With many families staying at home as much as possible and summer holidays here, entertaining our children has become an everyday mission. That’s why we’ve put together a list of educational and scientific activities to do with your little ones. This summer may look a little different, but it can still be as fun and memorable as ever!
This new BBC resource, Tiny Happy People, is aimed at developing children’s communication and language skills by encouraging parents and carers to talk to little ones from as early an age as possible. The platform has a range of free films, articles, quizzes and parentings tips, especially designed with experts to help support children’s language right from pregnancy. Language lets children express themselves and tell others how they feel. As a result, these communication skills make them feel more confident and happy. Tiny Happy People can help in this development and show you, through quick and inspiring ideas and activities, why and how you can bond with your child. We know the amount of information can be overwhelming so a good place to get started is by taking a look at how your child develops their communication skills, finding out how easy it is to help your child’s development and discovering everyday activities to support their language and learning.
Podcasts are a great way to help cut-down children’s screen time and get them interested in something new. They cover a huge range of topics, giving children plenty of opportunities to learn more about what they enjoy. Listening to audio content is also fantastic to stimulate their senses and discover a new way of entertainment and learning (without even realising it!). It is very likely that this new activity will get them talking to you and their friends about what they learn as a new world of topics and interesting facts opens up to them. Podcasts are also a good downtime activity to avoid screens and stimulating lights before naptime or bedtime. You can find them on podcasts Apps or through music platforms such as Spotify.
It’s a big interesting world out there. This podcast answers questions about nature, science, words… from children sent by their parents. As this podcast covers a wide range of topics, we recommend that you pre-select topics depending on your children’s age and interests.
This Australian podcast travels in a Magic Bus to discover animals around the world. Each episode is packed with amazing animal stories such as how Tibetan mice saved a kingdom and how a German greyhound gave us the saying ‘dogs are man’s best friend’.
The perfect bedtime podcast with plenty of stories lasting less than 20 minutes. The ideal timeframe to keep toddlers engaged.
A fantastic way to engage toddlers and very young children through stories. Each one is performed with attention and sense of humour making it a great activity to enjoy together.
There’s a reason why we learn nursery rhymes as young children. They help us develop an ear for our language meaning that both rhyme and rhythm help little ones hear the sounds and syllables in words. This understanding of sounds and syllables will be very helpful when the time to learn to read comes. Also, counting songs are a fun way to learn numbers. A great and entertaining way to support early years objectives from home! You can find a great selection of Nursery rhymes and songs, some sung by Cat Sandion and Andy Day of CBeebies, on BBC Teach.
While young children should only spend a limited time on a screen, technology can also be a really valuable tool to support children’s development. Let’s be honest, we all use screens to help in our day, get a bit of free time (and calm) or to avoid a tantrum. With this in mind, we researched what programmes are on offer to help you to ensure that your little one’s’ use of screens helps their development. In addition to trying to limit the amount of screen time young children have, it is important to make sure the content is aimed directly at their age group. We have selected programmes designed for children aged 0-5 and created with early years experts. The patterns and repetition of the programmes allow little ones to learn, mimic the actions and get an opportunity to respond at a pace and style that suits them.
CBeebies’ series The Baby Club is the first show of the channel aimed at both parents/carers and babies under 14 months old. The TV series is a recreation of a real-life baby club run by hosts Giovanna Fletcher and Nigel Clarke where you are encouraged to follow along songs, games and storytimes from the comfort of your home. Why do we love it? The Baby Club actively requires adults to participate making it more like reading a story together than watching television.
Starting school is such an important step in a child’s life. The documentary series follows the lives of pre-school and reception age children starting ‘ Big School’ in the UK. From finding out where to hang their coats up, to learning, playing and making new friends; every step of this very exciting journey is captured! Children already at school will relate to the program while younger ones (and their parents!) will feel reassured to see what it’s really like and that there’s a lot of fun involved.
CBeebies’ first ever philosophy show for little ones takes them on a journey to understand people and emotions. Each episode begins with Hugo, the central character, asking a ‘big’ question such as ‘Why do people feel sad?’, ‘What is the difference between thinking and dreaming?’ or ‘Can it ever be good to be angry?’. By following Hugo, children develop their understanding on topics that are meaningful to them such as friends, imagination, learning and fairness.
The Alphablocks are 26 living letters who discover that when they hold hands and make a word it comes to life. The show is a great way to teach children how to read, write and spell. All episodes are based on best-practice phonics. New letters, sounds and combinations are introduced in a smartly designed sequence to help littles ones become more confident readers. It is an easy and fun way to learn phonics.
This classic TV programme is designed to introduce children to Makaton, a language using symbols, signs and speech to enable people to communicate. Communication is one of the most important skills we need in life and Makaton supports the development of essential components of communication such as attention, comprehension, memory and listening. The show is specifically aimed at children with learning and communication difficulties however it can be enjoyed by everyone! The format is simple, fun and informative and covers topics from pets and toys, to school and family.
The StoryBots are little robots living inside your computer and seeking out information. They are sent to the outside world to answer questions posed by children such as ‘Why do people look different? and ‘Why can’t I eat dessert all the time?’. The StoryBots slowly piece together their answers with the help of animated characters and celebrities before reporting back. Why do we love it? The animation, humour and songwriting are very creative and will definitely catch the kids’ full attention.
This educational show for preschoolers stars four adorable, diaper-wearing animals looking to learn from the ‘big kids’ watching. During the episodes they turn to the audience watching from home for answers to their questions. It gives children a role model status, encouraging them to learn by ‘teaching’ the characters of the series. The purpose of the show is to build vocabulary while also approaching positive themes around emotional awareness, friendship and getting along with others.
With schools being closed for a long time and parents and carers across the country having to tackle educating children at home for months, we have all faced the daunting reality of homeschooling! This summer will be a good time to get back to it at your own rhythm and with the right preparation. However, please do not pressure yourself into making a very difficult and busy schedule. Managing to complete one task a day is already a big win, so be kind to yourself! The Oxford Owl for home is packed with advice, tips and activities to help you support your children’s education. They have tips and free resources to help children from 3 years old with reading, phonics and maths.
For older children, who are more into sciences and asking questions such as ‘why do I have hiccups?’ or ‘who invented Pizza?’, Mystery Science is the perfect free online tool for you! They have pooled their most popular science lessons and are offering them for anyone to use for free. This US based platform offers lessons from mini (5 min) to full lessons including an activity (45 min). All the activities are designed to use supplies that you are very likely to already have at home.