Monday, January 06, 2014

Create your own Toys and Activities.

Here are a few tried and tested activities I found to be fun educational and inexpensive.

Home Made Play Dough

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup water
Food colouring

Mix flour and salt, add water oil and colouring. Mix well. Keep in an airtight container.

I often let the children help out in mixing measuring and stirring.

This activity encourages; sharing conversation, physical manipulation, messy play, imagination and imitating adults.

Posting Box

Find a shoe box with lid, cut three slits in top of the lid, choose three colours and colour a rectangle around each slit each a different colour. Find some plain card and make rectangle shapes to fit in the holes. Colour them three or more of each colour and let the children post them in matching the coloured slit. When they are all in, open the box and start again!

This activity encourages; learning colours, taking turns, manipulation, counting, concentration, and sense of achievement.


Use clean washing up water, skim the bubbles off the top and put on plastic table, high chair, tray or shallow container. Then let the child experiment with hands or paintbrushes for a quick and not too messy activity.

This activity encourages; early science, texture, messy play.

Corn Flour

Give each child a shallow bowl of corn flour mixed with a small amount of water. Use fingers or a spoon to play!

Encourages; touch sensations, messy play, science.

Water Outside

On a hot day, have a small plastic beaker and a paint brush. Let the child paint a water picture on anything and watch it disappear.

Encourages; artwork, manipulation, imagination and mimicking adults i.e. pretending to paint walls, fences etc.

Hide and Seek Indoors

The child or children hide in the room, the adult goes into another room counts to ten out loud, shouts” coming ready or not”. Goes into the room to find the child {for younger children, pretend to search in lots of different places, even though you know where they are.} Then the child goes to count and the adult hides.

Encourages; counting, imagination, taking turns. A very active and noisy game!

Teddy Hide and Seek

The grown up hides a teddy in the room behind a cushion or under something easy to find. The child goes in another room and counts to ten, shouts “Coming ready or not?” and tries to find teddy. The adult giving hints if needed. When teddy’s found let the child hide it.

Encourages; game participation, working out small problems and movement.

Picture Hide and Seek

Take a piece of plain card, cut into six rectangles. Draw 5 simple pictures, one to each card, eg. sunshine, star face, car, tree.On the spare card list the words with a small picture next to it, keep hold of this card and hide the others around the room, [preferably with the children out of the room, ask the children to find the picture cards, going down the list, maybe giving an older child the list to be in charge! When they find a picture ask them to leave it there until the corresponding picture is called for. Find all the cards and do it again!

Encourages; participation, recognising words and pictures, getting up and running around, achievement and competition.

Traffic Lights

The children can be on bikes, pushing pushchairs or just running or walking. Ask them to go around in a circle, stand off to the side, then at the appropriate moment, step into the circle, put up your hand saying firmly “stop”. The children wait and stop, after a few seconds say Red, Amber {get ready} Green for Go! And off they go, step to the side and start again.

Encourages; moter skills ‘respect’ listening and learning commands, and teaching knowledge of the world.

Pretend Shops

Stand in a corner and ask the children to go to a pretend shop and buy an item e.g. Bread from the bakers shop. Go with them to start with, to various places in the room, stating which pretend shop it is eg. butchers shop, greengrocers, supermarket, toy shop etc. I usually pretend to be the shopkeeper, the children pretend to pay me and I pretend to give them their pretend goods!!

Encourages; knowledge about where we buy things from, imaginary play and imagination.

Pretend Eating

Can be done anywhere! Pretend to hold an item of food in your hand and imaginatively explain what you are holding and eating. Ask the children to pretend to eat it too! Sounds crazy but works. Handy when you need to think of a distraction.

Encourages: participation and imagination.

Ring a Ring a Roses

The classic nursery rhyme. Stand in a circle and sing,

Ring a ring a roses
A pocketful of posies,
A tissue a tissue, we all fall down. [Everyone crouch down]

Picking up the daisies [pretend to pick flowers]
Picking up the daisies
A tissue a tissue
We all jump up. [Jump up]

Do it again and again.

Encourages: game participation and singing.

Nature Walks

Give each child a small bucket or suitable bag or basket; go out in the garden or a short walk, collecting items of nature. Ideally those found on the ground. If you do pick flowers or leaves off plants, make sure they are safe for children and explain not to pick too many to conserve the countryside. Talk about what you’ve found, looking at colours, textures, their part in nature and reasons for them being there.
When you get back, lay out the collection and talk about them, maybe identify them by using books or the Internet. Make a collage by sticking items on card or paper with sellotape or glue.

Encourages; knowledge of the world. physical motivation, learning colours, counting, textures etc.

Toy Catalogue

Give each child a toy catalogue to look at. A very enjoyable pastime.
Later you could cut out the children’s favourite toys and paste them to paper.

Encourages; conversation stimulation, social behaviour.

Feely Objects

Find a fabric bag, put a toy inside the bag and ask the child to identify the object without looking. When they have discovered what it is, have some more hidden toys to repeat.

Encourages; concentration and mind motivation.

Big Cardboard Boxes

Save big cardboard boxes without staples for making a den. Seal one end with sticky tape and let the child crawl in the open end, discourage climbing on it, as this will end the game too quickly. You could carefully cut windows in with a sharp knife or scissors [adult required] and a post box, finding cards to post through as letters. It could also be turned into an art activity by crayoning or using felt tips.

Encourages; physical motivation, imaginary play, social behaviour.

Small Cardboard Boxes

Save household cardboard boxes and kitchen roll tubes, take apart the boxes where they are glued, and flatten them for storage. When you have a good selection, make up the boxes again with a bit of sellotape and give to the children to create and experiment. You often have to help with ideas. Use tape, parcel tape or P.V.A glue [although this takes longer to dry.] When you have a complete model, why not paint it?cover it in foil or wrapping paper or simply colour or felt tip it.

Encourages; artistic skills, imagination, concentration, and self achievement.

Buy some inexpensive coloured chalk and let the children draw, use paper, card or cut up boxes. Outside pavements or concrete is also good, [permission needed,] it can get
messy. A good trick is to spray the paper and cardboard pictures with hair spray to seal the chalk.

Encourages-Drawing and artistic tendencies.

This blog was first posted in 2008.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Learning Through Play.

Recently I have noticed an increase of web sites and blogs on the subject of children's activities, (mostly homemade). I guess the 'word' can now be easily and quickly spread around the groups of people that have childcare in mind.
In my opinion I think it's wonderful, because the simplest and inexpensive ideas are making people aware that everyday objects and materials can be used to promote children's learning abilities, instead of many missing out because parents/carers have the notion that you have to use expensive and professional equipment for teaching.

I was a little nervous when technology for children came along, thinking that it was too tempting to be playing with fantastic/exciting educating learning games, as well as video games and virtual books, however I feel we grown ups have realised that we can have both. By promoting physical, messy, sensory and manipulative play, from an early age it enhances the child's brain and thirst for adventure and inquisitiveness. Indoors and outside, but also technology can be used in learning ways as well as fun and excitement.
If you search for 'activities for toddlers' a list of web sites should come up with plenty of ideas to use with your children.
Happy Playing!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Language Learning with Simple Rhymes.

Simple rhymes or songs are a great way of bringing in language learning, for example:-

The Leaves are Falling.
The leaves are falling one, two, three,
Help me count them as they float from the tree,
Tell me the colours that you can see……
Red, yellow, brown and green,
How pretty is this autumn scene?

From this, children will pick up language, counting and colour recognition, not to mention the fun they will have going outside seeing and experiencing nature!

Friday, November 01, 2013

Great Ideas From Imagination Tree Site.

I would like to pass on a link to a site that has many wonderful ideas for activities to try out with children, using objects and materials that are easy and inexpensive to come by.