Shopping with young children 


Supermarket Shopping with young children is not easy but I found this activity  helped. In addition it improves observational skills and extends vocabulary and understanding. 

Make a card resource of all your usual supermarket items. 

Prior to going to the shops sit down with your child and make a visual card shopping list. It helps to put the cards in isle order..

As an appropriate isle is reached hand two of three of the cards to your child and challenge them to ‘spot’ the items before you do!   Keeping a score of who is winning also shows children that numbers have a practical side. That they are used in real life. 

Very important! 

It is important to establish ground  ‘rules’ before you go shopping.  The best way to do this is to roleplsy and have a few sessions of ‘going shopping’  games.  Try to include positive rather than negative statements. For example instead of saying ‘You mustn’t run’  say ‘please walk down the isles.’ 

For example:

  •  Please walk down the isles. 
  • Please stay near mummy/daddy
  • We must use out quiet voices.
  • Please wait to be told to take the item off the shelf.
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Why is it important to develop a child’s creativity? 


Why is it important to develop a child’s creative thinking skills? 

Because creative thinking is probably the most important skill they will ever learn!
Developing creative thinking is about developing self esteem and self confidence. It is about developing a love of learning. Of having the means to deal with the confusion, risks and failures that are part of everyday life. The confidence to lead and to be different from the crowd.

I believe that all children are creative by nature but, unfortunately, many lose their creativity before reaching adulthood. In our education and social system where examination success and conformity reigns supreme, creativity seems to have been forgotten.

Creative thinking is vital in all areas of life. It is a skill which will give your children the edge over others in their chosen career enabling them to be the person who initiates new procedures rather than one of the majority who follow already established routines. It opens the door to new opportunities and new inventions.

It also makes a person interesting! Ensures they are never bored ! Someone who is popular socially and is capable of meaningful and long lasting relationships. 

So how do we recognise a creative thinker
A creative thinker is able to think out of the box. They are curious and questioning and not afraid of making crazy suggestions knowing that there may be many possible answers. They make mistakes and learn from these mistakes being happy to try and try again. Creative thinkers don’t feel guilty about daydreaming knowing that often this is when the best ideas are born and when they realise these new ideas they will push them to their limits. They are optimistic, have boundless energy and, despite accomplishing a great deal, still have free time to enjoy their family and hobbies. Last, but not least. They are never bored!

My  Free ‘ Jumble Fun’ learning programme aims at developing creative thinking by: 

Asking Open ended questions

The stories include open ended questions. You are encouraged to ask questions which require more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. “What do you think we should use to make …?” “what would happen if …?” “What couid we change…..?

Making choices

The programme encourages children to make their own choices. To make decisions and try them out. If their choices fail to achieve the desired result they are encouraged to try again.  From this they learn to view making mistakes as a new beginning and not as a failure or the end of a 

Story telling and dramatic play

There are opportunities for children to make their own ‘Jumbles’ and to weave stories around them. 

Inventing

The ‘Jumble’ characters enjoy inventing things from well, …… jumble! In other words, from ordinary, everyday household items and objects they can collect in their local environment. Using the characters as inspiration and role models, children will become collectors and inventors, viewing ordinary objects as blank canvasses on which to stamp their own individuality

Fun ! 

The JUMBLES are fun and they encourage your child to have fun being creative and being active rather than passive.  

Enjoy

Letter recognition and pre-reading skills


​​Young  children are so ‘open’ to learning. They are creative, inquisitive and just love learning new things.  In the preschool days their learning is at a level they will never experience again as is their enthusiasm to learn. They are learning new concepts with every turn of their heads, to them learning  is play and learning through play is fun not just for them but for parents too.  

There’s no need to buy expensive equipment. No need to enlist them in special playgroups. 

Just a small amount of time spent making a few resources and playing together is sufficient. They will learn so much and will be content to play on their own afterwards. 

Letter recognition is an important pre-reading skill and one that can be acquired through play. There are so many fun activities to help with this. The old traditional game ‘I Spy with my Little Eye’  remains one of the best and requires no preparation or resources. It is great on shopping trips and journeys and children love it!  With very young children beginning to learn sounds it is best to say ‘ ……something beginning with the sound ‘a’ or ‘d’ rather than the letter name. 

The way the sound is said is very important. We tend to add an ‘rrr’ to our letter sounds which makes for confused soekking later. You know what I mean? We should say b.b.b.bor. baby but it sort of comes out like bur.bur.for baby! Cur.cur.cur for cat! Etc.. it’s a good idea to visit a good phonic site where you can practice the correct sounds. Here is one I recommend: 

Sound pronunciation

When my eldest was two I decorated the walls of her bedroom in lower case letters in pastel colours of paint.  I don’t remember how this started but I do remember that her bedtime routine, in addition to a story, was to recite the letters painted on the walls.  She refused to go to sleep till this had been done!  We started with just three letters and when she knew these a new one was added. I guess it’s not everyone’s idea of good decor although it did look pretty and was cheap.and easy too! 
Other less permanent ways of learning letter sounds and names are explained on my video which you can find by following the link below: 

        Letter Recognition Activities
I really hope you find the video useful. 
Please take a look at the others in the same playlist.  They are all for parents of young  children.

Your children may enjoy the art and craft and science programmes. Everything is free. 

Thanks for taking the time for reading this. 

Judi Brereton. 

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. 

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. 

 

Why Science for young children ? 

Why is science important?  

Because it answers all the questions that kids ask like ‘what are clouds?’ and ‘Why is the sky blue’ and ‘Why do bubbles pop?’ 

Because it explains how the world works. Why earthquakes happen. Why we have thunder and lightening. Why we sprinkle salt on icy paths. Why food goes bad. 

Because science helps kids learn to predict, to problem solve, to research. To persevere and be patient. They learn that not everything works first time and that you learn from your mistakes. 

Because they develop their own opinions rather than being contented accepting those of others. 

Through science children learn to think about the outcome of their actions. The possible results. It motivates them to problem solve. To come up with new ideas and maybe new inventions when they grow up. It also gives them a head start in the future since creative thinkers are sought after in every field of work.

Do you like science? Are you interested in science? Do you enjoy helping your child find out the scientific answers behind his questions? Can you think of fun, practical ways to do this ? If your answer is ‘No’ then it’s probably because you had a bad experience in your early years. Perhaps you didn’t enjoy science at school?  

Primary school teachers have a huge responsibility. It is SO important that they are not just confident in their scientific knowledge but that they are really interested in science. If children are taught by people who don’t have a passion for a subject then unfortunately it is very likely that this negativity will be passed on to their young pupils. 

Research shows that children have formed either a positive or negative opinion about science by the time they are seven or eight. Once formed its very difficult to change that opinion. 

This is so sad because all children are born as creative thinkers. As scientists! They are naturally inquisitive. They want find out about the world around them. Through their play children are discovering and problem solving every minute. For them science is exciting and fun! 

So what can we, as parents do? Well, it’s unlikely you will be able to change your child’s teacher! It’s also unlikely that you will be aware of how they are influencing your child. But nurturing a child’s interest in science begins well before they go to school and once established should see them through any negativity. 

After all science is just part of our every day life. Opportunities arise every time you make bread or dry the clothes or make ice cubes or boil an egg or put soap in the bath or wipe condensation off the windows.  


Children are never too young to investigate. Watch them playing in water, in sand, with play dough, colour mixing,  building towers with bricks. Without realising they are testing volume, density, diffusion, balance, temperature, weight and so much more. This is why hands-on play is so important.   

With support and guidance and motivation a pre school child will enjoy trying to find out the answers to their own questions rather than relying and trusting the answers of others. 

But what if you are not interested in science or unsure how to help. If you can’t think of open ended questions or activities which will stimulate their interest? 

There are plenty of books and science kits and internet sites available but beware of those which require buying specialised equipment. There is no need! You probably already have everything you require in your cupboards! Also be wary of any which simply demonstrate how to carry out an investigation and provides the answer! 

Children require programmes to make them think and question.  The link below will take you to a site which does just this. 

            FUN SCIENCE FOR YOUNG CHILDREN

Why is creativity important?

Creativity

Why is it important to develop a child’s creative thinking skills? Because it’s probably the most important skill they will ever learn!

Developing creative thinking is about developing self esteem and self confidence. It is about developing a love of learning. Of having the means to deal with the confusion, risks and failures that are part of everyday life. The confidence to lead and to be different from the crowd.

I believe that all children are creative by nature but, unfortunately, many lose their creativity before reaching adulthood. In our education and social system where examination success, conformity and peer pressure reign supreme, creativity is often squashed or at least buried.

Creative thinking is vital in all areas of life. It is a skill which will give your children the edge over others in their chosen career enabling them to be the person who initiates new procedures rather than one of the majority who follow already established routines. It opens the door to new opportunities and new inventions.

So how do we recognise a creative thinker?

A creative thinker is able to think 'out of the box'. They are curious and questioning and not afraid of making crazy suggestions knowing that there may be many possible answers. They make mistakes and learn from these mistakes being happy to try and try again. Creative thinkers don’t feel guilty about daydreaming knowing that often this is when the best ideas are born and when they realise these new ideas they put every ounce of energy into making them a sucess. They are optimistic, have boundless energy and, despite accomplishing a great deal, still have free time to enjoy their family and hobbies. Last, but not least. They enjoy life, their work and are never bored!

‘Jumble Fun’ aims at developing creative thinking by:

Asking open ended questions:

The stories and programmes from Jumble House use narrative which includes open ended questions which require more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. “What do you think we should use to make …?” “what would happen if …?” “What could we change…..?” “What choices do you have….. ?” They encourage children to think for themselves. To see that often there are many possible answers not just one. To think 'out of the box'.

Making choices

L

The programme encourages children to make their own choices. To make decisions and try them out. If their choices fail to achieve the desired result they are encouraged to try again. From this they learn to view making mistakes as a new beginning and not as a failure or the end of a project.

Story telling and dramatic play

There are opportunities for children to make their own ‘Jumbles’ and to weave stories around them. They are encouraged to daydream. To make up stories. To tell stories. To present their stories in many different ways , as story boards, picture stories, puppet shows or in video format. All the movies, pictures and stories featured on 'Jumble Fun' are produced using only an iPad and basic, usually free apps so children are able to obtain a similar product easily at home.

J

Creating

The ‘Jumble’ characters enjoy inventing and making things from well, …… jumble! In other words, from ordinary, everyday household items and objects they can collect in their local environment. Using the characters as inspiration and role models, children will become collectors and inventors, viewing ordinary objects as blank canvasses on which to stamp their own individuality. Hopefully they will also become more conscious of the environment and conservation.

Challenges

The Sunday Challenges present children with a range of challenges. They may be art and craft challenges like 'what can you make from ….. ?' or creative thinking challenges, ' Why was the fridge empty?' or “How many uses can you think of for ……” or perhaps a word association game to play. Whatever the subject these activities encourage children to think creatively.

Fun !

Fun is important ! Learning should be fun.

The JUMBLES are fun and they encourage your child to have fun being creative and being active in mind and body. To be inquisitive. To ask questions. To be independent and resourceful. To enjoy learning.

 

 

Help your child to be a creative thinker

Why is this important to develop a child’s creative thinking skills?

Because it’s probably the most important skill they will ever learn!

Developing creative thinking is about developing self esteem and self confidence. It is about developing a love of learning. Of having the means to deal with the confusion, risks and failures that are part of everyday life. The confidence to lead and to be different from the crowd.

I believe that all children are creative by nature but, unfortunately, many lose their creativity before reaching adulthood. In our education and social system where examination success and conformity reigns supreme, creativity seems to have been forgotten.

Creative thinking is vital in all areas of life. It is a skill which will give your children the edge over others in their chosen career enabling them to be the person who initiates new procedures rather than one of the majority who follow already established routines. It opens the door to new opportunities and new inventions.

So how do we recognise a creative thinker?

A creative thinker is able to think out of the box. They are curious and questioning and not afraid of making crazy suggestions knowing that there may be many possible answers. They make mistakes and learn from these mistakes being happy to try and try again. Creative thinkers don’t feel guilty about daydreaming knowing that often this is when the best ideas are born and when they realise these new ideas they will push them to their limits. They are optimistic, have boundless energy and, despite accomplishing a great deal, still have free time to enjoy their family and hobbies. Last, but not least. They are never bored!

‘Jumble Fun’ aims at developing creative thinking by:

Asking Open ended questions

The stories include open ended questions. You are encouraged to ask questions which require more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. “What do you think we should use to make …?” “what would happen if …?” “What couid we change…..?

Making choices

The programme encourages children to make their own choices. To make decisions and try them out. If their choices fail to achieve the desired result they are encouraged to try again.  From this they learn to view making mistakes as a new beginning and not as a failure or the end of a project.

 

Story telling and dramatic play

There are opportunities for children to make their own ‘Jumbles’ and to weave stories around them. 

Inventing

The ‘Jumble’ characters enjoy inventing things from well, …… jumble! In other words, from ordinary, everyday household items and objects they can collect in their local environment. Using the characters as inspiration and role models, children will become collectors and inventors, viewing ordinary objects as blank canvasses on which to stamp their own individuality.

 

 Fun ! 

The JUMBLES are fun and they encourage your child to have fun being creative and being active rather than passive.  

Enjoy! 

 

 

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