It dawned on me a few weeks ago that the long summer holidays were fast approaching, and other than looking at what was being discussed on my local facebook group or scrolling through a very wide range on Timeout, I was initially stumped. And then I remembered London's Little Thinkers.
Rebecca, the founder, and I worked together for many years at a London primary school and I was always so inspired by her teaching and creativity, and loved the enthusiasm and commitment she has.
I reached out to Rebecca and asked her if she would be interested in writing a blog piece on planning activities for the Summer holidays and I know I am not alone in feeling the overwhelm. Applicable to everyone, it is so refreshing to read her advice, and there is also some great ideas for those living closer to London too. And if you aren't already a subscriber to her newsletter, I highly recommend it as it is jam packed with interesting events and experiences for little ones.
The words below are her own.
Rebecca, the founder of London’s Little Thinkers, is a qualified Primary School Teacher and now the Headmistress of a nursery school in London. She set up LLT in 2016 to help parents and carers access ideas for their Little Thinkers with ease, all in one place.
Being a teacher means that every idea shared is both engaging, well considered and most importantly fun! Their mission is to create a trusted online community which inspires Little Thinkers. London’s Little Thinkers aims to promote an engaging childhood for the little people in your lives. They create this community through sharing educational and engaging ideas for you to do with your Little Thinker both inside and outside of your home.
How to plan your Summer Holidays…
The Summer Holidays are creeping up on us and some of you may be wondering how you will fill the endless Summer days with entertainment for your Little Thinkers. Well that is where we are here to help you. We promise to share ideas for you almost every day to ensure that your Little Thinker enjoys a varied and engaging break. From museums and workshops to playgrounds, adventures and educational resources, we will share them all with you! Follow us on social media and sign up to our newsletter so you don’t miss out on some holiday gems!
But for now we want to share our top 4 areas to work on with your Little Thinkers throughout their holiday:
Play & Imagination
Here at London’s Little Thinkers, we believe play to be the most crucial part of child development. In the words of Fred Rogers “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But, for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” I couldn’t agree with this more. Working as a teacher/headmistress has meant that I observe childhood all day and the time where children are the most focused is when they are immersed in the world of their play. They are problem solving, they are communicating, they are imagining and they are learning and it really is a joy to observe. It is our role to encourage children to break sedentary activity and promote the world of play.
We often feel that children need to fill their free time with set activities and structured learning however it is often the simplest forms that create the most powerful learning opportunities and happiness. Last week I observed my nieces (both nearly 2 years old) playing; they spent hours in the wood finding bugs, looking at & listening to birds, picking flowers, playing hide and seek and running in the grass. They were immersed in a world of simplistic yet powerful learning and it was all for free.
We often underestimate how simplicity can create the most engaging entertainment and effective learning.
I also recently observed the children in our nursery playing with a cardboard box. Some may say ‘a cardboard box? Is she mad?’ but it again leads to my belief that sometimes the simplest things can create the best imaginations. The interactions and communication that it created was magical to watch; they created their own theatre production using the box as the stage and then when their imagination was satisfied with this idea, the box was then transformed into a spaceship that took them to space to eat ice cream on the moon! A true representation of childhood at its best.
Two of favourite resources to support this learning:
- Play Hooray – Play Prompt Cards https://playhooray.co.uk/collections/all
- Imagistones – A perfect way to ignite storytelling https://salesimagistones.wixsite.com/imagistones
Outdoors & Exercise:
Here in the UK, we often blame the weather for not being able to spend time outside with children but through my job I witness, first-hand, children’s reaction to our view of ‘bad weather’. They do not mind it, in fact they often love it! It is therefore up to us to encourage them to embrace every season. After all, jumping in puddles is every child’s dream!
Most often or not exercise is incorporated into play for children and it is our role as adults to ensure that the Little Thinkers in our care experience enough physical activity throughout the day. The quote “adults call it ‘exercise or working out’ but children call it play” has always resonated with me. Children are naturally drawn to physical activity, so it leaves it up to us to continue to encourage the time and passion for it. Encouraging play/exercise means that children and young people reduce the time spent sitting for extended periods of time which has endless health benefits. The NHS states that children aged 5-18 should be active for least 60 minutes a day. This is linked to better general health, stronger bones and muscles and higher levels of self-esteem.
So during the holidays, get your Little Thinker out every day to exercise and explore.
3 of our favourite London Playgrounds:
- The Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens is a child’s wonderland with a giant wooden pirate ship as the centerpiece. https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/kensington-gardens/things-to-see-and-do/diana-memorial-playground
- The playground at the Discover Story Centre in Stratford encourages Little Thinker’s physical development and imagination through a range of engaging resources. http://www.discover.org.uk/day-pass/
- The Children’s Garden at Kew Gardens (designed for 2-12 year olds) is a fun, interactive space for children to climb, jump, run and explore. https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens/whats-in-the-gardens/the-childrens-garden
Communication and Language:
We recently read this powerful statement that really resonated with us:
“If you read just 1 book a day to your child they will have read 1825 books by their 5th birthday”
Reading with or to your child every day will enhance their learning and development in every way. It will boost your child’s vocabulary, it will develop their imagination, it will increase their confidence with comprehension/story writing and much more. During the holidays, continue to read with your Little Thinker and make it part of your daily routine. Vary the books (non fiction and fiction) and encourage your child to read books that are of interest to them. Take your child to your local library so they get to experience the process of choosing a book and signing it out. Ask your child age appropriate questions about the book e.g. what did you enjoy/not enjoy about the book? Who were your favourite characters? Who was the illustrator and what were the pictures like? Who was the author? What do you think will happen next? Can you spot the X?
It is never to early to start reading to your Little Thinker. Even reading to a baby has incredible benefits which will benefit the forever more. Inspiring a love of books and reading is one of the greatest gifts that you can give your Little Thinker and will prepare your child for a lifetime of learning.
Every Sunday we host an online #LLTBookClub to inspire you and your Little Thinker.
Two of our favourite resources to encourage communication and language:
- Nana’s Manners 'Conversation’ or ‘Would you Rather’ cards: https://www.nanasmanners.com/collections/all
- Wordsmith Resources encourage children to learn new words in a fun and interactive way with hilariously illustrated products: https://www.mrswordsmith.com/products
The World Around Them:
Has your child got a holiday project? If not, why not set a fun project of interest for you and your Little Thinker to do together. Make this fun, interactive and engaging! Could it be that your Little Thinker loves football? So you can do a project all about football – visit a football pitch, go and play football at a London park, make your own homemade football, research football around the world and go and watch a football match? Take photos and write about each adventure along the way. Or Maybe your child loves flowers so you could visit Kew Gardens, make a floral head crown together, go to a florist and create a bouquet and plant your own favourite flowers. The opportunities are endless but the most important thing is to make this project fun and allow your child to lead it, with inspiration from you along the way! You could buy your child a disposable camera to capture these moments and then take them to get these photos printed (or of course use your iphone camera!).
Children’s desire to help the community can be quite inspirational so why not encourage your Little Thinker to host a bake sale or a car boot sale to raise money for a charity of their choice. This will give them a greater understanding of the world around them and what they can do to help!
Remember not to underestimate your local area and how your Little Thinker can learn from it. Children have an admirable ability to learn from and enjoy the simple things in life.