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Snow Painting In Early Years

Snow Painting In Early Years

Snow Painting In The Early Years - This winter early years activity is the last of the current 6-part series of early years music articles featuring a new activity each month. It was taken from an article on arts activities trialled for 1- and 2-year-old early years children, with added musical suggestions (recordings on YouTube).  

A Finnish study, (Lehikoinen, 2023) considered 6 different ways to explore early years creative activity for 1 and 2-year-olds. The focus was on successful engagement as this age is known to be tricky, with limited ideas for under 3s in the arts. To achieve this, 6 early years activities were devised, specifically for this age group: 

  • Dance-painting – paint feet, move to song (part 1, July 2023) 
  • Magic dough – create playdough objects from songs (part 2, August 2023) 
  • Digital drawing – taking pictures or creating pictures using technology (part 3, September 2023) 
  • Musical drawing – drawing or painting while listening to music (part 4, October 2023) 
  • Balloon painting – painting using balloons, and paint-filled balloons (part 5, November 2023) 
  • Snow painting – painting using snow! (part 6, December 2023) 

This month, we are focusing on snow painting

Snow painting is literally that – painting on snow! It looks great and is easy to do – and if it’s too cold to stay outside for too long, bring it in on trays or tubs, and keep snow painting going! 

For this early years snow painting idea, it is useful to use: 

  • liquid watercolours in pots/tubs – diluted in cold water (so that the ice doesn’t melt) 
  • small containers/trays (bring snow inside if children get cold) 
  • different size paintbrushes 
  • pipettes/droppers 

Make sure the colours are bright enough, and be aware that colours will run into each other as the snow melts. Then drip colour or paint it onto the snow and watch a picture appear! Bonus tip: make snow creatures to add to your snow picture! It is this simple and needs no further explanation, so as a painting activity for children, it is perfect for this age group! 

Weather can be so magical, and the songs this month celebrate it. This is also a great creative way to develop awareness of how the weather changes through the seasons. 

4 Songs for Your Snow Painting Adventure

Frosty Weather 

Frosty weather 

Snowy weather 

When the wind blows we 

All stick together 

This song can be used as a circle dance or a free movement song, depending on the confidence of the children in the group. 1) As a circle song, children hold hands, walking around in a circle as they sing the first three lines, “Frosty weather, snowy weather when the wind blows, we ...” As they start the next line, children run to the middle of the circle to “stick together”. 2) As a free dance, use words to create the imagery of soft, gentle leaves, blowing where the wind takes them, as children move freely to the first three lines of the song. In both situations, the last line could become chaotic, so it will help to emphasise beforehand that leaves blow together gently, they don’t bump and bash each other, but gently touch and move away. 

Rain Rain 

Rain, rain go away 

Come again another day 

Rain, rain go away 

All the children want to play 

This is a lovely song for a few reasons. Songs that involve chanting to rhythm are wonderful ways to get new or unfamiliar groups working and singing together. This song only uses two notes, so it is a great way to get children to hear the difference between high and low notes – this is a lovely way to develop their ability to sing in tune. Finally, once children can hear and copy the high and low notes accurately, they will be able to play the tune on simple tuned percussion instruments – xylophones or glockenspiels, chime bars, and even ukuleles (the two middle strings). 

Twinkle Twinkle  

Twinkle twinkle 

Christmas Star 

How I wonder 

What you are 

Up above the 

World so high 

Like a diamond 

In the sky 

Twinkle twinkle 

Christmas Star 

How I wonder 

What you are 

Singing along to this Christmas variation of "Twinkle Twinkle" is a magical way to get children exploring the paint and ice/snow while keeping them focussed on different ways to think of stars: multiple pinpricks in the sky, bright guiding lights, ornate and fancy shapes, or a burning streak of light shooting across the sky! Creating a few different examples for children to imitate often leads to some children creating their fanciful ideas of stars, while it gives other children a starting point to copy and begin to develop their imagination. 

Snow is Falling 

Snow is falling 

All around me 

Children playing 

Having fun 

It’s the season 

Of love and understanding 

Merry Christmas 

Everyone! 

The first verse of this popular Christmas song is perfect for this time of year, celebrating snowfall! Dance around and sing if you are lucky enough to be together in snowfall or use indoor ways to explore playing in the snow. If you are “being” snowflakes, it is helpful to remind children that snowflakes never crash into each other, never knock each other, but gently blow up into each other and away. Play scarves are fantastic reusable items that can gently float if you're indoors. Alternatively, a box of white tissues or sheets of kitchen roll could be used, giving children the opportunity to develop their hand-eye coordination as well as fine motor control. This is as they practise keeping tissues uncreased and level so that they can gently float to the floor. Clean-up tip: once the floor is covered with white tissue, announce a “snowball fight”, gathering up tissue to throw, first gently at each other – and then in the bin! 

Snow is such a magical experience for children, turning the world into a completely different environment. Not only the appearance but the sounds and the smells, change everything, making the whole world different when it snows. Enjoy snow painting and musical exploration! 

About the author:

Frances Turnbull, a musician, researcher, and accomplished author, boasts a skill set that encompasses both music education techniques and a Master's degree in Education from the University of Cambridge. Frances' literary contributions shine a spotlight of music, dance, and movement within early years education.

About the author:

Frances Turnbull, a musician, researcher, and accomplished author, boasts a skill set that encompasses both music education techniques and a Master's degree in Education from the University of Cambridge. Frances' literary contributions shine a spotlight of music, dance, and movement within early years education.

About the author:

Frances Turnbull, a musician, researcher, and accomplished author, boasts a skill set that encompasses both music education techniques and a Master's degree in Education from the University of Cambridge. Frances' literary contributions shine a spotlight of music, dance, and movement within early years education.

Gift Ideas: Easy to Make and Buy

Gift Ideas: Easy to Make and Buy

Affordable and Thoughtful Gift Ideas - As the holiday season approaches, our focus naturally shifts towards sharing heartfelt gifts with our loved ones. Considering the persistent cost-of-living challenges, we've curated a selection of simple yet delightful affordable and thoughtful gift ideas for young children. Explore a handful of our favourite gift ideas from the wealth of inspiration available online. 

Gift Ideas

Christmas Wreaths

We all know the traditional Christmas wreath made of pine leaves, holly, and ivy, but how about extending your creativity this year and making your wreaths and decorations from less traditional materials? Here are some ideas for you: 

  • Cookie cutters 
  • Paper flowers 
  • Plaited ribbons 
  • Pom-poms 
  • Decorated paper plates  
  • Pieces of scrap material 
  • Twigs, sticks and other objects from nature 
  • Painted kitchen roll inserts 

Festive Mobiles 

When looking for gift ideas hanging decorations are fun and they also make great presents, especially if they are personalised and handmade. You can make the bases out of many different items such as: 

  • Garden sticks and twigs – you can make them into geometric shapes such as triangles, Christmas trees and stars, or embrace their natural shapes and make them more organic and rustic 
  • Coat hangers – paint them or wrap them in wool, ribbon or coloured paper, and hang them at different levels to create more interest 
  • Old cutlery and cooking implements – again, you can leave them natural or paint them in different colours and patterns 
  • Print some reindeer and sleigh shapes, stick them to card and cut them out to make your very own Santa sleigh 

When it comes to the items to hang on the mobile, personalise them and write people’s names, use photographs, or create some avatars on a computer and print them out. You can make a mobile from virtually anything, so think about who you are making it for and try to use items that have a special meaning to them, for example, golf tees, differently shaped cooking cutters or old CDs. 

Scented Sensations 

Everyone likes to smell nice, and homemade cosmetics and home scents make great affordable and thoughtful gift. You can use essential oils and create your own reed diffusers or allow them to soak into some material strips or thick card to make a scented hanging decoration.  

Candle kits are available to make some colourful candles and you can use old teacups and jars to create some useful homemade presents. Remember to add a warning to never leave a candle unattended.  

Make your own potpourri by collecting some twigs, leaves and pinecones. Dry them by putting them in a warm place for a few days then dip them in essential oils. Decorate containers such as jam jars or takeaway trays to put your potpourri in. You can buy Christmas stickers to give them a professional and festive look.  

Edible Treat Gift Ideas

Whether you could be a contestant on Bake Off or are an absolute beginner, there is always a recipe you can use to create an easy-to-make, tasty treat. Your little ones will also love helping in the kitchen so make sure you involve them in any baking you do.  

Simple things to start with include: 

  • Shortbread 
  • Chocolate chip cookies 
  • Cinnamon swirls 
  • Toffee apples 
  • Peppermint squares 
  • Fairy cakes – you can decorate them with festive characters or make them into Christmas trees, reindeer or Santas 

If you are more experienced, you can tackle more difficult items such as a Christmas log roll, layer cakes or even make a whole edible street scene complete with battery-operated fairy lights or tea lights.  

Other fun, on-trend things to create this year are soup or cake mixes in a jar in colourful layers. The trick here is to gently place each layer separately in the jar to create an attractive pattern. If you can’t get everything into the jar (eggs can be very tricky), write out the instructions telling the recipient that they need to add eggs.  

You can always group homemade gifts into a small basket or decorated box to create an attractive hamper.  

Decorate a Christmas Stocking or Tote Bag 

We all love to hang a Christmas stocking up on Christmas Eve so it will be a lovely treat to receive a homemade stocking or personalised tote bag which could be empty to receive gifts or filled already with some of the other presents we’ve listed.  

Making a Christmas stocking or tote bag is an easy project and requires only basic sewing skills. For younger children, you can use larger needles and wool with felt so that they can sew the seams together themselves. If you use coloured wool in a contrasting colour to the felt, the stitches become decorative too. You can stick or sew items onto the stocking/bag such as pom-poms, or other scraps of material to create a picture, or sew/stick a square on to create a pocket and put a picture of the recipient into the pocket. You can also use fabric paints to decorate the item and really get into the spirit of giving. There are also iron-on fabrics which you can use but obviously, get an adult to do the ironing part. Think about decorating cushions, aprons, and tea towels too.  

Homemade Toiletrie Gift Ideas

Making your own cosmetics and toiletries is not only fun but it can be one of them affordable and thoughtful gift ideas as well. There are a lot of sites on the internet which show you how to make a variety of items which are sure to be a hit. Things that are easy to make include: 

  • Shampoo 
  • Face masks 
  • Facial scrubs 
  • Bath salts 
  • Bath bombs 
  • Spot/blemish creams 
  • Moisturisers 
  • Toothpaste 

You can save small jars to use as containers. Remember that most homemade cosmetics will include natural ingredients but will need to be used quickly as they will not have preservatives in them like commercial alternatives.  

Whatever gift ideas you choose to make this year, we love hearing about your successes, so let us know by sending your stories.

Did you find this blog on gift ideas useful? Take a look at some of our other holiday blogs here:

Creative Balloon Painting In The Early Years – “99 Red Balloons”

Creative Balloon Painting In The Early Years – “99 Red Balloons”

Balloon Painting and Art

This current 6-part series of early years music articles features a new activity each month from a number of arts activities trialled for 1 and 2-year-old children, along with musical suggestions, with recordings on YouTube.  Read on to explore the joy of balloon painting in early childhood. Introduce children to creative STEM activities like balloon painting and watch them thrive!

A Finnish study, (Lehikoinen, 2023) was asked to find new ways to engage 1 - and 2-year-olds creatively. This age group is known to work independently, playing alongside each other rather than with each other, so it can be tricky to get them to participate in the same activity together. The 6 activities devised for this age group included the following (from previous weeks): 

  • Dance-painting – paint feet, move to song 
  • Magic dough – create playdough objects from songs
  • Digital drawing – taking pictures or creating pictures using technology
  • Musical drawing – drawing or painting while listening to music
  • Balloon painting – painting using balloons, and paint-filled balloons 
  • Snow-painting 

This month, we are focusing on early years painting ideas using music and balloons. 

Balloons have long been associated with parties and celebrations. They capture the attention of children like very few other toys and games and can be almost guaranteed to make any event successful. Very rarely do they fail – only with negative experiences (giving children a fright when popped), but this can be managed through creating positive experiences and associations. 

Using balloons in early years activities at this age is an inspired idea. It allows children to work autonomously by exploring their own physical skills and abilities; work alongside each other by interacting constructively and putting individual pieces of work together collectively; and even start to work with each other, by beginning to plan where they will make their marks, and how they will build on others’ contributions. 

What are the methods of Balloon Painting?

We look at four different ways of exploring creativity with balloons and music – as well as paint and fabric – that are accessible and most of all, meaningful for 1- to 2-year-olds: 

  • Painting using balloons (balloon painting)
  • Popping paint-filled balloons 
  • Rolling paint-filled balloons (on fabric) 
  • Throwing paint-filled balloons 

(Easy-burst water balloons are recommended, as is water-based paint and old sheets/t-shirts – for painting and protection!) 

Way Up In The Sky 

Way up in the sky
Where the big birdies fly
While down in the nest
The little birds rest
Shh! Shh!
They’re sleeping, they’re sleeping
The bright sun comes up
The moon goes away
Good morning! Good morning!
The little birds say 

This traditional rhyme captures the extremes that can be used in language. Up and down, sky and nest, big and little, sun and moon … all create an expressive picture that can be demonstrated by using balloons as paint brushes – dabbing them in paint and creating pictures whilst listening to music. Get creative by using extremes in paint: deliberate dabs or spontaneous drops, paint with them blown up (a little!) and tied or paint with them floppy and loose. Paint by dipping the balloon in one colour, or paint by dipping the balloon in many colours. 

Star Light 

Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
Wish I may, wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight 

This lovely wishing song is often best remembered from when Geppetto said these words to turn Pinocchio into a real boy. Making wishes can sometimes involve an action, like throwing a coin into water, or breaking a wishbone. With all the stories about magic and wands, you could use skewers as “wands”, and have children paint them and /or cover them in glitter. Carefully syringe paint into small balloons, fill them slightly with air (using a balloon pump), and tie them, placing them on white sheets or paper. Children can sing the song and make their wish, and then burst the balloons with their wands, leaving colourful displays of their work! 

Rock-a-bye Baby 

With no clear origin, this traditional lullaby is usually attributed to cultural practices of rocking babies to sleep in trees to avoid danger. Rocking motion has been shown to have a calming effect on the body, promoting relaxation and sleep, most likely based on subconscious memories of being rocked in the womb before birth. This rocking motion could be used in small balloons covered or filled with paint, and being rolled on a children’s parachute or even stretchy fabric, leaving creative lines and splotches showing where the balloon has rolled and exploded! (We particularly love the last verse in this version!) 

Rock a bye baby on the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all 

Rock a bye baby up in the sky
On a soft cloud, ‘tis easy to fly
When the cloud bursts, the raindrops will fall
And baby comes down to mummy once more 

Rock a bye baby on the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And mummy will catch you, cradle and all 

99 Red Balloons 

This song was inspired by the sight of balloons being released in the sky! It tells the story of a potential prank: 99 balloons released in the sky, mistaken as UFOs, mobilising the army and accidentally ending in nuclear warfare … but, apocalyptic issues aside, it conjures up lovely images of freedom and joy! This song could be played alongside throwing or dropping paint-filled balloons on to a canvas (sheet/paper). Or children could wear oversized t-shirts and throw them at each other! (And only stop the fun when the 99th balloon has been thrown!) 

99 red balloons 
Floating in the summer sky 
Panic bells, it's red alert 
There's something here from somewhere else 
The war machine springs to life 
Opens up one eager eye 
Focusing it on the sky 
The 99 red balloons go by 

Balloon painting is a wonderful way to develop artistic expression in young children. Balloons evoke feelings of fun, light-heartedness, joy and celebration, both grabbing attention and inspiring new ideas. Enjoy trying out these new ideas with children, and who knows, they may find new ways to explore music with them, too! 

View the other articles in this series below!
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

About the author:

Frances Turnbull, a musician, researcher, and accomplished author, boasts a skill set that encompasses both music education techniques and a Master's degree in Education from the University of Cambridge. Frances' literary contributions shine a spotlight of music, dance, and movement within early years education.

About the author:

Frances Turnbull, a musician, researcher, and accomplished author, boasts a skill set that encompasses both music education techniques and a Master's degree in Education from the University of Cambridge. Frances' literary contributions shine a spotlight of music, dance, and movement within early years education.

About the author:

Frances Turnbull, a musician, researcher, and accomplished author, boasts a skill set that encompasses both music education techniques and a Master's degree in Education from the University of Cambridge. Frances' literary contributions shine a spotlight of music, dance, and movement within early years education.

Pinecone birdfeeder

Pinecone birdfeeder

If you are planning to take part in The Big Schools Bird Watch, this pinecone birdfeeder might be the perfect activity, which has been inspired by the RSPB’s craft.

Image source: Preschool Inspirations

birdfeeder steps

You will need:

  • Dried pine or fir cones
  • Bird seed
  • Raisins
  • Peanuts
  • Grated cheese
  • Suet or lard
  • A mixing bowl
  • Scissors
  • String

Instructions:

  1. Make your bird mix with the bird seed, raisins and peanuts and grated cheese.
  2. Leave the lard out to warm up to room temperature and then cut into small pieces.
  3. Add the lard and the bird mix into the mixing bowl and use your fingertips to mix together until the fats hold the ingredients together.
  4. Get all of your cones and loop the string around the top of them so they are secure.
  5. Use your hands to pack the bird mixture around the cones. Try to fit as much in as possible.
  6. Once you are finished put your cones into the fridge for around an hour to set.
  7. After this, you can hang up your feeders on the trees and watch the birds coming to visit for a snack!
Chinese dumplings

Chinese dumplings

This simple recipe is from BBC Bitesize. You could use this craft to celebrate Chinese New Year in your setting with the children.

Dumpling making steps

For the dough

  • 140g plain flour
  • 125ml water

For the filling

  • Finely chopped vegetables
  • You could include: spinach, spring onions, mushrooms, cabbage, carrots
  • ½ tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Stir the water into the flour until mixed - add more water if the mixture seems dry.
  2. Knead the dough with your hands and add a little bit of flour if it’s sticky.
  3. Put the dough in a bowl, covered with a clean, damp towel, and let it rest for around 20 minutes.
  4. After resting, tear the dough into sixteen equal-sized pieces and flatten them into round flat pancakes.
  5. Add all of the filling ingredients into a bowl; and mix together.
  6. Place a spoonful of filling into of each pancake and add a little bit of water to the edges of the pancakes.
  7. Fold the dough in half and pinch the edges together with your fingers.
  8. An adult will then need to boil a pan of water, to then add the dumplings and put on the lid.
  9. Boil the dumplings for three to four minutes and then serve.
  10. *Optional* You could add a little dish of soy sauce for dipping, as seen in the image above.
Fruit kebabs

Fruit kebabs

By The Food Teacher - Katharine Tate

A fun and easy recipe for young children encouraging them to create their own fruit rainbows.

Ingredients:

  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Blueberries

Equipment:

  • Kebab sticks
  • Small knife for chopping
  • Chopping board
  • Colander/sieve
  • Plate for serving

Method:

1. Wash your berries and grapes in the colander/sieve.

2. Cut your strawberries and grapes in half (lengthwise).

3. Thread your ingredients onto the kebab sticks, alternating colours.

(Photo credit to: Pennybird and camera)

About the author:

The Food Teacher™ Founder and Director, Katharine Tate, has worked as a teacher and education consultant internationally in primary and secondary schools for over 20 years. Qualified as an award winning registered nutritional therapist, Katharine, combines her unique education and nutrition expertise to offer schools, organisations and families advice, education programmes, practical workshops, and individual/family clinical consultations. She has written and published several books: “Heat-Free & Healthy, the award-winning

No Kitchen Cookery for Primary Schools” a series of Mini-Books and has also

co-authored the award-winning “Now We’re Cooking!” Delivering the National

Curriculum through Food. She has also launched a programme of Young Chef

awards for schools, which support delivery of the curriculum and nutrition. In

2019, over 4,000 children completed the awards across the UK.

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