Play DoughRolling PinCuttersMuffin Tins Cellophane inserts from biscuit packetsPaper cake casesButtonsBirthday cake candles
Play alongside your child making cakes with the play dough, roll into balls in your hand or use a rolling pin and cutters.Place one paper cake case into each ‘hole’ in the tin or cellophane insert, counting out each one aloud.Do the same when adding your play dough cakes to each paper case. It’s important that children hear this one- to- one counting with objects.You can then make cherries with small bits of play dough or add buttons, or candles to the top of each cake, again counting each one aloud as you place it on top of the cake. When you and your child have finished, count each cake then affirm the final amount e.g. “we have made six cakes”.You can add some stretch and challenge by helping your child work out how many cakes are needed for family members and how many will be left, or how many more are needed.
This fun counting activity helps children acquire five important counting principles proposed by Gelman and Gallistel (1978) in meaningful ways.1. One to one correspondence: principle Understanding that a number word is assigned to an item.2. Stable order principle: Understanding that order of number words is always consistent. Ideally this should be the conventionally accepted sequence of number words.3. Cardinal principle: Understanding that the final number said signifies the number in the set.4. Abstraction principle: Understanding counting can be applied to anything.5. Order- irrelevance principle: Understanding that items can be counted in any order so long as each item is only counted once.
Plastic bottles - different shapes and sizesPlastic JugsPlastic Funnels
Collect up different size plastic bottles, plastic funnels and jugs for bath-time maths.Have fun pouring water into the bottles, whilst playing talk about; Filling the bottle to the top, “Is it nearly full?”, “How many little bottles of water does it take to fill this big bottle?”, “Shall we fill it half full?”.You can add some stretch and challenge by marking up quantities with a permanent marker pen or coloured waterproof tape. For example, marking up 250ml on a 500ml bottle, and marking up 50 ml units on a 200ml bottle.If you have 2 different shaped bottles that hold the same amount ask your child which one he/she thinks will hold the most water. Help him/her test out to see what happens.
Playing with water in this way helps children explore capacity and volume.Talking with your child as they fill up bottles helps them develop understanding of mathematical terms associated with capacity and volume in ways that are meaningful.Exploring how the volume of water stays the same regardless of the size or shape of a container is an important mathematical concept to develop. This is referred to as conservation of volume; having the ability to understand that redistributing liquid does not affect its volume. Children usually master this at around the age of seven years.Children are likely to think that a tall narrow bottle contains more liquid than an equal amount in a short fat bottle. Through playing with water and different shaped containers that hold the same amount, children will begin to explore conservation of volume.
Children love to have the opportunity to experience messy play; many children love to experience getting really, really messy - even playing in the dirt. In our clean environments we now sadly worry about this. However, there is a school of thought that indicates that getting dirty is actually quite important for children and something that children are actually programmed to do for reasons of survival. The publication “The Dirt on Dirt” by the US based National Wildlife Federation summarises the benefits of playing in the mud for developing the immune system and preventing allergies. The Forest School movement advocates that playing outdoors also decreases children’s stress levels and improves their concentration abilities.Many nurseries have developed “Mud Kitchens” where children can play in a hands on way, get stuck in and as messy as they like. As they get absorbed in squishing, moulding and mixing, their imaginations roam free. They spontaneously make potions, mud pies and develop their own little worlds. If you have the opportunity to have a space in your garden to make a digging area where your child can also do this they will develop their own way of playing that will help them problem solve and encourage their own creativity. If you have no garden, go for walks in green spaces and gather natural materials to bring back and make potions on the kitchen table. Blossom trees and wild flowers are starting to spring up and these can be used for “magic”!Different ways of learning emerge as we mature but learning through our senses is not something that we entirely lose throughout our lives; who hasn’t been reminded to use oven gloves by touching a hot pan? We don’t want children to learn everything this way but experiential learning does have an important place as it helps to develop understanding and skills and gives the brain important feedback.For more information go to:http://www.muddyfaces.co.uk/download/Making%20a%20mud%20kitchen.pdfhttp://www.nwf.org/What-We-Do/Kids-and-Nature/Why-Get-Kids-Outside/Dirt-is-Great.aspx
ChalkConesHoopsBallsBuckets or containers of varying sizes
Set up targets for your child using cones, hoops, buckets or chalked shapes on the floor.Ask your child to roll, throw, or kick the ball to the target.Move the target further away to make it harder, or move it closer to make it easier.Make the target smaller to make it harder, or bigger to make it easier. Ask your child if they notice how some objects are easier to throw and why they think that is. Can they throw with both hands together? Can they throw with their left and their right hands separately and at the same time?This game encourages hand/eye coordination, gross and fine motor movements, and direction and precision throwing.
If you haven't got ant buckets, why not draw targets on a wall with chalk or on paper which is then stuck to the wall? These can be different shapes and sizes and placed at different heights to provide higher levels of challenge.
Spring is with us and it is the time of year to get outside and think about brightening our outside spaces. Even if you don’t have access to a garden or balcony, you can still do a lot with pot plants inside and on your window sills. Gardening with children is a really gratifying activity. It helps children to learn about where our food comes from and the cycle of life. A sensory garden enables children to explore the properties of plants, their look, feel, texture, smell and taste.Take a trip to the garden centre. For a child, this is a novel and colourful experience. It gives you the chance to show children a wonderful variety of plants. Talk about the differences between them, the shapes and shades of leaves, the fact that some plants are good to eat but others would taste bad and could make you ill. This teaches them to be cautious about the things they may see in the wild and to be careful about picking and eating.Look for seed packets of herbs and spices. Good ones to choose are the many varieties of mint, parsley, oregano, basil, marjoram. Read the backs of the seed packets out to the children to get them to think about what we need to do next and what other equipment you may need to plant the seeds in. In many cases it is best to plant the seeds in pots indoors to “chit” them. This is when you start the seeds sprouting before you transfer them to bigger containers or to the garden. A good and immediate way to show children what will happen to the seeds, is to plant cress. Place the cress seeds on damp cotton wool or paper. If you keep them in the warm and damp they quickly sprout and develop and soon the children can put the cress in their sandwiches.Happy gardening!