Spring time is one of my favourite times of year. We have the return of sunshine, baby animals being born and colour returning to the garden. For children the best part of spring is usually opportunity to be back outside more, and the joy of Easter chocolate. It’s an exciting time for some fun activities that encourage learning too.
Today I’m going to share some of the activities we’ve tried over the last few years and things I’m setting up for this year too. With two weeks off Nursery starting from next week, I’ve chosen activities that are easy and ‘cost effective’ too.
Lets start with books…
I love to match activities to books. I think its makes them more interactive and children will become more eager to join in. There’s no need to spend a fortune on books either. Check out charity shops, car boots and Facebook for sale pages. You can often find books and props to go with them for a matter of pence or couple of pounds.
Sometimes just having soft toys or small world toys that match the story is enough. Letting the child hold them, make voices, reenact the story or compare characters in the book to the soft toy is a great way to go deeper into books.
Take books out with you. If you go to the farm and there’s baby animals then take a book about the animals. You can have a look at the books whilst sat having your picnic, or your child can read them on the way back in the car/buggy and use their recall skills (good way to enhance memory) to compare to the animals you’ve just seen.
Have books outside with you when playing. You can use them as ‘inspiration’ for play. For example, can they copy their favourite pictures/characters/pages? Not only will this give you chance to work on your childs fine manipulative skills (hands, fingers, wrist) but it brings in creativity and imagination.
Expressive Arts and Design
This basically means the opportunity to be creative, build confidence in their own ideas and explore materials. Since the weather is a lot drier and brighter I aim to take a lot of the play outside. This means that we don’t have to worry about space, mess or distraction of screens. Taking chalk outside means you can draw on the floor, the fence, the walls…it gives opportunity not to be restricted by paper but to have a large canvas to just go nuts on. Children can practise their movements on a large scale which will help to build control.
If your child isn’t a fan of chalk then you can use water and paintbrushes. Just fill up a bucket and stick in some brushes, sponges etc. It’s fun to see the marks appear and then disappear as they dry up. The best thing is that it doesn’t need cleaning up after!
I popped to Poundland the other day and brought some bits and bobs. One of them in this egg set. There’s lots you can do with these. You can paint them…talk about colours, patterns, shapes etc. Children can choose a design so it looks like a favourite character or just explore painting and making it look how they choose. There’s also opportunity to do things like ‘marbling’ where you dip the egg into water, oil and paint and check out the amazing patterns.
Investigating and Exploring
Most children love the opportunity to just get on with things and to explore at their own pace. Activities don’t always need to have a desired ending or ‘product’. Here’s some open ended activities for exploring.
These little chicks are everywhere at the moment so I thought we’d use them to explore the concept of spatial awareness and maths skills. We will have fun guessing how many will fit in different pots, which will hold the most chicks etc. It also has the added benefit of using the tweezers which builds strength and control in child’s fingers and wrists (this is the control needed for pen control later in schooling).
We’re lucky to have a lovely garden. We also have lots of green areas and parks/woodlands locally. There’s lots of place to just pack a bag and go explore. Things like pots, mirrors, binoculars, magnifying glasses will make any adventure that bit more exciting. Children can get up close with the bugs, flowers and natural world they see around them. I try and teach my son to respect nature. I won’t let him pick things that are still living when we are out and about. However, the exception here is in the garden at home or locally where we have things like daisy’s and colourful weeds which are only going to get squished by lawnmower so I let him pick them…but not in excess. We talk about how the bees and bugs need some for themselves. We also try and plant more and more each year as a way of giving back.
There’s premade checklists available online (this one is from Twinkl), or you can make your own. This can be fun for children who can run around trying to find everything on their treasure hunt list. It’s a great way to introduce new language as children find new things growing around them. Maybe take a camera too and let your child take photos of their favourite things they have found.
In our garden we have a ‘sensory area’ that I made using edible plants and herbs. J knows that these can be picked, smelt, touched and tasted. We have mint, lemon balm, chives, rosemary etc. These are great to explore all the senses and talk about which we like best. I often cut them off and will put in the play kitchen to explore. Add any old/unwanted pots and pans (ask friends and family as often they are eager to empty their cupboards a bit), some water and herbs to explore. Children can play cook, make potions, or just have fun combining different items and seeing what happens.
Wet Weather Days
We all know that weather is not always predictable, especially in Spring. A lot of the activities so far could be done indoors if you have the space and bring the outdoors in. However this is not always do-able. So here’s some indoor play activities for Easter/Spring.
Baking is always a great activity. The best things is you can tailor it to you and your child. You can have fun making things from scratch and using Easter/Spring shaped cutters to give it that theme. Or if you pop to local shops you can buy ready made biscuits or buns and just have fun decorating them yourself with icing and sprinkles. End of the day its the fun and learning opportunities that are important and which will be remembered by your child.
Sensory trays can also be fun and easy to create. I often have a look in my cupboards to see what I already have available. I have used things like pasta, dried peas, water with food colouring and then any toys, tubs or containers I can find. To give them an Easter/Spring themed I stick to colours and resources I have collected from car boots, Poundland (I promise I’m not sponsored by them, its just my local ‘cheap shop’), previous years or downloaded and printed from the internet. You’d be surprised what you can make yourself too.
I hope that there’s some ideas here that have got your excited for Spring and Easter. I’d love to know if there’s any ideas that you’d add to the list, or which of my activities you’ll be giving a go. Let me know in the comments or find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.