Friday 26 June 2015

Fun Ways to Practice Numeracy Skills

Numeracy skills are important from a young age, being used for everything from cookery to telling the time. Learning and practicing numbers needn't be hard work or boring though. Have fun employing these learning through play opportunities.
Do you have any to add?

Measuring out teaspoonfuls, using the scales, pouring the right number of drops, splashes or the correct volume of liquid ingredients makes for a great fun way to practice counting. If you do it right there is a good chance that there will be something delicious to enjoy at the end!

Making Numbers
Making your own number shapes offers a different way to learn to recognise and replicate numbers. Use playdough, trace, stencil, use cooked spaghetti or perhaps wool to form numbers and practice learning their names. Whatever the material this is a great fun way to practice your numbers.

Number Puzzles and Games
A great way to practice number recognition and work on number patterns is to play number related games. Everything from number bingo / matching games to fun number-related games and toys such as the Janod I Wood Hedgehog all offer great ways in which to merge fun and learning.

Dot to Dots
What better way to recognise numbers, number sequences and to practice mark making / drawing than to do so with a dot to dot book or using ones printed off from a number of online resources.

Singing Songs and Counting Rhymes
How many songs, poems and rhymes do you remember which involve counting? A fair few we bet! Enjoy a sing-song when walking to the park, on the way to the shops, in the car or just when you're enjoying some fun time together at home.

Outdoor Games
Outdoor games also offer a great number of opportunities for learning numbers and counting. Use outdoor chalk on the ground, play hopscotch or enjoy skipping games which involve counting. Even hide and seek encourages little ones to count.

How many steps is it from the bed to the door? How many steps from the top of the stairs to the bottom? How many steps from one end of the garden to the other. These are all fun ways to practice counting.

Clock Play
The first step to being able to tell the time is of course to be able to recognise the numbers, to be able to count in fives (older children) and to know the difference between the big hand and the small hand. Teaching children that breakfast is at 8am, lunch at 12pm, tea time at 5pm (etc) also helps with the concept of time. Using visual clock aids to teach these skills while playing will help with skill development.

How do you practice numbers with your little one?

Friday 12 June 2015

Keeping Little Ones Hydrated

For the most part we've been very lucky recently with some absolutely glorious weather. Of course the sun hats have been provided as has the high factor sun cream. Keeping little ones safe in the sun is important and hydration plays a large part in that. 

Heat, not just the sun rays themselves may be harmful to little ones who aren't yet in full control of their body temperatures, quickly getting cold or hot dependant on the weather or the environment they are in. Their little bodies also dehydrate very quickly. 

Dehydration is no joke with the consequences of children being hydrated ranging from feeling sick, tired and having a headache to much more serious consequences. 

These tips should help you keep your precious boys and girls cool and hydrated so that they may enjoy the fabulous weather (while it lasts) and continue making fun memories.  
  • Offering drinks regularly is essential as children won't necessarily remember to take time out of their play to go and find their water bottle. While water is of course the best choice of liquids for hydration not all children enjoy drinking water so instead fill bottles with well-diluted squash.  
  • Homemade ice lollies or ice pops are great for hydration and as you've made them yourself you know exactly what's in there (no nasties!).  
  • Have you ever heard of eating water? Hydration is something that should be attended to throughout the day including at mealtimes. Not all of the water your children take in has to come from their water bottles either. Cook and prepare foods which have a high density of water such as vegetables and fruits. 

  • Make sure your children know how important drinking in hot weather (and at all times) is. Encourage them to ask for drinks when thirsty as well as offering them at regular intervals. Make it fun by using brightly coloured bottles and a number of fun diluted juice and water flavours.  
  • Staying in the shade not only protects the skin, it is also cooler there. When enjoying outside play ensure children spend at least part of their time in the shade and that they take regular rest breaks to ensure that they don't overdo it and overheat. 

For excellent advice straight from the NHS on how to keep little ones safe in the sun as well as hydrated read and save this guidance. 

What are your top tips for keeping little ones hydrated?

Sunday 7 June 2015

Tidy Up Time

One of the skills that seems to be the hardest to teach your children is to tidy up. When they are very young putting a few blocks or toys in a bucket with Mummy or Daddy seems very grown up however the novelty soon runs out. What's the alternative though? A lifelong battle which stretches into their teens and beyond or some clever early training which will *hopefully* turn the tidying tides in your favour? 

Make it Fun 
Organising and tidying is at the end of the day a chore however when you incorporate fun-looking as well as practical storage solutions into the mix children are more likely to want to help out. Use buckets, boxes and even wall-hanging storage which will keep toys and books tidy while adding to the cool or cute look of the room.  

These fabulous Tidy Books book storage solutions both look fabulously fun and offer a substantial amount of storage. Many parents especially like the fact that children may so easy view the front of the books rather than just the spines as they would on a traditional bookcase.

Reward Charts 
Showing your children in a very visual way that they have achieved something or suceeded at a goal is a great way both congratulate them and motivate them further. Reward stickers and charts work wonders when it comes to building good habits, showing progress and saying well done. Whether there is a treat at the end of a complete row of stickers or not is up to each individual parent obviously. Reward charts are used in a wide number of settings from at home to schools and with great success.

Ready, Steady Go 
Anyone who has watched a child painstakingly put one toy away after another in a very deliberate and very slow way will appreciate the need for speeding things up (many swear savvy little ones do this so that us grown up will get impatient and take over!). Use a clock, an egg timer or simply start a tidying up "race" to get things moving!

Nurture a Sense of Pride in Their Space 
Even little ones appreciate good interior design, be it based around their favourite theme or character or because their room is now "grown up". Let your kids choose their theme where appropriate and take some part in making their room special. This gives them a sense of ownership and pride in their space and further encourages them to want to keep it it looking nice.

While some would say that children should tidy up because they are told to, not because they receive a sticker or praise we believe that making tidying up and being organised fun and a good habit early on can only be a good thing longer term.