Learn on the Go

I recently stumbled across the most amazing toy shop in Stow-on-the-Wold imagewww.ellastoys.com . A total treasure trove for children, parents and education geeks like myself! Whilst Master L was loving playing with the wide variety of toys, my eyes were drawn towards some fabulous learning resources, which I couldn’t not share. The below are perfect to have in your handbag, in the car or for travelling. They can be at the ready for any moment your child may need a calm, quiet activity, plus the added bonus of a learning element and being reusable.

WordSearcher Cards: 100 reusable wipe clean word search puzzle cards. Different levels available: Ages 5+ and 7+. Perfect for increasing vocabulary and aiding spelling. Available at independent stockists and Amazon for £8.99 approx https://www.amazon.co.uk/Word-Searcher-reuseable-standard-playing/dp/B009HX3EJA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1464276160&sr=8-1&keywords=word+searcher

Secret Scholar Range: a genius range of reusable wipe clean activities
covering all areas of the curriculum such as Maths, Handwriting, High Frequency Words and Science concepts. Ranging from ages 4/5 upwards. Great for on the move as they come with a hard tray to lean on. Available at independent stockists and Amazon for £7.99 approx each or bundles available https://www.amazon.co.uk/Key-Stage-Secret-Scholar-Pack/dp/B000W07NWQ/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1464276233&sr=8-8&keywords=secret+scholar

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Aiding Anxiety

Anxiety in children can be caused by many different factors and for many imagedifferent reasons. There are many articles out there on dealing with child anxiety and I’m not a child psychologist; however I often get asked my advice on how parents can help their children with certain situations in which anxiety is the underlying issue. From many years in the classroom and now as a parent, as well as being a very anxious youngster myself I have found many ways of helping aid a feeling that all children will have at some stage growing up. Anxiety can be caused for many reasons including change, new situations, leaving a loved one, a loss, over analysing, fear, failure, low self esteem etc. Below I share books, objects, television programmes and ways that have aided different levels of anxiety and I hope you find them useful if your little learner is anxious at any time.

Talking: Sharing feelings is something that should always be encouraged. Teaching children that it is ok to have both positive and negative feelings and how everyone has these feelings including grown ups often puts them at ease. For some children feelings such as anxiety may not easily go away and therefore teaching them how to deal with it is hugely important.  Asking questions about how and why they may have feelings may well provide lots of answers. Some children are reassured with warnings and talking through situations before they happen so they aren’t caught by surprise. If this is the case just remember that children may worry more if given too much notice, the element of time is very abstract so sometimes not too much warning is better. Children also may not need to know ‘all’ details of a situation, as again this can worrying them further. So the key is to strike a balance between timings, how much is shared and when is best to do it.

Role Modelling: As a parent we act as a constant role model to our children. If you act calmly and controlled in situations, children will often react in a similar manner.

Books:

  • Owl Babies, M.Waddell- brilliant for teaching children that parents do come back so perfect for a nursery or school starter.
  • The Huge Bag of Worries, V.Ironside- fabulous for encouraging children to talk about their worries.
  • A Pocketful of Kisses, A.McAllister- a very sweet story about starting school.
  • Topsy and Tim collection, J.Adamson- a brilliant collection of scenario style stories, such as going on an aeroplane, a new baby, going swimming etc.

Objects: Many classrooms may have a ‘worry box’ for children to post their worries into. These are fantastic for children to feel that they can express their feelings without actually telling anyone, so the sense of anonymity is there. Teachers are then able to plan for dealing with these worries. A friend recently told me about a very friendly looking ‘worry monster,’ which is a perfect way for children to put their worries into both written or orally and the monster eats them up: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Worry-Eater-Soft-Toy-Schnulli/dp/B004H7RM3U/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1461272195&sr=8-10&keywords=worry+eatersimage

Television: ‘My First’ is a Cbeebies programme aimed at pre-school aged children. It shows children in a new scenario such as going on holiday, going camping, having a haircut etc.

Spring into Easter

Not long now till the Easter holidays and I’m sure all your little learners are deserving a fun filled rest. Normally image  a calmer time than the busy Christmas period, along with sunnier warmer weather so lots of opportunities for family fun especially enjoying the great outdoors. Below I share a variety of activities and ideas to aid and broaden learning at home.

  • Write or draw clues/signs for an Easter egg hunt. Extend with map making, add keys, symbols and even grid references for older ones.
  • Talk about life cycles. With new lambs, chicks, tadpoles, new leaves appearing and lots of colour with spring flowers, this is the perfect time to discuss new life.
  • Plant some seeds, Master L loved planting some parsley seeds in a pot last week. Added bonus was decorating the pot! We are keeping them warm inside for now.
  • Easter baking: chocolate krispie/cornflake nests are always a winner and super simple. Plenty of recipes out there, but here is one: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/eastereggnests_93841
  • Make, write and decorate Easter cards to friends, family or godparents. Giving a purpose to writing really engages even the most reluctant of writers.
  • Send your smallies outdoors for a scavenger hunt. If they aren’t up for reading yet, just use pictures. Add to the fun and print off or drawer pictures of items to collect and stick them on an egg box, each compartment can have a different object to find and the box can keep their treasures safe.
  • Create Easter bunting by decorating egg templates. See if your child can create a pattern on their eggs.
  • Make Easter themed decorations for an Easter Tree.
  • Create an Easter tree using branches from trees, pussy willow which often grows near rivers makes fabulous branches for hanging Easter goodies on.
  • Find out and discuss why Easter is celebrated.
  • Create an assault course for eggs to be carried through- great for practical construction and problem solving.
  • If you are going away a great writing task is to write postcards to family, friends or godparents. Choosing the postcard, paying for it, writing it and lastly posting it are all brilliantly easy learning opportunities.
  • Choose a special ‘holiday’ book with your child that you will read with them. Why not choose an old classic such as a Roald Dahl and enjoy reading to your child. Reading a book at a level higher than your child is able to read can increase their vocabulary as well as sharing a story together. image
  • There are all sorts of great craft kits and Easter themed bits and pieces around at the moment. I stumbled across a fantastic selection of craft, trivia and snap in Waitrose recently, a great alternative to chocolate treats.
  • Count and record objects you see. Any problem solving questions are great for improving mental maths skills e.g. “The chickens laid 6 eggs today and 5 yesterday, how many are there altogether?”
  • Enjoy the great outdoors, nature trails, rolling, jumping, climbing and general exploring. Check out any local events. National Trust properties often have brilliant school holiday activities for a range of ages www.nationaltrust.org.uk and many hold Easter egg hunts throughout the holidays.

Broaden Learning

Current affairs, awareness of the world and opportunities to allow Magazine 4children to develop their own opinions are all hugely important as your children develop. I have previously recommended child safe (all important) magazines and newspapers, but the range has increased and there are many fantastic options now to choose from. Newspapers and magazines also provide reading material that may well appeal to your more reluctant reader. Pictures, diagrams, photographs, jokes, trivia, lists, facts, captions and short articles are easy to access and make a change from fiction books.  A subscription to a weekly or monthly newspaper or magazine makes a fantastic present. Any aged person enjoys receiving post and many of our little learners await eagerly for their special post addressed to them.

First News: a brilliant weekly newspaper aimed at children aged Magazine 27-14. See their website for all subscription offers and prices www.firstnews.co.uk 

The Week Junior: an excellent new addition to the adult weekly current affairs magazine aimed at ages 8-14. See their website for all subscription offers and prices http://theweekjunior.co.uk/

Magazine 1National Geographic Kids: a monthly fun fact filled magazine for children aged 6 plus. See their website for all subscription offers and prices www.ngkids.co.uk

Okido: a bimonthly arts and science magazine for children aged 3-8. See their website for all subscription offers and prices http://www.okido.co.uk/

Eco Kids Planet: a monthly nature and wildlife magazine for children aged 7-11. See their website for all subscription offers and prices http://www.ecokidsplanet.co.uk/

Aquila: a monthly science, history and general knowledge magazine for children aged 8-11. See their website and subscription offers and prices https://www.aquila.co.uk/

Magazine 3The Day: a daily online newspaper for children aged 12 plus, which is proving very popular in schools. See their website for all subscription offers and prices www.theday.co.uk

Pre-School magazines: newsagents, supermarkets and shops are full of magazines aimed for pre-school aged children. Full of favourite television and book characters, stickers, games, stories, toys, educational activities and much more. Master L (aged 2) has just started enjoying these magazines and I have been pleasantly surprised at lots of the meaningful content even if the free toys are the most appealing to smallies!

 

Read the Classics

The week is National Storytelling Week and I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing lots of stories with your little imagelearners. Recently I’ve had quite a few enquiries about appropriate books to read and share with more confident readers. I am a massive believer that no one is ever too old to enjoy a picture book; however sharing chapter books with your more established readers is hugely beneficial. Language and imagination develops hugely, which helps with story writing and creative ideas. Reading to your child role models to all ages how to read, through deliverance and sharing stories is such a pleasurable experience. Obviously each child’s reading develops at their own stage, but do not underestimate sharing a story, which is slightly more mature than their actual reading ability.  Below I recommend some of the endless all time classics for adults to read to their children on a regular basis. I fondly remember my father reading a few of these to us as a weekend treat!

Ages 5+ approx

  • R.Dahl: The Twits, Fantastic Mr Fox, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, The Giraffe and The Pelly and Me, The Magic Finger & Esio Trot
  • AA Milne: Winnie the Pooh
  • K.Grahame: The Wind in the Willows
  • C.S.Lewis: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe image
  • E.B.White: Charlotte’s Web
  • E.Nesbit: Five Children and It
  • J.Murphy: The Worst Witch collection
  • E.Blyton: The Famous Five collection, The Malory Towers collection
  • R.Crompton: Just William collection
  • H.Carpenter: Mr Majeika collection
  • S.Coolidge: What Katy Did collection
  • A.Lindgreen: Emil collection
  • J.Brown: Flat Stanley collection
  • H.Lofting: The Story of Doctor Dolittle
  • D.Smith: The 101 Dalmations

Ages 7+ approx

  • R.Dahl: The BFG, George’s Marvellous Medicine, The Witches, Danny the Champion on the World, Boy Tales of Childhood
  • J.K.Rowling: Harry Potter collection
  • M.Morpurgo: The Butterfly Lion, Private Peaceful, The Wreck of The Zanzibar, Shadow, Kensuke’s Kingdom & WarHorse
  • E.Blyton: The Magic Faraway Tree collection
  • A.Ransome: Swallows and Amazons
  • A.Lingreen: Pippi Longstocking
  • M.Norton: The Borrowers
  • L.Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • F.H.Burnett: The Secret Garden
  • P.Pearce: Tom’s Midnight Garden
  • A.Sewell: Black Beauty
  • L.M.Montgomery: Anne of Green Gables
  • R.L.Stevenson: Treasure Island
  • B.Jacques: Redwall series
  • L.I.Wilder: Little House on the Prairie collection

Bringing Stories Alive

Master L has always been very keen on books, stories and rhymes. He is now at the age where he is developing image favourite characters and certain books are very much loved. Bringing stories and rhymes alive can help children in many ways such as: feeding imaginations, being creative, aid story writing / story telling and understanding settings, characters, story structure and plot. This week we share easy ideas to help bring stories and rhymes alive for you to do with your little learners at home.

Character creation: make characters using junk modelling, natural resources such as leaves and sticks, play or clay.

Drama: act out scenes from stories, extend further with using props, set and dressing up costumes.

Puppets: make character puppets using paper plates, wooden spoons or simple finger puppets. You can then put on a puppet show.

Masks: make masks of your favourite characters. image

Outdoors: when out and about look for features that match or look like locations or settings from stories such as ‘a log pile house,’ or ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’s’ tunnel. Find natural resources which look like characters. We currently come home with a collection of ‘Stickmen’ from all our walks, which sadly for them always end up on the fire! This is great for encouraging small legs to walk further too!

Predicting and Variation: ask children to predict events and endings in stories. Creating new endings to rhymes or stories can be great fun for talking about and even acting out.

Story Maps: make a map marking out the main events of a story, children can add new settings, characters or events through pictures, words or both.

Theatre and Events: look out for performances of well known children’s stories at local theatres. Websites worth visiting are www.tallstories.org.uk, www.birminghamstage.com, www.polkatheatre.com, www.theatrehullabaloo.org.uk and www.telltalehearts.co.uk. The Forestry Commission often have story trails, they currently have ‘Stickman’ trails in many of their forests nationwide, see www.forestry.gov.uk/stickman to find your nearest event.

Local Library: your local library is an amazing (often free) resource for bringing stories alive. Check out sessions such as story telling, puppet shows or bounce and rhyme at your local library.

Taking Risks

Risk taking is not a skill which comes easily to all learners. However having the ability and confidence to take imagerisks is hugely important for all ages. Younger children are often natural risk takers, which can be seen in their play and behaviour. Once smallies start at school, are influenced by those around them and become more self conscious sadly the ‘having a go’ attitude can diminish. If a child always wants an ‘answer’ as such they often find subjects such as creative writing, the arts, science and many comprehension questions trickier. Making mistakes should be encouraged and seen as a positive learning experience. From experience children who are happy to make mistakes are more confident happy learners who tackle new tasks with a fantastic attitude. There are plenty of activities you can do at home to encourage inquisitive minds. Have fun trying some of these out.

Make predictions: this is easy when reading with your child. Look at the front cover and predict what may happen in the story. Stop on certain pages and again predict what may happen next. Always model predicting by sharing your prediction with your child and sometimes make it really whacky to encourage imaginative ideas. Making predictions about time is fun too, if minutes and hours are too tricky, make tasks or questions general such as “how many times can you run round the garden before we go out?” Predict colours, how many objects you’ll see on a journey, what  a cake will look like, how food will taste or feel etc.

Science tasks: there are plenty of amazing science experiments and kits for home use. Science concepts encourage making predictions, watching things change, following processes and comparing things. The Science Museum, Horrible Science, John Lewis and Amazon all have a great variety of kits. image

Problem solving: making treasure trails with clues, construct given objects with different materials, play board games, ask questions, ask open ended questions, give a choice of answers to questions, encourage children to ask questions.

Logic games: brilliant for children to play and feed their ways of thinking differently.

Festive Learning

After a super long term, the Christmas holidays are upon us. Exhausted and over excitable smallies can be a imagerecipe for disaster. This time of year is madly busy with visitors, family to see and often lots of travelling. Below we share some festive themed learning activities for you to enjoy as a family.

Reading: get relatives to read stories- new voices are always fun, let your child read to you, enjoy Christmas stories, listen to story cds, allow siblings/cousins etc to read to each other, read cards, read cracker jokes, read recipes and newspapers or magazines.

Writing: letters to Father Christmas, thank you letters for presents, shopping lists, name writing for place names, Christmas cards, menus, gift tags, write jokes for crackers or a holiday journal.

Maths: Christmas baking, count decorations, make Christmas patterns with colours, paint or stickers, laying the table, shape hunts, play adding and subtraction oral games, board games or sing number songs. image

Other thoughts: Christmas crafts, museum visits, explore local National Trust properties and their festive themes, visit Father Christmas,  make a photo journal, set up a Christmas themed competition, put on a play, play charades, collect greenery and make a wreath, research some Christmas traditions from around the world, make and try some Christmas food from a different culture, go carol singing, make a board game, junk modelling or den making using the many present boxes! Most importantly have fun and recharge your batteries for 2016.

 

 

Little Learning Seeds wishes you and your families all a very Happy Christmas.

We look forward to returning in the New Year with lots more inspiration.

Party Bag Alternatives

December is always a busy month for everyone, what with nativities, Christmas plays, present finding, parties and turning homes into Christmas wonderlands. Master L is a December baby and we had great fun celebrating him turning 2 at the weekend. Whether you have small or large celebration for your smallies, I like to give children a little ‘something’ to take home with them. Below I share some ideas as alternatives to party bags, all of which have an educational theme and won’t break the bank. image

  • Books- fiction, non fiction, joke, rhymes, cookery or poetry.
  • Maps- local area or atlases.
  • Postcard Packs- great for writing to friends or family.
  • Playdoh- homemade is super easy & cheap. Add a cutter (initial name letters or the number of their age). Master L’s friends loved these this year.
  • Craft pack- make your own using any of the following: crayons, scissors, glitter, feathers, pom poms, buttons, pipe cleaners, sticks, leaves, stickers
  • Paint by Numbers
  • Magnets- name letters, numbers or objects.
  • Giant Chalk- brilliant for outside use.
  • Cupcake Kits- all in the box, easy to use and great fun to make.
  • Ingredients and a recipe in a jar- keep it simple and child friendly.
  • Puzzle or Board Game

The following shops are well worth a visit to help with these ideas: Poundland, The Works, Wilko, 99p Stores, TK Maxx, Supermarkets or Tiger.

 

 

Fun with Sums

The thought of Maths makes many parents feel rather unwell! I too never found Maths easy at school. Having image
now taught Maths to a variety of ages, I have become much more confident myself, as well as realising the importance of making it real rather than an abstract concept for all ages. Hands on, fun filled, resource based activities and ideas really help the understanding and grasping of mathematical concepts. This week I’m sharing activities involving early addition and subtraction concepts. I hope you don’t shy away from Maths based activities, but rather embrace them with your little learners.

Activities

Ideas for counters: toys, pencils, pasta, Cheerios, Lego, buttons, leaves, conkers, marshmallows, fingers, bottle lids, coins, beads.

Language to use: plus, add, total, more, subtract, take away, minus, less, equals, makes, altogether.

  • Playdoh: make playdoh numbers & match objects to the numbers or make sums using playdoh.
  • Number Spider: draw a spider templets with 8 legs, place counters on the legs and add them up.
  • Number Angel: drawn an angel and use counters on each side of her wings to create an addition sum.
  • Chalk: use chalk to write out simple addition and subtraction sums. Chalk is great to use on a big scale outside, why not try making a giant number line and jumping up and down it for helping with adding and taking away questions.
  • Outside: whenever you are outside use objects to count, add up together or take away. image
  • Word problems: whenever you are on journeys ask your child word problems such as “I can see 3 buses, if 2 more came along how many would there be?” or “There were 20 monkeys in a tree, 5 swung away, how many are left?” These really help children to be able to interpret problems and  also be able to choose which operation (plus or minus) to use.
  • Number Machine: make a machine out of a box, make some operation cards (eg +5 or -7) feed the machine with a number card and the child has to find the answer card.
  • Playing Cards: use cards randomly to add together or take away.
  • Skittles: add numbers onto skittles, hit them down and add the numbers up. You can always use plastic bottles as skittles.
  • Songs: 10 Green Bottles, 5 Little Ducks, 5 Little Speckled Frogs, This Old Man, Hickery Dickery Dock, 12345 Once I caught a Fish are all brilliant songs with a number theme.
  • Pegs: write sums on pegs and then children peg them onto answer cards.
  • Colour by Number: create colour by numbers with addition & subtraction sums as the questions. image
  • Hot Chocolate Maths: use mini marshmallows as counters for some simple sums, then enjoy eating them up!