Our Summer term has arrived and with it brings a little apprehension but hopefully lots of sunshine and positive vibes knowing that each day we are a little closer to coming out of this the other side.
We're all so busy trying to keep little ones stimulated indoors, which I know from my own experience can be challenging, but we're all in this together and you're all doing a terrific job!
We can't wait to throw open our doors again and welcome lots of old and new faces to Little Starlings, my goodness we're missing you all.
We have lots of exciting things planned this term and our topics will be focusing on animals and where they live....What animals might you see at the farm? Discussing what animal babies are called? What noises do they make? Do they have feathers or fur? Lots of exciting things to talk about whilst developing language and understanding.
We will also be focussing on Summertime....Where have the children been on holiday? How might they get there by plane or by car? Is it hot or cold on holiday? Fun things we do when we get there, ice-creams and sand castles are always a good place to start and a huge hit with our Starlings children!
We can't wait to get started 😊
Our aim as always at Starlings is to gently encourage independence, stimulation within a nurturing, safe environment.
Please do continue to check in on our Facebook and Instagram page as they're still lots of ideas & activities to do at home. Also for old & new families please join our closed facebook group, Little Starlings Family, its a really nice space to share ideas, concerns and get to know each other a little better.
We'd love you to share your experiences with your starlings family so don't forget to tell us what you've all been up too.
Stay safe and we hope to see you all soon!
So how is everyone holding up?
This week would have been the first week of our Summer Term. Sadly we have not able to reopen, so instead we have pulled together a few play based learning activities for you and your little ones, to keep them busy and stimulated whilst while we juggle with challenges of lockdown.
HIDDEN SHAPES/COLOUR GAMES
These games provide great multi sensory learning opportunities that keep little ones amused, while encouraging speech & understanding as well as honing fine motor skills. Little ones love the excitement of discovering the hidden surprises.
This is a great for supporting speech & understanding, for example 'What colour did you find? Can you find the blue dot?
To create this game you will need:
Transparent serving/oven dish
Piece of card
A marker pen
A paint brush
Make your rainbow rice in advance so that it is completely dry before use.
Mark out your shapes (letters or colour dots) on the sheet of card, and then line your dish/tray with the card.
Cover the card with the rainbow rice and demonstrate how to uncover the hidden surprises with a paintbrush. Let you little ones carry on the game, prompting them with phrases like “What colour have you found now?” to encourage them to share their discoveries with you.
With a tiny bit of prep this is a great game to have on hand to pull out quickly. You can also reuse the rice for other sensory play games when you’re finished – the sound of transferring rice from different containers can keep children entertained for some time.
*(To make rainbow rice head over to www.littlebinsforlittlehands.com/dye-rice-sensory-play-colored-rice/)
Scissors can be tricky things for little hands to master and paper or card are not always the most cooperative learning materials as they wobble and bend. Play dough is a much more forgiving material and can allow children to understand how to control the force they use as well as the fine motor coordination.
All you need is some soft play dough, rolled into some wriggly worms or snakes and a pair of child safe scissors.
Our children love using our Baker Ross child safe scissors*, as they are perfectly designed for little hands, but please remember that adult supervision is always needed for scissor skills activities.
This game will keep little ones entertained for ages and is great for building concentration and hand/eye co-ordination.
This is a lovely, simple Montessori pre writing activity that helps children develop and learn shape structure in a multi sensory way.
We shared a piece on this earlier in the week on the 9 pre writing shapes that form the foundation of future letter formation, but for this activity we are just focusing on the first four shapes. Don’t be concerned if your little ones struggle with some or all of these initially as these are milestone targets for 2-3.5 years.
To create this game you need:
paintbrush (or fingers are fine as well – just make sure they’re not tasting)
This is a great (& calming) way to introduce children to pencil control and helps develop those all-important fine motor skills.
LETTER RECOGNITION GAMES
Its never too early to start introducing letters to children and what better way than this simple, creative activity.
Children have great fun placing beads or rice in the cut out cardboard letters. Perhaps introduce them to the letters in their name and the sounds the letters make (phonics)
To create this game you need:
Shape hunts are perfect for getting the whole family involved and are bound to keep the little people amused for ages (in certainly did in our house!)
Just download our templates (https://bit.ly/3bEuRfa) and away you go.
A shape hunt is great for encouraging vocabulary, understanding and shape recognition. Have fun and happy shape hunting
LAVA LAMP EXPERIMENT
This is a great science experiment to do whilst at home and the children LOVE watching the 'magic' happen. Check out the demo we did in our Instagram highlights!
You will need:
Large waterproof cylinder or vase
Water (to fill almost to the top of your cylinder)
Water beads (we have some on our Amazon list: http://amzn.eu/edWLwqz)
Firstly ‘grow’ your water beads overnight (Depending on the beads 4-8 hours should do it)
Then add the water beads to the empty cylinder and fill with water almost to the top.
The exciting bit is to drop two alka-seltzer tablets in and wait for the dancing beads to happen.
This is a wonderfully calming and mesmerising experiment, which is great for creating some calm in amongst the craziness. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
An little top tip: you might want to have a few back up alka-seltzer tablets in stock as you will definitely be asked to do this experiment more than once!
Who doesn't love an orchard toy game and one of our favourites at Little Starlings is the shopping list game (Find it on our Amazon list: http://amzn.eu/edWLwqz)
This is such a sweet little game that encourages speech & language, patience (for parents & children) and turn taking. A great game for all the family and always a winner at our house.
We hope you enjoyed the blog and that it finds you all well. Stay safe and please don't forget to share your photos with us x
Have you ever met a child that doesn't love bubbles? I only have to mention getting out the bubbles and the little ones are skipping around me with joy!
So I thought as its Easter weekend I'd share my secrets jumbo bubble mix and wand with you all!
Did you know, that aside from being hours of (very portable) fun, bubbles actually provide loads of brilliant playful, learning opportunities as well.
For example, bubbles are a brilliant way to help your child develop their visual tracking skills, from as young as babies.
They also provide great motivation for Toddlers to get up and move, while using body awareness sense, developing muscle tone, balance and coordination as they try to catch and pop the bubbles. Throw on their favourite Disney playlist and you have a great mood booster as well.
For older children, who are able to hold their own bubble wand, they gain invaluable fine motor skills and control, by grasping the wand & dipping it into the pot, which is all really beneficial in preparations for learning to write.
The, not so, simple act of blowing bubbles is also a brilliant exercise for strengthening the muscles in the jaw and mouth, which is a great way to support speech development.
But I think the best benefit of bubble play is the overall calming effect they have on children - something we all need a little bit more of at the moment.
To make a batch of our mega bubble mix you will need:
12 cups of soft water*
1 cup fairy liquid
1 cup corn starch
2 TBSP baking powder
Stir these ingredients, in this exact order (this practically counts as science (wink)), in a clean bucket, VERY gently
*To make your water soft, boil it & leave the lime scale behind.
Tip: keep a large serving spoon in your bucket to skim off foam (the enemy of bubbles) and keep stirring up from the bottom.
You can use this bubble mix with any kind of bubble wand but if you want to make your own MEGA bubble super loop wand you will need:
2 eyelet screws
2 x 1m long dowelling rods (1.5cm diameter)
3 m cotton rope (need to be 100% cotton)
2 washer to weigh down the mid point
Start by screwing an eyelet into one end of each of the two doweling rods.
Then tie two washers into the centre of your rope & secure with a large knot in the centre to form the point of your triangle.
Then thread the lose ends of the rope through the eyelets, tying to secure about a third of the way down the rod. Finally, tie the two loose ends together to complete your loop…and you're ready to go…!
Check out this helpful video from @cottagelife to help you construct your super loop: https://youtu.be/nSoPmerE_5I
Wishing you all a wonderful Easter! Stay safe and look forward to hearing from you all soon x
Hurray, we’ve made it through week 2 of lock down, but cabin fever is really starting to set in, isn’t it.
If your little energizer bunnies need some contained energy burning activities, we’ve got a few ideas that might help.
Obstacle courses, of any form, provide an amazing wealth of skill & strength development opportunities, as well as releasing pent up energy in a controlled way.
Here are 5 great benefits that come from doing obstacle courses:
BACK GARDEN OBSTACLE COURSE
If you have a bit of space & a few props, a back garden obstacle course is a great way to encourage kids, of all ages, to get off the sofa & get some fresh air!
And if you can get them involved in creating the course their creativity can go wild & they’ll be much more likely to spend more time on this activity.
You can make the course as complex or as simple as you like. A few simple strips of masking & a sequence of star jumps, sprints and balancing is all you need. But if you do have some other props to add into the course to create high & low levels as well as using difference muscle groups – such crawling vs sprinting – the greater the benefits.
Here are some ideas of things you could use to create an outdoor obstacle course:
Masking tape (your new best friend!)
ELC Egg & spoon race set
Pop up tunnels & tents
Printable foot & handprints
For more inspiration why not checkout these links:
Also check out our local @chalkboard.biz for props you could add to your course.
THE FLOOR IS LAVA! INDOOR OBSTACLE
Imagine the floor is a bubble sea of lava & there is only one safe path through.
You can create a 'safe' course out of anything you have to hand, but it works best if you have a range of high and low points, also if you can incorporate different textures it makes it more fun & varied.
Printable hand & footprints are also great for creating 'safe' stepping-stones or to incorporate 'Animal walks' (see below) into your course.
The floor is lava is a great (but slow paced) energy burner that can keep kids occupied for ages! Not to mention building gross motor skills, core strength, cognitive planning & sequencing, as well as team work if they are doing the course with a sibling!
Just remember, whatever you do, DON'T TOUCH THE FLOOR!
Here are some ideas of things you could use to create your own course:
Step stools & chairs
Printable foot & handprints
Gonge River Stones
A pavement chalk course is super quick and easy to set up & there's no mess to clear up either, as good dose of rain or the street sweeper will do that for you.
Also by creating your course on the pavement outside, means your neighbours & passers by can enjoy it too (one at a time & at a safe distance). It’s really nice for the kids to see friends, from their windows, enjoying the course too.
A chalk course can be adapted to any age group, but a good mix of running, jumping, hopping & balancing always work well. Also a variety of fast & slow pace is great for energy burning & motor control.
For other chalk games, check out this:
This is a really fun & creative way to burn some energy in a small space with no additional props, regardless of the weather. Kids love pretending to act like their favourite animals and it’s a brilliant way to develop gross motor skills and core strength, as well as turn taking skills. They can also be a great addition to an obstacle course as they can provide a greater range of movement & muscle use.
These exercises also have a calming effect as the animal walks help kids receive deep pressure to their joints and limbs, which help strengthen their sense of balance, and develop body awareness.
To set up your game, you can either make a picture spinner like the one’ Tools to Grow OT’ have used (above) & take turns spinning to see what animal you land on. Alternatively you can print out pictures of your chosen animals & turn one over at a time & do the corresponding animal walk.
For more Animal Walk inspiration take a look at this article from Pathways:
YOGA FOR KIDS
If you need something instant, Cosmic kids yoga (on YouTube) is great with loads of theme routines - everything from the Hungry Caterpillar to Disney movies, there's even a series of Star Wars routines!
Alternatively, if you're looking to reduce screen time there are some great printable kids flow cards. We love the Garden & Spring sequences (above) from Childhood 101 & Kids Yoga Stories.
COSMIC KIDS: https://www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga
Particularly great on grey, rainy days, when it’s a bit darker in the afternoon. Put together a little playlist of your little ones favourite tunes or use one of the readymade play lists on Amazon Music (everything from nursery favourites to Disney theme tunes).
If you have a little plug in disco light even better! (We have one included on our Amazon ideas list: http://amzn.eu/edWLwqz ) Also bubbles are always a welcome edition! Head to the darkest room in your home, switch of all the lights & dance like no one is watching!
Both brilliant for burning energy as well as lifting the mood – its very hard to feel down or frustrated when your dancing your heart out to a Disney classic!