I generally start with a theme. It is usually inspired by a book.
We then collect materials from around the house. It’s fun to make this a collaborative effort with your little ones, giving them ownership of the process.
Then we set up our materials. Where you do this can vary. It might be in a plastic tub. In a sand play table. In a shoe box.
The most important (and best) step is saved for last. PLAY!
We set this small world up in our sand play table after being inspired by this book. We used two baskets to act as “fields.”
Farm-related toys were collected and our Grimm’s 12 Rainbow Friends from Oskar’s Wooden Ark were the “farmers.”
The children used plastic lids to symbolise seeds being planted.
We also used some coloured rice and popcorn kernels to add a sensory element to this small world.
Birthday small world
Our small worlds often incorporate ways to reuse and recycle our art projects.
Birthdays and birthday parties are discussed here about eleventy billion times a day. So we channeled this energy into a small world and made the bunting from leftover watercolour paper. We used play dough for the cake. I love how small world play allows you to create a multi-step process that incorporates so many benefits- fine motor skills, creative arts…. you’re only limited by your imagination.
The thing I love most about this small world is that it was set within a box. So once play was finished, you simply shut the box and pack away and storage is simple!
Neighbourhood small play
Another example of artworks being used in small world play.
What should be a 5 minute walk to the park takes us about 56 minutes as my kids insist on stopping at every.single.letterbox and having an in-depth discussion about the house number. Hello learning in context!
So we collaged some houses and simply stuck them onto a sheet of cardboard to create this small world that encouraged number recognition.
Our Grimm’s 12 Rainbow Friends from Oskar’s Wooden Ark walked around the neighbourhood, visiting different homes. It was so sweet hearing the stories that emerged about different houses and neighbours.
Found yourself suddenly thrust into the role of homeschooler thanks to Coronavirus? Looking for some simple and fun learning ideas for learning from home? Let me see what I can do for you.
So here’s the thing.
As a teacher, I don’t expect you to replicate the classroom in your home during these strange and confusing times. I would hope that you’re all just loving hard on your littles but it’s a weird one to balance, isn’t it? I’m ALL FOR giving kids the space to get bored. But I also find it useful to have some ideas to fall back on when my kids apparently lose all ability to think up an activity for themselves and are climbing up the walls.
Trying to maintain normalcy in times that are wack seems near-impossible. So don’t go too hard on yourself if your *lessons* don’t turn out as planned. The ideas for learning from home outlined from here are all open-ended. Don’t be rigid and go with the flow. You never know where it will take you.
Process not product, people!
Okay if we try and be positive and look for some silver linings, imagine all the books our kids can enjoy during this time.
Missing friends and social isolation is a big worry for our little ones. Rally a group of schoolmates and meet up via FaceTime, Skype or Zoom and discuss the books that are being enjoyed at each home. You could structure each call with a guiding question like “Who was your favourite character and why?” “Tell us about your favourite part of the story.”
Maybe you could use my Book Scavenger Hunt (developed for Book Week a few years ago) as a way to thematically organise each call. For example, “This week we’re going to find all the books about Dinosaurs on our shelves. We will share our favourite Dinosaur book when we call each other.”
Board games are a totally under-rated way for families to slow down and connect. They also give children a fab chance to practise turn-taking, winning and losing. Take an audit of the board games in the cupboard and pull one out every now and then.
Set up an imaginary restaurant. Holy moly all the writing practice a child will get playing a waiter or waitress! All that vocab development as you construct a menu. See how such a simple set-up is infused with authentic learning opportunities?
Choose a teddy and plan a birthday party for him or her. Write invitations. Plan the party food. Peruse catalogues or supermarket websites and write a shopping list. Calculate your budget. Create decorations. What parts of the syllabus have we covered here? Writing for different purposes and contexts. Letter-sound relationships. Reading for a purpose. Money. Number. Addition. Subtraction. Learning disguised as play? My favourite.
Write an old-fashioned letter to a friend. Take a few snaps of it and send it via the Interwebs for instant connection and easy writing practice. Or try your hand at some of these cool pop-up cards from Maggy at Red Ted Art?
Go on a virtual excursion
The borders of the world may be shutting down but the world is opening up virtually.
Lastly, what do you do when the proverbial poo hits the fan?
Channel your inner Lady Gaga and “Just dance, gonna be okay.”
Turn the music up and DANCE. (My husband attempted to introduce my kids to rave music this morning. They were not impressed.)
Here’s a super fun activity that teams music with painting.