Sunday, 30 November 2014

Christmas Activities to keep your little ones busy all the way up until the big day!

Apologies for the length of time since my last post – I am in the midst of many exams at college and am spending any of that most valuable free time either studying! That being said – I have begun thinking about Christmas and therefore, have decided to make a countdown of 24 festive activities for you to try on the run up to the big day!

December 1st

Make your own Santa themed advent calendar! All you need is to draw (or print) the top half of Santa's head and then create a downwards facing triangle of the numbers 1-25 (or 24 if you are in a nursery and wont see the children on the 25th
Then on each day, a child can glue a cotton wool ball onto the correct number to slowly build up that snowy white beard! 
HINT: If you have a big-ish class, it's sometimes helpful to have 2 advent calendars on the go to ensure that everyone gets a turn

(Numeracy, turn taking, knowledge of time/days)

December 2nd

Using Christmas scents such as; nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger, make some festive smelling playdough or gloop for lovely sensory play.

If you decide on gingerbread flavoured playdough – why not add gingerbread-man cutters, googly eyes, sequins etc

Another idea is to make red and white playdough or gloop and add peppermint scent for a candy cane theme!

(Sensory, Manipulative play, fine motor, hand-eye co-ordination, creative)

December 3rd

Continuing on the sensory theme, make spice paints by adding your ginger/ cinnamon etc to PVA glue (I found watering the glue down a little helps) and paint onto gingerbread man cut outs.
Hint: More able children could even try cutting out their own men for that added challenge.

(Sensory, Creative)

December 4th

Add some Christmas themed discovery bottles to your light box area. Some ideas to go into your bottles include; pine branches tinsel, sleigh bells, small ornaments and magic snow (
and real snow (which will soon turn to water – but this is just as valuable)

Don't forget to add magnifying glasses, pencils and paper for observation and investigation!

Extend this investigation by creating an interest table or tray where children can explore some of the materials listed above! Hint: supervision is needed with magic snow to prevent eating it!

(Knowledge of seasons and celebrations)

December 5th

Provide lots of wrapping paper, scissors and tape (Masking tape works best as it is easy to cut/ tear and can usually peeled off if stuck in unwanted places) and encourage your children to wrap boxes, containers etc from your junk modelling. Once wrapped, these can be a lovely addition to your role play area.

(Fine motor, hand-eye co-ordination, problem solving)

December 6th

Get the children involved in some BIG art by laying out large sheets of paper and materials for printing (i.e. plates of festive coloured paint and sponges/duplo blocks/ shaped stampers etc) and make your very own wrapping paper.

(Creative, patterns, colours)

December 7th

Image from
Ditch those boring paint brushes and make your own by attaching stick on ribbon bows/ tinsel/ bits of pine branches to lolly sticks! (If they don't stick very well, clothes pegs can be a simple handle)


December 8th

It's time to write that letter to Santa! This activity can be adapted for children of different abilities. 

First of all, there are some lovely printable pages which are a bit more exciting than a plain sheet of paper (or you can make your own if you're feeling creative)

here is a pinterest board full of ideas

Some children may be able to write an entire letter/ list with a little support, or it may be helpful for some children to follow the guide:

Something I want_ _ _ _ _ _ _
Something I need_ _ _ _ _ _ _
Something to wear_ _ _ _ _ _ _
Something to read_ _ _ _ _ _ _

for others, it is a nice alternative to look through magazines (you'll probably have tonnes at this time of year!) and cut out the pictures of items that take their fancy. Remember to encourage them to write a few words, even if it is just “To Santa”.

(Language & Literacy, Making decisions, fine motor, hand-eye co-ordination)

December 9th

I loved this one as a child: cutting out snowflakes!

First draw around a plate or a large circle onto a white sheet of paper, then cut it out.
Then fold it in half, and again, and again until you have a small(ish) section – it doesn't need to be tiny, but the more times it is folded, the more intricate your final design will look!
Next, snip away little triangles from around the edges of your section and finally, open it out and admire your work!

I like to hang these pretty snowflakes around the room. They also make a fab starting point for discussing the way that every snowflake is different and individual – just like us!

(Fine motor, hand-eye co-ordination, patterns)

December 10th

It's time for some threading! Your shape can be as simple as a green triangle (christmas tree) or 2 circles (snowman) or you could cut out a slightly more complicated version and then use a hole punch to pop some holes all around the edges.
Then allow the children to use brightly coloured wool to thread in and out of the holes. If you don't have a chunky, child sized needle, try wrapping the end of the wool with masking tape, or you can make your own needle with a pipe cleaner!

(Fine motor, hand-eye co-ordination, concentration)

December 11th

Cut the middle out of a paper plate and decorate with either real, natural resources or a mixture of tissue paper, pom poms, glitter etc to make a pretty wreath for your door!
(Creative, choosing resources, becoming aware of traditions)

December 12th

I know some EYPs that refuse to use colouring pages, but I feel that they can be fun and helpful for children, as long as they aren't the be all and end all of your provision!
There are tonnes of fantastic festive themed colouring pages to be found – I could add a link but to be quite honest, you're just as well using Google Image search! 

(Concentration, choosing colours and materials, telling a narrative)

Image from

December 13th

Let the children make their own Salt Dough ornaments to decorate the tree!

Salt Dough Ornaments:
You only need 3 ingredients: 1 cup of plain flour, 1 cup of salt and water to combine.

  • Roll the dough out and use some Christmas cookie cutters to make the shapes
  • Don't forget to make a small hole at the top. You'll need this for threading your ribbon at the end.
  • Different recipes give different cooking times so have a look, but I tend to cook them by eye (when they turn golden brown then they are done)
  • Let them cool and harden and then decorate with paint and plenty of glitter (poster paint mixed with PVA is great as it leaves a wonderful shine – it also helps your glitter to stick!)
  • Thread your ribbon through the hole and it's ready to hang!

December 14th

I hope you've saved your Christmas cards from last year! Chop them up to make some simple, seasonal jigsaw puzzles

(Problem solving, logical thinking)

December 15th

Any scraps of wrapping paper? Let the children chop it up and stick it down for some easy collage fun. You can also chop into strips of different lengths and arrange into a Christmas tree shape!

(Creative, hand-eye co-ordination, fine motor)

December 16th

I hope by this time that we have some snow to play with! Get outside and make snow men, snow angels, snow balls...
Did you know that you can paint the snow? Watch as the colour gets absorbed and as the snow melts and changes into all kinds of interesting shapes!

(Physical, creative)

December 17th

Take a fairly large cardboard box, paint it red, add glitter and cotton wool snow and cut out a slot to create a Christmas post box. Then provide lots of blank Christmas cards and envelopes and allow the children to write messages, post them and deliver them to each other

(Creative, literacy and language, role play)

December 18th

I hope you're making good use of your role play area! Here's a few ideas:
  • Santa's workshop (pretend tools, work benches, boxes, wrapping, toys...)
  • Christmas house (fireplace, children's own tree, pretend presents, bed)
  • Christmas Post Office (envelopes, cards, stamps, boxes, post bags)
  • Christmas Shop (till, shops, bags, toys/sweets/cakes)
(Imaginative, Role Play)

December 19th

Use a simple shape to play Christmas Bingo! (Here's one I made earlier) 
Stickers or stampers to cover the number once it's called add and extra element of fun.
Don't forget to blank out a few different numbers on each child's sheet so that they are not all the same!


December 20th

Here's another very simple idea – Christmas themed dot-to-dot. Again, there are so many options for this, you could make your own but you could save time by using Google Images!

(Numeracy, sequencing)

December 21st

Now would be a lovely time to learn about Christmas around the world – the different cultures and traditions. There are many books available and here is a wonderful website with many facts and photos to explore

(Knowledge and Understanding of our own and other cultures)

December 22nd

Do your children continually want to decorate and redecorate the tree? Give them their own tree to play with – either a child sized artificial tree in the role play area, or why not make a 'fuzzy felt' version by sticking a large felt tree shape to the wall and providing all kinds of felt decorations (if they don't stick very well – velcro may help)

(Creative, Role play)

December 23rd

Go for a wintery walk. Wrap up warm and go out spotting christmas trees and lights around your area. To add another element of learning to this activity you could create a tick/ tally/ scavenger sheet for children to complete along the way.

(Physical, Observation)

December 24th

Taken from Google Images

Christmas eve at last! Why not settle down to a classic Christmas movie (Some of my favourites include; The Snowman and Polar Express for younger children, Elf and Muppets Christmas carol for older.

Also visit which allows you to track Santa on his journey around the world!


Bonus Blog hopping – with a few more fantastic ideas:

1. Another version of the advent calendar – this time cutting off sections of Santa's beard each day.  

The website is not in English but the pictures are very clear: 

2. A recipe for Reindeer food to sprinkle in the garden on Christmas eve 

3. A selection of wonderful “Jingle Bell” activities

4. And finally, some Snowman activities
(I especially love the melted snowman pictures) 


Wishing you all a wonderful festive period! May all your Christmas wishes come true!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Beautiful Bonfires and Fantastic Fireworks!

Remember remember the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot!
A time of year that is full of fun, and with so many opportunities for fantastic learning! 

For anyone that follows me on twitter (@EarlyYearsIdeas) - you may recognise a few of these ideas, as I have tweeted as I've become inspired - but I wanted to round up a selection of activities across the curriculum, for anyone who might find it helpful!

  • Explore the colours involved in fire while pouring, mixing and finger painting. 
  • You could also investigate the different SHADES of each colour and create a lovely colour wheel through collage (i.e. is a red car exactly the same as a red tomato?) 
  • Build your own 'guy' by stuffing an old shirt and pair of trousers - if you have the time you could papier mache a lovely head for him, but if not a balloon or cardboard cut out will do just fine. (speak about what Guy Fawkes might have worn and explore differences between clothing past and present - links to Social Studies)
  • Junk model some speeding rockets using toilet roll tubes, cardboard and tissue paper. Make them even more effective by adding streamers or strips of tissue so that they hang out of the bottom - as if they are the flames.

  • Using very watery paint - drop a few blobs onto thick paper and use a straw to blow (don't suck!) the colours, creating wonderful firework patterns.
  • Splatter paintings are great messy fun! They are also a wonderful way to bring in some physical skills that will perhaps appeal to boys which often stay away from art. 
    • Cover a wall with paper (black/ dark blue looks lovely for a night sky feel) OR just use a large cardboard box (perhaps from a washing machine or other large appliance).
    • Use a few sponges and dip them into paint (poster paint is best - maybe watered down a little so that the sponge absorbs it well)
    • Throw the paint covered sponge at the wall/ into the box to create great big, messy, fantastic SPLATS!
  • Another form of splatter painting is to use a toothbrush - dip into the paint and then run your finger across the bristles to flick the paint onto the paper. I love doing this with white paint onto black paper and the results make for a beautiful starry background for other pictures/ displays.
  • Marble rolling can also create lovely colourful patterns. This can be done in a high sided tray, but I would recommend trying it in an old 'quality street' tin (or something similar) for the added bonus of the banging and crashing sounds as the marbles roll about inside - just like real fireworks!
  • Speaking or firework sounds, can we make any using out bodies? Maybe stamping our feet to make a banging sound, or I wonder if anyone can whistle like a screaming rocket?
  • Provide a variety of musical instruments for the children to make their own firework sounds: tambourines, drums, and whistles are best (top tip - personally I would only have these out at certain times of the day, rather than letting the children access them independently. There are 2 main reasons for this - 1: supervision of the whistles so that they can be washed between different children's turns 2: There is only so long that I can deal with screeching whistles in my ear!!)
  • Now that we've thought about the sounds that the fireworks make, let's investigate what they look like! Encourage the children to move their bodies as if they were rockets shooting through the air, or as if they were a huge explosion of light and colour, or spinning and twirling like a catherine wheel.

  • Explore new language by creating a word wall. This could include:
    • Rocket
    • Sparkler
    • Twinkle
    • Bang
    • Pop
    • Whistle
    • Whizz
    • Zoom
  • Provide both story books and information books about this celebration. Here is a lovely book about bonfire night from a series which explores the many different religious and cultural holidays and celebrations: 

 Image from

  • This celebration is also a good opportunity to introduce books and learning about London as you investigate the houses of parliament and perhaps extend the learning to find out about other famous landmarks.
  • Use a variety of interesting brushes (brushes made of natural resources such as grass/ leaves bound together, or dish-washing brushes etc) and investigate shapes and patterns while printing and stamping
  • Turn a simple 'colouring page' into a game by numbering different sections, then rolling the dice to see which part you may colour first. For example, roll 1: colour the houses, roll 2: colour the moon, roll 3: colour the rocket...
  • Make your own height chart with your rocket at the top, and it's trail of sparks as the ruler to measure yourself by.
  • Encourage the children to think about appropriate clothing and wrapping up warm by playing pairs or other matching and sorting games using gloves, warm socks, hats, scarves etc
  • Learn about time and routines, as well as day and night by making your own paper plate clocks, setting them to the time that you will be going to see the fireworks, and allowing the children to compare it to the real clock within the room.

  • A huge part of your learning for bonfire night should be focused on safety. Remind your children they they must always keep a safe distance from a fire and must always stay with an adult. Here are some fantastic bonfire safety videos presented to the children by Fireman Sam!
  • Why not act out the scenario of bonfire night, to allow the children to understand exactly what will happen and remember how to keep themselves safe. Provide coats, hats, scarves, wellies etc in the role play area for the children to practice putting on by themselves, you could then take them out into the garden/ outdoor area and either use a real fire (if you have a suitable, child friendly fire pit) or make a pretend fire using sticks and material or tissue paper. Make sure to have a visible 'safety circle' (or perimeter) that the children must stay behind. This is a practical form of learning which will help the children to remember.
  • A tasty bonfire night treat which is easy to make is Chocolate apples. Push a fork into an apple, dip into melted chocolate and add sprinkles. Yummy!

  • Symmetrical firework ICT pictures using 'Paint'
  • Predicting and experimenting to discover which materials will burn in a fire
  • Firework discovery bottles
  • Glitter on the light box
  • Exploring glow sticks and torches

I would love to go on and list all of the many other ideas - but I am running out of space and time, so instead - I shall point you in the direction of a few others who have some absolutely fantastic ideas that I would love to try:

Bottle rockets - by teach beside me

Fireworks in a jar - by I can teach my child

Edible Sparklers - by Red Ted Art

Sprinkle fireworks - by Reading Confetti

Have a fantastic week everyone! 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Bonkers for Conkers!

I absolutely love this time of year! The colours, the crisp, clear skies, the crunch of the leaves underfoot... oh and the conkers!!

Image from

I have so many happy memories of going out, collecting conkers with my parents...but what do you do with them once they're collected?

Here are just a few ideas for you to try (besides the traditional game of 'conkers'!):

First things first

  • Get your coats on and go out for a lovely Autumn walk. Notice the changes that are happening all around and, of course, collect lots of conkers. Remember to pick up some that are still inside their spiky shells!


  • Why not set up an investigation table where the children can explore their conkers? Add a light box, some magnifying glasses, pictures and simple information books. 

  • Remember to ask some prompting questions to get the children thinking; for example "Do all of our conkers looks the same?"

  • You could also create some beautiful discovery bottles by adding the conkers (plus any other Autumn nature that you like) into a bottle either with or without water. These discovery bottles make a wonderful addition to your light table.

I love these seasonal discovery bottles from Sun Hats & Wellie Boots :


  • After collecting them, encourage your children to count how many conkers that they have in their bags, and develop their numeracy skills further by making comparisons i.e. Does George have more or less conkers in his bag than Belle?

  • Children can weigh and compare conkers using simple balance scales (if you don't have any scales, make your own using a clothes hanger and 2 pots!)

  • A simple muffin tin, or assortment of containers can allow children to sort and organise the conkers. This can be adult led and guided; for example "can you put 3 conkers into each pot?" or you can allow children to sort for their own criteria.

  • Create interesting designs and patterns with your conkers! Cover a large table with paper and draw some grids, circles or other outlines which the children can then use to create their own patterns.

Creative and Art

  • Painting a conker is a skill in itself! The children develop their problem solving skills as they work out how to prevent the conker from rolling away. Remember to add a blob of PVA glue into your paint so that it sticks to the shiny surface of your conkers.

  • Conker rolling: Using a deep tray or last years 'Quality Street' tin, line the bottom with paper, add some dollops of poster paint, add conkers and ROLL! Encourage the children to work out how to make the conkers roll across all of the paper by tipping and turning the tin in different ways.

  • Drawing pictures of the conkers is a lovely calm activity and encourages children to observe and notice details.

  • Transient Art is a type of art which is of the moment and not permanent. Provide some large sheets of paper (I find that black creates a nice contrast) and lots of loose autumn materials (leaves, conkers, twigs etc) and get creating!

Here is a lovely example of Autumn transient art from: NatureNurture :

  • Looking for a larger project? Try and create some large papier mache conkers. All you need is an inflated balloon, some ripped up newspaper (the children will enjoy helping with this!) and a thin mixture of PVA and water. Lots of messy, sensory fun to be had here!

Language and Literacy

  • Work with the children to create an Autumn word wall. Some 'conker' themed words include:



  • Encourage the children to explore their musical instruments to see if they can create spiky sounds (like the outer shell of the conker) or smooth sounds (like the conker itself).

  • Enjoy a music and movement session using some calming music (lots to be found on YouTube) and guide the children and they act out the growing tree, the changing seasons, and the falling of the leaves and conkers to the ground.


  • Use your computers/ tablets to access the Internet and find out more information about conkers. What are conkers? Do they have another name? Are there different types?


  • Another chance to roll those conkers! Build ramps using wooden blocks, large pieces of cardboard or long tubes and have a race! You can extend the learning by prompting the children to make predictions, for example: will the big conker or the small conker win the race?


  • Include conkers as well as other Autumn objects in your water tray area and learn about floating and sinking.

Fine Motor Skills

  • Drill a small hole through each of your conkers and allow the children to practise threading them to create a necklace or maybe even a conker caterpillar!

  • Provide a variety of spoons, ladles etc as well as a few different containers and allow the children to practise scooping and moving the conkers from one place to another. (This takes patience, control and good hand-eye coordination!)

There are oh so many more activities for you to try using conkers. 
If you're wanting more, I'd recommend visiting (a fantastic resource for all EYPs!) if you are not already familiar with it.

Have fun!!