Taking sand art outside

Finally the sun is shining, and it’s a good time to head for a favourite spot: the sandpit. I’m always looking for art and design activities that are simple and child-led, and where the preparation time is minimal. The best are the ones you can do outdoors, where the mess doesn’t matter and the kids can relax. I tried this activity with my reception class a few years ago and they loved it, proudly heading home at the end of the week with a sand art masterpiece to hang on the wall. Spend a July afternoon in the sandpit, and the children can build sand castles and bake cakes while you offer this activity to one or two at a time.

Find instructions for simple sand art here.


Froebel and block play today

Froebel started a concept over 200 years ago, Carolyn Pratt built on it in the 1960s, and amazingly, it’s still alive today: block play – simple, yet empowering. Children learn the foundations of maths while playing, imaginations grow, they problem-solve and collaborate, and most importantly have fun. In this article, Jane Whinnett expounds on the benefits of block play. Read here.

Water play: enriching children’s learning

“Water is intriguing. It seems to draw children to explore its structure and properties. Because water is naturally fascinating, the thoughtful teacher can structure the environment and materials in the water centre to make the most of water play.”

In this article, Sandra Crosser explains how playing with water supports all areas of learning and development; she takes us through the steps of setting up a water play centre and lists 25 ideas for promoting discovery learning through water play. Read more.


Messy learning

There’s no doubt that taking children outdoors positively impacts their learning, well-being and development. But why and how? Juliet Robertson’s book, Dirty Teaching – A Beginner’s Guide to Learning Outdoors, is packed full of practical ideas, activity suggestions and inspiration.

Read extracts from the introductory chapters here.


How can we reset screen time after the pandemic?

Over the past year, screens have been a saving grace for many of us. They’ve connected us with loved ones, enabled us to work from home, and allowed our children to continue participating in school or nursery.

But as the pandemic slowly begins to retreat, and restrictions gradually lift, we need to start thinking about how to put screens back in their proper place. Our gut reaction tells us that too much screen time is bad for kids, depriving them of opportunities for free play, social interactions, eye contact, and direct response from caring adults.

After this year of unnatural dependence on screens, it may be hard to get back to what we know is best for our children. Jean Rogers, of the Children’s Screen Time Action Network, offers some positive suggestions for parents and educators for the months ahead. Read the whole article here.

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