Weather makes for a great long term project, especially at this autumnal time of year when the weather is quite changeable. Observing the weather ticks a number of EYFS boxes, particularly in Communication and Language and Understanding the World but you can also extend it into Literacy by having your older toddlers write weather symbols, and you can easily create counting games based on weather observations.
You can buy some really good weather and calendar charts, but you can make them yourself at almost no cost. Just create a chart on a large sheet of paper covering the days of the week and cut out some weather symbols stuck onto card. Have your little ones select the right weather symbols to match the current weather.
Because the weather can change, they can add symbols for each type of weather during the day. It may start off sunny, cloud over and then rain before clearing up again. Instill observation in your little ones by encouraging them, proactively, to add a symbol to the weather chart each time they observe a change outside.
The sun has arrived at last, but hurry, it may not last long! On a hot day, with beating sunshine, it's so important to keep the children covered up and protected from the sun. Here are 10 important things to remember on a scorching day:-
- Cover up with sun cream before going into the sun
- Remember waterproof nappies for little ones looking forward to a dip in the sea or a paddling pool
- Reapply suncream throughout the day, especially after emerging from water
- Wear a sun hat; sun glasses are more cosmetic but they're cute too
- Wear UV SPF protective clothing, wear clothes in water if you're really exposed to the sun
- Drink lots and keep hydrated - water is best
- Keep in the shade whenever possible
- Beware of biting or stinging insects, if insects are a pest where you are, use a natural repellant
- To help with hydration, eat lots of fruit, especially high water content tropical fruits such as watermelon, pineapple, melon and mango
- Eat lots of ice-cream!
There is a constant public health message that we must protect ourselves from the harmful damage that the sun can cause, but more importantly, we must look after our children in the sun! We still have a limited understanding of long term damage that can be caused short term exposure to the sun, but increasingly it is believed that a single episode of sunburn during childhood could lead to skin cancer in later life. It is essential, therefore, that you look after children when they play out in the sun, especially when on holiday to hotter parts of the world. You must also ensure that anyone else looking after your children, at nursery, with a childminder, or at school, also looks after their health.
What precautions should you take to protect your children in the sun?
- Apply sun screen with a sun protection factor of at least 50
- Re-apply sun cream throughout the day at two hourly intervals
- Re-apply sun cream after being in water, even if the cream states that it is water resistant
- Make sure your child's body is clean before applying sun cream, rub off any sand particularly before applying lotion
- Have the children wear sun hats, make sure that the backs of necks are covered too
- Avoid being in the sun altogether during the hottest parts of the day
- Create your own shade to sit in on the beach or in other exposed places
- Wear clothes with a stated sun protection factor
- In really hot places, keep t-shirts and hats on when swimming or playing in water
Be aware that sun cream is NOT recommended for babies under 6 months because their skin is delicate and very thin. Chemicals in sun block may actually harm the skin of a baby. Instead, make sure that they are protected by clothing and keep them in a shaded place, out of the sun.
Teaching your toddler some basic rituals when it comes to everyday livinhg is a great and easy way to introduce some good (and advisable!) habits into their lives. The more they get used to following these simple rules, the easier it will be to keep them safe and actually introduce them to some good practice.
- Hands Please - Make sure you get into the habit of washing hands in certain situations: before eating, after playing outside, after going to the toilet and after stroking pets. Make it more fun by having nice smelly soap that the children can reach and use on their own if they are old enough. Make sure there's a step to reach the tap and a nice fresh towel to wipe clean.
- Going To The Toilet - Teach the little ones how to wipe their bottoms as soon as they start going to the toilet. If they practice how to do it properly on their own from the start they will get into the habit and keep doing it when they go to the toilet alone. Make sure you teach them how to flush and close the toilet lip safely. Use moist wipes to ensure they are fresh.
- Teeth - Make sure you get your child to wash their teeth twice a day and do yours at the same time too to show them that you do it as well. Supervise and do the washing, but also let them try too and have a brush about. Explain that good brushing means healthy teeth and no uncomfortable cavities!
- Food Fun - Try and keep to a healthy diet. Sweet things are allowed, of course, but keep them to a minimum and after having eaten the healthy foods. Create a food chart to ensure you eat five fresh fruits or vegetables each day. Encourage the children to pick which fruit to have at the supermarket. Eat the fruit and vegetables in different ways: cooked in stews, cooked an their own, raw, chopped into slices or sticks. Make sure you choose colourful vegetables with your meals and even try presenting in different ways. Could broccoli and carrot sticks be a forest? Explain that sweet things are fine in moderation but that is the vitamins, minerals, dairy products, carbohydrates and all good foods that help us grow, give us energy and have fun. And, of course, drink lots of water too!
- Keep the Family Moving - Explain that keeping active is a fabulous way to have fun, keep healthy and keep happy! Do walks or bike rides together, or go for swimming sessions as a family. Walk to school or nursery when you can and walk to the local shops too. Run about in local parks or open spaces or head to soft play centres to climb and run and swing about. Get a bike for your little one as early as you can and encourage them to ride. Dance about and sing songs too and be as active as you can.
- Sleep Time - Getting enough sleep is vital for you and your child so make sure you get into the habit of good and long nights sleep from an early age. Of course there are often troubles with sleeping, but do you best to get them to sleep alone and go back to sleep when they wake in the night. Stick to regular bed times, make sure they are warm enough (though, not too hot!), that they have teddies/comforters nearby, that the room is dark but not too dark to make it alarming if they wake.
- Be Safe - Teach them some basic safety requirements and they will be less likely to have accidents throughout their childhood. Show them how to climb stairs and come down safely. Show them how to get into chairs and get out again. And practise over and again to make sure they are confident and safe.
- Sunny Days - Always apply suncream as a matter of course and keep it handy throughout the day should you need to re-apply. Make it a part of your routine when leaving the house so it becomes normal to apply the cream with minimum fuss.
All this sun gives is the perfect opportunity to teach our toddlers how the sun moves throughout the day and how better to show this than by making a giant sundial?! Start by making a few signs of things that you do throughout the day. Draw a picture each for breakfast, lunch and tea. Draw pictures for snacks that you take regularly, then draw some pictures for other things that you do as part of your daily routine - do you always go outside at a certain time, or do a school run for older siblings? Do you have a set story time, song time or maybe a time when you let your children watch a bit of television? Make a bright sign for each of these and any other routine things that you do.
Now find two garden canes and cut them into lengths about two foot long - you can use short straight branches if you don't have canes to hand. Attach one of your little one's drawings to each of the canes, securing them with tape. Leave one piece of cane plain without any picture. If there's a chance of rain over the next few days then attach a see through sandwich bag over each sign to protect it.
To make your sundial, take the plain cane and stick it in the ground in your garden. Then as each of the different points of the day passes, go outside and look at where the shadow of your cane is sited. Stick one of your cane's into the ground at the tip of the shadow.
As the day progresses, the sun moves in the sky and the tip of your shadow will move. By the end of the day, all your homemade signs will be sited in an arc around the original pointer. Explain to your toddler that the sun moves throughout the day and that this causes the shadow to move. You might be able to explain to older children how the earth moves around the sun and that this is the reason why the shadow moves.
Leave your sundial out for a week and look at how the shadow points to the right sign for the different things going on in the day as the sun progresses.
Two thirds of our body is made up of water, so it seem logical that we need to drink enough fluids to keep that level topped up especially in the hot weather - this advice is particularly important for children too! Everyone loses fluids throughout the day by sweating and urinating, so in hot weather it's critical that we don't dehydrate.
Watch out for symptoms and signs of any side effects of dehydration in your little ones throughout the day. Thisis particularly important if they aren't able to talk as they won't be able to tell you how they are feeling,
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- a feeling of light-headeness
- passing darker urine than normally
- feeling thirsty
Side effects of dehydration:
- feeling tired and light headed
- feeling dry in the mouth and reducing the amount of saliva you produce
- becoming more vulnerable to picking up coughs and colds (saliva is one of the body's main defenses against viruses)
- physical fatigue
- mental fatigue
Make sure that your little ones continue taking fluid throughout the day. Here are some ideas to make drinking water a bit more fun so that they don't find drinking too much of a chore:-
- Add coloured ice cubes (make them with food colouring or fruit juices) or a slice of lemon to their water
- Give water a slight zing by Squeezing in some lemon or lime juice
- Keep a jug of water in the fridge to keep it icy cold
- Keep a bottle of water with a 'sports top' with you when your out and about, your little ones will like the novelty of drinking from a bottle!
You can also offer foods with high water content, here are some great hydrating foods for a hot day:-
- Slices of water melon
- Grapes (cut in half for little children)
- Ice lollies (read this post for some fun ideas on how to make your own!)
- Cucumber sticks
- Red, orange and green pepper 'traffic light' sticks
- Summer fruits, especially raspberries and strawberries
- Tropical fruit slices: melon, pineapple, kiwi, mango, papaya
Enjoy the sun with your children, but make sure you all stay hydrated!
New research brings consensus to the idea that the dinosaurs were wiped out after a phenomenal asteroid collision sited at what is now the Yucatan Peninsular in Mexico - this is the stuff of boys' imagination, combining two fascinating boundaries of knowledge: dinosaurs and space.
Although your little ones are probably too young to comprehend the reality of either space or dinosaurs, why not at least introduce these ideas? No matter where you live you probably aren't that far from a museum that has exhibits on at least one, if not both, of these topical areas. Plan a visit and activities around one of these two areas!
To foster an interest in space, take your little ones outside after dark to observe the moon and stars; explain that every star is like our sun but so far away that they appear to be tiny. Talk about concepts of near and far based on things you can see nearby, explain how further objects appear to be smaller than nearby ones.
Introduce the idea that we live on a planet called Earth and that there are lots of other planets in space but so far away that we can't see them. Look at a map of the world and describe how we have lots of countries and lots of sea, and perhaps name some of the countries that your little ones might have heard of.
Create a spaceship out of old bottles, boxes or cartons and encourage your kids to go off exploring the universe!
Time is a very confusing and abstract concept. Children struggle to distinguish 'today', 'tomorrow' and 'yesterday', so having them conceptiualise dinosoars roaming the land hundreds of millions of years ago is going to be a challenge! But you can explain that dinosaurs were like giant monsters and that there were lots of them a long, long time ago!
Find pictures of dinosaurs in a book, online, or best of all, in a sticker book, and look at the different creatures. Point out their different characteristics such the styles of their legs, tails, horns; maybe some of them have funny necks and small heads, others might have huge teeth; lots walk, some fly, others swim. Study the pictures and tell your children their names. See if they can pronounce the really tricky ones - to them the sounds may be no more alien than many of the other words and phrases they hear every day.
Why not make a dinosaur park? Draw and cut out your own dinosaurs, make more out of card or old bottles, and see if you can create a dinosaur menagerie.
Weather has a profound affect on us - it helps us decide what to do for the day. Create a weather board with your children, make templates to represent sun, cloud, rain, thunder and other weather phenomenon. Each morning, look outside and talk about the weather with your children. Place the relevant weather image on your board to describe the weather. You can even do this exercise with babies, repeat the weather word to them, 'sun', 'rain', 'cloud' or whichever is relevant. Show them the picture and point between the picture and the sky. In time they will begin to repeat sounds back to you, and will be able to point to the right picture according to the weather. This will be communicating before they can even utter full words! Record more detailed meterological information with older children. For example, note whether it rained during the day, and how much fell. Make a rain guage from an old plastic drinks bottle - cut off the top, mark lines on the side and number from the bottom, then leave it outside. Your kids will love an ongoing project and will learn loads about the weather!