Well versed

Rhyme is a fantastic medium for inspiring children to engage with narrative and develop vocabulary. Get into your own poetry rhythm by checking out these activities.

Embrace downtime

While covid restrictions are being eased, there are still some weeks ahead in which parents will find themselves continuing to be at home with their young children. With light at the end of the tunnel, now is the time to make the most of this.

Physical development: On point

Try the following ideas for making sustainable wood or cork geoboards, and give your children the invaluable experience of creating their own eco-friendly resources using nails or pins, says Hilary White.

Communication and language: Tall tales

Making up a story orally can sometimes be more powerful than reading out loud from a book. Claire Hewson suggests ways to improvise on a classic fairy story and encourage children to create and tell their own exciting narratives.

Literacy: Disgustingly good!

Turn to a new page for cooking by linking children's favourite stories to the preparation of tasty treats. One favourite is bound to be The Disgusting Sandwich, says Karen Hart.

Understanding the world: Time to grow

When spring is sprung, it's time to introduce children to some elementary gardening skills. Learning about life cycles and taking responsibility for growing plants will give them an enormous sense of achievement.

Maths: From a solid base

Children are at their most self-absorbed in the construction area which means there are strong opportunities for maths learning. Jenni Clarke suggests ways to support this through in the moment planning.

PSED: Poised for action

This article is the third in the series exploring mindfulness moments, linking children's physical movements to self awareness and self control, while also practising breathing and meditation.

Communication and language: Riotous rhymes

Join in with the zany humour and rhyming fun that are a feature of Colin McNaughton's classic picture books. Support children as they learn new words, try out repeated refrains and design their own aliens.

Physical development: Spatially aware

Exploring the environment in different ways is key to children developing spatial awareness. Claire Hewson suggests games that will help children to experience the effects of their movements and their proximity to others.

PSED: Take a moment

Following on from last month's article on breathing techniques, now is the time to move on to basic meditation skills. Observe how quickly children find their focus, using natural materials as props to articulate their thoughts and feelings.

Understanding the world: Natural symmetry

When a child is excited by something they identify in the natural world, there is a valuable opportunity to seize the moment and extend learning. Jenni Clarke explains how the adult can prompt and support without taking over.

Maths: Taking the biscuit

Cooking is one of the most enjoyable ways to apply mathematical thinking and will help children to transfer their new found counting skills to many other activities and everyday tasks. Observe how they begin to correct their own mistakes.

Literacy: Lasting impression

Picture books are a mainstay of every setting and also one of the more eco-friendly resources available to us. Hilary White provides a guide to taking children through the steps of choosing and buying books online, and learning to care for what arrives.

Expressive arts and design: Fabulous Frida!

Frida Kahlo's art is a fantastic subject for pre-schoolers as there are so many ways to explore her paintings, her life and her art style. It is also an opportunity for children to understand her cultural heritage as a Mexican painter.

Parent guide: Honest answers

It could be that your pre-school child is asking questions about what death is, or there has been a death in the family due to the pandemic. Whatever the situation, it's good to be prepared to answer children's questions simply and honestly.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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