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Need inspiration for creative activities with the kids? Post a question to Steph Cooper, editor of CBeebies Magazine - ANSWERS BACK

(22 Posts)
LucilleMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 17-Feb-14 11:51:32

This week we are running a Q&A about activities to do with your children with Steph Cooper, editor of CBeebies Magazine.

Stuck for inspiration on activities to do with your kids on rainy days at home? If your child finds numbers boring and you're keen for them to engage with maths and still have fun or, you want to help your child get excited about learning while they aren't at school, Steph can help with fun ways to help kids learn and keep their minds active and healthy when they don't have school.

Steph Cooper worked for 11 years in education specialising in the early years. She was a teacher before becoming Deputy Head at a large primary school in South London. After one year as a literacy advisor, she spent one further year writing books for parents as well as writing for magazines and newspapers about education and how children learn.

Steph has been editor of CBeebies Magazine for three years. She's also the Education Advisor at Immediate Media Co (formerly BBC Magazines) and she works across 15 pre-school magazines including Octonauts, BBC Something Special, CBeebies Art, Mike the Knight and Mr Men and Little Miss.

Post your questions to Steph before 9am Monday 24th Feb and we'll send over a selection and get her answers back to you for Monday 3rd March. Click here to find some CBeebies activity pages that you can print out to help keep your little one entertained over the half term.

Paintyfingers Tue 18-Feb-14 15:58:55

I have a speech delayed DS aged 2.5 who loves crafting. I try to use all our activities to expand his language and would love some crafts suitable for his age and some relevant adjectives/verbs I could try to repeat to encourage language development. We've done the basic ones like cut and stick! Maybe things like pressing, sprinkling etc?

Kveta Tue 18-Feb-14 21:34:46

do you think that all craft activities should have a learning outcome? I ask as my DC (20 months and 4.5 yo) have been busy making a doll's house out of shoeboxes this week, just a few glued together and painted, and then DS has stuck some pictures from the argos catalogue in for furniture, and he wants to make furniture out of toilet roll holders too. Anyway, it's just all fun, there's no particular thing he's taking from it in terms of literacy or numeracy objectives. I don't really want everything he does to be about chasing learning objectives anyway, but other mums I know feel differently!

I feel like he does so much at school nursery that has learning outcomes attached to them (and his school is very unpressured and laid back with the early years age groups, I know there are many that do phonics and numeracy stuff much more formally than his does) so I'm happy for him just to spend a happy hour or two pratting about with glue and paint. But should I be doing more with him?

Kveta isn't he taking other stuff from it? EG motor control, colour mixing, learning about the world etc etc? Learning isn't all about literacy and numeracy imo grin

And the Q: I'd love to see some more sensorial play/craft ideas. When I had DD I really had no clue what I could do with her - my local surestart messy play was a lifesaver! But it'd be great to find ideas of things to do like making jelly with toys "hidden" in it, playing in shaving foam etc etc with clear instructions and ideas for learning outcomes if you need to include them that link into the EYFS curriculum. Is that something that you could see being incorporated into the cbeebies mag?

Kveta Wed 19-Feb-14 07:49:35

Rue I guess that's what I was getting at - the focus of some schools round here on numeracy and literacy, whilst well intentioned I'm sure, seems a bit heavy handed for 3 -5 yos!! I want my DC to enjoy themselves, and know that they will learn just as much about the world by being part of it as they will by having facts bludgeoned into them from an early age!

Anyway, both of mine love cbeebies magazine. DD is still little, so mainly likes peeling stickers off and applying them to mummy, although she loves the free toys on the front too (vehicles a perrenial favourite here, but they still play with some free insects they got about 3 years ago!). DS now likes working through the magazine (we get it in holidays and on long trips) and doing the activities with minimal guidance. It's a lovely mag.

tinypumpkin Wed 19-Feb-14 20:03:43

What has been the most popular craft activity that you have ever 'run' in a magazine? I am guessing feedback is tricky but you must get lots of photos of children engaging with particular things.

TiredFeet Wed 19-Feb-14 23:27:28

I find craft type activities with my son (3) really stressful, but he is keen to do more. I'm very academic and totally hopeless at art etc and just don't have a lot of confidence. We have enjoyed some of the activities in your magazines though (like making an underwater octonauts scene). Do you have any tips for easy craft activities that might help get us started?

petalsandstars Thu 20-Feb-14 15:06:22

I'm not very crafty and would love ideas on basic things to do with my nearly 3yo. Decorating biscuits always goes down well as we eat the end result

lighteningmcmama Fri 21-Feb-14 14:49:56

Can you give me some ideas on things to do with pipe cleaners? They were a staple part of blue Peter when I was a kid, so I picked some up that I saw randomly in a shop, and then was stuck for what to do with them! So far we have just used them for bead threading. I.Also have coloured ones now as a gift so uses for those would be great too, so far we just used those to make letter shapes.

LucilleMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 04-Mar-14 12:11:09

We now have Steph's answers back and will be posting them shortly. Thank you to everyone who took part in the Q&A.

StephCooper Tue 04-Mar-14 12:18:23

Paintyfingers

I have a speech delayed DS aged 2.5 who loves crafting. I try to use all our activities to expand his language and would love some crafts suitable for his age and some relevant adjectives/verbs I could try to repeat to encourage language development. We've done the basic ones like cut and stick! Maybe things like pressing, sprinkling etc?

Because craft is often so exciting, it’s great for helping with communication and language skills. It also helps with physical development, too. Try giving your son different things that will encourage him to press, rip, blob, dab, scrunch, twist, squeeze, scribble, join things together and construct. Use different types of paper, chunky wax crayons, paint and use paints to colour mix. Keeping things fresh, will keep it exciting for him.

Give your son some spots and dots in different colours and patterns for him to create a spotty dotty picture. Make a 3-d fluffy lamb by covering a loo roll with cotton wool, plus sticker eyes and nose and legs from rolled up card. Use cookie cutters and paint to create some printed pictures.
Cut some zig zags into card to make scrapers that your son can use for printing by dipping in paint. If he likes working with paint – make some hand pictures – put your hand on the paper and dab around it lightly with a paintbrush and repeat until the paper is full of colourful hand shapes. I hope this helps!

StephCooper Tue 04-Mar-14 12:19:16

Kveta

do you think that all craft activities should have a learning outcome? I ask as my DC (20 months and 4.5 yo) have been busy making a doll's house out of shoeboxes this week, just a few glued together and painted, and then DS has stuck some pictures from the argos catalogue in for furniture, and he wants to make furniture out of toilet roll holders too. Anyway, it's just all fun, there's no particular thing he's taking from it in terms of literacy or numeracy objectives. I don't really want everything he does to be about chasing learning objectives anyway, but other mums I know feel differently!

I feel like he does so much at school nursery that has learning outcomes attached to them (and his school is very unpressured and laid back with the early years age groups, I know there are many that do phonics and numeracy stuff much more formally than his does) so I'm happy for him just to spend a happy hour or two pratting about with glue and paint. But should I be doing more with him?

Sounds like your children are being very creative to me, Kveta! I don’t think it’s always necessary to have an outcome. Art is always about either the process, the outcome or sometimes, both.

A lot of what they are doing is part of the Expressive Arts and Design aspect of the curriculum. But there’s also some maths in there, too – working out the size of things to make for their house. Most importantly though, is that it’s fun for them both. They’re focussed and staying with an idea – they’re collaborating and I guess they’re also talking to you about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it – which is Communication and Language. So although it may not seem like it, there is oodles of learning going on!

StephCooper Tue 04-Mar-14 12:19:52

RueDeWakening

I'd love to see some more sensorial play/craft ideas. When I had DD I really had no clue what I could do with her - my local surestart messy play was a lifesaver! But it'd be great to find ideas of things to do like making jelly with toys "hidden" in it, playing in shaving foam etc etc with clear instructions and ideas for learning outcomes if you need to include them that link into the EYFS curriculum. Is that something that you could see being incorporated into the cbeebies mag?

Play is vital as a way for young children to learn. And having fun with different textures is so enjoyable! We’ve recently brought back Tiny Tasks into CBeebies Magazine which are extra quick and easy ideas on the page for parents to do with their children at home. We will definitely include some more messy play suggestions!

StephCooper Tue 04-Mar-14 12:20:27

tinypumpkin

What has been the most popular craft activity that you have ever 'run' in a magazine? I am guessing feedback is tricky but you must get lots of photos of children engaging with particular things.

We get lots of photos emailed and tweeted to us - especially popular seem to be anything with googly eye stickers. I can’t imagine a magazine for young children with no stickers – they seem to love them! Also outfits to make are extremely popular - Octonauts hats went down well, and a Galahad the horse make with a Mike the Knight helmet to wear.

StephCooper Tue 04-Mar-14 12:20:56

TiredFeet

I find craft type activities with my son (3) really stressful, but he is keen to do more. I'm very academic and totally hopeless at art etc and just don't have a lot of confidence. We have enjoyed some of the activities in your magazines though (like making an underwater octonauts scene). Do you have any tips for easy craft activities that might help get us started?

We launched a spin off CBeebies magazine for children who love being creative with the idea to make art as easy as possible for parents whilst being exciting and challenging for children. CBeebies Art is packed with things to draw, make and play with – and it covers all types of art. There are quick things for the children to do as well as bigger things to make if you have a bit more time. It’s even got Tidy Tips to help children remember to tidy up.

It’s quite handy to have an art box at home with a few things in it including an apron and a table cover. Also plasticene, scissors, stickers, different colours and types of paper, foil, card, clean bottle tops and yoghurt cartons, a glue stick and some card.

StephCooper Tue 04-Mar-14 12:22:02

petalsandstars

I'm not very crafty and would love ideas on basic things to do with my nearly 3yo. Decorating biscuits always goes down well as we eat the end result

Cooking definitely counts as art – especially decorating biscuits and cakes. Mister Maker is a great CBeebies show which is packed with ideas for tonnes of things to make including some very simple things to make.

Don’t forget that photography, constructing things with boxes, cardboard rolls and glue or sticky tape, drawing, dancing and listening to music is all art, too!

StephCooper Tue 04-Mar-14 12:22:31

lighteningmcmama

Can you give me some ideas on things to do with pipe cleaners? They were a staple part of blue Peter when I was a kid, so I picked some up that I saw randomly in a shop, and then was stuck for what to do with them! So far we have just used them for bead threading. I.Also have coloured ones now as a gift so uses for those would be great too, so far we just used those to make letter shapes.

Use dough to create a monster body then add pipe cleaners to make them into aliens or moon monsters. Shape the pipe cleaners into zig-zag, curly or straight hair. The colour black circles onto round stickers to make the eyes. Paint a cat picture then add pipe cleaner whiskers. Make a pig picture and add a curly pink pipe cleaner tail. Make some flower shapes from bright card and pop them on the top of the pipe cleaner, then stand them in some plasticene to make a lovely bunch of flowers.

Paintyfingers Tue 04-Mar-14 13:59:26

Thank you so much for your reply, Steph - those are an amazing collection of crafty words to try to use with DS!! I'm actually going to have a go at some of those activities this afternoon smile

lighteningmcmama Thu 06-Mar-14 10:43:18

Thanks those are great ideas!!

Kif Wed 12-Mar-14 12:46:36

I missed the webchat - but could I just post some love for the Cbeebies magazine!

thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks

It's been a family staple for us to keep the little ones busy during the older siblings swimming lessons.

I really appreciate that their activities are low frustration and effective for this age group (esp compared to some other magazines). The sticker activities are always super popular too - because they are easy to do, even on the go. I also like how they are not afraid to have some very simple cover-mounted gifts, but that are good quality enough to become well-loved toys (anyone rember Mr Blooms vegetables?)

thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks

(but I wish you'd bring back the subscription!)

glorialarry1771 Fri 11-Apr-14 05:16:18

This post can be really interesting and helpful to readers. I always like the idea of having craft activities with my kids making them more creative. However, I'm also doing phonics and numeracy stuffs for academic learning.

LucilleMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 14-Apr-14 16:11:16

You can now see Steph's answers archived here along with some CBeebies activity sheets to print out and try yourself.

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