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If you are looking for ideas how to help young children learn at home through play, scroll down! Or search using the tags.

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If you are looking for more general information about early child development and how to support this, then please use the menus above, or go to this link

These pages are created by people living and working in the Highlands of Scotland, but everyone is welcome to use them. You can find out more about us using the About menu

Playing and talking together, having fun, a listening ear and loving kindness – that’s all our young children need from us to learn and develop right now.

Feed the birds!

The weather may have got a bit warmer, but there are lots of hungry birds around

So today’s idea is all about learning about caring for nature – and also a lot of planning and construction skills along the way

There is something about feed birds that makes us feel good too, so once the hard work is done, you can sit and watch the birds come and go.

Don’t worry if your child is not that interested making the feeder (though they may well want to help) – you might have more fun taking bread to ducks, or just putting out some crumbs.

Wiggly Woo!

A chance to get wiggling at the same time as learning all about words and sounds

Lots to explore too – can you find a worm (be gentle if you do)? Where do different animals like to live?

You can draw wiggly worms (really good outside with chalk or on sand or mud with a stick) or make some out of play dough

If you don’t know the tune or words, they are all on the sheet, with some fun videos too.

If the links on the pdf don’t work, then they are here:

BBC cartoon version

Mr Tumble with signing

Making tracks

Something today that you can do indoors or outside and can be done big or small depending on how much space you have to play with

If you’ve got some snowy slush or melty mud outside today, this is a great way to make it useful – or you could make some stepping stones across puddles

Making and then following tracks is a great way to build spatial awareness, and to learn the words and language connected with it.

There are lots of ways to do this – painting with cars on paper, making stepping stones outside – or just watching as a bike swooshes through a puddle

Pancake Day!

Even if we want to, we can’t spend the whole day eating pancakes – I know, I’ve tried!

There is lots of play, talking and fun we can have around pancakes though – planning, shopping, making, making some more …

So today we have some pancake-themed ideas including a couple of lovely stories to help calm everything down.

Walk with your ears!

There are all kinds of things we love to do outside – walking, jumping, running around. But how often do we walk with our ears?

And sometimes we don’t have time for those things, because we have to get to the shops, or are running to get out of the rain!

There is so much going on to notice and learn from, and it takes no more time than what we were doing anyway.

Cutlery Clattering

Who would have thought there was play and learning to find in a cutlery drawer?

First of all, there is curiosity to develop – many children love to have a nose around in a drawer

Then there is classifying, describing shapes, learning to be safe with sharp things, how to wash dishes (that’s a useful skill …)

All by helping you with a boring chore – do it for as long as you or your child is interested

Sing a rainbow

Looking out the window, I have freezing fog right now, so I thought a bit of colour might be nice today!

Rainbows are even more special right now as a sign of hope and the love and care we have for each other

The great thing is, even if there isn’t one in the sky – you can sing your own!

Today we have a lovely song that helps your child learn about colours and rhythms. But it is also a really comforting one to sing or dance to together

Lots of play ideas for drawing and for finding out too. If you’ve still got some snow, then you might enjoy making some Rainbow Snow

Scottish Book Trust have done a nice version with Makaton on this link

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Oh no, George!

We all get things wrong sometimes, so today we have a story about a dog who really tries his best

But it just does not go his way. Cakes are so tasty, and mud such fun to dig!

It’s a lovely story to read along with your child and enjoy

While you do this, they will be learning words, how stories work, how to make predictions (science!) and how to have fun by sharing experiences

And you can have some interesting chats about when we are naughty and it is OK to do our best even if we get things wrong sometimes. (Clue – yes, it is)

Or if you just want the story, it is here, with thanks to the Book Trust

Bouncing balls

Something active for what looks like another cold day.

This is not “just” bouncing and passing balls. Your child will learn a lot of science and maths – counting, how things move, forces.

Lots of words as well for describing movements, as they also develop their coordination skills. Great for sports, but also for school – hand/eye coordination is really important for writing, and a sense of space is vital for maths

But that’s for the future – click below for some ideas how to have fun, involve the whole family and learn at the same time. And if you still have a lot of snow about, then making and throwing snowballs is just as good

Jumping Words!

What has jumping got to do with learning to read and spell? Good question!

If you have ever been abroad or heard a foreign language being spoken, it can be difficult to pick out the individual words

It’s like that for young children – they don’t always know consciously where one word ends and another starts. And this is really important for later literacy

Sounds boring? Nothing to do with play?

Today our Speech and Language Therapy colleagues have come up with a great set of games for learning about word boundaries. Once you get going, be warned, your child may not want to stop!

If your child does not get the idea, or does not enjoy it – never mind. Cuddle up and read a favourite story instead, it is just as good!

Fun in the snow!

You can never have too much fun in the snow, and the learning never stops either while you play and talk together

Today, many of us have lots of snow around, so some sledging is great to learning about balance, speed, slipperiness – and the words to describe them

For those who like building, there are some ideas for snow castles – whole snow villages, why not?

Or for the artistic, some ideas for creating beautiful sculptures and patterns with things you can find around outside

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Old MacDonald

You might be an opera singer or an undiscovered Rod Stewart, or have a voice like a rusty door – your child will still love to sing with you!

Rhymes and songs are great for learning. They make us feel good and forget our worries for a bit. But also, they help children understand about patterns, words and sounds

Every story has a pattern to it, so you will be preparing your child for a lifetime of successful reading and writing. As well as having a laugh and some fun

Not sure of the tune or the words? Click here for a funny version by the BBC

Don’t like farm animals? Pick any – the more the better!

Awful Orchestra

You don’t need expensive equipment to make music. Any household object has a playful tune in it if only we look or listen hard enough.

Music can express our deepest feelings and draw us together as families and communities

It is also an excuse to make a racket and have fun!

Today’s idea is all about children playing with rhythm and different sounds. Without even realising, this will develop their coordination and attention skills

It is also a great way to feel close, take turns and enjoy being together

Almost anything can be a musical instrument – some ideas in the sheet below. Make sure you keep an eye on your child so they are playing safely!

Copy Cats!

Children learn a lot from copying us – more than we think, and sometimes more than we’d like them to!

A very simple game today. All you do is some simple actions, say what you are doing, and see if your child or children can copy you.

It may not sound much, but it is great for building a bond, developing attention and growing your child’s vocabulary. And they are also developing executive function – the ability to choose and control actions

This is a good game to play on video calls with anyone your child is missing – grandparents, a brother or sister or a parent who is away.


Safety note: make sure you avoid actions that involve touching the face so we all follow the current public health guidance

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Laundry learning?

Did you know that helping you sort the clean clothes can be good for your child’s maths?  Or that it helps them learn how to concentrate or learn new words?

This idea is all about how to turn a bothersome daily chore into something you might enjoy together

As with everything, don’t feel you have to, and don’t force your child.  Stop when you’ve both had enough!