Onions! Rooting veg. FUN


Four days ago we made some little rooting containers from plastic water bottle tops stuck onto lids to keep them stable. They work really well!  We put a red onion in one positioned so the base was nearly touching the water. 

Four days later and it looks like this! 


Children of all ages will learn such a lot from just this simple activity but let them find out for themselves by observation and careful questioning. Get them to predict. To investigate. Suggest their own experiments. How far this goes depends on the developmental stage of the child but don’t underestimate. Children are capable of  understanding  and absorbing a lot more than we think! 

Take photos or draw the vegetables at different stages. Take measurements of the shoot and the root and the girth of the onion bulb at the beginnng and every three or four days. Make charts to show the difference.  

Compare the growth of the plant with our growth. What we need to grow. Where we get food from. Where does the food for the plant come from? 
Ask questions and use the question words. What? Where? Why? How? 

What’s happened to the water? The roots? The shoots? The onion bulb ? 

Will this work with other veg.?

With pieces of veg? 

What will happen if we root two of the same veg. but positioned differently.

Ask them to look carefully at the veg. first and to predict where the roots will grow. 

Why do plants grow roots? 

If you turn the onion/potato etc round what will happen to the roots? Try and see. 

Why are roots white and shoots green? 

Do shoots always grow up and roots down? How can we find out? 

Why has the bulb shrunk? 

Now try this! 


Have fun! 

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Floating Eggs

What? Why? How? 

Children need to e challenged not spoon-fed with facts! 

They need to question. To predict. To investigate. This is the first of a series of challenges for children. They are suitable for children from about four years upwards.  Children learn by ‘doing’ and all the challenges are simple enough for them to perform themselves with adult supervision. 

This first challenge is all about floating and density. 

The first video shows the challenge. 

The second video repeats the investigation and then answers the questions. 

My suggestion is that you watch the first video then perform the challenge asking the questions 

Later the second video giving the solutions can be watched.

Crayon Melt Fun


Melting crayon art is not just for older children.

With support even toddlers will be able to produce fun pictures and they will also learn a little about melting and colour mixing. 

A Small, light hairdryer, a canvas board and a few crayons are all that is needed.

I’ve found that keeping the paper on the crayons and sticking them to the board makes the job much more manageable for Tinies. Then they, and you, can concentrate on the important part – the melting.  Cellotape or glue can be used to secure the crayons. 

 Make sure surfaces are protected! It can be messy! 

The idea is to keep the hairdryer pointing downwards onto the crayon. Tilt the board slightly.  When the crayon first starts to melt it sprays a little in all directions and then will start to trickle downwards .  Once there is a stream of each colour then the fun begins!  The board can be tilted in different directions so causing the colour  streams to cross and mix. 

Once the child is familiar with the technique it’s  fun to experiment. Obstacles can be stuck on the board to send the melted crayon in different directions or a picture can be painted on the hoard beforehand so the melted crayon looks like a fountain or fire or volcano.  

 Above:  a card cut out can be glued to the board so the crayon covers the cutout making it look like the little people are under a multicoloured fountain.  

Less is best! Children usually want to keep going and going until all the crayon has melted and mixed.  The result? Usually a muddy mess! Should you stop them? No!  We know that mixing too many colours together makes well, a pretty yuck colour. They don’t! 

It’s much better for them to find out themselves.  This is the way they learn.  


What you can do is to suggest taking photos at different stages and then discussing them later.  Which did they like best? Which colours worked best?  How would they change what they did? Would using fewer colours be best! 

With a toddler I would suggest using very small. Rayons or break longer ones in half.  That way the melting time is halved and the mess! 

The video below is a fun introduction for very young children to crayon melting. 

FUN CRAYON MELTING 

Below: grated crayons! 


Another fun way with crayon melts. 

This works well with a simple black or grey painting or drawing on canvas. Here we’ve used trees. 

Grate the choice of crayons onto newspaper. Place the canvas picture (face side down) on top of the crayons. Then blow hot air at the underside of the canvas.

Easter Edition for Under Fives


Learning for Under Fives

Today’s programme introduces the letter Ee, the colour white and number 5.

There is also a guest! A Jumble Tuft Easter Bunny who brings lots of Easter Eggs. 

Lizzie shows you how to make some rather cool eggs and also a delicious quick and easy desert. 

Lots of extension activities. 

This link takes you to today’s programme.
Don’t forget there are lots of Lizzie Witch and Jumbles  Books to enjoy . (See the ‘books’ page on this site.). Some of the books are also available on Amazon as ebooks. 

Happy Easter from Jumble House! 

 We’re all off on a snail hunt! 

 

We’re all off on a Snail Hunt ….. try putting it to the music of  ‘We’re all off to the zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow ….. ‘ 

It goes quite well!!! 

But, of course a snail hunt is no fun if you are not likely to find snails! 

The idea of this blog is that you choose to hunt something that you KNOW you are likely to find plus you rule out animals (and plants) that are likely to cause actual harm. That will rule out lions, tigers, rattlesnakes, poisonous jellyfish, cacti and unfriendly dogs.  Involve your children in the initial search as this will make them much more enthusiastic. Look up habitats and methods of collection just in case you do decide to take a creature home but I hope you won’t. 

So what are we left with


This depends on where you are and the time of the year so, yes you will need to do a little research 

In Europe in the spring we could be looking at :

Well yes..definitely bees and they are very interesting to observe … NOT collect obviously! Children will ask lots of questions. Try to resist spoonfeeding them the answer. Instead say, ‘What do you think? Why is that?’ Then if necessary give hints … why are they visiting the flowers? What can you see on their legs? Why are they buzzing? Why are they so brightly striped? 

In addition to bees there may be Caterpillars, butterflies, frogspawn, spring flowers, sprouting buds, blossom, lizards, birds nests, badgers, young animals like lambs and calves and ducklings.   Hedgehogs, Rabbits, Badgers, Deer. 

It doesn’t have to be something you can collect but yes, I  know children love to collect.!  But they can always take home something to remind them of an animal. Something to make a model animal from. 


Obviously from the conservation aspect there are definitely some things you must not collect or interfere with like birds nests or eggs.  If you do capture a live animal, like a Caterpillar or lizard or spider then it is very important that you only do this for a minimum observation time and return it to its habitat. If you take magnifying giasses and a sketch pad, tablet or camera then there should be no need to remove the animal at all as an observation can be done on the spot. 

So,what should you be looking at?  

Obviously features that make it an insect, reptile, amphibian, bird or mammal etc.

It’s colour . It’s shape. 

How does it move? What does it eat? How does it catch its prey? Get kids to guess what enemies it may have and how it manages to avoid these enemies. 

Is it camouflaged?  Does it have a shell, or prickles? Why? 

 Where does it live? Why does it live there? Is it more active during the night of day? How do you know? 

It will make a pleasant change for you to be asking the questions! 


So now the things you can take home: 

Budding twigs are good to collect …just one is necessary from each tree or bush.  If you take them home and place them in water it is possible to observe the changes from day to day. How the bud opens to reveal a flower or a leaf.

​Sprigs of blossom or a single flower can be taken home and used as inspiration for a model or painting. Flowers can also be pressed as can Leaves. It’s fun to make a collection of leaves mounted on cards. 

Leaves are good to take rubbings of.  They can also be  pressed into clay or plasticine to make a mould. If plaster of Paris is then used to fill the cavity you end up with some lovely leaf casts which can then be painted. 


Even spotting different colours of plants can be fun. Or, for older children, different shades of the same colour.. collecting lots of different colours of green for example. Once home you could try mixing paint to create these different shades. 

We tend not to notice the barks of trees and yet there are so many different patterns. Take chunky crayons and plain white paper with you and see how many different ones you can collect as bark rubbings. 


Fungi spotting is interesting but needs to be done with care as many are very poisonous. The rule is don’t touch, just draw or take a photograph. 

If you are near the sea then there are no end of opportunities. Shells, fish, pebbles, seaweed. Footprints of birds and animals in the wet sand. 

 Pebble collections are fun and larger ones can be painted to make great paper weights.  

Again please be sensitive to conservation and to the animal’s  needs. Collect empty shells and, although sea urchins are beautiful it is cruel to remove live ones as they will die plus they will stink the place out by the time you get home which serves you right but doesn’t help the poor creature. 

So, have fun in the great outdoors! 

In search of BLUE


I made this little video for my granddaughter who would like everything to be BLUE

She also loves the Jumble Tufts. 

I hope other under fives will enjoy it too. 

In addition to introducing the basic colours, the video has an important message:

                                                                                          To be observant! 


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Are you sitting comfortably? 



‘Tell me a story….’  a request that used to be heard and acted upon by parents of under-fives at least once a day. 

Now sadly this, along with the traditional bedtime story, is often replaced by a narrated or cartoon story viewed on a tablet or phone.

But how important is this ‘tell me a story’ time? How important is a bedtime story? 

First and formost it is the sharing of quality time that is so important.  The emotional and physical closeness that is present when a child cuddles up with its parent or carer to read or listen to a story is essential for emotional development. It is telling the child, ‘You are important to me. I enjoy being with you.’  Messages that are vital for boosting self-esteem. It also sets an example. The child sees that books and stories are important to you. They are not just things for kids. 

Through stories children begin to make sense of our complicated world. It’s cultures. It’s traditions. It’s acceptable behaviour and behaviour that is not acceptable. They identify with characters, emotions and experiences thus realising that their own feelings and reactions are shared by others and are not unique. 

Reading and making up stories also has a long term benefit. The more books children read or have read to them, the more ideas, characters and settings are stored in their memories.  They will gather different beginnings and endings and absorb the writing styles of different genrés. This will be greatly improve their own writing and prove invaluable during their school years. 


Watch two and three year olds playing with their toys. Often they will be acting out everyday routines like mealtimes and bedtimes. Teddies and dolls will be fed and bathed and put to bed. This is a way of understanding routine. Of rehearsing behaviours and roles. Often the toys ‘become’ the children and they themselves take on the role of mum or dad. 
Sometimes the situation will be a new one. An experience like a first visit to the doctor, or dentist or playschool. This kind of play is important because it helps the child to understand and to come to terms with new experiences. 

Children will also ‘act out’ stories they have read. This kind of multi sensory play improves understanding and increases vocabulary. As they move the characters of the story around they remember and learn to use in context, words and phrases from the story. This helps them to order events chronologically and to come to understand consequences. Skills essential to future learning and life in general. 

How can you help? 

  • By ensuring you have a selection of good picture books available at home. A mixture of traditional tales and good modern storybooks.
  • By keeping or introducing a bedtime routine that includes reading a book together.
  • By reading yourself so your child sees that this is something you enjoy too. 
  • By providing an accessible box of bits and pieces that can be used to ‘act out’ stories or make up stories of their own. Children don’t need models of animals and people.  They don’t need real garages, and cars and castles. In fact these have been found to present a barrier to creativity. They will happily use cotton wool for a sheep, a roughly mounded piece of plasticine for a dog, a pipecleaner for  a person. Plastic margarine tubs become swimming pools or boats, toilet roll tubes cars, trains or towers. Don’t interfere!  Their imagination is much better than yours. 
  • By sharing their experiences. Children should not require attention 100% of the time. They need to be able to play on their own but they will benefit from your presence for short periods during the day. You will learn a lot about their feelings and understanding of life by simply sitting and watching them act out . 
  • By encouraging them to ‘act out’ their favourite stories. Try this too when your child keeps asking for the same story to be read over and over again. This may be just because they like the story but it could also be because they are finding some event or character or message difficult to understand.  If this is the case then ‘acting out’ the story should help. 
  • Why not have a special ‘storytime’ session each week when everyone either makes up a short story or takes a traditional story or nursery rhyme and chooses a way to tell it with mime, pictures, cartoons, or puppets. 


STORIES SET ON FIVE A DAY HILL

I wrote this series of picture books last year during a set of story-writing Workshops I held for children aged seven and eight years old.   (Books are available on this website :   Books and Birthday Messages

The stories are suitable for reading to children aged between two and five years old and contain lots of repetition and opportunities to respond.  The characters are fruit and vegetable ‘people’ hence the name!  Each story contains a ‘message’ or lesson in life. 

The video below demonstrates how one of the stories, “The Trouble with Pedro Pear” can be retold or ‘acted out’ using pieces of fruit.  Any story can be told in this way.  

 

Copywrite: Text and illustrations  Copywrite held by myself, Judi Brereton. 

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