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.
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.
• Paper or card• Crayons and or felt tipped pens• Stickers• Things to measure• Scissors
• Create a set of measuring hands for measuring how long, how wide, how tall and how short things are at home.• These non-standard units of measure help children understand the concept of using units to measure items.• Draw round hands, then cut them out and decorate with crayons, felt tipped pens or stickers.• Number each hand, then start measuring.• Count how many hands wide, long and tall items or people are.• Record these results and compare them to find out which is the shortest, longest, widest and tallest.
How this activity helps develop early maths learningChildren typically progress through a series of stages in understanding measurement (Copley, 2000):1 Comprehending that objects can be compared and measured and understanding the meaning of questions like “how long is this?”, “how heavy is that?” etc.2 Making comparisons themselves, such as judging which pencil is shorter, which pebble is heavier, etc.3 Determining an appropriate unit and process for measurement.4 Using standard units of measurement (centimetre, grammes, etc.).5 Creating and using formulas to help count units.During the preschool and reception class years, children primarily focus on stages 1 and 2 and may begin to work on the concept of “unit” in the third step. Steps four and five are typically focused on in the primary school years.Copley, J. V. (2000). The Young Child and Mathematics. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
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!
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