Thursday, 29 November 2012

Magnetic Fridge Maths

I spend quite alot of my time in the kitchen doing various Mummy tasks.
Miss M is great at helping me and she often likes to be involved in cooking, preparing lunches and snacks, helping clean up dishes and putting them away etc etc.

However there are times when she wants to be near me but she won't be encourage to 'help'. I found myself turning to the TV as a babysitter more and more to get me through preparing and cooking meals. Then one day she was given some magnetic alphabet toys for the fridge which were brilliant for these times. But quickly these became 'boring' as toys often do at this age. I was reminded that I had quite a few resources I had made from my 'teaching' days that would be great as fridge games!

Having fun activities on the fridge that she can interact with
has been the perfect solution for us! 
Not only is it fun and keeps her entertained she is also learning while she is playing... and she is close to me.

I will share with you some of the simple magnetic games I have made.
I will focus on the mathematical concepts children will be developing although most are integrated with other areas such as language.

Ages: These games can be simplified or extended to suit all ages from 1-5. Miss M enjoyed some of these games from as early as 14months.

 All you need to make some simple magnetic games is,

a roll of magnetic tape (bought at Spotlight)
some coloured card/ felt /foam
Optional: laminator

1. Apple Tree

To prepare I simple printed off some apples onto red card and laminated them. I cut out a tree shaped from card and stuck some magnetic tape on the back of them all. The apples have ties as we use them for lots of different type games. Hopefully one day I'll
 get time to share.

You'll need to have some number cards. You can easily make some by writing numbers on card and cutting them out. Use numbers that are within your child's capabilities. Start with 1-5 and progress to 10. You want to provide a stimulating challenge for your little one as well as giving them the opportunity to succeed.
Your child adds how many apples the card says to the tree by counting. Use pictures on your cards as extra support if needed.

Your Child is Learning
  • Number recognition
  • Counting
  • One to one correspondence (count just once for each number)
  • Developing an understanding that the last number said tells you 'how many'.

Mr Brown's Magnificent Apple Tree is also brilliant and you can use your apple tree to act out the story and represent the mathematical concepts within the book!

The apples are laminated which means I am able to write on them with whiteboard marker and rub it off as much as I like. Recently, Miss M has used the apples to make number lines, consolidating her recognition of numbers into the teens and twenties.

You could simplify or extend this to suit the ability of your children.

2. Five Little Ducks

5 little ducks went out one day,
over the hill and far away.
Mother duck says quack quack quack
but only 4 little ducks came back.

Repeat verse until 'no little ducks came back then sing

Mother duck went out one day,
over the hill and far away.
Mother duck said quack quack quack
and all 5 little ducks came back.

 To prepare I simply printed some duck templates onto yellow card and drew a hill on green card. I cut them out, laminated them for extra durability and added a strip of magnetic tape to the back.

Your child is Learning:
Teach children the song if they aren't familiar with it. Young children will delight in simply acting out the song with the figures.
  • Counting to 5.
  • Knowing the last number tells us 'how many'.
  • Visually seeing what 5 looks like and what happens when only 4 come back and 1 is left behind 4+1=5. How this is represented visually. This continues throughout the song.
  • They will be investigating how many ways they can make 5.
  • Understanding that no matter how the ducks are arranged there is always 5 'little ducks' altogether.
  • Even if your child does not sing the song with these resources they still encourage mathematical thinking and skills. Counting the ducks, big and small, prepositions such as over, under, next to, on top.
  • Using and understanding new vocabulary: plus, add, equals and how many.
  • With older children you can show them how to represent the story with numbers and symbols. 4+1+=5 They could practise writing these sums.


3. The Bears Went Over the Mountain

The bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain,
the bear went over the mountain to see what it could see.
And all that it could see, and all that it could see,
was the other side of the mountain, the other side of the mountain,
 the other side of the mountain, was all that it could see.

Your child is Learning:
Teach children the song if they aren't familiar with it. Young children will delight in simply acting out the song with the figures.

The mathematical concepts are similar to the 5 little ducks except I have extended it by including 10 bears, this involves more counting.
  • Counting to 10.
  • Knowing the last number tells us 'how many'.
  • They will be investigating how many ways they can make 10.
  • Understanding that no matter how the bears are arranged there is always 10 altogether.
  • Even if your child does not sing the song with these resources they still encourage mathematical thinking and skills. Counting the bears and prepositions such as over, under, next to, on top.
  • Using and understanding new vocabulary: plus, add, equals and how many.
  • With older children you can show them how to represent the story with numbers and symbols. 8+2=10 They could practise writing these sums.

4. Five Speckled Frogs

Five little speckled frogs sat on a speckled log
eating some most delicious bugs, yum yum!
One jumped into the pool, where it was nice and cool,
now there are 4 speckled frogs.

Keep going till all the frogs are in the pool

I apologise for the orientation of this pic

Your child is Learning:
Teach children the song if they aren't familiar with it. Young children will delight in simply acting out the song with the figures.

Unlike the last two games that focused on addition, this one focuses on subtraction or take away.
  • Using and understanding new vocabulary such as less, take one away, how many.
  • Actively being involved hands on with the skill of subtraction.

5. Patterning Match- Up

Patterning is a fundamental mathematical concept.
Only try this one if your child is able to tell you what comes next in a simple pattern.
One of the earliest patterning games to play with babies and young children, is singing songs with patterns in them such as head, shoulders knees and toes. Also try making patterns with bottle tops from milk and juice bottles, threading necklaces with coloured pasta and making patterns with your body such as clap, jump, clap, jump etc. If your child is very good at knowing what comes next in a pattern then they may be ready for this simple fridge matching game.

I made some strips with simple patterns using coloured dots...

...and shapes. I honestly made these up very quickly and you could spend more time and make some really lovely ones.
I'm planning a little activity with Miss M that involves her making her own patterns using a variety of items. She's already made patterns from pebbles, popsticks and bottles tops so this has prompted me write a post on it, which I will!.

Your child's task is to match up the end of the pattern strip to it's correct strip. This can be quite tricky especially if pieces are upside down.

6. Puzzles

This is another one I quickly put together. I apologise, I cannot remember where I sourced these images from, I just had them in my collection of resources.
I am sure that you could make something similar way better than these.
In fact I plan to do just that.
I think the imagine is fairly self explanatory and I'm sure you could use any simple image to create a puzzle.
You don't even need to cut it horizontally like these but could try more abstract ways.

I simply store all these magnetic games in a basket on top of my fridge. Many more will be added over time I am sure!

I would love to hear about any magnetic games your children enjoy so please feel free to share! I have many more language and literacy focused ideas also


Play and Learn


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Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Foorprint Reindeer ~ Christmas Wrapping Paper

This has to be the cutest idea for making your own wrapping paper and it was honestly super easy to do!!

It suits absolutely all ages from tiny newborns to big kids and even adults.
It's easy and quick to make quite a bit of wrapping paper so you'll have those presents wrapped in no time!!

You will need

long strip of paper- I used about 1.5 metres
cut off from a roll of easel paper purchased at Ikea.

Paint of whatever colours you like.
Miss selected her choice of 'Christmas colours'
which included red, green and of course pink!

Trays for the paint, big enough for your child/ren to step in.

A tub or bucket with warm soapy water for washing feet

A towel for drying feet/ optional

It was a windy day so we needed some brick pavers to hold everything down but it's a good idea anyway to place something on the strip of paper so it stays put tight as your children walk along it.

As an Early Childhood teacher I have done quite a bit of footprint art and this is the best way I have found to set it up.

Children who are walking can easily step into a tray of paint then step onto the paper and walk along it to the other side where they then step into the tub of water to clean their feet before coming back for another colour. Of course they don't have to wash their feet if your, you could make some gorgeous two toned reindeer's.

If you wanted your reindeer's facing both ways they could step into the paint and walk back.

Make sure that your strip of paper isn't too long that the paint wears of before they get to the end. 1.5metres is good.

You can easily do this with non walking children and babies also.
My 11 month old giggled the whole time as I held him as he stepped into the paint and I took prints off his feet.

I wasn't able to get a photo of the H man making his prints as you can imagine, however you can see his little footprints next to his sisters.

We had soooo much fun doing this that we made about 6metres of wrapping paper!
I just kept adding another strip from the roll!
Miss M did not want to stop but hey, now I have enough wrapping gorgeous wrapping paper to well and truly last.

Some might even get framed I think!!!

I think just like this is pretty cute and any relative would love to get a gift wrapped with these precious footprints.

You could also do hands prints!

To turn those precious footprints into reindeer's simply draw with black marker some eyes and antlers. We added sticky dots as the nose.

Personally I think this would even look better if your little one drew the antlers and the eyes. There's nothing quite like a child's representation. Miss M was happy enough sticking on her sticky dots as noses!

Of course she wanted to go swimming in the tub didn't she!
Filled it up with fresh water and there went another hour for one very happy and busy little girl!

I hope you enjoy,

Play and Learn


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Monday, 26 November 2012

Magical Ice Painting ~ Christmas wrapping paper

Miss M loves Ice Painting and we have done it a variety of different ways such as using it to experiment with colour mixing, hiding objects in the ice to find as the ice melts and just plain painting with Ice for fun.

Regardless of how you choose to paint with ice your child will be experiencing their sense of touch as they respond to coldness of the ice. They will be investigating about solids and liquids as they see the liquid turn solid as ice when made very cold in the freezer, then be amazed as it turns back into liquid as it melts with their warm touch. They will be using their creativity and knowledge of shape, colour and lines as they use the ice to paint.

I wanted to use the ice painting as Christmas Wrapping paper so we added a little bit of magic!!

This activity was brilliantly timed thanks to Mother Nature.
On the Friday we put our ice trays filled with magical water into the freezer to turn to ice thinking we may get to paint with it over the weekend.

On Saturday afternoon we had a huge hail storm where ice literally fell from the sky!
Here is one of our downpipes.

We collected some of the hail to keep as ice in the freezer and watched as the rest of the hail melted away in the humid November weather.

Miss M was very happy the hail she collected.
She was not so happy with the very loud sound it made on our patio roof as it came down! Hail can be noisy!!

Here is one of the ice block trays we made to use.
I found this tray at Ikea a number of years ago and it has been well used as painting ice in my classroom and at home!

We choose 3 colours, red, green and yellow and we added glitter to the water. To make the coloured water we just added a few drops of food colouring. You want it quite dark so that it shows up brightly on the paper.
When you do this you will see that the glitter floats to the top, which is great as it looks impressive for little eyes!

We also made a smaller tray of ice blocks and I added a magical surprise inside some of them. I didn't do all of them as I planned on letting my 11month old do some ice painting also and these would pose a choking hazard for him.

Our Ice blocks ready to go!
The long stick ice blocks are fantastic for little hands and make drawing shapes, lines and writing with the ice lots of fun!

We did this outside and it was a little windy, hence the brick pavers used to hold everything down.

H man did pick up an ice block but I was not quick enough to get a photo before he decided, nah I don't want to do this...

...I'd rather play with the ball. Which was fine.
If your child has other ideas go with it, it's no fun for anyone otherwise. They may decide to come back to the task or not but for H man he wanted to play ball instead.
If your baby does want to paint however, always supervise carefully.

Miss M making swirly whirly patterns with the ice!

The glitter came off the ice and onto the paper really well.
I was soooo impressed with it!!

Older children could write or draw Christmas themed shapes.
If you weren't making Christmas wrapping paper you could use ice painting for
  • letter writing practise
  • number writing practice
  • name writing practise
  • shape drawing practise
  • Investigating colour mixing
Remember to
  • Talk with your child about what they are doing, seeing, feeling. Give them words for their actions.
  • Ask questions about what they are doing, seeing, feeling. Ask them what is happening to the ice.
  • Ask them to tell you about what they are doing.
  • Get them to tell you about their picture.
  • Make it real and meaningful for them, tell them for example "We are going to use this art that you create to wrap up Nana's Christmas present".
  • Relate it and link it back to real life experiences, "Remember when it hailed? Can you remember what hail is? What happened to the hail? That's what's happening to our ice.

As he played with the ball we left H man's ice to melt as it was.
Looks pretty effective also!

Wow look at that melted magical ice!

Grab some paint brushes and paint with it.
That's what we did!!!

Playing with coloured ice can make little hands a bit messy.
The food colouring does stain the skin but rest assured it comes off after a couple good hand washes with soap.

The experience is definitely worth it!!

Miss M was asking for more magical ice so I can see that we will be doing this one again very soon. Luckily it was so very simple.

It's a great activity for a warm day and you may even get some beautiful Christmas Wrapping paper to wrap up something special!

Stay tuned for more Home Made Christmas Wrapping Paper when I finish my post on Christmas Wrapping Paper 6 ways!


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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Funny Bodies ~ Puzzles and Oral Language

This little task is alot of fun and inspires so much creativity.
Children of different ages will benefit differently from this easy to prepare activity.
Younger children aged 2-4yrs can consolidate their knowledge of body parts. They will also be problem solving as they put the pieces together to make a person. They will also use their creativity to create a person.
Older children 4+yrs can utilise their creativity by making funny, unique, different body creations. Giving them names, personalities, stories and making family members. They can use their body creations as characters in narratives, either orally or written.
Often these characters are wonderful inspiration for storytelling and learning about characterisation.
All you need is some catalogues and magazines.
Clothing catalogues are good as long as they represent
a variety of ages, body sizes, races and both genders.
Cut out body parts from the magazine. Some pictures will be good for heads,
some are good for legs etc. Rarely do I find a picture that can be used for the whole body. Try to get a range of different poses, sizes, ages, races and a mix of genders.
Depending on the age of your children, cut out the bodies into more or less pieces (lol that sounds so wrong to type). For example, Miss M is just turned 3 so I kept it to 3 distinct body areas for our first time at this, being heads, bodies and arms and legs and feet.
You could cut the arms off the bodies and the feet off the legs etc so that there are more pieces to put together.
Older children with well developed cutting skills can do this themselves once shown.
It was really interesting watching Miss M do this.
She actually wanted to find the exact matching pieces for the bodies, so she choose bodies and heads she believed to match. With each person she started with the legs. She would pic up heads and say "that's not right" "no not that one" "ah that one matches".
She did the lady on the left first, then the girl on the right before finishing with the one in the middle. When picking the head for this one she saw the baby head with the moustache and laughed "that's a funny one", she was getting that these were
funny bodies.
It was interesting that she made a representation of our family, minus the H man.
I was not so impressed with my representation being much larger, what was she hinting at here lol!!
She created this picture all by herself and had no trouble working out where the pieces needed to go. Next time I'll make it a little trickier with more body parts.
I'm looking forward to doing this one again with her.
This was always a favourite lesson in my classroom when learning about characterisation. The children would create the most fantastic funny bodies!
Play and Learn
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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

What's in the bag? Investigate touch

Miss M has been very interested in investigating her senses lately.
Through investigating her senses she is becoming more self aware of her own body as well as the world around her.
In this post I share how we investigated our sense of touch.
I have a wonderful surprise box that I use in my classroom and my 4 and 5yrolds love it!
At just 3, Miss M was not so keen to put her hand in this one.
Her sense of real and imaginery is not as well developed just yet.
I also have a wonderful surprise bag, but it was too big for what I had planned.
We used simple paper bags bought at the supermarket.
These bags can be reused for a number of art ideas.
I numbered the bags 1-5 so Miss M could choose and name which bag she wanted to investigate first!
Choose items of different textures, sizes and shapes from around the house to put inside each bag.
Ideas Include: loofah, sponge, scourer, rice, pebbles, brick, utensils, soap, soft toys, pegs. You can put wet items like slime, water, goop in small bowls inside the bags. The ideas are endless just make sure you have a variety of textures for your child to touch and explore.
The temptation to peek first is common.
Explain that they are going to use only their sense of touch to guess
what the object in the bag is. We aren't going to use our eyes to see,
but we are going to use our hands to touch.
Reassure your child that it is safe for them to put their hands
inside if they seem hesitant.
Have them predict what they think they might feel inside to prepare
them for the experience.

Hmmm what could it be?
Your child may want to whip the item out straight away.
Remind them that we are keeping it inside the bag so that we only use our hands to touch and not our eyes to see.
Ask them about what they can feel, don't just get them to guess.
Is it hard, soft? Wet or dry? Rough or smooth? What shape is it?
Can you feel any parts or pieces?
Ask older children to describe the object they are touching.
This activity couldn't be simpler, how bout giving it a try!
You can do it again and again with different objects.
Fantastic for developing Descriptive Language
A little extra~
  • When exploring touch I like to go outside. There are so many sensations and opportunities to experience touch. Children can feel the wind on their skin and in their hair. Touch grass, plants (as long as they are safe), trees, bark, paving, water etc.
  • Hands on Sensory experiences are great like this one ,

  • Younger children and babies will love this,

Baby treasure box
Always supervise babies when they are playing.
I hope you enjoy exploring the sense of touch with your little ones.
Play and Learn,
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Sunday, 18 November 2012

Music and Movement~ Playing with scarves

Playing with scarves is such a wonderful sensory activity for babies and children alike.
When scarves are moving to music the baby or childs sense of sight is stimulated by tracking the bright colours with their eyes. The auditory sense is stimulated by listening to the music and the sense of touch is stimulated by the feel of the scarf on their skin.
They are also learning about object permance and developing motor skills.
Suitable ages: 0+
The best thing about scarf play is that it is so simple.
Most of us will have some scarves that could be used.
You can use sheer fabrics or solid. Any pieces of light material will do.

1. Play Parachute

Lay your baby down in a comfy position.
Put on some calming music.
Wave the scarf above your baby so that it is floating up and down.
Your baby may reach up and try touch the scarf!
Let the scarf drop so it floats down onto your baby.
What a magical sensation for your little one!

2. Play peek-a-boo

Peek-a-boo games are great for developing object permanance.
Object permanance is the knowledge that objects still exist even when they can't be seen. This skill is essential to cognitive development since only after a baby can imagine an unseen object can they remember, reason and plan.
See through scarves are great to use for introducing this game. Move onto more solid materials as your child becomes familiar with the game.
Read about another peek-a-boo game here hide-n-seekin fun
Be sure to put the scarf on yourself as well as soft toys and other objects!

3. Scarf in a tub

6months +
Simple and easy to make. Any container with an opening will do, tissue boxes are brillant.
Hide the scarves inside and let you little one have a great time pulling them out!
Better than pulling out the tissues lol!

4. Dancing

If your baby is not yet walking, simply put on some of your favourite (child appropriate) music, hold your baby in one arm and a scarf in the other and dance around to the music together.
Or, lay your baby down and dance the scarf around to the music for your baby to track with their eyes.
12months +
For older children let them explore the rhythm of music by dancing
free style with the scarf.
Let them experiment with how many ways they can move their scarf.
Can you make it go up and down, sideways, around and around?
Can you make the scarf dance on the floor or wave it high in the air?
Move your scarf like a rainbow.
Move your scarf slowly when the music is slow and quickly when the music is fast.
Throw your scarf up in the air then catch it.
Weeve the scarf through your legs.
The opportunities are endless!
How do you like to play and learn with scarves? Please share your ideas here.
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