Cold water play dough

Equipment:

Bowl

Measuring cups

Ingredients: 

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). 

Steps:

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. 

Outdoor Play Experience Advantages:

Providing a range of different play experiences outside can help babies and young children develop the necessary skills for further learning. Giving them greater exposure to natural lighting in the outdoors can enhances their health and mental performances, and moods. 

Outdoor environment creates opportunities for hands on learning, reduce stress and increases happier moods in children. Explore, embrace the outdoors, and encourage children to use all sensors of their bodies when outdoors. 

Encourage children to shout, use their voices outdoors, provide room and space in the outdoors to explore through physical movements. Growth within and physical movement outdoors for young children and babies will help them to develop hand and eye coordination skills, risk taking and freedom to express. 

The different skills babies and young children learn while playing in the outdoors:

Social skills with peers/family 

Turn taking and sharing 

Ways to deal with moods/ calming relaxation 

Communication – verbal and non verbal skills 

Recognition around them through the environment 

Help over come fears and build connection with nature 

Benefits of Gardening with Young Children

Gardening is a great hand-on experience that offers so many fun and interesting learning opportunities for children. We have been doing lots of gardening with the children in the preschool room and they are loving it. These are some simple tasks that our children love to help with:

Weeding, pulling the weeds out of the soil.

Seeding, sprinkling the seeds in to the soil.

Planting, digging a hole for the baby plant and cover the roots with soil.

Watering, watering the soil when it is dry.

Harvesting, that is the exciting part! The children love eating fresh picked vegetables from our garden.

 As you can see from the tasks above, gardening engages all sorts of senses and helps children to develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and the confidence in using the tools. They can feel the texture of wet and dry soil, water, seeds, leave, and flowers. They get to smell the scents of soil and flower and taste the vegetable of course. They get a real sense of achievement seeing the plants growing each day.

Children gain a keen interest in eating the vegetables if they help with growing them. It encourages healthy eating habits for the children from a very young age.

Growing flowers or vegetables from the seedling or baby plants requires care and attention. It is a great opportunity for the children to learn taking responsibility in looking after the plants and waiting patiently for them to grow.

There are so much learning happening during the gardening time. We are looking forward to watching the plants growing in our garden.

Being persistent and building resilience

Resilience is a skill that builds over a childs early years, it’s the ability to bounce back from stress, adversity, failure and challenges. This often forms from having a strong attachment with a primary caregiver or teacher that is respected and valued. The quality of that relationship we are able to create has a direct impact on the child’s sense of a safe and secure world. Working with our tamariki every day, we get a gauge of how they socially interact, how they move physically, their emotional well-being and how resilient they can be. We know their cues when they are feeling vulnerable or if they need that extra guidance and support.

My two-year old, Kawai experienced being persistent and building his resilience while riding his trike down a hill. He noticed another two year old riding his balance bike down a grassy slope, Kawai wanted to test himself to see if he could do that too. Off he went, on his trike and this is where the act of resilience comes to play through first-hand experience of taking on something that is challenging and pushing through being uncomfortable to overcome difficult situations. Te Whāriki explain how children demonstrate and show a “capacity of self-regulation and resilience in the face of challenges” (Ministry of Education, p. 27, 2017). This is exactly what happened with Kawai, the first three times down the hill he fell forward, but with persistence he wanted to keep going until he mastered the whole hill without falling off. I was right there, encouraging him and telling him to lean back and look forward. I was so proud of him, because even after falling off he wanted to go “again”. He took on my instruction and the emotion on his face when he got down to the bottom without falling off was a special moment, especially for his māmā.

Kawai has developed his resilience through the confidence that he has built within himself from his whānau role modelling a set of skills, which also promotes the concept of what resilience means for him. Learning dispositions and working theories are also interwoven within persistence and resilience and how our tamariki see themselves in their world.

The benefits of Messy Play

Messy play is such a big part of childrens early learning, and there are so many reasons why we need to provide this type of play for them.

Messy play can teach children so many things, but one of the most important parts is that it can relax and help settle children who are having a hard time with separating from their parents. Some children find the texture of messy play to be quite relaxing, and they are able to chill out after a busy weekend at home.

Children learn about different textures that come with messy play, and they can describe them by using words like hard, soft, runny, stretchy.

They also learn mathematics. This is where measuring and pouring come in to the messy play. They can measure how much they can put into a cup, and pour it into another bowl or cup. This can also help with the development of their language as they are able to talk about what is happening.

Messy play also helps with the developing hand eye coordination. They can focus on pouring and making sure that they are getting it into the cup. Measuring with a scoop, where they don’t over fill the scoop or making sure when they put the scoop into a cup, they don’t miss the cup.

Messy play is best done outside with either an old baby bath, low tables or water troughs. The surface is best when it is low, has a smooth surface and flat, so the children are able to reach. It is also a great idea to make sure that you have a towel and a bucket of water nearby so that children can wash and dry their hands without going into the house.

The best part about messy play is that very little equipment is needed. The children are able to use their hands, feet, arms and bodies. If you wanted to introduce household items, such as spoons, utensils, cups, bowls and some cookie cutters. If you don’t want their clothes to get messy, it would be a good idea to wear an apron or make sure that they are wearing old clothes.

You could try making some gloop with your children. All you need is 1 cup of water and 2 cups of cornflour. Mix this together. If you wanted to add some colour, you can add a couple drops of food colouring, and this can be pretty bright. The best part about gloop is the different states of matter that they present. Have a go!

Keeping it simple

The lockdown period has been challenging for everyone.  Some because they are lonely and don’t have enough to keep them busy, and others because their household has never been so busy!  Most if not all of our families will fall into this second category, because besides work and many other responsibilities – parenting is a full-time job in itself.  Having little ones and keeping them entertained can seem completely overwhelming, but there are a few simple rules you can apply when spending time with your children.

The first and most important one is keep it simple!  Don’t over complicate play time.  The simplest activities are often the most enjoyable.  For instance last night I went ‘moon hunting’ with my two pre schoolers in the buggy before their bedtime.  It was the highlight of their day seeing the colours of the day sky meet the night sky and the big bright moon shining up above us.   It was a real sense of adventure for them heading out in their PJ’s after dinner and bath.  15 minutes of uninterrupted time for them to ask me all sorts of questions.  The fresh air also helped me a lot, and I forgot about all the tantrums they’d had throughout the day and the mess they’d made throughout the house.

Some other ideas:

  • Simple Eye Spy around the garden – I spy something that is red, I spy something with wheels, I spy something that needs water to grow….   This can be kept so simple but can entertain little ones for quite a while.
  • Hide and seek (inside and outside). This is always fun
  • Making a face with the garden leaves outside (all you need is a paper plate and some glue or cellotape). Children love collecting ‘treasure’ from the garden, this is all part of the fun.  Just encourage them to look for facial features (hair, nose, lips, eyes etc).
  • Relay exercises. Running to the wall and back, skipping to the wall and back, hopping to the wall and back, crab walk to the wall and back, star jump to the wall etc.    It wears them out and they love it.
  • Making a cubby house with any boxes you may have at home (nappy boxes are a good one).  You can also use chairs and put blankets over as a roof.  This can be fun to play in, and a nice area for little ones to have their lunch or morning tea.

The second rule is the importance of quality over quantity.  When your child is struggling to play on their own, is pulling at your ankles, or even throwing things on the floor and yelling and screaming– quite often they aren’t misbehaving, they’re just wanting some uninterrupted time with you. Sometimes stopping what you are doing (even if you are in the middle of dinner preparation or cleaning the bathroom!) and sitting down with your child for 5 minutes and playing with them will set your child on a different course for the rest of the day.  It’s the ‘time in’ principle.  So often when our kids misbehave, we send them to ‘time out’ when really what they need is ‘time in.’  5-10 minutes of play with you is the fix they need (that’s no phone, no sending emails or facebook, no folding washing at the same time!).  They have your attention and to them that is the most important thing in the world.  By engaging with your child without any other distractions around, they’ll often carry on playing by themselves quite happily as they have had their ‘fix’ of mum and dad that they were so desperately wanting.    And that allows you to get on with other important things.  Remember quality over quantity, 5-10 minutes goes a long way!

 

It’s important to be kind to yourself parents!  You are doing your very best, under very stressful circumstances and uncertain times.  You are not a trained teacher, and it’s perfectly normal if you feel that this whole parenting gig is not coming naturally.  It is hard work!  We can’t wait to lighten your load when we re open, and help you navigate your way through this new ‘normal.’  Until then – remember to keep it simple with your children, and that ‘time in’ goes a long way.

 

Three Fun Ideas with Loose Parts

Are your children bored of playing the same toys again and again? Do you want to buy some new toys but it is not possible at the moment because they are not classified as essential items? Let’s take a look at loose parts.

What are loose parts?

Loose parts can be natural or synthetic, such as stones, stumps, sand, gravel, fabric, twigs, wood, pallets, boxes, logs, stones, flowers, rope, tyres and shells. These materials can be moved, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken part and put back together in multiple ways. Unlike toy cars or puzzles, they are materials with no specific set of directions.

What I like about loose parts is that they are open-ended and they don’t have to be purchased at the store! Most items you already have lying around your house, like the boxes of your delivery or the leaves from your trees.

Being creative with recycled material

 

These are the examples of building with loose parts. They are the most common recycled materials we can find around the house.

Creating patterns with stones and seashells

 

My friend’s son is having fun arranging stones and seashells he collected from the beaches. He created a small dinosaur and a big dinosaur.

Imaginative play with leaves, sand and water

Children love to act out real life experiences using the real tools and natural resources like plants, leaves, flowers, water and sands.

 

 

 

What learning is happening here?

Because loose parts materials are open-ended, it encourages children use more creativity and imagination and develop more skill and competence than they would playing with most modern plastic toys. You may see children choose loose parts over expensive toys.

If you are not sure what kind of activities you can set up with loose parts, just simply offer children the materials. They will find their own way to play with them and you will be blown by their creativity and imagination!