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Category: Kids Activities



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.



Growing Vegetables

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Food, Drink and Eating, Kids Activities , Tags: beans, courgettes, diary project, dwarf beans, garden, gardening, growing vegetables, pak choy, patio gardening, potatoes, tomatoes, vegetables

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Despite suffering the coldest Easter on record, now is the right time to start thinking about growing plants in the garden - why not plant some vegetables with your little ones and track their growth through a diary project?

Many vegetables are surprisingly easy to grow and nothing tastes better on your plate than a serving of home grown food. Even if you don't have much garden, many vegetables can be grown in containers or pots, even on a patio. Start plants off in a greenhouse or shed, or on a windowsill inside, then plant out once the threat of frost has gone and when the plants are a couple of inches high. Below are some easy veg to grow for great rewards during the summer and autumn:-

Dwarf beans: 'Dwarf' refers to the height of the plant rather than the size of bean. Unlike most beans, the plants grow to just 18 inches (so don't require trellis) and produce copious quantities of long tasty beans. Plant now to crop through the summer.

Courgettes: Courgette plants grow with quite a wide spread, harvest regularly and you will be rewarded with between 10 - 20 fruits per plant so just one or two plants will produce a great crop. Cougettes are abundant and require very little care, you can even plant them in a pot on the patio.

Tomatoes: Traditional tomato plants are quite hard work because they require so much watering. Cherry tomatoes on the other hand are much easier and can be planted in small spaces, even in pots or hanging baskets. Pick the fruit in clusters off the vine and any that are under ripe will quickly ripen after harvest.

Potatoes: Forget the old fashioned way of tilling the ground, buy potato bags that can sit on the ground or patio. Fill them two thirds deep with soil and plant seed potatoes just under the surface. When the plants are established, add more soil to fill the bag. Children will love sifting through the soil at the end of the summer, discovering the potatoes. Plant several bags with different varieties to crop at different times in the summer and autimn.

Pak Choy: Not a traditional British vegetable but terrific in salads and stir fries, and really easy and quick to grow. Plant more seeds every fortnight and you will crop them throughout the summer.

Plant your seeds with your children and make notes. Look at them regularly and draw them at the different stages. Why not create a photo diary in ToucanLearn by photographing them and uploading the pictures to your Daily Diary?



Celebrate World Book Day

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Kids Activities

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World Book Day falls today and is celebrated in more than 100 countries - it really is 'World' Book day! Publishers around the world come together to promote reading and literacy in a special day designated by UNESCO. Why don't you join in the fun at home with your little one's? It doesn't matter if they're too small to read, you can read with them or you can enjoy looking through picture books together. Why not take it further and have some bookish fun:-

  • Read a story and then take it in turns to tell it again yourselves
  • Make your own book - a picture book for young children or a story book for older ones
  • Act out a story that you are familiar with
  • Dress up as a character from your favourite stories
  • Use a scanner to make a black and white copy of a picture from your favourite book and have your little ones colour it in

Encourage your little ones to enjoy books and stories and that will help them learn to read in time...



Train Spotting

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toys and Games, Days out, Kids Activities

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There's something about trains that just captivates young children, a fascination that can even last well beyond childhood! What is it about trains that children find so fascinating?

Toy trains are almost as old as the railways themselves. Young children, especially boys but also girls, enjoy lining up carriages into a train and pulling it along the floor or along a railway track. Children enjoy the sense of order that making a train offers. Trains have long played an important role in popular culture, first with books and then with television programmes featuring anthropomorphic trains such as Thomas the Tank Engine, Ivor the Engine and Chuggington. Real trains can bring excitement to young children - they will point out trains as they pass over a bridge in the distance, or when they see them from a car window.

If you live near a railway line or a station, take the children out for a walk and wait at a point where you can spot some trains. Talk with your little ones about what they are and what they do. Explain how lots of people can travel on a train. Make the noises that a train makes, point out and mimic the clickety-clack that the carriages make as they pass over joins in the rails. See if you can see signals and explain what they mean.

Seeing trains is an outing in itself for your little ones. What might appear to be perfectly mundane to you may create deep impressions on your children that last for many years to come.



National Storytelling Week

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Kids Activities , Tags: knowledge, library, national storytelling week, stories, storytelling

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This weekend marks the end of the 13th annual National Storytelling Week, organised by the Society for Storytelling to promote the oldest art form of oral storytelling. Before humans were writing, all knowledge had to be passed down orally and storytelling formed a fundamental part of knowledge transfer. Even with writing, storytelling plays an essential role in learning for our little ones - children learn through stories long before they are able to read or write.

Make sure that you are telling stories to your little ones all the time, and not just during National Storytelling Week! Even babyies who are too young to understand what is being said will benefit from constant exposure to oral communication. They will hear words and they will hear expression, and this all helps on that long journey towards being able to communicate themselves.

Find time in your daily routine to sit down with children and read stories. Make up stories and retell familiar tales in your own words. Older children might have fun by telling you stories in return, or by changing tales they are familiar with to give them a surprise outcome.

If you haven't done naything for National Storytelling Week so far then see if you can catch any activities at the weekend. See if your local library has some events on and go and join the fun...



Snow Fun

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toys and Games, Kids Activities , Tags: follow the leader, golf, sculpture, snow games, snowball, snowman

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As snow blankets the country, there is so much fun to be had outdoors with your littles ones, here are just a few ideas...

Giant snowball: Compact a small snowball and have your little ones roll it around the garden so that it gets bigger and bigger.  See how big they can get before they can no longer roll it. Afterwards, turn your giant snowball into a snowman, or...

Snow sculptures: snowmen must have been around forever, but why not build other snow models too? A family of snow ducks, or a snow reindeer? Why not built a boat or train to play in?

Follow the leader: walk around the garden or a park and have your little ones mimic every move. The snow adds another element of fun as they can step in your footprints so that it looks like there is only one person.

Snow messages: challenge older children to run around in the snow and spell their name or write a message. View the results from an upstairs window and see how accurate they were.

Snow golf: Put a plastic mixing bowl out in the snow to be your golf hole. Use a plastic ball (ball pit ones are perfect) and find something to use as a club (what about one of daddy's welly's?!). Take turns to hit the ball from a starting point over and into the hole.

Have fun, and remember to wrap up warm!

 



Listening Games

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Toys and Games, Kids Activities , Tags: colours, games, listening, sounds

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Listening is a hugely important skill as it helps children interpret instructions. Given that early schooling is highly verbal, it is essential to master listening early on. Here are some games to help improve listening skills with your children:-

Colour Story: Give each child a different coloured building brick. Tell a story and weave the colours into the story. Each time a child hears there colour, have them wave their brick in the air.

Name that Sound: Make sounds and have your children name them. For example, make a siren sound, the noise of an aeroplane, horses hooves, birdsong and so on.

Shopping Game: Take up to 20 store cupboard food items or play food and lay them out on the floor. Tell each child a list of three items that you want from the shop and have them walk over to the food, pick out their three items and bring them to you. Play rounds increasing the length of the list each time.

Simon Says: You must know this old classic? Instruct children to perform an action prefixed with 'Simon Says...'. 'Simon Says "Touch your nose"', 'Simon says "Twist around"'. Any command without 'Simon Says' must be ignored.

Happy Endings: Tell the first part of a story and have your children each make up a different ending to the story. Either read from a book, or make up your own short stories.



Mixed Media

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Kids Activities , Tags: art, crayons, felt tip pens, fireworks, paints, scribbling

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Children love to draw and colour - there's something very rewarding about turning a blank sheet of paper into a work of art. No matter what their ability, your babies and toddlers will create something that they can be proud of.

Rather than sticking with a single type of drawing implement (for eaxmaple, just crayons, pencils or paints), experiment with 'mixed media'. Make scribblings with wax crayons and then paint over them, or colour with pencils and then add bolder patterns on top using felt tip pens.  Create a firework display using chalks and paints on black paper, or an abstract work by scribbling on paper with highlighter pens and use a narrow black felt pen to outline some of the lines.

Encourage your little ones to experiment with the different textures and properties of various drawing and painting materials and see how creative they can be by combining them together in their art.



Batteries Required

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Kids Activities

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Many toys require batteries and are not supplied with any, make sure that you buy good batteries though so that they last more than just a few minutes!  It's very tempting to buy packs of batteries in the various 'pound shops' and market, but although cheap, these don't necessarily last.  Make sure that traditional AAA/AA/C/D batteries that you buy all state that they are 'alkaline' as these are much more powerful than non-alkaline variants.

Batteries are available in different power ratings but it isn't usually clear what power they offer.  This is why branded batteries such as Duracell are usually a better bet than non-branded ones. Buying batteries at the 'point of sale' in supermarkets and toy shops often represents bad value for money too.  Keep a stock of batteries in your store cupboard, and buy in bulk over the internet.  As a target price, you can generally source AA and AAA batteries for around 30p per battery. If you're in the supermarket and there's an offer on batteries, see if you are anywhere near that target - if you are then they are a good buy.

Rechargeable batteries are much more expensive but they can also be used over and over again. Look for nickel metal hydride batteries (NiMH) which don't suffer from 'memory effect' - the problem whereby batteries rapidly lose the ability to charge fully.  Be aware that rechargeable batteries aren't suitable for all toys.  Whereas traditional batteries are usually rated 1.5 volts, the equivalent rechargeables are often rated 1.2 volts, and may not drive your toys.  Rechargeable batteries will state their power rating.  Look for batteries rated over 1500 mAh rather than weaker ones between 500 - 800 mAh.

Some toys drain batteries more quickly than others. Generally anything with moving parts or putting out a radio signal will drain more quickly.  Remote control vehicles, walkie-talkies and other propelled toys require more power than toys that have just lights or sounds.  If rechargeable batteries power your higher drain toys then it's a good idea to use them in those. Remember not to throw your rechargeables away though - check any batteries carefully once they are drained before disposing of them!



Indoor Olympics

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toys and Games, Kids Activities , Tags: beanbags, bowling, fancy dress, games, hockey, olympics, puzzles, sport

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Now that the Olympic games are a distant memory, keep that memory alive by holding your own indoor Olympics...perfect for these slightly more dreary autumn days!

Beanbag 'Race'
Place a beanbag on your toddler's back and have them crawl around until it falls off. Older children can balance the beanbag on their head and walk slowly.  Whoever keeps their bag steady the longest wins.

Indoor Hockey
Place some small toys on the floor and describe a route around them. Take a medium sized ball, such as a foam tennis ball, and have your little ones 'bat' the ball around the obstacle course using a straw. Can they do it without bumping the obstacles themselves?

Bowling Alley
Use teddies, dolls or any other suitable toys as 'pins'. Sit them up a few feet away and use a foam ball to try to knock them down. Make sure the ball is only rolled gently along the floor!

Fancy Dress Race
Collect together some fancy dress outfits and place them in front of your little ones. They must put on the first outfit, turn around once then take that outfit off and put on the next one. The first one to wear all the outfits is the winner.

Puzzle Marathon
Get out all your puzzles (sized according to ability) and see how quickly you can complete them all.  Use a timer to time each one and look at whether each puzzle is completed faster or slower than the one before.  Show how timers count seconds and explain the idea of timing.



Pass the Pizza

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Food, Drink and Eating, Kids Activities , Tags: beef, games, ham, mushrooms, pepperoni, peppers, pizza, slugs, snails, sweetcorn, tomato, worms

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Here's a great game for kids to play in a restaurant while waiting for your food to arrive. Take a sheet of paper and draw a large circle on it, as large as you can fit on.  Draw a large cross to divide the circle into quarters, then draw further lines to divide the circle into equal eights. Now the fun begins!

Pass the paper around the table and each player takes one of the 1/8th slices, drawing in their own pizza topping ideas. Keep passing the paper around until all eight pizza slices have been filled with different toppings.

There are no rules - you can draw in traditional pizza toppings, such as different meats (pepperoni, ham or spicy beef) and fresh vegetables (slices of peppers, mushrooms, sweetcorn or tomatoes). Alternatively draw in other patterns such as national flags, or why not put slugs, snails and worms on your pizza?!

You can add an element of surprise by folding the paper and only letting each player see the slice that they are decorating. When the pizza is unfolded at the end you can reveal the completed pizza for the first time.



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.



Observing the Weather

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Kids Activities, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: chart, cloud, eyfs, observation, project, rain, sun, weather

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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.



Video Source

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Kids Activities , Tags: blinkx, butterfly, clips, corbis, google, internet archive, kangaroo, lava, nasa, video, volcano, youtube

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If a picture tells a thousand words, how many does a video tell? One of the great things about the internet is that you can quickly find video to help illustrate almost anything you want. The next time your little ones ask you something, such as "how many legs does a butterfly have?",  "how high does a kangaroo jump?" or "how fast does lava flow?" , instead of just spouting an answer, turn to the internet and find some video that illustrates the answer.

YouTube is probably the best known site for videos in the world. You will find short clips illustrating almost any point you care to imagine. Besides YouTube though, there are many other really good sites with high quality video that can be used for educational purposes.  Here are a few video archives that you can search and access without having to register:-

If you want to use video in your setting, be careful not to breach any copyright rules. Don't copy the video onto your own computer or download to place on your onw website, make sure that you simply link to videos or embed them in ways that are encouraged and allowed.

Why not set yourself an ongoing project to discover a topic in detail, looking for illustrative video to help you learn along the way?



Number Practice

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Kids Activities , Tags: numbers, numerals, zero

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Numbers surround us wherever we go and this makes for great opportunities when teaching your littlest ones their numerals. When you are reading, look for page numbers or other numbers such as in the price or other publishing information.  Ask your little ones to look at the page and point to a particular number.  When you are in the kitchen, ask your little one to look around the room and find numbers perhaps on a calendar or a clock, or displayed anywhere else.

Having your little ones look about and pick out numbers will help them to learn to identify their numbers and cement their knowledge. Stay just with single numerals rather than whole numbers that are higher than nine.

Make sure you learn zero as well as other numbers because zero is important for learning longer numbers such as 10 and 100.  Also explain what zero is because it is slightly more complex than other numbers.  If you have one apple or two apples, the number is obvious, but if you have no apples, it takes a little more abstract thought to equate that to zero.  Of course, once they get it, it will be completely obvious to them!

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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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