Practical

Maths: Shape shifters

The sand tray is a great place to focus on numbers and shapes. Use a variety of materials in wet and dry sand to encourage children to sort, count, name and measure a variety of shapes.

Expressive arts and design: Fleeting beauty

Enhance children’s understanding of transience by encouraging them to make artworks from blossom and ice. Support them to experiment with a range of natural materials, appreciating their delicacy.

Physical development: Full speed ahead

Extending conversation around exercise is a great way to help children to make connections with how their body works. It also helps them to focus on setting their own physical challenges.

PSED: Respecting animals

National Pet Month provides a useful starting point for children to learn about the needs of different pets. Try these activities to convey accurate information without having real animals in the setting.

Literacy: Trains of thought

John Burningham’s books are immediately captivating, taking children on magical journeys which carry powerful messages. Support them to use their phonic knowledge to decode words.

Parent: Once bitten...

Children aged between 18 months and three years can sometimes go through a phase of biting others. A careful approach is needed to address this, taking into account underlying, developmental factors.

Communication and language: Causing a stir

Now is the time for children to harvest a range of exciting new natural objects, including catkins, blossom, dandelions, twigs and leaves – to take to the mud kitchen and have fun mixing them into magic potions.

Literacy: Mum's special day

Celebrating Mother’s Day is a great way to encourage children to talk about their mums and exercise their literacy skills as they make cards and learn to write simple, loving messsages.

Mathematics: Ideas take shape

In this last in a series on ‘maths talk’, we look at using heuristic play to introduce shape names and terminology, and explore linked activities that encourage children to confidently use new words.

Understanding the world: Hair raising!

Whether children have experienced a visit to the hairdresser, or had their hair cut at home, they will all enjoy hairdresser role-play. Through this they will grasp the practical and social sides of hairdressing.

Expressive arts and design: The perfect mix

Used together, sand and water play provide children with many exciting opportunities for creativity. Children engage all their senses as they explore textures, changing colours and shifting patterns.

Communication and language: Relax and chat

Support children to extend their conversations and ideas while they are busy at the sand play area. As a shared place to play it provides fantastic opportunities for building confidence in speaking.

Physical development: Imaginative leaps

Physical development and imaginative play go naturally together and there are lots of ways you can resource the environment to ensure that children can be active within their own creative worlds.

PSED: Animal empathy

Martin Wardell’s books, including the best-selling Owl Babies, are perfect for helping children to explore their feelings. Use them to tap into their ideas about what is fair and unfair.

Slime, glorious slime

It's easy to understand why slime has become such a popular resource with children in the last couple of years. Squishy, stretchy, jiggly or like putty, it's fascinating to manipulate, deeply mysterious and curiously addictive!

Understanding the World: Fresh new shoots

It’s time to get ready for Spring and plan outdoor adventures, where children can spot butterflies, birds and wild flowers. Support them to understand seasonal differences, change and the passage of time.

Literacy: Letters home

Have fun reading all the letters in The Jolly Postman and encourage children to compose their own letters, supporting them to create simple sentences and even a Valentine’s Day message.

Parent: Be my Valentine

Many settings love to celebrate Valentine’s Day – not only does it brighten up what can be a bleak month but it’s an opportunity to talk about love and kindness with children, says Annette Rawstrone.

Communication and Language: Listen to this

Playing outdoors with friends is a perfect way to boost communication skills and these simple games are easy to set up. Children will enjoy sharing and talking about their tactile, sensory experiences.

Physical development: Against the grain

Revisit your sand trays with these new ideas to promote concentration, hand-to-eye co-ordination and ne motor skills. Children can also get to grips with how tools can effect changes to materials.

Literacy: Sharing and caring

Chances are your book corner already has at least one title by author and illustrator Anthony Browne. Try these activities to engage children with his themes of family and friendship, and have fun exploring their surreal sense of humour!

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