Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A splashing good time

Ever heard the rhyme, "Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day!" Well living in sunny California, this is not the case...let it pour! 
Coming from an Early Years background in Great Britain, we played out come sun, rain, wind and snow. Playing out in different weather conditions, promotes a knowledge of seasons and provides an opportunity for learning experiences and most importantly FUN! 
My daughter was only 18 months when we explored her first puddle and it was a big hit.
Get on your rain boots and rain coat and head on outside!
Who can play?
Children of all ages... young and old.

It goes without saying that young children need constant supervision when around water. It has been known for children to drown in just a couple of inches of water.
Watch out for slippy areas and try to avoid them.
Ensure that you and your child wear the appropriate clothing. Even though people say that you cannot catch a cold from getting cold, I would not chance it, plus it is not enjoyable to be wet and cold.

What do we need?

  • Waterproof coat
  • Rain boots
  • Optional umbrella
  • Washing up liquid
  • Paintbrushes
What did we do?
Bee, was really excited to play in the rain. This was her first experience of a downpour, and as you can see by the photographs she loved it.
Once we had put on our waterproof clothing and boots we explored the water by kicking it. Learning about its properties. Next was the fun part... for both of us. We jumped up and down, trying to create big puddles. Bee found this so funny, especially when the water went on her face.

We then added washing up liquid to the large puddle and watched how when we jumped around it made bubbles. 
The paintbrushes then came out and we began drawing and mark making with the bubbles. pushing it back and forth on the ground, creating small foamy bubbles. Bee enjoyed swishing the paint brush from side to side.
At the time of this activity, we were attending a parent education setting, with an inspirational teacher, Miss Bonnie. She taught us a bubble song that Bee loved, so we sang it whilst popping the bubbles we made.

Bubble Song

One little, two little, three little bubbles.
four little, five little, six little bubbles.
seven little, eight little, nine little bubbles.
ten little bubbles go pop, pop, pop!
Pop them, pop them, pop them bubbles.
Pop them, pop them, pop them bubbles.
Pop them, pop them, pop them bubbles.
Ten little bubbles go pop, pop, pop!

 We had so much fun, with such a simple free resource.

What did we learn?
Physical: Developing large motor skills, such as upper leg muscles, when jumping up and down. Fine manipulative skills when holding the paintbrush.
Creative: Singing the bubble song. Making patterns with the paintbrush in the bubbly puddle.
Mathematical: Counting the bubbles when singing the bubble song or when popping them.
Personal, social and emotional: Fun and enjoyment. Participating in new experiences and activities.
Knowledge and understanding of the world: Learning about weather conditions and experimenting with water, learning about its properties. Developing awareness of change of state when adding washing up liquid to the puddle.
Communication, language and literacy: Talking about what they can see and feel. Learning the words to the bubble song. Description words such as wet, dry, cold etc.

What could be done next?
The possibilities of a rainy day are endless. Below are some other ideas:

  • Add paint to the puddles to create swirly patterns
  • Supply cups and bottles, so your child can experiment with collecting the water, pouring and filling
  • Make boats to sail down guttering
  • Collect water in containers to measure rainfall and make a simple chart
  • Introduce chalk to a puddle and watch how the chalk dissolves and almost turns into paint.
To finish off a perfect play in the rain, we always favour a nice cup of hot chocolate and a snuggle on the sofa.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Painting Daffodils with Daffodils

On March 1st, Wales  (Great Britain) celebrate their patron saint Saint David. If you wish to learn more about Saint David, Wikipedia has more information.
Daffodils along with leeks and Dragons are all objects associated with Wales. Today, my daughter and I thought we would pay homage and make a still life painting of a vase of daffodils. Instead of using paintbrushes, we used a different media... daffodils.

Who can play?
Children aged 2 years plus. Depending on the age and stage of development.

Supervision whilst outdoors 

What do you need?
  • Daffodils either growing in the garden or bought from a shop 
  • Newspaper for the floor and apron for protection.
  • Paper
  • Yellow, orange and green paint
  • Containers for the paint
  • Magnifying glass

What did we do?
Firstly, we examined the daffodils and looked at its components, such as trumpet, stem, petals etc.We used the magnifying glass to look even closer. We then smelt and touched it. My daughter said it felt "really soft" and smelt like "flowers"...obviously.
The next thing we had to do was chose a daffodil to paint with. My daughter found this a funny idea, but couldn't wait to have a go.
After looking at its colours, we set about dipping our flower in the green paint  and then on the paper to create the long stems.
Finally, we added yellow and dark yellow paint to the stems to represent the daffodils flowers. My daughter counted the flowers and mentioned that some daffodils were not open, so she wouldn't paint them.
like most of our paintings/drawings, they end up on the fridge, to share with the whole family.
I also tried my hand at painting with the you cannot guess which one is mine :-)

What did we learn?
Creative: Painting the daffodils by looking at the real ones. Using a daffodil for a different media of painting, rather than a brush.
Physical: Developing their fine manipulative skills and brush control. 
Mathematical: Counting the daffodils. Developing spacial awareness when painting on the paper. Learning shapes when looking at the different parts of the daffodils.
Personal, social and emotional: Enjoying the experience and pride from finished product.
Knowledge and understanding of the world: Learning about plants in their environment
Communication, language and literacy: learning names of parts of the daffodil

What could be done next?
Food colouring could be added to the water in the vase, to see if the daffodils change their colour.
Watercolours could also be taken to the park or in the garden to create more still life paintings.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Leaf play

Sometimes an activity does not need to be planned or materials bought. Yesterday Isabella had the most fun just playing in a pile of leaves. Something so simple and natural kept my daughter entertained for the whole morning.
This is not a first for her. When she was just one year old, she enjoyed this activity. You cannot beat playing in nature.                
Who can play?
Children aged one year plus

What did we do?
This activity was completely child led. Isabella created the activity and initiated her own learning. As you can see from the pictures, she was totally involved in her play. She displayed so many physical skills when throwing the leaves up into the air, running after them and chasing them in the wind.

Once she was done with running after the leaves she asked me if she could sweep them up... who was I to say no?!                                           
Isabella even did her bit for the community and said "I'm going to sweep the street, it looks dirty" and began to sweep the path.
Isabella then introduced her bike to the play, and began to scoop up the leaves with a brush and shovel. She would then tip them into the basket at the back of the bike. 
Isabella then rode her bike to the paper bag at the top of the driveway. She was really pleased with herself when she poured the leaves into the bag (with a little assistance from me) and set off to clear the rest of the drive.
One happy child, one clean driveway and one fun morning.

What did we learn?
Personal, social and emotional development: Developing self esteem, independence and pride when achieving what she had set out to do. Helping out within her local community, when clearing the leaves from the pathway.
Knowledge and understanding of the world: Learning about the environment around us and weather conditions. When cleaning the pathway she was also learning about her community.
Creative development: Responding to experiences with regards to what she sees, feels and touches.
Physical Development: Operating a pedal bike, using both upper and lower arm muscles when throwing and picking up the leaves and using the brush and shovel.
Mathematical development: Counting the leaves and learning about capacity when filling up the basket on the bike and bag.
Communication, language and literacy: Talking about what she is doing and asking for items that she needs in her play.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentines bath fun

To celebrate Valentines Day I decided it would be fun to make Bee an 'I Love You' bath.
What you need
Bath and water (to the safe desired temperature)
Bath foam
Glow sticks
Sponge letters
False flowers or rose petals if feeling extravagant 
Bowls to put items in
Bottle and a wooden spoon in case she wanted to make a 'love potion'
Battery operated candles (kept out of the water)
Towel and bath mats

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pink shaving cream

Valentines Day is almost upon us (14th February) So Bee and I are getting into the mood. I know she loves getting messy and sensory play, so I thought she might like to explore shaving foam with a touch of red paint, to get us into the Valentines spirit. This is a perfect opportunity for not only learning about textures, but also communication, language and literacy, by building on her fine manipulative and pre-writing skills.

Who can play?
Children aged three years, however I used to do this activity with my daughter when she was two, it all depends on their age and stage of development.

What do I need?
Shaving foam (sensitive) 
Washing up liquid
Are that you do not mind covering in paint and shaving foam
Two bowls one filled with water and washing up liquid and the other for the shaving foam
Apron to protect clothing for you and the child.
Towel just in case the child does not like the experience or if it goes in their eyes

Hearts and kisses (noughts and crosses/tic-tac-toe, depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on)

Whilst celebrating Valentines Day, why not give a simple game a loving twist. Instead of noughts and crosses, we transformed some stones into hearts and kisses.

Who can play?
Children aged three and up. However younger children may enjoy exploring with the stones, twigs and making patterns. 

Always use non toxic, waterproof paint.
Be careful that little fingers do not get hit or caught in between the stones. 

What do we need?

  • Stones x 10
  • Long Twigs x 4
  • Red and white paint
  • Silver glitter
  • Two Paintbrushes
  • Two paint pots
  • Aprons to protect clothes
  • Area where the activity can be carried out 

What did we do?
Our first job was to paint hearts and kisses on the stones. We painted 5 with heart shapes and 5 with crosses. Isabella helped paint the kisses and apply glitter to them.

Once the stones had dried I arranged the twigs in a grid and placed the heart stones in one bowl and the kisses in the other and placed them on out path outside.
As soon as Bee saw the activity she showed an interest and said "do you want to play?"
She placed all the heart stones, from her bowl into the grid and said "you can put your crosses on now" making up her own game. She would also use lots of mathematical language such as "I am putting mine in the middle... At the top"etc.

After a few times of playing her game, I explained the rules of noughts and crosses (the aim is to get three of the same symbols in a row, either going horizontally, vertically or diagonally) 
Isabella tried her best, but needed a little guidance with the concept of the game.
Her little face did light up when she won a few rounds.
She also thought it was funny that if you went last you had a stone remaining in your tub, developing mathematical concepts.
At the end of the activity Bee enjoyed arranging the twigs into a grid pattern

Like most of her play it ended up being imaginative, as she pretended one stones was a mummy and the others were babies, going to bed in their spaces on the grid.

The day after this activity, Isabella played with the hearts and kisses set outside on her own. She enjoyed lining up the stones and twigs and making up her own patterns.

What did we learn?
Knowledge and understanding of the world- Learning and playing with natural objects in the outdoor environment.
Creative- Designing patterns with the decorated stones and twigs.
Physical- Fine manipulative when picking up and placing stones in the grid
Mathematical- spacial awareness when placing twigs and stones on the ground and learning about positioning e.g, up, down, left and right. Developing knowledge of shapes.Make sequences and patterns
Communication, language and literacy- following instructions and talking through what she was doing and what she wanted to do.
Personal, social and emotional- making up her own game and joining in with others. Lots of pride and self esteem when she won a few games.

What could our next steps be?
To make this set last, you could varnish them and keep them in an outdoor games box. If you have chalks you could encouraging your child to use it to draw a grid, noughts and crosses.
flowers and leaves could also be used instead of the stones, or letters/numbers that your child is learning.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Celebrating Chinese New Year within the local community

Celebrating Chinese New Year over the past two weeks has been a lot of fun. We learnt so much about the Chinese culture and enjoyed making crafts to share with family and friends.

To mark the end of this festival, we went to an organised Chinese New Year celebration within the local community.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Lucky Parcels

In the Chinese culture, it is considered lucky to give and receive envelopes that contain a coin. Everyone can do with a bit of luck from time to time, so we decided to make some lucky parcels and place a chocolate coin inside them for our family.

Peach blossom trees

What is Chinese New Year without a bit of peach blossom?!
Bee loved making this 'plant' and was so proud of it that she gave it to a sick friend. Needless to say, her friend was most happy and thought it was such a special gift.