Understanding Numbers

It’s very common to hear young children counting. They count up and down steps. They count cars passing. They count the number of people sat round the table. But do they really understand what numbers are?  It’s unlikely because basic number concepts and number conservation are not easy to acquire and so it’s important to start early. 

How can we help? 

Children learn best through play so letting them play around with a few counters or bricks is a good start. Begin with one number. Have it as the ‘number of the week’ . Place visual prompts around the house. Magnets on the fridge. Mats on the tables. Toys etc. 

For example if its number 3. 

  • Have 3 magnets on the fridge. Encourage your child to change the pattern. This will help them to develop an understanding of the number. To realise that three magnets remain three no matter what pattern they make.  
  • Set the table for a tea party with three place settings. Help them to put out three spoons, three plates etc. 
  • Make ‘cakes’ from playdough and give each toy three cakes. 
  • It’s fun to make your own board games. They don’t need to be elaborate or fancy!  For very  small children I like to make them without numbers. (See the video).  Children love ‘action’ games so a board game where actions have to be performed is great fun.  Keep the numbers on the dice low. Maybe just 1 2 and 3.  When the dice is thrown then the counter is moved that number of places and the action shown on the square is performed the same number of times.  So, for example, if you throw 3 you move 3 squares and if the square indicates to clap hands then you clap hands 3 times! 
  • Going out on a number hunt is fun. It can also be very useful for parents when they have to do something boring as it keeps the child’s attention!  Numbers are everywhere. On clocks, car number plates, doors, signs. Spotting the number of the week on such an excursion is a great way to reinforce number recognition. 
  • Shopping is good for practicing real life maths.   Children can be asked to put a certain number of  items into the shopping trolley. This activity will also keep them from getting bored and cranky! 

Don’t pay out lots of money on number resources. Very effective ones can be made at home using resources you already have in the house. Let the children help to make them and encourage them to come up with suggestions for new ones. 

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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! 

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! 

Homemade bowl and flowers

I love this display because it’s so fresh and spring like. 

It’s also fun and cheap  to make. 

I always like posting something which involves children helping and this post is no exception. With help even the youngest will enjoy making the flower petals from coffee filter bags and they will learn a little about chromatography at the same time!  The video instructions are on the link below. 

                                 How to make the filter paper flowers

Putting the flowers together is more tricky and a task for older children or adults. 

The Bowl
The bowl is made entirely from string which is soaked in glue and wrapped around a balloon. The fun bit that kids love is the popping of the balloon once the glue has set! 

The level of difficulty depends on the size of the balloon.  For the blue bowl featured above the balloon was well inflated making it trickier to handle. 

At Christmas we followed the same procedure to make baubles but using much smaller balloons which are easier to handle.  If your children are small my suggestion would be to help them make the  smaller bowls which can be used for biscuits or Easter Eggs while you make the trickier large bowl. 

The instructions to make the string balls are given in ‘child friendly’ format on the link below.  To make the balls into bowls all you need to do is cut them in half using either very strong scissors or a craft knife and then neaten the edges. 

I hope you enjoy. If you do please add a nice comment !  

                                             Follow this link for the video instructions for children

For many more art, craft, science and learning videos please visit our channel:       

                                            The Jumble Fun Channel 

 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! 

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