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Ally Bally

On Thursdays, we usually have a rhyme and it is a lovely Scots one today

Not everyone will know the tune or the words, so the sheet includes a link to a video – you can sing along with your child until you get confident

It is fun to sing, and bounce to, and there is a lots of learning about sounds and about money

As well as a chance to have fun with the words and exploring the culture and history around them if your child is interested

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My own space

Some mornings we just want to hide under the bedclothes, and it is no different for children

Building a den, or a fort, or a spaceship to be in can be a great help if children are worried or stressed.

And anyway, it is a fun way to develop planning and action skills, and end up with a place where it is nice to be cosy and have stories or play

It can be inside or outside, big or small. Your child might want to make it themselves, or for you to help (or do most of the work …). You might help them find materials like boxes, sheets, branches, etc

And think how to decorate it and make it a good place to be. Older children can help too to make it a family space, or everyone might want their own.


This kind of space can be very helpful for children who have sensory issues or who get over-stressed quite easily. Click here for some more ideas that might help them

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Count your chips!

Learning to count is really hard – there is a lot to think about and get right. It is easy to rush children into counting things before they really understand exactly what they are doing and why

What’s best is to show them counting in a real context when we are getting things done.

Adults are counting things all the time – we just don’t notice it anymore and do it in our heads.

Today’s idea is just to take some of the times during the day when we count things (putting on socks, laying tables, tidying toys, sharing out sprouts) and do it out loud so your child can hear and see – and join in if they can.

If you build this into your regular routine, it can really help with numeracy without having to do any teaching at all.

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Winter Wonderland!

It may be a bit grey and cold outside, but there is a whole world of learning and fun out there for young children (even if the weather is so bad you can only look at it through the window!)

Learning about seasons and the changes that happen is not just about science (important as that is). It also gives children a sense of stability in how the world works and makes life more predictable.

We could all do with a little of that right now, maybe.

So today’s idea is very simple. You may be going out anyway for a walk, to go to the shops, or just to get rid of cabin fever and away from the chores

It is a way to help your child learn to notice things, to see and feel what winter is like – and chat about it for as long as they are interested

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Less is more!

Social media is full of some really good resources and lists of things to do to help children learn at home. And schools and nurseries are working hard to get organised with ideas for families

This is all great!

And. As we go into another lockdown, parents and carers have a lot to think about. Many of us are a bit scared and uncertain – and if there are money or other worries too, this just adds to the stresses.

So, it is ok to do what we can do. And not worry about what we can’t manage.

Play and talk is all you need

What really matters for young children? It is “just” time to play and to chat. If you do things that everyone enjoys and can chatter about, then learning is automatically going to happen. It just will.

Of course there is a curriculum and as adults we like to have a “programme” for what we think children should be learning. But through everyday play and fun and interesting two-way conversations, young children will “cover” what they need without even trying.

A little bit every day is better than trying to do too much and getting nowhere. It may look simple to you, but to a child everything is still a wonder and something to explore and learn about. Follow their lead and you may well find yourself learning too.

So if this is for your family a time to draw together, look after each other, and just get by for a while, then that is fine too. You can take the lead from your children as to whether they are not getting enough stimulation. You’ll soon see if they are bored and need to do more.

Fun outdoors, fun indoors, sharing laughter, doing things together – children of any age will learn what they need.

School and nursery programmes and webpages of resources are there to help you, not be a burden or a standard to live up to – let them know if it is too much or not what you need.

About this website

The same goes for this site. While early learning and childcare settings are closed, we’ll be posting a daily idea for learning through play. These will (on purpose) be mostly things you might do anyway with resources you already have – but you may not know how rich they are in learning for your child. They are just ideas for if you are stuck or wondering what to do, so please pick and choose – and let us know how you get on using the comments!

Best wishes to everyone from James and the bumps2bairns.com team!

PS – if you want some of the theory and background on this, then the newest practice guidance from Scottish Government is on this link

Lockdown again …

During the first lockdown last year we posted daily ideas for how young children can learn at home through play and fun. You can find all of these on http://bumps2bairns.com by scrolling down or using the keywords at the side.

We’ll be posting some more ideas from next week – some will be “repeats” and there will be some new things too. We’ll also share some ideas on helping young children with stress and worries and what to do if you are worried about your child’s learning or development.

If your child has a lot of concerns just now, then they may like this story about Dave the Dog, or it might give you some ideas for what to talk to them about.

Meanwhile, best wishes to everyone from James and the bumps2bairns team!

Foam fun

Making a mess and getting all messy can be great fun. Clearing it up, less so! Sometimes parents worry about messy play – is it really worthwhile, what about the carpet or the dog?

But there is so much learning that happens through mess and exploring different textures and effects. Foam is also great for developing mark making and understanding shapes – all of which is part of getting ready to write

Today’s idea is very clean messy play as it involve soapy foam. Make sure you use a source for the foam that is OK for your child’s skin – if they have a favourite bubble bath, that is ideal

Store cupboard searches

Children love being nosy and taking things out and putting them back, so today’s idea is all about exploring cupboards to learn about different kinds of foods

Depending on your kitchen you may prefer to fill up a box for them to explore safely on the floor or table top – or you may have a ground level cupboard they can access more independently

As they find things, or take them out of the box, chat about what kind of food they are, where it comes from and what we can do with it

You never know, they may end up making the dinner “with” you!

Musical statues

Another game today that can be played outside at a safe distance of 2 metres with family or friends – or at home just with your child

It is an old favourite that is usually a lot of laughs, but there is a lot of learning too

Your child will be developing the key skill of “not doing” something – stopping ourselves doing or saying something is really hard and games like this help build your child’s control over their actions

Plus, dancing around and laughing at people (safely) falling over is really good for our wellbeing …

The cow who fell to Earth

Today a lovely story by Nadia Shireen about a little cow who goes travelling in space!

It is a great story just to enjoy, and it also has learning about what makes groups of people different and how we can all get along (Moon cows are a bit like us, but also not … Woo Woo!)

And to make your child curious about different languages and how they sound. Or if today is a more active day, you can show your child how to slow down by playing counting down games

Or dig out some photos of places you have been and chat about how the people were different there

When everyone is tired, there is always the chance to hear the story again, or do some drawing and mark making all about it.

Moving mayhem

The weather forecast for the weekend is good so a play idea today that can be done safely when meeting up with family or friends and following public health guidance

But it is also fun at home too

It is all about helping your child do the same actions in different ways. This will help build coordination and self-control. It is as simple as starting off jumping quickly, and then jumping slowly … Or pretending to brush your teeth as though you are happy, and then as though you are grumpy.

Along the way, they will learn lots of words to describe actions and they may also have fun challenging you or others

Hey diddle diddle!

Sometimes life just does not make sense, and today’s rhyme certainly doesn’t!

Children enjoy nonsense, and it is a great way to play with language and let off steam at the same time

Hearing different sounds and how they fit together is an important foundation for reading and spelling.

And there is lots of play you can try after. Maybe not over the moon, but can you jump over a stick (how high?) or a puddle?

You can even do jumping contests out and about with loved ones while keeping a 2m distance

Can I play?

Today we have a story all about joining in, what it is like to be left out, how to share things and attention, and how to cope with bossy people!

It is a great story for if everyone is getting a bit fed up with lockdown and being on top of each other

And a chance to chat with your child about the future – making friends, how to play together and what to do if it goes wrong

You can watch the story together on the Book Trust youtube channel. It is by Caryl Hart and illustrated by Tony Neal.

Out of the box!

Some homes have more cardboard boxes around than usual at the moment as we have to get more things delivered

This may be a nuisance, but cardboard boxes are also one of the most useful resources for play and learning. They can be anything your child wants to imagine them to be – a castle, a boat, a hat, or even just a box to put things in!

Today the idea is simply to give your child some boxes and some decorating materials and see what they do with them. If they are stuck you can help with ideas, but the best learning will come from them taking the lead and you following

Remember to chat about what they are doing – say what you see (try not to ask too many questions!) and wait for a response.