Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Following Santa on his sleigh.

It's nearly time for Santa to make his yearly trip. If you want to follow him, I found a fantastic website that allows you to track where he is. The website also teaches your child about different countries, therefor developing their knowledge and understanding of cultures and other countries around the world. It is definately worth a look. Happy Christmas!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Favorite play dough recipe

During my years working with children, I have tried and tested many home made recipes for playdough. I must admit, I do cheat from time to time and buy it from the store, but nothing beats a fresh, warm and sweet smelling batch of dough. This recipe can keep for up to a month (sometimes longer) if stored in an air tight container or zip locked bag.

Who can play?
Children one year plus will love this multi sensory activity.

What do you need?

1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Salt
2 tbsp Cream of tartar
1 cup Water
1 tbsp oil
Chopping board 
Optional Food colouring and essence to enhanance play

You can double up on the ingredients for a bigger batch however, I have found that the dough gets stuck onto the pan during the cooking stage. 

What do you need to do?
1. Add all the dry ingredients to the pan.
2. Slowly pour in the wet ingredients whilst stirring. Stir until the ingredients are blended together.
3. Place on the stove (low light) constantly stir the mixture so that it does not stick to the pan.
4. When the mixture comes together and begins to look like dough, take it off the heat and place on a lightly floured chopping board.
5. Kneed the dough until it is just warn and has the texture of play dough.
6. At this stage you can add herbs, food colouring or any essence that is needed. Be careful when adding essence as too much will make the dough go soggy. 
7. If you find the dough becomes a little bit sticky over time, just add more flour.

What can your child learn?
  • communication and language- talking about what they see, smell and feel. Listening to and following instructions.
  • Physical development- Hand eye development. Small and large physical development when pinching, pulling and stretching the dough.
  • Personal, social and emotional- Fun and enjoyment. Spending quality time with you will encourage self esteem and bonding. Playing with the dough can also have a therapeutic and stress relieving effect.
  • Mathematics- Shape and capacity. Counting out ingredients.
  • Understanding of the world- change of state 
  • Literacy- Reading ingredient list 
  • Expressive arts and design- creating models and designs with the dough and equipment.
Follow up activities:
1. Explore the dough with just your hands or with tools and utensils 
2. To develop scissor skills, encourage your child to cut the playdough
3. Make pretend food for a shop/restaurant 
4. Bake in the oven on a low heat for several hours to create ornimants or play food etc.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Surprise Christmas books

There are so many lovely Christmas ideas circulating social media and the Internet at the moment, that there are not enough days in December to cover them all! One idea that I came across on ( They had the idea of wrapping 24 christmas/holiday themed books up for you and your child to read before bedtime, over the holiday period. I loved the idea and decided to make this a Christmas tradition for my family.

                            Our Christmas tree with the wrapped up books, waiting to be opened.
Who can play?
Children and adults of all ages. It has been proven that even reading to your baby can increase their ability to talk, read and have a greater understanding of language and literacy.
This is also a lovely activity for a school. Each child could bring in their favorite book that has been wrapped up and the teacher could read a few each day.

What do you need?
1. Wrapping paper
2. Cello tape
3. 24 holiday themed books. I used books that Bee already had and a few that I found at the thrift store. During the month of December we also celebrate Hanukkah, so I have added books that feature this festival too.

What do you need to do?
1. Wrap up your chosen 24 books and place them underneath your Christmas tree on the evening of the 30th November but, don't worry if you start it later... Your child will still love this activity whenever you start it.
2. Each night before bedtime ask your child to chose a book to read together.
3. Unwrap the book and enjoy it. Bee loved the excitement of finding out what the book was and especially the surprise of finding a new book.

What could your child learn?
  • Communication and language- talking about the title and what they think the book will be about encourages understanding of books and develops inquisitiveness. Reading together will encourage the development of speaking and listening skills.
  • Physical development- when taking off the wrapping paper and turning the pages of the book, your child will develop their fine and large manipulative skills.
  • Personal, social and emotional- Fun and enjoyment. Spending quality time with you will encourage self esteem and bonding. The children will also love the excitement of unwrapping the book everynight until Christmas and hopefully develop a love of books.
  • Mathematics- counting how many books are underneath the tree and the numbers on the pages of the book. You could also talk about the sizes of the books and their shapes.
  • Understanding of the world- learning about festivals that are celebrated around the world, such as Christmas and Hanukkah. This encourages diversity and knowledge, compassion and understanding of different cultures.
  • Literacy- pointing to the words as you read and talking about the pictures will develop letter recognition.
  • Expressive arts and design- you could also create your own christmas book together.

What could be done next?
1. This activity could become one of your families holiday traditions.
2. You could do the same activity but on halloween or easter.
3. Write the numerals 1 to 24 on the parcels and either ask your child to count down from 24 to 1 or unwrap the numbered gifts according to the date.