Spring has sprung and there’s nothing nicer than getting out and about with the kids. This week the boy is off school for Easter and we’ve been making the most of the fresh air and sunshine by visiting the local parks and nature reserves. Yesterday we met a couple of his friends for a Spring scavenger hunt in a local park, it was just the thing to keep them engaged and occupied for an hour and they all did really well.
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 Spring Scavenger Hunt quite generic, so you should be able to find most of the bugs, birds and plants in your local park.
I have left room on the printable for children to make notes too. If they spot anything different or noteworthy, they can write all about what they’ve seen in the notes section.
While we were out on our walk we spotted a few things which weren’t on the list. We spotted a couple of bees, some different spring flowers, an assortment of birds and (as this was an urban park) dog poo with sweetcorn in it. I was both grossed out and secretly pleased by their observational skills. We also learned an important lesson about looking where we were putting our feet if we are walking in long grass.
Whatever you do over Easter, whether you’re walking in the park; pond dipping in a nature reserve or walking the dog on the beach; make sure you stay safe. Keep your eyes peeled for all the wonders of nature and watch there you put your feet!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
Read the number at the end of the long hand.
Say which side the long hand is pointing to (TO or PAST).
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”.
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.
This week we’ve been playing a new board game from Orchard Toys – What a Performance! It’s kind of like charades, but with a lot more going on. We properly laughed when we played this game and it would be a great game for small-ish groups of people or families.
What a Performance is great to get the whole family laughing and playing together. Race your way around the performance board to be the first player or team to reach the finish. Along the way you’ll have to act out a scene, make lots of fun noises, do funny actions and activities along the way. Can you pretend to be a monkey, make a noise like a firework or wiggle your ears? If you can’t, use the magic decoder and reveal your hidden forfeit on the back of the cards!
There are over 300 fun challenges to perform, so there’s never a dull moment.
The box contains a jigsaw game board, 100 activity cards, a spinner, a sand timer; a card holder, a performance star, four character stands; four playing pieces, a magic decoder, a dice and an instruction leaflet.
The game is fairly simple to set up. You put the jigsaw board together, this comes in four pieces and takes seconds to do. You choose which colour you will be, red, green, yellow or blue and take your playing pieces and put them at the start.
The youngest player starts by rolling the dice and moving along the board accordingly. When you land on a square Say/Act/Do you take a card and read the corresponding instruction. If the instructions has “Guess” written on it, the other players have to set the timer and guess what you’re doing within the time. There are other squares, Spin means you spin the spinner which will choose your challenge. Landing on the ? square means you take a card and using the magic decoder, you follow the hidden instructions on the back of the card.
It’s all very simple and really lots of fun. The game had us doing monkey and dinosaur impressions, sit ups, touching our toes, it had us wiggling our ears and talking in silly voices. It was tremendous fun and just the kind of thing to bring out the silly in anyone.
As with all Orchard Toys games, What a Performance does have some educational benefits. It promotes imaginative play, encourages personal and social skills and can encourage group play. I think one of the biggest things we noticed with it, was it was really great for getting him to think about how to follow the instructions. This gave him more confidence to stand up and be silly, which is an essential life skill, or it is in my book.
What a Performance is a properly fun game. It’s just the thing for building a bit of confidence whilst having a whole lot of fun!
What a Performance is suitable for ages 5 to adult and for 2 or more players. It costs £16.50 and is widely available.
Disclosure: We were sent the What a Performance game for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I write about our love of dinosaurs quite a lot on this blog. We have toys, games, dino figurines, DVDs and stacks and stacks of books about dinosaurs. We have a good selection of non-fiction books about dinosaurs, but we also have a couple of fiction books about them too, like Dinosaurs love Underpants. For this round-up we’ve chosen five of our favourite non-fiction books about dinosaurs; because if there’s one thing we love, it’s a big book of dinosaur facts!
Five Roarsome Books about Dinosaurs!
Lift-the-flap Questions and Answers about Dinosaurs by Katie Daynes has been one of our favourite dino books for a year or so now. It’s beautifully illustrated and wonderfully engaging. This interactive flap book will answer all kinds of questions. It’s great for young readers, my son sits for hours reading and lifting the flaps. It’s a real favourite!
Dinosaur Number Crunch! by Kevin Pettman is a snappily written, fact-packed overview of the world of dinosaurs. It’s jam-packed full of colourful, well-illustrated facts. It contains all the essential info that dinosaur fans need to know; such as where they lived, what they ate, how big they were, how fast they could run, how many teeth they had and their key weapons. You can read our full review of this book here, but it’s one of our favourites!
National Geographic Kids: Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs by Catherine D. Hughes is for children aged 4- to 8-years-old who LOVE dinos! This fact packed book brings the prehistoric world to life with dinosaurs small, big, giant, and gigantic. The book is easy to read and contains lots of age appropriate information, better still, there’s an interactive element, so if you want to find out more, you can do!
The Complete Book of Dinosaursby Dougal Dixon is the ultimate guide to 355 dinosaurs from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods. It includes more than 900 illustrations, maps, timelines and photographs. It is the ultimate dinosaur guide for children who want to take their knowledge to the next level.
Usborne Pop-Up Dinosaurs by Fiona Watt is perfect for littler ones. This adorably illustrated book is ideal for mini dino fans. The book features all kinds of dinosaurs which pop up and move. Learn a little more about each dinosaur, from the long-necked Brachiosaurus, the triceratops with sharp horns, and the most famous dinosaur of them all, Tyrannosaurus Rex! It’s simply written and a delightful book to share with small children.
We are always looking for new books about dinosaurs to read at home. Have we missed any that we absolutely must get? Please let us know in the comments.
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!
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
Felt tips to decorate your egg
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!
My son is six now and does seem to enjoy doing maths at school and at home. I’m keen to encourage this, especially as I was always terrible at maths myself. I’m a great believer in making learning fun, so when we were sent the Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game I thought he would like it, and I was right!
The Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game is for ages 5-7 and helps to teach and reinforce addition, subtraction and multiplication. Designed for 2-4 players this is a game my son really, really loves and makes us play every night after dinner.
The game play is really easy to get your head around. Each player chooses one of the four wizard boards, you spread the magic sum cards face down and star up on the table. You also have a selection of spell ingredient cards, deal each player six of these cards, these have a number on one side and a gruesome spell ingredient on the other.
To play you turn over a magic sum card and do the sum on the card eg 5+2= if you have the number 7 on any of your spell ingredient cards, shout abracadabra and put your gruesome spell ingredient onto your wizard board. If you need to check your answer is correct, rub the star on the back of the magic sum card and this will magically reveal the answer.
If there’s no match or you answer the sum incorrectly then the other players have a chance to win that card if they get the sum right and have a spell ingredient card to match. The winner is the first layer to fill their wizard board with all six spell ingredients. It’s actually much easier than it sounds.
The horrible spell ingredients include worm-infested cupcakes, brains and bogies. For my son the eye of newt and wing of bat element is something he particularly enjoys.
The game has been designed specifically for KS1 maths in collaboration with teachers and educational professionals. It incorporates a broad range of sums including addition, subtraction and multiplication to offer a challenging game.
The Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game helps to develop the following areas of learning –
Develops Number and Counting Skills
Supports first multiplication, addition and subtraction
Encourages Observational Skills
Develops Personal and Social Skills
I know from playing the game with my son that he is very engaged with it, he enjoys creating the spells and the challenge of doing the maths to get enough of the cards to win the game. For my money, this is probably one of the best Orchard Toys games we’ve had and is perfectly pitched for my 6 year old.
If you do get this game, can I offer a small tip. The magic sum cards are in sets for addition, subtraction and multiplication. I know my son is pretty confident with addition and subtraction; so for a while we just played with these cards to bolster his confidence. Over time we have introduced the harder sums, the multiplication cards etc and he has found those easier to do and has approached them with greater confidence.
I didn’t think it was possible, but this game really makes maths fun for us all!
The Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game is available from a wide range of retailers and costs around £12. For more information, visit the Orchard Toys website.
Note: We were sent the Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.