Practical

Parent: Big school, big step

It is never too early to start planning for your child's move to school. In the first of a new series, Annette Rawstrone outlines how to get a feel for what your local primaries offer and which ones would be a good fit for your child.

Understanding the world: Well watered

Now is the perfect time to talk to children about how plants grow from seeds and the conditions they need to flourish. Let them loose outdoors with a watering can to discover the joys of caring for their very own garden.

PSED: When I grow up

Being aware of how girls and boys are accessing your resources and spaces can help to combat any gender bias. Judith Harries suggests ideas to stimulate children's use of all the opportunities that are available in the setting.

Physical development: Take a walk

The books of Emily Gravett provide a great focus for activities such as walking to the post box to post a letter home, going on a litter pick to clean up the environment or making and operating a finger puppet.

Literacy: Embrace the planet

Activities linked to the natural environment and its wildlife will encourage children to source information from reference books, record facts in writing and use different formats such as captions, labels and speech bubbles.

Expressive art and design: Going in circles

Take inspiration from Kandinsky's abstract paintings to introduce children to a variety of exciting art mediums. Observe how they use different textures, colours and shapes to create their own artworks which have special meaning for them.

Communication and language: Question of taste

Children who can voice their opinion without fear of judgement become active and confident learners. Discussing their likes and dislikes develops expressive language skills and their understanding of their own – and others' – choices.

Maths: Master bakers

Easter baking is an opportunity to practise problem solving. Do children know what to do if they take their cakes out of the oven and they are not properly baked yet? How can they tell if a cake is cooked all the way through? It's time to decide!

Literacy: Wake up to spring

The Very Hungry Hedgehog is a spring story with a message about sharing. Claire Hewson suggests ways to use the experiences it describes to extend children's vocabulary and comprehension skills.

Expressive art and design: One from the heart

Karen Hart suggests some Mother's Day card making ideas that involve children making sponge paintings, hand prints and 3D decorations. These are cards which will be treasured for years to come!

Understanding the world: Beautiful butterflies

Butterflies will enjoy a national day of celebration on March 14. Make it a date for children to explore their characteristics and habitats with the help of resources available from the Wildlife Trusts. It's a great excuse to get outdoors and study nature.

Communication and language: Baby Brains at work

Award-winning author and illustrator Simon James is renowned for his books featuring Baby Brains, the extraordinarily smart baby. They can be used as a springboard for children to write letters, cards, lists and labels and experiment with rhyming words.

Physical development: Carefully does it!

Through the lens of ‘in the moment planning’ Jenni Clarke outlines scenarios which maximise opportunities for children to challenge themselves physically. It is all about being spontaneous and guided by the child.

PSED: Pitch perfect

The final article in this series on different ways to inspire a love of music, looks at ways to support children to play in pairs or small groups, and bring it all together as an exciting class band.

Literacy: Sharing traditions

Sarah Davies urges settings to celebrate ‘International Mother Language Day’ on 21 February. Its a great excuse to bring children, families and the wider community together to share their cultures, songs, stories and rhymes.

Parent: Having their own ideas

‘Creating and thinking critically’ focuses on your child's process of thought behind their learning. Annette Rawstrone suggests ways in which you can support them to develop this important ‘Characteristic of Effective Learning’.

Maths: All wrung out

Hand washing may seem old-fashioned but it is an eco-friendly alternative to using a washing machine. Get children involved and help them to consolidate their understanding of how a series of steps lead to a successful outcome.

Physical development: Do it yourself

Encouraging children to build their own dens and special spaces will help them to extend their physical capabilities, and experiment with ideas and resources. Observe how they persist with trial and error.

PSED: Feel the love

Sam McBratney's Guess How Much I Love You is a simple, classic story that provides a safe space for children to explore their feelings and their place in the world. Support them to think about ways to express how they feel.

Understanding the world: Banging on

What could be more fun than making your own musical instruments? Start with these simple ideas using recycled objects to inspire children's love of music and appreciation of how sounds are made.

Maths: ‘Ten brown cones’

Jenni Clarke provides a guide to how mathematics can be enhanced through in the moment planning, with continuous provision which helps practitioners to identify and extend learning opportunities for all children.

Communication and language: An open book

Book corners need to be inviting and accessible spaces to ensure their constant use. Their popularity will soar when you ask for children's input on how they would like them to be planned and stocked.

Maths: Tying the knot

Furoshiki is an environmentally friendly, Japanese technique for wrapping gifts which will give children the opportunity to test their creative skills and learn about why conventional wrapping paper is bad for the planet.

Maths: Animal countdown

Explore the books of David Walliams as a great resource to introduce key mathematical concepts, such as counting, writing numbers and comparing sizes. Making playdough snakes is guaranteed to be a hit.

PSED: Come into my den

The creation of small, cosy areas are important for allowing children to occupy private spaces, either on their own or with a friend. These secure, comfortable environments provide an ideal place to share emotions and ideas.

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