Saturday, February 28, 2015

Chinese Dancing Dragons

When I think of Chinese New Year, it always conjurers up thoughts of Dragons dancing to a beating drum. To promote diversity and cultural awareness we thought we would make some dancing dragons of our own. They were so simple to make and we had lots of fun making them dance to Chinese music.

Who can play?
Children 2 years and above. All activities depend on your child's age and stage of development.

Supervision is needed at all times when children are using scissors. For younger children I would recommend that you cut out the head and tail of the dragon and they can color them in.

What do you need?

  • Card (we chose to use yellow and red card)
  • Scissors
  • Felt tip pens
  • Tape
  • Lollipop sticks (I used wooden drink stirrers from our local coffee shop)
  • Gift ribbon 
  • Sweet wrappers/colored cellophane paper
What did we do?
  1. The first thing we did was look at Chinese New Year celebrations online. We watched how the people who were dressed up as a dragon moved, danced and discussed what the Dragon looked like.
  2. We then went on to draw the dragons head and tail on a piece of yellow card.
  3. Using the scissors we cut out the head, tail and a forked tongue.
  4. Taking a piece of red paper, we cut it length ways in half and then made folds one way and then the other, making a concertina effect.
  5. We then attached the Dragons head on one end of the strip of red card and the tail to the other.
  6. Taking the forked tongue, we taped it to the Dragons mouth and placed a piece of orange colored cellophane paper behind it (to represent fire)
  7. To help the Dragon dance, we placed a lollipop stick at the bottom of the head and the tail. We were able to hold the lollipop sticks to make him move.
  8. For extra decoration we placed gift ribbon on the body of the Dragon.
  9. All that was left to do was make our Dragons dance. We chose to play some Chinese music from YouTube and made our dragons dance high and low whilst moving around the house. Bee thought this was great fun and great exercise.
Possible learning outcomes:
Art and Design- Designing your own Dragon. Making up dance moves to the Chinese music.
Mathematical- Using mathematical terms such as high, low, forwards and backwards when dancing with the Dragons.
Personal, Social and Emotional- Fun and enjoyment. Pride from finished product.
Knowledge of the World- Learning about different festivals, cultures and countries in the world.
Physical- Fine manipulative skills when folding the card to make the Dragons body. Developing scissor skills. Large manipulative skills when dancing with the dragons (upper body and leg muscles) Hand eye coordination.
Communication and Language- Listening to and following instructions. This activity will also promote an awareness of different languages that are used around the world.

Follow up activities:

  • Visit the library and check out some Dragon themed fact and fiction books. My daughter Bee loves 'My Pet Dragon' by ?????? 
  • Go to a local pet shop to look at the lizards... you may get lucky and see a bearded or kimono dragon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chinese Lanterns

There are so many ways to celebrate Chinese New Year. One of our favourite ways is to make Chinese Lanterns.
This is a great creative activity that also promotes important physical skills. Your child will develop their fine manipulative skills when folding the paper and promoting scissor skills too. 

Who can play?
Children aged 3 and above. With all activities it depends on their age and stage of development.

Supervision is needed at all times, when children are using scissors. Ensure that battery operated lights are used instead of real tea-lights. This will prevent fires and the burning of little fingers.

What do you need?
  • Paper (preferably red)
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Gold glitter (or any other glitter you have available)
  • Battery operated tea-light
  • Tape
What do you need to do?

  1. Cut a 1 inch strip from the top of a piece of A4 card/paper. We will use this later for the handle on the lantern.
  2. Fold the paper/card vertically in half and make cuts going from the fold to around one inch from the top of the paper. I made my cuts around one inch apart.
  3. Unfold the paper and decorate with markers, glue and gold glitter.
  4. Once the glue has dried and you are happy with your final product, bring both side together and attach with tape or as mentioned before staple together and place a piece of tape over the staple, so as not to cut little fingers. 
  5. Tape the 1 inch strip you cut out earlier in the activity and attach both sides to the lantern.
  6. All that is left now is to turn on your battery operated candle, place inside and enjoy how the light shines through it. Happy Chinese New Year!
Possible Learning Outcomes:
Art and Design- Creating your own design on the lanterns, using mixed media and tools for a purpose. Color recognition.
Physical- Fine manipulative skills whilst developing scissor skills, hand eye coordination.
Mathematical- Measuring out the 1 inch distances. counting how many cuts you make in the lantern.
Personal, Social and Emotional-  Fun and enjoyment. Pride from finished product. Working on a project as a team. Contributing to the family.
Communication and Language- Following and listening to instructions. Discussing what they are doing.
Knowledge and Understanding- Learning about different countries and their cultures
Literacy- Developing their tripod grip (that is needed for writing) when drawing and attaching tape to their lantern.

Possible next steps:
  • Use the Lanterns as a center piece for your Chinese New Year themed meal/party
  • Hang the Lanterns on a string to decorate your room or garden.
  • Experiment with different ways of making and decorating lanterns.  
  • Try painting your lantern instead of glue and glitter

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year!!!!

Kunghei Fatchoy!"  Happy New Year.

Today is Chinese New Year. The celebrations last until the 5th March (15 days), so there is plenty of time to join in with the festivities.

Chinese New Year is always on the first day of a full moon. There are 12 signs of the zodiac and this year is the year of the Goat. 

When celebrating different festivals, you promote knowledge and understanding of the world, compassion and equality. 

Over the next 15 days Bee and I will share our fun Chinese New Year themed activities.

To get you started here are a few ideas;

1. Visit your local library and check out some Chinese New Year Fact books. This will introduce the festival and explain what it involves. 

2. Attend a Chinese New Year Festival. Most local districts organise one. They are a great insight into the Chinese culture and fun for all the family. Take a look at your local newspaper or online for your closest one. 

3. Show your child Chinese New Year Celebrations and Dragon dancing on Youtube (obviously vet the clip before showing it to your child) 

Here's to a good New Year! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Perfect Pancake Mix

Happy Pancake Day!

Struggling for ideas for dinner? Look no further. Pancakes are a great addition to a meal or teamed with fruit and yoghurt for desert. 

I have so many nice memories of Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday. As a child growing up I would devour my mums home made pancakes with a bit of sugar and lemon squeezed ontop and I remember the fun of flipping the pancakes, sometimes they would land in the pan and other times on the floor.

The ingredients are probably already in your cupboard and your children will love the hands on experience of making the batter, watching it cook and attempting to flip the pancake onto the other side. Depending on your child's age and stage of development, they could help in the cooking part. Younger children could always help combine ingredients and toss the pancake in a cool pan.

Ingredients to make 10 Pancakes.
2 cups of flour
2 eggs
1.5 cups of milk (you may need to add more depending on the consistsancy of the batter.
Coconut oil for frying
You will also need a small frying pan, whisk, measuring cups, bowl and spoon.

Make a small well in the centre of the flour and gradually add the eggs and milk until you reach a smooth batter consistency. It needs to be not too thick and not too runny. Add more milk at this point if it's thick.

Coat a small pan in a little coconut oil and pour approximately 2Tbsp batter into the hot oil. Swirl the batter in the pan, to create the pancake shape. Cook until the pancakes begin the lift away from the side and you see small bubbles popping at the surface. 

Once it is golden brown, practice your flipping skills and try to flip the pancake onto the other side and finish cooking.

Serve with a wedge of lemon or fresh fruit... If it manages to get to the plate :-)

Possible Learning Outcomes:
Mathematical- Measuring and counting ingredients that are needed. 
Communication and Language-Listenibg to instructions and following them. Talking about what changes they can see.
Personal, Social and Emotional- Pride from finished product. Helping make food  for their family. Fun and enjoyment. 
Knowledge of the World- Learning about Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday. Scientific skills such as change of state.
Literacy- Reading the ingredients list.
Physical- Fine and Large manipulative skills will be promoted as children use a spoon to mix the ingredients together. 


Flipping Pancake Game

I just love this simple Flipping Pancake Game. Not only will it develop your child's physical skills but possibly their competitive side too :-)

Who can play?
Children aged 2 years and above, however as with all activities it depends on their age and stage of development.

What you need:
Rolling pin
Small pan
Open space

How to play:
Make some pancake shapes out of playdough by asking your child to roll a ball and then by using a rolling pin, flatten it out into a circular shape.
Next you have to place your pancake in a small pan. We used our pans from Bee's kitchen play set.

Once you have your pancake and pan, practice tossing it up in the air and catching it back in the pan.

When your child feels ready, have a race with you or a friend to a certain focal point and ask them to flip their pancake whilst running. If they drop their pancake they have to stop and pick it up.
We had so much fun with this game and  had a little bit of cheating along the way.

Potential learning outcomes:
Physical:  Throwing and catching the pancake in the pan. running and hand eye coordination. Fine manipulative skills when rolling the playdough out and making it flat.
Mathematical: Counting how many times you can flip a pancake without dropping it onto the floor. Developing concepts of the shape of a circle.
Communication and Language: Listening to and following instructions. Talking about what is happening.
Literacy: developing those fine manipulative skills that are needed for holding a pencil whilst rolling the dough. Look at books about pancake day.
Art and Design: Using their imagination and creativity when making the pancake and role play.
Social and Emotional: Joining in with a game and cooperating. Following the rules of the game. Fun and enjoyment.
Knowledge of the World: Learning about the festival that is Pancake Day/shrove Tuesday. Being in their local environment.

Possible next steps:
Why not open a pretend pancake cafe to develop role play. Mathematic concepts could be introduced such as counting out the pancakes and using money. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cupids Arrows Game

Valentines Day is as good as any to sneak a bit of maths in to your child's day. This time, it comes in the form of a game that involves Cupids arrows. The game was really simple to make and we had lots of fun playing at the park with a friend. 

Who can play?
Children aged 3 years and above. All activities depend on your child's age and stage of development.

Talk to your child about aiming the arrow towards the floor rather than heads/eyes as this could cause an injury

What do you need?

  • Straws
  • Card/Foam
  • Scissors
  • Cello tape
  • Chalk
What do you need to do?
Fist we need to make the arrows. They are really simple to do. Firstly you need to make a small slit in the end of the straw. Next, cut out a feather shape from either a piece of card or foam and slot it through the slit you made in the straw.

Finally add an arrow head to the tip of the straw. For this Just cut out a heart from a piece of card (making sure that the point is slightly curved so it will not poke anyone) Next, cello tape it to the other end of the straw. We made four arrows for our game.          

How to play the Cupids Arrow game:

To set up the game, we drew a heart on the ground with a piece of chalk.

Taking it in turns we threw our arrows into the heart (be aware of the way the wind is blowing... We had to draw another heart, going in a different direction as our arrows were getting blown the other way in the wind and the children were getting frustrated) 
Bee and her friend loves throwing the arrows and showed pride and excitement when they got one in the heart.

Once all the arrows were thrown, we counted how many went inside the heart and how many were outside.
To record our findings we made a tally on the floor with chalk. The children recorded how many arrows went into the heart by making lines on the tally. At the end of the game, the children can count how many arrows went into the target, compare who got the most in and least.

This helped us with understanding number bonds to 4 , encouraged mark making skills and promoted knowledge of how to recording information.  

We had so much fun and have a feeling that this game will be played well after Valentines Day.

Learning outcomes:
Communication and Language- Listening to instructions. Talking about what has happened
Literacy- Recording information with chalk. Developing their writing skills.
Mathematics- Developing an awareness of numbers, addition and tally making.
Art and Design- Creating our own game
Personal, Social and Emotional- Cooperation and turn taking. Fun and enjoyment. Pride when they manage to get an arrow in the hula hoop.
Knowledge and Understanding- Learning about Valentines day traditions. Talk about how arrows were used for fishing and hunting.
Physical- Large manipulative skills when aiming and throwing the arrow. Hand eye coordination.

What could be done next?

  • Substitute the heart with a hula hoop or a bucket for younger children, who have difficulty with their aiming and throwing skills.
  •  Draw a heart inside a heart and mark it with a number two. Taking the counting and adding one step further.
  • For children who are confident with numbers ask them to write the numbers instead of lines to represent each arrow. 
  • If your child does not enjoy the number side of this game. Just have fun throwing the arrow at the target and introduce it another time.

'You blow me away' Valentines gifts

Today I received a letter from Bee's preschool asking her to bring in 16 Valentines cards/gifts for her friends. My first thought was "Oh no... do we have the time and what are we going to do?" After a quick rummage in the garage, I came across some bubbles, that were left over from Bee's birthday party... just enough for her school friends. We then set about transforming them into a cute Valentines offering.

Who can play?
Children aged 2 years and up will love sticking the love hearts on the bottle and mark making/writing their name on the card. Supervision is needed at all times.

When younger children are handling the bottle of bubbles, ensure that they do not drink the liquid. Please see warning sign on the bubble bottles.

What do you need?
  • Small bottles of bubble solution. (I picked mine up from the dollar/pound store)
  • Love heart stickers
  • Card
  • Hole punch
  • Split pins
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon
  • Pens
What did we do?
The first thing we had to do was decorate our bottles. For this we chose love heart stickers. Bee showed precision and concentration when placing them onto the sides of the bottle.

We then cut out two love hearts out of card. On the first love heart I wrote the words:
You blow me away!      

On the second heart Bee wrote her name. Depending on your child's age and stage of development they could write their friends name too.
The final thing was to use the hole puncher to create a hole in the top left corner of each heart. A piece of ribbon was then threaded through both hearts to attach it to the bubble bottle... and voila... a cute and home made Valentines gift.

Development outcomes:
Communication and Language- Following instructions
Literacy- Making marks for a reason, practicing writing their name and their friends names. Writing recognizable letters.
Mathematics- Talking about the heart shape. How may sides does it have. Does it have curved lines?
Design and Art- Creating their own gift. Using tools for a purpose.
Knowledge and Understanding- Learning about Valentines Day, what the festival stands for and what it entails.
Personal, Social and Emotional- Making gifts for their friends. Fun and enjoyment. Pride from finished product and working as a team. Cooperation.
Physical Development- Hand eye coordination and fine manipulative skills. Developing threading and cutting skills.

What could be done next?
  • Wrap a note around a pencil and write "you are just 'write' for me!" You could also attach a small note pad.
  • Make a flower out of some tissue paper and a straw. You could even perfume the flower with some essential oils.