Developing fine motor skills at home…

Hi!  It’s Linzi here today, I’m missing you all ❤ but my kids are definitely keeping me on my toes and I’m sure your parents will be feeling the same.

In some of our recent blogs my colleagues have spoken about different activities to promote gross motor skills – which relate to large body movements and are controlled by large muscle groups, e.g. climbing, jumping, running.  Learning to move is important for children, it enables them to become more independent, make their own choices and learn about the world around them.

Today I thought I’d give some information about fine motor skills and show you some activities I’ve been doing at home with my 3 year old to help support his fine motor dexterity.

Fine motor skills begin from early childhood and develop continuously throughout life, it involves the small muscles in the hands and fingers working in synchronisation, this is also essential for hand and eye coordination.  Children begin by grabbing at larger objects and then slowly develop their movements to involve more define hand and eye coordination.  Effective fine motor skills are important in order carry out everyday activities such as eating, writing, buttoning clothes, tying shoelaces, turning pages, using computer keyboards and much more.

Below I’ve shared some play activities I’ve been doing with Keir, he’s had fun doing them and they all promote fine motor skill development.

Using tongs to move cotton wool into a bowl
Small world play with dinosaurs in a homemade habitat
Putting cereal on spaghetti sticks held in place by playdough
Pegs with letters written on them to attach to the corresponding letter on the cardboard
Painting outdoors with water
Threading pipe cleaners through a colander
Using fingers to mark make in rice
Paint sealed inside a zip lock bag to allow mark making using a cotton bud

These are all really simple to set up play activities using items we already have at home, if you have a go don’t forget to tweet or email us a photo. We all love seeing what you are getting up to at home with your families.

Stay safe, love and hugs,

Linzi xxx



Our daily walk

Hi everyone,

Its Carly again!

I hope you have all been enjoying the lovely sunshine we have had the last couple of days.

This is Millie. Millie is the same age as some of our boys and girls, she is 3 years old.

Millie is a very affectionate, loving dog, she is very playful and has lots of energy. Millie needs lots of exercise to help her to grow strong bones and keep her healthy.

Millie and I have been going out for long walks in our local park and in the local area, she likes to collect sticks on our walks and I enjoy seeing all the different colours of flowers that have been growing during spring.

We have been making the most of the nice weather to get our daily exercise.


I hope you are all safe and well, remember to keep in touch through our twitter. We would love to hear from  you all !

Science fun!

Hi everyone! Sarah-Jane here.. I hope you are all well and keeping safe.
As we have been grateful to have such nice weather over the weekend, I decided to get my lay z spa set up.
However, the setting up is the difficult part and it actually ended up turning into a bit of a science experiment, (this is a really useful tip if you have one of these at home!)

As you all know, most swimming pools have a chemical called chlorine in it to clean the water of any bacteria and germs. However, in order to be able to use the water in the spa, we had to test to see if it was safe. This is called testing the PH of the water.

I had to improvise as I didn’t have any PH paper to test my water, so I used to magic of google to find an alternative and this is what it gave me…

First, you cut up or grate your red cabbage and place it into a clear glass bowl. Then boil about 2 cups of distilled water in a separate pot and pour the boiled water over the cabbage(adult). Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon and leave the cabbage in the water for around half an hour..

A chemical reaction will then happen causing the cabbage to turn the water to a purplish red colour. Then you strain the liquid. This will be used as what you call a “pH indicator solution”

Pour a small amount of the water you are testing into a separate clear plastic or glass container, put a few drops of your purplish solution into the water you are testing.

The water colour will change and either give you an acidic, a neutral or a basic alkaline measurement. Our water stayed purple, meaning it was alkali so was not safe to use in our lay z spa.

To ensure that our experiment wasn’t affected by anything, we added vinegar to our purple solution which changed to pink/red, meaning it was acidic. This confirmed that our experiment worked! Yay!

This is a really fun experiment to do and can be done to test any type of water or liquid such as vinegar, fizzy juice, soapy water and milk, not just if you have a hot tub in your garden! The children will enjoy watching the colours changing and being able to match it on the pH colour chart.

There are some more experiments that can be done using the red cabbage indicator..

Have fun everyone and be sure to share your discoveries with us on our Cart Mill twitter!

Miss you all and hope to see you real soon, Stay safe!! xx

It’s Ok To Have A Blue Day

Hello Everybody!

Helen here, hope you are all well and have been out enjoying the sunshine on your daily walks and in your gardens. ☀

Today I thought I’d start by sharing one of my favourite stories with you called Lucy’s Blue Day by Christopher Duke. Lucy is a very special little girl who has magical hair which changes colour depending on how she is feeling. When she is happy, it turns purple, when she is angry, it turns red! This charming story is the tale of when Lucy wakes up and her hair is blue and she doesn’t understand  why! She soon learns that what she is feeling is sadness and that some days, it’s okay to feel sad.

You can find the link to Lucy”s story below

Managing our emotions is hard, whether your four or forty four! Teaching our children to recognise and manage their emotions and feelings is such an important job for us as teachers and parents.  There is no one way to help children understand their feelings, but it does take regular interactions to guide our children through the following stages of their emotional development:

  • Recognising emotions and feelings in themselves and others.
  • Recognising some physical and emotional responses they have to certain feelings.
  • Learning to share their emotions verbally.
  • Learning to deal with their overwhelming emotions in a safe way.
  • Learning to treat others with kindness and empathy.

During these challenging times I thought it might be helpful to share some ideas on how to support our children with some of the feelings they may find themselves overwhelmed with just now.

One strategy  to help reduce stress and worry is using yoga. I found these lovely yoga ideas for children  from the childhood101 website and have posted them below:

Another technique I find helpful when I’m feeling worried or stressed is using breathing techniques. Below I have included an example and the link to some other child friendly ones:

Finally I found this lovely story read by Alistair Bryce-Clegg called Silly Billy written by Anthony Browne. It tells the story of a little boy called Billy who worries about absolutely everything until one day his Gran helps him to make some worry dolls…. At the end of the story, Alistair shares how you and your child can make your own worry dolls.

I hope you all have a lovely day, stay safe, and remember just like Lucy, it’s ok to have a blue day.

Preaching out to our loved ones to share how we are feeling and talking through our problems will help us feel better.

Love Helen xx

P.S The author  who wrote Lucy’s Blue Day has written s story specifically all about our current situation called Lucy’s in Lockdown. Here is a link to the story below :






Fiona and the Beanstalk

Hello everyone, hope you’re all well and enjoying the sunshine!
I have loved reading our blogs this week and seeing what my friends from Cart Mill have been doing, what a lovely surprise to see Camembear too! I thought I would finish this week by showing you what has been happening to the seeds I planted a few weeks ago.
Althought it’s been lovely and sunny outside, it’s still a little cold and windy, so my seeds have been keeping cozy and warm on the windowsills around my house. Seeds need lots of looking after when they are beginning to grow, so I’ve been making sure to check on them everyday. Just like us, seeds also need water to keep them healthy, so I’ve been giving them a little everyday.

As you can see, lots of my seeds have started to grow! Their shoots are reaching out of the soil and it looks like they’re trying to touch the sunshine! Some of the seeds are growing so big that they need a little more space, just like we do when we’re growing big and strong. I very carefully took the strongest plants and moved them to a bigger pot which will help them spread their roots and grow bigger and stronger. I made sure to tuck them in safely with a little more soil and gave them a drink of water as they must be thirsty with all that growing!

Can you see the long bits at the bottom of the plant that looks like string? These are called the roots. The plant uses it’s roots to pick up all the water and food it needs from the soil to help it grow. We have to be very careful not to break the roots or our plants wouldn’t be able to have anything to eat or drink and wouldn’t grow.

My lovely flowers are starting to grow too! I can’t wait to see what colours they are!

I’ve saved my favourite for last, my beanstalks! Just look how big and strong they have grown! If you look carefully, you can see the big strong roots growing down the side which means the beanstalks have had lots of food and drink which have helped make them so tall and strong.

I wonder if my beanstalk will grow any magic beans just like Jack had? I hope there isn’t a giant at the top! I haven’t found a hen yet, thankfully, but I have been eating lots of golden chocolate eggs!
Spring is my favourite time of year and although this year is full of uncertainty, it’s lovely to see new life and colour growing all around us and it’s definitely bringing my family a little hope and happiness.

Missing you all and hoping our Cart Mill family can help Val and I plant our vegetables and flowers and bring some happiness back to our Cart Mill garden soon. Take care and stay safe.

Love Fiona xx

Clap for Carers

Last night’s clap for carers, with Colin on the pipes, was slightly different as he went mobile! Making sure social distancing was adhered to, Colin went for a tour of his street at the neighbours’ request. Have a look at the clip below and see how many people you can see clapping?
It is great to see people out clapping for all key workers every Thursday. Do you stay up so you can clap? Please share your pictures with us if you do!
Missing you all very much xx

Bug Hotel

Hi everyone, Lauren here.

I hope you are all well and staying safe.

I am fortune to live right across from a park. Taking daily walks in the open green fields have amazing health benefits, I enjoy the exercise, the fresh air, the smells, the sounds of the birds and the river flowing. Living close to nature and spending time outside has significant benefits for all ages, increasing pleasant feelings and reducing stress. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing. Simply being exposed to nature’s wonders stimulates the brain. Genuinely spending a lot of time in natural surroundings makes people a lot more creative and productive.

On one of our daily walks we decided to create a bug hotel, providing a shelter for insects and other mini beats.


Gather all the materials you may require

  1. Go out into your garden, park, countryside and find some local natural materials (i.e twigs, bamboo canes, pine cones, dry leaves, grass, stones/pebbles, bits of bark, flowers, shells)
  2. Go into your garage/house to see if you can repurpose any items, (kitchen roll holders, milk cartons, terracotta pots, old slates/tiles/bricks, wooden boxes/cardboard)
  3. Start to build up your hotel with all the items you have collected
  4. After a few weeks go and see who has moved in, keep an eye out for (woodlice, beetles, slugs, ants, snails, worms, ladybirds, spiders, centipedes)

Super easy and lots of fun, give it a go!

The great outdoors gives children plenty freedom to explore, to shout, jump, climb, run around, hop and skip. Being outside is an exciting sensory experience for children. Developing their imagination, dexterity and physical, cognitive and emotional strength.

Hope to see all your wee faces soon, missing you. Take care x

Sign/BSL with Fiona – mealtime signs

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all well and staying safe. I am missing you all.

For my blog, I thought I would do some more signs for you. This week we will look at signs used around mealtimes. As he loves his food, these were the first signs my wee boy was able to understand and sign back. We were delighted to see him make the connection between the sign and what it represents.

The below books are handy to have if you are new to signing Makaton or BSL

“All children naturally communicate with gestures, even before they develop the ability to speak. By teaching simple sign language to children from as young as seven months, we can help them to convey their emotions and their needs, as well as giving them a valuable head start in their social and intellectual development.”






All done


Learning at Home

Hello Everyone!

I hope you had a lovely time during the Easter break.  The weather was so lovely so I hope you could outside each day as I did.

We are moving into an extended period of learning and teaching remotely (for most children) and ERC have put together some ideas and support for learning at home.  There is a learning at home guide and a web links document and both have lots of ideas and tips for parents and carers.

Learning at Home Guidance for Parents & Carers

Weblinks for Learning at Home

I hope you find this in some way helpful and I hope it won’t be too long till we are all back in Cart Mill.  But until then please stay safe and well x