PSED: Saying thank you to Dad

Make the most of Father's Day on 16 June to organise Personal, Social and Emotional Development activities which encourage children to talk about their fathers and their family life at home.

Father's day falls this year on Sunday 16 June, and provides an opportunity for children to think of special ways to make their dads feel loved and appreciated. Here are some simple ideas for cards, gifts and activities that you can share with the children in your setting. Always be sensitive to children who do not have contact with their father and let them choose another significant adult such as grandfather or step-dad to celebrate.

Playing and exploring

  • Children make a list of all the different things their fathers do for them
  • They have a go at writing a pattern poem to describe their dad
  • They make a footprint picture using big and small prints

Saying thank you to dad

Talk to the children about Father's Day on Sunday 16 June. Introduce it as an opportunity to say thank you to their father for everything he does for them. Read some picture books about dads such as TheTrouble with Dad by Babette Cole, Dad by My Side by Soosh, My Dad is Brilliant by Nick Butterworth, and My Dad by Anthony Browne. Make a list of things fathers do for their children that they can refer to when writing their cards and poems.

Explore a father's love

This brand new book celebrates the many different ways fathers care for their young in the animal kingdom, including penguins, foxes, lions, toads, seahorses and falcons. Talk about the ways some animals differ from human fathers.

Talk with children about favourite activities they enjoy doing with their father, such as reading a story, having breakfast in bed, going for a walk, going bowling and making a model together.

Create pattern poems

Explain to children that they can write a poem for Father's day using some of the ideas that you have talked about. Provide a set of printed outline shapes for them to choose from such as a tie, rugby ball, baseball cap, wellington boot or guitar. Use the word ‘dad’, ‘daddy’ or ‘father’ and help children to think of words starting or using those letters to describe their father and write an acrostic poem.

If you get stuck choose from these acrostic poems:

  • Dear
  • Awesome
  • Dad
  • Dad's
  • Amazing
  • Day

Or – favourite; awesome; terrific; hero; epic; rare

Show them how to write the words onto their chosen shape. Decorate the shapes using felt pens and stickers.

Unique cards

Provide felt pens and a piece of A5 paper for children to draw a small portrait or miniature of their dad. Stick it inside a folded card and let children draw a decorative frame around the outside of the portrait. On the front let children write one word in big letters, using capitals, either ‘DAD’, ‘HERO’, or ‘WOW’.

In Dad's footsteps

Try making some different-sized foot and boot prints. Bring in some dad-sized boots with interesting treads on the sole. Press them into a shallow tray of paint and then press print them onto a piece of paper. Ask children to make a print of their foot, using either their bare foot or the sole of a small boot or trainer, in a contrasting colour paint, inside the dad print.

Dad's day fun

Invite as many dads and grandads to come and visit your setting on a special Dad's day session one morning or afternoon around the 16th of June. Share stories and activities. Try some outdoor activities with a father's race and some ball games developing throwing, catching and kicking skills. Share out the gingerbread dad biscuits (see below).

Active learning

  • Children are challenged to think of unusual words to describe dads
  • They write messages to their dad on their foot print pictures
  • They enjoy choosing some activities to write and put in a special activity jar for their father.

Encourage children to keep trying if they find an activity hard. Can they persevere to find some really unusual words to describe their dad in the poems?

Talk about the meaning of some of these words: adorable, alright, amusing, artistic, astonishing, adept, adventurous, agile and affectionate. Let younger children copy a poem that you have written together as a class. Challenge more able children to write their own acrostic poem.

Help children to write the words ‘following in dad's footsteps’ onto their footprint picture or let them cut out the words printed on the computer and stick them onto the picture.

Father's Day activity jar

Talk with children about favourite activities they enjoy doing with their father such as reading a story, having breakfast in bed, going for a walk, going bowling, and building a model together, plus some ideas of treats for dads such as eating at dad's favourite restaurant, cleaning dad's shoes, fetching dad a drink, watching sport with him. Ask the mothers for helpful suggestions. Let children choose some activities to copy onto strips of paper and place in a jar labelled ‘DAD’. They can take them home and let their dads choose a treat.

Creating and thinking critically

  • Children decorate a sound word using a graphic font style
  • They work together to make gingerbread dad biscuits
  • They can write ‘dad’ or their dad's name on the biscuits.

Superhero art
Look at some artworks by Roy Lichtenstein, a famous pop artist. Try ‘Whaam!’ or ‘Explosion’. Compare them with how sound words are printed in graphic comics (e.g. POP or BANG). Use this to decorate the word on the front of their father's day card in the same style using paints or thick marker pens.

Gingerbread Dads
Work together to make some gingerbread dough using 350g of plain flour, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 3 teaspoons ground ginger, 125g butter or margarine, 175g soft brown sugar, 1 egg, 4 tablespoons golden syrup. Let the children roll and cut out gingerbread men shaped biscuits. Mix the flour and spices together in a bowl. Rub in the butter to make fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Combine the beaten egg and golden syrup and mix into the dry ingredients. Knead until it forms a soft dough. Wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 20 minutes. Roll the dough out to 5mm thickness on a floured surface and cut out the gingerbread dads. Place on a greased or lined baking tray with space between each biscuit. Bake them at 180°C or Gas Mark 4 for 12–15 minutes and cool on a wire rack. Help children to use piping icing to write the word ‘dad’ or their dad's name on each biscuit.

Enabling environment
Set up a variety of activities, as described above, in a corner of the room so children can use free play to select an extra activity to make something for their dad. Provide more blank outline shapes for them to carry on writing pattern poems. Set out some collage materials and ask children to create collage pictures of their dads. Let children try printing pictures of their dad using gingerbread men cutters. Ask them to create their own thank you letters or their own versions of some of the picture books about fathers.

EYFS Early Learning Goals
As children print different-sized foot prints they will be comparing size (Mahts) and handling different tools (Physical Development). There are many opportunities to use Literacy skills such as ‘They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others’ when they compose pattern poems and write messages for their dads. They will ‘explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function’ as they make Father's Day cards.

Key points

  • The activities presented here will support children to develop positive relationships with adults
  • Children are supported to talk about their own ideas and choose resources
  • They talk about their feelings and are reminded to be sensitive to those who do not see their dads
  • The activities presented here will support children to develop positive relationships with adults
  • Children are supported to talk about their own ideas and choose resources
  • They talk about their feelings and are reminded to be sensitive to those who do not see their dads

Key vocabulary:

  • wizard, workshop, potion, laboratory, experiment, miscible, immiscible, mix, liquid, solid, bottle, spoon, funnel, spell, spell book, danger, careful

Useful resources

  • Books, outline shapes on paper, scissors, pens, pencils, cardboard, felt pens, big and small boots or shoes, shallow tray, paint, paper, empty jars, strips of paper, Sharpie pen and ingredients for gingerbread biscuits

Books about fathers:

  • TheTrouble with Dad by Babette Cole (Egmont Books)
  • Dad by My Side by Soosh (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • My Dad is Brilliant by Nick Butterworth (Walker & Company)
  • My Dad by Anthony Browne (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Daddy is My Hero by Dawn Richards (RHCP Digital)
  • A Father's Love by Hannah Holt (Philomel Books)

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