The dark can be scary, and it can also be exciting! If we can give children fun experiences with darkness, where they feel in control, the easier they will feel about it and their fears will gradually fade
Judge this activity according to your child – it does not need total darkness. They may be happy just spending the time experimenting with drawing the curtains during the day to see the changes in a room. Or they may want the full pitch dark experience!
It is a fun version of a treasure hunt, where children try to find shiny things in a darkened room by using a torch or the light on your phone. This can lead to explorations about shiny and dull things, reflections and brightness – or just to gradually more and more difficult searches as your child challenges you to find things.
You can do this indoors or out, but make sure you are in a safe place like your own garden if going outdoors in the dark
There’s still quite a bit of ice around, and it is great stuff to explore and play with
Take care out and about – it can be slippery! But children can get so much from exploring the texture, the feel, the slidey surfaces
If you don’t want to venture out, or don’t have any ice nearby you can safely get to, then there is lots you can do indoors with a freezer or freezer compartment – try making some ice with your child, or taking some out and seeing how it slides across the table. What does it feel like to hold?
All the time, your child will be learning a lot of science, as well as about their senses and how to describe temperature and other experiences. They will be exploring water and how it can change – be warned, they may want to know how the freezer works!
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.
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.
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
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!
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
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 …