Getting a Little Rhythm while you’re at Home

The landscape and rhythm of our lives could well be about to change dramatically over the coming months. Social distancing and self isolation are now commonplace phrases that appeared overnight into our vocabulary!

Every Cloud

Many of us are finding that we will be at home with our children a lot more than we normally would. For some this is exciting times and for others a little daunting. If I can, I always like to find the positives in any situation. For now, time is slowing. For many of us this may be the first time since childhood. Make the most of this precious time you have been given together.

Looking for learning through play ideas? You might be interested in this blog post – Brilliant, Screen Free Play Ideas for being at Home.

Home Rhythm

Before having my daughter I was an early years and primary teacher and I want to assure you that if your children are going to be at home for a couple of weeks or more you do not need to replicate school. If you’re worried about how much ‘learning time’ there should be, check out this blog post. I’m not saying it’s 100% accurate, but having taught in schools I don’t disagree with most of what is said.

Being at home is different. Children are naturally inquisitive learners and will absorb so much from being at home with you. Learning through play isn’t just a catchy caption, it’s absolutely true. Children of all ages need to play, it’s how they make sense of the world, test out theories and solve problems. That being said, many of our children will be used to some form of routine from their settings and being able to give them and you some structure to your days will be beneficial for all.

Rhythm and Flow

Routines are often quite rigid. Times are allocated to them. It can feel quite restrictive and give you a sense of falling behind. In our home we adopt a more flowing idea of structure, a ‘rhythm’ inspired by Waldorf philosophy. Eloise Rickman, a prominent advocate of rhythm, peaceful parenting and home schooling spoke to the BBC yesterday on coping with self isolation together – you can find the article here. Well worth a read.

Putting in place a rhythm for your family during this time doesn’t need to be Pinterest worthy. It’s a flow of how your day will go, what it will look like and most importantly for children, what happens next in my day. If you already have set wake, bed, meal and snack points in a day you may want to have a more loose idea of a rhythm as these events are already anticipated. It could be that every Monday you will do baking, on Tuesdays you will go on a nature exploring session in the garden. These activities in a week help your children to know where they are. However, if on Monday no one wants to do baking that’s fine, change it to something else. Above is an example of a simple weekly rhythm.

Waldorf Inspired

You’ll notice if you search for rhythm that Waldorf inspired rhythms associated each day with a colour. Many choose to use these colours to depict each day on their rhythm charts. Do what you feel is right for you. We often go for a seasonal tone to ours or a rainbow.

If you don’t already have some of the food and rest points mapped into your child’s day then it may be useful to be much more intentional in your flow. Below shows a daily rhythm with key points of the day written down. Again, if things need to change that’s fine, just pick back up your flow when you can. Gradually, over time, this rhythm you live becomes invisible, woven into your being.

You’ll notice there are no times to this. It doesn’t matter if lunch is 12 or 1 or playing outdoors goes on much longer. However, after lunch, for us is rest time – whatever time lunch was. Just knowing what comes next is incredibly comforting to children normally, yet especially now in these unprecedented times.

Making your Rhythm

Getting your children involved in forming your rhythm will help them feel much more a part of the day. Very little ones could help with painting backgrounds while you draw pictures. Older children may be able to help you create the rhythm and even write/ draw/ type it up.

Resources

  • First you’ll need some resources. You could type up your rhythm or draw/ write your rhythm down. Below are some background you can print off if you’re looking for inspiration. However, you could paint yourself a background together. We use Stockmar liquid watercolours or Tiny Land wood stains for our backgrounds.
  • Next, think about the start of your day and the end. Are there tricky points in there such as teeth brushing. If so make sure to put them down. A big part of having a rhythm is forming good habits.
  • Add in snacks and meal – these can have their own micro rhythms (such as helping to lay the table, washing hands, clearing away etc.)
  • Then add in your intentional activities. If you are choosing to do some structured learning with your children add it on. It could be that during the day you need to get some work done. Add it on, ‘playtime – Mummy/ Daddy working’. For some children it may need to be a specific activity than just playtime such as playdough.

Get Them Involved

  • Get children involved. What would they like to do in a day? In a week? A movie afternoon? Clay modelling? If they don’t readily have ideas, give them a list of ideas that they could choose from.
  • Add it to your rhythm chart. It’s just for your home. It doesn’t need to be perfect.
  • Try as much as possible to stick to your rhythm initially, this will help form gentle habits in your day and week. It’s surprising how quickly you get into the flow. If something really isn’t working change it. We often change our rhythm seasonally, or if there is a change that happens such as working days.

Share your Rhythm

We’d love to see your rhythms that you already have in place or ones you have done after reading this post. Do head over to our Yes Bebe Babble Facebook Group and share them there. It’s a lovely, friendly space where you can get lots of ideas for play and learning at home.

You may have heard other terms such as morning time and poetry tea time. These are more focused/ intentional times and each have their own little micro rhythms. If you’d like to know more about these or any other aspect leave a comment below or in the Babble group.

Did you know we have an ever increasing selection of books being added to the site? Over on the Yes Bebe Book Page we’re sharing lots of fabulous books with ideas of activities you can do and different questions you can ask your children.

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Brilliant Screen-Free Play Ideas for being at Home

Whether you’re looking for some holiday entertainment or having to self isolate this Spring, here’s a little guide full of brilliant, screen-free play ideas to keep everyone busy.

Books

Curled up with a book or ten. Have you noticed that we’ve started to stock an incredible selection of books? There’s something for everyone on the site from birth to adults. Books are an amazing way to lose time, whether getting lost in an author and illustrator’s world of splendid fiction, digging in deep to non-fiction or getting busy with an activity book. There are just so many options. Snuggled up on the sofa, or sat in a tent in the garden, books are the perfect boredom busters.

If you’ve got a more reluctant reader then exploring a book alongside props is a great way to get them engaged. Lots of our small world play toys can be used as story props for your favourite tales.

Love books as much as we do? You’ll love our monthly book club subscription. From birth to 14 years + categories, with options for fiction, non-fiction, activity and Waldorf inspired. An exciting monthly surprise direct to your door. Now that’s something worth waiting in for!

Spring Box

We have some incredible Spring Boxes available right now, with everything you need to get in the Spring mood at home. You can choose what style of box you would like from under 3s, early years, Montessori or Waldorf inspired.

These are the perfect topic boxes to have hours of fun with this Spring. Each box will give you several play ideas to explore with your child.

Jigsaw Puzzles & Games

Does anyone else remember ‘wet playtime’ at school? Well in our school that meant the jigsaws came out, to great excitement from all. The perfect rainy day activity. There are so many skills being developed when children complete jigsaws. Check out this blog post from Usborne on the ways Jigsaws help child development. There’s a huge selection of jigsaw puzzles on the site for all ages.

Have you discovered Orchard Toys yet? We stock a brilliant range of Orchard Toy such as the classic Shopping List, to First Times Tables and Rainbow Unicorns. Fun is at the heart of their range, with a strong emphasis on learning through play. Each game and puzzle has a suggested age range, yet older children get lots of enjoyment out of guiding younger siblings in how to play. A great way for older children to be able to explain concepts such as their mathematical reasoning.

Arts and Crafts

Our selection of arts and craft media, materials and guides are ever increasing with kits available for complete beginners to resources for the experts. Why not try a new craft to pass the time? We have a vast choice of paper mache projects that are suitable for a wide age range, new in are these gorgeous eggs perfect for your creative little ones this Spring. Maybe you fancy having a go at crafting alongside your child and giving crochet, weaving or needle felting a go.

Gardening

As the saying goes, there’s no such things as bad weather, just wrong clothing. If it feels like you’ve been stuck inside then heading outside in your garden can be a welcome relief, especially as Spring is coming along and the weather more mild. If you don’t have a garden then bring the outside in with pots and window boxes.

Children love hands-on, real experiences; especially experiences that allow them to do what they consider ‘adult work’. If they’re at home, getting them involved in household jobs can be really rewarding. Helping out with cooking and baking are very popular, yet exploring the outside and gardening is often high on the list of favourites. We’ve got a lovely selection of child-friendly tools and other gardening resources.

Child sized tools are perfect for little hands and to get them as involved as possible. We’ve also got some lovely little kits such as grow your own carrots and sunflowers to botanist kits. If you are looking for some Spring gardening tools, plants and topical books make sure to check out our Spring Boxes which give you a carefully selected box of Spring time goodies just for your little nature lover.

While out tending to your garden you’re sure to spot some creepy crawlies. We love the new Usborne books Creepy Crawlies and Bug Homes. They’re the perfect companion to find out more about minibeasts. We’ve also got bug pots and explorer kits so you can carefully observe little creatures before returning them to their homes.

Outdoor Play Play Ideas

Our top choices for outdoor play this Spring include this superb little sand and water table that comes with a lid. There are two sections that sit within the table where you could choose to add sand, water, soil or leave empty for small world play or storing your craft supplies. The lid fits securely on to turn the sand and water area into a perfect little picnic table. We’ve also just introduced a range of scrunchable sand and water play tools. Not only does this mean they are light weight, but can be stored easily inside the table.

Budding artists will love this outdoor easel. The painting screen is easily washed so that it can be used over and over again. The ultimate way to explore messy play!

Loose Parts Play Ideas

Loose parts are an incredible open ended play resource. Whether using to make beautiful pictures and mandalas or using them to represent food, coins, magic objects the possibilities really are endless. You can collect natural resources from outside as well as there being wonderful toys made just for loose parts play. We love Grapat loose parts and these natural resources.

Home Gym

Need to burn off a little excess energy? Then balance and rocker boards are ideal. They come in a range of styles, sizes and colours with something everyone will love. Why not add a pillow for the perfect relaxing rock too!

Looking for a little more challenge then put together your own combination of climbing greatness with the stunning range from Sawdust and Rainbows. Supporting development of both fine and gross motor skills through active play.

We’d love to hear what your top recommendations are for staying at home play. Do leave a comment with your play ideas.

If you’re not already a member of our Yes Bebe Babble Group on Facebook, do come and join us. We’re a supportive, growing community who are happy to help out with play ideas and recommendations to keep you entertained through holiday and if you’re having to self isolate.

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Dragon Boat Festival

Simple Dragon Boat
A simple dragon boat starring a Lanka Kade Dragon, wading through a play board made with Tiny Land Sea Wood Stains, backdrop is a Grimm’s Giant Rainbow.

Today is Dragon Boat Festival 龙舟节直译 (in China 端午节 or Duanwu Festival). For most this means it is time to make zongzi (粽子), but around the world it is better known for the dragon boat racing. I’m going to show you how to fold a quick boat that you can then craft into the more elaborate boat shown above.

What you’ll need:

1. An A4 piece of paper or card
2. Some glue, we recommend Tiny Land Natural Paper Glue
3. Some paint, we recommend Tiny Land Wonderpaints
4. Scissors and paintbrushes.

Part 1: The body of the Dragon Boat

Simple Dragon Boat
Creating a simple Dragon Boat

Dragon Boat 1
Start with a piece of A4

Dragon Boat 2
To make your A4 paper square, fold a triangle and then fold the remainder over. Serrate the edge to make it easy to tear off.

Dragon Boat 3
The remainder tears off

Dragon Boat 4
We are left with a square. This is a great trick as a lot of crafts need a square piece of paper!

Dragon Boat 5
Fold the paper in half

Dragon Boat 6
With the fold on the bottom, fold it in half again.

Dragon Boat 8
Open the fold and fold the bottom corners in.

Dragon Boat 10
Fold the first layer of the top corners in.

Dragon Boat 11
Flip the paper over.

Dragon Boat 12
Fold the top corners of the paper down.

Dragon Boat 14
Fold the layer of paper down.

Dragon Boat 15
Turn it over and fold the other down. At this point you can glue the paper if you wish to make it sturdier, but it’s not essential.

Dragon Boat 16
Et voila! A simple dragon boat that you can decorate.

Dragon Boat 18

Part 2: Decorating and Creating Oars

Dragon Boat 19
Remember that bit we tore off earlier? We can use it to make oars.

Dragon Boat 20
Roll the paper over, then cut a bit off. It isn’t important to keep them round as we will flatten to glue.

Dragon Boat 20
Roll the paper over, then cut a bit off. It isn’t important to keep them round as we will flatten to glue.

Dragon Boat 21
Spread glue along one edge and flatten to dry. Repeat to make 6 oars.

Dragon Boat 22
While we wait for the glue to dry, we can start decorating the boat. Dragon scales are traditional as there is usually a dragon head on the boat. But why not be more elaborate?!

Dragon Boat 23
After the glue is dry, we can round the oars again and make slits. With the leftover paper cut into 6 squares/rectangles, then these slot into the slits. You can glue to stabilise them.

Dragon Boat 24
To glue the oars to the boat, I’ve folded back the top and flattened. You can temporarily hold the oars to the dragon boat with a paper clip or peg while the glue dries.

Dragon Boat 25
And there you go, 6 oars on the dragon boat, 3 on each side. this will help the boat freestand.

 

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International Dot Day – mark-making with your child

Mark-making is your child’s first step towards handwriting and drawing. It’s important for motor skills but also for creativity and imagination – with a pencil in their hand a child is no longer limited to the realms of reality, and anything is possible!

mark-making crayons

Mark-making can begin as soon as your child is able to sit up in a high-chair unaided. Early mark-making ideas include hand-prints using finger paints, encouraging your child to draw in yoghurt on their high-chair tray, and drawing in sand, in a sand pit or on the beach. Mark-making activities can be great sensory opportunities, as a child explores the squidginess of finger paints, the graininess of sand, the scratchiness of chalk on a pavement, the sweep of a paintbrush on an easel, the swoosh of a marker pen on a whiteboard… Try:

FIRST MARKS

  • Using fingerpaints tomake handprints
  • Drawing patterns in yoghurt in your baby’s high chair tray and encouraging them to copy

TODDLERS/PRESCHOOLERS

  • Dot painting, using fingerpaints to create a pattern or pictures – leaves on a tree are always beautiful, or dots on a dalmation, patterns on a butterfly’s wings… you draw the outline and let them fill in the colours
  • Once your toddler has a fist grip they can use crayons or even pens, pencil crayons or paintbrushes, under supervision, to create art.
  • Encourage them to paint both on flat surfaces like the table and upright surfaces – an easel is great, but if you don’t have one, tape paper onto a window or door (if your paints are non-washable tape newspaper underneath first).
  • Chalk pavement drawing is always a hit.
  • Paint splatters can be made by dipping scraps of fabric into paint and throwing them onto a piece of paper on the floor.
  • Screwed up waste-paper can be used for printing.
  • Carve shapes out of halved potatoes to make simple prints (we did this with our preschoolers to tie in with dinosaur and wild animal topics, which they loved!)
  • Blow art is very popular with children who are old enough to understand the importance of not sucking paint through the straw! You can drop poster paints onto paper and blow them outwards, or add watercolour paint to washing-up liquid in a shallow container, blow bubbles then print the image onto paper by laying it on top.

PRESCHOOLERS – INTRODUCING LETTERS

  • Fill a tray with rice or lentils and encourage your child to use a finger to draw letters.
  • Easy-grip pencils are both practical, encouraging them by making it easier to hold the pencil, and exciting, as they are pencils of their vey own.
  • Encourage them to label their art with their own name.
  • Copying simple words to describe their art is also a good way to introduce writing.

AUTUMN FRUIT MARK-MAKING

Autumn is a great time of year to look to nature for mark-making resources. On the simplest level, you can collect blackberries or elderberries, place them between two pieces of fabric or paper, and squash or even hammer them to make fruit splats.

You can also squash berries with a little water to make paint, which can be painted with brushes or fingers.

Food-based activities are great for both weaning children, as they also encouarage them to explore texture, and “mouthers” of any age, as they can mark-make without worry if any finds its way into their mouths!

RESOURCES

Yes Bebe stock a fabulous range of art resources including my favourites, Crayon Rocks!

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