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
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.
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.
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.