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Learning At Home Activities

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Age Groups: Infant, Preschool, Toddler
Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud
You will need:

Directions:

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.pdf
http://www.nwf.org/What-We-Do/Kids-and-Nature/Why-Get-Kids-Outside/Dirt-is-Great.aspx

Tip:


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

Directions:

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

Number
• 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.

Pattern
• 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.

Measuring
• 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).

Tip:


Age Groups: Preschool, Toddler
Sock Sorting
You will need:

A selection of approximately 10 to 12 pairs of socks - big and small, plain and patterned, different colours.
A basket or box

Directions:

Unfurl the socks and place them in the basket or box. Invite your child to help you sort the socks;
“I’ve got a red sock, can you help me find another red sock the same”?

How this activity helps to develop early maths.

■ Skills of sorting and matching by size, colour and pattern.
■ Developing the concept of two and what makes two.
■ Maths language of the same, different, pair, one more.

Toddlers love getting involved in everyday activities so this is a great activity to do together when you are sorting washing to put away.

Tip:


Age Group: Infant
Free Movement Activities
You will need:

Directions:

Babies need daily opportunities to move freely on their tummies in a variety of stimulating, safe spaces without constraints such as clothing, or straps in baby chairs.

Floor Time

Put your baby on the floor on different surfaces and materials, eg blankets, changing mat, and in different positions, eg, front, back and each side. This will encourage free movement and balance.

Tummy Time

- Let your baby have lots of tummy time from as early as possible - little and often is best. This will encourage neck and head control.

- Lie little one on your chest while sitting in a reclined position or lying down.

- Get down on the floor with your baby. This will help their balance, as they sense the ground beneath them.

- Encourage interaction through talking, singing and shaking toys.

- Incorporate tummy time into nappy changes.

- Interact with your baby in lots of different ways - talking about what you're doing and about what they're doing, singing and reading. This will encourage listening and moving.

- Spend time stroking their hands and feet using different soft items such as feathers, ribbons and cuddly toys, and hard items such as plastic toys. This is good for sensory stimulation.

- Carry your child in different positions - in arms, on shoulder, face down on forearm. This helps with their neck and head control.

Experience the Outdoors

Take your baby outside for a walk in a pram or place on a rug/blanket, or grass if dry, under a tree to watch the leaves. This will stimulate their senses.

Tip:


Age Groups: Preschool, Toddler
Target Practice
You will need:

Chalk
Cones
Hoops
Balls
Buckets or containers of varying sizes

Directions:

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.

Tip:

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.