Easter hat ideas and Easter Food ideas

Welcome back to our last blog in the Easter series. In this blog we have brought together a collection of ideas to help create Easter hats with your child.  We also share simple Easter food to make with your child or children in the classroom.

Easter hat ideas

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Easter Food Ideas

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Wishing you all a very happy Easter from all of us at CREATING A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT. Thank you for your ongoing support.

If you are enjoying reading our blogs, make sure you look at our other blogs as well. We now have over 50 blogs published. The top 3 are:

What K-2 teachers want parents to know - Reading Levels

20 Ways to help your child learn their sight words

Are you a helicopter parent? The parenting method taking the first world countries by storm

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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Easter ideas and crafts for the home and classroom - Part 2

Easter collage

Welcome back to Part 2 of the Easter Series by Creating A Learning Environment. We had an overwhelming response to the Part 1blog, so we were very excited to put together the second instalment.

If you would like to have a look at our very successful Part 1 blog of the series: 3 Great Easter Crafts to Do in the classroom or home, click on the link below:

3 Great Easter Crafts to do in the Classroom or home

For this blog we will introduce you to another 9 Easter ideas that would be great to do with children in any classroom or home in the weeks leading up to Easter.

Easter Garlands

Nothing says celebrations more than holiday garlands. Easter is no different. There are so many options out there that would bring colour and fun to your Easter celebration. Children love cutting and threading silhouettes onto string. Why not be creative with different shapes or different types of paper. Below are some images that will hopefully bring inspiration to your household or classroom.


Table centerpieces

This is a fun creative idea that children can create independently or with others. The child could use a variety of Easter decorations to create their own table centerpiece for the dining table at home, or little group table decorations for their school desks.


Shaving Cream eggs

If your child likes mess and fun, this is the one for them. Spray a lot of shaving cream on a biscuit tray and put drops of food colouring all over it. (neon food colours work best for brighter colours) Using a straw mix the colours around to create a marble effect. Put the eggs on the shaving cream and wait 10 minutes. Wash the shaving cream off the egg with cold water. Put the other half of the egg back into the shaving cream and repeat process.


Wooden spoon Easter ideas

These are a great inexpensive decoration idea that can be put in a table centrepiece or in a cake. Children will love to come up with their own ideas.


Wooden bunnies

If you have bits of old wood lying around, why not turn them into these cute little bunnies. Give the wood a white wash and using scrap material, ribbon, wire, buttons, paper and paint, transform them into these colourful creatures.


Cross wreath

If you would like to focus on the true meaning of Easter, this beautiful cross wreath would be a great activity to do with a child. It could be hung on any door or wall. Gather some twigs, fake flowers and use wire to attach them all together.


3 Crosses

If talking to your child about the events of holy week, making this 3 cross artwork will give them an activity to express the true meaning of Easter. This could be displayed in the classroom or at home.

3 crosses

Bunny door

This is a cute and creative way to decorate your classroom door or house door.

bunny door

Easter Tree

eastertreeNothing symbolises new life, more than a tree. All you need to do is find a couple of small branches and secure them in a pot. After they are secured you can attach any Easter decorations you like. In the Easter Part 1 blog, there is a great recipe to make Salt Easter egg hanging decorations. They would go great on this tree. The link to this is:

3 Great Easter Crafts to do in the classroom or home

Hopefully these 9 crafts have triggered your creative juices and you are excited about trying some with your class or child at home. Next week we will be putting on the last blog of the Easter series. Make sure you check it out as it will be full of delicious Easter treats that you can make with children.

If you are enjoying reading our blogs, make sure you look at our other blogs as well. We now have over 50 blogs published. The top 3 are:

What K-2 teachers want parents to know - Reading Levels

20 Ways to help your child learn their sight words

Are you a helicopter parent? The parenting method taking the first world countries by storm

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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3 Great Easter Crafts To Do In The Classroom or Home

PicMonkey Collage

Easter is approaching quickly, so we are launching our first blog of our Easter series with this blog “3 Great Easter Crafts To Do In The Classroom Or Home”. This series will be packed full of craft ideas and Easter food ideas that you will be able to share with your child at home or all of your class at school. All the ideas in the series are inexpensive, creative and focus on fine motor skills.

In this first blog I share 3 Great Easter crafts that would be an engaging task for any child. They all use equipment that most people have in their homes or classrooms already so there is no need to wait. Each activity would also be a great present for a parent, grandparent, friend or relative.

Easter Egg Salt decorations

IMG_3063These colourful Easter egg decorations are a great activity for children of all ages. Using a basic dough recipe, you create egg shapes to be cooked in the oven. Once done, let the children use their creative juices to create some masterpieces. These dough Easter eggs should not be consumed and can only be used for decorative purposes.


What you need

1 cup of plain flour, Half a cup of water, Half a cup of salt, bowl, paint, straw, string/ribbon

Step 1

Mix the three ingredients together to create a dough. Roll out dough to about 2 cm in thickness.


Step 2

Using an egg ring (or circle cookie cutter) to cut circles out of the dough. Shape the dough into an egg shape.


Step 3

Using a straw cut a small hole on the top of each egg shape. Place on tray and cook on a low heat for 1-2hrs (120 degrees C or 250F)


Step 4

When cooled, paint eggs with different patterns. When the paint is dry, threat ribbon or string through hole to hang up.


Paper Plate Easter Egg Basket

IMG_3060These cute paper plate Easter Baskets are a great activity for children of all ages. For younger children, an adult’s help will be needed to tape the basket together. You could fill the basket with Easter eggs, pretend chicks or just leave it empty with shredded paper.

What you need

2 paper plates, sticky tape, shredded paper/cotton wool/tissues, ribbon, craft glue

Step 1

Prepare the paper plate. Cut on the 4 lines indicated and fold on the dotted lines.


Step 2

Stick both of the sides up with sticky tape. Cut the handle out of the middle of the other paper plate.



Step 3

Fasten the handle to the basket with tape. Use craft glue to attach the ribbon over the handle and around the basket. Fill with anything that you want.




Carrot Footprint

Use this simple orange footprint or the child to create a carrot artwork. This could be used for an Easter card, canvas print or for inside a photo frame. A great idea for the younger children.


I hope you have become inspired to try one of these at home or in your classroom. They are all easy, inexpensive and creative and will be an engaging task for any child. Next week I will continue this Easter series with another blog focusing on creative Easter ideas.

Part 2 of the Easter craft series can be found by clicking on the link below:

Easter ideas and crafts for the home and classroom - Part 2


Please remember to share this blog to spread the word about Creating A Learning Environment.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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5 Activities that take less than 5 minutes to set up

Today’s blog is all about activities that can be completed at home or in the preschool environment that are inexpensive and take less than 5 minutes to set up.

  1. Washing dolls clothes

394cebee56f601f934f28f6e465d0195Children love playing with bubbles. Why not combine this with some fine motor activities that aim to strengthen the smaller muscles in the child’s hand. Fill up a large tub with water. Use some dishwashing liquid for bubbles. Put all the dolls clothes in a washing basket, tie up some string for a clothes line and have some pegs handy. Children will manipulate the clothes and then have to use their strength to squeeze the excess water out. They will hang it on the string and use their pincer grip to attach a peg. Kids love water, mess and fun. This activity has all three elements. Make sure you keep an eye on them as water can pose a danger.

2. Building towers

0f0c2793e597ed284da8e933f784429aPut a variety of objects in a pile and tell your child to go and experiment building towers or whatever they want with the objects. The objects could include cardboard boxes, sponges cut up, tupperware containers or paddle pop sticks and play-dough. Children will learn about how structures work, patterns that you can use and using their small muscles in their hands to manipulate small objects. After they have made some towers, get them to try making a city, farm, airport or what ever their imagination can come up with.

3. Cardboard Box and washable texta

Toddler-Art-ActivityChildren love drawing, especially on themselves. This is a great one for them to experiment with using a tool to write with. A texta is a great tool as it is thicker than a pencil and helps children develop their small hand muscles. A box will be a success for you as it contains your young one and their mess. Make sure the texta is safe for children and is easy to wash off.

4. Matching lids and containers

090554357c8fd9bdeee3396dae944ae6Take all the lids off their containers and mix them up. Have your child try and work out how to put them all back together. You can do the same thing with small containers that have a screw top lid. Children love taking the lids on and off and matching the correct lid with the container. This activity would be targeted for a child over the age of 3 years. Screwing lids on and off can be a difficult skill at first but with practise they will master it.


5. Washing dishes

5eb364c1ceb51bac368140553dea7bd8Give the child some water, a scrubbing brush, sponge, some play plates, cutlery, cups, containers and chopping boards and let them make mess. Give them a tea towel to dry the dishes after they are washed.




As a mother, I know how important time is. These activities all take less than 5 minutes to set up but can give your child hours of fun while learning important concepts at the same time. Why not try one of these activities each day to see which one your child engages with the most.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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3 Great Stations for Preschoolers and Toddlers

Keeping children engaged in tasks for longer than 10 minutes, can seem like an impossible feat especially if the children are aged between 2 and 5 years old. In this latest blog I look at 3 great stations that parents and educators can set up that are inexpensive, quick and do not require a whole lot of thought.

These stations focus on pre literacy and numeracy concepts in a play setting. Children learn new concepts through investigation, trial and error and by just experimenting. I have used all 3 of these stations at my home with my 2 and 4 year old and they continue to love it each time I set it up. What a 2 year old will learn from the station will be different from what the 4 year old will learn. It is a perfect activity that allows a variety of age groups to work at the same task.

Station 1 : Water Pouring Station

imgres-3Children will learn about quantities (half full, empty, full, overflowing), the technique of pouring, how containers hold different amounts of liquids and how we can use tools, like funnels to assist in pouring liquids from one container to the next. As a parent or educator it is important for the child to lead this play. You can assist with asking them questions or guiding them to try different things. It is important for the adult to model great sentences when playing with the child in order for the child to build their own vocabulary and experiment by using these new words in their own sentences. For example - “I filled the container all the way to the top”, “This container holds more water than that container”

What you need for this station: A variety of containers (different shapes and sizes), measuring cups, water (can be coloured), medicine droppers, funnels.

Station 2 : Scooping Station

2cc03f6322933824f08c83451400b725This station continues developing the concept of space by using dry ingredients. Children will learn about the capacity of different containers and the technique of scooping. This station will also develop their sensory skills by incorporating a variety of dry ingredients that have different textures. As with the station above, allow the child to lead, but the adult can point out things to the child or simply play next to them so they can observe what the adult is doing.

What you need for this station: dry ingredients (rice, flour, dried peas/corn kernels, sugar, pasta, cereal, icing sugar, salt etc), variety of containers, different size scoops (washing powder scoop, measuring cup, measuring spoons)

Station 3 : Gardening Station

76af339b0226249c36f87c19f557a706This station is a very messy station but well worth it for a child’s development. You could give the child a variety of gardening tools, soil, seeds, pots, plants and vegetables to experiment with. This is a great time to share the lifecycle of a plant with your child. This station may even develop into a herb or vegetable garden. The possibilities are endless.

I hope these 3 stations have given you some inspiration to set up one in your classroom or home. Next week we will focus on another 3 stations that aim to foster pre literacy and pre numeracy skills. If you found this blog to be helpful please share to spread the word about the exciting things happening at CREATING A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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6 tips to help your child have a solid understanding of counting

Counting is an interesting concept that I find many people have a misunderstanding about. Counting may seem simple but it requires a high level of thinking in order to have a strong foundation of number.

Many parents come to me for advise when their child begins to struggle with Mathematics during school. It is important to gather data on what concepts the child is having difficulty with. Usually a child has formed a misunderstanding or has not gained an understanding about a particular Math concept. Counting is one concept that can cause children a lot of grief later in school if they do not have a strong understanding in this foundational concept.

So what should we as parents and educators be helping our children do when it comes to counting? Below is a list of 6 tips that parents and educators can use to ensure that their child is gaining a strong foundation in counting.

Tip 1: Importance Of Rote Counting

imagesRote counting, which means counting without equipment and any help is the first stage of building a strong foundation in learning to count properly. From the age of 2, children should be observing adults counting often through everyday life experiences. I know my 2 year old son hears me count to three many times in a day before he goes to timeout. Children will begin to emulate adults and start to count, even if it is their own version, mixing lots of the numbers up. Encourage your child to count with you while you are doing your fruit and vegetable shopping (count the potatoes as you put them in the bag) or going up or down stairs.

Once children are able to count to 20 by themselves, they have already succeeded in achieving the first stage in counting. It is hoped that by the time the child is 5 - 6 years old, they should achieve this stage. However there are some 3 year olds that would also be able to achieve this step. It is all about modelling and practice.

Tip 2: Number Mispronunciations 

imagesOnce children become confident with counting, they begin to count faster and numbers begin to sound joined together. If a child is not pronouncing their numbers correctly, it may cause misunderstandings in Mathematics later on. The most common mispronunciation is the “teen” and “decade” numbers.

Many younger children will sound like they are using decade numbers for the teen numbers.

eg 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 20, 21, 22

This may seem harmless but it can lead to a lot of misunderstandings. When asked questions like “What number is after 16?”, they will say 70. I try and reinforce the correct pronunciation with the idea of “angry numbers” and “Tea numbers”

I ask the child to show me an angry face and get them to realise what their mouth is doing. (Usually teeth together, mouth slightly apart and stretched). I tell them that this is what the mouth has to do for the angry numbers also known as teen numbers.

I then ask the child to show me how they can pretend to drink tea. (Usually a pincer grip, thumb and pointer finger together, and flicking the wrist). I get them to do this action for the decade numbers “ty” aka tea numbers. 30, 40, 50 etc.

This will help the child distinguish between both the decade and teen numbers. It is also important for us, as adults to pronounce our numbers correctly as children need to hear it, in order to say it.

Tip 3 - Counting forwards and Backwards

For some reason, many children are only exposed to counting forwards and not backwards. Both ways are essential for counting yet as educators and parents, we tend to favour forward counting and give our children little or no experience with counting backwards.

Counting backwards is important for a number of reasons. The most apparent is for the concept of subtraction. Children are more likely to be able to answer the question of what is one more of a particular number, then what is one less of that same number. To work out one less, they usually take one object away and then have to recount all the objects again.

To help your child, start with a particular number of toys on the floor, say 16 and get them to pack them away back in the container. Help them start with the number 16, as they put one away say 15 left, as they put another away say 14 left etc.

Practising to count backwards with make a huge impact on their understanding of how numbers work. Try not to count larger numbers, but instead opt for counting backwards. It will be tricky at first, but once they understand it, they will flourish.

Tip 4 - Use equipment

imgresIt is important for children to see objects in order to help them develop their one to one correspondence. This means that they can point to an object and say a number, then point to the next object and say the next number in sequence.

To develop one to one correspondence, children need to organise their equipment in a logical way. If a child does not know where to start I tend to guide them into putting them in a line or putting them in a pile and they can move the object across while counting.

Using board games is a great way to develop the concept of counting. With my four year old, I play trouble and snakes and ladders a lot. She is now able to move her players piece two and three places without even counting as she has a solid understanding of two and three.

It is essential to focus on small numbers for one to one correspondence for a long time. Once they are really confident with numbers under 10, they should be able to transfer this knowledge to all other numbers.

Tip 5 - Encourage faster ways of counting

images-1Counting by ones is only an efficient strategy for children if there are only a few objects. Help your child understand the idea of counting by twos and why we would count by twos. You could count pairs of socks, people’s legs and people’s eyes by two’s. Let them see a number line so they can visualise the idea of skipping a number.

Once your child has mastered counting by 2’s (both even and odd numbers), get them to count by 5’s and 10’s. Make sure you always start at a different number so they gain the understanding that counting by 5’s is saying every 5 numbers. Eg Counting by 5’s could be :13, 18, 23, 28, 33, 38

Tip 6 - Get rid of the number chart when they are learning to count

imgres-1Using a number chart can really confuse a child. I tell all the educators and parents I work with to get rid of the chart and replace it with a number line. Numbers need to be viewed as linear as they increase over time. A chart can confuse a child as you need to count row by row.

The number charts can make a return however, when the child is in Year 3. By then they understand the concept of how numbers work and will not be confused by how the chart is constructed.

I hope everyone has enjoyed this week’s blog and has learnt something new to take away and try with your child or class. Next Tuesday night we will be having an interactive Q and A on our facebook page for anyone seeking advise or answers about any educational concern they may have. Further information about this will be posted on our facebook page. Make sure you like our page to always receive the latest information from our website and blog.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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Big school: 5 tips for helping make it a smooth transition

Happy new year to all my followers! I can not believe that 2016 is here and the school year is just around the corner. Soon in many households, families will be taking the first step into formal schooling, as their little one begins kindergarten.

imagesStarting school is an exciting step and should be looked at with enthusiasm. Although it will be a great and challenging experience for the child, parents want to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible.

In this blog I share 5 tips that will help parents and children feel a little bit more at ease with the first Semester of “big school” and hopefully allow them to enjoy this step in their education journey.

Tip 1: Morning Routine

images-1In order for children to be as calm as possible, it is critical that the morning routine is calm and not stressful. The biggest contributor to stress in the morning on school days is the lack of time the family has to get ready.

To be able to have a calm morning, it is important that everything is ready for the child the night before school. Allow your child to lay their uniform out, pack their bag with the things they need and make their lunch to put in the fridge. They feel a sense of ownership and with that will come responsibility.

I always encourage parents to have a visual routine up so the child is clear about what is expected in the morning to get ready for school. Some of the steps could include getting dressed, brushing teeth, eating breakfast and putting their lunch in their bag. Children love completing steps and are comforted by the idea that they know what is coming up.

Always give your child a “pre wake up” which is about 10 minutes before you need them to be up. After the 10 minutes, go in and tell them it is time to wake up and start the morning routine. It is expected that all children can dress themselves and do most of the grooming skills themselves.

These are a few ideas for a morning routines chart:




It is also a good idea to try the morning routine (with play clothes) over the few days leading up to the morning of school. This way, the child is familiar with the morning routine and what is expected of them.

Tip 2: The lunch box

imgresEnsure that your child has had a lot of practice at opening and closing their own lunch box. For many children, having a lunch box is a new experience and although the teachers will help a child who is struggling, the expectation is that the children can open and close their own lunch box.

This also includes packaging that the food is placed in. Your child needs to be confident with unwrapping cling wrap, opening and closing zippers, unscrewing and screwing lids and opening and closing their drink bottle.

Make it easy for your child. Put some fruit pieces in for morning tea and a sandwich for lunch. Most children get quite upset when they can not eat the huge lunch that has been packed. Be conscious that your child wants to play.

Parents can get their child to practice eating their morning tea or lunch within 10-15 minutes at home.

Tip 3: Make up a “big school” story

Using a few folded blank pieces of paper, make up a little book that describes what they will expect to see in a normal school day. The story could be called “Child’s name goes to Big School” Each page will focus on a different aspect of the day.

Parents can read this story to their child for a few days before starting school, as well as during Term 1 to ease any anxiety your child might have about the unknown.

An example of the story could be:

Page 1  “Jessica wakes up and puts on her uniform. She is very excited to be going to school”

Page 2 “Jessica eats her breakfast to give her lots of energy. She then brushes her teeth and her mummy does her hair”

Page 3 “Jessica packs her bag with her lunch box, hat and pencils. She is ready to get driven to school”

Page 4. “Jessica sees lots of children waiting near the classrooms. She sees the teachers and they have big smiles on their faces”

Page 5 “Jessica gives a big kiss and cuddle to her mum and she tells her that she will see her in the afternoon”

Page 6 “Jessica learns about a lot of things. She counts, draws, writes and paints”

Page 7 “It is now time for morning tea and a play on the playground. Jessica has lots of new friends to play with”

Page 8 “The children go back inside the classroom and listen to a story. They do some dancing to music and have some quiet activities”

Page 9 “Jessica hears the bell and knows that it is lunch time. She eats her lunch, has a drink at the bubblers and plays with her friends again”

Page 10 “Jessica and her friends go back inside the classroom after lunch and learn about some interesting things. She packs her bag and lines up with her class.

Page 11 “Jessica sees her mum and gives her a big kiss and cuddle. She waves goodbye to her teacher and tells her she will see her tomorrow.

Page 12 “Jessica had a great day at school”

Tip 4: The Goodbye

imagesEven though your child may be upset, it is important to make the goodbye quick and consistent. Ensure your child is safe with the teacher and tell them you will be back in the afternoon to pick them up.

Long goodbyes draw out the stress for the child and if parents do one thing one day and another the next, the child will be confused and this will add to their anxiety. Children settle down really quickly and if you are really concerned, you could ring the school office at morning tea to ensure your child has calmed down.

Many parents also try to sneak off while their child is busy. This is unfair for the child as they will feel that they can not trust you at school. Ensure you say goodbye and leave promptly.

Tip 5: Give the teacher some time

imgres-1It is very tempting to talk to the teacher every morning and afternoon when your child first starts school, but teachers need time with your child before they can offer any feedback. If there are any major concerns in the first couple of weeks, teachers always will contact you. Most schools offer a time for parents in the first few weeks to have a meeting with the teacher. This is a great time to talk about any concerns that you do have about your child.

This is a different environment for your child, so they also need time to adjust to the new structure. They may be tired and grumpy from a long day of school but this is completely normal.

I wish all the families with a child starting school the best of luck. It is an exciting time and an important step as your child gets older.

Last but not least, try not to let your child see you crying (it is emotional for parents) as they will believe it is something to be scared about. If they do, tell them it is happy tears as you are so proud of what a big girl or big boy they have become.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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Edible Christmas for Kids - 12 Days of Christmas Part 2

We had so much success with Part 1 of this series we are sure everyone will love this one just as much.

This blog focus on 7 delicious EDIBLE Christmas activities to complete with your child. Happy eating!!

Snowman cupcakes

What you need: cake mixture, cupcake patties, marshmallows, icing mixture, orange lollies, green lollies and chocolate icing pen


Christmas Pretzel Sticks

What you need: pretzel sticks, melted while chocolate, variety of sprinkles (preferably green and red)


Chocolate Marshmallow reindeers

What you need: Marshmallows, lolly sticks, pretzels, red smarties, small white lollies, ribbon


Strawberry Santas

What you need: strawberries, whipped cream, chocolate and white icing pen


Christmas Pancakes

What you need: Pancake mixture, christmas cookie cutters


Teddy Sleighs

What you need: candy canes, tiny teddies, small milky ways or mars bars, melted chocolate for glueing pieces together


Grinch snacks

What you need: green grapes, toothpicks, banana, mini marshmallows, strawberries


Hope you can enjoy creating some wonderful edible treats with your child.

Until next time

Kelly Pisani

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Christmas for kids: 12 days of Christmas Part 1

Welcome back to CREATING A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT. We are so excited to start our 12 days of Christmas blogs. These blogs will focus on 12 Christmas activities to do with your children in the last weeks leading to Christmas. Each blog will focus on 3 activities. Happy reading.

In the first blog, I will go through the steps of three great christmas activities that you can share with your child or class. These activities have been a hit in my home with my 4 and 2 year old as well as in my classroom.

Salt Christmas decorations

This is simple and inexpensive and is great for all age groups. Follow my simple steps to create custom decorations that you can hang on your tree or use as gifts for family and friends.

Ingredients: 4 cups of all purpose flour, 1 cup of salt and 1 1/2 cups of water


  1. Preheat oven to 140 degrees Celsius
  2. Mix all ingredients together
  3. Roll dough on floured surface to about 2 cm in thickness
  4. Use cookie cutters to cut out christmas shapes. (I used a star, angel, gingerbread man, flower, heart and a circle)
  5. Use a straw to make a hole in the top of each ornament
  6. Put ornaments on tray and cook in oven for about 2 hours
  7. When cooled, paint and use glitter if desired
  8. If desired, use a vanish to protect them
  9. Put a ribbon through hole

These are photos of my children’s creationsIMG_2599IMG_2596IMG_2600IMG_2598



Paper Plate Christmas craft

The simple paper plate can offer so many christmas craft opportunities. Why not try one of these ideas at home.

Santa mask, Reindeer, Wreath, Snowman, elves, bauble, Rudolf, Santa, Baby, Angel, Grinch, Lollies, Gingerbread man and party hats


Footprint Reindeers

Children can use their own footprints to create this gorgeous reindeer face. This activity can be done on paper or cardboard, but for a special gift, could be done on a small canvas.


Hope you have enjoyed these three Christmas activities in our first blog. Our next blog, which will contain another three Christmas activities will be available tomorrow night.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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7 Tips To Help Children Stay On A Task

Getting your child to stay on a set school task for more than 10 minutes can be a mammoth struggle in many households. I have spoken to many parents over the years, who believe that the homework struggle can add a lot of stress to their home environment.

In the same way, many parents of pre-schoolers also worry that their child who will attend primary school in the next year is unable to stay on a task for more than 10 minutes. This could mean that their child wanders from activity to activity, not really engaging with any task, they could only do a task for 2 minutes and then tell everyone they are finished or they could simply need their parents to sit with them during play in order to stay at an activity.

Whilst at school, children need to develop their own concentration in order to complete a task or work constantly on a task for a given time. Each task is given a time limit within the classroom and it depends of the type of task and the age of the child.

In the first year of schooling, it is expected that children can work for at least 10 minutes independently. This means that children need to work by themselves or with a group of children without teacher interaction. In the standard classroom the ratio of teacher to student is around 1 teacher to 30 students. If the teacher spent equal amounts of time with each student, in an average day of 5 hours of learning time, a teacher would spend approximately 10 minutes with each student.

It is important to help your child develop these focusing skills in order to enable them to persist at a task, complete a task and be motivated to do a task to the best of their ability. Here are 7 tips that can help children develop their focusing skills.

  1. Set routine

routineI cannot stress the importance of a routine enough times. Children thrive on knowing what is coming next and find comfort with predictability.

For a child aged between 5 – 12 years old, this could be seen through an afternoon routine. A timetable could be visible so the expectations are very clear for what they should be doing. The routine could incorporate things like outside play, free choice, homework, dinner, shower, reading, tv etc

For a pre-schooler, this could be seen through a visual timetable that has pictures of all the parts of the day and the activities that they will be doing. It would incorporate “quiet/rest time” which is a time in the day when they need to play independently without adult interaction.

  1. Physical activity first

physicalactivityBefore getting a child of any age to sit down quietly and complete a task, it is important that they have an opportunity to move their bodies around prior to this activity. Children of all ages can not sit still for very long (nor should they be expected too) therefore get them to do a physical activity before a homework task or quiet activity to expend some energy.

  1. Meaningful learning

meaningful tasksJust like adults, children will find it difficult to focus on a task that is boring. Boring activities are those tasks that are not meaningful to that child. Ask a child to complete a task that is meaningful to their own world, it will be hard to stop them from playing/completing it.

For children aged between 5 -12 years old, use their obsessions or talents to develop other areas that are weaker. Eg If they are struggling to write and they love soccer, get them to write a letter to their favourite soccer player and send it. Turn some homework tasks into games to make them more interactive.

For a pre-schooler, set up tasks they will help them to develop skills in an engaging and interesting way. For example, set up a few buckets of water and give them a variety of water equipment to let them experiment with. For example measuring cups, pipettes (medicine dropper), panadol baby dispensers, containers with holes etc

  1. Break tasks into small manageable activities

breakingChildren need guidance in splitting a task into more manageable chunks. Help them break the task into two smaller parts or even four smaller parts. They can write down each part or draw a picture of each part and tick each one off when it is complete. This helps the child follow a sequence, feel success throughout the task and focus on one step at a time. Trying to tackle a whole task at once can be very overwhelming.

  1. Use a timer

timerThis is a secret weapon for parents and educators. Time is a very abstract concept so a timer will help children be able to visualise the time spent on a task. Start off with quick tasks (cleaning teeth, brushing hair) to teach them about how a timer works. After they understand the concept start with tasks or play activities for 10 minutes and work towards increasing it depending on your child’s age.

  1. Self monitoring cards

monitorThis is another tool that educators use for the younger students. These are picture cards that demonstrate what the child should be doing if they are on task. It could have a picture of lips closed, holding a pencil correctly, feet flat on the floor, eyes looking at the task etc. The cards are placed on the child’s table so they can see them throughout the task. It is a great idea to discuss the cards before each task to remind them of what you expect.

  1. Set goals

goalsHave the child set goals for themselves that are realistic. This enables them to have ownership over their learning. A goal might be, I am going to write 2 sentences and then try and shoot a goal in the basketball ring.

I hope you have enjoyed the second blog in our series Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten. Encouraging your child to develop their own concentration and focus is important for children of all ages.

I will continue this School Preparation Series in January 2016. Next week we are going to start our 12 days of Christmas craft series. Make sure you stay tuned.

Thank you to everyone for your support of CREATING A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT. Our blogs are reaching so many people thanks to the amount of shares and likes we receive.

Until next time…

Kelly Pisani

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