Spacious outside areas create quiet shaded learning spaces and provide ample room for exploring.

Baby room

Babies feel secure in their own classroom, equipped with cots, soft flooring, mats and toys.


The shaded playground has specialist soft flooring with quality equipment and a large walk in sandpit.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Eco-friendly Activity Ideas!

In this day and age, the variety of toys and games available for children is staggering. If you are keen on encouraging your child to use more natural resources for their activities, here are some ideas!

1. Growing seeds

This activity encourages us to care about our environment, as well as a whole host of other development areas!

What you need:
* Transparent plastic cups
* Fast growing seeds such as fava beans
  or watercress
* Cotton Wool
* A camera
* Watering can or similar

Your child can do this all by themselves, with a little support! Simply put some cotton wool in the bottom of the cup, place a couple of seeds inside and water regularly. Watch it grow, recording the growth with the camera!

Development tips:
This activity is fantastic for developing a child's understanding of the sequence of time and events and how things grow. It encourages them to take care of something and that things die if we do not feed them. Asking lots of questions about how it changes and how we look after it will develop their communication skills, mathematical skills and understanding of the world!

2. Pasta Play

This is an all-time favourite of mine and will occupy your little one for ages! Simple, easy, low-cost, natural and effective, what more could you want?

What you need:
* A large tray
* Dried pasta
* Assorted toys
* Cups, spoons and other measuring and 
  pouring equipment

Fill the tray with dried pasta and assorted toys. Provide various utensils for pouring, stirring and grasping (such as tongs). Let your child go wild! Vary the toys in it to keep it interesting.

Development tips:
This activity is great for sensory development. Children get a chance to explore different textures and have endless opportunities for imaginative play! Mathematical development can be incorporated by putting different types of objects in (i.e: sorting by colour, shape, size, type, counting) and communication can be encouraged by asking questions and talking to your child. The utensils provide an opportunity to develop their fine motor skills by pouring, grasping, threading, scooping....the list is endless! 

As an extension, why not ask your child to paint the pasta the day before, they they will have coloured pasta to play with!

3.  Shape Printing

An excellent way to develop creativity and learning using everyday household objects!

What you need:
* A variety of toys, food or utensils of varying shapes
* Paint
* A3 paper

Provide your child with a selection of different shaped objects for them to put in paint and print them onto the paper.

Development tips:
What an amazing chance to embrace the Reggio Emilia approach to learning by re-using objects in different ways! This will help develop your child's imagination as well as mathematical, creative and communication skills. Talk about the colours and shapes your child is printing, what they are using to print and any patterns, sequences or other observations. Once it has dried, it will look great decorating the house!

4.  Lemon Playdough

Why go out and buy playdough when you can make your own and involve your child in the process? Vary the colour, smell and added ingredients to make it different every time!

What you need:
* 2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1/2 cup salt
* 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
* Up to 1.5 cups room temperature water 
  (adding slowly until you have the 
  desired consistency)
* Food colouring
* Flavouring
* Glitter
* Lemons
* Playdough equipment and utensils

Mix the dry ingredients and oil in a mixing bowl, then add the water. Stir the mixture until it turns into a sticky dough, then add the food colouring and scent. Knead the dough vigorously for a couple of minutes until all the stickiness has gone. This is very important, so keep going until you have the right consistency! If you need to, add a little more flour to get rid of any stickiness. Add the glitter and knead it in so it is evenly distributed. Your child can use the lemons to squeeze in some extra scent or as rolling pins!

Development tips:
Making playdough is a great opportunity for your child to start learning that certain items can transform into something else when a certain process is followed (another good example of this is making ice cubes). It also develops their understanding of processes and following a sequence. While making it, you can discuss colours, smells, texture and anything else that pops into your head! Kneading the dough also helps develop fine motor skills. Being a part of this process allows your child to feel ownership for something they created, which links to their personal, social and emotional development. Afterwards, it can be used in endless ways to develop their imagination, fine motor and creative skills.

Eco-friendly toys

If you want to be environmentally aware and still get your little one a treat, here are some things to look out for:

* Go for the toys that are made from
   natural materials such as wood
* Most packaging will state if the toy 
   has been made with materials from
   sustainable sources
* If you are going to go plastic, look out for    toys made from recycled plastic, a winner in  my books!
* Check if the paint, or other materials  
  used are non-toxic

And lastly....

Try and recycle as much as possible - at our nursery we ask parents to bring in all their old junk, empty cereal boxes, bits of material, cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes.....the list is endless! These things that you were going to throw away can be given a new lease of life as important props in the 'shop', a telephone for the 'clinic', a spaceship, a princess's dress....I could go on forever! Children have fantastic imaginations, why not encourage that and be eco-friendly in the process?
  A bird feeder our children made using 100% recycled items!

For more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page

In my next post, I will give you some handy hints on preparing your child (and yourself!) for nursery....see you soon!

 Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development.