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  • Building fine motor skills in early years.

    So having read our previous blog you have decided to get kids cutting! Great! However, what if the child is not ready for scissors? Should you be worried? Why can they not use scissors straight away? How can you improve children's fine motor skills? Read on as we help answer these questions!

    Why tearing is good

    Scissors require hand-eye co-ordination which does not happen straight away. Could you zip up your coat the on the first try? No, and it’s the same with using scissors. Scissors also require strength which does not come automatically either, and it is building up this strength which will get children cutting straight lines and ultimately being able to write neatly.

    So how can you build this strength and coordination to get then ready for cutting? Get children to rip some of our tissue paper. This will help get both hands working and building up strength. They could start by tearing small pieces (perhaps these could become a mosaic in an art project) and then try to tear in a long straight line.

    For added literacy and numeracy you could ask your child to rip the shape of a circle, or square etc. Or, reverse that and get them to vocalise to you what they are tearing and how many!

    Tearing tissue begins to strengthen muscles and practice coordination. Tearing tissue begins to strengthen muscles and practice coordination.

     

    Building Muscles and Fine motor skills

    To build muscles and dexterity even further before the complex task of cutting get children to play with our hand puppets! These are ready made and are great for communicating a story and also for finger isolation, which is where you are getting each finger to work one at a time. Why is this useful? You will notice you don’t use every finger to hold scissors or to hold a pen when writing. Getting your brain to tell which finger to move at a different time requires practice, but with our materials, these important lessons will seem like child’s play!

     

    Playing with hand puppets increases fine motor skills and builds hand muscles reading for cutting and writi Playing with hand puppets increases fine motor skills and builds hand muscles reading for cutting and writing.

    In our next blog see which of our wide range of scissors are great for beginners and what products we have to get kids cutting…

  • School Events Calendar 2017 (April)

    April is getting close! The weather's starting to get warmer, the flowers are blossoming and the trees are getting a little less bare!

    We have some great events  which would be perfect to turn into themed craft or just used for educational purposes.

    We look forward to keeping you informed on all the days of interest each month, so you never miss out!

    We have a list of, what we thing are, the most fun and educational holidays. Make sure to check it out and click the links to find out more about each day!

     April Fool's Day 1st April  This day which is also known as All Fool's Day is the perfect day to prank your friends and to celebrate the changing of the seasons!   Have a look at the BCreative Pinterest Boards for prime area learning inspiration!
     Jazz Appreciation Month 1st of April – 1st of May A month dedicated to appreciating all things Jazz. A time to look at the past, the present and the future of Jazz music.  Ideas for teachers on how to celebrate this season!
     National Pet Month 1st April – 1st May   This is a month of appreciation for all pets, it is also an opportunity for many organisations and animal lovers to raise money causes which support the well being of animals. www.nationalpetmonth.org.uk
     International Children's Book Day    2nd April  This day marks the birth of Hans Christian Anderson in 1805! So, grab a book because this day is made to inspire a love of reading and call attention to children's books www.ibby.org
     International Pillow Fight Day 2nd April    One of our favourite day out of the whole year! It's aim it to promote conscious celebration in public spaces and replace your face being attached to your phone!
    I know I will be going to the one in Brighton! (Brighton's pillow fight will be held outside of the Bucket and Spade café at 2pm.)
     pillowfightday.com
     World Autism Awareness Day  2nd April     Autism doesn't have to be limiting and this is a day to truly appreciate that! There are more and more famous bright sparks leading the way such as young genius physicist Jacob Barnett or movie director Tim Burton. It's a day to acknowledge the hard work, love and understanding that it takes to make a change. www.facebook.com/worldautismawarenessday

    or

    https://www.autismspeaks.org/liub

     World Health Day  7th April  This day was established in 1948, the year the World Health Organisation was founded. Each year there is a theme, this year it is depression and raising awareness about mental health. http://apps.who.int/depression-campaign-2017/en
     National Gardening Week 10th – 16th April A time to get green-fingered and promote the healthy wonders of gardening. There isn't a more perfect time to get into the garden and get involved in nature! Have fun building garden borders outside and planting seeds with children. www.nationalgardeningweek.org.uk/
     Passover (Jewish)  11th-17th April Passover is one of the most important celebrations in the Jewish calendar. It commemorates the liberation of the Children of Israel out of Egypt, led by Moses.  http://bit.ly/passoverjudaism

    Russian Cosmonaut Day

     12th April   On this day in 1961 Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, aboard Vostok 1. He spent 108 minutes in space orbiting the earth once. This marked the beginning of the space race! bbc.co.uk
     International Moment of Laughter Day  14th April Another wonderful day that we love! Izzy Gesell (Humorologist) wanted to share the benefits of laughter so he initiated this day. Laughter relieves stress, influences positive thinking and relationships. Laughter can even defuse resistance to change and build self confidence. http://bit.ly/1R6ONVC 
     Easter Sunday  16th April  Happy Easter! Today should be filled with egg hunts and chocolate. This Christian holiday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. there are also so many fun crafting possibilities for this holiday!  http://bit.ly/funeastercrafts
     International Jugglers Day  18th April  This day was originally established mid 1980s by the International Jugglers' Association. This day we celebrate the act of juggling which takes a lot of skill! www.juggle.org
     Earth Day 22nd April   Celebrate Earth Day and make a difference to the planet. Established in 1970, this day raises consciousness and action in environmental global issues. Make sure to get involved with some of the activities on the Earth day website.  www.earthday.org

    World Penguin Day

    25th April   World Penguin Day is the day the native Antarctic penguins start their annual migration northward.  http://www.isfoundation.com/news/celebrate-world-penguin-day
     Allergy Awareness week 25th April – 1st May A week to raise awareness of different  varieties of allergies and to promote well-being for those who suffer. www.allergyuk.org/other-ways-to-help/give-a-car
     St George’s Day 23rd April  St George is the patron saint of England. The medieval legend of St George the crusader and the dragon are widely known and still told today. www.stgeorgesday.com 
     Shakespeare Day 23rd April This marks the date of William Shakespeare's birthday! He was an English Poet, Playwright and Actor. Born in 1564 and died in 1616. shakespeareweek.org.uk
     World Stationary Day   27th April  On World Stationary Day we celebrate the power of the written word. In an increasing digital world let's not  loose the skill of writing! Make sure to check out our stationary in our shop!  worldstationeryday.com

    Link to shop:
    http://bit.ly/markmakingbcreative

     International Astronomy Day  29th  April  This event was started in 1973 by Doug Berger, the president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California. Hopefully the skies will be clear so we can fully appreciate the beauty of the stars!  https://www.astroleague.org/al/astroday/astrodayform.html

     

  • Crafty Kids at Christmas

     

    The Christmas period is a great time of year for getting creative  whilst ticking all those record keeping boxes!  Within your setting, children can create some lovely decorations to put on display or to take home as presents. We love coming up with crafty ideas to inspire you, so without further ado, here's the first one!

     

    Reindeer Picture Frame

    IMG_39867 This is our friend, Roger the Reindeer

    What do we need:

    • Craft sticks (lollysticks!) - coloured or plain
    • PVA glue and sticky tape
    • Pom poms
    • Pipe cleaners
    • Brown paper or card
    • Googly eyes
    • Paint or felt tips
    • Ribbon or string
    • A photograph or picture you would like to frame

     

    IMG_0389

    Instructions

    • Use felt tips or paint to colour in the craft sticks
    • Once dry, glue the sticks into a rectangle, leaving an overlap for the legs.
    • Glue the face, ears and tail in place, add the googly eyes and a pom pom for the nose.
    • Next twist the pipe cleaners into antler shapes. Stick them to the back of the head with tape.
    • Once dry you can add your picture or photograph to the back and cover with a piece of card so that it stays sturdy.
    • Before sticking down, remember to add the child's name or a 'Merry Christmas' message on the back of the card.

     

    IMG_0399

    Differentiation

    • Use coloured lolly sticks rather than colouring them in
    • Draw the reindeer body shapes  or let then children have a go
    • Have a selection of reindeer features ready to go or encourge children to cut out their own
    • Antlers can be bent to any shape that makes someone happy!
    • Have a pre-printed Happy Christmas message ready to stick down or let them write their own message
    • Let children add their own name, or trace over a pre-written version

     

    IMG_0402 Making some antlers for Roger the Reindeer

    Areas of learning covered by this activity:

    • Fine motor skills, expressive arts and design, developing knowledge and understanding of the world, mathematics, literacy

     

    We also made a few other tree decorations out of craft sticks! Have a go and see what else you can make with such an economical craft product!

    IMG_3982

     


     

    Christmas Wrapping Paper

    2015-10-1109.34.10

    What do we need:

    • Large sheets of paper - sugar is great!
    • Assorted washable paints
    • Paintbrushes
    • Rollers, printers, sponges and mark making tools
    • Christmas and nativity stencils

     

    2015-10-1109.35.34 Why do we need washable paints?

    Instructions

    • Lay out your large paper sheet - secure it with some masking tape
    • Dip your stamps or rollers into the paint and then press down onto the paper to create patterns
    • Use stencils to paint more detailed designs
    • Once dry the paper can then be used to wrap presents with!

     

    IMG_0435

    The great thing about this activity is that children of all ages can enjoy it - as long as you don't mind getting messy you're ready to go!

    Differentiation

    • Use hands! They make great stamps!
    • Use our specially designed Christmas sponge stamps to create a festive storyboard
    • Encourage children to create repeating patterns.
    • Add words..
    • Use our fantastic multi- pattern Christmas roller to experiment with patterns!

    IMG_0454

    Areas of learning covered by this activity:

    • Expressive arts and design, developing imagination and creativity, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, knowledge and understanding of the world, mathematics

     

    IMG_0462

     

    Here at BCreative, we love seeing what you've been up to with our products! So if you have any photographs of your arts and crafts don't hesitate to drop us a line - you might even see your work on our next blog post!

  • Sensory Christmas Activities

     

     

    Don't tell us it's too early to be thinking about Christmas, we know you've got heaps of planning to do! If you still need one or two extra ideas look no further, we're sure you'll like our sensory Christmas activities - they're all designed with your setting in mind and are nice and easy to put together!

     

    IMG_0019

     

    Sticky Christmas Window

     

    This is a great activity for busy little fingers and you get a pretty display at the end of it as well!

     

    Items needed

     

    • A window!

    • A sheet of sticky book covering

    • Masking tape

    • Christmas bits and pieces - Sequins, pom poms, glitter, pipe cleaners, cotton wool, fake snow, stencils, stars etc.

     

    Sticky Tree

     

    Instructions

    • Measure up your book covering against the window, ensuring you have a nice big piece.

    • Stick it up with masking tape so that the sticky side is facing you

    • Set up a table with all the necessary items for your children to use, encourage them to make pictures on the window and explain to you what it is they are doing and why.

     

    rsz_img_0101

     

    This activity is great if you're teaching abroad in a country that doesn't get any snow. It's got so many touchy feely loose parts and is a fun way for children to create their own snowy scene, and set a story to go with it. A pretty pink angel was made on our window!

     

    rsz_1img_0091

     

    You can discuss the colour and shape of the items they're sticking down, as well as the texture. If a child needs prompting into conversation give a choice of descriptive words to help them. "How does that feel, is it hard or soft?", "fluffy or scratchy" etc.

     

    rsz_img_0110

     

    Giving children free reign brings out their creativity and usually provides some effective if not amusing results - Turns out that a highlighter pen is a great addition to any Christmas tree!

     

    rsz_img_0151

     

    Christmas Foam

    This is another great activity for all ages that will have them desperate to get involved.  The thing about sensory play is that it is so unstructured and open-ended - brilliant for learning through exploration!

    011

    Ingredients

    • Shaving foam - a sensitive brand is usually kinder on little hands

    • Food dye or paints in your choice of Christmassy colours (optional)

    • Mixed spice and/or peppermint essence (optional)

    • Christmas bits and pieces - glitter, sequins and pom poms etc

    • Children's tweezers or tongs or any kind of mark making items

     

     

    012

    Instructions

    • Spray the shaving foam out onto a mat covered table or tuff tray, we used about half a can but obviously it depends on how big your group of children is.

    • Ensure sleeves are rolled up and aprons on if you feel it's necessary.

    • Put all the loose parts in small bowls for the children to help themselves to, demonstrate how to add the items to the foam and offer the use of spatulas, stampers etc.

     

    083

    We love playing with foam because it's so hands on! Brilliant for working on fine motor skills and enjoying that ooey gooey feeling. Try giving children some tongs or plastic tweezers to pick up objects out of the foam, it's great for practising that pencil grip. Use number and letter cutters to incorporate literacy and mathematics into your foam play, you could also do counting with added beads or buttons.

     

    084

    This also a great medium for practising letter formation, think about it - writing the same letter over and over again on a work sheet is boring compared to drawing it in foam!

     

    Why not set up a white board next to the foam so that the children can see how it reacts when stuck to something vertically, or you could let them smear it across the window to make a snow scene if your setting allows for it.

     

    079

    Don't forget we'll be posting Christmas ideas and activities right up until the big day so stay tuned!

  • Bonfire Night

    Remember, remember the fifth of November
    Gunpowder, treason and plot.
    I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
    Should ever be forgot!

    Each year around the 5th November, our skies are littered with fireworks from Bonfire Night celebrations, this is done as a reminder of what could have happened if the gunpowder plot had been successful and is a time honoured tradition. For young children it is especially exciting as they get to stay up late past bedtime and see a colourful display like no other.

    rsz_fireworks

    One of the traditional bonfire night activities that seems to have fallen by the wayside is the making and burning of a guy. Children would stuff old clothes with newspaper, forming the shape of a man. The creation used to be carried from door to door where children asked for a "penny for the guy", afterwards the guy was placed on top of a bonfire to be burnt.

    Although it is unlikely that your setting will be holding a bonfire, you can still make a Guy Fawkes as an activity! It's extremely versatile in that children of all ages can get involved and participate in the creative process. Why not request that each child bring in a piece of old clothing from home to stuff with newspaper or straw.

    The head can be made out of a variety of things, an old football, hessian sacking or papier-mâché around a balloon. Once painted you can add wool for hair or even an old wig. Use the time whilst stuffing your Guy to discuss the reasons behind the celebrations, teach them the rhyme or ask questions to meet specific learning criteria such as "does the straw feel soft or rough?". Once your Guy is complete consider setting him up as a scarecrow if you have an outdoor area, that way it ties into harvest festival as well!

    image courtesy of goldendays.org.uk

    A nice and relatively easy science related activity you can do in your setting is Salt Fireworks, this craft looks at 'colour crawling' and is great fun for kids to have a go at.

    Items needed: 

    • Salt
    • Water
    • PVA glue
    • Black construction paper
    • Water colour paint, food dye or inks

     

    Instructions:

    • Pre-mix your chosen paints with a bit of water, note that when doing so, make sure it is thin enough to travel along the salt as well as being slightly darker in colour as the salt will make it appear lighter. Set the colours up in bowls so that children are intrigued and will want to take part when they see them.
    • Firstly, encourage the child to create some firework inspired designs and patterns on the paper, they can do this with a pencil or crayon or just go for it straight away with the pva glue, using either a spatula or brush.
    • Next, let them sprinkle a good amount of salt onto the glue so that the whole picture looks crystallised. You may want to limit the amount of salt by putting it in a bowl with a spoon for the children to handle.
    • Once the salt has been applied, shake the paper off and wait for it to dry a little.
    • Show the child how to use a pipette or paint brush to drop the colours onto the salt before letting them have a go themselves. You don't want them to end up brushing the salt off of the paper so this may require some hand control. The colours should spread slowly along the salt as it absorbs the water, making the firework appear! You can have some great discussions whilst doing this craft about colours and how the salt is able to 'suck up' the water.

     

    image courtesy of icanteachmychild.com

    Remember, all activities relating to Bonfire Night can be linked to Understanding the World and British Values!

  • Pumpkin Activities

    It's nearly upon us.. That one time of the year where it's acceptable to demand sweeties from strangers! Hopefully you've already got an idea of what you want to dress up as, so now it's time to look at all the different activities you can do within your setting.

    First things first, you've got to have a pumpkin, It's mandatory! Actually, pumpkin carving itself is a very beneficial task for a child to complete. If they're old enough, they get the responsibility of being able to handle a safety knife and if they're younger then they can come up with the face design and help scoop out all the innards - very sensory friendly!

    Before you set about carving your pumpkin there are a few things you can do while it's still intact:

    • Arts and Design - let your children stick plasticine or playdough onto the pumpkin to create patterns or faces. This way they get to experiment with designs that they might like before actually cutting it open.
    • Physical Development - Set up some toilet rolls in a skittles like formation and add ghostly faces onto them to make it even more halloweeny. Use your pumpkin as a bowling ball to see if you can knock the ghosts over. You can always drill some holes into the pumpkin if you need to get a better grip on it.
    • Maths and Science - Set up a table with your pumpkin and different things to use on it. You can add a magnifying glass, a tape measure, weighing scales and even a bucket of water to see if the pumpkin sinks or floats. Print out some questions or a check list for the children to fill in so that they are able to explore unassisted and answer questions on their own if they are able to.
    • Arts and Design - There are plenty of ways to decorate your pumpkin without actually carving it. You can paint it, cover it in stickers, cover it in tin foil or add toilet paper to turn it into a mummy. Something that's got quite popular recently is to drip melted candle or crayon wax onto your pumpkin to create a nice colourful arty effect. You could also pin buttons onto the outside or cover it in glitter - the possibilities are endless!

     

    http://happyhooligans.ca/pumpkin-carving-tip/ http://happyhooligans.ca/pumpkin-carving-tip/
    • Instead of cutting the top off of the pumpkin and using it as a lid, try slicing off the bottom! It means that you can easily rest your candle or battery powered light without the hassle of reaching in and accidentally knocking it over or getting your arm all sticky in the process. The pumpkin can be placed on top of the base which makes for a more seamless finish.
    • If you do decide to cut the top off you can use it as a stamper, simply dip it into paint and press down on paper to create some lovely pumpkin pattern stamps.
    • After you've scraped out all the innards you can dry the seeds out and plant them as a separate activity. You could also use them in cooking or you could collage with them to make a Halloween or autumnal picture. If you're working on numeracy with your child then using the seeds to count is a great idea. Lay out some number cards and encourage your child to put the amount of seeds they think is correct on each card.

     

    rotten pumpkin economy of brighton carving halloween autumn spooky rotting http://www.thegreenhead.com/2011/09/dr-frybrains-pumpkin-embalmer.php
    • Another activity you can do is to observe the decomposition of the pumpkin over a period of time and document it as a fun science experiment. Kids are bound to find the rotting process interesting as it's not something they usually get to see or experience. Encourage your child to draw a picture of the pumpkin day by day to see how it has changed. It's also a great way to learn some lovely descriptive words, which means working on communication and language as well as understanding the world.
    • The insides of a pumpkin are great for exploring textures and holding discussions about the senses - feel, colour, smell etc. If any of your children are uncomfortable about touching the the innards then simply put them in a ziplock bag, this way they are still able to look and squish the the bits around without the worry of getting their hands messy. You can even add googly eyes, glitter or spangles to make the bag more exciting.

     

    economy of brighton bcreative pumpkin activity crafts insides innards sensorey sensory bag seeds autumn halloween preschool nursery

     

    Hopefully you've been inspired by some of our fun and interactive pumpkin ideas, so now you can put them into practice and have a go yourself! If you do get up to anything exciting be sure to send us a photo on facebook or twitter, we love seeing your creations!

    Next week we'll be looking at Bonfire Night crafts so stay tuned!

  • 'All About Me' Display Ideas

    Guess Who? Display

    We love this display that was submitted to twinkl.co.uk. Not only is it bright and colourful – it’s interactive too! The children must have had fun guessing who’s who via the cut up photographs, a great exercise to incorporate personal, social and emotional development.

    For children a bit younger, instead of painting self-portraits they could put together a paper plate face. Just stick down pre-cut out features and wool for hair!

    http://www.twinkl.co.uk/classroom-display-photo/guess-who-display-classroom-display

    School Bus Display

    This school bus is a great first term display as not only will the children enjoy seeing themselves in the window but you can use it to incorporate a discussion on transport. Ask each child how they get to school in the morning, you could even do a tally chart as part of the display.

    If you aren’t able to use photos then drawings or the paper plate faces are just as good. Why not put a picture of yourself driving the bus!

    http://hative.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/back-to-school-ideas/2-school-bus-bulletin-board.jpg

    Good To Be Me Display

    This display can be easily adapted to a nursery setting. Simply ask new parents to supply a photograph and a paragraph about their child. Not only does it make the children feel important and welcome but it’s a great distraction technique to stop the tears on that first day in order for mum to sneak away unnoticed!

    If you are working with older children then you could set them the “good to be me” speech bubble as a take home task.

    http://www.twinkl.co.uk/classroom-display-photo/about%20me-display-classroom-display

    Jigsaw Window Display

    Click here to download a Jigsaw Piece PDF so that you can have a go at this one yourself!

    Not only does this display help with mathematics and shapes but you can do a lovely class group activity fitting all the pieces together. Remember, tissue paper works best on windows as it lets the sunlight shine through, creating an effective stained glass window effect.

    http://www.twinkl.co.uk/classroom-display-photo/all-fit-together-display-classroom-display

    Who Am Eye? Display

    This eye-catching display really speaks for itself! Another fun guessing game for children to take part in which links to parts of the body as well as ticking the personal, social and emotional development box. You could even add hand and foot prints around the outside.

    https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/353251164497717763/

     

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