11 May, 2020

4th Keep calm, keep moving newsletter !

This is our fourth ‘keep calm- keep moving’ newsletter and we hope you are managing to do both – at least some of the time!

Our ‘Startwell’ friends in Birmingham have a good idea to extend Jeannie’s gardening activity –  to re-grow food in water you just need to cut off the bottom of one of these vegetables : cabbage – lettuce – celery – leeks – spring onion – for carrots you  should cut off the green top.

Put in a small bowl of water – and watch them  grow!

This week we are going to use socks for our activities and Jo Wilson  – an EY swimming expert – will then share with us how we can enjoy water play with children at home.

You just need a good number of spare clean socks – any size – colour – fabric.

A clean pillow-case and a piece of string.

Shoes off if possible.

A clear space to move in.

What to do

  • Encourage children to discuss with you what socks would be the best fit for their hands – both of you try on a few  and help each other make a decision
  • Ask children to stretch their hands wide inside the socks – now make a tight fist – point with one finger at a time – make a smiley face – now a cross one – wiggle all fingers at the same time
  • Choose one or two things that you agree need a good clean and polish eg. skirting board, table leg, a wall, back of the door –maybe different body parts – now clean vigorously with both hands!
  • Ask children to place all the socks in a long line– maybe match up patterns on the socks or group all adult and children’s socks together
  • Suggest walking on tiptoes down the line of socks – try forwards and backwards – then sideways
  • Older children may like to jump side to side with feet together down the line – forwards first then try going backwards
  • Invite children to now make a circleshape with the socks and sit together insidethe circle – choose different body parts eg. elbows/knuckles/chins/knees to place outsidethe circle
  • Now roll up the socks into a ball shape and put them all into a small pillow case that you tie up with string to make a large ball
  • Enjoy throwing and catching the pillow case between you!

What’s in it for children
Socks are a really easy resource to use and they give lots of opportunities to be physically active in a small space. All the muscles in the hand can be strengthened by the first few ideas and you can extend time for interaction and practising vocabulary eg. colour, number, size, shape in a relevant context.

Taking it forwards
You can do any of these activities separately and use the sock balls to practise all the usual ball skills like kicking, dribbling, throwing, batting and catching. Remember that small balls are easier to throw– larger ones are easier to catch.

Extend the activities around number, shape and pattern – eg. you make a pattern on the floor with the socks that the child may copy –  make these as complex as you like.

Put a mix of known and unfamiliar objects inside the socks and invite the child to guess what they are – this can be a really good time to chat and extend language possibilities.

We are still at home, what can we learn together?
…. a little FREE download for you, inspired by an aquatic professional.

Swimming is such a valuable skill to learn for young children.

During these challenging times of-course we can’t get to the pool, but we can still move at home and there is lots of access to water to practice swim skills.

At Aqua Sensory we love to educate parents and swimming teachers to enjoy swimming for the fun and together times. And not placing too much emphasis on the outcome of learning the quickest or becoming the next competitive swimmer.

In the bath you can start at home, with gentle sensory swim times. We hope you enjoy our baby bath video, we made this to highlight the sensory benefits, but also a shared experience built around early communication and cues, to avoid sensory overwhelm.

See video on YouTube

Spring into Swimming at home

Bath time should be fun, encourage playing the bath with toys and cups, well anything that can float or sink that you don’t mind getting wet!

A bath toy is a great idea to ‘hold just below the surface and ask your little one to ‘kiss or blow bubbles’.

If you don’t mind too many splashes at home, why not try lots of big arm actions, like scooping the water will also little kicks to splash with the feet. Bubbles, scoops and kicks are the fundamentals of swimming, and can be practiced at home in the bath.

Water is life!

If you are looking for more activities to do with your child at home, why not explore the beauty of ‘water.’ It is of course free and everywhere! Learning about the properties of water and respect for the water is not only fun to do together, but provides an important message for the future.

Jo Wilson from Aqua Sensory educates her children in her programme to explore their feelings through the water. We hope you enjoy her Parent Fact Sheet, it is free to download.


We hope you enjoy the Aqua Sensory Activities, which explores water in many different ways at home and in the garden.

Each activity has an emotional message behind, like being strong and confident like ice, or learning how to flow like water. We loved the garden one, looking for the flowers to water and not the weeds, to help children understand their growing feelings and what they focus their attention on grows.

Such nice activities to do together as a family, which have messages to support our children’s emotional well-being, which is so important in our climate of today.

More of Aqua Sensory’s work can be found at www.aquasensory.com

There are also resources to download on the activematters website.


Our colleagues at the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) have created an excellent ‘home-learning’ page that is well worth exploring – particularly good for simple cooking ideas: www.leyf.org.uk

Great Ormond St Hospital also has some great ideas for simple craft activities you can do at home : www.gosh.org/power-of-play-hub

Laura Brand’s new book is full of lovely inexpensive craft ideas and activities –  with pages free  for adults and children to record what they did and what to plan next.

‘The Joy Journal of Magical Everyday Play’ Laura Brand (2020) – £12.99 – available from : www.bluebirdbooksforlife.com

Next time we will be using plastic cups for our activities – and Florence will be back to give us some more ideas for healthy home food.

Til then – take best care.

The ‘activematters’ team