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Playing outside gives your child the chance to explore the natural environment and have adventures. Your child can play games, test their physical limits, express themselves and build their self-confidence. When your child is outside, your child probably has more space and freedom for big movements like running, jumping, kicking and throwing. And a bit of safe play in the sun can be good too — small amounts of sunlight exposure can help boost vitamin D levels. Especially with older children, sometimes all you need to do is send them out the door and let them come up with their own games.
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Little learning opportunities can go a long way. Used as a story prompt or scene for the retelling of a favourite book, it can be invaluable in helping young children make sense of literacy in a kinaesthetic way. A good place to start is by making a quick assessment of the interests, gender-balance and abilities of your current cohort.
Are there certain children or small groups who are more reluctant when it comes to storytelling or imaginative play? Are there some with a burning passion for dinosaurs or robots, fairies or all things creepy-crawly? Are there some fans of particular story characters? You can draw up a list of small world play ideas based around these themes, and plan to set up a few separate scenes to match them over the following months. Even better, ask the children to contribute their own ideas and get planning using clipboards.
Next, take a look at the resources you have and try adding some new, loose materials to the collection that can be brought out quickly to change an area. Tuff spots, underbed storage boxes, cat litter trays, Tubtrugs. Here are a few favourite small world play scenes we have set up and enjoyed that could be good starting points to springboard your own planning. Dinosaur land Use a shallow, flat container such as a Tuff spot or a cat litter tray and fill it with a range of sensory play materials, for example, dry beans and rice, small pebbles and rocks, and twigs and small branches.
Use some brown playdough to represent mud in one corner, and use this as a base to stick real or fabric plants into. You could create a volcano from recycled packaging covered with crumpled paper and stuffed with a piece of orange material. Add small toy dinosaurs and play! Try adding some favourite dinosaur books to a shelf below the play or next to it in a basket. Add dinosaur-shaped blank books and some pens for free role-play writing prompts. Use the water table or a large Tubtrug embedded in a corner of the outdoor area, and line the base with sand.
Fill it three-quarters full of water and add large rocks, shells and pebbles to create your own rock pool. Introduce toy sea creatures such as crabs, star fish and small fish.
Adding a fishing net, bucket and spade provides an opportunity for developing it into role play and even making a whole beach scene with deck chairs, an umbrella and beach ball! For many inner-city kids, this could be the closest they will get to the beach over the summer. Inside a large, shallow box or Tuff spot, tape down some large egg cartons and other pieces of cardboard packaging to make a bumpy crater surface. Cover this with tin foil, taping it down underneath. Add some smooth, white rocks and pebbles, and any moon-themed small toys you might have such as a rocket, astronauts and moon buggy.
Mix up some home-made moon-dust by adding a few drops of black food colouring to a large bag of salt and shaking it in the bag until the colour has dispersed evenly.
Add in a tablespoon of talcum powder and some silver glitter, and spread it out to dry. It should be light grey, fluffy, sparkly and oh so soft. Spread this over the moon craters and play! Again, add space-related story and non-fiction books nearby, and make rocket-shaped blank books for mark making. Putting out some lolly sticks, green card and googly eyes on the creative table may inspire some children to make and add their own aliens to the play scene.
Frog pond Cut a pond shape from a foam sheet and add little green lily pads from the same material or pieces of felt. Use natural tree branches or small logs to surround it, adding foliage, moss, rocks and any other natural materials from the collection. If you add some bubble wrap with black dots marked on using a permanent pen, they can lay their own frogspawn too! This is the sort of small world that the children can add to as they play, looking up in books and the internet what other creatures might live around a British pond, and either finding or making those to add to the area.
Sticking a poster of a frog life-cycle in the background can increase the learning opportunities further.Fairy garden Incorporate small world play into a real, living garden space to ignite creativity and take the play outside! Fill a garden barrel with soil, and plant a variety of bright flowers and little shrubs. Add a flowerpot on its side, some branches and a little path made of pebbles to lead to the door. The children could design and make any more additions they choose, from a pond area to little cork toadstools.
Add toy fairies and unicorns to come to live in their new home, and let the play begin! Placing large fabric scarves nearby to become wings will encourage imaginative role play. Add favourite fairy books and little sticks dipped in glitter and glue at the tip to become fairy wands. Farm Use a toy barn or make one from a small cardboard box and place it, along with some favourite toy farm animals, in a large tray.
Use real materials to add a sensory play element to the scene, for example, dried beans and pulses, cut or planted grass and a tub of wet soil for the pigs to roll around in, and a little tub filled with water for a pond.
Try adding a CD player nearby with animal noises and farm songs to play in the background. Sports arena Use toy figures to make up crowds and players in team sports events. This type of small world really appeals to those little football fanatics and can be so simple to set up, using a piece of green carpet or a small section of fake grass from the garden centre.
Add on the markings for whatever sport it represents and let them play! To create an Olympic stadium you can add sand for a long jump and a tub of water to create a swimming pool too, for enriching sensory exploration and fun.
For added literacy encouragement, provide small labels and pens, and get children to design flags, signs and banners to be hung around the stadium. Small rectangles of card could also be used for making entrance tickets with a single hole puncher for snipping them on entry — perfect for promoting fine motor development through play.City in a cardboard box Try changing the small world backdrop by presenting the scene within a large, shallow-sided cardboard box a large appliance or furniture box works best.
Inside the box, start to draw a roadway system with pens and write a few simple labels, e. Encourage the children to finish the roadway and add more of their own labels and signs using pens and stickers. Add cars, trains, figures and wooden blocks for constructing a city around the roads. The children can even climb inside to play, turning it into a full body, interactive small world experience!
Try adding a box of recycled cartons, tubes and boxes with some sellotape and scissors to encourage further designing and construction. Try adding sensory materials to enrich the play and increase vocabulary development.
Make interchangeable backdrops to simple scenes from cardboard painted with skies, a city-skyline, underwater, etc. Store themed sets of small world toys in small containers or bags, labelled and ready to use. Gather a small selection of books to match each theme and set it in a basket next to the small world scene.
Cut plain books from folded paper into a shape to match the theme, e. Leave a digital camera near the small world scene and encourage the children to take photos of their play, which can then be printed and displayed on a board nearby.
Children can then annotate these with their own marks, with the practitioner acting as a scribe underneath. These can be used to make story books about the small world scene to read to the whole class. Ask the children to plan out their own small world scenes. Can they make a diagrammatic list of all the materials they will need, and then go to search for them to build it independently?
Anna is a primary school teacher from the UK with a specialism in early years education and art. You can find lots more creative ideas at her website, The Imagination Tree. Level 2 Early Years Practitioner gives strong start to rewarding career.Polylino — A digital picture book service for UK nursery schools. View all Top Products. Contact Us Advertise With Us. Share this:. You may also be interested in Great ways to support communication, language and literacy How to provide outstanding learning in the outdoors Award winners announced.
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Here is a select, yet giant list of indoor activities for kids and projects that I have posted. I will be adding to this list as I write new posts. Although I have sorted them by category, categories are not mutually exclusive. Nearly all are free or super-cheap , can be easily set-up a few are more complicated and many, depending on the age of your child, do not necessarily require intense parental involvement Hurrah!
Soon the weather will be warm and we will be growing goodies in the garden again, but until then this toy garden box will help tide the.
Play is one of the main ways in which children learn and develop. It helps to build self worth by giving a child a sense of his or her own abilities and to feel good about themselves. Play is very important to a child's development, it is an integral part of a child's Early Years Foundation Stage and supports their learning journey too. Young children can develop many skills through the power of play. They may develop their language skills, emotions, creativity and social skills. Play helps to nurture imagination and give a child a sense of adventure. Through this, they can learn essential skills such as problem solving, working with others, sharing and much more. In turn, this helps them develop the ability to concentrate.
More than just a chance to have fun, play is serious business when it comes to a child's health and development. From peek-a-boo to pat-a-cake and hide-and-seek to hopscotch, the many forms of play enrich a child's brain, body, and life in important ways. Research shows play can improve children's abilities to plan, organize, get along with others, and regulate emotions. In addition, play helps with language, math and social skills, and even helps children cope with stress. Despite its many benefits, statistics show that the amount of time children get to play has been declining for decades.
Pretend play is an essential part of every childhood. In the past, you may have viewed imaginary games as merely a fun activity.
Children learn through their play. Children learn and develop:. Play is healthy. Play helps children grow strong and healthy. It also counteracts obesity issues facing many children today. Play reduces stress.
Find your nearest centre. Book a Tour. Benefits of Gardening with Children Tweet Share. Gardening can benefit children of all ages as it provides a great opportunity for children to learn, and equips them with critical skills which can help them in other areas of their lives. Below are some of the main benefits children can experience by helping out in the garden.
Similar to cluttered pantries or office spaces, which make it hard Lockdowns have resulted in online toy sales growing by % during.
Locate our child care centers, preschools, and schools near you. Gardening is a fun outdoor activity you can share with your child. Check out our tips to help your child learn about gardening.
This flower painting activity is perfect for building big imaginations. Kids will love creating big, big flowers for a pretend play garden. Support fine motor skills and creative play with this fun painting activity.This post contains affiliate links. See our disclosure.
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Melody Kay Hobbs, Ed. Did you know…. In pretend play, children act out sophisticated narratives. Many might agree that play is important in the lives of young children. Interestingly, not all play is alike. In addition, children apply analytical thinking as they plan for play, and address and respond to issues that emerge during their play. Pretend play mediates i.
By: Author Agnes. I love springtime with the kids because it symbolizes growth and new beginnings. Each year, the kids and I plant a few new plants in our little backyard wooden planters.