Halloween Sensory Activities

We love Halloween, it gives plenty of inspiration for fun crafts and sensory games for your little ones. Here are 7 Spooktacular Super fun and easy ideas for your toddlers to enjoy this Halloween!


  1. Bobbing for Creepy Crawlies

Fill a bucket with water and throw in some fake creepy crawlies that your toddler can catch – you can them count them together and award prizes.


  1. Paper Plate Pumpkins 

A great alternative to carving a pumpkin for the littles. Use paper plates and orange paint and let them design their own pumpkin plates! These also make cute decorations for years to come.


  1. Eyeball Roll

We love this simple fine motor activity, stick to the wall a cardboard tube (eg a kitchen roll tube) and encourage your toddler to drop an novelty eyeball through.


  1. Musical Mummies

Like musical statues, get the kids dressed up in their favourite Halloween costume and get them dancing to some fun Halloween music. When the music stops, they must “drop dead” to the floor and stay as still as they can.


  1. Witches Brew Sensory Cauldron

Set jelly inside a cauldron with novelty Halloween toys inside, we find toy creepy crawlies work well. Let your toddler have fun rescuing the creatures from the witch’s brew.


  1. Broomstick Race

Channel your inner Harry Potter with this wizarding wonder! Using two brooms split the kids into two teams and see who can fly on a broom fastest from one end of the garden to the other. Add the Halloween costumes or capes for bonus fun!


  1. Fluffy Ghosts

Draw a ghost shape, with a face on a piece of paper, then let your little one stick on cotton wool for a fun fluffy ghost effect. A fun craft activity and a great decoration to hang up.

5 reasons why music is Important to toddlers and children

5 reasons why music is Important to toddlers and children

As a parent, you want your children to develop physical and emotional skills that can help them in the future. But you also want them to grow up happy and have fun.

Well, music could be the solution!

Extracurricular activities are also important in helping develop a child’s talents, interests, and passions.

There are a lot of benefits of getting musical around your toddlers! We’ve highlighted five of them for you.

Music helps develop coordination

Just like playing sports, music helps children develop their motor skills.

Even if your kids don’t understand the lyrics of a song, they can move to the rhythms of the music. From a very early age, toddlers start differentiating in between songs, and already establishing preferences.

Music encourages children to move, which will help massively in their coordination in the future. If the rhythm is very entertaining, you might notice your toddler moving along with it, which helps their muscle development, strength, and balance.

Music can improve literacy and numeracy

Exposure to music enhances a child’s natural ability to decode sounds and words. Although music and maths look very different, they both verse on the study of ratios, fractions, and proportions.

Did you know that we use the same area in our brain – temporal love- for both learning a language and processing the music that we hear?

This means that early exposure to music can make learning a language a little bit easier!

And the benefits of music don’t stop there.

This will continue to show as the little ones start speaking. As they listen, learn, and sing along, children learn new words and familiarise themselves with the rhythm of the language without even realising they are learning.

Music teaches them discipline and patience

Learning how to play an instrument, read a score or sing along the music requires hours of practice and a lot of patience.

But it helps them learn that results require time and effort, and it’s a valuable lesson for the future. They know that to get better and achieve their goals, they need to put in the time.

Music makes them happy

Music is a mood lifter. It can lift their spirit, calm them down and indicate different moments in your child’s daily timetable.

The joy they can get from music can make them happy, and everyone else involved.

Music is an essential part of a child’s life. You want to make sure it affects them in a positive way, and they see it as something positive.

Music is a fantastic way of expression.

Kids can sometimes struggle to express their feelings and emotions through words, and music can be a great way of expression.

It can give children the opportunity to express themselves and unleash their creativity while releasing stress and tension.

Music with Mary

Here at Scallywags, children have their own “Music Play Time” with our specialist Music teacher Mary.

During these sessions, children learn to understand and enjoy music while having fun working together with their peers.

Feel free to contact us for any enquiries, or visit our blog to find out more information.

Six reasons why children need to play outside

Six reasons why children need to play outside

Outdoors activities are not as popular with children as they used to be. And lockdown may have made that even worse.

However, playing outside has a lot of benefits and the younger ones in the house should be encouraged to do so. Not only that, but it will help them to stay healthy and active later in their life.

We’ve highlighted some of the key benefits of children playing outside.

Meeting other children

While they spend a lot of time playing inside, they are not socialising with other children.

Children need to learn how to play and work in a team, with other people. This will not only teach them how to interact with other kids, but it will also widen their minds and perspective.

Staying active & healthy

Although indoor activities are a great way to keep children active, especially during the winter months, children should also be encouraged to do outdoor exercise.

Playing outside helps children develop their motor skills while performing exercises that require them to use their whole body.

The natural world offers endless opportunities for physical activity, which helps children develop strong bodies. Outdoor play generally leads children to burn more calories and contributes to their overall fitness.

Additionally, exposure to sunlight will also allow children to absorb vitamin D, which has many positive benefits.

Children become aware of nature

Playing outdoors is a brilliant way of getting out in nature and becoming aware of the environment. As well as this, children who gain knowledge and appreciation of nature are more likely to become nature aware adults.

In nature, children can play alone and connect with their surroundings, or play with other kids. They learn how to share; problem solve and how to be more independent.

Playing outside makes children happy

Outdoor light stimulates the pineal gland.

Do you know what the pineal gland is?

Well, it’s an important part of our body and it has a lot of different functions, being one of them to regulate our melatonin levels, which are responsible for maintaining a regular sleep pattern.  It also helps to regulate happy hormones like endorphins or serotonin.

But wait, there’s more.

The pineal gland is responsible for sending signals to our immune system when it detects viruses and other infections in the body.

Increases their attention span

A simple walk in nature can be beneficial for those kids who struggle with attention span, self-discipline, and stress.

Inside the house, children are exposed to a range of different stimuli that can be distracting and lead to frustration; phones, tablets, TV, internet, computers…

Children are now experiencing the use of several devices at a time, normally connected to the internet.

This means they will be exposed to a range of different stimuli that can be distracting and lead to frustration. Playing outdoors allows them to slow down and take their time. They develop curiosity and are likely to stay with a task longer.

Expanded learning space

Outdoor play gives children a great opportunity to explore new information and skills while having fun.

And it teaches them a valuable lesson. Education is not just books and an indoor classroom. Every activity is an opportunity to learn and acquire new knowledge and skills. 

Outdoor play at Scallywags

We have two outdoor areas to explore, where children can experience the different climates. All areas of the curriculum are covered outside, as it’s a great space to introduce children to the natural world.

Covered play equipment allows children to enjoy outdoor play in all weathers.

Exploring Sensory Play: Ideas And Activities

EXPLORING SENSORY PLAY: IDEAS AND ACTIVITIES

Sensory activities are a great fun and learning activity for young children, as they explore and discover more about the world through their senses. Not only that, but they are also a great calming tool for children who are anxious or nervous.

Allow and support your children to listen, look, touch, taste, smell. Don’t take these senses for granted!

What is sensory play?

Sensory play includes all those activities that stimulate the senses of touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing in younger kids.

The benefits of sensory play

Different children will explore and experience these senses in diverse ways, with more or fewer limitations and challenges. In general, these are some of the benefits of these activities:

  • Sensory play helps to build nerve connections in the brain, giving children the ability to compete with more complex learning tasks. They will also allow children to refine their foundations for different sensory information, helping their brain to learn which information is useful and which can be filtered out.
  • Sensory play materials can be used as a calming tool for an anxious or frustrated child, and some can help keep their attention and connection with you.
  • They encourage the development of motor skills, helping a child explore and discover.
  • Sensory play supports language development from experiencing with their senses which leads to opportunities to model language.
  • It supports problem-solving skills and cognitive growth.
  • They are great for both social and independent play.

The desire to engage with sensory play usually comes naturally, but it should be supported and encouraged both at home and in learning environments.

One of the simplest and more natural ways to help children discover and develop their senses is playing outside with nature, its colours, and its movement. The different textures available are great for their tactile sense and the sounds and smells are varied and educational.

Children of all ages benefit from sensory play!

We are sorry to say but messy play is important for young children, giving them endless ways to develop and learn. You can, however, restrict the mess by limiting your child’s play space.

Try setting the activity up as a sensory bin so that it is contained within a large container and place something on the floor underneath it. Another option is taking the mess outside, whenever possible. This will add more stimulation to the activity!

Here are some examples of some activities you can try with your children:

  • To touch

Fluffy slime: Even adults LOVE slime. It’s great to manipulate and touch, and so much fun to make! Slime is a truly satisfying sensory experience.


How to Make Fluffy Slime

  • To See

Sensory bottle: It is a fabulous tool to use with children experiencing big emotions. It’s also great for calming and soothing purposes, as it can help children to self-regulate.


How to Create DIY Sensory Bottles

  • To Smell

Homemade Scratch and Sniff Paint: This paint is really easy to make, and it’s safe for the little ones. The best part? It smells amazing!


Homemade Scratch and Sniff Paint

  • To Listen

Easter Egg Maracas: Fill plastic Easter eggs with varied materials and close them. Use marbles, coins, rice, beans… The objective is that the little ones identify the sound different materials make.


Kids Craft Activity –  How to Make Easter Egg Maracas

 

  • To Taste

How about making edible mud? Yes, we know how that sounds, but we promise it’s a great, fun idea. Have a look at this video and try to remember it’s all chocolate and sweets!


Edible Mud Sensory Play

These are just some examples but there are countless activities to help your children explore through Sensory Play. Explore which ones would be more suitable for your children’s preferences and needs.

And don’t forget to be creative and have fun!

Learning to read with phonics

If your child is in the first year of primary school, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the word Phonics a few times!

Phonics is an essential part of learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stage One. It provides children with the necessary skills to decode or sight real words.


What is phonics?

Phonics is a method of learning to read and write words that is taught in primary school. It helps children hear, identify, and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another.


What is a phoneme?

A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a language. Have a look at the following image with all the phonemes used when speaking in English.

Phonics involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters.

For example, the sound /k/ can be spelt as c, ck, k or ch.

Children will be taught from primary school the individual sounds of each letter of the alphabet. They will also start to put them together, to make short words such as dog, cat, zoo, etc.

They will be able to understand how to put the individual sounds of each word -phonemes- to create a fully comprehensive concept. This exercise is called blending sounds.

This means that instead of just learning the sound of a letter like it’s pronounced in the alphabet, they learn how to use it with words. For example, the letter /d/ is not ‘di’ but ‘ddd’.


What are the steps kids follow when learning phonics?

Decoding

Children start recognising the sounds in the words. The aim is for kids to see a letter and then identify and say the sound it represents out loud. Once they know this, they will be able to know the sounds of a lot of other words, which will also help them to write these letters (encoding).

  • The first step will be decoding three-letter or CVC (Consonant, Vowel, Consonant) words. Cat, Dog, Man, Car.
  • Then they will move onto decoding CCVC or CVCC words, where two consonants are placed together in the same word. Fish, Plot, Flat, Milk.
  • Children are then introduced to vowel diagraph such as /ee/ or /ai/. Hair, Bees, Paint.

Also, to consonant diagraph such as /ph/ or /ch/. Photo, Chair.

Blending

Once they can decode the individual sounds of the word, they need to be able to put them together and say the whole word.

This is a big step, so don’t worry if it takes them time to get used to it.

Encoding, learning to spell as well as read

Encoding is the process of writing down a spoken word, known also as spelling. Children in this stage start to be able to write simple words correctly.

Learning through games

Our Pre-school children are so enthusiastic about letter sounds and letter formation using Jolly Phonics. We incorporate games such as silly soup and Binky Bunny into making phonics fun.

We inform parents at the beginning of each week as to what sound we are focussing on that week so that they can continue exploring the letter sound at home.

An excellent website for online resources is this one, where you will be able to find a lot of interactive games that children can play online from home, where they can further practise their phonic reading skills.

It is important for both the child and the adult that the reading process doesn’t get rushed.

Reading at home should be an enjoyable and positive experience!

If you need any other information about reading with phonics, or if you want to know how we implement it here at Scallywags nursery, get in touch!