Rainbow I Spy Game (and 4 other simple ways to explore rainbow colours)

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Our “theme” this week is Rainbows.  Not because I want it to be, but because, thanks to an episode of Peppa Pig, T has discovered them.  He has always shown an interest in colours, and also in ordering and sorting things, so a rainbow (7 colours in a particular order) is a truly magical concept for him.  He just hasn’t stopped talking about them over the last few weeks. So, of course, I have jumped at the chance to explore them with him.  Here are the ways we have explored rainbows together:

1  Watercolour Painting

The first thing we did was to paint a rainbow. I drew the outline and then he used his watercolours to paint inside the lines. I love to see his free-flow drawings, but I thought it would be nice for him to get the idea of drawing an arc.  We did one arc at a time. I tried to get him to tell me which colour came next in the series.

I deliberately used a paint palette which didn’t have all the colours in.  Then, when we came across a colour we didn’t have in our palette, I showed him how to mix it. For T, THIS was the truly exciting part.  He couldn’t believe his eyes when blue and yellow turned into green, and red and blue into purple!  He started shouting out colours that he wanted to mix!   We put the rainbow up on our Arty Window. That day, whenever he passed it, he kept pointing to the painting and reciting the colours in order – it was lovely to watch!

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When Daddy got back home, he couldn’t wait to tell him how he mixed the colours.  And whenever either of us asked him about his rainbow picture or about rainbows in general, he would get his fingers out, and say the colours in order!  I wish I could show you just how inspired he is about rainbows – it really is a delight to see!

2  Colour-mixing (Finger Painting)

So, the next day, we just got some paints out and mixed them with our fingers. This is T’s favourite sort of painting – Messy Finger Painting!

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3  Balloon Painting

Then, while I was searching for some super-glue in our man-drawer, I came across some balloons, so we decided to try some colour-mixing with balloons. I taped some paper to his table, and blew up a balloon a little.  Then I put out a paper plate,T chose the colours of paint he wanted on it, and we dipped and splatted!

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He had enormous fun splatting the balloons on the paper, and talking about the colours he could see. I have never tried this activity but I really recommend it – it’s easy to set up, so much fun, and the results look pretty cool too.

4  A Rainbow Picnic

The other day we decided to have a picnic with some friends in the park.  I asked T what fruits he would like to get from the greengrocers for our picnic.  He started to talk about the colours of fruits he would like.  So it seemed logical to suggest we get a “rainbow of fruit”.  Our friends already had tomatoes and cucumbers so we talked about how we needed orange, yellow, blue and violet/purple to make the rainbow compete.  When we went in, T was so excited and ran to all the different fruits.

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After we had chosen them, he told me that we still needed to get something red and green to complete the rainbow.  I didn’t have the heart to stop him as he was enjoying the experience so much!  So I let him choose an avocado and some strawberries.  Here we are arranging our fruit rainbow on our paper plate.  (Note the orange is not there as it got used as a football – silly mummy forgot to bring the real one!).

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5  Rainbow I Spy

Not long after the picnic, we were walking into town, playing our favourite game: “I spy” (with colours instead of sounds).   It suddenly occurred to me we could try playing with the rainbow colours in order.  When I suggested this, T shouted “yes!” so loudly that he startled an old lady walking by!

So off we went, happily spotting things that were red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.  You can see the items he spotted in the photos at the top of this post.  What I like about this game is, not only is he reinforcing his knowledge of colours and learning the sequence of colours in the rainbow, but it is FREE and we can play it anywhere.  I’m going to try and keep this one up my sleeve for when we are standing in a queue or waiting in a traffic jam or doctor’s surgery :-).

What next?

After this, I wasn’t quite sure where to take the learning. It isn’t easy to come up with loads of ideas on the spot, when you spend your days rushing around completing chores and doing all the practical things you need to do as a mum. When I was teaching, I had HOURS to spend coming up with fun ideas to use with the kids. But now, I just don’t have this amount of time. We do come up with the odd fun idea that has been inspired by T or that I recall from my teaching days. But it is hard to keep things fresh, when you are juggling chores, weaning and toddler negotiations.

This is where the Hands On As We Grow Ebook ‘Play’ I have been using has proved invaluable.  It contains a bank of activities to dip into: fun ways to get two year olds moving, working on fine motor skills, doing arts and crafts projects and having fun as a family.  Each weekly plan includes a handy supply list and a “bank” of activities, written out clearly and simply so they are easy to follow.

How I used the Weekly Activity Planner to Plan Around A Rainbow Theme:

After our first week of exploring rainbows, T remained very excited about them and was still talking about them. So, after dinner last Sunday, I grabbed my Go To List from the e-book and wrote up my Rainbow Plan for the week, using the simple planner template inside.  After about TWELVE MINUTES of browsing (yes, I timed it!), I found five really fun ideas to use. Some I found I could just use as they were, others I decided to adapt very slightly to suit T and my Rainbow theme.

Jamie suggests using a different focus for the play on each day, for example, sensory play one day, fine motor play the next (although of course you don’t have to). I like this idea, as it helps me to narrow down the activities (which saves time) and it feels good to be providing a balanced range of activities.  So I just picked one activity from each section in the bank.  But you wouldn’t have to do it like me.

My T is constantly developing new interests and skills, so any planner I use *absolutely has to* allow for changes and adaptations. This is the brilliant thing about the Activity Bank and Planning Template – it is SIMPLE and FLEXIBLE.

I am looking forward to trying all of the simple, fun ideas we have planned in my Week Of Rainbows, and sharing them with you. Watch out for my posts on each activity which I will aim to post within the next two weeks.

I cannot emphasise enough how easy it was for me to write the plans up, using the Go To List.  If you think you are (like me):

a –  extremely busy with little ones so very short on time

b – keen to keep your bright sparks stimulated by following their interests and trying new things

c – want to make the most of the precious time you have with them

Then I heartily recommend getting your hands on one of these e-books, by clicking here.  You will not regret it.

I must go now – I have some playing to do!

Until my next post, here is one more way T has chosen to explore rainbows on his own:

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Children are full of surprises, aren’t they?

See you all soon,

Marianne x

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

Toddler Vehicle Play #2: Montessori-inspired Toy Car Wash

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I thought I’d post this one next, as its a fun way to clear up after your messy tyre track printing activity :-). It’s really easy, you could all set it up in around 10 -20 mins with things you have around the house, and there is lots of learning potential and fun to be had!

What You Will Need:

Toy Cars or other vehicles
2 water trays/washing up bowls/tubs of similar size
Baby bubble bath
Water
Sponges cut into smaller pieces
Nailbrush
Cut up towel/flannel (I used some old Cheeky Wipes which are essentially flannels)
Apron if it’s cold outside but the water is not dirty so if it’s warm, they’ll enjoy getting wet and dry out quickly!

Instructions:

1. Fill one tray with bubbly water, and one with plain water.
2. Provide your toddler with cars and sponges and get washing! I got involved too, so that I could model how to rub the cars with the sponges, or scrub them with a nailbrush to clean them.
3. Show her how to dip the cars into the second tray to rinse them, then place on the side ready for drying (I didn’t manage to get a good photo of our rinse tray but it was just a tray full of non-soapy water.
4. Once they are all washed and rinsed, get out the towels and rub them dry!

T absolutely loved this and I actually found it quite cute how attentive he was with his tiny little sponges and towels, and how serious he looked :-).

After drying the cars, we had a chat about floating and sinking and tried to get the cars to float by putting them in the plastic tub!

What Your Child is Learning:

fine motor skills (rubbing and scrubbing the cars)
understanding of properties of water (watching drips from cars, noticing which cars sink and float)
practical life skill (washing/cleaning and drying)
vocabulary (as you describe and talk about what you are doing together)
self-esteem and confidence (from learning how to do something new by themselves)

A Little Word About Montessori

I’ve called this activity Montessori-inspired for 3 reasons:

  • it encourages an understanding of the order of things (wash, rinse, dry)
  • it gives the child the chance to learn a Practical Life skill
  • it teaches the child to do things from left to right (this is something that all Montessori activities reinforces as this is the direction we read in).

I am not a trained Montessori practitioner, but I did work in a nursery with a Montessori-based curriculum, and picked up a lot while I was there. Our nursery followed the national curriculum but also provided daily free-play Montessori activities.  If you are interested in the Montessori method of teaching, check out this amazing, inspiring website and just have a good old browse. It’s not for everyone, but I personally like the way there is always a purpose to a Montessori activity as I think children are more motivated to complete something if there is a goal to achieve.

If you found this post useful, please do pin, tweet, share or comment below.

Thanks for reading everyone! Look out for my next vehicle-themed post.  It will be up in the next day or so, as long as I am on top of the housework :-/. Haha yeah right.

15 Fun Ways To Play on a Rainy Day!

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Boy is it WET outside today. But every rainy day is an opportunity for fun, play and learning in my book! I found myself trying to come up with a quick list of ideas for activities for T and then I thought I may as well share them with you! So here is a super-quick post of indoor and outdoor rainy day activities that I have literally written over breakfast (so sorry for lack of photos and shoddy punctuation – will tidy up later!) . Hope you find it useful :-).

1. Make some playdough! Recipe here: http://www.k-3teacherresources.com/play-dough-recipe.html

2. Get out some paints and paper and have fun getting messy! Splatter painting makes great “rainy” pictures (flicking paint-filled brushes with fingers). Athough this may be best done outside!

3. Take rubber ducks and boats to the park and float in puddles 🙂

4. OR (for older kids) make some boats and float. Foil makes great instant boats. Otherwise, plastic tubs from the recycling box. Supply older kids with a range of materials to make their boats.
Go outside with your boats and some little plastic people/animals and test them for a simple scientific experiment. Which floats the best? Why? Which holds the most animals? (If you have the book Mr Gumpy’s Outing, this is a great one to read before you go out!)

5. Get your wellies on, go on a Puddle Hunt and have a good old splash in some puddles!

6. Raid the recycling box and larder and make some simple shakers out of plastic bottles and pasta/rice

7. Sing some favourite songs with your homemade instruments

8. OR try YouTube for some new songs. We like Barefoot Books Songs (type into youtube) – they are great for actions and getting some of that energy out!

9. Make an obstacle course inside using cushions, boxes, tables, blankets. Combinations of Cushions and plastic boxes make great ramps, stepping stones and balance beams. Tables and blankets or blankets over the back of a sofa make great tunnels :-).

10. Read a book about minibeasts or look at some on google images together. Go outside on a minibeast hunt and take photos with your phone. Come back inside and talk about what you found. For older kids – draw pictures of them and label. Or make a paper plate minibeast (ladybirds, snails and spider paper plate crafts can all be found on the internet easily) using paints/collage pieces.
For toddlers, have them find the minibeasts in the photos on google images or in your mini-beasts book!

11. Duplo/Lego: give them an age appropriate challenge (build a tower of 3 bricks, build a dinosaur/fighter jet/number 6)

12. Get out the puzzle box and reward with stickers/treats/marbles towards a treat for completed puzzles!

13. Get out some clothes for your toddler to dress up in. Hats, scarves , glasses and shoes are the most fun. Then get out the camera and get some snaps to save for their wedding day speech!

14. Go to the library and find some information books or stories about wet weather. take home, snuggle up in your cosy book corner (or build a den and read together!

15. Easy messy play: grab a large baking or serving tray. Pour some flour (or corn-flour and water to make GLOOP!) in and let them play. Add cars little people or cutlery and let them explore.

Right, must go and grab my wellies…we are gonna go for number 3, 5 and 14.
Woohoo!
If you have any questions, just comment here – wrote in a rush so maybe haven’t been very clear.
Have a fun day everyone!

Marianne