Transitions!

Here at The Children’s House we’re getting ready for reopening in September (yay!!) – & although we know that it will be quite different from previous years, we are just as excited about the new term starting  – if not more so, as a return to some sort of normality is much needed by us all at this stage! We can’t wait to meet the new & returning children, & for those who are moving on to primary school, we hope to see them before the end of the summer for a farewell gathering & wish them all the best in starting ‘Big School’ – we know they’ll get on *so* well, make lots of new friends & learn loads of new things!!

This is a post about transitions, in case any of you are wondering how you can support your child whether in starting or returning to preschool, or transitioning to primary school.

There are a ton of great resources from Autism Little Learners which are visual stories relating to COVID 19; we especially like the one about separation anxiety which might especially apply to children starting or returning to preschool

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mfBxk19ns8L4CdqbFXDo7-7-3aCezDXF/view

and another about going back to school which might be a good visual for older children who will be returning to a different type of primary schooling https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cFYEsI1oBS1gO5G7IM7rljTYDMEQfMOy/view

Usually from May onwards we would have liaised with the local school in Sallins & brought the children up to have a look around it – some of them may not have been going to this particular school but it gives the idea of the much bigger scale of primary school as opposed to preschool, as we normally get to see the classrooms, the children out at playtime (it’s like a jungle!!!, the library etc. It would be a good idea if possible for you to take your child to the primary school they will be attending & familiarise them with the place, maybe point out e.g. this is where you’ll stand in line in  the morning time; this is where I’ll collect you; this is where you’ll have your outdoors play etc. The same can be done for the Montessori – show your child the building & the outdoors area, talk to them about how things will be in September & especially the changes due to COVID e.g. ‘Mammies & daddies won’t be coming into the school for the moment, it’s only for the children & the teachers’ while always reassuring them that you/another caregiver will be there to collect them in a little while, after they’ve played with their friends & had snack etc in order to lessen separation anxiety. Try getting your child’s uniform & books for primary school well enough in advance for them to be familiar with them, & talk about their timetable of the day & what they’ll be doing & learning in a positive way – it might be a daunting time ahead but it’s also an exciting time!

The main things that we would focus on for school readiness with the children aren’t the academic skills (apart from recognising & maybe writing their own name), but rather self-care skills, communication skills, social & emotional skills, & fostering their love of learning – which doesn’t usually prove too difficult! Self-care would involve taking off & putting on coat & shoes, using the toilet, wiping nose, opening lunch box etc – you can practice all these skills at home. Communication skills would focus on things such as the child being able to communicate their needs, as well as being able to listen to others & follow instructions from their teacher. Social & emotional skills important for school would be ones such as sharing, turn-taking, independence & confidence (for instance encourage your child to make decisions for themselves at home, then notice & praise them for making good decisions), emotional regulation – e.g. if something unfair happens, how does the child deal with it, encourage them to use their words to sort out a situation & stand up for themselves in an appropriate way.

I probably talked about emotional regulation before but it’s hugely important at this age & especially during this time of disruption to routines, & something that we support the development of throughout the year in The Children’s House. Always keep reminding your child how good they are at regulating their emotions by praising when they use strategies to calm themselves down like deep breathing, or when they resolve conflict through using their words rather than crying or hitting out. If they are upset try to support them by acknowledging & naming their feelings & why they might be feeling that way, & asking them for a way to help themselves feel better e.g. ‘I know you’re upset because …. but what might make you feel better?’ You might have to give suggestions in the beginning e.g. ‘a hug? Your teddy? Going for a walk?’ & then encourage them to come up with their own suggestions themselves, in this way reinforcing their own emotional resilience in the future; they get the idea that they can make themselves feel better & don’t have to depend on others to make them feel better, which is very liberating & confidence building!

There are a lot of visual aids you can use, some of which I have attached pictures of from our school such as the feelings wheel you can print out & laminate, & make an arrow for it so the child just moves it around depending on how they feel – it’s a lovely visual & also indirectly reinforces the idea that feelings are transient & temporary (which is nice for you when they’re in the middle of a minor meltdown!!) The emotion faces are very simple & straight forward to make – just cut out some circles from coloured card & draw faces showing different emotions on them e.g. happy, sad, angry, tired etc – & encourage your child to use them to show how they’re feeling.

A really nice activity to do is to get your child to do a self portrait – sit them in front of a mirror with paper & pencils or crayons & ask them to really look at their own faces, talk about what colour their eyes are, what type of hair they have etc & then get them to draw themselves. You can then look at the picture with them & ask them how they were feeling when they drew themselves. (This can be extended into doing a body portrait on long sheets of butcher paper; just get your child to lie down, draw around their outline & ask them to fill in the body using paint, crayons, materials, glitter…whatever you have to hand – but again, encourage them to focus on whichever part of the body they’re doing e.g. ‘look at how long your legs are, you’re really growing! Your arms are so strong aren’t they?’ & name body parts for them e.g. ankles, elbows, shins, collarbone etc.)

As a family you can create a ‘Compliments Tree’; this is to encourage children to think positively of others of themselves & of others, & all you need is a branch stuck in a vase (alternatively use an empty jar & have a Compliments Jar) & some pieces of paper or card. Pick a member of the family & ask everyone else in the family to say their favourite thing about that person, then write all the compliments down & hang them on the tree. Take turns going around the family & you’ll have a lovely collection of compliments to read any time someone needs a bit of morale boosting! And whenever someone gives a compliment just add it to the collection.

Back to transitions!! The National Parents Council have produced an online video about supporting your child in the transition from preschool to primary school:

http://www.npc.ie/news-events/early-years-video?fbclid=IwAR19610mdj9arOCJ63v0kmYeEHaYfsJBKDYg6vORVBD28Nm47Uz6NYGt-ZA

and Barnardos have created a great booklet on supporting your child’s emotional well-being on their return to early learning & care:
https://www.barnardos.ie/media/7863/supporting-your-child-on-their-return-to-early-learning-and-care-final.pdf

And finally here’s a couple of links from the government which give some useful information about your child returning to preschool:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/e18e6-ready-to-reopen/

https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/1e8a3-lets-get-ready/?referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gov.ie%2Fletsgetready%2F&fbclid=IwAR27FyeLXPw4X3v1QPc-uUP6BfC-hBAI5TNGNAQKSCrIg_TMrCl3ds9SxqA

As with all school settings this coming September, things will be done differently in The Children’s House to ensure the health, safety & comfort of children, staff & families alike, but it will still be a happy, caring & stimulating environment full of supportive and positive interactions, & we cannot wait to get back to it!!! In the meantime, we hope that you’re all keeping safe & well, & we know that you as parents are doing the most amazing job at looking after, & out for, your little ones – just don’t forget to take care of yourselves too!

Love from all at The Children’s House xx

September 2020 reopening…

Hi everyone, just to let you know that as things stand at the moment we will be re-opening as planned on Wed 2nd September.

Classes will stay as they are size-wise, & each class will have 2 teachers.

Things happily won’t be changing very much for your children, but we as the adults will be adapting how we operate to ensure maximum health & safety is achieved for everyone…. we will be updating with any relevant details during the summer!

June 22nd – Sports Week!!

It’s all sporting activities this week at The Children’s House! This time of year we always have sports day & we’re so sad to be missing it with your children, so we thought we’d send on some ideas for sports at home this week. Exercising is so good for your child’s mental health, & there are lots of fun ways to get them up & going.

Obstacle course: we often make these in school during the year, both indoors & outdoors – these are great for practising & refining gross motor movements like crawling, running, jumping, skipping, hopping, rolling, balancing, moving sideways/ backwards… if indoors (which can often be the most surprisingly fun as you can use everyday objects & furniture in a more exciting & unexpected way) rearrange furniture with your child’s help so you have to climb OVER & crawl UNDER tables & chairs rather than go AROUND them (using prepositions to describe actions to add to your child’s vocabulary & understanding), take turns throwing rolled up socks into a basin, do a sack race in a pillow, egg & spoon race, long jump – all can be done indoors or outdoors to much hilarity!! Draw chalk on the ground outside/ place a rope indoors to walk on a line, or set up a row of cushions/ pillows on the ground & get your child to walk from 1 end to the other, good for practising balance. Try walking while balancing books or cushions on your head…Set up a course with 6 stations & let us know how quickly you can complete the course – & please send us in the photos of your wonderful creations!!!

Healthy Kidz – Week 1 – Virtual Sports Day Long Jump

Colour run: use chalks, objects or even make pictures to mark out areas of different colour, call a colour & have your child run to that area. This can be made more difficult by using shapes or numbers instead of colours, & if it is still too easy try following a sequence & build on the number of instructions to suit your child. Set a timer and see how many you can get? Sounds like a good activity to tire little people out with! If you have outdoors space & chalk why not try hopscotch – such a fun game, & it reinforces the numbers for your child too.

Animal Walk: Inside or out, encourage your child to slither like a snake, hope like a frog, gallop like a horse, or walk like a bear on all fours. Who will find the most imaginative way to move?

Keep the Balloon Up: see how long you can keep the balloon in the air!  Use your hands, feet, head, elbows, knees or even a bat or racket to keep it from touching the ground. Have a competition with family and friends or time yourself and see can you beat your own record!

Puddle Jumping: Why not make the most of the rain! Get your wellies on and enjoy jumping in, out and over puddles.

Blanket Toss: Take a blanket or a towel and have 2 or more children hold the corners. Throw a ball on top, enjoy as the children work together to send the ball into the air and catch it again. Throw ping pong balls, a beach ball or a balloon onto it & try to keep throwing them back up in the air for as long as possible, such a fun activity!!

Kick Bowling: With some recycled materials like cardboard tubes or empty bottles set up some skittles and try to knock them down by kicking a ball. If this is too easy increase the challenge by using balls that decrease in size. We often do bowling at Halloween in school using little pumpkins to bowl toilet rolls stacked in a pyramid!

Treasure hunt: give instructions to your child to find something rough, smooth, soft, hard, different shapes, different colours, living/ non-living…

Play hide & seek indoors or outdoors – sometimes hiding really obviously on a child behind a curtain or door, or under a blanket is the funniest thing ever!!

Exercises on the spot: running, jumping, hopping, star jumps, anything at all – get your child to make up new exercises for you…then do some yoga & stretching to cool down.

Rob the Nest: Use whatever you have to hand at home, balls, socks or even tin cans. Place all of the items in a central space and ask the children to take 5 steps away. Set a timer and see who can run into the centre and collect the most items within the time set.

Rob the Nest (Running) – PhysEd Game/Activity

Tumble drop: Have your child lie down on their back with a pile of bean bags or rolled up socks or gloves beside their feet and a bucket on the floor just above their head. The aim of the game is to get as many items into the bucket within a set time using only their feet.

Drama: Act out your child’s favourite story or song with them, use puppets made from socks or teddies to play different parts too. Cut out a bit of a cereal box to make a little puppet theatre/ television to use. Colour faces on wooden spoons to make puppets. Sing songs using different pitched voices, do dramatic games like ‘What time is it Mr Wolf?’ – this is a great one again for reinforcing numbers, while being the best fun! (In case you’re not familiar with this game, stand a good distance from your child with your back to them; they have to ask ‘what time is it Mr Wolf?’ & you say e.g. ‘1 o’clock’/ ‘4 o’clock’), then your child has to take that many steps towards you; when you judge they are close enough & they ask the question, you shout ‘dinner time’ & turn around to chase them, obviously lots of tickles when they’re caught!!

Why not design & make medals or trophies for the end of your sports week with your children?

https://theimaginationtree.com/salt-dough-olympic-medals/

https://www.thecreationstation.co.uk/inspiration/how-to-make-a-childrens-crafty-trophy

Poem: I’m a Big Bad Wolf (to be read in as OTT manner as possible!)

I’m a big bad wolf and I look for things to eat –
I don’t like leaves and berries; I only like meat!
I see those little piggies – am I dreaming, or awake?
Those chubby little creatures…
What a dinner they will make!!

June 15th – Worry dolls, Father’s Day & a lot more!!

Hi everyone, hope you’re all keeping safe & well! This week we’ve got activities that your child can do using another wonderful pack from Sue which you’ll get delivered later in the week; we will be making worry dolls, a traditional Guatemalan peg doll that the children can confide their worries in and the dolls are meant to take the worries away. According to folklore, if your child places the doll under their pillow before going to sleep, the doll is thought to worry in the child’s place, thereby letting them sleep peacefully & waking without their worries as the doll has taken them away during the night! We always reiterate to the children that they should always tell their parents/guardians/teachers about their worries, but if for instance they are awake in the middle of the night and need a bit of comfort, the worry dolls are a lovely support. We make these towards the end of every school year; there was one child who was in our Montessori for 3 years, & his mother told me he put all 3 of his worry dolls under his pillow the night before starting primary school…

All you need is traditional wooden pegs, markers to draw a face, & scraps of wool/material to glue on! Of course you can bring geography into this activity by looking to see where Guatemala is on a map/ globe, & talking about the continent of North America (Guatemala is in Central America which is the southernmost part of North America!!), then pointing out the other 6 continents, talking about family you might have living in other continents, where do the child’s favourite animals come from etc.

Something we do in school from the beginning of the year, which can really help if your child is visibly worried or anxious about something, is to practice deep breathing – this is the first step of doing yoga with them, & listening to your body. We just simply ask the children to put their hands on their tummies & take some long deep breaths, & model this for them, exaggerating as much as possible how slowly you can breathe in & out. This in itself is a great exercise for when you might need to try & calm a child down about something – it focuses them by giving them something to do with their hands – & it is also a lovely relaxation activity; you can add to it by getting them to do it lying down, & putting a teddy on their tummy & they can see it rising & falling with their breathing. Any techniques for self soothing are just wonderful to encourage in children from the early years, which is 1 of the reasons we incorporate yoga & mindfulness into our classes. I’ve attached some exercise cards with more breathing exercise ideas.

Back to our pack!! – this Father’s day page of facts can be done for dads or granddads; it’s great to ask your child these questions & see what their answers are – usually more hilarious than accurate! The pack will also contain materials to make a hot air balloon sun catcher, using hot air balloon cut outs & bits of coloured cellophane paper. Also the children will be getting bubble wrap, to use for painting & printing – definitely not for bursting!!!!

The song this week about colours can be done using Lámh signing – it’s the colours song!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mr-VFbrnGs4

The Colours Song

Are you wearing red today, red today, red today? Are you wearing red today, yes or no? Yes I’m wearing red today, red today, red today! Yes I’m wearing red today, yes, yes, yes!

Are you wearing blue today, blue today, blue today? Are you wearing blue today, yes or no? No I’m not wearing blue today, blue today, blue today! No I’m not wearing blue today, no, no, no!

Are you wearing green today…

Are you wearing yellow today…

Are you wearing white today…

Hope you all have a great week, love from us all at The Children’s House xx

Elliot becomes a nation-wide renowned naturalist!!

We’re SO proud of Elliot, who came first in his age group in the Heritage in Schools Backyard Bioblitz competition – & no wonder, as you can see how beautiful his illustrations are!! Amazing art work Elliot (now 1 of Kildare’s leading naturalists!)

 

June 8th – Kids in the Kitchen!!

We’re doing Kids in the Kitchen this week at The Children’s House!! All activities based around the fact that your children are probably very enthusiastic to help you out in the kitchen, so why not put that energy to good use?! We’ve got some straight forward recipes to try, art activities to do, science experiments…

To start, you can try the simplest of recipes to great success with children, using (mostly!) healthy recipes – cut water melon into triangles, deseed, & freeze for water melon pops; make ham & cheese wraps by simply cutting or grating the cheese onto the ham & wrapping the ham around the cheese; fill muffin holders with yogurt & berries, then freeze – add mashed banana, cinnamon, pistachios for variation!

Make fruit & spinach smoothies using any fruit you like with a little natural yoghurt; create delicious pizzas using just 1 cup each of Greek yoghurt & self-raising flour for a delicious dough base with any toppings you like; cut carrots, courgettes, celery, cucumber, peppers into healthy sticks & dip into cream cheese or hummus for a tasty snack; cook onions, veg & stock to make vegetable soup – all perfect to get little helpers involved in!

Why not try some art using kitchen utensils – set out paint on paper plates/ trays & let your child use spatulas, mashers, whisks etc to make amazing abstract designs! Then to make sure your child looks the part, why not make a chef’s hat with them? https://www.redtedart.com/paper-chefs-hat-diy-instructions/ Wrap a hair tie around a kitchen sponge & use it to sponge paint & make beautiful patterns… Make pasta bracelets or necklaces – just paint & decorate pasta shapes, thread onto string & voila! Another great art activity is to do fruit or vegetable stamping – cut apples, peppers, broccoli florets, celery sticks or potatoes in half, then paint & stamp to create geometric patterns – decorate old plain t shirts or pillow cases!! Alternatively, if like me you have a certain amount of used wine corks floating around your kitchen, you can carve little designs into the tops & let your child use them as stamps. Or save up your egg boxes, cut out the individual egg cups, paint them & lace onto string to make a beautiful flower garland.

Many of the activities we suggested for science week were based on what you find in your kitchen, & you might find a few more good ideas for science experiments here https://modernparentsmessykids.com/stem-20-kitchen-science-experiments-kids-will-love/

Don’t forget the importance of food hygiene, & to emphasise that hand washing is essential before any cooking activities!

Our song this week is Apples & Bananas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5WLXZspD1M

I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas, I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas, I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas, I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas.

Now let’s make a long “a” sound – ay-ples and ba-nay-nays; I like to ate, ate, ate ay-ples and ba-nay-nays, I like to ate, ate, ate ay-ples and ba-nay-nays.

Let’s try a long “e” sound… ee-ples and ba-nee-nees: I like to eat, eat, eat ee-ples and ba-nee-nees, I like to eat, eat, eat ee-ples and ba-nee-nees.

How about a long “i” sound… i-ples and ba-nigh-nighs: I like to ite, ite, ite i-ples and ba-nigh-nighs, I like to ite, ite, ite i-ples and ba-nigh-nighs.

Great, let’s sing it with a long “o” sound…oh-ples and ba-no-nos: I like to ote, ote, ote oh-ples and ba-no-nos, I like to ote, ote, ote oh-ples and ba-no-nos.

I know let’s make an “oo” sound…oo-ples and ba-noo-noos: I like to oot, oot, oot, oopples and ba-noo-noos, I like to oot, oot, oot, oopples and ba-noo-noos.

Last one…apples and bananas! I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas, I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas, I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas, I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas.

June 1st – Music Week!

It’s Music Week this week at The Children’s House!! We’ve got lots of suggestions for musical instruments you can make at home (we’re all about the recycling!!) & fun music games you can play together. Music can create such big emotions in us, & young children have the best imaginations, so it’s a great activity to listen to different genres & talk about why they are different; what do they like or dislike about each one. Play a mixture of music you like & your child likes – mix up nursery rhymes with rock/ jazz/ pop/ heavy metal/ hip hop – & expose them to all sorts to expand their musical horizons (just make sure the lyrics are appropriate!!)

Listen to some classical pieces – how does it make them feel? Is it happy, scary, sad, exciting? Does it make them want to move? Do they want to move lightly like a ballerina or stomp heavily like an elephant? You could try listening to Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens or Peter & the Wolf by Prokofiev (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfM7Y9Pcdzw) , both of which use instruments to represent different animals & characters, so the children can learn about specific instruments while also hearing a story.

To get the full benefits of music, children need to sing, clap & dance along with the tunes. Singing & moving to music tells the brain to make meaning of it, while interacting using musical instruments will help train your child’s musical ear – so get going on some of our homemade instruments like shakers, which can be made from toilet roll cardboard & filled with anything from pasta to flour to stones, explore what sounds they make & which is louder or softer. (You could use empty plastic ice cream tubs either.) Paper plate tambourines are another fun & easy instrument to make – all you need is paper plates, crayons/paint to decorate with, a handful dried beans/rice/pebbles to fill with, & a stapler to close with! To make a homemade guitar, simply stretch several large elastic bands around a cardboard box with an open top or a tissue box with a hole in the centre. Choose elastic bands that vary in width to ensure that all of your “guitar strings” will produce different tones and sounds when they’re plucked by little fingers.

Look at this Pringles drum, made by duct taping 7 empty Pringles cans together – a lot of Pringles to be gotten through for this, but if you love your children enough you’ll make that sacrifice….For simpler drums, all you need is a saucepan & wooden spoon – & some understanding neighbours!!! Get into the kitchen with jars, pots, pans & spoons & discover the effect that different materials, sizes & shapes have on the sounds you can make!

Check out making music with a glass of water with this amazing version of the Sugar Plum Fairy! See if you can do it home and find out what happens when different amounts of water are used… https://youtu.be/QdoTdG_VNV4

Music helps self esteem, listening skills, stress relief & creativity – celebrate all of these benefits with a dance party!! https://youtu.be/gCzgc_RelBA

Learn about rhythm with a copy cat game, which is also great for improving memory & concentration skills https://youtu.be/58p6QtMYN1M

And for the brave, the bored, & those with older children – challenge yourself to this… https://youtu.be/Y5kYLOb6i5I

The song this week is a classic, with fun actions too – I am the Music Man!

https://youtu.be/22kqia2ibVU

I am the music man. I come from far away and I can play. (What can you play?) I play the piano. Pia pia piano piano piano – Pia pia piano pia piano

I am the music man. I come from far away and I can play. (What can you play?) I play the violin. Vio vio violin violin violin – Vio vio violin vio violin Pia pia piano piano piano – Pia pia piano pia piano

I am the music man. I come from far away and I can play. (What can you play?) I play the saxophone. Saxo saxo saxophone saxophone saxophone Saxo saxo saxophone saxo saxophone Vio vio violin violin violin – Vio vio violin vio violin Pia pia piano piano piano – Pia pia piano pia piano

I am the music man. I come from far away and I can play. (What can you play?) I play the big bass drum. Big bass big bass big bass drum big bass drum big bass drum Big bass big bass big bass drum big bass big bass drum Saxo saxo saxophone saxophone saxophone – Saxo saxo saxophone saxo saxophone Vio vio violin violin violin – Vio vio violin vio violin Pia pia piano piano piano – Pia pia piano pia piano

I am the music man. I come from far away and I can play. (What can you play?) Well, I can play everything and here we go! Hit it! Play that piano. Play that violin. Play that saxophone. Play that big bass drum.

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?’  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ang_5Gao33Y ) 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… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evIPJSP_qwo&list=RDCMUC3339WgBDKIcxTfywuSmG8w&index=1

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zq-jeGOzZs4&feature=youtu.be

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. https://theimaginationtree.com/dyed-flowers-science-experiment/

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!! http://mrsmeijerandco.weebly.com/butterfly-painting.html#

Another variation on this is to cut out butterfly shapes, dip string in paint & use that to make your mirror image butterfly https://artfulparent.com/string-butterfly-art-project-for-kids/

There are some great yoga poses you can do with your children under the insect theme as well as the butterfly pose https://www.kidsyogastories.com/insect-bug-yoga/ ; 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!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhWDiQRrC1Y

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!!

https://havenpharmacy.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/My-Covid-19-Time-Capsule-1.pdf

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!!

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=sensory+jar+ideas#kpvalbx=_p2S4Xt33CNOn1fAP7ImOsA04

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

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=make+stress+ball+out+of+balloon#kpvalbx=_TW64Xor-EqHjxgPjwYII37

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!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHQ1MMqXTw4

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)

https://nosycrowcoronavirus.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/Coronavirus_ABookForChildren.pdf

https://nosycrow.com/blog/actor-hugh-bonneville-to-voice-audio-for-nosy-crows-coronavirus-book-for-children/

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