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  1. What are the benefits of playing with jigsaw puzzles?

    What are the benefits of playing with jigsaw puzzles?

    What are the benefits of playing with jigsaw puzzles?

    Jigsaws have been around for about 250 years.  They were created by an English cartographer who chopped up a wooden map calling it a dissected puzzle and were used primarily to teach about the geography of the world. Nowadays, puzzles are regarded as an activity to keep people busy with a 1000 piece puzzle taking aprroximately 5 hours to complete.

    Did you know that they also have many other benefits which not only challenge minds but also our way of thinking and so jigsaws can play an important part in the development of your child.

    Here are just some of the benefits: 

    1. Fine motor development.  In order to complete a puzzle children need to move the different sized pieces in different ways in order to make them fit together.  This does require quite a lot of manual dexterity to achieve this.  Some children struggle with this
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  2. Why I love Numicon

    Why I love Numicon

    Why I love Numicon

    Early experiences of maths at home can have a huge impact on later achievement in maths.  Numicon is one way that you can help your child with their early maths skills. It is designed to help children visualise numbers.  It comes in different coloured shapes which represent the different numbers.  It can be used to help see what a number 1,2,3 etc. actually looks like.  As children progress they can use the pieces to see how to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers.  It is in one word FANTASTIC and has helped a number of children who I have taught to actually understand what different numbers mean. Here I have put together a number of different activities which I have used to make children familiar with different numbers.  Photos for some of the activities can be found at the end of the blog.

    1. Printing with Numicon. Early experiences with Numicon are getting used to wha
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  3. What's in the cupboard? Early Science skills

    What's in the cupboard? Early Science skills

    What's in the cupboard?  Early Science skills

    It's Part 4 of What's in the cupboard and this week we are looking at early science skills.  Children are naturally curious and it is vital to capture their fascination with the world around them from an early age.

    Here are some early science activities that you can do at home.

    1. Sensory play arouses children's imaginations, creativity and curiosity.  It is also great for teaching about the different concepts between a solid and a liquid. Conflour, water and a touch of food colouring make a lovely gloop when mixed together.  When you roll the mixture in your hands, the particles join together and the mixture feels solid.  But if it is left to rest or is held up and allowed to dribble the particles slide over each other and it feels like a liqud.
    2. Children are fascinated by ice and what happends to it as it melts.  To develop their curiosity freeze some i
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  4. What's in the cupboard? Early maths skills

    What's in the cupboard?  Early maths skills

    What's in the cupboard?  Early maths skills

    It's part 3 of What's in the cupboard and this week we are looking at early maths skills.

    Here are some ideas for helping your child improve their maths.

    1. Pre-counting skills are important in the early stages of maths.  These include the ability to sort and match objects.  Setting the table is a good way to practise this as is helping with the washing and matching up pairs of socks.
    2. Singing number songs help children get used to the pattern of numbers.  These can be sung when other activities are taking place such as bath time, walking to school etc. 5 little ducks, 5 speckled frogs and 10 fat sausages are good for counting down but don't forget that counting up is important. 1 elephant went out to play is a lovely one to sing with a few friends.
    3. Numbers can be written down on pieces of paper and matched up with household objects.  For example, sort
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  5. What's in the cupboard? Early writing skills

    What's in the cupboard? Early writing skills

    What's in the cupboard?  Early writing skills


    In Part 2 of What's in the cupboard we are looking at early writing skills.  Before children actually begin the process of forming letters, they need to experiment with making marks and also attributing meaning to those marks.

    Here are some ideas for early writing activities that you can do with your little ones.

    1. Encourage big arm movements and take mark making outside.  Painting fences/walls etc. with paint brushes and water.  Get out some chunky chalks and let your children experiment with mark making on the pavement/walls etc. it doesn't matter where as it will easily wash off.
    2. Children need to get experience of lying on their tummies and resting their forearms on the floor (to prepare them for formal writing).  So why not try mark making on the floor.  Children  enjoy creating big masterpieces, so use the back of an old roll of wallpape
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  6. What's in the cupboard? Gross motor skills

    What's in the cupboard?  Gross motor skills

    What's in the cupboard?  Gross motor skills


    In our new series we will be looking at different activities that you can do with your child at home without spending a penny! This week we are looking at gross motor skills.  Gross motor or physical skills are those which require whole body movement and are important in order for children to perform everyday activities such as walking, climbing, throwing and catching.

    Here are some ideas for gross motor activities you can do with the family.

    1. Belly-crawling and crawling on all fours helps children to not only align their body ready for walking but also helps with balance necessary to hop and skip.  Try having crawling races, crawling tig or crawling follow-my-leader where the whole family can join in.
    2. Children need to be able to explore how their body feels when it is moving in different ways.  You can always have a "How are you going to move day?" where th
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  7. Autumn gross motor adventures

    Autumn gross motor adventures

    Involve your children in the autumn garden jobs and improve their gross motor skills while enjoying some great shared moments.

    With autumn now in full swing there is lots of tidying up to be done in the garden such as clearing all of those fallen leaves.  Use these chores as a way to help your child improve their gross motor skills.

    Gross motor or physical skills are those which require whole body movement and are important in order for children to perform everyday activities such as walking, running, climbing, throwing and catching. They are also vital for everyday self care skills such as dressing (where you need to be able to stand on one leg to put your other leg into your trousers without falling over).

    Here are some ideas for gross motor activities:

    1. Picking up leaves and throwing them high into the air to get the whole body moving.  Check that hedgehogs are not hiding in the leaves beforehand! I have yet to see a ch

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