Thursday, 30 July 2015

Back to School Memory Game

It's not long now until kids start getting ready to go back to school, and for us it is quite significant as Ethan will be starting at a new preschool.  He has been going to nursery already, but we are beginning to prepare him for the upcoming changes.  One of the things that we've been doing is playing this memory game to get him thinking about school and making the transition as well as working on his recall skills at the same time.

I started by asking Ethan about what he likes to do at nursery now, a great activity in itself as it's always so difficult to get him to talk about what he does there!  He said that he likes painting, writing, baking, play dough, trains, dinosaurs and building.  We then looked around through our toys to find something to represent each activity.  He chose a paint brush, pencil, measuring spoon, play dough, train, dinosaur and building block.  Then I told him that they would have all of these activities and more at his new preschool as well.  His face lit up when he heard that, he really was surprised to know that he would still be able to do all of his favourite things.

Then it was time for the memory game, I explained the game to Ethan and that he would have to remember all of the items on the tray as I would be taking one away and he would have to tell me which one is missing.  So Ethan covered his eyes and I took an item off the tray.

It took Ethan a couple of turns to really get the hang of it, but he came up with different strategies to help himself to remember.  He would name all of the other items on the tray and then ask himself what else was there.  I also told him that it might help to point to the spot where the missing item was, and to think about if he could picture it in that spot in his head.  He would also ask for clues if he really could not remember, which always helped him to quickly guess the correct item.

Of course then he wanted to turn the tables on me and have me guess which item he was taking away.  He got such a kick out of it and thought it was really funny if I struggled to guess the item.  I was then also able to model the techniques that I would use to remember where the items were.  It gave Ethan a chance to give me some clues as well, my favourite was for the paint brush when he said 'you use it to paint!' We may have to work a bit more on giving clues, ha ha!

Ethan really enjoyed his memory game and even brought it out to play again later on and to show Daddy when he got home for work.  He also added more items to the tray to make it even trickier to play.  I love that it gave us a chance to really talk about all of the things that he enjoys about nursery, and hopefully if we keep playing throughout the summer holidays he will become even more comfortable with the transition to his new school.

If you're looking for more fun activities for back to school look no further, here's 20 more ideas from some fabulous bloggers!

21 Back to School Activities for Kids

School Bus Color Match Puzzles // Modern Preschool
Back to School Process Art // Still Playing School
Back to School Bingo // Playdough to Plato
Back to School I Spy // The Pleasantest Thing
ABC Photo Book // Powerful Mothering
Patterns with Erasers // Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
Shape Puzzles Busy Bag // Teach Me Mommy
Back to School Mapping Our Classroom // Liz's Early Learning Spot
Flower Craftivity // Fairy Poppins
Free Alphabet Book // The Kindergarten Connection
Back to School Memory Game // Play and Learn Everyday
DIY Name Stamps // Preschool Inspirations

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Creating Our Own Play Dough Mats

We have become a bit play dough obsessed if I'm honest, there are just so many different ways to play with it, and it's something that Ethan and Ivy can both do together, and we just can't get enough of it.  As a teacher I always printed off and laminated different play dough mats that I found online (you can find loads on Pinterest) but as I don't have a laminator at home, I thought it might be fun to just make our own play dough mats.

I used some colourful pieces of card and markers to draw some simple pictures for Ethan to add play dough to.  The first one that I drew was an under water scene with some different types of fish, star fish and jelly fish as well as the typical fish shape were easy enough to draw.  Then gave it to Ethan with some play dough to see what he would do.  First he just went over the fish shapes with his play dough, but eventually he did start adding other fish and seaweed to the scene as well.

The next play dough mat that I made was a simple apple tree, again easy enough for even me to draw but still fun for Ethan.  I drew this one with Ethan watching, so he told me where to draw each apple and how many apples to draw on the tree.  So it was great for his counting skills as well as his fine motor skills rolling those tiny apples.

After that one Ethan decided that he wanted to draw his own play dough mat.  His picture was a bit more complicated, it involved a space ship zooming off somewhere and an astronaut with his helmet and a lot of other details and thought that went into it.

Then when it came to using play dough on his own picture he was so excited to add to his creation and make it all pop right off of the page.  It was so great to see him create his own little world on two different levels, he was completely focussed on his picture and determined to make it just right.

We will definitely be making a lot more of our own play dough mats, it's great to have another way to play with one of our favourite materials!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

A Perfect Day for Poohsticks

Since moving to our new house Ethan has become completely obsessed with playing Poohsticks at a nearby river, so we're also loving the book A Perfect Day for Poohsticks all about Winnie the Pooh and his friends having a game.

Just in case you're not familiar with the game, all you need is a bridge over a river and a stick each to play.  You stand on the side of the bridge that the river is flowing towards and drop your sticks in, then run to the other side to see who's stick comes through the other side first, and they are the winner!  Ethan loves to play, we actually can't walk past the river without having at least one go.  

One day we decided to have a little game of Poohsticks at home, using our tuff spot.  We used lolly sticks stuck together with washi tape to make a bridge (balanced on a plastic cup) then found some small sticks to play with.  As it wasn't a flowing river we then had to blow as hard as we could to make our stick win, Ethan loved it...but he still prefers the real thing!

* This post contains affiliate links to purchase the products mentioned from Amazon. *

Friday, 24 July 2015

Chalk Roads

There is nothing we love more than an easy summer activity that can keep the kids occupied all day long.  These chalk roads are definitely just that, simple and fun!

All you need is an outdoor area with enough space to draw some roads, like your backyard patio or driveway and some sidewalk chalk.  We've done this a few times now (the rain keeps washing our roads away and then we get to start all over again!)  The first time that we did this Ethan and I discussed what type of roads we wanted to create, and decided that a road that went all the way around the patio in a circle would be best, with a short cut road across the middle.  I did the main drawing the first time around with Ethan following behind me with his chalk filling in the gaps that I left for him.  

The second time around Ethan was much more confident and drew the roads himself, with just a little bit of help from me, and this time with Ivy following us around drawing her own little centre lines.  And Ethan decided that this time we also needed a car park for all of our vehicles, so he lined them all up and then drew lines to separate them so we would be able to park them back in their spots when we finished with each one.

Then it was time to choose a vehicle and drive it around our chalk roads.  Both Ethan and Ivy enjoyed driving around in the Little Tikes car, the horse hopper and their scooters.  Of course Ivy didn't stick to the roads, but she enjoyed following Ethan around the roads as best as she could.  It was also great for both of them to improve their scooting skills, working on corners and turns for Ethan and learning to go forwards instead of backwards for Ivy.

We've also drawn in some other features along the way, like stop signs and traffic lights which Ethan is happy to follow as he drives down the road.  He has also created his own petrol station where he stops to fill up his car when it's running low, before getting back on the road to drive.  He adds new and exciting elements to his roads each time that he goes out there, it's great for me to see him being so creative and engaged in an activity.  Bring on the rain so we can draw new roads tomorrow!

* This post contains affiliate links to products that we used for this activity.*

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Berry Picking Pretend Play

We went berry picking last weekend and the kids absolutely loved it!  They loved running around the plants and searching for the most ripe berries to pick and to put into their baskets. Of course they also loved sampling all of their pickings and bringing loads of yummy berries home with them.

I decided to try to bring some of the fun of berry picking home with us, and to do our own version of searching for berries in our own backyard.  We had all of the fruit baskets from our day at the berry farm, so we used them to collect different colours of play balls around the garden that represented different fruit.  Ethan decided that the red balls were strawberries, the blue balls were blueberries, the orange balls were peaches and the green balls were grapes.

Ivy started picking up berries before I even got a chance to put them all around the backyard.  She was so excited to start filling up her basket and found loads of berries without any direction from me at all.

Ethan's challenge was to find just a specific type of fruit to put into each basket, so that he was searching for colours of balls and focusing his attention a bit more.  Of course he found it easy, but it did slow him down a bit and give Ivy a chance to pick up some balls for her basket.

Then Ethan took all of the berries, his and Ivy's, emptied out all of the baskets and sorted them each into their individual baskets, counting them as he put them in.  

Ivy's final task was to pour out all of the baskets, put balls back into the baskets, then pour out the baskets and put balls back into the baskets...I think that you get the idea!  She could have sat there playing with those balls and baskets for ages, it was such a great activity for encouraging her to play independently as it's something that she loves to do with her toys but now she had more purpose.

The kids both loved playing berry picking at home, it's a great activity to give them as a starting point for inventing their own games and playing on their own outdoors.  

For more summer fun take a look at our Pinterest board:
Follow Play & Learn Everyday's board Summer Fun for Kids on Pinterest.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Top Ten Back to School Apple Crafts and Activities

School may have just ended for many children here in the UK, but we're already starting to think about going back to school as Ethan starts preschool in September!  We love apples so we're already planning all of the fun apple crafts and activities we can make. So here's a list of our favourite apples creations from a fantastic collection of blogs.

Last year we had fun making this A is for Apple card for the teacher using apples to make prints.  We also used the apples just for fun printing afterwards, so many different projects could be made with apple printing, we might make some cute bunting or a wreath with apple prints this year!

If you are looking for ways to keep the kids learning throughout the summer holidays you may want to try making these Alphabet Apples from Toddler Approved for reading fun.  Or you could make these Cutting Practice Apple from No Time for Flash Cards to work on those fine motor skills.

We love apple tree activities and crafts, like this Pom pom apple tree craft from In the Playroom and Sticky Apple Tree from Adventures of Adam.  


Some of the cutest apple crafts that I found are these Yarn Apple Craft from Hands on as we Grow, they look so easy to make but are so creative and unique looking.  I also love these Stuffed Paper Apples from Buggy and Buddy, a great craft for young children to make and they would look great as decorations in a classroom.

If you're looking for some fun sensory play rather than a craft, my very favourites are these Apple Sensory Cards from Stir the Wonder that encourage children to identify different textures.  I also love this Apple Play Dough from The Imagination Tree, the way that she makes it an apple scent is absolutely genius and has inspired me to try a few different play dough recipes myself.  And of course you've got to have an Apple Sensory Bin like this one from Teaching Mama, great for back to school as well as autumn fun.

There is just something about apples and back to school, they go so perfectly together.  What's your favourite apple craft or activity?

We are taking part in a Back to School blog hop, take a lot at these other blogs for some fab ideas for back to school!

Top 10 School Bus Crafts from Craftulate
Top 10 After School Snacks from Nemcsok Farms
Top 10 DIY School Supplies Projects from Crafty Kids at Home
Top 10 Homeschool Room Essentials from School Time Snippets
Top 10 Nature Study Supplies from Rhythms of Play
Top 10 Back to School Math Activities for Kids - Little Bins for Little Hands
Top 10 Back to School Science Activities at Preschool Powol Packets
Top 10 Back To School Printables from The Pleasantest Thing
Top 10 Homeschool PE Items from Something 2 Offer

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Learning About Space

This week we've been following the story of the New Horizons space probe flying past Pluto to take the first photos of the dwarf planet.  It has heightened Ethan's interest in space and encouraged me to buy him a book so that he could learn more.  We chose Space: Ladybird First Facts as it seemed to be aimed at his age range, so it wouldn't over complicate things.

We definitely made a good choice as Ethan loves the book and has already learned so much from it.  We don't have many non-fiction books, so it's also a great opportunity to teach him about the different features of information books (contents, glossary, index) and the different way that it is laid out.

After reading through the book of course Ethan had a lot more questions, and we looked online for more information about the recent photos of Pluto.  Then we decided that it would be a good idea to draw Pluto ourselves.  Ethan was very excitedly talking about the different colours and shapes that he could see and then drawing them himself.  Once he was finished he loved it so much that he took both the book and his drawing and went off to his spaceship in the garden to fly to Pluto himself!

* This post contains an affiliate link to buy the book from Amazon.*