The most important skills we teach in the early years are social-emotional ones – like kindness, sharing, and self-regulation.
Children who are socially and emotionally healthy tend to demonstrate, and continue to develop, several important behaviours and skills. They are more likely to form good relationships, care about others, recognise and manage their own emotions, understand others’ emotions, and show empathy.
According to Dr. Daniel Siegel, author of The Whole-Brain Child, “When children are interconnected, in tune with others, and have the capacity to be reflective, it increases empathy and understanding for the self and others. The ability to be reflective and to understand the self and others is what builds resiliency.”
Progression through the early years
At around 3-4 years of age, a child is likely to:
feel generous and show an understanding of sharing, but might not share all the time
use words to describe basic feelings like sad, happy, angry and excited
understand if they have done something ‘wrong’ and feel sorry
At 4-5 years of age, child is likely to:
use words to describe more complex feelings like frustration, annoyance and embarrassment
hide the truth about something if they feel frightened, embarrassed or guilty
be better at managing strong emotions like anger, frustration and disappointment
By the age of 5, a child is likely to:
use words to describe complex feelings like guilt and jealousy
be more aware of their feelings towards others and act on them with kindness and empathy
try hard to follow the rules to avoid getting in trouble
To boost social-emotional skills in children there are lots of activities you can do with them, such as:
Reading books – hearing stories about characters can help children empathise and relate (here’s a list of our recommendations)
Starting each day with a check-in helps them identify their emotions
Listening games like “Simon Says” allow children to practice listening carefully
Simple yoga poses help them learn how to control their bodies when emotions are running high
Create a special share box that children can decorate, for items that can be shared like instruments, toys and games.
We can also help by:
Showing respect and care to each other and ourselves
Giving effective praise and modeling appropriate behaviour
Listening with full attention to what children are saying and taking the time to answer fully
Showing warmth and affection.
Teaching social-emotional skills is clearly an investment of time for parents and caregivers, and something we focus on heavily at Wild.Kind.
Efforts are richly rewarded with engaged, happy, empathetic and kind children who express their emotions in productive ways.
The world will always need compassion and kindness, and we can teach our children these important skills in lots of ways, including by reading books together.
Books that teach kindness and compassion are a powerful and effective means to portray important messages in a visual way. They can shape the way children think and feel about things and open up their worlds to understanding concepts that can otherwise seem quite complex.
There are so many books based on morals of kindness, acceptance and compassion, and this sort of content will help children be kind and inclusive themselves. There are also brilliant books available to help get children be more understanding of others in lots of other ways, such as those with special educational needs. We also encourage you to ask children questions about the books during reading to encourage conversation about the topics.
Here’s our round up of children’s books that help teach children the concept of being kind to others and themselves.
16 books that books that teach kindness and compassion
Ranvir Cannot Hear
Ranvir Cannot Hear is a magical story set in the plains of India and is about a little elephant who goes on a long journey in search of his hearing. On his travels he meets some wonderful friends along the way who can’t do certain things but tell him about the things that they can! Ranvir even finds out he has a special talent too… This is a beautifully illustrated children’s story with a message of inclusion and empowerment.
The Big Umbrella
By the door there is an umbrella. It is big. It is so big that when it starts to rain there is room for everyone underneath. It doesn’t matter if you are tall. Or plaid. Or hairy. It doesn’t matter how many legs you have.
This is a sweet, timeless picture book which addresses the themes of inclusion and tolerance.
Come with me
This book follows a little girl’s quest to make the world a better place.
In this lyrical and timely story, author Holly M. McGhee and illustrator Pascal Lemaître champion the power of kindness, bravery, and friendship in the face of uncertainty.
From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving story explores what kindness is, and how any act, big or small, can make a difference―or at least help a friend.
With a gentle text from the award-winning author of Sophie’s Squash, Pat Zietlow Miller, and irresistible art from Jen Hill, Be Kind is an unforgettable story about how two simple words can change the world.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee
This award-winning book shows the value of selflessness and caring for one another.
Friends come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. In Amos McGee’s case, all sorts of species, too! Every day he spends a little bit of time with each of his friends at the zoo, running races with the tortoise, keeping the shy penguin company, and even reading bedtime stories to the owl. But when Amos is too sick to make it to the zoo, his animal friends decide it’s time they returned the favor.
Hey, Little Ant
“Hey, Little Ant” forces readers to consider the feelings of others.
What would you do if the ant you were about to step on looked up and started talking? Would you stop and listen? What if your friends saw you hesitate? That’s what happens in this funny, thought-provoking book. Originally a song by a father-daughter team, this conversation between two creatures, large and small, is bound to inspire important discussions. It might even answer that classic childhood question: To squish or not to squish?
You Hold Me Up
This vibrant picture book, beautifully illustrated by celebrated artist Danielle Daniel, encourages children to show love and support for each other and to consider each others well-being in their everyday actions. This is a foundational book about building relationships, fostering empathy and encouraging respect between peers, starting with our littlest citizens.
Harry the Happy Mouse
A best-selling children’s picture book about kindness. Harry The Happy Mouse is a cheerful, traditional story about a mouse called Harry who lives in the beautiful English countryside. Harry helps a Frog, but asks the Frog to repay the kindness to someone else. We follow the good deed as it moves through other characters, who each selflessly help someone else, making themselves feel happy in the process! We learn that a little bit of kindness can go a long way.
We’re All Wonders
The unforgettable bestseller Wonder has inspired a movement to Choose Kind.
Wonder is the unforgettable story of August Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. With over 5 million copies sold, Wonder is a true modern classic, a life-changing read, and has inspired kindness and acceptance in countless readers. We’re All Wonders taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for families and teachers to talk about empathy, difference and kindness with young children.
The Invisible Boy
When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.
From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.
Stick and Stone
When Stick rescues Stone from a prickly situation with a Pinecone, the pair becomes fast friends. But when Stick gets stuck, can Stone return the favour? A funny story about kindness and friendship with a warm, rhyming text that includes a subtle anti-bullying message even the youngest reader will understand.
Have You Filled Your Bucket Today?
While using a simple metaphor of a bucket and a dipper, author Carol McCloud illustrates that when we choose to be kind, we not only fill the buckets of those around us, but also fill our OWN bucket! Conversely, when we choose to say or do mean things, we are dipping into buckets. All day long, we are either filling up or dipping into each other’s buckets by what we say and what we do. This 32-page picture book is perfect for children, parents, grandparents, teachers and people that want to teach empathy, nurture kindness and create a positive environment in their home, classroom, workplace and community.
Horton Hears a Who
‘A person’s a person, no matter how small..’ Horton the elephant sets out to save the inhabitants of a speck of dust, in this classic and hilarious tale about friendship and respect, from the inimitable Dr. Seuss.
Listening with my Heart
When Esperanza finds a heart-shaped rock, she sees it as a reminder to spread kindness and love in the world. But when the school play doesn’t go the way she’d imagined, will she remember to give it to herself?
In today’s hyper-competitive world, kids often internalise the message that their worth is attached to their accomplishments and that messing up is something to be ashamed of, rather than a normal part of life, which can lead to critical self-talk.
Listening with My Heart reminds us of the other golden rule—to treat ourselves like we would treat a friend.
Chocolate milk, por favor!
It’s Gabe’s first day of school in America, and he doesn’t speak English. This story shows how a simple act of kindness is worth more than a thousand words. Kindness really is a universal language.
What goes around comes around in this farmyard tale about the contagiousness of kindness.
Hen gives Pig an unexpected present. “How kind!” says Pig. Pig is so touched, in fact, that he decides to do something kind too. So Pig gives Rabbit a gift. “How kind!” says Rabbit, who does something kind for Cow, who is kind to Cat, who wants to be kind in turn. Where will all of this kindness lead?
At Wild.Kind., the notion of kindness is a top priority and a key part of our philosophy.
We received great feedback on our previous post on activities to do at home with children, so we’ve come up with Part 2! The list is divided into ‘Play’ and ‘Arts & Crafts’ – but essentially all activities are aimed at making creative use of a child’s time.
Go camping in the living room
Set up sheets over a dining table to create a tent and eat a picnic ‘indoors’, while telling each other stories about a magical woodland animal kingdom
Indoor treasure hunt
Create a map for the ‘treasure’, with hints left at different points along the way to help guide children to the ‘treasure’. Perhaps the treasure can be a box of their favourite treats and snacks – or a recipe and ingredients for one of them! Here are some recipe ideas
Washing up toys
This is a great sensory play activity, which is engaging and surprisingly calming for kinesthetic learners. Simply fill the kitchen sink with warm soap water, get a stool and let children ‘wash up’ their toys (the waterproof ones!). This can also be done from the side of (or in) the bath for smaller children
Explore outdoors with a magnifying glass
This can be a great way to allow a child’s imagination run wild with stories of hidden garden creatures and treasures
Smell challenge This one is great fun and another sensory challenge! Choose a variety of aromatic foods in bowls to create a smell challenge for children, asking them to guess what each one is with their eyes closed. Try using some very familiar ingredients, plus a few more obscure.
For older children, this can also be an opportunity to practice written skills by writing down each one as they go
Film a cooking show!
Choose a favourite recipe to make and hit record on your phone to create a video. Older children might even want to star as a celebrity chef! Here are some recipes to try.
Chime in with a rhyme game
Call out words and challenge your child to think of a rhyming word for each one. Older children can think of a rhyming line to add to make a poem!
Rock and leaf race
Set up a race to find the biggest rock and leaf in the garden. One child can be timed with a stopwatch to work on a ‘personal best’, or a group of children can race against each other. Keep it lighthearted and not too competitive!
A Grand Night Out
Dress up in your best clothes and have a fancy dinner at home. Go as low key or elaborate as you all wish!
A classic! The only guideline is to freeze when the music is paused. Encourage children to ‘freeze’ in fun poses or with funny faces. Use a variety of musical styles and tempos – they’ll be giggling away in no time
The sleeping song
Here are the short lyrics:
“Sleeping, sleeping, all the children are sleeping. And when they woke up, they were all —.”
Fill in the blank with various animals, insects, or even inanimate objects and lets their imaginations run wild. A few examples to get started with: cat, snake, robot, banana… As soon as one thing has run its course, begin the song again with the next word
Indoor obstacle course
An all-time favourite. Push aside some furniture, and practice gross motor skills without breaking any priceless antiques! Set out a laundry basket and use balled up socks to practice throwing and accuracy. Tape down some string for a makeshift balance beam. Try on-the-spot running, jumping and hopping. Add yoga or tai chi moves… there are an infinite number of possibilities
It’s as simple as it sounds and imitation is, after all, the highest form of flattery. One person dances while the others copy their moves. Swap between you and a child being the ‘leader’. So pop on some dancing tunes and show off those moves!
Make up a dance
A fun way that gets everyone involved (and a good one for older kids). We suggest each person creates 4-8 counts of movement, before putting them together into sequence. If this sounds too complicated, just go back to the Flattery Dance!
This is the same concept as the dance-making game. Make up a collaborative story by letting each person add one sentence. Start with characters and a simple plot, like “a dog and a mouse went to the playground,” and let the children take it from there. The sillier, the better!
Arts and crafts
Homemade ‘reusable’ collage
Using a few items that can be rearranged again and again (like buttons, scraps of coloured card, ribbon, string), arrange them on a tray or placemat to make patterns, then take a picture to commemorate each creation. As the materials are reusable, children can start again and create something new
This is a great way for children to practice motor skills by using a mirror to draw themselves. For younger children, offer to draw their outline and ask them to fill in their facial features like eyebrows and eyelashes. Next stage is to get creative with colouring in the faces
Help your child learn their shapes by tracing common household items like cups, plates and boxes. Add in a few obscure items for a bit of range – hunting down the objects is part of the fun. The next stage is decorating and colouring! Get creative with glitter, felt and other craft materials
This one is so much fun and the beauty is in its simplicity. Each person playing gets a piece of paper to make a squiggle on. The person next to them then draws a picture out of the squiggle shape. Use different colours and thickness of pens for variety
Make a book
This is a great, easy way to bring a child’s stories to life. Either large pieces of paper in half or staple them together (the latter gives more of a bound book feel). Depending on the age of your child, they can recite the story for you to write (and they then add in pictures) or, if a little older, children can practice their own handwriting technique. This simple activity builds confidence, self-esteem and literacy skills
Dig out old magazines and newspapers and get creative! Help children cut out their favourite pictures before sticking onto card and gluing and decorating the images with everything in the arts and crafts box. Recycled wrapping paper and catalogues are also great resources.
These can be turned into cards for family members by folding a thick piece of paper in half and decorating the front, leaving the inside empty for a message.
We are facing challenging times, and finding things to do all day with the children can be difficult. In this article, we’ve put together something a little different, in the form of a 7 day recipe challenge! We encourage you to try one recipe each day as part of your planned activities at home this week. As we mentioned on the vegan ‘Spitzbueb’ recipe post, cooking with children is a great way to keep them entertained and also a wonderful way to encourage their social-emotional development, cognitive development, fine motor and eye-hand coordination skills.
Children of any age can help with all the dishes in the 7 day recipe challenge (older ones more than very little ones, of course) – and naturally under the guidance of an adult.
Monday: Scrumptous zucchini fritters (vegetarian)
Image credit – Just Taste
Scrumptious, healthy and super simple, made with just 6 ingredients!
Ingredients (makes 8-10)
4medium zucchini, grated
85g all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Bunch spring onions, sliced (green and white parts)
2 tablespoons olive oil
100g grated cheese
Sour cream, for serving (optional)
Place the shredded zucchini in a colander set over a bowl and sprinkle the zucchini lightly with salt before leaving to stand for 10 minutes. Squeeze out as much liquid from the zucchini as possible before transferring to a large bowl.
Add the flour, eggs, cheese, spring onion, pinch of salt and pinch of pepper to the bowl, stirring with a fork until the mixture is combined. Line a plate with paper towels.
Add the olive oil to large sauté pan set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, scoop 3-tablespoon mounds of the zucchini mixture into the pan, pressing them lightly into rounds and spacing them at least 2 inches apart. You can also use an ice cream scoop to do this.
Cook the zucchini fritters for 2 to 3 minutes, then flip them once and cook an additional 2 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle them with salt. Repeat the scooping and cooking process with the remaining zucchini mixture.
Tuesday: Bananas in Pyjamas (vegan)
Image credit – Epicurious
These are a energy boosting treat – the banana provides most of the sweetness. Bananas in Pyjamas also allow kids to get really creative with the toppings.
Ingredients (makes 8)
4 x bananas (peeled and cut in half)
2 x 400g blocks of dark chocolate
Toppings of choice like crushed nuts, sprinkles, desiccated coconut, granola
You’ll also need wooden skewers (or ice lolly sticks)
Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
Push a wooden skewer into the thickest end of the banana halves. Lay out on tray and freeze for 2 hours or overnight if you can.
Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl. Give it a 1 minute heat on HIGH and then stir. Microwave at 20 second intervals, stirring in between until all is melted.
Set out coatings on plates, such as the sprinkles, nuts and coconut.
Remove bananas from the freezer and dip in chocolate mixture. Roll in the different toppings before placing back on the tray to store in the freezer for a minimum of 30 mins.
Wednesday: Pitta pizza (vegan/vegetarian)
Image credit: Kidspot
A really simple and scrummy meal, which requires no dough making and can be whipped up in no time. Plus, it encourages you to use ingredients already in the fridge as toppings. Children love being a ‘pizzaiolo’, too…
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 pita bread (small)
180 g tomato pasta sauce
Grated cheese or sliced mozzarella – sliced raclette is also perfect for this! To veganise this meal, use vegan (or no) cheese
Toppings of choice – leftovers are also great for this recipe. Some of the favourites in our house include sliced capsicum, grilled aubergine, sliced mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, basil, small florets of broccoli, sliced leftover cooked potato, and feta cheese.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Place the pita breads onto a baking tray. Spread tomato pasta sauce over the base of each pita.
Now the fun part! Scatter toppings of choice over the tomato sauce before adding the cheese and herbs.
Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden and cooked.
Thursday: Fruit kebabs (vegan/vegetarian)
Another healthy treat, this is almost a ‘cheat’ recipe – no cooking required! Children love ‘poking’ the fruit onto skewers and drizzling the chocolate on at the end with a wooden spoon.
Fruit of choice, for example strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, banana, pear, apple, watermelon… literally anything you like!
You’ll also need wooden skewers (or ice lolly sticks)
Cut the fruit into chunks before laying out on plates
Thread pieces of fruit onto each skewer, keeping them fairly close together so they don’t fall off. Stack on a plate.
To finish, melt some dark chocolate (see method in Tuesday’s recipe) before drizzling over the kebabs with a wooden spoon.
Friday: Soft, baked pretzels
Image credit: Sally’s baking addiction
This is one of the easiest ways to prepare homemade soft pretzels. The best part is, the dough only needs to rest for 10 minutes before shaping. The quick baking soda boil gives the pretzels their traditional flavour.
Ingredients (makes 12)
360ml warm water
1 packet active dry or instant yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and slightly cool
460-500g all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Baking soda ‘bath’
120g baking soda
2 litres water
Whisk the yeast into warm water. Allow to sit for 1 minute before whisking in the salt, brown sugar, and melted butter. Slowly add the flour, around 150g at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon (or dough hook attached to stand mixer) until dough is thick. Add a little more flour more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If it is still sticky, add more, as needed. Poke the dough with your finger – if it bounces back, it is ready to knead.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for 3 minutes and shape into a ball. Kids love this bit! Cover lightly with a towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. (Meanwhile, you can get the water + baking soda boiling as instructed in step 6.)
Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, lightly spray with nonstick spray or grease with butter. Set aside.
With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 12 pieces.
Roll the dough into a 20-22 inch rope. Take the ends and draw them together so the dough forms a circle. Twist the ends, then bring them towards yourself and press them down into a pretzel shape. Here’s a very useful video on how to create the pretzel shape.
Bring baking soda and water to a boil in a large pot. Drop 1-2 pretzels into the boiling water for no longer than 20-30 seconds. Any more than that and your pretzels will have a metallic taste. Using a slotted spatula, lift the pretzel out of the water and allow as much of the excess water to drip off. Place pretzel onto prepared baking sheet and sprinkle each with coarse sea salt. Repeat with remaining pretzels.
Made with just three ingredients, these are really yummy – and healthy, too! The berries can be swapped out for another alternative – and the Greek yoghurt can be substituted with a plant based version to veganise this recipe.
Ingredients (makes six)
2 Tablespoons agave or honey*
500g vanilla Greek yogurt (or any flavor)
You’ll also need an ice lolly tray (if you don’t have one, enjoy this recipe as smoothies, instead
Blend the blueberries in a food processor or blender on high speed until nearly liquified into a smoothie-like consistency.
Pour the thick blueberry liquid into a large bowl. Stir in the agave/honey.
Add the yogurt and very gently mix everything together. If you want a tie-dye, swirly look to your lollies, don’t fully blend the yoghurt and blueberries to retain some patches of white and blue. The mixture will be lovely and thik – if you’d like it sweeter, just add a little more honey/agave.
Pour mixture evenly into each lolly mold. If your lolly mold has slots for sticks, you can insert them before freezing – if not, freeze for 2 hours, then put a wooden stick in the middle (that is what I did). Continue to freeze for an additional 4-6 hours or overnight.
Run lolly molds under warm water to easily remove. Eat on a hot day. Enjoy!
Image credit: Sarah’s vegan kitchen
Light, crispy, fluffy roll ups of yumminess – some with hidden ‘treasure inside’. Some ready made puff pastry is ‘accidentally’ vegan, too (keep an eye out for non ‘all butter’ varieties).
All-purpose flour for rolling
397g box frozen puff pastry, thawed (check to make sure it’s vegan)
1 tablespoon non-dairy milk (such as soy or almond)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave
Optional fillings, such as jam, chocolate spread, grated cheese with ham
Preheat your oven to 350F (180C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lightly flour a clean work surface. My puff pastry came in two blocks. Taking one block of puff pastry at a time, roll it out to a rectangle about 10″ high x 16″ wide. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the puff pastry into 3 tall rectangles, then cut each rectangle diagonally from corner to corner so that you have 6 triangles. For plain vegan croissants: roll up the triangles tightly from the wide end of the triangle to the point. For stuffed croissants: put a bit of your filling along the wide end of a triangle. Roll up the triangle tightly around the filling. Repeat with the remaining block of puff pastry to make 12 croissants total.
Space the croissants out on the parchment paper lined baking tray bending them into a crescent shape. Mix together the non-dairy milk and maple syrup in a small bowl. Liberally brush the tops of all of the croissants with the mixture, and also use it to glue down the points of the croissants. This will help them get golden in the oven. Bake 22 to 27 minutes until lightly golden and browned on the bottom.Serve straight from the oven. SO YUMMY!
“Fall down seven times, stand up eight”; a very famous Proverb, expresses the idea of sticking with a task with tenacity until it is completed – in other words, showing resilience. Building resilience in children, especially in these challenging times, is an investment of time to help them deal with difficult situations.
Although a child’s life includes lots of fun and joy, it’s inevitable that they will also experience obstacles and challenges that cause feelings of frustration and overwhelm. Not getting their own way, not understanding something, being told to go bed, or losing a favourite toy are just some of many difficult experiences a child will face in their early years.
While we might not be able to remove all these events, it’s important to teach a child resilience skills to help manage the situations. Learning coping strategies will help them bounce back from stress and adversity, and approach life’s challenges with confidence, bravery and optimism. It might sound difficult, and does it does require patience, but the good news is all humans are born with the capacity to learn resilience, so it’s something that can be nurtured in every child.
Some of the benefits of building resilience in children include:
Learning from mistakes
Acknowledging and moving on from difficult situations
Not dwelling on ‘failures’
Resilience is built through inner strength as well as outside support, so a parent or care giver has a responsibility as a role model to encourage the development of skills like inner strength, being flexible, critical thinking, positive thinking and confidence, which, in turn, form resilience. Resilient children turn into resilient adults, so the investment of your time will help a child develop a long term life skill.
Daily strategies to help build resilience in children
It’s all too easy to want to scoop a child up in our arms if they’re dealing with something that causes distress, however the biggest gift we can give them is the art of being resilient.
Here are some simple daily strategies we recommend:
Invest time in asking a child “how” they will overcome the effects of an action, rather than just “why” they did it
Always encourage sharing of food and belongings, without expectation that the kindness might be returned by others
Teach children that the gift is in giving, not receiving
Give the responsibility of keeping their room clean and cupboards tidy
Provide positive affirmations for difficult situations that they can learn and use, like “a rainbow will come after the storm”
Encourage problem solving, but let them know you’re there for them at any time – being brave and strong also means knowing when to ask for help
Strengthen the prefrontal cortex by strengthening a child’s executive functioning. This can be done through establishing a routine, providing opportunities to nurture their own relationships, and creative play
Encourage and remind a child that lots of things need practice – twirling a hula hoop, doing a cartwheel or learning how to paint within the lines all require patience
Build feelings of competence and a sense of mastery with encouraging words like “You’re brilliant at this, try a few more times and you’ll get there”
Celebrate achievements and let go of the things that don’t go as planned. Encourage a dialogue about how to improve next time
Stick to your word – “No means no” shows them the power of boundaries
Nurture a child’s flexibility and independence by encouraging them to try new things they’re intrigued by, like a vegetable they’ve never tried before, or playing with a new group of children at the playground
Allow them to wait for you to be ready to answer their questions or chatter if you’re midway through a conversation with someone else
Provide opportunities in the day when they will need to find ways to entertain themselves, for example if you’re on a phone call
Maintain a positive attitude about household jobs, emphasising the benefits of the outcome
Teach self discipline by asking a child to wait for mealtimes rather than snacking in-between
Encourage a child to practice non-attachment to things by willingly giving away toys regularly to charity or other children
Resist the urge to help them with everything – allow a child to discover how to tie their shoelaces or put on a scarf, even if it means leaving the house a few minutes later.
Please remember that it’s not solely determination or inner strength that helps build resilience – a child also needs the reliable presence of supportive relationships, too. It’s important to build on these relationships rather than try and build uncompromising independence. This kind of social support is linked to higher positive emotions, self esteem, optimism, security and, of course, resilience. At Wild.Kind., we cultivate the ethos that children are capable learners who can think – and do things – for themselves. Whilst providing an exceptionally supportive environment we believe that encouraging children to think and act for themselves empowers them to build resilience and bounce back from challenges they experience.
As parents and caregivers, we’re all familiar with how babies and young children have an innate curiosity to explore the world around them using their senses. They love exploring new textures, materials and tastes. Through doing this, children’s brains learn to identify objects as differentiate sensations, like smooth and rough or hot and cold.
What exactly is sensory play?
Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates your child’s senses, be it through sight, touch, sound, smell, taste, movement or balance.
Essentially, sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, leading a child through cognitive growth, problem solving skills, fine motor skills, social interaction and language development, which is why it’s crucial for their development.
One of the first theorists of sensory play, Jean Piaget proposed that children need environmental experiences and stimuli to guide their cognitive development, suggesting that they digest new knowledge and store it for later reference. In his theory of play, he emphasises that experiences that stimulate the senses strengthen a child’s brain and create neurological pathways important for learning, essentially contributing to a child’s ability to finish more complex tasks.
As caregivers, we recognise that sensory play is crucial for development and deeply encourage it at Wild.Kind. Some of these benefits include:
Brain development – learning, enhancing memory and ability to complete more complex learning tasks
Problem solving skills – finding solutions to obstacles, such as ‘how to make scoop up bubbles in the bath’
Cognitive growth – enhanced thought process, understanding and reasoning. As children manipulate new materials, they learn to understand new concepts – such as ‘sink and float’
Fine and gross motor skills – Skills – such as squeezing, pulling, pushing and throwing – become handy for daily activities like doing up buttons, tying shoelaces and zipping up clothes
Social interaction – children like watching other children. They discover new ways to move, hold, or manipulate a material, and also to plan, share and negotiate
Awareness – builds self-aware and body-awareness, which helps them develop a better sense of space around them
Language development – encourages children to communicate effectively with others whilst playing
Creativity and self-discovery – when presented with a new object or material, children explore various creative ways to discover more about both the material and themselves.
These are super simple to make and really effective. Just mix warm water and some office glue together, then add to empty bottles with glitter before ensuring the lid is on extra tight
For children a little older, pour different dried food items into buckets or trays (bowls and plates also work) and let the fun begin! Try pasta, flour, dried rice – the list is endless. Cooked products also work (like cold spaghetti) but will create more of a mess (and probably more giggling)!
For an ‘advanced’ activity, encourage your child to ‘feed’ dried spaghetti strands through the holes of a colander Little Bins for Little Hands also have some lovely ideas
Safe household items
We’ve probably all experienced that moment when a child is more interested in a box than the gift inside it. Encourage it! Inexpensive ‘toys’ like a paper towel roll or pot and spoon are great ways to introduce more sensory play.
Play is an important part of a developmentally appropriate child care program at Wild. Kind. Compassionate Playschool. If you’d like more information please contact us.
Cooking with children is a great way to keep them entertained and also a wonderful way to encourage their social-emotional development, cognitive development, fine motor and eye-hand coordination skills.
Plus, who doesn’t love a Spitzbueb?! Ok, these biscuits are a little different (the dough is actually a shortbread, so they’re melt-in-the-mouth crumbly), but they are so yummy and simple to make. Best of all, they’re completely vegan! You can make a classic ‘Spitzbueb’ shape with round cookie cutters, or get creative with whichever shaped cutters have in the drawer (you’ll need a large and small version of the same shape).
Cooking with children is made fun for everyone with this super simple recipe.
125g dairy-free margarine
60g caster sugar (plus a little extra for sprinkling)
70g rice flour
125g plain flour
pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C / 320°F.
2. Beat together the margarine and sugar until fluffy (for at least a minute), then add the rice flour and salt, and beat again.
3. Add the plain flour, and mix slowly until just combined into a crumbly dough. (It won’t really hold together at this stage, but don’t panic!).
4. Cover two baking trays with baking parchment or greaseproof paper. Roll out the dough to around 1cm thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can, placing them on the baking trays. Then roll the off-cuts together and re-roll and cut again. Continue until all the dough has been used up. Then use a smaller shaped cutter to cut ‘windows’ out of half the biscuits, and carefully remove the centres.
5. Sprinkle a little caster sugar over the ‘window’ biscuits, and press it gently into the dough. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, with the bigger biscuits on the upper shelf and the ‘window’ biscuits on the lower shelf. Don’t let them brown – they should stay fairly pale. Remove and place on a cooling rack.
6. When the biscuits are completely cool, spoon around 1 tsp jam onto each of the whole biscuits and spread near to the edges with a knife. Place one of the window (smaller) biscuits on top and dust with a little icing sugar if you wish.
It can be challenging to entertain children all day, so we’ve put together an ideas list of activities to do at home.
Children operate well with structure and routine. With changes to a usual routine under current circumstances, we recommend creating a timetable at home to minimise disruption to daily life as much as possible. A daily routine, incorporating 4-5 main activities, can be displayed visually on a wall. Consider including allocations for arts and crafts, creative play, reading, learning and quiet time.
Activities to do at home with children
Audiobooks are a brilliant way for children to get immersed in a story, while giving you some much needed free time to do something else.
We love Story Nory, which offers free audio downloads of classic fairy tales, world fairy tales, fables, 1001 Nights, and more.
Create a puzzle – draw a pattern of jigsaw pieces on a piece of paper. After your child has drawn a picture on the other side, cut out the pieces together
Make a mask – there are lots of animal templates here
Write or draw a story – encourage children to write, or draw, a story to read or tell you at bedtime
Potato stamps – slice the bottom off a potato and carve shapes. These can be dipped in watercolour before stamping on to card
Leaf painting – collect leaves in the garden and paint them before carefully pressing onto paper to create beautiful natural art
Cooking Baking or cooking with children is a great way to keep children entertained. Give them the responsibility of choosing a recipe or ask them to help with preparing a meal as an inclusive way to cook and eat together.
Quiet time benefits you as well as your child. Every day, set aside time for ‘quiet play’. This can be as simple choosing an activity together that allows your child to do something they enjoy doing on their own such as reading their favourite book or playing with a favourite toy.
This can be challenging for younger children, so positioning it as a treat for them to have time just to themselves is important. It may take some getting used to at first but is certainly worth the effort all round! Finishing ‘quiet time’ with spending ten minutes together afterwards to talk about what you both did can also be very effective. The skill of learning to play without relying on a parent’s constant company also teaches children independence.
We hope you enjoy our suggestions of activities to do at home with children. We’ll be posting more ideas soon, please keep an eye out or feel free to contact us with your own suggestions for us to share with the Wild.Kind. community.
Best long tales and stories for kids includes ten long stories:
* The Beauty and the Beast;
* The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods;
* The Story of the Youth who went forth to learn what Fear was;
* The Nightingale;
* The Ugly Duckling;
* Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves;
* Sinbad The Sailor;
* The Jellyfish and the Monkey(ancient Japanese tale).