Category Archives: Learning

Sensory Play: Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom

Kinetic Sand has been incredibly popular for several years now. It’s one of those things you can’t help touching and playing with if there’s an open box nearby. It’s incredibly tactile, which makes it perfect for sensory play; and if you drop it on the floor it is easily swept or vacuumed up, it’s no mess sensory fun!

Kinetic Sand is made from 98% sand and 2% silica oil. It behaves a bit like playdough but without the sticky horror if it gets walked into your carpet. You can clump the sand up together like a ball, then watch as it melts through your hands almost like a liquid. It’s strange, but in a good way.

Sensory Play: Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom

The Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom is a brilliant set for anyone who wants to bring the beach into their own home. It comes in its own beachy box, but it would work equally well in a high sided plastic box, like I used for our sensory play activities. The set comes with 3lbs of kinetic sand and 6 castle-themed moulds to create walls, bridges, towers and more. There are also 2 multi-use tools which can be used to cut, dig, rake and shovel the sand.

The beauty of the Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom coming in its own play box, is that once you’ve finished playing with it, it’s all easily packed away back in the box for next time. You build sandcastles and other structures, which stay in position for a while, then eventually melt away into a heap of sand.

Sensory Play: Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom

Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom is great for sensory play, you can use it to fuel your imagination too. I especially like the set because for me, sand is always about the beach. We’ve enjoyed playing with various Kinetic Sand sets over the years; but the simple joy of doing what you would do on the beach, but in miniature, and at the kitchen table is so much more fun.

Kinetic sand isn’t just great fun to play with, it also has a number of sensory benefits.
  • It can help to develop and hone fine motor skills, which in turn can help with writing and drawing.
  • It can encourage creativity, imaginative, creative play which in turn can help speech and language development.
  • Focusing on a task, such as creating a sandcastle can help increase attention spans. It gives something to focus on and can encourage calm play.

The Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom costs £19.99 and it’s available from a wide range of retailers and online. It’s suitable for ages 3+ and if you’re wanting to create a miniature beach at home, this is just the thing.

Sensory Play: Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom

If you would like to read other reviews of Kinetic Sand products, you can find some here:

We were sent Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Learning: Ocean Slime Baff Activity Box

A few weeks ago we had a really fun afternoon playing with a dinosaur sensory Gelli Baff activity box which we put together. We had so much fun with it, the boy made several requests to do something similar; so I went back to my local toy shop and bought some Slime Baff, which is similar to the Gelli Baff but made of slime. We invited some friends around and had some Ocean Slime Baff Activity Box fun!

Learning: Ocean Slime Baff Activity Box

The Slime Baff is available in a range of colours (red, green and blue) but I opted for blue which seemed about the right shade to create a lovely blue ocean with. It’s safe for children and should be fine for sensitive skin. It also has a pleasant fragrance.

A packet of Slime Baff costs £5.99 and there’s enough for one bath in the pack. I used the whole pack in our box of slime. I wanted a fairly thick, gloopy slime for the sensory box, but you could experiment with using less for a looser slime.

Learning: Ocean Slime Baff Activity Box

HOW TO CREATE A Ocean slime SENSORY ACTIVITY BOX

You will need:
One plastic storage box. I used an IKEA Trofast Storage box
Slime Baff
Warm water
Selection of plastic fish and ocean life and maybe some shells

How to make your ocean slime sensory activity box:
In your clean plastic box pour in six pints of warm water, you can add more if you need to later. Pour in the Slime Baff powder and stir it in. It should turn to slime fairly quickly. If the texture is too thick for you, add some more warm water and stir until you’re happy with it.

Learning: Ocean Slime Baff Activity Box

Grab your plastic fish figures and shells and put them in the box, let your imagination run wild.

Once you’ve finished playing with your ocean slime sensory activity box, pour it into the sink and add more hot water until it slides down the plughole.

TIPS:

Although Slime Baff doesn’t stain (or shouldn’t), you might want to wear an apron to protect your clothes.

I put the washing up bowl nearby so any figures he’d played with could go in there and be rinsed off afterwards. Some of the goo did cling to them quite a bit.

We played with this in the kitchen which was fine because if there was mess it could be mopped up. If you’re playing with this in a carpeted room I’d but a wipe clean cloth down under the box to minimise the mess.

Children might like to use tools in the sensory box. The slime really lends itself to scooping and pouring, so if you have some small plastic cups, they might be quite fun to include too.

The slime really clings to your skin, so keep an old towel close by to wipe hands on. You can wash the slime off your hands with soap and water. It is very slippy stuff, so be careful if any gets on the floor too.

Learning: Ocean Slime Baff Activity Box

WHAT DID WE LEARN?

Like with the dinosaur sensory activity, this was a good way of expanding his vocabulary and exploring new ways to describe things. We founds words such as; slimy, wobbly, gooey, warm, cold, soft, stretchy and floppy which all described the Slime Baff well.

We closed our eyes and felt around for sea creatures in the goo. When we found them we had to try to feel to guess what we had. We had a selection of shells in the slime too. We tried to figure out what they were by feeling the shape, size and ridges of the shells. This was a great game and one we all really enjoyed.

For a more interesting tactile sensory experience you can make the Slime Baff up with quite warm water and children can explore the different temperatures as the slime cools while they play with it.

He mostly enjoyed just playing with the ocean slime sensory activity box, and who can blame him. It was great fun, perfect messy play for slime loving kids!

Learning: Ocean Slime Baff Activity Box

Learning: Dinosaur Sensory Gelli Baff Activity Box

A few weeks ago I spotted a packet of Gelli Baff in my local toy shop and decided to treat my son to a Gelli Baff bath. It was brilliant fun and we all ended up having a go. It’s really tactile so I thought it would be something we could use for some sensory play. Today it’s been too grey and wet to go to the park, so I assembled some stuff and we had an hour or so of dinosaur sensory activities.

Learning: Dinosaur Sensory Gelli Baff Activity Box

The Gelli Baff is available in a range of colours but I opted for “slime green” which seemed about the right shade to create a dinosaur swamp with. Gelli Baff comes with a sachet of dissolver, so when you’ve finished it just washes down the plughole like water. It’s safe for children and fine for sensitive skin. It also has a pleasant fragrance.

A packet of Gelli Baff costs £5.99 and there’s enough for one bath in the pack. But if you want to use it for sensory play you can probably get a minimum of five trays of goop out of a packet.

How to create a Dinosaur Sensory Activity box

You will need:
One plastic storage box. I used an IKEA Trofast Storage box
Gelli Baff
Warm water
Selection of dinosaurs and dino accessories

Learning: Dinosaur Sensory Gelli Baff Activity Box

How to make your dinosaur sensory activity box:
In your clean plastic box pour in six pints of warm water, you can add more if you need to later. Weigh out 30g of the Gelli Baff powder and stir it in. It should turn to jelly fairly quickly. If the texture is too firm for you, add some more warm water until you’re happy with it.

Grab your dinos and put them in the box, let your imagination run wild.

Learning: Dinosaur Sensory Gelli Baff Activity Box

Once you’ve finished playing with your dinosaur sensory activity box you can sprinkle over the dissolving powder and then just pour it down the sink.

Tips:

Although Gelli Baff doesn’t stain (or shouldn’t), you might want to wear an apron to protect your clothes.

My son LOVED this activity and decided he wanted to make a pond for the dinosaurs to drink out of and swim in. We used a small plastic bowl, this definitely added an extra dimension to his play.

I put the washing up bowl nearby so any dinosaurs he’d played with could go in there and be rinsed off afterwards. Some of the goo did cling to them a bit. I’m a big fan of tidy as you go and this helped.

We played with this in the kitchen which was fine because if there was mess it could be mopped up. If you’re playing with this in a carpeted room I’d but a wipe clean cloth down under the box to minimise the mess.

Children might like to use tools in the sensory box; we used some normal teaspoons to dig the goo out for the pond.

Learning: Dinosaur Sensory Gelli Baff Activity Box

What did we learn?

My son loves dinosaurs, so for him this was a really good way of stretching his imagination by creating a habitat for his dinosaurs. For me it was a good way of expanding his vocabulary and exploring new ways to describe things.

We founds words such as; squishy, wobbly, gooey, warm, cold, soft and grainy which all described the Gelli Baff well.

We also closed our eyes and felt around for tiny dinos in the goo. When we found them we had to try to feel to guess what kind of dinosaur we had. This was a great game and one he really enjoyed.

For a more interesting tactile sensory experience; make the Geli Baff up with quite warm water and children can explore the different temperatures as the gelli cools while they play with it.

He mostly enjoyed just playing with the dinosaur sensory activity box, and who can blame him?

Learning: Dinosaur Sensory Gelli Baff Activity Box

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to try Growing Egg and Cress Heads.

Seashore Scavenger Hunt Activity + FREE Printable

We are really into scavenger hunts at the moment. It’s a great way to spend some time exploring and learning about what’s around you. A few weeks ago we did a summer scavenger hunt in our local park and as we’re visiting the beach this week I thought I’d put together a seashore scavenger hunt to see what we can find on the beach.

We do love beachcombing and I’m a keen collector of sea glass, so beach combing is something we all enjoy. Last year the boy went rockpooling with the National Trust and found lots of interesting creatures in the rock pools of North Devon.

I’ve included a wide variety of things you can find on the beach in our seashore scavenger hunt. You might not be able to find them all, especially the slightly rarer things like sea glass and mermaid’s purses, but it’s worth taking a look to see what you can find. If you want to find out more about mermaid’s purses, they have lots of child-friendly information on The Shark Trust website.

Download your FREE Seashore Scavenger Hunt Activity Printable Here!

Seashore Scavenger Hunt Activity + FREE Printable

When it comes to sea glass, don’t pick any up that has got sharp edges, that’s just glass. Sea glass should look round and smooth like a coloured pebble; it’s a very special thing to find on the beach, but do be careful.

I’ve left some room for you to make any notes about what you might find on the beach. Doing a seashore scavenger hunt is a great way to start conversations with your child about nature and what kinds of things you can find on the seashore. Why not take along a net and a bucket and see what creatures you can find in a rockpool. How many different kinds of shell can you find and what creatures lived in them?

I always like to do a little bit of a 2 minute beach clean when I visit the beach. It’s easy to pick up the litter I find to put in the bin or recycle at home. It all helps to keep our beaches tidy and some litter out of the oceans.

If you enjoyed this scavenger hunt, you might like to try this Summer Scavenger Hunt.

Summer Scavenger Hunt Activity + FREE Printable

The summer holidays are well and truly here. The kids have broken up from school and they’re taking a good deal of entertaining. One of our favourite things to do is to pack a picnic and head to the local park. It’s always good to have an activity to do to keep the kids engaged and entertained, so I’ve come up with this Summer Scavenger Hunt which should have them running about, exploring and learning more about nature.

We live by the river and walk the dog down there most days. By the river is a nature reserve and we often see lots of different birds, insects and plants. I’ve tried to keep the Summer Scavenger Hunt quite generic, so you should be able to find most of the bugs, birds and plants in your local park.

Download your free Summer Scavenger Hunt Activity Printable here.Summer Scavenger Hunt Activity + FREE Printable

I have left room for children to make notes too. You might want to ask them some questions about what they find too. Here are a few to get you started –

How many spots does a ladybird have? There are 46 different types in the UK, but only 26 look like a classic red and black spotted ladybird we all love. Most common ladybirds have 2 spots, 7 spots or 10 spots.

What is a dandelion clock? A dandelion clock is the downy spherical seed head of a dandelion. When we blow the seeds off the clock we make a wish, but other people count the number of puffs it takes to blow off all the seeds, which tells you the time, in theory!

How strong are ants? Ants can lift up to anywhere from 20 to 100 times their own weight, depending on the species of ant.

Why does a bee die after it stings you? Honey bees are the only bees to die after stinging. When a honey bee stings a person or an animal, it cannot pull its sting out and it leaves behind not only the sting, but part of its abdomen and digestive tract. This then kills the honey bee.

Look out for more of our Scavenger Hunt Activity sheets over the next few months, you never know what mini beasts, plants or critters you may encounter!

If you enjoyed this, you might also like these recycling worksheets.

Review: EasyRead Time Teacher Watch

Learning to tell the time is a vital life skill and one we are working on with the boy. We’ve changed some of our clocks to ones with big numbers and we’re always asking him what time it is. But really the most effective way is to wear a watch and check the time yourself throughout the day. We’ve just got him an EasyRead Time Teacher Watch so he can really crack telling the time over the summer.

Review: EasyRead Time Teacher Watch

The EasyRead Time Teacher Watch is aimed at children aged 5-12 years. It has a fabric strap for breathability, it’s water-resistant, is non allergenic and had a stainless steel back. Not only that, but it has a Seiko movement, so you know the watch is a good quality make.

The EasyRead Time Teacher Watch has a really clear face. It’s divided into two, so children can quickly learn TO and PAST. There’s a simple instruction leaflet featuring their three-step teaching system which can be found on the outside of the watch box and in the leaflet inside. It’s really simple and should be easy enough for most children to pick up and follow.

The three-step teaching system:
  1. Read the number at the end of the long hand.
  2. Say which side the long hand is pointing to (TO or PAST).
  3. Read the number at the end of the short hand.

It’s as simple as that. EasyRead recommend that parents get their children involved in timing their daily activities, such as “you have five minutes to finish your breakfast”.

Review: EasyRead Time Teacher Watch

The EasyRead Time Teacher Watch comes in a range of standard colours and it costs £19.95. Additional watch straps, which are available in several bright colours are £4.95. I think, given how messy my boy can be, it might be useful to buy a spare strap. The straps are washable, but a spare is always useful.

EasyRead have a few other products to help your child learn to tell the time including wall clocks, school clocks and teaching aids; 24 hour wall clocks for home and school, 24 hour wrist watches and children’s alarm clocks which come with a night light and snooze button.

My son is delighted with his new watch. Not only does it look pretty cool, I think it will really help him learn to tell the time. He has grasped the three step concept really quickly and so far he’s been happily telling us the time. I’d really recommend the EasyRead Time Teacher Watch for helping children learn to tell the time quickly and easily.

For more information about the EasyRead Time Teacher Watch, visit their website.

Review: EasyRead Time Teacher Watch

Disclaimer: We were sent a EasyRead Time Teacher Watch for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Learning: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game

The Very Hungry Caterpillar has always been a firm favourite of ours. It’s the classic story of a hungry caterpillar who munches its way through all kinds of healthy and unhealthy foods. He then gets a tummy ache and eventually turns into a beautiful butterfly. With it being such a favourite, it is the perfect base for a bit of educational play. I put together a little game to help to really cement the alphabet into the heads of little ones, so here’s my The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game.

Learning: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game

The alphabet game is really simple to play. Just print out the two sheets which you can download for free here. If you can, print the game onto card, it’ll last longer that way.  Once it’s printed out, take the card with the letters on and cut them all out. There’s a little card with instructions on there too if you need them.

You can either work with your little one to put them in the right order on the board, or you could put some of the letter cards in the right places and get them to fill in the gaps. It’s a really good way of helping to get the alphabet fixed in their heads.

Learning: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game

It’s ideal for younger children, but my 7 year old couldn’t resist having a play with the alphabet game too. It was a good confidence builder for him. He knew what he was doing and where the cards needed to be. Like many children, he sometimes just needs to do something fairly basic every so often to build confidence in his own ability.

It wasn’t part of my original plan for the game, but once he’d completed the board he moved on to spelling out words with the letters. This can only really be encouraged, it’s all good learning and reinforcement of what he knows already.

Not only was he practicing his alphabet, he was also exercising his hand eye coordination and his fine motor skills. We also had a good chat about The Very Hungry Caterpillar and talked about how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, it’s all good learning and pretty fun too!

Download The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game for free here.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like my Squash and a Squeeze Story Book Bag.

Learning: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game

This post contains an affiliate link.

Learn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free Worksheets

Earth Day is on 22nd April and it’s a great opportunity to talk to our children about how we can care for our planet. As much as we’d all like to banish climate change, pollution and single use plastics with the wave of a magic wand; it’s not something we can change overnight. What we can do is make efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle and make better choices when it comes to buying single use plastics; as well as reducing our energy usage where possible. There are lots of things we can do to reduce our personal footprint on the earth; recycling is an important part of that.

Learn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free Worksheets

This month, the boy has been working towards his Global Issues badge at Beavers. This involved keeping a recycling diary and taking steps around the home to reduce our waste and energy usage. I put together some worksheets on recycling for him to complete and take to Beavers to show what he’s been up to at home.

Learn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free WorksheetsLearn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free Worksheets

Download these worksheets for free here

The worksheets include some colouring in; a game where you put the right recycling in the right bin; a recycling diary and some questions about why and how we recycle. It’s just the thing for his Global Issues badge; but it’s also great to do at home if you’re talking about Earth Day, recycling or global issues.

I think it’s useful for adults and well as children to look again at what we throw away and see if we could do better. Or reduce what we use, recycle more or just do better when it comes to rubbish. I am trying to buy fewer things wrapped in layers and layers of plastic. I’ve virtually stopped drinking take away coffee and I refuse plastic straws. Making small changes can have a big impact. What changes are you making this year?

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) have online resources and information about recycling for kids which you can find here.

 

Learn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free Worksheets

If you enjoyed this, you might also like this easy Earth Day craft.

STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

Tasked with coming up with some interesting crafts and things to do with three children during the half term, I thought we’d start our week by making some egg and cress heads. I thought it would be interesting to watch them grow over the week. They’re easy to put together and all three had great fun making them and watching them grow over the week.

This activity is perfect for my 7 year old who is in Year 2. Cress grows incredibly quickly, and almost before your eyes. This fast growing crop was really exciting for the children to watch growing. Each day they found a new thing to be excited about. The best day was when they got to try eating the peppery cress, it’s a rare sight watching three children delightedly eating their greens!

STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

Growing egg and cress heads is a great opportunity for children to talk about their observations about how the seed grows into a plant and guessing what will happen next. It can also help to promote scientific thinking and helps with linking science to real life experiences.

Growing Egg and Cress Heads

You will need:
A hard boiled egg each
Cotton wool
Cress seeds
Felt tips to decorate your egg

STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

How to make your egg and cress heads:
Hard boil your eggs and get a grown up to carefully take the top off and scoop out the egg inside.

Gently decorate your egg however you want. We drew pictures of cats and dogs on ours, but you could do almost anything.

Fluff up some cotton wool and put it inside the egg. Then pour some water over the cotton wool. Sprinkle some cress seeds on the top of the cotton wool and put on a windowsill in an egg cup.

Check the progress of your seeds every day, sprinkle more water on the seeds every so often. Within a week all of your seeds should have sprouted and your egg head should have a thick crop of cress hair!

STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy this Jelly Bean STEM Architecture

STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

Learning: Take the Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge

We are getting quite into STEM crafts and activities at home now. We’ve been busy with jellybean architecture, made a sponge house to grow cress on and this week we’ve been using the Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards from Mrs Mactivity and seeing what we could create.

Lego play is well known for having all kinds of great developmental benefits, these include –

  • Promoting fine motor skills
  • Encouraging team work
  • Improving creativity
  • Developing problem solving and mathematical thinking
  • Improving communication skills
  • Developing lateral thinking and planning skills

Crafts: Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards

Developing STEM (Science, technology, Engineering and Maths) skills and encouraging an interest in these areas is so important for all children. I’m lucky that my son is very keen on science and engineering; not so much maths, but we’re working on that. He absolutely loves playing with Lego too, so these Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards were absolutely perfect for him.

We printed out the Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards and gathered a few boxes of Lego together. We each chose a challenge and got to work. I made the heart, the present and spelled out the word LOVE. He did an arrow, a heart and he also wrote the word LOVE in Lego.

Learning: Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards

It was really interesting for us to do something a bit different with our Lego and nice to build something which wasn’t a Lego City or Ninjago set. I can see how it worked his problem solving muscles, trying to find the right piece to go in the right place, picking and choosing colours and carefully following the visual instructions on the cards.

I think it’s also helped to show him that he doesn’t just have to build the sets, that he can be a little more creative with his Lego. He especially enjoyed writing with it and went on the write his name and mine. This is definitely something we can build on together at home.

Learning: Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards

This was most definitely a fun thing to do together and the learning is obvious to me, but it’s just fun for him!

The Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards are available to download on the Mrs Mactivity website. You can also find a good selection of other activity sheets there – all designed to be fun and educational too!

 

Learning: Valentine’s Lego STEM Challenge Cards