Clay Dinosaur Fossils

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As you all know, we have recently set up a little Dinosaur Project Table in the living room. Our house is slowly transforming into a giant classroom…much to my husband’s delight :-).  Since we have set the table up, T has been having lots of fun bashing dinosaurs heads together, sorting them into categories, and making up stories with them.

Not long after we set the table up, we tried this beautifully simple size ordering game from The Imagination Tree, which he loved so much he was asking for it the next day!

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We did it last minute, so we had to use a paintbrush to brush off the soil – but I think a toothbrush would work best. I must also add a warning: do not leave these in your soil overnight – even if it is a tiny bit damp, the salt dough will soak it up and you end up with soft, floppy bones…which aren’t so easy to dig up.  Although, my oven is a bit rubbish..so perhaps they didn’t cook properly.

After the success of this first dinosaur game, I have been thinking about what to try next.  One of T’s favourite things to do with playdough is to push his small animals and dinosaurs in, looking at the marks they make underneath. He has also – for as long as I can remember – loved puzzles.  So I thought it would be nice to take this a bit further and make some real fossils together, which we can match to dinosaurs afterwards (like a puzzle). I finally have a spare moment (as daddy is on holiday helping out) to post the story of our little activity.  So here is how we did it:

Clay Dinosaur Fossils

We used:

Clay
Plastic dinosaurs
Rolling pin
Round pastry cutter

We started by reading our dinosaur information book and talked about what a fossil was. Then we looked at the dinosaurs and I tested T on their names (he loves a quick verbal quiz!).  Then T chose his favourite dinosaurs to press into the clay. He wanted to do the triceratops’ footprints, then the momasaurus, then the dimetrodon.  He then went running upstairs to fetch his tiny plastic Thomas trains, and lined them up neatly on the table.

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These little beauties came with something called a ‘(Thomas) Busy Book’. They are mini plastic Thomas trains, and, for a good 6 months, they went everywhere with him.  Anyway, he decided, in his own unique way, that he wanted to make some Thomas train fossils. So we did!

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While we were making them, it occurred to me that it would be pretty cool to make a fossil that we could “excavate”. So T chose his favourite – a “Euoplacephalus” – and placed it on top of a lump of clay.  Then he pressed more clay down on top.

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A couple of days later, we pretended to be palaeontologists, and hammered and chiselled away until it broke open. Daddy helped out here.  I don’t know who had more fun doing this…chiselling is a great stress-reliever!

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The next day, we decided to paint them. T chose the colours.  Watercolours worked really well for this – the clay absorbed the watery paint quickly so he was easily able to cover the fossil without too much fuss.  It was quite a satisfying experience for him I think, as he wanted to finish them all off in one sitting!   It was also an opportunity to talk about colours, as he wanted to match the colours to the trains – red for James, blue for Thomas, etc.

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Here are our dinosaur fossils on our Project Table.

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Once they were dry, we gathered all the fossils and dinosaurs we had used and we played a matching game!

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T was really into the fossils and was talking about them all of that day and the next.  When he came down for breakfast he ran to get them and started matching them again.

So that evening, I made some “surprise fossils” for him, with some objects from around the house.  The next day, I hid them in some soil with the objects that matched.

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He enjoyed digging and coming across the different fossils and objects.

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Once he had found them all, he brushed the soil off with a paintbrush:

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Then he arranged them in a line and matched the objects to their prints:

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We enjoyed doing this activity with clay, but there are so many other fun materials you could choose. A good alternative (which I just couldn’t find in the shops) is white air-drying clay. And there are plenty of brilliant, resourceful mum bloggers who have done it with different types of salt-dough too. There is a simple online fossil dough recipe here.  There are loads of other “fossil dough” ideas on pinterest that are worth having a look at.

Thank you for stopping by to read this. I hope you and your little one are having fun today!

Marianne x

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Draw A Story (a simple mark-making game for 2-6 year olds)

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This Invitation To Play with crayons and toys encourages mark-making, and also develops creativity, mapping and story-telling skills.

T’s imagination is developing more and more. He loves telling stories with his trains, his puppets, his little dinosaurs and animals. This Draw-A-Story game was one of my favourite activities in Reception Class, because it is versatile and easy to set up, at a moment’s notice. It is an Invitation To Play.

I am a big fan of Invitations To Play. For me, this is exactly what Early Years teaching is all about: provision (as opposed to instruction). You provide the resources for play, presenting them in different ways to inspire play.  Then you come alongside the children, provide a simple prompt or a bit of modelling, then let them play! Invitations to play match the principles behind the Reggio theory of education, which sees the environment as “the third teacher”. If you are interested in this sort of thing, this lady has written a useful, informative post on how to create inviting small world scenes, and she talks a bit about the educational thinking behind them.

So here’s how I used to set up “Draw A Story”:

Very simply, I would cover a table with paper, and add crayons/colouring pencils/pens and some small world animals/mini beasts/people/dinosaurs. Sometimes the children might need a little verbal prompting to get started with their story, so I would ask a question, like: “who lives here?” or “where is the ladybird going?”. This would either prompt creative mark-making or story-mapping (mapping a familiar story)…or both! It is so fun and open-ended, that it prompts even the most reluctant scribblers to do some meaningful mark-making. It really supports creative thinking too, something I am a huge fan of. Here is what I gathered together to draw our story this time:

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And a roll of masking tape, for taping to the storage unit.  This isn’t in the photo but is very important to keep the paper from moving around and distracting your little one.

It was SO last minute – there was no thought put into which characters we would have in the story. I always have a basket of small world characters in his storage unit to get out and play with, so I just grabbed a random handful of these. In this case, it meant he could just get creative and use his imagination. But you could also use this activity to explore specific themes together, such as ocean creatures, mini beasts, construction sites, knights and castles. There really is no limit on your choice of subject. The paper is from a roll of wallpaper lining paper that I bought from a hardware store. It’s perfect for large scale mark-making, which is so important for little ones, as they need the space for those gross motor movements (which underpin their fine motor skills).

Here is our story (prompted by me, continued by T):

Once upon a time, there was a dragon. The dragon had been flying around all day capturing princesses, and was feeling quite thirsty. But there wasn’t any water around. So T drew a lake for him to drink from. Then he wanted a tree next to the lake, and drew this too.drawastory4

T then brought more characters to the lake to drink. Then the dragon decided he wanted a snack, so he chomped on the dinosaur” bibi” (biscuit). After a while, an elephant came stomping along, and he wanted to jump in a muddy puddle. So T drew an enormous muddy puddle with two crayons.

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The animals all splashed about so much that they made some bubbles…but T wasn’t interested in drawing those. That’s because he had found a car. The car wanted to go on a journey but it had no road, so T drew a really long road for it. (I was especially pleased about this as he hasn’t been so keen on drawing lines for a while). The car then drove along the road and chased all the animals to the edge!

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The End.

I’m not saying it was the best story..! T is no J K Rowling. But it was lots of fun, and each bit of the story was completely driven by his imagination (apart from the initial prompt). The added bonus was: it got him making marks!

I can’t wait to offer this invitation again soon. It is such a beautifully open-ended, limitless activity.

Variations:
For older or more experienced children, it’s fun to provide plasticine, building blocks or Lego to create a 3d story map.

Learning Taking Place (from the UK Early Years Foundation Stage Guidance)
Literacy – Writing – make meaningful marks (pre-writing skill),
Communication & Language – Speaking – develop their own narratives, connecting ideas and events (speaking)
Expressive Arts & Design – Being Imaginative – represent their own ideas using stories and role play
Physical Development – Moving & Handling – handle crayons and toys effectively, with control and co-ordination
What story will you draw with your little one today?
Marianne x

11 Games To Entertain a Toddler AND a Baby

PicMonkey Collage

Try these 11 simple games to keep both your toddler and baby happy and stimulated.

Introducing…Baby H

Hello everyone, and Happy New Year!

This is a very special new year for me, as our family of three has now become four! I am very pleased to announce the arrival of the latest addition to our boy-heavy household: our enormous, beautiful H.  Wow – was I ever glad to meet him!  It was a long, uncomfortable Summer for me.   I found pregnancy with a toddler so challenging that I pretty much stopped writing.  Those of you who wrote lovely supportive comments when I felt well enough to write again – thank you for making me feel useful and not alone. For me, carrying a baby has felt a bit like transporting ‘The One True Ring’ to Mordor – it is the most precious thing any woman can carry, and the burden is SO heavy.  My first thought when I wake up every morning now is: YES! I’M NOT PREGNANT! I literally think this will continue until the day I die.

Well, I have reached the end of my arduous journey, and I have my gloriously chubby reward.  I really cannot tell you how refreshing it is to have some energy again, and to be back on the scene.  And now I have some fresh inspiration for the blog – in the form of a gorgeous,  cuddly baby!

Mum-of-two Land

There hasn’t been much time to recover from pregnancy this time around.  I have been thrown straight into Mum-of-two Land, without even a Rough Guide for navigation!

Mum-of-two Land  is very similar to Mum-of-one Land, only everything is more intense.  There are more nappies to change, more mouths to feed, more laundry baskets to empty, more beds to change, more wriggling legs to get into the pram, more tears to soothe, more wardrobes to rotate, more brains to stimulate, more tummies to tickle.  This results in less time to do any of these jobs, less time to myself, less sleep, and, inevitably, more of that dreaded Mum Guilt.  Each day is a flurry of activity, yet nothing really ever seems to get done.  I used to enjoy planning little projects but there is no chance of that now.  I give myself a virtual gold star if I manage to get through the day having fed, clothed, changed and exercised both boys without losing the plot.  If I expect anything more of myself, I go a tiny bit mad trying to achieve it.

Managing all this practical stuff is tough, but I can (just about) cope with it.  By far, the biggest challenge for me has been keeping the two of them entertained at the same time.  T and I had got ourselves into a very comfortable routine.  Now that little H has arrived, our world has had to shift to include him, and there is less time in the day for playing.  I find this incredibly frustrating, as I want them both to be happy and stimulated, and I love playing with them both.

I have installed what I call ‘Mummy and T Time’, which happens while H has his nap, but for the rest of the day we are all together, so H rarely gets his own ‘Mummy Time’.  In the first few weeks, I would get to the end of the day and realise that I had barely spoken a word to H.  On a few occasions, I found myself in tears when daddy came home, worrying that I wasn’t spending enough quality time with the baby, and fantasising about his inevitable future drug habit/jail sentence caused by my neglectful parenting!

Toddler and Baby Games

As time has gone on, my hormones have settled down and H has become a bit less nocturnal, I have calmed down.  And I think I have found a way to ease the Mum Guilt a little: we have come up with a few games and activities that are really quick and easy to set up, where both the boys are learning and having fun.  Here they are.  I hope they work for you too :-).

1. The Song Bag

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You may have read my post about how to make rhyme time a bit more fun at home.  We made a song box in which we put a selection of props for our favourite songs.  Well the song box has now become a Song Bag.  T loves getting the props out and being able to choose which song we sing.  The one we are singing in the picture is ‘Five Little Speckled Frogs’ – we have five plastic frogs, a bit of shiny blue card for the pool, and half a breadsticks tube painted brown for the log.  What would you put in your Song Bag?

Learning taking place:
Toddler: singing, speaking, memory and fine motor skills
Baby: language, tune, rhythm

2. Ready, Steady, Go!

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My T is just as active as any other toddler and most days seems to want to just RUN.  I think if he could, he would run all day.   As we do not own a toddler-sized treadmill, I try to get outside at least once – sometimes twice – a day to let him stretch his muscles.  But sometimes, when it is raining or cold, or I am just too tired, I have to stay in.   It occurred to me recently that I could just incorporate running into everything we do inside.  So now I get him to run to do the following things:

– Get items of clothing to get dressed (he doesn’t always want to put them on but still enjoys fetching them!)
– Fetch a piece for his puzzles
– Fetch his various Thomas trains (as I name them)
– Post a letter in his post box game (read here on how a fellow mum inspired me to set up this fun orchard toys game)
– Fetch a number for number ordering on his whiteboard
– Pick up stickers to stick on his collage

The beauty of these running games is that H loves it too! Babies are fascinated by movement and big brother running at full pelt across the living room floor is one of H’s favourite forms of entertainment.  Once he has the instruction, I call out “Ready, Steady, Go!” and he’s off.

Variation:
When we are out, I’ve noticed H loves watching T run around and play football or splash in puddles.  So we pop him in the sling facing forwards and then we can all have a kick-around together!

Learning taking place:
Toddler:  gross motor skills, auditory processing skills and vocabulary (from following instructions), colours/numbers/letters/shapes/adjectives depending on what he is running to get!
Baby: visual tracking, vocabulary

3. Guess The Sound

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This was one of my favourite, last-minute games when I taught in a nursery.  First, we would go through all the musical instruments in the music box, naming them and playing them.

Then, I would put them all inside a bag, make a noise with each instrument (enough for each child to have a turn) and ask: “what’s making that sound?”.  T LOVES this game so much I am kicking myself for not remembering it sooner! When he isn’t sure, I just supply the answer when I pull it out of the bag (“it’s the bells!”) and then let him have a good old shake/blow/bang!  Once he has had a turn, I get him to show his baby brother how to play the instrument.  That way, he gets to demonstrate how the instrument works, and the baby is enjoying listening to the different sounds, and watching the movement.

T loves the guessing element of this game, and the big reveal of each instrument.  And he especially loves loudly demonstrating how to play each one!

Variation: use other things that make a noise – a piece of paper, a bottle of water, a squeaky toy, a packet of rice

Learning taking place:
Toddler: fine and gross motor skills, new vocabulary, differentiating between sounds
Baby: an awareness of different sounds, vocabulary, grasping skills, hand-eye co-ordination and cause-and-effect.

4. Mystery Box
This is the same idea as the sound game above, but here you just use your sense of touch to guess the object.  We used to call these Feely Boxes at school.  Next time you get a delivery with a decent-sized box in it, hold on to it! We just cut a hole in it and then I experimented with various “flaps” before settling on some craft foam, for stiffness and durability.  Ours looks like this:

We had fun hiding (baby-friendly) objects inside and putting his hand in.   He had a guess at what the object was, then I tried to get him to describe it by asking: what does it feel like? Is it big/small/round/flat/soft/hard? At the moment, he doesn’t have the patience to hold on to it and guess, he just wants to pull it out for the big reveal!  But when he does, he loves shouting out what it is!  I then ask him to hide something for me and I model how to guess what it is.  This game is great for teaching opposite adjectives, language that describes texture (shiny, soft, bumpy etc.) and just for getting children to talk.  With a reluctant talker on my hands, I am very into these games right now!

Learning taking place:
Toddler: describing language, adjectives, nouns, turn-taking
Baby: sensory awareness, vocabulary, hand-eye co-ordination, grasping skills

5.  Balloon Games

Have you ever met a toddler that doesn’t love balloons? Nope, neither have I.  And the best thing is, they are cheap and easy to find.  I play a few different games with balloons.  Sometimes we just play catch.  Or I blow up 5-10 balloons and throw them up in the air, one at a time, saying can you catch the yellow/blue/red balloon? T has been showing lots of interest in numbers recently, so I now write numbers on the balloons with a sharpie, place them around the room  and have him find the numbers I call out! When he finds them we whoop and cheer and show it to his baby brother! The other day we had some boxes in the room so I got him to throw them in the box when he had found the number I asked for.  He loved it! Then it turned into an investigation of capacity which really got him excited.  (If anyones interested, we discovered that you can fit 10 balloons into a big box and 4 balloons into a smaller one!).

Learning taking place:
Toddler: hand-eye co-ordination, turn-taking, colours, numbers, auditory processing (following instructions)
Baby: visual tracking, sensory awareness, hand-eye co-ordination

6.  Pop The Bubbles
Bubbles are another easy toddler-pleaser.   Popping them is fun and uses up lots of energy too – so we play this game regularly.  Bubbles are also a lovely sensory activity for babies, who just enjoy watching them float around, and disappear.

Learning taking place:
Toddler: hand-eye co-ordination, counting skills (if you count the pops)
Baby: visual tracking, sensory awareness

6. Puppet Show

One of my favourites! Puppets have been such a hit in our house for over a year now.  They are great for encouraging toddlers to talk.  We use them to make up stories and also to re-tell T’s favourite stories, so he is having fun and also practising his memory, sequencing and speaking skills.  T loves doing different voices for the characters.  In the photo at the top of this post, we are retelling the story of the Gruffalo’s Child with a shoe box we painted, some finger puppets and other bits and bobs.

So far, we have only been using pre-made finger puppet sets.  But it is easy enough to make your own on lolly sticks or socks and some googly eyes – then your toddler is also practising those great skills learned through crafting: fine motor skills and creativity. Here are 6 easy ways to make puppets with household materials.

What does your baby get out of it? An entertaining story-telling session! The puppets bring the story to life for him, and reinforce vocabulary.  My little H also loves just trying to grab the puppet when it moves up and down in front of him.

Learning taking place:
Toddler: memory, sequencing and speaking skills, fine motor skills, creativity (creating own endings and different voices for characters)
Baby: vocabulary, story language, grasping skills

7. Mr Tickle

T still loves a tickle. He especially loves a chase and a tickle!  When we play this game, he is presented with a tickling hat”,  I call
him “Mr Tickle” and it is his job to tickle me or the baby in different places.  I had to model how to tickle gently at first, and now he has the hang of it.  We take turns so he is the tickl-ee as well as the tickl-er.

Learning taking place
Toddler: turn-taking, fine motor skills, listening/concentration skills, vocabulary of body parts
Baby: sensory awareness, vocabulary

8. Action Songs (that involve body parts) and Fingerplay

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I believe that body part action songs or rhymes involving finger play are the best to share with babies and children, as they will get to know their body so well over the next few years and will use it to understand so much. Our bodies are an instant, portable tool for telling stories, singing songs, investigating, exploring, counting and communicating.   Here are our favourite action songs (involving body parts) and finger play rhymes:

Head, shoulders, knees and toes

I am The Music Man

Incy Wincy Spider

This is the way we wash our…

If you’re happy and you know it, touch your…

Clap your hands and wiggle your fingers (tune of bobby shaftoe, supply different actions involving body parts eg tap your knees, nod your head, etc.) repeat line x 3 then sing “now we’ve made a pattern”!

Wind The Bobbin Up

There’s a Spider On Your Head (arm, knee etc.)

One Finger, One Thumb, Keep Moving

Tommy Thumb

I have this amazing book at home called Okki Tokki Unga, with a great collection of action songs and rhymes.  We keep it with the instruments and get it out daily for a bit of fun!

Learning taking place:
Toddler: memory skills, sequencing patterns (language, tune and actions), speaking skills, gross motor skills, auditory processing skills
Baby: visual tracking, auditory processing skills, vocabulary of body parts and actions

9. Reading books and filling in the gaps.

This is a game we’ve started playing to help encourage T to try saying new words.  I read some simple, familiar books, and miss out words so T can fill them in.  This works well at H’s bed or bath-time – it’s easy to fit in then and has started to just become part of the routine now.  I read the books to H and T “helps” me.  It has really encouraged T to try saying new words, and H loves being read to, so everyone’s happy!

Learning taking place:
Toddler: speaking skills, vocabulary, memory skills
Baby: vocabulary and grammar, visual tracking, sensory awareness, (especially if feely book), hand-eye co-ordination

10.  Hide and Seek

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No explanation needed, I am guessing? I know this is an obvious one, but I have to admit I needed a friend to remind me how much they love it! H just loves being taken around the house for a ride :-).

Learning taking place:
What they are both learning really is how to have fun by playing games together, it’s that simple! I found this interesting article that explains exactly why Hide and Seek is such a popular game with all children:

11. Sensory Memory Basket/Tray

This is another one of my all-time favourites.  I haven’t met a child who doesn’t  enjoy this game.  And in my book,  it’s never to early to start playing memory games.  I believe that if you can help a child build their memory, listening and concentration skills, they have the building blocks for a life-time of learning.

All you need for this one is a tray, some baby-friendly objects and a muslin.  (We used a shallow basket as we do not own a tray). You can use any dish really, as long as it is easy to see all the items.

Choose 3-10 objects (depending on your child’s age and ability) and put them on the tray together, naming them.  With younger children, I tend to go through each one a few times and get them to repeat the names.  With older children, after naming them, I give them 20 seconds to look at them.  At home, I cover the objects with a muslin, get him to close his eyes (no peeking!), and remove one object with the muslin, then ask: “what’s missing?”.  When I have revealed the object, I get him to show the baby so he can explore it with his fingers and mouth.

Learning taking place:
Toddler: speaking skills, memory skills, vocabulary, turn-taking
Baby: visual tracking, vocabulary, sensory awareness

Well, that’s the end of this list.  I am sure we will come up with more games as baby H gets older, and is able to access a wider variety of activities.   I hope some of these work for you too!

What games or activities do you use to entertain two under-threes? I would love to hear any new ideas.  In my book, there can never be too many ways to keep these two occupied! I love all the games on this list, and so do the boys, but it’s nice to try new things.  Post below in comments if you have any to share!

If you are new to the blog, and have a young baby, you might be interested in my post on low-prep games for babies under 1, using household objects here. or these four hide-and-seek games for babies.  If you are interested in the reasons play will benefit your child, check out this post too.  And if you  would like to build your baby’s fine motor skills, here is my list of fine motor activities using common toys and objects.

Have a fantastic week everyone 🙂

Marianne  x

21 Autumn Activities For Under 5s

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Who else just LOVES Autumn?  It’s always been my favourite season.  Not only does it bring with it the excitement and promise of a new school year (freshly sharpened pencils, newly laminated name tags above pegs and all those happy little faces ready to learn!); but it is also a lovely time to be outside – the air is cool and fresh, the trees and ground are colourful, and there are lots of treasures to be found for playing, counting, sorting, discussing, exploring and creating with.

Autumn Treats For You!

With New Person Day approaching, I have been getting together all my favourite Autumn activities on my Pinterest boards (scroll to the bottom of this post for the links), so that I have an instant treasure trove of activities to dip into once the baby is born.

I have also made this list to share with you. It includes my own ideas and some of other mum-bloggers (just click on the links to their sites to see full explanations). I’ve divided it into rough categories by age, so that you can just scroll down to the bits that apply to you. I hope you find it useful.  If you have any other brilliant ideas that you have tried at home I would love to hear of them and am sure other readers would too – just share in a comment b.

At 37 weeks pregnant, with backache, headaches and all sorts of other aches (!), I think this will have to be my last pre-baby post…I am not good at forcing myself to relax…but my body is telling me I need to now!  So I will have to tear myself away from the laptop keyboard and try and have some “Me Time”.  Wish me luck for the big day, and I will look forward to sharing some baby photos with you!!  For now, here is my list of activities:

19 Autumn Activities For Under 5s

BABIES (6-12M)

1 Make this simple Autumn Sensory Bin from Fantastic Fun and Learning

2 Collect acorns and pop them in a plastic bottle for a simple acorn rattle.  You might want to paint them with a mixture of paints and pva glue for a more colourful rattle.

3 Or  – add conkers, leaves and other autumnal treasures to make a sensory discovery bottle, like these Rainbow Sensory Play Bottles from My Little 3 And Me.  She doesn’t show an autumn bottle on her site, so you would need to use your imagination to create your own.  I just wanted you to see the bottles she makes, as they are really simple and attractive. I especially like the coloured ribbons she attaches to the lid – lovely!

4 Take photos of autumn leaves, trees, squirrels, pine cones and other seasonal things and create a simple Autumn Photo Book to share with your baby.  I would dearly love to do this, but with no time and no energy, I shall force myself to wait until next Autumn…ho-hum.  Let me know if you do one – would love to see it :-).

5 Does your baby enjoy tunnels?  Check out this fun and really simple Autumn Leaves Baby Game from Kids Activities Blog

TODDLERS (12-36M)

6 Collect a variety of autumn treasures on an autumn walk.  Make some home-made shakers (see above link) with your child, and encourage them to make their own creative choices about what to fill them with and how to decorate them.

7 Learn and Sing Some Autumn Songs, like these from Preschool Express, and accompany them with your shakers!

8 Get messy and creative, Painting With Sticks And Leaves (from Feels Like Home Blog)
9 Make some Autumnal Scented Play Dough

10 Try out some pine cone printing/rolling on a tray.  I couldn’t find an example of this online, but just grab some autumnal coloured paints (in separate plastic tubs from your recycling), some paper (cut to size), a baking tray and some pine cones.  Put the paper in the tray, put the pine cones into the paint trays, and let your little one explore!

11 Make some handprints with your toddler using autumnal-coloured paints, cut them out and attach them to a brown paper trunk for an arty autumn tree.  Or you could hole-punch them, thread string through and make an Autumn garland.

12 Make your own pictures together with this Apple Stamping Art Activity from Creative Family Fun.  Happy Hooligans also do this here.  You could use this to make homemade wrapping paper!

13 Go out for a woodland walk and collect treasures for an Autumn treasure basket. Take photos of the items in your collection and save on your phone for a mini slideshow matching game. Look at the picture, find the object (in the basket) to match!  We do this with lots of things already and T loves it!

PRE-SCHOOLERS (3-5 YRS)

14 Go on a Woodland Walk.  Collect leaves and other things. Create an Autumnal Nature Table at home to encourage scientific exploration, sorting/categorising and reading skills. This one here on the Imagination Tree is so easy to create but really inviting.

15 Go on a stick hunt as a family, with some googly eye stickers and make this seriously groovy Stick Family Tree! Wouldn’t this be fun to make? And what a talking point it would make displayed in the downstairs loo!  Thank you to Viki for sharing this on facebook :-).

16 Create a simple Sensory Invitation To Play, using a muffin tin and autumnal spices with this Sprinkles Painting Activity from Crayon Box Chronicles

17 Get into some good, old-fashioned leaf-printing (using a rolling pin!) – simple, easy to follow tutorial at Naturally Educational here:

18 Bring out the creativity in your child, with this Autumn Tree Art using egg cartons from Teach Preschool.  Genius idea, with lots of potential for different creative outcomes.

19 Make some beautiful seasonal coasters, soap trays or bowls like these from Red Ted Art by printing leaves in clay.

20 Set up an Autumn-Themed Train Track with this stunning Squirrel Train Small World Activity from Play Trains.  This does require a bit more prep than the others, and you would need to buy the squirrels and felt…but it is SO beautiful and inspiring I just had to share it.  It takes time and effort to create scenes like this that inspire creativity…but it’s so worth it, to see just how much learning goes on as a result of that thought and preparation :-). 

21 Read some Autumn Books together, to encourage discussion.  I found this brilliant list of books about Autumn Leaves on Clever Classroom Blog, which saved me the trouble of making one myself!  We will definitely be investing in a few of these over the years.

Every Child Is Unique

As I always say, young children cannot be fitted neatly into categories by age really, so the age categories above are merely a guide.  I know for a fact that my T would really dig the sensory bottles on the “baby” list, and the Autumn books and train track play on the “3-5” list.  I hope you and your little ones find some stuff here that you enjoy together.  If you do, feel free to share here or on my Facebook page, and do hit the like and share button at the bottom of this post to share with any parent friends you think may find it useful.

DON’T FORGET: check out the other goodies on my two Pinterest Boards: Arty Autumn Activities and Autumn Cooking Ideas For Kids.  I’ll keep adding to these so you are very welcome to follow the boards by clicking on the Follow (Pinterest) link on my homepage.

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Don’t be shy and consider leaving one here – you will make my day!

Happy Autumn Everyone!

Marianne x