity!
    Threading with beads is a fantastic activity for promoting fine motor development in young children . It requires concentration, thinking skills, encourages the use of the pincer grasp between the thumb and forefinger and naturally strengthens the small hand muscles that are vital for holding a pencil to write with, later on. 
    Using a pipe cleaner to thread onto is a particularly good idea for younger children age 2 and upwards, as it is easier to hold and retains its shape during threading. They can then be manipulated into any shape and twisted to secure them at the ends, after making letters of the alphabet, numbers, necklaces or bracelets, amongst many other ideas! Your child will do the imagining in that area.
    Placing one end of the pipe cleaner into a ball of play dough or a block of polystyrene packaging increases the stability even more, and helps younger children to maintain control as they add beads one by one. 
     For this simple activity I set out some pony beads in some little dishes, sorted by colour groups (the children can do this step too, of course, for extra learning!) Next to these I set out some coloured pipe cleaners in similar shades to the beads, but not exactly matching, so that they would have to think about which colours were the most similar. I helped them twist over one end so that the beads wouldn't slip off and then they chose colours that they liked and threaded beads to make strings, caterpillars and jewellery.
    Pop enjoyed sticking her creations into play dough and twisting the finished pieces to make little wiry sculptures, all the while practising more fine motor skills and co-ordination!
     Cakie was very proud of her creations and wore them to show daddy when he got home, of course!

    What they are learning while they play:
    maths: sorting and matching by colour and shades of colour
    physical: fine motor control and co-ordination, threading small pieces, pincer grasp, hand:eye co-ordination
    phse: concentration, thinking skills, perseverance
    creativity: making new creations from combined materials

    To see more about fine motor development and activities to help promote this area, watch the Hangout on Air that was hosted today over on G+ between myself, Allison from No Time for Flashcards and Jamie from Hands on as we Grow! You can see us discussing ways to practise these skills at home with the kids.

    See more fine motor activities here too!

    Read all about the benefits of playing with play dough here.

    Cakie: 4.6
    Pop: 2.11
    Bean: 12 mos

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    Create some beautiful patterned Easter eggs using craft foam on the window or in the bath! This activity is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, combines creativity and maths and is completely mess free! Plus it can be reused over and over again with limitless possibilities for the outcome, making it a truly open-ended activity.
    We love to use craft foam shapes on the window as it opens up a whole new way of playing and creating, as well as being a fantastic way to encourage kids to work on a vertical plane, thus increasing strength in their shoulders and control in their arms while working. In the same way that working at an easel is great for posture and early gross motor control and co-ordination, standing to play at a window is equally beneficial, and thankfully plenty of fun too!
    I cut out three large white egg shapes from A4 sized pieces of craft foam, and stuck them to the window using water. Then I cut lots of matching shapes using scraps of coloured craft foam, and arranged them along with a pot of water and some brushes as a little Invitation to Play and create! The girls have played with our Spring pictures and lots of other pieces on the window before, so knew exactly how the foam would stick and got busy straight away.
    Cakie immediately wanted to make some patterns and chose shapes that she could use to make repeated patterns and also arranged them into pictures. I played alongside them and we talked a lot about the shapes we were using, their names and properties and how to match them up or make them repeat in a pattern.
    Pop matched a lot of shapes together and made a partially symmetrical picture on her egg, talking about the colours and naming some shapes correctly, and others she guessed.
    Baby Bean wanted to get in on the action too, and this proved to be a perfect activity for her. She had been watching the big girls dipping their foam pieces in water and she tried doing the same, then stuck them to either the window itself or onto the eggs. 
     It was great for her fine motor development too as she had to work really hard to pick off and place back each little piece, and she concentrated really hard to achieve it each time! It's so sweet to watch them all playing together, with the little one not quite so little any more, sob!
    What they are learning while they play:
    creativity: combining materials, exploring shapes, colours and patterns, working on a large scale
    maths: copying and inventing their own patterns, recognising and naming shapes, matching shapes
    physical: working on a vertical plane, strengthening shoulder and arm muscles and control, using small tools and materials, pincer grasp for fine motor development

    Cakie: 4.6
    Pop: 2.11
    Bean: 12 mos

    See also:
    Making Matisse masterpieces in the bath!


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    See our huge range of  Spring play and creative activities here!


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    Make a fun posting box resource for early counting and sorting skills with the added benefit of fine motor practise and problem solving too! The enduring appeal of dropping and posting through holes will make this a real favourite game with toddlers to school age kids, with possibilities to extend the learning for the older age group.
    Welcome to another Playful Maths activity, part of an on-going early learning series co-hosted with Debs from Learn with play at Home. This week we are looking at ways to use bottle tops and lids to make simple maths games with young children. See her fantastic bottle top addition game here!
    For this activity we used a range of jar lids and bottle tops in various diameters and thicknesses. We sorted these into groups by size then I covered the front of each group with matching colours, using paper and a glue stick. 
    Using a craft knife I then cut slots into the base of a shoe box and made them to fit the size and width of each group of lids. Then I cut some pieces from the leftover paper and stuck them around each hole as an indicator of which one belonged where. I wrote the corresponding number of lids next to each colour slot, ready for the girls to find them and count them in as they posted them. I deliberately used the numbers 1-5 to keep it simple but this could easily be extended to larger teen numbers and beyond (if you have enough bottle tops!)
     As with our previous maths games they fought over who got to play with this first, with baby Bean muscling her way in and sitting on top of the whole thing! Cakie immediately sorted all the tops by colour and then counted out how many there were of each, placing them in order from 1 to 5. She then went on to post them in the correct numerical order and counted using 1:1 correspondence as she posted each one through the correctly coloured slots.
    Pop also sorted the lids by colour but wasn't as interested in how many there were of each and didn't start at number 1. She quickly matched the correctly coloured lids to the slots and posted them through, counting out as she did so, although she did need reminding to be slow and count 1:1. It was a great activity for her as she had to think about how to rotate the lids to make them fit, thus strengthening her little wrists and hands as she did so.
    Baby was delighted to have a go and tried very hard to get the lids into the holes, occasionally managing it all by herself! It won't be long until she can master it too.


    What they are learning as they play:
    maths: recognising numerals, matching by colour and size, comparing and ordering by size, counting using 1:1 correspondence, counting up to 5 objects reliably, problem solving, making things fit
    physical: fine motor dexterity, baby grip, twisting and rotating objects, posting and dropping
    phse: concentration, perseverance, problem solving, co-operation, completing a task


    Join us both every week for our continuing series about

    See our Pinterest board of ideas here!

    Check out some of our other posts from this series:

     
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    Create a beautiful frog pond small world play scene using natural play materials arranged as loose parts for free play and exploration. Team it up with some information books to turn it into a little science and discovery table for plenty of opportunities to learn through play!
    It's been a while since I set up a new small world play scene for the girls, so we put together this little frog pond natural play scene for some early science fun and to celebrate one of our favourite counting songs, "5 Little Speckled Frogs". It works well as a Spring theme and can be added to as the season (finally) unfolds. We found two books about frogs to add to the table, one information book and another called "Growing Frogs" which is a favourite of mine from teaching days about a little girl who watched the development of her frogs from frogspawn in her home.
    This small world play scene included:
    silky green fabric, patterned peacock print fabric, blue foam pond shape, natural tree building logs, 5 small speckled toy frogs, blue glass pebbles, natural beach pebbles, green felt leaves, green felt lily-pads and two books about frog life-cyles.
    They immediately set about singing the counting song, placing the little frogs on the log and counting down as they jumped them into the pond, one after the other. The kinaesthetic action of moving the frogs one by one from one location to another is fantastic for consolidating how to count using 1:1 correspondence (i.e. that one object represents one number.)  If you don't know the song already, this is how it goes:
    5 little speckled frogs,
    Sat on a speckled log,
    Easting the most delicious grubs, YUM YUM!
    1 jumped into the pool,
    Where it was nice and cool,
    Then there were just 4 speckled frogs, GLUB GLUB! (repeat down to 0)
    We read the books together and spent some time talking about how frogs behave and their habitats. They enjoyed rearranging the loose parts and making up their own stories to go along with the scene. 

    For an extra opportunity to learn through their play, I wrote a few simple labels onto leaf shaped card and paced them next to the pond. We also found a wooden massage roller in baby's treasure basket and, along with a toy wooden knife, experimented with using them to scrape back and forth to create a froggy "ribbit ribbit" croaking sound! 
    Combining science, story-telling, non-fiction information books, singing, music making and numeracy play, this is a fabulous activity area to set up for Spring time with little ones, and can be extended to create more opportunities for learning depending on the interests of each child!
    What they are learning as they play:
    maths: singing familiar counting songs from memory, counting up and back to 5
    creativity: singing familiar songs from memory, creating sounds using everyday objects and materials, making music to accompany songs, creating animal and nature sounds, imaginative play
    science: learning about life-cycles, animal habitats
    literacy: understanding about non-fiction books, creating stories through play

    Browse our other Small World Play ideas here


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  • 03/20/13--09:48: Dip Dye Doily Flowers
  • Create some beautiful, rainbow coloured flowers using paper doilies and liquid watercolour paints in a fun, hands on painting method for kids! These look beautiful in a vase for Spring and would make a stunning Mother's day or Easter gift!
     We recently did a fun science experiment where we placed flower stems in jars of coloured water and watched what happened (you must try this if you haven't yet!) Instead of tipping out the jars of highly concentrated food colouring and water, we used them to become our own liquid water colour paints and experimented with a dip dying method of painting.
     I found some paper doilies and we folded them roughly into quarters, then dipped each one individually into a different jar of the liquid colouring. We rotated the doilies so that they were each coloured differently and each colour was used each time.
    Next we opened them up very carefully as they were a little soggy and prone to tearing, and laid them out to dry on kitchen towel. The kitchen papers themselves then became beautiful art works as they caught the drips and the colours blended together! We will be making something with them soon too.
    After they dried we simply scrunched them together slightly by holding onto the middle underneath, and twisting to secure them with tape. Then we attached them to some bamboo BBQ skewers and arranged them in an old glass bottle to look beautiful in our home!
    Just gorgeous for Spring and much needed as the flowers are so late this year!
     What they are learning as they play:
    creativity: combining materials, making 3-D sculptural art work, using materials to represent nature, colour mixing

    Cakie: 4.6
    Pop: 2.11
    Bean: 12 mos
    See our huge range of  Spring play and creative activities here!



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    Today I am honoured to be reviewing a preview copy of the new craft book from my lovely and very talented friend Maggy, who writes over at the inspiring Red Ted Art craft site! 

    [Yes, that's me, going incognito!]

    I'm so thrilled to have met Maggy and become friends with her through blogging over the past couple of years. When she first said she wanted to write a book I was 100% behind her as I knew how simply wonderful it would be to bind up some of those creative ideas into a big volume of loveliness! She went about writing it with the same passion and enthusiasm that she radiates daily over on Red Ted Art but was also thorough in the process and wanted it to be perfect. And really, if you have children who love to get creative, or you are keen to do more projects with them, then this book really is perfect for you!

    [Gorgeous loo roll animals from Maggy's book, Red Ted Art]

    Red Ted Art: Cute and Easy Crafts for Kids contains over 60 creative projects for kids of all ages and is, quite simply stunning, both visually and in its content! My girls have chosen many ideas they want to try out and I'm excited to do some things that are a bit different to the norm around here.

    I am often very wary of craft books because I'm not at all keen on end-product driven projects, which 9 times out of 10 have to be completed by the adult as the kids walk off disinterested and unable to complete. But this book is refreshing in that the projects are more like inspiring starter activities that kids can participate in fully, or help out with, and most of them end up with something that can be played with which is a huge benefit!

    My favourites are the recycled crafts that cost little to no ,obey and yet last a long time and are so original, quirky an creative! Check out the gorgeous array of creatures that can be made form toilet rolls above! There are also many made from pipe cleaners, walnut shells, clothes pegs and rocks, to name but a few. Easily accessible and so much fun!

    [Felt food tutorials found in Maggy's book, Red Ted Art]
    I also love how there are projects from older children and also adults, either to make for the home, such s candles and soaps, but also as gifts for the kids, such as these stunning felt strawberries and donuts, complete with beaded sprinkles! It promotes creativity in adults too and re-ignites some dormant 

    Red Ted Art: Cute and Easy Crafts for Kids goes on sale on March 28th RRP £15.99, available from Amazon and all good bookstores. 

    Want to WIN a copy? Hop on over to Maggy's site and enter the giveaway she has going on right now! Be quick, it ends soon!

    Inspired to get crafting and can't wait? Pre-order the book and then visit these other places where you can find her other exciting projects!

    Find Maggy in these places:

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    Use coloured beads, pipe cleaners, numerals and play dough to set up an exciting counting and sorting maths activity for kids. This is also great for fine motor development and the finished creations can be made into permanent resources for future maths games.
    Here we are in another week of our Playful Maths series, co-hosted with Learn with Play at Home, where we bring you easy, exciting and playful ways to introduce early maths concepts with kids. This week the everyday material that we are using is pipe cleaners, which can be obtained from £1 shops/ $1 stores or at the supermarket craft section. 
    I set out a bowl of bright wooden beads, thick pipe cleaners in corresponding colours, wooden numerals and play dough as an invitation to sort, thread and count.
    Sticking the end of the pipe cleaner into the play dough is a good way to help secure it, ready for threading. The pipe cleaners are also very helpful for little fingers as they retain their shape and are easy to push beads on to, compared to using string or thread.
    They started off by choosing a pipe cleaner, then picked up a wooden number from the table at random. Then they looked in the basket for beads in the matching colour and counted out the right amount that their numerals represented. 
    Threading onto the pipe cleaner takes real concentration and is great for hand: eye co-ordination and strengthening those little hand muscles, vital for holding a pencil for writing in the future. It also needs to be down carefully, one at a time, which enforces the important counting practice of 1:1 correspondence (literally meaning that one object represents one number while counting things out.)
    Once the beads are threaded onto the pipe cleaners, they can be moved back and forwards and re-counted over and again, which makes these a brilliant resource to make and store with other maths games and resources. They are similar to the Montessori bead strings that are used by children to count along and make larger numbers with. 
    As an extension activity for more able children, you could get them to thread all the different amounts up to 9, then use the threaded pipe cleaners to add small quantities together. Hide them in a bag or behind your back and ask them to pick out two at a time, then see if they can add the two strings of beads together to find a total. Can they do it with three strings, four, all nine?! Can they write down the results on paper?
    Baby Bean loved this activity too, although I had to watch her carefully incase she put any of the beads into her mouth. She was particularly interested in moving the beads up and down the completed pie cleaners, and pulling them off to fling onto the floor (of course!) Great as a motor skills and dexterity game for her as well and her concentration on her self-given task was amazing!




    What they are learning as they play:
    maths: recognising numerals, sorting and matching by colour, counting using 1:1 correspondence, counting up to 9 objects reliably
    physical: fine motor dexterity, baby grip, pincer grasp, threading
    phse: concentration, perseverance, problem solving, co-operation, completing a task

    Cakie: 4.6
    Pop: 3.0
    Bean: 13 mos
    Join us both every week for our continuing series about

    See our Pinterest board of ideas here!

    See how Learn with Play at Home used pipe cleaners in her fantastic numeral- making activity!


    Never miss a play idea again! Sign up to have all posts delivered straight to your inbox.

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    Delivered by FeedBurner
    Join us on The Imagination Tree facebook page for daily play ideas and conversation with the early years community!



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    Set up a gorgeous Easter themed invitation to play with pastel coloured play dough, cookie cutters and little accessories to decorate like eggs! Lovely for fine motor development and all the other fabulous benefits that play dough has to offer for pre-writing skills and creativity!
    Together with the girls we set about making our usual batch of easy no-cook play dough, and separated it into three to colour it in three different pastel shades, evocative of Spring time. We added some vanilla essence for a sweet smelling additional sensory element! Then I set it out as a simple invitation to play, along with baskets of cutters, pastel shade pom poms, wooden beads, shiny sequins and rolling pins.
    We talked about Easter egg designs and how they often incorporate lines of bright colours and repeating patterns. Then, together we made a large flattened out Easter egg shape, and had fun arranging the decorating materials into patterns and designs across its surface.
     They went on to make platefuls of small, cut out Easter egg shapes which they decorated with sparkles and beads, with pom pom additions!
    Cakie made an easter egg shop, stacking her wares high for all customers to come and see, and selling them off at a bargain price of 2 pence per egg! Loose materials plus imagination result in the best creative playtimes.
    You could extend this play to incorporate teaching about repeat patterning, add some counting and matching numeral cards or sequencing the finished eggs. Add a more creative play element but setting up a play shop or Easter egg factory, and use the materials as the main play pieces. Toddlers can simply try and roll ball shapes to create eggs and enjoy sticking things into and pulling them out of the dough.

    What they are learning as they play:
    creativity: forming shapes and patterns with materials, combining materials, using one thing to represent another in play, role play, imaginative play
    maths: counting out amounts and measures when following recipes, patterning, counting, sorting by colour and properties
    physical: fine motor skills, rolling, pinching, squeezing, flattening, twisting, pincer grasp

    Cakie: 4.6
    Pop: 3.0
    Bean: 13 mos

    You might also like our:
    A-Z of play dough recipes and activities!
    Play Dough Sweet Shop
    Play Dough Chocolates








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