Babies

baby crawling past the mirror in a baby shelf

What are the best toys to offer babies and toddlers?

What are the best kinds of toys to offer very young children? Which ones actually help them learn all the things they need to know? It can be really hard to choose from all the options, but bestselling author and early years specialist, Jennie Lindon, has some great tips to help you as you play and learn with your little ones. Read them here.

 
child and teacher sharing a story book

Building a foundation for literacy

A mother once approached Albert Einstein and asked him what she might do to prepare her young son for a successful career in science. “Read him fairytales,” he replied. “And, if you want him to be very intelligent, read him more fairytales.”

This is comforting advice for a nation-full of parents unexpectedly facing the responsibility of educating their children at home. Our predecessors understood that storytelling, singing and poetry provide a rich foundation in oral language which is a critical prerequisite for literacy. Read more about this from Joan Almon.
 
children playing with a sensory treasure basket

Sensory play for children with SEN

“A treasure basket is an example of a sensory-rich and highly portable resource, making it a perfect ‘sensory snack’,” writes Sue Gascoyne. “ The sensory stimulation and hands-on approach is great for brain and memory development, gross and fine motor skills and strength.” Because there are no right or wrong ways of playing, sensory play of this sort can appeal to children with varying learning styles and abilities. Read on.

child touching polished stones and pebbles

The importance of sensory play

If there’s one thing in common about young children, it’s their ability to make a mess! Children learn best through direct experiences – exploring the world around them with their whole being. They stare, grab, smell, listen, rub, or lick unfamiliar objects, using all their senses to collect data that will be wired permanently into their memory.

 

If a child’s environment is too sterile or limited, they are deprived of this rich learning. What can parents and teachers do to offer diverse sensory experiences without becoming completely overwhelmed by the inevitable mess? Read this.

Heuristic play

What is heuristic play?

According to the Oxford dictionary, “heuristic” means helping to find out or discover; proceeding by trial and error. It stems from the same root as Eureka – “I found it!”

In the early years classic, People under Three, Elinor Goldschmied and Sonia Jackson coined the term heuristic play, to explain how to provide a more structured opportunity for this kind of activity. Heuristic play “consists of offering a group of children, for a defined period of time in a controlled environment, a large number of different kinds of objects and receptacles with which they play freely without adult intervention”. It is particularly useful for children in their second year who often seem unwilling to engage in any activity for more than a few minutes.

Interested in running heuristic play sessions in your setting? Read this.

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