Practical

Maths: A stones throw

Pebbles are a beautiful, tactile resource which can be used for matching pictures with real objects, investigating number and counting outdoors. You could also lay a trail to support the use of positional language, says Hilary White.

Understanding the world: To the lighthouse

Mr Grinling is probably one of the most famous lighthouse keepers in the world, brought to life by Ronda Armitage in her series of classic children's books. There are lots of ways to use them to explore peoples' occupations and life-styles.

Literacy: Our daily bread

Real Bread Week (22-28 February), is designed to encourage people to bake their own bread or support local bakeries. It provides a great opportunity to immerse children in all things bread-related, with story books and growing activities.

Physical development: From top to toe

Use a picture book such as Head Shoulders Knees and Toes as an invitation for children to have fun testing and exploring their physical capabilities independently, and only get involved in their play when they signal you to do so.

PSED: Take a deep breath

While children have a natural ‘mindfulness’ this can be developed to help them sustain focus and self-awareness. In the first of a new series, Judith Harries provides a practical guide to breathing techniques which promote well-being.

Communication and language: For the chop

Karen Hart kicks off a series linking cooking to language skills and other areas of development. These activities unleash children's creativity while giving them the confidence to experiment with new vocabulary.

Parent: Follow a forest path

Along with the many benefits gained from being outdoors, forest school promotes children's holistic development with the aim of nurturing resilient, independent and creative learners. Annette Rawstrone describes its learning possibilities.

Literacy: Cold calling

Where Snowflakes Fall by Claire Freedman is a picture book that explores the beauty of the polar regions and is perfect for inspiring children to create role-play scenarios that will lay the foundation for early writing.

PSED: Moving house

Whatever the circumstances of a house move – planned or unplanned – it can be a confusing and stressful time for children. Claire Hewson outlines ways to explore the subject while making children feel more confident about the transition.

Maths: Grand designs

Children's homes are characterised by exciting shapes and patterns which can feature in their play. Jenni Clarke describes spontaneous scenarios, as part of in the moment planning, which can be exploited for rich mathematical learning.

Parent: Set them free

A child's right to play is so important that is it recognised in the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child. Doing so outdoors is especially important – particularly in the current climate of constrained living.

Communication and language: In a lather

Making your own soap is a sustainable activity while providing opportunities for children to listen, follow instructions, explore new words and engage in adult and child-initiated conversation.

Physical development: Dinosaur stomp

The books of Ian Whybrow combine two of children's favourite things – dinosaurs and the potential for exuberant movement, particularly when they play ‘Dinosaur stomp’.

Understanding the world: In character

Use the January birthday of author A A Milne to explore the world of Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and more by going on a walk and identifying hidey-holes where these characters could find a home.

Maths: ‘The Twelve Days Of Christmas’

Find out how this traditional festive song can help to consolidate number and sequence recognition, counting forwards and backwards, practising prepositions and also learning a variety of action words.

Communication and language: Dear Santa

The emphasis is on fun as children engage with this classic picture book penned by Rod Campbell. Support them to join in with festive refrains and extend their vocabulary with new nouns and adjectives.

Physical development: Hands on with eco painting

Making your own eco-friendly paint may work out a little more expensive than the ordinary kind but it is a process that children will enjoy and appreciate as something that is precious rather than disposable.

Literacy: Sounding it out

Encourage children to use their senses to describe the animals and the noises they make in the book Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? and observe how this helps them to develop their phonological awareness and early reading.

Understanding the world: Swirl by swirl

Give children time to explore patterns in nature and develop their ability to appreciate and identify shape and design. Learning is maximised when it is led by children as part of in the moment planning, explains Jenni Clarke.

Parent: Reading for the fun of it

Continuing her series on building the foundations for literacy, Annette Rawstrone looks at ways to focus on the joy of books without creating pressure.

PSED: Trees for life!

National Tree Week, which runs from 28 November to 6 December, is a great opportunity to discuss the importance of trees. Support children to identify different varieties, express their own ideas and listen sensitively to others.

PSED: Let's get together

Hilary White suggests ways to use art, song and discussion as a starting point for celebrating our differences and exploring togetherness. Children will enjoy creating a picture of their friend and talking about what they like about them.

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