God knows all about me by Kate Toms

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This rhyming text is a great read aloud book for preschoolers. I did this for the under 5s at church after being very disorganised and realising an hour before I had to leave for church that it was me on the rota. Thankfully, I remembered this book and realised it was an activity in itself and I could easily come up with other linked ideas. The book talks about how God knows every part of us in every situation.

Read the book as an action rhyme, pointing at the correct body parts as they come up, jumping, spinning or pretending it’s raining etc, for snow we pretended to throw a snowball.

20150419_201533We then played with salt dough, letting the kids make what they wanted for a while, keeping a very close eye on the children, as the salt levels are dangerously high, in theory it should taste foul and your child should spit it out, but children are odd things, so you can never be sure. Anyway, after they’d played enough I rolled it out thin and made handprints in a heart shape to remind them that God loves them. My apologies for the terrible photo quality. I’ll try to replace it when I’ve found the camera.

Salt dough recipe:

2 parts flour
1 part salt
1 part cold water
Mix dry materials, add water in small amounts, mixing after each addition. Do not let the mixture get soggy, stop when it’s clumping. You probably won’t need all of the water. Start kneading it into a dough. Thankfully this is ridiculously quick recipe, handy if you’ve forgotten to prepare a craft like me.

I find very thin salt dough creations are the best as thick ones never seem to dry out in the middle. To dry them bake in the oven on as low a temperature as possible for 3 or 4 hours, or you can air dry them for several days. If you cook on too high a temperature they will bubble up. Some people have success in the microwave, but I never have, if you do try microwaving, do it in very short bursts.

If you’re not keen on salt dough, a great alternative, which I would have done today, had I not run out of bicarb, is white clay. Check The Imagination Tree, for the recipe.

External links:
 Borrow “God knows all about me” from your local library
Buy “God knows all about me”

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The very first Easter (part 2)

firsteasterSorry for the delay in posting, we’ve had tonsillitis, flu and a sick bug in the last 2 weeks, plus we’re trying to sell the house, so we’re trying to declutter (something I find very hard as junk is so useful) so I’ve been falling back on just dragging out the Easter sensory boxes and cloud dough, instead of making up new activities. Though we did make racing cars out of cardboard boxes, but it wasn’t really bloggable. Anyway, moving on, I wanted to do something else Eastery, but focusing more on the story this time. I don’t actually have this book pictured, so for mine I read selected bits out of “The Beginner’s Bible” again, but I found this version of just the Easter Story, so I thought for people who don’t have The Beginner’s Bible, and want to pick up a copy of the Easter story this seems great, and only 99p. I have read reviews of it, people seem to like it and I am assuming it would contain all of the relevant bits of the Easter story.

Today’s activity is story sequencing. If you want to do this activity and it’s not around Easter, you can use any story with an obvious sequence. Bible stories or traditional tales work well, e.g. Daniel and The Lion’s den, Jonah, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella. You just need to be sure that the elements in the story really only make sense in one order. For example I wouldn’t do this for a story such as “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” as there’s not really any reason for the ordering of grass, mud, water, the idea of the activity is for them to work on following the logical progression. Or in the case of Bible stories, to be learning what happened.

Preparation:

Draw pictures for each of the key points of the story, depending on the age/ability of your children, include some or all of the following (I did 7), I cannot draw, but your kids won’t mind. Just do your best. You will need several copies of each picture, so either photocopy, or redraw them:eastermaze 003

Donkey
Palm leaves
Bread and wine (Last supper)
Garden or Jesus praying (I just drew flowers)
Soldiers
Leaders condemning Jesus
Cross
Empty Tomb
Jesus with his friends (or with holes in his hands)
Jesus ascending to heaven.

eastermaze 011Set up a maze, this will take a long time, I did it the night before while the kids were sleeping, otherwise make sure they’re at preschool, napping etc. I used megablocks as I thought it would make it more fun, brightly coloured and more engaging. The big drawback of it is that it’s easily knocked apart, if you have more bricks you could make it a bit stronger. A more robust way to build a maze would be using masking tape, I’ll try this another time to see if they enjoy it as much.

At each decision point in the maze put a picture, the correct one leading you towards the centre of the maze (where I put chocolate rabbits), the incorrect one taking you the wrong way.

Ensure that you have a full set of the pictures left over (i.e. not in the maze) for retelling the story.

As usual, read the story first. If you’re using the full bible, skip the bits that aren’t relevant to the Easter story. As you are telling the story, show the pictures that you have drawn, to ensure that they understand what each of your pictures represents.eastermaze 012

Take them to the maze, explain that they have to find their way to the chocolate by retelling the story. I gave the option of Jumbles  walking through, or pushing a car through, he chose to walk, if doing with masking tape I’d probably encourage him to drive a car round the maze. This activity was beyond Bean, she got a bit cross when we tried to lead her through the maze, but Jumbles loved it and redid it 6 more times (hiding different things at the end of the maze so that he could find them again) before deciding to destroy the maze, given his love of destroying block constructions, I was amazed it lasted as long as it did. I found that the first couple of times through, he went wrong a few times and was confusing events. However, by the 3rd time he was accurately retelling the story, using the pictures as memory cues.

External Links:

Buy “The Very First Easter”

The Easter Story (Bible)

bibleEaster fun today. Yes, I know it’s a little early, but I wanted you to have time to set your own activities up. We used “The Beginner’s Bible” p446-458 to tell the Easter story, but any child friendly bible will do. I like this one, because it has great artwork and very simple text. You could also watch a video online such as this one

The Easter story can be a little hard to teach to small children. The concept of death is either alien to them, or quite difficult. However, I like to focus on the positive of Easter, that it shows God’s amazing love for us, because His son came and died for us. Plus of course, the amazing positive, that he didn’t stay dead, he came back to life.

For activities, I used items associated with Easter, then talked about how they link to the story because they symbolise life.

Box 1 – sensory treasure hunt:easter 001

I shredded a load of tissue paper and simply put it in a box with loads of Easter tat from the pound shop: glittery eggs, bunnies, chicks etc.easter 003 Fun exploration, hide and seek game.

Box 2 – Posting:

I put loads of different types of eggs and pom poms in a box with tubes, egg boxes and straws (for blowing the pom poms around on the lid. This box has actually been going strong since last Easter. Every so often Jumbles asks to play with ieastert, it’s our favourite homemade activity. It may not look impressive, but believe me, if your kids are like mine, you will get hours of time out of this box! Though, it does create a lot of tidying up too. I have had to restock it as a lot of the eggs have been damaged over time. The poorer quality pic shows the box last year.

Box 3 – Mark Making:

I recycled the salt tray from the Noah activity, but this time I put coloured breadcrumbs (also reused from Noah) in, along with spoons, scoops and eggs to fill. I wanted the breadcrumbs as they’re colourful, if you don’t want the hassle, just pour salt or sand in instead.

easter 004

External Links:

Watch the Easter Story
Buy The Beginner’s Bible

“Noah’s Big Boat” by Bob Hartman & Janet Samuel (or other retelling of Noah) Rainbows!

noahI did this activity for the under 5s at Church, so I’ll write it up like that, but obviously, if you’re just doing this at home, pick the bits you want. Noah’s Big Boat is a great rhythmic telling of the story of Noah. You could use any retelling of Noah though.

Begin by giving the children instruments to make rain sounds. We used rainmakers, shakers and an emergency blanket to crinkle. Explain to them the repeated pattern that comes up on every page of the book “Rain and rain and rain and pour” and say to make rain noises with the instruments as they say it.

Read the story, making the rain at the appropriate points.

We then got out several toy Noah’s arks (a plastic one, wooden one and a soft toy one) for the children to play with, they re-enacted the story. Ideally I would have got water play out as well at this point, but I’d done water play a couple of weeks previously and whilst it had gone well, none of the children had spare clothes, and ended up soaked, so I thought I’d better not do it again without pre-warning the parents.

My focus for the story of Noah was on God’s promise not to flood the world again and His sign of that promise: The rainbow. Rainbow activities are fantastic, here’s what we did:

Rainbow salt tray – I taped together 2 sheets of card to cover the bottom of one of my cat litter trays (I don’t have a cat, but bought some trays years ago, when teaching, as they’re great for messy play and crafts) then I coloured the card in in bright coloured stripes. The stripes didn’t look that neat, which I was disappointed about, but actually, once you poured the salt in and drew patterns, that wasn’t noticeable at all.noah (1) It looked really effective. I wouldn’t use a salt tray with under 2s as they might eat it, so I kept it up high and the older children knelt on a chair to use it. I provided paintbrushes, though fear that was a mistake and sticking to just letting them use a finger to draw in the salt might have been better as the paintbrushes encouraged flicking of the salt all over the table.

noah (3)Rainbow rice – rainbow rice is amazing. It looks so inviting when you first make it and set it up with stripes of each separate colour, then as soon as the kids get into it (and Bean literally does, she climbed straight into the box, monopolising it for most of the session) it gets mixed into a beautiful combination. To make rainbow rice, you basically need dry rice, food colouring and lots of shaking. I put the rice in batches into an old ice cream tub, on this occasion I added kool aid powder and a drop of water (because I wanted to make it smell nice too) and then shake vigorously. Once the rice is dyed, spread it out to dry overnight (just put it in the box the children will be playing with). I put a bit too much water in the red batch, it was still wet in the morning when we were due to take it to church. However, a quick blast with the hair dryer sorted that.

On previous occassions, before I discovered the joys of Kool Aid, and forced my parents to export it to me in large quantities, I dyed rice using food colouring, this does work just as well, do it in the same way as described above, but using drops of food colouring instead of the Kool Aid powder, but you don’t get the added bonus of the scent. You could consider adding spices if you want a nice smell.

With the rainbow rice, I provided spoons and jugs. A note on safety. Whilst coloured rice is edible, it would be very bad for children to eat much dry rice, so please do monitor children to ensure they don’t eat it. Oddly, Bean has never tried to eat it. I remember Jumbles did when he was about 2, but spat it straight out.

If you are still concerned about your child eating uncooked rice, an edible alternative is coloured breadcrumbs. Which takes a lot more preparation, but is just as much fun. I have a batch that we’ve had for the last 11 months, the kids still love playing with it. It breadcrumbskeeps well. To make coloured breadcrumbs, get a loaf or 2 of the cheapest white bread you can find (or if you’re like us and no one likes crusts, save all of your crusts in the freezer till you have loads) lightly toast the bread, blend it in batches in a food processer (or in my case a smoothie maker as we got one free once and use this for all blending) blend with a couple of drops of gel food colouring and a tiny amount of milk (I don’t know why milk not water, I keep meaning to try again with water to see if it works, the site I saw it on said to use milk, so I obeyed) then spread the crumbs out on a baking tray and toast under the grill, but be careful not to burn (though actually, I burnt some a bit and it was ok).

noah (4)Paper Plate rainbows – I saw this idea somewhere, but the link was broken, it looked simple though, I just decided to make it double sided instead of identical on both sides. Draw an ark in the middle of the plate, cut out, but leave the edge of the plate to make a rainbow over the top, repeat with a second plate. noah (5)On one plate stick tissue paper, or colour to make a rainbow at the top, draw a hill under the ark etc. On the other stick clouds on the top and colour blue under and around the ark to represent water. Glue the bottom and sides of the two plates together to make a basket. Fill with animal biscuits.

Rainbow ribbons – This was just an extra that I did with my kids at home. Tie long strips of ribbon to a wooden curtain ring, or one of those plastic links for babies. It is best if you use very long pieces of noah (11)ribbon, double them over pulling themselves through so that they can’t come off, but my ribbon wasn’t long enough, so I just tied the ends on. Use the ribbons to dance to music.

Polystyrene Rainbow:

icandy 024Drat, I just realised that I missed off this one. This definitely requires a lot of supervision as it involves giving the kids cocktail sticks. Again, I did this with just my kids at home, I wouldn’t do it with a large group. Anyway, poking cocktail sticks into polystyrene is great fun for toddlers and preschoolers. I drew basic rainbow lines and then Jumbles and Bean did some colouring on it, then poked cocktail sticks in and threaded coloured bottle tops (I save the ones off baby food pouches, actually, I don’t even use baby food pouches, but I make a friend save hers!) We also tried pushing tissue paper into the polystyrene – you tear off a tiny bit, poke it in with the stick, then pull the stick out, leaving the tissue paper in. I must confess, I ended up doing a lot of the threading here, and certainly all of the tissue paper, I think it would work nicely with older children, but mine were a bit little, they did enjoy putting the sticks in and stacking lids on though.

I have so many more rainbow things I want to try, that I may well have to do Noah’s ark again soon, but for now I think I’d better stop.

Songs:

After the activities, sing “The Arky Arky song” or “Mr Noah” plus other water songs like Row Row Row your boat.

In fact, I think I’ll use this opportunity to list as many verses of Row, Row as I can think of, to help you with inspiration, as there seems to be a growing number:

Row Row Row your boat,  Gently down the stream
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, life is but a dream

Row Row Row your boat, Gently down the stream
If you see a crocodile, don’t forget to scream

Row Row Row your boat, gently to the shore
If you see a lion, don’t forget to roar

Row Row Row your boat, Gently down the river
If you see a polar bear, don’t forget to shiver

Row Row Row your boat, out across a puddle
If you see a teddy bear, don’t forget to cuddle

Row Row Row your boat, Gently down the Nile
If you see your Mummy there, don’t forget to smile

Row Row Row your boat, out across the creek,
If you see a tiny mouse, don’t forget to squeak

Row Row Row your boat, out across the bay
If you see a pirate ship, sail the other way (Arrrr)

Row Row Row your boat, quickly to the shop
If you see a kangaroo, don’t forget to hop

Rock rock rock your boat, gently to and fro
Watch out, give a shout (or, I have also heard wibbledy wobbledy, wibbledy wobbledy), into the water we go

(There’s also a verse about a rowing over a bump, seeing a monkey and not forgetting to jump, but I can’t quite think how it goes)

Now, those of you who have seen me lead story and rhyme times might understand why I don’t sing all of the verses I know!

External Links:

Buy “Noah’s Big Boat”

Borrow “Noah’s Big Boat” from your local library