leaf prints on paper

Outdoor autumn leaf art

Autumn is a time of year that naturally lends itself to exploring nature. Invigorating fresh air and vivid colours captivate our senses and entice us outdoors, even if it’s a bit chilly. Leaves fall and acorns, conkers and beechnuts drop, generously covering the ground with materials for children to collect. Giving children enough time outdoors to discover will ignite their interest in the world around them. Use this simple nature-art activity as a springboard to learning about leaves with your class. Children will be fascinated by different leaf shapes and types and will enjoy the colourful results.

Find step-by-step instructions and inspiring photos here.

Two children working with wood

Why introduce woodwork in the early years?

“We have seen how working with real tools offers children new experiences and encompasses all areas of learning,” writes early years creative consultant Pete Moorhouse. “Woodwork allows children to become the innovators, makers, sculptors, tinkerers, engineers and architects of tomorrow. The experience of working with wood and tools leaves deep memories and becomes a part of children’s DNA.”

Working with wood can play a central role in your curriculum, supporting maths, physical coordination, creative skills, understanding of the world, language and vocabulary. Read Pete’s article and find out about his new on-line training course here.

Boys making nature patterns

Maths play with natural loose parts

We are approaching the time of year in which nature generously replenishes its available loose parts. Leaves fall, acorns drop, seed pods form, and there is no end to the natural materials you can collect just in your garden.

“One area of early learning particularly suited for the use of these materials is maths,” writes Dorie Ranheim. “There is a myriad of questions that can be asked to guide children’s thinking. For example, What did we find the most of? Tell me about your stick. Can you find something longer? Which rock is heavier? Through these playful interactions, rich maths language flows and becomes part of the child’s vocabulary.

“You can also use loose parts to model mathematical skills like how to count acorns using one-to-one correspondence, how to create a pattern with autumn leaves, or how to measure by comparing two feathers. All of the foundational areas of early maths can be explored in a playful way using natural loose parts.” More ideas here.

two children building a fairy garden outdoors

Taking small world play outdoors

Childhood is a time of imagination. Every child needs to be given time and space to play out what they envision in their minds. Children’s literature is full of woodland folk – dwarves, elves, fairies, pixies and gnomes. Take these imaginary creatures into your outdoor play and allow children uninterrupted time to build fairy gardens for woodland folk using natural materials. Building a fairy garden will absorb a child’s whole being, maximizing his or her attention span, imagination and creative skills.

Read the whole article here.

Child with flower and adults lower face

Babies are scientists

The first time an infant knocks a cup of milk from the table, it’s an accident. The next time, it’s clearly intentional. Will the falling cup produce the same intriguing splash on the floor (and the same exciting noise from any adult nearby)?

Science is about forming and testing hypotheses. This is what babies do all the time! They are continually experimenting and investigating, fuelled by curiosity and an innate drive to figure out their world. As long as these little investigators are surrounded by interesting things they will continue to explore and learn.

The natural world, with its constantly changing colours, textures, movements, and sounds, provides a uniquely stimulating environment for young children. Take a young child outside and you can just about see the “lights go on”. So why is it that this age group is mostly kept indoors?

Read more.

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