Sand - or a sunny beachA stick or index finger
Use a stick to make marks in the sand - vertical and horizontal lines, circles and crosses are good to start with.Encourage your child to copy you then ask him/her to make marks for you to copy.Talk about the marks and letters you make and the movements you do to make them. “I’m starting here, then going down, then stop”. “I’m starting here then going round and round and round”. “I’m going to make M for Mummy”
This helps your child develop skills and confidence in forming and connecting the curves, vertical, horizontal and zig-zag lines that form the bias of letter shapes.Starting big then gradually working down to smaller develops as your child’s hand and eye co-ordination skills and manual dexterity skills mature and integrate.As your child associates the language of the mark or letter shape with the action of forming these, he/she will be getting kinesthetic feedback which is essential for any motor action. Kinesthesia is the knowledge of where each body part is and direction in which it is moving.It is an important component of motor control for legible handwriting.
A silky fabric scarf, fabric napkin or a tea towelA selection of favourite toys
This is best done sitting in front of your baby either on the floor or when your baby is seated in a highchair. Pop the scarf, tea towel or napkin over your face then pull it away quickly and say “Peek-a-Boo”. Repeat again and then invite your baby to pull the scarf, tea towel or napkin off to reveal your face. This becomes a game of great anticipation and fun as your baby discovers that you’ve not disappeared. Switch the game round and pop the scarf, tea towel or napkin over your baby’s face and say “Where’s ……. gone”? Watch as baby pulls the fabric away to reveal that they have not disappeared.Extend the game by hiding a favourite object, such as a teddy, under the scarf, tea towel or napkin and saying “where’s Teddy gone”? As baby pulls the scarf, tea towel or napkin away to reveal teddy say “there’s Teddy”! This fun game of hide and seek is a great way to help develop the connection of the object and object name as you reinforce the name of the object by saying “where has ……. gone” and “there is ……”Babies learn through repetition so don’t be surprised if this becomes a game that your baby indicates they want more of it!Object PermanenceObject permanence is about understanding that when something disappears it has not gone forever and tends to begin to develop between 4-8 months of age. Before a baby begins to understands this concept, things that disappear from her view, such as something falls off the high chair tray or is covered over with an upside down bowl, are gone. Quite literally out of sight and out of mind. Developing object permanence is an important cognitive milestone. It is an essential foundation to learning for symbolic understanding (which a baby needs to develop language, pretend play, and exploration) and helps babies work through separation anxiety.
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.
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!