Hi and welcome to the new home of the early years blog. Over the coming months, I’ll be keeping you up-to-date with early years developments, as well as providing plenty of activity ideas and guidance on meeting the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage. I’ll also be adding to our range of free factsheets and other resources.
With nature springing to life, April is a great time to focus on the natural world. So why not give these activities a try?
Grass seed usually sprouts within a week, making it ideal for children who are keen to see growing results. It will soon be long enough to cut, re-grow and cut again. To enhance the fun, children from the age of around 3-4 years can create head shaped planters – the grass will grow to look like hair, and children can enjoy cutting and styling it.
Each child will need a foot cut from a pair of tights. A handful of seed is placed inside and shaken down into the toe. A wad of cotton wool goes on top, and this is moulded into a head shape. Next, help children tie a knot in the open end of the tight. Eyes, nose and a mouth are stuck on – these could be made from cellophane, pipe cleaners or other waterproof craft resources. Place the head in a paper cup and leave on a sunny window sill. Water every day.
For older children, you can make the activity more challenging and creative by having them pinch out a round nose shape – they can twist an elastic band around it to keep it in place. Ears and eyes can also be made in the same way. To give younger children a similar grass growing experience, give them sponges to explore in the water tray. At the end of play, encourage each child to squeeze out a sponge and put it on a paper plate. Have them sprinkle on some grass seed (with dry hands), and place on the window sill. Children can keep the sponge damp by spraying with water via a plant sprayer each day. Younger children can “pick” their grass rather than cutting it with scissors.
HELPING THE BIRDS
Birds are busy nesting this time of year, and children can give them a hand. Involve them in collecting together the types of materials used in nest building – this can include twigs, leaves, small fabric scraps and even lint from a tumble dryer. Place in a can and hang from a tree or bird table, ideally somewhere children can see from the window. Birds may well take away the items. Children can also use the same resources to create their own bird nest collages.
Providing food in the same location will help to attract the birds, and many will eat cereal. To make eye-catching garlands of treats, have children thread whole grain hooped breakfast cereal (such as Cheerios) onto lengths of string and suspend them alongside the can of nesting materials.
I’ll be back next month, and in the meantime, have fun!
Miranda is the author of Practical Guides to a range of childcare topics