Understanding the world

While we can’t hug…

Following on from his bestselling book The Hug, author Eoin McLaughlin has written this genuine book for our time, talking to young children about social distancing. Find out more about how to share this book!

Communication and language: Stay cool

Hilary White outlines how to discuss three key aspects of sun safety – the difference between sunshine and shade, the effects of the sun and sun protection strategies.

Things to do on a rainy afternoon

A rainy day in doors doesn’t have to mean a day stuck in front of the TV or computer. There are lots of activities to keep children occupied – and still learning. Painting, baking, and other arts and crafts are just some of the great ways to boost their creativity. Here are some activities that are perfect for wet weather days.

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.

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.

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!

Forest school: Working its magic

Maureen Lee describes how a study visit to Denmark has inspired a group of practitioners to take their forest school practice to the next level and use it as a springboard for important research.

Born into a digital world

With some children accessing technology for disproportionate amounts of time at home, how important is it for settings to try to combat the negative effects of screen-time?

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.

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.

Understanding the world: From trash to treasure

What goes on at your local recycling centre is often a subject of fascination for children. Karen Hart suggests ways to build on this curiosity with activities which will help them to understand the importance of managing waste and recycling unwanted objects.

A trip to remember

If pitched at the right level, a trip to a historical or cultural location can be just as valuable in the early years as it is for pupils further up the school, as we found on our trip to Hampton Court Palace, says Elaine Booth, teacher at Latchmere School in Kingston-upon-Thames.

Feed the birds!

As the weather gets colder and resources become scarcer, birds have to make every minute count when it comes to finding food. Teach children how they can help them to survive during the winter and fuel their fascination for the natural world.

Understanding the world: Breathe easy

Air pollution is one of the most complex aspects of the environmental crisis facing our planet. It's hard not to feel overwhelmed by its seriousness; what can we do to make a difference, and how can we address such a difficult issue with young children?

Loving the darkness

While winter’s lack of daylight hours and long, dark evenings may make most of us feel like hibernating, consider ways in which you can explore the excitement of darkness with children.

Understanding the World: Chain reaction

The first in this ‘little scientist’ series explores the nature of chemistry and outlines some simple but exciting experiments, which will ignite children's curiosity and encourage them to make predictions based on what they see.

Tuff decisions

Ailsa Chapman re-visits that stalwart of early years resourcing – the tuff tray, and suggests ways to extend its scope, with a range of imaginative ideas that children can take in any direction.

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