Baby Play: Roly Bowl-y!

Jun 29, 2012



Roly Bowl-y!

activity for baby, baby fun, baby game



Ageapprox. 6 months to 2 years

Materials: A metal bowl (the shallower the better.. if you don't have a metal bowl a plastic one will do) and a ball



baby fun, activity for baby, baby game
Baby can tip and move the bowl to make the ball roll around



baby fun, baby game, baby activity
Turn the bowl upside down. With a metal bowl, baby can see their convex reflection. 
Sit the ball on the top and watch it roll down, over and over.



baby game, baby fun, baby activity
Spin the bowl for baby so the ball whizzes round and round very fast



baby game, baby fun, baby activity
The surface is slippery. It is hard for baby to grasp the ball.
What great fine motor and hand-eye coordination practice!



baby fun, baby game, baby activity
Try multiple balls. Different colours, different sizes.


Baby is Learning:

- Fine motor skills
- Co-ordination
- Eye tracking (following an object with their eyes)
- Hand and eye coordination
- Cause and effect (ie. tipping the bowl makes the ball move towards the lower side)
- Expectation
- How to move objects
- About things that roll
- About reflecting light
- About rounded surfaces
- How to grasp objects on a slippery surface
- Emotions. Enjoyment & excitement.
- How to grasp small objects
- What to do
- Sensory. Sight, reflection, light, touch, rounded edges, smooth surfaces etc.



Handy Tips:

Simplify this activity by just showing baby the movement of the ball in the bowl. If they're not sitting, give them some tummy time looking at themselves in the upside down ball. Roll the ball down the side for them. Sit them in your lap and let them tip the ball and try using a ball that your baby can hold in one hand.

Extend this activity for older babies by encouraging them to make the ball whiz around without it flying out. Talk to baby about the colours of the balls, the reflection of the metal etc.

Mix it up by providing different sized bowls and balls. How many balls can whiz around at one time?

Praise baby for their efforts

Repeat this activity as often as you like as babies (and children) need repetition in order to consolidate their learning and understanding

Talk to your baby about what they are doing. This will help them begin to understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as helping develop their vocabulary.

Give your baby your time. It's the best gift you could ever give them.




Happy playing,
Debs :)




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Host a Play Dough Tea Party

Jun 27, 2012

Click here to read this book



This week the theme of the Memetales Readathon is Friendship. We read all of the free friendship themed books this week and then, inspired by one of the stories, "Lott's Tea Party" by Jane Marshall, we decided to host our own Tea Party.






This activity was fabulous for developing fine motor skills, encouraging creativity, discussing friendship, being exposed to Early Literacy and imaginative play.


activity for kids
The set up invitation to play.



kids activity
As "Lott's Tea Party" was a book of action words, I included a few appropriate action words.
We didn't put a major focus on this. We read them, discussed them a little and then just left them on the table to be seen while playing.



activity for kids
Busy 'making' and 'preparing' the food for the tea party. 



kids activity
I used 'make' as a basic word for Milly and 'prepare' to work on broadening vocabulary.


kids activitykids activity
 Done preparing for the Tea Party. Focus words "drink" and "eat"



activity for kids
Can't have a Tea Party without friends!
(I added this word to reflect the theme)


kids activity
More tea?


kids activity
How about a biscuit?


kids activity
Camel thought it was delicious!


playdough
This simple activity lasted for ages due to the different components and was a lot of fun.



Handy Tips:

Simplify this activity by focusing on the sensory and fine motor skills aspect of the play dough and the imaginative play of the tea party.

Extend this activity by putting a greater emphasis on the Early Literacy skills. Discuss action words and see if you can come up with a list together. Perhaps your child could try and write the words themselves or recognise the different letters in the words. 

Encourage creativity by letting your child use and explore different tools to make their tea party food. Look at the different textures and patterns that you can create.

- Use new language like, "prepare" This will help with their language development.

Talking and Reading together will help your child develop their language skills, not to mention the incredible bond you create with them.

- It's not too late to join the Memetales Readathon. It's free! Click here to join in the fun :)



Happy playing,
Debs :)




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DIY Dress-up Storage Solution

Jun 26, 2012



Our Dress-ups are used on a daily basis. We LOVE dressing up and imaginative play here but what I didn't always love was the huge mess that was made as my daughter furiously dug through the dress-up tubs, pulling every item out on her quest to find one item (always at the bottom of the tub).
I was also forever untangling items that were all caught up together so decided that it was time we came up with a new solution.

It's worked so well and we love it so much that I thought I'd share it with you.



To make your own easy dress-up storage you will need some space at the bottom of a wardrobe or cupboard.

For about a total of $4 I bought a clothes rail and installed it in the bottom of a wardrobe that was used for storage. I made sure that this was at the right height for my child to be able to take down and hang up her own dress-ups.


I then measured the bottom of the wardrobe to see how much space I had for baskets/tubs.
I found 3 baskets that fit perfectly and divided the dress-up accessories between them.


1 basket for material/scarves/sarongs; 1 basket for accessories you wear;  1 basket for accessories you use


We were lucky that we already had a shelf at the bottom of the wardrobe to put the baskets underneath and to put larger items on top.
If we did not have a shelf already there I would have put a cheap shoe rack in the bottom to create the same effect


 For the finishing touches I added a little hat stand we already had to hang the hats on (had I not have had this already, I would have put a few hooks in the side of the cupboard for hats) and a few little embellishments for extra colour and fun.
HINT: Use words/sentences around your house in appropriate places to create a literacy rich environment.



Very happy with the results! 
(And so am I as things are much tidier now and there is less cleaning for me.



I've found that the more organised you are and the easier it is for children to access things, the tidier things are and your child is more likely to be able to pick up after themselves! 

Remember, these things take time but the more consistent you are, the more they practice and the more you demonstrate and show your child what's expected, the easier it all becomes.




Happy playing,
Debs :)




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Baby Play: Rolling Ramp Fun

Jun 25, 2012



Rolling Ramp Fun

baby game, fun for baby, activity for baby



Ageapprox. 6 months to 2 years

Materials: Anything to make a ramp (ie- an open hard cover book on a box) & things that roll (balls, cars)




baby fun, game for baby, activity for babybaby game, activity for baby, baby fun

Pushing the ball makes it roll down, so does lifting the edge of the book.



baby fun, game for baby, baby activity
Time for a race. Which will get to the bottom first?



Baby is Learning:

- Fine motor skills
- Co-ordination
- Eye tracking (following an object with their eyes)
- Hand and eye coordination
- Manipulation
- Expectation
- Cause and effect (ie. pushing this object off the edge makes it roll down)
- How to move objects
- About things that roll
- How to grasp small objects
- Emotions. Fun, anticipation & excitement.
- How to grasp small objects
- About gravity
- What to do
- Sensory. Touch, rounded edges, smooth textures etc.



Handy Tips:

Simplify this activity by putting the rolling items right at the edge for baby to knock down

Extend this activity for older babies by providing objects that will roll with objects that won't roll. Baby can test which ones will roll down the ramp and which won't. 

Mix it up by providing a range of items to roll down the ramp and be making ramps of various sizes and on different angles.

- Provide something flat at the bottom of the ramp to extend the rolling if you wish (we used a duplo board)

Repeat this activity as often as you like as babies (and children) need repetition in order to consolidate their learning and understanding

Talk to your baby about what they are doing. This will help them begin to understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as helping develop their vocabulary.

Give your baby your time. It's the best gift you could ever give them.



Happy playing,
Debs :)




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Baby Play: Post the Blocks

Jun 24, 2012



Post the Blocks

activities for baby, baby games, fun for baby

Age: approx. 6 months to 2 years

Materials: Tissue box holder or tissue box with bottom cut out & wooden blocks that fit the gap



baby game, baby activities, fun for baby
In goes the block. But where has it gone?


baby game, activity for baby, baby funbaby activity, baby fun, game for baby

Ahh ha! There they are!


baby fun, game for baby, activity for baby
Post more in

Baby is Learning:

- Fine motor skills
- Co-ordination
- Hand and eye coordination
- Different colours
- Manipulation
- Object Permanence (ie. just because I can't see it doesn't mean it's not there)
- Where the blocks go
- How to find the blocks once they're posted
- How to grasp small objects
- What to do
- Senses. Touch. The objects are hard and have edges and corners
- Emotions. Surprise, anticipation & excitement.


Handy Tips:

Repeat this activity as often as you like as babies (and children) need repetition in order to consolidate their learning and understanding

Mix it up by giving them different shaped, sized and textured objects to post

Extend this activity for older babies by teaching about colours at the same time. "Post the blue block," "Where is the red block?", "You are posting a green block" etc.

Talk to your baby about what they are doing. This will help them begin to understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as helping develop their vocabulary.

Supervise. Babies must be supervised at all times. One of the main ways that they learn about objects is by putting them in their mouth, so please be cautious about what you are providing them or what they could access.

Give your baby your time. It's the best gift you could ever give them.



Happy playing,
Debs :)




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Re-tell the Story. (With play dough!) - Fun Reading Comprehension Activity

Jun 22, 2012



Here is a fun activity you could do at home to help improve reading comprehension and ensure that your children are understanding the meaning of the text.

literacy activity for kids, reading activity, book activity, early literacy


As I've mentioned before, we are taking part in the MeMeTales Readathon 2012This week the theme for the Read-a-thon is Animals. The specific animal books are available free on the website this week so once you've joined up you'll be able to read them online. 


We read the Donkey and the Wolf and based this fun activity around that book. You can use any story you want though!


Hello funny donkey


What to do:

Pick a story you've read before or just read.
Explain to your child that you are going to re-enact the story. Have the book (or electronic device with book) on the table where you are going to play.

Set the scene.
This is a really fun bit. You can make the set up as simple or as elaborate as you want. We kept it pretty simple. Some felt for the "meadow" and our characters made out of play dough. We found that adding little googly eyes really brought our characters to life.

Re-read the story & act it out.
Read the story with your child. After you have read each page use your play dough characters to re enact what has just happened on the page. Use this time to also talk about any words or concepts that your child may not understand.



What a scary looking wolf (haha)



 Our characters ready for the story to begin



Watch out Donkey, here comes Wolf!



Donkey has spotted Wolf!



What is happening here? You'll have to read the story to find out ;)





Handy Tips:

- Simplify this activity by setting the scene and making the characters yourself. Then, with your child, help them re-tell the story using the props.

- Extend this activity by having your child make all the props themselves. 

- Mix it up. Once you've re-told the story as it's written, have your child come up with a new story using the same characters or have them change the ending. You can help them do this by asking some leading questions, ie "What do you think would have happened if......?" "Can you show me with your characters what might have happened?" etc.

- Encourage creativity by letting your child know that they can base the characters, etc. on their own interpretation. They don't have to look exactly as they do in the story. You can mix around the scene as well. For example, the book may not picture trees in the meadow, but if your child wants trees, go with it!

- Interest. So, how do you get your child interested to do this if they don't appear to be leaping up at your suggestions? Easy, start playing yourself. Show your children the fun they are missing and I'd be very surprised if at the very least they don't come over and watch you re-telling the story. Also.. this isn't rocket science but make sure there aren't other distractions like TV going in the background.

- Talking and Reading together will help your child develop their language skills, not to mention the incredible bond you create with them.

- Read more about Reading Comprehension for kids here and why it's as important a subject as learning how to read (decode text).






Happy playing,
Debs :)




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Pretend School: Imaginative Play

Jun 21, 2012



One of the best ways to consolidate learning in children is to have them share their understanding with others. Peer learning is an extremely valuable tool in the classroom but often at home, especially with your eldest, there is no one else for them to 'teach.'

This is where a Pretend School for Imaginative Play can come in and it's so easy to set up.

activities for kids, games for kids, learn with play

Kids love pretending to be adults and getting to turn the tables and be in charge. Imaginative play gives children a chance to practice language skills, develop their imagination, look outside their immediate role and explore other options and possibilities. (Amongst other things)


You will need. Soft toys for students, chairs/tables for them to sit at and a chalkboard/whiteboard for the "teacher" with appropriate writing tools. (If you don't have a chalkboard/whiteboard, try taping a large piece of paper to a wall or window to use instead)

For maximum impact set up a Pretend Classroom for your child before they get up or while they are otherwise occupied. 



Talk to your child about what they are teaching all their "students" today.  
Offer them some props to help teach like some button magnets for counting, numbers, grouping etc or some magnetic letters and help them where appropriate.



Helping one of her "students" count.



Handy Tips:

Simplify this activity by joining in the play yourself. You could be a "student" in the class and aid your child in leading the play by asking them appropriate questions. ie. "What are we learning today?" "Can you teach me how to count to 10?" etc. They could pretend to read a story to their class. The options are unlimited.

- Extend this activity by helping your child extend their "curriculum" to include ideas and concepts they might be interested in or might be needing extension in. ie. If they struggle with backwards counting you could encourage them to teach backwards counting to their "students." Explain different school subjects and let your child choose an area to teach.

Play too. Get into character yourself, especially if your child doesn't do a lot of imaginative play. Addressing your child as Mr or Miss and helping out with things like ringing the school bell etc will help your child get into character and show them how people engage in imaginative play.

- Suggestions. Let your child lead with their interests but if they can't think of anything perhaps offer some simple suggestions to teach such as counting, the alphabet, read a story, talk about dinosaurs, organise a field trip, learn about healthy eating

- Listen to your child talk as they go through their experiences. This will help you determine where they are at with their learning, knowledge and understanding and help you to develop the activity (or future activities) to their level and interests



Happy Playing,
Debs :)




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Reading Comprehension for Preschoolers. 5 ways to help your child (Plus FREE kids eBook app!)

Jun 19, 2012


understanding text, teach kids how to read

 Reading Comprehension for preschoolers and beyond.

5 Steps to help your child understand the meaning of text at home.

I often feel as though much of the focus on young children is about learning to "read." And by that, I mean learning to "decode text". In order to read you have to be able to decode text but sometimes the focus is too heavy on decoding the text, and not enough on understanding the meaning of the text.



Before children can read independently it's important they work on their reading comprehension. Lucky it's so easy to help your child. Here's how:


1. Start with the front of the book. 
Read the title and ask your child, "What do you think this book is about?" "What do you think might happen in the story?" etc.


2. Understand the characters. 
When characters are introduced to the story, make sure your child knows who they are. Sounds very basic but you'd be surprised how often children aren't aware of who is being talked about. Especially if there are multiple characters. This is as easy as asking, "Who is Wolf?" "Can you point to Wolf" "What does Wolf look like?" etc.


3. Check for understanding of new/different words. 
While children are still developing their vocabulary, they will be presented with new words all the time. When reading these words, it's a good idea to check if your child knows what they mean. If you've just read, "Donkey was relaxing in a beautiful meadow" for example, you might want to check if your child knows a) what "relaxing" means and b) what a meadow is. Explain the meanings if they were unaware and re-read the sentence.


4. Question the text.
While reading the story you can gauge your child's understanding by asking conceptual questions. For example, if you have just read "Suddenly, out of nowhere, a wolf appeared looking very hungry!" You could say, "Oh no! What do you think is going to happen?" or "The wolf is hungry. I wonder what he might try and eat?" Once your child has responded, you could say, "Let's find out" and continue to read the story.



5. Review and Retell the Story.
When you and your child have finished reading a story, the easiest way to test for comprehension is to ask your child to tell you what happened in the story. You may need to remind them of certain details etc. 
Asking leading questions like, "What was your favourite part of the story?" or "Did you like that story? Why/Why not?"  "What happened to the wolf in the story?"etc. is also a great way to see how much of the story your child is understanding or retaining.



The more you practice this with them the better they will get

.. and the earlier you start, the better :)



Click here for a fun activity to help with reading comprehension.

MeMeTales have a great FREE app that comes complete with 20 free eBooks!  Download the free app for your phone, tablet or kindle and you can read the books on there. 



Happy reading,
Debs :)



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Drawing & Printing with Highlighters on Bubble wrap

Jun 18, 2012



A fun and different way to encourage creativity through drawing is by mixing up the drawing tools and using different mediums as your base. Here we explored the use of highlighters on bubble wrap.


Such a quick and easy activity to set up. 
You will need: Highlighters, bubble wrap and plain paper


Setting up your "Invitation to Play" I put a piece of plain paper underneath the bubble wrap to make visibility easier.



 Noticing straight away that the plasticy surface of the bubble wrap allows ink to sit on top. It isn't absorbed like with paper



 Because of the see-through nature of the bubble wrap, Maddie kept checking underneath to see if the ink was on the paper



She insisted on continuing until ever part of the bubble wrap was covered



Design done. Now what?



Flip it over, rub over the other side and take off. Maddie was impressed.


Examining the patterns. Talk about why some parts are darker/lighter. Why did some parts work and not others? Which colour showed up the best? etc



Try drawing actual designs and printing those. You can reuse the same bubble wrap over and over.

 Prints can work really well



You're a star


Handy Tips:

- Simplify this activity by just letting your child draw and be creative. Demonstrate printing and what can happen when they flip over the bubble wrap.

- Extend this activity by using to talk about other concepts such as symmetry. Try writing letters or numbers on the bubble wrap and see what happens to them when flipped over and printed. Challenge their problem solving. Can they find any letters of the alphabet that are the same when printed? etc

- Talk with your child about what they are doing. This will help them understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as giving them the vocabulary to describe it.

- Use new language and descriptive words like, "absorb," "symmetry" etc.  This will help with their language development.


- Remember that children need to create and explore, they don't need it to be a specific item at the end or to have drawn a specific picture. Allow this and don't push them to think they must make something "real." 






Happy playing,
Debs :)




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