This week on the Willowbrook Blog we hear from @thisiseyfs about how she used her Instagram platform to help teachers and parents through lockdown and home-schooling..
'This time last year I remember being stood in my classroom with my Teaching Assistant and Deputy Head discussing how we might get a longer Easter break and then everything would be back to normal. We still laugh at that conversation now. I don't think anybody knew what to expect when the first lockdown was thrust upon us. Who is a key worker? What is a bubble? How long will this go on for?
The days and weeks ahead suddenly felt overwhelming and I got the sense that lots of my friends with young children felt the same way. I'd had an Instagram account for a while where I kept loads of photographs of activities I'd done with the children in school as my own little portfolio but the time felt right to share it with a wider audience. I wanted to help, I wanted to give parents some inspiration on how to fill those long days and keep their children entertained and happy.
With an almost 2 year old at home I knew I needed to come up with some fun activities to make the days interesting and I also needed to think about how to support my key worker bubble and make sure their time in school was enjoyable. With this in mind, I started to share some of the things we were getting up to and I'd like to share a few of my favourites with you.
One of the first activities I shared was Nature Soup. This is so fun because your little one has full control over what they put into their soup. We gathered all sorts from the garden, added a little water and hey presto!
Next up is a tuff tray set up. This tray has been one of the best things I have bought since the beginning of lockdown. My little girl became obsessed with Elmer and I'm now very proud to say I can recite the book completely from memory because we've read it so many times! This set up was an absolute dream for her.
You can never depend on the British weather but this didn't stop us from having some rainy day fun in school. I poured washing up liquid and powder paint in the puddles and gave the children some sweeping brushes. They would have happily stayed outside all day making bubbles and mixing the colours.
The next one took a little bit of preparation. I made ice rainbows in cups by freezing each colour of the rainbow in separate layers. When they were finished they looked so effective and they were the perfect play activity for a hot summer's day.
As autumn crept closer I made some pumpkin oobleck. You mix 1 part water to 2 parts cornflour and end up with a substance that acts as both liquid and solid at the same time. It's a wonderful sensory play experience.
I made a very open ended set up for Valentine's Day using coloured chickpeas, coloured rice, resin numbers and log slice arrays. I made each of these elements myself and have a highlight for homemade play resources on my Instagram account.
One of my favourite play purchases has been this beautiful wooden name board. We use it in so many different ways but I love the simplicity of this next one. Using either pincer grip or tweezers the challenge is to fill the letter grooves with coloured chickpeas. This activity is brilliant for building strong hand and finger muscles in preparation for early writing.
Lastly, now the weather is slowly getting brighter and there’s a hint of spring in the air, our mud kitchen has made a return to the garden. I don’t think you can beat taking learning and play outside and getting in the fresh air.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a small selection of my activities and if you would like to see more please take a look at @thisiseyfs on Instagram. There are some incredible accounts within the Instagram play community and I’m so pleased that my little account gets to be a part of it. Happy playing everyone!'
Thank you to Mel for sharing some of her great ideas with us, what an inspiration, helping people with the power of social media is something we love to see!
If you also have any stories of how your lockdown went, or any fun classroom ideas you could share with our community then we'd love to hear from you.