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!
Use Sensory Toys/ObjectsDangle objects for your baby to touch, eg hang toys over the cot or changing table, or place little one under the play gym. This encourages their reach.Move objects in front of them such as a toy or rattle, or blow bubbles. Try objects that make a noise, move, are colourful or are black and white. This helps develop their eye movement and strength.Sing Songs or lullabies and nursery rhymesAny actions songs and nursery rhymes are fine. Show them the actions, eg clap their hands, clap their feet, bicycle their legs. Encourage them to look and play with their hands and feet.Do the actions yourself and others such as wiggling fingers, pulling funny faces, clicking fingers and waving. This encourages body awareness.With your baby on their back, hold each hand in yours and cross their hands in front of their body (so they're hugging themselves) and then uncross their hands. Repeat several times and do the same with their legs. This is important for developing coordination.
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.
Draw your basic hopscotch grid, then the first player throws a marker, such as a bean bag, into box 1.The player hops on one foot (or alternating feet) all the to the last box and back, stopping to pick up the marker on the way.Players take turns trying to throw in each box in order (1, 2, 3, etc.).A simpler way to play is to follow the instructions above, but only to hop to the first square, pick up the marker, and return.This game encourages hand/eye coordination and balance.
Why not ask your child to draw out the hopscotch board and to write the numbers, supporting their mathematical graphics.
Red and blue food colouring2 clear plastic cups2 stalks of celeryWaterMagnifying Glass
Adult Guided ActivityTrim the bottom and top of the celery (adult only)Put a small amount of food colouring in each of the plastic cups and fill them with waterPlace a celery stalk in each cup and leave in a warm place overnightDeveloping Investigation and EnquiryTalk about what has happened to the celery stalks
Keeping Everyone SafeRole model safe cutting when using a sharp knife to cut celery.