Little Learners, Low Cost

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With lockdown extended and teaching inspiration dwindling along with the household budget, Bubble’s teaching advisor Sarah Zeqiri has some brilliant suggestions for rekindling your homeschool mojo for less than the cost of a large Veggie Supreme.

Kinaesthetic learning (learning through movement) is ideal for small people. Not only are they more likely to remember what they’ve learned but it’s great for gross and fine motor skills. But how can you provide these learning opportunities at home without blowing a bundle on resources? Here are some of my favourite low cost items and ideas for what to do with them.

A Roll of Brown Paper

I learned about this one because (whilst trying to be environmentally friendly) I accidentally bought an industrial sized roll of brown paper with which to wrap my Christmas presents. Oops. But since, I have found it very useful, and recyclable! You could also use lining paper, old wallpaper or wrapping paper.

• Draw around one of your children and then make paper body parts to be placed in the correct spots on the body. The body parts can vary in detail from bones to kidneys, depending on how old your blooming biologists are. Level up by blindfolding them for a slightly gorier game of Pin the Organs on the Patient!
• Lay the paper out in the garden and place dinosaurs along the edges to create shadows. Ask your child to draw around the shadow creatures and then add trees and plants to create a prehistoric mural.
• Partially cover a doorway with the paper but cut out holes in a selection of sizes, all labelled with different scores. Make some paper aeroplanes and see if you can get the through the holes – who can get the highest score? Bigger kids can be in charge or doing the adding up the points.

Cardboard Boxes

There’s the age old joke about kids loving the box more than the toy that came in it, but that’s because it can be ANYTHING! Why not try making one of these, depending on the size of the box your Amazon delivery came in.

• A toy’s house: divide the box into rooms that can be decorated with scraps of colourful paper, magazine cut outs and old wrapping paper. What could the flooring be made from? Where will the toy sleep?
• A jet pack: add yogurt pot rocket boosters, some paper ‘fire’, some straps and you’ve got lift off! Why not make it extra space-special with some tin-foil and old bottle top buttons.
• Puppet theatre: get your dramatic skills going with a good old fashioned puppet show. You could use toys or make your own puppets and try acting out one of your favourite story. Marvellous dahling!

Recycling

Before your kitchen roll tubes, vegetable trays and cereal boxes go on their recycling adventure, let the kids get creative with a bit of junk modelling. Give you children access to clean recycling items, a roll of sticky tape, age safe scissors and a project that they need to design. Why not try a roller-coaster, a robot, a Sweetie Making Factory or a steam train? The best thing about these items is that they can be dismantled and recycled, leaving your conscience clear about plastic waste and you won’t have to try and flog it on eBay to make some of the money back!

Cheap paddling pool and balls

You know the ones I mean, the little inflatable ones you get from the local pound shop that have a photo of eight adults lounging around in it on the box but in reality you can just about fit in a toddler and a willing cat. Well, they make surprisingly good indoor ball ponds. You can get a bag of 100 ball pond balls for under £10, can be used for a variety of activities and aren’t heavy enough to knock over most vases, so I think they’re well worth the storage space.

• Hide objects in the ball pit to be found by little hands.
• Write letters of the alphabet on the balls and challenge small spellers to find all the letters to the word you call out.
• Target practice. Divide the colour balls into groups and take a colour each. See who can throw the most balls into the target before the timer goes off. Count them up at the end to find out who the winner is.

So before you go spending a small fortune on the newest educational toys, see what you’ve got hanging about in the house. Happy learning!

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