Blog post one: “If you want to do something nice for a child, give them an environment where they can touch things as much as they want”

Blog post one: “If you want to do something nice for a child, give them an environment where they can touch things as much as they want”

I want to continue this post which I touched on, on Instagram. Children should fundamentally have an environment that fulfils their enjoyment and interests. For example, a child may have an interest in construction. This gives the early years educator and parents the opportunity to fulfil the environment with items relating to construction. This may include loose parts that the child may use to build during construction play. It may include an area that includes sticks, stones and construction toys that give the child the opportunity to explore a building site. This may also give children the opportunity to create their own construction toys using recycled materials. Children enjoy having the freedom to touch things within the environment. This gives children the opportunity to explore their surroundings both indoors and outdoors. If a child isn’t enabled to explore the environment, the child isn’t getting a fulfilling learning experience. Therefore, development such as hand eye coordination, pincer grasp, gross and fine motor skills, communication skills, imaginative thinking skills, knowledge, developmental domains and interaction with peers might not happen. Within, the indoor environment it may include an area such as recyclable materials or loose parts. This gives children freedom to explore their surroundings. Early years educators and parents moving areas around, changing weekly and fulfilling children’s interests.

 Early years educators and parents are given the opportunity to teach child about the world around them. This may include nature, creatures and using recyclable materials. For example, during outdoor play a child sees a ladybird. This opens the opportunity to discuss what a ladybird looks like, where a ladybird may sleep and what a ladybird may eat. This may develop into a child stating I saw a lady bird that looked lighter or orange. This may also include a little bird within the outdoor garden. The child may explore, the birds features, what they eat, where they live and if the bird comes from another country. For example, the cuckoo comes from Africa and south Asia. This discussion may be expanded in exploring the birds further and making bird feeders from plastic bottles or making a wooden one. The child may decorate their own little bird house and hang outside in the early years service or at home. This could be furthered with a pair of binoculars and child taking off a list of birds seen.

Enabling children to explore the outdoor environment gives children many opportunities to touch and explore. This may include a nature walk. For example, a walk near home or at the early years service. This gives opportunity for discussion within both surroundings. This might enable children to adopt activities such as gardening. For example, planting their own flowers or vegetables. This enables child to water the plant or vegetable, explore the growth, features and the achievement of growing the flower or vegetable.

The most important thing for children is to touch and explore new things within their environment. No matter how big this may seem, children gain independence. This also formalises children being open to exploring new opportunities within practice, school and at home. For example, helping to bake, sensory activities, outdoor exploring and many more areas. The opportunities are endless. For instance, child led play opens up activities. This may include an area that educators or parents can explore further. Empower children to have freedom, explore and learn new things such as curiosity. “Play is the work of the child” Maria Montessori.

Halloween

Halloween

This post will include numerous art and activities that make Halloween fun for children. Firstly, always discuss with children that Halloween does not have to be scary. It is a fun time for children to dress up for the day. Halloween for me meant sweet treats such as candy apples and pretending to be a specific character for the day. Maybe that was little red riding hood or maybe batman. It doesn’t matter who the child feels they want to be for Halloween that is their choice. Maybe you as a child yourself enjoyed bobbing for apples or getting your face painted. Providing children with these fun ways enables children to pass on for generations to come that Halloween is fun and isn’t scary. I know from personal experience that some services make the discussion not to celebrate Halloween and that is okay, that is that services choice. Below is a list of fun and exciting activities for children. I hope they enjoy;

Art and activities

  • making a light. This can be done using an old jam jar and covering in white paper. The child then can draw a face and place a little tea light inside. At night turn the light off and look at your new light.
  • Pumpkin soup
  • Carving your own pumpkin face.
  • Pumpkin using a paper plate.
  • Making a ghost, vampire or pumpkin using paper/plastic cups and either painting or using strips of paper.
  • Make your own spider using a piece of square black card or folding small black bits paper as legs, goggly eyes or paper eyes.
  • Creating a pumpkin using orange lollypop sticks or if not orange painting them orange. The child then can add green paper and the face.
  • A Halloween using a picture of the child’s face on black card and cutting tiny pieces of white card out and sticking them on.
  • A ghost using cotton wool balls.
  • A bat – paint a paper plate black, cut out wings and either put goggly eyes or make own eyes.
  • A black cat using a toilet roll holder – paint black, cut ears and tail from black card and either goggly eyes or make own eyes. The child can add whiskers also.
  • Handprint spiders using black paint.
  • Tissue paper pumpkins.
  • Goblin guts using spaghetti boiled and left to cool. Then add green food colouring or paint. Then add spiders and Halloween items to the tub.
  • Halloween sensory bags using green jelly or paints.
  • Shaving foam tub with fake eyes within the tub. The child may image a friendly ghost called Casper within the tub/eyes.
  • Sensory tubs that include carrots, grapes, blackberries, spaghetti were the child can create their own Halloween food tray.
  • bobbing for apples.
  • Halloween lucky dip. This could include little treats e.g. pick and mix etc.
  • A sensory tub using orange jelly eyes, pumpkin pieces and toy hands within the tub.
  • Goggly sensory bags including jelly, slime or shaving foam.
  • Halloween sensory bottles. This can be done using an old plastic bottle, glitter and Halloween objects.
  • A discussion about Halloween and the child can question the educator.
  • Halloween playdough. The child and adult/educator could make orange play dough and have pumpkin smell within it.
  • Creating Halloween rice krispie treats with the children; Mixing the rice krispies with white chocolate and orange food colouring. Roll the mix into circles. The child can then decorate their pumpkin.
  • Rice krispie bats using rice krispies, white chocolate and oreos. The child mixes the rice krispies and white chocolate. When mixed put into squares and add half an oreo as bat wings. The child can add bat eyes etc using icing or blueberries.
  • Fruit treats- ghost – Using a banana put raisins as the ghosts eyes and mouth.
  • Pumpkin – peel an orange and place celery in the middle for the pumpkin.
  • Eyes – using an grape and adding a little icing as eyeballs.
  • A melon monster – cut a mouth at the button of the mouth, cut the left overs and other fruit as the monsters face and coming from the mouth.
  • A plum bat – add the face using icing and wings using toasted bread.
Sand and Water play

Sand and Water play

The importance of sand and water play within young children’s life’s is fundamentally important. Both can be explored in a variety of ways. Sand and water play provides children with social and emotional skills, sensory play, hand eye coordination, gross and fine motor skills, cognitive thinking, communication skills, problem-solving skills, numeracy skills, science skills and exploration skills. Both of these activities encourage children to work together in sharing and communication. This is great for group sand and water activities. The child can explore the different textures of both sand and water play. For example, different sand types or ice. Sand and water help the child to manipulate their ideas. Sand and water play provides hours of fun and enables the child to explore the sensory aspect of both. It provides questioning such as ‘ice water makes me feel really cold”. Below is a list of different art and activity ideas for home and practice;

Art and Activities

  • Ice sensory tub. This could include items or toys frozen within the water.
  • A sand construction area. This could include a tractor, trailer and digger.
  • A general sand area with buckets, spades and sand toys.
  • Wet sand play. This includes water were the child can explore the depth and feeling of wet sand.
  • Pipes or fitting that the child can count how many cups of sand it takes to fill the pipes.
  • A water ball pool.
  • A water area with a shower hose for the child to explore different areas. This may include a hair salon, bathing the dolls or washing the cars.
  • A water area with different types of boats. For example, paper boat, plastic boat or wooden boat. This helps the child determine “will the wooden boat float? and questioning “why they think that”.
  • A sand cake mix. This may include sand, water, materials from the garden such as flowers, grass, leaves or mud.
  • A beach sand tub. This may include starfish, crabs, shells, seaweed. It may include stones or beads within the water.
  • A water tub with different creatures from the sea. For example, fish – salmon etc, dolphin, whale, jellyfish.
  • A sand and water safari. This may include safari animals such as lion, elephant, monkeys etc.
  • Water tray that includes different drain pipes and buckets. The child can explore timing, and how many.
  • Water tray with water and paint or food colouring.
  • Exploring if sand floats or sinks.
  • Sand pictures.
  • Sand cooking. using the sand in the pretend kitchen.
  • A water laundry wash. This could include washing the dolls cloths and hanging them up on pegs to dry.
  • Sponge wash area. This may include plates and pans from the pretend kitchen or toys.

“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in the child’s soul”

Friedrich Froebel

Friendship

Friendship

Friendship for me is a very important topic to explore with children from a young age. That may be discussing how someone may feel if left out of games or that everyone is friends. The benefits of friendship include social interaction, happiness, well-being, self-confidence, positivity, encourage communication skills, encourage good behaviour, increase empathy, emotional and social development, and positive outlook on life. The early years educator and parent/guardian should model politeness. Children learn from adults and the adults should model asking nicely for things from others. The adult may model sharing with your peers to the children. This may include a discussion and two early childhood educators modelling sharing with each other. The early years educator may organise group activities or games that promote playing cooperatively with friends. Always remember that sometimes like to play alone or like time alone to do the activities that they want to do. Children may change their areas of interests that they previously had and that is okay. Each and every child has a different personality. For example, some children are confident in doing activities with others while others aren’t. Be understanding and show the child ways in joining in or join in yourself. For me friendship is important for a child’s life and development.

Art and Activities:

  • Group activities or games. This may include a wallpaper poster art were a small group of children such as 5 are asked to create a picture on nature. The children will work together to make the picture. This promotes playing cooperatively with other.
  • Story time on friendship. This could include a story about the service environment and the child within the service. The story may include activities and discussion of how the characters within the story felt.
  • A friendship wall in the service. This may include pictures, photographs and things the children have done to together within the service or activities outside of the service.
  • Encourage children and give praise when they have been a good friend. For example, child A helped child B and C tidy the blocks away at the end of playtime. The educator may say “well done child A for helping child B and C to tidy away the blocks”. Ensure the praise is meaningful to the child’s experiences.
  • Role play activities using puppets that the children made within the service. The educator may do the puppet show or involve the children within the show. This also gives great questioning and discussion for the children.
  • What makes you a good friend hand. Trace the child’s hand and ask each child “what makes someone a good friends”? The child may state; sharing crayons, handing out lunch, playing together outside.
  • Musical chairs – great fun and group game.
  • Saying one nice thing that a friend did for them at the end of each day before home time.
  • Having a friendship day within the service.
  • A friendship recipe within the service. It may have titles such as…ingredients: a dash of……, a spoonful of….., a mix of….., a pinch of….., Then a list of instructions.
  • The children make friendship bracelets using materials within the home or the service environment. To make this fair pair two children up and both children swap bracelets. The educator could ask questions, such as “why did you make the bracelet like that for child A?
  • Find a friend worksheet. This may include find a friend who likes chocolate chip cookies, find a find who has a pet dog, find a friends who has blue eyes, find a friend who likes to draw, find a friends who likes tractors etc.
  • creating an area were each child makes a picture of themselves, the educator could join the pictures in a circle of friendship. This could also be done by tracing the child’s hand and joining them within a friendship circle after the child has decorated their own hand.
  • Friendship goals on the service welcome area.
  • A jigsaw pictures were each child draws themselves within a jigsaw piece. The heading could be we all fit together.
  • Friendship story or song.

All About Me

All About Me

This is a fantastic theme within early childhood that helps interaction within the service environment. The children learn about themselves and also the children within the service environment. It may help with child interaction with others. For example, child A may like farm machinery, child E may like farm machinery also but both children did not know the other liked this. This may provide interaction and discussion between both children. This can also help child led activities. For example, an area were their is items related to all about me. This may include pictures of hobbies, hair, eye colour etc. All about me also promotes the learning of the child learning more about themselves as an individual. All about me learning involved includes; questioning, uniquesness, individuality, differences, exploring and thinking, well being, mathematics, communication skills, hand eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills, interests. We are all unique in different ways and teaching children this is important. This may include interests. Below is a list of art and activities for this topic;

Art and Activities

  • Creating a mirror using card and tin foil. The child can decorate the mirror using various materials such as gems, coloured card etc. This could include at the top “I am Special”.
  • Discussion on how we are all different and unique. For example, this may be done within a circle time activity. The example may be used I have blonde curly hair, while early years educator B has short brown hair OR child A has brown eyes but child B has green eyes.
  • Skin coloured art. This may be used using colouring pencils, crayons or paints. Each child matched these to their skin colour and create a picture of themselves using the crayons, colouring pencils or paints. This may then be displayed within the room. Each child could put e.g. blue, green or brown eyes and their different features.
  • Playdough Faces. This may include the children taking part in creating the playdough and then creating their own face using the different playdough colours and types.
  • Maths activity. Each child measures their foot or hand using cubes. The sheet at the bottom may include my foot or hand is ____ cubes long. The sheet at the top may include a tracing of the hand or foot.
  • Black face templates. This could include different eye colours, nose and mouth shapes and hair types. The back of these would have either sticky or magnetic backs to stick to the template.
  • A all about me book. The early years practitioner could send each parent or guardian 4 sheets of coloured card and ask each parent or guardian to put photographs of the child’s family and their hobbies within the card. The booklet would then be displayed within the library corner were each child can look at each others booklets. For example, Child A may have a pet dog, while child C may have a pet cat. This opens up conversations.
  • A family area. This would include an individual photograph of every child within the service with their family.
  • A all about me display. This would include a cloud with the child’s name and rainbow coloured strips with all about the child. For example, I like playing outside or I have one brother and 1 sister.
  • Decorating ginger bread men. This activity could include decorating the ginger bread man as the child themselves. e.g. different colouring icing and items such as smarties. Blue icing for child with blue eyes or yellow icing for blonde hair etc.
  • A simple mathematics display. This would include how many children have ______ coloured eyes and how may children have _____ coloured hair. This may follow with their are ___children with blue eyes, while ___children have green eyes. This involves questioning and exploring and thinking.
  • An area were each child within the service is within a map. This may include flags of were each child comes from.
  • A day were parents, guardians and the children bring food from their ethnic background. Each child and the parents simple the foods. The child/parents/guardian who brought each dish tell a little about the dish.
  • Egg faces. This involves making a small hole at the top of an ear and blowing the inside out. The child would then make their face with various materials and be very careful with their egg. For example, cotton wool for hair.
  • Body shapes were each child creates themselves using various materials around the service environment.
  • A jigsaw used cutting up various photographs of the children within the service. This would be a unique activity for the children. The children then try to put their photographs and others within the room together again.
  • Thumb print art. Each child dips their thumb into paint and prints it. This provides discussion on the differences each of their thumbprints are. The early years educator may question “why do you think our thumb prints are all different”.
  • Height chart. This may include using coloured paper measuring each child.
  • A hobby board. This discussion provides openings for activities, making friendships and the educator learning of interests of the children. For example child a, b and c may be interested in the planets.
  • Paper plate faces using various materials such as buttons, cotton wool etc.
  • Creating their own household. This an be done by cutting a house shape out using card or a lollypop sticks. The child would draw their family within the house.
  • An all about me sensory area. This would include a tray with shredded paper and words such as mummy, daddy, sister, brother, granny, grandpa. The tray would then have photographs mixed within the tray. This would provide discussion.
  • A sensory tray with different features of the children within the service. This would include using lentils and cutting features from photographs of the children within the service. Each of the children would guess what features belong to each child. For example, eyes, maybe a picture of a coat a child wears.
  • Outdoor activity. The children creating themselves using outdoor materials such as leaves, grass or flowers.
  • Stories that feature all about me within.
  • Songs. For example, Head, shoulders, knees and toes.

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you.”

Dr Suess

Autumn

Autumn

Autumn is a great area of exploration for young children. Autumn can be explored in so many different areas. Autumn for me is scarfs, hats, gloves and boots. Children love the context of autumn. Maybe the colour of the leafs and animals hibernating for winter. It gives children the opportunity to explore different areas within the great outdoors. For example, the changing of the trees, acorns and the changing weather. The early years educator may discuss the weather and the features of weather in the autumn. For example, it is colder and dark early in the evenings. Children get excited exploring the feature of autumn. Enabling the child to express their opinions and question why these changes happen in autumn is important.

Art and Activities;

  • Leaf rubbings using different coloured crayons. The child may decide to use a crayon the same colour as the leaf.
  • Bark rubbings using crayons.
  • Exploring the animals of autumn. For example, squirrels, hedgehogs.
  • Creating their own winter tree using cotton buds to stamp the coloured leaves.
  • A autumn leaf catcher. Materials include a paper plate with the middle cut out and leaves collected from the garden and cotton wool to hang up.
  • A leaf hedgehog.
  • Brushing the leaves up from the outdoor environment.
  • Leaf people. Using leaves to create a person’s hair.
  • Conker animals. This may include a hedgehog.
  • A scarecrow man. This may be created using a paper plate for the face and folding paper over to create the hat.
  • Pumpkin soap or faces.
  • A sensory tray containing acorns, conkers, leaves from the garden or early years service.
  • A autumn outdoor tick list. The child ticks off the things they see outdoors. For example, a coloured leaf or a acorn.
  • An outdoor exploration walk. This may include a discussion were children explore the aspects of nature on their walk.
  • Planting bulbs for spring in the outdoor environment.
  • Making apple pie or squares with the children.
  • Make their own scarecrow in the garden using aspects of nature for their scarecrow. E.g. sticks for hands, acorns for eyes.
  • Apple stamping by cutting the apple in half.
  • Exploring the features of an apple. e.g. seeds inside the apple.
  • Recreating the story “were going on a bear hunt” outdoors.
  • flowers in autumn. This may include roses or sunflowers.
The importance of the child’s Interests within Practice

The importance of the child’s Interests within Practice

Fundamentally, including the child’s interest’s within early childhood enhances the child’s learning and possibilities. It promotes child led art and activities. It enhances a child’s experiences within early childhood. It enables the child to feel that their interests are important within practice. This may be foreseen when the child is playing within a specific activity. For example, noticed the child had an interest in safari animals such as lions or zebras while playing with a safari sand activity. The early years educator may further enhance this interest. This may include exploring the animals within the safari, safari water play or creating a safari puppet using materials including recyclable materials. This is way a key system within early childhood is important. The key person may have 6 children of whom they enhance a child’s experiences and areas of interest. This includes a weekly planning sheet with the other educators within the room. The educators may become aware that more children have a specific interest and enhance this experience for the children. It is difficult to include each and every child’s interests. However, sometimes their interests may be within other children’s interests. For example, child A has an interest in safari animals, while child b has an interest in birds. The educator could enhance the learning with including birds that are within the safari element.

The educator may help the child to find their interests. This may happen within exploring, thinking, questioning and listening to the child’s conversations with other children. For example, child C may say “I really liked the story about rainbows”. This enables the educator to enhance the child’s interest in rainbows. This may include when rainbows appear, what colours are in the rainbow and the song the colours of the rainbow. The early years educator including the child’s interest in practice is enabling the child’s voice and respect from others. Fundamentally, the child’s voice should always be heard within practice and everywhere.

In finding the child’s interest, it may be from a story that has been read to the child. For example, a story about dinosaurs may enhance an interest in dinosaurs. This may include types of dinosaurs or if that specific dinosaur flies. It may be within sensory activity such as using shaving foam and paint. A child may like the sensory aspect of pretending the shaving foam is ice cream or a different element of food. Children’s interest’s within activities may include recycling. The educator may notice that child A likes to use recyclable materials during creativity. For example, using yoghurt tubs, boxes or old magazines to create pictures and art. This could be explored further such as a compost area outdoors. The educator may notice that child A spends time at the lego area in creating new things. This could be explored in areas such as setting the child a task or asking the child what they are building. This may be a theme such as on Monday child A built a car and on Tuesday child A built a garage. This may show that the child has interest in exploring a car garage or how a car is fixed. The educator may have a video or a book exploring a mechanic’s job. Enabling a child’ interests inspires children to learn and have fun in learning. This enables the child to feel happy and a part of their learning. It shows the child that their uniqueness and learning is important.

“As soon as a children find something that interests them they lose their instability and learn to concentrate”.

Maria Montessori

“The essential thing is to arouse such an interest that it engages the child’s whole personality”

Maria Montessori

Nature inspired Art and Activities

Nature inspired Art and Activities

Nature within young children’s lives is an important part of growing up. There are many interesting and meaningful experiences children can take from nature. Depending on the time of year, each season brings a new type of exploration for a child. The parent/guardian or early years educator plays an important role in showing children the different areas of nature. For example, in spring the child may be shown what a bird makes their nest from and the areas birds come from. It may include exploring the types of birds e.g. swallow, cuckoo and their sounds. Nature is enables children to learn new skills within the outdoor environment and as a learning area. Nature activities and art are limitless and great for a child’s well-being. The environment can be used to it’s full potential in all area’s. Nature is an area that a child can explore forever. Nature changes with season’s. The tree’s change colour or lose their leaves. The list is endless. It is an important play resource and life skills for children of all ages. The photograph above was taken one day when I went for a walk. It got me thinking on the noise water makes in different impacts and the nature within the water and what I saw. Below will discuss and give various examples below including this in art and activities in relation to nature. I hope everyone enjoys;

Art and Activities

  • In the area where the above photograph was taken I noticed small fish and eels living within the water. It made me think on the exploration for children. For example catching fish with nets and exploring creatures that live within the water such as the starfish lives in the ocean. The water then got me thinking on the noise of water. For example, a small stone makes a small noise whereas waves are noisy. This gives children the opportunity to explore impact and measuring.
  • Exploring books on nature. For example, books based on birds or creatures within the great outdoor environment.
  • A nature hunt. This may include a picture list of objects the child sees along the way. For example, a bird, butterfly, a flower, a specific tree or leaf, a ladybug etc.
  • Creating a book based on nature at home, early years service or at school.
  • Creating a tree using leaves from the outdoor environment. For example in autumn when the leaves are coloured.
  • Exploring the different trees e.g. acorn comes from a oak tree.
  • Animals that live within the trees. e.g. squirrel, birds.
  • Exploring the different types of birds, their features country they come from and their call. e.g. the cuckoo comes to Ireland from South America.
  • Making chimes for the outdoor garden. This may be done using recycled materials and cotton wool.
  • Making their own bird feeder using plastic milk bottles or cartons and decorating them.
  • Leaf threading. The child could collect a range of leaf’s from outdoor environment and using a stick and cotton wool thread them together.
  • A activity including making their own birds nest using materials from the outdoor environment. This may include sticks, leaf’s, and whatever is available within the outdoor environment.
  • Making bird’s nests using shreddies, chocolate, eggs, and little chicks.
  • Bark rubbing using bark, paper and crayons. The children could explore using different coloured crayons and different tree types.
  • Creating their own nature window using four lollypop sticks and white paper. The child can then stick flowers, leaves to their window.
  • Feather writing using bird feathers that are outdoors with paint. This explores how people write many years ago.
  • Playdough including items from nature e.g. flowers or sticks.
  • The child collect items and then they are laminated and turned into hats, gloves(using child’s handprint) and wellies.
  • Child paints and creates own vase and flowers collected when outdoors are put into the vase. This could include a discussion on flower types e.g. daffodils in spring and daisy grows in the grass.
  • Turn pine cones into creatures using goggly eyes and cotton wool.
  • Gardening sensory tubes with different elements of nature.
  • Garden planting activity. This may include planting seeds into old wellies or pots and hanging around the garden.
  • A fairy garden in the trees or flowers within the service or at home.
  • A frog pond. exploring the different areas of when a frog grows.
  • Painting using different aspects of nature. e.g. grass or pine cones.

“A child more than anyone else, is a spontaneous observer of nature”

Maria Montessori

“What important is that children have an opportunity to bond with the natural world, to learn to love it, before been asked to heal it’s wounds”.

David Sobel

Loose Parts Play

Loose Parts Play

I covered a little about loose parts play on Instagram at the beginning of Children’s Creativity Corner journey. Some people may ask what is loose parts play? Loose parts play enables children to explore and create using a range of open-ended materials within the environment. This may include bottle tops, stones, pebbles, sticks, recycled materials. It may be items within outdoor play. For example, rocks in the garden or sticks than have fallen from a tree. Children really enjoy this activity and exploring what they may create using the different materials. For example, while supervising during outdoor play, I noticed a little boy taking different materials within the outdoor environment. He took rocks, logs and sticks. During this, the little boy informed me he was going to make a t-rex because “it is my favourite dinosaur”. Throughout the process the child weighed up the pros and cons if he used a specific log or rock wood the t-rex fall or stay in place. This promoted questioning, trial and error and problem solving. The child continued to make the t-rex and at the end showed everyone within the service the dinosaur he had created. This was a meaningful experience for the child and promoted child led activities. To further enhance this a photograph was displayed within the service and sent home. I personally believe loose play gives children great imaginative thinking, fine and gross motor skills, hand eye coordination, cognitive thinking, child led play, enhancing skills, creativity, amongst other things.

Loose Parts Activities.

  • Props within the puppet show area such as a stick could be a magic wand or a box may be a suitcase.
  • A loose parts area within the service area indoor or outdoor. It may include kitchen roll cardboard, string, buttons, pompoms and rocks.
  • An area with shells. The children may create a puppet using shells, pebbles and string.
  • Different tubs with different coloured loose parts that the child may thread with.
  • Loose parts may be used to create patterns e.g. a circle using different shapes and materials or the sun using different yellow loose parts such as buttons or string.
  • A loose parts picture. This could include a nature walk and the children lifting things they find meaningful along the way. For example, flowers, leaves, pebbles. After returning the children could create a picture of their choice such as an owl.
  • The children within the theme all about me may create themselves using loose parts materials. For example, string for their hair, rocks for their eyes, pompoms for hands etc.
  • A create mirror area. The child may create an outline of their mirror using different loose parts such as lollypop sticks, coloured rocks or pompoms.
  • Outdoor loose parts tents. This could include props such as old materials, string and sticks. Each child could create their own tent with the chosen materials. This gives the children opportunity within trial and error. e.g. will the tent stand only using two sticks and how will I have a door for the tent.
  • Within outdoor play children may create their own house using sticks and stones. This was a favourite activity of mine as a little girl. This activity also gives opportunity for trial and error and how high will my house be?
  • Loose parts counting. For example the numbers 1 to 5. The number one may have 1 button, 2 may have 2 pebbles, 3 bottle tops etc.
  • Loose parts obstacle course. This may include an old pipe, tyre, wood. Th area could be changed around.
  • Loose parts memory game. This may including different materials such as a button, string, pebble and removing one item. The child is then asked “what is missing”.
  • Creating an loose parts service display on the display area. This may be a picture or the service name using materials such as nails, pebbles, bottle tops, string, cardboard. This is a great activity and the parents seeing the end product is a proud moment for young children.
  • Sensory area with different loose parts. This can include questioning such as “which is lighter/heavier”?.
  • Construction play. This may include different loose parts that children can use within their play. E.g. rocks to build a fort etc.
  • Exploring how using a rock and a stone may include drawing on the rock.

“The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences”

Loris Malaguzzi

Independence in Early Childhood

Independence in Early Childhood

What is independence for children? Independence for a child is them finding the confidence to try doing new things or things within everyday life. It could be something simple within the child’s life. For example, taking the initial big step in doing something for themselves. It may be putting their lunch box into their school bag by themselves. It may be clearing up after play time. Independence is something that is passed from a parent/guardian to a child. It may be passed from another adult such as grandparents, family, early years practitioner or teacher. Independence is important for child development. Personally to me independence is an important aspect of early childhood and for the child themselves is an important step. The child doing things for themselves makes the child feel confidence, proud, patience, self-help, independence and self-reliance. It is also important for a young child’s social skills. This may include making choices. For example, which snack would you like? or what activity would you like to do? The adult should ensure the task has simple steps and instructions. For instance, before lunch can you set the table first? The child should always gain praise for any task and independent tasks they do by themselves. For example, well done for putting the blocks away. For the incoming service and school year small tasks for children to gain independence are listed below; They are life skills that are importance for a child’s independence

Independence Activities and tasks

  • The child putting their toys away after playtime.
  • The child setting the table. It may include cleaning the table before snack or lunch and putting the cutlery out.
  • Washing hands before meals and after activities such as outdoor play or sand play etc.
  • Enabling the child to be an independent thinker and have own opinions. For example, enabling the child to express their own opinion on things happening such as news or areas important to them.
  • Enabling the child to have independence in choosing what they want to do. This may include activities, movies, foods, books or tasks.
  • The child putting their lunch into their bag pack in the morning by themselves. The child could also be involved in lunch making such as putting the butter and ham on their bread. The child could also pack what they need for the day. For example, outdoor gear, coat, pencil case etc.
  • Opened ended play. This may include planning activities or in activities such as blocks, lego or loose part play choosing what they would like to dp. Using their independence skills.
  • Independence such as choosing their own favourite story at bedtime.
  • The child choosing which paint colours they would like to use to paint their picture.
  • Children picking their own outfit for the day and dressing.
  • The child learning to put their shoes on correctly. This may include labelling the shoes R and L or arrows pointing to each other on the shoes. If pointing away from each other not on the right foot.
  • The child learning to put their coat on using the backwards trick. This includes the hood of the coat facing the child. The child puts their arms into the coat and flips the coat over their head. The child has put their own coat on.
  • The child opening and closing their own lunchbox and drinking bottles.
  • The child putting tooth paste on their tooth brush.
  • The child brushing their own hair.
  • The child may have a pet such as a dog or cat. It may include filling the water bowl with water or brushing the animal.

“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”

Maria Montessori

Messy Play

Messy Play

Messy play is the greatest way for a child to explore their feelings and creativity. It enables a child to express themselves in their own way. This may include painting, sand and water play, sensory play, creative exploration, indoor and outdoor play. The list is endless. Messy play has an endless list of benefits for young children. These include gross and fine motor skills, hand and eye coordination, focus skills, cognitive thinking, curious play, mathematic development, using all five senses, balance, coordination, communication skills, exploring and thinking and understanding of the world around them. Messy play gives children the opportunity to mark make. This could include painting, marks in the sand. Children express their feelings. For instance, sadness, anger or happiness. Children love the opportunity in messy play to mark make. Messy play is simple activities that are fulfilling and children really enjoy. Messy play is a child led activity were children are given an opportunity to create their own ideas and curiousity into play. It encourages children to work together and explore with other children. This gives great opportunity for communication. The child learns textures such as if it is hard or soft, gooey or sticky. Messy play impacts a child’s life in so many ways and should be explored in new and engaging ways. Using open ended materials throughout messy play is important. This could include loose parts or materials. Messy play is what it says, children get messy, enjoy getting messy and messy is the ultimate learning for children. Even though sometimes messy play is a lot of clearing up afterwards, it engages children to have fun fulfilling areas. After messy play, encouraging children to help tidy up afterwards is another important aspect. I hope the activities below give some new ideas.

MESSY PLAY ART AND ACTIVITIES:

1. Sand play area. This could include a particular theme. For example in summer a beach theme with water include. The child may mix the sand and water. It may include a theme such as cars and the child creating a race track using the sand.

2. Mud kitchen. This may include pots, pans, utensils, trays and a washing up dish. Children may decide to create a mud cake or pie. This may be created by mud, water, grass, leaves and flowers from around the early years practice or at home. The mud kitchen gives children the opportunity to explore cooking, sharing, working together, independence and outdoor play.

3. Toy art. This could include using toys such as cars or tractors. It may include creating print using the vehicles, stamping using the vehicles on a sheet of paper. This is also a great group project were the service may explore vehicles. The children could create the prints with pictures of the vehicles that created the prints on display.

4. Rice play. This could be done with using different food colouring within a tray and the children mixing and feeling the different textures.

5. Pasta play. The early years educator or parents boiling pasta, when cool use different food colouring or paint and put into a tray. This activity also gives the opportunity for children to explore sensory textures. The children may decide to use the pasta as a kitchen prop. The pasta may also be put in sandwich bags as a sensory bag. Another fun may include a rainbow using spaghetti and food colouring.

6. Jelly play. This is a particular fun activity for children from a young age. The children may be put in a bath, tray or sensory area and give children the opportunity to explore sensory and textures. This could also include hiding objects within the jelly and the children searching for particular activities within the jelly. For instance, a search map and tick list of items. This could also include blue jelly with boats that creates a water sensory play. The jelly could have fish toys underneath the jelly.

7. Shaving foam. This is also a great activity which may include mixing with paint or food colouring and a little water. This can also be turned into a art activity. For example, creating plants by dipping a sheet of paper in the mix of shaving foam and paint and scaping the excess off the sheet. This can also include shaving foam and paper within a sandwich bag.

8. Play dough. This includes including the child or children in making the playdough and choosing the colour. For example, mixing paint, glitter or vanilla extract into the mix. Play dough has endless opportunities. This may include stamping, kitchen play, creating objects.

9. Painting. The child or children may mix paint colours and create their own picture. This includes exploring the colours mixed, the textures and marks made on the paper. This is a great for communication skills.

10. Home corner using materials such as cereals. This may include creating a farm using Weetabix for bales and cheerios for grass. Shreddies may be used as hay. Rice krispies may be used as food for the animals. This may include using blue food colouring on the cheerios to create a duck pond. Bubble wrap may be used as the duck pond also.

11. Bubble wrap. The child or children painting the bubble wrap and then printing. The child may bust the bubbles. This could also be used in the above activity in farm play.

12. Car wash/Toy wash area. This includes fairy liquid, water and sponges. The children may get involved in washing toys at home or within the early years service.

13. Spaghetti hoops within construction play.

14. Marshmellows in waterplay

15. Ice play. This includes mixing paint into the ice. Great activity for painting and exploring cold textures.

16. Water play including paint, pasta, jelly mix, food colouring, compost.

“Play is the highest form of research”

Albert einstein