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Learning At Home Activities

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Age Groups: Infant, Toddler, Preschool
Play Dough Cakes for Counting Fun
You will need:

Play Dough
Rolling Pin
Muffin Tins
Cellophane inserts from biscuit packets
Paper cake cases
Birthday 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.

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


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

• 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.

• 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.

• 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).


Age Group: Preschool
Marvellous Magnetism
You will need:

A tray
Various magnetic and non-magnetic materials
Paper to record results


Adult Guided Activity

Provide your child with a tray of metal and non-metal objects and some magnets for experimentation and exploration.
Include some metal objects to which magnets do not stick, such as jewellery, to prompt curiosity and questions.
Create a chart with your child that lists (in words or pictures) the objects that are magnetic, and another for objects that are not magnetic.

Developing Investigation and Enquiry

Ask your child to guess if the magnet will pick the item up or not. Try it out and then record the result.

Introduce the word 'attract' as you explore if the magnet will pick up the item, "Will the magnet attract this?"

  • Ask your child to sort the items into those that are attracted and those that are not attracted to the magnet

  • Ask your child to think why some are attracted and others aren't.

Introduce the word words metal and metallic and then see what else they can find that is metallic that will attract the magnet.

Provide a range of metal objects and help them to understand that magnets stick only to objects made of materials such as nickel, iron and steel.

Further Exploration and Experimentation

Using magnets under a piece of cardboard, see what they can magically move across the cardboard.

Place paper clips on a clear plastic container and see what happens when the magnet is moved along the side.

Help them explore and discover that every magnet has a north and south pole. Help them explore that two north poles or two south poles will push away from each other and that opposite poles will attract one another.


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

Plastic bottles - different shapes and sizes
Plastic Jugs
Plastic 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.

Age Group: Preschool
Thirsty Celery
You will need:

Red and blue food colouring
2 clear plastic cups
2 stalks of celery
Magnifying Glass


Adult Guided Activity

Trim 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 water
Place a celery stalk in each cup and leave in a warm place overnight

Developing Investigation and Enquiry

Talk about what has happened to the celery stalks

  • Why do you think it has started to change colour?

  • How did the celery 'drink' the water?

  • How did the water get up the celery stalk?

  • Can you see the tiny tubes in the celery?

Introduce the word xylem to explain the tubes that transport up the stalk. Use the magnifying glass to see the xylem.


Keeping Everyone Safe

Role model safe cutting when using a sharp knife to cut celery.