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Adapting EYFS Activities to Different Topics

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Kids Activities, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: activities, days of the week, development, dinosaurs, eyfs, minibeasts, romans, topics

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The EYFS covers broad aspects of child development (such as Communication and Language, Literacy, Mathematics) rather than specific topics such as 'Dinosaurs', 'The Romans' or 'Days of the Week'.  At ToucanLearn we have a range of activities suited to the capabilities of each individual child. The selection of activities you see for a 3 month child is different for those of a 9 month child or 2 year old toddler. Our activity programme takes each child up to school age.

If you want to cover specific topics in your setting then look at adapting our activities to cover the topics you want to cover. Some of our activities will map very easily whilst some may not. For example, if you are studying 'Minibeasts' then look at adapting the range of activities being offered to change the focus to creepy crawlies instead.

Of course, there are plenty of other activity sites on the Internet and a quick search will bring up all sorts of activities relating to specific topics. Where ToucanLearn differs is that we offers activities aimed at the specific capabilities of each child, each one focusing on different aspects of the EYFS at that stage of development. By adapting our activities to a different topic, you can ensure that the activities are pitched at the right level in terms of capability.

EYFS Activities

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Kids Activities, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: activities, areas of learning, eyfs, eyfs activities, toucanlearn

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The EYFS is all about facilitating early learning, it's not a curriculum that should be followed prescriptively.  Indeed, prescriptive learning lies far from the aims of the EYFS.  Children have developed through learning since the dawn of humankind, and the EYFS doesn't bring us anything radically different in our approaches to learning for preschoolers, it simply encourages particular types of learning to stimulate the important parts of early development.

For this reason, it's not possible to pigeonhole an activity and say 'this is an EYFS activity'.  You would be hard pushed to undertake any activity that didn't cover at least one of the bases of the EYFS areas of learning. However, certain activities cover certain areas of learning better than others.

At ToucanLearn, we offer hundreds of actvities that, for our premium members, are all categorised by EYFS areas of learning. Most of our activities predate the EYFS, but they were designed with the same aims of the EYFS, to promote health early years development. As a young carer, you should observe the way that your wards are developing and should aim to promote those areas where you perceive work is needed.  Babies develop at different rates but generally conform to a linear pattern, hitting goals in a very similar order.  If you observe that your little ones might be struggling with gross or fine motor skills, or in the development of language, then actively seek out activities that will help to promote these areas.  At ToucanLearn you can achieve this simply by searching for an activity covering a particular area of learning.

Do continue pursuing activities in all the other areas of learning too - babies are developing rapidly so even if progress is good, or even better, continue visiting activities that you know they will cope well with as practice, repetition and the sheer fact that they are engaged in activities will all help their early development.

If you have stumbled across this entry inadvertently, then please do visit our main site, ToucanLearn. Sign up for free and access hundreds of preschool activities. If you're a professional childminder then you will find that we offer lots of services to help you fulfil the EYFS, and hopefully we can play a small part in helping your little ones achieve their potential in life.

Jumping Jacks!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Health, Child Development, Kids Activities , Tags: activities, jumping games, physical

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Jumping Games are fun and a great way of doing some exercise, here are some jumping games for you to play with your little ones...

  • Think about your landing: knees bent, arms forward, toes then flat foot.
  • Jump on the spot and them move around the room.  How does it feel different?
  • Run and jump - is it easy or hard?
  • Jump over - some cushions or a brave Teddy!
  • Jump over a moving object - how about a swirling rope or a path or a brook if you have one nearby!
  • Jump like animals that the children suggest.  If they suggest animals that not everyone knows about, look them up on line and find them!
  • What does jumping do to our bodies?  Heart beat faster, legs ache (a bit!), arms swing, feet make a noise on the floor as we land etc.
  • Hang some ribbons or balloons from a height just above the children's reach (on a washing line perhaps!) and see if they can bat the balloons. Or, hang bells or shakers that will make a noise when batted.
  • How many an the children reach?  Count the number of noises you hear for each child.
  • Follow my Jumper - one person leads and jumps in different ways as all the children behind have to follow.

Have fun!


Clubs and Activities

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Family, Kids Activities , Tags: activities, after school, clubs, expensive

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The cost of after school activities and clubs is getting so very expensive. Should you choose ballet or rainbows? Beavers or football? French club or swimming? Half of parents are having to cancel their children's after school clubs because its just getting too expensive.

Some research carried out by MyVoucherCodes has discovered that over a third of parents say their children do not take part in after school activities and many of those have had to stop the clubs because its just too expensive.

1,192 parents were questioned by MyVoucherCodes to look at parents habits when it comes to children's clubs. A third said that their children did not take part in any after school activities. 24% said their children did activities on an occasional basis. Of those who did not attend clubs the reason given was, according to more than half, that the parents had to save money.

A high percentage, 27%, said their children did not want to do any after school clubs. And, of those who did attend activities on an occasional basis said the reason behind this occasional attendance was that the children were "too lazy"!

While many clubs are expensive and require special equipment or uniforms, many are not. Rainbows and Beavers (a weekly hour long meeting with games and activities) costs about £20 a term. Play groups and church children's play days range can costs as little as £1 a family for each session. Library play and stay sessions can be as little as 50p per child.

So, it is more a question of choosing activities that are appropriate and affordable rather than just saying no to all activities.

Clothes Pegs Are Fun!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Kids Activities , Tags: activities, pegs, pine motor skills

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Clothes Pegs are fascinating for children, they are a strange shape, unusual texture and have fascinating clippy capabilities!  They can be a source of great interest and fun - with a bit of adult supervision to ensure they don't clip them to their little fingers. Playing with pegs can be education in all sorts of ways.  Using pegs is a great way to improve fine motor skills.

Peggy Ideas:

  • Count the pegs into a container.  How many are there?
  • Sort them by colour into little piles.
  • Put them into some used containers with lids and see the different noises they make when you shake them.
  • Show your children how to open and close the pegs and see how many they can clip round a used ice cream box or container in one minute.  Then time them to take them all off again.
  • Peg out some washing together or wash some dolls clothes and hang them out to dry.
  • Print some photos.  Hang a string in your child's room and peg the photos to the line as a way of displaying them.  Or hang up art work like a gallery.
  • If you have wooden pegs, draw some patterns on them with felt pens to make them more attractive.  Or stick on some sequins for a sparkly peg!
  • Use pegs to hold together papers or drawings or letters from school.  Get your child to decorate the pegs to make them look really pretty.
  • If you stick a magnet (from craft shops) to the back it could be stuck to the fridge door so you don't lose things.
  • Get the children to match socks on washing day.  Ask them to peg them together and then you can fold them securely.
  • Hide pegs in the garden and get the children to find them like a Peggy Treasure Hunt.

What's the Time?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Kids Activities , Tags: activities, clock, numbers, tell the time

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It's really a vital skill to have and telling the time can be easy to learn if you make it fun.  Teaching the clock can be hard, but once children get familiar they will feel confident enough to lear how to tell the time. 

  • Start by counting the numbers together, get familiar with the clock face and the numbers.  Name the numbers and count round the clock.
  • Watch a real clock and how the hands move round.  Spot the big hand, the little hand and the second hand go round and explain each tells us different information.
  • Search for different clocks and watches and alarm clocks and digital time displays rond the house.  You'll be surprised how many clocks there are including the DVD player, oven, burgler alarm, alarm clock etc. 
  • Listen to clocks.  Find clocks and watches round the house and listen to them.  DO they tick?  Listen to the ticks and explain each tick is one second.
  • Go online and search for different clocks and watches to look at.  See if you can find a few videos of clocks chiming and ticking. 
  • Make a clock.  Take a paper plate, or a round piece of card.  Make 2 hands for the clock and use split pins to secure them to the centre of the clock.  Write on the numbers in the correct place.  Decorate the face of the clock to make it look really swish.  Then use the home made clock to try and teach the time.  Start with the hour hand and move round to the different numbers to get the idea of the hours.  Then look at the minute hand and the number of minutes in an hour.

Take it slow and keep it nice and easy...

Nature Is So Much Fun!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: activities, eyfs, nature, out and about

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How many times do you come back from a walk to school or a stroll to the park and find your child holding leaves, twigs, and muddy grasses?  ...or how often do you find rock and pebbles in trouser pockets (or in the bottom of the washing machine!)?  Nature is wonderful; it's ever changing and it's all around us - children can enjoy nature in so many ways no matter where you live.

Here are some activities to encourage an appreciation of nature... and help with some other areas of development too!

1. Nature Bowl: Whenever your child hands you an acorn or a pine cone to look after, ask instead for it to be put in the special "nature bowl".  Have any old bowl or basket and keep it in an accessible place so precious treasures can be stored and appreciated. Encourage counting by each time more things are added (or taken away!) count the bowlful together.  Encourage sorting by sorting the items into sizes, or shapes or colours. Encourage naming by finding out the name of each item and what it is/does?

2. Practice finding and looking:  Collect some nature items (pine cones, acorns, twigs) and hide them in a sand pit.  See how many the children can find again in one minute.  Use a stop watch to time and count the items together.  Ask the little ones to hide the items next time and see if you can find any more quickly.  Encourage Problem Solving.

3. Birds: put out a bird bath (shallow bowl of water!) and see if any birds come to have a dip!  Go out and choose a bird feeder.  You can get some very reasonable ones at shops.  Make sure the children choose it.  Get them to help put it up and fill it and encourage them to keep an eye on it so it can be refilled.  Try to make it their responsibility.  Encourage problem solving, and self confidence.

4. Tent-making: give the children some blankets, branches, old boxes and see whether they can build a den in the garden or park.  Leave them to it and see how they get on.  If they need help, guide rather than take over.  Just show them how to balance things and give some tips.  Encourage creative thinking, physical movement and problem solving.

5. Mud pies: make some mud pies together with wet mud and allow it to dry.  Roll the mud into shapes and place on an old try in the sun to harden.  Use twigs to stick into the pies and leaves to decorate. Encourage creativity and problem solving.

6. Name all the insects you can: bee, spider, ladybird, butterfly, caterpillar etc. and as you call out each one, try to move like they do.  Wriggle like a worm, glide like a moth, dart like a wasp.  Encourage understanding of the world problem solving and physical movement.

A Sense of Touch

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, ToucanLearn, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: activities, senses, textures, toucanlearn, touch

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Here are a few ways to introduce the sense of touch to children with appropriate EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) areas of learning and development  included.

  • Go On Safari... round the house to find things that feel different.  The Cool window, the smooth door, the furry teddy the soft blanket.  Have a chat about how things feel.
  • EYFS: This promotes exploration and investigation, using language for communication.
  • Create a textured painting... add various ingredients to poster paints and get the children to have go at painting with different textures.  Try adding flour, lentils, sand, broken spaghetti and you'll get some great results.
  • EYFS: This promotes being creative and exploring media and materials.
  • Touchy-Feely box... take a few items that feel different such as pine cone, washing up brush, length of ribbon, necklace, spoon etc and ask your child to feel it, describe it etc.
  • EYFS: This promotes exploration and investigation and language for thinking.
  • Texture Book... get some different paper, fabric or things you can stick together to form a book.  Newspaper, tissue paper, soft fabric, cotton wool, silver foil could all be stuck securely to pages and bound with string or wool to create a great book.
  • EYFS: This promotes being creative and exploring media and materials.
  • Messy Activity... the ultimate way to feel and touch is to get really messy!  Try doing some hand and feet painting and get the children to describe how the wet, cold, sticky paint feels!  They will love it!
  • EYFS: This promotes being creative and exploring media and materials.

There are so many more activities like this at, where learning is fun for you and your little one!


Communication Problems

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Learning Play, Preschool Children, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: activities, communication, i can, interaction, listening, talking

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Research suggests that of all the children in reception classes in UK schools, nearly half of them have poor language skills. This is an astounding figure and Early Years Practitioners are doing so much to attempt to help those children with their language and communication.  The difficulty is not helped by the fact that children coming from nursery into schools are all at different levels of speech and communication so each child may need slightly different emphasis when it comes to helping their individual needs.

Communication is vital in various areas of development within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).  Communication is a two way process and we must listen as well as talk.  Communication between children themselves is also important because if one child cannot be understood, it can lead to further problems and frustrations.

ICAN (the charity that supports speech and communication) claims that over 2.7 million children have difficulties communicating. There are various ways that teaching practitioners can assist with general group activities as well as individual attention.

How to improve communication with general group activities:

  • Make sure there is lots of interaction between childcare providers and children
  • Practice listening skills between both children and teaching staff
  • Introduce rhymes and songs and tell stories
  • Use props such as pictures and puppets and musical instruments, talk about them and describe them
  • Teach signing actions in groups
  • Introduce discussion topics and games

Get the Children Moving!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Kids Activities, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: activities, beans game, physical games, pre-schoolers, toddlers

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It may be getting colder outside, and play parks are wet and grass waterlogged, but there are some fun activities you can do inside even if you have limited space.  Try this easy game on your own, with friends or at your toddler or childminding group and see how much fun you all have!

Beany Fun!

This is a great game for toddlers and pre-schoolers.  You simply start them all walking around the room and you call out different type of beans.  The children have to assume the appropriate pose as quickly as they can!  You can choose from:

Runner Bean - the children have to run on the spot.

Broad Bean - they have to stand with their hands and legs as wide apart as they can.

Chilli Bean - they must shiver and pretend to be cold.

French Bean - they have to stand with one hand on their hip and say, "Oh, la, la!"

Baked Bean - they have to curl up like a tiny baked bean.

String bean - they have to all join hands.

Thin Bean - they must stand straight with their arms up high above their head.

Jumping Bean - they must jump around.

Frozen Bean - they freeze and stand perfectly still.

You could do it when walking in the woods or on the way to school or anywhere you need to distract them on a journey.  If you're in the car, try it with just your fingers!

Have fun!

I Can Sing A Rainbow

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Kids Art and Craft, Kids Activities , Tags: activities, blue, colours, craft, games, green, orange, pink, purple, rainbow, red, yellow

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Here is the famous rainbow song; teach it to your child and sing it often as a reminder of all the colours around you!

Red, And Yellow, And Pink, And Green,
Orange, And Purple and Blue,
I can sing a rainbow,
Sing a Rainbow,
Sing a Rainbow too!

Have some fun learning colours with rainbows, the most colourful things in the world!

  1. Rainbow picture: Cut out all sorts of colourful things from magazines and catalogues. Place all the red things in one pile, all the green in another etc. Then draw a big rainbow on a page and stick on all the coloured pieces of paper in each appropriate arc.
  2. Floor rainbow: Go round the house collecting things that are colours of the rainbow. Find red bricks, blue cars, yellow socks. Then make a huge rainbow on the floor placing all the red things in one arc, all the blue in the next etc.
  3. Rainbow puzzle: Draw a rainbow shape on a page using a thick black pen. Use paint, glitter, coloured pens to fill in the colours When dry, cut out each arc to make a rainbow puzzle, and go round the house finding things that match each of the colours. Re-make the rainbow like a puzzle.
  4. Rainbow of clothes: Children often have such colourful clothes. Head off to the wardrobe and find items for the colours of the rainbow. Make them into a big clothing rainbow on the bed.
  5. Sing the song: and as you say the colours, point to something int he room that is that colour. See how you get on!
  6. Colour Eye Spy: Take a look round the room and play I Spy with my little eye, something that is.... and add your chosen colour. It's very easy for little ones to get the hang of this game and they will quickly be good at spotting colours!

Have lots of colourful fun!

Why Won't My Baby Play?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Learning Play, Child Development , Tags: activities, baby, learning, play, toddlers, toys

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For many months a new born baby will not be interested in playing with their toys - no matter how colourful the toys or encouraging you are, toys are not something they seem really interested in.  Until the age of one, most babies will not be able or interested to play alone for very long.

In the early days, you will be far more interesting to your baby.  They'll want to follow you round with their eyes, try to mimic what you do, be around you and it's a great time to spend quality time together.  Even if baby does begin to enjoy playing with toys, make sure you are always near so you can share with the experience.

Toys present only one small way that children learn about the world and their place within it.  The brain develops more in the first two years of life than at any time.  Playing and interacting without people is the way babies learn.

How do Babies Learn?

As babies learn to reach and hold things, they become more interested in toys.  "What happens if I bang this?"  "What a soft feel this teddy has."  "I like the sound of that."

Then, they realise they can make things happen themselves.  "If I drop this, it makes a noise and someone will come and pick it up.", "If I shout, someone comes.".

Playing, chatting and singing of course is the way children babies learn about speaking and language.  From birth they hear your voice, the sounds of music, the noise of cars and talking.  All these influences go on to combine to make up their knowledge and understanding of words and language.  They pretend to chat on the phone, they sing and babble.

What Toys Could You Buy for a 6 month old?

Toys that are tactile and feel nice are always good.  Choose things with lots of bright colours and lots of fun shapes and sizes, things that make a noise and things that are easy to hold.

... and for a 12 month old?

Try things that move or pop open or have doors that shut, this begins to teach cause and effect: if I press this, then that happnes.  Physical aparatus to encourage moving is also fun at this age: tunnels and tents.

... and for an 18 month old?

There are thousands of manufactured toys for toddlers, such as building blocks, role play toys (phone, kitchen), puzzles and games, outdoor equipment and so on. But remember you are the best thing for a baby to play with!  There are so many things you can so easily do together:

  • Play in the baby bath with water and bubbles
  • Sit and read books together
  • Listen to music
  • Have some rough and tumble: swing your baby through the air, have a dance together
  • Go to the park: have a go on the slide, swings and climbing frames
  • Study leaves and flowers together, feel the texture and look at the shapes and colours
  • Look at photographs of people you know
  • Look through colourful chldren's catalogues and just chat about what you see

Lots of simple, easy, and non-expensive ways to spend time together.  Who needs toys?!

Wanted: A Childminder

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Parenting, Kids Art and Craft, Child Development, Family, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: activities, childcare, childminders, toucanlearn

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If you fancy becoming a childminder, here are a few qualities that childminders need in varying quantities and on various days!

Must Like children! It sounds obvious but it is absolutely essential that childminders like children.  The idea of spending day after day with them should inspire a childminder rather than fill him or her with horror!

Safety conscious: Provide a safe and stimulating environment for children to play and learn.  Rid the house of all possible safety hazards.  Be hygienic and offer a clean place for children to spend their days.

Encouraging: Tempt and encourage children to take part and do activities and be sensitive to different children's needs.

Creative: Able to provide ideas for crafts and show the child how to do carry it out.  Join us at ToucanLearn for lots of great ideas!

Patient: Have a calm approach to teaching and demonstrating activities.

Love the outdoors: Take children on outings and adventures to the park and in the outdoors.

Willing: undertake the unattractive side of looking after children: such a dealing with dirty nappies and spills and mess.

A good cook - preparing hearty, wholesome and fresh food and snacks.

Good communicator: With children and adults too.  A childminder needs to communicate with children of all ages in a calm and assuring way.  All sorts of basic, but vital information needs to be shared between the parent and the childminder's setting.

Caring: They need to understand any fears and deal with any problems in a caring fashion.

Fit: It's physically and mentally demanding so health and fitness is essential.

Have business acumen: A child-minder is self employed and therefore needs to submit all the legal and tax documents that that entails.

If anyone ever queries why childminders are now trained and examined by OFSTED; or if someone asks why a childminder's rate is so much higher than a baby-sitter, just reel off a few of the personal requirements needed by childminders and there's your answer!  And, I am sure the list goes on...

Anyone think of any other things you need to be a childminder?  Perhaps (in the nicest possible way) a tiny bit crazy?!

For more ideas about what to do with children tell all the childminders about ToucanLearn!

Go Play Outside!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Health, Family , Tags: activities, fitness, fun, get active, health, outdoors

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The weather is warmer, the kids want to go out, but what can you do and why bother doing physical activity when you can just stay indoors?  It's important to encourage youngsters to get active and get used to the idea of doing physical activity.  Here are a few reasons why its important to do activities with children of all ages, because it helps them to:

  1. Be happy and have fun
  2. Sleep well at night
  3. Pay attention and learn at school
  4. Keep fit
  5. Grow strong and  healthy
  6. Make new friends and try new things
  7. Become less stressed and anxious
  8. Control their behaviour
  9. Express themselves

How much exercise you do depends on you, but the advice is that it should be about an hour a day.  Sound a lot?  It's not really when you look at what's included:-

  1. Walking to school
  2. Swimming lessons
  3. Sports and dancing
  4. Physical games e.g. skipping rope, trampolining
  5. Climbing, physical play at a park

How can you help?

  • Undertake activities together: try and do a family walk in the woods, or a family cycle ride every now and then
  • Set tasks and challenges for your children to achieve, eg. run on the spot for 2 minutes, run between 2 chairs 10 times, throw and catch a ball 5 times
  • Use your imagination: try doing some funny running or walking; run like a penguin with your legs together, waddle like a duck, gallop like a horse etc
  • Try something unusual: let your children choose something new, eg. yoga, rugby, tumble time
  • Help your child with basic skills so they feel confident and happy to build on those skills eg. ball throwing, skipping, running and jumping
  • Praise and give lots of positive feedback
  • Get some simple equipment to help them eg. scooters, skipping ropes, hula hoops, skittles

So, get outside and have some fun!


Take a Look!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, ToucanLearn, Parenting, Child Development, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: activities, blog, observation, records, toucanlearn

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Children and babies at nursery or pre-school, or children looked after by a childminder, are usually "observed" by their carer or teacher.  Parents may be familiar with an "Observation sheet" that comes home or is available to look at in the childcare setting.  However, as parents we are often too busy to sit back and observe our little ones and yet it can be a fascinating exercise.

In order to understand and consider a child's current interests, stage of development and their learning, observation is essential.  It allows us to see the child's responses in different situations, see what they choose to do or which toys they prefer to play with.  It's a means to plan appropriate games and activities based on what you see.

How do you undertake an observation?

  • Solo: Prepare a few different toys or activities for your child.  Try not to guide or lead them, and watch to see what they do.  Record what they do, how they manage the tasks and their movements.  Use your ToucanLearn Blog so you can compare week on week.
  • Together: prepare an activity or craft that you do together.  Record how your child manages, how you interact, what is said, how instructions are followed etc.  Try to be honest though - its only for your own benefit - and your child's!
  • Photograph: Take a couple of photos to record what they do.  Don't get them to pose - try to do it without them seeing; just snap them at play!
  • Moving pictures: Take some video or digital movies of your child playing.  Again, don't bother when they are performing to the camera or doing things on purpose.  Just catch them when they are restful and playing without thinking about you.
  • Notes: It's a good idea to have a little notepad to hand to scribble down anything your child does or says that's funny or interesting. Record these observations in your ToucanLearn blog at the end of each day or week so you can look back at them without losing the little bits of paper in the meantime!

Observation is a great way to get to know your child even better, see exactly where they are in their development and identify any area that may be weak and need extra help.

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Hi! I'm Tikal the Toucan, the mascot for ToucanLearn. Follow my blog to find out interesting things relating to babies, toddlers and preschool children!

Sign up FREE to ToucanLearn to follow our activity based learning programme for babies, toddlers and children. We offer hundreds of fun learning craft, games and activities - every activity is aimed at the capabilities of your specific children. Download custom activity sheets, and log their progress in each child's unique Daily Diary!

You'll also find sticker and reward charts, certificates, number and letter practice. Every activity links into the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) areas of learning and development.

Fill in our Daily Diary to log progress against the EYFS and add photo entries instantly simply by sending them straight from your phone. You can share diaries back with parents or childminders so that everyone can enjoy watching your children develop.

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