Creativity – Art, Music, Sensory Exploration, Science, Technology and Useful Links
Big art – Tape some large pieces of paper to the floor and get the children to paint a giant mural while listening to some evocative music, and responding to the different sounds and moods that they hear. Can also be done with chalk, pens, crayons.
Collage – Find some objects while outside (feathers, leaves, twigs). Make them into a picture; they don’t even have to be stuck down. Can you make a face, a bird, a house? Use your imagination.
Paint what you hear – Paint what you hear. Listen to the sounds outside, or just open the window. Encourage your child to freely paint or draw what can be heard.
Draw what you see – Draw the view out of your window.
Imagination drama – Use a big cardboard box to create a rocket, a car, a boat…use your imagination. Use anything you have spare to decorate it and use it in imaginary games and play.
Junk modelling – Any safe junk lying around and tape (or glue) can be used for junk modelling. What can you make? Great for imagination. Can you use the models in a story?
Finger painting – or manipulating other liquids with the fingers and hands e.g. slushy mud, tomato sauce (ketchup) on a plate
Playdough anyone? – Playdough recipes here. This may be difficult with shortages of materials. Be aware of hygiene rules, always wash hands thoroughly before and after. If you can make playdough with your child there are many activities to follow.
Magic Potion – Use an old pot or container. Collect found objects while outside (leaves, petals, stones, mud etc.) and mix together with water to magic a magic potion. Use some imagination. What does the potion do? How do you use it? Make up some stories, songs and rhymes too. For babies, this could be a sensory activity, allowing them to touch and mix up found objects.
Slimy eyes sensory bag – Skip the mess without losing out on fun and learning! Just add hair gel and googly eyes to a zip-top bag and your little monster will enjoy squishy sensations without the cleanup. Kids will love feeling the “slime” through the plastic bag.
Sensory box – Why not make some sensory boxes? Collect a cardboard box and cut a small hole on one side just big enough for a small hand to get through. Place objects in the box and ask the children to feel inside the box and guess the object. Now, use a torch and peek inside – What can you see? Were you correct? Encourage your child to use different ways to describe what they feel. Encourage them to guess what’s inside!
Light play – Do you have a torch? Use a torch to create the shadow of a well-known object onto a board, screen or a clear bit of wall. Can the children guess what the object is from the shadow image and name it? Make a dark den with a blanket and some chairs. Use the torches to find hidden objects. Use sweet wrappers to change the colour of the light. Adapt for babies by making the den and allowing them to play with the torches.
What to do with playdough – You may have some objects around the home that has patterns on it. Look on the bottom of a cup or perhaps the handle of a spoon that has an interesting pattern. Try using a spatula to smooth the dough. Using different mashers is also fun. Your child can explore these by pressing the tools against the dough. Look for any similarities and differences. They may want to create their own patterns by making marks in the dough (cars, figures, lego).
More dough activities – Children can make all kinds of wonderful creations with play dough. They may want to make their own slithery snake. This helps children to use their hands, moving them back and forth in opposite directions. They may create snakes of different lengths and sizes. Which one is the longest? Will it reach the end of the table? Perhaps they have made a tiny, little snake.
And more…Use the play dough to hide treasure for your child to discover. You could hide coins, buttons, beads (risk assess) inside the play dough. Digging for treasure is a wonderful workout for your child’s hands and fingers. You can talk about the different properties of the treasure you have found. Is it cold, bumpy, shiny or dull? Wide or narrow, heavy or light?
Shaving cream – Squirt some shaving cream on a piece of tinfoil and watch your kids have the time of their lives!
Playdough can be used for shop play, make pretend food for a cafe…or make some characters for your favourite stories. Act out a fairy tale or nursery rhyme. Use playdough to create characters make up stories. Add other objects like buttons, pebbles, twigs to make creatures.
Music and Movement
DIY instruments – Music is a wonderful way to connect with your children, whether they are still babies or a little older. Here are ten ideas for fun ways you can introduce your child to music, rhythm, and sound while they’re still little. You can start to teach things such as rhythm and musical concepts to your children using everyday objects, and even turn it into a fun craft project together. For example, an empty tissue box with rubber bands of various sizes stretched over it makes a great DIY guitar, or an empty container filled with rice or beans can be a shaker. Use your imagination and you can probably come up with all sorts of great homemade instruments.
Streamer dance – Give the children ribbons or scarves and put on some music for them to dance to with their streamers (try this activity using music of varying types and speeds).
BBC Counting Songs sing along, repeat the words, sing together.
Singing time – is a great way to soothe your baby to sleep, and rocking them, either in your arms or in a cot, will also help to soothe them and introduce them to rhythm. Of course you can continue singing to them, singing around the home, and even singing together for as long as they’re around, and this will always be lots of fun.
The Toyshop drama– Explain to the children that you are going to be the toymaker who makes the toys in his workshop! When the toymaker goes to sleep the toys wake up,
but they cannot move normally as they are made from plastic, metal or wood. Pretend to go to bed, (you may wish to turn out some lights!) play the music and watch the children wake up and become their favourite toys. You can extend this game to any toys, cars, fire engines etc. If you do not have access to the music, you can imitate winding them up to make them ‘go’. Demonstrate a wind-up toy, so that children can see the power reduce and ask the children to show they are running out of power.
Whistling – Children find the ability to whistle fascinating, so teaching them to make musical sounds this way is a great activity to help them become more involved in music. Once you’ve taught them the basic positioning of the lips and practised with them a little, they’ll be whistling tunes they know in no time! Check out this article for more advice on teaching your little one.
Have a dance party – Pop in your favourite tunes, crank up the volume and get moving and grooving! For extra fun, kill the lights and turn on some fun lighting, like a disco ball or some lava lamps. Children can compete for best dance move, or you can simply make up a dance to an entire song.
Play musical statues with your children. Play music and dance. When you stop the music they must stand dead still.
Clap a rhythm and ask your child to imitate it. Repeat with your backs to each other so that she cannot see you clap.
Dance! Put on different kinds of music and dance around the living room. Children will love the freedom to express themselves and it will burn off a lot of energy. You could also put on some relaxing music at the end to encourage them to calm down.
Sticky Kids – Click here to listen to the tidy up song. A good way to move, sing and dance while motivating children to tidy up.
Night sky – Go outside in the dark (or look out of the window) when it’s clear and have a look at the night sky. Here’s a simple guide to what you might see.
Floating and sinking – Try some floating and sinking activities. This doesn’t just have to be objects. You could see if sprinkled pepper floats on the surface, or salt, shampoo, vinegar, flour, etc. Then you could try coins, a Lego brick, a lolly stick, a key, etc. You might even build a little boat, or improvise with an empty butter tub and see how much cargo it can hold until it sinks. Can you count the items?
Build a bug hotel – Even if you don’t have a garden you could try and do this in a quiet corner of a park or a wood near your home. Here are some useful instruction on the RSPB site.
Evaporating water – All you need is water, salt, a spoon and a container of some sort. Simply mix the water and salt in the container and ask your child what he or she thinks will happen to it over time. Then, it’s a waiting game. After several days, your youngster will be in awe when the container is left with only salt!
Will it dissolve? This activity teaches children about solubility, specifically whether a given substance will dissolve in water. You’ll need several small, transparent water containers (e.g. plastic or glass cups) and a range of substances to test (e.g. sugar, oil, salt, food colouring, rice, flour, vitamin tablets). Before dropping each substance into a cup ask the children to guess whether it will dissolve or not.
Materials – around your home there may be a variety of different materials and properties for children to identify and compare. Together you can collect a variety of different materials such as items of fabric, paper, wood, plastic, glass and metal. Some items you find may look like metal but it could be plastic. What material is underneath. Is it plastic?
Treasure hunt – you could go on a treasure hunt around your home, searching for metals. You may have a magnet to determine which metals found are magnetic. Not all metals will be. Perhaps you could use a bag or a box to store all the pieces you have found. What colour are they? You may decide to create your own treasure map with hidden treasure at the end.
Air pressure game – This science experiment doubles as a fun game, recommended by Kids Activity Blog. Place two kitchen sponges inside of a plastic zip-top bag and position a drinking straw in between the sponges. Put one side inside of the bag and one side poking out of the open part of the bag. Seal up the bag and blow it up. By squeezing on the bag to blow a cotton ball or pom pom ball around, kids learn about air pressure and have a blast while doing it.
Sound Waves – All you need is a ruler, a spoon and some string. Tie a knot around the spoon leaving two long ends of string on each side. Wrap each end around your child’s pointer fingers and have them hold their fingers to their ears, letting the spoon hang below their waist. Gently hit the ruler against the spoon and watch the priceless look on your child’s face!
Water music – make music with water – Fill several glasses with different levels of water—colour the water to make it more fun if you’d like! Using a wooden spoon or mallet, tap the vases to here the difference in tones. Challenge your child to identify how the water level affects the tone.
Ice science – make ice cubes. Talk about how and why it happens. Freeze different liquids. How long does it take? Afterwards, put them in a container and find out how long they take to melt. Add some salt to the melting ice cubes and what happens?
Invisible messages – Drop a bit of dishwashing liquid into a cup of water and stir it to mix well. Next, dip a cotton bud into the mixture and write a message with your “invisible ink” on a mirror. Once it dries, you won’t be able to see it. Next time your tot takes a bath, show them what happens when the mirror gets fogged up!
How does it work? If you have a car, go out and have a look under the bonnet and talk about how the car works and what some of the parts do.
Learn to code – your child can learn to code! Here are two special courses especially for 3-5 year olds. Completely free. Basic course and pre-reader express course. Or you can also use this site to make very simple coding games…Scratch Junior
Take it apart / put it together – If you have anything old or broken around the home, work with your child to take it apart. Work out if it’s safe to do so first. Don’t do this without supervision.
Paper aeroplanes – Make a paper aeroplane. Here’s a guide. Have a flying competition. Who’s is the best? Can you measure how far they fly?
Homemade marble runs. For this activity you’ll need some tape and a collection of things like cardboard tubes, plastic bottles and egg cartons. You could ask the children to contribute by bringing in recycled materials from home, and use this as an opportunity to have a discussion about recycling. Use these materials to assemble a marble run together, exploring principles such as the effect of gradient on speed.
Flying ring – build a flying ring. Here’s a guide.
Weather station. There are lots of great activities for learning about weather – here are just a few: a) Make wind chimes (eg out of plastic bottles or beads) and hang them up outside; b) Make a wind sock (eg out of strips of waterproof material taped around a plastic ring) to work out the direction of the wind; c) Make a rainwater collector (eg out of a plastic bottle with the top cut off) to measure rainfall.
Colourful capillary action. Show how water moves up through plants using food colouring. This activity works particularly well (and quickly) with celery, but you could also use white-petalled flowers. Put some celery sticks (preferably with leafy tops) in separate glasses of water, then add different colours to each glass. Within an hour or two the celery will change colour as the dye moves up through capillary action.
Build a den! Children to use different household materials to make a den. Talk about what you have used to make the ‘den’. Whilst in the den, you could share a story. Have different sensory objects (hairbrushes, tinfoil, cardboard) to make a sensory den for babies.
Baking and cooking together are great ways of developing a range of skills and knowledge. Cooking allows you to develop maths (counting, weighing, timing), science, language skills and health awareness. Plenty of help and ideas at Cbeebies guide and I Can Cook
Magic dancing milk. For this activity – an engaging introduction to chemical reactions – you’ll need a shallow dish, full-fat milk, food colouring, cotton buds and washing up liquid. Pour some milk into the dish, add some drops of food colouring, then dab with a cotton bud dipped in washing up liquid. Use a few different colours at the same time for maximum impact, and try dabbing in different places.
Invent your own game!
Growing things – why not try some growing? Try and grow seeds from fruit by putting them in an yogurt pot. Place them on your window sill. If you can get a hold of bean seeds, you could do this experiment. If you have a garden, this is the perfect time to grow plants or just to watch the daily changes to your garden. Here’s a simple guide…
Play memory matching games online, (such as ‘Under The Sea’) or you can create your own.
There are more learning links on the useful links page.