Try it on!

Most families have some clothes they never wear at the back of the cupboard. It might be an old coat, a hat, or a jumper.

Children love dressing up and trying things on. Especially things that don’t fit well (a huge hat can keep them laughing all morning), or that help them imagine.

You don’t need to buy expensive costumes. A blanket can become a cloak, a knotted scarf a pirate’s hat

There is a lot of learning going on. Children try out different roles, different versions of themselves. Being brave as a soldier, or caring as a nurse.

And there is lots you can do to deepen the learning just by talking about what you see, and adding vocabulary. “What a scary ghost!”

Touch and feel!

Think of all the different surfaces and textures you encounter every day

There is the cold, smooth feel of a saucepan; Or the hard but also giving feel of a packet of pasta.  Or the way different temperatures of water feel, or frozen peas, or the squidge of a cushion

You’d be amazed how long your child can be happy playing about with some pasta shapes on a table top or the floor (you’ll need to decide whether you can cook with them later, probably not!).  Or making some mud shapes and pies outdoors in a bucket or a puddle.

But also how much they can learn.  Not just about how the world feels, and the different shapes.  It also develops their finger and hand skills – very important for helping you cook the pasta, but also the foundation of later writing and all that comes with that!

Anything will do.  If you can set up a sand or a water tray, fine.  But just exploring some of the things you have around is just as good.  If you can chat with them about what they feel and help them compare, then even better.

Don’t worry about mess (although do plan where and how you are going to make the mess).  Your child will enjoy, and learn from, helping you tidy up and getting everyone clean again.

Keep an eye out for safety and don’t let under-5’s explore small things independently in case they try to swallow them!

Being choosy!

Every day we make hundreds of choices without even noticing – getting out of bed, having another cup of coffee, or deciding the potatoes are probably done

What adults forget is that children need to learn to choose.  Otherwise we get stuck, or flit about, or feel out of control

So today’s post is all about how to be choosy.  Offer your child small choices they can manage.  “Do you want apple or banana?”  “Show me how much milk you want”

And look at what toys etc you have out.  Is there so much it is hard for your child to choose what to do, so they keep changing?  Or are they making a mess looking for the one thing they want?  Can you help them say what it is, and to find it?

A great place for learning to choose is outdoors.  There is so much interesting to do, to look at and to chat about.  So if the day seems to be getting stuck, get the coat and wellies on and out you go!

Small chefs, big learning

It is sometimes easy to feel that the work of feeding children is never done

No sooner have they claimed they don’t have room for another bit of veg, than they want a snack

As well as fuel, snacks are great ways to learn.  Here are just two things:


It’s a good chance for a chat.  Sitting next to each other, or at the table, is a great way to talk.  Doesn’t matter what about, let your child lead and respond to what they have to say

You can find some tips for chatting here if you want to know more


The second thing?  Preparing the snack develops those fine motor skills.  Maybe they can help lay out the things, or stirring.  Or have a go at cutting some fruit or veg, or opening the packet.  It might take longer or need a bit of tidying up, but it pays back in learning and in being together

A bonus bit of maths

OK, a third thing!  Putting out one cup for each person, or one spoon for every plate is a brilliant foundation for later maths.  It’s called one-to-one correspondence and is used eventually in counting and even in algebra

Tastes good, too

Snuggle and squeeze!

Most homes have a cushion or two, some blankets or a duvet cover.  Very comfortable, but also brilliant ways for young children to learn

Feeling bad?  Give the cushion a good hug.  Squeeze it as hard as you can, it doesn’t mind.

Feeling overwhelmed?  Make a den out of a sheet and a broom handle, or a pile of cushions.  It can be a place to chill out, feel safe, read a book or watch what everyone else is up to!

Feeling bored?  How many times can you wrap a sheet or blanket around yourself.  How many times round your mum or dad?  They can count along with you.  Oh, and don’t forget to spin as you unwind it

So we’ve learned about feelings and how to cope, about building things and a little science and maths too.  Not bad for a rainy day


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!

Enrolling for school in August?

It is the time of year when families are filling in the forms to enrol their children for starting school

This year it may be a little more worrying than usual.

Some parents or carers may be wondering whether their child will be ready or not, especially if they have missed time in nursery.

Nearly all children have experienced some disruption in the last year or so. P1 teachers all know this and they will be ready for the children and take the time that they need to settle in. Schools will be a bit different to usual because we will be adapting to what the children need

Meanwhile there is lots you can do to help through play, games and fun. Just as important, there are some things you really don’t need to worry about!

There are some posters below on how play and talk at home can build foundations for different kinds of learning

Nothing is required or expected, but hopefully some of these ideas will be fun and help deal with any worries you might have.

If you click the image, that will give a pdf that can be printed – and there is a link to a clearer image to view on screen too.

Health & Wellbeing

Click the image for a printable pdf


Click the image for a printable pdf


Click the image for a printable pdf


Click the image for a printable pdf

Enrolment week thoughts

It is enrolment week in Highland, so an extra post today as this is not a usual year!

Starting school is an exciting time for children and for their families.  It can feel like a big moment and everyone wants it to go well.

This year it might feel like a bigger step than usual.  With time in nursery having been disrupted, not to mention all the other things families have had to think about in the last few months, there may be worries that children will have missed important learning and won’t be ready.

Reasons to be confident

The good news is that in Scotland, nursery and Primary 1 are part of the same Early Level in the curriculum. What this means is that there is not meant to be a big jump on starting school, and Primary 1 teachers make sure that they adapt to each child as they are when they come in.

This will be especially so this year as every child will have had a different set of experiences, and teachers will spend time to get to know them through play to work out what they need to learn.

There isn’t a list of what children have to be able to do when they start school.  So if your child is not doing this or that – or if they seem ahead of your neighbours in some ways and behind in others – it does not matter.

What can families do?

But there are some things you can do to help your child’s learning and development, and these will all help in the move to school.  

The main, and best thing, you can do is to set aside some time each day to play and talk with your child.  Get outside when you can, enjoy some stories and follow their interests wherever this goes.  If you are not sure what to do, then there are lots of activities on www.bumps2bairns to choose from – just use the tags to find something fun

On Friday, we will be posting some more detail on preparing for school including some of the things you really don’t need to do!


Sink or swim?

Children love playing with water, whether it’s splashing in puddles or in the bath.  Not only is it great fun but they can learn so much through ‘skiddling’!

Todays ‘daily tip’ helps children learn about floating, sinking and so much more using everyday items. 

Have fun! 

Click here for a great song to start you off

Lockdown fun and laughter

As the weekend approaches, we might be thinking of some of the people we can’t see right now

Young children might miss seeing friends, grandparents, parents who are away or other family members

Video calls can be a great way to say hello and chat. There are lots of games we can play on a video call too that can make us feel great as we have fun together

Here are some of the ideas on this site that can work quite well using video and you can probably think of others too.

Please enjoy, stay safe and we will have more ideas for fun and learning at home next week

Make music (well, noise!) with an Awful Orchestra

Test your powers of observation with Spot the Difference

Look out old photos and Share some Stories

Creep and crawl with Incy Wincy Spider

Catch each other out with Copy Cats and Simon Says

Challenge each other to hunt your homes for Treasure

Go silly with some Sock Puppets

Have a sing song with Old MacDonald, Little Bo Peep, Hickory Dickory Dock or Baa Baa Black Sheep!


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


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 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 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!

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 …