Use egg cartons, homemade pattern cards and everyday toys to create some playful invitations to make patterns. Great for home or preschool with 3 year olds to school age children as a fun way to learn about pattern making, sequencing and matching by colour and shape!
Egg cartons are also a fabulous tool for making patterns with as the holes lend themselves so nicely to being filled with small objects! We collected baskets of Lego Duplo, wooden beads and flat 2D shapes to begin making patterns with.
I drew some very simple pattern cards on white card, following the number of spaces that were in our large egg carton. I looked at the materials that we had gathered before I drew the patterns to make sure we had enough of the correct colours and shapes.
Some were extremely simple repeat patterns using just 2 colours or shapes, with others being a little more complex using 3 or more colours and shapes in combination. I set them out on the floor as an Invitation to Play with the pattern cards, and also some blank cards and pens in case they wanted to design there own, to extend the learning possibilities.
At first Cakie was really thrown by the fact that there were 2 rows in the carton, and that the pattern wasn't always identical on both. I showed her that there were 2 rows in the pictures and how they corresponded to the box below, and then she understood how to place the items inside.
She was challenged by the wooden beads pattern card as there weren't enough sphere shaped beads to complete the card. She had a look at all the shapes available (I put them all in so that she would have a further challenge of identifying the correct ones) and picked out the flat side of the cylinders as looking the same. This was quite creative problem solving!
When matching the shapes patterns we talked about the names of the shapes that she was finding and described a little about how they looked, using language such as "pointy corners", "straight sides" and "flat edges" as we did so.
With the extra cards Cakie declared she was going to draw an ice cream shop, and that she did!
Extend this activity:
draw just the first 3 shapes/ colours in the pattern and ask them to predict and complete the pattern
can they find a new set of objects or toys from around the house to make patterns with? are there enough of each type to be able to repeat them in a pattern?
after making patterns can they draw what they did on strips of paper?
can they draw their own for a sibling or friend to copy?
What they are learning while they play:
Maths: copying, matching, sorting, making repeat patterns, sequencing, recognising and naming shapes, describing shapes by their properties, problem solving
Creativity and design: drawing shapes and patterns
Motor Skills: filling and emptying, pincer grasp
Bean: 11 mos
Pop on over to Learn with Play at Home to see her incredible Egg Carton Dice Game that she is sharing today. Such a fun way to practise counting, adding and number recognition skills!
Join us both every Friday for our continuing series about Playful Maths ideas. Click the photo to see previous activities in the series. Start collecting your cardboard tubes for the next two weeks of activities too!
Let the kids design their own building blocks to use in construction play in the block corner! A great art and gross motor activity combined into one, which results in a fabulous set of unique building blocks to play with!
When Cakie was just 2 we had some building work done in our house which resulted in her begging for scraps of wood from our builder. She had a great time pretending to build, hammer and saw with the wood and loved her precious blocks more than any real set of construction materials we owned. We still have those blocks two years later, and the other day she asked if she could decorate them!
I set out the blocks with a basket of bright felt tip marker pens as an Invitation to Create on the table. They didn't need any further instructions from me and immediately started to decorate, doodle, colour and cover the blocks with patterns.
Unable to resist (of course!) I begged a spare block from them and decorated one of my own, and we had a lovely time being creative together, talking about which colours we had chosen, how we were going to make all the sides different and how to make various patterns. The conversations and questions from Cakie were brilliant!
When they had covered them with colours, stripes, spots, numbers, windows and doors, they built little cities, shops, schools and roadways using them, and introduced their other small world imaginative play toys to create play scenes with characters and vehicles.
And they have now made a permanent addition to our block play basket and area in the house. I'm excited at the thought of collecting some more wood off-cuts from a timber yard and creating some alphabet, number and people blocks together for further play opportunities!
What would YOU decorate your blocks with?
What they are learning as they play:
creative arts: working on 3D projects, combining media, constructing models, pattern making
motor skills: balancing and building with blocks, colouring/drawing on a vertical surface
maths: building with 3D shapes, naming shapes, describing shapes by number of faces/sides etc
Cakie: 4.5 Pop: 2.10 Bean: 11 mos
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Make a sensory tub inspired by the classic story The Very Hungry Caterpillar for creative and playful storytelling with kids!
Using story props and sensory play materials is a fantastic way to bring favourite stories to life for young children. It encourages oral storytelling, sequencing, thinking about main characters and events and is a perfect way to introduce early drama skills too! A little while ago we brought the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to life using play dough and story props, and now we have had more fun doing the same using a sensory tub! We made this for a friend's 3rd birthday party as a game for the little ones to enjoy.
wooden fruit, cakes, ice creams and other food items from the story
a few real clementines for a real sensory experience!
a Very Hungry Caterpillar butterfly toy (a caterpillar would be a fabulous addition too!)
a copy of the book
As with all sensory tubs, we all immediately loved to scoop, pour and run our hand through the rice (me most definitely included!) It can have such a calming effect and is very therapeutic at the end of a hectic day she the kids are cranky and tired. The girl recognised the butterfly and realised that the items in the tub could be found in the book. They started to tell the story, focusing on their favourite elements (ice cream and cake of course!) and were able to remember the key events in the correct order.
Little Bean loved it too and at first I was hesitant to let her get her hands in it, but after a while there was not stopping her curiosity and she just loved picking handfuls of rice and dropping them again. She only tried to taste it one time but I gently pushed her hand away and said "no", and after that she tipped and poured with it instead. The next time we got this out to play with, she got right into it and sat down!
What they are learning while they play: literacy: storytelling from memory, retelling in correct order, sequencing, remembering key elements of a story, using storybook language in play motor skills: scooping, pouring, tipping, pinching and raking through sensory materials maths: counting out numbers of objects to match those in a book, problem solving
Cakie: 4.5 Pop: 2.10 Bean: 11 mos To see dozens of other Playful Literacy ideas click the image!
Use cardboard tubes to make some shape binoculars for going on a shape hunt together! A creative and active way to learn shape names and how to describe their properties.
Welcome to another post from our Playful Maths series, co-hosted with an awesome Aussie blogger Learn with Play at Home! For the next two weeks we are sharing ways to do hands on maths activities using cardboard tubes!
To make some shape binoculars you simply need 6 pieces of cardboard tube at the same length. We cut down one long wrapping paper roll, but you could use any other type too. Once I had cut the pieces I left one set round, then bent another set to make triangles and the last set into squares. All done!
Then I told the girls we were going on a shape hunt around the house and we needed to get our binoculars ready to spot objects that matched each one! I made up a little rhyme that we could chant as we stomped around, searching for shapes. We changed the shape name each time we set off. Here it is below:
We collected items for each shape, one at a time, and brought them back to the floor. Then they sorted them into piles and named them. We talked about the properties of each shape and how we could tell them apart from each other. They used words like "round", "pointy", "sides" and "corners"and were able to visually compare them in a tactile way.
Cakie noticed that we didn't have rectangular binoculars and she wanted to collect rectangle shapes to add to our collection. So she went off, chanting the rhyme and came back loaded with an armful of items! We talked about the fact that rectangles were the easiest items to find, with triangles being the most difficult.
It would be good to extend this activity by looking into why some shapes are less commonly used in everyday objects than others. "Why don't we have triangular wheels?" "Are there more triangles in natural objects or man-made?" for example. This would be a great way to extend the problem solving possibilities too!
What they are learning while they play: maths:recognising, naming and matching shapes, describing shapes by their properties, using mathematical language such as corners, edges, sides, etc pshe: turn taking, working collaboratively, completing a project, problem solving literacy:language and vocabulary development, learning a rhyme by heart
Bean: 11 mos
Pop on over toLearn with Play at Hometo see her activity today too! Join us both every Friday for our continuing series aboutPlayful Maths ideas. Click the photo to see previous activities in the series. Have a material you would like us to use? Suggest it below!
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Use black sparkly play dough to create a pirate island small world play scene, and use it as a springboard for creative story telling with kids! A wonderfully tactile, hands on and imaginative way to get children excited about early literacy play.
We made some black sparkly play dough using our super-quick no-cook recipe, that only takes 4 minutes. We added lots of silver glitter to make it sparkle, then rolled and formed it into a rounded island shape and placed it in the middle of a lovely blue ceramic dish, re[resenting the sea. You could simply use a shallow baking tray or chopping board, covered with blue paper instead.
Then we did a search for all our little Playmobil and other small world pirate toys and added them to the scene. I dug out the gold coins and gold bead garlands that we used in the Golden Cinnamon Sensory tub and added those to create the treasure, with a gorgeous little beaded treasure box we picked up at a souvenir shop on a holiday. We also found some acrylic craft gems to add to the booty, a flag from the top of our wooden pirate ship and some lovely natural shells and pebbles from our collection to represent a beach.
And that was their invitation to play, imagine and tell some pirate themed stories! They really enjoyed pushing the bead strings into the dough and out again to look at the pattern impression that they left behind. They used the pirates to explore the island, collect their treasures and bury it safe out of sight! Together we prompted some fun stories about who the pirates might be, gave them some funny names and imagined where they might have sailed from, why they were on the island and who they took the treasure from!
The next step for this play is to create some pirate themed blank books and encourage the children to do some drawings based on their play, accompanied by some emergent writing about the stories that they told. By acting out the stories first, using small world toys in a playful, creative way, children are much more invested in and excited by them and are more likely to want to complete the project as it seems much more real and fun for them!
Extend the play:
Add plain books with black covers for encouraging them to draw and write their stories after the play has finished.
Add a boat from junk materials and take the pirates on a journey.
Use recycled materials to create 4 homemade toys for babies and toddlers! They are simple to make, cost very little to put together and are great for promoting fine and gross motor skills, concentration, curiosity and cause and effect, amongst other benefits.
For Christmas I made this set of 4 exploratory toys for baby Bean using empty coffee, cocoa and milk powder canisters. I wanted to give her a few different motor skill activities to try and that could present a challenge for her 2 year old sister at the same time.
First I decorated the empty canisters by wrapping them in bright, patterned wrapping papers with contrasting colours. Then I collected some other materials to add to each one, to create a variety of types of toy.
For this toy I simply cut a slot into the soft plastic lid and found some metal food lids that I had collected. I covered them in paper and numbered them 1-5 (a couple were already under the sofa by the time I took this picture!) That's it! Baby has absolutely loved this toy the most as she is at that stage of delighting in putting things in and taking them out again. It's a great game for teaching about object permanence as once the lids go in, the top can come off and they are discovered again inside! Baby Bean can't quite manage the slot yet so uses it without the lid. but Pop mastered it straight away.
Tactile Ribbon Pull Toy:
For this one I punctured some holes into the sides and lid of the container and made sure there were corresponding holes at the same levels on each side. Then I found a variety of highly tactile ribbons in different colours and widths, including velvet, organza, silky and grosgrain. I threaded them through the holes, coming in one side and out the exact same place on the opposite side so that they could be easily pulled back and forth. I knotted the ends securely so that they can not come out. In the lid I added a few more although these can only be pulled upwards until the lid is taken off and they are adjusted again. Some of these ribbons make a lovely noise when pulled due to their stiffer material, so that added a lovely surprise element to play!
Lolly Stick In-Out Toy:
To make this one I simply cut some slits in the plastic lid and stuck in a bright, colourful, wooden lolly stick into each one. The idea is to pull them out and push them back in again. This toy has been great for both baby and toddler as they use it at their own ability levels.
Bean loves to pull them all out as fast as she can, but really struggles to push them back in yet. Pop enjoys both taking them out and putting them back and it's great for strengthening her hands and wrists.
Noisy Roller-Shaker Crawling Toy
This one was so simple and quick to put together! This canister is the only one that is made of metal so it lends itself well to being a noisy toy. I filled it about 1/5th full of macaroni and sealed the lid shut. When shaken it makes a wonderful noise but when turned on its side and rolled it becomes a great crawler toy! It rolls away a little, then starts to roll back too, encouraging baby to crawl after it in an exciting game of chase! Bean also enjoys tapping this like a drum too.They now sit next to our collection of Baby and Toddler Discovery Bottles in Bean's Baby Play Area and are lots of fun for all our girls and their little visiting friends too!
Create a machine from recycled materials to make a fun addition and counting activity for kids! A really hands-on and exciting, visual way to learn about combining and adding small groups of numbers.
Welcome to another post from our Playful Maths series, co-hosted with Learn with Play at Home! For these two weeks we are sharing ways to do hands on maths activities using cardboard tubes! For this challenge we put together a really fun recycled machine for counting pom poms and adding small amounts in a really visual, hands on way.
First I cut a wrapping paper tube into two and painted each piece in different colours. Next I cut a triangle shape out of the bottom to make an opening in each, then made holes into a small box and pushed them through to make pipes into our machine. I folded the front flap so that the edges came up at the side, to direct the pom poms as they fell through and came out of the holes.
We then made some numbers to slot over the tubes by writing on cut pieces of larger cardboard tubes (these were from kitchen towels and wider than the wrapping paper tubes.) The last thing to add was a large bowl of sparkly pom poms (if in doubt, go with sparkles eh?!) and we were ready to get counting and adding!
They were so excited to get started with this and loved whoosing the pom poms down the tubes and catching them at the other end. Maths objectives aside, this was a fabulously fun activity all by itself and great for motor skills, hand:eye co-ordination and cause and effect!
I slipped two of the number tubes over the pipes and asked them to read the numerals they could see. Then gave the challenge "can you put the right number of pom poms down each pipe and see how many the number machine will turn them into altogether?!"
When both sets of pom poms had come down the tubes and landed at the front I asked them to carefully count up how many there now were altogether, but touching or moving each one as they did so. This act is called counting with 1:1 correspondence and is a vital stage of maths development in young children.
Then we were able to say what number magic had happened in the machine. "Wow! 5 pom poms and 2 pom poms makes 7 pom poms altogether!" "So 5 + 2 = 7!"
We repeated this with lots of combinations of numbers up to 10. The next step would be to write teen numbers and see if they could rise to the challenge of such large amounts of counting using 1:1 correspondence. Can you think of a fun way to make a subtraction machine? That could also come as a next step!
What they are learning as they play: maths: recognising numerals 0-10 (and beyond), counting using 1:1 correspondence, combining small groups of objects to work out addition problems, problem solving, recognising small amounts, grouping motor skills: fine motor control, hand/eye co-ordination, pincer grasp
Sometimes it is good to freshen up the treasure basket by introducing a limited range or theme of items. We recently put together a really quick and simple basket for baby Bean that consists entirely of circular objects in various different diameters, materials and textures. The older children were able to help with the selection of objects, talking about their shape and properties as they did so. This prompted good discussion around whether objects were flat circles or three dimensional cylinders, and if that mattered or not in our circular collection. They decided to combine them all together.
We used bracelets, bangles, metal and plastic food lids, cardboard tubes (not toilet rolls), round mirror blocks, pastry cutters and napkin rings. Because of the various sizes and materials Bean was able to place them inside each other, stack with them, roll them, overlap and bang them together. She explored them with her hands and mouth and by bashing them into all other objects she could find. We kept these materials for about a week before re-introducing some of these older objects. We are making more of these for weekly play changes and will post about them soon!
What they are learning while they play: maths: playing with familiar objects, exploring shapes, feeling the roundness of circles, playing with different sizes and thicknesses motor skills: grabbing, dropping, rolling, stacking, overlapping, nesting, placing in and taking out, hand/eye co-ordination phse: concentration skills, determination, thinking skills
Cakie: 4.5 Pop: 2.10 Bean: 11 mos (8 mos at time of activity)
Enjoy a fabulous art process using combs and brightly coloured paints, to explore textures and patterns with kids!
Painting sessions with young children are much less about creating an end result and finished product than they should be about exploring materials in an experimental, hands-on way. This fun activity teaches kids tout using new materials in a different way, investigating how to create patterns and textures and observing colour mixing.
We recently found this great selection of plastic combs at the £1 shop and stocked up on them ready to do some fun experimenting with what effects we could create when dragging them through paint. Using a baking tray lined with tin foil, we squirted in some bright, ready-mix paints in rainbow colour order and dipped the combs into it to pick up some colour on the tips.
First they tried scraping the paint onto the paper this way, but it was hard to pick up enough to make many marks, so we quickly modified our idea by squirting the paints directly onto the paper and then scraping the combs through straight away. The results were gorgeous! We found the wide-tooth comb was the most effective although the fine combs did create an interesting contrast of tiny lines.
When we added larger amounts of paint, the colours merged together in a beautiful marbled effect after the comb was dragged through. Some sections looked like the patterns in peacock feathers!
Next I tried squirting the paint on in three wavy lines of colours, then asked them to experiment with combing the paint in a downward stroke to see what would happen as they combined. The result was a beautiful ocean-like effect!
We did the same again using two colours in a swirly heart shape, and they combed in criss-cross patterns to blend and mix them together.
We did find that the colours quickly merged to become a gunky brown sludge if over-painted and mixed through. So after a couple of experimental attempts we talked about simply dragging the colours until they were just mixed, then moving onto the next piece of paper. It helps to have lots of papers ready to go, as once they have started they are very keen to work fast!
These could look stunning as papers to cover notebooks or cut into shapes for the front of birthday and thank you cards for friends!
Play with coloured water and plastic bottles and learn about simple capacity and measuring maths concepts at the same time! Welcome to another activity in our Playful Maths series, which we are co-hosting with Learn with Play at Home. We focus on making maths playful, fun and totally hands-on and worksheet free! Each activity uses recycled materials and easy to obtain items from around the home, making them simple enough to set up quickly and cheaply. For these next two weeks we are using plastic bottles in our activities.
For this activity we used:
various size and shape plastic bottles (for e.g. shampoo & juice containers)
a scoop or cut bottle
coloured and scented warm water in a large tub (coloured with gel colouring and scented with vanilla essence)
We used coloured water so that it was very visible in the clear bottles.
Onto the bottles I drew very simple markings, different on each one to show a range of potential measuring scales. On one I demarcated by writing "quarter, half, three quarters and full", on another I wrote the same scale but numerically instead "1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1" and on the last I roughly marked it into 10 equal portions, numbering them from 1-10 and marking off the half way point. The idea behind this was to give a large a range as possible and introduce lots of learning and vocabulary possibilities.
Then they were simply invited to play, play, play! And as water play is one of their absolute favourites they dived right in (not literally) and set about scooping, pouring, filling and emptying. We talked about the half way mark on each bottle and what it represents, then they had the challenge of filling the bottles with water to meet the line exactly which was harder than it seemed and a real test of co-ordination and control when pouring. They pointed to the numbers on the numerically scaled bottle and were able to read them off.
There are plenty of opportunities for learning lots of new mathematical vocabulary during the play and for seeing in a very visual way what a quarter, half, three quarters and full actually look and feel like.
What they are learning while they play:
maths: filling and emptying, understanding simple capacity and measures, non-standard units of measure, new vocabulary, recognising numerals
motor skills: using control when pouring, stacking and pouring with funnels and bottles, scooping water
Here's a wonderful collection of the very best rainbow themed crafts, art ideas, sensory play activities and edible treats from this site and around the web! There should be a few ideas you will want to try now and plenty to save for later too!
Combine the classic song Five Little Ducks with some exciting water play in a sensory tub as a fun way to enjoy numbers, counting, singing and story-telling!
The girls all loved this story-telling activity as it combined two of their favourite things, singing and water play! This song is a great one for counting up and back down again from 1 to 5, subtracting one duck during each verse until there are none left. Using story and singing props is so helpful for little children as it allows a very tactile, kinaesthetic way to act out and physically move the objects while doing so. I filled a plastic sensory tub half full with warm water and mixed in a small amount of blue gel food colouring. We added a large Mother duck and 5 little babies, one of which was purple (why not?!)
I placed this next to the window so that we could use it as a backdrop to set the scene, then cut shapes from craft foam and stuck them to the window using water. (You can read all about foam window fun and learning in this pervious post!) I added a sun, some clouds, hills and numbers from 1-5.
They didn't need any introduction and immediately started singing the song and splashing the ducks around in their pond. In case you are not familiar with the words, this is how it goes. The song is repeated with one less duck each time, until when all the ducks have swum away the last words are "Mother duck said Quack, Quack, Quack, Quack, and all her 5 little ducks came back."
I didn't mention anything about the window foam stickers, but Cakie chose to remove one number each time a verse was sung, and hid it out of sight until all the numbers and ducks had disappeared. Between them they took one duck out of the water each time too, and only Mother duck was left ready to call them all back again!
When Baby Bean woke up she was drawn like a magnet to the tub and just loved shoving her arms in, grabbing at the ducks and splashing around. In fact, she loved it so much she climbed right in and stood with the ducks feeling extremely pleased with herself!
We have lots of favourite songs and nursery rhyme play activities coming up on the blog soon, so check back often or sign up for email updates to see all the posts!
What they are learning as they play: creativity: imaginative play ands storytelling using puppets/ story props literacy: retelling favourite songs and stories from memory, using storybook language maths: counting up to 5 objects reliably using 1:1 correspondence, counting forwards and backwards, subtracting small numbers and objects, recognising numerals to 5, singing familiar number rhymes and songs by memory
Use old bottles and pom poms for simple counting and sorting maths games and motor skills fun! With lots of ways to play and learn, these are a great addition to the maths area at home or school.
Welcome to another Playful Maths activity, part of a series being co-hosted with Learn with Play at Home each week. We aim to provide simple, engaging and completely play-based ways to practise maths skills with young children, using everyday materials. See our Pinterest board of ideas here!
This week we are looking at ways to re-use plastic bottles in maths play. I took four 1 litre sized water bottles and cut a simple hole near the bottom of each, leaving a little lip so that pom poms wouldn't fall out when dropped in. Then I painted a thin band of colour around each one, using acrylic paint which adheres well to plastic. You could also just tie around a coloured pipe cleaner, or a strip of coloured paper.
Using a dry-wipe pen, I wrote a number on the front of each one and then simply set out a large basket filled with pom poms in the corresponding colours to the bottles, as an Invitation to Play. No real explanation was needed and they were excited to have a go (not so excited about having to take turns!) When it was time to write new numbers, the pen easily wiped off with a dry cloth and the bottles can be re-used indefinitely.
Cakie recognised all numbers 1-10 easily, and was able to count out the correct number to add to each bottle, but needed reminding occasionally to move the pom poms using 1:1 correspondence instead of simply pointing at them. We then moved onto the numbers up to 20 to increase the challenge. With some of the smaller groups we went on to combining the contents of the bottles to find the totals, a little like our recent addition machine activity.
Pop enjoyed this activity at her own stage of development and was able to sort and match the pom poms by colour to the correct bottles. She recognised a few of the smaller numbers and was able to count out some smaller amounts. It served as great motor skill practise for her and concentration to be able to fit the small parts through the narrow bottle opening, all of which are great pre-writing skills too!
What they are learning while they play:
maths:recognising numerals, counting using 1:1 correspondence, sorting and matching by colour, counting up to 10 and beyond
motor skills:using control and precision to pick up and drop small materials, pincer grasp, hand/eye co-ordination
Make some gorgeous tissue paper flowers for Mother's day or as a lovely way to celebrate Spring by decorating the house and using in flower shop role play games! These can be adapted in any way and embellished with stickers, sequins and glitter to make them as simple or spectacular as wanted.
We recently made a bunch of tissue paper flowers together using just squares of coloured tissue paper, sticky tape and bamboo BBQ skewers. We decided to use them to decorate Grandma's grave as a little celebration that Spring is here. As they are SO simple and quick to do, we are going to make some more this week to add to a special flower shop role play area we are making!
Cut some largish squares from coloured tissue paper and set them out to let your child choose which colours and combinations they want to use. Older kids can do the cutting themselves and it doesn't matter how precise the initial shapes are. The simply fold them in half once, then once again, pinching the paper in the middle underneath as you do so. After the final fold, twist the paper around a little and fold back some of the outer corners to represent slightly turned back petals. Attach the pinched area straight to the top of a BBQ skewer using some tape and it is all finished!
Our tissue papers had a lovely shimmery glitter embedded within them, so looked gorgeous in the sunlight. You could also add your own glitter, sequins or drawings to the papers before folding them into the flower shapes. Flowers personalised with little sketches would look gorgeous and make an extra special gift for a parent, grandparent or teacher!
Once we had made a small bunch we popped them all into a jar to make the place look bright and cheerful for a while, before taking them to decorate Grandma's grave. You could easily use this same method to create flower garlands and necklaces, which would look beautiful!
What they are learning while they play: creativity: combining materials, making sculptural art forms, representing nature, using art during play motor skills: cutting, flying, pinching, snipping, tearing, sticking using pincer grasp and baby grip
With Easter just around the corner, these adorable little chick cups are ridiculously easy to make and make a great little take-home gift or treat cup when filled with chocolate mini eggs or jelly beans!
In the approach to Christmas last year I came across the most gorgeous snowman treat cups over at Blue Cricket Designs. We recently had Baby Bean's birthday party and had lots of bright yellow paper cups left over, which made me remember the snowmen and voila, some little chicks cups were born, ready for Easter treats! These were so easy to make as a gift for the kiddies, and could either be done as a craft activity or to make as a fab take-home gift for Spring or farm themed parties.
To make these cute little chick cups I simple cut small diamond shapes from orange felt and folded them in the middle to create beaks. Using very sticky UHU glue (or a glue gun), simply stick the beak to the front of a yellow paper cup along the fold. Then I drew on some eyes using a Sharpie permanent marker pen. I had some off-cuts of yellow felt so cut those into rough triangle shapes and stuck them onto the sides of the cups to make little wings.
Inside I added some yellow shredded paper to look like a nest, and arranged some Cadbury's chocolate mini-eggs on top. All finished!
If you wanted an alternative to sweet treats, you could fill these with wrapped balls of bright yellow play dough, some Spring themed stickers or a tiny book about Spring animals! These chick cups would look so adorable lined up ready to go home as take home gifts for a baby's first Old MacDonald themed party!
Here's a fun way to re-use bottle tops and jar lids by turning them into a simple counting and sorting game for preschoolers!
As part of our on-going Playful Maths series, Debs from Learn with Play at Home and I are looking at simple and fun ways to bring maths alive for young children, using everyday and recycled materials. This week we are up cycling bottle tops into fun activities and you can see her excellent Bottle Top Calculator here.
For our activity we collected a selection of lids of different colours and sizes and found an old shoe box lid and some coloured marker pens. We found a way to fit them all into the box and then I drew around each bottle top and coloured in the circles with the matching colours. We used some numeral stickers to match up the each bottle top with its corresponding colour silhouette and then I simply handed the lids to Pop to play with!
She loved having a game all to herself and was really quick to start matching the lids by colour and size. She had to correct herself a couple of times where the colours were fairly similar and she wasn't initially looking at the numeral stickers as a guide. When she noticed that they needed to be the same, she was able to match those together and name some of them too.
We played a couple of extra games too, where I called out a number and she had to locate it quickly, lining up the tops in numerical order and comparing the lids by size to see which were larger, smaller and the same size. Plenty of learning in one simple game, and adaptable for different abilities too!
What they are learning as they play:
maths: recognising shapes, recognising numerals, matching by colour, shape and numeral, ordering by size, ordering by numerical value
Set up a simple and visually stunning science experiment with the kids to explore the transfer of water through a plant! This is easy enough for a preschooler to understand and makes a great introduction to practical science investigations.
This classic, fun activity was always one of my favourites to do with the kids when I was teaching Reception classes and produced a WOW reaction each and every time! It effectively demonstrates how plants transport water up the stem, via the xylem, to reach the leaves and petals and hydrate them. The brightly coloured water changes the bright white flowers in a short space of time and that again makes it perfect for little ones who don't have too much patience for drawn out experiments!
In order to do this you simply need:
a few stems of bright, white flowers such as chrysanthemums, gerberas or carnations
jars filled with water and various shades of liquid or gel food colouring
Colour the water in each jar, and simply place the flowers in, watch and wait! Now that Cakie is old enough to be interested we introduced the scientific steps of prediction and observation during the investigation. I asked her what she thought might happen and she guessed that the flowers would change colour, but wasn't sure how. She looked at the flowers and drew them as they looked at the beginning of the investigation, for us to compare with the end results.
Within an hour or so some of the outer petals started to change colours, especially the blue and green dyes which seemed to be the strongest. They were really excited and C. said she thought the water was travelling up into the flowers and out to the petals, changing their colour as it went. She concluded this from direct observation, and not from me at all, which is exactly how learning should be!
By the next day or two the colours had reached most of the petals on each flower and looked very effective. We noticed that the purple dye made the petals blue, not purple, and talked a little about how colours are split and combined in dyes.
She then went back to her original observational drawing and added the colours where they had appeared on the flowers. We talked about comparing the pictures and how they represented the changes we had seen.
Older children could make notes about their predictions and the results, and could also label the diagrams with the parts of the plant and write about how the water moved through them.
We have stuck this drawing, along with some annotations made by me, into a new scrap book to keep track of our investigations and activities. Cakie is very excited about it and wants to show it to everyone at the moment!
What they are learning while they play: science/ knowledge and understanding of the world: performing a simple science experiment, making predictions and observations, understanding the parts of a plant, learning how water moves through a plant, drawing simple conclusions creativity: drawing from observation and noticing changes in appearance
Cakie: 4.6 Pop: 2.11 Bean: 12 mos
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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!
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
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
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
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!
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
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!
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
Bean: 13 mos
Join us both every week for our continuing series about
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