How to celebrate World Earth Day with kids

Our planet is such a beautiful, amazing place, but it needs our help to thrive! That’s why every year on 22nd April we celebrate World Earth Day, a day to demonstrate our support for environmental protection. Celebrating World Earth Day with children is a great opportunity to teach them about the importance of environmental conservation and how they can contribute to protecting our planet. Here are some fun and educational activities you can do with kids this World Earth Day:

Plant Trees or Flowers

Plant a tree or do some gardening with kids. Teach them about the importance of trees and plants in absorbing carbon dioxide and providing oxygen.

Go on a nature walk

Go for a nice walk in nature, you could go to your local park or nature reserve. Encourage children to observe and appreciate the beauty of nature while discussing ways that we can protect it.

Recycling Craft Projects

Time to get creative with recycled materials! Help kids make art or crafts using recycled items like paper rolls, egg cartons or plastic bottles. This activity will reinforce the importance of recycling and reducing our waste.

Earth-themed Games

Play games that teach kids about environmental conservation. For example, a scavenger hunt for items like leaves, rocks, and flowers can help them learn about biodiversity and ecosystems.

Educational Videos or Documentaries

Watch age-appropriate documentaries or videos about environmental issues with kids. Once you finish you can discuss what they learned and brainstorm ways to make a positive impact.

Earth Day Pledge

Have kids make a pledge to do something good for the environment, such as reducing water usage, picking up litter, or turning off lights when not in use. Get them to write down their pledges and display them as a reminder.

Story Time

Read books about our world and nature, wildlife, and environment. This can spark meaningful conversations about the importance of protecting the Earth and its inhabitants. Our books Zara’s Caribbean Adventure and Emmanuel’s African Adventure are great books for getting younger children ready to learn about the world around them. Click here to shop our books.

Outdoor Clean-up

Check if there are any local neighbourhood clean-up activities happening around World Earth Day. Kids will get the opportunity to pick up litter in parks, beaches, or streets. Make it fun by turning it into a friendly competition or offering rewards for the most trash collected.

Cook Earth-friendly Meals

Prepare meals together using locally sourced, organic ingredients. Talk to kids about the benefits of eating sustainably and how it helps reduce their carbon footprint.

Remember to make the activities engaging and age-appropriate. Encourage children to ask questions and share their ideas throughout the celebration, by involving them in hands-on experiences and meaningful discussions, you can instil a lifelong appreciation for the Earth and a sense of responsibility to protect it. Happy World Earth Day.

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Natalie is the co-founder and illustrator at Little Scholars Playground. She is passionate about literacy, learning, illustrating, women in STEM and the Montessori practice.

How to teach children phonics

What is phonics and why is it so important?

Phonics means using letter sounds to help you read words. It can be a bit daunting to work out how best to teach children their phonics.

Decoding the phonics buzzwords

Phonics: using individual letter sounds and groups of letters to read words.

Decoding: using phonic knowledge to sound out and read words.

Grapheme: a written letter or group of letters, like ‘s’, ‘a’, ‘she’ or ‘air’. Some graphemes are single letters like ‘b’; others are digraphs like ‘ck’.

Digraph: two letters that make one sound together, like ‘sh’, ‘ai’, ‘oo’.

Phoneme: the sound a letter or group of letters make – e.g., the word ‘sat’ has three phonemes, ‘s’, ‘a’ and ‘t’. The word ‘book’ is longer, but it also has three phonemes, ‘b’, ‘oo’ and ‘k’.

Sounding out: using your phonic knowledge to help you say each sound within a word, e.g. ‘p-a-n’ or ‘k-i-ck’.

Blending: running the sounds in the word together to read the whole word, e.g. ‘b-a-t, bat’, ‘s-o-ck, sock’.

High-frequency words: these are important and very common words which we all use a lot. However they aren’t always decodable using phonics. This includes important words like ‘where’, ‘one’, ‘the’, etc. Children should be taught to recognise these words by sight.

The different phonics phases

Phase 1 phonics starts from nursery/ preschool. Here children begin developing their listening skills, develop their memory and improve their speaking skills. It also includes understanding different sounds, rhythm and rhyme and oral blending and segmenting.

Children typically start Phase 2 phonics learning close to the start of their first year at school (reception). This is when they start to learn the letters of the alphabet. Children learn the letters’ names, and they also learn the sound for each letter of the alphabet. So for example, the letter ‘b’ is introduced with a hard ‘b’ sound as in ‘bat’, not the soft sound it has in ‘climb’. Children also start to learn a short sound for each vowel (a, e, i, o and u) – for exampe ‘bat’, ‘pet’, ‘sip’, ‘hot’ and ‘cup’.

Phase 3 phonics introduces children to the last of the letters. Including the less common letters like ‘x’ and ‘j’ – and also some digraphs – letter pairs that make one sound together, like ‘sh’, ‘th’, ‘ai’, ‘ee’, ‘igh’ ‘oa’ and ‘oo’. Phase 2 takes around 12 weeks (but remember every child is different and will go at their own pace) to work through Phase 3.

In Phase 4 (commonly in the first year of school) children learn about words where there are two or more consonants together – like ‘stop’, ‘dust’, ‘stamp’, ‘splash’, etc. Now is the time to really encourage children to read things outside, such as road signs and street names or get their imagination going by getting them to write a short story based on a picture or drawing.

Phase 5 of phonics usually takes all of year one. This is because it includes a large number of different sounds and letter patterns. There is a lot for children to learn at this stage before children take the phonics screening test (UK) – but with your patience and support, they can do this! Here children begin to learn their graphemes and alternative ways to pronounce them, such as the difference between the OW in BOW and COW. By the end of phase 5 and year one, most children know enough phonics to be able to read the most common words in English.

Phase 6 begins in Year Two. Children begin using all of the phonics knowledge that they have now gained, to now help them become fluent readers and accurate spellers. By Phase 6, children will be able to read. They will also learn prefixes, suffixes, tenses, punctuation (where to put an apostrophe in words like I’m), how to use a dictionary, spelling rules and how to proof-read their own work.

Our new Phonics print is focused on the first sounds children will learn in phases 2 and 3. It acts as a reminder and a fun way to learn phonics as they progress through their Phonics journey. Click here to see our new Personalised Phonics Print.

Make learning phonics fun

The goal of phonics is to get children reading as quickly and easily as possible. So they can go onto reading lots of interesting books! Don’t make learning phonics become a boring chore, make it fun. So don’t forget:

Aim to stop before your child gets bored. So keep phonics sessions focused and short. Keep sessions no longer than ten minutes.

Make learning phonics fun! There are lots of phonics games that you can play. Check out some YouTube videos.

Don’t practice phonics when your child is tired. Find a comfy quiet place where they won’t be distracted by things like screens or other noise.

Don’t stop reading to your child when they become an independent reader. Keep on reading stories. Reading is also a good opportunity to spend some quality time together.

How to teach tricky words

Encourage children to sound out the parts of the word they know and then give them some support with sounds that they don’t know.

Teach children more letter-sound correspondences. For example, the letter ‘a’ is pronounced differently in ‘pan’ and ‘was.’ If children recognise both letter-send correspondences, then it makes it easier for them to read new words.

Below is a list of tricky words. You can make learning these words fun by writing them out using colourful pens, write them in sand or use play dough. Practice and repetition are important when teaching tricky words in phonics, so pick activities your child can repeat and remember.

See the most common tricky words below:

It’s worth learning how to pronounce the letters in the way children are taught them at their school. Your child’s teacher will be able to help you with this, or there are lots of guides online. It’s important to remember that not all children learn at the same pace. We have created a personalised phonics art print to help you teach your child phonics (it’s also great for classrooms too!). Shop our new Personalised Phonics Print here.

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Natalie is the co-founder and illustrator at Little Scholars Playground. She is passionate about literacy, learning, illustrating, women in STEM and the Montessori practice.

Benefits of science activities for kids

Children always have fun taking part in science experiments. They help to stimulate curious minds and offer a great introduction for young children to the wonders of the world around them. The early years is an important time to encourage curiosity and exploration and science experiments can help to do that.

Engaging children in science activities offers a plethora of benefits. Here are some of the fabulous benefits of science experiments in the early years.

Curiosity and exploration

Science activities helps to nurture children’s natural curiosity about the world around them. Taking part in science activities and experiments encourage children to ask questions, explore, investigate and helps to foster a lifelong love for learning.

Critical thinking and problem solving

Through hands-on challenges and experiments, children learn to think critically and solve problems creatively. Science activities and experiments helps young children to develop analytical skills by observing, hypothesising, experimenting and coming up with a conclusion.

Develops STEM skills and prepares children for future careers

Science activities integrate concepts from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). They help children develop foundational skills in these areas, preparing them for future academic and career pursuits. Engaging in science activities lays the groundwork for future career paths in STEM fields. It exposes children to various scientific concepts and disciplines, helping them explore their interests and passions from an early age.

Science for kids

Creativity and innovation

Science activities often involve designing and building, which helps to encourage creativity and innovation. Children learn to get creative and think outside of the box, experiment with different ideas and find unique solutions to the problem.

Teamwork and collaboration

Many science activities are group-oriented. This helps to promote teamwork and collaboration. Children learn to communicate effectively, share ideas, and work together towards common goals.

Resilience and perseverance

Science experiments don’t always go as planned, teaching children the importance of resilience and perseverance. They learn to embrace failure as a natural part of the learning process and to persist in the face of challenges.

Environmental awareness

Many science activities focus on topics such as sustainability, conservation, and environmental science, fostering an appreciation for the natural world.

Science for kids. Environmental awareness for kids

Confidence building

Successfully completing science activities boosts children’s confidence and self-esteem. They feel a sense of accomplishment and empowerment, motivating them to take on new challenges.

STEM activity cards for children. Science for kids

Start your child’s science journey with our STEM activity cards or our ABC activity flashcards. Both include simple science activities and experiments using items from around the home or from the supermarket. Get your little scientist started today and shop our STEM activity cards.

Our top tips to keep kids entertained on a long flight

With summer holiday planning in full swing for many, parents often worry about their children’s behaviour on the flight to sunnier climates and how to keep them entertained. Keeping children entertained on a flight can be very challenging. We recently went to Orlando, Florida a long flight from the UK. So we thought we’d share the things we did to plan, prepare and entertain our daughter on the long flight.

Pack a bag full of entertaining essentials

    Include things such as; colouring books, crayons, activity books, small toys and your child’s favourite stuffed animals. Surprise them, pack a few small surprise toys or activities that you can pull out during the flight to keep things exciting.

    Pack PLENTY of snacks

    Let’s face it, aeroplane food isn’t the most tasty food. So pack plenty of snacks, just in case your child doesn’t like the food provided by your airline. Also, you know once a child gets bored, they want snacks, so be prepared! Pack a variety of snacks that your child enjoys. Snack time can be a good way to break up the trip and keep them occupied.

    Download some movies or your child’s favourite show/ cartoon

    Load up your tablet or iPad with their favourite movies, TV shows, or educational videos. Don’t forget to pack their headphones so they can watch without disturbing fellow passengers.

    Pack some books

    Pack some of your child’s favourite books. Interactive books with flaps or textures can be particularly engaging. Our lift-the-flap board books are fun, interactive and they would be great at keeping younger children entertained on the flight, as well as create some excitement about their travels. See our two books Zara’s Caribbean Adventure and Emmanuel’s African Adventure, both lift-the-flap board books. We also offer FREE shipping on all books only. Enter code FREEDEV at the checkout.

    Pack some games

    Pack some small games like travel-sized board games, card games, or handheld electronic games. It’s a good idea to download some interactive children’s apps, or you can even play simple games like “I Spy”.

    Walk around

    Don’t forget to take short walks up and down the aisle to stretch their legs and burn off some energy.

    Comfort items

      Don’t forget to bring any comfort items that your child relies on to sooth them, such as their favourite blanket or stuffed animal.

      Try to be be patient and flexible during the flight, as traveling with children can most definitely be unpredictable. You’ve got this!

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      Natalie is the co-founder and illustrator at Little Scholars Playground. She is passionate about literacy, learning, illustrating, women in STEM and the Montessori practice.

      Why is toy rotation beneficial for children? 

      With the variety of toys and gadgets children have access to today. It’s so easy for children to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options to entertain and play with at home. This is where toy rotation comes into play (no pun intended) – a great way to bring a breath of fresh air to your child’s playtime. In this blog post, we’ll explore why toy rotation is great for children’s development, how it fosters creativity, keeps children engaged and helps to create a love for learning.

      Reduce overstimulation

      Too many toys in a child’s play area can lead to overwhelm and overstimulation. When a child is overstimulated, it can make it challenging for them to focus and engage deeply with any single toy. Rotating toys allows your child to concentrate on specific toys without feeling overwhelmed. By reducing overstimulation through toy rotation, this can help to improve concentration and creates a calmer play experience.

      Promotes learning development

      By introducing different types of toys through rotation, you provide your child with a diverse range of learning experiences. For example, a week of building blocks may enhance spatial skills, while a week with art supplies could encourage creativity and fine motor development. Toy rotation becomes a simple effective way to adapt to your child’s evolving interests and developmental needs.

      Imagination and creativity

      Toy rotation helps to keep things fresh and exciting. By periodically swapping out toys, you encourage your child to rediscover forgotten favourites and it helps your child to approach play with renewed enthusiasm. This regular rotation stimulates their creativity, prompting them to find new ways to play with familiar toys and fosters an imaginative mindset.

      Encourages appreciation

      When children have access to a limited number of toys at a time, they are more likely to appreciate and value their toys. This not only teaches them the importance of taking care of their belongings, but it also instils a sense of gratitude for the variety of toys they have.

      Minimise clutter

      Why does it feel like our children’s play area is always so busy?! Toy rotation will help you to manage clutter. By rotating toys, you can create designated areas for specific types of play, making clean-up easier for both you and your child. This organised approach fosters a sense of responsibility in children as they learn to return toys to their designated spaces.

      How to approach toy rotation

      Toy rotation isn’t just about moving toys around; it’s a strategy that opens doors to a world of creative possibilities for your child. There are no rules when it comes to toy rotation, so you can create a system that works for you. First you can gather all your toddler’s toys, then begin to de-clutter them by getting rid of any broken toys or toys that your child has outgrown. Then divide the toys into categories and rotate them as often as you feel necessary (weekly is a good starting point).

      Now time to watch as your child’s playtime becomes a journey of discovery and joy! Comment below and let us know if you rotate your child’s toys. How often do you rotate your child’s toys and do you see the benefits?

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      Natalie is the co-founder and illustrator at Little Scholars Playground. She is passionate about literacy, learning, illustrating, women in STEM and the Montessori practice.

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