29 July 2010

Bottle Bugs

We have been to an art workshop - making minibeasts from plastic bottles... here are our creations:

The six year olds 'bee' all his own design - some help with the sticky tape!

The four year olds 'bee' (copying his brother's - except they ran out of black tape so his has strips of paper coloured black)

The two year old's "bottle-fly"

I am sure that you get the gist... get an empty plastic bottle and decorate it into a bug.

Things you could use:
  • tape (different coloured electical tape works well or masking tape means they can add details using crayons or pens)
  • fabric
  • ribbon
  • paper (tissue paper or cellophane makes good wings, wrapping paper scraps to cover the bottle makes it very colourful, sugar paper makes a good base for butterfly wings)
  • pipecleaners (antennae and legs)
  • straws
  • 'googly' eyes
  • pompoms
  • feathers

Make a real minibeast or an imaginary bug; maybe make lots and host an ugly bug ball or join in the creepy crawly calypso... but most of all have fun.

28 July 2010

Lego Learning

I have three boys (aged six, four and two) so perhaps unsurprisingly we have LOTS of Lego in our house and it is something that they all play together with. Legoland is on their top places to visit and on Monday we had a great day out at the Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester.

Duplo is a firm favourite for building houses for all sorts of toys, building bridges for the wooden railway and building towers, trains and all sorts of other constructions. Building with Duplo and then standard Lego is great for fine motor skill development as children pick up the pieces and connect them together (tip: pulling apart Duplo is easier than putting it together). We have now started to move onto "little Lego" and are enjoying building models following the instructions.

There are many other targets that can use Lego as a tool...

Colours - match, sort and identify the different colours

Sorting - by colour, shape or size of brick

Patterns - make colour patterns using the blocks (or use them as mosiac tiles)

Shapes - use Lego bricks to build / identify different shapes (both 2D and 3D depending on the bricks you have

Counting - simply use the bricks in place of counters or count how many bricks were needed in your creation. You can also use them for addition and subtraction and solving word problems - make a tower with 3 green bricks and 5 red bricks, how many bricks did you use altogether? or take two blocks away, how many blocks are in your tower now?

Measuring - use your Lego bricks as a unit for measuring (see
No Time for Flashcards for a great demonstration)

Literacy - put words or letters on your Lego bricks to make great literacy manipulatives (see
Filthwizardry for an excellent example)

27 July 2010

The Shape Game

It is a rainy school holiday day - what to do...

Maybe play the shape game? It's a great fun drawing game involving a random shape being transformed into something recognisable, and even the celebs (including Quentin Blake, Emma Thompson, Harry Hill, Ian McEwan and Sir Peter Blake) have been playing it as part of Anthony Browne’s THE SHAPE GAME project, in aid of the charity Rainbow Trust.

They started with this shape drawn by Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne.

and they came up with many different ideas...

Hats proved a common route for many of the contributors involved, with Jo Brand, Axel Scheffler, Jacqueline Wilson, Andrew Motion, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and Sir Peter Blake amongst those transforming the shape into headwear. Animals were also a popular choice: Harry Hill opting to customise the shape into a whale, Quentin Blake adapting it into a bird and Emma Thompson using her artwork as a way to declare that she is “obsessed with pigs”. Other creations inspired by the animal kingdom include those by Greg Wise (who drew a rhino), Michael Morpurgo (elephant), Michael Foreman (hippo) Catherine Rayner (pig), Linford Christie (bird), Emily Gravett (owl), Shirley Hughes (cat) and Ken Livingstone (shark).

Other creations include a desert island by Booker-Prize winning author Ian McEwan, a person pondering the question: “Why Me?” by philosopher Alain de Botton, and comedian Leigh Francis’s take on 1980s high-school hero, Teen Wolf.

Other contributors to Play the Shape Game include: Anne Fine, Emily Gravett, Meera Syal, Philip Pullman, Tracy Chevalier, Nick Sharratt, Michael Rosen, Imelda Staunton, Anthony Horowitz, Sir Derek Jacobi, Rob Ryan and Jan Pienkowski.

Quentin Blake, the first contributor to sign-up to the project, said:

“I jumped at the chance to get involved; not only was it huge fun thinking about how I’d like to customise Anthony’s shape, but encouraging creativity is something I feel very strongly about. I hope the auction and book go on to raise lots of money for Rainbow Trust, which does such important work to support families at a time of great need.”

Anthony Browne said:

“Although on one level it’s just a game, I believe that it encapsulates the act of creation… everything comes from something else, inspiration is everywhere. I am thrilled that so many big names have joined in to play The Shape Game and I’ve had enormous pleasure looking through their artworks – it’s fascinating to get a glimpse inside the minds of celebrities! Hopefully they will capture the public’s imagination too so that we can raise a good amount for Rainbow Trust.”

Bestselling author Philip Pullman said of his contribution:

“I was enthusiastic about the idea from the start, because I seize on any excuse to get my pencils out, and this idea was so intriguing. I did have to let my mind go free over Anthony’s shape – there’s no point in thinking hard about it, because the exercise really involves thinking very loosely. But as I did, the landscape seemed to form itself around the shape. I loved doing it - huge fun”.

Members of the public will be able to bid for the original artwork from the project at an online auction for further information see
www.childrenslaureate.org.uk. The transformed shapes will also be published by Walker Books in a book, Play the Shape Game, intended to encourage children to use their imaginations. The book, which will be published in paperback at £5.99, will also feature brand new shapes created by the contributors which readers can then customise for themselves.

Both the auction and the book were launched yesterday at a special event at Waterstone’s Piccadilly (London), Europe’s largest bookstore. All funds raised from the auction and all profits from the sales of the book will be donated to Rainbow Trust, a charity which provides vital support to families who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness.

10 July 2010

Today's Target: Multiplication

Our eldest has just started being interested in learning times tables - he can rote count 2,4,6,8 or 5,10,15,20 or 10,20,30,40,50 etc but now he is beginning to understand the concept behind the counting in 2s, 5s and 10s.

So - 1 x 2 is 2, 2 x 2 is 4, 3 x 2 is 6, 4 x 2 is 8 etc or 2, 4, 6, 8 or some other method? Which is the best way for children to learn their multiplication tables? I think the answer is use as many different methods as possible (and have fun).

Some children will find it really easy to memorise the rote chant of the times tables but it is important to ensure that they understand the underlying maths fact that 4x2 = 2+2+2+2 and that it is the same as 2x4.

Some of the other things we have been doing (apart from the chanting!)
  • pairing socks: counting the pairs / individual socks - a pair = 2 socks, 2 pairs = 4 socks, 3 pairs = 6 socks etc
  • sorting for three children: the number in each bowl x 3 is the number altogether

Please add a comment let us know any ideas you have!

07 July 2010

Today's Target: Colour Matching

Like most other families that live within a 30mile radius of an IKEA store we have these sets of coloured plates, cups, bowls and spoons.

Also (I guess like many other children) our children love to have "matching" sets at each meal time. This causes a bit of angst at the moment as our youngest likes the green set best and our green spoon got lost! However, joking aside, this is a great introduction to colour matching in every day life.

We have also used the bowls as "sorting pots" with other coloured items (for example; coloured paper clips, mini pompoms, crayons, toy cars) matching all the same colour things together in the bowl of that colour.

Learning colour matching is a skill within Mathematical Development - sorting familiar objects to identify their similarities and differences, making choices and justifying decisions and as part of Creative Development as children explore colour.

Other colour matching games that are enjoyed in our house are:

01 July 2010

People Who Help Us: Police Officers

Following my Firefighters post as a continuation of the theme "people who help us" at the Stay and Play group we go to yesterday we had a visit from a police car and a police community support officer.

The children got to climb all over her police van (standing in the "cell" at the back and pretending to drive it), seeing the lights flash, hearing the siren (again a few tears!) and trying on her hat. She also spent time playing with the children to show them that police officers are approachable and people they should go to if they need help.