May 26th – Science Week!!

This week we’re going to do Science Week at The Children’s House!! Science is something that’s so easy to get excited about; there are lots of easy fun experiments to do, & also you can demonstrate how it exists in many activities that we do without even noticing it, so we’ll be giving a lot of different ideas for experiments for the week which you should mostly be able to do with things you already have at home.

Observing change is a great place to start with science, e.g.  when boiling a kettle, point out that the water is changing its state from liquid to gas; in making ice cubes water changes state again from liquid to solid. Making ‘goop’ is a really fun experiment to do at home – just mix cornstarch with water (about 2:1 ratio of cornstarch to water) to make a mixture that becomes hard & crumbly when you put pressure on it, then becomes a gooey liquid when you release the pressure; when you this is called a non-Newtonian fluid – like quicksand! It’s best to do this in something like a shallow basin, or out in a tray in the garden – it’s addictive to play with & can get very messy!!

Making predictions is another interesting activity which can really get children thinking – tell them you’re going to go for a nature walk in the garden/ by the canal,  get a notebook or paper & ask them to think about what they might find on the walk? Do 2 headings e.g. ‘what we might find’ &  ‘what we found’; write down their ideas under the 1st heading, go for the walk & mark what you found under the 2nd heading, then compare the 2. Don’t limit yourselves – use the senses when predicting & recording what you might hear/ smell/ touch as well as see! (Just not sure about tasting random things on a walk!!!)

Following on from this & to encourage your little scientists, try to reply to their questions with ‘well what do you think?’, ask them open-ended questions like ‘I wonder why we need the sun…’ or ‘what if there was no rain…’; this encourages a philosophising mind, which might sound very long-winded for preschoolers, but is just a way of encouraging them to think for themselves, & not to take things as set in stone but to question them – such an important tool for life, & one that preschoolers are well able to do!!! (On a random side note, books such as the Frog & Toad series by Arnold Lobel are wonderful for starting discussions, e.g. you could use Dragons & Giants to ask ‘what does it mean to be brave?’ ) Anyway, back to science!!

Demonstrating how different liquids have different densities is such a fun experiment to do! Just get a nice sized clear container e.g. a large glass, pour in equal amounts of honey, water (add food colouring if you have some) & oil; these will sit in layers on top of each other in order of density – honey at the bottom, water in the middle & oil at the top. For added fun, drop in small objects to see whereabouts they settle e.g. a grape, metal bolt, ping pong ball…anything you have lying around – just make sure you have tongs long enough to get them back out, as it’s messy putting your hand down into the honey!! A variation on this which looks amazing is using oil, water, food colouring & alka seltzer…

Lots of you might have already created homemade volcano ‘explosions’ before with your children using vinegar & baking soda, & you can also use the chemical reaction between the two to blow up a balloon

Dancing raisins is also a really simple activity that the children love in Montessori – all you need is a glass, raisins, & carbonated water or 7up – when raisins are dropped into the fizzy water, the bubbles accumulate on the surface of the raisin, eventually lifting it up to the top of the water where the bubbles burst, the raisin sinks down to the bottom of the glass, & the process starts again!

Static electricity experiments are such fun to do, & all you need is either a plastic comb or a balloon, & a head of hair!! Rub the comb/ balloon on your chosen head of hair (or a woolly jumper if people are getting upset about frizzy hair…) & this will transfer electrons onto the comb/ balloon which makes it negatively charged. This means it is attracted to the positive charge of other items – so if you move it very slowly towards a very fine trickle of running water or tiny pieces of torn up tissue, the water will bend towards the comb/ balloon, & the tissue pieces will jump up to it! Encourage your children to try out different variations on this experiment & let us know what they discover!!

Another experiment we would usually do in school is to show transpiration – at the beginning of the week, we put stems of celery in 3 jars – the first with no water, second with water, third with coloured water. We then ask the children to predict what will happen, & observe during the week to see if they were right. This really shows how plants transport water all the way up the stem to the very top, & if the plant doesn’t have water it will die – as the first poor celery stick does! The second survives the week & the third not only survives but looks an impressively different colour too! You can track the journey of the dye up the stem of the celery too. An extension of this is to use white flowers e.g. carnations & put them in jars with various different colours dyed water.

It’s a good time to talk about the importance of water & learn about the water cycle as it doesn’t seem to be raining so much at the moment! The earth recycles water by heating water in oceans, lakes etc so it evaporates as water vapour up into the sky, then it cools down in clouds during condensation, and eventually falls in the form of rain, hail, sleet or snow during precipitation – then the whole process starts again. This process of evaporation, condensation and precipitation happens all around us all the time. You can relate this process to events that the children see all the time in their own environments – evaporation when water is heated like the steam from a kettle, condensation when that steam/gas cools like the droplets in the bathroom when having a shower/bath, and precipitation as the droplets fall as rain, which the children are very familiar with!

Science activities can also bring in a lot of maths – if baking a cake/bread you might need to use a measuring jug to measure liquids, a weighing scales to weigh solids – and using descriptive language e.g. hot/cold, heavy/ light, hard/ soft… Encourage your children to come up with their own experiments – 1 of the years a child spent most of a week standing on a chair to drop 2 different objects to see which was heaviest & so would reach the ground first, I had to stop him climbing onto the tables to get extra height at one stage, he was so enthusiastic!

Children are born with a natural curiousity about how things work in their world and they love to experiment and discover in their environment – their questions should be encouraged as their potential as scientists is unlimited!!

The Water Cycle (to tune of She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain)

Water travels in a cycle yes it does!
Water travels in a cycle yes it does!
It goes up as evaporation,
Forms clouds as condensation,
Comes back down as precipitation –
Yes it does!!

May 18th – Butterfly week!!

Hi everyone, hope you’re all keeping safe & well out there!! For this week our activities are going to be butterfly based! Sue has put together a wonderful arts & crafts activity pack which we will be delivering to you by the end of the week; this contains all your child will need to make a butterfly life cycle, a Hungry Caterpillar picture, butterfly collage, and a lovely card making activity to send hugs & kisses to someone! As well as focusing on the butterfly life cycle, which is a very appropriate activity for summertime, these activities will involve your child in colouring, cutting and glueing – all great tasks for developing & improving concentration, hand-eye coordination, & fine motor skills as well as strengthening muscles in the hand. The most important thing though is that it’s all about the process, not the end result – enjoyment of learning is always crucial to its success, so there’s no pressure on the children to be producing masterpieces, or even anything vaguely recognisable!

Cutting can be an especially hard activity and a child can get demotivated very easily if it’s too challenging, so for this reason we often put trays of cutting out in the classroom which just involve children cutting a straight line, then a curved, then a zigzag – slowly getting more challenging as the child develops this skill. For improving pencil control, joining dots is always a popular activity – you can dot their names/ a shape/ a number etc & encourage them to join the dots to see what they make!

Encourage your child to also improve their gross motor movements by playing the ‘Bug Movement Game’ – get them to flutter like a butterfly/ crawl like a caterpillar / march like an ant/ climb like a spider….the options are endless, & take turns making up your own with your child!

Some further ideas for butterfly art, 1 of which we should all remember from childhood – putting splodges of paint on paper, folding the paper in half & squashing it with all your might – such great fun!!

Another variation on this is to cut out butterfly shapes, dip string in paint & use that to make your mirror image butterfly

There are some great yoga poses you can do with your children under the insect theme as well as the butterfly pose ; also cosmic kids do wonderful stories through yoga poses that you can access on youtube – they actually do a whole yoga version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar!!

Lastly, the song we’re sending this week is a butterfly fingerplay which goes through the lifecycle just to further reinforce it!! We hope you enjoy this week’s suggested activities, don’t forget to send photos of your little ones taking part, or any news on how they’re getting on is always welcome!

Take care & stay well xx

May 11th – time capsule, worry box, wish jar & sensory bottles!!

Hi everyone! This week we are going to focus on fun things you can do while stuck in this strange situation to try make the best of it, & maybe make a record of it for posterity!! There are also some activities that might help with emotions in case they’re running high at any stage…it’s such a confusing time for us as adults, so we can only imagine how hard it is for the littler people to make any sense of it all.

You’ve probably seen that there are some lovely ideas out there about making time capsules to have a memento of this time when we’re out the other side, & this is a really nice template that you could help your child to fill out, or alternatively do up your own version – whichever suits best!!

During this time especially, a lot of children might be anxious about their worlds having gotten smaller, & might be missing their friends & routine – on the other hand, they might well be having the time of their lives at home with you!! We often make worry boxes in school at different times during the year – this is literally an empty tissue box that you can decorate, & when someone is worried about something we write it down on a piece of paper & put it in. This can help to mentally let go of the worry – some children are more anxious than others, and making an abstract thought into something concrete is very beneficial for them. We check the box periodically & these worries can then be torn up & put in the bin as they are dealt with, which is very satisfying, & also shows that they are only temporary!

There was also a really wonderful idea online about making a wish jar, so that every time your child wishes they could do something, go somewhere or visit someone that they aren’t allowed to do at the moment, you write it on a note & put it in a jar. Then when the restrictions are eased, you work your way through the wish list – so again this reinforces to the children the idea that all this is only temporary, and that things *will* improve at some stage. In the meantime, the jar is filling up with magical things to look forward to!!

On the jars theme, just in case you have a lot just waiting for something to be used for…!! Sensory jars are fantastic to make with the children – we made ocean bottles in school before & they were the biggest hit, really calming (even for us adults!!) – & SO easy to make!! All you need is an empty jar or bottle, water, oil & food colouring. The video attached is really straight forward & she makes 3 versions –a glitter bottle (water & glitter); the ocean/ oil & water bottle; party in a bottle (anything goes!!) You can use superglue to secure the lids if you’re worried about little people investigating the contents too closely!!

Another really simple activity is to make stress balls – all that’s needed is balloons, water & cornflour! They’re addictive…

The song this week is a good one to get active to – ‘If You’re Happy & You Know It’ – don’t hold back & go all out doing happy, sad, angry & tired faces & actions with your children!!

Finally, I’ve attached the link to the coronavirus book for children that again I’m sure many of you have seen – it’s written with the input of experts including a child psychologist, & illustrated by Axel Scheffler, the legendary illustrator of many Julia Donaldson books. It’s pitched at 5 to 9 year olds, but might be useful as a reference point. (There’s also an audio version available now)

We hope you & your children enjoy this week’s activities, & don’t forget to send us on any proof, I mean photos, of doing them!! From all at The Children’s House, take care & talk soon xx

5th May – Picnicking at home!

This week’s suggested activities are very summery, to tie into the fact that May has arrived, & summer is here – as we can see from the amazing sunshine we’re being treated to at the moment!! We thought it might be nice for the families to get out together and enjoy a picnic & maybe send us a photo of it, as Sarah & her gorgeous model children Calum & Rebecca have done below It could be an outdoors or an indoors picnic, equally great fun!
The children can get involved by helping prepare some yummy sandwich fingers & cutting up fruit before threading them on skewers; this promotes independence, fine motor skills & hand eye co-ordination. The fruit could also be used to make healthy fruit smoothies like we often make in school this time of year – any fruit that you like, add spinach, orange/apple juice, throw in some ginger if you like it & voilà! Tasty AND healthy!! The children could then revise what they remember of the food pyramid from earlier in the year…
Explore fruit using the senses – for example, get messy with a watermelon, explore how it smells, feels and most importantly tastes. Try scooping out the insides using a melon baller; keep the seeds & dry them out to practice spooning and transferring with. Here’s a really cute story to go with the watermelon theme!! You could also do blind tasting with the children to see if they can identify fruit by its smell/ taste/ feel while blindfolded…
Try some basket weaving or creating a pattern for a picnic blanket – this is wonderful for fine motor skills!—m5j9I
The children could practice a practical life activity by setting the table, this could involve counting how many e.g. plates/ cups they’ll need so they’re doing Maths calculations as well!
Design & build your own park or playground out of lego, blocks, playdough or whatever you like to use at home – construction is wonderful for pre-Maths skills such as grading, seriation, spatial sense, classification & problem solving.
Play a memory game where picnic & food items are placed on a table, remove an item as your child closes their eyes & see if they can tell what is missing – memory games are fantastic for development of concentration, short term memory, classification, vocabulary….but most importantly, they’re great fun!