As we move into autumn, a number of wild animals will settle down and hibernate for the winter. Hibernation is a topic that young children will cover early on in their schooling, but there's nothing to stop you giving them a head start and talk with them about hibernation yourself.
The topic introduces changes in seasons as well as different animals. You may or may not be familiar with animals that hibernate. In the UK you can expect the following to hibernate during winter:-
Many insect also hibernate, including:-
Some animals hibernate in their natural habitat but do not in a domestic setting, such as hamsters and mice.
Some insects survive the winter in different forms, either as eggs (only hatching in the spring), nymphs, larvae or pupae - none of which technically hibernate.
Use the internet with your little ones to find pictures of animals that hibernate, talk about how these animals and insects sleep during the winter, and learn what they all look like.
Using technology to teach and inspire children is vital in this day where computers are commonplace, digital gadgets are all over the place and technology is so much more accessible.
Many children have their own toy cameras now, which is great to see the world through the eyes of the children.
However, you can try to give the camera usage a little more direction by setting the children photography projects such as:-
- Things that make me happy (ice cream, friends)
- Things that are brightly coloured (coat, bike)
- Things that don't belong here (litter dropped on the pavement etc.)
- Things that are beautiful (nature, trees)
- Things featuring numbers (shop phone number, house number)
- Things featuring letters (road names, signs)
- Things we need (post boxes, front doors)
- People I love... etc.
You could set the challenge of photographing things that begin with the alphabet letters.
- Find an Apple, Bed, Cup, Desk, Egg, Fence etc.
- Find various colours: find find 5 red items.
- Find a certain number of things: find 3 socks, 2 teddies etc.
When the pictures are taken, show the children how to load the images onto the computer. Describe what happens as you flick through the pictures and sort them. Show them how you print them and trim to size etc. You could then create a booklet displaying the images in order and writing the appropriate letter on each page.
It's never too early to introduce your toddlers to science - you don't call it science, of course, but there are plenty of fun activities that you can do to help build an understanding of the world around them. Here are a few ideas:-
Weather: Create a series of card pictures for different types of weather, and a picture for each of the seasons. Each morning look at the weather and put the appropriate weather and season pictures up on the wall.
Faces: Create a large picture of a head and then create a series of different eyes, noses, mouths, ears, eyebrows, hair and pairs of glasses. Have your toddler create faces, placing features in the right place. Discuss different coloured eyes, different shaped features and talk about what glasses are for.
Planting: Buy some cress or mung beans, plant them in a plastic pot, water them and watch them grow. Have your child chart the progress each day as they germinate and shoot up. Discuss the ways that they change each day, draw how they look and at the end, make a sandwich and enjoy them! Talk about how healthy they are and that good food makes you grow.
Colours: Show how mixing finger paints creates different colours. Create swirling patterns on paper by pouring on generous amounts of paint and swirling with your finger.
Growing: Use a wall to mark the height of your children. Have them stand against the wall, make a pencil mark at the height they stand and measure how tall they are. Add a date, and repeat on the first day of each month. Sometimes you'll see almost no difference, other months you might notice change. Over a prolonged time you will see how they grow. Discuss what makes you grow and the concept that your little ones are growing into big children.
These are just a few ideas, there are hundreds more activities that you can undertake with your toddlers to get them used to the concepts of science, and to spark an interest in the world around them.