Hello again

I forget which week of lock-down it is (to be honest I am starting to forget which day of the week it is) but apparently we are due a roadmap back to normality on Thursday.

I’m sure everyone is as desperate to see the back of these restrictions as I am, but I can’t help thinking that maybe someaspects of our previous normal aren’t worth rushing back to….

However that may be, here are some more suggestions of things to do with your children until the schools are back.


1. Make a micro journey

This is a great way to introduce concepts from geography, as children have to consider routes and mapping in miniature. The challenge is to think about the detail that they see, the panoramic views, the paths, climbs and tunnels that they may be travelling through all from the perspective of an ant.

It also supports literacy by stimulating the use of descriptive language and imaginative place naming. Older children can write a guided tour, or even record a spoken tour.

You will need:

  • String, or wool a few metres long
  • Masking tape and a pen to create small flags for landmarks
  • A varied natural landscape such as beneath a hedgerow or a patch of longer grass
  • A camera or tablet and mirrors/magnifying glasses (optional)

What to do:

  • Take a length of string.
  • Lay the string out across a small stretch of varied terrain.
  • Interesting points can be marked with short twigs and masking tape labels.
  • Get down low to the ground and examine the ‘route’ that the string takes from an ant’s point of view.
  • Mirrors or magnifying glasses can give a different perspective and you can use cameras or tablets take macro-pictures.
    Ask your children to describe the route as it would look from the ant’s point of view – what size would things seem from that tiny perspective? What difficulties would the terrain pose, and how might the ant solve them? They might wish to tell a story about the ant’s journey, or spend time naming the different landmarks.

2. Create a leaf jigsaw puzzle

This is a good way to learn about shape and symmetry, and you can turn it into a jigsaw puzzle activity.

You will need:

  • Some leaves
  • A pair of scissors

What to do:

Cut the leaves in half down their line of symmetry. Mix them up and challenge your children to match the halves up correctly. To develop this activity you can look for symmetry in other natural shapes – try flowers, trees, fruit (and fruit slices).

3. Make a rain stick

Rain sticks are a simple musical instrument found in many cultures. They are easy to play (just turn them upside down) and easy to make!

You will need:

  • And old cardboard tube (preferably a sturdy one)
  • A pen to mark with
  • A hammer and some nails short enough that they won’t go through both sides of the tube
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape or sellotape
  • Pain, pens or wrapping paper for decoration
  • Dried beans or rice

What to do:

  • Draw dots about 2cm apart along the length of the tube (a spiral pattern works well)
  • Hammer a nail into the tube at each mark (don’t let them stick through the other side)
  • Wrap a length of tape over all the nail heads to protect hands from the metal and to dissuade little fingers from prising the nails out
  • Make lids if your tube didn’t come with any by cutting two card disks
  • Seal one end of the tube with one of your lids and taope
  • Pour a handful of beans or rice into the open end and seal with your second lid and tape
  • Decorate the outside of the tube with paint, or stickers, or coloured paper.
  • Tip the finished tube upside down and listen to the rain!

4. Make some ground art

Ground art is an activity for all ages that can be done: inside out out; with found natural materials or things you have in the house; individually or as a group activity. it’s a great spur to imaginative play (as you can see for the picture) and it also requires sorting, pattern recognition, fine motor skills and observation. I like it very much, as you can probably tell, and best of all it is very easy.You will need:

  • Some materials to design with – small objects are best and easiest to manipulate. If you are gathering natural materials make sure children know to avoid anything sharp or stingy, and not to take anything from a living plant
  • A clear space to work in
  • An idea (if you are working in a group this might take some time to agree)
What to do:
  • You can use the process of making the picture to look at concepts like colour, shape, size and symmetry.  Some children prefer to be gatherers, others like to make the image and some like to do both.
  • Clear a space to work in – if you are in a public space then be careful not to work anywhere you will get in other people’s way (and abide by lockdown restrictions of course).
  • Agree what you would like to make a picture of. It could be a symmetrical design, a portrait (or a self portrait), or a message.
  • If your children can’t decide then a good way to motivate them is to start making a picture yourself – usually they will either want to help, or want to start their own.
  • Gather materials – safely and without damaging the environment (e.g. use fallen leaves and twigs; don’t rip either off trees).
  • Take a picture of your ground art and (if you are in a public place) you can leave it in place for others to enjoy, and maybe visit it yourself the following day.


Some more suggestions to (hopefully) help you through, same time next week.

Let us know how you got on with these ideas, and send us photos of your creations.

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