Pros to Lockdown

Life doesn’t completely stop when a lockdown occurs if anything it gives us more time with our loved ones in our mini bubbles. Under the restrictions of level 4 and 3 we can find it difficult to keep our bubbles busy and healthy. It is important to keep our minds healthy, and happy during this time and ways to do this is by being busy with our little ones.

What to do during lockdowns with children.

–          Make food/smoothies (bake with your children)

–          Make Te Pees and tents from materials around the home

–          Make a home theatre experience and watch a movie that your child wants to watch

–          Enjoy the fresh air and take walks – visit the (parks) fields and kick a ball around

–          Spend quality time together

–          If you have projects around the home and the child is confident enough to be there alongside, get them involved.

–          Wash the car! Kids love water

–          Do arts and crafts

–          Have a Pj day – on a windy and wet day

–          Remember to stay safe and have fun.

Exercise your body and mind

Sensory Play and Why It Is Important

At Play Learn Grow ECE we care so much about child development. The first five (5) years of life are the most critical in the development of a person. Therefore it is vital that the right activities are chosen for children.

This is why we are so saddened to see most other ECE centres not understanding this, and failing to appreciate the senses of pre-schoolers need stimulation, as this is learning and understanding.

At Play Learn Grow we use our vast experience and skillset to train children with sensory play. This starts right at the beginning when children cannot talk with our amazing Kiwi room for under 2 year olds, which is a Centre of Excellence that everyone is talking about the incredible experiences, nurturing and comfort they get. Our babies get exposed to items that are cold like ice, sticky and wet. This is of course age appropriate from our expert teachers.

Then the Pukeko room (predominantly two and three year olds) has some of the greatest kaiako (teachers) in Aoteoroa (New Zealand) in demonstrating sensory play. The Play Learn Grow philosophy is about delivering the best education to children to get the best results, as our pre-schoolers are our future, and they deserve the best. Whaea Shannon has a mastery of sensory play and as room leader has found the children love the increased exposure to items, as warm and hot things are introduced along with a multitude of fabrics and surfaces. With her expert team Shannon is able to introduce and build vocabulary in conjunction with these sensory experiences for the children. As a result the learning foundation is so strong, and the understanding the children get is reinforced through repetition in a fun way. This is just one reason why Play Learn Grow are the go to ECE Centre in West Auckland.

The Tui room (mainly over 4 year olds) have teachers that are able to work towards more complex tasks, where they strengthen language development, cultural identity, supporting brain development, cognitive growth and improving problem-solving skills. Rainbow rice can be lots of fun in sensory play – look at the amazing colour experience before they get mixed into the cupcake holders as the sounds of the rice dropping stimulates the ears, whilst improving critical fine motor skills.

Bird’s-eye view of a sensory bin. Inside, rice and other materials are arranged in rainbow order. Materials include popsicle sticks, baking papers, feathers, and straws—all in multiple colors—as well as clear cups, and a yellow tray holding colorful shape cutouts.

The transformation we see in our children from Play Learn Grow’s Sensory Development is amazing and gets rave reviews from Year 1 (and Year 0) Primary School Teachers.

Sensory Play: How To Guide

We have a large container called a sensory bin. This gives our preschoolers space to explore, suss out, feel the texture, measure it with their hands. Anxiety is reduced for the kids as they know the sensory bin can get messy – no worries!

In these strange Covid times it is doubly important to remember to wash your hand properly on both sides, between the fingers and thumbs too. This is to avoid spreading germs.

Whānau without the experience of our kaiako need to be aware when providing a sensory bin that younger children often like to put everything in their mouth to explore their sense of taste, so be very careful that things are okay to injest and remember small items can create a choking hazard. Supervision is required! We do things like putting cold water into the sensory bin. Then warm water. Then ice, and give it to them to feel it in their hands. Watch the look on their face. Hopefully they say cold, but otherwise teach them the word by saying cold to enhance the learning opportunity through sensory play.

We have multiple sensory bins, and realise some children do not like getting messy with other children, even their siblings! In addition at Play Learn Grow ECE we also have sensory boards with different textures for learning experiences.

Consider a sand (or salt) tray where you can write letters as the sand moves away, draw shapes. Your child can feel the sand and enhance learning experiences in a different and fun way.

Quick reminder: Just remember if you are going to get messy to dress your kids appropriately or wear an apron (or smock) to keep them clean.

Besides cleaning up together than be fun too. Making bubbles with soap or gentle cleaning products with warm running water just continues the sensory experiences, enhancing neural pathways to trigger and stimulate brain development.

You will be like us and notice the sensory activities your own children enjoy. With education one of the best things to do is having fun. Children are very smart and even if they don’t say it they pick up on your mood and energy (or lack of) levels. So be ware of this and their fast growing minds. And most importantly let them have fun!

Sensory Play Conclusion

Life is not a rehearsal whānau! If your child is not getting all of these teachings with sensory, then why are you settling for second best? You and your child deserves the best. Contact us on the online form now to connect with experience. Enquire about sensory play and your child’s individual learning plan with the best in the west at Play Learn Grow ECE.

Setting a creative environment

Setting a creative environment in Early Childhood, will empower our tamariki through Play by exploring and putting their imagination into action, and strengthens the emotions during and after transitions. Tamariki can experiment and be introduced to working in groups to share and use materials together in new and innovate ways.

This will create and develop concentration, practicing skills especially fine motor skills, a sense of belongings, and to have the ability to solve problems and confidence to take risks. To understand concepts, shapes colours, numbers, say one or two more words, using self-expressions in lots of fun, enjoyment with different activities set up. For example: messy play, painting, gloop, water and play dough.

The purpose of this is that our tamariki gain new skills by understanding and achieving good positive behaviours and will continue to influence their learning throughout life.

Ministry of Education (2017) says that Providing a rich environment for the tamariki where they are able to see themselves as explorers.

Keeping beach visits simple (and rubbish free) with children

There is a lot of debate around having rubbish bins at the beach, with the big question being – do they really help keep our beaches clean?

Here are a few simple ideas on how you and your whanau can help keep our beaches rubbish free

1. The first question we need to ask is if it is really necessary to take plastic toys, such as buckets and spades, diggers etc to the beach. Make the trip easier by leaving the toys at home.

2. Encourage your child to explore nature and create castles, sculptures and natural objects from the beach. Find crabs under the rocks. Collect shells, driftwood (and leave it at the beach, unless you know you are going to use it later). Explore the cliffs and rock pools.

3. Pack 1 bag, like a backpack if your children are walking or beach bag if you have a pushchair.  You only need one towel and all the children can share. Many of our beaches have shaded grassy areas to sit. It is OK to sit on the grass or sand.

4. Pack snacks from home into a lunch box and take water bottles (these will be your heaviest item). It may be easier to pack a large refillable bottle and some reusable cups if you have more than one child. If you are getting a take away ask the shop if you can return the rubbish to them afterwards. I’m sure they would be happy to oblige.

5. Some Mums say they need tissues and where do you put the snotty ones, or wipes for dirty hands. Just as you would take your dirty nappies home with you, you can also take these small items home with you. Wipes are not really environmentally friendly. Take along some damp flannels (or wet them at the taps at the beach). Put them into a wet bag and wash them later. These can be used to clean hands, faces, noses and bottoms. ( A packet of 10 flannels from the Warehouse will set you back $6 – compare that to the cost of wipes.) You can now get compostable rubbish bags. Put one in your bag for the dirty nappies, ice cream serviettes etc.

6. We can also encourage our children to look out for rubbish on our beaches and involve them in picking any up (adult supervision required for this of course to ensure it is safe to do so).

Let us teach our children to be environmentally aware and at the same time enjoy the beautiful natural environment around them.

Bored Jar

Kia ora whānau.  Auckland is in level 3 lockdown again. If you like a sanity-saver to keep your child entertained, the bored jar can help you out.

Kaiako has create a list of  30 activities that our tamariki love to do at preschool. They are fun and easy to set up. You could create a bored jar with 30 ideas or simply let the children pick one fun thing from the list.

Kia kaha! We will get through this. Take care everyone.

  1. Water the plants/lawn.
  2. Clean the toys and keep all the germs away.
  3. Make a magic potion from things you find in the garden. Think about its magic power.
  4. Get a paint brush and a bucket of water. Paint with water on the fence, outdoor wall or concrete.
  5. Use chalk to create a hop scotch on the drive way.
  6. Take a walk outside and pick up some rocks. Bring them home and paint them.
  7. Make a paddle out of paper plate and stick. Blow up a ballon and play ballon tennis against each other.
  8. Get a bucket of soapy water and a sponge/cloth to wash the car/bike/scooter.
  9. Lie a blanket on the ground outside and watch the clouds. See what kind of shapes or pictures you can make out of each one.
  10. Make a mask out of paper or paper plates.
  11. Build a fort with blankets and chairs.
  12. Tie dye an old t-shirt.
  13. Lie down on the ground and draw around your shadow in chalk.
  14. Create a collage painting with old magazine, newspapers, scissors and glue.
  15. Do some yoga poses or meditation.
  16. Fizzy science experiment with baking soda, vinegar, food colouring and droppers. Mix vinegar with food colouring and then drop it into a tray of backing soda.
  17. Do you know the box of LUX flakes at the supermarket in the laundry isle? Whisk that with warm water and leave it turns to slime!
  18. Make play dough.
  19. Crush chalk and add some water. Use it to paint concrete/ fence. It can be washed off with water.
  20. Shut curtains, turn some music on and have a dance party/ disco.
  21. Find different kind of leaves and grass and bark, put on a peg and use to paint with.
  22. Wheels day, draw starting lines, middle lines and park on the concrete for a track.
  23. Put plastic animals/ dolls in warm soapy water for a bath (added bonus of cleaning them).
  24. Ballon painting, put a bit of water in a ballon then tie it up with a piece of string and use it to stamp paint.
  25. Fill a spray bottle with some coloured water. Spray onto a piece of paper to create artworks.
  26. Listen to an audiobook.
  27. Laser game. Tide strings around the furnitures to create an obstacle course. Crawl, roll, jump around the laser but do not touch it! Play mission impossible theme on the background.
  28. Find a cardboard box and make it into something really cool (robot, house, a ramp for toy cars to run ect).
  29. Go for a bug hunt in the garden.
  30. Scavenger hunt. Make your own scavenger hunt or print one off online for free.

Cold water play dough



Measuring cups


Two cups flour 

One cup salt 

tsp oil (cooking oil of any kind)

Colour of your choice/or no colour 

One cup of water from the tap (cold). 


Pour two cups of flour in a bowl, add one cup of salt and then mix with your hands together. Add oil (1tsp) and mix again, add colour (if you want colour) and then one cup of water. Mix all together. 

An easy recipe which is great for home, especially when it can be difficult to keep young children entertained on a wet day and it’s something different from technology! You can use utensils, baking equipment and items around the house for children to roll, make shapes and craft the play dough into different things. 

We find that our children love to help make the play dough here with the teachers, and often want to part take in every step of making the play dough. 

When making the play dough, if you find it’s too sticky just add a little more flour, and if too dry just add a little more water and your on your way!

Let us know your feedback on how you went if you made the play dough at home! We would love to see your photos.