The children loved the cotton wool so much yesterday that they’ve used it again today – this time to make sheep for a nativity shepherds scene. Here are the results:
December 1st and it’s all frosty here – which got us thinking about the possibility of snow! The children loved making these snowmen. Cotton wool is a lovely texture to work with and this is easy for even the youngest children to create.
A white dove is a universal symbol of peace and a beautiful way to start your Christmas celebration – and so easy for children to make.
This week we have a toy shop to play with. Very simple to set up, all you need is:
A till – we have a toy till which we filled with real (small denomination) money. If younger children are playing – who might be tempted to put the coins in their mouth – you might like to make some enlarged replica coins from cardboard (which you might like to laminate) so they can’t swallow them. If you haven’t got a toy till already you might like to add one of these to your Christmas list – or simply use yogurt pots filled with the coins instead. Add some old till receipts from your purse.
Something to sell – we made a grocery store and used some toy food and some egg boxes and empty packets of food.
Baskets and bags / purses – We have a couple of mini shopping baskets and each child had an old handbag with a purse with a few coins in.
Signs – making an open/closed sign and some listing the shop’s special offers is a good way to sneak in some letters and reading. As you can see, we are nativity play crazy here so our store is called the Bethlehem Shop!
Shopping lists – provide some paper and pencils and give the children a chance to practice ‘writing’ with a purpose, so they don’t forget anything on their list.
In addition to role-playing the shopping experience, with a child being the shop keeper and some being customers, using coins allows you to include some maths skills. You can add price labels to the food and help the children count out the right number of coins to buy what they want. You can also sort the coins into denominations to put them in the right till drawers – which works on classifying and matching skills.
One child playing today was really interested in the coins and spent time sorting them into colour groups and also size groups. Just shows that providing children with open-ended resources allows them to be creative and explore areas which they are interested in.
My 3 year old has been asking lots of questions about houses recently: what’s under the floor? which room is on top of this one? how many families live in a block of flats? I’m also keen to encourage her to pick up a pencil and do some mark making and drawing, as this isn’t an activity she tends to choose for herself but obviously is a skill she needs to develop. I always like to take the individual child as a starting point for any activity I’m planning – what are they interested in and what skills are they currently developing?- so with all this in mind we decided to make some model houses.
We used some cardboard boxes which we opened up flat. This gave us a clear side to draw on and it was much easier using a flat surface rather than a 3D one. We cut out a door to start with and coloured it and the roof in with wax crayons. We talked about what shapes windows are and had a look at the ones in our house. I helped my daughter cut out some rectangles from some paper and she used a glue stick to stick them on by herself. She used a crayon to put crosses on each of the windows to make them look like the ones we have at home. I was really pleased to see she carefully held the crayon in a palmar grip and placed the crosses right in the centre of each window – she’s improving her pencil control. She also added some beautiful flowers, which gave the opportunity to try making vertical and circular marks. Every front door needs a house number so she checked our number line and decided on a ‘3’. We then folded it all back up again and fastened it with stickytape – very simple but I think it looks great and she’s really pleased with it.
So that’s fine motor skills, mark making, decision making, numeracy, three dimensional modeling, shapes, colours, art, collage, and some ‘Mummy and me’ time – all from her current interest in houses. Amazing how many skills you can nurture in one simple activity.
Monday seems to be turning into a regular baking day for us, especially as all the rain we’re having has stopped us going out and about so much. We had ABBA on yesterday and danced as we baked. I found this recipe for Banana Yogurt Cake which is written with children in mind – older children could probably follow it without any help. I adapted it slightly, using butter instead of oil, toning down the sugar a little and upping the flour to compensate, so the ingredients were as follows:
120ml melted butter
3 large eggs
275g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 ripe bananas
150ml natural yoghurt
It turned out delicious – wolfed down by the kids and savoured by the adults with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. Makes a great pudding and would also be good in lunch bags.
Singing is good for your mind, body and spirit. It helps to nurture language skills: the patterns of traditional nursery rhymes follow the rhythm of the spoken language, and songs let you practice new vocabulary and introduce the concept of rhyme. You are also exercising your memory by recalling lyrics. Group singing lifts your spirits and develops a sense of community and team work. It’s physically good for you too: it releases endorphins, and can improve your posture and breathing. It’s even working on your maths skills as you deal with concepts related to rhythm such as ratios and fractions.
So with all these benefits we should be singing with our children every day!
To get you started why not make a song bag? Choose your bag and fill it with props that link to your favourite songs. (You’re bound to have some around the house already, but keep an eye out for them in charity shops too). Then take it in turns to pick something out – and sing about it!
This is what we’ve got in ours:
a sun hat – I’m a Dingle Dangle Scarecrow
a star shaped cookie cutter – Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
a spider – Incy Wincy Spider
a doll – Miss Polly had a Dolly
a cow – Hey Diddle Diddle or Old MacDonald Had a Farm
a rubber duck – Three Little Ducks Went Swimming One Day
a fish – 12345 Once I Caught a Fish Alive or Thou Shall Have a Fishy
a dolphin – Slippery Dolphins
a dog – How Much is that Doggy in the Window
a horse – This is the Way The Ladies Ride or Horsey Horsey Don’t You Stop
a monkey – Three Cheeky Monkeys Swinging Through the Trees / Bouncing on the Bed
a pig – This Little Piggy Went to Market
We’re currently on the look out for a (the wheels on the ) bus to add to our collection.
My children love using our song bag – it’s one of their most frequent requests. They also love subverting the lyrics of the songs – to see how silly they can be. You might also like to have a look at the Sing Up website which is packed full of information about singing, including a song bank full of songs to listen to, learn and sing along to.