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Learning At Home Activities

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Age Groups: Preschool, Toddler
Create a sensory garden with your child
You will need:

Seeds
Plant Pots

Directions:

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!

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Age Group: Infant
Free Movement Activities
You will need:

Directions:

Babies need daily opportunities to move freely on their tummies in a variety of stimulating, safe spaces without constraints such as clothing, or straps in baby chairs.

Floor Time

Put your baby on the floor on different surfaces and materials, eg blankets, changing mat, and in different positions, eg, front, back and each side. This will encourage free movement and balance.

Tummy Time

- Let your baby have lots of tummy time from as early as possible - little and often is best. This will encourage neck and head control.

- Lie little one on your chest while sitting in a reclined position or lying down.

- Get down on the floor with your baby. This will help their balance, as they sense the ground beneath them.

- Encourage interaction through talking, singing and shaking toys.

- Incorporate tummy time into nappy changes.

- Interact with your baby in lots of different ways - talking about what you're doing and about what they're doing, singing and reading. This will encourage listening and moving.

- Spend time stroking their hands and feet using different soft items such as feathers, ribbons and cuddly toys, and hard items such as plastic toys. This is good for sensory stimulation.

- Carry your child in different positions - in arms, on shoulder, face down on forearm. This helps with their neck and head control.

Experience the Outdoors

Take your baby outside for a walk in a pram or place on a rug/blanket, or grass if dry, under a tree to watch the leaves. This will stimulate their senses.

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Age Groups: Infant, Toddler, Preschool
Pour and Fill
You will need:

Plastic bottles - different shapes and sizes
Plastic Jugs
Plastic Funnels

Directions:

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.

Tip:

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.


Age Groups: Preschool, Toddler
Maths at Home
You will need:

Directions:

Here are some ideas that can help your child develop their mathematical skills both in the home and out and about with the family.

Number
• Counting steps/stairs as you go up – perfect for one to one matching
• Counting red cars, telephone boxes etc on the way to nursery or the shops
• Pairing up socks and shoes
• Laying the table – how many knives will we need?
• Helping peg out the washing
• Doing up their own buttons or someone elses?
• Looking at numbers around us – on house doors, registration plates, shop windows
• Helping with the shopping – we need three oranges and two lemons. How many altogether?
• Talking about the child’s age and those of the rest of the family.
• Use ordinal numbers (first, second, third etc.) in going through steps of a recipe, having a race down the garden, or getting dressed in the morning.

Sets and Sorting
• Sorting the washing
• Tidying away toys – getting the toys in the right boxes
• Talking about similarities and differences between objects or people
• Sorting everyday objects in the kitchen.

Pattern
• Following different sequences e.g. laying the table, getting dressed, in the same way each time
• Singing songs or telling stories with a clear pattern, sequence of repetition, e.g. Old MacDonald, Three Blind Mice, Three Billy Goats Gruff
• Looking at the patterns on curtains, wallpaper, wrapping paper. Children can print their own wrapping paper to wrap a friend’s birthday present
• Looking at patterns on buildings e.g. bricks in wall, windows
• Building with blocks and different construction toys – using one piece after another.

Shape and Space
• Describing different containers and packets in the kitchen and at the supermarket
• Finding shapes in the child’s own environment e.g. road signs, post-boxes, windows and doors, books
• Doing jigsaw puzzles (looking at the shapes of the pieces and the ‘holes’ where they could go, and keeping the overall shape of the puzzle develops spatial awareness)
• Playing with car mats, train sets, or outside on tricycles.

Measuring
• Estimating how much is needed, for example, how much bread to make 4 sandwiches, how much icing to ice the cake
• Playing in the sand pit using different containers
• Bath time or washing up time – pouring from one container to another, filling different containers, using containers with holes
• Talking about events throughout the day in order of sequence
• Drawing child’s attention to the clock – e.g. we’ll have tea when the big hand is on the 6
• Handling money at the shops. Role playing ‘shops’ at home using coins and counting out the right number
• Tidying things away into different boxes and containers – will we fit them all in?
• Comparing different lengths (dog’s lead, socks, shoelaces), weights (shopping bags, toys), areas (footprints of child and adult), sizes (teddies, chairs for child and adult) and capacity (child’s beaker and adults’ glass, bottles of squash).

Tip:


Age Groups: Infant, Preschool, Toddler
Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud
You will need:

Directions:

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.pdf
http://www.nwf.org/What-We-Do/Kids-and-Nature/Why-Get-Kids-Outside/Dirt-is-Great.aspx

Tip: