All About Snails for Young Children 

Gardeners don’t like Snails for obvious reasons but kids are fascinated by them AND they are incredibly interesting creatures AND very gymnastic AND make very good pets!

CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO ON SNAILS

Looking at them through the eyes of a child they are quite incredible creatures with their slippery silver trails and waving tentacles.  What other creature carries its house on its back!  It’s the stuff of fairy tales.

In the video Lizzie finds a snail eating  her plants and decides to find out how she can stop this happening without hurting the snail. There is also an investigation for parents or teachers to carry out with their children.

This is the first of two programmes. In the second programme Lizzie will be looking inside the snail shell and exploring spiral shapes in nature and buildings.   There will also be some art activities inspired by spirals.

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Fun with Concentric Shapes

We tend to associated the term ‘concentric’ with circles and raindrops falling on puddles are a good example.but any shape, as shown below, can be concentric.

So here are some more early learning ideas based on the Concentric theme..

Link to programme on circles for children .

Rainbows

Georgie had a surprise at Rome airport yesterday when she came face to face with a Christmas Tree multicoloured just like her! Here she is with Paolo and Ruben from UNICEF.

Then we saw this cake in patisserie Glacé in the Marina Bay Link Mall, Singapore so now you know where the JUMBLES are visiting. Yes, it’s Singapore!

So it was RAINBOWS everywhere!

For a fun rainbow activity see the link below.

Fast, simple and fun investigation to do at home. All you need is a plate, milk, liquid soap and food colouring.

Be warned that food colouring stains everything including fingers. In the video I use my finger to apply the soap because it’s easier to film.  You may want to use a cotton wool bud instead!

Disaronno 

I’ve re-published this post after seeing the supermarket had lots of DISARONNO on the shelves yesterday. It’s obviously very popular around Christmas . It’s definitely a craft for adults . Rather fiddly and very messy but fun and it turned out really well. I used a flashing ‘litecube’ for the photographs but any type of LED light would work. .

For more fun but easier Crafts with string see my post:

Make string Baubles 

This link takes you to a video showing how to make string Baubles..


Below is a bowl made in the same way as the string Baubles using a balloon as a base. 

Fun shape Art and Maths activity

Young children are naturally creative and love drawing and painting and making things.

They will enjoy the activity shown in the video above and learn some new shape and size  vocabulary at the same time.,

Recognising shapes within objects  improves observational skills and is a good grounding for drawing and sketching.

Although designed for preschool aged children this activity can be adapted to suit any age depending on the chosen object.

Make a Snowman Lamp

This is a ‘sharing’ activity. I suggest you watch the video with your child then make the Lamp together. A glass jar is used and so care and supervision is essential. Children learn so much by sharing an activity. As you are making this together you will talk and ask and answer questions introducing new vocabulary. Memory will be improved as will their organisational skills and ordering and fine motor skills. Children will learn how to use different glues, about cutting and sticking, about safety., about making mistakes and trying again.

Very small children will be able to stick blobs of cotton wool onto the ball to make the head and will enjoy placing the eyes and buttons in 0lace.

What you need:

A glass jam jar.

Some cotton wool or stuffing from inside a pillow.

For the head: I used a string bauble I had left over from last year but a plastic ball would work fine.

For the hat: – Sticky backed foam sheet in black and a glittery colour (I used red) you can manage with black card and ribbon

White glue plus a stronger glue for the eyes and the hat if you are using card.

Eyes.

A scarf. I used the glittery red foam but you could use ribbon or a thin strip of fabric.

An LED light . I used a LITE cube.

A tip:

Only use a thin layer of cotton wool on the body so the light shines through.

Fine Motor Skills 

What are Fine Motor Skills ? 

The term Fine Motor Skills refers to the use and control of all the small movements we do with our hands and fingers (and feet and toes). A new baby has very little control of its hands and fingers but by about five or six months it is able to grasp an object with its whole hand.  At twelve months it will be able to pick up small objects using its thumb and index finger. This is the stage when babies repeatedly  ‘practice’ (often to our annoyance!) picking things up and dropping them. By the age of four most children can use a crayon, stack shapes, turn over pages and cut with scissors.

All these actions require the use of muscles in our hands and fingers.  Generally speaking the stronger the muscles the better are our fine motor skills and as our motor skills develop so does our hand and eye coordination.

In the Kitchen 
There are lots of activities which help to strengthen the muscles of the hand and fingers and also help with coordination and some of the easiest and most fun happen in the kitchen. Children love helping to cook and bake and it is a great way for them to strengthen their hand muscles in addition to absorbing many basic mathematical and scientific concepts.

If you think of all the different ways we use our hands when preparing food. Whisking cream, kneading dough, stirring soup, rolling pastry, spreading butter. The list is endless.

Even picking up small pieces of food involves fine motor skills and the more practice toddlers have the stronger their muscles will become. But we do need to ensure that we demonstrate the correct ‘tripod’ grip. Once children get into a habit of picking things up the wrong way, for example in the fist, it is difficult to correct. 


There are some very ‘fun’ activities involving food. 


Why not make mini fruit and veg or cheese kebabs using straws. The fruit needs to be firm rather than over ripe. Pears, firm bananas and kiwi, apple, Melon and avocado work well and half grapes or cherries or tomatoes can be used as the end pieces. 


Even placing pieces of bread of toast on a plate of scrambled egg to make a fun face is great practice and improves hand-eye coordination.


Playdough is a great medium for strengthening little muscles and for hand-eye coordination.

Practice the tripod grip when pulling pieces apart .


Exercise other muscles by squeezing and rolling and pressing.


One activity I’ve found very popular is illustrated here.  Different types of lines and circles are drawn on sheets of clear plastic. An assortment of wavy and straight lines, long and short lines plus different sizes of circles can also be incorporated into a design or simple picture.

Then pieces of playdough can be made into the correct shape and size to fit over the lines and dots.

Threading beads, pasta, rubber washers infact anything that has a hole and is safe is great fun. I like to have a lidded plastic box full of pasta tubes, beads, washers, together with plastic cord, coloured string, straws and pipe cleaners.


Children will happily play with this assortment oblivious to the fact that they are not only practising fine motor skills and improving hand-eye coordination but are also developing their creativity and learning about texture, colour and even basic number concepts! Not to mention absorbing lots of new vocabulary.

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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