To all our parents and carers, everyone at Ox Close Nursery hopes that you are keeping safe and well. We are very sorry about how things ended so abruptly last week. We would have loved to wish everyone well personally, but sadly that wasn’t to be because of the circumstances. We all wish that we could have worked longer with the children and helped them to reach their full potential.
This is a difficult time for everyone and particularly for our children. All staff really hope that we will be back together again before the end of July to celebrate the end of the year.
We will try to keep you updated with some suggestions to entertain your little ones each week. Here are a few for this week…
Hearing initial sounds in a word is an auditory skill. Therefore, you do not need letter flashcards for this activity.
You will need:
A selection of easily recognisable objects.
Pictures of the corresponding objects. These can be printed out from the attached sheet:
Initial Sound Pictures
How to Play:
- Place all the pictures where your child can easily see them.
- Hide the corresponding objects inside a bag.
- Explain to your child that you are going to pull one of the objects out of the bag.
- You will give them a clue and they can also use the pictures, to work out what the object will be.
- Use the initial sound to help the children guess what you are pulling out of the bag. “In my bag I have a p-p-p-p…”
I Want More!
Children need opportunities to compare numbers so that they can explain and understand which is more.
You will need:
-Sweets or some other food/objects which are highly valued by your child.
Show your child two boxes.
Tell your child that one box has 5 sweets in, and the other box has 3 sweets in.
You will allow them to choose one box to keep…which box would they pick to keep and why?
Look for the reasoning in the response they give, e.g. “I would pick the box with 5 because 5 is more than 3 and I want more.”
If shown two numerals, you can also demonstrate with your child, which is larger by counting or matching one-to-one.
Playdough for a Purpose
Children are visual learners, so using playdough is a great way to teach syllables. Use playdough balls on the table to illustrate multi-syllable words. The child can squish their finger into the balls as they say each syllable. Practicing the word “ham-burg-er,” make three little balls and squish-squish-squish.
Playdough Listening Skills
Barrier games are a fun way to work on clear and concise sentence formation, as well as descriptive words. Put up a barrier (such as a book or a folder) between you and your child. If this is a new concept, I suggest you model with the first turn. Mould something out of your playdough and then use simple sentences to describe it to the child. See if they can use their playdough to build the same item. Compare and discuss your creations at the end.
Playdough Initial Sounds
Use playdough to build objects that start with a target sound. For example, you can build items that begin with /s/ such as snake, spoon, star, sock, etc. Really emphasise the initial sound as you say it i.e. ssssssnake, ssssssssssock, ssssssssssspoon.
Recent research has found that young children’s ability to spot mathematical patterns can predict later mathematical achievement, more than other abilities such as counting (Rittle-Johnson et al, 2016).
Check out Topmarks pattern game:
Make a simple AB, two colour repeating pattern with lego. Can the children copy or continue the repeating pattern? If you don’t have lego, patterns can be made using natural objects like sticks and stones.
Drawing to Instruction
You could encourage the child to draw a picture and give them directions to follow. You can also turn this activity round and get the child to tell you what to draw – you then have a great language activity! You could describe something simple like a house, or a treasure map – whatever the child is interested in. You can always draw the outline and just get the child to put on specific details.
For example, draw a square for a house and ask the child to put on a green door on the side, then maybe 2 blue windows at the top. Again you can increase or decrease the length of the instruction for the child.
So have a try! Remember to start at an easy level and gradually make it harder.
A Magical Wand Duel to Reinforce Number Recognition
You will need three people for this game and two magical wands.
You can make your own wands by using a stick and then decorate as you wish (no pun intended). Or you could turn some old wooden spoons into wands.
How to play:
Two children (or one child and one adult) stand facing each other…with their magical wands ready for the duel!
The third person holds up a number that can be easily seen by both duellers.
The first person to identify the number correctly, wins the duel by waving their wand as they shout out the number! This will turn the other person into a frog! Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit!
Children love this game and will especially enjoy turning an adult into a frog! So please be enthusiastic as you hop around your house!
Now that there is more flour available in the shops, it is a great time to make playdough with your child. Playdough builds finger and hand strength in preparation for writing. It can be used to teach maths, measuring and shape. The possibilities are endless! You could print out the recipe and demonstrate reading and following the instructions. The children could help by reading how many cups of flour, water or salt is needed.
- 2 cups of plain flour
- 1 cup salt
- 2 cups of warm water
- Food colouring (optional)
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
- Measure out 2 cups of plain flour and pour into the bowl.
- Measure out ¾ cup of salt and pour into the bowl.
- Measure out 2 cups of warm water and pour into the bowl.
- You can add food colouring if you wish. (Just a drop of your favourite shade).
- Stir the mixture together. It will become sticky. Continue stirring until the mixture has all come together.
- Once the mixture has come together, use your hands to knead the dough.
- If your play dough is too sticky you can add in extra flour.
- Knead the dough into a smooth lump.
Encourage your child to create play dough balls. Rolling out spheres is an extra challenge for children to use their hands as they have to work in the opposite direction and in circular movements. Make gigantic balls, teeny balls and talk together about their sizes. What terms could you use? Are they miniature, minute, huge, etc.? Compare and contrast. Who has the biggest? Can we make one smaller? Can we make them the same size?
Children can make all kinds of wonderful creations with play dough. They may want to make their own slithery snake. This helps children to use their hands, moving them back and forth in opposite directions. They may create snakes of different lengths and sizes. Which one is the longest? Will it reach the end of the table? Perhaps they have made a tiny, little snake.
Why not encourage your child to isolate their fingers as they experiment? You can say, “Let’s get Peter Pointer to press the dough!” You can also get your child to pinch the play dough to work on their pincer grip. Encourage your child to squeeze the play dough in their hands to strengthen their hand grip. Getting the child to use their fingers and hands supports their ability to hold pens and pencils for their writing development.
Perhaps you could make a pretend lunch or tea with the dough. It could be your own bakery, café or restaurant. Think about which equipment you have in your kitchen. Have you got a rolling pin to roll out pastry and make pasties or pretend jam tarts? Talk about how the dough rolls out smoothly and how it stretches. You can use scientific and imaginative language. Imagine making a delicious pizza. Which toppings will you add? You could make some cheese, pineapple, tomatoes into shapes and add it to your base. Once you have created the pizza you may want to start slicing it up and sharing it with your family. How many pieces do you have? What about making a special birthday cake. How old is the person? You could add pretend candles. Count the candles and sing the Happy Birthday song together. You could also make food for a feast in a castle. What about making 5 currant buns and singing the song. Have some 1 pence coins and make this a great maths activity as well as being creative and language rich.
Ready, Steady, Go!
Build a tower of bricks. Your child waits for you to say “Go” before they can knock it down.
· Have a race – ready steady go…
· Push a car to each other – ready steady go…
· Dance around – ready steady go…
· Roll the ball – ready steady go…
Where is that noise?
Get a toy or play music on a phone or mp3 player. Hide the noisy object somewhere in the room – can your child find it?
Ask your child to share some food or toys between two people. Do they have an equal amount? Is it fair if one person has more/less? How many in each pile?
Clap the Beat
You can use picture cards or objects for this activity.
The child takes a card/object and claps the beat of the word. El-e-phant. Li-on.
Initially the adult says and claps the word; the child joins in as the adult repeats the action.
Next the adult or child says the word and the child claps the correct number of syllables.
This activity can be done at incidental times when playing or simply hanging out the washing… clap the beat to the words…trou-sers, t-shirt, dress, etc.
This activity can be done with any coloured blocks you have at home, either wooden, Duplo or Lego.
The child must listen to and understand instructions containing colours, prepositions, sizes, shapes, and numbers.
With the blocks build a model, but do not let your child see what you are doing.
You can give verbal instructions as you build the model so the children can listen carefully to build an identical model.
“Begin with a long red rectangular block”
“Put two yellow cubes on top of the red rectangular block”
“Add one green block next to the red block”
“Put a purple cylinder on top of the green block”
Once you have finished building your model, compare it with your child’s. Do they look the same?
You can make this activity more difficult by giving two instructions at a time or by asking the child to describe a model that they are building for you to copy.
For this game you will need six pieces of paper large enough for your child to stand on. Draw a number on each piece of paper e.g. 2, 5, 1 etc. Scatter the pictures on the floor. Play some music while your child dances. When the music stops they must listen carefully to what you say. Say, “where’s the 4?” etc. Your child must jump onto the correct picture. You could make this activity more difficult by asking them to count how many taps you make before jumping on the correct number.
This game could be adapted to shapes, colours, letters or whatever you want. It could also be played outside where there is more room to run! You could use chalk to draw numbers on the ground.
Auditory Memory Activity
You will need: Two sets of 3 objects that can be used as instruments and make different sounds i.e. 2 pans with spoons, 2 containers holding pasta or rice, 2 sets of keys.
Give your child one set of ‘instruments’ while you hide out of sight with an identical set of ‘instruments’.
Begin with 1 sound.
Ask the child to listen as you play one of your ‘instruments’,
Can they identify the object that made the sound from their set of ‘instruments’? Ask them to pick out the correct ‘instrument’ from their set and copy the sound that you played.
If the child can copy one sound confidently, the difficulty can be increased to two sounds.
Ask the child to listen as you play two sounds. Can they copy back the two sounds that you played in the same sequence?
(A child with an auditory memory for one sound will only be able to recall the last sound that they heard.)
If your child can copy back two sounds in sequence, the difficulty can be increased to three sounds, and so on…
(If a child has an auditory memory for two sounds then they can begin to blend words with two sounds such as ‘at’. A child with an auditory memory for three sounds can begin to blend three letter words such as ‘r-e-d’. Therefore, these activities are important in preparing a child for phonics in school.)
Make counting fun. Smarties or other coloured sweets are a great to count and can bring a lot of mathematical language to life.
How many red sweets? Are there fewer yellow sweets in the packet? I have more green sweets than you!
Sweets can be sorted into colours and then compared. Who has less/more blue sweets? Your child can count sweets and share them between siblings or other family members. Does everyone have the same, more or less?
The possibilities are endless!
Ask your child to move objects into a line as they count aloud. This will help them to develop accuracy when counting.
Supporting children with Speech and Language difficulties at home
Miss Foster has put together some useful information and ideas of ways you can support your child’s speech and language at home.
Auditory Memory Activity – Treasure Hunt
Try giving your child instructions to find a hidden object. Initially, you could give instructions one at a time, but as they improve you could give 2 or 3 instructions together. This could be made very motivating if you hide a treat or favourite toy! For example, “go to the kitchen door, take 4 paces into the kitchen and look under the bowl”.
Knowledge and Understanding of the World – Growing
Now that it is spring, the children will see lots of plants starting to grow. It is lovely to grow plants at home with your child. If you do not have access to seeds, there are many old vegetables or even fruit that can be regrown…
No compost needed! Simply add a layer of paper towels to the bottom of a dish. Add water to the dish so that the material is wet but not completely flooded with water. Press your carrot top onto the wet surface and place the dish in a sunny location. Be sure to check that the dish remains damp throughout the growing period. Then watch and wait for your carrot top to grow.
Garlic can be grown from a single garlic clove. Just place the sprouted garlic cloves in a glass with a little water and wait for the shoots to grow taller. Alternatively, you can plant garlic cloves directly in the soil. Garlic will eventually produce a pretty flower for your garden.
On your next walk look for some pine cones. You will need to fine a pine cone that has not yet opened so that it still has seeds inside. Place your pine cone on a windowsill where it can dry out. As it dries, the pine cone will open, revealing the seeds inside. Bury the bottom of the pine cone in soil and then water it sparingly. Now wait for it to sprout!
Why don’t you share pictures of what you have grown at home? We would love to see them! Send your pictures to us on Facebook Messenger, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
In Nursery, the children love listening to stories written by Oliver Jeffers. During the lockdown, he will be reading one of his books each day.
Click here to watch and listen.
I know many of our children can count 5 objects or more, but do they really understand number?
Give your child two sets of objects to count. One set of objects should be something small (e.g. pieces of pasta), whilst another set should be something much larger (e.g. apples). Provide more of the smaller set of items to count.
Ask your child to count each set, reminding them to move each object as they count to increase accuracy. How many pieces of pasta do they have? How many apples do they have? Which set has more?
It is important that children understand the quantity of the comparison, i.e. the number of things, not the size of them.
Building Listening Skills and Auditory Memory
When children are learning to read, they will be asked to blend sounds together to make words. In order to do this, they will need to have a good auditory memory.
The child will need to remember at least 3 sounds in sequence and then recall those sounds in order to ‘hear’ a word.
For example, when a child begins to read, they will first see the letters and say a sound associated with each letter. To read the word they will need to say, remember and recall the sounds ‘c’, ‘a’, ‘t’ in sequence in order to hear the word ‘cat’. If a child can only recall two sounds, they will say the word ‘at’ instead of ‘cat’. A child who can only recall one sound will say ‘t’.
This is why children with poor listening skills struggle to learn to read.
The following activity will help to develop your child’s listening skills and auditory memory. I will include at least one activity to develop these skills each week.
Get a range of around 6 everyday objects – a spoon, a teddy, a bowl, a toy car etc, and ask you child to collect certain objects as they ‘shop’. You could use a little shopping basket or a bag so they can put the items in. Start at an easy level, say 2 items and as they find this easier move on to 3 then 4.
Adult: Can you buy me a spoon and a teddy please.
After each go, make sure you return all the objects. To extend this game, rather than asking for objects in front of
the child, ask them for objects from around the house. For example, a toothbrush (so they have to go to the bathroom) or a sock (from a bedroom). In this way they have to move around the house and remember what they have been asked for.
Knowledge and Understanding of the World
Now that we all have so much time to look out of our windows, you might spot some birds are beginning to collect nesting material. Can your child see this and find other signs of spring?
On a walk with your child collect some sticks/twigs to make a ‘nest’ at home or in the garden. Whilst arranging the sticks into a nest shape with your child, use mathematical language to describe the sticks such as thick, thin, short, longer etc.
Collect approximately 10 pieces of gravel/stones, or cotton wool balls to use as eggs. Put the ‘eggs’ into a pile next to the nest and sing the following rhyme…
“Chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken,
Lay a little egg for me.
Chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken,
“Our chicken has laid 4 eggs today…”I want one for my tea…”
Can your child count out 4 eggs from a larger pile of eggs to put inside the nest? Remove the eggs and repeat the song asking for a different number to be collected each time.
Chocolate Nests Recipe
You will need:
- Block of cooking chocolate (Milk or Plain)
- Shredded Wheat
- Sugar Coated mini eggs
- Small cake paper cases.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl. The chocolate now needs to melt so you can either put the bowl in a low oven or rest the bowl over another bowl of hot water and leave until all the chocolate has melted.
Once melted give the chocolate a good stir and start to add some of the crumbled Shredded Wheat, add enough to give a twiggy effect to the chocolate.
Spoon enough of the mixture into one of the paper cases to make a nest shape, leaving a hollow in the middle, big enough to place about 4 mini eggs in. You can either put the eggs in straight away and they will stick to the hardening chocolate or wait until the nest has set. Remove the nest from the paper case when the nest is finished.
Breed your own Butterflies
If you are very brave, it is possible to purchase some caterpillars and watch them develop into butterflies at home. This is a great way for your child to learn about life cycles. Check out this website for more details: Insect Lore
Establish a Routine
Children, especially boys, will be calmer if there is a predictable daily routine. Try to create a simple timetable of what will be happening and when, throughout the day. For example: snack, story, lunchtime, tv time, free play time etc. The timing can be flexible but the routine of when things will happen can bring a feeling of security to children. This should ultimately make your life easier.
Fine-motor skills and counting when preparing Lunch or Dinner
Ask the children to help prepare their own lunch or dinner, cutting soft fruit or veg with a blunt knife is a great way to develop independence and fine motor control (and so much more exciting than a pencil!). When cutting fruit and veg, demonstrate the concepts ‘half’ and ‘quarters’.
Let your child spread jam/butter on their own toast. They might make a little mess, but they could also surprise you!
Ask children to count out the correct number of knives, forks when helping to lay the table, or count out pieces of fruit and veg to share with others. Demonstrate the use of language such as more, enough, less, how many altogether. This language will make more sense to children if they can see a practical use for it. There is so much maths involved with preparing food that I’m sure that you will find many more examples!
Hungry Little Minds
This is a great website with ideas and simple fun activities for children from newborns to five years old. It has been set up by the government and is free to use.
Brendon the Music Man
The children have thoroughly enjoyed working with Brendon in Nursery. He has his own YouTube channel with lessons to develop rhythm and rhyme for children. These skills are the building blocks of developing phonological awareness. Click here to view his mini music lesson playlist.
Please, please, please do not forget to have a daily story time with your child. Having a daily story increases your child’s vocabulary and understanding of stories, characters, and plots. These are vital skills to develop before learning to read.
And finally, something for adults and children alike…
Physical activity and movement are such important parts of your child’s development. Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) is doing daily PE lessons 9am for children and adults to join in. Check out his YouTube channel at The Body Coach TV for the latest videos.
Things to do at home with your child
-Recite numbers to 10 (Hide and Seek a great game to reinforce this!).
-Recognise numbers of personal significance and look for them in the environment (on packaging labels, in books and door numbers etc.).
-Practise counting different objects around the house and garden, such as toys, books, flowers and stones.
-Demonstrate the use mathematical language, particularly comparative language, in your child’s play. E.g. more, less, altogether, big, bigger, biggest, small, smaller, smallest, heavy, heaviest, light, lightest, tall, taller, short, shortest…
-Hide ‘treasure’ in the garden and give children preposition instructions to find each clue hidden in different locations, which will eventually lead to the ‘treasure’. i.e. under, on top of, next to, behind
-Read stories again and again and again!
-Ask some questions e.g. What will happen next? Use terms such as beginning, middle and end when talking about the story.
-Can the children find the words in a book? Do they know that the direction of text is read left to right?
-Sing a new nursery rhyme a week!
-Look for letters of personal significance in papers, in magazines, and on food packaging.
-Practise ‘big’ mark making to develop shoulder muscles by providing large paint brushes and paint rollers with ‘water’ to use as paint. This is a great activity on a dry day as the ‘water paint’ will be clearly visible on fences and sheds.
-Use playdough to develop coordination and strength of grasp and fingers.
Phonics Play have decided to make their services free to use during this period. Children can use the site at home without parents needing to subscribe. To access all of their resources, all you need to do is follow this link and log on using the following details:
Hungry Little Minds – Simple, fun activities for kids, from newborn to five.
Top Marks – Free educational resources and games for English and Maths.
Oxford Owl – Free ebooks and reading resources available when you create a free login.
Oxbridge Baby – Animated Fairy Tales, including The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, The Gingerbread Man and many more.
BBC Nursery Rhymes and Songs – Animations of some of the best-known traditional nursery rhymes, many sung by BBC Children’s TV presenters, with music that your children will love!